Defence Market Speculation: Boom and Bust in Aerospace Industry

Following piece is written by Rick Whittington, taken from Aerospace And Defense Picks For 2011 (17-12-10). Recently both UK and USA defence budgets were revised with further revision in defence policies. Recent retirement of RAF’s Harrier, and delays in F-35 has created a big gap within RAF inventory. Not only that Both BAe Systems and Rolls Royce has seen declines after recent Qanatas Incident. From civilian market, Seattle Time cites that as Boeing prepares to announce yet another delay for the 787 Dreamliner — at least three months, possibly six or more — the crucial jet program is in even worse shape than it appears. A top Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) official 10 days ago warned Boeing that without further proof of the plane’s reliability, it won’t be certified to fly the long intercontinental routes that airlines expect it to serve. Since then share prices are on continuous decline for Boeing. Among the 787’s lesser ongoing problems is “rain in the plane,” the term used for heavy condensation dripping inside the jet’s composite plastic fuselage. Yet that issue is piddling compared with the major flaws that have brought a wave of successive delays. Earlier this month, John Hickey, the FAA’s deputy associate administrator for aviation safety, visited Seattle and warned 787 executives that in the current state of the program, the jet cannot be certified for long-distance transocean and transpolar flights, according to a person familiar with the details. More on B787 can be found HERE

A fiscally focused trend in U.S. politics means defense spending may drop in 2011. Which aerospace companies will bust and which will boom regardless? Secular change in the U.S. political landscape augurs poorly for defense fundamentals, with fiscal rectitude offsetting China’s brusque ascent on the world scene–an ascent that would otherwise dictate modernization to offset an increasingly sophisticated major power. Following a near decade of above-trend reports, earnings of military suppliers are set for several difficult years, as hard-won margin gains in the Bush years reverse, revenues reduce and backlogs diminish. Just how far the decline will carry remains largely out of public view, as long-range budget details are classified, but Washington circles are already abuzz with steep funding drops in weapons modernization and force structure.

The company's original internal target for its own development costs was $5 billion. But with yet another delay, several Wall Street analysts estimate that fixing the litany of manufacturing problems, plus paying penalties to suppliers and airlines, has piled on an additional $12 billion to $18 billion.

Ongoing budget review, which in Washington goes on all year, is already producing shock waves in contractor circles as word leaks out of the bad news ahead. Actually, many had figured out the deteriorating trend two years ago when a new administration was swept into power, but most held their breath hoping the worst case wouldn’t develop. Unfortunate for the bull case, however, the Republican tidal wave this past election is distinctly tinged with fiscal austerity, with national security taking a back seat. The deleterious impact on defense contractors has finally begun trickling into Wall Street views and the stocks are rolling over.

Pure-play suppliers that have most benefited from the longest conflict in American history–the Revolution’s eight-year employment of Washington’s Continentals has been surpassed by forces in the field in Iraq and Afghanistan–are highly vulnerable to the downsizing that lies ahead. The likes of Lockheed, Northrop-Grumman, Raytheon ( RTN – news – people ), L-3 and General Dynamics ( GD – news – people ) face big funding cuts that seriously compromise earnings integrity and could even create black holes necessitating serious corporate restructuring. Past periods like this have seen steep valuation discounts for the pure-plays.

On the other hand, commercial aviation and industrial infrastructure companies continue to guide up as the business cycle recovery of nearly two years ago gains steam. U.S. business confidence began improving as Congress promised to change hands, meaning additional unfriendly legislation was averted and commerce-centric policies were brought to center stage. Tax cuts will now be followed up with fiscal restraint, incenting hiring and fixed investment projects. Until money measurably tightens, a virtuous cycle encompassing developed world capital goods exporters and consumers will continue to fuel aggregate demand and push earnings higher.

Many think the best plays are in emerging markets, as their growth is much stronger than in far larger, developed economies. Our view, however, turns this consensus perspective on its head, seeing domestic U.S. equities as the preferred plays where they derive principal impetus from global growth. Our favorites include a host of commercial aviation and industrial suppliers that benefit from rising trade flows, demand for aircraft passenger travel and freight. Multi-industry aerospace and industrial companies bring the best of both worlds.

Delay-plagued Boeing ( BA – news – people ) will eventually right the 787 and surmount prior decade outsourcing and partnering decisions that have severely hampered program efficacy. As investors await word on when flight tests will resume and the extent to which deliveries are rescheduled, good news from other quarters is helping offset the latest disappointments. Increased production of other airliner models enjoying strong margins, notably the 777 but also 737 and a re-engineered 747, as well as price hikes combine with ongoing reports of airline profitability and upgraded air traffic forecasts.

Then, there’s also some good news unique to Boeing on the defense front. Overseas sales of fighter aircraft and helicopters to Saudi Arabia and possibly India combine with potentially quite consequential F-35 delays and new generation satellites for both government and commercial customers. As the Chinese build increasingly advanced twin-engine fighters, the U.S. and its Asian allies must confront single-engine, multi-mission F-35s without commensurate aerial superiority. With the F-22 now cancelled and its production base dismantled, there’s no ready response other than more Boeing F-18s. The Navy is already getting extras and we’d guess others will line up behind.

