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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

India’s Own Stealth Fighter HAL AMCA: DRDO News Update 2016

10 Most Powerful and Deadliest Army in modern time

Who Wins a War in East Asia? ( Source- The National Interest / Author- Mike Scarfton)

Image credits- Wikimedia Commons / United States Navy

Author- Mike Scrafton

Under what circumstances would Australia join in a war against China? RAND’s report War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable (WwC) illuminates the gravity of that decision.

WwC explores “two variables: intensity (from mild to severe) and duration (from a few days to a year or more).” It models a number of conventional war scenarios confined to East Asia/Western Pacific between 2015 and 2025 and waged with maritime assets—surface and submarine—and aircraft, missiles, space assets and in cyberspace. The US homeland isn’t attacked but assets in China are.......( Read on)

Chinese Navy Holds 'Confrontation Drill' in Sea of Japan ( Source- The Diplomat / Author- Ankit Panda)

Image credits- USNI
Source- The Diplomat

Author- Ankit Panda

Last week, China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) held what state media called a “maritime confrontation drill” in the Sea of Japan. The drill involved a simulated skirmish between two Chinese naval task forces and involved multiple warships from the PLAN’s East China Sea Fleet..............( Read on)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

SURYA: INDIA'S MOST LETHAL MISSILE (Updated)

WHAT IS THE ACTUAL RANGE OF AGNI 5 ? DETAILED ANALYSIS

PAKISTAN PILOTS NIGHTMARE - GNATS (SABRE SLAYER) - INDIAN AIR FORCE

Why Balochistan is Strategically Very Important for Pakistan?

Is China Getting Ready to Build Its Own Lethal Tomahawk Cruise Missiles? ( Source- The National Interest / Author- dave Majumdar)

Image credits- Wikimedia Commons / United States Navy

Author- Dave Majumdar

While the Russian Kalibr cruise missile continues to capture the spotlight in Syria, on the other side of the globe, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army is also developing advanced long-range precision strike weapons. Indeed, Chinese designers are hoping to develop a family of modular cruise missiles that could match many of the capabilities found onboard the U.S. Navy’s Block IV Tomahawks—including the ability to retarget in-flight....................................  (Read on)

Friday, August 12, 2016

North Korea's Kim Jong-un Aims for the Moon ( Source- The Diplomat / Author- John Power)

Image credits- Wikimedia Commons / NASA

Source- The Diplomat

Author- John Power

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has set himself a challenge that’s out of this world: planting his country’s flag on the moon within a decade.

Pyongyang’s answer to NASA is engrossed in a five-year plan to put more sophisticated satellites into orbit by 2020, and the experience will inform a lunar mission within the next 10 years. That’s according to an interview with a senior official at the National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA), published by the Associated Press on Thursday............. ( Read on)

Five Reasons U.S. Aircraft Carriers Are Nearly Impossible To Sink ( Source- The National Interest / Author- Loren B. Thomson)

USS John C. Stennis ( Image credits- Wikimedia Commons / United States navy)


Large-deck, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers are the signature expression of American military power.  No other combat system available to U.S. warfighters comes close to delivering so much offensive punch for months at a time without requiring land bases near the action.  As a result, the ten carriers in the current fleet are in continuous demand from regional commanders -- so much so that extended overseas combat tours are becoming the norm.  ( Read on)

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

China Stole This Fighter From Russia—and It's Coming to the South China Sea ( Source- The National Interest / Author- Sebastin Rublin)

PLAAF J-11 B Fighter ( Image credits- Wikimedia Commons / Department of Defense, United States of America)


The Shenyang J-11 is a Chinese copy of the excellent Russian Sukhoi Su-27 “Flanker” multirole fighter. In fact, it was at first an authorized copy—but Chinese ambitions to adapt it with locally produced technology transformed it into a reverse-engineered headache for Russian industry. In successive variants, the J-11 and the Flanker-derived J-15 and J-16 have been at the forefront of Chinese efforts to produce long-range fourth-generation fighters that can contest the seas around China—if only Chinese engineers can work out the kinks in their domestically produced jet engines......( Read on)

Japan: 7 Chinese Coast Guard Ships, 230 Fishing Boats in Disputed East China Sea Waters ( Source- The Diplomat / Author- Ankit Panda)


Image credits- VOA

Source- The Diplomat

Author- Ankit Panda

Starting Friday, Chinese Coast Guard ships, accompanied by more than two hundred fishing vessels, entered disputed waters around the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea..... (Read on)

Monday, August 08, 2016

Avoiding Becoming A Paper Tiger: Presence In A Warfighting Defense Strategy – Analysis ( Source- Eurasia Review / Authors- Elbridge Colby and Jonathan F. Solomon)


Image credits- USAF

Source- Eurasia Review

Authors- Elbridge Colby and Jonathan F. Solomon

The American military is reentering a period of competition. For the 20 years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S. military reigned supreme, nearly unchallengeable in any state-on-state contingency that Washington might seriously care to take on. This meant that a whole generation of U.S. policymakers and military professionals became accustomed to U.S. military dominance, a dominance that enabled, and in some cases even propelled, a more ambitious and assertive foreign policy.

Yet as the Pentagon has been making increasingly clear in recent years, this long-accepted ascendancy is now in question. The conventional military buildup of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Russia’s sophisticated modernization of its nuclear and nonnuclear forces, the proliferation of nuclear arms to North Korea, and the general diffusion of advanced technologies associated with the Revolution in Military Affairs all mean that U.S. military primacy is under increasingly severe stress.

The Pentagon has already begun to take steps to try to respond to these troubling developments, including through its commendable new Third Offset Strategy and related initiatives. These are designed to leverage U.S. advantages in the development and exploitation of technology, in bureaucratic flexibility, and in military doctrine and training to extend U.S. conventional military superiority into the future. Hopefully this endeavor will pay off.

But the reality is that even if they are successful, these efforts will not spare the U.S. military the need to alter the way it is postured, operates, and plans for conflict. Indeed, the Offset Strategy’s very success likely depends upon such changes. And some of these modifications are likely to be significant—not only in strictly military terms but also in the political and strategic consequences they entail.

