Date: Jul 5, 2020
By: David Axe, Contributor

With China’s armed forces growing bigger and more sophisticated by the year, Western and allied militaries are scrambling to keep up.

The Australian military, for one, has a plan for taking the fight to China. As part of a $400 billion defense-wide plan stretching out to 2030, the Royal Australian Air Force intends to arm its growing fleet of American-made fighters with long-range cruise missiles.

Farther in the future, additional support planes could further bolster the fighters.

But the tyranny of distance—Australia lies more than a thousand miles from any likely battle zone—imposes hard limits on Canberra’s ability to wage aerial warfare against a distant enemy. Every mile an air package must travel in order to reach the fight decreases its endurance in battle and increases its reliance on tankers and early-warning planes.    [FULL  STORY]

BBC News
Date: 27 June 2020

Ros Atkins takes a close look at what happened on the India-China border

China has said it is moving 20 martial art trainers to the Tibetan plateau to train its forces.

No official reason for the decision has been given, but it comes after at least 20 Indian troops were killed in clashes with Chinese border forces.

Under an agreement dating back to 1996, neither side carries guns or explosives in the area.

China has not released any information about its casualties, while India says 76 of its soldiers were injured.    [FULL  STORY]

  • Soldiers and equipment transported from central province of Hubei to an unspecified location in northwest, according to state media
  • Footage of drill aired the same day top generals from the two sides held talks in a bid to defuse stand-off that began in early May

South China Morning Post
Date: 8 Jun, 2020
By: Kinling Lo

Chinese soldiers head to the northwest plateau in images of the operation shown on state television. Photo: Weibo

China has mobilised thousands of paratroopers, armoured vehicles and equipment in a military drill, saying they could be deployed “within hours” to the border with India in the Himalayas, where tensions have again flared

.The soldiers and armoured vehicles were transported from the central province of Hubei to an unspecified location in China’s northwest plateau, thousands of kilometres away, in “just a few hours”, according to state media reports over the weekend.

Footage of troops boarding civilian planes and trains in the “manoeuvre operation” was aired on state broadcaster CCTV on Saturday, the same day top generals from China and India held talks in Moldo, on the Chinese side of the unmarked boundary known as the Line of Actual Control.

They were trying to defuse a stand-off that began in early May, with border troops engaging in fist fights and stone-throwing in the Galwan River valley between Ladakh, in Indian-administered Kashmir, and Chinese-administered Aksai Chin.    [FULL  STORY]

It's set to fly in 2025.

he National Interest
By: Sebastien Roblin
Date: January 3, 2020

In October 2018, Chinese media announced that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) would publicly unveil its new H-20 stealth bomber during a parade celebrating the air arm’s seventieth anniversary in 2019.

Prior news of the H-20’s development had been teased using techniques pioneered by viral marketing campaigns for Hollywood movies. For example, the Xi’an Aviation Industrial Corporation released a promotional video in May 2018 pointedly imitating Northrop Grumman’s own Superbowl ad for the B-21 stealth bomber, portraying a shrouded flying wing bomber in its final seconds. Later, the silhouette of a possible new bomber appeared at a PLAAF gala. This comes only two years after PLAAF Gen. Ma Xiaotian formally revealed the Hong-20’s existence.

If the H-20 does have the range and passable stealth characteristics attributed to it, it could alter the strategic calculus between the United States and China by exposing U.S. bases and fleets across the Pacific to surprise air attacks.

Only three countries have both the imperative and the resources to develop huge strategic bombers that can strike targets across the globe: the United States, Russia and China. Strategic bombers make sense for China because Beijing perceives dominance of the western half of the Pacific Ocean as essential for its security due to its history of maritime invasion, and the challenge posed by the United States in particular. The two superpowers are separated by five to six thousand miles of ocean—and the United States has spent the last century developing a network of island territories such as Guam, foreign military bases in East Asia and super-carriers with which it can project air and sea power across that span.    [FULL  STORY]

The four-day exercise in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman comes at a time of heightened tensions between US and Iran.

Al Jazeera
Date: 27 Dec 2019

The Russian Navy Neustrashimyy-class frigate ‘Yaroslav Mudry’ moored at Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman during Iran-Russia-China joint naval drills [Iranian Army office/AFP]

Iran has kicked off the first joint naval drill with Russia and China in the northern part of the Indian Ocean, Iranian state TV has reported.

The four-day exercise comes at a time of heightened tensions since the United States withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in May last year.

"The message of this exercise is peace, friendship and lasting security through cooperation and unity … and its effect will be to show that Iran cannot be isolated," Rear Admiral Gholamreza Tahani said on state television.

Tahani added that the drills included rescuing ships on fire or vessels under attack by pirates and shooting exercises, with both Iran's navy and its Revolutionary Guards participating.

