China, Russia conduct joint air patrol over Sea of Japan

by Jon Grevatt

China has flown two H-6K strategic bombers (pictured at Airshow China 2018) in a joint patrol with Russian Tu-95 aircraft over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. (Janes/Kelvin Wong)

Chinese and Russian air forces held a joint aerial patrol over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea on 19 November, the Chinese Ministry of National Defense (MND) has said. The patrol was the third joint Sino-Russian military exercise in 2021, underscoring growing bilateral military ties.

According to the MND, the air patrols featured two Xian Aircraft Company H-6K strategic bombers from the People's Liberation Army Air Force and two Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-95 ‘Bear' bombers.

It said the aircraft abided by international protocols and did not enter the airspace of other countries.

Despite this, Japan and South Korea expressed concern about the patrol.

Japan's Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said Tokyo had lodged a protest with Beijing and Moscow. “We informed Russia and China via diplomatic channels about our concerns about similar actions from the viewpoint of the regional security,” he said.


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Lockheed Martin snags multibillion-dollar NGI contract

by Meredith Roaten

The Ground-Based Interceptor was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to simulate a combat launch from Fort Greely in Alaska. (Missile Defense Agency)

The Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) competition has come to an end as Lockheed Martin was selected as the prime to continue development of the weapon through critical design review (CDR), all-up round qualification, integration with the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, and flight testing, the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announced on 15 April.

While no dollar amount was attached to initial statements on the contract, the Pentagon's Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) said in a 2021 report that it expected NGI to accrue roughly USD17.7 billion in contract costs. The downselect for Lockheed Martin will lead to a follow-on production and emplacement contract to support initial operational capability for NGI by the fourth quarter of fiscal year (FY) 2028, according to the announcement.

The MDA cited “technical maturity”, “technical rigor” in the design process, and contract-provided performance date as key factors that supported its decision.

Lieutenant General Heath Collins, director of the MDA, called the decision “very difficult” in a statement but said the agency was “confident”.


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USMC plans to buy high-power ULTV variant

by Aaron Lin

A marine programs a counter-unmanned aircraft system on a Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System (LMADIS) during a predeployment training exercise at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California. (US Marine Corps)

The Ultra Light Tactical Vehicle (ULTV) programme – a US Marine Corps (USMC) replacement for the ageing Utility Task Vehicle (UTV) – will now include a variant with more exportable power, according to Janes analysis of budget documents.

The fiscal year (FY) 2025 budget request is the first time the ULTV-High Power (ULTV-HP) has funding for procurement, adding up to roughly USD5.99 million for 40 vehicles in that year. USMC justification documents indicate that it “provides exportable electrical power generation in support of the requirements for [the] kill web integrating system”.


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Feature: Arctic formations taking shape in US Army

by Meredith Roaten

A convoy of Cold Weather All-Terrain Vehicles perform command-and-control operations for the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center training rotation in Fort Greely, Alaska. (Janes/Meredith Roaten)

Life in the Arctic can shift from -40ºF with 20 to 30 mph winds one week to the snow melting away as temperatures climb closer to 40ºF every day the next week. This kind of chaos makes the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center (JPMRC) 24-02 training rotation an excellent trial for new US Army equipment and operations in contested environments, top service officials told Janes .

Investment in the region has remained stagnant, but nonetheless, formations in the region like the 11th Airborne Division are trying to grow beyond a support capacity and embrace the Arctic warfare mission described in Department of Defense (DoD)- and service-level strategies for addressing the growing threat of a contested Arctic.


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Chinese and Russian air forces held a joint aerial patrol over the Sea of Japan and the East China S...

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