The Importance of “Presence”

One of the most fundamental of these changes will be the way the U.S. military postures itself and operates, particularly in peacetime. Since the end of World War II, the United States has pursued a national strategy of forward engagement, allying or partnering with a host of countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, and, as it viewed necessary, fighting adversaries in these key regions. As a corollary of this strategy, U.S. military forces have been forward-based in or otherwise rotationally deployed to these areas. The presence of U.S. forces has thus been a regular feature of the strategic landscape of these regions, playing a significant role in shaping perceptions and calculations among allies and foes of Washington.

Indeed, this presence has become such a regular feature of political-military life in these areas that many consider it a significant factor in the deterrence of adversaries and the reassurance of allies. In fact, to some, the visible, tangible presence of U.S. forces has been as much—if not more—of a factor in deterrence and assurance as the actual warfighting ability of those forces. To this way of thinking, one that has become particularly ascendant since the end of the Cold War, the fact that U.S. forces were present to demonstrate American will and resolve was more important than their combat capabilities.
Image credits- Wikimedia Commons/ United States Navy

Such a view represents a distinct change from how U.S. strategy conceived of the purpose of forward presence prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, U.S. forces abroad evidenced American resolve, but they were also expected to perform important specific military objectives in the event of war. U.S. conventional military posture, force design, and operations, especially after the Soviet Union attained the ability to launch nuclear strikes at the American homeland, were typically determined—or at least heavily influenced—by the particular military concerns of how to stave off and, ideally, defeat Soviet Bloc aggression or coercion and, if this failed, to make the threat of U.S. nuclear usage more credible. The U.S. military of the latter part of the Cold War consequently developed conventional forces, based and operated them, and planned for their employment primarily with these warfighting concerns in mind.

In the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet threat, however, this demanding requirement evaporated. U.S. forces no longer faced a peer or near-peer challenger that could seriously contest them in plausible contingencies. Yet at the same time, Washington—sensibly—elected to maintain its national strategy of forward strategic engagement and the military primacy that underwrote it. Even as the United States reduced its force structure from its 1980s peak, though, it retained many of the forward-presence requirements (albeit with some reductions and tailoring) that it had established during the Cold War. U.S. forces still actively patrolled the waters of the Western Pacific and the skies over the Middle East and were stationed in Germany, Japan, and South Korea.

This led to a situation in which, as the memory of the Soviet threat faded, the presence of U.S. forces seemed to become as much the point of their existence as their warfighting capabilities. The value of presence independent of warfighting capability had some strategic logic; visible forces continued to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to stay engaged, both to friend and foe. But they also allowed the military Services and sympathetic defense decisionmakers and strategists to argue for sustained, if not larger, budgets. Allies abroad, meanwhile, rarely objected to U.S. forces deployed nearby. As long as U.S. forces were sized above certain thresholds and challenges to the supremacy of the U.S. military remained relatively modest, Washington faced no serious tradeoffs between combat readiness and day-to-day “showing of the flag.” As a consequence of all these factors, the importance of presence as a goal in and of itself was trumpeted in documents such as Quadrennial Defense Reviews and Service strategic documents.1

Yet this is no longer the world the U.S. military faces. Rather, the United States is confronted with intensifying challenges to its military primacy, especially from China and Russia. At the same time, the United States has been chipping away at its own military preeminence through sequestration and a straitjacket approach to budget efficiency that prevents the Defense Department from downsizing in a strategic fashion.

In this world, presence is no longer a relatively costless good; peacetime forward presence in this more challenging, emerging military-technological environment will involve tradeoffs, including some drastic ones, with war-waging ability. U.S. forces that operate forward within the expanding and darkening threat envelopes generated by the increasing military power of potential U.S. opponents will be placing themselves at greater and greater risk. For instance, U.S. warships such as aircraft carriers that are lauded for showing the flag in the Western Pacific are increasingly vulnerable to potential Chinese attack capabilities, such as the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile and the PLA’s large arsenal of anti-ship cruise missiles.2

At the same time, impressive new U.S. shorter range aircraft such as the F-35 need to operate from airfields, such as on Okinawa, well within the reach of Chinese precision-guided land-attack munitions. The bases that house U.S. ground forces on Okinawa and elsewhere in the Western Pacific that show the U.S. commitment to staying put in the region, meanwhile, are also increasingly vulnerable—as are the aircraft and ships designed to supply and move these forces around. The essential point is that the U.S. forces that are postured and employed primarily for visible frontline presence as an independent mission are increasingly sacrificing their combat survivability, with corresponding degradation of their war-waging utility.

Presence and Warfighting Ability

This is a problem, in fact a very serious one, because, despite some of the rhetoric of the post–Cold War era, deterrence derives not from the symbolism of being present but above all from a potential attacker’s perceptions of the defender’s realistically employable military power and capability—in other words, from warfighting ability. Presence can contribute to this calculus by reinforcing the perception of the defender’s will or by latently complicating an aggressor’s path toward conquest, but it does not itself constitute effective deterrence. Rather, at its root, deterrence stems from the perceived ability to harm an opponent or to defeat or blunt his actions to such a degree that he will act with restraint or back down.

In the realm of nuclear weapons, the ability to harm tends to predominate as a driver of decision. In calculations of conventional conflict, however, deterrence by denial tends to be more salient than deterrence by cost-imposition (though the latter can play a significant role). That is, conventional deterrence relies primarily on a potential aggressor’s judgment of one’s ability to prevent him from forcibly attaining his political objectives, if not defeat him outright. Thus the conventional forces that deter most effectively are those that can contribute to the frustration or decisive defeat of the adversary’s pursuit of his aims.3

Because of the different mechanism of effect, what defines effective conventional deterrence is different from what typifies its nuclear variant. In nuclear deterrence, after a certain threshold, resolve tends to be central. In conventional dynamics, however, the ability to bog down and frustrate if not prevail over an opponent’s military forces is usually central because the ability to harm is so circumscribed, especially against near-peer adversaries. Thus what is particularly important for conventional deterrence is maintaining an advantage in conventional military power, particularly with respect to a given potentially contested area.4 In particular, scholarship indicates that conventional deterrence has been most effective when adversaries judged that a potential defender’s conventional forces could resist their attacks, particularly in a relatively short timeframe. To put it another way, the combined effects of the defender’s in-theater and otherwise quickly surgeable forces’ capabilities, quantities, postures, and positioning had outsized effects upon the decisions made by the potential aggressor state leaders. When defenders induced those leaders to believe that any notional conventional offensive would likely be arrested and that, at minimum, would result in a protracted conflict fraught with high cost, risk, and uncertainty, successful deterrence was almost always the historical result.5

This not only shows the value of forward-deployed and decisive surge forces, but it also demonstrates that the former must, at least in aggregate, be both militarily effective and practically usable, especially within a campaign context. In an increasingly competitive military-technological environment, therefore, the United States can no longer afford to deploy substantial forces in ways that would not contribute to—or could even detract from—prevailing in the event of conflict. Rather, the U.S. defense posture writ large, including its forward-deployed forces, must make clear to more capable and ambitious potential adversaries that U.S. forces can effectively resist and respond to any aggression.

