Australian RIMPAC task group conducts trilateral exercise
The Royal Australian Navy joint task group heading to this year’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval exercise off Hawaii has conducted trilateral exercises with ships from the US and Japan.
According to the RAN the exercises were conducted in the Philippine Sea east of The Philippines, although the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) said the activities were conducted in both the Philippine and South China Seas.
The RAN is sending five ships – the LHD HMAS Canberra joined by the destroyer HMAS Hobart, ANZAC class frigates HMA Ships Arunta and Stuart, and oiler HMAS Sirius – to this year’s RIMPAC.
On July 23, the ABC reported that, during their transit through the South China Sea (SCS) near the Spratly Islands, the Australian task group was challenged by Chinese vessels.
In a statement to the ABC a Defence spokesman said, “An ADF Joint Task Group… independently transited the South China Sea 14-18 July, including near the Spratly Islands, en route to Hawaii for exercise RIMPAC. All unplanned interactions with foreign warships throughout the deployment were conducted in a safe and professional manner, as we would expect in response to vessels operating in international waters in accordance with international law.”
Meanwhile an RAAF AP-3C (EW) Orion was noted flying daily sorties from Paya Lebar airbase in Singapore during mid-July, reportedly in support of the joint task group’s SCS transit. Defence told ADBR that the aircraft was conducting routine maritime awareness flights “…as part of its mission to protect Australia and its national interests and to contribute to regional security”, but declined to provide further details.
Indonesia interested in Austrian Eurofighters
Indonesia has formally expressed an interest in buying Austria’s fleet of Eurofighter EF-2000 fighters. In a letter to his Austrian counterpart, Indonesian defence minister Prabowo Subianto has asked to start discussions to buy the 15 jets that the central European country is reportedly thinking of disposing of.
Indonesia is seeking to bolster its air defence with a new type to serve alongside its 23 Lockheed-Martin F-16C/Ds. Indonesia had previously selected the Sukhoi Su-35 but has yet to sign a contract despite concluding negotiations, reportedly due to concerns about possible US sanctions imposed on countries that acquire Russian arms. Indonesia is also partnering with South Korea on that country’s KF-X program.
The Austrian Eurofighters are Tranche 1 aircraft acquired in 2002 and configured primarily for air-to-air missions.
Singapore Technologies partners with IAI on ASM
The land systems division of Singapore’s ST Engineering has entered into a joint venture with Israel’s IAI to market and sell “advanced” naval missile systems, including a next generation anti-ship missile (ASM).
No further details were provided in the announcement by ST Engineering, but it has been reported elsewhere that the ASM – dubbed ‘Blue Spear’ – has been under development by ST Engineering and IAI for a number of years.
The fact that ST Engineering is involved suggests that Singapore’s military has a requirement for such a system. Singapore’s Navy currently operates the RGM-84C Harpoon as its primary anti-ship weapon on board its Formidable-class frigates, and a newer missile to replace these and to equip a new class of multi-role combat vessels that will enter service later this decade is overdue.
Possible locations for Singapore’s US-based F-35s and F-16s identified
The USAF has identified five possible locations for the future basing of F-35 FMS customers, including those of Singapore.
According to a statement by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, Secretary of Air Force Barbara Barrett has signed a memorandum to establish a permanent training centre at a single location for 24 to 36 F-35 long term Foreign Military Sales (FMS) aircraft.
The possible sites that have been identified include Fort Smith Airport in Arkansas, Hulman Field in Indiana, Buckley AFB in Colorado, Joint Base (JB) San Antonio-Lackland in Texas, and Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan.
The statement added that Singapore wants its US-based F-16 training detachment – currently located at Luke AFB in Arizona – to be co-located with its future F-35 training detachment. Singapore has ordered four of the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of an initial requirement for 12 aircraft.