China and Myanmar pushed cooperation forward on Friday, introducing an energy liaison committee and signing more than a dozen deals relating to energy, finance, infrastructure and agriculture. The strides were made as China has pressed ahead with its ambitious initiatives to fuel Asian growth by focusing on free trade and connectivity. After some frustrations involving Chinese investment in the country’s infrastructure over the past few years, Myanmar’s government is seeking to reassure Beijing that it is welcome.
Despite the advances there remains one gaping hole in China’s winged military industrial complex – one that could stop it from realising the next mission set for it by the highest echelons of power. Whatever their individual missions, the various jets fighters and aerial drones are building blocks for China’s aim to push the next frontier – space. It said that some space superpowers had developed all-weather, near real-time and high-precision cameras to collect data on China’s military, political, economic and technological abilities.
China and 20 other countries moved forward towards setting up an Asian infrastructure lender seen as a counterweight to Western-backed international development banks. The signatories put their names to a memorandum of understanding to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) at a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. It is intended to address the region’s burgeoning demand for transportation, dams, ports and other facilities, officials say.
Raytheon has completed a series of laboratory tests that demonstrated the ability of the US Army’s joint land-attack cruise-missile defence elevated sensor (JLENS) radar system to integrate into the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).”With JLENS providing data to NORAD, our military will have a more accurate picture of what is flying in the National Capital Region’s airspace, and be able to identify slow and low-flying threats such as cruise missiles and drones.”
Heightened tensions with longtime foe Armenia over breakaway Nagorno Karabakh and mediator Russia’s Ukrainian adventure appear to be pushing Caspian-Sea energy power Azerbaijan ever more strongly toward a military strategy of self-reliance. The strategy comes via two approaches: first, a build-up in Azerbaijani-made military equipment, including drones co-produced with Israel; and, second, a new defense troika with longtime strategic partners Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and neighboring Georgia, a NATO-member-hopeful.
China had revealed its plan last year to create an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) with a capita of $100 billion. The emerging power will inject half of the total capital. This year, it invited Bangladesh to join as its founder-member.
Though Beijing has sought to downplay the politics behind it, analysts say it will extend its financial reach and compete with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, which are heavily dominated by Japan. China has lesser voting power than the US, Japan, and the UK as a World Bank member.
Myanmar’s government made a rare concession to its people by suspending a controversial water power project financed and led by a Chinese state-owned enterprise. Now it is finding the voices critical of its northern neighbor growing louder and harder to brush aside. China would have received 90 percent of the electricity generated. Environmentalists also opposed the project. Many people in Myanmar are also hostile to other Chinese-backed infrastructure investments.
The upcoming NATO summit offers an opportunity to demonstrate Europe’s commitment to collective defense, to a stronger European defense posture, and to the transatlantic alliance. The countries of the so-called Weimar Triangle – France, Germany, and Poland – are well suited to lead such an effort. The three big countries in the middle of Europe should thus staff a regional headquarters, which would serve as the basis for defense planning and exercises and support the rotating US troops.
On the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the World War I, the Balkan conference which was held in Berlin is completely a product of a perfect German strategic vision. The Balkan conference is significant in determining what the role of the Eastern Europe is, especially the Balkans and what strategic vision will give its shape. Under the Western Balkans title, while it excludes the countries under the American influence, it also pushes Turkey outside the equation which is impossible not to be taken into consideration all across the Balkans.
NATO’s top commander has begun entertaining the idea of a regional headquarters specifically focusing on Article 5 violations – which requires members to come to the aid of another member if it is attacked – ahead of an alliance gathering in Wales. Retired Adm. James Stavridis(SACEUR) said in an op-ed in June that NATO members needed to prepare more special forces for threats coming from the southern border of the alliance, especially Iraq and Syria, and to deter Russia.
It is part of a bigger project known as LAPSSET (short for the Lamu Port South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor) that includes not only a giant seaport to relieve Kenya’s overstretched port at Mombasa, but also roads, a 1,500km railway, an airport and a refinery. The $24bn scheme, due to be finished by 2030, is intended to give much of landlocked east Africa access to the Indian Ocean, with oil pipelines to South Sudan and railways to Ethiopia and Uganda.
Boeing has disclosed an agreement with Iran to provide aircraft parts, relaxing a three-decade freeze in ties as part of a broader package of sanctions relief. US industry analysts say the sale of spare aircraft parts is seen as a diplomatic carrot for Iran, which for decades has relied on parts obtained on the black market or copied locally. Iran agreed in November to curtail nuclear activities for six months from January 20 in exchange for sanctions relief from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.
Researchers in the US, funded by the US Air Force, Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), and the National Science Foundation, have managed to turn air into an “optical fiber.” This breakthrough allows the scientists to create an air waveguide, allowing for much better transmission of lasers through free space. As you might have guessed from the US military’s involvement, this could be big news for laser weapons — but there are repercussions for laser-based communications and scientific research as well.
Huajian’s 3,500 workers in Ethiopia produced 2 million pairs of shoes last year. Located in one of the country’s first government-supported industrial zones, the factory began operating in January 2012, only three months after Zhang decided to invest. It became profitable in its first year and now earns $100,000 to $200,000 a month, he said, calling it an insufficient return that will rise as workers become better trained. A combination of cheap labor and electricity and a government striving to attract foreign investment makes Ethiopia more attractive than many others.
