Posts Tagged ‘Thaad’

Dawn of the post-American order in Asia

December 30, 2017

By Hugh White

The Trump administration’s narrowly defined ‘America First’ approach towards Asia has effectively ceded US leadership in the region to a rising China.

Historians may well look back at 2017 as the year that Asia’s leadership changed hands. It will be seen as the year China stepped forward and America stepped back.

The United States-led regional order that we have known for so long is being replaced by a new Chinese-led order that remains deeply uncertain and, to many of us, deeply unsettling. But now, at the end of this year, it is no longer credible to deny what is happening, or to expect that it can be reversed. Welcome to the new, post-American Asia.

Two closely sequenced set-piece events demonstrated the transition from the old order to the new. The first was Beijing’s 19th Party Congress in October, where President Xi Jinping set out forcefully and in detail his vision of China as a regional and global leader.

He extolled China’s achievements as an inspiration to other countries, and its model as an example for others to follow. He asserted China’s right to take the lead in addressing international issues. And he implicitly claimed for himself the historic achievement of restoring China to its rightful place as a leading Great Power.

The second event followed last month, when Mr Donald Trump made his first visit to Asia as President of the US. Over 12 long days, he showed beyond doubt that he was not serious about asserting US leadership in Asia. This was hardly a surprise. It had become clear from the very beginning of his presidency, when he pulled America out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, that as president, Mr Trump would do exactly what he had promised as a candidate. He would put “America First”, taking a narrow view of US interests in Asia and dismissing obligations and commitments which were not obviously and directly connected to that narrow view.

In Beijing, Mr Trump revelled in the pomp of a full-court state visit, and heaped praise on his host. He did nothing to contest Mr Xi’s assertion of Chinese leadership in East Asia, made no mention of key issues in their strategic rivalry like the South China Sea, and left a clear impression that he was willing to accept China’s view of their respective roles in Asia.

Then, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Danang, Mr Trump passed up the chance to explain and promote a new American vision of Asia’s future as an alternative to China’s – a future as a “free and open Indo-Pacific”. He barely touched on these themes in his big set-piece speech. Instead he talked trade, and in the worst possible way.


He brusquely repudiated the commitment to free trade which had done so much to underpin US leadership, regional integration and economic development in Asia in recent decades. He declared a push for managed trade arrangements aimed at eliminating the bilateral trade imbalances which he sees, in defiance of economic logic, as the source of America’s economic problems.

By doing this, he left it to Mr Xi to project China as the champion of free trade and regional economic integration. Mr Xi’s pitch was lent credibility and substance by his Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which this year has moved to the centre of China’s version of global engagement and regional leadership. The huge BRI summit hosted in Beijing this year was arguably the most significant international meeting of the year. While much remains unclear about what the BRI will ever deliver, it has at least provided a positive vision of what China purports to offer.

From Washington, by contrast, Asian countries heard little that was positive, or even coherent, about how the new administration sees its future role in Asia. This month’s new US National Security Strategy was so internally contradictory that it has only deepened the confusion about where America is heading under Mr Trump. But amid the contradictions, there was a clear underlying message.

On the one hand, the new National Security Strategy has at last, and for the first time, acknowledged in stark terms what we in Asia have known for years – that China is plainly determined to take over from America as East Asia’s primary power. On the other hand, the document offered no compelling argument that America’s interests required it to resist China’s challenge, and no coherent idea of how it could do so.

In fact the main theme of the new strategy points the other way. The “America First” slogan reflects a determination that America should commit itself only where the most direct and vital US interests are engaged. Having abandoned the post-Cold War vision of a harmonious US-led global order, there is no overarching case that America’s interests require it to dominate every region of the world – including in Asia. As long as America can trade in Asia, and faces no direct threats from the region to its own security at home, then Washington will step back and let Asia look after itself.

We can see this shift at work in the new administration’s focus on North Korea’s long-range missile programme, which has dominated its diplomacy in Asia this year. Much of Asia has been threatened for years by Pyongyang’s shorter-range missiles, but Mr Trump is worried only by the threat that the new missiles could pose to America itself. To avoid that, he is willing to threaten, and maybe even fight, a devastating war in Asia.

Most likely, however, he will end up deciding that America’s massive nuclear deterrent makes it safe enough from North Korea’s missiles, and US allies in Asia will be left to deal with Pyongyang’s threats by themselves.

