Pubblicato in: Armamenti, India

India. Acquista apparecchi da caccia russi per 2.4 miliardi Usd.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2020-07-07.

India 013

«India’s government on Thursday approved the purchase of 33 Russian fighter jets and upgrades to another 59 planes, acting to beef up its air force»

«The approval for 21 MiG-29 planes and a dozen Su-30 jets will together cost 181.48 billion rupees ($2.43 billion)»

«The purchase, along with the upgrade of 59 other MiG-29s, was an attempt to address the “long felt need of the Air Force to increase its fighter squadrons.” »

«The green light for the Russian planes followed a visit to Moscow last month by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh where he urged his hosts to speed up deliveries»

«More than half of India’s military hardware is still of Russian origin»

«The Defence Ministry also approved the purchase of air-to-air missiles developed indigenously that it said will add to the strike capability of the air force.»

* * * * * * *

Alla crescita economica il governo indiano fa seguire quello delle sua forze armate. Circa metà dei suoi armamenti sono di fabbricazione russa, ed i rapporti politici ed economici tra le due nazioni sono del tutto buoni.

La Russia di Mr Putin si sta dimostrando lungimirante e scaltra, rafforzando i legami politici e commerciali con la fornitura di armamenti.

Né ci si tragga in inganno sul fatto che gli acquisti vertano principalmente i Mig 29, aerei di vecchia concezione, ma rammodernati. Tenendo conto dello stato delle forze aeree dei paesi confinanti, le nuove forniture dei Mig 29 dovrebbero ristabilire gli equilibri di forza in quello scacchiere.

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India clears purchase of Russian combat jets worth $2.4 billion.

India’s government on Thursday approved the purchase of 33 Russian fighter jets and upgrades to another 59 planes, acting to beef up its air force at a time when the military is locked in a border stand-off with China.

The approval for 21 MiG-29 planes and a dozen Su-30 jets will together cost 181.48 billion rupees ($2.43 billion), the defence ministry said. The purchase, along with the upgrade of 59 other MiG-29s, was an attempt to address the “long felt need of the Air Force to increase its fighter squadrons.”

Tensions between India and China are at their highest in years following a clash last month in a disputed stretch of the border in the western Himalayas in which India lost 20 soldiers.

The two countries, which fought a brief border war in 1962, have since the recent clash moved additional forces and military equipment into key sections of the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control – the ceasefire line separating the two forces.

The green light for the Russian planes followed a visit to Moscow last month by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh where he urged his hosts to speed up deliveries, officials said.

More than half of India’s military hardware is still of Russian origin even though over the last decade India has turned to the United States and Israel for high-tech arms transfers.

The Defence Ministry also approved the purchase of air-to-air missiles developed indigenously that it said will add to the strike capability of the air force.

Pubblicato in: Armamenti, Senza categoria

Giappone. Abbandona il sistema antimissile americano Aegis.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2020-07-02.

Aegis 013

Il sistema Aegis è un sistema di combattimento integrato per unità navali, installato a bordo delle principali unità da combattimento dell’US Navy. Ha capacità antimissili balistici.

Per le sue prestazioni e nonostante gli elevati costi di acquisizione e gestione, il sistema ha incontrato un certo quale successo di esportazione.

La marina militare giapponese ne aveva armato molte sue navi.

Adesso la decisione di dismettere Aegis, e non vi sono annunci sul come la marina nipponica intenda sostituirlo.

*

Se è sicuro che vi siano problemi tecnici e finanziari, altrettanto sicuramente questa è una scelta politica.

Giappone. Si dissocia dal condannare la legge cinese sulla sicurezza.

La politica estera del blocco occidentale sembrerebbe essere disorientata, incapace di raggiungere una unità politica di intenti, troppo spesso esageratamente ambiziosa rispetto alle sue reali possibilità.

La politica estera è fatta di sussurrii, non di urla.

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Giappone: Tokyo conferma uscita da sistema antimissile Usa.

Popolazioni locale contraria e costi troppo esosi.

Il governo giapponese ha confermato il piano di uscita dal sistema di difesa antimissile statunitense Aegis Ashore a causa dei costi eccessivi per la loro funzionalità e le controversie mai risolte con la popolazione locale, contraria al loro dispiegamento.
A spiegarlo è stato il ministro della Difesa Taro Kono durante una riunione del Consiglio nazionale di sicurezza tenuta dopo le consultazioni già avvenute nello scorso fine settimana con i governatori delle prefetture di Yamaguchi e Akita.
Kono ha aggiunto che l’esecutivo guarderà ad alternative, e che per il momento i sistemi per la difesa tattica Patriot Advanced Capability-3, dotati dei missili terra-aria, saranno sufficienti a proteggere la nazione da eventuali minacce.

Il governo di Tokyo aveva firmato un’intesa con Washington nel dicembre 2017 per l’installazione di due batterie di Aegis Ashore, a ridosso di una serie di lanci di razzi dalla Corea del Nord, e nel corso di intensi scambi diplomatici tra il presidente Usa Donald Trump e il premier giapponese Shinzo Abe, per accentuare gli acquisti di tecnologie militari Usa da parte dell’alleato nipponico.

Il contratto iniziale aveva un valore di 1,7 miliardi di dollari che adesso Tokyo cercherà di rinegoziare assieme all’eventuale ricerca di un’alternativa.

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Japan’s new missile defense destroyer starts sea trials amid Aegis Ashore saga

«The last of Japan’s eight planned destroyers capable of intercepting ballistic missiles has started sea trials ahead of its commissioning, even as the country ponders its next move following its decision to suspend plans to introduce ground-based systems for that role.

The destroyer Haguro left shipbuilder Japan Marine United Corporation’s shipyard at Isogo, near Yokohama and south of the Japanese capital Tokyo, this morning for its first sea trials.

The ship is to be commissioned in 2021. It is 170 meters long, displaces 8,200 tons and is fitted with 96 Mk 41 Vertical Launching System cells that can fire a variety of missiles, including those used for ballistic missile defense.

Haguro is the second ship of two Maya-class destroyers for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, and it’s the country’s eighth destroyer to be equipped with the Aegis combat system for air and ballistic missile defense.»

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Japan Suspends Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Plans. What Happens Now?

«Tokyo scraps plans for two expensive missile defense installations. Will another system replace Aegis Ashore?

The signs were there, but Tokyo’s decision last week to formally suspend deployment plans for two Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense sites still came as something of a sudden development. According to the Japanese government, the primary reason for not proceeding with deployment at this time pertains to environmental concerns: specifically, the matter of spent boosters from Standard Missile 3 interceptor missiles potentially dropping over inhabited territory.

For Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, the 2017 decision to proceed with two Aegis Ashore sites appears more and more like an artifact of a bygone era, when North Korea was shocking the world with rapid qualitative advances in ballistic missile technology on what seemed like a fortnightly basis. Tokyo’s decision late that year was between purchasing the more expensive six Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) batteries versus two somewhat cheaper Aegis Ashore sites.»

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Why Japan Decided to Scrap a Key U.S. Missile Defense System.

Japan’s National Security Council has endorsed plans to cancel the deployment of two costly land-based U.S. missile defense systems aimed at bolstering the country’s capability against threats from North Korea, the country’s defense minister said Thursday.

The council made its decision Wednesday, and now the government will need to enter negotiations with the U.S. about what to do with payments and the purchase contract already made for the Aegis Ashore systems.

The council is expected to also revise Japan’s basic defense plan later this year to update the missile defense program and scale up the country’s defense posture.

Defense Minister Taro Kono announced the plan to scrap the systems earlier this month after it was found that the safety of one of the two planned host communities could not be ensured without a hardware redesign that would be too time consuming and costly.

The Japanese government in 2017 approved adding the two Aegis Ashore systems to enhance the country’s current defenses consisting of Aegis-equipped destroyers at sea and Patriot missiles on land.

Defense officials have said the two Aegis Ashore units could cover Japan entirely from one station at Yamaguchi in the south and another at Akita in the north.

The plan to deploy the two systems already had faced a series of setbacks, including questions about the selection of one of the sites, repeated cost estimate hikes that climbed to 450 billion yen ($4.1 billion) for their 30-year operation and maintenance, and safety concerns that led to local opposition.

Kono said Japan has signed contract worth nearly half the total cost and paid part of it to the U.S.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has steadily pushed to step up Japan’s defense capability, said last week that in light of the scrapping the government would need to reconsider Japan’s missile defense program and do more under the country’s security alliance with the U.S.

Abe said the government would consider the possibility of acquiring preemptive strike capability, a controversial plan that critics say would violate Japan’s war-renouncing Constitution.

Pubblicato in: Armamenti, Geopolitica Militare

Armamenti Nucleari. È in atto una corsa al riarmo per la prossima guerra.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2020-06-24.

2020-06-20__Guerra Atomica 013

Nei loro settanta anni di esistenza, gli armamenti atomici hanno subito continui sviluppo e miglioramenti. Gli attuali vettori hanno anche loro raggiunto un elevato grado di sofisticazione e sono state sviluppate sia testate ad altissimo potenziale, sia a potenziale minimo, per un impiego tattico.

