Posts Tagged ‘Terminal High Altitude Area Defense’

Saudi Arabia, Lockheed Martin To Start More Than 600 New High Tech Jobs for Saudis Building Black Hawk Helicopters

February 25, 2018


A total of 150 Black Hawk helicopters similar to this will be produced by a joint venture between the Saudi Arabia’s defense industry and the US defense giant Lockheed Martin. (Courtesy of Lockheed Martin website)
DUBAI: As many as 640 new technology jobs are being created in Saudi Arabia as a result of a joint venture between the Kingdom’s defense industry and the American defense giant Lockheed Martin to build Blackhawk helicopters with local employees.
The joint venture — known as Rotary Aircraft Manufacturing Saudi Arabia (RAMSA) — was signed as part of the big package of defense industry deals announced during US President Donald Trump’s visit to the Kingdom last May, but the number of jobs now envisaged is higher than first expected.
Alan Chinoda, the chief executive of Lockheed’s Saudi business, revealed the job creation package in an interview with Arab News ahead of the Armed Forces Exhibition for Diversity of Requirements and Capabilities (AFED), which opened in Riyadh on Sunday.
“We’ve created a joint venture to produce 150 Blackhawks in the Kingdom, which is a tremendous opportunity. It will create a whole new technology eco-system and will involve the transfer of technology as well as jobs. The infrastructure to support that in Saudi Arabia is good,” he said.
The deal to create RAMSA is just one aspect of an expanding relationship between the Americans and Saudi Arabia under the Trump presidency.
There are also plans to develop the THAAD missile defense system, supply of new combat ships to the Saudi Navy, and finalizing of the Arabsat 6A satellite, which could be launched by the end of this year.
“There has been a change since the Trump visit. The business environment has picked up and has been a lot more cordial. It was a big thing for Trump to have his first foreign visit to Saudi Arabia,” Chinoda said.
He emphasized, however, that Lockheed’s relationship with the Kingdom — in place since it supplied Hercules aircraft in 1965 — was not just about supplying expensive military equipment.
“We are looking for local partners across a diverse spectrum to work with us on our systems and programs. It is not just about selling. We want partners we can depend on and see this show (AFED) as the perfect opportunity to talk to potential partners.
“There are some potential partners that can so support and assembly but we need to help get them up to the standard we require,” he said.
Lockheed, which has done business in Saudi Arabia for more than five decades, is partnering with the aeronautics arm of the Saudi Technology Development and Investment Company (Taqnia) on the RAMSA project for the Blackhawks.
That deal has involved 10 young Saudi technicians being trained at Lockheed’s facilities in the US.
Lockheed has long-term relationships with Saudi Arabia’s Advanced Electronics Co. (AEC) on THAAD — Terminal High Altitude Area Defense — missiles and the Sniper 1 aircraft-born missile system, in one of the largest assembly facilities outside the USA, and has held talks with Saudi Arabian Military Industries, the new corporation set up to develop indigenous skills in the military manufacturing business.
It is also working on the PAC-3, the latest version on the Patriot air defense missile that has recently been used to counter hostile missile attacks against Riyadh and other places in Saudi Arabia.
The four new warships — described as “lethal and highly maneuverable multi-mission” vessels — were announced last year as part of a $28 billion program of deals during the Trump visit. The US Navy awarded Lockheed the contract to work on the ships for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces.
The Arabsat 6A satellite is the second to be developed for Saudi Arabia by Lockheed, and is described as the “most advanced commercial communications satellite we’re ever built” by Lockheed.
The satellite has been assembled in the US and shipped to Lockheed’s facility in Sunnyvale, California, for final tests before a possible launch in 2018.
Chinoda, who has been with Lockheed in the region since 2011, said that there had been an improvement recently in the ease of doing business in the Kingdom. “With Vision 2030 and everything the Saudi government is looking at, they have been trying to assist the way we do business in the Kingdom, especially with things like visas, which are now much easier.
“The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) reached out to us to help us do business more efficiently. There is a definite momentum and a movement for positive change,” he said.

Will Japan or South Korea go nuclear?

February 2, 2018

When Allies Get Nervous
Will South Korea or Japan go nuclear?
4:25 AM, FEB 02, 2018

The Weekly Standard

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

North Korean ballistic missiles on parade in Pyongyang, April 15, 2017. Photo credit: STR / AFP / Getty

In a nuclear world, nuclear weapons are needed to deter major attacks, but who should possess these instruments of deterrence? The United States has long been committed to stemming nuclear proliferation by both potential adversaries and friends. Today the challenge of keeping nonnuclear states from going nuclear may be growing, perhaps nowhere quite as much as in northeast Asia.

