Tuesday 30 October 2007

Army launches electromagnetic war game

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) started a war game in central China's Henan Province on Saturday, to test its fighting capabilities under electromagnetic circumstances, according to Army sources.

A division of the PLA's Jinan Military Area Command, with about10,000 soldiers and officers and 1,000 vehicles, will launch attacks on a hilly exercise site in the coming seven days.

It is aimed to check the results of the Army's training for electromagnetic battles over the past year, so as to improve its capabilities of commanding, long-range maneuvering, firepower, integrated defending, and comprehensive logistic work.

The year 2007 is the first year for the whole Army to carry out training on electromagnetic combat.

The PLA division used to be a motorised field troop, and a few years ago, it was changed into a light mechanised one.

New carrier rocket series to be built

TIANJIN: A week after the launch of the first lunar orbiter, the government yesterday announced the building of a new family of rocket launchers and a launch center.

The Long March 5 carrier rockets will be made in the northern coastal city of Tianjin while the new launch center will be located in the southernmost province of Hainan.

The next-generation rockets will be able to carry up to 25 tons to near-Earth orbits, up from the current 9 tons; and 14 tons to geosynchronous orbits, up from 5 tons. The diameter will be increased to 5 meters from 3.35 meters.

They are designed to launch space stations or heavyweight satellites, which the current Long March 3-A rockets cannot handle.

"They are expected to meet the demands of space technology development and peaceful use of space for the next 30 to 50 years," Wu Yansheng, president of China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, said yesterday at the groundbreaking ceremony of the base.

"It will also give China the same launch capabilities as developed countries," Wu said, which means the nation can be as competitive in the lucrative international commercial launch market.

Research and tests on key technologies of the new rockets have been completed, the academy said in a statement.

Complementing the rocket-building base will be the new launch center at Wenchang.

Insiders said Tianjin was chosen because its location by the sea can facilitate the maritime transportation of the new rockets - which are too big to be transported by rail to any of the current three launch centers in Gansu, Shanxi and Sichuan provinces - to Hainan.

The manufacturing base in Tianjin is expected to cost several billion yuan but neither the academy nor the Tianjin municipal government would reveal the exact amount.

As the launch center in Wenchang will not be ready until 2012, the new generation rockets will not blast off before 2013. Earlier reports suggested that the Chang'e II and III were likely to lift off atop the new carrier rockets.

The indigenously developed Long March carrier rocket series have been launched 103 times - including for the liftoff of Chang'e I last week - since their debut in April 1970.

Between April 1970 and October 1997, there were seven failures in 49 launches, according to a 1998 issue of Aerospace China magazine. Since 1997, the success rate has been 100 percent.

from peoples daliy

Foreign energy giants bid for China's nuclear contracts

China has yet to decide an exact date for issuing tenders of its four new nuclear powerenerators, but the winner is at this stage very likely to be either US-based Westinghouse Electric Co Ltd, or French company Areva, or Russian firm AtomStroyExport (ASE).

"The tender documents and proposals have already been approved by the State Council, and now we have presented them to the National Development and Reform Commission for final approval," Yu Jianfeng, director of the Nuclear Power Department of China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC), which is working to offer the tender.

There's no specific timetable for the bidding yet, Yu added. This is the country's first bidding for nuclear power projects which is open to foreign companies.China is expected to invite foreign companies only to bid for four 1,000-megawatt pressurized-water nuclear power facilities by the end of this year.

The winner will be in charge of the design and construction of the four generators, two located in Sanmen, East China's Zhejiang Province and the other two in Yangjiang, South China's Guangdong Province.Several foreign companies including Westinghouse, Areva, ASE, Japan's
Mitsubishi, France's Alstom, and the Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd, havebeen scrambling for the multi-billion dollar contracts.

Yu said: "The winner should be either Westinghouse, Areva or ASE."
Yu said China wants to adopt the latest, third-generation reactor technology, which it has been unable to develop itself.

France-based Areva, which has been promoting its third-generation reactor technology built by its Famatone subsidiary, seems confident."We are very well prepared," Reme de Preneuf, chief representative of Areva for nuclear business in China, told China Business Weekly last week.
"We do not know the precise requirements, but we are in a fairly good position," he said.

Areva has won the contract to build a third-generation reactor, called the European Pressurized Reactor, in Finland, the first and so far the only one of its kind in the world, said de Preneuf.To date, Areva has built more than 70 reactors worldwide, and continuous improvements in its nuclear power technology have made it possible for Areva to provide evolutionary designs, which its competitors do not have, he said.

Moreover, the electricity generated by Areva-designed reactors is quite cost-competitive, "and that's why the Finnish company has chosen us," he said.According to Yu, the bidders should offer cost-competitive designs,regarding both construction and daily operation.

The electricity price of nuclear power should be close to that of thermal power - only slightly higher, Yu said.He refused to comment on the expected total investment.The official budget ofeach generator is usually between US$1.5-US$2.0 billion.Compared with its US counterparts, which have no nuclear deals in China, Areva has richer experience, said de Preneuf."We have a long-term co-operation with China and know about local needs fairly well," he said.

Areva has transferred its technologies to between 14 and 20 Chinese nuclear power facilities producers so far. Its technology has been adopted in reactors in Ling'ao and Dayawan, both in South China's Guangdong Province, and as well as the Qinshan phase II units, in EastChina's Zhejiang Province.According to Yu, the bidders must not only be capable of designing and
constructing nuclear power generators with the new technology, but help promote the country's domestic nuclear power industry through co-operation.

The Chinese Government has been attaching great importance to self-reliance in the industry.
Apart from that, the French Government has been providing continuous support for Areva's nuclear technology export, noted de Preneuf.In contrast, US-based leading nuclear power company Westinghouse has no presence in China, as the US Government has been restricting exports of nuclear technology to China.

This was the case until earlier this year, when US Vice-President Dick Cheney made a pitch for Westinghouse during his three-day visit to China.If Westinghouse could get the deal, it would help narrow the huge US trade deficit with China - about US$113 billion last year, and create
thousands of jobs in the United States.

Earlier reports said Westinghouse was pinning its hopes on the 1,100 megawatt AP 1000 reactor, with an initial installment cost of US$1.5 billion per unit.Westinghouse was unavailable for comment.According to Yu, construction of the next-generation generator designed by Westinghouse takes 48 months, shorter than the average time-span of 60 months.

ASE was also unavailable for comment.It is believed that winning the first deal is vital to vendors, as China has indicated it will adopt a unified, standardized design across its nuclear industry and drop the existing combined technology of France, Canada, Japan and Russia.

Chinese officials estimate that by 2020 the country will need an additional installation capacity of 32,000 megawatts from the nuclearindustry, or about 32 new reactors.China currently has nine operating reactors, with a total nuclear power capacity of 7,010 megawatts by the end of July.That accounts for only 1.6 per cent of the country's total installation capacity of power plants.Even with the surge in reactor construction, nuclear power will contribute only 4 per cent of China's electricity output by 2020, far below the average among countries with nuclear power plants - 17 per

cent.

Friday 26 October 2007

China to Tap Global Uranium for Nuclear Expansion

BEIJING - China plans to tap the global uranium market to feed the rapid expansion of its nuclear power sector, a top economic planner said on Thursday, although strong demand for the metal has pushed prices above historical levels.


Zhang Guobao, a deputy chief of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said the country's plans to add one plant a year through 2020 were focused along the booming coast, although inland provinces have been clamouring for investment.

The country aims to spend US$50 billion to quadruple its installed generating capacity at nuclear power plants by 2020 to 40 gigawatts (GW), or 4 percent of China's total power generating capacity.

At present it has around 9 GW of nuclear power online, and only limited domestic uranium supplies, so is looking for fuel abroad for the expansion.