Tag along suppliers to Boeing and Airbus, as well as a handful of business and regional jet makers, include predominantly civil aviation oriented Goodrich ( GR – news – people ), BE Aerospace ( BEAV – news – people ) and Spirit AeroSystems. Spanning a broad gamut of advanced capital goods and industrial materials are diversified suppliers Precision Castparts ( PCP – news – people ), United Technologies ( UTX – news – people ), Honeywell ( HON – news – people ), Eaton and Parker-Hannifin, each a proxy for global infrastructure growth. United Tech and Honeywell just issued bullish 2011 initial views that will likely see upsides as the New Year rolls out.

Then there are companies with greater military exposure, such as electro-mechanical automation supplier Moog, advanced composites supplier Hexcel ( HXL – news – people ) and electronics-denominated navigation, communications and avionics specialist Rockwell-Collins. Each of these should see non-defense segments outweigh prospective cuts in military spending. Other mixed suppliers straddling the two worlds that will have a more difficult time in the years ahead include Esterline, FLIR Systems ( FLIR – news – people ) and AAR Corporation ( AIR – news – people ). These shares could face growing headwinds, especially as U.S. troops begin to draw down in Afghanistan.

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Nuclear Doctrine of Pakistan: Dilemmas of Small Nuclear Force in the Second Atomic Age

Dilemmas of Small Nuclear Forces, 4-series of articles highlighting the Nuclear Doctrine of Pakistan, its command and control system. The series contain 3 articles: First article (below) explore the Rise of Nuclear Deterrence, Second: is subjected to Post-1998 Doctrinal Contemplation, Third: Confidence-Building Measures between India and Pakistan, and Fourth: concludes with the military objectives of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and highlights from the Nuclear Security Summit 2010.

Pakistan regards its nuclear weapons as its most precious strategic asset which constitutes the ultimate guarantor of nation's existence. This is encapsulated in an article by Gen Mirza Aslam Beg titled 'Pakistan's Nuclear Imperatives' wherein he wrote "Oxygen is basic to life, and one does not debate its desirability, nuclear deterrence has assumed that life-saving property for Pakistan.

A doctrine could be defined as a set of principles formulated and applied for a specific purpose, working towards a desired goal or aim. A nuclear doctrine would consequently consist of a set of principles, and instructions for the employment or non-employment of nuclear weapons and other associated systems. Until 2005, India and Pakistan were the only states outside the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to declare, openly, their nuclear weapons capability. In 1998, they tested nuclear weapons and since then, deployed ballistic missiles, enunciated nuclear doctrine, and made organizational changes to their nuclear establishments. In 2002, they teetered on the brink of war in Kashmir. The second half of this article dilate somewhat the factors that have conceived the concept which has formulated the nuclear doctrine of Pakistan. I certainly believe that in South Asia a balance of power cannot be maintained by conventional means alone. This article endeavours to construct a proto Pakistani nuclear use doctrine from its declaratory and operational postures, in particular from the statements and interviews of the Pakistani political and military leaders and government officials. Initially reflecting upon its pre-1998 nuclear strategy, which has got critical implications for the post-tests doctrinal contemplation.

Pakistan is believed to have been developing a nuclear capability since the early 1970s. In May 1998, Pakistan responded to India’s nuclear tests by testing a series of nuclear weapons and declaring itself a nuclear weapon power. Pakistan, like India, has supported comprehensive disarmament proposals at the United Nations and Conference on Disarmament, but did not join the CTBT for similar reasons as India. Pakistan has proposed a number of bilateral or regional initiatives which India has not supported. These include a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in South Asia and joining the NPT. India opposes these on the grounds that they do not address the nuclear threat India faces from China and the other NWS. Pakistan and India have concluded a number of bilateral confidence building measures including a hot-line agreement and an agreement not to attack each other’s nuclear power facilities.

While all these (including Pakistan, India, North Korea and Israel) small nuclear powers are in the process of developing their nuclear force structures, two key questions that have arisen are: How, when and for what purposes do they plan to use nuclear weapons? And what command. The word “small” here distinguishes these nation and their doctrines from U.S.A, UK, France and Russia. Prime focus is to understand the emerging structure of Pakistan’s Nuclear Doctrine.

President Barack Obama greets Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington April 12, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

In The Myth of Independence, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (president of Pakistan in December 1971) argued that modern wars should be conceived of as total wars, and in this type of war Pakistan needed nuclear weapons. Bhutto’s thinking, as will be analysed below, had far-reaching impacts on Pakistan’s nuclear strategy, and on its doctrinal contemplation. Soon after assuming Presidency of Pakistan on 20th December 1971 he took the decision to initiate a nuclear weapons project. This decision was taken against the backdrop of three specific factors: firstly, it was a direct consequence of the 1971 war where Pakistan’s conventional inferiority was demonstrated for the third time, at the cost of almost half of its territory; secondly, Pakistani leaders in general (particularly Bhutto) were convinced that India was determined to build a nuclear arsenal; and thirdly, Bhutto believed that only nuclear weapons could guarantee the national survival of Pakistan against the Indian threat.8 It is evident that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons project was initiated to deter Indian nuclear as well as conventional aggression, an aim that endured in the subsequent years and today constitutes one of the central pillars of Pakistan’s nuclear use doctrine.

Brass Tacks Crisis – First Nuclear Deterrence Posture [1986-1987]

After India and Pakistan held nuclear tests in 1998, experts have debated whether their nuclear weapons contribute to stability in South Asia. Experts who argue that the nuclear standoff promotes stability have pointed to the U.S.-Soviet Union Cold War as an example of how deterrence ensures military restraint.

