Friday, October 31, 2008

Chinese navy chief to visit India

Chinese navy chief to arrive on first-ever visit

NEW DELHI, In a first ever visit by a Chinese Navy chief to India, Admiral Wu Shengli will arrive in New Delhi on Saturday. He is slated to hold
discussions with defence minister A K Antony and his Indian counterpart Admiral Sureesh Mehta to boost military confidence-building measures.

This comes at a time when India and China are jostling for the same strategic space in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) to secure their energy and other needs. India, of course, does not want this "competition" to escalate into "conflict".

With China on course to acquire aircraft carriers, the one capability lacking in its otherwise potent naval force, its Navy chief is especially keen to get a first-hand look at India's operation of 'INS Viraat' and its Sea Harrier jump-jets.

"Apart from holding talks with Antony and Admiral Mehta during his visit from November 1 to 5, he will be visiting the Western Naval Command at Mumbai, the naval airbase at Goa and the upcoming naval base at Karwar," said an official.

Indian and Chinese armed forces have been incrementally building up their military ties, which in December 2007 led to the first-ever joint counter-terrorism exercise between the two armies at Kunming, with the return exercise planned at Belgaum in India this December.

Apart from other concerns, India remains worried about strategic moves by China in maritime domain. In keeping with the "string of pearls" strategic construct, China is forging linkages with eastern Africa, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Cambodia, among others, in a bid to encircle India.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

China launches Venezuelan satellite

Venezuelan satellite launched from China


EL SOMBRERO, Venezuela (AP) — Chinese and Venezuelan scientists hovered over radar screens, a Russian combat jet flew overhead and satellite dishes tilted toward the skies as Venezuela tracked the launch of its first satellite on Wednesday.

President Hugo Chavez has increasingly turned toward the East for help in technological development, and his latest endeavor — at a cost of some $406 million — will help him spread his revolutionary message across Latin America.

A rocket launched from China's western Sichuan province carried the 5.1-ton satellite into space and it is supposed to reach its final orbit 21,900 miles (36,500 kilometers) above the earth next week.

It will begin carrying radio, television and other data transmissions in early 2009 after three months of tests.

Chavez watched the launch by television with Bolivian President Evo Morales at an observation center just south of Venezuela's capital.

"This is a satellite for freedom," Chavez said in a nationally televised address following the launch.

The Simon Bolivar Satellite — named after the Latin American independence hero — is part of the Venezuelan leader's drive for technological independence from the U.S. and tighter ties with Latin America.

The satellite could potentially serve military purposes such as listening in on telephone conversations, but Venezuelan officials insist their intentions are peaceful.

After rejecting offers from France and Russia to build the satellite, Chavez turned to China in 2004. The socialist leader has been building up Venezuela's military and its technology with help from Russia, China and Iran.

Information Minister Andres Izarra said the satellite will help expand the reach of the Caracas-based Telesur television network, which is financed mostly by Venezuela.

Uruguay joined Venezuela in the project, donating an orbit to which it has rights in exchange for 10 percent of the satellite's transmission capacity.

"The agreement yields great benefits to Uruguay, which does not have the resources to make the investment, and for Venezuela, which does not have an orbit at its disposition," Science Minister Nuris Orihuela told The Associated Press.

With an estimated life of 15 years, the satellite will bring telecommunications coverage to a rugged part of southeastern Venezuela where land lines are difficult and costly to build and maintain.

Brazil and Argentina are the only other South American nations with their own satellites. Venezuela plans another satellite launch in 2013.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

China considers next-generation Su-33s for aircraft carrier programme

From Jane's

China considers next-generation Su-33s for aircraft carrier programme

By Reuben F Johnson

China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is close to reaching a decision on the procurement of aircraft for its aircraft carrier programme, Russian industry sources have told Jane's.

Negotiations between the PLAN and the Komsomolsk-na-Amure Aviation Production Association (KnAAPO) in Russia have been held intermittently for several years, with the Chinese military said to be unsure whether to purchase a version of the Sukhoi Su-33 carrier-capable fighter or develop its own carrier aircraft based on the Chengdu J-10.

Russian sources have now told Jane's that under the current proposal the Russian in-service Su-33 would be put back into production and the PLAN would acquire 14 of this type to be used for the training phase of the programme.

This option will see a carrier aircraft delivered to the PLAN in the shortest possible timeframe.

The development of a new-configuration aircraft to be used in actual carrier operations would take place in parallel with this training programme.

"The next step will be to modernise the Su-33, which was first designed in the late 1980s, with a new set of state-of-the-art onboard systems," a KnAAPO representative told Jane's on the eve of the biennial Air Show China in late October. "What this new aeroplane is most likely to be is a combination Su-33 airframe with a radar, avionics and cockpit instrumentation that is a 'developed' configuration based on the Su-30MK2, and this will be the PLAN's operational version."

239 of 613 words
© 2008 Jane's Information Group

Saturday, October 18, 2008

South African navy ship makes first visit to China

BEIJING, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- The SAS SPIOENKOP, a warship from the South African Navy, will arrive in Shanghai Thursday. The trip marks a milestone in Sino-African relations as the first African Navy ship is to pay an official visit to China.

The SAS SPIOENKOP, headed by Captain Christopher Manig, will be docked in east China's financial hub for five days.

"Commanding the SAS SPIOENKOP, on this historical visit to China, is a great personal honor in that we have followed in the footsteps of the great Chinese seafarer Zheng He, who serves as an inspiration to Navy officers all around the world," Manig said.

The ship's visit is part of a year-long celebration honoring 10 years of China-South African diplomatic ties.

Commenting on the historic voyage, Captain Manig said, "The South African Navy is extremely proud and honored to pay this first official visit to China and we are looking forward to interacting with our friends and colleagues in the Chinese navy."