Another commission official said in April that China, the world's second-biggest energy consumer, was finding it difficult to secure uranium for the planned plants, but its firms have since done a deal with Australia and was looking at other mine opportunities, including one in Niger.

"Based on our forecast, there is no supply problem in the global market even if China's mid- and long-term demand is included," Zhang told Reuters on the sidelines of a nuclear standards meeting.

Spot U3O8-prices for uranium ore concentrate, or yellow cake, are strong on the back of renewed interest in nuclear energy, seen by proponents as countering high oil prices and aiding in global efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

They hit a record high of US$136 a pound at the end of June, up from just US$7 in 2000, but has since recoiled to US$90."The trading of uranium resources are no different from other energy products," he added.

China backs nuclear for climate change strategy

Actively promoting nuclear power plant construction will be part of China's climate change strategy, according to a report by China's National Development and Reform Commission.

China will introduce preferential policies to develop and utilize clean and low carbon energy. However, the report notes the importance of development in China and says that the primary responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions lies with the developed nations that have been responsible for most of the historic emissions.

The report says that China should actively promote nuclear power plant construction; vigorously develop renewable energy and speed up utilization of coal bed methane.

According to the report, "nuclear power should be regarded as an important component of national energy strategy, hence the proportion of nuclear power in China's national primary energy supply will increase gradually, and construction of nuclear power stations in the coastal regions with faster economic development and heavy electricity load should be expedited."

The report goes on to say that China should "adopt advanced technology to realize independent and domestic construction of large-scale nuclear power stations and improve the overall capacity of nuclear power industry by the principle of self-dependence, international cooperation, technology transfer and promoting independence."

In the longer term China should research and master fast reactor design and its core technology, including nuclear fuel and structural material related technology. China will actively participate in the construction of and research on international thermonuclear fusion experiment reactor (ITER).

While the report sets out ways in which China can reduce the carbon intensity, both through changes to energy production and though measure to improve energy efficiency the importance of industrial development is given a high priority.

The report states that for developing countries with less historical emission and current low per capita emission, their priority is to achieve sustainable development. Ma Kai, chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission, said that China must "reconcile the need for development with the need for environmental protection", although he added that China would "blaze a new path to industrialisation."

Mainland China has nine nuclear power reactors in commercial operation, a further two units grid connected, four more under construction, and at least four more about to start constuction in 2007. Additional reactors are planned, including to give a fivefold increase in nuclear capacity to 40 GWe by 2020 and then a further three to fourfold increase to 120-160 GWe by 2030.

Thursday 25 October 2007

US NAVAL STRATEGY IN 21ST CENTURY

THE U.S. NAVY is by far the most powerful naval force in the world, perhaps equal in combat power to all the rest of the world's navies combined. The U.S. Navy alone operates large deck, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, their air groups (each more potent than most of the world's air forces) and their associated battle groups on a routine basis--and possesses no fewer than ten of these. The U.S. Navy alone operates a large force of nuclear-powered attack and ballistic missile submarines (the Soviet submarine force being but a shade of its former glory, while the Chinese submarine force is two or three technology generations behind). The U.S. Navy alone possesses the wherewithal to launch large amphibious assault operations. Most important of all, the U.S. Navy alone has the ability to project and sustain naval power at any point on the globe for weeks and months on end, thanks to its unsung but essential "fleet train" of oilers and underway replenishment vessels (In 1982, the British task force sent to the Falklands was literally falling apart for lack of maintenance by the end of that war).
The United States Navy today suffers from only one glaring shortcoming: a perceived lack of relevance. Navies traditionally exist to fight other navies, to preserve freedom of the seas, to control sea lanes, or at worst, deny them to other navies. But today the U.S. Navy is unchallenged. The Soviet Navy has trouble sending a relatively small task force into the The Chinese Navy seldom ventures beyond its bastion in the South China Sea. The rest of the world's navies are slouching into glorified coast guards. So why do we need a navy, and how does the Navy justify its shipbuilding budget?
The broad answer is deterrence. The existence of the Navy serves to inhibit potential aggressors from going to war by allowing the U.S. to project military power anywhere in the world, even where we do not have allies or bases in the theater. Thus, in any given crisis, every president since Eisenhower has always asked first, "Where are the carriers?" The size and power of the U.S. Navy inhibits most other countries from even attempting to match us at sea (even the USSR settled for a "sea denial" strategy intended to disrupt U.S. reinforcement of Europe for a limited period, rather than trying to wrest permanent control of the Atlantic from us), and so their options are immediately constrained by the existence of U.S. seapower.
In the Cold War, the U.S. Navy exercised this deterrent function in two ways: first, by maintaining the nuclear ballistic missile submarine force as one (and the most secure) leg of the nuclear triad; second, by developing and retaining the combat power to defeat the Soviet navy's aim of disrupting the Atlantic sea lanes. At a secondary level, the Navy also had the ability to strike along the periphery of the Soviet empire, and to intervene in secondary theaters or regional wars through airpower and amphibious assaults.
The short answer is by continuing to be the United States Navy. With its large, general-purpose forces, the Navy is capable of a wide range of contingency operations without making substantial alterations to its force structure or its operational methods. The capabilities that support the Navy's primary military missions allow it to perform these low-intensity missions as well. This will become increasingly important given the rapid "littoralization" of the world's population--already a majority of people live within 60 miles of the ocean, and the shift from hinterlands to coast is accelerating.
Take, for example, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance. As witnessed by the 2005 Asian tsunami and the flooding of the Gulf Coast after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, it is often necessary to intervene in situations where fixed port facilities are either destroyed or severely damaged. Humanitarian organizations had tremendous problems in delivering food, water,
shelter and medical supplies because the infrastructure in these areas was wiped out by natural disaster. People were dying while the means to save them remained on ships offshore--until the arrival of the U.S. Navy.
As part of its amphibious warfare capability, the Navy has to assume that ports will not be available, and so it developed ships capable of delivering cargo, vehicles and personnel directly unto a beach. It has the ability to rapidly repair and clear damaged ports, or to build temporary ports through its Naval Construction Battalions (the famous Seabees). The Navy and the Marine Corps (the Navy's army) have organic engineering assets to repair infrastructure, build new roads, restore utility services. More important for immediate relief operations, they have hundreds of helicopters capable of lifting in emergency supplies and medical personnel and evacuating the critically injured or otherwise endangered survivors. The injured can be treated aboard U.S. Navy hospital ships, each with hundreds of beds and the surgical and lab facilities found only in larger U.S. cities. The Marines also have the military muscle to provide order and security where these have collapsed, allowing the local authorities to get back on their feet. In short, because the Navy can wage amphibious warfare, it can also perform humanitarian relief.
Humanitarian relief is one part of a spectrum of "stabilization and reconstruction" (S&R) operations, which also include restoring order and rebuilding infrastructure after (sometimes during) an international or civil conflict. Many of the same skills used in humanitarian assistance also apply to S&R operations, which means they, too, can be addressed through the U.S. Navy's amphibious warfare capability. On the stability side of the equation, the U.S. Navy has substantial resources for coastal surveillance and intelligence gathering operations, including Naval Special Warfare units such as the SEALS. For their part, the Marines have been practicing S&R since the Banana Wars of the 1920s, and have retained the doctrinal basis for that in their Small Wars Handbook and Small Wars Center of Excellence.
The breakdown of established government in many parts of the world, particularly in the Horn of Africa and some parts of Asia, has seen the resurgence of piracy--both for material gain and as part of an ideologically motivated terrorist strategy. The U.S. Navy already plays a major role in combating piracy on the high seas, and its ability to perform this mission will increase with the launch of new coastal patrol vessels such as the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and the fielding of new intelligence gathering systems such as the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) system, a long endurance UAV equipped with imaging radar, infrared sensors, and signals intelligence systems that can remain on station for more than a day several thousand kilometers from its base.
But the new naval strategy is not content to react to disasters, insurgencies, and other contingencies. Instead, it seeks to take the initiative by preventing such situations from arising by forging close connections with regional allies and neutral nations to build up local institutions, develop common operating procedures, and to increase the level of training and proficiency among the world's smaller navies. One might not be able to stop a tsunami or typhoon, but one can work beforehand to ensure that local authorities are trained and prepared to respond more effectively, and to work cooperatively with the U.S. once they happen. With regard to problems of stability, building links with local civil and military authorities, strengthening institutions, and providing developmental assistance can help prevent countries from collapsing into "failed states" that serve as breeding grounds for insurgencies and terrorism. To some extent, this already happens on a daily basis. Every naval exercise establishes common operating procedures and builds confidence, every military assistance program also involves a civil affairs program (e.g., while training foreign medics, the Navy will hold free clinics in local villages, while a construction battalion works with its foreign counterpart to erect a clinic).
The establishment of U.S. Africa ) is a broader step in that direction. While the commander is a U.S. Army general, the deputy commander is an officer of the State Department. AFRICOM has few assigned troops at present, and no established military mission. Rather, most of its functions involve intelligence gathering, foreign military training, and occasional advisory actions. But if trouble occurs, AFRICOM already has a framework in place to deal with it.
So, overall, the U.S. Navy's new maritime strategy merely formalizes what has been happening for the past decade or more. For the most part, there needs to be very little change of emphasis in the shipbuilding program or the Navy's materiel priorities. The new strategy still needs aircraft carriers, destroyers, submarines, aircraft and helicopters. It still needs SEALS and Marines (more than ever). It will also need more small craft for inshore operations and more remote surveillance systems, but these, for the most part, will not dominate the budget.
The main change is in mindset and training. The Navy no longer thinks of fleet action as its raison d'etre and low intensity operations as a "diversion". Rather, low intensity operations are now the main show. But this creates a problem, for in many ways it is easier to ratchet down from high intensity operations in order to deal with lower intensity ones. As we have seen in places like Kosovo and Somalia, high intensity warfare skills atrophy quickly in a low intensity warfare environment, and it takes time to get the edge back. The issue for the Navy, in implementing its new strategy, is how to develop the skills needed for the range of low intensity operations (counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism, stabilization, reconstruction, development) without losing those needed to continue to deter the "peer competitor" attempting to emerge in the South China Sea.