Why the push to build railways criss-crossing South America? Part of the answer—besides the fact that China knows a thing or two about constructing long railways at high altitudes—lies in the region’s burgeoning trade with China, which needs raw materials to fuel its economy and new markets for its exports. Currently, the bulk of Chinese imports from South America have to travel through the Panama Canal, where the cost of transporting a ship through it has tripled over the last five years.
China’s EXIM has announced its support to the development of the US$11bn Bagamoyo Port in Tanzania. According to reports, Phase 1 of the deep-water port could begin in 2017. Located 75km south of Dar es Salaam, the port is expected to be bigger than Kenya’s Mombasa Port and the biggest in Africa. Bagamoyo Port will have a capacity of 20mn containers per year, as opposed to Dar es Salaam’s 500,000 and Mombasa’s 600,000. China has agreed to support the construction of road and rail networks to connect the rest of Tanzania to port area, added reports.
Mali has awarded four mining permits to Qatar Mining, the mines minister said, as the West African country seeks to boost exploration to offset ageing mines. The International Monetary Fund forecasts a steady decline in gold output in Mali, Africa’s third-largest gold producer, from 2015 as existing mines reach maturity. “Qatar Mining has opened its Mali entity. We will be granting them four mining concessions – greenfield projects – that they will develop in the next few years,” Mines Minister Boubou Cisse said in an email to Reuters.
At Asia’s biggest rail cargo base in Chengdu in south-west China, the cranes are hard at work, swinging containers from trucks onto a freight train. The containers are filled with computers, clothes, even cars. Until last year, all of it would have first gone more than 1,000 miles east to Shanghai and then to Europe by sea. But now the journey’s been cut from six weeks to two. The trains are bound straight for Europe via Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus. They will be unloaded in Poland and distributed to their final destinations.
With journalists sentenced to hard labour for writing about an isolated installation, experts are concerned about what might be being produced. “A factory built in a remote area in secrecy and under high security with a lot of pipes and pumps and such could easily be a chemical weapons facility,” Mr Kaszeta said. “However, it is occurring in a country known for secrecy with a military that operates a vast defence industry as a state-owned enterprise. Many things under that umbrella could account for this, such as manufacture of explosives or propellants.”
Turkey’s ruling party has indicated that it is ready to accept an independent Kurdish state in what is currently northern Iraq following the charge of Islamist militants through the country’s northern regions. “In the past an independent Kurdish state was a reason for war [for Turkey] but no one has the right to say this now,” Huseyin Celik, a spokesman for the ruling AK party, told the Financial Times. “In Turkey, even the word ‘Kurdistan’ makes people nervous, but their name is Kurdistan,” he added.
Head of the Indian Defence Research Development Organization (DRDO), Avinash Chander recently declared that the first Indian nuclear submarine INS Arihant “within a month or two” will be capable of carrying out launches of ballistic missiles BO-5 with nuclear warheads. This implies that in the long term, India is planning to create strategic naval nuclear forces – notes Vasily Kashin, expert at the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies.
Beijing diplomats on charm offensive to rally support for new institution free from U.S. control. China wants to set up a multilateral development bank in Asia to break the U.S.’s financial hold on the continent, theFinancial Times reported Tuesday, citing officials familiar with the matter. It said that Chinese officials have been touring Asia and the Middle East drumming up support for a new institution with $100 billion in capital, with a view to financing major development projects such as infrastructure.
There are already companies working on how 3D printing could help build infrastructure on the moon, as well as missions which are beginning to map its surface ahead of bids to drill for its resources. “We do not have decades to come up with answers to these important questions about exploring the moon,” he said. “A fleet of international missions has already started to prospect and map the distribution of mineral resources, and water-ice.”
Getting computers to think like humans has been a scientific goal for years – IBM recently said it found a way to make transistors that could be formed into virtual circuitry that mimics human brain functions. The specific goal of the program, known as Machine Intelligence from Cortical Networks (MICrONS) is to create what IARPA calls “a new generation of machine learning algorithms derived from high-fidelity representations of the brain’s cortical microcircuits to achieve human-like performance on complex information processing tasks.
Accompanied by his Greek counterpart Antonis Samaras, Li visited the country’s largest port of Piraeus to inaugurate a rail link that will transport goods to central Europe. Chinese and Greek officials are signing 19 deals worth an estimated 4.5 billion euros. Among the key agreements is one for boosting trade and investment cooperation, as well as a deals for Chinese bank loans to go towards various construction projects, such as shipyards and solar energy parks.
The European Union is looking southwards to develop a “southern gas corridor” for natural gas from Azerbaijan to fuel the European mainland. A key policy that also ties in with the Maltese government’s prospective energy shift to gas, will be the creation of the southern corridor running from the Caspian region and into Italy. The more interesting keyword is the “Mediterranean gas hub” which the EU would like to develop in the south of Europe together with North African and Eastern Mediterranean partners.
It is heartening to see that the booming bilateral trade between Asia’s two largest economies continues to defy their bellicose rhetoric and “war games” at sea and in the air. In the first four months of this year Japanese sales to China rose at a rate of 14 percent – a huge improvement from the year earlier when they fell at an annual rate of 4 percent.
