By Tim Kelly and Nobuhiro Kubo
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan plans to dispatch its largest warship on a three-month tour through the South China Sea beginning in May, three sources said, in its biggest show of naval force in the region since World War Two.
China claims almost all the disputed waters and its growing military presence has fueled concern in Japan and the West, with the United States holding regular air and naval patrols to ensure freedom of navigation.
The Izumo helicopter carrier, commissioned only two years ago, will make stops in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka before joining the Malabar joint naval exercise with Indian and U.S. naval vessels in the Indian Ocean in July.
It will return to Japan in August, the sources said.
“The aim is to test the capability of the Izumo by sending it out on an extended mission,” said one of the sources who have knowledge of the plan. “It will train with the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea,” he added, asking not to be identified because he is not authorized to talk to the media.
A spokesman for Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force declined to comment.
The Predator is dead; long live the Reaper. The retirement of the antiquated Predator drone MQ-1, which is to be withdrawn from service in July and replaced by the more capable MQ-9 Reaper, is giving military analysts an opportunity to review the mixed history of a weapon that has long been associated with low-cost war, a sense of disembodiment from conflict, and for inflicting a high number of civilian casualties.
“There’s a perception in large parts of the American political system that drone campaigns are more or less free, but that’s not true,” says Stephen Biddle, senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Like anything that’s perceived as free, it tends to get overused.”
The General Atomics remote-piloted plane entered service in 1995 as the reconnaissance drone RQ-1. But in 1999 it was fitted with Hellfire missiles and re-designated MQ-1, an ad-hoc adaptation that would give it a reputation as a silent assassin.
Iran deploys jamming device to counter drones
Iran has deployed a new counter-drone weapon — a rifle-shaped jamming device that the regime says can electronically separate a remotely piloted aircraft from its command pilot and even reprogram it to turn on its owner.
The development could be significant for the future of drone warfare. Unmanned aerial vehicles are taking on larger roles in anti-U.S. planning by Iran and other belligerents. The U.S. military routinely launches spy drones over the Persian Gulf as well as over Iraq and Syria.
Iran has tested and deployed suicide drones that it says can be launched against U.S. ships, which are targets of harassment by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ navy.
Iran Reportedly Built Weapons Factories in Lebanon for Hezbollah
Plants can produce different types of missiles, including those with a range of more than 500 kilometers, Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida, considered an Israeli mouthpiece, quotes an anonymous source as saying.
With Lebanon no longer hiding Hezbollah’s role, next war must hit civilians where it hurts, Israeli minister says
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard has built a number of weapons manufacturing plants in Lebanon and handed them over to Hezbollah, which has been running their production lines for the past three months, Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida recently reported.
The Kuwaiti newspaper quotes an anonymous source as saying that these plants can produce different types of missiles, including those with a range of more than 500 kilometers; land based anti-ship missiles, antitank missiles and drones that can carry explosives.
It isn’t clear how reliable this report is, but in the past this newspaper has served as a kind of clearinghouse for reports actually originating in Israel. In the Arab world, Al-Jarida is considered a propaganda mouthpiece for Israel.
US deploys drones in South Korea capable of striking North Korean targets
The deployment of drones, which will be assigned to the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division, is part of a broader plan to reinforce each Army division with one Gray Eagle company, US Forces Korea (USFK) said in a statement:
“The US Army, after coordination with the Republic of Korea Armed Forces and the US Air Force, has begun the process to permanently station a Gray Eagle Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) company at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea.”
“The [unmanned aerial system] adds significant intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability to US Forces Korea and our [South Korean] partners,” spokesman Christopher Bush said in a statement.
He did not specify when the drones will arrive in South Korea.
Earlier on Monday, an unnamed South Korean military official told Yonhap news agency that “the US Army has begun the process to dispatch a squadron, which will operate the Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft, to a US unit in Kunsan (274 kilometers south of Seoul).”
The source did not provide exact details, but noted that the reinforcement of the US air base at Gunsan, home to the Air Force’s 8th Fighter Wing, is being discussed
JTA — Francois Fillon’s conservative political party apologized for tweeting an apparently anti-Semitic caricature of rival French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron.
The Republicans’ apology Sunday came a day after Fillon slammed the image as “unacceptable.” He said he understood the outrage it had caused “because it evoked the images of a dark period of our history and exploited an ideology that I have always fought against.”
“Politics is tough but it must remain dignified. I will not tolerate my party using caricatures that use the themes of anti-Semitic propaganda,” Fillon tweeted, saying he had demanded his party chief apologize and sanction the people responsible.
The Republicans on Friday posted — and then quickly deleted — an image of the independent centrist Macron with a hooked nose, wearing a top hat and cutting a cigar with a red sickle. The image was reminiscent of anti-Semitic propaganda from World War II, when France’s Vichy government collaborated with the Nazis to deport and exterminate Jews.
Macron is not Jewish, but in the past he was an investment banker at a French bank controlled by the Rothschilds, a wealthy Jewish family that has long donated heavily to Zionist causes and been the subject of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
The Russian armed forces were set to bolster its air force’s fighter jets by adding more nearly three dozen planes to its existing fleet of fighter jets, a high ranking defense official said last week. The new aircraft include 16 Su-34 bombers, 17 Sukhoi-30SMs fighter planes and 10 Yakovlev-130 planes for both combat and training, Tass reported.
The Su-34s were expected to be delivered to Russia’s Aerospace Forces by next year, Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said Friday.