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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

August Blog Updates & News

Author's Note: The blog has undergone some organizational changes since the last update to facilitate easier access to archived articles via the new "Blog Articles By Topic" tab in addition to some minor visual rearrangements. Ideas on additional blog improvements are always welcome. As per the routine monthly blog update, planned or upcoming articles are detailed below. A list of recommended articles is subsequently provided.

Upcoming/Planned Articles

Image Credit: Morten Morland, The Times

(1) Resurgent Russia: The Future of US-Russian Relations - The Western response to the seizure of Crimea and the backing of Ukrainian separatist forces has been lackluster at best. Western responses have varied from merely denouncing Putin as a "thug" to targeted and severely limited US-EU economic sanctions. The reoccurring trend being few in the West, at least as reported by media sources, understand Russian intentions within Ukraine and Russia's broader strategic considerations. Only by understanding Russian objectives and Russia's strategic reasoning can the US formulate a comprehensive foreign policy response toward a new resurgent Russia.

(2) The American Approach Part IV: Countering Foreign 5th Generation Threats - Within a few years both China and Russia will deploy fifth generation fighter aircraft comparable to American fifth generation aircraft. American and allied aviators will leverage the comparative advantages of the F-35's integrated sensor and avionics suite  in conjunction with innovative new tactics and doctrines to counter probable fifth generation adversaries such as the Chengdu J-20, Shenyang J-31, and Sukhoi PAK-FA.

(3) Rebalance: The Need for an Asia-Pacific Maritime Security and Stability Initiative - As highlighted by The Rebalance - Deterrence in the Asia-Pacific, US efforts to deter China at both the high and low intensity conflict level are failing. The publication of recent Chinese Defense white papers emphasizing "the new situation" or "zai xin xingshi xia" reaffirms the growing confidence of China's leaders with respect to enforcing territorial claims. The United States must work in consultation with its regional allies to halt China's attempts to change the territorial status quo in the South China Sea. The author will recommend a number of comprehensive proposals to deter China at the low intensity level.

Recommended Media

Council on Foreign Relations Interview with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

"The President has talked about rebalancing toward Asia and the importance of Asia toward America and we strongly support that...America has to engage in actively [in the Asia-Pacific] and you have many other issues on your agenda...but we hope that amidst all that busy platter, you remember - at least once a day, that in Asia you have many friends, many interests, and many investments"

"Defense heavyweights – including Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Defense, former defense policy chiefs to Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, and the former Senate Seapower chairman – just sent over their 'stress test' of the Pentagon’s latest defense strategy to Capitol Hill. Unlike many blue ribbon commission reports, the National Defense Panel (NDP) recommendations are blunt, serious, and urgent. The panel report describes in detail the dangerous accumulation of challenges to American military power and charts a path to reverse this decline...'U.S. military superiority is not a given.' To ensure the Pentagon stays ahead of the competition, the panel recommends “an energetic program of targeted reinvestment,” a larger Navy and Air Force, and a halt to planned reductions in active duty Army end strength. They call for greater investment in ISR systems, space architecture, cyber capabilities, joint command and control, air superiority assets, long-range and precision strike capability, undersea and surface naval warfare, electric and directed energy weapons, strategic lift, and logistics."

The Three C’s of U.S. Espionage in Germany - John R. Schindler

"The bottom line is that American espionage priorities in Germany can be boiled down to the Three C’s: Counterintelligence, Counterterrorism, and’s common knowledge that the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and military intelligence (GRU) have as many officers, including illegals (meaning deep-cover types posing as civilians without any ties to Russia), in Germany today as they had at the height of the Cold War.West Germany’s counterintelligence record during the Cold War was frankly dismal, for many reasons. East Bloc services had no trouble penetrating West German institutions at the highest levels. To cite only some of the most famous cases: Heinz Felfe, the BND’s head of counterespionage, was revealed to be a Soviet spy in 1961, while Otto John, the very first director of the BfV, defected to East Germany in 1954, and 1974 saw the unmasking of Günter Guillaume, a top adviser to Chancellor Willy Brandt, as a spy for East Germany’s legendary Stasi....Given the extent of attention paid to Germany by the SVR and GRU, U.S. intelligence would be foolish not to be watching this closely, especially because even closely allied spy agencies seldom spill the beans about penetrations, which are embarrassing to admit"

The New Neutrality - Yuriko Koike

"In both Germany and South Korea, economic strength seems to have produced an illusion of policy independence that is opening a chasm between the two countries and their allies – a chasm that revelations of US spying, on Merkel in particular, have deepened. Germany and South Korea, however, will gain little, and risk much, if they downgrade their alliance ties in favor of commercially motivated, if unofficial, neutrality. Whatever short-term benefits they receive will be more than offset by their strategic vulnerabilities vis-à-vis Russia and China."

Carbon Fiber Clouds Hiding Naval Destroyers from Anti-Ship Missiles - Defense Update

"The US Navy has recently tested a new anti-ship missile countermeasure system using an obscurant generator prototype. The systems and tactics were tested under a variety of at-sea conditions using assets from the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force to evaluate how radar-absorbing, carbon-fiber clouds can prevent a missile from detecting and striking its target as part of a layered defense."

Special report - Inside Xi Jinping's purge of China's oil mandarins - David Lague, Charlie Zhu and Benjamin Kang Lim

"In a bid to isolate his rival, Xi is steadily taking down Zhou's extensive web of colleagues, political allies, relatives, staff and business associates of his family, according to people familiar with the investigation."