Andrew Marshall, former head of the U.S. Defense Department’s Office of Net Assessment, which is charged with identifying threats the nation might face in upcoming decades, once wrote that any realistic national security strategy must consider the possibility that efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation will fail. But policymakers, legislators, and publics too often take for granted the nuclear status quo.

Sustaining nonproliferation and extended deterrence—that is, deterring not just an attack upon us but also any on our allies—has never been easy or automatic. Early in the Cold War, for instance, France chose to acquire nuclear capability amid doubts about American promises. One can hardly blame South Korea or Japan for their whispered nuclear desires when they have Kim Jong-un living next door. In the face of North Korea’s nuclear advances and China’s maritime aggressions, those whispers are growing louder.

As a presidential candidate last year, Donald Trump said he’d consider accepting South Korean and Japanese nuclear weapons. But formally endorsing them would be a major strategic departure for the United States, and it is highly unlikely that we would aid in their acquisition. The Pentagon’s forthcoming Nuclear Posture Review seems sure to reaffirm the nation’s strong commitment to extended deterrence and nonproliferation.

Japan and South Korea live in a rough neighborhood, surrounded by increasingly adversarial nuclear-armed states with grudges spanning centuries. China’s strategic capabilities and ambitions are on the rise as it continues to assert questionable claims in the South and East China Seas and elsewhere in the Pacific. Since 2013, Japan has been forced to scramble fighter aircraft over 4,000 times to intercept potential incursions by Russian and Chinese aircraft.

A 2016 Center for Strategic and International Studies report catalogued factors that could lead to a cascade of nuclear proliferation. They included an erosion of U.S. extended deterrence, increasing threats from nuclear-armed adversaries, and the availability of relevant technology and knowledge. Unfortunately, some of these very factors are now evident in northeast Asia.

Last year, North Korea detonated a rather large nuclear weapon, with a yield many times that of the Hiroshima bomb, demonstrated a no-kidding intercontinental ballistic missile, and continued work on perfecting a nuclear missile capable of reaching the U.S. homeland. Allies are again asking the perennial question of American willingness to trade Boston for Berlin or Los Angeles for Taipei if U.S. cities are held hostage. In the absence of strong U.S. leadership, Japan or South Korea could become convinced it is alone.

As Henry Kissinger said on the eve of the 2016 election, “It cannot be that North Korea is the only Korean country in the world that has nuclear weapons, without the South Koreans trying to match it. Nor can it be that Japan will sit there.”

Several South Korean politicians have publicly urged their country to develop nuclear weapons. In 2016, the floor leader of the Saenuri party (which has since been renamed the Liberty Korea party) said, “North Korea has been pointing a gun at our head for years. It’s time we stop defending ourselves with a mere sword and have nuclear weapons to challenge its destructive nuclear weapons.” A former top government adviser told the New York Times last year, “If we don’t respond with our own nuclear deterrence of some kind, our people will live like nuclear hostages.”

Japan’s behalf?

Clear communication is critical to avoiding misperception and doubt. The administration’s recent National Security Strategy (released in December) and National Defense Strategy (released in January) presented a realistic rearticulation of America’s role in a world characterized by great power conflict, as well as a blunt list of core national security interests.

To preclude further proliferation in the Asia-Pacific region, at least three lines of effort, all briefly touched on in these documents, should be pursued: modernizing the U.S. nuclear force, boosting allied strike and missile-defense capabilities, and improving military integration. If we want to keep our allies convinced that they do not need their own nuclear weapons, we must ensure they have faith in ours. At a minimum, this means continuing the nuclear-modernization efforts begun during the Obama administration. All three legs of the triad (nuclear-armed submarines, bombers, and ICBMs) are in desperate need of recapitalization, and putting it off further is no longer an option. Indeed, additional adjustments may be required.

Press reports suggest that the Nuclear Posture Review, expected out this week, will recommend modifying current systems and reviving old capabilities, such as developing nuclear weapons with lower yields and restoring the sea-launched cruise missile capability that was formally retired in 2013. Both would contribute to boosting U.S. flexibility and credibility. Continued deterrence dialogues with allies are also essential, so that they understand some details of U.S. capabilities and appreciate the intensity of U.S. resolve.

