U.S., South Korea Pledge to Expand Military Cooperation; NATO and Japan Deepen Ties

The U.S. and South Korea will step up joint field exercises and bolster joint capabilities to deter and respond to North Korean nuclear and missile threats, the defense chiefs of both countries said on Tuesday. In a joint statement, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and South Korea Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-Sup condemned North […]

South Korea’s 28th Infantry Division, Artillery Brigade, U.S 2nd Infantry Division, 2nd Striking Brigade,2-17th Artillery Battalion combined live-fire Exercise were held at Kkotbong Shooting Range in Gyeonggi Province. Jan. 23, 2023. ROK Photo

The U.S. and South Korea will step up joint field exercises and bolster joint capabilities to deter and respond to North Korean nuclear and missile threats, the defense chiefs of both countries said on Tuesday.

In a joint statement, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and South Korea Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-Sup condemned North Korea’s continued provocations and violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions, including its missile launches and recent drone incursions. The defense chiefs also affirmed that the ROK-U.S. Alliance, along with the international community, will continue to take a strong stance against any further provocations by North Korea.

The two leaders emphasized that the two nations will continue to bolster the alliance capabilities to deter and respond to North Korean nuclear and missile threats, as well as to expand information sharing and joint planning. The two defense chiefs additionally pledged to closely cooperate in order to continue to deploy U.S. strategic assets in a timely and coordinated manner in the future.

The U.S. and South Korea will hold a Deterrence Strategy Committee Table-top Exercise (DSC TTX) in February, with the goal of assessing and developing response options to deal with the North Korean nuclear threat. The two sides highlighted the combined air exercises in late 2022 that involved U.S. strategic bombers and demonstrated a range of deterrence capabilities of the U.S.-ROK alliance.

“Going forward as well, we will seek together for various measures to enhance extended deterrence implementation, show the public of the Republic of Korea the firm will of the United States commitment to the defense of the ROK,” Lee said in a press conference with Austin.
“We will further reinforce the alliance capability and posture and the combined defense through expanded execution of field exercises and large scale combined joint fires demonstration.”

Neither Lee nor Austin provided details on the exercises that would be carried out, but they will likely be on the same level as the Foal Eagle joint exercises, which were suspended in 2019.

Asked about the types of deployments that the U.S. would carry out in the future to the ROK, Austin referred to the past year’s activities which included the deployments of F-22s, F-35s and the visit by the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG).

“You can look for more of that kind of activity going forward,” he said, adding that deeper consultations between the two countries and leaderships and more tabletop exercises are planned.

Both Austin and Lee also discussed measures to strengthen regional security cooperation, including ROK-U.S.-Japan trilateral security cooperation, according to the statement, and committed to following up on developing specific courses of action to facilitate trilateral sharing of missile warning data. Conversations are expected to be addressed at a future meeting of the Defense Trilateral Talks.

Both defense chiefs agreed to hold Defense Trilateral Talks (DTT) at the earliest opportunity to discuss concrete measures on how to strengthen security cooperation among the three nations, the statement read.

Japan, Korea and the U.S. already carry out a number of joint missile defense activities like the Pacific Dragon exercise and held a ballistic missile defense drill in October 2022 in response to North Korean missile launches

Austin will now head to the Philippines where he will meet Philippines President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. while hosted by acting secretary of National Defense Carlito Galvez, Austin will also meet with Gen. Andres Centino, the chief of defense, and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo.

NATO and Japan

In Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday, Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg pledged to deepen ties between Japan and NATO.

In a joint statement, Kishida and Stoltenberg condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and North Korea’s ongoing development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. The pair reiterated their support for Ukraine and called for North Korea to fully comply with all U.N. Security Council resolutions and to abandon its nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs.

Both leaders also shared concerns with Russia’s growing military cooperation with China, including through joint operations and drills in the vicinity of Japan.

Kishida and Stoltenberg raised concerns about Chinese and Russian attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea, as well as the militarisation, coercion and intimidation in the South China Sea, due to China’s rapid strengthening of its military capabilities in the region. Both also stated that Japan and NATO’s positions on Taiwan remained unchanged and encouraged a peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.

“Beijing and Moscow are leading an authoritarian pushback against the international rules-based order,” Stoltenberg said in his opening statement during his meeting with Kishida.

He said the Indo-Pacific faces growing challenges, from China’s coercive behavior to provocations by North Korea

“If President Putin wins in Ukraine, this would send a message that authoritarian regimes can achieve their goals through brute force. This is dangerous. Beijing is watching closely. And learning lessons that may influence its future decisions,” Stoltenberg said.

