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.”
Despite growing ties between Taiwan and China, Beijing has never abandoned the option of using force to bring about ‘reunification’ and continues to regard the island as a core strategic interest. The balance of military power in the Taiwan Strait has shifted decisively to China’s advantage and will continue to do so over the next decade, making armed intervention by Beijing theoretically practicable. Nevertheless, strategic developments will weigh on Beijing, including the extent of the US’s rebalancing of policy towards Asia, the outcome of Taiwan’s 2016 elections, social order on the island, and the situation in Hong Kong.
The MOU ultimately aims at securing an Eurasian railway logistics system by connecting Moscow, Bladivostok, Rajin, and Busan. According to the MOU, Busan port will be connected to Rajin via sea route and then connected to Moscow in railway. However, Seoul and Moscow agreed to start the Rajin-Khasan railway project at first, considering the variable of North Korea. Because of the “5-24 Measures,” which prohibit direct investments in the North, Seoul is seeking a way of indirect investment by driving South Korean private sector acquisition of the stakes.
Russia is launching the construction of new-generation nuclear-powered icebreakers. The icebreaker of the LK-60Ya model, named Arktika as a tribute to the prominent Soviet nuclear-powered icebreaker of the same name, is due to begin sea trials in 2017. The ship will prove effective for the deep-water areas of the Northern Sea Route and the shallow waters of Russia’s Arctic shelf. Russia is due to build three such icebreakers in the next decade. Russia has been actively using the Northern Sea Route for almost 80 years now, with ice-breakers ensuring naval and civilian ship traffic across thick ice along the route.
The U.S. handed out two contracts Monday to Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin to develop laser pods that can be mounted on aircraft and shoot down missiles. Under Project Endurance, Northrop Grumman received a $14.6 million contract and Lockheed Martin received $11.4 million to develop laser weapons to protect manned and unmanned aircraft. Project Endurance was included in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) fiscal year 2014 budget.
The test is a critical part of a national effort to establish a conventional prompt strike capability. This capability will contribute to the country’s effort to defend its interests with precision weapons at hypersonic speeds. “The successful execution of this high-speed sled test of a kinetic energy projectile warhead was a necessary step in the progression to a conventional prompt strike capability,” she said. “Now that we’ve demonstrated that the warhead functions in a flight representative environment, we’re one important step closer to that goal.
French nuclear energy giant Areva signed a deal with Mongolia’s state-owned Mon-Atom on Saturday to develop two uranium mines in the Gobi desert, officials said. Areva said in a statement that the agreement would create a company that would be 66 percent owned by Areva and 34 owned by Mon-Atom, and that Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation would take an equity interest. Further details of the deal, which was signed during a visit to Mongolia by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, were not immediately announced.
What do a kamikaze drone, a “field and forget” surveillance system and an Israeli robot have in common? Buzz at the annual AUSA Army meeting in Washington, D.C. A new “kamikaze” drone that blows itself up — and takes its target with it — was revealed at AUSA. Lockheed Martin chose AUSA to reveal more information on the company’s field-and-forget surveillance system called Self-Powered Ad-hoc Network or SPAN.
So what is SPAN? Basically it looks like rocks, but acts like smart sentries. SPAN is an integrated sensor system that functions as a self-forming mesh to provide covert surveillance for protecting bases, borders and more.
ABDUL MEJID I, the Ottoman’s 31st sultan, had a dream. the determinedly Western-leaning sultan envisaged the construction of a submerged tunnel under the Bosphorus Straits connecting Asia to Europe. A French architect duly came up with a blueprint. But a dearth of technology and cash stood in the way. The sultan’s dream is now coming true, 150 years later. The world’s first sea tunnel linking two continents will be inaugurated on October 29th. Stretching over 76km (47 miles), and with 1.4km of it laid at the bottom of the sea, the $3 billion “Marmaray” rail system will “eventually link London to Beijing, creating unimagined global connections” .
