Chinese Oil Major Strikes It Big In South China Sea

By Tsvetana Paraskova – Jun 29, 2020, 10:30 AM CDT

Updated: Jun 29, 2020, 10:30 AM CDT

The listed arm of China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) said on Monday that it had made a significant discovery of oil and natural gas in the eastern part of the South China Sea.

A discovery well at the Huizhou 26-6 discovery in the Pearl River Mouth Basin in the Eastern South China Sea was tested to produce around 2,020 barrels of oil and 15.36 million cubic feet of gas per day.

CNOOC expects the new oilfield to become the first mid-to-large sized condensate oil and gas field in the shallow water area of Pearl River Mouth Basin.

CNOOC’s new discovery could be a boon to China’s ambitions to boost its domestic oil and natural gas production in an attempt to lessen its dependence on oil and gas imports. State-controlled CNOOC is one of the companies that China has tasked with replacing domestic reserves, even as the oil price crash has forced Chinese state oil majors to cut capital expenditures for this year.

CNOOC, together with PetroChina and China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec), are the national oil companies in Asia that have been the worst hit by the oil price collapse, analysts say. However, China’s NOCs are now prioritizing the increase of domestic oil and gas production and cutting overseas operations.

In the longer term, China’s push for boosting its energy security by increasing domestic production will support higher investments from the Chinese oil giants, according to Fitch Ratings.

CNOOC Limited “plays a strategic role in safeguarding the country’s energy security via its offshore upstream activities, both domestically and overseas,” Fitch said last week, affirming its A+ rating on the company with a “stable” outlook.

CNOOC’s revenue and EBITDA will be weak this year due to the price collapse, but they are expected to gradually recover from 2021, in line with Fitch’s oil and gas price deck.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for

Source: “Chinese Oil Major Strikes It Big In South China Sea”

Note: This is’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

Chinese army demonstrates rifle-size railgun prototypes

Posted On Monday, 29 June 2020 07:32

According to Liu Xuanzun on Global Times, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has miniaturized an electromagnetic railgun and developed pistol- and rifle-sized synchronous induction coilgun prototypes. These weapons’ technical capabilities were recently revealed to the general public for the first time in a demonstration session.

A Chinese soldier test-fires a Small Synchronous Induction Coilgun prototype, which is essentially a rifle-sized electromagnetic railgun, in a shooting range (Picture source: screenshot from via Global Times)

Developed by the PLA Army Logistics University, the weapons, named Small Synchronous Induction Coilguns, come with pistol-size, rifle-size and land robot-mounted variants, according to a report by Chinese military news website last week. The coilguns are essentially miniaturized, portable electromagnetic railguns so they can be used by single foot soldiers, the report said. To deal with complicated battlefield situations, they can also be mounted on small land robots and conduct armed reconnaissance missions.

According to the performance demonstration video, the coilguns use bullets stored in reloadable magazines just like a conventional gun, and they also handle like one. The coilguns can easily penetrate multiple wood plates and thin steel plates at a relatively close distance. Unlike a conventional firearm that uses the ignition of gunpowder to push a bullet slug out of a gun barrel at high velocity, a coilgun or railgun uses electromagnetic force to accelerate a projectile as it travels along the gun barrel before leaving it at an even higher velocity, military observers said.

Judging from the video, the coilguns have shown a high penetration capability and did not make much sound, making them good choices for special operations like behind-enemy-line infiltration missions, a military expert who asked not to be identified told the Global Times on Sunday, June 28.

It is obvious that these weapons are still in the prototype stage, as their range and impact are not optimum, very likely due to the guns’ limited battery or capacitor capacity to store and release energy, the expert said. But once this technical problem is solved, the coilguns will become much more powerful and could replace the firearms of today.

China is also developing full-sized electromagnetic railguns, as one prototype has been spotted out in the open installed on a tank landing ship, reportedly for testing. The railgun is expected to become the PLA Navy’s choice for its main warship guns in the future, said military experts, who named variants for the Type 055 destroyer as potential platforms.

Source: “Chinese army demonstrates rifle-size railgun prototypes”

Note: This is’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

Yes, China’s J-20 Stealth Fighter Could Shoot Down an F-22 or F-35

Here’s how.

by Mark Episkopos June 28, 2020

Key Point: A massive missile range deficit makes American fighters more vulnerable.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force made waves at the 2018 Zhuhai Airshow with the latest showing of their flagship fifth-generation stealth fighter, the J-20.

As is common with airshow coverage, large swaths of the ensuing commentary focused on the J-20’s handling and maneuverability as it performed a series of rolls and a climb. But this elides what is perhaps the most significant aspect of the J-20’s Zhuhai showing: its weapons system.

During the performance, the J-20 opened its missile bay doors to reveal four PL-15 missiles accompanied by two PL-10 missiles on either side. The PL-15 is a long range air-to-air missile slated to enter service in 2018. Outfitted with an active electronically scanned radar and featuring a reported maximum range of up to 300 km, the PL-15’s impressive specifications place it in the ranks of the top air-to-air missiles along with the European Meteor missile and Russian K-37M.

The PL-15’s effective range in actual aerial engagements is certain to be lower than the maximum range 300 km, but is nonetheless much higher than its American AIM-120 AMRAAM counterpart’s estimated 180 km or less. American general Herbert Carlisle voiced serious concerns in 2015 when the development of the PL-15 entered the public knowledge: “Look at our adversaries and what they’re developing, things like the PL-15 and the range of that weapon.” General Carlisle raised the same issue in an interview with FlightGlobal: “The PL-15 and the range of that missile, we’ve got to be able to out-stick that missile.”

