Tag: China

Stratcom Commander Describes Challenges of 21st-Century Deterrence

Strategic deterrence starts with nuclear capabilities because nuclear war always has been an existential threat to the nation, but deterrence in the 21st century presents new challenges and requires the integration of all capabilities, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command said during a recent interview with DoD News at his command’s Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, headquarters.  

Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten said his three priorities for Stratcom are simple: one, above all else provide a strategic deterrent; two, if deterrence fails provide a decisive response; and three, respond with a combat-ready force.

But unlike in past decades, the 21st century presents more than one adversary and more than one domain, he said.

“It’s now a multipolar problem with many nations that have nuclear weapons, … and it’s also multidomain. … We have adversaries that are looking at integrating nuclear, conventional, space and cyber, all as part of a strategic deterrent. We have to think about strategic deterrence in the same way,” Hyten said.

The vision for Stratcom, he added, is to integrate all capabilities — nuclear, space, cyberspace, missile defense, global strike, electronic warfare, intelligence, targeting, analysis — so they can be brought to bear in a single decisive response if the nation is threatened.

“We can’t [assume] that having 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons under the New START Treaty somehow deters all our adversaries. It doesn’t,” the general said. “We have to think about all the domains, all the adversaries, all the capabilities, and focus our attention across the board on all of those.”

Modernization

Modernization is critical to the future of the U.S. deterrent capability, Hyten said, because all elements of the nuclear triad — bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear submarines — will reach a point within about 15 years at which they’re no longer viable.

“They are viable today. They are safe, secure, reliable, ready, [and] they can do all the missions they need to do today,” he said. “But in the not-too-distant future, that won’t be the case. Sadly, we’ve delayed the modernization of those programs really too long. And now if you lay all the modernization programs out on a single table and you look at when they all deliver, they all deliver just in time.”

The next intercontinental ballistic missile delivers just in time to replace the Minuteman, and the Columbia nuclear submarine delivers just in time to replace the Ohio-class sub, he added.

“Any one-year delay in Columbia means the future Stratcom commander is going to be down one submarine. And any future delay in the ICBM means we’re going to be down a certain number of ICBMs,” Hyten said.

It’s the same with the nation’s B-52 and B-2 bombers, the general said. The B-52 is an old but amazing weapon delivery platform that will have no penetration capability because of evolving penetration profiles. The B-2 is aging out and must be replaced by the B-21. The B-21 will come along just in time to provide the bomber capabilities the nation needs, he added.

“I don’t want a future Stratcom commander to ever face a day where we don’t have a safe, secure, ready and reliable nuclear deterrent,” he said. “It has to be there.”

Extended Deterrence

Extended deterrence is another critical job for Stratcom, Hyten said, noting that assurance is one of the most important things the command does for U.S. allies.

“When you look at our allies like the Republic of Korea or Japan, we have capabilities here that provide an extended deterrent for those two allies and a number of other allies around the world,” he said. “It’s important that the United States always assure them that we will be there with the capabilities that we have if they’re ever attacked with nuclear capabilities. That’s what extended deterrence means.”

Assurance can come through demonstrations, partnerships and exercises, he noted.

“There is a challenge right now with North Korea, and it’s very important for the Republic of Korea and for Japan to know that we will be there. And we will be,” he said.

The Pentagon considers North Korean mobile ballistic missiles a top threat

Stratcom’s Strength

Stratcom’s strength lies with the 184,000 people who show up and do Stratcom business every day, Hyten said.

“The best part of being a commander is actually seeing the young men and women who do this mission every day,” the general said. “The soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines sign up to do some of the most difficult jobs that our country has, and man, they do it, they love it and they’re good at it.”

Hyten said he can’t emphasize the importance of Stratcom’s people enough. “Sometimes it brings tears to your eyes when you see the quality of the people who come, who raise their hand and want to come and serve our country,” he added.

The general said he loves the fact that Stratcom’s people raise their hands and swear an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution, an ideal written down on a piece of paper more than 200 years ago. That ideal still is what drives men and women of the nation to want to serve, he added.

“The people of this command take that very seriously,” Hyten said, “and they are just remarkable in what they do.”

 

Assad invites friendly nations to rebuild Syria

America used to be the nation to re-build a country after a war. Now Syria invites ‘friendly’ nations to re-build its towns, cities and infrastructure, with Russia and Iran poised to be the countries to invest in the reconstruction programme – with the United States nowhere to be seen.