This year’s defence white paper reflects a definite maturing in the evolution of maritime strategic thinking in our defence policy. The term ‘maritime strategy’ is used ten times. The first use is in the contents, alluding to the fact that a whole section is devoted to maritime strategy. And while the use of air forces in a maritime strategy might seem axiomatic, the 2009 paper also highlighted the need for land forces in maritime strategy, and the 2013 paper elaborated on that need.
Nato will have to focus more on issues in the Arabian Gulf to ensure its stability, security experts say. Counter-terrorism, cyber defence, energy security and weapons of mass destruction are among crucial areas the alliance will have to tackle to improve its relationship with GCC states, the audience at the Nato ICI 2013 conference heard yesterday. “What’s going on in Iraq and Syria poses serious security threats to the Middle East and the region,” Vural Altay, Turkey’s ambassador to the UAE, said at the meeting, which presented Nato’s approach to the Gulf.
The Chinese currency may have just moved a step further in that direction with the October 10 signature between the European Central Bank and the People’s Bank of China (the country’s central bank) for the establishment of a “currency swap” mechanism. The terms of the deal are a bit technical but the goal is simple: facilitating commercial exchanges between the Eurozone and China by giving European banks access to 350 billion yuan (42.4 bllion euros) or “RMD” and giving Chinese banks access to 45 billion euros.
The U.S. Special Operations Command is awarding a contract to GeoEye Analytics for a special Human Geography Information System that uses a unique satellite constellation for collecting data in areas not commercially available. A human geography information system uses satellite imagery as the baseline and overlays the satellite maps with datasets and other detailed information covering history, culture, education, economy, religion, weather and political landscapes,. In addition, a good human geography system can map and even predict stresses that may change the dynamics of a target area as it relates to regional security.
Chinese military strategists have for millenniums been fascinated by asymmetric methods of warfare. China has no illusions about its military inferiority vis-à-vis the United States and knows that the status is likely to endure for at least two decades. As such the PLA has been developing a full range of asymmetric strategies to deter the US until its military reaches maturity. Aware of the US dependence on space and satellite communications to conduct even the most basic military operations, the PLA has for the past decade invested significant amounts to develop anti-satellite weapons.
Vladimir Putin is inching closer to his goal of turning Russia into a major transit route for trade between eastern Asia and Europe by prying open North Korea, a nuclear-capable dictatorship isolated for half a century. Russia last month completed the first land link that North Korea’s Stalinist regime has allowed to the outside world since 2003. Running between Khasan in Russia’s southeastern corner and North Korea’s rebuilt port of Rajin, the 54-kilometer rail link is part of a project President Putin is pushing that would reunite the railway systems of the two Koreas and tie them to the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Iran is looking to join the Brics nations in order to subvert US-imposed sanctions which have been crippling the country’s oil-based economy.
Iran, which continues to enjoy a relatively cosy relationship with the Brics countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – despite a severe economic clampdown, has been scouting for opportunities across the world in order to boost its oil resources, the nerve-centre of the country’s economy. “Iran supports the Brics group and is prepared for membership and presence in Brics’s fund,”
After finding favour with energy resource-rich countries such as Nepal and Bhutan, India’s proposal for a common power market in South Asia is now gaining traction with power-deficit countries of the region like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. While Indian power companies have a strong footprint in the hydropower sectors of Bhutan and Nepal, estimated to have generation potential of 30,000 mw 40,000 mw respectively, they have now found toeholds in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Pakistan, too, has solicited Indian investment in its power sector.
Middle East oil and gas production growth prospects have been dimmed by a slump in exploration license awards, drilling activity and average reserves found per well over the last few years, according to analysts Wood Mackenzie.
There was a sharp rise in licensing for international oil companies in the Middle East in the last decade – ranging from Iraq oil exploration to Qatari LNG projects – with drilling activity and the reserves found per well surging in the years that followed as a result.
Kenya has moved a step closer to becoming an oil exporter after a new discovery in the north of the country. British company Tullow Oil announced in late September that drilling work had revealed the presence of oil in the Auwerwer and Upper Lokone sandstone reservoirs. The company will now carry out further tests. For the company, which began drilling in Kenya last year, this is the fourth consecutive discovery of oil there. Earlier this year, the firm decided there was enough oil for commercial exploitation of reserves in the country’s Turkana area.
