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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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Not A Month Goes By Without PLAN Exercises In The South China Sea

February 22, 2018

Via China Military Online.

As Beijing and Washington, DC struggle to dominate the Asia-Pacific one particular body of water is the most likely flashpoint in a genuine shooting war. It isn’t the Taiwan Strait. Chinese state media have always played a crucial role advertising the PLAN’s slow annexation of the South China Sea. A not so subtle tactic is to publicize military exercises in the contested area.

In January, for example, a sizable “landing ship flotilla” spent three days conducting drills for a mock sea battle. It’s unknown if a marine amphibious exercise on a secluded beach also took place. But the message couldn’t be clearer: China’s navy is the master of these waves.

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Armored Cars: Practika Kozak 2

February 21, 2018

Via Practika

Since the war against Russian-backed separatists began in 2014 Ukraine’s automotive industry managed a remarkable pivot to armored vehicle production. A fine example of this effort are the Kozak trucks assembled by Practika. More than a run of the mill effort by a firm desperate to corner some business while an armed conflict is raging, the Kozaks’ merits should earn it some badly needed brand recognition.

What makes the Kozaks so promising is an impressive adaptability that’s sure to impress end users. Practika made sure the Kozak 2 and its siblings fulfill the broad needs of contemporary militaries who can’t be bothered with–or simply can’t afford–expensive tracked APCs.

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Myanmar Is Stocking Up On Russian Jets

February 20, 2018

Via Wikimedia Commons.

As its global reputation ebbs Myanmar continues rebuilding its air force with Moscow’s assistance. It was announced last month that Naypyidaw signed an agreement with the Russian defense minister, who was on a visit accompanied by his staff, for a half dozen Su-30 multirole fighters.

This marks another breakthrough for United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), whose coveted bespoke Sukhois are a hit with so many different customers. The previous year had a total of 19 aircraft–eight Su-30’s for Bangladesh and 11 Su-35’s for Indonesia–ordered in Southeast Asia alone. The adoption of Su-30’s in Myanmar’s air force, if followed by additional airframes, cements Russia’s growing prestige in ASEAN military affairs.

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Is The Chinese J-20 Stealth Fighter A Flop?

February 18, 2018

Via Wikimedia Commons.

Recently published analysis of the J-20 may have done irreparable damage to the hype surrounding the twin engine stealth fighter. Often hailed as a peer to the US-made F-22 Raptor, the delta wing-and-canards Chinese stealth fighter is the first of its kind in the world. But ever since it entered service in early 2017 and got its combat readiness approved by the PLAAF this February, troubling new details have cast doubt on its abilities.

Two articles in particular raise some very controversial points about the Chinese air force’s most advanced airframe. According to a bombshell report by the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the J-20 isn’t even good enough for its anointed role.

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Highlights Of OEWatch For February 2018

February 14, 2018

February’s OEWatch takes after previous issues where the cover features the prevailing topic for the magazine. This month it’s Iran: Foreign Perspectives and an entire section is devoted to the Islamic Republic. OEWatch is available as a free download from the APAN Community Network.

The latest OEWatch runs 72 pages with seven sections. Contrary to its main Iranian theme, the longest part still falls under Russia, Ukraine.

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Chinese Submarines Are Giving The Bangladesh Navy A Boost

February 12, 2018

Archival photo of a Romeo-class submarine, a vessel that was subsequently copied by Chinese shipyards. Via Wikimedia Commons.

As advanced weapons continue pouring into South Asia one local naval arm just acquired a modest undersea warfare option. Bangladesh, with its confusing borders and sweatshop fueled industrialization, has finally caught up with its embittered neighbors India and Pakistan when it comes to submarines. But in a small way.

When Dhaka commissioned its two Ming-class boats last year these represented an improvement of its maritime firepower. The submarines it got from China are old, however, although enhanced with modernized systems. The regional consequences of having these are far from worrisome.

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India Is Trying To Embrace The ASEAN

February 2, 2018

An Indian Army T-90S MBT.

Last month Prime Minister Narendra Modi used the annual January 26 Republic Day parade to symbolically welcome the 10 member states from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) into New Delhi’s geopolitical orbit. But there’s neither a binding covenant nor any firm commitment between South Asia’s upcoming world power and the economic bloc next door.

At the head of the military parade that same morning 10 Indian soldiers each carried an ASEAN country’s flag–those of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The gesture was seen as a bold response to China’s own attempts at cultivating these same states, a strategy that can diffuse the risk of conflict over territorial matters, i.e. the South China Sea.

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Armored Cars: Osprea Mamba Mk. 7

January 29, 2018

Via Osprea Logistics.

The Mamba Mk.7 is the newest incarnation of a prestigious mine-resistant 4×4 lineage from South Africa. Developed from the late 1980s and early 1990s as an intermediary wheeled transport, after a long gestation the Mamba Mk. 3 was finally standardized by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

The same model was soon spun off into an export variant by the defense contractor Denel called the RG31, which is now recognized as a different vehicle. As the license for building the Mamba was passed among a handful of companies it still enjoyed persistent demand and established itself as the archetype from which most current MRAPs are patterned after.

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Pakistan Is Looking For A New Main Battle Tank

January 28, 2018

Photos have emerged in recent weeks of the Chinese tank called the “VT4/VT-4” parked in an area believed to be a testing ground for Pakistani armored units. This scant evidence is interpreted as the first phase in a transaction to acquire hundreds of the tanks from Norinco so Pakistan can properly modernize its fleet.

But there’s been persistent chatter since 2016 that Islamabad is more enthusiastic about tanks from either Turkey or Ukraine for its ground forces. Although Pakistan assembles its own third-generation tank, the Al Khalid, with 70% of its parts reportedly supplied by local subcontractors, recent innovations in armor technology have left Heavy Industries Taxila’s (HIT) premier model wanting.

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Highlights Of OEWatch For January 2018

January 26, 2018

The first OEWatch for 2018 arrived later than usual. But it also marks a departure from the magazine’s usual format because of its latest focus. Since the cover text reads Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain nearly a third of its contents fall under a new section that examines how different countries are adopting–and struggling with–the new financial tool. OEWatch is available as a free download from the APAN Community Network.

Editorial duties are still shared between Tom Wilhelm, Karen Kaya, and Lucas Winter with contributing writers assigned to different subject areas. This month’s OEWatch runs 69 pages thick with seven sections and the longest one for the January issue is devoted to crypto topics.

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