So for Asia, the lesson of 2017 is simple: America no longer sees itself having interests in Asia great enough to justify the immense costs and risks involved in resisting China’s drive to replace it as the leading regional power. That means that, especially in East Asia and the Western Pacific, we face the prospect of living under China’s shadow. Indeed we already are. And 2017 has given us a sobering foretaste of what that will mean, as China has more overtly used its weight – economic, diplomatic and strategic – to promote its interests and impose its wishes on its neighbours. South Korea has felt this over the deployment of a US missile defence system that China deems to be a threat to its security. In Australia, there has been an upswing of anxiety about China’s efforts to influence domestic politics and public debate, and plain expressions of displeasure from Beijing as a result.

Perhaps we should not be surprised by all this. After all, China is just doing what great powers have always done, using their weight and influence to impose costs on those that displease them.

But for all of us in Asia, we are going to have to rethink our approach to foreign policy to address this new reality. That will not be easy. New thinking will be needed.

  • The writer is professor of strategic studies at the Australian National University in Canberra.

Japanese Cabinet OKs record ¥5.19 trillion defense budget to counter North Korea with interceptor batteries, first cruise missiles

December 23, 2017

Japan Times

DEC 22, 2017
Japan deployed Patriot interceptor launchers at Ishigaki in February last year. Tokyo is laying the groundwork for an expanded military presence on Japan’s southwestern islands. JIJI PRESS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The Cabinet on Friday approved a record-high draft defense budget for fiscal 2018 to beef up Japan’s missile defenses against the growing threat from North Korea, breaking the record for the fourth consecutive year.

The draft budget for fiscal 2018 rose to ¥5.19 trillion from ¥5.13 trillion the previous year, and covers upgrades to the ballistic missile defense system and procure long-range cruise missiles to be launched from fighter jets.

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“Our nation’s security is under a greater threat. It is significantly important that we procure cutting-edge equipment,” Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters Friday.

“It’s important that we continue to increase pressure on North Korea to urge the regime to alter its policy. (U.S.) President (Donald) Trump repeated ‘all options are on the table.’ We must prepare to be able to correspond to various situations,” he said.

On Tuesday the government said it will introduce two Aegis Ashore interceptor batteries, so ¥700 million was allocated to survey potential sites and design a deployment plan.

The U.S.-made land-based version of the Aegis combat system developed for warships is a collection of radars, computers and missiles. Japan plans to deploy two Aegis Ashore batteries by 2023 at the earliest.

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AEGIS Ashore missile launch

Aegis Ashore will add a new layer of protection to Japan’s current missile shield, which consists of Patriot interceptor batteries, backed up by Aegis-equipped destroyers.

Defense officials say acquiring Aegis Ashore would allow the government to cover the entire country from Hokkaido to Okinawa, and make preparations for interception easier than that for the Aegis destroyers.

To buy Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptors for Aegis Ashore, the ministry allocated ¥44 billion. The interceptor was co-developed with the United States.

Narushige Michishita, professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo, welcomed Aegis Ashore as a “cost-effective” way to improve Japan’s missile shield.

“Aegis Ashore uses the SM-3 Block IIA, which is able to defend a very wide range and shoot down missiles at extremely high altitudes,” Michishita said.

The government had also considered the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, also made by the U.S.

Michishita said introducing Aegis Ashore instead of THAAD was an effective way to cut costs because the government says 16 THAAD systems are required for total coverage instead of two.

But Michishita warned that deploying Aegis Ashore could trigger health concerns because its radars emit strong radio waves, adding that the government must encourage residents hosting the batteries to cooperate.

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Japans Air Self-Defense Force members set up PAC-3 surface-to-air missile launch systems during a temporary deployment drill

Another highlight of the draft is the ¥2.2 billion allocation to procure Japan’s first long-range cruise missiles mountable on fighter jets.

The Joint Strike Missile by Norway’s Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace AS, with a range of about 500 km, will be loaded on F-35A stealth fighters.

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The government denied that the cruise missiles are for attacking other countries. It claimed that they will instead be used to defend Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers equipped with the Aegis missile defense system.

Michishita the professor suggested they could be used for island defense.

