Tag Archives: Nuclear Weapons

Mark Collins – Big Dragon “Yikes!”–From 2010 to 2020 “China is set to nearly double its military spending…”

This should sure get the attention of PEOTUS Trump–the rest of the headline:

…as an arms race heats up in Asia.
China’s defense spending will balloon to $233 billion in 2020, up from $123 billion in 2010, according to a new report by IHS Jane’s.

Very relevant:

Can the US Cope With a Big War Against a Major Power? Part 2

USAF “Officers Give New Details for F-35 in War With China”

RAND on War Between the Dragon and the Eagle

US Navy: Carriers or Subs, with the Dragon in Mind

Rising Sun’s Yen for Defence Spending, Part 3

Take that Dragon! Indian PM Modi Embraces the Rising Sun (plus the Eagle and the Bear)

A real Asian military cockpit, what? Meanwhile quite a few Canadians want to embrace the Chicoms.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – Trump, Russia, NATO and…German Nukes?

Possible disturbing fall-out (pun intended) from The Donald’s election–guess how the Russkies would react to the prospect of Germans with their own, not dual-key American, nuclear weapons (yes Virginia, they’re still there)–at Spiegel Online:

Elephant in the Room
Europeans Debate Nuclear Self-Defense after Trump Win

For decades, American nuclear weapons have served as a guarantor of European security. But what happens if Donald Trump casts doubt on that atomic shield? A debate has already opened in Berlin and Brussels over alternatives to the U.S. deterrent. By SPIEGEL Staff

The issue is so secret that it isn’t even listed on any daily agenda at NATO headquarters. When military officials and diplomats speak about it in Brussels, they meet privately and in very small groups — sometimes only with two or three people at a time. There is a reason why signs are displayed in the headquarters reading, “no classified conversation.”

And this issue is extremely sensitive. The alliance wants to avoid a public discussion at any cost. Such a debate, one diplomat warns, could trigger an “avalanche.” The foundations of the trans-Atlantic security architecture would be endangered if this “Pandora’s box” were to be opened.

The discussion surrounds nuclear deterrent. For decades, the final line of defense for Europe against possible Russian aggression has been provided by the American nuclear arsenal. But since Donald Trump’s election as the 45th president of the United States, officials in Berlin and Brussels are no longer certain that Washington will continue to hold a protective hand over Europe.

It isn’t yet clear what foreign policy course the new administration will take — that is, if it takes one at all. It could be that Trump will run US foreign policy under the same principle with which he operates his corporate empire: a maximum level of unpredictability…

what happens if the president-elect has an even more fundamental shift in mind for American security policy? What if he questions the nuclear shield that provided security to Europe during the Cold War?

For more than 60 years, Germany entrusted its security to NATO and its leading power, the United States. Without a credible deterrent, the European NATO member states would be vulnerable to possible threats from Russia. It would be the end of the trans-Atlantic alliance.

Could the French or British Step In?

In European capitals, officials have been contemplating the possibility of a European nuclear deterrent since Trump’s election. The hurdles — military, political and international law — are massive and there are no concrete intentions or plans. Still, French diplomats in Brussels have already been discussing the issue with their counterparts from other member states: Could the French and the British, who both possess nuclear arsenals, step in to provide protection for other countries like Germany?

An essay in the November issue of Foreign Affairs argues that if Trump seriously questions the American guarantees, Berlin will have to consider establishing a European nuclear deterrent on the basis of the French and British capabilities. Germany’s respected Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, meanwhile, even contemplated the “unthinkable” in an editorial: a German bomb.

‘The Last Thing Germany Needs Now’

Politicians in Berlin want to prevent a debate at all costs. “A public debate over what happens if Trump were to change the American nuclear doctrine is the very last thing that Germany needs right now,” says Wolfgang Ischinger, head of the Munich Security Conference. “It would be a catastrophic mistake if Berlin of all places were to start that kind of discussion. Might Germany perhaps actually want a nuclear weapon, despite all promises to the contrary? That would provide fodder for any anti-German campaign.”

