Saudi Arabia To Get Armed Drones UCAV From China

Saudi Arabia bought its first drone fleet, according to a dispatch from Tactical Reports. Saudi Crown Prince Salman met with Chinese General Wang Guanzhong to sign a contract for a shipment of Chinese Wing Loong drones, also known as Pterodactyls. The drones that make up the shipment are designed to mimic America's Predator drone, with surveillance capabilities and enough lift to carry two matched air-to-ground missiles.

If the report is true, it means Saudi Arabia may have joined an exclusive club, one of the few nations with armed, unmanned aircraft. It's a group that, to date, includes just the US, Britain, Israel, China, and (depending who you ask) Iran — but beyond those countries, the capability is increasingly available to whoever can pay for it. At the Singapore Air Show earlier this year, both Israel and China were showing off their wares to would-be clients, including the Pterodactyl drone named in the report, and you could find similar displays at dozens of other air shows. With American counter terrorism efforts providing an ongoing test of how valuable the machines can be, there are lots of countries willing to buy.The American monopoly on drones is over.

The US is still responsible for the vast majority of drone strikes, but that may have more to do with politics than capability. A GAO report from 2012 found that more than 75 countries have some form of drone system. Most are unarmed but some, like the systems used in Australia, Japan, and Singapore, could be retrofitted for military purpose. More importantly, the US’ use of drones — more than 50 strikes in 2013 alone — seems to have whetted a global appetite for combat drones. "If you think of this as part of a broader trend of the proliferation of military robotics, then the idea that we were going to have a monopoly on this kind of technology was always a bit far-fetched," says University of Pennsylvania political scientist Michael Horowitz. The American monopoly on drones is over and probably never really existed.
"Israel exported $4.6 billion in drone systems over seven years"
International trade barriers have slowed down the spread, but they haven’t stopped it. For US companies, combat drones are controlled under the same agreement as cruise missiles, through an association called the Missile Technology Control Regime. But China and Israel aren't part of the group, and the two countries have begun aggressively marketing drone systems to outsiders eager to keep up with US capabilities. One report from the consulting firm Frost & Sullivan estimated that Israel had exported $4.6 billion in drone systems between 2005 and 2012.

Experts also say Saudi Arabia has previously demonstrated both the interest and the budget for this kind of purchase. "Saudi Arabia and smaller countries like the UAE are trying to get their hands on whatever they can, and the US has pretty restrictive export policies," says Cornell University professor Sarah Kreps, who studies drone proliferation. The result leaves China as one of the only sources available in town.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are trying to get their hands on whatever they can.
One of the biggest questions is whether the new generation of foreign drones can match US capabilities. "We don't know at all about the quality of the pterodactyl," Kreps cautions, "these aren't combat-tested." Since unmanned aircraft rely so heavily on satellite and communications infrastructure, it’s hard to tell from the craft alone how well it will perform in the field. The Pterodactyl is also typically sold for a fraction of the price of the Predator, which has only fueled skepticism.

But even if China needs help to bring its drones up to US standards, that expertise may not be hard to find. UAVs are built on mostly commercial technology, drawing from the robotics and aviation industries. That’s much harder to keep under wraps than military tech like warheads or missiles. As long as there’s a market, there’ll be an incentive to build cheaper and more powerful drones, and the club of drone-armed countries will continue to grow. As Horowitz puts it, "What we know about the history of military technology suggests it will be really difficult to keep a lid on this."

Russia Is Currently Not Developing A Light Fifth-Generation Stealth Fighter

The development of light fifth-generation fighter is not one of the top-priority projects of Russian United Aircraft Corporation .

Although Russia don’t eliminate the possibility of developing a light fifth-generation aircraft, but currently this project is not included in the roadmap of United Aircraft Corporation UAC. In the near-term UAC will continue the expansion of MiG-29 fighter’s capabilities and then upgrade it to MiG-35 version.

The contracts with Russian and Indian Ministries of Defense for delivery of MiG-29K/KUB aircraft make UAC focus on production of these fighters, the corporation’s president added.

Head of UAC also said that a vector of development will be defined after completion of work on MiG-29K/35 Family: the corporation will then choose between development of a UCAV and a light fifth-generation fighter concept.

Japan's Indigenous Stealth Fighter Prototype ATD-X To Fly By the End Of 2014

Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera has reaffirmed the nation's plan for a 2014 first flight of the Advanced Technology Demonstrator-X (ATD-X) fighter: a prototype for a future fighter to replace the Japan Air Self-Defence Force's Mitsubishi F-2.

"In February I myself visited at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' (MHI's) Komaki Minami plant where the ATD-X is being built," Onodera told the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee of the Upper House on 10 April. "There I was briefed that the first flight will take place this year."

The ATD-X, also known as Shinshin ('Heart of God'), is being developed by the ministry's Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI), with the main contractor of the project being MHI. It has been designed to be a stealthy air-superiority fighter with enhanced manoeuvrability. The Japanese Ministry of Defence (MoD) will use it to research advanced technologies and system integration, after which it plans to produce a 'sixth-generation' fighter encompassing i3 (informed, intelligent and instantaneous) concepts and counter-stealth capabilities.

Japan ATD-X Stealth Fighter
Japan ATD-X Stealth Fighter

"Originally MHI planned to roll-out the ATD-X before the media in May, soon after Japan's Golden Week holidays, followed by the first test fight."Now it is several months behind schedule."

Russia Finalises PAK-DA Bomber Design

Tupolev have completed the design of Russia's PAK-DA next-generation bomber aircraft, according to the head of United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), Mikhail Pogosyan.

Pogosyan made the remarks during a briefing with the Russian aerospace press, according to individuals familiar with the presentation who briefed IHS Jane's on the details. He is understood to have confirmed that the "on-paper" design of the PAK-DA has now been completed by the Tupolev design bureau.

The PAK-DA project will now transition into an intermediate phase between the completion of the aircraft's design and prototype construction, with the beginning of fabrication of some of the component modules for the aircraft.

 PAK-DA Bomber
 PAK-DA Bomber

Despite speculation about whether the PAK-DA will be of a flying-wing design, Pogosyan declined to discuss details of the aircraft's configuration. UAC, which holds the contract for the PAK-DA programme, has overall responsibility for the design of the new bomber. However, the programme is being developed by UAC's new subsidiary formed by the merger of the Tupolev design bureau and the KAPO production plant in Kazan.

Meanwhile, the Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA fifth-generation fighter continues to add more flight test aircraft to the programme, with five prototypes now undergoing validation flights. One more prototype will be delivered for the flight test schedule in 2014 and then two more in 2015. In 2016 the programme is scheduled to begin a low rate of deliveries to operational units, but this is still open to change due to a lack of any concrete facilities within the Russian Air Force (VVS) for the testing of some of the aircraft's performance parameters.

Because of the phased introduction into service and the number of improvements being planned beyond the original configuration the T-50 is probably headed for a very long service life. Projections are, said Pogosyan, that it would be in service well after 2050.

Russia Needs Time To Build Capable Air Force and Naval Force

Personnel is a major problem for the Russian military. Efforts to move from a conscription army to “contract-employed” soldiers (such as the U.S. volunteer force) have not been successful.
The military forces that Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to use “as a last resort” in eastern Ukraine are in the early stages of a major, seven-year modernization program that is not expected to be completed before 2020.

Starved for funds in the 1990s and early 2000s, Moscow’s “troop readiness, training, morale, and discipline suffered, and most arms industries became antiquated,” according to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report released Wednesday.

Sukhoi Su-35S
Sukhoi Su-35S

The number of combat-capable aircraft dropped from 1,600 in 2010 to 1,460 in 2012, according to the Swedish study. The new Russian defense minister, Sergey Shoygu, has said that the air force was concentrated in too few locations and required more bases.
He also spoke publicly about increasing the number of rounds that artillery and tank crews fire in exercises. “Our colleagues in other countries shoot 160 shells a year per crew. We have to increase our indicator at least five times,” he said.

This is not the Russia of the Cold War, and it has few allies who would join it should Putin try to move into eastern Ukraine.

As Gorenburg put it Sunday, any such move would lead “to a quite bloody and potentially long-lasting conflict,” and “even though Russia would win such a war, the result would be long-term instability on Russia’s immediate border, with guerrilla warfare likely for some time.”

Chinese President Urges For Stronger Air Force (PLAAF)

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday said modernization and regularization in the airforce should be accelerated to build a stronger military.

Xiwho is also chairman of the Central Military Commissiontold troops to speed up airspace integration and sharpen their offensive and defensive capabilities while inspecting the air force's command headquarters.

During the visitthe president said efforts should not slacken in the search for the missing Malaysian plane MH370 while debriefing airmen in the mission via video link.

As a strategic military servicethe air force plays a vital role in safeguarding national securityXi saidurging the army to strengthen exercises and be prepared for combatso as to quickly respond to emergencies.

He called on military leaders to run the military in accordance with the law and enforce strict discipline to improve scientific management of troops.

Pakistan Deal for Chinese J-10 Fighters Delayed

Tough IMF conditions on Pakistan and others concern ( PAF busy in the further development of JF-17)  likely will delay Islamabad's plan to buy 36 J-10B Vigorous Dragon multirole fighters from China under a $1.4 billion deal signed in 2009, analysts said.

Current economic conditions "preclude any possibility of acquiring new weapon systems in the next two to three years, at least," said retired Pakistani Air Commodore Kaiser Tufail, a veteran fighter and test pilot who is now an independent military analyst in Lahore.

Under IMF loan terms, the government faces harsh conditions on raising revenue and controlling spending, including on military equipment.

A Chinese defense delegation visited Pakistan the last week of September to discuss the status of stalled defense deals. Whether this included the J-10 order is unclear.

PLAAF J-10B Multirole Fighter
PLAAF J-10B Multirole Fighter

The J-10B Super-10 is an advanced variant of the J-10A, first fielded in late 2003 with China's Air Force. The new Super-10 will reportedly be powered by the Chinese-designed WS-10A turbofan engine, which will replace the J-10A's Russian Saturn AL-31FN. Built by Chengdu Aircraft Industries, the jet is based on Israel's Lavi indigenous fighter program by Israel Aerospace Industries that was canceled in 1987.

Even if a friendly Arab Gulf state provided financing, Tufail said more used Lockheed Martin F-16Cs from US stocks are preferable, "rather than trying out a new weapon system that is an unknown commodity in the realm of modern-day combat."

Tufail questioned the wisdom of buying one squadron of J-10s.

To be cost effective "at least three to four squadrons would justify the additional wherewithal and maintenance facilities that would be needed," he said.

Over-reliance on US high-technology equipment like fighters worries Pakistani officials, and while Tufail said diversification "be explored fully, with China and Russia as suitable sources," in the case of the fighter, the government may not have another option.

Should a deal occur, however, Tufail foresees no problems with directly or indirectly acquiring Russian equipment such as the J-10's AL-31FN engine.

The J-10B was first revealed to the public in early 2009. Images appearing on Chinese-language military websites indicate the J-10B had a new nose configuration with an infrared search and tracking system and a "new Diverterless Supersonic Intake configured engine air intake," also seen on the Chengdu FC-1 Xiaolong (Fierce Dragon), which is co-produced in Pakistan as the JF-17 Thunder, said Richard Fisher, a senior fellow of Asian military affairs at the International Assessment and Strategy Center.

At least one prototype J-10B has featured the indigenous Shenyang-Liming WS-10A turbofan engine, but it remains to be seen whether all production J-10Bs will feature the WS-10A or the Russian Saturn AL-31F turbofan," Fisher said.

China to Get Former Greek Zubr Hovercrafts

Greek government has given the green light for the Hellenic Navy to sell its four Russian-built Zubr landing ships to China, Hong Kong newspaper reported.
At more than five hundred tons, the Zubr is the world's largest hovercraft. The massive ships can carry up to three tanks and at least 300 troops over hundreds of miles of ocean, and can also lay mines.

The People's Liberation Army Navy already operates several Zubrs, with the most recent vessel delivered from Ukraine several weeks ago. Chinese units differ from the Russian originals, featuring a stealthy version of the AK-630 cannon, a Type 364 search radar, and the locally-produced OFC-3 optical fire control device.

Hellenic Navy staff spokesman Kleftos Priapos confirmed the sale in an interview.

Zubr Hovercraft
Zubr Hovercraft

"As the Zubrs were all constructed in either Russia or Ukraine, the sale of these hovercraft does not violate any current NATO rules against arms transfers to China," said Priapos in response to questions from Filipino reporters. "This is a perfectly legal transfer, and besides, we need the funds."

Priapos cut short the interview after several Filipino reporters became visibly agitated, sources report. It cannot be confirmed whether Priapos forcibly ejected the reporters for "rubbing him the wrong way" with aggresive questioning, as YouTube commentators have claimed.

Russia Can't Find A Better Ally Than Pakistan In The Region

Russian  Pakistan FriendShip
Russian  Pakistan Friendship

Russian  Pakistan Friendship
Russian  Pakistan Friendship

China's Area 51 and New Technology?

After the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) acknowledged the existence of Area 51 as a testing site for U-2 spy planes, a secret Chinese missile range in the Badan Jilin Desert in Inner Mongolia has become the world's next great site of unexplained mystery technology development and testing , according to Chinese Internet.
Photo of this secret military site were first revealed by the official news agency Xinhua in a report which said the site is never featured on any official maps approved by the government and its purpose had never previously been mentioned in any media report. This secret military facility was established in 2003 for the People's Liberation Army to test its ballistic missiles and fighters, Xinhua said.

China's Area 51
China's Area 51 
Photos published by Xinhua showed the words "those who steal secrets will be caught and executed" outside the entrance of the facility. The history of the base goes back to 1958, when it was originally designed as two shooting ranges, one for ballistic missiles and the other for aircraft. After the integration of the sites in 2003, China's first indigenous fourth-generation fighter completed its last air-to-air missile tests over the Badan Jilin Desert on Dec. 25 of that year.

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