A second priority should be building partner capacity for conventional strike and missile defense. Missile defenses fielded by Japan and South Korea remain quite few in number, but several signs point to the prospect of serious expansion. Continued Patriot and THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) deployments as well as the introduction of several Aegis Ashore sites in Japan, with a more diversified set of missiles than those at the Aegis Ashore site in Romania, would go a long way here. In addition to F-35 stealth fighters, allies like Japan and Australia (and those in other regions, such as Poland) might acquire long-range Tomahawk cruise missiles for deterrence and even preemptive self-defense. In the cooperative development program for the latest version of the Standard Missile-3 missile defense interceptor, Japan’s work on the booster has enhanced industrial skills that could be redirected to other purposes, such as developing ballistic or cruise missiles of its own. South Korea, too, must continue to expand its strike capability in the form of ballistic and cruise missiles. Each time North Korea launched an ICBM last year, South Korea launched its own salvo of missiles into the sea within minutes, demonstrating its alert status and readiness to respond in an actual crisis. The Pentagon’s forthcoming Missile Defense Review will presumably consider how partner capacity can help counter the full suite of missile threats.

A third path involves tighter military cooperation and integration. Improved information-sharing and a single common picture tracking all airborne objects would make the combination of military forces more effective while allowing each to retain separate and distinct sovereign command and control. South Korea appears to have agreed recently to severely limit missile-defense cooperation with America in exchange for normalizing relations with China following a yearlong spat over THAAD. Such concessions could prove deeply problematic. If assurance is to be improved with conventional forces, the watchword should be more integration, not less.

It’s unlikely that South Korea or Japan will go nuclear anytime soon—assuming that the regional security situation remains more or less constant. The leadership of both countries have repeatedly rejected nuclear acquisition, and the potential blowback of any change in this policy would weigh heavily on political and economic interests. If its bullying reaction to the limited THAAD deployment is any indicator—boycotts, travel restrictions, hacking of government websites—China might impose massive economic and military coercion to preclude a nuclear newcomer.

Nevertheless, national survival is the factor that could lead states to pay all those costs and more. Global nonproliferation efforts over the years have thus far been successful in keeping all but the most determined nations nonnuclear—which is to say they have worked, except when they haven’t. A more highly proliferated world is not desirable, but it is conceivable.

Thomas Karako is a senior fellow in the international security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Xi to Discuss North Korea and Trade With South Korea’s Moon — Wants an end to U.S. military exercises

December 14, 2017


By Kanga Kong

 Updated on 
  • Moon seeks engagement, while Xi wants U.S. drills suspended
  • Leaders to sign agreement to start stalled FTA talks today
Xi Jinping Photographer: FRED DUFOUR/POOL

Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in in Beijing later Thursday for talks on North Korea and trade, as tensions between the two major Asian economies begin to thaw after a spat over Seoul’s deployment of a U.S. missile shield.

North Korea’s missile and nuclear program will likely dominate Moon’s first state visit to China since coming to office in May. Moon is seeking engagement with the isolated nation, but has backed pressure to bring Pyongyang to the negotiating table. Beijing has made a “suspension-for-suspension” proposal that involves North Korea suspending weapons tests while the U.S. halts military drills with South Korea.

Tensions rose between the nations last year after then President Park Geun-hye decided to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or Thaad, missile shield on South Korean soil. That move led Beijing to retaliate economically, suspending sales of package tours and hindering the operations of South Korean companies.

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system at the Osan Air Base in Mar. 6.

Photographer: United States Forces Korea via Getty Images

Read about why Thaad bothers China so much

While Moon initially called for a review of the deployment, his government backed the system as Kim Jong Un’s regime accelerated efforts to obtain the capability to hit the continental U.S. with a nuclear weapon. In October, the nations agreed to put the dispute behind them.

The two sides “reached some consensus on dealing with the issue,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Tuesday in response to a question about Moon’s visit. “We hope that the issue can continue to be handled properly.”

The UN envoy to North Korea, Jeffrey Feltman, recently returned from that country deeply worried about the prospects for bringing an end to its nuclear weapons program, reporting that the North Koreans don’t believe the time is right for negotiations, according to a European member of the Security Council who was briefed on the visit.

Speaking in Tokyo on Thursday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the worst scenario would be to sleepwalk into a war with North Korea.

Jeffrey Feltman in Pyongyang on Dec. 7.

Photographer: Kim Won-jin/AFP via Getty Images

‘Strategic Option’

Kang Jun-young, who teaches Chinese studies at the graduate school of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, said the Thaad issue will hang over talks.

“China has strongly opposed Thaad and Xi has expressed his opposition several times,” said Kang, who also advises South Korea’s foreign ministry. “It’s a strategic option to move on because there are other issues to cooperate with” such as North Korea, he said.

In an interview this week with Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, Moon said that Thaad should be dealt with separately from issues such as the economy, politics and national security.

Separately, South Korea has asked China to investigate injuries to traveling journalists in Beijing after reports of assault at an event earlier Thursday. Yonhap News Agency reported that a photo journalist was hospitalized after being beaten by a group of Chinese guards.

