Defense & Security Update: May 14, 2020

Defense & Security Update | May 14, 2020
Authors: Jack Myint & Ingyin
 
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

US Commitment to Indo-Pacific Reflected in $20 million Strategic Packet

The United States has long noted the integrity of the Indo-Pacific as a strategic theatre for global peace and prosperity. In the aptly titled document “Regain the Advantage” which envisions the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s investment plans for implementing the National Defense Strategy, Adm. Phil Davidson, 25th Commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command, outlines objectives into five categories. Ranging from joint force lethality based in Guam to innovative exercises for joint readiness in the region, the objectives seek to adopt the Trump administration’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) Strategy- a top foreign policy priority that encourages the region to have open investment environments, free and fair trade policies, freedom of navigation, and good governance under the rule of law. An approximate US$1.9 trillion in a two-way trade has already been invested in the region to realize such shared goals. In part, the FOIP is a fundamental developing concept to promote stability through strategic management of regional competition.

To that end, the “Regain the Advantage” document stresses the need for strengthening the US’s allies and partners in the region- building blocks of a rules-based international order- to coordinate a network of enhanced security. For the FOPI to come alive, the US recognizes its responsibility to work alongside ASEAN nations, Australia and New Zealand. Thus, the document outlines a plan to allocate US$384 million for capacity building and skill set training among regional allies. One component of this is to set a Mission Partner Environment (MPE) that uses “cloud-based technologies, integrated systems, and secure access controls to provide assured command, control and communications”. In FY21, US$50 million will support this goal, while a further US$322 million will be used from FY22 to FY26. Further, the remaining funds would go towards constructing Future Centers (Counter Terrorism Information Facility; Oceania Fusion Center; Indo-Pacific Maritime Coordination Center) to assist in providing intelligence surrounding transnational threats. In FY21, US$2 million is projected for this purpose while US$10 million will be used from FY22 to FY26.

The special report is also thought to form a basis for the Pacific version of a European Deterrence Initiative- the US’s defense program supporting European allies from Russian aggression. To access the full document, please click here

Philippines Military Modernization Amid COVID-19

Amid the financial and social setbacks caused by COVID-19, the Philippines’ Department of National Defense (DND) is determined to move ahead with its plans to modernize the military. The Philippines defense expenditure currently stands at US$3.8 billion in 2020, with a forecast for growth at a compound annual growth rate of 9.41 over the next five years. The DND’s revised military modernization is scheduled into three phases or horizons: Horizon I from 2013 to 2017; Horizon II from 2018 to 2022; Horizon III from 2023 to 2028.

In late April, the U.S Department of State announced its plans to sell six attack helicopters either from Bell’s AH-1Z for $450 million or Boeing’s and Lockheed Martin’s AH-64E Apache for $1.5 billion. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency stated that the proposed sale would assist the Philippines with a sophisticated system for strong self-defense, and counter-terrorism measures. Yet, the Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has made known that both proposed sales are far beyond what the country could afford. Although the package may be adjusted upon request, no further details are known regarding this potential procurement.

The offer from the U.S. comes as the Philippines Air Force finalizes its selection of T129 ATAK helicopters from the Turkish Aerospace Industries though a Notice of Award made in late 2019. The DND believes that ongoing arms deals even during the crisis imposed by COVID-19 are essential considering escalating tensions in the South China Sea, along with domestic issues of illicit drug trade and the rise of terrorism.

 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
ASEAN
Weapons, Viruses, and the New Defense Reality in Southeast Asia
At a strategic crossroads: ASEAN centrality amid Sino-American rivalry in the Indo-Pacific

Brunei
South China Sea: US State Department Criticizes China for Reported Ramming, Sinking of Vietnamese Fishing Boat

Indonesia
Indonesia calls for parties to exercise self-restraint in South China Sea amid pandemic
Indonesian defense industry feels COVID-19 pinch
Indonesian Navy may be forgotten asset in pandemic
State-owned weapons, electronics manufacturers to produce ventilators for COVID-19 patients

Malaysia
Petronas vessel leaves South China Sea waters after standoff
Rohingyas in Malaysia Face a Pandemic and a Possible Populist Backlash
US Navy sends ships to South China Sea amid China-Malaysia oil dispute
Malaysia calls for peaceful end to months-long South China Sea standoff
Two U.S. warships in South China Sea amid China-Malaysia standoff
Chinese ship tagging Malaysian vessel in S. China Sea: Sources
Sarawak steps up security along border with Indonesia