The debate however, is no longer relegated the relatively safe circles of think tanks and foreign policy publications…

Could be a scary new world. By the way, for quite a few years during the Cold War Canadian forces with NATO in Europe also had dual-key nukes–see “The Great Canadian Traditional Peacekeeping Myth vs Nuclear Weapons“. How many Canadians today are aware of that?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Canada and Missile Defence plus Russian Cruise Missile Threat

The conclusion of a November 14 presentation by CGAI Senior Analyst Dave Perry to the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence (the sort of serious discussion of broad defence issues we rarely see reflected in our media with their focus on procurement and scandal, real or potential):


With respect the Canada’s ability to counter possible air or space based threats to Canada, I think we do face some operational capability gaps.

Ballistic Missiles

Canada has no defence whatsoever against ballistic missiles. North Korea has been developing this technology for several years and is now working to launch these missiles from their submarines. While the United States has developed, a Ground Based, Mid-Course Defence against these missiles, and previously asked Canada to participate in that system, Canada declined to do so, and has subsequently never formally revisited that decision. This decision should be revisited. We should discuss the possibility of Canada joining Ballistic Missile Defence with the Americans, and if the terms are favourable, formally join.

Russian Air and Sea-Launched Cruise Missiles

The Russian military has significantly upgraded its air and naval forces in recent years and continues to do so. Over the last two years, the Russians have demonstrated this new equipment’s effectiveness as well as their willingness to use it to advance their own interests.

Russian forces successfully employed in Syria a new class of sophisticated conventional air and sea launched cruise missiles that have greatly enhanced range, are difficult to observe and are capable of precision targeting. Three aspects of this development are problematic. First, these weapons come in both nuclear and conventional variants. Second, they can be carried by Russian Long Range Patrol Aircraft and their newest and most capable submarines. Third, because of the increased distances at which these new missiles can successfully hit targets and their low observability characteristics, the current arrangements for defending North America, based on NORAD and the North Warning System, must be upgraded to counter them effectively [see “The Bear’s Bears: New NORAD Radars for Canadian North…“].

Because of this increased Russian activity around North America, we also need to enhance our ability to know what it happening in all three of our coastal approaches, and especially in the Canadian arctic. Since 2007 the Russians have conducted long range aviation patrols towards Canada’s Arctic airspace, and done so in ways that indicate an inclination on their part to link this activity to strategic confrontations with Canada elsewhere in the world. Similarly Russian submarine patrols in the Atlantic have recently reached levels not seen since the Cold War. We therefore need an expanded mix of air and space based Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platforms [see “RADARSAT Constellation: New Canadian Satellites and Maritime, Arctic Surveillance, Part 2“].

As well, we need to maintain our ability to respond to aerial threats to North America. As Russia continues to modernize its air forces, this will require Canada to keep pace with improvements in Russian technology. As such, we need to move quickly to purchase a fleet of fighter aircraft capable of detecting the most modern Russian aircraft and sharing that information with the rest of the North American defence system [emphasis added, i.e. the F-35 which would be most compatible with the USAF]…

Very relevant:

NORAD and Russian Cruise Nukes: “de-escalation”?

US Worrying Seriously About Russian Cruise Missiles

NORAD Note: Russian Bomber (with cruise missiles) Strikes in Syria

USN “Admiral Warns: Russian Subs Waging Cold War-Style ‘Battle of the Atlantic’”–and RCN?

NORAD and Russian Cruise Nukes: “de-escalation”? Part 2

Canada Should Just Say “Yes” to Missile Defence, Cont’d (plus Russian cruise missile threat)

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Take that Dragon! Indian PM Modi Embraces the Rising Sun (plus the Eagle and the Bear)

Another azimut in the making, with a nuclear angle:

Strong Japan-India ties can help stabilize the world, says Modi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday [Nov. 11] praised the “growing convergence” of views between his nation and Japan, saying strong ties will enable them to play a stabilizing role in Asia.