The SCO summit in Bishkek clearly affirmed China’s ambitious intentions and strategy for the SCO. As policy, China appears to be using multilateralism as a tool and a tactic, and not as an intergovernmental mechanism or institutional arrangement. According to Professor Song Xinning of Renmin University, “Since the 1990s, China has used multilateralism to solve bilateral issues — to this end, multilateral meetings are a useful platform to negotiate bilaterally. But we are still uncomfortable with multilateralism, and prefer bilateralism and multi-polarity.”
The Chinese presence in the Tanzanian economy is growing rapidly as the eastern giant intensifies its quest for natural resources and a gateway to other African states. But many Tanzanians are concerned that their country will not be the main beneficiary of the big government-to-government deals and worry about the secrecy surrounding them. Details are hard to uncover as the infrastructure contracts are not awarded by competitive tender and government ministries are extremely reluctant to provide information. Tanzanian MP John Mnyika complained that not even Parliament is informed.
Israel, alarmed at the prospect of a U.S.-Iranian rapprochement, is reported to be discussing the possibility of an anti-Iran alliance with longtime Arab adversaries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a project that could have immense ramifications in the Middle East.
If talks are under way, they’re in large part the result of many secret meetings between Israeli and Arab intelligence chiefs and other senior officials that have been held over several years, often in the Jordanian capital Amman.
Israel is being advised to take legal, and possibly even military action in response to Lebanon’s issuing of an offshore energy exploration license that encroaches on Israel’s territorial waters. Early last month, Lebanon issued licenses in five blocks of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). One of those licenses expanded the territory into Israel’s EEZ, with Lebanon announcing that the area had a high potential for natural gas discovery.
Globes reports that international law experts are telling Israel that it must respond – either in court or through military force – or risk losing some of its maritime territory.
With the U.S. economy lagging, however, and as the American government continues to pile up debt, many parties are looking for alternatives to the dollar. OPEC, for example, plans to begin pricing oil using a basket of currencies and may start doing so as soon as 2018. Such moves suggest that the dollar may slowly be losing its position as the premier global reserve currency. China has been working diligently to position the renminbi as a global alternative to the dollar. Already, China has set up direct currency swapping agreements with several countries, including Brazil, the US, and Japan.
“The free-trade zone [will] play an important role in China’s next round of reforms and opening up, the success of which will be crucial to invigorating the economy and unleashing its growth potential,” said Jian Chang, China economist at Barclays. Major financial reforms are also expected to be carried out, including easing capital controls for firms in the zone by allowing full yuan convertibility and removing restrictions on bank interest rates.
The U.S. is refocusing its attention on the Pacific at a time when its NATO partners may need to depend more heavily on American maritime power, an American Enterprise Institute report says. “The US must recognize that even with its navy declining in size, over time, it will comprise an increasing percentage of alliance striking power,” says the report, “NATO at Sea, Trends in Allied Naval Power,” released this week. Despite NATO taking its name from the ocean that ties Canada and the U.S. to their European allies, for most of NATO’s history the alliance focused primarily on land power, the report notes.
Bad times are coming for India, says Jim Rogers. So where does the high-profile investor suggest for the next emerging-markets gold rush? “You should get on the next plane you can and head to Myanmar or North Korea — maybe Angola,” Rogers told BBC Radio 4 reporter Simon Jacks. In those Asian countries in particular, “there are extraordinary things happening — positive things happening,” he says. All those countries could do with a boost. Myanmar — the former Burma — is ranked among the 10 worst economies in the world (Angola’s on that list too), while North Korea’s unstable currency is only one of the factors making it tricky to invest in the “Hermit Kingdom”.
