Monday, April 26, 2010

China Opens Missile Plant In Iran

China inaugurated a missile plan in Iran last month, even as the United States and its allies were pressing Beijing to support a new round of tough economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program, Jane's Defense Weekly reports.

It's a military relationship that goes back two decades and, in light of Russia's reluctance to provide the Iranians with advanced air-defense missile system to counter possible U.S. or Israeli airstrikes, is set to expand.

Robert Hewson, editor of Jane's Air-Launched Weapons, reported that the factory for assembling and producing Iran's Nasr-1 -- Victory 1 -- anti-ship missile was opened March 7.

The Nasr is identical to China's C-704 anti-ship missile, Hewson says. Iran's burgeoning defense industry, much of it controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, has been producing Chinese-designed anti-ship missiles such as the C-801 since the early 1990s.

The C-704, developed by China Aerospace Group, targets ships of 1,000-4,000 tons displacement and is the equivalent of the U.S. AGM-119 anti-ship missile. With a range of 106 miles and a 240-pound warhead, the C-704 has a kill probability of 95.7 percent.

The Iranians, possibly with Chinese assistance, have even developed improved versions such as the Noor, an upgraded version of China's C-802, with a longer range than the original and over-the-horizon capabilities.

Indeed, Hewson observed that "Iran has gone further than China in fielding the C-802, taking what was previously a land- and ship-launched weapon and producing an air-launched version that can be carried by Mi-17 helicopters and fast-jet types."

Over the years Iran has developed a range of anti-ship missile systems from the Chinese weapons that gives the Islamic Republic's regular navy and the IRGC's naval arm the capability to exert a considerable degree of control over waters in the Gulf and the Arabian Sea.

This is the area from which U.S. naval forces would strike if hostilities erupt.

On Saturday, the IRGC concluded its annual three-day Great Prophet exercises in the Strait of Hormuz, the choke point gateway to the Gulf and a key energy artery, in a show of defiance against the United States.

The Nasr is a medium-range weapon that can be launched from warships or shore batteries and its development and planned mass production has been trumpeted by Tehran at a time when Iran's military forces are making preparations to counter possible attacks.

"In a methodical and deceptively modest manner China has helped Iran take charge of all its surrounding waters and this work between the two nations continues," Hewson reported.

"Follow-on versions of the Nasr are being developed to include an air-launched variant.

"There are other cooperative tactical missile programs under way and China's design bureaus have displayed several 'export only' weapons (such as the C-705 lightweight cruise missile) that would seem set to follow the established route into Iran," Hewson added.

"With such a solid relationship established between the two countries it is not difficult to see why China has been reluctant to commit to the Western push for sanctions against Iran."

China, ever hungry for energy sources to fuel its expanding economy, imports around 12 percent of its oil from Iran and seeks to secure Iranian natural gas through overland pipelines -- another reason it has shown little enthusiasm for new U.N. sanctions on Iran.

Hewson said no Chinese envoys were seen at the opening of the Nasr factory conducted by Iran's hard-line defense minister, Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, but the event marked "another milestone in the continuing military/industrial bond between the two countries."

Hewson observed that unlike Russia, China "has been very successful in offering Iran technology and capabilities that are actually wanted, as opposed to those that might be 'nice to have.'

"A path has been found through the factions within Iranian officialdom (and its armed forces) to deliver products that build trust in Beijing. In return, China gains influence with Tehran that can be parlayed into access to Iran's natural resources."

While these Chinese-origin systems have provided Iran with invaluable missile technology, this has had little or no impact on the development of its ballistic missile capabilities.

"Iran's strategic weapons can only (ultimately) involve it in a losing battle with the United States,' Hewson concluded, "but its tactical weapons have already altered the regional balance of power in a much more practical way."

Monday, April 19, 2010

China deploys S-300 SAM system in Tibet

The PLA Air Force (PLAAF)’s Surface-to-Air Missile Corps has been operating the S-300 (NATO reporting name: SA-10 Grumble) family of surface-to-air missile (SAM) system developed by Russian Almaz Central Design Bureau since the mid-1990s. The S-300 missile system was regarded as one of the world’s most effective all-altitude regional air defence system, comparable in performance to the U.S. MIM-104 Patriot system. The PRC remains the largest export customer of the S-300, mainly due to its incapability to produce a similar system domestically or acquire it from another country.