In a sign of President Assad’s growing confidence that he has snatched back control of Syria, the first international trade fair in five years opens today in the capital, Damascus.

There has been little to draw visitors to the huge purpose-built fairground on the airport highway since the civil war broke out in 2011. The strategic road, running southeast of the city, has often been the focus of fierce battles, with the rebels coming close to capturing the airport itself in 2012.

More recently Israeli airstrikes have hit targets close to it, while last month it was struck by a double car bombing. Dignitaries from 42 “friendly countries” will arrive today, however, to pitch for investment and reconstruction contracts worth billions.

For the first time since the fair began in 1954, foreign companies will be allowed to sell the products they are exhibiting, bypassing Syria’s strict import rules.

Last week Imad Khamis, Syria’s prime minister, signalled that priority would be given to “friendly and brotherly countries that stood by Syria in its war against terrorism”.

Iran and Russia, Assad’s two staunchest allies, are already cashing in on their policies in Syria. This year Russia has won a series of oil and construction contracts in the war-ravaged country, while a free trade agreement signed last November opens the way for Syria to export its agricultural products.

Iran, which is hosting a photo exhibition at the fair documenting the years of warm relations between Tehran and Damascus, has also swelled its economic interests there. It has been granted a licence to operate a mobile phone network, as well as pumping credit into the country to keep its economy afloat.

Iranian individuals and companies have been buying huge tracts of land as well as businesses and residential properties across regime-held areas of the country.

Other countries have quietly continued their relations with Assad and are now winning contracts to help to rebuild the country. In 2014 India secured a $1 billion contract to rebuild and re-equip Syrian hospitals, while this year the regime discussed investment deals in the energy, pharmaceutical, telecommunications and construction sectors with China.

Japan suspended its grants to the country in 2011, but resumed them in 2013 with aid projects focusing on rebuilding infrastructure. Belarus, a country with close ties to Russia, is in talks to set up a carmaking factory inside Syria.

A number of European Union member states are also still trading with Syria, despite the bloc’s condemnation of Assad’s violent crackdown and sanctions on various regime figures.

The Czech Republic has maintained diplomatic relations with Damascus and has proposed a number of reconstruction projects.

Cyprus, which has historically hosted a high number of Syrian migrant workers, also maintains a warm relationship with Assad’s government although trade between the two has been halted.

 

Guam, Japan prepare for possible North Korea missile launch

SANTA RITA, Guam. An aerial view of U.S. Naval Base Guam. Naval Base Guam supports the U.S. Pacific Fleet. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Hagatña, Guam (CNN) North Korean military figures are putting the final touches on a plan to fire four missiles into the waters around the US-territory of Guam, to be presented to leader Kim Jong Un within days.

In a statement last week, Gen. Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army, said the plan to fire “four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic rockets … to signal a crucial warning to the US” would be ready by “mid-August.”

Recent days have seen a significant escalation of tensions in the region as preparations are put in place for a possible launch in Guam, Japan and South Korea.

A notice put out by Guam’s Joint Information Center Saturday warned residents how to prepare “for an imminent missile threat.”

“Do not look at the flash or fireball — it can blind you,” the note said. “Lie flat on the ground and cover your head. If the explosion is some distance away, it could take 30 seconds or more for the blast wave to hit.”

Guam’s Homeland Security Adviser George Charfauros said Friday it would take 14 minutes for a missile fired from North Korea to reach Guam.

Japan missile defense deployed

On Saturday, some of Japan’s land-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile interceptors began arriving at Japanese Self Defense Forces (SDF) bases in three of the four prefectures any North Korean missiles would likely fly over en route to Guam.

Pyongyang identified three of those areas — Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi prefectures — in its statement last week.

A spokesman for SDF said the missiles were being deployed not to intercept missiles, but rather “just in case.” He did not elaborate.

Sim Tack, a senior analyst for private intelligence firm Stratfor, said the Japanese batteries are designed for protecting the area where they are deployed, “(they are) not meant to shoot missiles out of the sky as they pass over Japan at high altitude.”

“So unless those North Korean missiles were to fall short, the Patriots shouldn’t have a function to serve in this particular case,” he said.
Japanese Ballistic Missile Defense Scenario

The SDF spokesman said the country’s Aegis ballistic missile defense system was deployed in the waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, but would not give a specific location.