The ministry has also allocated ¥78.5 billion to buy six F-35As and ¥14.7 billion to obtain RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance aircraft.

Some ¥92.2 billion was allocated to build a 3,900-ton escort ship and ¥69.7 billion for a 3,000-ton submarine with improved underwater sound detection capabilities.

The ministry also allocated ¥39.3 billion to obtain four V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft.

While Japan tries to stay prepared for North Korea’s missile threat, it is also apparently keeping an eye on China’s growing maritime activities.

Japan is looking to strengthen its defense of remote islands, especially in the East China Sea and around Okinawa.

The ministry allocated ¥55.3 billion to prepare for the deployment of Ground Self-Defense Force units on Miyakojima Island in Okinawa and Amami-Oshima Island northeast of Okinawa. Both are near the Senkaku Islands. The budget will be used to develop facilities, such as government office buildings and repair factories.

Elsewhere, ¥197.7 billion was earmarked for so-called host-nation support, which covers the cost of workers, utilities and other items at U.S. military bases. The amount was ¥194.6 billion in fiscal 2016.

Since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in 2012, the defense budget has been climbing under the government’s five-year defense buildup through fiscal 2018.

Onodera said Friday that a new five-year program will be debated next year.


Japan approves introduction of Aegis Ashore missile defense system amid North Korea threat

December 21, 2017


The Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday approved the installation of two land-based Aegis Ashore missile defense systems to defend against North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threats, highlighted by a test of what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile last month.

The approval will allow the Defense Ministry to buy two Aegis Ashore systems to add to Japan’s current two-step missile defense system consisting of Patriot batteries and Aegis-equipped destroyers.

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 A ballistic missile interceptor is fired from the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex in Kauai, Hawaii, in December 2015. REUTERS

Defense Ministry officials said the government plans to deploy the systems in two places, by 2023 at the earliest, but that the locations are yet to be decided. The cost of each system could be more than ¥100 billion, they said.

Noting that North Korea’s nuclear and missile development poses a “new level of threat” to Japan’s security, the government said in a document endorsed by the Cabinet that Japan needs “to fundamentally improve our ballistic missile defense abilities to protect our country at all times and in a sustainable manner.”

Aegis Ashore, a U.S.-made land-based version of the Aegis combat system developed for warships, is a collection of radars, computers and missiles.

Acquiring Aegis Ashore would protect the entire country, from Hokkaido to Okinawa Prefecture, the government says. The government had also considered a different U.S. system, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), but it would require six sites to cover the nation. Aegis Ashore is more cost effective, according to the Defense Ministry.

The new system would reduce the workload of the Self-Defense Forces in preparing for missile intercepts compared with the sea-based operations of Aegis destroyers, according to ministry officials.

To expedite the introduction of Aegis Ashore, the ministry plans to earmark ¥2.8 billion for information-gathering activities in the supplementary budget for the current fiscal year ending in March. It is also seeking ¥730 million in next year’s budget to cover design costs and research fees.

“We cannot say what the final costs will be, but we will move ahead (to introduce Aegis Ashore) on the fastest possible schedule, given public calls that the government should deal as swiftly and urgently as possible with the ballistic missile defense issue,” Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told a news conference on Tuesday.

In the ministry’s initial budgetary request for fiscal 2018 made in August, which came to a record-high ¥5.26 trillion, the ministry said it was seeking funds to introduce a new missile shield system, while leaving the actual sum unspecified.

Japan’s current missile shield comprises two layers. The first is Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers that can stop missiles in the outer atmosphere using the Aegis combat system and Standard Missile-3 interceptors. The second layer is the Air Self-Defense Force’s ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles, designed to counter attacks in the lower atmosphere.

Aegis Ashore, to be equipped with newly developed Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptors, will be an addition to the two layers to defend wider areas, and will be operated by the Ground Self-Defense Force.

The government plans to start selecting areas for the facilities, but the deployment could trigger concern among residents living nearby as the system’s radars emit strong radio waves.

So far, the government is considering Akita and Yamaguchi prefectures as candidate sites, sources said.

South Korea and China’s Strategic Calculation

December 17, 2017

By Goh Sui Noi
The Straits Times
China Bureau Chief


BEIJING – South Korea’s reassurances to China over its security concerns paved the way for better relations and President Moon Jae In’s state visit, analysts said.