Over the same period, the rate of growth of Chinese exports to Japan nearly doubled to 19 percent.
The People’s Liberation Army has practiced jamming GPS signals, according to a Pentagon report today. The Chinese are testing those and other electronic warfare weapons and they have “proven effective.” China plans to launch 100 satellites through 2015, including “imaging, remote sensing, navigation, communication, and scientific satellites, as well as manned spacecraft,” says a special section headlined ”Special Topic: Reconnaissance Satellites”
A few days after the European Commission (EC) announced an infringement procedure against Bulgaria over its choice of a contractor to build the land section of the South Stream pipeline project in the country, tensions between current ruling axis partners the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms are becoming clearer. EC President Jose Barroso has made clear the Commission’s intentions about ensuring that EU countries keep to the rules regarding South Stream.
A RMB Yuan (CNY) clearing bank will be officially appointed in the United Kingdom (UK) in June, said Mark Boleat, policy chairman for the City of London Corp, in an interview at the weekend. A week before that agreement was reached, China also signed a memorandum with Germany to work on appointing a clearing bank in Frankfurt, highlighting the fierce competition between European financial centers for more yuan activities.
Japan will get the chance to pursue an unprecedented military export deal when its defense and foreign ministers meet their Australian counterparts in Tokyo next month. Japan is considering selling submarine technology to Australia – perhaps even a fleet of fully engineered, stealthy vessels. The Soryu’s ultra-quiet drivetrain could avoid a problem that makes Australia’s six current submarines prone to detection.
One of the most powerful Taliban factions in Pakistan has split away from the main Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) network to form its own entity, the new group announced Wednesday. The departure of the Mehsud faction, which belongs to the Taliban’s founding family, means the new group will take almost half of the TTP’s fighters with them. It will operate under the leadership of Khan Syed, a former commander for Hakeemullah Mehsud who uses the alias Khalid Sajna.
Soldiers’ missions frequently lead them to locations where they must assess the status of structures, and where the presence of threats is not immediately known or easily detectable. These threats include ambushes and chemical and biological threats that could be lurking around every corner. Current technology assists Soldiers in detecting these possible threats by allowing them to assess structures and threats through the use of teleoperated sensing systems.
China’s president called Tuesday for the creation of a new Asian structure for security cooperation based on a regional group that includes Russia and Iran and excludes the United States. Beijing sees common cause with other CICA members such as Russia and Sri Lanka in promoting a political model that pairs autocratic government with a market-oriented economy in defiance of the Western liberal democratic model. CICA was formed in 1992 at the initiative of Kazakhstan.
In a symbolic blow to U.S. global financial hegemony, Russia and China took a small step toward undercutting the domination of the U.S. dollar as the international reserve currency on Tuesday when Russia’s second biggest financial institution, VTB, signed a deal with the Bank of China to bypass the dollar and pay each other in domestic currencies. To be sure, the Russia-China bank deal is mostly a symbolic step
Japan and India have been left out in the discussions about China-led project Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which was held on the first night of the Asian Development Bank’s yearly meeting which was held in Kazakhstan this month. Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei headed the discussions for the new $50-billion Asian lender. Regional competitors Japan and India, and the US, were not invited in this meeting, according to Bloomberg.
It is primarily a political move, sources with knowledge of the negotiations told Kommersant, seen as a demonstration that the relationship between Moscow and Beijing is strengthening in the face of the West’s sanctions against Russia. Mikhail Blinkin, director of the Institute of Transportation Economics and Politics, said the Chinese might be mostly interested in strengthening their position in the region. “At the same time, at least in the long run, the Russian government will pay back whatever investment they make,” Blinkin said.
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has awarded Raytheon Company an $8.5 millionbase contract to design the Flexible Distributed Array Radar (FlexDAR), enabling dynamic multi-mission radars capable of executing a variety of functions including surveillance, communications, and electronic warfare. FlexDAR will develop technology that will lead to enhanced capability for future radar sensors including software-defined digital re-configurability.
The new system is called ALIAS, which stands for Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System. Its main goal is to streamline the incredibly complex interfaces that avionics operators have to contend with on a daily basis, and make lives easier for people flying jets. “Our goal is to design and develop a full-time automated assistant that could be rapidly adapted to help operate diverse aircraft through an easy-to-use operator interface,”.
China intends to invest in massive projects in Crimea less than a month after the former Ukrainian province was annexed by the Russian Federation. Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s ambassador to the European Union, said Russia is partnering with China in two major Crimean projects: the “Power of Siberia” gas pipeline and a 25 meter deep Crimean deep water port. These projects will continue despite the ongoing crisis in the Ukraine, Chizhov said.
A Russian Soyuz-U rocket was launched from Site 31/6 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday. In what is expected to the last “non Progress” launch of this variant of Soyuz, an Egyptian spacecraft – known as EgyptSat-2 – enjoyed a ride uphill on the Russian workhorse. Launch occurred on schedule at 16:20 UTC. The EgyptSat-2 satellite – which has seen its launch delayed several times – was built by RKK Energia and is destined for an operational orbit of 435 x 435 miles with a 51.6 degrees declination to the equator.