Yet at the same time, the United States has an interest in maintaining the benefits afforded by presence. Figuring out how to maximize forward-deployed forces’ warfighting capabilities and survivability, while also enabling at least some portion of the force to perform traditional “show the flag” missions, therefore represents one of the era’s most significant and pressing strategic planning challenges. This is beginning, albeit haltingly and partially, to receive the recognition it merits at the highest levels of defense policy. Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, in unjustifiably little-noticed speeches in 2014 and 2015, described in clear and unmistakable terms the increasingly high costs presence demands that stress the U.S. military’s supply of deployable forces; these costs can and will exact from combat effectiveness—and thus deterrence.6 As Work described, the “surge forces” of the United States (those designed to decisively prevail in a conflict) are becoming decreasingly competitive in a much more challenging military-technological and geopolitical environment. This, according to Work, is leading the Defense Department to look for innovative and flexible ways to conduct presence missions while focusing on the main challenge: augmenting the warfighting capabilities of the joint force.

While technology offers some options for addressing these challenges, the fact remains that it generally requires a minimum of 10 years under current laws and Defense Department policies to develop and then initially field new systems and platforms. And that assumes applied research has already reduced a technology’s developmental risks to fairly low levels. Deputy Secretary Work highlighted exactly these points in his aforementioned speeches when he observed that many of the Offset Strategy initiative’s technological research investments will not bear fruit until the 2020s or early 2030s. Some especially mature technologies may be fielded over the next 5 years, but by and large they will do so via capability upgrades to existing systems and platforms. Solutions to the presence-versus-surge-readiness dilemma over the next 15 years, then, must lean heavily on creative new ways for positioning, posturing, and employing our existing forces.

The starting point for confronting this problem, however, must begin with the recognition that warfighting considerations must predominate, at least with respect to any decision affecting substantial or material portions of the joint force. Thus any significant forward deployment or basing should be integrated into a credible strategy for fighting and prevailing against a major power adversary such as China or Russia. Building a force commensurate with this logic will involve change because over the past 30 years the U.S. military has grown accustomed to surging forces unopposed into a combat theater, initiating conventional operations at a time of its choosing, and then decisively defeating adversary countries over the span of a few weeks to months.

Yet as American military advantages narrow and potential adversaries expand their abilities to strike at U.S. forces forward while also hindering American reinforcement surges into theaters, such an approach will no longer suffice. Indeed, if the United States prematurely deploys or dispatches campaign-critical forces substantially into a theater’s contested zones, it risks their destruction or disablement in the event of conflict. For instance, U.S. warships that were once secure in their Japanese ports when China could not strike accurately against these facilities are now imperiled there in the event of war.

Framework for Optimal Deployment

Accordingly, the United States needs a framework for determining how to optimally deploy its conventional forces to deter most effectively in light of more capable potential opponents. Such an approach should build on the following model informed by conventional deterrence thinking.

The first layer of forces are those that must be deployed in close proximity to a potential contested zone to allow them to immediately arrest and inflict costs upon an opponent’s offensive. These forces should be capable of absorbing an aggressor’s withering conventional first strike with adequate allotments for losses, then rallying to arrest the aggressor’s offensive progress and contribute to preventing a fait accompli U.S. defeat. Submarines, tactical aircraft suited for dispersed operations from austere airbases, and dispersible ground forces that can immediately arrest an aggressor’s land offensive or threaten an aggressor’s use of the sea or air within the contested zone exemplify the kinds of forces that should be allocated to this layer.

Many of these forces would need to be permanently stationed near frontline areas in peacetime so that they would not have to be deployed in the midst of tensions, a posture that could well undermine crisis stability and unfavorably compel the United States to appear to be the party responsible for escalation. Land-based frontline presence forces would need large, hardened, and dispersed stockpiles of munitions as well as other stores to account for an aggressor’s likely ability to pressure U.S. and allied supply lines early in a conflict. Some light “tripwire” forces might also be added to this echelon’s land and sea contingents during peacetime to promote deterrence, but they would not be expected to play major combat roles if a war broke out. Such tripwire forces might be particularly suitable for more symbolic showing the flag operations.

Presence forces that would be critical to preventing an aggressor’s quick victory should be allocated to a second and much heavier layer and would be positioned at the contested zone’s periphery during a crisis. Nothing would prevent these forces from conducting peacetime training or engagement operations in forward areas that might be contested in a conflict. The key would be to base these forces outside likely contested zones and to be able to quickly sortie or disperse them in a crisis to reduce an aggressor’s opportunities for preemptive attacks. Ground forces sized to quickly reinforce the frontlines from rearward garrisons in-theater, aircraft carriers, ships capable of supporting amphibious operations, large naval surface combatants, and theater-range land-based air forces exemplify the kinds of forces that should be allocated to this echelon. The air and naval forces in this contingent would be used to provide frontline forces with combined arms support, with the caveat that they would typically do so by conducting brief forays into the contested zone during the early phases of a war, as dictated by calculated risk and operational conditions.

It is of vital importance to appreciate that the use of light forces as a tripwire at the frontline would not be credible without the second layer’s latent backing from “over the horizon” locations. Furthermore, the second echelon would be responsible for ensuring the protection of the sea, air, and overland transportation routes necessary for allies’ basic economic sustenance, frontline forces’ logistical sustainment, and the flow of U.S. reinforcements and materiel into the theater during a war’s first days and weeks.7

While forward-deployed forces would focus on stemming and bloodying an adversary’s advance, actual war-winning forces would have to be surged from the continental United States. These forces would fall into four categories:

forces that conduct combat operations directly from their bases (for example, intercontinental-range bombers)

forces able to quickly arrive in the theater (surge-ready theater-range aircraft, airmobile Army units, and Army and Marine units designed to marry up with equipment prepositioned in theater)
forces ready for deployment on short notice but that could take a week or more to arrive in the theater (surge-ready U.S. naval forces)

forces that require lengthy preparation to be ready for overseas combat (the rest of the deployable joint force).