Tuesday 23 October 2007

Crash of Chinese Surveillance Plane Hurts Effort on Warning System

China's efforts to field an early-warning aircraft that could help it project power far beyond its borders, and challenge American intervention in any conflict with Taiwan and India, were dealt at least a temporary blow by the crash of a surveillance aircraft on Sunday, defense specialists in the region said.The aircraft, described by two government-controlled newspapers in Hong Kong as a Chinese-made airborne warning and control system, or Awacs, plane, slammed into a hillside in central Anhui Province, killing all 40 technicians and crew members on board.
The crash was described as one of the worst disasters in the history of the Chinese Air Force. The Chinese news media said that Guo Boxiong, a top military official in Beijing, was supervising the investigation into the accident.The two Hong Kong newspapers, Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Po, carried articles on Monday that described the crash in more detail than did the rest of the Chinese news media. They did not identify the model of the plane, but regional experts suggested that it was most likely the KJ-2000, an early-warning aircraft that was developed using mostly technology developed in China.

Monday 22 October 2007

ISRAEL NEW MISSILE INTERCEPTOR

While Israeli political leaders may still harbor hope of diplomatically dismantling Iran’s nuclear program, Ministry of Defense (MoD) officials are forging ahead with plans to develop new top-tier defenses against doomsday-like threats should diplomacy fail.
“Unlike the diplomats and politicians, we don’t have the luxury of hope,” a senior military planner here said. “Our job is to anticipate the most extreme, worst-case scenarios and make sure we’re prepared to handle them.”
Defense and industry officials say the prospective top-tier defensive layer — known here as Arrow-3 — requires development of an entirely new interceptor capable of blunting potentially devastating salvo attacks by nuclear-tipped Iranian missiles. Preliminary MoD plans envision the exo-atmospheric Arrow-3 as the nation’s future front line of active defense, with the operational Arrow-2 deployed as a second-echelon guard against lesser threats and so-called leakers.
The planned upward extension of Israel’s defensive envelope promises more opportunities to intercept incoming missiles, thereby boosting success rates — or so-called kill probabilities — from current levels of more than 80 percent to “somewhere in the very high 90s,” said the planner, a general officer in the Israel Defense Forces.
“After careful analysis, we’ve come to the conclusion that we need an upper layer,” said Arieh Herzog, director of the MoD’s Israel Missile Defense Organization. “Our requirement is now quite clear: We need to give ourselves more chances to intercept the threats we will face.”
Herzog said he is confident that existing Block 3 and new Block 4 upgrades of the Arrow-2 are now capable of defending against current and projected near-term threats. But for the longer term, given the specter of synchronized launches of increasingly high-performance nuclear-tipped missiles, the top tier becomes imperative, he said.
Looking at All Threats
In a preliminary conceptual design study conducted over the past year or so, Herzog’s team and experts from the Israel Air Force examined options for defending against future threats. Options included more Arrow-2 upgrades and the U.S.-planned Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.
“What we discovered is that THAAD is an excellent system, and I’m sure whoever uses THAAD will derive great benefit from it. But in our specific case, it cannot fit our requirements,” Herzog said.
According to Herzog, Israel’s operational force of Arrow-2 and PAC-2 systems now provide the type of high-low mix that the MoD plans to recreate — through Arrow-2 and the proposed Arrow-3 — for future, far more sophisticated threats.
“Right now, with Arrow-2 and existing Patriot systems, we have a good solution against the Scud-family of threats from Iran, Syria and other points in the region,” he said.
The Israeli missile defense boss said security classification prevented him from discussing specific reasons that his evaluation team ultimately disqualified the THAAD. He said, however, Israeli professionals are discussing the top-tier report and the new Arrow-3 with counterparts from the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA).
He said MDA support for the prospective interceptor is critical, not only for the considerable funding anticipated from Washington, but because of the need to share data and subsystem technologies over the life of the program.
“We’ve not yet decided how much year-by-year funding each side must earmark for the program, and we’ll probably need to sign new documents about how technical information should be handled,” Herzog said. “But I hope by the end of this year, all these details will be sorted out and we’ll be able to say we have a real program.”
He estimated it would take at least five years and “several hundred million dollars” for the first Arrow-3s to become operational.
Herzog said the new interceptor would use the same radar, battle management and other supporting systems developed for Arrow-2, helping to keep interoperability up and costs down.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) will remain the prime contractor and lead integrator for the prospective Arrow-3 program, Herzog said.
In interviews here, industry sources said IAI has already begun negotiations with Boeing Missile Defense Systems to extend the co-production partnership begun in 2003. Boeing produces nearly 40 percent of Arrow-2 components under a complex, U.S.-funded government-to-government teaming agreement managed by Israel’s MoD and the Arrow program office in Huntsville, Ala.
Two-Part Iran Strategy
Israel’s two-pronged strategy for countering the Iranian threat was clearly evident last week, with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Moscow pushing harsher sanctions on Tehran and Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Washington drumming up support for strategic cooperative initiatives.
In an Oct. 16 Pentagon meeting focused largely on the Iranian threat, Barak and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates agreed to collaborate jointly on multiple layers of anti-rocket and anti-missile defense. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said the two sides agreed to establish a committee to evaluate Israel’s proposed Arrow-3, as well as new developments aimed at halting “Palestinian rockets coming from Gaza.”
Barak also reaffirmed Israel’s “understanding” of multibillion-dollar arms packages planned for Arabian Gulf states as part of Washington’s Iran-focused Gulf Security Dialogue, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. The Iranian threat also dominated discussions Barak held with U.S. President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and key congressional leaders, Israeli sources here said.
Meanwhile, Olmert was attempting to persuade Russian President Vladmir Putin of the need for get-tough sanctions favored by Israel, the United States and many leading European states. In three hours of one-on-one deliberations — which included presentation of the latest Israeli intelligence on the Iranian nuclear program — Olmert managed to offset some of the Russian-Iranian solidarity exhibited during the Russian leader’s visit to Tehran earlier last week, an Olmert aide said.
Yet key issues remain open, including pending Russian arms sales to Iran and Syria, the aide said. And while Putin “expressed genuine interest in understanding our security concerns,” the aide said Moscow remains opposed “at this time” to sanctions.
Earlier last week, following meetings with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Putin rebuffed U.S., European and Israeli calls for sanctions and insisted he had seen no convincing evidence to counter Tehran’s claims that ongoing nuclear efforts are for peaceful, energy-related purposes. In an Oct. 16 news conference in Tehran, he upbraided Bush, French Prime Minister Nicholas Sarkozy and other world leaders for even hinting at use of a military option to solve the dispute.
Israeli officials are taking comfort in Washington’s commitment to deny Iran nuclear weapons.
They are also intensifying efforts in China, where they are appealing for support — or, at least non-active objection — to sanctions. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is scheduled to visit Beijing later this week in attempts to persuade Chinese leaders not to veto resolutions planned for introduction in the U.N. Security