U.S. military researchers are moving forward with a program to hide ruggedized electronic devices at the bottom of the world’s oceans that when called on will float to the surface to jam, disrupt, and spy on enemy forces. Sparton and Zeta experts designed UFP concepts that not only would float sensors to the ocean’s surface, but also potentially launch a wave of distracting light strobes, blinding lasers, electronic warfare jammers, or other kinds of non-lethal weapons able to pop up without warning in the middle of an adversary’s naval battle group.
Amid increasing tensions with the West, Russia is making progress on long-awaited deals with its eastern neighbor, China. The China Development Bank has confirmed its plans to invest $5 billion in Russia’s Far East, news reports said Friday. Investments will be channeled to regional economic zones and will finance large infrastructure projects, Russia’s Far East Development Ministry said. Russia is ready to take on the transit cargo coming from the Asia-Pacific region to Europe.
Romania plans to become the open door of China to Europe, not only through the Constanta Port (eastern Romania, on the Black Sea shore), but also through the development of such investment projects to prove the high technological level reached by the Chinese economy in the past years, Secretary of State for political analysis and the relation with the Parliament, Radu Podgorean, stated during a visit he paid to the People Republic
USTR also said that national-only electronic networks could end up effectively excluding or discriminating against foreign service suppliers that offer network services. It even said that proposals like the one presented by Germany’s state backed Deutsche Telekom were “draconian” and possibly crafted to give European companies advantage over their U.S. based counterparts.
Picture the future battlefield. Smart munitions. Unmanned drones. Infantry soldiers packed with electronic sensors. And stealth tanks. Tanks on these battlefields will be pitted not only against other tanks, but also against unmanned aerial vehicles armed with heat seeking smart missiles and autonomous ground triggered smart munitions. At the same time, increased guerrilla-based warfare and the predominance of air superiority will mean that the humble tank could easily become prey.
The project involves building a wall running perpendicular from the coast and then branching off into a T, extending around 20 miles and studded with turbines that would channel and concentrate the power of tidal water. Beijing provided $3.3 million for feasibility studies that are under way in China. Construction is at least a decade away, though initial findings suggest that shallow waters on the Chinese, Korean and European coasts could be suitable.
That’s exactly where the Pentagon is looking to build underwater mini-depots for the U.S. Navy. “The approach centers on pre-deploying deep-ocean nodes years in advance in forward areas which can be commanded from standoff to deliver a wide range of unmanned and distributed systems to the sub-surface, surface, and air,” the Pentagon says. “The node must survive at greater than 6 km [3.7 miles] of depth, last up to 5 years, and operate in less than two hours after commanded to launch from the seafloor.”
Concerned about the emerging threat of unmanned aircraft, the US Army is canvassing American defence contractors for information on systems that can detect, classify and destroy drones of varying sizes. According to the request for information (RFI), the army’s Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) is open to both “kinetic and non-kinetic options” – the latter referring to lasers.
Satellites in GEO such as the US military’s Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) communications satellites are the most vulnerable to a hit-to-kill direct ascent ASAT weapon system. They appear to hang over a fixed location on the Equator, making them always visible to the same ground location. The flight time of a direct ascent ASAT to GEO is measured in hours and the launch of such systems using conventional rockets is easily detected by US missile warning satellites.
“Proactive” Crime is a new trend in law enforcement: With prognostic methods serious crimes in advance are to be prevented. Unlike the crime prevention this should already work if there is still no concrete threat. The 7th EU Research Framework Programme funded projects PROACTIVE and CAPER deal with it. The Left in the Bundestag has now with a small request for “computer-aided detection of undesirable behavior in public space” in the federal government.
The American military may soon be filled with soldiers sporting Google Glass-like headgear that can measure distances, display 3D building layouts, transmit video from a drone and more, all on a glass display right in front of their eyes. Battlefields are full of data soldiers can use: enemy positions, the location of fellow soldiers, maps of a city or a house, video of what they’ll encounter over a hill. But until recently, there’s been no way to live-stream that data to soldiers on the ground.
The Government of UAE will help Somali government to rebuild its army, which has endured more than 20 years of chaos and war.”My trip is aimed at strengthening the already close relationship between Somalia and the UAE. The UAE is a great friend and supporter of Somalia, taking an active part in rebuilding our government institutions and infrastructure and aiding social and youth development,” he said in a Press statement. It funded the training program of the Puntland Maritime Police force which was conducted by Saracen International and South Africa-linked private military operator Sterling Corporate Services.
The US government has taken another important step in helping to reintegrate Myanmar (referred to as Burma for official purposes) into the global economy. On 6 February 2014, the Export-Import Bank of the US (Ex-Im Bank) announced the opening of financial support for qualified short-term and medium-term US export sales to Myanmar. Over the past 18 months, the US has substantially removed sanctions on business with Myanmar and has expanded economic and trade support on a step-by-step basis in response to political and economic reforms.
The great tunnel of China? Beijing’s plan to build world’s longest underwater passage will cost more than $40B
China is planning another engineering marvel: the world’s longest tunnel – built under the sea. Planned to be more than twice the length of the Channel Tunnel that connects the U.K. and France, China’s latest mega project is not short of ambition. The 123-kilometre tunnel will run between the northern city of Dalian and Yantai, on the east coast. “Work could begin as early as 2015 or 2016,” said Wang Mengshu, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, speaking to the China Daily.