Modi is in Japan to sign a landmark nuclear energy pact and strengthen ties as China’s regional influence grows and Donald Trump’s election has thrown U.S. policies across Asia into doubt.

India, Japan and the United States have been building security ties by holding three-way naval exercises, but Trump’s “America First” campaign promise has stirred concern about a reduced U.S. engagement in the region – an approach that could draw Modi and Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe closer.

Modi told Japanese business leaders that the 21st century is Asia’s century, urging them to invest in India.

“The growing convergence of views between Japan and India and our special strategic and global partnership have the capacity to drive the regional economy and development, and stimulate global growth,” he said.
“Strong India and strong Japan will not only enrich our two nations, it will also be a stabilizing factor in Asia and the world.”

The nuclear agreement, which Modi and Abe are set to sign later in the day, follows a similar one with the United States in 2008 which gave India access to nuclear technology after decades of isolation, a step seen as the first big move to build India into a regional counterweight to China…

The two countries have also been trying to close a deal on the supply of amphibious rescue aircraft US-2 [website here, cool looking amphibian] to the Indian navy, which would be one of Japan’s first sales of military equipment since Abe lifted a 50-year ban on arms exports.

India’s Defence Acquisitions Council met earlier this week to consider the purchase of 12 of the planes made by ShinMaywa Industries, but failed to reach a decision.

Earlier on another major azimut (and of course there is still the Russian one; the Indians are playing their own long game, as the Americans need to grok):

Eagle’s India Full Court Press (unhappy Paks)

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – US Navy: Carriers or Subs, with the Dragon in Mind

Further to these posts,

RAND on War Between the Dragon and the Eagle
[note links at start]

War Between the Dragon and the Eagle: USN Carriers up to It?

some recommendations for the USN’s future ships (USMC, USAF and US Army also considered):

Why America Must Overhaul its Military

…Given America’s asymmetric advantage undersea, we aggressively expanded the Navy’s undersea warfare capabilities, increasing submarines from 58 to 74 and expanding undersea strike capacity by 680 cruise missile tubes. We funded these investments by terminating the Ford- and America-class carrier production lines in light of their costs and vulnerability to anti-access/area denial (/AD) threats. This does not mean that we eliminated aircraft carriers from the force, but rather set up a process of steadily riding the carrier inventory downward over the next 50 years as existing carriers retire [very good for engaging second or third rate opponents and projecting power generally against non-peers] . We also curtailed the current amphibious fleet (/LSD) in light the challenging environment in the littorals. We preserved Marine expeditionary and crisis response missions by shifting to cheaper commercial-derivative (“black hull”) expeditionary sea bases, resulting in a larger overall expeditionary lift capacity…

But even if the USN had some 2,000 or more conventionally-armed cruise missiles–1,000 lb. warhead–on subs could they effect any decisive damage on China? Or Russia? How many would be at sea in position to fire at the onset of hostilities? And just think how long it would take to reload those boats once they had shot their, er, bolts.

So to “win” in a serious war a need to end up nuclear? Help.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Syria: Russia Threatening Nuclear “De-Escalation”? NATO?

Further to this post,

Syria: POTUS be Prudent vs Assad and Bad Vlad

we now see this:

Russia’s top spin doctor in nuclear warning
Russian state TV host Dmitry Kiselyov [more here] has a reputation for attacking the West.

Critics call him the “Kremlin’s chief propagandist”. And like many other top Russian officials, he is on the Western sanctions blacklist.

But the warning he delivered to Washington in last night’s edition of his show News of the Week was, even for him, particularly dramatic. “Impudent behaviour” towards Russia may have “nuclear” consequences, he said.

“A Russian takes a long time to harness a horse, but then rides fast,” said the news anchor, quoting a famous Russian saying.

By “riding fast”, Kiselyov was referring to a string of recent Russian military deployments:

*Last week, Moscow sent three warships from the Black Sea Fleet to the Mediterranean: on board, cruise missiles that can carry nuclear warheads

*Russia deployed nuclear-capable Iskander-M missiles into the Kaliningrad region bordering Poland…

Kiselyov said that in recent days there had been a “radical change’ in the US-Russian relationship.