First employment of Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent stratagy was during the 1986-1987 brasstacks crisis between India and Pakistan. With the crisis peaking in January 1987, India had deployed 400,000 troops, or about half the Indian army, within 100 miles of Pakistan. It began when India had launched the largest ever military exercises in the subcontinent, called Operation Brass Tacks. The exercise would take place not in India’s far north, where the always tense state of Kashmir is located, but in the desert area of Rajastan, a few hundred miles from the Pakistani border, which, a the Pakistani government was sure to note, was and ideal location from which to launch a cross border operation into the Pakistani state of Sindh that could cut Pakistan in half. The exercises included bulk of Indian Army, and was comprised of the nine infantry, three mechanised, three armoured and one air assault divisions, and three armoured brigades under four corps HQ with all theparaphernalia for a real war, concentrated on Pakistan’s sensitive border areas. This was bigger than any NATO exercise – and the biggest since World War II. Also planned was an ambitious amphibious operation by the Indian Navy with one division, in Korangi area of Karachi. Another feature of the exercise was a decision by General Sundarji to integrate Indias special weapons, including tactical nuclear into day-to day field maneuvers of the troops.

Pakistani military analysts saw Brass Tacks as a threatening exhibition of an overwhelming conventional force. Some even suspected that India wanted to launch swift surgical strikes at the Sikh terrorists’ training and planning sites inside Pakistan. Pakistan responded with maneuvers of its own that were located close to India’s state of Punjab. The crisis atmosphere was heightened when Pakistan’s premier nuclear scientist Abdul Qadir Khan revealed in a March 1987 interview that Pakistan had manufactured a nuclear bomb. Although Khan later retracted his statement, India stated that the disclosure was “forcing us to review our option.” Interview by Dr A.Q Khan’s interview to Indian journalist, Kuldip Nayar records:

what the CIA has been saying about our possessing the bomb is correct and so is the speculation of some foreign newspapers … They told us that Pakistan could never produce the bomb and they doubted my capabilities, but they now know we have done it … Nobody can undo Pakistan or take us for granted. We are there to stay and let it be clear that we shall use the 10 bomb if our existence is threatened.

Formal and impromptu talks between the leaders of the two countries finally resulted in a number of new CBMs between India and Pakistan. These were important and covered a number of areas. For example, the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations and Facilities was signed on December 31, 1988, in Islamabad by the two foreign secretaries and witnessed by the two prime ministers, Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto, respectively. Earlier fears of impending attack on the facilities resulting in an all-out war fed the need for the agreement.

Kashmir – Second Nuclear Deterrence Posture [1990]

Kashmir has been a flashpoint since Indian and Pakistani independence in 1947. Many analysts have feared that nuclear weapons could be used if conventional hostilities over Kashmir were to spiral out of control, especially if, as in 1965 Indo-Pakistan conflict

Pakistan again advanced a nuclear deterrent posture in 1990 in the context of a spiralling crisis over the disputed territory of Kashmir, which developed against the backdrop of an acute separatist insurgency in the Indian. Reportedly, New Delhi planned for surgical air strikes against the militant training camps inside Pakistani territory, which prompted Islamabad to assemble a crude nuclear bomb and modify several American supplied F-16 aircrafts for its delivery. The crisis was eventually averted through diplomatic intervention from Washington, but Islamabad firmly believed that Pakistan’s deterrence posture prevented India from carrying out the planned strike. This crisis also marked the emergence of a nascent mutual nuclear deterrence in the Indo-Pakistani context.

Command and Control of Nuclear Deterrence

What did emerge during this period, primarily in the context of the 1986-87 Brasstacks crisis and the 1990 Kashmir episode, was a general notion of nuclear deterrence, which implied that Pakistan would use nuclear weapons to counter India’s nuclear as well as conventional aggression. to build a robust nuclear command structure. However, former Army chief of staff General Mirza Aslam Beg has claimed that the Pakistani leadership realised the necessity of establishing a command structure,

given the tension, mutual mistrust and suspicion between India and Pakistan, it is dangerously tempting for each to launch an attack before being attacked which could escalate to a nuclear level.

Bhutto had established a National Nuclear Command Authority (NNCA) in the 1970s, which institutionalised the nuclear decision-making and assumed the responsibility of developing a nuclear force structure and appropriate alert posture. (‘NNCA Responsible for Safeguarding Nuclear Programme, The News, 2 June 1998).

Pakistan Nuclear Capabilities and Thinking

Most observers (SIPRI Yearbook 1995, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, 1998) estimate that Pakistan has enough nuclear material (highly enriched uranium and a small amount of plutonium) for 30 to 50 nuclear weapons. Like India, Pakistan is thought to have a small stockpile of nuclear weapons components and can probably assemble some weapons fairly quickly. Pakistan could deliver its nuclear weapons using F-16s (shown above) it purchased from the United States provided the appropriate “wiring” has been added to make them nuclear-capable. In the 1980s, Pakistan moved assiduously to acquire ballistic missile capabilities and now deploys short-range ballistic missiles and a small number of medium-range missiles. AQ Khan, former head of Khan Research Laboratories, maintained that only the medium-range Ghauri missiles would be usable in a nuclear exchange (given fall-out effects for Pakistan of shorter-range missiles). Other observers view the 30 to 50 Hatf2 short-range (300km) missiles (modified Chinese M-11s) as potential delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons. Ghauri missiles (1350 and 2300km), which reportedly are based on the North Korean No-Dong and Taepo-Dong-1, are capable of reaching New Delhi with large payloads.

