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Protect 2018: Yitu Technology Brings AI-Powered Facial Recognition To The Philippines

March 18, 2018

Via Wikimedia Commons.

A bleeding edge Chinese startup was one of the highlights at the recent Protect 2018, the annual security conference whose latest installment took place from March 12 until 13 at the New World Makati Hotel. The Shanghai-based Yitu Technology was a gold sponsor at Protect 2018 and joined the accompanying exhibition to showcase its facial recognition software.

Yitu Technology was founded in 2012 by two engineers who wanted to advance the state of homegrown artificial intelligence (AI) in China. The company has so far passed three funding rounds from investors on either side of the Pacific Ocean and has offices in Beijing, Hangzhou, Shanghai, Singapore, and Silicon Valley. Yitu plan on introducing facial recognition and big data analytics products to the manufacturing and service sectors in the Philippines.

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Armored Cars: Denel RG32M LTV

March 16, 2018

Via Wikimedia Commons.

The glow of international success has done little to boost the RG32M’s reputation. A proven fighting machine that has driven over cold and hot environments across three continents, the current state of the world’s armored car market is doing this admirable 4×4 a huge disfavor. Its best attributes, being reliability and the ample room it provides for countermeasures and weapons, are smothered by an overcrowded playing field.

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Highlights Of OEWatch For March 2018

March 14, 2018

OEWatch this March brings one of its lesser known sections to the forefront. On the cover is a stock image of African soldiers in a dusty savannah behind the striking bold headline Stability in Africa. OEWatch is available as a free download from the APAN Community Network.

The latest OEWatch runs 78 pages and contains six sections. The longest sections are Asia-Pacific and, not surprisingly, Russia, Ukraine. This issue marks the arrival of Matthew Stein as an editor, replacing the researcher Karen Kaya. Tom Wilhelm is still the editor-in-chief while the magazine’s layout is done by Lucas Winter.

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Should The Philippine Military Buy More Sokol Helicopters?

March 10, 2018

Via Wikimedia Commons.

As part of its long-term modernization plans the Philippines’ Department of National Defense (DND) signed a contract for 16 new Bell 412EPI helicopters in December last year and announced the deal this February. The airframes were supposed to be delivered by the Canadian subsidiary of Bell Helicopter between 2019 and 2020.

It’s unfortunate members of the Canadian government took issue with the purchase and wanted to scrutinize whether or not the rotorcraft might threaten civilian lives in a counterinsurgency role. Always sensitive to criticism, the Duterte administration responded by cancelling the deal. This leaves the Philippine military without modern analogues of their favorite UH-1 helos.

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Go Read This Bizarre PLA Op-Ed About Japanese Nuclear Weapons

March 6, 2018

Via Wikimedia Commons.

For the record, Japan doesn’t have any nuclear weapons. Yet there has always been wild speculation from both ends of the Asia-Pacific over the likelihood it could use its manufacturing and technology base to assemble nuclear-armed ICBMs. This is the gist of a recent editorial published by the Chinese military’s official propaganda outlet.

Titled Capable of Possessing Nuclear Weapons Overnight, Japan’s Nuclear Issue Draws Attention Again and published on March 2, its author Wang Peng is reportedly employed in the PLA Air Force Engineering University. The near-panicked tone of Peng’s essay manages to avoid the inconvenient truth that China has four nuclear-armed neighbors. So why pick on Japan?

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The PLAN Love Sailing In The South China Sea

March 5, 2018

The view aboard the frigate Mianyang. Via China Military Online.

It’s not a secret that flotillas of Chinese warships are constantly plying the waters between the Philippines and Vietnam. In what appears to be a monthly occurrence, the PLAN deploy ships to the Paracel Islands before sending them farther out for maneuvers. Of course, all navies need to maintain an operational tempo.

But since the South China Sea is now a potential theater for global war these activities are clear proof a confrontation is brewing with the Quad Alliance, whose members states have open invitations to join US Navy FONOPs. In fact, two PLAN guided missile destroyers were in the South China Sea on the same week the USS Carl Vinson departed Manila and patrolled the region.

Here are the photos released by the PLAN’s own news outlet.

