US military suffers Japan base setback

                                                  

  
Four Sea Knight transport helicopters and a Super Stallion helicopter are parked at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan on Okinawa May 3, 2010. (Reuters/Toru Hanai)

Four Sea Knight transport helicopters and a Super Stallion helicopter are parked at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan on Okinawa May 3, 2010. (Reuters/Toru Hanai)

 

Opponents of a new American military base in Japan won a key victory on Sunday. Candidates against the idea now have a majority in Noga’s city assembly, as they look to block the construction of the new facility in the Okinawa Prefecture.

The assembly in the city of Noga now contains 16 members out of a total of 27 who are against the relocation of a US base from Futenma. They are both located in the Okinawa Prefecture – Japan’s southernmost district, made up of some of the Ryukyu Islands. The facility is situated in a densely-populated urban area in southern Okinawa. However, the government wants to move it to Noga, a smaller city to the north that already hosts Camp Schwab, another US Marine base.

The results will please the Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine, who is resolutely against the construction of the new military base. There has been significant local opposition to the relocation of the facility and the re-election of Inamine in January by a wide margin was effectively a de facto referendum on the US facility.

“Why should only Okinawa hold the burden for security of all of Japan, when the presence of US Marines doesn’t play a big role in deterring China?” Inamine, said in May, whilst on a visit to Washington, DC. “I, as mayor, have operational control over two ports that are needed for use as construction landfill and I will exercise all powers in the municipality to block access.”

Voter turnout at the assembly vote on Sunday was 70 percent, showing there is strong local interest surrounding the base. The results will come as a blow to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is in favor of the relocation move, as he sees the US presence as a needed deterrent against China.

On April 24, Abe and US President Barack Obama “affirmed the resolve on both sides” to make “steady progress” on transferring the Marine base in Futenma.

The estimated cost of the relocation is about $8.6 billion, and Japan will cover $3.1 billion of that sum.

In December 2013, the governor of Okinawa, Hirokazu Nakaima agreed to the base’s relocation in return for large-scale funds from Tokyo, which he hoped would be used to revitalize the local economy. In August, Japan’s Ministry of Defense started a drilling survey off the coast of Nago to prepare for the building of the base, which was to be built on a landfill site.

Hercules aircraft are parked on the tarmac at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan on Okinawa May 3, 2010. (Reuters/Issei Kato)

Tokyo and Washington are negotiating multiple plans regarding the relocation, according to the Japan Daily Press. One is to allow Japanese authorities to enter US bases for environmental checks and other official purposes, which Tokyo believes will complement the existing Status of Forces Agreement. Another is to advance the return of land where Futenma is currently, which is now scheduled for 2022.

In addition, Japan is suggesting that US exercises involving the controversial MV-22 Osprey transport aircraft occur in several locations – not just in Okinawa.

The United States agreed in 2006 to move the base to the coast, but local opposition prevented the potential shift. Anti-base sentiment and concern about US military operations at Futenma has long been an emotionally charged issue in Okinawa.

Japan hosts some 50,000 American soldiers and officers, particularly in Okinawa. Their presence is a constant source of tension with local populations due to crimes committed by the servicemen, disruptions caused by military flights and land use by the US forces.

For instance, last October, a local woman was raped by US military personnel. The incident provoked anger among locals and forced the American military to enforce a curfew upon its service members. The incident led to protests by outraged locals, while due to the seriousness of the case, it was held in a Japanese court. 24-year-old Seaman Christopher Browning was sentenced to 10 years behind bars, while 23-year-old Petty Officer 3rdClass Skyler Dozierwalker received nine years’ imprisonment.

The Okinawa prefecture, which is the southernmost Japanese district, is strategically vital to the US military given its proximity to the rest of Asia. The islands accounts for less than 1 percent of Japan’s total territory, but hosts about half the 38,000 US military personnel stationed in Japan.

 

 

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Industry and Trade Minister: Russia Sees No Problem in Producing Own Mistral-Type Ships

“If the task comes along to build analogous ships, then we’ll do that since this was [an international] cooperation: the components and maneuvering system were Russian,” Manturov said.

 08/09/2014

MOSCOW, September 8 (RIA Novosti) – Russia is capable of building its own Mistral helicopter carriers similar to the ones France is currently constructing, Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said Monday in an interview on Rossiya-24 television.

“If the task comes along to build analogous ships, then we’ll do that since this was [an international] cooperation: the components and maneuvering system were Russian,” Manturov said.

The president of Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), Aleksei Rakhmanov, said earlier the company would suffer no serious damage if the Mistral contracts were broken.

French President Francois Hollande said Saturday he would make a final decision on the delivery of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers at the end of October based on the situation in eastern Ukraine.

The French president said the conditions for supplies of the warships were a real ceasefire in Ukraine and the signing of an agreement on the political settlement of the crisis. Hollande stressed that the EU sanctions would not hamper the country’s obligations to Russia.

Recently, France has come under strong pressure from the United States and its European partners to suspend the deal.