It is believed that Because of its fears of being overrun by larger Indian forces, Pakistan has rejected the doctrine of no-first-use. In May 2002, Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN, Munir Akram, stated that “We have not said we will use nuclear weapons. We have not said we will not use nuclear weapons. We possess nuclear weapons. So does India ...We will not neutralize the deterrence by any doctrine of no first use

On June 4, 2002, President Musharraf went a step further then his UN ambassador sna stated that: “The possession of nuclear weapons by any state obviously implies they will be used under some circumstances. In recent years, Pakistan apparently has taken steps toward refining command and control of nuclear weapons. In April 1999, General Musharraf announced that the Joint Staff Headquarters would have a command and control arrangement and a secretariat, and a strategic force command would be established. With some experience and the passage of time a degree of sophistication will certainly be introduced in Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine of the first-use of nuclear weapons to provide the government more options in the use of nuclear weapons. This would also avoid unessential collateral damage to cities and other population centres in both countries. The object would be to employ nuclear weapons if attacked yet cause the least civilian casualties and damage to infrastructure.

Refferences

Escalation Control in South Asia,’ in Escalation Control and Nuclear Option in South Asia, eds M. Krepon, R. W. Jones, and Z. Haider, The Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, D.C., 2004, p. 89.
Z. A. Bhutto, The Myth of Independence, Oxford University Press, Lahore, 1969, p. 153.
B. Chakma, ‘Road to Chagai: Pakistan’s Nuclear Programme, Its Sources and Motivations, Modern Asian Studies, vol. 36, no. 4, 2002, p. 887.
P. Hoodbhoy, ‘Nuclear Deterrence – An Article of Faith,’ The News (Rawalpindi), 17 March 1993.
‘NNCA Responsible for Safeguarding Nuclear Programme, Says Beg,’ The News, 2 June 1998.
S. H. Hasan, ‘Command and Control of Nuclear Weapons in Pakistan,’ Swords and Ploughshares, vol. 9, no. 1, 1994, p. 13.

Images: Title: Nicholson cartoon (www.nicholsoncartoons.com.au), and Reuters

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X-37B: Robotic Orbital Spy

This artist's rendition shows the X-37B as it might look like orbiting Earth

Mid 2010 has seen US Air Force to Launch unmanned and reusable X-37B to orbit from Florida. The Boeing X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle is an American unmanned spacecraft. It is operated by the United States Air Force for orbital spaceflight missions intended to demonstrate reusable space technologies. The Air Force has fended off statements calling the X-37B a space weapon, or a space-based drone to be used for spying or delivering weapons from orbit.

X-37B is roughly one fourth the size of the space shuttle. It’s onboard batteries and solar arrays (pictured at left from its NASA days) can keep it operating for up to nine months according to the Air Force. It is similar to the shuttle with payload doors exposing a cargo area, and uses a similar reentry procedure before gliding to a runway. In the case of the X-37B, the vehicle will autonomously return to earth and land itself using an onboard autopilot. The primary landing spot is Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The program was transferred to the Department of Defense in 2004. Since that time the X-37 has become a classified program, raising questions as to whether or not it would become the first operational military space plane. During the 1960s, the Air Force and Boeing conducted research on the X-20 Dyna-Soar space plane.

On 17 November 2006 the U.S. Air Force announced it would develop the X-37B from the NASA X-37A. The Air Force version is designated X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV). The OTV program builds on industry and government investments by DARPA, NASA and the Air Force. The X-37B effort will be led by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, and includes partnerships with NASA and the Air Force Research Laboratory. Boeing is the prime contractor for the OTV program. The X-37B was originally scheduled for launch in the payload bay of the Space Shuttle, but following the Columbia accident, it was transferred to a Delta II 7920. It was subsequently transferred to a shrouded configuration on the Atlas V following concerns over the unshrouded spacecraft’s aerodynamic properties during launch.

So, what makes this vehicle different fron conventional satellite? To NASA, the X-37 was projected to be an orbital experimental vehicle to be lifted to orbit by the Space Shuttle or a reusable launch vehicle and returned to Earth under its own power. But, Air Force argues that a vehicle such as the X-37 could be a valuable platform for intelligence gathering with the advantage of a satellite’s point of view, but the flexibility of an aircraft that can be launched relatively quickly and maneuvered in orbit much easier than a traditional satellite. The service directly supports the Defense Department’s technology risk-reduction efforts for new satellite systems. By providing an ‘on-orbit laboratory’ test environment, it will prove new technology and components before those technologies are committed to operational satellite programs.” The X-37 is expected to operate in a velocity range of up to Mach 25 on reentry. Among the technologies to be demonstrated with the X-37 are improved thermal protection systems, avionics, the autonomous guidance system and an advanced airframe. The X-37 has a payload bay available for experiments and other space payloads. It features thermal protection systems that are improved from previous generations of spacecraft.

Is this another ambitious NASA project or SR-71 replacement for intelligence gathering or robotic spy?