The American F-22 and F-35 fighters are now equipped with the latest AIM 120-D missiles, but a massive range deficit remains nonetheless. The challenge of the PL-15 comes on the heels of questions about the uncertain future of the aging AMRAAM system. As Captain James Stoneman put it to the National Interest: “Currently there is no program of record for a follow-on… we’ve probably close to maxing it out.” Development of the latest Block III iteration of the short range AIM-9X was cancelled, and Raytheon struggles with a necessary AMRAAM refresh.

The J-20’s two side-mounted PL-10 missiles, while less conspicuous than their long range counterpart, are a key factor in the J-20’s operational versatility. A short-range infrared air-to-air missile, the PL-10 can be fired at off boresight angles of 90 degrees using the J-20’s Helmet Mounted Display (HMD). In other words, the PL-10’s on the J-20 can be fired in the direction that the pilot points their head.

Off boresight targeting is by no means a new technology. In fact, the PL-10 is China’s response to the AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder short range missiles that the United States is selling to Taiwan. There is no reliable information on the PL-10’s range at the time of writing, but it is expected to at least match AIM-9X’s reported maximum range of 20-22 km. Iterative performance differences aside, it is a bigger long-term concern is that the PL-10 and PL-15 are reportedly built with the latest anti-jamming technology at a time when the AIM- 9X and AIM-120D are perceived as increasingly vulnerable to modern digital radio frequency memory (DRFM) jamming techniques.

There is much that is still unknown about the J-20, including its launch mechanism and the final specifications of its WS-15 engine currently in development. It remains to be seen if this particular armament configuration makes it into the regular production process, but the juxtaposition of the PL-15 and PL-10 inside the J-20’s frame can become a stark concern for the United States and some of its regional allies who continue to rely on aging AMRAAM technology.

Mark Episkopos is a frequent contributor to the National Interest and serves as a research assistant at the Center for the National Interest. Mark is also a PhD student in History at American University. This article first appeared in 2018 and is reprinted here due to reader interest.

Source: National Interest “Yes, China’s J-20 Stealth Fighter Could Shoot Down an F-22 or F-35”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.

The Military We Have Vs. The Military We Need

By Gregory D. Foster

Professor, National Defense University

June 28, 2020

We only pretend to build armed forces to confront the threats we face.

Disruptive change” is probably the most rhetorically popular, yet intellectually vacuous, turn of phrase now in use throughout the U.S. defense establishment. For an inherently conservative, parochial institution whose conception of the future is dominated by its preference for a canonical past, disruptive change is an attractive meme meant to convey progressive imagery to audiences inside and outside who might otherwise be inclined to expose the institution’s well-established lack of imagination and originality.

What is seen as the blueprint for disruptive change is the National Defense Strategy, or NDS, promulgated by the Trump administration’s first Defense Secretary, James Mattis, and his Marine brother in arms, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford. Together, they passed this ideological tract off as a legitimate strategy based on bona fide strategic thinking to indoctrinate the defense establishment and its bureaucratic and political disciples. Their successors and their successors’ subordinates have unquestioningly and unthinkingly endorsed the stultifying received truths of the document, so much so that any thought of meaningful transformative change within the institution, however much needed, seems frustratingly out of the question in the absence of some jolt to the system.

The NDS — here’s the unclassified summary — epitomizes the intellectual stagnation that pervades the military. It is predicated on the asserted “truths” that:

The U.S. military, in the years preceding the Trump administration, was emasculated and rendered largely impotent by forcing it to focus on frivolous, tangential threats and missions such as countering violent extremism.

The United States has been disadvantaged and is in danger of being unseated from its rightful position of primacy in all domains of warfare – land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace – by reformist powers bent on challenging U.S. global supremacy.

The world we face today and in the years ahead is defined by great-power competition (presumably involving the use of traditional, military-centered great-power means to achieve traditional great-power ends of superiority and dominance).

To properly compete in this great-power arena, our organizational, doctrinal, and technological emphases must be based, above all else, on “lethality” (meaning, by implication, killing power and destructive capacity fed by large-scale industrial innovation and sustained by big-war mobilization measures).

How woefully and dangerously outmoded, outdated, self-serving, self-deluding, and self-perpetuating such received truths are. This is Cold War redivivus; Old War become New War. One need only compare the rhetoric of misuse associated with the wars we conduct that don’t coincide with our idealized conception of war – be it Vietnam or the Global War on Terrorism – with the reality of the methods we use and the defense posture we maintain to prosecute such wars. And one need only compare great-power, big-war rhetoric with the realities today of pandemic disease, cyberattacks, climate-induced natural disasters, and violent, rogue-actor extremism.

We live today in a postmodern age defined, as with all conceptions of postmodernism, by irony and the need for fundamental redefinition of hallowed concepts and terms. Ironically speaking, old strengths (such as wealth, size, and population) have become new weaknesses; old advantages (such as technological superiority or expansive overseas presence) have become new disadvantages; old successes (like the end of the Cold War) have become new failures; old friends have become new enemies; and old forms of plenty (e.g., nuclear supremacy) have become new forms of scarcity (e.g., nuclear peace). Terms of reference once considered clear, immutable, and sacrosanct – war, peace, security, aggression, intervention, sovereignty, power – now beg for redefinition.