Navy and Air Force personnel with the AirSea Battle office are in the early phases of putting some substance to the concept the two services have trotted out before Congress since the announcement of the Pacific Pivot two years ago.“We’re looking out ahead about how we can take some of these concepts in AirSea Battle and put them through force development activities, exercises, wargames and experimentation,” Col. Jordan Thomas, Air Force lead in the Pentagon’s AirSea Battle office, told Military.com.
China has inked a deal to farm three million hectares (about 11, 583 square miles) of Ukrainian land over the span of half a century—which means the eastern European country will give up about 5% of its total land, or 9% of its arable farmland to feed China’s burgeoning population. Under the deal between China’s Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, or XPCC, and KSG Agro, an Ukrainian agricultural company, crops and pigs raised in the eastern region of Dnipropetrovsk will be sold at preferential rates to two Chinese state-owned grain firms.
We all know that, since the end of the Cold War, the US military has vastly expanded its ability to precisely strike targets on the land. The dirty secret is that we’ve unilaterally disarmed our capability to strike ships at sea.
The military calls this a “capability gap,” but it’s more like a gaping hole. Specifically, it’s a hole in the long-range arsenal required to wage a future “Air-Sea Battle” against an “anti-access/area denial” (A2/AD) defense-in-depth backed by a capable naval force like China’s.
From DARPA: “The objective of the XS-1 program is to design, build, and demonstrate a reusable Mach 10 aircraft capable of carrying and deploying an upper stage that inserts 3,000- 5,000 lb. payloads into low earth orbit (LEO) at a target cost of less than $5M per launch. The XS-1 program envisions that a reusable first stage would fly to hypersonic speeds at a suborbital altitude. At that point, one or more expendable upper stages would separate and deploy a satellite into Low Earth Orbit.
Formally, the mission of the Japan’s Navy remains protection of sea lines of communication and defense of the homeland in the event of direct invasion. But the current mid-term defense plan and the creation of a more “dynamic defense” strategy to counter China has seen the focus shift from the north-western Pacific to supporting US Navy carrier strike groups in the seas surrounding Japan. Invasion forces at sea are now presumed to come from China, not Russia.
The largest developing nations for the first time have the worst market opportunities as optimism for stronger growth shifts to the U.S. and Europe, according to a Bloomberg Global Poll. India fared the poorest, followed by Brazil, Russia and China, a worldwide poll of investors, analysts and traders who are Bloomberg subscribers showed this week. The number of respondents who see the European Union as one of the two best opportunities rose to 34 percent, its best showing in the poll dating to 2009, with the U.S. at 51 percent.
U.S. military researchers are asking industry for ideas on a futuristic uniform for Special Operations warfighters that involves agile air-conditioned armor with embedded computers, sensors, communications radios and antennas, signal processors, wearable displays, and health-monitoring systems.The goal is to integrate technologies from research projects focused on far-ridgeline capabilities into a battle suit to protect future Special Operations warfighters.
“Warplanes and military transporters” have reportedly been moved to Britain’s Akrotiri airbase in Cyprus in the latest sign of the allied forces’ preparations for a military strike on Syria amid bellicose rhetoric against the Syrian government. Two commercial pilots who regularly fly from Larnaca, Cyprus, claim to have spotted C-130 transport planes from their own aircraft and small formations of possibly European fighter jets from their radar screens, according to the Guardian.Akrotiri airbase is less than 100 miles from Syria, making it a likely hub for a bombing campaign. Residents near the airfield confirmed to the Guardian that “activity there has been much higher than normal over the past 48 hours.”
The BRICS member-countries have come close to establishing a reserve bank which will operate as a stabilization fund, Chinese Finance Minister Chen Zhu Guangyao said. Should such a fund be set up, it will prove helpful in restricting the dollar’s influence on the developing countries’ economies, experts say. Brazil came up with the initiative to set up a reserve bank in 2012. A relevant agreement was signed in March this year. The joint fund of the BRICS member-states is meant for offering support to the countries united in the BRICS Group in case their economic indices start to deteriorate.