Tuesday 16 October 2007

Israeli commandos seized nuclear material before air strike in Syria

ISRAELI commandos from the elite Sayeret Matkal unit* – almost certainly dressed in Syrian uniforms – made their way stealthily towards a secret military compound near Dayr az-Zawr in northern Syria. They were looking for proof that Syria and North Korea were collaborating on a nuclear programme. Israel had been surveying the site for months, according to Washington and Israeli sources. President George W Bush was told during the summer that Israeli intelligence suggested North Korean personnel and nuclear-related material were at the Syrian site. Israel was determined not to take any chances with its neighbour. Following the example set by its raid on an Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak 1981, it drew up plans to bomb the Syrian compound. But Washington was not satisfied. It demanded clear evidence of nuclear-related activities before giving the operation its blessing. The task of the commandos was to provide it. Today the site near Dayr az-Zawr lies in ruins after it was pounded by Israeli F15Is* on September 6. Before the Israelis issued the order to strike, the commandos had secretly seized samples of nuclear material and taken them back into Israel for examination by scientists, the sources say. A laboratory confirmed that the unspecified material was North Korean in origin. America approved an attack. News of the secret ground raid is the latest piece of the jigsaw to emerge about the mysterious Israeli airstrike. Israel has imposed a news blackout, but has not disguised its satisfaction with the mission. The incident also reveals the extent of the cooperation between America and Israel over nuclear-related security issues in the Middle East. The attack on what Israeli defence sources now call the “North Korean project” appears to be part of a wider, secret war against the nonconventional weapons ambitions of Syria and North Korea which, along with Iran, appears to have been forging a new “axis of evil”. The operation was personally directed by Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, who is said to have been largely preoccupied with it since taking up his post on June 18. It was the ideal mission for Barak, Israel’s most decorated soldier and legendary former commander of the Sayeret Matkal, which shares the motto “Who Dares Wins” with Britain’s SAS and specialises in intelligence-gathering deep behind enemy lines. President Bush refused to comment on the air attack last week, but warned North Korea that “the exportation of information and/or materials” could jeopard-ise plans to give North Korea food aid, fuel and diplomatic recognition in exchange for ending its nuclear programmes. Diplomats in North Korea and China said they believed a number of North Koreans were killed in the raid, noting that ballistic missile technicians and military scientists had been working for some time with the Syrians. A senior Syrian official, Sayeed Elias Daoud, director of the Syrian Arab Ba’ath party, flew to North Korea via Beijing last Thursday, reinforcing the belief among foreign diplomats that the two nations are coordinating their response to the Israeli strike. The growing assumption that North Korea suffered direct casualties in the raid appears to be based largely on the regime’s unusually strident propaganda on an issue far from home. But there were also indications of conversations between Chinese and North Korean officials and intelligence reports reaching Asian governments that supported the same conclusion, diplomats said. Jane’s Defence Weekly reported last week that dozens of Iranian engineers and Syrians were killed in July attempting to load a chemical warhead containing mustard gas onto a Scud missile. The Scuds and warheads are of North Korean design and possibly manufacture, and there are recent reports that North Koreans were helping the Syrians to attach airburst chemical weapons to warheads. Yesterday, while Israelis were observing Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, the military was on high alert after Syria promised to retaliate for the September 6 raid. An Israeli intelligence expert said: “Syria has retaliated in the past for much smaller humiliations, but they will choose the place, the time and the target.” Critics of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, believe he has shown poor judgment since succeeding his father Hafez, Syria’s long-time dictator, in 2000. According to David Schenker, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, he has provoked the enmity of almost all Syria’s neighbours and turned his country into a “client” of Iran. Barak’s return to government after making a fortune in private business was critical to the Israeli operation. Military experts believe it could not have taken place under Amir Peretz, the defence minister who was forced from the post after last year’s ill-fated war in Lebanon. “Barak gave Olmert the confidence needed for such a dangerous operation,” said one insider. The unusual silence about the airstrikes amazed Israelis, who are used to talkative politicians. But it did not surprise the defence community. “Most Israeli special operations remain unknown,” said a defence source. When Menachem Begin, then Israeli prime minister, broke the news of the 1981 Osirak raid, he was accused of trying to help his Likud party’s prospects in forthcoming elections. Benjamin Netanyahu, who leads Likud today, faced similar criticism last week when he ignored the news blackout, revealed that he had backed the decision to strike and said he had congratulated Olmert. “I was a partner from the start,” he claimed. But details of the raid are still tantalisingly incomplete. Some analysts in America are perplexed by photographs of a fuel tank said to have been dropped from an Israeli jet on its return journey over Turkey. It appears to be relatively undamaged. Could it have been planted to sow confusion about the route taken by the Israeli F-15I pilots? More importantly, questions remain about the precise nature of the material seized and about Syria’s intentions. Was Syria hiding North Korean nuclear equipment while Pyongyang prepared for six-party talks aimed at securing an end to its nuclear weapons programme in return for security guarantees and aid? Did Syria want to arm its own Scuds with a nuclear device? Or could the material have been destined for Iran as John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, has suggested? And just how deep is Syrian and North Korean nuclear cooperation anyway? China abruptly postponed a session of the nuclear disarmament talks last week because it feared America might confront the North Koreans over their weapons deals with Syria, according to sources close to the Chinese foreign ministry. Negotiations have been rescheduled for this Thursday in Beijing after assurances were given that all sides wished them to be “constructive”. Christopher Hill, the US State Department negotiator, is said to have persuaded the White House that the talks offered a realistic chance to accomplish a peace treaty formally ending the 1950-1953 Korean war, in which more than 50,000 Americans died. A peace deal of that magnitude would be a coup for Bush – but only if the North Koreans genuinely abandon their nuclear programmes. The outlines of a long-term arms relationship between the North Koreans and the Syrians are now being reexamined by intelligence experts in several capitals. Diplomats in Pyongyang have said they believe reports that about a dozen Syrian technicians were killed in a massive explosion and railway crash in North Korea on April 22, 2004. Teams of military personnel wearing protective suits were seen removing debris from the section of the train in which the Syrians were travelling, according to a report quoting military sources that appeared in a Japanese newspaper. Their bodies were flown home by a Syrian military cargo plane that was spotted shortly after the explosion at Pyongyang airport. In December last year, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Seyassah quoted European intelligence sources in Brussels as saying that Syria was engaged in an advanced nuclear programme in its northeastern province. Most diplomats and experts dismiss the idea that Syria could master the technical and industrial knowhow to make its own nuclear devices. The vital question is whether North Korea could have transferred some of its estimated 55 kilos of weapons-grade plutonium to Syria. Six to eight kilos are enough for one rudimentary bomb. “If it is proved that Kim Jong-il sold fissile material to Syria in breach of every red line the Americans have drawn for him, what does that mean?” asked one official. The results of tests on whatever the Israelis may have seized from the Syrian site could therefore be of enormous significance. The Israeli army has so far declined to comment on the attack. However, several days afterwards, at a gathering marking the Jewish new year, the commander-in-chief of the Israeli military shook hands with and congratulated his generals. The scene was broadcast on Israeli television. After the fiasco in Lebanon last year, it was regarded as a sign that “we’re back in business, guys”.