Aegis is able to track 100 missiles simultaneously and fire interceptors to take out an enemy’s ballistic projectiles.

In South Korea, where both the military and civilians are used to facing threats from North Korea, Defense Minister Song Young-moo warned the country’s armed forces “to maintain full readiness” to “immediately punish with powerful force” any action against the South.

“Recently, North Korea made its habitual absurd remarks that it will turn Seoul into a sea of fire and that it will strike near Guam,” Song said according to ministry official. “North Korea raising tension (on the Peninsula) is a serious challenge against the South Korean-US alliance and the international community.”

Meanwhile, US-South Korean joint military exercises are due to begin later this month. The annual exercises, called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, are expected to run from August 21 to 31.

Calls for calm

Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders have called for calm as both Pyongyang and Washington upped their saber-rattling rhetoric.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump doubled down on his statement that he would unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if Pyongyang continued its threats, saying in a tweet that “military solutions” were “locked and loaded” for use against North Korea.

According to a statement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Xi told Trump in a call between the two leaders Saturday all “relevant parties parties should exercise restraint and avoid words and actions that would escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel described escalation as “the wrong answer,” while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Trump’s statements were “very worrying.”

Last week, New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English criticized Trump’s “fire and fury” comments as “not helpful in an environment that’s very tense.”

French President Emmanuel Macron called for the international community to work with North Korea to “resume the path of dialogue without conditions,” following a call with Trump Saturday.

Washington has previously said it will consider talks with Pyongyang if it agrees to give up its nuclear weapons program, a pre-condition North Korean officials have described as a non-starter.

Guam waits for news

At a church in central Guam Sunday, parishioners sang “Lord, we pray for world peace” after discussing the potential North Korean threat.

“There’s a lot of disbelief going on, there’s a lot of anxiety,” Father Paul Gofigan told CNN after the mass.

Gofigan said there is not a lot of panic in Guam, and that people’s faith — the island has been overwhelmingly Catholic since the arrival of Spanish missionaries in the 17th century– has been on display in recent days.

“Faith is so deeply rooted into our culture,” he said.

The territory’s governor, Eddie Baza Calvo, said he spoke with Trump and the President’s chief of staff, John Kelly, on Saturday.

“Both assured me that the people of Guam are safe,” Calvo wrote on Facebook. “In the President’s words they are behind us ‘1,000 percent.’ As the head of the Government of Guam, I appreciate their reassurances that my family, my friends, everyone on this island, are all safe.”

As an unincorporated US territory, citizens of Guam cannot vote in general elections. The island is also home to a large US military presence, a fact that has led to tension with some local residents, particularly those of the indigenous Chamorro community.

“Nobody really deserves to be caught in the middle of these games,” said Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero, an activist who campaigns for a lowered military presence.

“You’re playing with people’s lives. We just want peace, we just want to continue to enjoy our lives here.”

 

Disagreements between Russia, US did not affect work on North Korea resolution – Nebenzya

Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya. Credit: Valeriy Sharifulin/TASS

THE UNITED NATIONS, August 6. /TASS/.

Russia and the United States are not hostages to bilateral relations experiencing the challenging period and can jointly work on matters of global importance like the resolution concerning North Korea, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya said at the UN Security Council session on Saturday.

“As I have already said, we are working together on resolution of issues important for the international community. This is one of them. We are not hostages to our relations when we need to jointly work on matters that are much more important than our bilateral relations,” the Russian diplomat said.

The UN Security Council’s 15 members, including Russia and China, unanimously backed fresh sanctions against North Korea over the country’s recent missile tests. Resolution 2371 bans North Korean exports of minerals and other raw materials and goods, including coal, iron, lead and seafood.

The resolution envisions restrictions against 13 individuals and companies linked to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

 

 

New British aircraft carriers unwelcome in South China Sea

Royal Navy photo of aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth at sea trials.

Responding to the possibility of new UK aircraft carriers operating in the South China Sea, China’s foreign ministry said the deployment would only “stir up trouble”.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang made these remarks after UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson hinted at the possibility of the Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth carriers being sent to the waters of the South China Sea.

“At present, countries in the region are working together to safeguard and promote regional peace, stability and prosperity, yet we see some countries outside the region who insist on stirring up trouble while the situation is trending towards calm in the South China Sea,” Kang said.