Negli ultimi lustri ha preso campo una nuova corsa agli armamenti atomici, con ampliamento della platea degli stati che ne dispongono. Tutto questo esita in nuovi equilibri di precaria e difficile gestione.

* * * * * * *

«This nuclear arms race is worse than the last one»

«With the stability of the Cold War gone, the risk of nuclear war keeps rising»

«Only old-fashioned multilateralism can save us in the long term.»

«Yes, the global stockpile of nuclear warheads decreased slightly last year, …. But that’s only because the U.S. and Russia, the two countries that still account for more than 90% of global nuclear stocks, dismantled some of their obsolescent warheads.»

«Meanwhile, all nine countries with nukes are modernizing their other warheads and delivery systems»

«France successfully fired, from a submarine, a nuclear missile that can travel between continents at 20 times the speed of sound»

«Even more worryingly, states are reviewing their strategies for using these weapons»

«Gone is the amoral but logical stability of the Cold War, when two superpowers kept each other and the world in check with a credible threat of “Mutual Assured Destruction” (MAD)»

«Russia, for instance, increasingly sees smaller “tactical” warheads as a possible way to compensate for weaknesses in its other military forces»

«There’s also speculation that India could soften its policy, adopted in 1998, never to be the first to use a nuclear weapon»

«Such thought experiments are no small matter for a country with two hostile and nuclear-armed neighbors, Pakistan and China»

«Meanwhile, all efforts to limit or reduce nuclear weapons have ground to a halt»

«A treaty between the U.S. and the Soviet Union that eliminated land-based missiles with short and intermediate ranges collapsed last year»

«China, which sees itself as merely catching up with the two nuclear kingpins, balks at accepting any limits»

«Between naivety in Germany, belligerence in Russia, ambition in China, inanity in Trumpist America and brinkmanship in North Korea, the outlook is grim»

«Egomaniacs or rogues could be tempted to test the boundaries in their foes’ deterrence plans, and human error could compound the folly»

«What’s more, the climate in international relations isn’t exactly conducive to solutions»

* * * * * * *

La messa in linea di missili ipersonici, quello francese citato viaggia a venti volte la velocità del suono, e la disponibilità di ordigni di bassissima potenza genera da una parte l’impossibilità di intercettazione, dall’altra il prurito di poter risolvere un conflitto solo con armi  tattiche.

Nel contempo, se per arrivare ai vertici di una superpotenza l’aspra difficoltà dell’impresa seleziona persone dai nervi ben saldi, nel caso di piccoli stati il pericolo che chi abbia il potere sia “egomaniacs” sembrerebbe essere ben poco trascurabile. Si aggiunga infine il fatto che “human error could compound the folly”.

Per sintetizzare, le possibilità di un conflitto che usi armamenti atomici è sicuramente aumentato.

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Bloomberg. This Nuclear Arms Race Is Worse Than the Last One

With the stability of the Cold War gone, the risk of nuclear war keeps rising. Only old-fashioned multilateralism can save us in the long term.

As long as the pandemic rages, the world’s leaders are understandably preoccupied with the threat of disease. But there are other dangers to humanity that demand attention. One of the most frightening is nuclear war. Unfortunately, the risk of that happening keeps rising.

The headline numbers are misleading. Yes, the global stockpile of nuclear warheads decreased slightly last year, according to the latest report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. But that’s only because the U.S. and Russia, the two countries that still account for more than 90% of global nuclear stocks, dismantled some of their obsolescent warheads.

Meanwhile, all nine countries with nukes are modernizing their other warheads and delivery systems. In a test just last week, France successfully fired, from a submarine, a nuclear missile that can travel between continents at 20 times the speed of sound. Other countries, most notably China, are adding to their nuclear stashes as fast as they can.

Even more worryingly, states are reviewing their strategies for using these weapons. Gone is the amoral but logical stability of the Cold War, when two superpowers kept each other and the world in check with a credible threat of “Mutual Assured Destruction” (MAD).

Russia, for instance, increasingly sees smaller “tactical” warheads as a possible way to compensate for weaknesses in its other military forces. It’s conceivable that a conflict starting with hybrid warfare — ranging from disinformation campaigns to soldiers in unmarked uniforms — could escalate to a conventional war and a limited nuclear strike, inviting a counter strike and so forth.

There’s also speculation that India could soften its policy, adopted in 1998, never to be the first to use a nuclear weapon. Such thought experiments are no small matter for a country with two hostile and nuclear-armed neighbors, Pakistan and China. Just this week, India and China clashed again over their disputed border in the Himalayas. What North Korea could get up to in a crisis that it itself provokes is anybody’s guess.        

Meanwhile, all efforts to limit or reduce nuclear weapons have ground to a halt. A treaty between the U.S. and the Soviet Union that eliminated land-based missiles with short and intermediate ranges collapsed last year, after the U.S. accused Russia of cheating.

And the two old foes aren’t even close to extending their only remaining arms-control agreement, called New START, which expires in February. One reason for that failure was America’s insistence that the third and rising superpower should join the negotiations. But China, which sees itself as merely catching up with the two nuclear kingpins, balks at accepting any limits.

Progress has also stalled in updating the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, exactly 50 years after it took effect. It sought to keep additional countries from making bombs by encouraging them to use fissile material (uranium or plutonium) only for civilian purposes such as generating electricity. But five countries have gone nuclear since it was signed. Worse, game theory suggests that it’s rational for more states to follow. Iran could be next.

The only international agreement to ban these evil weapons altogether, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons passed by the United Nations in 2017, has the same chance as a snowball in a fission event. No member of the nuclear club intends to ratify it, nor do many other countries.

As if all that weren’t bad enough, doubt is also creeping into the transatlantic alliance, undermining its credibility and thus the deterrence that’s so vital to preventing war. Germans, in particular, are aghast at their treatment by U.S. President Donald Trump, who this week chastised them as “delinquent” allies and confirmed that he will withdraw about one in four American troops from Germany.

In May, several leaders of Germany’s Social Democrats, a party with a tradition of anti-Americanism, even suggested opting out of NATO’s policy of “nuclear sharing,” whereby some allies, such as Germany, forego building their own nukes but provide the airplanes to deliver U.S. bombs in a pinch. This policy is meant to make joint deterrence more credible. But to German lefties, distrust of Trump is enough reason to challenge its logic. Fortunately, Chancellor Angela Merkel quickly overruled them.

Between naivety in Germany, belligerence in Russia, ambition in China, inanity in Trumpist America and brinkmanship in North Korea, the outlook is grim. Egomaniacs or rogues could be tempted to test the boundaries in their foes’ deterrence plans, and human error could compound the folly.

What’s more, the climate in international relations isn’t exactly conducive to solutions. The world leaders who matter most are so busy with “trade wars” and “vaccine nationalism,” they can barely even imagine sitting around a table with people they loathe but should talk to, an activity known formerly as diplomacy.

But they must rise above themselves. If they can’t, the rest of us, from voters to the military brass, should force them. Only patient multilateralism, as unsexy as that polysyllabic Latin word may sound to alpha males, can save us in the long run. Otherwise, to use a Cold War metaphor, the nations of the world will find themselves standing in a room awash with gasoline, each counting who has how many matches, until one is lit.

Pubblicato in: Armamenti, Devoluzione socialismo, Stati Uniti

Germania. Prima gli sputano addosso, poi si lamentano che se ne vada via.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2020-06-13.

2020-06-09__Germania USA 023

«German towns face economic hit should US troops go. US media reports say nearly 10,000 American troops may be permanently withdrawn from Germany by September»

«Reports that US President Donald Trump wants to permanently remove thousands of American troops from Germany have obvious geopolitical and security implications.»

«But for those places in Germany that have been used to having large American communities in their midst for 70 years, the implications are much more local and immediate than those of tectonic movements in world politics»

«according to The Wall Street Journal, the number of permanent troops based in Germany will be reduced by 9,500 to 25,000 by September»

«Small towns in the south of Germany such as Grafenwöhr in Bavaria or Ramstein in Rhineland-Palatinate have developed since World War II on the basis of the presence of thousands of US troops, their families and US civilians working at bases there»

«in Grafenwöhr, where the local population of just over 6,000 is dwarfed by the American presence of more than 10,000 US military personnel, not including thousands more family members»

«A German-American Folk Festival takes place in the town every year, a major economic event and a boon for bratwurst and hotdog peddlers alike»

«German-American families and businesses are extremely common»

«It is estimated that around 12,000 German civilians are employed in jobs connected to the US military nationally and many more indirectly through the provision of goods and services»

«a study by the University of Trier showed that the Ramstein Air Base and the nearby Spangdahlem Air Base contributed around €1.4 billion ($1.7 billion) to the local economy and supported about 27,000 jobs in the region»

«While Donald Trump has consistently criticized Germany for not meeting its obligations with regard to NATO spending, the Federal Government does spend millions on the support of US bases in the country.»

«Last August, it was revealed that the government had provided €243 million ($270 million) since 2012 to support US troops based in the country»

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Cerchiamo di ragionare.