The leaders will also sign a memorandum of understanding to restart negotiations on expanding a two-year-old trade agreement to further open China’s service and investment sectors to South Korea companies.

Russian military chief criticizes U.S., Japan and South Korea for missile defense drills

December 11, 2017

Image may contain: 1 person

Chief of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces, Valery Gerasimov, arrives for the opening ceremony of the International Army Games 2017 in Alabino, outside Moscow, Russia, July 29, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov Reuters


TOKYO (Reuters) – Russia’s military chief warned on Monday that military exercises by Japan, the United States and South Korea aimed at countering North Korea only raise hysteria and create more instability in the region.

Russian Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces General Valery Gerasimov, issued his warning in Tokyo as the United States, Japan and South Korea began a two-day exercise to practice tracking missiles amid rising tension over North Korea’s weapons programs.

“Carrying out military training in regions surrounding North Korea will only heighten hysteria and make the situation unstable,” Gerasimov said at the beginning of a meeting with Japanese Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera.

This week’s exercise by the United States and its two Asian allies, in which they will share information on tracking ballistic missiles, comes just days after large-scale drills by U.S. and South Korean forces that North Korea said made the outbreak of war “an established fact”.

North Korea says its weapons programs are necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

On Nov. 29, North Korea test-fired its latest ballistic missile, which it said was its most advanced yet, capable of reaching the mainland United States.

China has also repeatedly called for the United States and South Korea to stop their exercises, which North Korea sees as preparation for an invasion.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, asked in Beijing about the latest U.S., South Korean and Japanese drills, said the situation was in a vicious cycle that if followed to a conclusion would not be in anyone’s interests.

“All relevant parties should do is still to completely, precisely and fully implement the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions toward North Korea, and do more for regional peace and stability and to get all parties back to the negotiating table. Not the opposite, mutual provocation,” Lu said.


Gerasimov’s visit to Japan is the first by a senior Russian military official in seven years and follows the resumption of “two-plus-two” defense and foreign minister talks in March after Russia annexed Crimea.

Relations between Russia and Japan have been hampered for decades over the ownership of four islands north of Japan’s Hokkaido, captured by Soviet forces at the end of World War Two. Japan has declined to sign a formal peace treaty with Russia until the dispute is resolved.

Gerasimov also met Katsutoshi Kawano, the chief of staff of Japan’s Self Defence Forces.

China’s Defence Ministry said on Monday it had begun a planned joint simulated anti-missile drill with Russia in Beijing, which had “important meaning” for both countries in facing the threat from missiles. It said the exercise was not aimed at any third party.

China and Russia both oppose the development of global anti-missile systems, the ministry added in a statement.

China and Russia both oppose the deployment in South Korea of the advanced U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system.

China in particular fears the system’s powerful radar could look deep into its territory, threatening its security.

The United States and South Korea say the system is needed to defend against the threat of North Korean missiles.

It is not clear if this week’s exercise by U.S., South Korean and Japanese forces will involve the THAAD system.

(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina in BEIJING; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Newly Revealed Experiment Shows How F-35 Could Help Intercept ICBMs

December 7, 2017

By Patrick Tucker
Defense One

 This Sept. 2, 2015, file photo shows an F-35 jet arriving at its new operational base at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. The U.S. and its Asia-Pacific allies are rolling out their new stealth fighter jet.

In 2014, the sensor-studded plane demonstrated an ability to track missiles, leading to a “tactically significant” improvement in targeting.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., raised more than a few eyebrows (and drew a few rolled eyes) when he suggested in November that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter could intercept North Korean missiles headed for the United States. Hunter cited analysis from Los Alamos National Labs and other sources, according to Inside Defense.

Turns out the F-35 may be an ICBM buster after all, or at least be helpful toward that end. On Tuesday, Northrop Grumman called a small group of journalists to its offices in Linthicum, Maryland, to show the results of a 2014 experiment conducted with the Missile Defense Agency, or MDA.

The U.S. has no foolproof way to down a North Korean ICBM. Physics says the best opportunity comes during “boost phase,” as the rocket is leaving the launch pad. But DPRK anti-aircraft defenses make it difficult for the U.S. to get a weapon close enough to do any good. That’s why the Pentagon is looking at elaborate, futuristic concepts like arming drones with missile-killing lasers.

But the F-35 is studded with sensors like no other aircraft, including the Distributed Aperture System, or DAS, a half-dozen 17-pound electro-optical and infrared sensors. These feed a helmet-mounted display that allows the pilot to effectively “see through the plane” and spot incoming aircraft and missiles.

