27 June 2024

Dissecting the 2024 US-India iCET Joint Factsheet


On June 17, the second US-India initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) meeting took place in New Delhi. The iCET is a collaborative framework established by the United States and India to strengthen cooperation in key technology areas. After the announcement in 2022, the inaugural meeting between top bureaucrats of both nations, chaired by the National Security Advisors, took place in 2023. The recent meeting marks this partnership's second chapter and drives it forward.

The iCET aims to bolster the two countries' economic competitiveness while complementing the innovation ecosystems. The partnership hopes to build interoperability, trust, and confidence between the two nations, which see their interests aligned across various points in recent years. It acknowledges the important role India needs to play in the Indo-Pacific and the advantage it stands to gain from the partnership with the US in this world order. This cooperation at a broader level is happening with other like-minded countries in the form of the Trilateral Technology dialogue with South Korea and QUAD cooperation with Australia and Japan.

The initiative aims to form interconnections in the two countries' industries, academia, and bureaucracies to ease barriers, expedite roadmaps, and drive collaborative innovation through funding, co-development, and co-production. The framework attempts to do this across various critical technology fields.

Killing of Monks Raises Fear of a Holy Conflict in Myanmar

Luke Hunt

Fears that the junta in Myanmar is attempting to trigger a holy war between the Buddhist clergy and anti-regime forces have resurfaced after two monks were shot dead, crimes that the military initially blamed on the rebels.

The dead included Sayadaw Bhaddanta Munindabhivamsa. He was a 78-year-old senior abbot from the Win Neinmitayon Monastery in Bago Region, who was shot and killed by soldiers from a truck while his car was driving out of Mandalay International Airport last week.

His driver lost three fingers in the attack while fellow monk Sayadaw Bhaddanta Gunikabhivamsa sustained head injuries from the smashed glass. His phone was confiscated by those who fired and then fled before other soldiers arrived and interrogated him at a camp in Mandalay Palace for five hours.

As the questioning continued, Gunikabhivamsa’s wounds went untreated and broadcaster MRTV declared that Munindabhivamsa had been killed by the opposition People’s Defense Force (PDF) during a firefight with the military. One suggestion was that the PDF had lobbed a landmine at the two monks.

US Needs Longer-Range Drones for Potential China-Taiwan Conflict: Think Tank


he US military will need to invest in longer-range drones to effectively counter a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan, a DC-based think tank has claimed.

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS), which has been tracking developments in the island nation, said Beijing is positioned to take advantage of its large fleet of drones to quickly gain the upper hand in case of an armed conflict.

This is why the US and Taipei should immediately close the gap by purchasing sufficient quantities of “good enough” long-range drones to develop a layered defense.

These drones should be a mix of higher-end and cheaper systems to support missions in highly-contested airspace and enable quick replacement for those that will inevitably be lost, according to the report.

Furthermore, there must also be autonomous kamikaze drones in the fleet to attack Chinese warships and potentially overwhelm enemy air defenses.

The US military operates exquisite unmanned assets, such as the MQ-9 Reaper with a range of 1,150 miles (1,850 kilometers) and the RQ-4 Global Hawk, which can fly up to 14,155 miles (22,779 kilometers).

When will China have a sixth-gen fighter jet?

Gordon Arthur

Despite China’s notorious secrecy surrounding all things defense, there are indications it is making progress on a sixth-generation fighter.

Perhaps the clearest admission came from a WeChat social media post by Aviation Industry Corporation of China in January 2019. In an interview discussing sixth-gen fighters, Wang Haifeng, the chief designer at AVIC subsidiary Chengdu Aerospace Corp., said preparations were underway to research a combat aircraft that would be ready to “protect the sea and sky” by 2035.

At the time, Wang mentioned elements like manned-unmanned teaming, the use of artificial intelligence, as well as improved stealth and omnidirectional sensors.

In 2022, the head of U.S. Air Combat Command said those efforts are “on track.”

“By and large, they see it [sixth-gen fighter technology] greatly the way we see it in terms of an exponential reduction in signature and exponential acceleration in processing power and sensing, and the ability to iterate in terms of open-mission systems, to be able to essentially reprogram at the speed of relevance,” Gen. Mark Kelly said.

Retired army general's chilling warning over China's chokehold on US military: 'We need to prepare for war'


China's chokehold over U.S. military supplies leaves the West at the mercy of Beijing in the event of an all out war, a former army general has warned.

In an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com, retired U.S. Army Major General John G. Ferrari said he had 'grave concerns' about the America's ongoing reliance on China to equip its military.