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China: A Military Force to Reckon with in the Western Pacific

China-United States: Two states that never intend harm can begin to perceive each other as growing threats

What’s going in Pacific these days is very interesting, America’s concerns about rising Iran and China’s defences within a region is one rise. How should America respond to that? The collapse of the Soviet Union had persuaded China’s leaders that an arms race with the world’s only superpower could squander enough money to pose a threat to the party’s grip. To challenge America head on made no sense. Instead China put its efforts into affordable “asymmetric” weapons. Earlier December, Economist published an extensive REPORT on rising China, with oulining the options US have in western pacific. China is becoming a military force to reckon with in the western Pacific. How should America respond? According to this report Three areas of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) modernisation stand out. Before I comment of these, have a look:

First, China has created what the Pentagon calls “the most active land-based ballistic- and cruise-missile programme in the world”. The Second Artillery ( is the strategic missile forces of the PLA) has about 1,100 short-range ballistic missiles facing Taiwan and has been extending their range and improving their accuracy and payload. The Second Artillery is also improving its medium-range ballistic missiles, able to carry either conventional or nuclear warheads. PLA is developing the world’s first anti-ship ballistic missile, fitted with a manoeuvrable re-entry vehicle for added menace.

Second, China has transformed and enlarged its submarine fleet, which can now berth in the newly completed base on Hainan Island. In the eight years to 2002 China bought 12 Russian Kilo-class submarines, a big improvement on its own Ming and Romeo class boats. Since then the PLA navy has been introducing longer-range and stealthier Chinese designs, including the nuclear-powered Jin class, which carries ballistic missiles, and the Shang class, a nuclear-powered attack submarine. China has about 66 submarines against America’s 71, though the American boats are superior. By 2030, according to the Kokoda Foundation, an Australian think-tank, China could have 85-100 submarines.

Finally, China has concentrated on what it calls “informatisation”, a tongue-twister that Jiang Zemin coined in 2002 to describe how the PLA needs to function as one force, using sensors, communications and electronic and cyber-warfare. China now has a good idea of what is going on far into the Pacific, thanks to a combination of satellites, over-the-horizon radar, medium-range surface-wave radars, reconnaissance drones and underwater-sensor arrays.

What does this amount to? Military experts in America, Australia and Japan think China’s new arsenals are a greater threat than its higher-profile plans to launch aircraft-carriers in the next decade or so. According to the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), an American research institute, Chinese firepower threatens America’s Asian bases, which until now have been safe from all but nuclear attack. The Second Artillery’s missiles could swamp the bases’ defences and destroy runways as well as large numbers of fighters and ships. Japan is already within range of Chinese missiles, many of them currently pointing at Taiwan.

PLA’s Modernisation

The U.S. Department of Defense has confirmed the existence of the DF-21D land-based ASBM system, which is the world’s first and only of its kind. By combining manoeuvrable re-entry vehicles (MaRVs) with a terminal guidance system, the DF-21C is capable of targeting a slow-moving aircraft carrier battle group from a land-based mobile launcher. The maximum range of the missile was said to be 3,000km, possibly achieved by carrying a smaller payload.

Considering the first modernisation: Currently China is developing a land based DF-21D (Nato reporting name CSS-5 Mod-4) Anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM). DF-21D ASBM is based on DF-21 (see above) is a two-stage, solid-propellant, single-warhead medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM). Its beauty is being High Hypersonic (capable of cruising at Mach 10). It has a range of 3,000 km (1,900 miles). This extends the range of DF-21 upto Malacca, Strait (Refer to the figure taken from Economist):

China’s submarines, missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles threaten America’s aircraft-carrier strike groups within 1,000 to 1,600 nautical miles of the Chinese coast

DF-21D ASBM – would be the world’s first and only ASBM and the world’s first weapons system capable of targeting a moving aircraft carrier strike group from long-range, land-based mobile launchers. It is evident today China can project power out from its coastline well beyond the 12-mile (19km) limit that the Americans once approached without a second thought. These would combine maneuverable reentry vehicles (MaRVs) with some kind of terminal guidance system. Launch of the Jianbing-5/YaoGan-1 (shown below) and Jianbing-6/YaoGan-2 satellites would give the Chinese targeting information from SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) and visual imaging respectively.

Jianbing-5/YaoGan-1

The upgrades would greatly enhance China’s ability to conduct sea-denial operations to prevent US carriers from intervention in the Taiwan Strait. DF-21D highlights the fact that the U.S. can no longer assume naval supremacy. China has recently launched a series of satellites to support its ASBM efforts. This range includes: Yaogan-VII electro-optical satellite (December 2009), Yaogan-VIII synthetic aperture radar satellite (December 2009) and Yaogan-IX Naval Ocean Surveillance System (NOSS) constellation (3 satellites in formation) (March 2010).

DF-21A MRBM System in service with the PLA Second Artillery Corps (Chinese Internet)

Furthermore, The DF-21 has also been developed into space launcher and anti-satellite/anti-missile weapon carrier named Kaituozhe 1 Space Launch Vehicle. KT-1 (see below) is a four-stage, solid-propellant space launcher based on the DF-21 design. It is capable of placing up to 50kg payload into 600km Low Earth Orbits (LEO). The launcher made its maiden flight in September 2002 and then a second flight in September 2003, none of which was fully successful. CASIC also developed a larger KT-1A, which is capable of sending 300kg payload into the Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) and polar orbit, and the KT-1B with even greater payload capability (400kg and up to three separate payloads). None of the two designs has ever been launched.

A larger size KT-2A (later renamed KT-1B) was designed for polar orbits missions with greater payload capability (~400kg and up to three separate payloads)

According to a report by Aviation Weeks and Space Technology on 17 January 2007, U.S. intelligence agencies believed that China carried out a successful anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon test on 11 January, destroying the retired FengYun-1C meteorological satellite with a kinetic kill vehicle launched onboard a modified intermediate-range ballistic missile. The launch vehicle used during the test was speculated to be the KT-409, a derivation of the KT-1 solid-propellant space launch vehicle. The report suggested that the FengYun-1C satellite (launched in 1999) was attacked by an ASAT system launched from an unknown location near Xichang Satellite Launch Centre (XSLC) as the satellite at 530 miles (853km) altitude 4 degree west of Xichang. The attack occurred at about 17:28 EST on 11 January 2007 (22:28 GMT, 06:28 on 12 January local time).