Monday, October 13, 2008

China exported T-85IIM tanks to Uganda

Hong Kong, China — China has recently exported T85IIM main battle tanks to Uganda, according to a military industry source. But the tanks may be more for display than for defense. “This is a very small batch, intended for a military parade only,” the source said. This would be the first instance for the Ugandan army to employ China-made tanks.

The same type of main battle tank made an appearance at Sudan’s National Day military parade last year. Yet according to the source, the tanks were exported from China much earlier, possibly six or seven years ago, also in small quantity.

Military observers believe that China’s T85IIM will prove attractive to many African countries because it is cheaper than those from other countries, yet still provides sufficient combat power.

The 41-ton T85IIM MBT is fitted with a fire control system capable of maintaining vertical and horizontal stability. The tank fires mainly armor piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot, high explosive anti-tank and high explosive munitions. It uses 730-horsepower engines, which have a power-to-weight ratio of 17.8 horsepower per ton.

In recent years China has reportedly undertaken technological upgrades on the 125-mm APFSD, and the service life of the tank engine has also been improved, which are major steps forward in the country’s tank manufacturing industry.

To date, only Pakistan, Sudan and Uganda are known to have imported the T85IIM serial MBTs. Based on the T85IIM, China has also produced the T96 MBT – which has undergone two major upgrades so far – for its own People’s Liberation Army ground forces. The latest T96A2 MBT is fitted with a simplified thermal imaging system, as well as new-generation modular wedge-shaped armor.

China has also helped Sudan and other African countries upgrade the T59 tanks they imported from China in earlier years to T59D standard. The industry source disclosed details of China’s tank-upgrade programs.

First of all, with help from such countries as France, China has redesigned its third-generation thermal imaging system. Secondly, China has also upgraded its APFSDS munitions.

In addition, China has designed a 1500-horsepower engine, which has been tested on T99A2 MBTs. The reliability and efficiency of its 1500/1200-horsepower engines have also been considerably enhanced, but the export version of the MBT2000 main battle tank is still fitted with the Ukrainian-made 6TD2 1200-horsepower diesel engine.

Research and development on the 1500-horsepower tank engine is partly completed, the source said, with the major problem still being the immense size of the engine system. Because of this, the newly developed engine can only be fitted on a T99A2 MBT for testing.

As part of the testing, the T99A2 MBT has been outfitted with an active protection system similar to the Russian ARENA radar. This new millimeter-wave radar is mainly used to detect anti-tank missiles.

The thermal imaging system fitted on a T99A1 MBT is a second-generation technology; its mechanical scanning is noisy and not highly reliable. This is why this technology was not used for Pakistan’s Al-Khalid tank, co-developed with China.

The Wuhan Gaode IR Technology Group Company has jointly developed 2.5-generation infrared cooling and non-cooling technologies with the French Sofradir Company. Some IR136 third-generation cooling component parts are already used on third generation tanks, probably the T99A2 MBT.

In recent years, a key priority of China’s tank industry has been the upgrading of 125-mm caliber tank ammunitions, particularly APFSDS. China has so far upgraded APFSDS II to APFSDS IIM, both of which have a weight of 23 kilograms, but with different velocities. The APFSDS II has a velocity of 1720 meters per second, while the IIM’s velocity is 1700 meters per second.

The two types of APFSDS munitions have a penetration capacity of RHA220 mm/68.5o and RHA220mm/66.4o at a range of 2000 meters respectively. The 125-mm BTJ1 HEAT munitions have a penetration capacity of RHA180mm/68 o with behind armor effect, while the HEAT munitions displayed in earlier years have had a penetration capacity of RHA80mm/68 o with behind armor effect.


(Andrei Chang is editor-in-chief of Kanwa Defense Review Monthly, registered in Toronto, Canada.)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

U.S. approves $6.5 billion arm sales to Taiwan

Taiwan welcomes $6.5 billion US arms package

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou welcomed Saturday a U.S. decision to sell the island up to $6.5 billion in advanced weaponry, ending a months-long freeze on Washington's arms sales to Taipei.

The U.S. government announced the package, which includes Apache helicopters and Patriot III missiles, in a notification to Congress on Friday. The State Department said the deal would proceed if no lawmaker voices any objection within 30 days.

The United States is required by law to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons against a possible invasion by China. It remains Taiwan's most important ally and largest arms supplier, even after Washington switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.

Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949. China continues to claim Taiwan as part of its territory and threatens to attack if the island moves to make the break permanent.

Friday's move came three months after Admiral Timothy Keating, the top U.S. military commander in the Pacific, announced a freeze on U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. Analysts speculated the decision reflected U.S. reluctance to anger China before President Bush attended the Olympics in Beijing in August.

On Saturday, Taiwan's Presidential Office spokesman Wang Yu-chi thanked the U.S. and said the government wants to maintain a strong defense against any threat from China while seeking improvement in cross-strait relations.

"President Ma Ying-jeou would like to express gratitude to the U.S. for the arms package," said Wang. "A strong defense and peace in the Taiwan Strait are necessary for Taiwan's prosperity."

U.S. approval of the arms sale was unlikely to foil warming ties between Taiwan and China, said Wang Kao-cheng, an international affairs specialist at Taipei-based Tamkang University

"The weapons in the package this time are of a defensive nature, and do not pose a security threat to China," Wang said. "They will not cause tension in cross-strait relations."

Since taking office in May, Ma has turned the corner on his predecessor's hard-line China policy and pushed for better mainland ties.

He has opened the island up for an increased number of mainland tourists, and facilitated regular direct flights across the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait. He has also loosened restrictions on Taiwanese investment in China, and welcomed Chinese investors to the island.