Russia and France signed a $1.6 billion deal for two Mistral-class ships in June 2011. The first carrier, the Vladivostok, was expected in Russia by the end of 2014. The second ship, the Sevastopol, was supposed to arrive in 2015.

However, the completion of the deal has been at risk since Western countries imposed sanctions against Russia over its alleged role in the escalation of the crisis in Ukraine.

Moscow has repeatedly stressed that it is not involved in the Ukrainian conflict, referring to the language of sanctions “counterproductive,” and said that such measures “threaten international peace and stability.”

Activists and union members held demonstrations at the Saint-Nazaire shipyard on Sunday, calling for the first delivery of the carriers to Russia.

 

 

‘First shot’: Iran tests Bavar-373 system aimed to substitute Russian S-300

                                                

 
 
 
 A picture shows a part of Iran's new medium range anti-aircraft air defence system Mersad (Ambush) (AFP Photo)

A picture shows a part of Iran’s new medium range anti-aircraft air defence system Mersad (Ambush) (AFP Photo)

 

Tehran has showcased an indigenous long-range air defense system, the Bavar-373 missile, developed as an alternative to the Russian S-300 after Moscow canceled its contract.

“Bavar-373 has fired a first successful shot,” the commander of the Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base, Brigadier General Farzad Esmayeeli, told Iranian state TV on Friday.

According to Iranian security officials, the new system is better than the Russian S-300, as it is able to track over 100 targets, just like the Russian system but with a higher targeting capability.

“We believe that ‘Bavar’ and ‘3rd of Khordad’ missile shields are better than some other long-range missile defense systems of the country,” ol-Anbia added, Fars news reports.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered the development of the missile system, after then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev banned armed sales to the country in light of UN sanctions against Tehran. Following the move, Iran filed a $4 billion lawsuit against Russia in the international arbitration court in Geneva.

The S-300 is a long-range surface-to-air missile system produced by NPO Almaz. It is designed to be used as a defensive weapon against aircraft and cruise missiles.

Meanwhile, Iran’s Air Defense commander boasted that the country’s defense systems will track down all of Islamic Republic’s enemies if they fly over Iran’s airspace.

“We give a warning to the enemy’s aircraft before entering the Islamic Republic’s airspace, and deem any kind of intruding drones or planes of enemy a threat, and shoot it down immediately in case of entry [into Iran],” Colonel Mahmoud Ahmadi, commander of Iran’s southwestern Air Defense zone, Tasnim news reported.

A drawing of the Bavar-373 (Image from wikipedia.org)

A drawing of the Bavar-373 (Image from wikipedia.org)

This follow an August 24 incident, when the country’s forces shot down a stealth drone thought to be sent from Israel. The invading “Hermes” aircraft was intercepted by a surface-to-air missile.

Iran has also unveiled plans to increase the number of air defense sites from the current 3,600 to 5,000, according to Brigadier General Farzad Esmayeeli.

Russia’s Defense Ministry ridicules NATO’s photo-proof of invasion in Ukraine

 

A handout photo provided on August 28, 2014 by DigitalGlobe via NATO allegedly shows Russian military units moving in a convoy formation with self-propelled artillery in the area of Krasnodon, Ukraine (AFP Photo / HO / DigitalGlobe)

 

It makes no sense to comment in detail on the satellite imagery released by NATO as “proof” of Russia’s military involvement in Ukraine, Defense Ministry’s spokesman said, pointing out that even high NATO officials were hesitant to put their names on it.

Referring to NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Supreme Allied Commander Europe Philip Breedlove, and NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov ridiculed the so-called NATO proof.

“You know, it has become ridiculous… If earlier, someone would at least put their names on those images, be it Breedlove, Rasmussen, or even Lungescu, now, they are hesitant,” Konashenkov said as cited by RIA Novosti. “It makes no sense to seriously comment on this.”

The General also criticized western media outlets for accepting such images and anti-Russian stance at face value.

“The phrase ‘NATO published satellite shots of Russian troops’ presence in Ukraine’ has become as common in recent months as the famous ‘British scientists have discovered…” Konashenkov said, referring to a media cliché often ridiculed in Russia. “Usually those words are followed by the results of some new crazy research that has no practical sense whatsoever.”

“Apparently, the new Secretary General of NATO in the near future will have to exert much effort in order to restore the severely tainted image of the alliance as a high-status international organization,” Konashenkov added.

A handout photo provided on August 28, 2014 by DigitalGlobe via NATO allegedly shows Russian self-propelled artillery units set up in firing positions, near Krasnodon, Ukraine (AFP Photo / HO / DigitalGlobe)

A handout photo provided on August 28, 2014 by DigitalGlobe via NATO allegedly shows Russian self-propelled artillery units set up in firing positions, near Krasnodon, Ukraine (AFP Photo / HO / DigitalGlobe)

The Defense Ministry statement follows a war-mongering media rhetoric blaming Russia for invading Ukraine, after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Thursday, accused Russia for violating its sovereignty and called on the UN Security Council to assess the situation.