In the grand evolution of war in which we are unsuspectingly involved, we have passed from a deep historical period of “Hot War” dating to antiquity, in which the use of military force was the central element in the conduct of statecraft; to the prolonged period of Cold War familiar to us all, in which the non-use of force (at least against our principal adversary, the Soviet Union), and the attendant avoidance of large-scale war, was the defining element; to the present period of “New War,” in which the use of non-military power and non-traditional uses of the military are – or, to be more accurate, should be – at the heart of statecraft; to a yet-to-be-recognized, much less realized, period of “No War,” the normative strategic end-state we should be seeking, in which militaries as we have known them become essentially irrelevant. To reach such an idealized – many would say unrealistic and unrealizable – end-state, arguably will require as preconditions the attainment of denuclearization, delethalization, and ultimately demilitarization. Demilitarization can be brought about only by the military: not a militaristic military committed to the supernal mission of warfighting, but a military organized, equipped, trained, and deployed in dramatically new ways that redefine what militaries properly do.

If we were to have a truly healthy state of civil-military relations, which we don’t, two of its cardinal defining elements would be a strategically effective (not just a militarily effective) military and a properly subordinated military-industrial complex that supports rather than dictates our military posture. In fact, in the cosmic international pecking order that differentiates superpowers from great powers, great powers from major powers, and major powers from minor powers, the possession of a strategically effective military is one of the principal indicators of standing and status. By any measure, the military we have today not only isn’t strategically effective, it isn’t even militarily effective. We don’t win wars. We don’t prevent wars. We certainly don’t eliminate wars. But we do feed escalation, provocation, and mirror imaging. Even if we were to claim a militarily effective military, we would have no choice but to admit that its defining features are all the things a truly strategically effective military wouldn’t be: disproportionately destructive, indiscriminately lethal, exorbitantly expensive, overly provocative and escalatory, unduly consumptive, largely alienated from society, and environmentally damaging.

At root, our problem derives from our prevailing frame of reference: Defense, narrowly conceived, dominates security, broadly conceived. Military power dominates non-military power. Wars of choice dominate wars of necessity, rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding. Tactics dominates strategy. Unilateralism (and the attendant felt need for self-sufficiency) dominates multilateralism (with the attendant imperative for collective decision-making and action). Conventional, high-intensity capabilities dominate unconventional, low-intensity capabilities. Technology dominates doctrine and force structure, and high technology dominates appropriate technology. Means dominate ends. And, finally, logistics dominates operations, after all is said and done.

Although we pretend to orient and structure our military around the threats we face, in point of fact our approach is very much capabilities-based; we have the military we want, and we insist on imposing that preferred force on the situations we face, invariably with unsatisfactory results. The ideal would be a state of affairs in which recognized vulnerabilities determine what our interests are; interests would determine what circumstances and actors constitute threats; those threats would be the basis for determining requirements; and those requirements would dictate the capabilities we seek to have on hand. In practice, the reality is just the opposite; our preferred capabilities determine everything else.

While we persist in the pursuit of capabilities for competing in a great-power world that satisfies our hunger for the heaviest, most expensive, most destructive and lethal armaments in the world, and that mollifies industrial actors that provide jobs and contribute big bucks to politicians, the threats we actually face today demand something quite different. The wars we face today are entirely wars of choice. No existing conflict, nor any reasonably to be anticipated, demands our involvement. And the wars we face are far removed from the total wars of the distant past and even farther removed from an idealized state of stable peace we have yet to seriously pursue, much less achieve. No, our wars occupy the space between limited war and violent peace; and the prime defining characteristics of these wars are twofold: they are asymmetric, hybrid wars; and, as such, they are inherently unwinnable.

So, pandemics, natural disasters, cyberattacks, and random acts of violent extremism are very real, very serious, very deadly, and very demanding. They are the threats we face and will continue to face in perpetuity. Traditional wars against China and Russia are unrealistic, highly unlikely fantasy. China and Russia, if they are to oppose us, will do so asymmetrically, as they already are; not symmetrically in a manner that would justify and legitimize our misplaced preparations and capabilities. Do we prepare for the most serious wars we won’t face or the most likely “wars” we will face? The answer should be more obvious than it is: not the former, but the latter.

To cope effectively with the actual threats that confront us, we must decide, for starters, what the military’s role properly ought to be: to serve itself (in the manner of a self-interested interest group); to serve the regime in power; to serve the state; or to serve society and even humanity (as grandiose as that might sound)? And no less must we decide what the military’s proper function ought to be: to prepare for and wage war; to secure and preserve peace; or something in between, like providing for the common defense, or preventing war, or providing for security? “All of the above” is too vague an answer, and “they’re all the same” is too simplistic. A military whose raison d’être is preparing for and waging war – the military we have – is demonstrably different from one that seeks to secure and preserve peace – the one we need.

The military we have is heavy, destructive, lethal, blunt, combat-oriented, technology-dominant, general purpose, unilaterally capable, provocative, escalatory, expensive (gluttonously so), and unsustainable. It is basically a hard-power warfighting machine, totally captive of and obsessed with its own warfighting/warfighter verbiage, useful primarily for tacit threatmaking based on ostensibly superior capabilities, and prepared – arguably – only for traditional, conventional war (even though deployed for a variety of missions).