Originally developed for strategic purposes, the DF-21’s later variants were designed for both nuclear and conventional missions. As well as a nuclear warhead of around 300kt, it is thought that high explosive, submunition and chemical warheads are also available. Final in the DF-21 class is SC-19 Kinetic Kill Vehicle Carrier. The launch vehicle for the kinetic kill vehicle (KKV) used during China’s first ASAT weapon test in January 2007 was reported to be SC-19, a modified variant of the DF-21 or KT-1.

Pacific in name only

Comming back to the Economist report, the article concludes that cold warriors are suffering from a bad case of “enemy-deprivation syndrome”. For all the uncertainties in this debate, three things are beyond dispute. These are:

First, China has already forced American ships to think about how and when they approach the Chinese coast. The closer American vessels come, the more missiles and submarines they face and the less time they would have to react to a strike. To deny America possession of seas it has dominated for decades, China does not need to control its own coastal waters; it just has to be able to threaten American ships there.

Second, China’s ability to project power is improving. Its submarines, fighter aircraft, missiles, and cyber- and electronic warfare, once poor, now pose a threat. China’s weapons will continue to improve, and its forces will gather experience. Provided that the economy does not fall over, budgets will grow, too, absolutely and possibly as a share of GDP. Other things being equal, China can project power into its backyard more easily than America can project power across the Pacific Ocean.

Third, although the United States is able to respond to China, it will have to overcome some obstacles first. America’s military spending in Asia is overshadowed by the need to cut overall government spending and by other military priorities, such as Afghanistan.

All this points to an important principle. Military planning is framed differently from diplomacy. Diplomats are interested in what they think states intend to do, but military planners have to work with what they think states can do. Intentions change and states can mislead. If you are charged with defending your country, you need to be able to meet even improbable threats.If you do not arm, you leave yourself open to attack. If you do, you threaten the other country.

Sources: A special report on China’s place in the world [The Economist, 2 December 2010]. Sino-Defence.com [4th June 2010]

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Russia Sells; China Clones

Today, Russia's military bonanza is over, and China's is just beginning.

China and America are bound to be rivals, but they do not have to be antagonists, Is that really the case? In many ways China has made efforts to try to reassure an anxious world. Leaving politics aside, the rise of chinese millitary power is obvious to all, not only millitary, china is making its way in Civil aviation market as well. But what is interesting in all is, a “Cloning Factor”. After decades of importing and reverse-engineering Russian arms, China has reached a tipping point: It now can produce many of its own advanced weapons—including high-tech fighter jets like the Su-27—and is on the verge of building an aircraft carrier. Not only have Chinese engineers cloned the prized Su-27’s avionics and radar but they are fitting it with the last piece in the technological puzzle, a Chinese jet engine.

At Zhuhai 2010 one thing was clear: China is starting to export much of this weaponry, undercutting Russia in the developing world, and potentially altering the military balance in several of the world’s flash points. China, here laid on its biggest commercial display of military technology—almost all based on Russian know-how. The star guests were the “Sherdils,” a Pakistani aerobatic team flying fighter jets that are Russian in origin but are now being produced by Pakistan and China. Russia’s predicament mirrors that of many foreign companies as China starts to compete in global markets with advanced trains, power-generating equipment and other civilian products based on technology obtained from the West. This is not all, there is an additional security dimension, however: China is developing weapons systems, including aircraft carriers and carrier-based fighters, that could threaten Taiwan and test U.S. control of the Western Pacific. According to West, Chinese exports of fighters and other advanced weapons also “threaten” to alter the military balance in South Asia, Sudan and Iran. But if I am sitting in Iran or Pakistan, the story is otherway round. Interestingly China accounted for 2% of global arms transfers between 2005-2009, putting it in ninth place among exporters, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). But no other Asian country has sought to project military power—and had the indigenous capability to do so—since Japan’s defeat in 1945.

As the Chinese leaders’ history lesson will have told them, the relationship that determines whether the world is at peace or at war is that between pairs of great powers. Sometimes, as with Britain and America, it goes well. Sometimes, as between Britain and Germany, it does not. There are also implications for U.S. weapons programs. Last year the Pentagon decided to cut funding for the F-22—currently the most advanced fighter deployed in the world—partly on the grounds that China wouldn’t have many similar aircraft for at least 15 years. But then Gen. He Weirong, deputy head of China’s Air Force, announced that Chinese versions of such jets were about to undergo test flights, and would be deployed in “eight or 10 years.” The Defense Intelligence Agency now says it will take China “about 10 years” to deploy stealth fighters in “meaningful numbers.”

J-11: many aviation experts believe AVIC is having problems developing an indigenous engine for the J-11B with the same thrust and durability as the original Russian ones.