In October 2014, Northrop and MDA launched FTX-20, an experiment to see, among other things, whether the DAS could track an enemy ICBM. They took data from the sensors, ran it through algorithms developed by Northrop and MDA’s Enterprise Sensor Lab, generated a 3D-moving picture of the missile’s trajectory, and conveyed it over the Link 16 tactical data exchange. This kind of targeting data can help cue the U.S.Navy’s anti-ballistic missile destroyers or short- and intermediate-range missile defenses like the Army’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missile battery deployed in South Korea.

The F-35 sensors aren’t meant to replace the infrared satellitesthat detect launches, or the  sea-based X-Band Radar that can feed targeting data about missile launches to destroyers. Rather, Northrop officials said, the DAS data would help the other missile-defense gear get a targeting track on a missile more quickly, improving the odds of nailing the shot. (You also need two of them in the air for triangulation.)

“That information can go straight to the Patriot [missile system], THAAD, or anywhere else, who has communication with that platform,” John “Bama” Montgomery, a business development manager at Northrop’s ISR & Targeting Division, said on Tuesday. “You can give that information to a shooter. That shooter now has information to go and put his information in the right place. Thus the radar doesn’t have to search. It goes, ‘I know where it is; it’s right there.’

The end result is a “tactically significant” improvement in targeting, Montgomery said. Just how significant? It took several years to figure that out, and that’s one reason why the news is only being released now. “We wanted to get our understanding of how this could change the battlefield. We’ve since done a series of modeling and [simulation] events and teamed with other governmental partners and industry.”

Those numbers, he said, are classified. But: “I can tell you right now that this system, as depicted here, really does help the ballistic missile environment.”

South Korea’s Moon to visit China next week

December 6, 2017


© YONHAP/AFP | This will be President Moon’s first trip to China since taking office in May
SEOUL (AFP) – South Korean President Moon Jae-In will visit China next week, his office said Wednesday, as tensions soar over Pyongyang’s growing nuclear and missile threats.Moon will make the trip just weeks after North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in defiance of multiple sets of UN sanctions, prompting Washington to press Beijing to take a tougher stance against Pyongyang.

He will arrive in Beijing next Wednesday for a four-day state visit and hold a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss ways “to peacefully resolve North Korea’s nuclear issue,” the South Korean presidential office said.

Pyongyang claimed it has reached nuclear statehood with the success of its missile test last week, and that it can now target the entire United States.

This will be Moon’s first trip to China since taking office in May, and comes as the two countries seek to improve ties strained by Seoul’s deployment of a US missile defence system.

The nations have been at loggerheads over the placement in South Korea of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which Seoul and Washington say is intended to defend against missile threats from nuclear-armed North Korea.

Beijing sees it as a threat to its own military capabilities. It has imposed a series of sanctions on South Korean firms and banned Chinese tour groups from going to the country in moves seen as economic retaliation.

China is South Korea’s biggest trading partner and its measures have had a big impact on some of the South’s biggest companies, including retail conglomerate Lotte — which provided a golf course used for the THAAD deployment — and auto giant Hyundai.

Pentagon evaluating U.S. West Coast missile defense sites to intercept North Korean ICBMs

December 3, 2017

SIMI VALLEY, Calif (Reuters) – The U.S. agency tasked with protecting the country from missile attacks is scouting the West Coast for places to deploy new anti-missile defenses, two Congressmen said on Saturday, as North Korea’s missile tests raise concerns about how the United States would defend itself from an attack.

 Image may contain: sky, cloud and outdoor

FILE PHOTO: A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a successful intercept test, in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency. U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency/Handout via Reuters/File Photo

West Coast defenses would likely include Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missiles, similar to those deployed in South Korea to protect against a potential North Korean attack.

The accelerated pace of North Korea’s ballistic missile testing program in 2017 and the likelihood the North Korean military could hit the U.S. mainland with a nuclear payload in the next few years has raised the pressure on the United States government to build-up missile defenses.

On Wednesday, North Korea tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can fly over 13,000 km (8,080 miles), placing Washington within target range, South Korea said on Friday.

Congressman Mike Rogers, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee and chairs the Strategic Forces Subcommittee which oversees missile defense, said the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), was aiming to install extra defenses at West Coast sites. The funding for the system does not appear in the 2018 defense budget plan indicating potential deployment is further off.

“It’s just a matter of the location, and the MDA making a recommendation as to which site meets their criteria for location, but also the environmental impact,” the Alabama Congressman and Republican told Reuters during an interview on the sidelines of the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in southern California.

When asked about the plan, MDA Deputy Director Rear Admiral Jon Hill‎ said in a statement: “The Missile Defense Agency has received no tasking to site the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense System on the West Coast.”