“Whoever they are, under whatever pretexts and whatever they say, their precedents of interfering in other regions on high-sounding reasons but only leaving behind chaos and humanitarian disaster warrant sharp alert of regional countries and people.”

During his visit to Australia on Thursday, Boris Johnson said the UK would not be prevented from sending its two aircraft carriers to the South China Sea where Beijing is in dispute with its neighbor countries over who has control over the strategically important waterway.

“One of the first things we will do with the two new colossal aircraft carriers that we have just built is send them on a freedom of navigation operation to this area,” Johnson said.

In addition to the foreign secretary’s announcement, UK defense minister Michael Fallon told Reuters he hopes the UK would be able to send a warship to the region next year adding that the country would not allow China to constrain its movement in the South China Sea.

China’s military growth moderate and matches its economic strength

Soldiers of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) get ready for the military parade to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the army at Zhurihe military training base in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China, July 30, 2017. China Daily via REUTERS.

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The history of the PLA demonstrates its increasing capacities and firm determination to safeguard China’s national security. What has contributed to China’s military development in the past 90 years? How should China respond to the Western-hyped “China threat” theory? Global Times reporter Liu Jianxi talked to two experts on the issue.

 

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Russia’s main Navy Day parade to be held in St. Petersburg

Pyotr Kovalev/TASS

ST. PETERSBURG, July 30. /TASS/. Events to mark the Russian Navy Day, traditionally celebrated on the last Sunday of July, will be held all over the country with the main parade scheduled to take place in Russia’s second largest city of St. Petersburg.

The St. Petersburg parade will be held on the Neva River and in the port of Kronstadt, a municipal town that makes a part of the federal city of Saint Petersburg. Russian deputy Navy commander, Alexander Fedotenkov said the parade will revive the tradition started by Peter I the Great in 1714.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that “for the first time in the entire history of naval parades in St. Petersburg, more than 5,000 sailors from the Baltic, Northern and Black Sea fleets, as well as the Caspian flotilla, will take place in the festivities.”

In total, about 50 ships and submarines will take part in the parade, while more than 40 planes and helicopters of the naval aviation will fly above the city.

Guests of the parade will see the Northern Fleet flagship, the Pyotr Velikiy battlecruiser; the world’s biggest nuclear submarine, the Dmitry Donskoy; and a number of the Russian navy’s newest warships, including the Ivan Gren landing ship, the Admiral Makarov frigate, as well as the Veliky Novgorod and the Vladikavkaz submarines.

China’s Hefei corvette, the Yuncheng frigate and the Luoma Lake support vessel, which took part in the Russian-Chinese exercise Naval Interaction 2017 in the Baltic Sea earlier this week, will also take part in the parade.

PLAN Type 054A Frigate, the Yuncheng, will take part in the parade, alongside the PLAN corvette Hefei and the Luoma Lake support vessel.

On the day of the parade, various naval aviation aircraft will fly above the city, including the Su-33K and the MiG-29K carrier-based fighter aircraft, Su-24M attack aircraft and Su-30SM multirole fighter aircraft, MiG-31BM interceptor aircraft, Il-38 and Tu-124M anti-submarine warfare and maritime patrol aircraft and other planes. The air show will also feature the Ka-52K Katran ship-based reconnaissance and combat helicopters, Ka-27 and Ka-29 anti-submarine warfare helicopters, as well as Mi-8 and Mi-24VP helicopters.

2017 marks the 321 anniversary of the Russian Navy, created on October 30, 1696, by a decree of Peter I the Great.

Source: TASS Russian News Agency.

 

 

South Korea to Deploy 4 More Anti-missile Units

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched from the Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska in Kodiak, Alaska, during Flight Test THAAD, July 11, 2017.

South Korea said Saturday it will proceed with the deployment of four additional units of the U.S. THAAD anti-missile defense system after North Korea’s latest launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The deployment of the additional Terminal High Altitude Area Defenae (THAAD) units had been delayed after the initial two units, after South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered an environmental assessment.

China has been notified of the move to speed up the deployment, the South’s presidential Blue House said.

China’s Foreign Ministry expressed serious concern Saturday about South Korea decision to proceed with the deployment of the additional units.

The deployment will not resolve South Korea’s security concerns and will only make things more complex, the ministry said, reiterating a Chinese call for the system to be withdrawn.

North Korea said earlier Saturday it had conducted another successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that proved its ability to strike all of America’s mainland.