Few things illustrate this more clearly than the J-11B (shown below), a Chinese fighter that Russian officials allege is a direct copy of the Su-27, a one-seat fighter that was developed by the Soviets through the 1970s and 1980s as a match for the U.S. F-15 and F-16. Before the early 1990s, Moscow hadn’t provided major arms to Beijing since an ideological split in 1956, which led to a brief border clash in 1969. In 1992 (after collapse of Soviet Union), China became the first country outside the former Soviet Union to buy the Su-27, paying $1 billion for 24. Beijing’s breakthrough came in 1996, when it paid Russia $2.5 billion for a license to assemble another 200 Su-27s at the Shenyang Aircraft Company. The agreement stipulated that the aircraft—to be called the J-11—would include imported Russian avionics, radars and engines and couldn’t be exported. The J-11B looked almost identical to the Su-27, but China said it was 90% indigenous and included more advanced Chinese avionics and radars. Only the engine was still Russian, China said.

Sukhoi 27: The J-11B looked almost identical to the Su-27, but China said it was 90% indigenous and included more advanced Chinese avionics and radars. Only the engine was still Russian

The J-11B presented Russia with a stark choice—to continue selling China weapons, and risk having them cloned, too, or to stop, and miss out on its still lucrative market.many aviation experts believe AVIC is having problems developing an indigenous engine for the J-11B with the same thrust and durability as the original Russian ones. Photographs published recently on Chinese military websites appear to show engines fitted on the J-11B and a modified version—called the J-15—for use on aircraft carriers. The birth of J-15 can be read on my previous post Here Its not just Su-27 that concerns Russians, but also Su-33, a more advanced version of Su-27. The J-11B is expected to be used by the Chinese navy as its frontline fighter, capable of sustained combat over the entire East China Sea and South China Sea. Aircraft carriers and J-15 fighters would further enhance its ability to stop the U.S. intervening in a conflict over Taiwan, and test its control of the Western Pacific. China’s arms exports could have repercussions on regions in conflict around the world. Pakistan inducted its first squadron of Chinese-made fighter jets in February, potentially altering the military balance with India.The potential customer of greatest concern to the U.S. for JF-17 sale, is Iran, which purchased about $260 million of weapons from China between 2002-2009, according to Russia’s Centre for Analysis of the Global Arms Trade. Economist cites, that China and America have one advantage over history’s great-power pairings: they saw the 20th century go disastrously wrong. It is up to them to ensure that the 21st is different.

Detail about china’s rise and Russian arm deal, can be read on this extensive report published in Wall Street Journal, HERE

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Iran: Prioritizing Sky Defences

Don’t listen to those who speak of democracy. They all are against Islam. They want to take the nation away from its mission. We will break all the poison pens of those who speak of nationalism, democracy, and such things. [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini]

Before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran’s air forces were considered second only to Israel in the Middle East, built up by aid from the country’s then-ally the United States.

GENEVA: World powers held their first meeting in 14 months with Iran over its disputed nuclear programme on Monday (today), sounding out Tehran’s intentions after it claimed to have taken a new step in making fissile material. Just a day ahead of the talks, Tehran raised the stakes by revealing that it had mined and produced its first home-grown batch of uranium yellowcake instead of seeking to import new supplies. On the other hand, In military maneuvers and air shows, Iran has been proudly touting advances in its air forces and defenses, including radar systems, anti-aircraft batteries and new attack and reconnaissance drones. Air superiority is seems to be a new priority for Iran, who is trying to quickly bolster its ability to patrol its skies in the belief that US or Israeli warplanes or missiles could strike its nuclear facilities. For the most part, Iran’s air attack capabilities still depend heavily on domestically modified versions of long-outdated warplanes, including former Soviet MiGs and American F14A Tomcats from the 1970s, and its anti-aircraft batteries and drones.

Taking the air defences further, It was not a long ago when Iran kicked off one of its periodic air defense exercise, in order to protect their nuclear sites. Started on 16th November, the exercise lasted five days and featured Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and its paramilitary Basij forces joining in. Interestingly, The monitoring network of Iran’s air defense forces has discovered 194 previously unknown flying routes outside the country’s airspace, not only that Iranian Air Defense Forces has identified 1,612 flying routes (4 unknowns within the countary) inside the country, some are currently used by countary’s civilian airline industry. This identification resulted, during Iran’s Air Defence and Missile System tests, conducted same week. This air defence exercise was named Defenders of the Sky of Vellayat III. More about S-300 missiles and defence of Islamic skies can be read HERE .

This photo released by the Iranian army, claims to show the launching of a Shahin missile in armed forces war games, outside the city of Semnan about 140 miles (240 kilometers) east of the capital Tehran, Iran, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010

Still, Iran clearly is trying to close security gaps around nuclear sites – including Iran’s main uranium enrichment lab – and blunt the edge that the Pentagon and Israel gain from drone technology. Iranian commanders now view drones as a critical tool, including to monitor the US 5th Fleet based across the Gulf in Bahrain. Iran’s other military emphasis has been improving its long-range missile program. Washington believes Iran may have obtained advanced missiles from North Korea, known as BM-25, which could extend the strike range for Iran from the known 1,200 miles (1,900 kilometers) to up to 2,400 miles (4,000 kilometers), according to State Department cables obtained by the website WikiLeaks and made public Sunday. Such missiles could hit well beyond Iran’s top regional enemy Israel and into Europe or Russia. Iran restructured its military last year in an effort to improve its air defenses. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered a new branch to be split off from the air force to deal exclusively with threats to the country’s airspace. Since then, Iran has invested heavily in advances in surveillance and attack drones.