And Mr Moon’s visit has in turn boosted ties between the neighbours strained by South Korea’s deployment of an anti-missile system that Beijing said hurt its security interests.

But what could have motivated the Chinese to mend ties with Seoul could be the strategic importance of a good relationship with the South Koreans, say analysts.

Mr Moon met President Xi Jinping on Thursday (Dec 14), during which the leaders pledged to improve ties and cooperate on resolving the North Korean nuclear issue peacefully.

At his meeting with Premier Li Keqiang on Friday, Mr Li said the two sides may soon reopen communication channels to discuss economic issues, South Korean media reported.

Mr Moon, in an effort to draw the two sides closer together, also highlighted the common history of the two countries by sending his ambassador to Nanjing on Thursday to attend ceremonies to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the massacre wrought by Japanese soldiers during their occupation of the city.

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Mr Moon himself will visit on Saturday the site of the Korean provisional government in Chongqing during World War II when Korea was occupied by the Japanese.

South Korea in July last year had agreed with the United States to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) anti-missile system, at a time of rising tension in the Korean peninsula as North Korea stepped up its nuclear and missile development programmes.

However, the Chinese objected to the deployment as they think the missile defence system undermined its strategic security interests. It took economic retaliatory measures that shaved off 0.3 percentage point from South Korea’s growth this year.

But things took a turn for the better in late October with the two sides agreeing to put ties back on track. This has been made possible through Seoul’s agreement to conditions known as the “three Nos” – no deployment of additional Thaad batteries, no joining of a US-led missile defence network and no trilateral security alliance with the US and Japan.

This provided some assurance to the Chinese and, besides, they may have realised it was impossible to get the South Koreans to completely drop Thaad, said security analyst Li Mingjiang of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

“Coercing the South Koreans to do so will further damage China-South Korean ties and ultimately push South Korea much closer to the US,” he said. This, he added, will be detrimental to China’s security environment in North-east Asia.

On the other hand, better ties with the South Koreans would undermine any US plan to further strengthen its military presence and deterrent capability against China, particularly the American plan to link up its anti-missile systems in the region, he said.

On the nuclear issue, China and South Korea are opposed to war in the region and if they could articulate this together, it would greatly constrain the US, he said.

And if war should occur, “a more positive relationship between Beijing and Seoul will help China deal better with the aftermath”, including resettlement of refugees, reunification of the Korean peninsula and the US military presence there, said Associate Professor Li.

However, said Professor Jia Qingguo of Peking University, Thaad as an issue remained and if the North Korean nuclear issue eased up or progress was achieved on it, then the Thaad batteries would have to be removed.

China: South Korean President in China to mend ties strained by North Korean crisis

December 14, 2017


© Noel Celis, AFP | South Korea’s President Moon Jae-In adjusts his earphones during the 19th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-South Korea Summit on the sidelines of the 31st ASEAN Summit.


Latest update : 2017-12-14

South Korean President Moon Jae-In will meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing Thursday amid mixed US signals about potential talks to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis.

Relations between Beijing and Seoul have encountered their own rough patch over the US military’s deployment of a powerful anti-missile defence system in the South to counter the North’s threats.

Moon hopes to “normalise” ties during the visit, his office has said, after Beijing imposed economic measures against South Korean companies, a move seen as retaliation to the installation of the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system.


China sees the deployment as a threat to its own security.

Moving past the disagreement has become increasingly important amid growing concern that bellicose rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang could spark war on the Korean peninsula.

“The highlights to watch of the visit would be whether the two sides (Seoul and Beijing) can start a dialogue and cooperation mechanism on the DPRK (North Korea) nuclear issue,” said Zhu Feng, international studies professor at Peking University.

China has long refused to countenance the possibility that the North’s Communist regime could collapse.

But a series of nuclear and missile tests combined with pressure from US President Donald Trump has pushed Beijing to reconsider its position and prioritise improving relations with Seoul.

“It is a very uncertain period,” Zhu said. “The two sides need high-level dialogues and dialogues between militaries. These dialogues cannot really start without the normalisation of the bilateral relations.”

Possible talks?

Moon’s visit comes after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington was ready to talk to North Korea “without preconditions”, though it remains determined to force Pyongyang to give up its nuclear arsenal.

