Wednesday, December 13, 2017

War Preparations: Beijing Bombers, Fighter Jets Encircle Taiwan In Drill, Russia To Rebuild Former Soviet Naval Base In Syria's Tartus

Beijing Bombers, Fighter Jets Encircle Taiwan in Drill

A group of People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) H-6K bombers and Su-30 and J-11 fighter jets conducted a mission Monday “that circled the island of Taiwan, further improving their ability to protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” a PLAAF spokesman said this week, according to a fact sheet obtained by China Daily.

Taiwan, an island nation that generally considers itself independent from Beijing, might take issue with the notion that China's warplanes support its sovereignty. Beijing, however, considers Taiwan to be a wayward province that should eventually be incorporated back into China and has not ruled out using force to do so.

"Multiple bombers and reconnaissance planes have flown routes that circled the island of Taiwan," Sr. Col. Shen Jinke reportedly said. According to China Daily, the mission marked the ninth routine drill around Taiwan in the past four months, and noted that the first such circling mission occurred last December.

"The Air Force is an important force in maintaining situations, managing crises and preventing and winning wars," Shen said, noting that the PLAAF "is modernizing to become a strategic combat force capable of fighting in all of China's domain… we must expand our strategic outlook in systematic far-sea exercises, keep a sober mind, improve emergency awareness and safeguard strategic interests."

Beijing has routinely stated that Taiwan is the most contentious and sensitive topic between China and the US. According to the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act [TRA] passed by the US Congress, Washington expects the "future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means," that "any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including boycotts and embargoes, [is] a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area."
The act also states that the US expects to "maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people of Taiwan."

Russian President Vladimir Putin submitted a draft law to the State Duma on the ratification of the Agreement between the Russian Federation and the Syrian Arab Republic about the need to expand the territory of the logistics center in the port of Tartus.
In fact, it goes about creating a full-fledged infrastructure for the Mediterranean squadron. Such a base used to exist in the times of the Soviet Union - as counterbalance to the Sixth US Navy. Can Russia build such a naval base again? 
The agreement will be valid for 49 years. The document is defensive in nature and is not directed against other states. Eleven Russian warships, including nuclear-powered vessels, will be able to stay in the port of Tartus. The agreement can be automatically extended for 25 years.
Plots of land, the water area of the port of Tartus, as well as real estate objects will be transferred to Russia for free for the duration of the agreement. The personnel of the base (the text of the agreement indicates it as the "logistics center"), as well as members of crews will enjoy "privileges and immunities."
In a nutshell, Russia receives the former naval base of the Syrian Navy in its entirety. Given the terms of the agreement, it would be foolish to refuse from such a great  opportunity. Yet, it is not enough to have a base at one's disposal, one needs to maintain it properly. 
Interfax news agency earlier reported with reference to an informed source that the channel in the port of Tartus would be broadened and deepened. "In the future, two new piers for mooring ships with a displacement of over 10,000 tons will be built along with a complex of residential and administrative buildings for purposes of the Russian Navy," the source then said.

A sobering new report warns of growing nuclear threats to U.S. national security posed by the deterioration of the nation’s own nuclear arsenal just as Russia, China, North Korea and Iran are all upgrading their arsenals.
The report documents how Russia and China are aggressively implementing nuclear force modernization, “likely made possible with covert and low-yield nuclear testing.”
Russia and China are now deploying new nuclear ICBMs, new nuclear air-launched cruise missiles, new nuclear submarine-launched ballistic missiles and new ballistic missile submarines. Both are developing still newer versions of these systems, along with bombers, including stealth bombers.
Dr. Mark Schneider, author of the report for the Center for Security Policy and a longtime Pentagon official with expertise in strategic forces, describes the huge increase in numbers and sophistication of the Russian and Chinese missile arsenals and compares this with the deterioration of America’s nuclear arsenal.
Russia is aggressively building up its nuclear forces and is expected to have 8,000 warheads deployed by 2026 along with modernizing deep underground bunkers.
These new warheads will include large strategic warheads and thousands of low-yield and very low-yield warheads to circumvent arms treaty limits and support Moscow’s new doctrine of using nuclear arms early in any conflict.
Russia is also fortifying underground facilities for command and control during a nuclear conflict.
In contrast to Russia’s vastly upgraded position, most of the U.S. systems date back to the Reagan era with some going as far back as the Eisenhower administration.
“The advanced ages of U.S. deterrent systems at their planned replacement dates create the possibility of the loss of critical capability if there are unexpected problems within systems or delays with existing systems,” Schneider writes.
His report notes that the U.S. no longer has the capability to produce tritium, a vital nuclear weapons ingredient. He explains that the average age of a U.S. nuclear weapon – 35 years – represents a serious threat to the U.S. nuclear arsenal because the estimated life span of the nuclear fuel in these weapons is 45 to 60 years.

Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel on Wednesday, amid increased tensions in the south of the country following repeated attacks, the army said.
A third rocket fired out of the Palestinian enclave Wednesday night hit an open field in the Eshkol region, the military added.
Before the rocket fire, the Hadashot television news outlet on Wednesday reported that the Israeli military was planning to take “dramatically” more aggressive action in response to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, in light of the increase in the number of launches.
The rocket launches on Wednesday night triggered sirens that sent Israelis running for cover in the town of Sderot, as well as in the Eshkol, Sha’ar Hanegev, Sdot Hanegev and Hof Ashkelon regions, the army said.
A video filmed in Sderot showed the explosions in the air as an Iron Dome interceptor missile collided with an incoming rocket.
There were no immediate reports of Israeli retaliation to the rocket launches, but such a response was expected, in light of similar reactions to past attacks.

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