The MDA is a unit of the U.S. Defense Department.

Congressman Rogers did not reveal the exact locations the agency is considering but said several sites are “competing” for the missile defense installations.

FILE PHOTO: North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un inspects artillery launchers ahead of a military drill marking the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) on April 25, 2017. KCNA/File Photo via REUTERS

Rogers and Congressman Adam Smith, a Democrat representing the 9th District of Washington, said the government was considering installing the THAAD anti-missile system made by aerospace giant Lockheed Martin Corp, at west coast sites.

The Congressmen said the number of sites that may ultimately be deployed had yet to be determined.

THAAD is a ground-based regional missile defense system designed to shoot down short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles and takes only a matter of weeks to install.

In addition to the two THAAD systems deployed in South Korea and Guam in the Pacific, the U.S. has seven other THAAD systems. While some of the existing missiles are based in Fort Bliss, Texas, the system is highly mobile and current locations are not disclosed.

A Lockheed Martin representative declined to comment on specific THAAD deployments, but added that the company “is ready to support the Missile Defense Agency and the United States government in their ballistic missile defense efforts.” He added that testing and deployment of assets is a government decision.

In July, the United States tested THAAD missile defenses and shot down a simulated, incoming intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM). The successful test adds to the credibility of the U.S. military’s missile defense program, which has come under intense scrutiny in recent years due in part to test delays and failures.

Currently, the continental United States is primarily shielded by the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system (GMD) in Alaska and California as well as the Aegis system deployed aboard U.S. Navy ships. The THAAD system has a far higher testing success rate than the GMD.

The MDA told Congress in June that it planned to deliver 52 more THAAD interceptors to the U.S. Army between October 2017 and September 2018, bringing total deliveries to 210 since May 2011.

North Korea’s latest missile test puts the U.S. capital within range, but Pyongyang still needs to prove it has mastered critical missile technology, such as re-entry, terminal stage guidance and warhead activation, South Korea said on Friday.

Reporting by Mike Stone in Simi Valley, Calif.; Editing by Chris Sanders, Michelle Price and Michael Perry

US approves possible $15 billion THAAD anti-missile system sale to Saudi Arabia

October 7, 2017

Saudi Arabia has agreed to buy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system for $15 billion from the US. Long in the works, the agreement comes a day after King Salman signed a deal with Moscow.

Saudi Arabia said it would buy from US contracters 44 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) launchers and 360 missiles, as well as fire control stations and radars. The sale can go ahead if the US Congress does not object within 30 days.

Image may contain: sky, cloud, outdoor and nature

THAAD Launcher

It is part of a $110 billion (€95 billion) arms package that President Donald Trump agreed with the Saudi kingdom during a visit in May.

“This sale furthers US national security and foreign policy interests and supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian and other regional threats,” the State Department said on Friday in a statement.

Pentagon officials reportedly said they didn’t think the Russian deal would impact the longstanding defense relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh bulking up

The State Department approval has come a day after Saudi Arabia agreed to buy S-400 surface-to-air missiles from Russia, reportedly irking Washington. It also follows a similar recent sale by Moscow of the S-400 to Turkey, a NATO ally.

The memorandum of understanding the Saudi king signed with Russian President Vladimir Putin covers the production in Saudi Arabia of Russian anti-tank missiles, rocket launchers and Kalashnikov rifles.

Saudi Arabia is planning a major overhaul of its military and plans to develop a strong domestic defense industry.

Image result for s-400, photos


It announced earlier this year the formation of Saudi Arabian Military Industries, a state-owned company that will build and repair aircraft, drones, ground vehicles, missiles and radar systems.

The plan is to make the company one of the world’s top defense companies by 2030 and employ 40,000 people.

Balance of power

The State Department said it would advise Congress that the THAAD system would stabilize the situation in the Gulf and help defend US forces in the region from growing Iranian missile capability.

“This potential sale will substantially increase Saudi Arabia’s capability to defend itself against the growing ballistic missile threat in the region,” a statement said.

Iran has one of the biggest ballistic missile programs in the Middle East, viewing it as an essential defense against the US and others, primarily Gulf Arab states and Israel.

What is THAAD?

THAAD is one of the most capable defensive missile batteries in the US arsenal and was recently deployed by the US military in South Korea to protect against a possible North Korean strike. It has already been supplied to Saudi Arabia’s neighbors Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The main US contractors who will profit from the sale are aerospace giant Lockheed Martin’s space systems division and defense contractor Raytheon.

