South Korea shops for more surveillance aircraft
South Korea has budgeted US$2bn (A$2.9bn) for the acquisition of more Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) as well as Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) gathering aircraft. The country’s defence acquisitions agency says the former will enter service in 2027 and 2026 respectively.
The additional AEW&C are likely to be the Boeing 737 AEW&C platform. South Korea already operates four aircraft acquired under the Peace Eye program, and which are broadly similar to the RAAF’s E-7A Wedgetails.
The four SIGINT aircraft being acquired are to replace a similar number of SIGINT-configured Hawker 800XPs operated by South Korea’s Air Force. These will be fitted with locally developed mission systems, and although the aircraft platform has not been chosen, the fact that South Korea already operated two SIGINT-configured Dassault Falcon 2000 business jets is likely to be a factor in the final decision.
COVID-19 forces delivery delays of submarine & helicopters to Singapore
Singapore has said the disruption to global supply chains by the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the deferral of initial deliveries of a number of new military platforms, including the first of four Invincible-class (Type 218SG) diesel-electric attack submarines from Germany’s TKMS, as well as the Airbus Helicopters H225M and Boeing CH-47F Chinook helicopters.
The first helicopters will be delivered in the first half of 2021 instead of later this year, while the delivery of the first submarine will be pushed back from 2021 to 2022. However Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said that the four F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters Singapore has ordered will be delivered beginning in 2026 as planned.
Ng also said plans to expand Singaporean military training in Australia are going ahead as planned, with construction for a new training area near Townsville underway. Singapore is also working with Australia to resume its fighter training detachments to the Northern Territory later this year.
New commander for HQ IADS in Butterworth
The RAAF’s AVM Geoff Harland has assumed command of the Headquarters Integrated Area Defence system (HQ IADS) at Butterworth air base in Malaysia. AVM Harland takes over from AVM Tim Innes, who took up the position in June 2017.
HQ IADS is the main instrument for coordinating military action in defence of the Peninsular Malaysia under the auspices of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (5PDA) which comprises of Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the UK, and provides a platform for consultation between the partners in the event of an attack on any of the five countries.
AVM Harland is a former P-3C Orion and F-111 navigator. Prior to this latest assignment he was Director General Personnel – Air Force.
RAAF P-8 deploys to Brunei
An RAAF P-8A Poseidon has made a rare flight into Brunei International Airport in the tiny southeast Asian nation’s capital, Bandar Seri Begawan.
The aircraft was observed on flight tracking software arriving at the airport from the south on June 28, and seen again flying over the South China Sea on a north-westerly heading after departing from Brunei two days later.
Defence has told ADBR that the P-8 was in Brunei for Exercise Penguin, a biennial Australian-Bruneian training event, with this year’s iteration including an air phase. A Defence spokesperson added that under a 1999 Memorandum of Understanding between both countries, “Australia and Brunei may make arrangements to support exercises and training in Brunei Darussalam, including aircraft and ship visits.”
Japan cancels Aegis Ashore
Ten days after the shock announcement that it was suspending the deployment of the Aegis Ashore ground-based ballistic missile defence system due to cost and technical issues, Japan has gone a step further and cancelled the program altogether.
The decision was taken by Japan’s National Security Council in late June, with Defence minister Taro Kono saying that the US ally will now revise its missile defence program and scale up its entire defence posture.