With the exception of the immediately employable long-range bombers, these surge forces would build up over days to weeks, accumulating the military capability to allow the joint force to eject or defeat enemy forces and/or impose such costs on the adversary as to compel him to terminate the conflict on acceptable terms.

Adapting U.S. military posture to this approach would require substantial changes. To start with, the Department of Defense should redesign its contingency plans for major conflicts to conform to this logic, such that they focus on making use of available peacetime U.S. forces in theater, backed by long-range weaponry as well as aircraft to the maximum extent possible, to delay and bloody (if not deny) adversaries’ efforts to score quick and cheap gains through aggression. In other words, rather than concentrate on achieving rapid and decisive victory, which would be exceedingly difficult against the likes of Russia or China, the United States should instead strive to ensure that any conflict these nations would initiate would result in a costly, risky, and uncertain contest in which they would clearly be the aggressor, and one in which the United States would be ready and capable of deploying its surge forces for decisive effect.

Fortunately, a contingency response along the above lines and the peacetime posture to enable it could be executable before 2020 using systems and platforms that exist today or are being delivered within that timeframe. Doing so, however, would need to proceed from near-term efforts by the Defense Department to develop doctrine and operating concepts, improve training, and field off-the-shelf technologies that extract greater combat readiness and capacity from available forces.

Measures to Strengthen Warfighting Capabilities

One approach is to develop new operating concepts that enable rapid reinforcement of the two peacetime forward layers. Forces and materiel would need to be surged forward from bases in a theater’s rear areas and from the United States itself in the face of the adversary’s probable efforts to retard or block those flows. Cold War–era surge concepts, such as the Return of Forces to Germany (Reforger), ought to be closely studied to harvest ideas that may be applicable to today’s circumstances. More attention would need to be paid to how reinforcements would be protected as they enter an opposed theater and then proceed toward their destinations by air, sea, and land.

A second method is through operating concepts and doctrine to address the division of labor between long- and short-range strike forces. History suggests that munitions expenditure rates in war will be well in excess of peacetime estimates, and complex long-range strike weapons are less likely to be quickly producible in wartime than guidance kits for short-range strike weapons.8 It would therefore be necessary to allocate the scarce inventories of the former toward punching holes in an adversary’s defenses and suppressing an adversary’s operations. This would allow the two forward echelons to obtain greater margins of temporary localized superiority for their operations within a contested zone early in a war. It would also pave the way for the entire joint force to use comparatively more plentiful and readily producible shorter range munitions over the course of a protracted conflict.

A third avenue is via doctrine and plans that embrace dispersed operations to reduce forward forces’ susceptibility to attack within a contested zone. To do this, the Services as well as the combatant commanders would need to develop viable approaches for logistical support and supply line protection of dispersed forces. New tactics and procedures would also be needed to enable on-scene coordination/cooperation among the different Services’ combat arms. Additionally, combatant commanders would need to work with their allied counterparts to develop suitable forward locations for ad hoc airbases, logistical distribution sites, mobile sensor and weapons launcher positions, relocatable headquarters sites, and the like.

A fourth method is through a more decentralized command and control doctrine that embraces delegation of tactical initiative to the lowest practicable level. Also known as “mission command,” this is intended to account for the impossibility of exercising tightly centralized tactical control over dispersed forward forces in a supremely complex and dynamic battlespace. This also accounts for the certainty that adversaries would strive to disrupt and exploit U.S. command, control, and communications pathways through kinetic as well as nonkinetic means. Much experimentation, training, and “cultural adjustment” would be necessary for forces to become proficient in this “trust-based” approach to command and control.

A fifth route is through a vastly greater attention to electronic warfare. Improved electronic warfare capabilities are critical to protecting forward forces from adversaries’ wide-area surveillance, reconnaissance, and strike assets. While it would take the better part of the next decade to broadly introduce the next-generation electronic warfare systems currently in the development pipeline throughout the joint force, mature advanced electronic warfare technologies that already exist could nonetheless be rapidly packaged for use by forward forces as interim solutions until that time.9 It also follows that the Services would need to do much to condition their forward-deploying forces so that they could safely and effectively conduct complex operations under restrictive electromagnetic emissions control, not to mention under an adversary’s electromagnetic opposition. The ability to smartly employ electromagnetic deception while countering the adversary’s attempts to do the same would be particularly crucial.

Improved tactical training regimes constitute a potential sixth area of effort. Rigorous, routine, and realistic tactical training is essential to the combat readiness of forces preparing for peacetime forward presence missions. In this era of constrained training budgets, tactical-level commanders still have many training tools and opportunities at their disposal that do not require units to leave their garrisons, take to the air, or go to sea. The Services should accordingly expand use of off-the-shelf simulation technologies as much as possible to enable tactical training events that would otherwise be too difficult or expensive to conduct in actual environments.10

A final set of efforts could take into account that many of our forward allies would be core contributors to the frontline echelon as they would be inherent parties to conflicts waged in their defense. It stands to reason that these allies’ forces could do much to multiply forward-deployed U.S. forces’ combat potential. For example, many have proposed that multinational Brigade Combat Teams reporting to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe could be formed using ground unit contributions from the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Allies to deter Russian aggression against the Baltics.11 Similarly, a standing NATO maritime task force could be established for the Baltics that includes not only warships but also land-based aircraft, air and missile defenses, and anti-ship missile batteries. Combatant commanders’ efforts to cultivate these kinds of combined forces, plus U.S. armaments sales or financial or technical assistance that helps allies procure off-the-shelf capabilities, could have disproportionately high returns on investment.

Taken together, the aforementioned measures offer great promise for strengthening the warfighting capabilities—and thus the conventional deterrence credibility—of U.S. forward forces in relatively short order. It is clear, though, that the trends driving the U.S. military’s presence-versus-readiness challenges will not be diminishing anytime soon. Indeed, if anything, those trends will only worsen during the 2020s. Unfortunately, the same may well be true of overall fiscal pressures on defense acquisition. As a result, technology research, development, and procurement priority decisions made today will have an outsized impact on forward forces’ warfighting capabilities in the mid-2020s and beyond.