Researchers tracking social media and Web searches have detected outbreaks of the flu and rare diseases in Latin America by up to two weeks before they were reported by local news media or government health agencies, a U.S. intelligence official told USA TODAY. Working at a series of universities and companies around the country, the researchers are part of a program led by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA) that is aimed at anticipating critical societal events, such as disease outbreaks, violent uprisings or economic crises before they appear in the news.
Senior US officials and lawmakers are sending new signals that a fledgling cadre of military spies is a done deal, despite no real substantive public debate. The Pentagon last year proposed creation of the Defense Clandestine Service (DCS), saying the military needed its own team of spies to gather human intelligence across the globe. The country already has a civilian clandestine service within the CIA, which is itching to ditch some of its post-9/11 roles and return full-time to the spying and analysis business.
Why was it so easy to beat the CIA’s best analysts? To some extent, the answer has more to do with humans than machines. Imagine the agency’s Indonesia expert, for example. He wants to make accurate predictions, but he’s also subject to a range of biases that never show up in the data. He wants his work to be exciting and relevant, earning the attention of his superiors; he wants Indonesia to be important in the world. Predictions are also used to direct resources within the CIA, and he may want to attract more of the resources than the Indonesia bureau would otherwise receive.
Predicting which five weapons will have the greatest impact on the future of combat is a problematic endeavor, as the nature of warfare itself is fluid and constantly changing. A system that could be a game-changer in a major confrontation between two conventional forces—say, China and the United States—could be of little utility in an asymmetrical scenario pitting forces in an urban theater (e.g., Israeli forces confronting Palestinian guerrillas in Gaza or Lebanese Hezbollah in the suburbs of Beirut).
If it is carefully set up and well managed, the AIIB should be able to attract shareholding from Asia Pacific governments committed to their new APEC Framework on Connectivity, as well as from some private sources. If APEC governments on both sides of the Pacific participate in the new infrastructure development bank, the AIIB could be transformed into an Asia Pacific Infrastructure Investment Bank, which could invest in projects to upgrade connectivity among all Asia Pacific economies.
The largest ethnic armed group in Burma, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), has selected 30 soldiers to receive pilot training in China, according to members of other ethnic rebel groups who recently visited the Wa headquarters in Panghsang in northern Shan State on the Burma-China border. The claims are likely to fuel further speculation over whether or not the heavily-armed UWSA have acquired helicopters, as was first reported last year. The UWSA mainly relies on funding from the regional illicit drug trade for its long-running insurgency.
China appears to be buying an expensive insurance policy for natural gas imports from Central Asia with its plans to build a pipeline through Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Since 2006, China has invested heavily in developing gas imports from Turkmenistan, opening its Central Asia Gas Pipeline (CAGP) across Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan at the end of 2009. So far, state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) has built two strands of the CAGP and plans to complete a third on the 2,000-kilometer (1,242-mile) route to Xinjiang this year.
Iran and Iraq – at least theoretically – hold considerable reserves of crude oil and jointly have the potential to match Riyadh’s crude output capacity. The US’ EIA says that Saudi Arabia has a proven oil reserve of about 267 billion barrels, far ahead of Iran’s 151 billion barrels worth of reserves and Iraq’s 143 billion barrels of proven reserves. But combined, Iran and Iraq would have the capacity to possibly shift the balance of power, as this could challenge Riyadh’s capacity to stabilize the markets. And this carries ominous consequences too – for the global crude markets – some are now arguing.
A futuristic pilotless stealth fighter – the most technologically advanced combat aircraft ever produced in Britain – has passed its first ever test flights in a major milestone towards taking to the skies in combat, defence chiefs have announced. The giant-sized drone, approximately 12 metres long with a 10-metre wingspan, has been codenamed Taranis – and is so secret that few details have emerged until now. Footage of the unmanned aircraft in flight was shown for the first time in public at a briefing by the Ministry of Defence and BAE Systems at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London.
Russia spent the end of last year battling the EU for control over Ukraine. But should the Kremlin have been paying more attention to what was going on its southern border instead? In the last three months, the Chinese have swept through Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and Central Asia, buying up Russia’s backyard in a string of billion-dollar deals. However, instead of flying directly to Russia’s northern capital, President Xi went on a whirlwind tour of Central Asia. It was like a visit from Santa Claus as Xi distributed billions of dollars of deals along the way.
After running one of the world’s biggest and most controversial private military groups, Blackwater founder Erik Prince is starting a new venture providing logistics for oil and mining companies in remote and dangerous parts of Africa. China is increasingly looking to Africa to meet its ever growing demand for natural resources. Trade between the two reached an estimated $200 billion (121 billion pounds) this year. With 85 percent of Chinese imports from the continent being oil or minerals, Prince sees an opportunity.
Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) drills this year will be aimed at preventing threats coming from neighboring Afghanistan, Russia’s Defense Minister said in a separate statement. “This year the drills will be more large-scaled (…) there are a number of threats we are concerned with. We should make sure we are ready to respond to them”, he elaborated. Upon Kazakhstan’s initiative, the joint drill of (CSTO) is to be held in Kazakhstan at the drill center Spassk in the vicinities of Karaganda August 18-22.