He added that what is happening in Europe today could happen in East Asia tomorrow.

Both leaders welcomed progress toward the new framework cooperation document between Japan and NATO, the Individually Tailored Partnership Programme (ITPP), in order to expand current Japan-NATO cooperation. Japan and NATO are exploring expanding cooperation to areas such as defense science and technology including activities with the NATO Science and Technology Organization (STO) and are also accelerating efforts to enhance information sharing.

Stoltenberg wrapped up a two-day visit to the Republic of Korea on Monday with talks with President Yoon Suk Yeol. The two leaders discussed common security challenges and how to strengthen the Alliance’s partnership with Seoul

In the South China Sea

On Friday, U.S. Marine Corps F-35B fighters embarked on amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8) carried out dissimilar air combat training in international airspace in the southern reaches of the South China Sea with Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) F-15SG fighters, according to a social media post by the service.

On Sunday, embarked Rafale fighters and an E-2C Hawkeye from the carrier FS Charles De Gaulle (R91), currently deployed around the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, carried out a drill off India’s west coast with Indian Air Force (IAF) Su-30MKI fighters, an IAF Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft and an IL-76 tanker.

Japan Issues Military Equipment Wishlist That Includes Hypersonic Weapons, Unmanned Systems

Japan’s Ministry of Defense this week issued a document detailing new military equipment it’s developing, with rationales and status updates for programs ranging from hypersonic weapons to unmanned underwater vehicles. The capabilities include research on hypersonic cruise missiles, the development of high-speed glide bombs for island defense, target observation munitions, Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) control […]

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), in cooperation with the U.S. Navy, announced the successful completion of Japan Flight Test Mission-07 (JFTM-07), held off the coast of Kauai in Hawaii, on Nov. 18, 2022. MDA Photo

Japan’s Ministry of Defense this week issued a document detailing new military equipment it’s developing, with rationales and status updates for programs ranging from hypersonic weapons to unmanned underwater vehicles.

The capabilities include research on hypersonic cruise missiles, the development of high-speed glide bombs for island defense, target observation munitions, Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) control technology, development of new sea mines, improved Type 12 anti-ship missiles, the mass production and deployment of high-speed glide bombs, mass production of the improved SH-60K anti-submarine warfare helicopter, a new anti-ship missile for maritime patrol aircraft, the mass production of torpedoes with a silent power unit and the acquisition of Tomahawk cruise missiles. The disclosure is in line with a 2019 MoD enactment on measures for clarification and transparency on new military equipment.

On hypersonic cruise missiles, the MoD said its study found only domestic research and development candidates met the operational concept and performance requirements. It selected a domestic operational research demonstration to develop prototypes for evaluation and funding for the research under the Fiscal Year 2023 defense budget request. (Japan’s fiscal year begins on April 1. The MoD did not disclose the amount allocated in the document, but the MoD’s FY 2023 budget request asked for 58.5 billion yen, or $454 million.

For high-speed glide bombs, the MoD said it will develop them with long ranges and make them capable of traveling at supersonic speeds and high altitudes from various points in Japan to deal with invasions of islands. An MoD study concluded that only domestic candidates can meet the requirements for operational concept and performance, so Japan will pursue domestic development. The FY 2023 budget request sought 200.3 billion yen, or $1.54 billion, for development. A second entry on building and deploying high-speed glide bombs said that while Japan expects to finish research into the bombs by FY 2025, the bombs could operationally deploy as early as possible. This could potentially happen before the research finishes, so acquisition costs were factored into the FY 2023 budget request. It did not give an exact timeframe as to when manufacturing and deployment will begin.

A tomahawk cruise missile launches from the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Shoup (DDG-86) for a live-fire exercise during Valiant Shield 2018 on Sept. 18, 2018. US Navy Photo

On the Tomahawk cruise missiles, the MoD said they are necessary to acquire a stand-off missile capability for defense as soon as possible and that the Tomahawk met the criteria, like acquisition schedule and performance. The acquisition costs were included in the FY 2023 budget request, which sough 211.3 billion yen, or $1.62 billion, along with an additional 110 billion yen, or $847 million, for software, equipment, technology transfer fees and training.