Five Critical Capabilities

Five capability areas in particular will be critical to developing a joint force that can prevail in regional wars while still performing peacetime presence missions at a reasonable level:

Forward forces would need affordable and wartime mass-producible guided munitions that are “good enough” for waging protracted conflicts. This means that there would be tradeoffs between weapon capabilities and the numbers that could be quickly manufactured using available commercial electronics and other materials, tested, and then delivered during a conflict.
As the effective strike ranges of potential adversaries continue to increase and contested zone sizes expand accordingly, many U.S. airbases used early in a war would need to be located at increasing distances from the frontline. This means U.S. aircraft performing missions in support of the frontline or second echelon would need greater range, on-station endurance, and payload capacity than the fighters we presently have or will soon field. This highlights key attributes for the Air Force’s planned long-range strike platform as well as for the Navy’s proposed F/A-XX fighter. The latter in particular would need to take on the long-range fleet air defense role last performed by the F-14.
Since the strike capabilities of potential adversaries would hold forward port facilities at risk, and since every day of transit from forward areas to rearward ports represents time that warships are not fighting at the front, the Navy should equip its logistics ships with the capability to reload surface combatants’ vertical launchers and submarine magazines at sea or in anchorage. Failure to do so would present a potentially campaign-breaking problem for forward naval surface and submarine forces.
Unmanned systems will provide future forward forces with dramatically expanded capabilities. Particularly important will be the use of such systems as communications relays within a contested zone; the resultant highly directional line-of-sight pathways will be extraordinarily difficult for adversaries to detect, degrade, or exploit. Unmanned systems will also play central roles in electronic warfare, whether as direction-finding sensors, decoys, or electronic attack platforms. Unmanned systems will additionally be needed as scouts to support high-confidence classification of targets and avoid weapons or strike platform wastage, to serve as “wingmen” for manned platforms, and to serve as strike platforms themselves.
Directed energy weapons may offer forward forces radically expanded capability enhancements. Electromagnetic railgun technologies offer ground and surface naval forces the tantalizing promise of being able to strike targets with inexpensive projectiles from increased standoff ranges. Similarly, high energy laser systems may be ideally suited as point defense weapons against an adversary’s use of inexpensive air or surface vehicle swarms. The electro-optical/infrared sensors used to aim lasers will additionally provide U.S. forces with an excellent situational awareness tool, most notably when radars are being jammed.
Investments in these five areas should be harmonized among the Services as well as among core allies. This would allow the creation of constructive capability redundancies while avoiding unnecessary duplications of effort. Cooperative research and development with allies may be especially beneficial in this regard, as not all good ideas or cutting-edge technologies are born, or best or most efficiently developed, in America. The more U.S. and allied forces coordinate or share responsibilities for holding the line forward in specific theaters, the more that armaments cooperation—and foreign military sales as well as direct commercial sales—could strengthen those bulwarks.

A Present and Capable Force

The recommendations offered here are intended to be stimulative and suggestive rather than exhaustive or definitive. Hopefully, they will provide defense decisionmakers and those who influence them with a framework for ideas and ways of grappling with the need to augment the joint force’s warfighting capability while enabling presence missions. But perhaps the most significant result would be for the defense establishment simply to recognize the existence and severity of the problem, the reality of the tradeoffs involved, and the need for earnest and creative responses.

Recognition of the problem would be significant because the formidable military buildups of potential adversaries and the general diffusion of advanced military technology mean that the U.S. defense establishment needs to change. The United States can no longer afford the luxury it enjoyed during the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the United States, bestriding the world like a military colossus, could easily—almost thoughtlessly—reconcile the demands of warfighting prowess with the advantages of forward presence. Instead, in a world in which American forces are increasingly vulnerable and in which the United States will have to prepare to struggle for mastery of every domain against increasingly capable opponents, the U.S. defense establishment needs to concentrate much more on the increasingly daunting task of ensuring that the joint force can effectively fight and prevail in a conflict with America’s plausible foes.

Effective conventional deterrence derives ultimately not from the mere sight or knowledge of the defender’s presence, but from respect for his evident ability and resolve to defend and overcome and, usually less reliably, to punish. A force that is present but not capable of inflicting damage or inducing frustration sufficient to dissuade a potential aggressor is not a force that will instill the fear needed to deter. Far better for deterrence is a force that can adequately punish or defeat a prospective aggressor. Forward and visible presence will often be reconcilable with this need, especially in peacetime; but when it is not reconcilable, the U.S. defense establishment must give due priority to the warfighting ability of the joint force. For ultimately, it is in the ability of the U.S. Armed Forces to do grave damage to or defeat opponents that U.S. coercive strength lies. A military strategy that neglects this simple but unforgiving reality risks creating a hollow force and, ultimately, a paper tiger.

About the authors: Elbridge Colby is a Robert M. Gates Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Jonathan F. Solomon is a Senior Systems and Technology Analyst at Systems Planning and Analysis, Inc.

Source:This article was published in the Joint Force Quarterly 82, which is published by the National Defense University.

© EURASIA REVIEW ( ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

5 Lethal Chinese Weapons of War (Stolen or Copied from Russia and America) ( Source- The National Interest / Author- Robert Farley)

PLAAF J-11 Fighter Aircraft ( Image credits- VOA/ Reuters)

Author- Robert Farley

As the People’s Republic of China (PRC) emerged from war and revolution in 1949, it became apparent that the Chinese economy lacked the capacity to compete with the U.S. or the U.S.S.R. in the production of advanced military technology.  Transfers from the Soviet Union helped remedy the gap in the 1950s, as did transfers from the United States and Europe in the 1970s and 1980s. Still, the Cultural Revolution stifled technology and scientific research, leaving the Chinese even farther behind.


Thus, China has long supplemented legitimate transfers and domestic innovation with industrial espionage.  In short, the PRC has a well-established habit of pilfering weapons technology from Russia and the United States.  As the years have gone by, Beijing’s spies have become ever more skillful and flexible in their approach. Here are five systems that the Chinese have stolen or copied, in whole or in part:

J-7:

In 1961, as tensions between the USSR and the PRC reached a fever pitch, the Soviets transferred blueprints and materials associated with its new MiG-21 interceptor to China. The offering represented an effort to bridge part of the gap, and suggest to China that cooperation between the Communist giants remained possible.

The offering didn’t work. Sino-Soviet tensions continued to increase, nearly to the point of war in the late 1960s. The Chinese worked from the blueprints and other materials, and eventually produced the J-7, a virtual copy of the MiG-21.  The Chinese eventually sold the J-7 (F-7 export variant) in direct competition with the MiGs sold by the Soviets.  Indeed, after the US-PRC rapprochement of the early 1970s, the Chinese sold J-7s directly to the Americans, who used them as part of an aggressor squadron to train US pilots to fight the Soviets.