Philippines
Fire-hit PH Navy ship to extend stay in India for 3 weeks for repair
The Philippine Defense Market - Attractiveness, Competitive Landscape and Forecasts to 2025
US approves Apache, Viper attack helicopter options for Philippines
PH posts 61% drop in crime rate since start of ECQ
President Duterte threatens martial law if communist rebels disrupt aid
Proposal to sell military land gains support in Senate

Singapore
Coronavirus: SAF suspends all large overseas exercises, including Exercise Wallaby in Australia
Firms win Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative contracts
New safety measures as SAF parachute training resumes after 4 months
Phase 2 contract for ST Engineering of Singapore to produce Hunter tracked armored fighting vehicle | April 2020 News Defense Global Security army industry | Defense Security global news industry army 2020 | Archive News year
COVID-19: SAF suspends all large-scale overseas exercises, including Exercise Wallaby
SAF resumes parachute training after 4-month suspension due to training incident

Thailand
Boeing scores deals to deliver missiles to Saudi, Thailand
Covid-19 induces Thai defence budget cuts
Thai army puts Stryker armoured vehicle deal on hold while Covid-19 battle rages
Virus broadsides sub procurement plan

Vietnam
Looking beyond symbolism in US–Vietnam defence cooperation
Việt Nam denounces China's move to set up administrative districts over Vietnamese islands
Airlines and railway firms get payment fee reduction of 35 per cent
Aviation policies fair and equal for all airlines, says transport ministry
Transport mainstays in call for policy backing
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

Weapons, Viruses, and the New Defense Reality in Southeast Asia War on the Rocks 7th May 2020
What happens when the greatest threat to national security comes from a virus? What does that mean for defense spending, modernization, and civil-military relations? In Southeast Asia — where militaries have long had an outsized role in politics, economics, and society — the answers to these questions are still very much up for grabs. The pandemic will lead to a sharp economic downturn in the region, which will, in turn, result in shrinking defense budgets and declining arms imports. That is not necessarily a bad thing for regional security: austerity could force a rethink of defense priorities. However, the COVID-19 pandemic will also have repercussions for civil-military relations, likely setting back democracy even further as militaries securitize the pandemic, quell dissent, and put down popular unrest.

At a strategic crossroads: ASEAN centrality amid Sino-American rivalry in the Indo-Pacific Brookings 29th Apr 2020
Given China’s centrality to the global economy and indispensability to the vitality of regional trade and investment flows — not to mention its entwinement with a thick network of regional cooperative mechanisms — Cold War-style “containment” is not an option, both normatively as well as materially. Instead, likeminded regional and international powers should opt for a strategy of “constrainment,” namely the calibrated and decisive deployment of a combination of diplomatic, economic, and military tools to check Beijing’s worst instincts, encourage its best intentions, and incentivize responsible leadership in the international system.

Brunei

South China Sea: US State Department Criticizes China for Reported Ramming, Sinking of Vietnamese Fishing Boat The Diplomat 28th Apr 2020
On April 6, the U.S. State Department criticized China after reports emerged that a Vietnamese fishing vessel had been sunk near the disputed Paracel Islands. In a statement, Morgan Ortagus, the U.S. Department of State’s spokesperson, said that the United States was “seriously concerned by reports of the PRC’s sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.” China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, and Taiwan are all territorial claimants in the South China Sea. China claims nearly 90 percent of the waters in the area under its capacious nine-dash line claim, including the entirety of the Spratly Islands where Beijing has built seven artificial islands. “China’s Nine-Dashed Line was deemed an unlawful maritime claim by an arbitral tribunal convened under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention in July 2016, a position shared by the U.S. Government,” the State Department, referencing the award by a Hague-based tribunal in a 2013 case filed by the Philippines against China after a standoff in 2012 over Scarborough Shoal.

Indonesia

Indonesia calls for parties to exercise self-restraint in South China Sea amid pandemic The Jakarta Post 7th May 2020
Indonesia expressed on Wednesday its concern about recent activities in the South China Sea that could potentially lead to an escalation in tensions at a time when a collective global effort is needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In a virtual press briefing on Wednesday, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said that Indonesia underlined the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea including “ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight” and urged “all parties to respect international law particularly the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea [UNCLOS]”.