Sono settanta anni che in Germania sfilano regolarmente cortei che inneggiano “Yankee, go home”. Terminavano di norma bruciando la bandiera americana. E moh, gli Yankeese ne vanno.

Le sole basi aeree di Ramstein e di Spangdahlem hanno speso in Germania 1.4 miliardi di euro, sostenendo 27,000 posti di lavoro.

Il governo tedesco ha speso in dieci anni 243 milioni di euro, ossia 24.3 milioni all’anno. Ora si lamenta e si dispera: la gallina dalle uova di oro se ne va.

Mr Trump non ha poi tutti i torti.

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Nota.

Ovviamente il termine ‘Yankee’ in questo contesto non si riferisce alla parola marinaresca dello strallo di prua nell’attrezzatura con due fiocchi, caratterizzata dalla bugna molto alta sulla coperta.

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German towns face economic hit should US troops go.

US media reports say nearly 10,000 American troops may be permanently withdrawn from Germany by September. That could have big economic consequences for the small towns where they have been based for nearly 70 years.

Reports that US President Donald Trump wants to permanently remove thousands of American troops from Germany have obvious geopolitical and security implications.

But for those places in Germany that have been used to having large American communities in their midst for 70 years, the implications are much more local and immediate than those of tectonic movements in world politics.

It has not yet officially been confirmed that troop numbers in Germany will be reduced, but according to The Wall Street Journal, the number of permanent troops based in Germany will be reduced by 9,500 to 25,000 by September.

If that is to happen, it is not clear from which bases the numbers will be cut. That leaves a number of German communities to fret about what the headlines may eventually come to mean for their businesses and for their local economy as a whole.

Small towns, big presence

Small towns in the south of Germany such as Grafenwöhr in Bavaria or Ramstein in Rhineland-Palatinate have developed since World War II on the basis of the presence of thousands of US troops, their families and US civilians working at bases there.

In the case of Ramstein-Miesenbach, the official population of the town is less than 8,000 — miniscule by German standards. Yet there is almost the same number of US troops based at the nearby Ramstein Air Base, as well as almost double that number in terms of family members, meaning there are around three times as many people living in the area connected to the military presence as there are locals itself.

That’s even more pronounced in Grafenwöhr, where the local population of just over 6,000 is dwarfed by the American presence of more than 10,000 US military personnel, not including thousands more family members.

Other southern German towns and cities, such as Ansbach (population 42,000), Wiesbaden (population 290,000) and Böblingen (population 50,000) are also home to large numbers of US troops, civilians and their families.

Of hotdogs and bratwursts

A walk down any of the main streets of Grafenwöhr quickly illustrates why a large-scale American military withdrawal would have a deep economic impact.

Some of the businesses to be seen: Bank of America Military Bank, American Motors — Military Car Sales, Tortuga TexMex Bar & Grill, ‘Cheers’ American Restaurant and The Homestead Hotel. These aren’t the kind of businesses you’ll find in your average German town, understandably enough.

The website of The Homestead Hotel says it has been “providing the best and highest quality temporary lodging to military and civilians since 2006” while the delivery website for Cheers proudly declares it has “supported the troops since 1985.”

A German-American Folk Festival takes place in the town every year, a major economic event and a boon for bratwurst and hotdog peddlers alike. Seven decades of American presence have left deep roots in places like Grafenwöhr. German-American families and businesses are extremely common.

Around Germany, many local German civilians are employed both on the bases and in the various businesses serving the American communities. It is estimated that around 12,000 German civilians are employed in jobs connected to the US military nationally and many more indirectly through the provision of goods and services.

A steady decline

But a reduction in US troop numbers in Germany is nothing new. The number has been steadily falling for years. German government figures show that between 2006 and 2018, the number of US troops stationed in Germany more than halved, from 72,400 to the current figure of around 34,000.

Way back in 2001, a study by the University of Trier showed that the Ramstein Air Base and the nearby Spangdahlem Air Base contributed around €1.4 billion ($1.7 billion) to the local economy and supported about 27,000 jobs in the region.

Since then, the American communities connected with bases across Germany have become considerably smaller, and with that, their impact on local economies has declined.

Yet base closures or reductions in troop numbers understandably have major effects on local economies. The closure of the army garrison at Bamberg in northern Germany in 2014 had a significant economic impact and many German citizens in towns connected to the US military are strongly opposed to base closures.

Not quite ‘land of the free’ though

There is another economic angle to the presence of the US military in Germany.

While Donald Trump has consistently criticized Germany for not meeting its obligations with regard to NATO spending, the Federal Government does spend millions on the support of US bases in the country. Last August, it was revealed that the government had provided €243 million ($270 million) since 2012 to support US troops based in the country.

The sum was related to benefits for former workers and operating costs associated with maintaining buildings and other properties. So although the presence of US military personnel and their families does provide a major economic boost for the communities in which they are based, they do not come free to the Federal exchequer as a whole.

The future

It remains to be seen what precisely the consequences of the latest reports for places such as Ramstein-Miesenbach or Grafenwöhr will be. Even if the figure of 9,500 troop withdrawals is accurate, the phaseout may be spread out across all bases in Germany, mitigating the impact on each particular base and giving local communities a little more leeway to adjust to changing economic circumstances.

But it is also likely to make them consider and prepare for a more long-term possibility: that one day — all the troops may be gone.

Pubblicato in: Armamenti, Cina, Geopolitica Asiatica, Stati Uniti

Cina, Usa e Mare Cinese del Sud. Alto rischio di un incidente militare.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2020-06-11.

2020-05-30__Cina, Usa, mare cinese del Sud 001

«As China and the U.S. trade barbs over everything from trade to Covid-19 to Hong Kong, the two powers are at greater risk of careering into physical confrontation»

«And nowhere are their warships and fighter jets coming as close to each other, with as much frequency, as the South China Sea»

«Still, in times of high tension, miscalculations can have unintended consequences.»

«In the first four months of the year the U.S. Navy conducted four freedom of navigation operations, known as FONOPS, in the South China Sea, which is criss-crossed by competing claims by nations including China, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia.»

«While a premeditated armed conflict between China and the U.S. is a remote possibility, we see their military assets operating in greater regularity and at higher intensity in the same maritime domain»

«The interactions of these rival assets in the area would create chances of miscalculation and misjudgment leading to inadvertent or accidental use of force, which is thus potentially incendiary and could result in escalation. This is a risk we can’t discount»

«China’s Defense Ministry has said it would formally declare an air defense identification zone after years of attempting — mostly unsuccessfully — to force planes from other nations flying in the area to change their course»

«The U.S. Air Force sent two B-1B Lancers on a more than 30-hour round-trip sortie from South Dakota to conduct operations over the South China Sea on April 29, even as it reportedly ended its longtime practice of maintaining a continuous bomber presence in Guam»

«The “problem is that the incidents we observe in the region aren’t ‘unplanned’ — in the lead up to these close encounters the rival naval forces at sea already knew each other to be present and they shadow and monitor each other underway, at visual range»

«In 2016, a Chinese naval ship seized a U.S. Navy underwater research drone in international waters»

«In just 15 years, China has doubled its supply of launchers and built weapons that have extended the reach of its conventional warheads to cover most of America’s Western Pacific bases»

* * * * * * *

Al momento la situazione sembrerebbe essere di stallo.

Se da molti punti di vista è ben comprensibile il desiderio dei cinesi di avere il controllo militare del Mare Cinese Meridionale, da altri punti di vista correttamente gli americani ne rivendicano la extra-territorialità, e, quindi, il loro diritto di navigarvi anche con navi da guerra.

La possibilità che le due parti si mettano di accordo apparirebbe essere molto remota, almeno al momento.

Di conseguenza, ci si rassegni alla possibilità che l’imponderabile si possa risolvere in un qualche incidente con l’uso delle armi.

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Bloomberg. U.S.-China Accident Risk Is Highest in the South China Sea

– Military activity is picking up again in the disputed waterway

– Comes as U.S. and China tensions rise over trade, Covid-19

*

As China and the U.S. trade barbs over everything from trade to Covid-19 to Hong Kong, the two powers are at greater risk of careering into physical confrontation. And nowhere are their warships and fighter jets coming as close to each other, with as much frequency, as the South China Sea.

A military conflict would probably be devastating for both. There are no signs that either side actually wants one. Still, in times of high tension, miscalculations can have unintended consequences.

In the first four months of the year the U.S. Navy conducted four freedom of navigation operations, known as FONOPS, in the South China Sea, which is criss-crossed by competing claims by nations including China, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. That puts it on track to surpass last year’s total of eight. At the same time, as China emerged from the worst of the coronavirus outbreak, its Navy steamed back out of port in Hainan and resumed drills in the area.

It’s a high-stakes game of cat and mouse between the militaries of two countries with a history of near-misses. With President Donald Trump months from an election, and President Xi Jinping rattling nationalistic cages at home to distract from a wounded economy, the mood is less conducive to the careful diplomacy needed to defuse a standoff at sea. Xi used an address Tuesday to delegates at the National People’s Congress in Beijing to again warn the military to strengthen war preparations.