J-11:

The collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s heralded a thaw in Russia-China relations.  Russia no longer had strong reasons to withhold its most advanced military technology from the Chinese.  More importantly, the huge Soviet military industrial complex needed customers badly, and the Russian military could no longer afford new equipment. For its part, the PRC needed new sources of high technology military equipment after Europe and the United States imposed arms embargoes in the wake of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Accordingly, the 1990s saw several huge arms deals between Moscow and Beijing.  One of the most important involved the sale, licensing, and technology transfer of the Su-27 “Flanker” multirole fighter. The deal gave the Chinese one of the world’s most dangerous air superiority fighters, and gave the Russian aviation industry a lifeline.

But the era of good feelings couldn’t hold.  Details remain murky and disputed, but the Russians claim that the Chinese began violating licensing terms almost immediately, by installing their own avionics on Flankers (J-11, under Chinese designation).  The Chinese also began developing a carrier variant, in direct violation of agreed-to terms.  The appropriation of Russian technology undercut the relationship between Russia and China, making the Russians far more wary of transferring their crown jewels to the Chinese military.

J-31:

Even before the Snowden leaks established extensive Chinese industrial espionage, Americans analysts suspected that China was stealing information associated with the F-35.  The likely reality of this theft became clear when information about the J-31 stealth fighter became available.  The J-31 looks very much like a twin-engine F-35, without the VSTOL capabilities of the F-35B.

The J-31 also presumably lacks much of the advanced avionics that have the potential to make the F-35 a devastating fighter.  Nevertheless, the J-31 may eventually operate from carriers, and could potentially compete with the Joint Strike Fighter on the export market.

UAVs:

In 2010, China lagged woefully behind the United States in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology.  Since that time, the Chinese have caught up, and are now producing drones capable of competing with US models on the international arms market.  How did the Chinese catch up so fast?

According to US intelligence, Chinese hackers appropriated technology from several sources, including the US government and private companies (General Atomics) associated with the production of UAVs. The newest Chinese UAVs closely resemble US aircraft visually and in performance, a remarkable turn-around time for China’s aviation industry.

Night Vision Technology:

After the Vietnam War, the United States military decided that it would invest heavily in an effort to “own the night.”  This led to major advances in night vision technology, including equipment that allowed individual soldiers, armored vehicles, and aircraft to see and fight in the dark. This equipment has given the US a huge advantage in several conflicts since the 1980s.

China is seeking to end this advantage, and has geared some of its espionage efforts towards acquiring and replicating US tech in this area.  This has included some cyber-theft, but also several old-style ops in which Chinese businessmen illegally acquired export-controlled tech from US companies.

The Last Salvo:

The United States has become increasingly aggressive about slowing down or halting China’s industrial espionage efforts. This has included indictments of PLA officers, broad condemnations of Chinese spying, and targeted reprisals against some Chinese firms. But given the extensive commercial contacts between China and the United States, stopping the flow of technology is virtually impossible. Moreover, China has developed a large, innovative technology economy in its own right. Indeed, as Chinese technology catches up with American (and in some cases exceeds Russian) we may see the Chinese run into the same problems with foreign espionage.

About the author- Robert Farley, a frequent contributor to the National Interest, is author of The Battleship Book. He serves as a senior lecturer at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. His work includes military doctrine, national security and maritime affairs. He blogs at Lawyers, Guns and Money, Information Dissemination and the Diplomat.

© THE NATIONAL INTEREST ( ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

The Plight of the Gwadar Fisherman ( Source- The Diplomat / Author- Shah Meer)

Image credits- VOA
Source- The Diplomat 

Author- Shah Meer

Perched atop rocky outcroppings on the shores of the Arabian Sea, with breathtaking views from a large promontory known locally as Koh-e-Batilis, sits the port of Gwadar, which also happens to be the epicenter of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). With this project, China plans to connect one of the most neglected of its western provinces, Xinjiang, with the port of Gwadar in Balochistan, Pakistan. It has announced an investment of $46 billion for the creation of CPEC, which includes energy, fiber optics and industry-based projects in Pakistan. China vows that the project will bring unprecedented economic development to both countries.

CPEC is a very important part of China’s larger, ambitious “One Belt, One Road” plan (OBOR). OBOR is a grand strategy by which China aspires to stretch its economic reach over three continents – Asia, Europe, and Africa – while connecting them via maritime routes and rail links.

Gwadar, where China is building a deep-sea port, is the heart of CPEC. What is being ignored, however, is that around 70-80 percent of the locals there are dependent on fishing, and at the moment they fear being crushed under the weight of the CPEC flagship. As reported by local fisherman and other stakeholders, the project is not allowing fishing to continue, and will be closing Gwadar’s jetty.

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One of the local fishermen, Rasool Baksh, told me his story: “My ancestors were fishermen like me. We have been living here for centuries and we feed our children by our fishing, which is at risk now due to the development of Gwadar port. Fishing is central to our livelihood and employment.”

He went on to say, “These days, most of the time I see a ban on fishing around the port for security reasons, as well as restrictions put in place by construction. I have a small boat but I can’t go to out to sea to fish. In my boat there are seven people working, which means seven families are dependent on fishing. There are hundreds of small boats in Gwadar like mine. I wonder how I will feed my family if I am kicked off of Gwadar jetty as I have been hearing will soon happen. They say that fishermen will not be allowed to use it when the port becomes completely operational. Will I be helped or will my children get jobs in Gwadar? I often worry about this.”

The Pearl-Continental Hotel – the only one of its kind in all of Balochistan – looks out upon the beautiful Gwadar coastline from its vantage point on the Koh-e-Batil. K.B Firaq, a social activist and author, says that whenever there is an important seminar, conference, or event at the Pearl-Continental or anywhere nearby – sometimes not even that near – the jetty is closed for security reasons, and people’s movements are restricted as well. Fishermen suffer, but none of the officials there seem to care.

The jetty is the heart of fish trading, and Firaq worries about how the fishermen will spend their days when the jetty closes. Where will they get their food? He is surprised by how many times banners are posted near the jetty announcing that it is closed for a day, sometimes longer.