Indonesian defense industry feels COVID-19 pinch The Jakarta Post 4th May 2020
The domestic defense industry is feeling the pinch from COVID-19 as it struggles to maintain manufacturing output amid disruption to supply chains and a decline in productivity as a result of the government’s stay-at-home measures. Defense firms said they were trying to fulfill existing contracts with buyers, while also shifting some of their operations to produce essential medical products, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators, following a Defense Ministry instruction to support the government in tackling the outbreak.

Indonesian Navy may be forgotten asset in pandemic The Jakarta Post 25th Apr 2020
At least five navies in the world have deployed their assets, including hospital ships, to provide additional health capability in battling COVID-19. The Indonesian government has reallocated funds within the 2020 state budget for COVID-19 medical assistance, including the Defense Ministry’s budget of Rp14 trillion (US$898.73 million) originally for defense equipment modernization. As in other countries’ contingency plans, Indonesia’s military could play a bigger role to assist medical operations, in the framework of “military operations other than war” under the 2004 Indonesian Military Law. As medical treatment is the priority, the Health Ministry could involve the military to organize medical units, since the armed forces are trained — some if not all — with standard medical procedures and implementing quarantine policy.

State-owned weapons, electronics manufacturers to produce ventilators for COVID-19 patients The Jakarta Post 9th Apr 2020
State-owned weapons manufacturer PT Pindad and electronics manufacturer PT LEN Industri are developing and planning to mass-produce ventilators to help hospitals handle COVID-19 patients, officials said. Pindad has developed a ventilator prototype and is currently seeking medical certification from the Health Ministry’s Health Equipment Monitoring Agency (BPPK), the company’s president director, Abraham Mose, told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday. “We have tested it in our hospital in Bandung and it’s already operational. Once we receive the green light from the BPPK, we will be able to produce 40 ventilators per day,” he said.

Malaysia

Petronas vessel leaves South China Sea waters after standoff Free Malaysia Today 12th May 2020
An oil exploration vessel contracted by Petronas, involved in a standoff with a Chinese survey vessel in the South China Sea, left the disputed waters on May 12, three security sources and the vessel operator said. Petronas had been conducting exploration activities near an area claimed by Malaysia and Vietnam as well as by China since late last year. In mid-April, the Haiyang Dizhi 8 — a Chinese government survey vessel — started operating in the area, escorted by coast guard and China maritime militia vessels. Three American warships and an Australian frigate conducted a joint exercise near the site of Petronas’ operations amid the standoff last month. The West Capella, the vessel contracted by Petronas, left the waters as it had finished its exploration activities in the area, the sources said. Petronas’ contract for the vessel with offshore drilling company Seadrill was scheduled to end this month. Seadrill’s communications director Iain Cracknell confirmed that the West Capella had left the area after completing its planned work. The Chinese government vessel, the Haiyang Dizhi 8, was still in the area — 371km offshore Borneo, data from ship tracking website Marine Traffic showed. The data showed the vessel has been moving within Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone in a hash-shaped pattern consistent with carrying out a survey, as it did during a tense standoff in Vietnamese waters last year. The Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) has said the China-Malaysia standoff has been going on for months. China has denied reports of a standoff, saying that the Haiyang Dizhi 8 was conducting normal activities. The incident prompted the United States to call on China to stop its “bullying behaviour” in the disputed waters. China claims almost all of the energy-rich South China Sea, also a major trade route. The Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