“While a premeditated armed conflict between China and the U.S. is a remote possibility, we see their military assets operating in greater regularity and at higher intensity in the same maritime domain,” said Collin Koh Swee Lean, a research fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. “The interactions of these rival assets in the area would create chances of miscalculation and misjudgment leading to inadvertent or accidental use of force, which is thus potentially incendiary and could result in escalation. This is a risk we can’t discount.”

The U.S. and China have been dancing around each other in the South China Sea for years. While the U.S. is not a territorial claimant, the waters are a key thoroughfare for global shipping and trade, rich in fish and with large but mostly unproven energy deposits. The U.S. has supported some smaller states against China’s increased military presence in the area, including its move to build airstrips and land strategic hardware on rocky outcrops and low-lying reefs. Beijing has also in recent times deployed coast-guard vessels decked out with the same level of armory as a standard navy ship to escort its fishing fleets.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper spoke in December of his intention to prioritize the deployment of U.S. forces to the Asia-Pacific region from other areas in the face of growing competition with China. Covid-19 saw exercises scaled down or canceled and the sidelining of aircraft carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt in Guam after hundreds of crew members tested positive for the disease (it has now returned to sea). Still, there remain flashpoints.

Deputy assistant secretary of defense for Southeast Asia, Reed Werner, last week warned of a “very worrisome” trendline during an interview with Fox News, accusing China of the “harassment” of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer U.S.S. Mustin while it patrolled the South China Sea. He also cited at least nine instances of Chinese fighter jets doing the same to U.S. reconnaissance aircraft.

In an effort to bolster its defense capacity in airspace over the disputed waters, China’s Defense Ministry has said it would formally declare an air defense identification zone after years of attempting — mostly unsuccessfully — to force planes from other nations flying in the area to change their course. I’s unclear, though, when this might actually happen.

The U.S. Navy also recently engaged in a standoff with Chinese vessels after twice sending warships on presence operations off the coast of Malaysia, where Chinese ships were shadowing a Malaysian state-contracted drill ship exploring two potentially lucrative energy blocks claimed by both countries. 7th Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Bill Merz said in a statement in mid-May that the U.S. had done so in support of “allies and partners in the lawful pursuit of their economic interests.”

China’s foreign ministry said at the time its survey ship was “conducting normal activities in waters under Chinese jurisdiction” and called the situation “basically stable.” On Sunday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi accused “non-regional countries” of “flexing their muscles” in an effort to sow discord between China and Southeast Asian nations.

Security experts familiar with the Malaysian government’s thinking said officials in Kuala Lumpur expressed concern to the U.S. that its presence would only serve to escalate the matter. A spokeswoman for Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment. The U.S. was “clearly sending a signal,” said Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The U.S. Air Force sent two B-1B Lancers on a more than 30-hour round-trip sortie from South Dakota to conduct operations over the South China Sea on April 29, even as it reportedly ended its longtime practice of maintaining a continuous bomber presence in Guam. In an emailed statement, the Air Force said it had “transitioned” to an approach that lets bombers take off from a broader array of overseas locations, making them “operationally unpredictable.”

“I think part of the uptick in U.S. military operations is to make sure that the Chinese don’t miscalculate and think that the United States is unprepared because of the fact that the Theodore Roosevelt has been out of commission sitting in Guam,” said Glaser. “But I also think that it is in response to the increased op-temp by the Chinese.”

There are mechanisms in place to avoid a mishap between the Chinese and U.S. Navy. China, the U.S. and 19 other countries have joined a Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea with a standardized protocol of safety procedures. U.S. Navy officials have said they’ve been communicating more closely with the People’s Liberation Army, and that CUES is working.

Still, it does not cover the coast guard or fishing militias, which are increasingly used by China to assert its claims to more than 80% of the South China Sea.

The “problem is that the incidents we observe in the region aren’t ‘unplanned’ — in the lead up to these close encounters the rival naval forces at sea already knew each other to be present and they shadow and monitor each other underway, at visual range,” said Koh from the RSIS in Singapore.

There have been tense moments before. In 2001, a Chinese fighter jet collided with a U.S. surveillance plane in international airspace, forcing the U.S. aircraft to make an emergency landing in China and the Chinese jet to crash. In 2016, a Chinese naval ship seized a U.S. Navy underwater research drone in international waters, prompting Trump to accuse China of theft. It was later returned.

Most recently, China’s Defense Ministry said its navy followed and expelled a U.S. guided missile destroyer on April 28, saying it had violated Chinese territory. Under Xi’s watch China has refocused its military from land-based troops to air and sea capability. It commissioned more than two dozen new ships in 2016 and 2017, and said last October the development of a second home-made aircraft carrier was making “steady progress” after floating its first in 2017. In just 15 years, China has doubled its supply of launchers and built weapons that have extended the reach of its conventional warheads to cover most of America’s Western Pacific bases.

“I do worry about this situation,” said Zheng Yongnian, director of the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore. “The U.S.-China relationship is in free fall now, pushed by the hardliners from both sides. No doubt, the new Cold War between the two is escalating, and now people begin to worry about the possibility of a hot war, a regional one.”

“Even worse, there is no force to cool them down,” he said. “Nations in Southeast Asia are too small compared to the two great powers.”

The renewed tensions put those smaller Southeast Asian states in a tight spot. Singapore, while not a South China Sea claimant, has long warned against forcing countries to choose a side.

Pubblicato in: Armamenti, Senza categoria, Stati Uniti

USA. Testato in mare un sistema laser antiaereo.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2020-06-05.

2020-05-25__Laser 013

Laser è la sigla di light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation, che indica un dispositivo per ottenere fasci intensi ed estremamente concentrati di radiazioni elettromagnetiche coerenti nei campi infrarosso, visibile e ultravioletto.

«The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has made large investments weaponizing laser technology for air defense. Despite billions of dollars spent, there has not been a successful transition of a high-energy laser (HEL) weapon from the lab to the field. Is the dream of a low-cost-per-shot, deep-magazine, speed-of-light HEL weapon an impossible dream or a set of technologies that are ready to emerge on the modern battlefield? Because of the rapid revolution taking place in modern warfare that is making conventional defensive weapons very expensive relative to the offensive weapons systems, the pull for less expensive air defense may necessitate a HEL weapon system. Also, due to the recent technological developments in solid-state lasers (SSL), especially fiber lasers, used throughout manufacturing for cutting and welding, a HEL weapon finally may be able to meet all the requirements of ease of use, sustainability, and reliability. Due to changes in warfare and SSL technology advances, the era of HEL weapons isn’t over; it may be just starting if DoD takes an evolutionary approach to fielding a HEL weapon. The U.S. Navy, with its large ships and their available electric power, should lead the way.» [Optical Engineering 52(2): 1008- · February 2013]

* * * * * * *

«The US successfully tested a laser weapon that can destroy aircraft mid-flight»

«A US Navy warship has successfully tested a new high-energy laser weapon that can destroy aircraft mid-flight, the Navy’s Pacific Fleet said in a statement Friday»

«Images and videos provided by the Navy show the amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland executing “the first system-level implementation of a high-energy class solid-state laser” to disable an aerial drone aircraft»

«The images show the laser emanating from the deck of the warship. Short video clips show what appears to be the drone burning»

«The power of the weapon was not disclosed, but a 2018 report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies said it was expected to be a 150-kilowatt laser»

«With this new advanced capability, we are redefining war at sea for the Navy»

«The Navy says lasers, which it calls directed energy weapons (DEW), can be effective defenses against drones or armed small boats»

«We don’t worry about wind, we don’t worry about range, we don’t worry about anything else. We’re able to engage the targets at the speed of light.»

* * * * * * *

Sviluppo e tecnologie laser sono protette da segreto militare: le informazioni rilasciate sono scarse e spesso contrastanti.

Quello riportato è uno dei primi test pubblicizzati di impiego sul campo di un’arma laser, di cui al momento si prospetta l’uso a difesa da droni, ossia aerei non a guida umana, usualmente subsonici, che volano a quote relativamente basse.

Significativo il fatto che l’annuncio sia stato dato dalla sede di Hong Kong della Cnn.

*

The US successfully tested a laser weapon that can destroy aircraft mid-flight.

A US Navy warship has successfully tested a new high-energy laser weapon that can destroy aircraft mid-flight, the Navy’s Pacific Fleet said in a statement Friday.

Images and videos provided by the Navy show the amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland executing “the first system-level implementation of a high-energy class solid-state laser” to disable an aerial drone aircraft, the statement said.

The images show the laser emanating from the deck of the warship. Short video clips show what appears to be the drone burning.

The Navy did not give a specific location of the laser weapons system demonstrator (LWSD) test, saying only that it occurred in the Pacific on May 16.

The power of the weapon was not disclosed, but a 2018 report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies said it was expected to be a 150-kilowatt laser.

“By conducting advanced at sea tests against UAVs and small crafts, we will gain valuable information on the capabilities of the Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator against potential threats,” Capt. Karrey Sanders, commanding officer of Portland, said in the statement.

“With this new advanced capability, we are redefining war at sea for the Navy.”

The Navy says lasers, which it calls directed energy weapons (DEW), can be effective defenses against drones or armed small boats.

