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Indian, Chinese defence ministers meet amid border tensions


NEW DELHI —
Defence ministers of India and China met in the Russian capital as the two sides try to resolve rising tensions along their disputed border in the eastern Ladakh region, where a June clash killed 20 Indian soldiers.

Neither side gave details of the meeting Friday between India’s Rajnath Singh and China’s Gen. Wei Fenghe. It was the first high-level contact between the two sides since the standoff erupted months ago in the Karakorum mountains.

The ministers met on the sidelines of a gathering of the defence chiefs of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The body comprises China, India, Pakistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Krgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

“Peace and security in the region demands a climate of trust, non-aggression, peaceful resolution of differences and respect for international rules,” Singh said at the meeting.

Wei told Singh the sides should “cool down” the situation and “maintain peace and tranquility,” the Chinese Ministry of Defence said on its website. However, it said responsibility for the tension “lies completely with India.”

“Not one inch of Chinese territory can be lost,” the Ministry of Defence said.

The disputed 3,500-kilometre (2,175-mile) border between the world’s two most populous countries stretches from the Ladakh region in the north to the Indian state of Sikkim. The latest standoff is over portions of a pristine landscape that boasts the world’s highest landing strip and a glacier that feeds one of the largest irrigation systems in the world.

Both sides accuse the other of provocative behaviour including crossing into each other’s territory this week, and both have vowed to protect their territorial integrity.

India’s army chief, Gen. M.M. Naravane, visited the region Thursday and Friday and met with soldiers deployed in difficult terrain above 4,300 metres (14,000 feet), the Indian Ministry of Defence said.

India said its soldiers thwarted movements by China’s military last weekend. China accused Indian troops of crossing established lines of control.

The two nations fought a border war in 1962 that spilled into Ladakh and ended in an uneasy truce. Since then, troops have guarded the undefined border area, occasionally brawling. They have agreed not to attack each other with firearms.

Rival soldiers brawled in May and in June fought with clubs, stones and fists, leaving 20 Indian soldiers dead. China reported no casualties.

Both sides have pledged to safeguard their territory but also try to end the standoff, which has dramatically changed the India-China relationship. Several rounds of military and diplomatic talks on the crisis have been unsuccessful.

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This story has been corrected to remove reference to Chinese casualties.



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The European Union’s Security and Defence Policy Beyond COVID-19 – E-International Relations


As Europe went from being the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic to a situation where most European countries are confident that they are past the worst of the crisis, the focus of the European leaders is now towards the resurgence of the society back to normalcy. Beyond the epidemiological challenge of the virus – the economic, political, geopolitical as well as security challenges faced by the Union are also plenty. Though the European Union’s Global Strategy of 2016 (PDF) highlighted the detection, prevention and response to global pandemics as a priority, the massive consequences and implications on the security policy of the EU are unprecedented. In a continent that is always undergoing shifts, the outbreak of COVID-19 is likely to cause an impact much similar to that of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States of America in 2001.

The most direct and immediate impact is economic in nature which is taking place concurrently to the pandemic. Most European companies including the EU defence firms are witnessing a historic drop in their stock market prices. This is subsequently leading to a rise in their debt ratios and eventually causing a functional threat to their survival. Further, as the public authorities are channelling their resources towards fighting an unprecedented challenge, the funding towards the defence sector and its initiatives is bound to be diminished.

As Europe enters a massive economic recession, defence spending will also take a blow in terms of priority. Europe’s recovery from the outbreak will require unparalleled levels of financial stimulus and thus, the allotted funding to previous defence initiatives, which do not seem to play a key role in the overall recovery of Europe, is likely to decrease. Spending on the defence sector, which had finally reached its pre-2008 financial crisis level in 2019, is now likely to see a reverse trend. The lack of funds will also have a directly proportional relationship with the in-house Research and Development sector of the European defence firms. As long as the COVID-19 crisis persists, its impact will continue to be seen as the slowdown of innovation in the European defence sector, further diminishing the European competitiveness in the same.

As the spending on defence sector slumps, the development of several initiatives on the EU defence cooperation such as European Defence Fund (EDF) and the European Peace Facility (EPF) will lose their velocity. The number of Member States already questioning the political credibility and the value of financing these initiatives will rise, fragmenting the otherwise flourishing integration project of the supranational Union. With COVID-19 wreaking havoc on the already unequal economies of the Northern and Southern European states, unity and solidarity are already under stress as Member States embolden nationalist narratives, rather than European solutions. Political will is a crucial factor for a transnational actor like the EU in order to develop an effective framework for European security and to establish itself as a credible security partner alongside NATO. The EU defence project will only make sense if the Member States support each other in principle in times of crisis.