By the end of 2008, the PLAAF operates a total of 160 S-300 launchers grouped into 10 SAM battalions (40 batteries). These launchers include 32 S-300PMUs, 64 S-300PMU1s, and 64 S-300PMU2s. Each launcher is equipped with four ready-to-launch missiles and 4~8 spare missiles. If taking additional spare and practice missiles purchased from Russia into account, the total number of missiles received by the PLAAF has amounted well above 1,000.

Recent photos indicate China has deployed S-300 SAM batteries in Tibet, to defend against India's growing air power.

Monday, April 12, 2010

China to provide Bangladesh with two frigates and two large patrol crafts

PM reveals plans to modernise Navy

Govt to buy submarine, missile, frigate

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Sunday revealed the government's mega plan for building Bangladesh Navy as a deterrent and three-dimensional force by incorporating submarines, helicopters, missiles, new frigates and other necessary modern equipment and vessels, reports UNB.

Addressing the officers and sailors at Naval Headquarters, the Prime Minister said soon, two more frigates will be included to Bangladesh Navy fleet.

Sheikh Hasina said during her recent China visit, she had requested the Chinese government to provide Bangladesh Naval Force with two newly-constructed frigates including helicopters, and the Chinese government gave consent in this regard.

Besides, naval ship Bangabandhu, decommissioned during the last BNP-Jamaat government on political ground, will be made fully operational again, she said.

The Prime Minister further disclosed that agreement signing has already been completed to buy two helicopters and missiles, while the process for collecting two offshore petrol vessels from the United Kingdom is at the last stage.

Moreover, work is also proceeding to collect a Hydrographic Survey Vessel from the UK, and process is ongoing in China to equip two Large Patrol Crafts with missiles, Hasina added.

Monday, April 5, 2010

PLA naval warships on maiden visit to Dubai

PLA naval warships on maiden visit to Dubai

ABU DHABI // Two Chinese warships docked in Port Zayed yesterday, the first time a naval contingent from the country has berthed in the Middle East.

The FFG-525 Ma’anshan, a 135-metre frigate, and the supply vessel Qiandaohu arrived from a six-month mission in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea where they were part of the international force protecting commercial ships and oil tankers from Somali pirates.

“We came for peace and friendship, for mutual understanding and for expanding mutual exchange,” said Senior Captain Quu Yanpeng, the deputy chief of staff of China’s East Sea Fleet.

“Our friendly co-operation is not only in the interest of our people but also conducive to the global peace and stability. The friendly exchange between our navies is an important component of our bilateral relations.”

He was speaking during a brief ceremony at the port that was attended by Sheikh Saeed bin Hamdan Al Maktoum, the deputy chief of Naval Operations.

The visit is viewed as a reflection of China’s growing ability to protect its interest beyond its borders. Beijing has dispatched five groups of ships since early last year to protect its vessels in the Gulf of Aden, a move that was largely anticipated alongside China’s sustained economic growth and energy demands.

The visiting ships, which will leave for home on Sunday, have escorted more than 600 Chinese and foreign vessels, according to Xinhua, China’s state news agency.

“The ships have succeeded in repelling attacks against many ships. They’ve contributed to protecting Chinese and non-Chinese ships,” said the Chinese ambassador, Gao Yusheng. “The Gulf is an area that has enjoyed close ties with China. Maintaining security in the Gulf is vital to the area and the world, including China.”

Mr Gao said his country’s navy had chosen the UAE as the first country in the region to visit “because of the strength of political ties between our two countries, and the development that has been witnessed by the Emirates in recent years”.

During a visit to Beijing last summer by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, the countries signed several agreements, including two on military ties and one relating to the oil industry.

“Now we’re negotiating,” said Mr Gao said. “This year, we will sign an agreement to import oil” from the UAE, he added.

According to the United States’ Energy Information Administration, China will import nearly six million barrels of oil per day from the Middle East by 2030. In 2008, the figure was 1.8m barrels, making the region the largest supplier of crude oil to China. Most is supplied by Saudi Arabia, with the rest from Kuwait and Oman.

China is also expanding in other sectors, mainly construction. In the past two years, Chinese companies have won 18 major projects in the UAE, worth Dh4.8 billion (US$1.3bn).