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The Chinese PLA Have An Incredible Light Tank

June 22, 2020

Via Chinese state media.

There’s now a concerted effort by Chinese news agencies to showcase the PLA’s technological advantages as it faces off against India in a disputed border. This has brought some attention to the latest equipment used by the ground forces such as the Type 15 “lightweight MBT” (pictured above) that entered service a few years ago. This tank weighs less than 40 tons and is armed with a 105mm main gun fed by an autoloader. Its external appearance suggests a protection level that doesn’t encumber the vehicle and affect its mobility–the front of the hull is covered in reactive panels and the hull is formed by a combination of the same and spaced armor.

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Are You Prepared For The Next DSEI Japan?

June 21, 2020

Via DSEI Japan 2019.

The second installment of Japan’s biggest arms show is taking place from May 19 to 21 in the same venue–the Makuhari Messe. The first DSEI Japan held in 2019 was a success thanks to a strong promotional effort by the organizer Clarion Events, who are best known for the DSEI arms show in London, and the full cooperation of the defense ministry with its sub-agencies. Although Japan’s opaque military industries have participated in trade shows before it wasn’t until DSEI Japan was launched that a large-scale fully integrated arms show was organized in the country.

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Japan Is Slowly Preparing Its Own Stealth Fighter

June 15, 2020

X-2 demonstrator. Via ATLA.

The public document titled Defense Programs and Budget of Japan – Overview of FY2020 Budget Request (download here) is a useful guide to the country’s immediate national security goals and among its recurring programs is fifth-generation combat aircraft. The JASDF does have plans for acquiring additional F-35A’s and at least six F-35B’s–the latter variant are probably meant for the navy–but there are also new objectives regarding the “F-X” or a locally made twin engine stealth fighter. According to the budget request published by the defense ministry and detailed on page 14 the “F-X” program costs $103 million (at current exchange rates) for “Japan-led development” and another $70 million to complete its mission system integration.

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The US Wants China In A Nuclear Weapons Treaty

June 10, 2020

As the US military is positioning itself in Asia to deter China’s territorial claims another bold move is taking shape on the diplomatic front. On June 9, a Tuesday, the Trump administration’s appointed negotiator for nuclear weapons Amb. Marshall S. Billingslea invited China to join upcoming talks with Russia for extending the New START. Less than a day later Billingslea responded to the Chinese media rejecting his offer and cast shade on the US’ biggest geopolitical rival. “Achieving Great Power status requires having Great Power responsibility,” he tweeted, albeit without withdrawing his offer with a closing “Seat waiting for China in Vienna.”

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The US Is Very Worried About Chinese Missiles

June 8, 2020

The DF-17 hypersonic missile. Via Chinese media.

The immense military parade held in Beijing last October 1 showcased the advanced state of the PLA’s military technology. Gone was any trace of its outdated equipment as only the newest weapon systems appeared like supersonic drones and the world’s first road mobile hypersonic missile (pictured above). With its budget still growing each year the PLA now boasts a sophisticated missile arsenal that overmatches the US military in Asia. It’s not surprising how Washington, DC is trying to compel Beijing’s acceptance of a treaty for putting limits on nuclear-capable missiles.

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Armored Cars: SOFRAME MPCV

June 2, 2020


With its entire identity compressed into an acronym the Multi-Purpose Combat Vehicle or MPCV is best understood as the proper French analog to the US-made Oshkosh M-ATV. Both vehicles share commonalities and are meant to function as better replacements for cumbersome mine-resistant trucks that are too heavy for their own good. With a gross weight of just 13 tons (it can probably support another 1,000 kilograms in cargo) the MPCV is capacious enough as a battle transport but still fits inside a medium-lift transport like a C-130 Hercules. This is a sterling trait for vehicles used by armies with expeditionary missions…like France’s own.

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The Philippine Navy Receives Its New Frigates

June 1, 2020

The BRP Jose Rizal. Via Philippine Navy.