Rohingyas in Malaysia Face a Pandemic and a Possible Populist Backlash The Diplomat 12th May 2020
In Malaysia, the Rohingya refugee community is dealing with a double-pronged disaster. As is true for everyone, the pandemic has fundamentally upset daily life and fears of both infection and the loss of income permeate. And now the community must also contend with a sudden turn in support from wider society.  Initially, this turn was linked to would-be boat arrivals of refugees entering Malaysian waters in recent months, but it has escalated dramatically online after potentially faked comments from a self-styled community leader created a deep division. Former Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose social media postings still carry great influence, has made the most marked about-face. As the Rohingya crisis re-emerged in 2016 under his tenure, Najib aligned himself with the Muslim-majority Rohingyas as a great defender and took on Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi. His critics at the time suggested it was a cynical ploy to turn the crisis into an opportunity to prove his Muslim credentials, similar to the country’s stance on Palestine.  Now, perhaps sensing the change in the air among the broader community, Najib has withdrawn support for the cause. On Facebook, he said Malaysia’s refugee community has already been given a lot of support by the governments of the day and further support is an obligation that should be shared by other ASEAN states. Acknowledging he does not want to be “cruel,” he added “but until when do we need toresolve this problem which began in the 1990s?” A boat carrying 200 Rohingya refugees intercepted by Malaysian authorities earlier this month was turned back, with officials citing fears of COVID-19 infection. News wires report the Air Force gave food to the boat before refusing to allow it to dock and escorting it from territorial waters. The boat is reportedly one of many. Later, activists reported dozens of deaths from starvation following weeks at sea.

US Navy sends ships to South China Sea amid China-Malaysia oil dispute Daily Mail 9th May 2020
The United States Navy has deployed two patrol ships to the disputed South China Sea where China and Malaysia have competing claims over a maritime region known to have valuable resources. American officials said on May 8 that the littoral combat ship USS Montgomery and the replenishment ship USNS Cesar Chavez were sent to conduct a ‘presence operation’ in the South China Sea near a Panamanian-flagged drill ship West Capella. The move sends a strong message to Chinese ships, which have reportedly spent weeks harassing the commercial vessel.  The drill ship is under contract to conduct surveying operations in an area of the South China Sea where Malaysia lays claims to maritime sovereignty. The West Capella has been contracted to drill for oil reserves by the Malaysian state-owned oil company Petronas. In recent weeks, the Chinese People Liberation Army Navy has also deployed warships to the region. This is the second time in the last month that US Navy ships have been sent to the area to to deter Chinese vessels who have been accused of harassing neighboring countries. In late April, the American military deployed the USS Bunker Hill, a guided-missile cruiser, to sail alongside the Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Parramatta.

Malaysia calls for peaceful end to months-long South China Sea standoff The Edge Markets 23rd Apr 2020
 Malaysia called on April 23 for disputes over the South China Sea to be resolved by peaceful means, amid a standoff between Chinese and Malaysian vessels that a U.S. think tank said had been going on for months. U.S. and Australian warships arrived in the South China Sea this week near an area where a Chinese government survey vessel, the Haiyang Dizhi 8, has been operating close to a drillship under contract to Malaysian state oil company Petronas, regional security sources have said. Since December, Chinese forces have been harassing supply ships servicing the West Capella, an oil exploration vessel operated by Petronas, Poling said. Last week, the Haiyang Dizhi 8, accompanied by a Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessel, entered Malaysia's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and began a survey close to where the West Capella was operating. On Thursday, the Haiyang Dizhi 8 was still within Malaysia's EEZ, about 337 kilometres (209.4 miles) off Borneo, data from ship tracking website Marine Traffic Showed. Three U.S. warships and an Australian frigate conducted a joint exercise in the South China Sea this week, near the site of the West Capella's operations, officials and security sources have said.

Two U.S. warships in South China Sea amid China-Malaysia standoff The Edge Markets 21st Apr 2020
Two U.S. warships are operating in the South China Sea, the Navy said on April 21, with three regional security sources saying they were near an area of a standoff between China and Malaysia. The Haiyang Dizhi 8, a Chinese government research ship, was spotted last week conducting a survey close to an exploration vessel operated by Malaysia’s state oil company Petronas, months after it undertook a similar patrol off Vietnam. The incident prompted the United States to call on China to stop its “bullying behavior” in the disputed waters, citing concern over Beijing's provocative actions towards offshore oil and gas developments there.The USS America amphibious assault ship and the USS Bunker Hill, a guided missile cruiser, have been deployed and were operating in the South China Sea, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command spokeswoman Nicole Schwegman said. Rear Admiral Fred Kacher, commander of the USS America Expeditionary Strike Group, told Reuters that his forces had interacted with Chinese naval forces in the South China Sea this week. Schwegman did not state the exact location of the warships but security sources said they were close to the Haiyang Dizhi 8 and the Petronas-operated West Capella drillship. The sources declined to be identified as they were not authorized to speak to the media. The area is near waters claimed by both Vietnam and Malaysia as well by China, through its sweeping claim to most of the South China Sea within its U-shaped 'nine-dash line' that is not recognised by its neighbours or most of the world. The Chinese survey vessel's moves this month come as Beijing ramps up coronavirus diplomacy, donating large supplies of medical equipment and aid to Southeast Asian countries. A team of Chinese medical experts arrived this week in Malaysia, which has reported more than 5,400 coronavirus infections.

Chinese ship tagging Malaysian vessel in S. China Sea: Sources The Straits Times 19th Apr 2020
A Chinese government survey ship was seen tagging an exploration vessel operated by Malaysia's state oil company Petronas in disputed waters in the South China Sea, three regional security sources have said. China's Haiyang Dizhi 8 entered waters near Malaysia on April 16, according to ship tracking website Marine Traffic. On April 17, it was close to the Petronas-operated West Capella, according to the security sources, who asked not to be identified. One of the sources said a Vietnamese vessel was also tagging the West Capella. The area is close to waters claimed by both Vietnam and Malaysia, as well as China through its sweeping claim to most of the South China Sea within its U-shaped "nine-dash line" that is not recognized by its neighbors or most of the rest of the world. The United States has accused China of taking advantage of the distraction caused by the coronavirus pandemic to advance its presence in the South China Sea. On April 15, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said the Haiyang Dizhi 8 was conducting normal activities, and accused US officials of smearing Beijing. A Malaysian security source said the Haiyang Dizhi 8 was flanked at one point on Friday by more than 10 Chinese vessels, including those belonging to maritime militia and the coast guard. That source also mentioned the Vietnamese vessel. Mr Zubil Mat Som, the head of Malaysia's maritime enforcement agency, confirmed that the Haiyang Dizhi 8 was in Malaysian waters, Malay-language daily Harian Metro reported.

Sarawak steps up security along border with Indonesia Free Malaysia Today 9th Apr 2020
In its bid to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the Sarawak government is stepping up security along its border to prevent Indonesians coming in through illegal crossings. “We are intensifying border security. When it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important for us to watch out for our state and people,” Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg said at a press conference on April 9. He said the state government had also formed a sub-committee, led by Deputy Chief Minister James Jemut Masing, to deal with security to contain the spread of the virus.

Philippines

Fire-hit PH Navy ship to extend stay in India for 3 weeks for repair Inquirer.net 14th May 2020
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Navy patrol ship BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16) that caught fire recently will undergo repairs in India for almost a month before it sails back to the Philippines. The U.S. Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command will assist in repairing the BRP Ramon Alcaraz because it was acquired from the U.S.

The Philippine Defense Market - Attractiveness, Competitive Landscape and Forecasts to 2025 Research and Markets 14th May 2020
The Philippines’ defense expenditure recorded a CAGR of 8.21% over the historic-period and stood at US$3.8 billion in 2020. Territorial claims in the South China Sea and the increasing strength and assertiveness of the Chinese armed forces have spurred the Philippine government to enhance its military capabilities. In order to achieve this, the Philippine government has approved the Horizon II program under which the Philippines Department of National Defense is expected to spend US$5.6 billion during 2018-2022 on the procurement of military hardware and the modernization of armed forces of the country.

US approves Apache, Viper attack helicopter options for Philippines Defense News 30th Apr 2020
The U.S. State Department has approved a potential sale of two different helicopters to the Philippines, in advance of that country’s final decision on what system to buy. The Philippines was cleared to buy six AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and related equipment, produced by Bell, with an estimated price tag of $450 million. A much more expensive option, for six Boeing-made AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and related equipment, comes with an estimated cost $1.5 billion.

PH posts 61% drop in crime rate since start of ECQ Philippine News Agency 2nd May 2020
The restricted movement of people and heightened law enforcement operations resulted in a 61-percent decline in the country's crime rate during the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak. The reduced crime incidents can be attributed to the intensified law enforcement operations to keep criminals at bay while the enhanced quarantine is being observed said Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy chief for operations Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar. His remarks came after data from the PNP showed that only 2,676 crimes were reported nationwide from March 17 to April 30.

President Duterte threatens martial law if communist rebels disrupt aid Business World 29th Apr 2020
President Rodrigo R. Duterte threatened to declare martial law if communist rebels disrupt the flow of relief goods for people affected by the coronavirus lockdown restrictions, and asked the military to be ready. Mr. Duterte blasted the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) for the attack at the Paquibato district in Davao City which wounded two soldiers. He added if such incidents continue, he will ultimately declare martial law. Mr. Duterte has long been at odds with the CPP-NPA, worsened by repeated breakdowns in a peace process he launched at the beginning of his presidency.

Proposal to sell military land gains support in Senate Business World 13th Apr 2020
Senators expressed support for proposals to sell military property to provide additional funding for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response package, for which P1.171 trillion has so far been authorized. Senator Panfilo M. Lacson said he is open to any measures as long as they do not compromise the security of military facilities. Senator Ronald M. dela Rosa is also in favor of land sales, but raised the need for transparency to avoid jeopardizing the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Singapore

Coronavirus: SAF suspends all large overseas exercises, including Exercise Wallaby in Australia The Straits Times 12th May 2020
SINGAPORE - The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has suspended all large-scale overseas exercises - including its biggest overseas exercise, Exercise Wallaby held in Queensland, Australia - because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In a statement on Tuesday (May 12), the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said: “When conditions improve, Singapore may continue with smaller-scale training activities in Australia, in full compliance with their safety requirements to prevent the spread of disease.”

Firms win Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative contracts Army Technology 12th May 2020
The Australian Government has awarded three defence contracts worth $6m to three central Queensland-based companies. Awarded under the $2.25bn Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative (ASMTI), the contracts aim to reinforce the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two countries. Companies awarded for various civil and fencing works are JRT Civil in Yeppoon, Bellequip in Rockhampton, as well as Tunuba in Rockhampton.

New safety measures as SAF parachute training resumes after 4 months The Straits Times 30th Apr 2020
After a four-month suspension due to a training incident, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) resumed parachute jump training involving cords on Tuesday, but with new safety measures. These measures include enhanced emergency stop drills, greater supervision of less-experienced jumpers, and lowering the rate of dispatching trainees for jumps so trainers have more time to react if they need to intervene

Phase 2 contract for ST Engineering of Singapore to produce Hunter tracked armored fighting vehicle | April 2020 News Defense Global Security army industry | Defense Security global news industry army 2020 | Archive News year Army Recognition 21st Apr 2020
ST Engineering Group’s Land Systems secured a Phase 2 contract for the production and supply of the Hunter Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV) from the Singapore Ministry of Defence. Under the contract, ST Engineering will also provide integrated logistics support which includes spares, training and documentation. The Hunter AFV is the first fully digitalized armored vehicle, it integrates combat cockpit featuring an array of multi-function displays that supports each crew member in the task of command and control, gunnery and vehicle maneuver. T

COVID-19: SAF suspends all large-scale overseas exercises, including Exercise Wallaby CNA 12th May 2020
The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will suspend all large-scale overseas exercises, including Exercise Wallaby in Australia, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said in a news release on Tuesday (May 12). Inaugurated in 1990, Exercise Wallaby is the SAF's largest overseas exercise and is held at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland, Australia. MINDEF said bilateral ties with Australia continue to be strong, and that it looks forward to future editions of the overseas exercise. Amid the coronavirus outbreak, Singapore had already suspended Basic Military Training since Apr 7 and deferred activities for its operationally ready national servicemen, in line with the nationwide safe distancing measures. Training at the Officer Cadet School continues with enhanced safety measures, but overseas exercises have been cancelled. The commissioning parade will also be replaced with a smaller, modified ceremony without visitors.

SAF resumes parachute training after 4-month suspension due to training incident The Straits Times 29th Apr 2020
After a four-month suspension due to a training incident, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) resumed parachute jump training involving cords on Tuesday (April 28), but with new safety measures. These measures include enhanced emergency stop drills, greater supervision of less-experienced jumpers, and lowering the rate of dispatching trainees for jumps so that trainers have more time to react if they need to intervene. The training had been halted following an incident that resulted in Private Joshua Quek suffering a cervical spine injury in Taiwan last December.

Thailand

Boeing scores deals to deliver missiles to Saudi, Thailand Bangkok Post 14th May 2020
Boeing has been awarded two contracts worth more than $2 billion for the delivery of more than 1,000 air-to-surface and anti-ship missiles to Saudi Arabia, the Pentagon said Wednesday. The Pentagon also announced a more than $650 million contract for delivery of 467 new Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles, including more than 400 to Saudi Arabia. The others will be delivered to Brazil, Qatar and Thailand. Support equipment will be supplied to India, Japan, the Netherlands and South Korea, the statement said.

Covid-19 induces Thai defence budget cuts Army Technology 1st May 2020
Thailand has announced budget cuts for the current 2020 Financial Year (FY) package and the suspension of selected defense projects until FY 2021. The budget has been cut by US$557 million in 2020 to support a THB1.9 trillion stimulus package that will address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among suspended programs figure the procurement of two T-50 Golden Eagle aircrafts and the planned order of two Type 041 diesel-electric attack submarines.

Thai army puts Stryker armoured vehicle deal on hold while Covid-19 battle rages The Star Online 22nd Apr 2020
A military source confirmed on Wednesday (April 22) that the Army will not procure Stryker armoured vehicles this fiscal year, after Ordnance Department documents leaked online appeared to show the deal was going ahead. The leaked documents said the Army planned to procure 50 armoured vehicles from the United States via its Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme.

Virus broadsides sub procurement plan Bangkok Post 19th Apr 2020
The navy has decided to delay its procurement of two controversial submarines and related facilities as part of its 33% budget cut with the money to be contributed to the Covid-19 fight. The move comes after critics of the defence spend ramped up pressure by demanding a review of weapons procurement plans including those on the submarine purchases so more money could be saved and injected into efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Vietnam

Looking beyond symbolism in US–Vietnam defence cooperation East Asia Forum 18th Apr 2020
The second visit by US aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill to Vietnam came at a time of ambivalent defence relations between the two countries. The visit to Da Nang in March 2020 was part of events commemorating 25 years of US–Vietnam diplomatic relations, but irregular bilateral defence engagement and the global outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic overshadowed the festivities.

Việt Nam denounces China's move to set up administrative districts over Vietnamese islands vietnamnews.vn 19th Apr 2020
Việt Nam on Sunday said it "categorically" denounced China’s decision to establish so-called Xisha and Nansha districts to govern over Việt Nam’s islands of Hoàng Sa (Paracel) and Trường Sa (Spratly), respectively. Việt Nam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Lê Thị Thu Hằng made the statement on Sunday after Chinese state media reported on the Chinese State Council’s decision to set up the two administrative regions under the so-called Sansha City in Hainan Province, stoking instability in the hotly contested South China Sea (known as East Sea in Việt Nam).

Airlines and railway firms get payment fee reduction of 35 per cent vietnamnews.vn 17th Apr 2020
Three airlines, Vietnam Airlines, Vietjetair and Bamboo Airways, as well as Vietnam Railways are eligible for a 35 per cent reduction in fees at Vietcombank from now until December 31. According to the National Payment Corporation of Việt Nam (NAPAS), the airlines will receive reduced payment fees for both e-payment gateway services and payment collection as part of a support programme for transport enterprises to overcome the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. NAPAS will allow the transport firms free transaction processing and is also coordinating with Vietcombank to reduce payment fees via the bank by up to 35 per cent.

Aviation policies fair and equal for all airlines, says transport ministry vietnamnews.vn 17th Apr 2020
The Ministry of Transport said it did not assign the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam to study a protection policy dedicated to Vietnam Airlines, which recently reported a loss of VNĐ20 trillion due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The information that the ministry gave Vietnam Airlines priority on the allocation of time slots for landing and take-off, and controlled the domestic aviation sector’s growth to help the carrier develop business is incorrect, a representative of the ministry told Vietnam News Agency. “All policies are fair and equal for all airlines,” said the representative.

Transport mainstays in call for policy backing Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 15th Apr 2020
State-owned transport giants Airports Corporation of Vietnam, Vietnam Airlines, Vietnam Railways, and Vietnam Maritime Corporation suffered all-time biggest losses in the first quarter of 2020 due to COVID-19 and are trying in vain to recover, seeking for rapid supporting policies from the government. Aviation is one of the transport segments hit the hardest by the pandemic. According to the Commission for the Management of State Capital at Enterprises (CMSC), which manages 19 state-owned giants including five in the transport sector, Vietnam Airlines, ACV, Vietnam Expressway Corporation (VEC), Vietnam Railways (VNR), and Vietnam Maritime Corporation (VIMC) are all suffering huge losses in the three-month span.