In August, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled the latest addition to the country’s drone fleet: a 13-foot-long (four-meter-long) unmanned aircraft — called the “ambassador of death” — which can carry up to four cruise missiles with a claimed range of 620 miles (1,000 kilometers). At least two other Iranian nuclear scientists have been killed in recent years, one of them in an attack similar to the recent one. Iranian officials said they suspected the assassination was part of a covert campaign aimed at damaging the country’s nuclear program, which the United States and its allies says is intended to build a weapon, a claim Tehran denies. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a press conference that ”undoubtedly, the hand of the Zionist regime and Western governments is involved in the assassination.” But he said the attack would not hamper the nuclear program and vowed that one day Iran would take retribution. ”The day in the near future when time will come for taking them into account, their file will be very thick,” he said.

As far as drones are concerned Iranians has seen what USA has done iin Pakistan and Afghanistan. Many analysts believe a longer-range drone is the logical next step of Iran – who is investing heavily in advances in surveillance and attack drones. What is the purpose of these activities and advances, while still holding onto the outdated militray technology, or is it political to show that they can defend themselves, exert power in the region?

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Boeing A160 – VTOL UAVs Comes to Age

FARNBOROUGH 2010: Boeing A160 Hummingbird

Farnborough 2010 (July.10) Boeing – A US aerospace company’s massive showing, included its own unmanned air vehicle pavilion. With an 11m (36ft) rotor diameter nearly as wide as the 10.7m autonomous helicopter is long, it is larger than other vertical take-off UAVs. But weighing in at 1,135kg (2,500lb), with its largely composite frame, it is also lighter, making up for the fact that it carries 45kg more than its weight in fuel. However, what makes the A160 unique is not something visible in its low-drag, reduced radar profile silhouette.

In conventional helicopters, the revolutions per minute of the rotors is normally locked in for a maximum forward speed, given weight and altitude considerations. At maximum forward speed, the tip of the advancing blade moves at speeds slightly under Mach 1, avoiding the drag and vibration seen at higher speeds. But being locked into a constant maximum rotor RPM also means that anything less that maximum forward speed – a hover, low-speed forward flight – the rotor is moving far faster than actually necessary, wasting fuel and creating drag, shortening the helicopter’s range. Humming Bird so far managed to fly at the speed of 165kt (305km/h) – with a service ceiling of between 20,000ft and 30,000ft and a range of around 2,500nm (4,620km). It is its blades that makes it unique, for range and speed compared to other in its class. For A160, the stiffness and cross-section of the rotor blades vary along their length. The low-loading hingeless design allows for changing RPMs to optimise efficiency at different speeds and altitudes. The Hummingbird has come a long way since the diesel-powered, variable-speed rotor experiment that was awarded a 30-month technology demonstration contract in March 1998. The first true Hummingbird prototype, a three-bladed design, debuted in December 2001 and had its first forward flight the following month at former US Air Force base at Victorville, California, using a Subaru engine.

In September 2003, DARPA awarded Frontier a $75 million contract for the design, development and testing of four A160s. By May 2004, Boeing had purchased Frontier from Karem. In August 2005, Frontier Systems – now a Boeing subsidiary – received a $50 million contract from the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division to examine the affordability of long-range VTOL UAVs for payload delivery. With no orders on the books, Boeing made the decision in late 2009 to put the helicopter into production, an unusual move in a business where manufacturers usually wait for a contract award or at least a military requirement before opening production. The A160 has already demonstrated its ISR capabilities to the US Army, as far back as 2008, at an annual C4ISR exercise at Fort Dix in New Jersey. Operating at the army’s Class IV UAV for the exercise, the Hummingbird integrated five different payloads for the event, Lavoranda says, including a 380mm (15in) Wescam electro-optical/infrared sensor ball and two mini tactical common datalink transceivers used to downlink full motion video from the EO/IR sensor Rover terminals to both mounted and dismounted troops with Rover terminals. The Hummingbird also proved its role as a communications relay, keeping two Humvees in contact when they moved out of the line of sight. In March, during six flights in two days, the A160 demonstrated its autonomous cargo delivery capabilities to the Marines, Wattam says, consistently delivering sling-loaded cargo within 1.2m of the target drop site. Furthermore, the A160’s proprietary, portable ground control system makes it possible to deliver cargo without a trained UAV pilot at the delivery site. After the UAV flies its pre-planned route, it stops and orbits until someone at the forward delivery location instructs it, with the touch of a button, to proceed to the inbound delivery point. Once there, another click tells it to hover over the delivery point. Adjustments can be made within a 1km range of the original delivery site before instructing the Hummingbird to lower its load, release the cable and head home on its predetermined path.

Unmanned Cargo Resupply Contract

K-MAX unmanned aircraft

According to the Sources Lockheed, together with manufacturer Kaman Aerospace, will get $45.8 million to operate the K-Max – who is copable of carrying 2721.6kg (6,000lbs) of cargo at sea level and more than 1,814.3kg (4,000lbs) at 10,000ft – while Boeing will receive $29.2 million to use its A160T Hummingbird to deliver cargo to Marines in Afghanistan. The Hummingbird, designated the YMQ-18A by the Pentagon, with its patented adjustable rotor speed technology, holds the record for endurance in its class, at 18.7h. In August 2010 the A160T Hummingbird underwent jungle test flights in Belize to test the ability of DARPA FORESTER foliage-penetrating radar to penetrate jungle cover. What makes this UAV unique is the incorporation of many new technologies – such as advance composite materials, Optimum Speed technology, ability to shift to another gear, and finally fthe uselage’s two large, stiff monocoque skins which help keep the frequency ranges of the structure outside the frequency ranges of the rotor as it changes its speeds.

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