-Sayeret Matkal:Sayeret Matkal (Hebrew: סיירת מטכ"ל, translation: General Staff Reconnaissance Unit) is an elite special forces unit of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). Its main roles are counter-terrorism, deep reconnaissance and intelligence gathering, but the unit is first and foremost a field intelligence-gathering unit, used to obtain strategically important intelligence far behind enemy lines. Sayeret Matkal is also in charge of hostage rescue missions outside of Israel's borders. The unit is modeled on the British SAS, and organizationally reports to Aman. Its IDF nickname is simply "The Unit". The unit's motto is "Who Dares Wins" (same as the SAS motto).The unit is best known for Operation Thunderbolt, more commonly but mistakenly known as Operation Entebbe, in which it rescued more than 100 Air France airline passengers hijacked and flown to Uganda by PLO terrorists, losing only the unit commander, Yonatan Netanyahu, to enemy gunfire.[/b]
Known operations:Note: Until recently the Israeli army had an official policy of denying existence of this unit. Operations were generally attributed to "elite paratroopers". Sayeret Matkal operations are still kept secret to this day. However, due to the unit's successes in daring operations, it soon became a very publicly-known secret in Israeli society.1968 - Operation Shock - Sabotage of power plant and Nile bridges in Egypt (jointly with Israeli Air Force) 1968 - Operation Gift - Sabotage of 14 Arab airliners in Beirut International Airport, Lebanon 1969 - Operations Orchard 22, Orchard 37 - Assaults on high voltage wires and a control antenna in Egypt 1969 - Operation Bulmus 6 - Assault on fortified Green Island, Egypt (jointly with Shayetet 13) 1969 - Operation Rooster 53 - Seizing an entire Egyptian radar installation (jointly with Israeli Air Force) 1970 - Operation Rhodes - Assault on fortified Shadwan Island, Egypt (jointly with Shayetet 13) 1972 - Operation Isotope - Foiling the Hijacking of Sabena Flight 572 in Tel Aviv, Israel (hostages rescue) 1972 - Operation Crate 3 - Kidnapping 5 Syrian intelligence officers 1973 - Operation Spring of Youth - Killing Black September terrorist leaders in Beirut, Lebanon (jointly with Shayetet 13) 1973 - Recapture of Mount Hermon from Syrian commandos in the Yom Kippur War (jointly with Golani Brigade) 1973 - Deep interdiction ambushes in Egypt and Syria during the Yom Kippur War 1974 - Ma'alot massacre (school hostages rescue) 1975 - Savoy Operation (hotel hostages rescue) 1976 - Operation Entebbe, Foiling an Air France aircraft hijacking in Entebbe, Uganda (hostages rescue) 1978 - Coastal Road Massacre (bus hostages rescue) 1980 - Misgav Am (Kibbutz hostages rescue) 1984 - Kav 300 affair (bus hostages rescue, see The Shabak's years of crisis) 1988 - Tunis Raid - assassination of Abu Jihad, in Tunis, Tunisia 1989 - Sheik Abdul-Karim Obeid kidnapping, Lebanon (see Ron Arad) 1994 - Mustafa Dirani kidnapping, Lebanon (see Ron Arad) 1994 - Nachshon Waxman (foiled hostage rescue) 2006 - Attack near Hezbollah stronghold Baalbek (disrupt weapons smuggling) 2007 - Operation Orchard, Seized samples of nuclear material from a secret military compound near Dayr az-Zawr in northern Syria, while dressed as Syrian soldiers. - - - - - - F-15I Ra'am (Thunder):A dual-role long range fighter for attack and interception. The plane - the best of its type in the Middle Eastern arena - entered service in January of 1998, and is the IAF's lead plane.The Ra'am is a special version of the F-15E Strike Eagle that was designed specifically for Israel by McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing).Its tremendous payload capacity, combined with its advanced systems, enable it to carry out depth attacks with a large weapons load, at long ranges, at low altitude, in all hours of the day and night and in any weather conditions. Developments: Several modifications had been carried out in the Ra'am, in order to meet Heyl Ha'avir's unique needs and specifications. For instance - the plane is characterized by greater takeoff weight and flight range than the other F-15 models, and is equipped with unique systems manufactured by Israel's defence industries, including an EW suite designed and built by Elisra specifically for the F-15I. Due to the modifications made in it, the Ra'am is regarded as being the most advanced of the F-15 models. Like the F-15E, it is a tandem seater, with the pilot concentrating on flying the plane and releasing weapons, while the WSO controls the guided munitions from the moment of release until they hit the target. The Ra'am's advanced systems include an APG-70 radar with terrain mapping capability. The sharp picture that the APG-70 provides, regardless of weather conditions and light, makes it possible to locate targets that are otherwise very hard to find - i.e. missile batteries, tanks and structures - even under such adverse conditions as complete fog cover, heavy rain or moonless nights. Another important system that the plane is equipped with is the LANTIRN, which makes it possible to acquire targets and lock guided munitions on them, in both day and nighttime. The LANTIRN system is comprised of a navigation pod and a guidance pod. The navigation pod holds a FLIR night vision sensor and a terrain-following radar, that enable the plane to fly at high speed at low altitude and warn of approaching obstacles. The guidance pod houses a FLIR sensor for locating targets in nighttime and a laser designator. The FLIR sensor makes it possible to follow targets at long range, the laser marker is used with laser-guided munitions. The Ra'am is capable of carrying 4½ tons of fuel in its internal tanks, conformal tanks, and detachable tanks. The armaments it carries are positioned so that there is almost no disruption of the plane's aerodynamic shape - and no impeding of its performance. These factors combine with others to enable the Ra'am to fly to an unprecedented distance, one which was previously attained only by much larger bombers: about 4,450 km. With midair refueling, the range can be extended further. The Ra'am is capable of carrying a very wide range of weapons. It is equipped with a 6 barrelled Vulcan 20 mm. cannon, and can carry different kinds of air-to-air missiles for self defence. Since its primary function is the attack of quality targets, the Ra'am is designed to carry various types guided missiles and bombs, as well as iron bombs. All in all, the plane can carry 11 tons of munitions. Specifications: Weight: Empty: 14,379 kg, Max. loaded: 36,750 kgDimensions: Wingspan: 13.5 m, Length: 19.43 m, Height: 5.63 m Performance High Altitude: Mach 2.5Low Altitude: 1482 KPHRange: 4450 KM Power Plant: 2 Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engines with a max. thrust of 29,000 lb. each Weapon: 20 mm. 6 barrelled cannon at wing root. Air-to air missiles: Python 3, Python 4, Sidewinder, Sparrow and AMRAAM. Varied air-to-ground missiles and guided bombs. Total carry load capacity: up to 11 tons

Monday 15 October 2007

China opens military industry to private businesses

Private businesses will be allowed to invest in military infrastructure construction, conduct scientific research for national defense projects and weaponry production, participate in the regrouping of military firms and cooperate with military firms to develop technology for military and civilian use. China has been gradually removing the long-standing monopoly of state capital on its military industry since 2005 when private firms were allowed to produce unimportant military products.