“The Navy’s development of DEWs like the LWSD provide immediate warfighter benefits and provide the commander increased decision space and response options,” the statement said.

In 2017, CNN witnessed a live-fire exercise of a 30-kilowatt laser weapon aboard the amphibious transport ship USS Ponce in the Persian Gulf.

At the time, Lt. Cale Hughes, a laser weapons system officer, described how they work.

“It is throwing massive amounts of photons at an incoming object,” Hughes said. “We don’t worry about wind, we don’t worry about range, we don’t worry about anything else. We’re able to engage the targets at the speed of light.”

The Ponce was retired from service later that year.

*


Raytheon Delivers High-Energy Laser to US Air Force.

Raytheon Co., a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, civil government, and cybersecurity solutions, delivered the first high-energy laser counter-unmanned aerial system (UAS) to the U.S. Air Force earlier this month. The Air Force will deploy the system overseas as part of a year-long experiment, to test the system’s efficacy in real-world conditions and to train operators.

Raytheon’s high-energy laser weapon system uses an advanced variant of the company’s multispectral targeting system (MTS) — an electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor — to detect, identify, and track combative drones. Once targeted, the system engages with and neutralizes the aircraft in seconds.

“Five years ago, few people worried about the drone threat,” said Roy Azevedo, president of Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems. “Now, we hear about attacks or incursions all the time. Our customers saw this coming and asked us to develop a ready-now counter-UAS capability. We did just that by going from the drawing board to delivery in less than 24 months.”

Raytheon installed its high-energy laser weapon system (HELWS) on a small all-terrain vehicle. On a single charge from a standard 220-V outlet, the HELWS can deliver intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability, and dozens of precise laser shots. Paired with a generator, it can provide an almost unlimited number of shots.

Raytheon is integrating multiple proven technologies to counter UAS dangers across a wide range of targets, such as commercial airports, forward operating bases, and crowded stadiums. Raytheon’s portfolio of sensors, command and control (C2) systems, and kinetic and nonkinetic effectors offers effective defenses against the various threats posed by UASs.

Pubblicato in: Armamenti, Devoluzione socialismo, Geopolitica Africa, Problemi militari, Russia

Russia. Dispiegati cacciabombardieri in Libia. La strategia russa in Africa.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2020-06-03.

2020-06-03__Russia Africa 001

Inizia a delinearsi la strategia di Mr Putin e della Russia per il dominio del Mare Mediterraneo. Dapprima l’intervento militare diretto in Siria, adesso in Libia. Ma il Mediterraneo è solo un elemento di uno scacchiere ben più vasto: l’obiettivo è il dominio dell’Africa.

*

«The US has identified over a dozen Russia warplanes in Libya, marking Moscow’s first direct venture into the North African country»

«Experts say it is part of a larger Russian plan to expand its influence in the region»

«US Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced earlier this week that Russia had deployed at least 14 warplanes to Libya in support of private military contractors known as the Wagner Group»

«It was the first time Russian armed forces were identified in the North African country. Although the Wagner Group purportedly enjoys Russian state backing, the Kremlin had initially stopped short of deploying official military assets to Libya, despite Moscow’s support for general-turned-warlord Khalifa Haftar»

«For too long, Russia has denied the full extent of its involvement in the ongoing Libyan conflict»

«neither Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) nor private military contractors could “arm, operate and sustain these fighters without state support — support they are getting from Russia»

«Russia is clearly trying to tip the scales in its favor in Libya …. The UN said Russia’s Wagner group already has up to 1,200 mercenaries in Libya.»

«Haftar’s LNA has sought to oust the UN-backed government Tripoli in favor of a rival Tobruk-based government. He has received support from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and, at one point, even France. …. But Russia remains Haftar’s most committed ally»

«Strengthening the Russian military position in North Africa will undoubtedly provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with a much tighter grip over Europe and possibly even deep-rooted influence and control in the wider MENA region»

«Libya’s energy resources and the presence of several deep-water ports will give Putin the logistical and geo-strategical advantage he is attempting to achieve»

2020-06-03__Russia Africa 002

Sarebbe impossibile dominare il Mediterraneo senza poter disporre di porti con acque sufficientemente profonde da permetterne l’uso a navi da guerra. Ma gli unici porti ‘acquisibili’ al momento sono quelli della Libia.

2020-06-03__Russia Africa 003

«Russia’s state arms seller Rosoboronexport announced in April the first contract to supply assault boats to a country in sub-Saharan Africa»

«Russia is building its path to gain a foothold in Africa and broaden its export map for arms on the continent»

«Currently, it accounts for 49% of total arms exports to Africa, according to the database of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)»

«Until now, Algeria remains the biggest recipient of Russian arms in Africa, followed by Egypt, Sudan and Angola …. In the early 2000s, 16 African countries were recipients of Russian arms. Between 2010 and 2019, the figure went up to 21»

«Starting in 2015, Russia started selling arms to oil-rich Angola — mainly fighter aircraft and combat helicopters»

«That same year, Algeria signed another arms deal to buy Russian weapons for $7.5 billion»

«Russia hosted the first-ever Russia-Africa summit in Sochi in 2019 as a way of further identifying cooperation possibilities across the continent. During the summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that “the strengthening of ties with African countries is one of Russia’s foreign policy priorities”»

«This exhibition showed that Russia does not aim to offer disruptive new technologies in arms; instead, it focuses on improving the models that have been demanded the most»

«Russia sees Africa as a key potential partner in the vision for a multipolar world order»

«Less European, less trans-Atlantic and focused more on rising powers and rising regions»

«Despite widespread international condemnation of Mugabe’s regime, Russia stayed on the side of Zimbabwe: together with China, it vetoed the UN’s Security Council resolution for an arms embargo in 2008 and criticized Western sanctions»

«Russia has been scaling up activities in the mining of resources such as coltan, cobalt, gold, and diamonds in several other countries across Africa»

«For example, Algeria alone bought around 200 aircraft items from Russia from 2000 to2019, ranging from transporter helicopters to combat helicopters, bomber and fighter ground aircrafts. Various models of surface-to-air missiles (SAM) that are designed for destroying aircrafts or other missiles have been ordered from Algeria (several orders through 2000-2019), Burkina Faso, Egypt (several orders), Ethiopia, Libya and Morocco. Algeria also ordered tanks (more than 500 items in total), as did Uganda (67 items).»

«Cheap weapons — no questions asked»

«Africa is the continent where Russia can freely push one of the key elements of its exports: weapons. Arms trading accounts for 39% of Russia’s defense industry revenue.»

«Russian arms are good. It is universally recognized. Russian arms are also cheaper. There is no reason why African countries would not want to buy them»

«For example, in 2014, government soldiers in Nigeria were accused of human rights abuses against suspects in the country’s fight against Boko Haram. Afterwards, the US cancelled a shipment of attack helicopters, even though the deal had already been signed. That same year, Nigeria placed an order and received six Mi-35M combat helicopters from Russia»

«from 2009 to 2018, Russia accounted for 31% of Egypt’s imports of major weapons.»

«Russia’s defense industry is secretive; the law does not oblige companies to report on arms exports as such, and usually this information falls under the state’s secrecy laws.»

«China is generally growing as an arms exporter and shows similar patterns as Russia in a way of giving weapons with less political conditions»

* * * * * * *

Fornire armi e sistemi di arma è sicuramente una operazione economica, ma i risvolti politici sono evidenti: i paesi che si dotano di armamenti russi alla fine dipendono dalla Russia.

La chiave del successo è di un semplice banalità.

«Russian arms are good»

«Cheap weapons — no questions asked»

«giving weapons with less political conditions»

Il vizietto di voler imporre la propria Weltanschauung come prerequisito ai commerci sta costando all’occidente il domini mondiale.

*


Russia expands war presence in Libya.

The US has identified over a dozen Russia warplanes in Libya, marking Moscow’s first direct venture into the North African country. Experts say it is part of a larger Russian plan to expand its influence in the region.

US Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced earlier this week that Russia had deployed at least 14 warplanes to Libya in support of private military contractors known as the Wagner Group.

It was the first time Russian armed forces were identified in the North African country. Although the Wagner Group purportedly enjoys Russian state backing, the Kremlin had initially stopped short of deploying official military assets to Libya, despite Moscow’s support for general-turned-warlord Khalifa Haftar.

“For too long, Russia has denied the full extent of its involvement in the ongoing Libyan conflict,” said US Army General Stephen Townsend, who leads AFRICOM. “We watched as Russia flew fourth-generation jet fighters to Libya — every step of the way.”

The US general noted that neither Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) nor private military contractors could “arm, operate and sustain these fighters without state support — support they are getting from Russia.

“Russia is clearly trying to tip the scales in its favor in Libya,” Townsend said.

The UN said Russia’s Wagner group already has up to 1,200 mercenaries in Libya.

Russia’s man

Haftar’s LNA has sought to oust the UN-backed government Tripoli in favor of a rival Tobruk-based government. He has received support from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and, at one point, even France.

But Russia remains Haftar’s most committed ally.

Moscow has sought to expand its influence in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and supported that mission through military escapades. In Syria, Moscow deployed its armed forces to prop up the Assad regime, a move that has ensured its place as a regional stakeholder.