Simultaneous to Kiev’s accusations, NATO made public satellite images that were offered as “proof” that Russian self-propelled artillery was on the Ukrainian territory, as well as about 1,000 Russian troops taking part in special operations in eastern Ukraine. The images, as usual, were provided by a commercial company DigitalGlobe operating civilian satellites. The images were not altered or edited with NATO experts only adding extra information for the general public to understand what they are looking for.

READ MORE: Online list of army units ‘relocated to Ukraine’ is a fake – Russian Defense Ministry

The US as always sided with Poroshenko’s statements and NATO-offered evidence, with US Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki saying that Washington has “no reason to doubt their [NATO’s] assessment.”

Meanwhile both the head of OSCE’s Ukrainian monitoring team and Russia’s representative said there was no Russian presence spotted across the Ukraine border, refuting claims that a full-scale invasion was underway.

On Thursday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Russian troops had entered Ukraine. The statement came as NATO released satellite images that it claimed showed Russian self-propelled artillery on Ukrainian territory. The alliance said about 1,000 Russian servicemen were taking part in hostilities in eastern Ukraine.

Russia’s permanent representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov also said neither NATO, the United States or the European Union have presented any evidence of Russian troop presence in the east of Ukraine.

According to him, the “stuffing of misinformation through the media and directly from Kiev” each time is carried out on the eve of important meetings at the EU level, this time ahead of the summit on August 30 in Brussels, “probably in anticipation of some critical language and even sanctions from the EU,” Itar-Tass quotes.

And indeed, US President Barack Obama joined the chorus of anti-Russian rhetoric on Thursday, warning Moscow that more sanctions are in the works as the US is currently in consultation with its “European allies” ahead of a NATO meeting next week.

Russian companies to stop production of air defense missile systems S-300 within year

22.08.2014  Siberian Insider

Photo from www.ru.wikipedia.org

Production of Russia’s S-300 missile systems will be fully stopped next year, a high-ranking source in the Russian military-industrial complex told ITAR-TASS.

This also concerns export versions, he added. “I want to stress that the production of components for S-300 will continue and will even grow in the coming years,” he said.

The source said S-300 missiles would be replaced with a number of new generation systems. “S-400 becomes the main system for our Armed Forces. S-300 missiles remain in operation, and their production will not be halted in a moment,” he said.

The source said the marketing policy of Russian producers of air defense systems is now aimed at advancing S-400 to foreign markets.

“We have had a more efficient system for several years, I mean S-400. What is the point in producing things that don’t meet today’s demands of a customer?” he asked, saying S-400 supplies abroad would begin no earlier than in 2016.

Russian Navy Spots Foreign Submarine near Russia-Japan Border

As soon as the submarine was detected on Wednesday, a number of ships and naval aviation units headed toward it for monitoring purposes. According to newspaper’s source, preliminary reports show the foreign vessel to be a Japanese Oyashio-class submarine. All information was immediately passed on to  Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

11:52 21/08/2014 
 

MOSCOW, August 21 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Pacific Fleet Antisubmarine forces detected and stopped a foreign submarine near the Russian-Japanese maritime boundary, Kommersant reported Thursday.

“A foreign submarine was discovered in the north of the La Perouse Strait, where the Russian-Japanese border is. … After some time, the submarine quickly left the border area, having gone deep into neutral waters,” a high-ranking official from the General Staff of the Armed Forces told the Kommersant newspaper.

As soon as the submarine was detected on Wednesday, a number of ships and naval aviation units headed toward it for monitoring purposes. According to newspaper’s source, preliminary reports show the foreign vessel to be a Japanese Oyashio-class submarine. All information was immediately passed on to General Staff chief Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

The Japanese Embassy in Russia failed to comment on the situation by the time of publishing, the newspaper wrote.

A similar incident took place on August 7, when Northern Fleet antisubmarine forces detected and forced away a Virginia-class US submarine in the Barents Sea.

Auto Air Show to Take Place During Oboronexpo 2014

Yak-130 trainer aircraft

02:00 16/08/2014 
 

MOSCOW, August 16 (RIA Novosti) – “Fast and furious” Auto Air Show will take place during international defense exhibition Oboronexpo 2014 over the weekend, according to the organizers.

“‘Fast and furious’ show is an auto air competition that will see automobiles and aircraft racing along the takeoff runway at the airfield. A team of Russian and international motorsport stars challenges a team of fighter jet pilots in order to showcase the performance capabilities of modern technology, as well as their skill and professionalism,” the organizers of the show said.

The pilots’ team will fly the Yak-52 aircraft, the L-39 and Yak-130 trainer aircraft, the MiG-29 fighter jets, and the Su-30 fighters among other planes. The drivers’ team will drive Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger, Nissan GTR, alongside the automobiles of such brands as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bugatti, and Aston Martin to name a few.

The international Oboronexpo 2014 military technology exhibition is taking place in Zhukovsky, Moscow Region, from August 13 to 17. The event involves more than 200 Russian firms and foreign companies from Algeria, Armenia, Belarus, Germany, India, China, the United States of America, France, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland.

The expo provides an opportunity for discussions and cooperation among industry players. The equipment and hardware showcased at the exhibition can also be seen in action at a range located at the exhibition site.