Chinese warships conduct first joint exercise with British aircraft carrie

Two Chinese naval vessels on Monday conducted a first ever joint exercise with British aircraft carrier Ark Royal in the Atlantic sea near the southern British port city of Portsmouth.

;The two Chinese naval vessels are the guided missile destroyer Guangzhou and the supply ship Weishanhu. This is the first time that Chinese naval vessels have conducted a joint exercise with an aircraft carrier and their first exercise in the Atlantic sea.

The exercise covered communication operations, including light communications and ultra-high frequency telecommunication, change of formations, joint fleet formations search, and search and rescue of damaged ships.

The exercise was conducted under the following scenario: a naval vessel from country G caught fire on the sea; under the request of country G, Chinese and British naval vessels go to search for the vessel and for any survivors.

This is the second time that Chinese warships have visited Britain since September 2001, and it is the second leg of their 87-day voyage that has already taken them to St. Petersburg, Russia, and will also take them to Spain and France.

Thursday 11 October 2007

China Fortifying Its Long-Range Military Arsenal

China's military buildup is increasingly aimed at projecting power far beyond

its shores into the western Pacific to be able to interdict even U.S.

aircraft carriers and other nations' military forces, according to a Pentagon

report released yesterday that outlines continued concerns over China's

rising strategic influence in Asia.Chinese military planners are focusing to

a greater degree than in the past on targeting ships and submarines at long

ranges using anti-ship cruise missiles.

"The People's Liberation Army is engaged in a sustained effort to interdict,

at long ranges, aircraft carrier and expeditionary strike groups that might

deploy to the western Pacific," a report said."Long-term trends in China's

development of nuclear and conventional weapons have the potential to pose

credible threats to modern militaries operating in the region," it said.The

annual report to Congress on China's military power also highlighted

Beijing's purchases of Russian weapons, its positioning of as many as 790.

Chinese strategists over whether Beijing should change its "no first use"

doctrine that bars using nuclear weapons except in response to a nuclear

attack.The 50-page report states that China's military buildup remains

primarily focused on Taiwan and India, and notes that its current ability to

sustain military power over long distances is limited. China's defense budget

is expanding apace with the new investments, the report said. Beijing

officially projects a growth in defense spending of 14.5 percent this year to

about $35 billion. But the report, citing the U.S. Defense Intelligence

Agency, puts the actual funding at twice or triple that amount -- or as much

as $105 billion -- when all military-related spending is tallied.

The report details how the Chinese military is investing in cruise missiles,

precision weapons and guidance systems that could target ships, submarines,

aircraft and airbases as far away as the "second island chain" including the

Mariana Islands and Guam. As part of this strategy, China is buying Russian

aircraft, such as the IL-76 transport and IL-78 tanker aircraft, and has

shown interest in the Su-33 maritime strike aircraft. China is in the early

stages of "developing power projection for other contingencies other than

Taiwan," said Peter W. Rodman, assistant secretary of defense for

international security affairs.

The report details how the Chinese military is investing in cruise missiles,

precision weapons and guidance systems that could target ships, submarines,

aircraft and airbases as far away as the "second island chain" . As part of

this strategy, China is buying Russian aircraft, such as the IL-76 transport

and IL-78 tanker aircraft, and has shown interest in the Su-33 maritime

strike aircraft. China is in the early stages of "developing power projection

for other contingencies".

China's nuclear industry is seeking for self-reliance

China is looking to fuel its nuclear power industry with largely self-developed technology by 2020 as it gradually reduces its reliance on imported technology, a senior academic of the nation's top science institute said yesterday. China's first self-developed pressurized water reactor is expected to be put to use by 2017, Ouyang Yu, an academic of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said.

Sunday 7 October 2007

Qingdao

Construction of a hardened base for China's nuclear-powered submarines began in 1968 at an inlet near Qingdao, which is on the Shandong Penninsula coastline of the Yellow Sea. The project involved the removal of 810,000 cubic meters of rock and pouring 200,000 cubic meters of concrete. By the mid-1970s the underground shelter system was camourflaged and hardened against attack. The multiple shelters at this facility include equipment for servicing nuclear propulsion systems and loading JL-1 missiles.

The North Sea Fleet, headquartered at Qingdao, also operates ships from two other major bases at Lushun, Liaoning and ten minor bases. The Fleet's area of responsibility extends from the border with North Korea to the Gulf of Bohai and the Yellow Sea. The Chinese 1st Institute of Oceanology of the State Oceanic Administration is also located in Qingdao.

[NRDC states that, according to declassified US Government documents, the Xia SSBN is deployed at the Jianggezhuang Submarine Base, which they indicate is located either at 39°27'N 119°09'E or at 37°25'N 121°49'E. The former location is almost certainly not the Xia-class homeport, as it is a rather great distance from Qingdoa on the northern coast of the Bo Hai Gulf near Tangshan, and would be more properly described as "near Beijing." The later location is on the southern coast of the Bo Hai Gulf, on the opposite side of the Shandong Penninsula from Qingdao. It would seem that the "Jianggezhuang Submarine Base" is the US Government nomenclature for the facility, rather than the location of the facility.]

China's Military Tests Real-Time Data System

The Chinese military has begun a two-day drill testing a system that provides

commanders real-time battlefield data, signaling the continued modernization

of the nation’s massive armed forces.

The exercise is part of an ambitious effort to improve military information

collection systems, one of the main shortfalls of the otherwise rapidly

modernizing People’s Liberation Army, the Xinhua news agency reported Sept.

19.

"We are trying to catch up with the advanced countries. It’s a very

complicated system, as it involves every military unit," said retired Chinese

Gen. Xu Guangyu. "I think we need at least 10 years to catch up with the

world’s most sophisticated nations.”

The drill, dubbed “North Sword 0709,” was carried out at the Zhurihe training

base in north China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region, the nation’s largest

military training field, Xinhua said.

Each of the 2,000 participating soldiers is equipped with an electronic

device constantly beaming information back to headquarters about battlefield

conditions, Xinhua reported.

This allows commanding officers to have precise information at any time about

ammunition levels, food consumption and casualties among units under their

command, according to the agency.

"The system could let us know the exact conditions our troops are under in

combat ... and when we should support them with logistics," said Zhang

Jixiang, a senior officer taking part in the maneuver.

This particular effort targets an area of modern military technology aimed at

enhancing what is known in the specialist literature as "battlefield

awareness," said Robert Karniol, a Bangkok, Thailand-based independent

military analyst.

"The better commanders know what’s happening on the battlefield, the better

they can apply their resources, whether in people or in firepower or in

mobility or in logistics support," he said.

No outside observer knows for sure when China decided to improve its

capabilities in this particular field.

China’s 2.3-million-strong military has seen its 2007 budget rise 17.8

percent from last year, and is now going for quality rather than quantity.

It is focusing considerable attention on the need to adopt high technology as

a means to enhance its battle efficiency, apparently with some success.

Recently, reports suggested that hackers from the People’s Liberation Army

had caused a shutdown of a computer system serving the office of U.S. Defense

Secretary Robert Gates.