Land-locked Laos is one of the poorest countries in the world, but it has one thing in abundance: access to the massive Mekong River. The country’s hydropower potential has earned it the nickname “the Battery of Asia” and made it a magnet for investment from its neighbors: Thailand, southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy; Vietnam, a strategic Communist ally since the 1970s; and China, which is writing checks that put the rest to shame. Guan Huabing, Beijing’s ambassador to Laos, announced today (Jan. 30) that China’s cumulative investment in Laos now stands at $5.1 billion, edging out Thailand and Vietnam.
The Chinese ambassador in the Belarusian capital in enjoying a special status. That’s because it’s unlikely any other country is prepared to make the kind of infrastructure investments here that China is planning. There are, for example, the Minsk International Airport, hidden behind the trees, and a highway that connects Minsk with Moscow in one direction and with Berlin in the other. High-speed rail is also planned, and there are rumors that 600,000 Chinese people will be migrating to Belarus. It’s not clear where the Chinese companies plan to market their wares, now that they will have a foothold just 300 kilometers from the EU and Russia.
Britain could buy weapons from its former Cold War foe for the first time under a landmark defence treaty, the Telegraph can reveal. Defence chiefs are preparing to sign a deal that would see British defence companies working jointly on projects with the Russian arms industry. The treaty allows arms companies to buy kit from Russia – and Russian diplomatic sources said they hope one day to see British soldiers carrying the Red Army’s famous Kalashnikov rifle as a result. The deal covers ‘unclassified’ technology, so it is unlikely to allow co-operation on advanced battlefield equipment such as missile systems.
Romanian Transport Ministry plans to ‘complete’ high speed railway project with Chinese partners this year
The Ministry of Transport and the Chinese partners could complete this year the project for the Romanian section of the high speed railway linking Vienna, Budapest, Bucharest and the Romanian seaside city Constanta, and start the actual construction, according to Romanian transport minister Ramona Manescu. “We are talking with Chinese partners about the Vienna-Budapest-Bucharest-Constanta high speed train. We can do the section from the border to Constanta without European funds. This year we hope to at least complete the project under which we could start the actual construction of the railway,”.
The first aircraft carrier built entirely by China is being constructed in the northeastern city of Dalian, a Communist Party official said Saturday, confirming for the first time that the Chinese are building the vessel from scratch. Wang Min, party secretary in Liaoning Province, made the disclosure during a meeting of the provincial people’s congress, according to the online edition of the Chinese-language Takungpao daily in Hong Kong. Wang told the delegates that the aircraft carrier is being built in a shipyard in Dalian and is expected to take six years to complete, Takungpao reported.
We begin to see a little more clearly what it means to be the revival of the Franco-German defense, announced by President Hollande during his press conference on January 14. German soldiers of the Franco-German Brigade (BFA) and should soon join Mali to serve in the EUTM-Mali , the EU mission training Malian army. Certainly the Germans involved since the launch of the mission , including the training of engineers and medical support. In addition, Germany provides air support for the UN force (Minusma) from Senegal.
As part of the government efforts in the fight against insurgency, the Nigerian Army has established a Special Operation Unit. The unit, known as the Nigerian Army Special Operation Command, was established with assistance of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM). The establishment of the new command was announced at a workshop on counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism in Abuja. The command was designed as a low level strategy to combat the threat of Boko Haram insurgency.
Concerned about the potential military consequences of a surge of high tech innovation in China and other nations, the Pentagon is creating a program to track and analyze emerging technology research and patents, military records and interviews show. China has long been considered a threat to U.S. manufacturing because of its low wages and huge population, but now the nation is seeing a boom in innovation as well. Patents for new technologies in China have taken off, and a graph showing the rise in new patents looks like a “hockey stick,” said Patrick Thomas, a principal and director of analytics for 1790 Analytics.
Djibouti was colonized by France which seized it from two tribes, the Affars and the Issas from the middle of the l9th century to l977 when it attained independence and joined the United Nations. Earlier on it was formed into a French protectorate named the French Territory of the Affar and Issas, which have been coexisting peacefully under the French umbrella that has made it into a strong naval base to protect its interests in the Red Sea region. It is a small piece of land facing the erstwhile British colony of Aden with about 800,000 people of African stock occupying 23,000 square kms of mainly desert land.
Somaliland, the self-declared sovereign state in the north of Somalia, is finalising a multi-million dollar deal to develop a port at Berbera, on the Gulf of Aden. “After six months of negotiations, an agreement has been put on the table, which is highly exciting, from one of the world’s best port operators,” says human rights lawyer Jason McCue, who is assembling investors for the $2.5bn logistics hub. “The moment is there for Somaliland.” McCue declined to comment on the exact size of the port investment, saying only that it would be “hundreds of millions” and the largest foreign direct investment in Somaliland’s 22 year history.
The idea of building private cities is a divisive one. Many of the country’s elite advanced the concept as something new to spur economic growth. The cities would facilitate foreign investment and development, which would reduce the influence of criminal networks. Those opposing the concept, however, variously rejected the proposition as a neoliberal gift to the rich, a continuation of oligarchic rule and a threat to democratic governance. These objections came in the context of economic policies that have exacerbated inequality, poverty and unemployment.
