CENTCOM commander warns of growing Chinese arms exports

by Jeremy Binnie

An Iranian sailor looks at the Chinese destroyer Nanning during an exercise in March that also involved the Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov . Nanning also visited Abu Dhabi during the IDEX defence show in February. (Mehr News Agency)

US Central Command (CENTCOM) commander General Michael Kurilla repeatedly warned that China has significantly increased its defence exports to countries in his area of responsibility (AOR) when he testified to the Senate Armed Services committee on 16 March.

Gen Kurilla said Chinese defence exports to his AOR have increased 80% over the last 10 years as US defence exports decreased 30%.

CENTCOM AOR includes the former Soviet republics of Central Asia as well as Southwest Asia and Egypt. Gen Kurilla indicated that Arab militaries in the Gulf region are now turning to Beijing for air-defence systems when he said Chinese equipment cannot be part of the integrated air and missile defence network CENTCOM is trying to build with local partners to counter Iranian missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

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South Korea approves mass production of fourth batch of K2 MBTs

by Kapil Kajal

In service with the Republic of Korea Army, Hyundai Rotem's K2 main battle tank, pictured above, is replacing ageing inventories of M48 Patton tanks and older models of the K1 MBT. (Janes/Kelvin Wong)

South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has approved the mass production of a fourth batch of the Hyundai Rotem K2 main battle tank (MBT) for the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA).

DAPA said on 25 May that the project to build the batch-four MBTs has been allocated KRW1.94 trillion (USD1.46 billion) between 2024 and 2028. It said the additional K2s will contribute to the “improvement of the mobile corps' ability to perform offensive manoeuvres”.

DAPA did not disclose how many K2s would be built in the new batch.

According to Janes Land Warfare Platforms: Armoured Fighting Vehicles, the K2 is a third-generation MBT designed to provide the RoKA with modern heavy-armour capability.

The MBT is operated by a crew of three and has a length of 10.8 m and a width of 3.6 m. It weighs 56 tonnes and has a maximum onroad speed of 70 km/h.

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HII awarded advance procurement contract modification for Virginia-class Block V submarines

by Michael Fabey

Electric Boat awarded Newport News Shipbuilding a contract modification for Block V attack submarines. (Newport News Shipbuilding)

General Dynamics Electric Boat awarded HII's Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) unit a USD305.2 million contract modification to procure long-lead-time material for two additional Block V Virginia-class submarines, HII confirmed on 24 May.

The contract modification brings the overall contract value to USD10.2 billion, HII said.

“These funds are critically important to stabilising and providing predictability to the thousands of suppliers across the country,” said Jason Ward, NNS vice-president of Virginia-class submarine construction. “The submarine industrial base is crucial.”

That base has become a bit unstable recently in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic-related effects, inflation, and supply issues. Officials at HII's NNS division said they are taking measures to stabilise their US nuclear submarine and aircraft construction programmes.

“It's a complex problem,” Ward said on 5 May at the company's Virginia shipyard in an interview before the 6 May christening of the Block IV Virginia-class attack submarine Massachusetts (SSN 798).

“The Virginia-class cadence has not executed [as planned],” Ward said. “We are working to stabilise and accelerate [construction].”

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LIMA 2023: Edge signs agreement with Ketech Asia to produce rifles

by Kapil Kajal

Caracal has signed an agreement with Ketech Asia for the production of the CAR 816 assault rifles, pictured above, in Malaysia. The CAR 816 is chambered for the 5.56×45 mm cartridge. (Edge)

The United Arab Emirates small-arms manufacturer Edge Group's Caracal subsidiary has signed an agreement with Ketech Asia for the production and resale of the CAR 816 assault rifles in Malaysia.

The agreement was signed on 24 May at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) Exhibition 2023, held in Langkawi, Malaysia, from 23 to 27 May.

Under the agreement, Caracal will transfer the technology to Ketech Asia to assemble CAR 816s in Ketech's Pahang facility, Edge said. “Ketech Asia will become an official reseller of the CAR 816s with the aim of increasing sales across Southeast Asia.”

The two companies will “review the potential of co-developing new firearms” and the agreement will also enable Edge to explore other opportunities in Malaysia for Caracal small arms, Edge added.

According to Janes Weapons: Infantry, the CAR 816 assault rifle is chambered for the 5.56×45 mm cartridge. The CAR 816 is based on the ArmaLite AR‐15 design.

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