State television showed what it said was a Russian warship arriving at Chabahar port in southern Iran and said the Chinese will join shortly, calling the three countries "the new triangle of power in the sea".

"The aim of this drill is to bolster security of international maritime commerce, combatting piracy and terrorism and sharing information … and experience," the flotilla commander said.

Date: December 19, 2019
By: Justin Rohrlich

Among the bogus items were ballistic vests for the US Navy.
Feds say the US military was duped into buying “American-made” equipment from China
By Justin RohrlichDecember 19, 2019

A military contractor sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Chinese ballistic vests, helmets, and riot gear to the US government while falsely claiming they were made in America. That’s according to a newly-unsealed criminal complaint obtained by Quartz.

On Tuesday, federal agents arrested Arthur Morgan, the founder and CEO of Virginia-based Surveillance Equipment Group (SEG Inc.), on charges of wire fraud. Investigators say the company’s president, Samuel Jian Chen, also appeared to be involved in the alleged fraud.

SEG has been supplying the federal government with law enforcement and security equipment since 2003. On at least 10 occasions, prosecutors say, Morgan submitted sworn declarations that the products he sold the US government were made in the United States or another authorized country, which would specifically exclude China.

The case comes just six weeks after the federal government accused a New York tech firm of fraudulently providing Chinese-made night vision devices and body cameras to the US military that it similarly claimed were manufactured in the United States. And in September, an 82-year-old arms dealer was arrested for selling “blatantly defective replacement parts for US military weapon systems” to the Pentagon over the course of two decades. A number of those components were reportedly sourced from China as well.

The danger in sourcing equipment from China and elsewhere is that unauthorized, cut-rate items sold to the US government may not meet established quality standards, thus putting US and allied personnel at unnecessary risk. This sort of case is “a far more common phenomenon than we generally acknowledge,” Cedric Leighton, a former US Air Force colonel who now works as a private sector risk consultant, told Quartz.    [FULL  STORY]

  • Report says shift in naval operations reflects growing presence and investment in southern Africa
  • Moves could also be part of Beijing’s plans for blue-water force to rival US Navy

South China Morning Post
Date: 20 Dec, 2019
By: Kristin Huang

The PLAN’s amphibious transport ship Jinggangshan leaves Guangdong for Doraleh in Djibouti. Photo: Xinhua

China is becoming an Atlantic naval power, venturing into the ocean’s southern waters as it steps up investment in the region and counters perceived threats from the United States, according to a report in a security journal.

The assessment, written by Ryan Martinson, an assistant professor at the US Naval War College in Rhode Island, said that in the last five years China’s presence outside of Asia had expanded from anti-piracy operations and port visits to training and setting up a military port at Doraleh in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, close to the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea and Persian Gulf.

“Once limited to port visits and largely symbolic joint exercises, PLAN [People’s Liberation Army Navy] activities in the South Atlantic now include independent operations and training,” Martinson said in the report, published on Monday in the journal of the Royal United Services Institute, a British military think tank.

“It has also shown early efforts to develop mastery of the ocean battlespace environment in key areas of the South Atlantic.”

It said the Chinese naval presence had become more sophisticated, with longer missions. In one case, a PLAN task force spent 24 days in the Atlantic before putting in at Cape Town, South Africa, in August 2017. In another, a PLAN task force spent 13 days sailing from Douala port in Cameroon to Cape Town, longer than a typical voyage.

In these instances, Chinese forces were training and doing drills, including staging missile attack simulations, the report said. Research vessels were also part of the operations.

“Much of the data Chinese scientists collect is dual-use and [was] likely [to be] shared with counterparts in the military,” the report said.

The report suggested that the naval activity increased as part of the drive to protect China’s overseas interests.

According to 2017 commerce ministry statistics quoted in the report, of the five African countries with the greatest direct investment from China, four – South Africa, Congo, Nigeria and Angola – faced the South Atlantic.

But the report also said the increased PLAN presence in the South Atlantic could reflect a shift in China’s strategy for handling the great power competition in East Asia.

“Chinese deployment of naval power beyond maritime East Asia likely reflects Beijing’s incorporation of certain elements of an ‘exterior’ strategy into its overall approach for coping with the US threat,” it said.

“By developing robust naval capabilities abroad, the logic goes, China might compel the US to adjust its force posture, shifting air and sea assets away from the western Pacific to account for Chinese threats elsewhere.”