Reuters, AFP

To China, The Troublemaker is South Korea — Not North Korea

September 15, 2017

Beijing treats Seoul as No. 1 threat, letting Pyongyang slide

Image may contain: 5 people, people standing and text

North Korea Fires Second Missile Over Japan
North Korea fired a missile over Japan on Sept. 15, the second time in less than a month, in a show of defiance to growing international pressure and fresh U.N sanctions. Photo: Reuters

SHANGHAI—In the months leading up to North Korea’s acceleration of missile testing, authorities in Beijing whipped up public outrage.

The main object of this indignation isn’t Pyongyang but Seoul, which has angered Beijing by deploying a U.S. missile defense system to protect itself from the North’s ire.

Beijing fears the powerful radar of the system known as Thaad, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, will snoop on its own missile forces. And so it has registered its anger in what looks like coordinated retaliation against South Korea involving multiple state actors. The media sets the political tone and gets the public fired up; government agencies appear behind a boycott of South Korean goods; and local officials all the way down to health and safety inspectors harass South Korea businesses.

This full-court press has been effective. This week the South Korean conglomerate Lotte Group, which provided land for the Thaad batteries, revealed plans to sell its supermarkets in China, giving up on a key market after months of official harassment. Kia car plants in China are idling as sales plummet. And hostile attitudes to South Korea among the public have translated into falling Chinese tourism to the country.

Beijing can’t seem to decide where the real threat on the Korean Peninsula resides.

Granted, for Beijing the risks of punishing South Korea fall short of the turmoil that could come from destabilizing the North. And Beijing has stepped up its sanctions on North Korea, though to date its moves come with a jungle of loopholes, which makes it hard to determine their bite. The rhetoric has been tough but the follow-through erratic.

The question is where the Korean Peninsula would be today if Beijing had leveraged all the elements of the party-state to punish Pyongyang.

In essence, the effectiveness of sanctions has been undermined by a lack of political will.

Nothing demonstrates this more than Beijing’s ambivalent attitude toward South Korea.

Economically, the two countries are entwined: China is South Korea’s largest trading partner, and the main source of its tourists; South Korea provides China with key high-tech components like semiconductors. Yet, time and again during moments of crisis, such as when a North Korean torpedo sank a South Korean navy ship in 2010, Beijing is reluctant to takes sides with its economic partner against the North.

The message this sends to Pyongyang is that, ultimately, China has its back.

It is often pointed out that it is hard for China to patrol its 880-mile border with North Korea, where smuggling blunts the force of economic sanctions. And North Korea operates as a criminal enterprise, making money out of narcotics, currency counterfeiting and human trafficking—activities that exist in an international twilight zone.

North Korea Fires Second Missile Over Japan
North Korea fired a missile over Japan on Sept. 15, the second time in less than a month, in a show of defiance to growing international pressure and fresh U.N sanctions. Photo: Reuters

But the greater challenge is political. Chinese leaders may feel humiliated and frustrated by North Korea’s nuclear tantrums, but they continue to stand by the wayward ally in the face of mounting provocations.

This sends confusing signals to an array of Chinese players that keep Pyongyang’s economy afloat—banks, state enterprises, trading companies and the regulators that control them.

Despite this absence of state-organized blowback, however, the Chinese public mood is shifting against Pyongyang. Even nationalist media are losing patience. The Global Times recently urged the government to make clear to North Korea that China would come to its defense if attacked, but if Pyongyang initiated a conflict by launching missiles that threatened the U.S., “China will stay neutral.”

Pressure for a tougher line on Pyongyang is also coming from academic quarters. Writing in Foreign Affairs magazine, Zhu Feng, the director of the Institute of International Studies at Nanjing University, says, “It is time for China to make a significant shift in its policy, once and for all.”

Beijing’s impulse is to deflect responsibility for the gathering nuclear crisis. It blames South Korea, not the North’s aggression, for Thaad. It interprets Pyongyang’s manic push for nuclear weapons as a response to U.S. hostility, never to Beijing’s own enabling coddling.

Its “freeze-for-freeze” proposal—North Korea would halt its nuclear development in return for a suspension of joint U.S.-South Korea war games—suggests an equivalence between nuclear aggression and defense. Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, calls the idea “insulting.”

Tensions between China and South Korea—which have plunged to their lowest level since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1992—greatly complicate international efforts to pressure Pyongyang into backing away from nuclear brinkmanship.

And, in an ironic way, Beijing’s punishment of South Korea points to its lack of determination to influence its socialist ally. If China can refine trade measures against South Korea to the point of keeping out lipstick, T-shirts and K-pop singers, it should be able to plug the loopholes in North Korea sanctions.

To criticism of its heavy hand against South Korean firms, China says foreign businesses are welcome in China as long as they abide by the law.