The military we need would be quite the opposite: light, constructive, predominantly nonlethal, precise, noncombat-oriented, manpower-dominant, tailored, multilaterally-capable/-dependent, reassuring, de-escalatory, affordable, and sustainable. It would be a strategically effective force, designed to respond to a robust array of complex, most-frequently-occurring emergencies – peacekeeping, nation-building, humanitarian assistance, disaster response – that ultimately contribute most demonstrably to the overarching normative strategic aim of enduring global peace.

Should such sweeping, transformative overhaul ever become a reality? Yes – if peace is actually our ultimate aim. Could it take place? Unlikely – given the intellectual shortcomings of the defense establishment in particular, and the national security community in general. These are heretical, heterodox ideas that can take root and be acted upon only as an outgrowth of new thinking that is in inexcusably short supply in government and think tank thought factories. In the final analysis, though, the military will have to take the lead – and want to take the lead – in dramatically reforming itself because politicians have major vested interests, political and economic, in preserving the status quo and in letting the military dictate its own fate. Whether the military has the intellectual wherewithal to measure up to such a challenge is a matter for high hopes, but measured expectations. But if we are to produce a future that is better than the past, we shouldn’t give up on hope.

Gregory D. Foster is a professor at the National Defense University, a West Point graduate, and a decorated Vietnam War veteran. The views expressed here are his own. Full bio

Source: Defense One “The Military We Have Vs. The Military We Need”

Note: This is Defense One’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.

The Navy’s Stealthy Zumwalt-Class Destoryer Has 1 Big Problem

By Sebastien Roblin

December 22, 2018

Photo Zumwalt

U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Ace Rheaume

What do you actually do with it?

In January 2018, the Navy will commission its second hi-tech Zumwalt-class stealth destroyer , the USS Michael Mansoor . The third and last, USS Lyndon B. Johnson was launched this December 2018 and will be commissioned in 2022.

Traditionally, warships are tailored to perform specific missions. But the cutting-edge Zumwalt has been a ship in search of a mission , especially since procurement of hyper-expensive ammunition for its primary weapon system was canceled. Years and billions of dollars later, the Navy may finally have found one.

In the post-Cold War 1990s, the U.S Navy lacked peer competitors on the high seas, so it conceived its next-generation surface combatants for engaging coastal targets. As the Navy phased out its last battleship, it decided its next destroyer should mount long-range guns that could to provide more cost-efficient naval gunfire support than launching million-dollar Tomahawk cruise missiles.

In the 2000s, development proceeded for a DDG-1000 destroyer integrating every next-generation technology then conceivable. The Navy promised Congress a larger destroyer requiring only 95 crew instead of 300 thanks to automation, with adequate space and power-generation capacity to deploy railguns and laser weapons. The new warships would be stealthier to avoid enemy attacks and pack rapid-firing 6-inch guns with a range of 115 miles for the sustained bombardment of land targets. Thirty-two DDG-1000s were to succeed the Arleigh Burke -class destroyer.

The lead ship USS Zumwalt took shape sporting a futuristic-looking tumblehome hull—wider below the waterline than above—helping reduce the 190-meter long vessel’s radar cross-section to that of a small fishing boat. The ship’s induction motors generated a whopping 58 megawatts of electricity while cruising, enough to power the entire 17,630-ton ship thanks to an Integrated Power System. The electrically-driven motors and chilled exhaust also reduce the destroyer’s infrared and acoustic signature. The vessel’s new Total Ship Computing Environment networked all the destroyer’s systems, making them accessible from any console throughout the vessel.

In addition to rapid-firing 6” guns, the Zumwalt had eighty Mark 57 missile vertical-launch cells dispersed across her bow and stern to minimize secondary explosions. These could target and launch Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles, ASROC anti-submarine rockets, or quad-packs of Evolved Sea Sparrow medium-range air-defense missiles. The Zumwalt’s spacious landing pad and hangar could accommodate up to three MQ-8B helicopter drones or two MH-60R helicopters, which can carry Hellfire anti-tank missiles or torpedoes. The destroyers also boast a capable dual-bandwidth sonar for hunting submarines, but lack the torpedo armament found in Arleigh Burkes

The destroyer’s crew of one-hundred-and-fifty—plus a twenty-eight-person air detachment—exceeded by over 50 percent the originally promised number, but remained half that of an Arleigh-Burke destroyer. However, some analysts fear the super-trim crew complement leaves too little redundancy should the vessels sustain battle damage.

Indeed, by 2008, the Navy was no longer highly concerned with bombarding militarily weaker countries. Rather, it contemplated the challenge posed by China’s rapidly expanding surface and submarine fleets, and the proliferation of deadly anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles .

Worse, the Zumwalt’s Advanced Gun System didn’t even work that well, with two-thirds the forecast range (around 70 miles). Furthermore, its rocket-boosted LRLAP GPS-guided shells cost $800,000 dollars each—nearly as expensive as more precise, longer-range and harder-hitting cruise missiles. The Navy finally canceled the insanely expensive munitions, leaving the Zumwalt with two huge guns it can’t fire.

Downsizing and Downgrades:

Despite the well-known difficulties of developing next-generation military systems, the Zumwalt had been sold to Congress based on unrealistic minimum-cost estimates. Eventually, program costs exceeded the budget by 50 percent, triggering an automatic cancelation according to the Nunn—McCurdy Act.