Moscow was taking action, he said, because of “the loud talk in Washington of a ‘Plan B’ for Syria. Everyone understands what this plan means: direct military force in Syria against President Assad’s forces and the Russian military”…

As for Russia and nukes, they have a strategic rationale:

NORAD and Russian Cruise Nukes: “de-escalation”? 

NORAD and Russian Cruise Nukes: “de-escalation”? Part 2

And what about NATO and nukes?

Tough Question for NATO: “Would we really go nuclear to protect Estonia?”

Just remember those Canadian Forces going to Latvia. The planned NATO Baltic strengthening certainly could not beat the Bear conventionally according to an earlier RAND study. One hopes the NATO presence can deter, trip-wire in the nuclear sense.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Syria: POTUS be Prudent vs Assad and Bad Vlad

While I have often been sceptical about President Obama’s handling of international matters, and awful as things are in Syria and as great the moral outrage, I not think this is the time to develop a steely backbone; where it would all end knows only–perhaps–President Putin:

Why the United States Should Exercise Restraint Before Launching A New War in Syria
The Russians might not be willing to back down in a confrontation with American forces.
Dave Majumdar

Tensions between Russia and the United States are coming to a head over the civil war in Syria. Washington has suspended bilateral talks with Russia to end the five-year old war. Moscow has suspended an agreement to destroy 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium that was reached during the year 2000, using especially harsh rhetoric. Meanwhile, Syrian regime forces—with the backing of Russian airpower—are continuing to mount a fierce attack on the partially rebel-held city of Aleppo with Washington seemingly powerless to influence events on the ground.

As a result of the recent collapse of a ceasefire negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the subsequent Syrian regime offensive, there are many in Washington clamoring for firmer U.S. action—a so-called Plan B. However, President Obama and his National Security Council staff are faced with limited options.

Among the four options that may be under consideration are a no-fly-zone, safe zones, attacking the Syrian air force and arming the Syrian rebels with additional weaponry. But each option carries with it significant risk of escalation or blowback.

While the United States has the capability to defeat Russian and Syrian regime air forces and air defenses, which is necessary to establish a no-fly zone or safe-zone, or to destroy the regime’s airpower, there are several risks from a legal and military standpoint. The legal problem comes from the fact that the United States is not technically at war with the Syria, nor is there a UN resolution authorizing American forces to operate inside that nation.

Even ongoing U.S. military operations inside Syria are acts of war—and are technically illegal. The Obama Administration is aware of this technically as Secretary Kerry noted during conversations with Syrian rebel activists. “The problem is the Russians don’t care about international law, and we do,” Kerry told the rebels in a recording published by the New York Times. “We don’t have a basis—our lawyers tell us—unless we have a U.N. Security Council resolution—which the Russians can veto or the Chinese—or unless we are under attack from folks there or unless we are invited in. Russia is invited in by the legitimate regime.”

A no-fly zone or safe zone would require U.S. combat aircraft to intercept and possibly shoot down Russian and Syrian warplanes entering into the area designated by Washington and its allies. U.S. policymakers would have to make the gamble that Moscow—which is likely eager to avoid war with the United States—would back down and acquiesce to the American imposed no-fly zone. However, Washington is equally averse to fighting a war with the Russia, which, despite possessing only a fraction of the military might of its Soviet forbearer, remains the only power on Earth that can reduce the United States to charred radioactive cinders.

It is highly unlikely that any U.S. President would be willing to risk war against a nuclear-armed power with only four months left in office in a conflict with few—if any—vital American interests at stake. The Russians know that and might not be willing to back down in the event of an air-to-air confrontation with American forces because too much national prestige—and even Mr. Putin’s personal prestige—would be on the line. Thus, such an encounter could escalate in unpredictable ways. One only needs to look to history to demonstrate the unforeseen consequences stemming from relatively localized events—no one could have predicted that the  assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand would have precipitated the events leading to the First World War in 1914 [read on]…

Awful though it may be one puts it bluntly: what vital US national interests–not to mention the interests and safety of many, many others–are worth the risks? Pride and credibility are not enough.