After a five day journey the first of two frigates manufactured by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) arrived in the Philippines on May 23. The BRP Jose Rizal, named after the national hero, belongs to the HDF-2500 class of missile-armed frigates in HHI’s naval catalog and was tailored for the Philippine Navy’s (PN) use. The PN ordered two HDF-2500’s several years ago as part of its “Sail Plan” modernization effort whose goal was to recapitalize an obsolescent fleet and enhance its operational range. The BRP Jose Rizal’s sibling, the BRP Antonio Luna, was launched in South Korea last November and is scheduled for delivery before the end of 2020.

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What Does The USA Mean By “Peace Through Strength”?

May 29, 2020

USS Theodore Roosevelt. Via Wikimedia Commons.

In a scathing document released a week ago the Trump administration laid down its new rules for dealing with China. Titled United States Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China and 16 pages long, the People’s Republic is singled out as an economic competitor; a military rival; and an authoritarian state bent on subverting liberal democracy. Each of these challenges are detailed along with four strategies the US government at large will pursue to deter its main geopolitical adversary in the long run. While the four strategies elaborated by Washington, DC, are crafted like slogans, e.g. “Promote American Prosperity,” only one of them should give Beijing pause.

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Japan Is Preparing Its Cyberwarfare Defenses

May 28, 2020

Via Wikimedia Commons.

Many aspects of Japan’s national security priorities for this year haven’t received enough attention. These can be found in the public document Defense Programs and Budget of Japan – Overview of FY2020 Budget Request (available for download here) and the parts that deal with cyber matters are worth exploring. Japan’s national security is now being geared to face imminent threats from its neighbors, with China foremost and a lesser risk presented by North Korea. In its latest budget request the defense ministry (MOD) wants the SDF to have the resources for cross-domain operations. Found on page 6 of the document is the full scope of their ambitions.

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COVID-19 Is Accelerating The China-USA Cold War

May 26, 2020

On May 20 the Trump administration and the Department of Defense (DOD) released a 16 page report titled United States Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China that explained the reasons behind the new cold war reshaping global order. The report made it explicitly clear the US has no intentions to undermine or replace China’s government. Instead, four strategies are being readied to blunt China’s unstoppable rise. These are needed to roll back three challenges posed by China to US hegemony: unfair trade practices, an authoritarian system that subverts liberal democracy, and a dangerous arms race.

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Armored Cars: Minotor Service Cayman

May 25, 2020

Via BelTechExport.

Since it was unveiled by the vehicle manufacturer Minotor Service the Cayman has become symbolic of Belarus’ emerging status as an arms exporter. Even if records of its foreign sales are vague the seven ton 4×4 is already in service at home alongside other protected trucks. A lot of commentary about this vehicle traces its origins to the Soviet vintage BRDM scout cars but the Cayman has little in common with its supposed ancestors. In form and function it’s closer to the German-made Fennek recce vehicle albeit with fewer modular features. The main selling point of the Cayman is its unique status as a vehicle whose parts are made exclusively in Belarus.

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Chinese Nuclear-Powered Attack Submarines Are A Growing Menace

May 22, 2020

Via Wikimedia Commons.

The report titled China Naval Modernization: Implications For US Naval Capabilities published by the Congressional Research Service in April made for sober reading. In its concluding remarks the author pointed out a “substantially reduced US advantage” in overall naval strength and predicted the Chinese navy may “draw even with or surpass” its main rival in the Asia-Pacific. This is supported by open source data on the PLAN’s expansion driven by its new battle force ships. An understated detail from the same report is China’s gradual ascent to the exclusive quartet of countries that manufacture nuclear-powered attack submarines or SSNs.

The Type 093 or Shang/Shang II-class SSN is the PLAN’s future in subsurface warfare. But so little is known about it (hence the stock image above) that a proper analysis can’t be done at present.

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