Home > Conflict & Security, Editorial, Weapons Journal > Weapons Journal: 11 September 2007 — Indian air defence, gunships in Afghanistan, and preperations for new wars in the Middle East

Weapons Journal: 11 September 2007 — Indian air defence, gunships in Afghanistan, and preperations for new wars in the Middle East

This is a new and evolving section to the site. Global affairs, politics at home, human rights, access to the necessities of life, and our ethical guideposts are influenced, curtailed by, and directed by international conflicts. War needs weapons. The procurement of weapons, our governments’ sanction of their sales, their production, the technology, and their relation to diplomacy and even economic aid to poor countries is often too little exposed.

This is a learning process for me. I want to gather knowledge. I want to educate myself. I want to understand how the manufacturer of the subway car I take weekly helps build war planes, how my local company is involved in building rockets designed to destroy tanks but are instead found to have disintegrated ambulances carrying refugees of war.

Japan’s Prime Minister Abe made a visit India a couple of weeks ago. This was slated as a diplomatic mission in which Japan could express its admiration of India’s culture and history. I think Abe’s admiration of India self-serving, and a reflection of his pragmatic strategic aspirations. The visit followed hot on the heels of an India-U.S. Nuclear Deal which bypasses the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) meant to restrict the spread of nuclear weapons. It also follows Australia OK’ing uranium shipments to India in support of the 123 Deal/India-U.S. Nuclear Deal, while preceding a large joint naval exercise involving over two dozen war ships from the U.S. India, Japan, Australia and others in the Bay of Bengal. This serves as an example of plans for a strategic military partnership disguised as a goodwill mission, further isolating China strategically while the allied countries in the ‘arc of freedom’ (Japan, Australia, India) – what I like to call the iron bowl of Chinese containment – and the U.S. make official statements decrying Chinese military expenditures. India is itself expanding and reforming its military, mainly the navy and air force. Japan is year after year one of America’s top two customers of war goods. So, one view is that India’s growing military might is good, while China’s is bad. This is a philosophy of exception in which the good countries have a right to police internationally through force of arms and all others are criminal by way of their non-compliance with mainly U.S. foreign policy, and so they have no right to military power: they are rogues, evil. What makes weapons good for some? How can war be just simply because of who wages it no matter the rational for aggression and the consequences of violent action?

I intend to make this section, the Weapons Journal, a means of providing context to the sale, flow, and use of arms. I will follow military and defence journals, world news, and trade publications for arms dealers so that I can share some of what I’ve learned with a wider audience. I welcome comments. I welcome criticism. I welcome advice on new sources of information. Some of the journals are not easy to get my hands on: they can cost over $1000 to subscribe to. The war industry is a profitable one.

I will use my experience in politics, theory, and analysis to fill in the blanks and connect the dots. It’s my hope that readers find this valuable and informative while I challenge my own understanding of wars, diplomacy, and power.

Now, down to business:

Opportunities in weapons sales: what are militaries investing in today?

There’s a ‘global scramble to sell India military hardware‘. It is to spend as much as $40 billion over the next five years to purchase new military hardware: war planes, submarines, tanks, and more. Its largest purchase will be of 126 top-of-the-line fighter jets, costing more than $10 billion. The fighter jets deal especially has triggered a frenzy of activity. Business leaders, politicans, diplomats, and arms dealers are wooing India over this large contract. Traditionally, Russia has been the country’s supplier of choice, but with the Cold War over and India ditching its leadership role in the Non-Aligned Movement, things are open to change. The India-U.S. Nuclear deal will certainly affect the decision-making process and the U.S. is the speculator’s favourite to win the contract. India will likely want to reward the U.S. for recognizing it as a nuclear power, and for agreeing to a deal that permits it to vastly expand its production of nuclear bombs.

The U.S. seeks to update the air force’s gunships from the Vietnam era AC-130H/U. According to Aviation Week, “Air Force Special Operations Command say they are interested in buying Air Combat Command’s future bomber platforms” and the “systems could include exotic directed-energy weapons as well as retractable kinetic systems to ensure the platform is able to maintain low observability during operations.” The AC-130H/U is still operational. It can be seen in action in Afghanistan in the below video, incinerating what the U.S. identifies as terrorists. This video is especially interesting in since it gives an example tactical commands as well as infrared targeting.

Israel pioneered the use of a military technology that is catching on in several Western armies: the use of remote controlled guns. One application is the mounting of these guns on armoured vehicles and having the gunner control it from inside by use of a joystick and camera. These types of weapons are called Remote Weapons Systems (RWS). According to Defense Industry Daily, “major competitors in this space now include BAE (LEMUR), Elbit Systems (ORCWS), Kongsberg (Protector), RAFAEL (RCWS and Samson families), and Thales (SWARM).”

India is strengthening its relationship with another U.S. ally: Israel. Israel and India have been announcing a growing number of cooperative ventures in arms research and development. The focus has been on missile defence, such as the Barak Naval SAM. Hezbollah, struck Israel’s Hanit warship on 14 July 2006, during its invasion of Lebanon, and Israel’s warships have had to sail with greater caution ever since. India has similar concerns of its growing navy being struck by shore-to-ship missiles. New Delhi considers the security of the sea lanes as vital to its economic health. Asia Times reports that “most of India’s trade is by sea,” and that, “nearly 89% of India’s oil imports arrive by sea.”

The Defense Industry Daily has an interesting analysis of India’s domestic missile production on its website. The analysis is from October 2006, but is still relevant. The DID also has this to say: “With rumors of war from Iran and Syria on the horizon, Israel has issued a stream of formal requests to re-equip its Air Force with bombs and missiles. It has also considered the lessons of the last proxy wart in Lebanon, and laid its multi-year “Tefen” military procurement plan in response.”

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