To strengthen protection of Japan’s outlying islands, the Defense Ministry will set up a preparatory force next fiscal year that will eventually become a Japanese version of the U.S. Marines, sources said. The new force will be tasked with making amphibious assaults to take back Japanese islands that have been invaded by foreign militaries. Japan’s amphibious force will likely be an expansion of the Western Army’s Infantry Regiment, which has been the core unit in charge of defending outlying islands and has conducted joint training drills with the U.S. Marines for that purpose.
“We’re developing fully adaptive and autonomous capabilities that aren’t currently available in jammers,” said research engineer Stan Sutphin. “We believe a cognitive electronic warfare approach, based on machine-learning algorithms and sophisticated hardware, will result in threat-response systems that offer significantly higher levels of electronic attack and electronic protection capabilities, and will provide enhanced security for U.S. combat aircraft.” As the engagement progresses, the next-generation system is designed to adapt. It will assess how effective its jamming is against the threat and quickly modify its approach if necessary.
The military’s advanced research group recently put out a call, or Request For information, on how it could develop systems that go beyond machine learning, Bayesian techniques, and graphical technology to solve “extraordinarily difficult recognition problems in real-time.” What DARPA is interested in is looking at mimicking a portion of the brain known as the neocortex which is utilized in higher brain functions such as sensory perception, motor commands, spatial reasoning, conscious thought and language. Specfically, DARPA said it is looking for information that provides new concepts and technologies for developing what it calls a “Cortical Processor” based on Hierarchical Temporal Memory.
No. President Enrique Peña Nieto is proposing constitutional changes that would open the door for private companies, including international oil majors, to explore for and produce petroleum in partnership with the government and its oil company, Petróleos Mexicanos. The company, known as Pemex, has had a monopoly on production for 75 years, and will remain state-owned. Mexico will keep ownership of the reserves and will share profits with oil companies that find and produce the oil. That is a big change from the past, where Pemex only paid companies a fee for contract work, but it falls short of sharing the oil itself, which many oil companies wanted.
Iraq’s Kurdistan region has started to export crude oil by truck to an Iranian port for shipping to Asia, industry sources say, using a trade route that is likely to anger both Baghdad and Washington The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has reportedly approved a second route for crude through Iran after Turkey, although a KRG official denies any crude was going through Iran yet. Iraq’s Kurdistan region is exporting crude oil by truck to an Iranian port for shipping to Asia, industry sources say, using a trade route that is likely to anger both Baghdad and Washington.
An airborne ground surveillance radar developed by Cassidian was recently demonstrated in flight testing. The new AESA-based radar is designed to detect targets over land and sea, with maximum resolution. Cassidian defines the new system as a ‘SMART radar’, for ‘Scalable Modular Aerospace Radar Technology’, featuring software-defined sensor architecture and flexible adaptation to various manned and unmanned platforms. As part of the flight test campaign carried out from the German air base in Hohn, ‘SmartRadar’ demonstrated airborne ground surveillance capabilities achieving record detection performance.
A group of energy companies that discovered large amounts of natural gas off Israel’s Mediterranean coast said they were in talks to export the gas to Europe via a pipeline to Turkey. They are also studying options to export gas to Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, Avner Oil & Gas said on Tuesday. “The partners are negotiating with various officials,” Avner, one of the partners in the project, said. Recoverable gas in the Levant Basin, which lies largely in Israeli and Cypriot waters in the eastern Mediterranean, hold some 3.5 trillion cubic metres of gas, the U.S. Geological Survey has estimated.
Giant submarines filled with small underwater drones to protect the seas. The concept sounds like something out of a science fiction movie or a particularly trippy Sealab 2021 episode, but the U.S. military thinks it is very doable–and that it could help augment American sea power. This week, DARPA announced their new Project Hydra, an early-stage effort to fight the “rising number of ungoverned states, piracy, and proliferation of sophisticated defenses“ through autonomous underwater vehicles. Hydra itself would center around a submarine that discreetly injects unmanned aerial and underwater vehicles into warzones.