It’s unclear if the target observation munitions entry referred solely to loitering munitions or unmanned air vehicles to provide target acquisition data for other weapon systems or a combination of both. Again the MoD chose to go the domestic development path, as it was the only was to meet Japan’s requirements and development expenses that were factored into the FY 2023 budget request. The MoD said it will not disclose overall procurement cost, per unit cost, and production cost because it could suggest the number of munitions procured. But the life cycle cost is expected to be 118.2 billion yen, or $911 million.

For research on UUV control technology, Japan will acquire and build two types of domestic UUVs to test out actual operations at sea, with the test UUVs meant to control smaller UUVs. UUV1 will only be a testing vehicle, while UUV2 may evolve into a mass-produced operational model once the tests are completed. Japan will also domestically develop new compact and lightweight sea mines that can be deployed from various platforms and remotely controlled. It’s unclear when these would get operationally fielded.

Development of the improved Type 12 ground-launched anti-ship missile is expected to finish by FY 2025, though the missile will deploy as soon as possible. The MoD did not detail what the improvements would be, but it has already disclosed plans to extend the range from 200 kilometers to over 1000 kilometers. The MoD included 127.7 billion yen, or $985 million, in the FY 2023 budget for both research and development, along with production and acquisition.

A new anti-ship missile will deploy on Japan’s maritime patrol aircraft to replace the existing ASM-1C and Harpoon anti-ship missiles in service, though the type and manufacture has not been disclosed. Pictures of the missiles during flight tests show that it’s likely an improved air-launched version of the Type 17 anti-ship missile. A submarine-launched torpedo with a quieter power unit will also come online, though the document did not detail whether this is an improved version of the Type 18 torpedo or a new torpedo design. It only said that the new power unit is quieter than the one in existing Type 18 torpedoes. Per unit costs were also not disclosed.

The improved version of the Japanese-produced Mitsubishi Heavy Industries SH-60K, – built under license from Sikorsky – commonly known outside the MoD as SH-60L, had an average unit production cost of 8.1 billion yen, or $62 million, as of August 2022, according to the MoD document. The life cycle cost is projected at 1248 billion yen, or $9.61 billion, when 80 aircraft are procured. Though not stated in the document, the helicopter is expected to enter service by the end of FY 2023, replacing the current SH-60Ks in service with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

Senator Questions If Allies Would Aid Taiwan in Potential Chinese Invasion

A senior Republican on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence questioned several allies’ willingness to come to Taiwan’s aid if China invaded the island. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Monday at the American Enterprise Institute that debating if the United States should drop its strategic ambiguity stance if the island democracy was attacked is a […]

Taiwanese Marines on Jan. 11, 2023. Taiwan Ministry of National Defense Photo

A senior Republican on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence questioned several allies’ willingness to come to Taiwan’s aid if China invaded the island.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Monday at the American Enterprise Institute that debating if the United States should drop its strategic ambiguity stance if the island democracy was attacked is a “moot point.” While Chinese President Xi Jinping expects the U.S. and Japan to respond, Cornyn is “a little less confident what our other allies would do.”

Australia and New Zealand have voiced support for Taiwan, but it “is a far cry from committing troops to repel an invasion,” Cornyn said as he also questioned Australia’s and New Zealand’s willingness to help Taiwan during a potential invasion.

As was the case with Russian President Vladimir Putin, “one guy decides whether to invade or not,” when it comes to Taiwan’s future, Cornyn said.

“I don’t think the Taiwanese are ready” for an attack. But “we’ve see all the signs” of increased Chinese belligerency following then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit to Taiwan, Cornyn said. This summer, Pelosi told Taiwanese officials that the United States “will not abandon its commitment” to the island’s security.

Beijing responded with missile tests over and near the island, flying hundreds of aircraft into its air identification zone over several days, sending warships around the island as it would in a blockade and using military exercises to test amphibious assault operations.

For several years, the United States has pressed Taiwan to improve its internal defenses by investing in anti-air and anti-ship weapons, investing in mines and mine countermeasures, extending training periods for reservists and stepping up military exercises rehearsing how to repel an invasion.

Cornyn also questioned whether Taiwan could “hold out for a couple of weeks … until the cavalry arrives” for its rescue. The situation is very different from that of Ukraine, which has land connections with NATO countries to move support into the country. Taiwan is an island and support would have to come by air or sea.

When asked what would deter Xi from an attack in the near future, Cornyn pointed to “cost” leading to potential failure.

On continued aid to Ukraine, he expected strong congressional support to continue. “My own view is that it is money well spent, he said. The senator said the expected audit – requested by the House – of past expenditures for and to Kyiv is necessary.