Chinese manufacturers are deeply embedded in U.S. defense systems, providing critical technology and raw materials used in everything from air-to-air missiles to fighter jets.

General Ferrari, who served as a deputy commander for NATO in Afghanistan, admitted that Beijing could cripple America's ability to arm itself by cutting off supply lines.

'If we were in a war with China and it stopped providing parts, we wouldn't be able to build the planes and weapons we needed,' he said.

Contesting the West: China’s Middle East strategy

Hasan Alhasan

Speaking at the 10th ministerial conference of the China–Arab States Cooperation Forum held on 30 May in Beijing, Xi Jinping hailed a ‘new era’ of Chinese–Arab relations. In the Middle East, where the United States’ influence looms large, China is pursuing an active regional strategy to carve out a greater political role for itself, deepen its economic ties, and form coalitions among countries of the Global South to counterbalance the US and its G7 allies in the emerging multipolar world order. Beijing’s appeal may grow in the current geopolitical climate, but it must contend with the enduring security and economic clout of the US.

China seeks a wider political role but limits engagement

As a sign of China’s ambitions to play a greater political role in the Middle East, Beijing has intensified its advocacy for the Palestinian cause since the start of the Israel–Hamas war in October 2023. The China–Arab forum’s final communiqué (the ‘Beijing Declaration’), called for an international peace conference to settle the conflict. The communiqué also condemned Israel’s invasion of Rafah and the United States’ exercising of its veto over resolutions on Palestinian statehood at the United Nations Security Council. At other international fora China has taken a similarly vocal pro-Palestinian stance and has attempted to mediate reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, hosting them for talks in Beijing. During proceedings at the International Court of Justice in February, China defended the Palestinians’ right to armed resistance against Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.

The US Is Learning the Wrong Cold War Lessons on China

Minxin Pei

By now few question the proposition that the US and China are locked in an open-ended strategic rivalry, if not a new Cold War. But what the end game of this contest looks like is a hotly debated topic. Hawks in Washington are calling for “victory,” rejecting the strategy of a managed competition that prioritizes the prevention of an uncontrolled escalation and even a great power war.

The definition of victory, spelled out in an influential recent article in Foreign Affairs, appears to be the capitulation of the Chinese Communist Party and regime change, a triumph best achieved through a strategy of confrontation similar to Ronald Reagan’s policy toward the Soviet Union in the early 1980s.

Against China, the United States Must Play to Win

Matthew Kroenig and Dan Negrea

As the 2024 U.S. presidential election approaches, many are asking what the United States’ goal is when it comes to strategic competition with China. The Biden administration has said that it aims to “responsibly manage the competition” with China, but some prominent Republicans have criticized this approach and have called for “victory” as the superior objective. Proponents of victory, however, have not clearly spelled out what winning means.

China May Be the Ukraine War’s Big Winner

Michael Schuman

Ayear ago, the Chinese leader Xi Jinping told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that, in the words of Beijing’s official readout, “China always stands on the side of peace.” But China was standing nowhere near the recent Swiss-sponsored international summit that convened to seek a peaceful resolution to Russia’s war against Ukraine. China’s conspicuous absence was made even more glaring by the great show that Beijing has made of mediating a settlement between the combatants.

Xi’s excuse was that all parties were not properly represented at the summit—in other words, the Russian party, which had not been invited. His relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin has grown too close for anyone to expect the Chinese leader to be taken seriously as a peacemaker. Any hope that Xi might use his influence with Putin as leverage to help bring an end to the war evaporated long ago. Instead, the focus in Western capitals is now turning to the role that China is actually playing in the conflict—as facilitator of the Russian war effort. In that, the United States and its allies face a distressing reality: A protracted war in Europe suits Xi’s interests just fine.

Xi is, in effect, freeloading off the very U.S.-led global-security system he hopes to destroy, in order to replace it with a China-centric world order. He can leave the heavy lifting of solving the Ukraine crisis to Washington while exploiting it for China’s interests. Right now, this approach looks as effective as it is cynical.

Russia, China Threats Boosting NATO Members, Partnerships

Laura Heckmann

Red blotches sunk into the pavement along the sidewalks of Sarajevo could be mistaken for an urban art project, scattered about the city in seemingly random places. But the red resin-filled indentations in the concrete mark a far more sobering reality: gashes left from mortar fire.

The memorials — called Sarajevo roses — are some of many scars left from a war that ended during the lifetime of many who still inhabit the city. Today, a thriving old town district lined with cobblestones, a serene riverwalk and quaint houses stacked up hillsides mask the not-so-distant history of violence while simultaneously serving as a testament to a lesser-known relationship of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization: its partners.

Bosnia and Herzegovina — a member of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program since 2006 — was host to the alliance’s annual Military Strategic Partnership Conference in April — a forum aimed at furthering NATO processes and programs for nonmembers. Since the release of NATO’s 2022 Strategic Concept — finalized after Russia invaded Ukraine — NATO has placed greater emphasis on working with sympathetic nations in regions like Eastern Europe or the Indo-Pacific where threats to the alliance’s interests are growing.

China Unveils Dangerous New "Stealthy" Attack Submarine


China has celebrated the 70th birthday of its submarine fleet by giving the public a brief look at its newest sub.

The vessel was featured briefly in a video on the official Weibo account of the People’s Liberation Army Navy. And it’s considerably different than any other Chinese submarine seen before.

Analysts told the Global Times, the English-language newspaper linked to the Chinese Communist Party, that the sub has a unique design that gives it additional stealth capabilities. They say it is already operational.

The submarine’s angled sail is identical to that of a sub called the Type 039C Yuan class, a non-nuclear attack type, in published accounts.

Last November, the Paris-based Nava News headlined a story “Chinese Submarine Is First To Exploit New Technology.”

US Warns Israeli Offensive In Lebanon Could Bring Wider War, Draw In Iran

Carla Babb

U.S. and European officials are warning of the possibility of the war in Gaza expanding, with the prospect of an Israeli offensive in Lebanon against the Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters Monday in Luxembourg that the risk of the war spilling over was growing bigger every day.

“I think that, unhappily, we are on the eve of the war expanding,” Borrell said.

He also said a cease-fire in Gaza was desperately needed to facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid, saying “delivery of humanitarian assistance inside Gaza has become impossible.”

A temporary pier that was built for delivering aid into Gaza via a sea route paused deliveries Monday because of “scheduled maintenance,” Pentagon press secretary Major General Pat Ryder told reporters.

Ukrainian troops destroy Russian Pantsir-S1 in Donetsk region

Dylan Malyasov

The Pantsir-S1, valued at approximately $15 million, is designed to provide air defenses for military and industrial objects.

Since invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Russia has lost around 21 Pantsir-S1 modern air defense systems. This truck-mounted, road-mobile system features command-guided surface-to-air missiles and twin-barrel 30mm automatic cannons. Its onboard radar and infrared sensors enable it to detect and track various aerial threats, including aircraft, helicopters, drones, cruise missiles, and artillery rockets.

The recent strike highlights the ongoing vulnerability of high-value Russian air defense assets amid the intense fighting for Ukraine.

Ukrainian Bradley withstands suicide drone strike

Dylan Malyasov

The video footage reveals the Bradley engaging enemy infantry before being struck by the FPV drone on its return journey. Despite the impact, the crew did not feel the hit and continued their mission, the brigade’s statement confirmed.

The FPV drone struck the front projection of the Bradley, yet the vehicle remained operational. The footage also shows the Bradley equipped with the Bradley Reactive Armor Tiles (BRAT) system, enhancing its defensive capabilities.

Additionally, the video highlights the Bradley’s effectiveness against the Russian occupiers, utilizing its 25mm M242 Bushmaster automatic cannon.

U.S. Army Conducts First Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile SINKEX Using PrSM

3d Multi-Domain Task Force (3MDTF) continued to demonstrate its ability to operate in the INDOPACOM theater through its participation, experimentation, and innovation in Valiant Shield 24. 3MDTF deployed teams of soldiers across the Pacific while executing distributed command and control and employing emerging concepts and capabilities partnered with Department of Defense agencies and commercial industry.

Teams operating out of Japan, Guam, and Palau integrated extended range sensing, long range communication, effects, and fires to contribute to accomplishing training objectives.

In Guam, 3MDTF soldiers, partnering with the Research and Experimentation branch of the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense (OUSD) and Aerostar Industries, launched high altitude balloons (HABs) from Won Pat International Airport. Once launched, the HABs rapidly ascended above 50,000 feet and began operating around the Marianas Islands. Equipped with electromagnetic sensing and mesh communications equipment, the HABs helped inform future maritime domain awareness innovation and experimentation.

While HABs floated at high altitude, Platform Aerospace, partnering with OUSD (R&E) and 3MDTF, launched the Vanilla Ultra-Long Endurance Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Vanilla holds the world record for continuous, un-refueled flight of a combustion engine aircraft (>8 days). Vanilla can be configured for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR), and Persistent Communications.

More Debt Is Better Than More Billion-Dollar Climate Disasters

Mark Gongloff

There’s good debt and there’s bad debt. Good debt is a $465 million government loan for your fledgling electric-car company that helps it become the world’s biggest automaker. Bad debt is maxing out your credit cards to buy cartoon apes in 2022.

Depending on your politics, you might consider a government taking out loans to finance the clean-energy transition to be bad debt. But economists keep pointing out that a little bit of deficit spending to fight climate change today will save a whole lot of deficit spending tomorrow, to not only fight a rear-guard action against global heating but also to clean up the expensive mess it will make.

Unfortunately, the politics of green government spending aren’t exactly having a banner year. European parliamentary elections hit green parties particularly hard, the UK’s Labour Party has scaled back its climate plans, and the deeply climate-unfriendly Donald Trump stands a real chance of winning a return to the White House in November.

NATO Wants to Boost Its Undersea Defenses

Jack Detsch and Keith Johnson

There are just two cables linking the remote Arctic archipelago of Svalbard with mainland Norway, providing almost all the data from polar-orbiting satellites to the rest of the world. And two years ago, they nearly stopped working.

The great powers are itching for another nuclear arms race. Who will stop them? - Opinion

Steve Andreasen

In early June, the Biden administration announced a more “competitive” nuclear weapons strategy, after Moscow and Beijing reportedly spurned U.S. efforts to discuss arms control. The new approach includes the possibility of increasing America’s deployment of strategic nuclear weapons. The administration’s more muscular stance may be only a small down payment on an even larger nuclear buildup foreshadowed in a recent report mandated by Congress. The public has a compelling interest in participating in this discussion now, before the bills and risks come due.

“How much is enough” regarding America’s nuclear forces is not a new question. It has been debated by political, military and scientific leaders since the first two nuclear weapons were used to end the Second World War almost 80 years ago. Today, Washington and our two most likely nuclear adversaries, Russia and China, are all examining their nuclear ledgers to account for growing tensions in great-power relations, new technologies such as artificial intelligence and cyber warfare and emerging battlefields in space.

Fear's defeat: Militant Islam and the challenges of deterrence - opinion


Deterrence was conceptualized during the Cold War as a strategic practice to regulate relations between nations. It is predicated on the idea that regimes undertake a deliberate analysis of costs and benefits, prioritizing their survival by avoiding actions that could lead to their annihilation.

This strategy has been crucial for global stability, evident in the Cold War’s nuclear standoff where mutually assured destruction (MAD) prevented direct US-Soviet conflict. The balance between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan has similarly prevented full-scale wars despite tensions.

But history is also replete with instances of states and other groups who chose violence despite immense – sometimes total – loss. One can think of the Jews at Masada, for example, who chose mass suicide, rather than submit to the Romans. Or the Japanese who, despite being at a steep strategic and military disadvantage, chose to attack Pearl Harbor, and then suffered the wrath of a nuclear-armed United States.

Israel’s high court orders the army to draft ultra-Orthodox men, rattling Netanyahu’s government


Israel’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled unanimously that the military must begin drafting ultra-Orthodox men for compulsory service, a landmark decision that could lead to the collapse of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition as Israel continues to wage war in Gaza.

The historic ruling effectively puts an end to a decades-old system that granted ultra-Orthodox men broad exemptions from military service while maintaining mandatory enlistment for the country’s secular Jewish majority. The arrangement, deemed discriminatory by critics, has created a deep chasm in Israel’s Jewish majority over who should shoulder the burden of protecting the country.

The court struck down a law that codified exemptions in 2017, but repeated court extensions and government delaying tactics over a replacement dragged out a resolution for years. The court ruled that in the absence of a law, Israel’s compulsory military service applies to the ultra-Orthodox like any other citizen.

Why Wars Don’t Always End with Negotiations

Those that demand Ukraine and its Western supporters work out what concessions will be offered to Russia to cut a deal to end the war, often claim that this will have to be done at some point because ‘wars always end with a negotiation.’ Despite its regular repetition, and however the Russo-Ukraine War concludes, this claim is simply not true. Not all wars end with negotiations. Some end with surrenders, as was the case with both Germany and Japan in 1945, or regime change, as with Italy in 1943, or cease-fires, which might require some negotiation but leave the underlying dispute unresolved, as with Korea in 1953. Even when there are negotiations intended to end a war they often fail.

The idea that war is essentially transactional and that there is a deal always there to be struck (a view which seems to infuse Donald Trump’s approach to international conflict) ignores the high stakes for which they are fought, which become even higher when lives have been lost in their pursuit. Compromises are best found before the fighting starts. Once a war has begun, compromises become much harder to identify let alone agree and confirm in treaty form. This will require intense bargaining over specific language in the full knowledge that any ambiguity will later be exploited.

Cyber Attacks in Perspective: Cutting Through the Hyperbole

Tom Johansmeyer

What would the most destructive and costly cyberattack in history look like?

The Department of the Treasury is exploring a federal mechanism for providing relief capital to the insurance industry in the event of a major cyber catastrophe. While the prospect of a cyber incident sinking the insurance industry and leaving society exposed is intensely remote, it highlights an underlying problem with our understanding of the destructive capacity of cyberattacks—hyperbole. If the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, represented a failure of imagination, then the fear we have of a significant cyberattack represents a failure to keep our imaginations under control.

History shows that it is easier to imagine a catastrophe than to produce it, but it fails to explain why. The last twenty-five years of economic loss data suggest cyberattacks aren’t nearly as costly as the annual hurricanes and hailstorms we experience.

So why are we so afraid?

In many ways, our fear can be attributed to the relative newness of cyber risks in human history, meaning they need to be better understood by the public and with many precedents. Additionally, our misunderstanding is related to the thin historical data we have on them and, more critically, that our historical data relies heavily on a few specific, recent cases—the most prominent being the 2017 NotPetya attack. With a $10 billion price tag and impacts across 65 countries,NotPetya was called “the most destructive and costly cyberattack in history.” But the numbers tell a different story, and relying on NotPetya as our catastrophic example may mean researchers and analysts are staring down a paper tiger.

Boeing's Starliner Faces an Indefinite Wait in Space While NASA Investigates Its Faults


IN AN UPDATE released late Friday evening, NASA said it was “adjusting” the date of the Boeing Starliner spacecraft’s return to Earth from June 26 to an unspecified time in July.

The announcement followed two days of long meetings to review the readiness of the spacecraft, developed by Boeing, to fly NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams to Earth. According to sources, these meetings included high-level participation from senior leaders at the agency, including associate administrator Jim Free.

This “Crew Flight Test,” which launched on June 5 atop an Atlas V rocket, was originally due to undock and return to Earth on June 14. However, as engineers from NASA and Boeing studied data from the vehicle’s problematic flight to the International Space Station, they have waved off several return opportunities.

On Friday night they did so again, citing the need to spend more time reviewing data.

“Taking Our Time”

“We are taking our time and following our standard mission management team process,” said Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, in the NASA update. “We are letting the data drive our decisionmaking relative to managing the small helium system leaks and thruster performance we observed during rendezvous and docking.”

Huge Manta Ray Underwater Drone Looks Like A Docked Star Wars Spaceship


We are finally getting a clear idea of just how big Northrop Grumman’s Manta Ray submersible drone is, with satellite images showing it in port looking like something that just landed on Tatooine. Manta Ray is being developed under a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program that is focused on demonstrating a new category of very-long-endurance uncrewed naval platform that could be configured to perform a host of different missions. You can read more about what is known about the design, which had already been shown to be much larger than was originally understood, in our past reporting here.

Satellite images taken in November 2023 and April of this year that are now available through Google Earth show the Manta Ray docked at the Port Hueneme naval base in California. Port Hueneme, which is part of the U.S. Navy’s larger Naval Base Ventura County, is home to the Naval Surface Warfare Center-Port Hueneme Division (NSWC PHD) and is a major research and development and test and evaluation hub.

Manta Ray’s ‘wingspan’ is around 45 feet and it has an overall length of 33 feet from what can now be seen in the satellite images. For comparison, Boeing’s Echo Voyager underwater vehicle (UUV), from which the larger and still-in-development Orca design for the U.S. Navy is derived, is 51 feet long, but also is much narrower. The torpedo-like REMUS 600, one of the largest operational UUVs in Navy service currently, is just 10.6 feet long and 12.75 inches in diameter.

Defence’s electromagnetic spectrum challenges

Richard Wolf

The Australian Defence Force is ill prepared for a modern conflict. It is not doing nearly enough to ensure dominance of the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS), the kind of energy used in communications and by many sensors.

The ADF must fully exploit the EMS to command forces, to direct weapons and to know what’s going on, and it must be able to prevent an enemy from doing the same.

In some areas, it is well equipped for these tasks but in others far too weakly. The biggest gaps are in maritime, air and space sensors and effectors; spectrum awareness; and communications. Some projects to improve capability are publicly disclosed, though not in any detail, and maybe a few more are proceeding behind the scenes.