Already by 2008, the Navy sought to ditch building more than two Zumwalts in favor of procuring Arleigh Burke Flight III destroyers with ballistic-missile defense capabilities. Maine Senator Susan Collins nonetheless wrangled a third destroyer to keep her state’s Bath Iron Works shipyard in business.

Each Zumwalt now costs $4.5 billion—in addition to the $10 billion spent on development. Like the troubled F-35 and Littoral Combat Ship, the Zumwalt’s spiraling costs were due to the Navy’s ambition to integrate completely new technologies still being concurrently developed. The final design was not even stabilized by the time construction began in 2009. The hybrid electrical system has proven especially challenging to integrate, leading the Zumwalt to break down while crossing the Panama Canal in November 2016.

Nearly decade after she was laid down, a 2018 Government Accountability Office report stated only five of the Zumwalt’s twelve key technologies was “mature.” Farcically, the ships were even officially “delivered” without combat systems. The lead ship , commissioned in 2012, won’t be ready for operational deployment until 2021.

The need to curb runaway costs led to crippling downgrades . Instead of fitting combining a powerful SPY-4 volume search radar with a SPY-3 hi-resolution targeting radar, the Navy ditched the former and rejigged the SPY-3 to handle volume-search as well. This saved $80 million per ship but significantly degraded air-search capabilities.

However, the Zumwalt currently only has Evolved Sea Sparrow air defense missiles with a range of thirty miles—adequate only for local coverage at best. Though the Zumwalt’s missile cells are compatible with longer-range Standard Missiles, those depend on the Aegis Combat System for guidance, which the Zumwalt lacks. And the Zumwalt’s last-ditch Close-In Weapon Systems were downgraded from 57-millimeter to much less capable 30-millimeter cannons.

Even the destroyer’s radar cross-section has been degraded to cut costs, with the adoption of cheaper steel for the deckhouse and the incorporation of non-flush sensor and communication masts.

Ship-Hunting Stealth Destroyers?:

What were merely three DDG-1000s good for, despite their nifty stealth features and propulsion? The advanced destroyers lacked ammunition for their guns, anti-ship missiles, anti-submarine torpedoes, and long-range area-air defense missiles. Furthermore, the Zumwalt had fewer cells to pack land-attack missiles than Arleigh-Burke destroyers (96), Ticonderoga-class cruisers (122), or Ohio-class cruise-missile submarines (144)—all of which were cheaper, and the last of which is stealthier.

Even the destroyer’s stealthy hull did not offer a clear advantage if it had to escort—or required an escort from—un-stealthy warships. And keeping a class of just three vessels operational meant very high overheads expenses in training and sustainment per individual ship. Thus, many analysts speculate the Zumwalt’s operational career could prove short-lived.

The Zumwalt needed a new mission—even if that meant tweaking its capabilities at an additional cost. Finally, in December 2017 the Navy announced the class would specialize in “surface strike”, i.e. hunting down other ships .

The destroyers will be modified to fire new Maritime Tomahawk Block IV subsonic anti-ship missiles and SM-6 active-radar-homing missile. The latter can provide longer-range air defense missile (up to 150 miles) and has a secondary ground or naval attack capability. Compared to the Tomahawk, the SM-6 has a much smaller 140-pound warhead, but its maximum speed of Mach 3.5 makes it much harder to intercept. Eventually, cheaper ammunition may be developed for the presently-useless guns, or they may be swapped out for additional missile launch cells or even future railguns or directed-energy weapons.

This surface warfare role may best leverage the Zumwalt’s stealth capabilities, allowing it to range ahead of the fleet and penetrate “ anti-access” zones threatened by long-range anti-ship missiles. It could creep closer to enemy warships before launching its own missiles, giving adversaries little time to react.

The Navy is also working on networking sensors between its submarines, surface warships, helicopters, patrol planes and attack jets through “Cooperative Engagement” technology. Thus one strategy could see distant “spotter” generating targeting data using active radar, then transmitting it to a sensor-ghosting Zumwalt to perform the strike.

The cost of the current upgrades is reportedly $90 million—a sum which may prove worthwhile if it helps recoup some value after the $22 billion sunk into the ambitious but failed ship concept.

Source: RealClear Defense “The Navy’s Stealthy Zumwalt-Class Destoryer Has 1 Big Problem”

Note: This is RealClear Defense’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.

Imran Khan criticised after calling Osama Bin Laden a ‘martyr’

26 June 2020

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has come under fire from opposition MPs after telling parliament that the US “martyred” Osama Bin Laden.

Bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was killed in 2011 when US special forces raided his hideout in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.

Pakistan was not informed in advance.

“I will never forget how we Pakistanis were embarrassed when the Americans came into Abbottabad and killed Osama Bin Laden, martyred him,” Khan said.

Khan used the word “shaheed” – a reverential Arabic term for a martyr of Islam.

Opposition leader and former Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif criticised Mr Khan, calling Bin Laden an “ultimate terrorist”.

“He destroyed my nation, and [Khan] is calling him a martyr,” Mr Asif said in parliament.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, whose Pakistan Peoples Party was in power when Bin Laden was killed, accused the prime minister of appeasing violent extremism.

Meena Gabeena, a high-profile Pakistani activist, wrote on Twitter: “Muslims all over the world are struggling because of the discrimination they face due to recent terrorism and our PM makes it worse by calling [Osama Bin Laden] a martyr of Islam!”

Mr Khan’s speech came as Pakistan’s foreign office rejected a US state department report accusing Pakistan of continuing to be a safe haven for regionally focused terrorist groups.