“Strengthening the Russian military position in North Africa will undoubtedly provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with a much tighter grip over Europe and possibly even deep-rooted influence and control in the wider MENA region,” said Tomas Olivier, a counter-terrorism expert and former senior officer in the Dutch government.

“Libya’s energy resources and the presence of several deep-water ports will give Putin the logistical and geo-strategical advantage he is attempting to achieve,” Olivier added.

Risky business

Although the Russian Defense Ministry has yet to comment on the US allegations, Russian lawmaker Andrei Krasov, a member of the Russian parliament’s Defense Committee, dismissed them as “fake.”

With state-supported paramilitary forces on the ground, the Kremlin maintains the ability to deny direct involvement, yet still has strategic assets in place. That plays into its larger hybrid warfare strategy, which serves to undermine rules and responsibilities in the conflicts it engages with.

But deploying warplanes raises the stakes, making it a highly risky move for Russia, according to Theresa Fallon, director and founder of the Brussels-based Center for Russia Europe Asia Studies.

“Moscow’s supply of aircraft reportedly repainted in Syria for plausible deniability, represents a creeping shift from a proxy war to open support for Haftar,” Fallon said. “If Turkey responds by deploying more aircraft, it is likely that this could turn into another endless, Syria-like conflict.”

Although Russian-Turkish ties have thawed in recent years, the countries back opposing parties in Syria and Libya. Earlier this month, the Turkish government threatened to strike Haftar’s forces if they continued to attack diplomatic missions in Tripoli, where the UN-backed government is based.

“Libya is rich in energy sources, migrants can be leveraged in negotiations with Europe and Russian mercenaries are likely to command a lucrative revenue stream,” Fallon said. “This could turn into one more frozen conflict on which Russia thrives.”

*


Russian arms exports to Africa: Moscow’s long-term strategy.

Along with natural resources, arms exports are a key component of Russia’s economy. In the last two decades, Moscow has managed to deepen its connection with Africa and became the biggest arms supplier on the continent.

Russia’s state arms seller Rosoboronexport announced in April the first contract to supply assault boats to a country in sub-Saharan Africa. The recipient’s identity is concealed. What is known: It marks the first export contract of Russian-made final naval products to this region in the last 20 years. While this news might not have caught much international attention, this new deal adds up to a pattern: Russia is building its path to gain a foothold in Africa and broaden its export map for arms on the continent.

Once a major supplier during the Soviet era, Russia’s role in Africa waned after the collapse of the USSR. But by 2000, Russia had made inroads again, and within the last two decades Russia has managed to become the biggest arms exporter to Africa. Currently, it accounts for 49% of total arms exports to Africa, according to the database of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). 

Since 2000, Russia’s arms exports to Africa have grown significantly. The increases were mainly due to growth in Russia’s arms exports to Algeria.

Russia’s eye on Africa

Until now, Algeria remains the biggest recipient of Russian arms in Africa, followed by Egypt, Sudan and Angola. According to Alexandra Kuimova, a researcher with SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Program, the number of African countries buying Russian arms increased over the last two decades. In the early 2000s, 16 African countries were recipients of Russian arms. Between 2010 and 2019, the figure went up to 21.

Starting in 2015, Russia started selling arms to oil-rich Angola — mainly fighter aircraft and combat helicopters. The Angolan government in Luanda has long maintained strong ties with Moscow, dating back to the USSR. In 1996, Russia forgave 70% of Angola’s $5 billion (€4.56 billion) in debt, which was mainly a result of several export credits the USSR had issued Angola for buying Soviet arms and military equipment. In the new millennium, Russia was a predictable choice for Angola to sign new arms deals — and within the last five years, Angola has become the third-biggest African client for Russian arms after Algeria and Egypt. Luanda’s other suppliers are Bulgaria, Belarus, Italy and China, but their shares are small.

The situation was similar with Algeria, the largest importer of Russian arms on the African continent. Soviet-era connections allowed Russia to secure its monopoly on arms deals, and Moscow completely wrote off Algeria’s $5.7 billion in debt in 2006. That same year, Algeria signed another arms deal to buy Russian weapons for $7.5 billion.

“Officials in these countries intrinsically look at Moscow from the Soviet-era links and Moscow has been able to maintain its influence. In some cases, like Algeria, it is done by debt release; sometimes by claiming that it will build repair facilities and manufacturing or maintenance facilities,” says Paul Stronski, a senior fellow in the Carnegie Endowment’s Russia and Eurasia Program.

Russia hosted the first-ever Russia-Africa summit in Sochi in 2019 as a way of further identifying cooperation possibilities across the continent. During the summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that “the strengthening of ties with African countries is one of Russia’s foreign policy priorities”.

Arms deals were at the center of attention at the summit. African delegates were invited to exhibitions of Russian weapons: from subsonic jet trainor Yakovlev Yak-130, the Pantsir missile system, and the Tor-M2KM surface-to-air missile systems to smaller arms including a new Kalashnikov AK-200 series assault rifle. This exhibition showed that Russia does not aim to offer disruptive new technologies in arms; instead, it focuses on improving the models that have been demanded the most. 

Opening new markets in line with geopolitical vision

Russia’s growing interest in Africa is defined by not only economic, but also political and strategic reasons. Russia sees Africa as a key potential partner in the vision for a multipolar world order.

“Less European, less trans-Atlantic and focused more on rising powers and rising regions,” Stronski said. This is where Russia’s ties with countries like Zimbabwe and Sudan have been established, he stressed.

Zimbabwe has been subject to financial sanctions from the West since the early 2000s. The state was reportedly responsible for violence, tortures and killings of the president’s opponents during the era of former President Robert Mugabe. Despite widespread international condemnation of Mugabe’s regime, Russia stayed on the side of Zimbabwe: together with China, it vetoed the UN’s Security Council resolution for an arms embargo in 2008 and criticized Western sanctions. Russia exports a number of both raw and finished materials to Zimbabwe, ranging from wood, wheat and fertilizers to printed materials, railway cars and electronics. Russia, in turn, imports coffee and tobacco from Zimbabwe.

Russian companies are also involved in diamond and gold mining projects in the country. According to Gugu Dube, a researcher at the Transnational Threats and International Crime program in the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria, Russia has been scaling up activities in the mining of resources such as coltan, cobalt, gold, and diamonds in several other countries across Africa. In Zimbabwe, Russian companies are also involved in a joint venture of the Darwendale project — mining and smelting one of the world’s largest deposits of platinum group metal — for which production is planned in 2021.

These include aircrafts, missiles, tanks, air defense systems and artillery. For example, Algeria alone bought around 200 aircraft items from Russia from 2000 to2019, ranging from transporter helicopters to combat helicopters, bomber and fighter ground aircrafts. Various models of surface-to-air missiles (SAM) that are designed for destroying aircrafts or other missiles have been ordered from Algeria (several orders through 2000-2019), Burkina Faso, Egypt (several orders), Ethiopia, Libya and Morocco. Algeria also ordered tanks (more than 500 items in total), as did Uganda (67 items).

Cheap weapons — no questions asked

In Russia’s publicly available strategy documents, such as its foreign policy concept or defense doctrine, African states are defined as belonging to an unstable continent and posing an international threat in light of terrorist groups’ activities, particularly in the North African region. Such documents highlight Russia’s aims to expand interaction with Africa by developing beneficial trade and economic relations and supporting regional conflict and crisis prevention.

This ongoing instability feeds a continuous market for arms — and for Russia, Africa represents a major market without a limit in the form of economic sanctions that came from the West after the annexation of Crimea. Africa is the continent where Russia can freely push one of the key elements of its exports: weapons. Arms trading accounts for 39% of Russia’s defense industry revenue.

“Russian arms are good. It is universally recognized. Russian arms are also cheaper. There is no reason why African countries would not want to buy them,” says Irina Filatova, a history professor at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics and professor emeritus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, who specializes in Russo-African history and relations.

In comparison to other big players, arms deals with Russia do not demand political or human rights conditions. In some cases, Russia has managed to fill the gap where European or American suppliers stepped out.

For example, in 2014, government soldiers in Nigeria were accused of human rights abuses against suspects in the country’s fight against Boko Haram. Afterwards, the US cancelled a shipment of attack helicopters, even though the deal had already been signed. That same year, Nigeria placed an order and received six Mi-35M combat helicopters from Russia.

Egypt is a similar case. After a military coup in 2013, the US started cutting military aid and arms supplies to the country. This left Russia (together with France, another leading arms exporter) with an open opportunity; the country quickly intensified arms transfers to Egypt. From 2009 to 2018, Russia accounted for 31% of Egypt’s imports of major weapons.

According to Kuimova, arms deals with Russia generally go fast. If a certain country needs weapons right away and Russia has them, Russia will be able to supply. What also plays in its favor is a lack of pressure from local civil society groups to track weapons sales. Russia’s defense industry is secretive; the law does not oblige companies to report on arms exports as such, and usually this information falls under the state’s secrecy laws. A general lack of data and transparency has created a situation where civil society groups for monitoring arms trading simply do not exist.