Similar hacker attacks linked to the Chinese military have been reported by

other western countries, as well.

Friday 5 October 2007

Nuclearthreat through terror network

While there has been progress in protecting nuclear materials in Russia, the threat of terrorists stealing a nuclear device remains high in many parts of the world, a private study concluded Wednesday.

"Terrorists are actively seeking nuclear weapons and materials to make them," said the report by Harvard University's Managing the Atom project.

The group annually assesses progress, and the lack of it, being made to protect nuclear weapons and other nuclear material that, if stolen by terrorists, could lead to a nuclear explosion.

Matthew Bunn, the report's author, said Wednesday that "we are making real progress" in increasing security for nuclear material and warheads in Russia but that there remain "gaping holes" in the protection of nuclear materials in many areas of the world.

"The gap has narrowed, but it remains a dangerous gap that needs to be closed," Bunn said in a conference call with reporters.

Charles Curtis, president of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a private advocacy group that commissioned the report, said: "This is not a question of the glass half full or half empty." He noted that while there has been a measure of progress it takes only a few pounds of plutonium or highly enriched uranium to fashion a bomb.

"We are not yet treating it as the No. 1 security threat to our nation and the world," said Curtis, who was deputy energy secretary in the Clinton administration.

The report said the essential ingredients for a nuclear weapon exist in more than 40 countries "and there are scores of sites that are not secure enough to defeat the capabilities that terrorists and criminals have demonstrated" should they seek to steal such material.

Neither the U.S. government nor the International Atomic Energy Agency has "a prioritized list assessing which facilities around the world pose the most serious risk of nuclear theft," the report said.

It said from information that is available the highest risks of nuclear theft are in Russia, Pakistan and more than 140 research reactors, often minimally guarded, in various countries that still contain highly enriched uranium suitable for making a nuclear bomb.

"Pakistan's nuclear stockpiles are comparatively small, and are believed to be heavily guarded. But face huge threats from armed jihadi groups and nuclear insiders with a demonstrated willingness to sell sensitive nuclear technology," said the report.

Other nuclear theft risks include the large-scale transport of civilian plutonium in developing countries, including China and India.

"We need an urgent campaign to lock down all of these stockpiles ... everywhere they exist in the world," said . He noted that there is no agreement between the U.S. and China on securing that country's weapons-related nuclear material.

William Tobey, in charge of nuclear nonproliferation at National Nuclear Security Administration, said there is "a great sense of urgency" about improving security at the former Soviet locations and reducing the risks at research reactors.

He said the agency has accelerated the program to remove highly enriched uranium from research reactors, plans to complete security upgrades at Russian nuclear sites by the end of 2008, and will have radiation detection devices at all Russian border crossings by the end of 2011, six years ahead of schedule.

The report acknowledges progress that has been made in U.S. efforts to increase security over nuclear weapons materials in the former Soviet Union. It said that 70 percent of the buildings with such material have had security improvements.

While the U.S. global threat reduction initiative has expanded efforts to remove highly enriched uranium from 129 research reactors across the globe only 48 have been converted to low-enriched uranium or shut down as of the end of 2006.

"Roughly half of the research reactors operating with around the world today are still not covered by the conversion effort," the report said.

Isreal suters

Israel’s amazing attack in Syria on September 6th left just about everybody scratching their heads. How did they do that? Well, meet “Suter”.

Suter is an airborne network attack system. It hacks into enemy air defense systems so that it can be taken over.

Senior Suter is a Big Safari-managed special access program. Big Safari itself is a shadowy Air Force unit that has developed small numbers of specialized reconnaissance systems, including drones, in what are often classified programs. The Suter technology was developed during the last several years by BAE Systems and involves invading enemy communications networks and computer systems, particularly those associated with integrated air defense systems (AW&ST Aug. 16, 2004, p. 24; Nov. 4, 2002, p. 30). Suter 1 allowed U.S. operators to monitor what enemy radars could see. The capability enables U.S. forces to assess the effectiveness of their stealth systems or terrain-masking tactics. Suter 2 permits U.S. operators to take control of enemy networks as system managers and actually manipulate the sensors, steering them away from penetrating U.S. aircraft. Suter 3 was tested last summer to add the ability to invade the links to time-critical targets, such as battlefield ballistic missile launchers or mobile surface-to-air missile launchers. Aircraft involved in the Suter programs include the EC-130 Compass Call, RC-135 Rivet Joint and F-16CJ strike aircraft specialized for suppression of enemy air defenses.

Tuesday 2 October 2007

Spies 'stole secrets' to arm Chinese military

Two Silicon Valley computing engineers have been charged with economic espionage for allegedly conspiring to steal sensitive microchip designs they hoped to use to go into business with the Chinese military.
Lan Lee, an American, and Yuefei Ge, who is Chinese, are accused of stealing trade secrets from their employer, NetLogics Microsystems, and a second company, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation.
The two men allegedly set up a business, SICO Microsystems, for the purpose of developing and marketing products using the stolen designs. They then attempted to secure funding from China's General Armaments Department and a Chinese government programme created to develop communications and laser technologies for the military, according to a statement from prosecutors.
The stolen data related to the design and development of microchips and processors that could be used in military technology. The men had been about to stand trial on just the theft of the computer chip designs when they were charged with the more serious crime of economic espionage on Wednesday.
The new indictment accuses Lee, 42, of Palo Alto, and Ge, 34, of San Jose, of orchestrating the computer-chip plot so they could go into business with the Chinese military.
The men, who have been released on bail of 300,000 dollars each, are both charged with two counts of economic espionage, two counts of theft of trade secrets and one count of conspiracy. They face up to 15 years in jail and a 500,000 dollar fine if convicted.
In July, Robert Mueller, the FBI director, told Congress that China's espionage operations in the US were a "substantial concern" and Beijing was stealing American secrets to fuel its rapidly-developing military and economy.
Only three people have been convicted in the US of economic espionage, described as the theft of trade secrets to benefit a foreign government and the most serious crime under the Economic Espionage Act of 1996. All the convictions resulted from activity in Silicon Valley.
"The vigorous enforcement of intellectual property statutes increases the economic vitality of this region, and adds to the security of our nation as a whole," said Scott Schools, the area's chief federal prosecutor.
"This office is committed to the prosecution of individuals who seek to benefit foreign governments or instrumentalities with stolen trade secrets."

Pine Gap on US missile front line

PINE GAP could play a direct role in a controversial new generation of ballistic missile defences developed by the US and Japan, the Defence Minister, Brendan Nelson, has told Parliament. The rare statement on the secret facility near Alice Springs is likely to further alarm Russia, which yesterday joined China in criticising military co-operation between Australia, Japan and the US - which includes missile defence research. "The strengthening of US-Australian-Japanese ties has got our attention," Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister.