The EU’s position as a security actor is under question as a result of the pandemic. Owing to the high cost of dealing with the socio-economic damage caused by the outbreak, the EU’s operational readiness of crisis-management activities will be narrowed down. The Union’s willingness to contribute troops to civilian and military activities on Libyan, Syrian and Ukrainian territories is likely to decrease. This inward-looking perspective of the European security policy further creates a risk that crisis in such regions may worsen at the peak of a pandemic. This will not only add to the human suffering in the neighborhood, but also create a nexus of vulnerability and crisis for Europe. If not handled effectively, non-state actors may begin to take advantage of this period of vulnerability of the Union. Negative externalities could spill over to the EU, such as accelerating the migrant issue and leading to political polarization within the Member States.

While COVID-19 continues to transform political and economic realities in Europe, it becomes imperative for the EU to advocate a holistic recovery package that focusses not only on the reconstruction of economies but also on the diversified security needs of the alliance. The EU has to cope with the pandemic as well as the economic recession without sacrificing the European defence sector initiatives and competitiveness, which could play a functional role in not only maintaining security and stability but also in pushing towards an EU-wide plan of economic and industrial re-launch. At the same time, it is important to note that the need for advancing solidarity on the defence policy front has never been as compelling. With the EU facing the heat on both sides of the pacific in the face of US-China rivalry and transatlantic relations also under stress, the exigency for a more coherent, geopolitical, self-reliant Europe is emergent.

The European Union External Action Taskforce’s factsheet on ‘COVID-19: Lessons and Implications for EU Security and Defence’ (May 2020) highlights the need of the Union to confront all possible security consequences of the pandemic, in order to be truly prepared and resilient for the future. The document brings out the five key essential initial lessons learned in order to overcome the crisis: partnerships, solidarity, responsiveness, capabilities and preparedness. It is advisable for the EU to not abandon its pre-coronavirus agenda on security and defence policy, which is required to be truly responsive to imminent threats facing the continent. Thus, the EU must incorporate European defence cooperation to be a part of its post-pandemic recovery, in order to achieve the goal of strategic autonomy, and enhance its role a security actor in the international realm.

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Crown wants to fight controversial ‘extreme intoxication’ defence ruling


TORONTO — Canada’s highest court will be asked to weigh in on a ruling that reopened the door for people accused of violent crimes to argue they were so intoxicated they had lost control of what they were doing.

The decision angered some women, and in a statement on Saturday a spokeswoman for Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey said the prosecution wanted the top court to hear a challenge to it.

“I can confirm that the Crown will be seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada,” said Jenessa Crognali. “It would be inappropriate to comment further as the matters are before the court.”

Crognali said the notice of leave to appeal had yet to be filed.

I can confirm that the Crown will be seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada

In overturning the convictions of two men in separate cases, the Court of Appeal on Wednesday struck down a decades-old section of the Criminal Code as unconstitutional.

The men, Thomas Chan and David Sullivan, had either killed or injured close relatives. Both were high on drugs — one had eaten magic mushrooms, the other had tried to kill himself with an overdose of a prescription stop-smoking medication.

Evidence was that both became psychotic and went on a violent rampage. Their defence, however, ran afoul of the ban on arguing self-induced extreme intoxication had resulted in their “automatism.”

The federal government had enacted the law in 1995 amid a backlash over a court ruling that recognized drunkenness could be raised to defend against a sexual assault charge.

“(The law) enables the conviction of individuals for acts they do not will,” the Appeal Court said in striking down Section 33.1.

While such cases are rare and successfully raising an intoxication defence would be difficult, critics argued it had undermined a measure aimed at protecting women from sexual violence.

“We are dismayed that women’s rights to equality and dignity are not given more adequate treatment,” the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund said of the ruling. “It also risks sending a dangerous message that men can avoid accountability for their acts of violence against women and children through intoxication.”

Both federal and Ontario New Democrats had urged an appeal.

I can confirm that the Crown will be seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada

However, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said concerns the court had reopened floodgates for men accused of violence to argue intoxication were unwarranted.

For one thing, an accused would still have the difficult task of proving they were in a state of automatism to raise the extreme intoxication defence successfully. Simply claiming to have been drunk wouldn’t cut it.

Cara Zwibel, a director with the liberties association, said the ruling had not undermined the rights of victims.

“This is a rarely used provision,” Zwibel said. “It’s not this widespread, systemic concern.”

Neither the association nor the legal fund, both interveners in the case, had any immediate comment on the proposed appeal on Saturday.





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German submarine operates under NATO command in the Eastern Baltic Sea – Defence Blog


German submarine U33 has just concluded a several-week-long assurance measure deployment under NATO in the Eastern Baltic Sea. It arrived back to the naval base and home port of Eckernförde on Monday, 25 May 2020.