ANALYSIS: India's Air Force Modernization Challenge - Atul Chandra

"The modernization of the Indian air force is massive in scale and hugely expensive, but should deliver capability that will put the service at the forefront of any future conflict."

Fourth Known J-20 Prototype Makes First Flight - Richard D Fisher Jr

"The fourth known prototype of the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) J-20 fifth-generation fighter made its first flight on the morning of 26 July, according to Chinese aviation websites...Images show that '2012' features the refinements first seen in the third prototype, '2011'. These include an undernose faceted shape to hold a future electro-optical targeting system, adjusted air intakes to aid engine air flow and clipped tips on the vertical stabilizers. The new J-20 prototype does not give any outward indication that CAC has installed an indigenous turbofan engine, despite much online speculation. The status of the J-20's intended WS-15 turbofan is not clear, and it is possible that initially deployed J-20s may use a Russian-made turbofan, perhaps an upgraded version of the Saturn AL-31 or the newer AL-117S."

Russia Cheating on Nuclear Missile Treaty - Jim Kuhnhenn

"In an escalation of tensions, the Obama administration accused Russia on Monday of conducting tests in violation of a 1987 nuclear missile treaty, calling the breach "a very serious matter" and going public with allegations that have simmered for some time...The U.S. says Russia tested a new ground-launched cruise missile, breaking the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that President Ronald Reagan signed with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Russian officials say they have looked into the allegations and consider the matter closed."


  1. Hi Matt,

    Nice work on the Blog page :-)

    Laughed off my chair when I seen the Cartoon of Putin with tanks on the chess board. Should have a look at the trade sanction they put on Australia beef. We not worried, quick phone call to Indonisa, Japan and SK and that $400 million of stock nearly gone.

    I give it to Putin though, :-)

    We don't like trade sanction on our country, the hypocrisy is so out of control with our politicians, and the west in general.

    A journalist ask (one of our politicians)
    ::Russia has placed sanction on us,
    his respond
    ::"who is Russia to place sanction on us sanction they are barbaric and cruel"
    The Journo responded,
    ::But we have placed sanction across the regions, Fiji, Indonesia, Iran, Nk in the past and currently
    response form the politician.
    :::::Priceless::::: Dum found look.

    It's good to give out Sanction on country's but it's not good when it's you receiving them.

    Some Farmers are worried about wheat, Russia can easily dump cheap wheat onto the market, would be devastating for our market.

    Regarding the J20, I like your thought's or opinion on the new upgrades to the J20.
    I just want to know, (or you could give a quick response here)
    Break the J20 into 2 parts.
    1. The air performance of the J20 body with proper 5th gen engines, IF it had f22 engines.
    How doe the aircraft handle aerodynamically?
    2. engines, think they are improving.

    Take care
    Stone30 :-)

  2. haha yeah I thought it was pretty great :) Well I"m worried on an over reliance on sanctions, particularly in the United States. The US enjoys an unprecedented financial influence because the dollar is the world reserve currency (1:00):

    Congress and the Administration have been too eager to take advantage of the enormous leverage that has been afforded to the US, as such many states are trying to displace the dollar as the world's reserve currency or reduce their dependence upon it.

    With respect to the J-20, I am actually going to highlight the upgrades in an upcoming article called either "J-20 Revamped" (which would detail all the J-20 developments since I wrote the "Threat Analysis of Foreign Stealth Fighters" which is now quite dated) or the up and coming "Part IV: Countering Foreign 5th Generation Threat".

    I won't sayy too much :) but I think its somewhat difficult to answer as the J-20 is estimated to be a 75,000-80,000 aircraft will a full load of fuel. The size of the J-20 indicates its realistically never going to have a thrust to weight ratio on par with the F-22 even if it had F-22 equivalent engines. Doctrinally, it makes a great deal of sense for China to possess a stealthy air-to-ground platform with extended range out to the second island chain e.g. Guam. Clearly with the EOTS like sensor, emphasis on air-to-air missiles, and other aspects of its design show its a fighter aircraft as well but at least some of its "fighter potential" was sacrificed for its extended payload and fuel capacity.

    Its also somewhat difficult to measure "improvement" as there are many aspects aside from just engine thrust which Russian and Chinese internet aviation enthusiasts seem to fixated on. Reliability is a key issue that is not often discussed but absolutely factors into combat readiness and performance e.g. look at India's fleet of Su-30MKIs. Realistically I can see China catching up to the US in terms of thrust in a decade similar to what the Russians have done with the AL-31F, reliability will continue to be an outstanding issue for them beyond this decade.

    However, the Chinese aviation industry still has several crucial deficiencies as recently noted by Wendell Minnick (e.g. subsystems, composite materials, carbon fiber, aluminum alloys, etc.

    More importantly, China's extensive industrial espionage actives hurt it in the long run in the sense that they create a dependency without much capacity for innovation in actually getting ahead of its competition e.g. the US. I'm not saying the US doesn't need to worry, we've shot ourselves in the foot with cuts to R&D writ large but at least engine tech has done well throughout the sequester, the US jet engine R&D has progressed significantly for both future F-35 engine upgrades and developments related to the follow-on 6th generation fighter which will place a large emphasis on engine improvements e.g. Adaptive Versatile Engine Technology (ADVENT) and Variable Cycle Advanced Technology (VCAT):

  3. Yea, reliability will be the greatest difficulty for china and innovation.

    They are still unable to revers engineer the Russia engines that they had from the 1990's.

    Only way forward for china is mass R&D.