Egypt has invited 14 consortia to bid for a chance to say how they would develop the Suez Canal area, officials said, aiming to attract more ships and revenue to shore up the country’s finances. The Suez Canal is the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia and brings in around $5 billion a year, a source of hard currency whose importance has risen since a popular uprising in 2011 scared off tourists and foreign investors. “We must move dynamically … Investors must find service here at an international level because if they do not find it here they will go some place else,”.
While the eurozone crisis in 2013 lingered in most countries, Germany seemed to be doing better than ever. It had low unemployment, high productivity and exports so strong that the European Commission asked it to do more to help ailing periphery countries in the single currency bloc. With Germany having to pay the lion’s share of any EU bailout, the German taxpayer stood and will continue to stay at the forefront of all policy decisions on the euro.The EU commission watered down a proposal to cap CO2 emissions and delayed its implementation until 2021 after Germany’s environment minister, with auto lobbyists snapping at his heels, said Nein.
The US Department of Defense has released its ‘roadmap’ for bringing new and ever-more-subjectively-terrifying robots to the battlefield. The document projects wide improvements to drones of all kinds, with the principal aim to increase their range and affordability. Looking further ahead, the document also references ‘nano’-style drones, very small (insect-sized) devices designed for land and air that could be in use as soon as 2018 (though more likely around 2035 for the smallest classes of drones), as well as “robotic wingmen” which could provide unmanned help to ground-based infantry.
Wang Jing, the Chinese billionaire behind the plan to build a waterway across Nicaragua to rival the Panama Canal, is on an international infrastructure binge.
While Ukraine digs itself deeper into political crisis, Beijing Interoceanic Canal Investment Management (BICIM) has been quietly getting on with business. The Wang-controlled BICIM has agreed to invest US$10 billion in the construction of a port and economic zone in Sevastopol, Ukraine’s second largest port. The Sevastopol deep water port will improve China’s shipping access to Europe, cutting thousands of kilometres off the Asia- Europe journey.
Russia intends to revive a rail-based strategic missile capability in response to U.S. plans to develop a conventional long-range strike capacity. “A Defense Ministry report has been submitted to the president and the order has been given to develop a preliminary design of a rail-mounted missile system,” Russian strategic rocket forces commander Gen. Sergei Karakayev was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying. Following an examination of U.S. plans to acquire a so-called “conventional prompt global strike” capability, Russian military officials determined there was a “need to reconsider the issue of a rail-mounted missile system, given its increased survivability and the extent of our railway network,”.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, which is being built upon the initiative of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia, is among the most important transportation projects in reviving the Silk Road on the Caspian Transit Corridor. The project would not only connect Azerbaijan and Turkey but also connect the Caucasus and Europe, Middle Asia and Europe and “at the end it could connect the East with Europe,” Osmanli said. Completion of the 826-kilometre railway is scheduled for 2014, and it will be able to transport 1 million passengers and 6.5 million tonnes of freight at the first stage.
The $580 million expansion now underway at the U.S. Navy base here, which will nearly double its size, is a clear signal of the Pentagon’s commitment to maintaining a strong presence in the Middle East. Naval Support Activity Bahrain, home to the U.S. 5th Fleet, has outgrown the capacity of the existing facilities and is expanding to an adjacent 77-acre piece of land along the waterfront. An important milestone in the expansion will be reached next month, when a 400-foot-long tied-arch suspension bridge is lifted into place to join the main base and the new base grounds.
A radar that is able to track targets at ranges of over 3,000 km has been activated within the Russian air defense system. The Kolkino radar station, using the first modernized 29B6 radar, is able to track aerial targets flying as far aways as Denmark. Earlier the radar had a research role only, and even if full operational capability is expected within 2 years, the new system is already keeping an eye on what flies west of the Russian border. Another 29B6 radar should be installed in the far eastern Russian territories, achieving operational status in 2018.
“The system presents distillations of the present situation, prospects, and strategies to address issues ranging from climate change to governance, science and technology, economics, ethics, education and other areas, with more than 10,000 pages of research, charts, and graphs available.” “This is a fabulous tool to clarify the complexity of the world; you don’t have to go all over the Internet to understand something; this gets it all together,” said Philippe Destatte, Director of The Destree Institute (Namur, Wallonia) and a sponsor of the Brussels launch of the Global Futures Intelligence System.
The latest top secret unmanned spy plane to be uncovered isn’t just a design idea, it’s already flying at the Air Force’s famed Area 51. Unlike the recently announced SR-72, the new RQ-180 from Northrop Grumman is believed to be currently in flight testing according to Aviation Week and Space Technology. The RQ-180 is a new design aimed at intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR, a.k.a. spying) and incorporates stealth technology, in addition to an efficient new design that’s tailored to flights over countries where the red carpet isn’t being rolled out for current U.S. spy drones.
The Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP) will have a huge impact on Europe if Turkmenistan and Iraq also become suppliers, energy expert and vice director of the Italian Institute for International Political Studies Paolo Magri told AA. When asked whether the recent deal between Iranians and the UN Security Council’s permanent members and Germany (P5+1 countries) will lead to Iran also becoming a TANAP supplier, Magri expressed it is too early to make assessments on the matter.“Iranian oil was extremely relevant to Europe. Sanctions are preventing us from importing. If Iran comes to back to the market, it will be a big support to these corridors,” he said.
Dubbed “Nightwatch” by the military (and unofficially called “the Doomsday Plane”), the E-4B fleet consists of four modified Boeing 747 aircraft which are designed to keep the U.S. president and Secretary of Defense safe, airborne, and in control of U.S. military forces in the event of a nuclear conflict. All four planes are shielded to be resistant to the radiation and thermal effects of atomic weapons, as well as having electronics hardened to survive electromagnetic pulses.
The proposed corridor will cover 1.65 million square kilometres, encompassing an estimated 440 million people in China’s Yunnan Province, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bihar in Northern India through the combination of road, rail, water and air linkages in the region. This interconnectedness would facilitate the cross-border flow of people and goods, minimise overland trade obstacles, ensure greater market access and increase multilateral trade. Leaders hope the economic corridor will bring back to the days of the ancient Silk Road and its south-western trade route.
Based on requirements weapon elements will have to be ready for laboratory test by October 2014, while they must reach readiness for test on a plane and in simulated operational environment by 2022. Three new laser devices are to be created: small power marking laser, that would act as a marker and as a blinding weapon against the optical sensors of the enemy planes; medium power laser that is to be used against air-2-air missiles; and a high power device to act as an offensive weapon. The weapon is to be operable up to 65,000 feet of altitude and within a speed envelope of Mach 0.6 – 2.5.
The PAK-DA doesn’t just fill in a technological gap in the current Russian aircraft inventory, but should have the capacity to return Russia — should Mr. Putin desire such — to the glory days of Soviet bomber power, pushing a dynamic long-range bomber into the air that could be the worst of threats to enemies the world over. It was that threat — the threat of rapid deployment and possibilities for diverse missions—that was as powerful a psychological weapon against the Americans in the Cold War as the core aspect of nuclear weapons to be placed aboard these bombers.
The Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE) may price its crude oil futures contract in yuan and use medium sour crude as its benchmark, its chairman said on Thursday, adding that the bourse is speeding up preparatory work to secure regulatory approvals. China, which overtook the United States as the world’s top oil importer in September, hopes the contract will become a benchmark in Asia and has said it would allow foreign investors to trade in the contract without setting up a local subsidiary. “China is the only country in the world that is a major crude producer, consumer and a big importer.
Miniature drones are moving closer to becoming full-time military weapons with Northrop Grumman’s successful tactical drone electronic weapons test.After proving its mettle in reconnaissance roles, Northrup Grumman engineers reconfigured the drone to carry an electronic attack payload. With this package the Bat can jam enemy radar and confuse surface-to air missiles trying to seek and destroy friendly UAV’s or aircraft in a warzone. Catapulted from a hydraulic rail launcher and caught by a portable net system the Bat is completely runway independent.
It was 1993, and Shahid Javed Burki, then director of the World Bank’s China operations and later Pakistan’s caretaker finance minister, was calling on the then vice-premier in Beijing. China’s “all-weather friend” is an integral part of its “look west” policy to find economic sustenance for landlocked western provinces. This is why China in 1986 started working on a 600-kilometre highway across the Karakoram mountain range connecting Kashgar in Xinjiang province with Pakistan’s northeast.
Satellite imagery has revealed two unusually large artillery pieces, measuring about 80 ft and 110 ft respectively, at a test centre for armour and artillery northwest of Baotou in China. China has historically shown interest in large calibre, long-range artillery. It experimented with the Xianfeng ‘supergun’ in the 1970s as part of Project 640 anti-ballistic missile programme. Approximately 85 ft long, Xianfeng may be the smaller of the two objects retained for experimental use after its cancellation in 1980.
The operating area for NATO’s counter-terrorism task group, Standing NATO Maritime Group TWO (SNMG2), covers 2.5 million square kilometers of vast open space from Gibraltar to the Suez Canal, from the shores of Tripoli to the Turkish beaches. A NATO maritime force tasked with covering so much water relies on logistics support from multiple nations, ashore and afloat, to stay engaged in the vital counter-terrorism Operation Active Endeavor (OAE). Outstanding logistics support from all NATO countries is vital to ensuring the counter-terrorism task group remains at sea for greater periods of time.
The 50-member committee tasked with amending the suspended 2012 constitution has begun to discuss the charter’s “system of governance” chapter, which will decide Egypt’s new political system. On Monday, committee spokesperson Mohamed Salmawy told parliamentary correspondents that the committee had voted on 16 articles concerning system of governance, including article 121 which “builds the new shape of Egypt’s political system.” According to Salmawy, the article adopts a French-style political system in which the president and prime minister share powers.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said on Saturday that the port city of Aqaba is Jordan’s sole sea gateway that had been an economic and naval “beacon” connecting the Levant and the Arab Maghreb. In remarks at the opening of a meeting of the 47th session of the Arab Sea Ports Federation board in Aqaba, Ensour said: “We meet in the city of Aqaba, which is evolving in different economic, tourism, service and investment fields and sectors.”