By Sam Cohen
Welcome to Part Two of the July 2016 members’ roundup. Throughout the second part of July, CIMSEC members examined several international maritime security issues including joint Russian and Chinese military exercises in the South China Sea, the Royal Canadian Air Force’s procurement options for a new search-and-rescue aircraft, the relationship between free trade and security dynamics in the South China Sea, Russia’s offer to fulfill India’s tender for a multirole nuclear aircraft carrier, and Germany’s evolving military and strategic priorities. Read Part One here.
Kyle Mizokami, for Popular Mechanics, reviews the U.S. Navy’s failed Harpoon anti-ship missile test during a sinking drill at the RIMPAC 2016 multinational naval exercises. During the sinking operation, the littoral combat ship USS Coronado launched a Harpoon 1C missile at the retired frigate USS Crommelin, which was 20 miles away. He explains that that the Navy is investigating why the missile was lost from radar contact and never impacted the target ship. The missile exercise reflects the Navy’s continued testing of various missile systems in an attempt to update and improve the fleets’ surface-to-surface warfare capability. He notes that the Navy will likely adopt the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), Norwegian Naval Strike Missile or the Harpoon Block II+ as the next-generation surface-to-surface combat missile for the fleet’s surface ships.
Sam LaGrone, for U.S. Naval Institute News, discusses the upcoming joint Russian and Chinese military exercises set be conducted near the South China Sea in September. Joint Sea 2016 follows last years joint exercise – Joint Sea 2015 II – held off of Russia’s Pacific coast in August, where over 20 ships from the two navies conducted joint training that included anti-submarine warfare, live fire drills, air defense training, and a 400 marine amphibious landing. He adds that in addition to last year’s Pacific drills, joint exercises were also conducted in the Mediterranean Sea, while cooperation in the Black Sea region was also apparent with two Chinese frigates visiting the Russian Novorossiysk naval base stationed near Crimea.
Harry Kazianis, at The National Interest, discusses China’s imminent response to the South China Sea arbitration ruling in relation to the upcoming G-20 Summit Beijing is set to host on September 4-5 in the city of Hangzhou. He suggests that leading up to the summit Beijing will limit contentious actions in the South China Sea as to not risk any drama at the gathering of world leaders or risk positioning themselves where losing face during the summit’s proceedings is a possibility. He adds that China may be timing their next major South China Sea move for the post-summit months when the soon-to-leave Obama administration will be uninterested in jumping into an Asia-Pacific crisis in addition to the U.S. public being preoccupied with developments in the American election cycle. He notes that if China were to declare a South China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) or start reclamation work at Scarborough Shoal, the U.S. will be unlikely to have the political unity or willpower to respond effectively to Beijing’s actions.
Paul Pryce, for the NATO Association of Canada, provides an analysis on the three aircraft the Canadian government is considering for procurement as the country’s new Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) aircraft – the C295W from Airbus Defence, the C-27J Spartan from Alenia, and the KC-390 from Embraer. The search for a new SAR aircraft to replace the country’s aging CC-115 Buffalo fleet has been ongoing since a Request for Proposal (RFP) was released by Public Services and Procurement Canada in 2002. He explains that each of the aircraft being considered are similar enough in size and design to the CC-115 Buffalo that it would not be difficult for Royal Canadian aircrews to adapt to operating them and that each plane has significantly greater range and payload capacity than the Buffalos. He adds that these capability improvements will be especially beneficial for search-and-rescue operations in the remote northern regions of Canada.
Robert Farley, for The Diplomat, examines India’s pending decision of whether to accept or not to accept Russia’s offer to construct a multirole nuclear aircraft carrier for the country’s Navy. He explains that very few countries have the capacity to build a modern, nuclear aircraft carrier, and that there are few countries willing to export such technology. He also adds that Russia has played a major role in India’s naval aviation program having modernized the INS Vikramaditya, and having supplied the Indian Navy with carrier aircraft. Russian shipbuilders and military planners are likely familiar with Indian Navy carrier needs and specifications. From the opposite perspective, he argues that Russia’s lack of recent nuclear propelled surface vessel construction should deter India from awarding Russia the contract. He adds that if India were to rely on an export option for its next carrier (INS Vishal), it risks losing the shipbuilding expertise and capacity that it has begun to develop with the construction of the carrier INS Vikrant – a capacity that is critical for India’s long-term maritime interests.
Members at CIMSEC were active elsewhere during the second part of July:
- Sebastian Bruns, at The War on the Rocks, provides an overview of Germany’s 2016 white book on defense, security and the future role of the country’s armed services. He notes that the document reflects a changing strategic mindset in Germany, with the resurgence of Russia and military conflict on European flanks, large amounts of immigration, the EU crises, and the rise of Islamic extremism all factoring into account.
- Natalie Sambhi participated in the Center for Strategic and International Studies Sixth Annual South China Sea Conference where she was a member of a panel discussion on military modernization and capacity building.
- Robert Thomas, at CAPX, offers analysis on free trade and the South China Sea, emphasizing the importance of understanding the regional security dynamics that threaten the sea’s trade routes and supporting global markets and economies.
- Bryan McGrath, at The War on the Rocks, makes public a letter he wrote to a national security colleague who is interested in joining the Trump national security team. In the letter, he strongly advises against jumping in with Trump for several reasons, including the likelihood that his security policies would be disastrous for the United States and would likely strain the reputation of those who surround him throughout his leadership.
- Mina Pollmann, at The Diplomat, discusses Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party victory in Japan’s Upper House elections on July 10. She explains how Abe framed the election as a vote concerning the economy and the incompetence of his party’s rivals during their term in power from 2009 – 2012, as opposed to sensitive issues such as constitutional revision and security issues.
- ADM James Stavridis joined CNN to discuss why the coup in Turkey failed and what it means for the world moving forward. He explains how the coup will have adverse affects on the strength of the NATO ally, benefit ISIS and worsen the situation in an already turbulent region.
- Christian Davenport, at The Washington Post, provides an overview of the status update the Air Force released concerning the F-35’s combat readiness. He explains that after 15 years and over $400 billion dollars, years of delays, cost overruns and controversy, the aircraft will be ready for combat deployment.
- Dave Majumdar, for The National Interest, explains how the Marine Corps will be purchasing the majority of the Department of the Navy’s (DON) planned fleet of 680 Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and that the service’s aviation assets will likely be the Navy’s major sea-based power projection force by the 2030s.
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Sam Cohen is currently studying Honors Specialization Political Science at Western University in Canada. His interests are in the fields of strategic studies, international law and defense policy.
Featured Image: Chinese and Russian naval vessels participate in the Joint Sea-2014 naval drill outside Shanghai on the East China Sea, May 24, 2014 (Reuters / China Daily)