Cornyn is skeptical that the Kremlin is interested in serious negotiations with the Ukrainians now.

“If peace broke out tomorrow, they [would use the time] to regroup and re-arm,” he said.

He agreed with the Ukrainian assessment that the war began in 2014, when the Kremlin seized Crimea and backed separatists in the Donbas region with weapons, manpower and financing.

The Ukrainians have to set the terms of negotiations that lead to a settlement, he added. Putin’s goals now are “to grind the Ukrainians … and outlast the West” in the struggle.

The defense industrial sector is feeling the impact of that continued support to Ukraine, Cornyn said. He cited a new Center for Strategic and International Studies report that found it will take five years to replenish U.S. stocks of 155 mm artillery rounds.

“Javelins and Stingers, same story,” the senator said.

Aggravating the shortages is the potential for simultaneous engagement in two conflicts – one in Eastern Europe and another in the Western Pacific, he added. “I don’t see all hands on deck,” including the industrial base, should a crisis escalate to fighting in Asia or the Pacific.

“This ought to be a flashing red light to us,” Cornyn said.

“Certainly we are in a race” with China on advanced technologies, like artificial intelligence and quantum computing, he added. “There’s enough warning signals that we need to be ramping up our readiness” in the technology sector as well. Cornyn cited the semi-conductor manufacturing industry, for which both China and the United States rely on Taiwan.

Congress compounds the problem by relying on continuing resolutions, instead of passing budgets on time, and then passing appropriations through huge omnibus spending packages. The resolutions, with their caps on spending and restrictions on where money can go until a budget is passed, breaks up planning in the Pentagon and disrupts industrial base production, he said.

“I think it’s going to be a real heavy lift to get back to regular order” of passing individual appropriations bills with amendments accepted or rejected on the floor of both chambers of Congress, he said.

“CRs and sequestration is one of the places you would not want to go,” Cornyn said.

The fiscal year begins Oct. 1. President Joe Biden signed the Fiscal Year 2023 $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package into law on Dec. 29. The government ran on continuing resolutions during that time.

CNO Gilday: Expanding Military Cooperation Between South Korea, Japan ‘A Necessity’

The Navy’s top officer stressed the need for “a forward-looking relationship” between Japan, South Korea and the United States. “It’s no longer a luxury but a necessity” that the three nations work together, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said Thursday. Examples of the improved trilateral relationship include information and intelligence sharing, participating in […]

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Gilday delivers testimony at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the fiscal year 2023 defense budget request on May 12, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Navy’s top officer stressed the need for “a forward-looking relationship” between Japan, South Korea and the United States. “It’s no longer a luxury but a necessity” that the three nations work together, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said Thursday.

Examples of the improved trilateral relationship include information and intelligence sharing, participating in joint exercises in different regions of the Indo-Pacific and the interoperability of platforms and systems.

During a conversation at a Korean-American security group online forum, Gilday acknowledged that there are still historic grievances between the two nations that can disrupt a planned exercise or throw into question continued intelligence sharing. Tokyo and Seoul have “to get beyond poking each other in the eye” over these issues.

Gilday said the two nations are in “deeper discussions of unmanned systems,” mentioning the expansion of clandestine mine-laying as an example He also mentioned the work Japan is undertaking on its amphibious carriers to carry helicopters, F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters and marines as important developments in expanding the options to strengthen its defenses.

If Tokyo holds to this goal, Japan will be behind only Washington and Beijing in defense spending.

Recently, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s met with President Joe Biden to discuss mutual security concerns over China’s heightened threats to invade Taiwan and North Korea’s accelerated missile testing.

In December, Kishida announced that Japan will double its spending on defense over the next five years to address new threats in Northeast Asia. A key part of that new investment will be in building Aegis-equipped destroyers that will field 400 to 500 Tomahawk missiles, as well as boosting cyber capabilities and expanded development of unmanned systems.

On integrated missile defense among the three, Gilday said, “we’re on the precipice of something really important” in sharing targeting data and other information.

Gilday said the extended deterrence the United States provides against attack on its two allies includes “the nuclear umbrella.” He cited the National Defense Strategy released in October that says North Korea’s use of nuclear weapons would “result in the end of that regime.”

In the case of defending South Korea, he cited Biden’s spring trip to Seoul and Vice President Kamala Harris’ more recent visit to the Demilitarized Zone as demonstrations of the importance the United States places on the alliance.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said this week that if the North Korean threat to use nuclear weapons increases, Seoul may develop its own nuclear arsenal or ask the United States to redeploy these weapons to the peninsula.

