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Russia, China and Iran
“As the world celebrates the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing, there are worries about the future of the industry that made possible one of history’s greatest achievements….
“Today, the U.S. defense and aerospace industry is the world’s most capable. It delivers systems of staggering sophistication and quality.
“But how much longer can growth in capabilities and superiority be sustained? After a decade of soaring military spending, the defense budget is likely to be tamped down….
“Throughout history, industrial and military power have proven inseparable; nations that flag in the former lose the latter.
“Yet America has recently demonstrated a dangerously laissez-faire attitude toward its manufacturing base. This rests on two shaky assumptions: the United States is destined by character to remain an innovator even if it’s no longer a producer, and it can always get what it needs, including military wares, through trade.
“But it’s unclear innovation can survive without national strategies to foster the domestic manufacturing base. And today’s trading partners may be tomorrow’s unwilling vendors.
“China has learned this truth: the more you make, the better you are. As a matter of national strategy, it uses every means to improve its capabilities. It sends its best and brightest to learn at top universities worldwide, lures cutting-edge factories to its cities, and unleashes its state-aligned hackers to steal proprietary technologies needed to make Chinese firms world-beaters.
“Looking out for industrial interests is different than protectionism. Cooperation and open markets among allies are vital, but failing to respond to worrying industrial trends or wishing away challenges is no strategy for success….
“America’s forgotten truths are that military power is derived from a solid manufacturing base, program decisions affect industry and success is impossible without close government-industry cooperation. Unless this becomes a national priority, a future U.S. president will call for a capability – only to be told it’s long gone.”
Uzi Rubin, founder of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, Defense News, July 13, 2009
“On Nov. 18, Iran flew its new Ashura missile for the second time. Although the test was less than a complete success, Iran Defense Minister Mustafa Najjer was sufficiently satisfied to release impressive video footage showing what was clearly a previously unknown multi-stage ballistic missile roaring off a mobile launcher.”
Najjer later stressed the new missile had a range of more than 2,000 kilometers and that it was a two-stage design.
“Nevertheless, when six months later a group of prominent and Russian academics released a detailed assessment of Iran’s missile and nuclear capabilities, their report made this astonishing statement: ‘There is no reliable information at present on the state of Iran’s efforts to develop solid-propellant rocket motors and therefore no basis on which to make an assessment.’
“Incredibly, both the unambiguous photographic evidence and the corroboration of Western sources were simply ignored in the May report, ‘Iran’s Nuclear and Missile Potential, a Joint Threat Assessment by U.S. and Russian Technical Experts,’ by the East West Institute in New York.
“Discarding any evidence to the contrary, the report judges that Iran’s missile industry is incapable of advancing on its own beyond rudimentary Scud-level technology. While grudgingly accepting that ‘Iran…has qualified engineers who are able to make good use of the technology that is available to them,’ the report holds that ‘this does not show that Iran has made a fundamental technological breakthrough.’
“Pontificating on the ‘tremendous intellectual and material effort’ that the United States and Russia have had to invest more than half a century ago to develop and produce what were at that time modern ballistic missiles, the authors decree that ‘Iran does not have the infrastructure…or the scientists and engineers to make substantial improvement in basic rocket components.’
“As a result, they condescendingly state that Iran’s putative global-range missiles will be ‘large, visible and cumbersome’; in other words, pretty useless.
“Perhaps irked by the disparaging assessment and patronizing tone, and with the ink still wet on the report’s print, the ‘nonexistent’ Iranian scientists and engineers quickly fired off another of the Sajil missiles, the third in a row, on May 20. To dispel any lingering doubts, they released color video footage of the entire boost phase….
“But there is more to this than meets the eye. The very existence of the Sajil is living testimony that Iran has secured access to the high-strength steel and specialized precursor materials needed for large-diameter solid rocket motors, and that it now possesses the specialized industrial infrastructure….without which such 10-ton-class rocket motors cannot be manufactured, inspected and tested….
“By its own charter, the East West Institute focuses on critical challenges that endanger peace. Nothing endangers peace more than refusal to face the facts and underestimation of the adversary.
“Iran’s scientists and engineers are as bright, as capable and as innovative as any others. Hence, Iran’s putative long-range missiles, if and when deployed, will be neither large nor visible nor cumbersome, but as deadly as whatever the established missile powers deployed at early stages of the Cold War – in other words, a real menace.
“Wishful thinking will not help here, and the United States would do well to base its policy on cold facts rather than on selective fancy.”
Nabi Abdullaev / Defense News, July 13, 2009, on the preliminary U.S.-Russia nuclear weapons agreement.
“Russia’s missile submarines would become the country’s pre-eminent nuclear platform under the preliminary agreement on strategic arms reduction with the United States, analysts (in Moscow) said.
“Announced July 6 during U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, the preliminary agreement calls for each country to shrink its nuclear arsenal to between 1,500 and 1,675 warheads and between 500 and 1,100 delivery vehicles. The two sides intend to wrap up work by year’s end on the new treaty, which would remain in force for 10 years, according to a joint statement published on the Kremlin’s Web site.
“As of January, Russia had 2,787 nuclear warheads on 620 launchers; the United States had 2,202 atop 791, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
“But Russia will have a hard time even maintaining 500 warheads at current replacement rates,” because so many of the launchers, from the 1980s, are being replaced by the next generation Topol-M ICBMs, but these carry just one warhead each.
“By contrast, the United States can easily extend its launchers’ service through 2035, the Russian analysts said.
“The easiest way for Russia to buoy the number of deployable warheads is to put most of them on sublaunched missiles, said Vladimir Yevseyev, a security analyst with the Institute of Global Economy and International Relations.
“ ‘Only by boosting the naval component of the nuclear forces, Russia will be able to maintain the agreed levels,’ Yevseyev said. ‘It would not be possible to do with the land component.’
“Russia has 11 deployable subs that can carry 576 warheads on 160 launchers….
“Russia would still have the world’s second-largest nuclear arsenal if it slips below 500 launchers.
“But analysts said its leaders still cling to the notion that its international prestige depends on such weaponry, and therefore will not allow the country to lag behind the Americans beyond the formally fixed limits.
“ ‘Otherwise, they think in the Kremlin: ‘Americans will not treat Russia seriously,’’ Yevseyev said.”
And I liked this blurb from the July 13, 2009, issue of Defense News
“The Russian military has denied a report that it shot down three of its own planes during Russia’s war last August with Georgia….
“Specialist newsletter Moscow Defence Brief reported that Russia had lost six fighter jets in the war – two more than admitted by the Defense Ministry – and that half of these had been shot down by friendly fire.
“Moscow Defence Brief said Russia lost three Su-25 ground attack jets, two Su-24 front-line bombers and one Tu-22M3 long-range bomber. The Russian Defense Ministry has only acknowledged the loss of three Su-25 ground attack jets and a Tu-22M3 long range bomber.
“The newsletter said two Su-25 jets and one Su-24 bomber were shot down by Russia’s own air defense systems.”