Beijing’s attempt to balance between the two Koreas puts it at odds with both domestic opinion and its aspirations to regional leadership.

Mr. Zhu, the Nanjing University academic, says that China must “reconsider its impotent and misguided policy.”

Write to Andrew Browne at
China Points Its Korea Rage South, Not North
From North Korea to Iran, China Is Spreading Influence and Cash




Shiite corridor from Tehran to Damascus)

 (John Bolton)

(Includes John Bolton’s Plan for Iran and the Nuclear Deal)

South Korea deploys anti-missile system as U.S. seeks tough North Korea sanctions — Trump says, “I believe that President Xi agrees with me 100 percent.”

September 7, 2017

Image may contain: outdoor

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors are seen as they arrive at Seongju, South Korea, September 7, 2017. Lee Jong-hyeon – News1 via REUTERS


By Christine Kim and Michelle Nichols

SEOUL/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – South Korean protesters clashed with thousands of police over the deployment of a defense system aimed at countering North Korean missile attacks, while China and the United States discussed options to rein in Pyongyang.

The United States wants the U.N. Security Council to impose an oil embargo on North Korea, ban its exports of textiles and the hiring of North Korean laborers abroad, and subject leader Kim Jong Un to an asset freeze and travel ban, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

Pressure from Washington has ratcheted up since North Korea conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test on Sunday. That test, along with a series of missile launches, showed Pyongyang was close to achieving its goal of developing a powerful nuclear weapon that could reach the United States.

Amid the rising tensions, Seoul installed the four remaining launchers of the U.S. anti-missile Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on a former golf course in the south early on Thursday. Two launchers had already been deployed.

More than 30 people were wounded when around 8,000 South Korean police broke up a blockade of about 300 villagers and civic groups opposed to the THAAD system deployment, fire officials said.

The decision to deploy the THAAD system has drawn strong objections from China, which believes its radar could be used to look deeply into its territory and will upset the regional security balance.


U.S. President Donald Trump has urged China, North Korea’s biggest ally and trading partner, to do more to rein in its neighbor which has pursued its missile and nuclear weapons programs in defiance of U.N. sanctions and international condemnation.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he had an executive order ready for Trump to sign that would impose sanctions on any country that trades with Pyongyang if the United Nations does not put additional sanctions on North Korea.

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping committed on a phone call on Wednesday to “take further action with the goal of achieving the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula”, the White House said.

“President Xi would like to do something. We’ll see whether or not he can do it. But we will not be putting up with what’s happening in North Korea,” Trump told reporters, although he offered no specifics.

“I believe that President Xi agrees with me 100 percent,” he said.

Parts of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system arrive at Seongju, South Korea, September 7, 2017. Min Gyeong-seok/News1 via REUTERS

Asked whether he was considering a military response to North Korea, Trump said: “Certainly, that’s not our first choice, but we will see what happens.”

Xi told the U.S. president during their 45-minute call that the North Korean issue must be resolved through “dialogue and consultation”.

The United States had set aside for now plans to end a U.S. trade agreement with South Korea, a senior administration official said on Wednesday. The trade issue is unrelated to North Korea but has been a source of tension between the two allies.


Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing

 South Korean President Moon Jae In (right) shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before their summit talks in Vladivostok, Russia, on Sept 7, 2017. PHOTO by EPA

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in spoke at a regional meeting in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok and agreed to try to persuade China and Russia to cut off oil to North Korea as much as possible, according to South Korean officials.

The European Union’s foreign and defense ministers will discuss further sanctions for North Korea on Thursday, the bloc’s top diplomat said ahead of a EU ministers’ meeting in the Estonian capital.

However, sanctions have so far done little to stop North Korea boosting its nuclear and missile capacity as it faces off with Trump.

China and Russia have advocated a “freeze for freeze” plan, where the United States and South Korea would stop major military exercises in exchange for North Korea halting its weapons programs, but neither side appears willing to budge.

South Korean Marines wrapped up a three-day firing drill on Thursday aimed at protecting its islands just south of the border with North Korea, while the air force will finish up a week-long drill on Friday.

North Korea says it needs to develop its weapons to defend itself against what it sees as U.S. aggression.

South Korea and the United States are technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.

For a graphic on nuclear North Korea, click: here

Additional reporting by Soyoung Kim in SEOUL, Michael Martina in BEIJING, Steve Holland, Eric Walsh, Jeff Mason and Jim Oliphant in WASHINGTON and Gabriela Baczynska, Robin Emmott and David Mardiste in TALLINN; Writing by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Paul Tait and Nick Macfie


 (Contains links to previous articles)