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), formerly Theater High Altitude Area Defense, is an American anti-ballistic missile defense system designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase by intercepting with a hit-to-kill approach. THAAD was developed after the experience of Iraq’s Scud missile attacks during the Gulf War in 1991. The THAAD interceptor carries no warhead, but relies on its kinetic energy of impact to destroy the incoming missile. A kinetic energy hit minimizes the risk of exploding conventional warhead ballistic missiles, and nuclear tipped ballistic missiles will not detonate upon a kinetic energy hit.

Originally a United States Army program, THAAD has come under the umbrella of the Missile Defense Agency. The Navy has a similar program, the sea-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, which now has a land component as well (“Aegis ashore”). THAAD was originally scheduled for deployment in 2012, but initial deployment took place in May 2008. THAAD has been deployed in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and South Korea.

The THAAD system is being designed, built, and integrated by Lockheed Martin Space Systems acting as prime contractor. Key subcontractors include Raytheon, Boeing, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Honeywell, BAE Systems, Oshkosh Defense, MiltonCAT and the Oliver Capital Consortium.

On 6 March 2017, two THAAD launcher trucks arrived by air transport at Osan Air Base South Korea, for a deployment. Earlier that day, North Korea had launched 4 missiles. A Reuters article stated that with the THAAD defense system, a North Korean missile barrage would still pose a threat to South Korea, while an article in the International Journal of Space Politics & Policy said that South Korean forces already possess Patriot systems for point defense and Aegis destroyers capable of stopping ballistic missiles that may come from the north, in a three-layer antimissile defense for South Korea. On 16 March 2017, a THAAD radar arrived in South Korea. The THAAD system is kept at Osan Air Base until the site where the system is due to be deployed is prepared, with an expected ready date of June 2017. Osan Air Base has blast-hardened command posts with 3 levels of blast doors.

By 25 April 2017, six trailers carrying the THAAD radar, interceptor launchers, communications, and support equipment entered the Seongju site. On 30 April 2017, it was reported that South Korea would bear the cost of the land and facilities for THAAD, while the US will pay for operating it. On 2 May 2017, Moon Sang-gyun, with the South Korean Defense Ministry and Col. Robert Manning III, a spokesman for the U.S. military announced that the THAAD system in Seongju is operational and “has the ability to intercept North Korean missiles and defend South Korea.” It was reported that the system will not reach its full operational potential until later this year when additional elements of the system are onsite. In June 2017 South Korea decided to halt further deployment. The 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade (United States) has integrated THAAD into its layered defense on the Korean Peninsula.

Even in the face of a North Korean ICBM test on 4 July 2017, which newly threatens Alaska, a Kodiak, Alaska-based THAAD interceptor test (FTT-18) against a simulated attack by an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile had long been planned. FTT-18 was successfully completed by Battery A-2 THAAD (Battery A, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) of the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade (United States) on 11 July 2017. The soldiers used the procedures of an actual combat scenario and were not aware of the IRBM’s launch time.

Also in 2017 another Kodiak launch of a THAAD interceptor is scheduled between 7:30PM and 1:30AM on Saturday 29 July, Sunday 30 July, or Monday 31 July, at alternative times. North Korea is apparently positioning launch equipment in Kusong in preparation for a 27 July holiday. Lee Jong-kul, of South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s Minjoo Party states “The nuclear and missile capabilities of North Korea…have been upgraded to pose serious threats; the international cooperation system to keep the North in check has been nullified..”, citing tensions over the U.S. deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system in South Korea.

Source: Voice of America News.

Putin: Russian-Chinese drills in Baltic Sea not directed against third countries

SAVONLINN – Russian-Chinese military cooperation is not directed against third countries, Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday.

“In this case our military is simply refining their skills,” he said at a press conference following talks with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto, when asked what message Russia and China are conveying to other countries by holding the drills in the Baltic Sea.

Russia and China on Tuesday and Wednesday carried out their first joint drills on the Baltic Sea.

Overall, speaking about Russian-Chinese military interaction, the president said that it “is not directed against any third countries.”

Putin said that Russia respects the neutrality of Baltic Sea states and is ready for cooperation with all impartial countries in the region.

The nature of the cooperation between Russia and China is strategic, the Russian head of state said.