And the closure of the jetty is only one problem. The Expressway, a road that will connect to the port, is being built on the east bank of Gwadar. It is rumored the construction will uproot locals. Another road project undertaken by the Gwadar Development Authority on the west bank is not only crushing the small-boat-making industry, Firaq says, but it is also ruining the natural beauty of Gwadar where people come to enjoy the scenery and let the children play.

“It is worth noting that not only would the fishermen suffer from the closure of the jetty and the development of the Expressway, but there is a chain of others who would also suffer – boat makers, oil factories, middle men, and buyers. True development brings change in the living standard of the downtrodden. It does not make them more vulnerable. But I hope the government will help those affected,” Firaq added.

Syed Essa Noori, member of National Assembly from District Gwadar, told me that he has raised the issue of the fishermen of Gwadar in a grievance concerning CPEC on the floor of the National Assembly, but with no result. The government says it is planning to shift the native population (mostly fishermen) but Noori says they have been given no concrete proposal for doing so. Sadly, fishermen are sometimes not allowed to park their boats on the jetty, nor are they offered a place on another jetty. Gwadar, with the largest coastline of Pakistan (600 km), is overburdened by numerous issues that neither the provincial nor federal government seem interesting in finding pragmatic solutions for.

According to Noori, “We [the Balochistan National Party] convened an All-Parties conference in Islamabad in January 2015 and put forth concerns that we have over the mysterious CPEC project, including the fisherman issues, and agreed on a resolution which was even signed by Minister of Planning Ehsan Iqbal and Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed, but to no avail. No serious step has been taken to resolve these issues. This is quite disappointing.”

Mr. Khudadad, coordinator of the Balochistan Fishermen Network, told me that he sees no clear plan by the government to address the dilemma of the fishermen. He feels that the government is either reluctant or in a state of limbo. He says it is the duty of the state to give every fisherman his due rights, but rather than helping its citizens, the government is giving them more problems. Development can never be called true development unless it addresses the issues of the common people. Khudadad appeals to the concerned authorities to take practical steps to end the menaces which fishermen are facing.

On request of anonymity, one official told me, “There is no denying the fact that because the jetty is sometimes closed, as well as the construction of the Expressway, fishermen are having very hard days. But besides this, there is another pressing issue that fishermen have been facing, and that is trawling.”

He explained that trawling is a type of illegal fishing that eliminates sea species along with their eggs, and it happens with frequency in District Gwadar. Before 2014, per the stated rules of the Balochistan Fisheries Department, if any trawler were to be caught, it would be fined a minimum of 300,000 and a maximum of 600,000 rupees (from $2,800 to $5,700). In just one month, about six trawlers were caught and fined. The amount was deposited into the account of the fisheries and employees got salaries from that amount as well. But in 2014 the Balochistan government amended the rules of the Fisheries Department; they now state that any trawler caught trawling would be seized. To date, the official told me, about eight trawlers have been caught and seized; however, the dilemma is that the Fisheries Department does not seem serious about dealing with illegal trawlers and mysteriously allows them to eliminate sea species with impunity. This is a very dangerous situation.

And in terms of the depletion of country’s fish resources, it must be noted that tensions over the threat to fishermen’s livelihoods have been building for several months, ever since the Fisheries Department disclosed its plan to issue about 100 licenses to various types of foreign fishing vessels to operate in its exclusive economic zone (20-200 nautical miles from the coast). This plan was immediately condemned by both the Pak Fisheries Exporters Association and the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, and raises even more concerns.

But the plight of the Gwadar fisherman is one of the neglected concerns of the CPEC plan. I. A. Rehman, secretary general of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, points out that these fishermen are the original inhabitants of the land. They have been living there for centuries, and fishing is their only source of income. He feels the attitude of the state toward these fishermen is condemnable. No one should have to surrender his fundamental rights, and for these fisherman, they include the right to fish. Neither the government of Balochistan nor the federal government should be ordering the fisherman to vacate the jetty unless they are involved in the decision and they agree to it by virtue of their being accommodated in some way or by giving them an alternate means of earning a living. Without the consent of the fisherman, no outcome would be fruitful.

The newly appointed minister for ports and shipping, Mir Hasil Bezanjo, gave some assurances. “We will accommodate fishermen at any cost if the jetty is closed for fish trading, but at the moment it is operational. We are planning to construct two jetties – one on the west bank and one on the east bank. Both will be for fishermen with small boats for fishing. The big ships would not be allowed to fish.” He adds, “The construction of the Expressway is essential; without it, development of the port is not complete. But I assure you that we will help the fishermen and no one will be allowed to exploit them.”

Bezanjo further added that the coasts of Balochistan and Sindh are in the “Red Area,” which is in a very precarious state. In this area, sea species are in danger of being wiped out by trawlers. Trawling is banned internationally, and he says the menace is being dealt with. Work is being done to put an end to trawling and protect the species that are endangered.

It is obvious that CPEC has some problems it needs to address. It is a vital project that vows to bring an economic boon to the countries that are part of it. But it is high time that the state ensures that no one gets left behind. Fishermen need to be made part of Gwadar’s development rather than being sidelines. They still use outdated fishing techniques, and they need to be trained in modern ways. Setting up a technical institute in Gwadar to teach locals about the changing environment and the latest fishing techniques would be an inclusive gesture and would show them they have not been forgotten.

Furthermore, there should be no “looking the other way” when it comes to trawling. Whosoever is involved in this illegal activity must be brought to justice.

About the author- Shah Meer is a fellow of the Swedish Institute and the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations. He graduated from NUML in International Relations and researches South Asian politics, Balochistan issues and human rights. He is from Pasni, District Gwadar, Balochistan.

© THE DIPLOMAT ( ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

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China's Unique Space Ambitions ( Source- The Diplomat / Author- Dr. Namrata Goswami)


Chinese Long March Rocket ( Image credits- VOA)
Source- The Diplomat

Author- Dr. Namrata Goswami

China’s space ambitions and goals are unique. Unlike the space rivalry between the United States and the former USSR, which was mostly about “who got where first” (prestige and status) as well as geopolitical rivalry, China’s space ambition is to harness the vast resources available in space to benefit and sustain its economic rise.