The New York Times quoted the president as saying, “we can have our own nuclear weapons pretty quickly, given our scientific and technological capabilities.”

For South Korea, Gilday said that United States’ close collaboration in all five domains of warfare “demonstrates that we are working together.” He added, “I remain an optimist … on building multi-domain operations.”

He called the relationship between the two navies “a watertight alliance.”

When asked if homeporting U.S. warships in South Korea was under consideration, he said “I would never take any option off the table.” He said something similar when a questioner wondered if the United States would conduct freedom of navigation operations in the Yellow Sea.

Gilday said the point of deterrence is “to convince any particular adversary it’s not worth it to make a move.” He added, “we should not lose our nerve” in that commitment while trying not to escalate tensions in a crisis.

Any decision for Japan to build a nuclear-powered submarine is a huge step that would require the nation’s support politically and financially for years, Gilday said. That decision must be made with the understanding of “the totality of the ecosystem” for the initiative and that it will take decades to complete. Change “eco-system” for such a project requires “the right people, the right training, the right platforms, the right workforce” and sustainment, he said.

Gilday, using the agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States – known as AUKUS – as a possible model, said it will be “well into the 2040s” before Canberra launches its first nuclear-powered attack submarine.

Australia is expected to announce this quarter which submarine design it will choose to follow.

Chinese Liaoning Carrier Strike Group Now in East China Sea, PLA Drones Operating Near Japan

Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy Liaoning Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is operating in the East China Sea following two weeks in the Philippine Sea. The CSG is now likely heading home after its brief Western Pacific patrol. Meanwhile, Chinese Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have been transiting the Miyako Strait from the East China Sea into […]

Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning in the Philippine Sea. JSDF Photo

Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy Liaoning Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is operating in the East China Sea following two weeks in the Philippine Sea. The CSG is now likely heading home after its brief Western Pacific patrol. Meanwhile, Chinese Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have been transiting the Miyako Strait from the East China Sea into the Pacific and returning the same way on Sunday and Monday, according to the Japanese Ministry of Defense.

People’s Liberation Army Navy escorts assigned to the Liaoning Carrier Strike Group. From top to bottom: guided-missile destroyer CNS Chengdu (120), CNS Anshan (103) and CNS Wuxi (104) and frigate CNS Zhaozhuang (542). JSDF Photo

Comprised of carrier CNS Liaoning (16), guided-missile cruisers CNS Anshan (103) and CNS Wuxi (104), guided-missile destroyer CNS Chengdu (120), frigate CNS Zhaozhuang (542) and fast combat support ship CNS Hulunhu (901) transited the Miyako Strait from the East China Sea into the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 16 and then began flight operations in the Philippine Sea. Japan’s Joint Staff Office (JSO) of the Ministry of Defense said the CSG had sailed northward through the Miyako Strait into the East China Sea on Sunday. The release also included the following table of sightings of the Liaoning CSG from December 28-31.

Time and Date Location Ships sighted
Wednesday

8pm

28 December

224 miles east of Oki Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi, destroyer Chengdu, fast combat support ship Hulunhu
Thursday

8am

29 December

192 miles northeast of Oki Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi, destroyer Chengdu, fast combat support ship Hulunhu
Friday

8pm

30 December

330 miles east of Kita Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, cruisers Anshan and Wuxi, destroyer Chengdu, frigate Zhaozhuang, fast combat support ship Hulunhu
Saturday

8pm

31 December

137 miles south of Oki Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, cruisers Anshan and Wuxi, destroyer Chengdu, frigate Zhaozhuang, fast combat support ship Hulunhu

 

From Wednesday to Saturday, Liaoning conducted flight operations with about 20 launches and recoveries of fighters and around 40 take-offs and landings of helicopters from the carrier. Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) fighter aircraft were scrambled in response to the fighter activity from the carrier. The release added that an approximate total of 320 take-offs and landings of both fighters and helicopters had been carried out between December 17th to 31st. Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer JS Ariake (DD-109), replenishment ship JS Towada (AOE-422) along with a JMSDF P-3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 5 based at Naha Air Base, Okinawa monitored the PLAN CSG according to the release.

The JSO said on Sunday, a Chinese WZ-7 Soaring Dragon unmanned aerial vehicle flew in from the East China Sea through the Miyako Strait, and after reaching the Pacific Ocean in an area south of the Sakishima Islands, it reversed course and returned to the East China Sea via the Miyako Strait. The release stated that JASDF fighters had been scrambled in response to the UAV’s flight and this was the first time that the WZ-7 UAV had been sighted operating around Japan. On Monday, a release by the JSO said, a WZ-7 UAV flew in from the East China Sea and that the UAV followed the same flight route as the one on Sunday and that JASDF fighters were scrambled in response.

WZ-7 Soaring Dragon on Jan. 1, 2023.

The WZ-7 UAV, which has been in service since 2018, is a high-altitude, long-endurance UAV with a similar profile and mission as the U.S. RQ-4 Global Hawk, though the Soaring Dragon’s range and endurance are less than the Global Hawk. The Miyako Strait is a 155-mile-wide passageway between Okinawa and Miyako Island which are considered international waters and airspace, Chinese military ships, aircraft and UAVs transit regularly through it from and to the East China Sea with Japan’s military shadowing their movements owing to their proximity to Japan.

North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile After Unprecedented Year Of Tests

By Joyce Lee SEOUL, Dec 31 (Reuters) – North Korea fired a ballistic missile toward the sea east to the Korean Peninsula on Saturday, the South Korean military said.  It is the…

By Joyce Lee SEOUL, Dec 31 (Reuters) – North Korea fired a ballistic missile toward the sea east to the Korean Peninsula on Saturday, the South Korean military said.  It is the...

Russian, Chinese Naval Exercise Wraps in East China Sea

The Russian Navy and the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) wrapped up their Joint Sea 2022 exercise in the East China Sea on Tuesday. The Russian surface action group transited northeast through the Tsushima Strait while the PLAN Liaoning Carrier Strike Group (CSG) continued its deployment to the Philippine Sea. On Tuesday, a Russian cruiser, […]

A People’s Liberation Army Navy helicopter takes off from Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning in the Philippine Sea. JSDF Photo

The Russian Navy and the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) wrapped up their Joint Sea 2022 exercise in the East China Sea on Tuesday. The Russian surface action group transited northeast through the Tsushima Strait while the PLAN Liaoning Carrier Strike Group (CSG) continued its deployment to the Philippine Sea.

On Tuesday, a Russian cruiser, destroyer and two corvettes were sighted about 85 miles northwest of the Danjo Islands in the East China Sea, according to the Japanese Ministry of Defense. The ships were identified as the guided-missile cruiser RFS Varyag (011), destroyer RFS Marshal Shaposhnikov (543) and corvettes RFS Sovershennyy (333) and RFS Hero of the Russian Federation Aldar Tsydenzhapov (339).

The Russian ships were the same ones that sailed southwest through the Tsushima Strait from December 20-21 and also stated that Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer JS Samidare (DD-106) and minesweeper JS Toyoshima (MSC-685) along with JMSDF P-1s Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) of Fleet Air Wing 4 based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Honshu shadowed the Russian ships.

Joint Sea 2022 is the latest in an exercise series the East China Sea that has been carried out by the two countries since 2012. This year’s iteration took place from Dec. 21- 27 with the PLAN deploying the destroyers CNS Baotou (133) and CNS Jinan (152), frigates CNS Binzhou (515) and CNS Yancheng (546), replenishment ship CNS Gaoyouhu (966) and a submarine along with airborne early warning and control aircraft and maritime patrol aircraft for the exercise.

Japanese MoD Photo

The Russian Ministry of Defense in a release on Wednesday said that the two navies carried out a drill to rescue a simulated seized vessel, practiced maritime search and rescue, carried out an anti-submarine warfare exercise where the ships of both countries, supported by anti-submarine aircraft, located a notional enemy’s submarine and destroyed it with rocket-propelled depth charges. Live firing of guns at a target simulating a surface ship and live fire of surface-to-air missiles against aerial targets were also carried out according to the release.

Meanwhile, the Liaoning CSG comprising of carrier CNS Liaoning (16), cruisers CNS Anshan (103) and CNS Wuxi (104), destroyer CNS Chengdu (120), frigate CNS Zhaozhuang (542) and fast combat support ship CNS Hulunhu (901) have been conducting operations in the Philippine Sea near Japan’s Daito Islands group, which lies around 224 miles southeast of Okinawa. A Wednesday release by the JSO provided a table showing the location and sightings of ships from the CSG from Friday to Tuesday.

Time and Date Location Ships sighted
Friday

8pm

23 December

640km south of Kita Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi, frigate Zhaozhuang
Saturday

1am

24 December

870km south of Okinotorishima Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi, frigate Zhaozhuang
Sunday

8pm

25 December

670km southeast of Okinotorishima Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi, frigate Zhaozhuang, fast combat support ship Hulunhu
Monday

8pm

26 December

250km southwest of Okinotorishima Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi, frigate Zhaozhuang, fast combat support ship Hulunhu
Tuesday

8pm

27 December

270km east of Oki Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi, destroyer Chengdu, frigate Zhaozhuang, fast combat support ship Hulunhu

On Friday, Monday and Tuesday, Liaoning conducted flight operations with around 40 launches and recoveries of fighters. Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) fighter aircraft were scramble in response to the fighter activity from the carrier according to the release. Helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyer JS Ariake (DD-109) were monitoring the PLAN CSG, according to the MoD.

Aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) together with its CSG escorts is operating in the Philippine Sea conducting routine operations based on photographs released by the U.S Navy though there is no indication that the Nimitz CSG is in the same vicinity as the Liaoning CSG.

In French Polynesia, two Iranian Navy ships transited the EEZ of French Polynesia according to a social media post by France Pacific Command on Sunday. The command posted photos of the two ships that were taken by a French Navy Falcon 200 Guardian maritime surveillance aircraft. While the post did not state the identity of the ships, the two ships are most likely seabase IRIS Makran (441) and frigate IRIS Dena (75) which form the Iranian Navy’s 86th Flotilla that left Iran on September 28. Iranian Navy Chief Rear Admiral Shahram Irani stated on a television broadcast on Sept. 30 that the 86th flotilla of the Iranian Navy will circumnavigate the globe in its mission in order to exhibit the Iranian nation’s power. The two ships were last sighted leaving Jakarta, Indonesia on Nov. 5 after a five day visit there.

Japan’s LNG Buyers Check How Shipping Insurance Halt Will Affect Supplies

By Shoko Oda and Tsuyoshi Inajima (Bloomberg) — Japan’s buyers of Russian liquefied natural gas are assessing how imminent changes to shipping insurance — triggered by the ongoing war in Ukraine…

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Japan Firms To Stop Insuring Ships In All Russian Waters 

TOKYO, Dec 24 (Reuters) – Three Japanese insurance companies will stop insuring ships for damage in all Russian waters due to the war in Ukraine, potentially affecting Japan’s energy imports such as…

TOKYO, Dec 24 (Reuters) – Three Japanese insurance companies will stop insuring ships for damage in all Russian waters due to the war in Ukraine, potentially affecting Japan’s energy imports such as...

Russian, Chinese Warships Hold Drill in East China Sea, Chinese Carrier Strike Group Steams in Philippine Sea

The Russian Navy and the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) are exercising in the East China Sea while the PLAN Liaoning Carrier Strike Group continues operating in the Philippine Sea. On Wednesday, the Joint Staff Office of Japan’s Ministry of Defense said on a Russian Navy cruiser, destroyer and two corvettes were sighted Tuesday, sailing […]

The Russian Navy and the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) are exercising in the East China Sea while the PLAN Liaoning Carrier Strike Group continues operating in the Philippine Sea.

On Wednesday, the Joint Staff Office of Japan’s Ministry of Defense said on a Russian Navy cruiser, destroyer and two corvettes were sighted Tuesday, sailing southwest in an area 50 miles northeast of Tsushima. The group included cruiser RFS Varyag (011), destroyer RFS Marshal Shaposhnikov (543) and corvettes RFS Sovershennyy (333) and RFS Hero of the Russian Federation Aldar Tsydenzhapov (339), all part of the Russian Navy’s Pacific Fleet. The release added that the four ships sailed southwest through the Tsushima Strait into the East China Sea from Tuesday to Wednesday. The Russian ships were monitored by the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) fast attack craft JS Shirataka (PG-829) and JMSDF P-1s maritime patrol aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 4 based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Honshu.

The four Russian Navy ships were traveling to rendezvous with PLAN ships for the Russia-China Joint Sea 2022, a series of joint exercises in the East China Sea that has been carried out by the two countries since 2012. This year’s iteration is taking place from Dec. 21 to 27.

Four Russian warships operating near Japan. JSDF Photo

Russian replenishment ship Pechanga is also taking part in the exercise, according to a release by China’s Ministry of National Defense. The PLAN is deploying the destroyers CNS Baotou (133) and CNS Jinan (152), frigates CNS Binzhou (515) and Yancheng (546), replenishment ship CNS Gaoyouhu (966) and a submarine along with airborne early warning and control aircraft and maritime patrol aircraft. The drills will encompass a wide range of maritime warfare activities along with live firing. Last year in October, both navies conducted joint drills along with jointly sailing in international waters off the west coast of the main Japanese island of Honshu.

Meanwhile, the Liaoning CSG comprising of carrier CNS Liaoning (16), cruisers CNS Anshan (103) and CNS Wuxi (104), destroyer CNS Chengdu (120), frigate CNS Zhaozhuang (542) and fast combat support ship CNS Hulunhu (901) have been conducting operations in the Philippine Sea near Japan’s Daito Islands group, which lies around 360km southeast of Okinawa. A JSO release on Wednesday provided a table showing the sightings of ships from Saturday to Tuesday

Time and Date Location Ships sighted
8pm

Saturday

17 December

260km west-southwest of Oki Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi, destroyer Chengdu, frigate Zhaozhuang and fast combat support ship Hulunhu
8pm

Sunday

18 December

350km east-southeast of Oki Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, destroyer Chengdu, frigate Zhaozhuang, and fast combat support ship Hulunhu
8pm

Monday

19 December

270km east-northeast of Kita Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, destroyer Chengdu and frigate Zhaozhuang
8pm

Tuesday

20 December

450km east-northeast of Kita Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Anshan and destroyer Chengdu

 

The JSO release stated that during this period in the day, a total of 60 fighter aircraft launches, flights and recoveries were conducted along with 70 take-offs, flights and landings by helicopters on Liaoning. The release stated that destroyer JS Kirisame (DD-104) shadowed the PLAN CSG and Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) fighter aircraft were scrambled in response to the carrier’s fighter activity. Kirisame has been shadowing the PLAN CSG since December 16 when it was sighted in the East China Sea.

On Friday, the JSO issued a release with the following table for Wednesday and Thursday’s activity by the PLAN CSG.

 

Time and Date Location Ships sighted
8pm

Wednesday

21 December

560km east of Kita Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi and frigate Zhaozhuang
8pm

Thursday

22 December

120km east of Okinotorishima Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi and frigate Zhaozhuang

The release stated that for the two days in daytime, 50 fighter aircraft launches, flights and recoveries were conducted along with 20 take-offs, flight and landings by helicopters on Liaoning. The release stated that PLAN CSG was monitored by Kirisame along with the destroyer helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH-183) and JASDF fighter aircraft were scrambled in response to Liaoning’s fighter activity.

A PLAN destroyer is operating near the Exclusive Economic Zone of French Polynesia, according to a social media post by the French Pacific Command on Friday, which posted photos taken by a French Navy Falcon 200 Guardian maritime surveillance aircraft. The hull number of the PLAN destroyer identifies it as CNS Yinchuan (175).

https://twitter.com/ALPACIFRAPACOM/status/1606029950242369536

Aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) is operating in the Philippine Sea, as well, according to a Tuesday JMSDF release. On Monday, JMSDF P-1s conducted tactical and interoperability exercises with Nimitz and its embarked aircraft along with U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon MPAs and U.S. Air Force (USAF) B-52 bombers. The release stated that the exercise took place in the sea area from the south of Iwo Jima to the east of Guam.

On Wednesday in Indonesia, the U.S. Navy and the Indonesian Navy concluded Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT)/Marine Exercise (MAREX) Indonesia 2022, according to a U.S. 7th Fleet release.

CARAT/MAREX Indonesia took place in Surabaya, Situbondo and in the Java Sea from Dec. 7-21 and focused on shared maritime security challenges of the region and increasing proficiency in amphibious operations according to the release. The exercise included a joint amphibious assault by the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and the Indonesian Marine Corps. Indonesian ships in the exercise were frigates KRI Raden Eddy Martadinata (331) and KRI Abdul Halim Perdanakusuma (355), corvette KRI Diponegoro (365),patrol boat KRI Singa (651, ) landing platform dock KRI Surabaya (591) and landing ship tank KRI Teluk Palu (523), U.S Navy ships taking part were the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8) and amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD-23) along with their embarked 13th MEU units. Also taking part were a U.S Navy P-8A Poseidon MPA and two Indonesian Air Force F-16 fighters.

Makin Island and Anchorage, together with amphibious transport dock USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26) form the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group which left Naval Base San Diego in early November for a deployment to the Indo-Pacific region.