Competition for Russia? Growing potential of Chinese arms

For now, Russia seems to be secure in its markets for arms in Africa. However, experts see the potential of China to become a bigger player for arms supplies in Africa. Currently, China accounts for 13% of arms exports to the continent.

“China has improved the quality and quantity of what it sells. They also do reverse-engineered Russian weapons. Since 2014, Russia has shared sensitive military technology as a part of its growing ties with China,” Stronski said.

Kuimova adds that today China is able to produce and offer all kinds of arms. “China is generally growing as an arms exporter and shows similar patterns as Russia in a way of giving weapons with less political conditions,” she explained.

Researcher Filatova does not see China as a threat to Russian arms in Africa, however — in her opinion, the main competitors for Russian arms will remain the same: the US and France. She defines China’s interest in Africa as predominantly economic and says that “Russia’s competition in Africa in that regard is already lost” — because economically, Russia is not able to offer what China can. Moscow instead focuses on natural resources exports and locking down arms deals. For arms importers, switching to other suppliers is costly, so the likelihood is high that Russia can ensure new deals with its arms buyers well into the future.

Pubblicato in: Armamenti, Cina

Cina. Nuova vernice anticorrosione per gli J-15 imbarcati.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2020-04-19.

2020-03-03__J-15 001

Rispettare le specifiche militari richiede una straordinaria cura dei dettagli, e necessita di avere una fiorente industria alle spalle.

È incredibile il numero delle differenti competenze che sono necessarie e che devono essere coordinata.

«The latest batch of China’s J-15 aircraft carrier-based fighter jet is getting new, green priming paint instead of the previous yellow one»

«Reports speculate it is a new anti-corrosion material that can enhance the aircraft’s capabilities»

«A J-15, which is under assembly at the Shenyang Aircraft Company under the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), can be seen covered in green priming paint»

«The color change in the priming paint likely indicates that it features a new type of anti-corrosion material»

«Aircraft carrier-based aircraft usually have stronger wear and tear properties compared to land-based aircraft due to extended exposure to sea water, salt haze, muggy weather and exhaust gas, and the priming paint is a key material that can protect the aircraft’s structure from being corroded and damaged »

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Quando poi si tratta di una portaerei e dei velivoli imbarcati, i già notevoli problemi tecnici risultano essere ingigantiti dal particolare ambiente operativo: il salino è corrosivo. Un miglioramento nelle vernici anti-corrosione determina una semplificazione della manutenzione ed una migliore operatività.

Si potrebbe anche essere sconcertati da quanto un piccolissimo particolare, di costo percentuale infimo, possa bloccare grandiosi progetti.

Ci si ricorda di quando la rottura delle guarnizioni determinarono il disastro dello Space Shuttle Challenger? Il professor Feynman, premio Nobel per la Fisica, effettuò una famosa dimostrazione, durante una udienza su come gli O-ring perdono resilienza e diventano soggetti a cedimenti a basse temperature, immergendo un campione di materiale in un bicchiere di acqua ghiacciata.

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J-15 aircraft carrier-based fighter jet gets new anti-corrosion paint: reports.

The latest batch of China’s J-15 aircraft carrier-based fighter jet is getting new, green priming paint instead of the previous yellow one. Reports speculate it is a new anti-corrosion material that can enhance the aircraft’s capabilities.

A J-15, which is under assembly at the Shenyang Aircraft Company under the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), can be seen covered in green priming paint in a set of photos released by the company on its website.

Previous J-15 fighter jets used yellow priming paint, according to multiple reports and documentaries.

The color change in the priming paint likely indicates that it features a new type of anti-corrosion material, Weihutang, a column on military affairs affiliated with China Central Television, reported on Tuesday.

Aircraft carrier-based aircraft usually have stronger wear and tear properties compared to land-based aircraft due to extended exposure to sea water, salt haze, muggy weather and exhaust gas, and the priming paint is a key material that can protect the aircraft’s structure from being corroded and damaged, Weihutang reported.

This will contribute to an increase in the J-15’s usage, lower maintenance costs and greater lifespan, the report said.

The Chinese Navy received the Shandong, its second aircraft carrier, in December 2019 and a third one is reportedly being built, so China needs more J-15s to fulfill this potential, analysts said.

It is nice to see the production of the J-15 is not being significantly delayed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, a military expert who asked not to be named told the Global Times on Thursday.

The new priming paint shows that the J-15 is becoming more powerful, as it is being improved to boost the aircraft carriers’ overall capability, the expert said.

Pubblicato in: Armamenti, Russia

Russia. Le forze aeree riceveranno altri 100 velivoli.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2020-03-05.

2020-02-29__Russia_100 nuovi aerei

«Le forze aerospaziali russe riceveranno nell’anno in corso circa 100 velivoli nuovi o ammodernati, come ha riferito lo scorso mese il Ministero della Difesa»

«Riguardo il caccia di quinta generazione Sukhoi Su-57 ad esempio, nelle parole dell’Amministratore Delegato di Rostech Sergey Chemezov, si viene a conoscenza che il 2020 sarà l’anno delle prime consegne alla VKS (o Forza Aerospaziale russa)»

«Nel 2020 inizierà la produzione della versione aggiornata del cacciabombardiere Sukhoi Su-34 a cui è stato assegnato l’indice di NVO (“nuove funzionalità” in russo)»

«Il 2020 vedrà molto probabilmente anche il lancio della produzione in serie dei primi elicotteri Kamov Ka-62»

«il 2020 sarà l’anno della firma di un contratto per oltre 100 nuovi elicotteri Kamov Ka-52 sviluppati nella una nuova versione denominata Ka-52M»

«Circa i progetti futuri della Difesa russa è bene citare anche il futuro bombardiere PAK-DA, un velivolo che nelle intenzioni dovrebbe adottare tecnologie stealth e che sarebbe in grado di rimanere in volo fino a 30 ore»

«L’altro progetto è il wide-body Ilyushin Il-96-400M che secondo il capo di UAC Yuri Slyusar dovrebbe anch’esso effettuare il primo volo nel 2020 (o al massimo ai primi mesi del 2021)»

«nel 2020 è prevista la consegna di otto nuovi aerei da trasporto Il-76MD-90A»

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Mr Putin riesce a riarmare la Russia con spese molto contenute.

Questo è forse il segreto militare meglio custodito dai russi.

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Le forze aeree russe riceveranno 100 velivoli nel 2020

Le forze aerospaziali russe riceveranno nell’anno in corso circa 100 velivoli nuovi o ammodernati, come ha riferito lo scorso mese il Ministero della Difesa. Secondo le dichiarazioni rese dai vari costruttori il 2020 sarà infatti un anno particolarmente attivo.

Riguardo il caccia di quinta generazione Sukhoi Su-57 ad esempio, nelle parole dell’Amministratore Delegato di Rostech Sergey Chemezov, si viene a conoscenza che il 2020 sarà l’anno delle prime consegne alla VKS (o Forza Aerospaziale russa); un impegno particolarmente intenso da parte dell’industria, UAC e il bureau Sukhoi che deve fornire 76 Su-57 entro il 2028, ma al contempo accelerare la messa in opera del nuovo propulsore “Izdeliye 30” realizzato dalla Saturn NPO. Uno step che costituirebbe un notevole salto di qualità per l’intero progetto.

Nel 2020 inizierà la produzione della versione aggiornata del cacciabombardiere Sukhoi Su-34 a cui è stato assegnato l’indice di NVO (“nuove funzionalità” in russo) e il cui contratto dovrebbe essere firmato a breve poiché sembra sia già stata emessa la lista di parametri essenziali quali i numeri di esemplari da realizzare e i relativi tempi di consegna).

Oltre all’avionica, alle armi e alle attrezzature di guerra elettronica aggiornate saranno installate dei pod da ricognizione specifici (di cui Analisi Difesa ha riferito alla fine del 2018) e sviluppati in tre varianti: UKR-RT (ELINT), UKR-OE (con sensori optoelettronici) e UKR-RL (radar) in grado secondo i costruttori di rilevare emissioni radar, segnali radio e persino comunicazioni tra telefoni cellulari a centinaia di chilometri di distanza.

Il 2020 vedrà molto probabilmente anche il lancio della produzione in serie dei primi elicotteri Kamov Ka-62, un progetto giunto già al completamento dei test aziendali sul terzo prototipo; un elicottero che in realtà sta affrontando un evidente dilatamento dei tempi nella messa in opera e sviluppo ma che potrebbe trovare un discreto interesse nel mercato militare e parastatale oltre che nel settore off-shore.

A proposito di elicotteri e del gruppo Kamov, il 2020 sarà l’anno della firma di un contratto per oltre 100 nuovi elicotteri Kamov Ka-52 sviluppati nella una nuova versione denominata Ka-52M; una variante che prevede numerose modifiche implementate a seguito del conflitto siriano e da consegnarsi entro il 2027.

Secondo il Vice Ministro della Difesa Alexei Krivoruchko i lavori in corso per la modernizzazione procedono speditamente ma gli stessi saranno completati a partire dal 2022.