On paper, Japan is a pacifist nation. It ranks 6th on the Global Peace Index, a list tabulated by peace activists at Vision of Humanity. Japan’s constitution makes illegal a traditional standing army. But a recently published defense white paper shows the extent to which the country has one of the most well-equipped “invisible” armies in the world. Japan’s armed forces are euphemistically dubbed the “Self Defense Force” (SDF) — officially it’s an extension of the police. But with the world’s 6th best-equipped troops and a nearly $60 billion defense budget last year, the SDF is not composed of your average beat cops.
A $US500 million Chinese-built port opens this week in Sri Lanka, giving Beijing a vital foothold on the world’s busiest international shipping lane as it seeks to secure maritime supply routes. The massive terminal in Colombo is located mid-way on the lucrative east-west sea route and has facilities on a par with Singapore and Dubai. The Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT), which is 85 per cent owned by the state-run China Merchant Holdings International, is designed to handle mega ships – a first for Sri Lanka which is aiming to become the region’s shipping hub.
Russia has started to create a single defense center commanding all military and emergency operations, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday. “We’ve started to create such a Center. We have already defined its principal shapes and parameters,” Shoigu told a meeting held at Rzhevka firing range in the north-western Leningrad region. According to the minister, the National State Defense Center will supervise strategic nuclear forces, military administration issues and everyday life of the Armed Forces. It will also gather and analyze information about combat training, emergency situations in the armed forces as well as non- military-related emergencies.
The Hydra program will develop and demonstrate an unmanned undersea system with a new kine of unmanned-vehicle delivery system that inserts UAVs and UUVs. stealthily into operational environments to respond quickly to situations around the world without putting U.S. military personnel at risk. The Hydra large UUV is to use modular payloads inside a standardized enclosure to deploy a mix of UAVs and UUVs, depending on the military situation.
With “initial operational capability” reached last July 1, the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) in NATO, located at the base of Madrid and led by a Spanish General, Ruben Garcia Servet. This general in the Air Force will have 185 soldiers under his command, of which 44 Spanish, and civilians, but for now the CAOC template has 95 personnel, who will deal with the air defense of an area that stretches from the Canary Islands to Turkey, and also in this country including Spain , Portugal , Italy , Greece, Slovenia , Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania , Hungary and Albania.
A potential nucleus for a Japanese marine force exists in the form of the Ground Self-Defense Force Western Army Infantry Regiment, which was founded in 2002 with 660 troops to deal with emergencies on the islets that dot the ocean between Japan’s main islands and Taiwan and are claimed by rival parties, according to that year’s defense white paper. China has raised its amphibious capabilities, a report by the U.S. Defense Department said in May, with three brigades and two divisions deployed near the Taiwan Strait, while the Chinese navy has 55 large and medium-size amphibious transport and landing ships.
The Defense Ministry will explain its plans to boost the amphibious and pre-emptive strike capabilities of the Self-Defense Forces. The move underscores the focus the ministry is putting on defending the nation’s outlying islands as tensions with China continue to simmer over the Senkaku Islands dispute. The SDF currently does not have a military branch equivalent to the U.S. Marine Corps. SDF personnel are mainly tasked with landing on enemy-controlled terrain by air or sea ahead of other forces
The much-publicised agreement to speed work on developing a 2,000-km trade corridor linking Gwadar Port on Pakistan’s Makran Coast to Kashgar in China’s Xingjian province has been called a “game changer” by Sharif. While credit must be given to the Pakistan premier for his plans to speed up this ambitious project — perceived as pivotal to the country’s economic prosperity — there are several underlying factors, especially security and political differences within Balochistan, that will have to be incorporated in policy formulation for the corridor’s implementation.
Oil-rich Nigeria has an estimated 37.3 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves as of 2011, according to the “Oil & Gas Journal,” something that makes it appealing to China. “It’s a long-standing policy of China to try to gain access to both energy and other natural resources around the world, but heavily in Africa,” Charles Ebinger, director of the Energy Security Initiative at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., said. China gave Nigeria a $1.1 billion low-interest loan, it was announced this week, and in return China can expect more Nigerian oil, going up from 20,000 barrels per day to 200,000 by 2015.