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Taiwan Is Serious About Its Naval Modernization

July 15, 2018

A French Scorpene-class submarine in the Royal Malaysian Navy. Via Wikimedia Commons.

The island nation China considers a “rogue province” is moving ahead with plans to strengthen its navy against the PLAN, whose capabilities are now too great to ignore. This month Taiwanese media revealed the extent of the country’s submarine acquisition project by naming the countries pitching their designs. To this day, the ROC Navy is still reliant on US-made vessels although it has sought assistance from other major NATO member states in the past.

The acquisition of submarines is being carried out with US assistance and is divided into three phases. First, a preliminary design is chosen. Second, the design is made into a blueprint that affords compatibility with US-made subsystems. Third, production commences in the 2020s.

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The Philippine Navy Is Practicing In The South China Sea Too

July 14, 2018

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz. Via Wikimedia Commons.

This week saw the Philippine Navy’s largest surface vessels join the US Navy for “at-sea evolutions” at an undisclosed part of the South China Sea. The exercises were called Sama Sama, which is Filipino for “together, jointly” or “togetherness” and is meant to convey the unshakable alliance between Manila and Washington, DC. Members of Japan’s own maritime self-defense force were reported to have joined as observers.

On July 9 the Indo-Pacific Command announced the USNS Millinocket and the USNS Salvor, along with a single P-8 Poseidon anti-submarine warfare aircraft, were sailing with the PN’s BRP Ramon Alcaraz and the BRP Tarlac. The Ramon Alcaraz is a retired US Coast Guard Hamilton-class cutter serving as a frigate while the BRP Tarlac is a Makassar-class LPD made in Indonesia.

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China Keeps Rolling Out More Type 055 Destroyers

July 14, 2018

The first Type 055 destroyer being launched in June 2017. Via Xinhua/Chinese MND.

Earlier this month Chinese state media published news that launch ceremonies were held on July 3 for two completed Type 055 class guided missile destroyers. The event took place at a Dalian shipyard where naval surface combatants are assembled in near-total secrecy. This follows another low-key Type 055 launch in April, bringing the total number of these ship to four. The very first Type 055 was dramatically unveiled in June last year.

The Type 055’s are recognized as the largest modern warships made in East Asia that are on par with the US Navy’s Ticonderoga-class destroyers and Japan’s own Atago-class destroyers.

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Azerbaijan Takes Pride In Exporting (Some) Weapons

July 13, 2018

These are Su-25 ground attack jets of the Azerbaijan air force. They aren’t for export. Via Wikimedia Commons.

A quarter century since gaining independence Azerbaijan’s fledgling military industries have graduated to exporting abroad. Although the oil-rich autocracy run by President Ilham Aliyev is still trying to crawl out of an economic crisis, this hasn’t curbed the regime’s appetite for waging war. On June 26 a grandiose military parade in Baku was held to mark a hundred years after Azerbaijan established its own armed forces in 1918.

But since the beginning of the decade Azerbaijan has carefully built a remarkable state-owned military-industrial sector that has easily found customers outside the region. Of course, its neighbors Armenia and Georgia export military products too, but Azerbaijan’s capacity seems larger.

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Corporate Fraud In The Philippines Is Usually An Inside Job

July 12, 2018

Via Wikimedia Commons.

The reality of business risk in the Philippines is a stark contrast from the impeccable public image its largest private sector enterprises cultivate. If it’s up to John Walker, a veteran special investigator and founder of Adsum Risk Consulting (ARC), experience has taught him that most financial crimes involving businesses are done by employees. The public record backs him up.

Investors need to constantly re-examine their strategies if they’re entering an emerging market in Southeast Asia. When the rule of law and regulatory institutions are often lacking, their assets and money are at extreme risk. Here are a few horror stories from the Philippines.

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Armored Cars: General Dynamics Flyer 72 TUV

July 12, 2018

Via General Dynamics.

The Flyer 72 Tactical Utility Vehicle or TUV is a variant of the Flyer off-road vehicle family that’s optimized for hauling cargo. Since late 2014 both the Flyer 60 and 72 became the preferred long-range patrol vehicles for the US military’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) since these fit inside a C-130 or a V-22 Osprey. They aren’t as clumsy as MRAPs either.

Open top commando transports have flourished since the beginning of this decade and both the Flyer 60 and 72 succeeded against the odds thanks to SOCOM’s patronage. To broaden its appeal, General Dynamics is casting the TUV as a protected 4×4 with a spacious bed. But it can perform other jobs as well.

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The Philippine Air Force Is Getting A Huge New Budget

July 11, 2018

A US Marine Corps V-22 Osprey during joint exercises in the Philippines. Via Wikimedia Commons.

This month President Rodrigo Duterte confirmed the extent of the budget increase for the armed forces. In a speech to commemorate the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) 71st anniversary Duterte mentioned billions of pesos will be spent for the branch by 2022. This is to accomplish the “Second Horizon” or Horizon 2 modernization program that also falls under the Flight Plan 2028, whose ultimate goal is full coverage of Philippines’ airspace within the next 10 years.

While Duterte didn’t get too specific on what’s in store for the PAF, he did say there were “16 projects in the pipeline” with a total value reaching Php 139 billion by the end of his term. When calculated using today’s US dollar exchange rate ($1=Php 53.56) the amount is equivalent to $2.6 billion.

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The Chinese Navy Is Always Practicing War In The South China Sea

July 10, 2018

Via China Military Online.

As expected, PLAN warships were conducting “live-fire” and “maritime training” exercises at undisclosed locations in the South China Sea this month. The Chinese military’s own news website published separate photo galleries for the LSTs and frigates that were scheduled–these activities are never spontaneous–to carry them out during the first week of July.

So last week, two PLAN landing ships with hull numbers 934 and 994 simulated emergency scenarios at sea. It’s not clear if they were accompanied by escorts but another group of warships, a Type 056 corvette and a Type 053H frigate, tested their onboard weapons over a three day period from July 5 until 7.

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Oh No! Hezbollah Has Grown Into A Real Army

July 9, 2018

Via Wikimedia Commons.

Last week the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) published a brief about the militant group Hezbollah’s arsenal of missiles and rockets. CSIS briefs are meant to serve as digestible guides for explaining global security topics. The report titled Hezbollah’s Missiles and Rockets: An Overview was co-authored by the researchers Shaan Shaikh and Ian Williams. It runs 12 pages long and provides a convenient illustrated chart of Hezbollah weapons followed by entire sections devoted to the group’s rockets, missiles, and anti-aircraft defenses.

The report should appeal to anyone with a strong interest in the problems besetting the Middle East and is available as a free download.

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The Caracal 817AR Is The First True Arab Battle Rifle

July 8, 2018

Via Caracal.

One of today’s newest infantry small arms is from the Middle East. A subsidiary of the Tawazun conglomerate, which is responsible for nurturing the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) military industries, has a catalog that spans a handgun, a submachinegun, and a modified variant of the popular M4 carbine. But Caracal’s latest product is an unmistakable battle rifle chambered for the powerful 7.62x51mm round.

Locally designed small arms are rare in the Arab world but during the 1950s Egypt was already making its own 7.62x39mm rifles. Both Egypt and Iraq also used to mass-produce copies of Soviet AKMs. For decades, Saudi Arabia and Sudan both had state-owned factories assembling licensed West German G3 rifles before switching to other models.

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All Big Companies In The Philippines Need Security Managers

July 6, 2018

Via Wikimedia Commons.

The “private sector” is never as clean and faultless as its slick corporate marketing suggests. More so in developing countries like the Philippines where a yawning gap prevails between compliance and ethics. For Adsum Risk Consulting (ARC), a boutique security provider with a heritage going back three decades, the ugliness can be disheartening. Simply put, corruption and crime are permanent bugs that every organization must deal with.

For ARC’s founder John Walker, whose previous life as a special investigator for the US military prepared him for the rigors of risk consulting, it takes nuance and methodology to beat workplace crime. Here are his prescriptions.

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Armored Cars: BaoJi SVM Tiger

July 5, 2018

Via BaoJi Special Vehicle Manufacturing Co. Ltd.

A rare example of a successful Chinese armored vehicle that wasn’t made by a state-owned company is the “China Tiger” or just Tiger. Not to be confused with either the GAZ Tigr, with whom it shares a slight resemblance, or its rival from Dongfeng, the Tiger is the most versatile model sold by Shaanxi BaoJi Special Vehicle Manufacturing Co. Ltd.

The Tiger, whose first public appearance was in 2012, is meant to be used as a patrol truck for military and law enforcement. It’s capable of transporting nine armed passengers along with the driver and co-driver. Its performance characteristics are on par with its competition from the West and it can be adapted for specific roles like special operations recce. (See above.)

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