“The cooperation between Russia and China, including military cooperation, will bring stability to the whole world… We are not about to create military unions. This is a good example of how cooperation should be developed in the whole world,” Putin was quoted by the Finnish public broadcaster as saying.

President Sauli Niinisto with President Vladimir Putin.

The Finnish President Sauli Niinisto also seemed to take the military drills calmly.

“As long as there are armed forces in the world, they will also carry out training,” Niinisto said.

Source: The Baltic Times.

Britain risks Beijing’s wrath with plan to send naval vessel to disputed South China Sea

Britain plans to send a warship to the disputed South China Sea next year to conduct freedom of navigation exercises – a move likely to anger Beijing.

Britain will increase its presence in the waters after sending fighter planes for joint exercises with Japan in the region last year, Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, said.

China claims most of the energy-rich sea where Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

“We hope to send a warship to the region next year. We have not finalised exactly where that deployment will take place but we won’t be constrained by China from sailing through the South China Sea,” Fallon said.

“We have the right of freedom of navigation and we will exercise it.”

British Secretary of State for Defence Sir Michael Fallon.

“We hope to send a warship to the region next year. We have not finalised exactly where that deployment will take place but we won’t be constrained by China from sailing through the South China Sea,” Fallon said.

“We have the right of freedom of navigation and we will exercise it.”

China’s construction of islands and military facilities in the South China Sea has prompted international condemnation, amid concern Beijing is seeking to restrict free movement and extend its strategic reach.

Britain’s move could also upset ties between London and Beijing, undermining efforts to shore up what the two governments have called a “golden era” in their relationship as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.

“We flew RAF Typhoons through the South China Sea last October and we will exercise that right whenever we next have the opportunity to do so, whenever we have ships or planes in the region,” Fallon said.

RAF Eurofighter EF.2000 Typhoon fighter aircraft.

The United States estimates Beijing has added more than 1,300 hectares on seven facilities in the South China Sea over the past three years, building runways, ports, aircraft hangars and communications equipment.

To counter the perceived Chinese aggression, America has conducted regular freedom of navigation exercises that have angered Beijing.

The US sent two bombers over the region earlier this month, coming just a few months after it sent a warship to carry out a manoeuvring drill within 12 nautical miles of one of China’s artificial islands.

USS Curtis Wilbur sailed within 12 nautical miles of an island claimed by China and two other states in the South China Sea.

China has repeatedly denounced efforts by countries from outside the region to get involved in the South China Sea dispute.

The South China Sea is expected to dominate a regional security meeting in Manila next week, where Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi will meet counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries.

Meeting Asean diplomats in Beijing on Wednesday, Wang told them both sides must “exclude disturbances on the South China Sea issue, and maintain positive momentum”, China’s foreign ministry said.

Source: The South China Morning Post.

 

Russia, China round up joint naval exercise in Baltic Sea

iTAR-TASS archive/Yuri Smityuk.

KALININGRAD, July 27. /TASS/. Russian-Chinese naval exercise Joint Sea 2017 wound up in the Baltic Sea on Thursday, Captain 1st Rank Roman Martov, the official spokesman for Russia’s Baltic Fleet told TASS.

“Ships of the Russian Navy and of the Chinese Naval Force rounded up their maneuvering under the program of the active phase of the joint naval exercise in the Baltic Sea,” he said. “The Baltic Fleet’s corvettes Boykiy and Steregushchiy have returned to their permanent base in the port of Baltiysk in the Kaliningrad region.”

“The Chinese destroyer Hefei, the frigate Yuncheng and the support ship Lomahu are heading for St Petersburg to take part in the festivities on the occasion of Russian Navy Day on July 30,” Capt. Martov said.

In the course of maneuvers that took place from July 25 through July 27, the seamen fulfilled all the provisions of the exercise program. Specifically, the crews did artillery firing at waterborne and aerial targets, using about 1,500 shells for the purpose.

Also, the Russian and Chinese seamen drilled assistance to a distressed ship, as well as search for and rescue of people on high seas.

“They had to accomplish the tasks of the active phase of the exercise amid a complicated weather situation, as gusts of wind reached 15 meters per second in the central water area of the Baltic and the heaving of the sea was rough,” Capt. Martov said.

Crews of a Norwegian frigate, a Swedish corvette and a French reconnaissance aircraft watched the progress of the maneuvers.

“The joint staff of the exercise will sum up the results of the drills later,” Capt. Martov said.

Source: TASS Russian News Agency.