More here on 1914

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – En Flipping Fin: India Signs to buy 36 French Rafale Fighters

Further to this July post,

“Absurd”: Continuing India/France Rafale Fighter Buy Balls-Up, Part 2 (plus Gripen)

this seemingly almost endless Indian procurement saga (ring any bells in the Great White North?) has finally ended with a bit of a nuclear bang (see second link at quote):

India Signs Deal To Buy 36 Dassault Rafale Fighters

Behind Rafale deal: Their ‘strategic’ role in delivery of nuclear weapons
The long-delayed deal is being finalised because India has identified the French fighters for their ‘strategic’ role — to deliver nuclear weapons.

Ready To Manufacture [further] Rafale[s] In India: Dassault CEO

Note that for their parts Boeing has offered to build the Super Hornet in India and LockMart to build their (new-model) F-16V. Lots of room for lots more Indian procurement fun and games.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – US Treasury OKs Boeing, Airbus Airliner Sales to Iran (nothing for Bombardier)

Big commercial fruits of the nuclear deal look like coming through for some as POTUS gambles on the Iranian “moderates” (see end of quote below):

The United States on Wednesday [Sept. 21] removed a final hurdle for Western aircraft manufacturers to sell planes to Iran, a country desperately in need of hundreds of new aircraft.

The Treasury Department granted the aviation giants Airbus and Boeing licenses to deliver planes to Tehran. The decision is a boon not only for the two companies but also for Iranian politicians who want to expand Iran’s engagement with the world now that sanctions linked to Iran’s nuclear program have been lifted.

A spokesman for Boeing said the license covered the sale of 80 planes to Iran’s national carrier, Iran Air. Airbus confirmed that it received a license for an initial sale of 17 planes, part of a larger deal that involves a total of 118 planes.

The green light for aircraft sales allows Iran, a country of 80 million, to start rebuilding its aging fleet of Boeing and Airbus planes and other secondhand aircraft purchased clandestinely from other countries. Over the past four decades, hundreds of Iranians have died in crashes caused by malfunctioning or poorly maintained aircraft.

“From today, we will have safe planes,” President Hassan Rouhani of Iran promised in January when the accord between Iran and six world powers, including the United States, became fully operational.

Under that deal, Iran has given up parts of its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Since then the country has managed to increase its oil sales, but it has not been able to sign major deals with Western companies because of continuing banking restrictions related to non-nuclear sanctions.

While the United States has relaxed many of its sanctions against Iran, Washington still demands that even non-American manufacturers wishing to sell to Iran obtain an export license if their products include materials made in the United States. Airbus, based in Europe, buys more than 40 percent of all its aircraft parts in the United States.

The granting of the licenses is likely to draw protests from some members of Congress, who have noted that Iranian commercial aircraft have been used to transport troops and weapons into Syria. Representative Peter Roskam, Republican of Illinois, said in a statement that the Obama administration “has once again made a political decision to appease Iran at the expense of our national security.” He said Congress was committed to making the process of delivering the planes as difficult and expensive as possible.

Western political analysts who specialize in Iran said the Treasury’s decision reflected an effort by the Obama administration to help Mr. Rouhani, who staked much of his political reputation on promised economic dividends from the termination of nuclear sanctions…

As for Bombardier:

1) January 2016:

[Canadian] Minister sees Iran thaw as opportunity for Canadian aerospace industry

2) September 2016:


Iran is also negotiating with Brazilian jetmaker Embraer, a senior Iranian official said. It is in negotiations with the rail-making unit of Canada’s Bombardier, although not with its aircraft unit, he told Reuters…

Oh well, our delusional foreign minister (‘Justin Trudeau has emerged as “the most prominent and popular political figure on the planet…'”) better just intensify that engagement effort with the ayatollahs.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds