Ukraine conflict: US sharpens focus on bolstering Taiwan asymmetric capability

by Jon Grevatt

The utility of “unit-level tactical fires” weapons such as Javelin anti-tank systems has been highlighted by the US as important in its efforts to support Taiwan's asymmetric capabilities. (US Army)

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has intensified US efforts to ensure it is supporting Taiwan's requirement to acquire ‘asymmetric' capabilities to respond to any similar military offensive by China.

US government officials have told Janes that military sales to Taiwan in recent years have increasingly been focused on building the island's asymmetric capability and that war in Ukraine has highlighted the value of such assistance.

Other senior US government officials underscored in a recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing the requirement for Washington to further strengthen its asymmetric support of Taiwan, which Beijing views as a province and not as a sovereign state.

A spokesperson for the US Department of Defense (DoD) told Janes that the US is increasingly concerned about China's “destabilising” and growing military activities near Taiwan. These include near-daily Chinese military aircraft incursions into Taiwan-claimed airspace and the Chinese navy's now constant presence close to the island.

The spokesperson said the US commitment to supporting Taiwan is “rock-solid”, in line with the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) 1979, through which Washington is committed to provide the island with defensive equipment.

“We have also been clear that, in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States would regard any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific, and of grave concern to the United States,” said the spokesperson.

The DoD spokesperson also made reference to China's “tacit support” for Russia's war in Ukraine and its potentially wide implications. On 14 March it was reported that China was preparing to provide support to Russia in its war in Ukraine. “We have been clear that [China's] tacit support for Russian aggression is alarming and represents a serious security concern for Europe,” said the DoD spokesperson.

A spokesperson from the US Department of State told Janes that under the TRA the US has authorised, since 2017, about USD18 billion in Foreign Military Sales to Taiwan and Direct Commercial Sales of USD2.3 billion. The spokesperson added that such sales have included asymmetric capabilities.

“The United States also supports Taiwan with training and encourages its innovative and asymmetric security posture,” the spokesperson said. This support also involves “continual dialogue” about how the US can provide Taiwan to develop “self-defence capability”.

Comparing Russia's invasion in Ukraine with any Chinese offensive against Taiwan, the US State Department spokesperson said, “These are very different contingencies, though the utility of unit-level tactical fires such as Stinger [manportable air-defence systems] and Javelin [anti-tank systems] is obvious. We've also seen the immense value that our alliances and partnerships bring to bear, and which magnify and multiply our global security capabilities.”

In comments to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 10 March, Jessica Lewis, the US State Department's assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, said Russia's invasion of Ukraine has highlighted the importance to the US of providing more asymmetric capabilities to Taiwan to help the island prepare for a potential invasion from China.

Defining asymmetric capability, Lewis said, “It needs to be cost-effective, mobile, resilient, and decentralised defensive systems. We have seen these used to great effect in Ukraine. We are looking [at] ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) systems, short-range air-defence systems, naval sea mines, and coastal defence and cruise missiles.”

Mara Karlin, US assistant secretary of defence for strategy, plans, and capabilities, added that the US and Taiwan have been holding “very regular consultations” to assess the island's defence requirements.

Karlin added in the hearing, “I think the situation we're seeing in Ukraine right now is a very worthwhile case study for [Taiwan]... about why Taiwan needs to do all it can to build asymmetric capabilities, to get its population ready, so that it can be ready as quickly as possible should China choose to violate its sovereignty.”

Russia's Sarmat heavy ICBM to enter service at end of year

by Nicholas Fiorenza

Russia plans for its RS-28 Sarmat heavy ICBM (pictured), leaving a silo during its first test launch from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the Arkhangelsk Oblast on 20 April, to begin combat duty at the end of this year. (Russian MoD)

Russia's first RS-28 Sarmat heavy intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) will begin combat duty at the end of the year, Russian President Vladimir Putin told military university graduates he met in the Kremlin on 21 June.

The announcement came two months after the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of the Russian Federation reported the first test launch of the ICBM with a dummy warhead from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the Arkhangelsk Oblast on 20 April.

Armed with a multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV), Sarmat will replace the Voyevoda RS-20 ICBM, also known by its NATO designation SS-18 ‘Satan' Mod 5, which Russia's Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN) plan to retain until the RS-28 is officially accepted into service.

Developed by State Rocket Center ‘Academician V P Makeyev', the three-stage Sarmat is produced by the Krasnoyarsk Machine-Building Plant (KrasMash), a subsidiary of Russian State Space Corporation Roscosmos.

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IWI details new ACE Sniper rifle

by Amael Kotlarski

IWI ACE Sniper 7.62 mm self-loading rifle. (IWI )

Israel Weapons Industry (IWI) representatives provided further details of the company's new ACE Sniper rifle at the Eurosatory 2022 defence exhibition.

Announced in April, the ACE Sniper is the successor to the company's Galil Sniper SA self-loading sniper rifle. Based on the ACE-N 52, the ACE Sniper brings all the improved features of the ACE series over the Galil pattern rifles, including steel and polymer receiver; left-hand side cocking handle with spring-loaded dust cover; redesigned ambidextrous fire-selector levers; side-folding stock; and modern optics and accessory rail capability.

The ACE Sniper is a long-stroke gas piston-operated weapon, with a semi-automatic only mode of fire. It is fitted with a 584 mm long, heavy profile barrel, featuring a double baffle muzzle brake. The barrel features six grooves, with a right-hand turn every 241 mm.

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Eurosatory 2022: Lockheed Martin outlines the road ahead for Javelin

by Amael Kotlarski

FGM-148F launch tube assemblies on the production line. (Javelin Joint Venture)

Lockheed Martin representatives outlined the road map for the Javelin anti-armour weapon system at Eurosatory 2022 defence exhibition in Paris.

Speaking to Janes , company representatives confirmed that missile production had completely switched over to the FGM-148F model, which was developed under the Spiral 2 missile improvement programme. Any new customers, or follow-on orders from existing customers, would now be receiving this missile model.

Produced by the Javelin Joint Venture (JJV), which consists of Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Missiles & Defense, the system entered service with the United States in 1996 and has received a number of updates since then, with further updates planned in the next few years.

The F-model is an evolution of the FGM-148E (Spiral 1), which was introduced in 2006 and saw its final improvement made in 2017 with the replacement of the missile's analog control and actuation system (CAS) with a single digital card. The F-model brought a new multi-purpose warhead (MPWH) to increase lethality against lightly armoured targets and personnel.

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