“While the report recognizes that al-Qaeda has been seriously degraded in the region, it neglects to mention Pakistan’s crucial role in decimating al-Qaeda, thereby diminishing the threat that the terrorist group once posed to the world,” the foreign office said.

Mr Khan, a former cricketer, has previously been criticised as sympathetic towards the Taliban, and branded “Taliban Khan” by opponents.

Following his controversial Bin Laden remark on Thursday, Afrasiab Khatak, a nationalist former senator and former head of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), said in a tweet that the prime minister had been brought to power to implement “Project Taliban”.

In a TV interview four years ago, Mr Khan refused to call Bin Laden a terrorist when pressed by the interviewer.

Analysis: M Ilyas Khan, BBC News, Islamabad

Imran Khan called Osama Bin Laden a martyr not because of any ideological commitment to the 9/11 mastermind but because it was politically convenient.

The world has come a long way from the politics of 9/11, but Islamist militancy is still seen by analysts as the main weapon of Pakistan’s powerful military establishment to push for its perceived aims in India and Afghanistan.

Bin Laden and other senior al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders of that time are still revered by the militants, and they function as useful tools in recruiting people to the cause. Any move to officially downgrade Bin Laden’s status therefore could be counter-productive.

Mr Khan is seen by his critics as close to the military establishment – a proxy who has been catapulted to power in a 2018 election allegedly rigged by the military.

His word choice on Thursday was not an accident. Many noted that during his speech he initially used the word “killed” for Bin Laden, then stopped himself and corrected to “martyred”.

Source: BBC “Imran Khan criticised after calling Osama Bin Laden a ‘martyr’”

Note: This is BBC’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

Chinese Navy Submarines Could Become A Reality In Indian Ocean

H I SuttonContributor

The Chinese Navy is rapidly pursuing global capabilities. A key area of future operations may be the Indian Ocean. Chinese submarines in particular could have a strategic impact if they were roaming those waters. From China’s standpoint this would protect vital sea lanes that will be vulnerable in any war. Naturally many of the world’s navies would be concerned if this were the case. Chief among them is the Indian Navy, which currently has the largest submarine fleet in the South Asia region.

For Chinese submarines, the relevant routes into the Indian Ocean are the Malacca Strait, Sunda … [+] H I Sutton

Concern about China’s naval expansion is a hot topic on the world stage. The U.S. Navy is increasingly pivoting towards Asia. Speaking at the Brussels Forum virtual conference on June 25, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo referenced the Chinese Communist Party’s “threats to India” and other countries in Asia. “We are going to make sure that we are postured appropriately to counter the PLA.” (People’s Liberation Army, which includes the Chinese Navy.)

But much of the attention is on the South China Sea, where Beijing has made extensive territorial claims. The Indian Ocean theater seems less of a focus, at least in the public’s eye. For India, however, the threat seems very real. Chinese submarines have paid port calls in Pakistan and Sri Lanka in recent years.

During peacetime Chinese submarines would be expected to enter the Indian Ocean through the Strait of Malacca. This should be done on the surface, which makes their presence obvious. China might still do it to send a message, but it is of limited utility in an operational setting where submarines want to hide their presence.

In wartime, Chinese submarines might slip through the Sunda Strait or Lombok Strait. These pass between the chain of Indonesian that separate the Pacific and Indian Oceans. One advantage over the Malacca Strait, which runs past Singapore, is that it would deliver the submarines to the deep water of the eastern Indian Ocean. From there they could take less obvious routes to their targets.

The Sunda Strait would be the shortest route, but it is very shallow at its eastern end so the deeper Lombok Strait might be preferred. There a submerged passage is likely considered feasible to the Chinese Navy.

Once through into the Indian Ocean, the submarines could get rearmed or resupplied without having to return to China. The Chinese Navy has already built a base in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa. Even if the submarines themselves did not call in to the port, which would be closely monitored, vessels could operate from there to carry out at-sea replenishment.

And there is another Chinese port under construction at Gwadar in Pakistan. Work on an extension of that port, which may include a Chinese naval base, appears to be imminent. Gwadar has an advantage in that it is connected by land to China so supplies would not have to go by sea.

If China were to create a permanent Indian Ocean squadron, its natural bases would be Gwadar and Djibouti. There is also the small island of Feydhoofinolhu in the Maldives, which China is developing as a resort. Planners will be concerned that it could act as a support base or monitoring station in some scenarios.

For its part, the Indian Navy is also growing its capabilities and modifying its operating patterns to counter the threat. There is evidence that it has been testing its ability to forward deploy submarines to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This could hold the key to monitoring submarine activity in the Strait of Malacca.

At the same time, the Indian Navy’s U.S.-supplied P-8I Neptune aircraft are updating India’s anti-submarine reach in to the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. Together with the surface navy and the submarine force, this could hope to track Chinese submarine movements.

But in the vastness of the ocean this could be challenging. Even though China’s submarines may not be as quiet as their Western equivalents, they have a natural stealth advantage. Even very old submarines pose a serious threat that cannot be ignored in wartime. So for India it will be critical how quickly it can react to a more pervasive Chinese Navy presence in the Indian Ocean.

Source: Forbes “Chinese Navy Submarines Could Become A Reality In Indian Ocean”

Note: This is Forbes’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.

What are rare earth elements and why are they so important in the US-China trade war?