CHINA ENCIRCLING INDIA

na’s military planners think that the addition of India’s substantial military muscle could create a “second front” across the Himalayas, in the event of a conflict between the US and the PRC over Taiwan, and that the Indian Air Force is ideally positioned — because of its proficiency with the same advanced Russian equipment that China deploys.
It is not only Pakistan and—since 2005— Bangladesh that is being gifted nuclear teeth courtesy Beijing. In the case of Myanmar, a country that has even less industry to power than North Korea, and which is moreover blessed with abundant oil and gas deposits, nearly a thousand nuclear scientists and technicians have gone to Russia for training, of which 280 are full-fledged nuclear scientists. These days, Russia has become the UK to China’s US: a poodle of Beijing ever ready to bark or bite on command. Thus, the likelihood that China is behind the expansion of Russo-Myanmar nuclear ties is high. Additionally to training the nuclear scientists and technicians, Moscow signed an agreement with the China-controlled junta in Yangon (formerly Rangoon) on May 15, 2007 to set up a “Nuclear Research Centre” and to provide a so-called “research reactor” at Ayela. Given that there is significant and overt collaboration between North Korea and Myanmar, both of which are military allies of China, those who see the secretive junta in Yangon, as a conduit for the transfer of technologies from Moscow to Pyongyang may not be wrong. In addition, Beijing is developing the Sittwe port as a safe harbour both its merchant men as well as its battle ships, and has recently shown interest in creating alike facility near Tilawa, where a 12-million square meter economic zone has been set aside to accommodate Chinese hi-tech enterprises, several of which are known to function in concert with the PLA. It will not be forgotten that arms and other assistance regularly flow to the NSCN(K) and NSCN (IM) in the north-east from Yunnan in China through Myanmar, a fact ignored by the Sonia-led UPA. There are also reports—as yet unconfirmed—of a PRC electronic listening post in one of the Maldivian Atolls. Unlike the western powers, who have on behalf of Wahabbi interests based in Saudi Arabia pressured the secular Gayoom administration into accommodating a (largely Wahabbi) opposition, the much more intelligent. Chinese diplomats have refrained from seeking to impose their own political preferences on the elite of the strategically-located island republic, thus earning goodwill for China in yet another country that is historically close to India, the Maldives. Indeed, in 1999 the PLA (through front agencies) leased the Marao Island Atoll from the Maldives for establishing a listening post close to the Diego Garcia base. In Bangladesh, which is an officially recognised nuclear partner of China, several teams of Chinese nuclear and missile experts have already visited the country, deepening the links between its own military and the powerful Bangladesh armed forces. Soon, BD frigates will be armed with Chinese-supplied C-802 missiles, that can be used to challenge capital ships from countries seen by Dacca as unfriendly. The latest such visit was in August this year, led by CMC member Chen Bingde and comprising of experts from the PLA’s Armaments Department. The visit was in furtherance of the plan to add Bangladesh to Pakistan as a strategic pressure point for India. It will be remembered that Pakistan is already a leading beneficiary of Chinese-source missiles, including the reverse-engineered Tomahawk (that is called the HATF by Islamabad). The PLA has also set up a huge training facility for artillery firing in the Chittagaon Hill Tracts to give the Bangladesh army teeth against a possible rise in tensions with India. Of course,while all this is happening, Sonia and her marry men are silent, indeed effusively appreciative of Beijing, the city that the “Madam” plans to visit in October. Substantial electronic and human capacity to monitor both civilian and military shipping along the Straits of Hormuz and the Arabian Sea have already been put in place in Gwadar, in Pakistan’s captive Baloch province. Even Bhutan and Nepal— thus far seen as being within the Indian sphere of influence—are being energetically wooed by Beijing, which has already expanded its presence in the second considerably during the past four years. Once the Qinghai-Tibet railway line gets extended from Lhasa to Nepal via Xigaze to Kodari in 2012, the PLA plans to use Chinese assets in India to get a second rail and road link that would connect Yunnan with India’s north-east. This would expand the links already present with Pakistan and Myanmar. Since 1999, the PRC has quietly but consistently enhanced its force projection capabilities to a level that can seriously challenge the US, Australia and Japan. Unless, that is, India joins the trio in crafting a deterrent to the steady expansion of China’s might in the region. Even while China is going ballistic about “nuclearising” India, the reality is that Beijing has created a second nuclear device power (apart from North Korea) in Asia, and is on the way to creating a third (Iran) with the help from its junior partner, Russia. Khushab is being upgraded, with a new Chinese-supplied plutonium-producing reactor being installed. Chinese companies such as Southwest Aluminium and China International Engineering are openly providing help, while Unit-2 of Chashma is nearing completion, and negotiations are on for four more nuclear power plants of Chinese design in Pakistan. Ominously in the light of the Sonia-led UPA’s plans to degrade India’s own production capabilities by rushing through the one-sided India-US nuclear deal, China is helping the Directorate of Nuclear Fuel Cycle in Pakistan’s AEC to create a spent-fuel reprocessing facility. Substantial quantities of deadly items such as special aluminium, nuclear-class pipes, special steel and graphite composites are being supplied to a country known to be an international proliferator of nuclear technology. Plants in Pakistan are being built to produce HTPB, ammonium perchlorate, aluminium powder, missile casings and other deadly items, all this while Sonia smiles as she gazes towards Beijing in fond anticipation of the welcome she will get in that grateful city. The Manmohan Singh government has been as weak-kneed towards the several hostile actions of China as it has been towards Pakistan’s demands in Kashmir and elsewhere, to the detriment of India’s security. In order to help their Pakistani friends deliver nuclear weapons to Indian targets, China is helping Pakistan’s National (Missile) Development Complex to develop solid-fuel missile systems to rivals those designed by the DRDO. Thanks to China’s help, Pakistan’s missiles now have a 2400-kilometre range, even as the Sonia-led UPA has reportedly committed the treasonous act of choking further development of the ballistic missile programme, as a result of Chinese, US and EU pressure on the weak Manmohan Singh government. The August 26, 2007 firing of a Chinese-supplied RAAD cruise missile from a Pakistan Air Force Mirage-III EA platform should be a wake-up call, not for the compromised Sonia regime, but for the administration that will follow it by the middle of next year. The rulers of China have sought to arm militaries in the region that are potentially or presently hostile to India, beginning with Pakistan and later moving on to Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and now Nepal. In every one of these and other countries, Chinese diplomats and armed forces personnel talk about the “hegemonistic ambitions of New Delhi”, and promise help in battling against this danger. Alarmingly, in Pakistan and now Bangladesh and Myanmar, the assistance given (directly or through surrogates) has assumed a nuclear dimension. Such activities have recently been intensified after the warming of military-to-military relations with the country seen by the PRC as Enemy Number One, the US, which has now displaced India as the primary target of Chinese activity in the Indian Ocean region. While military strategists in India raise their blood pressure levels by pointing to the PRC’s “encirclement” of the country through an archipelago of military and intelligence assets around the periphery of the world’s only billion-plus democracy, the reality is that India has been displaced by the US as the primary target of Beijing’s attention and actions since 1999. New Delhi does indeed alarm military planners in Beijing, but only because they foresee a situation in which India joins the two “Deputy Sheriffs” of Washington, Japan and Australia, in a US-led coalition capable of taking on the PLA on land, sea and air, should the eventuality arise. China’s military planners think that the addition of India’s substantial military muscle could create a “second front” across the Himalayas, in the event of a conflict between the US and the PRC over Taiwan, and that the Indian Air Force is ideally positioned—because of its proficiency with the same advanced Russian equipment that China deploys—to challenge their Chinese counterparts for air supremacy across the Sino-Indian border. Today, apart from the army and the air force, the Indian Navy would be as lethal, denying Beijing access to oil and other resources needing to pass through the two choke points of the Straits of Hormuz and the Malacca Straits. Small wonder that the distancing of India from the US is the topmost priority for Beijing’s most numerous agents in India. While the pell-mell rush of the Sonia-led UPA to sign the present flawed US-India nuclear deal is understandable only in the context of her subservience to outside diktat, what is beyond doubt is the steady acceleration of the US-India military relationship, fuelled in large part by the enhanced capabilities of China in the region. Handled cautiously and on the basis of equality, this emerging India-US military partnership could propel the Indian armed forces to greatly expanded force capabilities within 15 years, capacities that could surpass those of Beijing, a country that has had a more advanced military than India since 1958. Small wonder that the PRC’s agents in India are angry over this development, eager, as they are to protect Chinese interests at the expense of India.