Expansion in the South Atlantic came as China made its larger presence in the Pacific and Indian oceans felt.    [FULL  STORY]

Beijing's rise as a major armaments exporter is a double-edged sword for Moscow

Nikkei Asian Review
Date: December 20, 2019
By: Dimiri Simes

China purchased 24 Russian Su-35 fighter jets in 2015. Moscow considers Beijing’s technology theft as just another cost of doing business with its cash-flush southern neighbor.   © Getty Images

MOSCOW — In a rare public display of frustration between Moscow and Beijing, Russian state defense conglomerate Rostec accused China of illegally copying a broad range of Russian weaponry and other military hardware.

"Unauthorized copying of our equipment abroad is a huge problem. There have been 500 such cases over the past 17 years," said Yevgeny Livadny, Rostec's chief of intellectual property projects on Dec. 14. "China alone has copied aircraft engines, Sukhoi planes, deck jets, air defense systems, portable air defense missiles, and analogs of the Pantsir medium-range surface-to-air systems."

Rostec's complaint about Chinese reverse engineering comes at a time when the arms trade between the two countries is thriving. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Russia was by far China's largest weapons supplier between 2014 and 2018, accounting for 70% of Beijing's arms imports during that period.

Even Russia's most advanced weaponry is not off-limits. Russia sold six of its S-400 anti-aircraft systems and 24 of its Su-35 fighter jets to China in 2015 for $5 billion.

Despite Moscow's ire over Beijing's theft of technology, it is unlikely to cut back arms exports to China anytime soon. Geopolitical and economic interests provide Russia with a strong incentive to downplay Chinese reverse engineering, experts say.    [FULL  STORY]

Despite how easy it is to prevent, China continues to allow launch debris to rain down on rural towns and threaten people’s safety.

MIT Technology Review
Date: Nov 27, 2019
By: Neel V. Patel

Last Saturday, China launched a pair of satellites into orbit from its Xichang Satellite Launch Center. On social media, however, the main event was what happened on Earth: a booster from the launch smashed right into a building in the country’s rural south-central region. No one was injured, but videos and photos of the incident showed wreckage left in the booster’s wake, with toxic rocket fuel evaporating.

It’s the latest incident in China’s long history with falling rocket parts causing destruction below. The most infamous crash occurred in 1996, when the first Long March 3B launch saw the rocket veer off course and crash into a village, killing an unknown number of people (possibly hundreds, by some Western estimates).

“Any time you have stuff going up, there’s a possibility it’s going to come down where you don’t plan for it,” says Victoria Samson at the Secure World Foundation. “So there’s a reason why you don’t fire over populated land.” That’s why most countries launch over water.

So why doesn’t China? “This entire issue is down to geography,” says Thomas Roberts, a former aerospace security fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. All three of China’s main spaceports are located in the mainland, including the Xichang site. They all save money by flying missions east (which requires less fuel to get into space), but that route takes them over vulnerable populations.

China issues evacuation notices to communities downrange, but even if people aren’t harmed or killed by the physical impact of a crash or by direct exposure to rocket fuel (which can lead to severe organ failure or cancer), the wreckage could pollute nearby rivers and streams used for irrigation and drinking water. Launches from the Soviet Union’s old Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, built in 1955, have caused more than 2,500 tons of debris to rain down on the surrounding region, leading to health problems for thousands.

So the issue isn’t new, but the space industry is expanding rapidly. “The more launches you have, the more chances you have for something to go wrong,” says Samson.

Luckily, the solutions aren’t complicated—they just require political will. China can launch over the water if it wants, through its spaceport on the island of Hainan in the South China Sea. Operational since 2014, it’s been seldom used because of launch failures and a less developed infrastructure. But these issues are fixable with enough investment.    [FULL  STORY]

Good for China. Bad for America.

The National Interest
Date: September 16, 2019
By: Robert Farley

Will the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) ever take the leap into nuclear propulsion for its aircraft carriers? Credible reports confirm that the PLAN is already building at least one conventional carrier in the 80,000-ton range. Given how quickly Chinese shipbuilding has accelerated, does it make sense for the PLAN to think nuclear for its next generation of ships?

Current Carriers

China has taken huge steps forward in the past decade, acquiring and modifying an old Soviet carrier, and building a new ship to the same design. China will follow up the Type 001— essentially a half-sister to Liaoning, itself a half-sister to Admiral Kuznetsov—with the Type 002. Reportedly already under construction, the Type 002 is expected to use conventional propulsion, along with a series of technological advances such as an EMALS (Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System) catapult system.

It is unclear how many Type 002 carriers Beijing will build, although a one-off would be uncharacteristic of Chinese shipbuilding. It makes sense that the PLAN would want a pair of ships; operating the CATOBAR (Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery) Type 002 carriers will require a significantly different skill set than the first two, and it will be easier to produce that skill set with two carriers than with one. Moreover, the construction of only a single carrier could make that ship a white elephant, sitting uneasily in China’s larger strategic plan.    [FULL  STORY]