China and Russia responded positively to Tillerson’s remarks, even after the White House appeared to put his proposal in question by saying Trump’s “views on North Korea have not changed.”

Beijing has pressed for talks to peacefully resolve the crisis, but there are signals that it has begun to prepare for the possibility of the North’s collapse.

Tillerson said Tuesday that US and Chinese officials have discussed scenarios in case the North Korean regime falls, including steps to deal with refugees crossing the border, and how to secure Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons.

Washington’s top diplomat said these discussions involved him, the US defence secretary and military chief, and senior Chinese officials.

Such discussions were unthinkable just a few months ago.

But China’s priority has been to convince the United States and North Korea to hold talks.

Beijing has also urged the US, Japan and South Korea to suspend joint military drills in the region in return for North Korea to halt its nuclear activities — an idea consistently rejected by Washington and Seoul.

But “Pyongyang can’t have its cake and eat it, too,” the state-run China Daily warned in an editorial Thursday.

“It cannot expect Washington to engage in direct peace talks with it, while at the same time making such talks more difficult by continuing with its missile launches and nuclear tests.”

In Tokyo, UN chief Antonio Guterres warned that the worst outcome would be for the world to “sleepwalk into a war that might have very dramatic circumstances.”


With concerns about the peninsula’s stability mounting, South Korea and China issued identically-worded statements last month on their mutual desire to improve relations.

They did not state any specifics, but Beijing has demanded that Seoul formally promise not to deploy any more THAAD launchers and not to join any regional US missile defence system.

On Tuesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Beijing had reached “some consensus” with Seoul on THAAD.

In a limited sign of improved ties, China’s state tourism board approved Seoul-bound group tours from some parts of the country last month.

A business delegation including executives from South Korean giants Samsung, Hyundai and LG, is accompanying Moon on the trip, which began Wednesday and is the president’s first state visit to China since he took office in May.


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.

South Korea’s Moon, China’s Xi to talk North Korea, trade in Beijing summit

December 12, 2017

By Christine KimBen Blanchard

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

December 11, 2017

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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)

South Korean President Moon Jae-In hopes to “normalise” ties with China on his first state visit

December 11, 2017


South Korean President Moon Jae-In hopes to “normalise” ties with giant neighbour China on his first state visit to the country this week, his office said Monday, after Beijing was infuriated by a US missile system deployment.

Seoul and Washington decided to install the powerful US THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system in the South earlier this year to guard against threats from the nuclear-armed North.

Beijing saw it as a threat to its own security and reacted furiously, slapping a string of measures against South Korean businesses and banning group tours to the South, in moves seen as economic retaliation.

 Image result for Moon Jae-In, photos, china
South Korean President Moon Jae-In

China is the South’s top trading partner and the diplomatic row took a major toll on many South Korean firms, most notably retail giant Lotte Group, which provided the land to host the powerful US missile system.

Angry boycott campaigns and regulatory crackdowns by Chinese authorities decimated its business in the world’s second-largest economy, and it was forced to put its supermarket unit in China up for sale.

But last month the two countries issued identically-worded statements on their mutual desire to improve relations.

It did not state any specifics, but Beijing has demanded that Seoul formally promise not to deploy any more THAAD launchers and not to join any regional US missile defence system.

Nam Gwan-Pyo, a deputy director of the presidential national security office, did not give reporters details of any concrete steps that could be expected from Moon’s four-day trip — his first to China since taking power in May.

But he said it would be a turning point in relations towards a “more mature” relationship, he said, “by recovering bilateral trust and strengthening friendship between the leaders of the two nations”.

Ties recently showed some — albeit limited — signs of thaw as China’s state tourism board approved last month Seoul-bound group tours from some parts of China.

Moon heads to Beijing on Wednesday and will hold a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping the following day to discuss issues including how to curb the North’s nuclear weapons drive, Nam added.

China — the North’s sole diplomatic ally and economic lifeline — has stepped up sanctions on the North amid pressure from the US and the international community to play a bigger role in taming its regime.

Beijing has backed recent UN sanctions imposed on the North over its nuclear and missile tests, including a ban on coal imports, although it repeatedly pushed for talks to defuse the tensions.

It has urged a “double freeze” on both North Korean weapons tests and joint military exercises by Seoul and Washington — an idea consistently rejected by the US and South Korea.

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.”