During the latter half of 2016 Chinese ships carried out oceanographic surveys in the waters off Luzon. The largest island in the Republic of the Philippines is both economic heartland and, spread across the rim of fabled Manila Bay, the center of government. It was only in March 2017 when Philippine authorities acknowledged these incursions on the country’s eastern seaboard.
But the suspicious activities on Benham Rise, and the tepid response from Manila, do inspire fresh thoughts of a possible showdown over the South China Sea, where Beijing is fortifying seven artificial islands. A deliberate Chinese presence imposed on Benham Rise and the Philippine Sea goes beyond a violation of borders–it jeopardizes any future military alliance between Manila and Washington DC, neutralizing sea lanes and airways to Guam, Okinawa, and Hawaii. This leaves the Philippines cut off, encircled, and irrevocably doomed if its Mutual Defense Treaty with the US is never fulfilled.
If fighting erupts between China and the Philippines, the former will possess inordinate advantages when prying disputed waters from Manila’s grasp. Here’s how it might pan out.
One of the brightest sparks in the European arms industry today just made a bet on a new armored car. As surplus MRAPs are spilling out of the Middle East and Africa in torrential volumes, manufacturers are turning to lighter vehicles with diverse capabilities. The Tawazun Group’s Nimr is a good example of this trend.
With Serbia’s arms industry on a rebound state-owned defense exporter Yugoimport SDPR is dipping its toes in the same tactical vehicle whirlpool. The Milosh was debuted at IDEX 2017 in Abu Dhabi. This is intentional because the region’s chronic security problems makes its countries eager customers for armored cars.
Historians may never agree on the exact year that represented the height of the Cold War but it was in 1975 when, for the first time ever, the Soviet nuclear arsenal surpassed America’s in sheer warheads.
Then it began to grow, larger and larger.
The same principle applied to the Soviet Navy. The threat of US carrier battle groups was too great to ignore. The proper response was a radical approach to shipbuilding. Not submarines or aircraft carriers, whose technology the Soviets struggled to grasp, but enormous fighting vessels whose purpose was to scour the oceans and kill entire fleets in a hail of missiles.
Last week the South China Morning Post broke news of the PLA’s vast expansion of its marines. The report by Minnie Chan cited a gradual 400% jump in manpower for the newly minted branch.
China doesn’t maintain an equivalent to the US Marine Corps. But a 12,000-strong infantry force is attached to the PLAN. There’s a universal consensus the PLAN is deploying abroad soon in full-blown expeditions outside Asia.
The massive complex in Gwadar, Pakistan, and a base in Djibouti for guarding the Red Sea are deemed the likeliest destinations of the marines. These outposts and China’s notorious artificial islands form a maritime highway that’s essential to Beijing’s hegemonic goals.
For three days in Madrid the crème de la crème of Spanish industry enjoyed their own arms show. Though bereft of the usual pomp and flair associated with DSEi or Eurosatory, the 6th International Exhibition for Security & Defense Technologies or HOMSEC 2017 was an important gathering in its own right.
After all, the scale of participation offered a glimpse into Spain’s role in the broader European defense landscape. 21st Century Asian Arms Race is a media partner for HOMSEC 2017.
Organized by Grupo Atenea and lasting from March 14 to 16, HOMSEC 2017 brought together private enterprise and the national armed forces for an event promoting homeland security and its tools.
This is the sixth installment of HOMSEC, which is held every two years, and total exhibitors for 2017 numbered 195.
The home court advantage allowed Spanish firms and their products to shine in the absence of the familiar French and German heavyweights. The once vaunted local arms industry is now gone, anyway, since these firms have either closed shop or were swallowed up by acquisitions. What replaced them are a collection of medium-sized enterprises specializing in either services or equipment.
Surveying HOMSEC 2017’s modest exhibitor list reveals companies who provide the minutiae of modern warfare and security. These span such quotidian fields as ammunition, aeronautics, border protection, engineering, food, humanitarian aid, software and simulation, surveillance, and vehicles.
The activities in HOMSEC 2017 did reflect current trends found in most arms shows today–the primacy of automation, data software and geomapping, portable unmanned vehicles, surveillance systems, and dual-use technology.
A busy conference agenda was also readied for the duration of HOMSEC 2017. More than 40 speakers were scheduled to hold short seminars on a variety of topics.
Grupo Atenea hasn’t released its post-show figures yet. But the previous HOMSEC in 2015 can give a few helpful benchmarks. In 2015 nearly 13,000 people attended the exhibition, including group visits from 25 countries. Exhibitors hailed from 15 countries and 1,600 guests participated in the scheduled conferences and business presentations.
Iran once again sent tremors across the web this past weekend. On Sunday, March 12, state-run media broke the story of a new main battle tank that was superior to its rivals in the West. The new vehicle named “Karrar” was unveiled in an elaborate press conference organized by the ministry of defense.
The March 2017 issue of OEWatch runs 67 pages. The cover story features a stock image of a Chinese honor guard to accompany the special essay on page 55, The Strategic Support Force: Update and Overview.
Some of the world’s largest defense contractors are in Baghdad this week for the International Defense Exhibition in Iraq or IQDEX for short. Run by the events organizer United, Iraq’s only recognized arms show trails IDEX in Abu Dhabi and features many of the same participants.
Now in its sixth installment, IQDEX 2017 has 80 companies from East Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and North America exhibiting at the Baghdad International Fairground from March 5 until March 8. The participating firms comprise the main suppliers of Iraq’s embattled security forces these last 20 years, including China and the US.
21st Century Asian Arms Race is a media partner for IQDEX 2017.
Every two years thousands flock to Abu Dhabi for the International Defense Exhibition and Conference or IDEX. Some claim it’s the largest arms show in the Middle East. Spanning the better part of a week inside the National Exhibition Centre, IDEX brings the world’s top defense contractors under a single roof. Joining them are a dizzying multitude of guests, be they royalty, VIPs, or journalists.
Tim Mahon is a freelance writer for Mönch Publishing Group, a German magazine publisher, and was at IDEX 2017 to cover the action. Held from February 19 until 23, IDEX was scheduled alongside its maritime counterpart NAVDEX to showcase the UAE’s reputation as a serious customer for military tech. Dozens of new weapon systems and equipment were debuted during this year’s installment.
During the course of the arms show, however, Mahon suffered a heart attack. He was immediately hospitalized but the resulting costs put him in dire financial straits–lacking corporate travel insurance, Mahon had to pay for his treatment upfront.
In the beginning of February this year it was revealed Myanmar and Pakistan were negotiating a follow-on order for multirole fighter jets. As an initiative of the Myanmar Air Force, which flies both Russian and Chinese aircraft along with leftover antiques, the goal was to upgrade its capabilities with a low-cost design suited for a defensive role.
The Southeast Asian country most threatened by Chinese encroachment on its long coastline could be the first true customer for India’s deadly BrahMos cruise missile. Earlier this month it was reported that Hanoi and New Delhi engaged in “talks” over the weapon system and further acquisitions–like Akash surface to air missiles (SAM), pictured above.