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Protect 2018 Is Happening From March 12-13

March 3, 2018

The Philippines’ largest annual security conference kicks off this year at the New World Hotel in Makati from March 12 to 13. The Protect series is one of the longest running local events dedicated to business risks and counter-terrorism. This year’s itinerary was designed to bring together the c-suite and the g-suite, where private sector executives rub elbows with their counterparts in government.

The 13th installment of Protect features a two-day agenda packed with morning and afternoon sessions with sumptuous lunch breaks in between. 21st Century Asian Arms Race (21AAR) is a media partner for Protect 2018.

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Armored Cars: Ukrainian Armor Varta-Novator

March 2, 2018

Via Ukrainian Armor.

In late 2017 the vehicle manufacturer Ukrainian Armor teased its latest creation, the Varta-Novator. Its name was supposed to recall the earlier MRAP made by the same company. The Novator, however, is an attempt to meet requirements for “internal troops” and special forces in lieu of a heavier BTR or a civilian SUV.

The Novator and another armored 4×4 produced in Ukraine, the Kraz Spartan, are based on an imported Ford F550 chassis. The resulting modular trucks are then tailored to perform specific roles in the customer’s motor pool. But the Novator isn’t even in production yet and there are few indications it will keep its original appearance.

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Bangladeshi Soldiers Are Issued A Unique Assault Rifle

March 1, 2018

Via Wikimedia Commons.

As gun makers continue to accessorize small arms for no apparent reason the soldiers of one South Asian state have embraced a unique rifle that isn’t used anywhere else. It’s called the BD-08 and it’s made in an ordnance factory owned by the government of Bangladesh.

The weapon itself, however, is of Chinese origin and is better known as the Type 81. The reasons why Bangladesh chose this rifle are still unclear. Even with its ample stocks of AK-47 knockoffs and multitudinous alternatives, the BD-08 was standardized and will remain so for decades to come.

It’s actually a fitting achievement for one of Asia’s most successful firearm designs.

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Ng Eng Hen Just Perfectly Explained The South China Sea Crisis

February 28, 2018

A lone outpost on Collins Reef in the Spratly Islands. Via Wikimedia Commons.

One of the understated highlights at the recent Munich Security Conference was a roundtable attended by NATO officials and some very prestigious speakers. Among them was Singapore’s own jet set defense minister, Dr. Ng Eng Hen, to brief the attendees on the South China Sea. Singapore’s defense ministry published a transcript of Ng’s remarks on February 17 and it should be required reading for all China analysts.

In the span of a few minutes, Ng explained why the South China Sea is such a big deal for Asia’s geopolitics and the ASEAN’s attempts to accommodate Beijing’s expansionist claims over the waters. This year’s roundtable had another luminary, the author and journalist Bill Hayton, called in to serve as a moderator. Hayton is one of the foremost authorities on the South China Sea and penned an accessible bestseller on the subject.

What follows are excerpted text from Ng’s speech. These should serve as a convenient selection of the defense minister’s insights at the roundtable.

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Under Duterte, The Philippines Remains Completely Defenseless

February 24, 2018

Via Wikimedia Commons.

After 17 months in office it’s now beyond any doubt President Rodrigo Duterte’s pivot to China’s “ideological flow” is nothing more than kind words mixed with optimism. He’s completely cynical about it too. During a rambling speech at an event organized by the business community, Duterte quipped that perhaps it was better if the Philippines became a Chinese province.

The lighthearted gaffe from a head of state known for his colorful vocabulary didn’t go down well with the local press and the responses by Filipinos on social media were even less charitable. The belated attempt by the Malacañang spin factory to massage Duterte’s words didn’t work either.

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The Philippines Is Still Glad For The US Navy

February 24, 2018

The USS Carl Vinson in 2012. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Contrary to the Duterte administration’s eager courtship of Beijing, the longstanding alliance between Manila and Washington, DC remains firm. This was apparent when the Carl Vinson Strike Group paid a visit to Manila on February 16, a Friday. Because of its size, the nuclear-powered carrier lay anchored some 10 kilometers from the coastal metropolis. It was accompanied by the guided missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy.

The Carl Vinson and its escort left on the 19th but not before receiving members of the Philippine military and government during the weekend. President Duterte himself, who’s a keen visitor of foreign naval vessels, didn’t bother to drop by and make a speech for protocol’s sake.

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