Circa i progetti futuri della Difesa russa è bene citare anche il futuro bombardiere PAK-DA, un velivolo che nelle intenzioni dovrebbe adottare tecnologie stealth e che sarebbe in grado di rimanere in volo fino a 30 ore: secondo fonti aziendali del costruttore Tupolev alcuni elementi del primo prototipo sarebbero già in corso di realizzazione considerando che il primo volo è previsto a partire dal 2025 e l’ingresso in servizio nel 2027; un arrivo che consentirà la radiazione dei longevi Tu-95 (dopo ben 75 anni dal primo volo), e al contempo permetterà un’integrazione con i Tu-22M3M e i Tu-160M2.

Quanto al Tu-95MS è bene riferire che saranno ben sei gli esemplari rimodernati consegnati nel 2020 alla VKS; mentre per l’ultima variante del Tu-160 (denominata Tu-160M2) è molto probabile che questo possa essere l’anno del primo volo considerando che la costruzione è stata avviata nel 2019 e la consegna del primo esemplare è prevista per la fine del 2021.

Menzione a parte invece per due progetti per l’industria civile: il primo programma (a cui partecipa anche il bureau MiG attraverso l’assemblaggio finale presso lo stabilimento di Lukhovitsy) è l’Ilyushin Il-114-300, il cui volo inaugurale dovrebbe avvenire proprio nel 2020 e la cui prima cellula assemblata è stata presentata lo scorso 29 dicembre presso l’istituto di ricerca di volo intitolato a M.M. Gromov a Zhukovsky.

Si tratta di un velivolo realizzato sulla base dell’Il-114 che effettuò il primo volo il 29 marzo del 1990 e che, come molti programmi aeronautici colpiti dalla crisi dell’impero sovietico, dovette arrestarsi dopo una produzione in serie (che avveniva a Tashkent, in Uzbekistan) di una ventina di esemplari.

Il programma di ammodernamento e ripresa della costruzione in serie di questo regional e contestuale trasferimento della sua produzione in Russia fu avviato nel 2014 su ordine del Presidente Putin (come trattato a suo tempo da Analisi Difesa), allo scopo di fornire al mercato del trasporto aereo nazionale un velivolo moderno della classe da 52-64 posti con un carico utile fino a 7 t e consentire così la sostituzione dei più anziani Antonov An-24.

Nel biennio 2022-2023 la società UAC prevede di concludere le certificazioni e iniziare a produrre 12 aeromobili all’anno con un primo obiettivo di vendita alle compagnie aeree nazionali, ma in un futuro a breve termine con un occhio di riguardo per il mercato estero considerando che, secondo i dati forniti dal costruttore, rispetto al pari classe franco-italiano ATR-72 (che ha una portata massima di volo di 3600 km senza rifornimento), l’Il-114-300 raggiungerebbe i 5000 km con un evidente consumo di carburante dei suoi turboelica Klimov TV7-117 nettamente inferiore.

L’altro progetto è il wide-body Ilyushin Il-96-400M che secondo il capo di UAC Yuri Slyusar dovrebbe anch’esso effettuare il primo volo nel 2020 (o al massimo ai primi mesi del 2021): variante dell’Il-96, l’Il-96-400M è la versione passeggeri del velivolo da carico Il-96-400T dotata di motori PS-90A1. La sua fusoliera è di 9,65 m più lunga dell’attuale variante Il-96-300 civile e la capienza prevista è di 390 passeggeri. Nel 2017, il governo russo ha finanziato il suo sviluppo con un finanziamento di 57,4 milioni di dollari. Mentre scriviamo l’ufficio stampa della UAC comunica che il primo prototipo di volo è stato consegnato all’officina di assemblaggio finale; prossimo passo l’installazione dei sistemi di controllo e l’installazione degli interni.

A proposito di Ilyushin, non dimentichiamo infine l’aereo da trasporto militare leggero Il-112V, dove il terzo e quarto esemplare sottoposti ad una vera e propria dieta dimagrante potrebbero volare proprio nel 2020 considerando che la produzione in serie è prevista per il 2022 (e con la realizzazione programmata di non meno di 10 esemplari l’anno).

Infine, sempre in tema di Ilyushin, nel 2020 è prevista la consegna di otto nuovi aerei da trasporto Il-76MD-90A poiché nel 2019 sono state consegnati solo tre esemplari dei cinque previsti da contratto siglato nel 2012 per 39 velivoli, evidenziando alcune problematiche logistiche interne della società Aviastar-SP.

L’obiettivo è quello di accelerare attraverso un graduale e costante ammodernamento delle linee di produzione, una prassi recepita da buona parte delle aziende aerospaziali russe che devono essere così in grado di soddisfare gli ordini interni ed eventualmente anche a quelli esteri e colmare così l’impellente necessità di provvedere alla sostituzione delle categorie di macchine che nella Forza Aerospaziale russa sono estremamente carenti. Come i velivoli da trasporto, considerando ancora la cospicua flotta di aerei Antonov di vecchia generazione ancora presenti e le aerocisterne attualmente presenti in soli 19 esemplari, un numero esiguo per la dimensione e le ambizioni della stessa VKS.

Pubblicato in: Armamenti, Cina

Cina. Secondo esportatore mondiale di armi. – Sipri.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2020-02-22.

2020-01-31__Cina Export Armi 001

La Cina sta crescendo a velocità vorticosa.

Nel breve volgere di trenta anni è passata dall’essere un paese più che misero ad una superpotenza politica, economica e finanziaria.

Seguendo i dettami del grande Deng Xiaoping, la Cina ha mantenuto e continua a mantenere un basso profilo ed a restare avvolta da una cortina di discrezione, ma la sua presenza non può certo passare inosservata.

«Si vis pacem, para bellum» è frase sincopata dedotta da Vegezio.

Non solo: senza forze armate decenti sarebbe impossibile gestire una politica estera.

«These new estimates are most likely still an underestimate.»

«A lack of transparency in the arms sales figures of Chinese arms companies continues to hinder a complete understanding of China’s arms industry»

«China is the second-largest arms producer in the world, behind the United States but ahead of Russia»

«In 2017, of the 20 largest companies in the SIPRI Top 100, 11 were based in the USA, 6 in Western Europe and 3 in Russia»

«If the four Chinese arms companies investigated in the study were included in the Top 100, they would all rank among the top 20, with combined estimated arms sales totalling $54.1 billion»

«The largest of the Chinese companies is Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), which with arms sales totalling $20.1 billion would rank sixth largest in the world. China North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO), which would place eighth in the Top 100 with sales of $17.2 billion, is in fact the world’s largest producer of land systems»

«Contrary to most other major global arms producers, Chinese arms companies specialize primarily in one arms production sector, for example AVIC produces mostly aircraft and avionics»

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Si deve prendere atto della nuova situazione: la Cina esporta armi per 54.1 miliardi di Usd.

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Il Sipri, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, ha pubblicato il seguente report:

New SIPRI data reveals scale of Chinese arms industry

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«New research from SIPRI suggests that #China is the second-largest arms producer in the world, behind the #UnitedStates but ahead of #Russia

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(Stockholm, 27 January 2020) New research from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) suggests that China is the second-largest arms producer in the world, behind the United States but ahead of Russia. This research represents the most comprehensive picture of Chinese companies’ weapons production to date.

In the past, a lack of transparency has meant that the value of Chinese companies’ arms sales has been either unknown or difficult to reliably estimate. For this reason, the SIPRI Top 100—an annual ranking of the world’s 100 largest arms-producing and military services companies—has so far not been able to include Chinese arms companies.

Advances in reliable estimates

SIPRI has identified information from 2015–17 on the value of arms sales by major Chinese arms companies. The research looks at four companies for which credible financial information is available. The companies cover three sectors of conventional arms production: aerospace, electronics and land systems. With the increase of available data on these companies, it is now possible to develop reasonably reliable estimates of the scale of the Chinese arms industry.

China has some of the world’s largest arms producers

Based on estimated arms sales in 2015–17, the four major Chinese arms companies chosen for the study can now finally be compared with the major arms companies from the rest of the world. In 2017, of the 20 largest companies in the SIPRI Top 100, 11 were based in the USA, 6 in Western Europe and 3 in Russia. If the four Chinese arms companies investigated in the study were included in the Top 100, they would all rank among the top 20, with combined estimated arms sales totalling $54.1 billion. Three of the companies would be ranked in the top 10.

The largest of the Chinese companies is Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), which with arms sales totalling $20.1 billion would rank sixth largest in the world. China North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO), which would place eighth in the Top 100 with sales of $17.2 billion, is in fact the world’s largest producer of land systems.

Weapon production more specialized

Contrary to most other major global arms producers, Chinese arms companies specialize primarily in one arms production sector, for example AVIC produces mostly aircraft and avionics. Most of the large non-Chinese arms companies produce a wider range of military products across different sectors—covering aerospace, land systems and shipbuilding within one company.

For editors

These new estimates are most likely still an underestimate. A lack of transparency in the arms sales figures of Chinese arms companies continues to hinder a complete understanding of China’s arms industry. This new research, however, acts as an important scoping study that opens the possibility for further research and prepares the ground for a fuller estimate of Chinese arms sales.