Monday, May 9, 2011

Taiwan to Deploy Supersonic Missile on Warships

TAIPEI - Taiwan has deployed a new supersonic missile on its warships in the latest response to China's rapid naval expansion, a lawmaker said May 8.
The Hsiung Feng III (Brave Wind) missile on display. (Wikipedia)
Military authorities are also mulling deploying the Hsiung Feng III - the first locally developed supersonic anti-ship missile - on mobile launchers, Lin Yu-fang of the Kuomintang party said in a statement quoting Vice Adm. Lee Hao.
"Several types of warships have been armed with Hsiung Feng IIIs [Brave Wind]," the statement said.
It was not clear how many missiles will be produced, but according to Lin, eight Perry-class frigates and seven patrol boats will be fitted with the weapon in the Tw$11.89 billion ($413 million) project.
Analysts say Hsiung Feng III, designed to cruise at a maximum speed of mach 2.0, with a range of up to 80 miles, are difficult to defend against.
Taiwan's defense ministry has expressed alarm at China's naval buildup, although experts say it may still take time for the People's Liberation Army to operate its first carrier group complete with fighter jets.
Tsai Teh-sheng, head of Taiwan's National Security Bureau, confirmed last month that Varyag, a half-completed Soviet era aircraft carrier Beijing obtained in 1998, is expected to make its maiden voyage before the end of the year.
Tsai said the warship will have "certain combat capability" and will serve as a base for China's home-grown fighter jets that are modeled on Russian-made Su-33s.
Taiwan plans to build a new stealth warship armed with guided-missiles next year in response, military officers have said.

Poland Hopes Obama Visit Will Bring F-16 Base Deal

WARSAW - Poland is hoping that the May 27-28 visit of U.S. President Barack Obama will pave the way for the stationing of U.S. F-16 fighter jets on Polish soil for the first time, Poland's defense minister said May 9.
"I hope that both sides will be ready with this agreement by the time President Obama arrives," Bogdan Klich said, quoted by the Polish PAP news agency.
"I confirm that at the moment we are holding talks with the Americans on the topic of detailed agreements that will govern on what basis the Air Detachment - the detachment that will permanently service the F-16 and Hercules crews and land personnel periodically visiting Poland - will be stationed on our territory," Klich said.
Last year, Klich said he hoped the F-16 rotations would begin in 2013.
The United States will announce the transfer of an F-16 base from Aviano in Italy to the Lask air field in central Poland during the Obama visit, Poland's leading Gazeta Wyborcza daily reported May 9, quoting an unnamed Polish diplomatic source.
A U.S. official familiar with the negotiations May 9 in Warsaw refused to confirm or deny the information, but indicated that an agreement announced by the Polish and U.S. presidents in Washington in December was "on track".
A press statement issued Dec, 8 by the White House following talks between Obama and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski announced the "establishment of a U.S. air detachment in Poland to support periodic rotation of U.S. military aircraft", without providing a time-frame.
In December, Poland's Soviet-era master Russia warned it against hosting U.S. fighter jets, saying it would counter the move.

Report: Israel To Invest $1 Billion In Iron Dome

JERUSALEM - Israel plans to invest $1 billion in the development and production of batteries for its Iron Dome rocket interception system, a top Israeli defense official said in an interview published Monday.
Defence Ministry director-general Major General Udi Shani told the daily Haaretz newspaper that five countries have already expressed interest in the system, which was successfully deployed during a rise in rocket fire from Gaza in early April.
But Shani, in his first interview since his appointment in January 2010, warned that the system's capacity must be put in perspective.
"We need to adjust expectations in relation to Iron Dome," he told Haaretz.
"We have [accomplished] a significant achievement in reaching operational capacity sooner than expected, but this is not a system that can ensure the interception of every rocket in every situation."
Shani said Israel would invest heavily in the system, which is developed by the Haifa-based Rafael Advanced Defence Systems, in addition to receiving US funds to boost Iron Dome's capacity.
"We are talking about [having] 10-15 Iron Dome batteries. We will invest nearly $1 billion in this. This is the goal, in addition to the $205 million that the U.S. government has authorized," he said.
Shani did not specify the length of the period over which the investment would be spread.
Israel deployed the first battery of the unique multimillion dollar system on March 27 outside the southern desert city of Beersheva, after it was hit by Grad rockets fired from Gaza.
On April 4, the system was also deployed around the southern port city of Ashkelon.
The system, the first of its kind in the world and still at the experimental stage, is not yet able to provide complete protection, but it successfully brought down a number of rockets fired from Gaza in April in what was the first time it had been used in an actual combat scenario.
Designed to intercept rockets and artillery shells fired from a range of between four and 70 kilometers, Iron Dome is part of an ambitious multilayered defense program to protect towns and cities.
Two other systems make up the program - the Arrow long-range ballistic missile defense system and the so-called David's Sling or Magic Wand system, which is intended to counter medium-range missiles.
Shani said Israel plans to invest another $1 billion in David's Sling over five years, and that the system should have its first operational capacity by 2012.

S. Korea Fortifies Shelters On Islands Near North

SEOUL - South Korea is spending millions of dollars to fortify shelters on five front-line islands near its tense sea border with North Korea in case of any future attacks, an official said Monday.
The move follows an artillery and rocket barrage by the North last November against Yeongpyeong island, which killed two marines and two civilians. The South has sent more troops and weaponry to the islands since the attack.
"We are strengthening military shelters in the northwestern border islands to guard against coastal artillery attacks from the North," a defense ministry spokesman told AFP without elaborating.
Yonhap news agency said the military had started rebuilding about 100 shelters on the five islands.
The new corrugated steel structures would produce fewer fragments when hit than existing concrete shelters, it quoted a defense ministry official as saying.
"Construction will cost about 5 to 10 billion won ($9.2 million) and will be completed by the end of June," said the official, adding that the ministry planned to rebuild other military installations with the same material.
The disputed Yellow Sea border has been a flashpoint for over a decade and was the scene of deadly naval clashes in 1999, 2002 and November 2009.
Seoul also accused Pyongyang of torpedoing a warship near the border in March 2010 and killing 46 sailors, a charge denied by the North.

India Begins War Games Along Pakistan Border

JODHPUR, India - India kicked off war games involving thousands of troops Monday along its border with arch-rival Pakistan, which is still smarting from the U.S. operation that killed Osama bin Laden.
A military spokesman told reporters the six-day exercise, codenamed Vijayee Bhava (Be Victorious) was being held in the Thar desert region in the Indian state of Rajasthan.
"This exercise envisages sustained massed mechanized maneuvers," S.D. Goswami said, adding the drill involved an array of weaponry that India has acquired as part of its ongoing military modernization program.
More than 20,000 combat troops were taking part.
The Indian army, the world's fourth largest in terms of personnel, has conducted 10 major military exercises along Pakistan's border in the past six years.
Pakistan is currently under pressure to explain how bin Laden - killed in a U.S. raid on a town near Islamabad a week ago - had managed to live in the country undetected for years.
India has already given its verdict, denouncing its South Asian neighbor as a terrorist "sanctuary" and renewing calls for Islamabad to arrest suspects behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
India says the 10 gunmen who attacked multiple targets in Mumbai, killing 166 people, were members of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group.
India suspended peace talks with Pakistan after the attacks. The dialogue was recently resumed but India has continued to criticise Pakistan for not doing enough to bring the alleged organizers to justice.
The two nuclear-armed countries have fought three wars since gaining their independence in 1947.