Russia Boosted LNG Exports to Europe by 20% in 2022 -Refinitiv Data

MOSCOW, Jan 31 (Reuters) – Russia supplied Europe with some 17 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) last year, up about 20% from 2021 volumes, Refinitiv Eikon data showed on Tuesday,…

MOSCOW, Jan 31 (Reuters) – Russia supplied Europe with some 17 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) last year, up about 20% from 2021 volumes, Refinitiv Eikon data showed on Tuesday,...

Maritime Historian Explains Why Russia Can’t (Or Shouldn’t) Target This American Ship Carrying Tanks to Ukraine

gCaptain’s favorite maritime historian and the volunteer fire captain behind the popular Youtube channel “What’s Going on With Shipping“ Sal Mercogliano explains some of the issues behind a recent photo…

gCaptain’s favorite maritime historian and the volunteer fire captain behind the popular Youtube channel “What’s Going on With Shipping“ Sal Mercogliano explains some of the issues behind a recent photo...

Russian Crude Exports Flow to Asia

MOSCOW, Jan 30 (Reuters) – Asian markets are showing no let up in their demand for Russian oil, absorbing a big rise in seaborne exports of Urals crude this month and helping…

MOSCOW, Jan 30 (Reuters) – Asian markets are showing no let up in their demand for Russian oil, absorbing a big rise in seaborne exports of Urals crude this month and helping...

New York Gasoline Shortage Brews Amid Fallout From EU’s Russia Ban

By Chunzi Xu (Bloomberg) — New York and much of the East Coast are at risk of a gasoline shortage this summer as the European Union’s ban of Russian fuel threatens to choke…

By Chunzi Xu (Bloomberg) — New York and much of the East Coast are at risk of a gasoline shortage this summer as the European Union’s ban of Russian fuel threatens to choke...

Russian Antarctic Vessel Docks In South Africa As Green Groups Protest

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 28 (Reuters) – A Russian research vessel which has been prospecting for oil and natural gas in the Antarctic docked in South Africa on Saturday following protests by green campaigners…

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 28 (Reuters) – A Russian research vessel which has been prospecting for oil and natural gas in the Antarctic docked in South Africa on Saturday following protests by green campaigners...

Report to Congress on Hypersonic Missile Defense

The following is the Jan. 24, 2023, Congressional Research Service In Focus report, Hypersonic Missile Defense: Issues for Congress. From the report The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and Space Development Agency (SDA) are currently developing elements of a hypersonic missile defense system to defend against hypersonic weapons and other emerging missile threats. These elements include […]

The following is the Jan. 24, 2023, Congressional Research Service In Focus report, Hypersonic Missile Defense: Issues for Congress.

From the report

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and Space Development Agency (SDA) are currently developing elements of a hypersonic missile defense system to defend against hypersonic weapons and other emerging missile threats. These elements include the tracking and transport layers of the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture (PWSA) and various interceptor programs. As MDA and SDA continue to develop these systems, Congress may consider implications for oversight and defense authorizations and appropriations.

Background

Hypersonic weapons, like ballistic missiles, fly at speeds of at least Mach 5, or roughly 1 mile per second. Unlike ballistic missiles, hypersonic weapons do not follow a ballistic trajectory and can maneuver en route to their target. Russia reportedly fielded its first hypersonic weapons in December 2019, while some experts believe that China fielded hypersonic weapons as early as 2020. The United States is not expected to field hypersonic weapons before 2023. (For an overview of hypersonic weapons programs in Russia, China, and the United States, see CRS Report R45811, Hypersonic Weapons: Background and Issues for Congress, by Kelley M. Sayler.)

The maneuverability and low flight altitude of hypersonic weapons could challenge existing detection and defense systems. For example, most terrestrial-based radars cannot detect hypersonic weapons until late in the weapon’s flight due to line-of-sight limitations of radar detection. This leaves minimal time for a defender to launch interceptors that could neutralize an inbound weapon. Figure 1 depicts the differences in terrestrial-based radar detection timelines for ballistic missiles versus hypersonic weapons.

U.S. defense officials have stated that both existing terrestrial- and space-based sensor architectures are insufficient to detect and track hypersonic weapons; former Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin has noted that “hypersonic targets are 10 to 20 times dimmer than what the U.S. normally tracks by satellites in geostationary orbit.”

Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture

SDA developed the PWSA, formerly known as the National Defense Space Architecture, to “unify and integrate next generation capabilities across [the Department of Defense (DOD)] and industry.” The PWSA aims to be a “single, coherent proliferated space architecture with seven layers,” which include the data tracking and transport layers depicted in Figure 2 and discussed below. Other layers include the custody layer to support the targeting of mobile ground assets; the battle management layer to provide space-based command and control; the navigation layer to provide “alternate positioning, navigation, and timing for potential GPS-denied environments”; the deterrence layer to detect potentially hostile actions in deep space; and the support layer to facilitate satellite operations for the other PWSA layers. Once fully fielded, the PWSA is to include 550 satellites and provide full global coverage.

Tracking Layer

The tracking layer is to “provide global indications, warning, tracking, and targeting of advanced missile threats, including hypersonic missile systems.” As part of this layer, SDA is developing an architecture of Wide Field of View (WFOV) satellites, which are to eventually provide global coverage. SDA requested $81.3 million for Tranche 0 tracking activities in FY2023 and $499.8 million for Tranche 1 tracking activities (also known as Resilient Missile Warning Missile Tracking – Low Earth Orbit).