By Sofia Sanchez Manzanaro & Cristina Abellan-Matamoros • last updated: 16/08/2019

Copyright REUTERS/Stringer

Rare earth elements have become key in the trade war between the United States and China.

A few days ago, the Association of China Rare Earth Industry protested against the new tariffs imposed by Donald Trump, which it accused of “bullying”. They noted that those taxes need to be paid by consumers and the US market.

Getting the Chinese lobby of rare earth elements riled up is no joke. Currently, around 80% of the precious metals used by the United States are imported from China. Even if the US’ production is one of the biggest in the world (15 thousand tonnes in 2018 just behind Australia) it’s still insignificant compared to China’s (120 thousand tonnes annually).

But what are rare earth elements and why are they so valuable?

A rare earth element forms part of a set of 17 chemical elements in the periodic table, specifically scandium, yttrium, and the 15 other elements of the lanthanide group of metals, including neodymium, dysprosium, and holmium.

Rare earth elements are all metals. They have similar properties and can be found together in geologic deposits. They are also referred to as “rare earth oxides” because they are typically sold as oxide compounds.

Despite their name they are not rare, they’re called that because they abound in nature, in comparison to other elements or compounds like the pyrite or gold,” explained Juan Diego Rodríguez-Blanco, a professor of Nanomineralogy at Trinity College Dublin and funded investigator in the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG).

Rare earths are prized for their use in consumer electronics and renewable energy, such as wind turbines and electric cars.

As the use of high-tech products has increased over the years, so has the demand for rare earth metals.

This generates geopolitical competition because they are essential for technology, they’ve become very valuable,” said Rodríguez-Blanco.

The biggest deposit of rare earths is located in Bayan Obo, a mining town in northern China. It’s responsible for approximately half of the metals’ production since 2005.

Holmium is used to make control bars in the nuclear industry, microwaves…neodymium is used to make very strong magnets, to make robots, cars, hard drives, and wind turbines,” said Rodríguez-Blanco, adding that rare earths are also used in aerospatial and military industries, to make resistant glass, and fuel additives and lasers.

In addition to technology, they are also used in medical research as well as certain medical treatments for lung, prostate, and bone cancer.

Desired but difficult to obtain

Though these elements are not “rare” as their name indicates, the process of extracting them and subsequent treatment is very complex and costly. Even though they are relatively abundant in the Earth’s crust, they are widely dispersed, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS). That means it’s difficult to find a substantial quantity of the elements together and ready to extract.

As a result, aggressive methods are used to obtain them, such as extraction through organic solvents, magnetic separation, or at high temperatures of around 1,000 degrees.

“They are very inefficient and environmentally aggressive methods where often more than 50% of the element is lost in the separation process,” said Rodríguez-Blanco.

In many cases, the wastewater from the mine has a higher concentration of rare earths than the rocks, so why not recycle these waters? “There aren’t any efficient methods, they’re so expensive that it doesn’t make sense applying them,” said the professor.

Only 1% of rare earth elements are recycled.

On the other hand, the extraction has a high environmental cost. Some of the processes use acids for separation and the combustion with high temperatures emit CO2 — resulting in a dirty process.

Rare earth elements often have a radioactive element — thorium. They’re not high concentrations but we don’t know how it can affect the environment and the people in the vicinity,” said the geologist.

A key piece in international trade

China is aware that it has in its possession a powerful weapon in the trade war against the US since the North American country is heavily dependent on Chinese exports of rare earth elements.

Chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit to a production plant in late May unleashed all sorts of speculation and stirred up international markets.

According to data from the US government, China is home to around 36.7% of the world’s known rare earths reserve and was responsible for 70.6% of the total global production of these metals. If Beijing said they were stopping exports, it would be very complicated to obtain the necessary production of the elements, now so indispensable for Western societies.

The Chinese Communist Party hinted it was considering restricting the export of rare earths. “Don’t underestimate the Chinese capacity to counter-attack. Don’t say we didn’t warn you,” it said in the official party newspaper.

But there are countries who have large amounts of rare earth elements, which could — if they were extracted — feed the need of US and European markets and end the Chinese hegemony once and for all.

But extracting them implies a complex phase of research, said Rodríguez-Blanco.

“Rare earths have the peculiarity that their deposits have been formed in a completely different way so that the methods used for their extraction cannot be exported to other countries.”

For example, the way to separate the minerals in Bayan Obo would be completely useless in an Australian deposit, explained Rodriguez-Blanco.

Source: “What are rare earth elements and why are they so important in the US-China trade war?”

Note: This is’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.

The F-35 Lightning II Can’t Fly Near…Lightning

Weakness is its middle name.

By Kyle Mizokami

Jun 26, 2020

  • A key F-35 safety system is sustaining damage in Air Force service, forcing the office that overseas the F-35 program to recommend flight restrictions.

  • Under the new guidelines, F-35 jets should socially distance from lightning, maintaining a distance of least 25 miles.

  • The faulty systems could cause a F-35 hit by lightning to literally explode in midair.

The F-35 Lightning II strike fighter is temporarily barred from flying near actual lightning. More than a dozen Air Force F-35s were discovered with damage to a system designed to prevent catastrophic damage from lightning strikes. The damaged systems place the aircraft in danger of exploding if the airplane were hit by lightning in mid-flight.