The submarine, under the leadership of Lieutenant Commander Tobias Eikermann, in the past few weeks has operated under NATO Maritime Command (MARCOM).

The patrol was part of the NATO Assurance Measures focused on monitoring the activities of the Russian fleet. U33 is one of the first German submarines detached to MARCOM for this purpose in the Baltic Sea.

Assurance measures are a sign of the Alliance’s cohesion internally and of its strength and readiness externally; they are a pillar of the NATO Readiness Action Plan going back to the 2014 Wales Summit, where the Allies agreed to increase their presence at NATO’s eastern flank.

“Submarines are a key part of the NATO strategic maritime plan. Deployments like this contribute substantially to sustained assurance measures. We need to ensure that we are capable and ready to defend and protect,” said Rear Admiral Andrew Burcher, Commander NATO Submarines.



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Spanish A400M Atlas suffers bird strike while landing – Defence Blog


Spanish Air Force A400M Atlas military transport aircraft suffered a bird strike while landing in Zaragoza.

The bird-aircraft collision happened when an A400M was performing a landing to Zaragoza Air Base, according to the Breaking Aviation News.

The aircraft successfully landed and performed a roll-out as the captain informed Air Base tower that they had struck a bird shortly before touching down.

There were no injuries in the incident even though the aircraft suffered substantial damage to its under-fuselage near one of the aft wheel well, per defpost.com.

The first A400M was delivered to Spain in November 2016. The first 14 aircraft are expected to be delivered by 2022 and the rest 13 will be delivered from 2025.

The Airbus’ website said the A400M Atlas is the most advanced, proven and certified airlifter available, combining 21st century state-of-the-art technologies to fulfil the current and upcoming armed forces’ needs. The A400M combines the capability to carry strategic loads with the ability to deliver even into tactical locations with small and unprepared airstrips and can act as a frontline-tanker. One aircraft that can do the work of three – the A400M.





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General Atomics awarded $9,9 million for U.S. Army’s Gray Eagle – Defence Blog


General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), an affiliate of privately-held General Atomics, was awarded a $9,9 million contract modification for continuation effort for the Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft System, the Pentagon announced Thursday.

This contract is funded by the U.S. Army. Work will be performed in Poway, California, with an estimated completion date of April 23, 2021.

The MQ-1C Gray Eagle is an extended range / multipurpose (ER/MP) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems for the US Army.

Gray Eagle has an endurance of 25 hours, speeds up to167 KTAS, can operate up to 29,000 feet, and carries 1,075 lb (488 kg) of internal and external payload. The aircraft can carry multiple payloads aloft, including Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) with laser designation, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), communications relay, and four Hellfire missiles.

Compared to the Predator predecessor, Gray Eagle’s Heavy Fuel Engine (HFE) supports the Army’s “single fuel in the battlefield” concept and provides increased horsepower and significantly improved fuel efficiency, utilizing either jet or diesel fuel.

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Japanese newest Li-Ion battery-equipped submarine arrives at homeport – Defence Blog


Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force announced on April 8 that its new Soryu-class submarine, JS OURYU (SS-511), arrived at homeport Kure, Hiroshima prefecture.

OURYU is the newest Japanese submarine, as well as the first lithium-ion battery powered submarine. She will take on the surveillance mission around Japan.

Lithium-ion batteries have almost double the electric storage capacity of traditional lead-acid batteries, and by not only replacing them in the existing battery storage areas but adding to the already large battery capacity by also filling the huge space (several hundred tons displacement) inside the hull previously occupied by the AIP Sterling engines and their fuel cells with these new batteries, the amount of (more powerful) batteries carried overall is massive. This has improved the underwater endurance significantly and is felt will be an advantage over the slow recharge capability of the AIP system.

The Ouryu is the sixth Soryu-class boat to be built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and is 276 feet long, 2,950-pound submarine that supports a crew of 65 people and carries up to 30 21-inch heavyweight torpedoes.

Ouryu was christened in June of 2018, but was recently brought into service.

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Russia deploys chemical defense troops to Italy – Defence Blog


Russia reportedly is deploying its Troops of Radiological, Chemical and Biological Defence or RChB Defense to Italy.

Russia has loaded nine Il-76 cargo planes that flew to Italy, with eight mobile medical teams, medical equipment and aerosol disinfection trucks. Moscow also sent about 100 military specialists in virology and epidemics, one special military laboratory and 20 mobile disinfection vehicles.

Mobile complexes with equipment for diagnosis and disinfection were delivered to the Italian Air Force Practitioner de Mare airbase, located 30 kilometers south-west of Rome, Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.

In photos released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, the doors of military trucks bore signs with heart-shaped Russian and Italian flags that read: “From Russia with love” in Russian, Italian and English.

Putin spoke to Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Saturday, the Kremlin said, saying the Russian leader had offered his support and help in the form of mobile disinfection vehicles and specialists to help the worst hit Italian regions.

Italy recorded a jump in deaths from coronavirus of almost 800 on Saturday, taking the toll in the world’s hardest-hit country to almost 5,000.

 

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Pentagon abandons plans to buy more Israeli missile defense systems – Defence Blog


The U.S. Department of Defense abandons plans to buy Israeli-made missile defense systems due to cyber vulnerabilities and other problems. according to The Times of Israel.

The Israel-based, English-language online newspaper has reported that U.S. military curbing its plans to adopt the Iron Dome missile defense system due to concerns about its compatibility with existing US technologies, scrapping its plans to buy two more batteries.

A central problem was Israel’s refusal to provide the U.S. military with Iron Dome’s source code, hampering the Americans’ ability to integrate the system into their air defenses.

Gen. Mike Murray, head of Army Futures Command, said the service identified a number of problems — including cyber vulnerabilities and operational challenges — during efforts last year to integrate elements of Iron Dome with the US Army’s Integrated Battle Command System.

“It took us longer to acquire those [first] two batteries than we would have liked,” Murray told the House Armed Service tactical air and land forces subcommittee on Thursday. “We believe we cannot integrate them into our air defense system based on some interoperability challenges, some cyber challenges and some other challenges.”

Last year, U.S.’s military magazine, Defense News, quoting the deputy in charge of the service’s air and missile defense modernization efforts, has announced that the contract to purchase two Iron Dome batteries for the U.S. Army’s interim cruise missile defense capability has been finalized.

“Now that the contract is set in stone, the Army will be able to figure out delivery schedules and details in terms of taking receipt of the systems,” Daryl Youngman told Defense News at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama, on Aug. 8.

The Iron Dome is the world’s most-used system, intercepting more than 1,900 incoming targets with a success rate exceeding 90 percent since being fielded in 2011.

Iron Domedetects, assesses and intercepts a variety of shorter-range targets such as rockets, artillery and mortars. It is effective day or night and in all weather conditions including low clouds, rain, dust storms and fog. It features a first-of-its-kind multi-mission launcher designed to fire a variety of interceptor missiles.

The system can protect deployed and maneuvering forces, as well as the Forward Operating Base (FOB) and urban areas, against a wide range of indirect and aerial threats.

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U.S. Air Force complete U-2 SYERS-2C upgrades, enhancing the Dragon Lady’s imaging capability – Defence Blog


The U.S. Air Force, Collins Aerospace Systems, a unit of United Technologies (NYSE: UTX), and Lockheed Martin Skunk Works®(NYSE: LMT) recently completed flight testing and deployment of the latest variant of the Collins Aerospace Senior Year Electro-Optical Reconnaissance System (SYERS) sensor, SYERS-2C, on the U-2. With this milestone, the entire U-2 fleet has been upgraded to the premier electro-optical/infrared sensor capability which provides increased optical performance and highly accurate long-range tracking for superior threat detection in a wider range of weather conditions.

“SYERS-2C represents an evolutionary step forward for the Air Force, capitalizing on a high performing, mature system to insert substantial new capabilities into the battlespace of the future,” saidKevin Raftery, vice president and general manager, ISR and Space Solutions for Collins Aerospace. “The U-2 has been the cornerstone of the Air Force’s ISR inventory and with upgrades like SYERS-2C, the system can continue to provide increasingly valuable multi-intelligence information to the warfighter for years to come.”

The 10-band, high spatial resolution SYERS-2C sensor provides unmatched ability to find, track and assess moving and stationary targets. Developed with open mission systems standards to enable command, control and data exchange with 5th generation platforms, the sensor has become a critical asset to theater commanders bringing unique advantages to joint operations across the battlespace.

“The SYERS-2C sensor is the premier intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance imaging sensor and its integration into the U-2 Dragon Lady further enhances the aircraft’s ability to provide unparalleled strategic intelligence to our warfighters,” saidIrene Helley, U-2 program director, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. “This milestone continues our commitment to increase the flexibility of the aircraft using open mission systems to support the multi-domain battlespace.”

Flying 24/7 around the world at record-high operational rates, the U-2 Dragon Lady provides unparalleled intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability to meet the needs of combatant commanders every day. More than an ISR aircraft, the U-2’s unique ability to rapidly reconfigure, collect, analyze and share data with disparate systems across the battlespace is transforming warfighting operations to ensure mission success far into the future.

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