Working in tandem with the SDA’s tracking satellites will be the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS), previously known as the Space Sensor Layer, which is being developed by MDA in collaboration with SDA and the U.S. Space Force. HBTSS is to provide more sensitive, but more limited (or Medium Field of View [MFOV]) coverage, compared to WFOV. For this reason, WFOV is intended to provide cueing data to HBTSS, which could then provide more specific, target quality data to a ground-based interceptor. MDA requested $89.2 million for HBTSS in FY2023.

Download the document here.

Russian Arctic Threat Growing More Potent, Report Says

Russia’s Northern Fleet’s ballistic missile submarines and strategic bomber force’s capabilities remain intact despite the heavy toll the country’s invasion into Ukraine has had on its naval infantry, army and special forces assigned to the Kola Peninsula, a new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies found. The Arctic remains “of great strategic […]

Russian Borei-class nuclear submarine Generalissimus Suvorov. TASS Photo

Russia’s Northern Fleet’s ballistic missile submarines and strategic bomber force’s capabilities remain intact despite the heavy toll the country’s invasion into Ukraine has had on its naval infantry, army and special forces assigned to the Kola Peninsula, a new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies found.

The Arctic remains “of great strategic value to Russia,” Njord Wegge, a professor at the Norwegian Defense University College, said this week as the report was released. On the military side, the Kola Peninsula in the Arctic provides a gateway for Russia’s Northern Fleet’s attack and ballistic missile submarines to move through the Greenland, Iceland, United Kingdom [GIUK] gap to reach the Atlantic

The “Russian Arctic Threat” report noted Western-imposed sanctions on the Kremlin for the Feb. 24 invasion may have a future effect on Russian defense industry’s ability to deliver future strategic capabilities. The report mentioned their effect on ship construction and updating conventional land, sea and air weapons systems that rely on imported technology. The report cited the benefit and importance of keeping tight sanctions on dual-use computer chips that could be used for Moscow’s conventional forces in the Ukrainian fighting.

It remains to be seen how sanctions will work over the next four years, said Colin Wall, associate fellow in CSIS’ Europe, Russia and Eurasia Program. For now, “Russia will probably have to make tradeoffs” in spending and where it commits military resources as long as the war continues.

Russia has already deployed advanced tanks to the fight and could soon be sending advanced air defense systems to better protects its forces against a spring offensive, Wegge said. Both moves put further strain on the Russian industrial base.

In addition to smuggling and trading with partners who ignore the sanctions, “China has been important partner in the past” and could be again in filling in these military technological gaps, Wegge said. So far, Beijing has not stepped in to fill Moscow’s immediate military needs as Iran did with drones.

“Russia has had 10 years of successful modernization” of its forces that it can fall back on, he said, specifically citing hypersonic weapons and silencing its submarines.

Wall, who co-authored the report with Wegge, added, with Finland and Sweden applying for NATO membership Russia’s goal of “protecting its second strike capability” is of heightened concern in the Kremlin. Moscow’s other strategic goals in the Arctic are: protecting the Northern Sea Route as a potential major trade route between Asia and Europe; and protecting its energy industry in the region, a major source of outside revenue.

When Sweden and, especially, Finland are admitted to NATO, the security equation in the Arctic will change. Both panelists agreed the High North has been a region of relatively low tension.

The report noted Russia’s defense minister warned “retaliatory measures are required” such sending more land forces to northwest Russia if the two are admitted to the alliance.

CSIS Graphic

With Finland a member, the alliance would have better highway access and now rail access to the northernmost areas of Europe. In addition, Finland has a “broad mobilization base” in reserve manpower and stockpiled conventional arms, weapons and ammunition, Wegge said.

Wall described the Kremlin’s comments as “ratcheting up” tensions. He added it was unlikely immediately that United States or NATO would create a Baltic or Arctic Command in the near future.

“The Arctic is not going to shoot to the top of the priority list” of American immediate security concerns, Wall said. He expects U.S. presence to grow but to continue to rely on allies and partners to keep an eye on Russian activities.

Speaking at a Wilson Center event Thursday, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Michael Ryan, deputy commandant for operations, policy and capabilities, emphasized presence. “It’s about being there … to be successful” in providing security for the region, he said.

Adding the Arctic is a “unique domain” for security and military operations, Ryan said. The service’s expanded commitment can be seen in its building a heavy icebreaker and looking to buy another existing large icebreaking vessel to operate continuously there. Both are part of a long-term effort to rebuild the nation’s icebreaking fleet to three heavies and three medium icebreakers.

The CSIS report stated the Northern Fleet has two “ice-class” vessels in its number and can call up 46 civilian icebreakers when needed. Some of those icebreakers are armed.

Wegge noted at CSIS the American Marines and the Army’s 11th Airborne Division, based in Alaska, have stepped up training exercises in the High North with allies like Norway and large-scale exercises like Trident Juncture. For years, the Marine Corps has been prepositioning equipment in northern Norway to use in a crisis.

He added Norway can play a pivotal role in Arctic security in providing air and maritime awareness with its advanced platforms and technology.

EU Considering $100 Price Cap on Russian Diesel

By Ewa Krukowska, Alberto Nardelli and Jack Wittels (Bloomberg) — The European Union is floating a plan to cap the price of Russian diesel at $100 a barrel — a level…

By Ewa Krukowska, Alberto Nardelli and Jack Wittels (Bloomberg) — The European Union is floating a plan to cap the price of Russian diesel at $100 a barrel — a level...

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.