A Plane Like No Other

What It’s Like to Fly the F-35

The problem is with the Onboard Inert Gas Generation System (OBIGGS) is a safety subsystem common in modern airplanes. A typical OBIGGS system diverts air from the aircraft engine and separates the nitrogen, injecting it into the jet’s fuel tanks. The more inflammable nitrogen present the less flammable oxygen, helping reduce the possibility of fuel tank explosions. Wartime damage aside, one way a fuel tank explosion might take place is as a result of a lightning strike.

Inspectors at the Air Force’s Ogden Logistics Complex discovered damage to the tubes that funnel nitrogen into the fuel tanks in 14 out of 24 out of F-35As inspected. The problem appears limited to the Air Force’s F-35A model. The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, which operate the -C and -B versions of the F-35, have not seen similar problems.

According to Defense News, manufacturer Lockheed Martin paused F-35 deliveries to look into the issue with aircraft on the production line. The company believes that the problem is being caused “in the field after aircraft delivery” meaning while in the hands of the Air Force. There are no reports as of yet in the hands of foreign F-35 operators, though that sample size might still be pretty small so far. Air Force Magazine’s 2020 almanac lists the Air Force and Air Force Reserve as currently operating 203 Lightning II fighters, the most of any air force worldwide.

For now, the F-35 Joint Program Office, which overseas the global F-35 enterprise, is recommending that F-35As avoid lightning and thunderstorms. The jets should maintain a distance of 25 miles from either type of weather, until the source of the problem is found and a fix is implemented.

Ironically, this is the second time the Lightning II has been prohibited from flying near actual lightning, after an earlier problem was discovered with the OBIGGS in the early 2010s.

Source: Defense News.

Source: Popular Mechanics “The F-35 Lightning II Can’t Fly Near…Lightning”

Note: This is Popular Mechanics’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.

A Tripartite Agreement of $2.4 billion Kohala Hydropower Project under CPEC signed today

June 25, 2020

A major milestone towards the successful implementation of 1,124MW Kohala Hydropower Project in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) under CPEC framework is achieved as a Tripartite Agreement signing ceremony between a Chinese company, governments of Pakistan and AJK held today. Prime Minister Imran Khan witnessed signing ceremony and said US $ 2.4 billion investment in Kohala Hydropower project under CPEC is the biggest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Pakistan. The other projects signed included 700MW Azad Pattan hydropower project, 300MW Ashkot hydropower project, 640MW Mahl hydropower project, 450MW Athmuqam hydropower project, 82MW Turtonas-Uzghor hydropower project, 163MW Grange Power. Ltd.

PM further asserted the Kohala Hydropower project will promote regional development and uplift the socio-economic status of people in AJK by creating more jobs. The project would create clean energy, environmental benefits and reduce dependence on furnace oil import which creates current account deficit. Chairman CPEC authority Lt. Gen. (R) Asim Saleem Bajwa has said that it is the largest power sector investment of $2.4 billion in a single Independent Power Producer (IPP).

Prime Minister’s commitment to expedite work on CPEC projects and hard work of all stakeholders has played a significant role to achieve this milestone.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information Lt Gen (r) Asim Saleem Bajwa revealed on Thursday that the tripartite agreement signing ceremony for Kohala Hydel Power Project will be held today.

SAPM Bajwa said that it was a “historic day” as it is the largest power sector investment of $2.4 billion in a single Independent Power Producer (IPP).

“With PM Imran’s clear direction to expedite CPEC projects,all stake holders worked hard to bring this day,” tweeted SAPM Bajwa on Thursday.

The work on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) funded Kohala Hydropower Project has been in jeopardy since last year as the Chinese contractor has been demobilised following controversy over downstream environmental flows.

The 1,124MW (megawatt) Kohala Hydropower Project, being built on Jhelum River in Azad Kashmir under CPEC, has been awarded to Kohala Hydropower Company Ltd (KHCL), which is a subsidiary of China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC).

Jun 25 (APP): A tripartite agreement was signed here Thursday between a Chinese company and the governments of Pakistan and China for construction of 1,124 megawatt Kohala Hydropower Project costing $2.4 billion.

The signing ceremony, held at PM Office, was witnessed by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, federal cabinet members, Chinese Ambassador in Pakistan Yao Jing, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) authority, Chairman Lt. Gen. (R) Asim Saleem Bajwa and representatives of Chinese company.

It is the largest power sector investment of $2.4 billion in a single Independent Power Producer (IPP).

Kohala Hydropower Project, being built on Jhelum River in Azad Kashmir under CPEC, has been awarded to Kohala Hydropower Company Ltd (KHCL), which is a subsidiary of China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC).

Addressing the signing ceremony, the prime minister while terming the agreement a “great step” towards foreign investment, said Pakistan should have invested in hydro power sector far earlier.

He said the country was progressing well when it had been producing hydro power until it started banking on imported fuel which not only made the local industry non-competitive but also put additional burden on foreign reserves.

The prime minister said the power generation through imported fuel generation also adversely impacted the environment as Pakistan was among nine countries to get worst hit by climate change which necessitated the promotion of clean energy.

The prime minister said Kohala Hydropower Power Project drew the biggest ever investment in Pakistan on a single project.

Pakistan welcomed the investment as it could also set a trend for the country Pakistan to further move towards clean energy for reducing dependence on imported fuel.

The prime minister told the AJK prime minister that the project would also create much-needed jobs for youth both during the construction as well as the operations.

Source: “A Tripartite Agreement of $2.4 billion Kohala Hydropower Project under CPEC signed today”

Note: This is’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.