When Sputnik burst into the skies on October 4, 1957, it took the United States by surprise. For one, the U.S. considered itself to be the leaders in science and technology; for another, the U.S believed that the USSR was a poor, peasant-based economy, incapable of cutting-edge space technology. Sputnik was a shocker as it showcased the Soviet Union’s high-end technology, skyrocketing its international prestige and aggravating U.S. fears that the USSR could now use rockets to transfer inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) to space, from where the U.S would be an easy target. Almost all space endeavors after the Sputnik moment between the U.S and USSR were informed by prestige-seeking behavior, jealousy, and Cold War rivalry.

Unlike Cold War geopolitics and space politics, China’s space program, which achieved technological prowess in the early 21st century, is venturing beyond simply seeking prestige and status. While it is prestigious to show off one’s technological capabilities in space, China’s space program exhibits a long term vision to explore space for harnessing resources from the moon, asteroids, and establishing a permanent presence.

There are three areas in particular where China’s space activities are focused at this point in time: Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP), lunar and asteroid mining, and establishing its own space station.

China’s SBSP Program

SBSP has the potential to harness solar power in space, where the rays of the sun are constant, and beam that energy from satellites by the use of microwave technology to receiving stations on earth. This energy is clean, renewable, and constant. China’s space solar ambitions were outlined in a report by its leading space agency, the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST). The report stated, “In 2010, CAST will finish the concept design; in 2020, we will finish the industrial level testing of in-orbit construction and wireless transmissions. In 2025, we will complete the first 100kW SPS demonstration at LEO; and in 2035, the 100mW SPS will have electric generating capacity. Finally in 2050, the first commercial level SPS system will be in operation at GEO.”

An SBSP station would need to clear many technological hurdles: the discrepancy between the station’s weight (10,000 tons) compared to what rockets can lift today (100 tons); the problem of transferring energy from space via microwaves; precise attitude control as well as on-orbit manufacture/assembly/integration (MAI). Significantly, however, China has recognized that investing in SBSP research and development is to think big long term in order to ensure a seamless energy flow for future generations. Thus China is committed to start working on building space solar infrastructure in orbit, especially in low earth orbit (LEO) and geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) 22,000 miles above earth.

China’s energy consumption levels grew from 18 quadrillion Btu in 1980 to 37.1 quadrillion Btu in 1996. It is projected to be 98.3 quadrillion Btu by 2020. China is also projected to become the world’s largest economy by 2028, both in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) and Market Exchange Rate (MER), and its energy demands have to sustain its economy, According to Lt. General Zhang Yulin, deputy chief of the Armament Development Department of the Central Military Commission, China will be developing space technology to exploit the earth-moon space to harness solar energy once its space station is built by 2020. Zhang stated that “The earth-moon space will be strategically important for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”

Lunar and Asteroid Mining

China’s next big space ambition is to exploit resources like titanium, helium-3, and water from the far side of the moon. Its Chang’e lunar exploration program, launched on Long March rockets, is an ongoing robotic mission to the moon led by the China National Space Administration. The Chang’e 1, launched in 2007, was primarily aimed at building the basic infrastructure required for exploration of the moon; analyzing the distribution of resources like helium-3 on the lunar surface; as well as obtaining three dimensional images of the moon. Chang’e 2, launched in 2010, has now reached the Lagrangian point L2 about 1.5 million km from Earth, “where gravity from the sun and Earth balances the orbital motion of a satellite.” The Chang’e 3, launched in 2013, was China’s first moon soft lander, carrying Yutu, the moon rover. In 2017, China plans to launch the Chang’e 5, which will be a sample return mission aimed at getting 2 kg of lunar soil and rocks back to earth for research.

Resource-rich asteroids are the next big step. For example, Asteroid Ryugu, made up of tons of nickel, iron, cobalt, is estimated to be worth $95 billion. And there are millions of asteroids in space waiting to be harnessed, carrying resources like gold and platinum. In July 2015, an asteroid rich in platinum worth $5.4 trillion flew 1.5 million miles from earth. While the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 prohibits any country from appropriating space territory as sovereign territory, the treaty is rather vague with regard to space resource ownership; if it is “first come, first serve” — as was the case with the moon rocks that the U.S. astronauts brought back with them after the moon landing in 1969 — China could fundamentally follow the same principle.

The Chinese are understandably intent on racing ahead with both lunar and asteroid exploration programs due to their future energy needs. Ye Peijian from CAST stated that China is investing in research in both Mars and asteroid exploration. Hexi Baoyin, Yang Chen, and Junfeng Li at Tsinghua University in Beijing have published findings on how to nudge an asteroid into Earth’s orbit. The idea is to capture a Near Earth Object (NEO) or asteroid with low energy orbit and place it on earth’s orbit temporarily in order to develop the capacity and technology to extract resources from NEOs.

China’s Space Station

China, prevented from participating in the International Space Station (ISS) by an Act of the U.S. Congress since 2011, has invested heavily in developing its own space station by 2020, named Tiangong (Heavenly Palace). China launched the Tiangong 1 in 2011. The Tiangong 2 is to be launched in September this year and the Tiangong 3 in 2020. The Tiangong orbital space station, consisting of a 20 ton core module as well as two research modules, will support three astronauts for a long term stay. Given the ISS is scheduled to retire by 2025, the Tiangong may be the only human space station we are left with.

Here too, China’s space ambition is different from both the United States and Russia. It is focused on creating a long term, permanent presence in space. Despite stated goals by former U.S. President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama to work toward cementing the U.S. presence in space, the NASA budget has been declining over the years, the Apollo space shuttle program has retired, and U.S. space activity appears to lack both inspiration and imagination. Only private parties like Planetary Resources have shown interest in asteroid mining. On the other hand, China is investing heavily on its official space program.

China has long term ambitions for deep space exploration as well as a mission to Mars. Most importantly, its space program is not focused primarily on geopolitical rivalry, resulting in short stays as was the case with the U.S and former USSR (now Russia). Rather, China is focused on long term activities to generate resources and establish a permanent space presence. The ambiguity of international space law with regard to ownership of property in space will work to China’s advantage as it will be based on “first come, first serve.” The rules of the game therefore needs to be crafted within the next five years to create a level playing field in space, the common heritage of humankind.

Dr. Namrata Goswami is a MINERVA Grantee of the Minerva Initiative awarded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. She is also a Senior Analyst for Wikistrat. She was formerly Research Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi and a Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Washington, D.C. Dr. Goswami is a recipient of the Fulbright-Nehru Senior Fellowship, 2012-2103. The views expressed here are solely her own.

© THE DIPLOMAT ( ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)


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