Global Space Spending Drops For First Time Since 1995

Also, China’s Hongdu L-15 is back in production, USS Taylor runs aground, PLA soldiers getting too big. Links.

Global Space Spending Drops For First Time Since 1995
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A few mid-week defense and security links:

According to a new report by Euroconsult, global space spending fell in 2013 to a total of $72.1 billion. The drop is rather slight as 2012’s peak was $72.9 billion. Euroconsult’s press release notes that “This is the first time since 1995 that public space programs worldwide have entered a downward trend, a direct result of the cyclical nature of countries’ investment in space-based infrastructures combined with governments’ belt-tightening efforts during tough economic times.” The U.S. spent $38.7 billion on its space programs, civil and defense combined. Russia came in a distant second, but was the only country apart from the United States to spend over $10 billion on its space program. Japan, China, France, Germany, Italy, and India spent over $1 billion.

Oops. The USS Taylor ran aground last week while getting ready to moor in Turkey last week. The Taylor was initially deployed to the Black Sea for security ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics, something mainstream sources have been happy to point out. The Taylor and the USS Mount Whitney were conducting maritime security operations in the Black Sea and remained available should Russian authorities require assistance in the event of a disaster.

A Chinese Ministry of Defense announcement (in Chinese) suggests that the Hongdu L-15 Falcon supersonic training and light attack aircraft will be back in production. The announcement mostly focuses on the fact that the L-15 development is now attracting better-qualified candidates, but production is back on track. We’ll keep an eye on this and update Flashpoints readers as more becomes available. The L-15 is intended for domestic use by the PLAAF and PLANAF. There hasn’t been a major push for exporting the L-15 so far. Zambia is the lone importer at the moment; Nigeria and Pakistan may look into the L-15 in the future.

National Defense Magazine has a March 2014 feature on cybersecurity, focusing on the preparedness of U.S. critical infrastructure and utility companies. Fears that these industries are widely vulnerable to a devastating cyberattack appear to be well-placed given the stakes, but existing security measures and safeguards are somewhat more developed than many would believe. The U.S. energy grid is the backbone of American commerce and livelihood; ensuring it is impervious to a cyberattack is a tall task with great stakes.

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In an odd bit of news, the Wall Street Journal reports that the latest generation of China’s soldiers are growing a little too big for their tanks, making tank operation more onerous and uncomfortable than it should be. The findings come from the General Armament Department of the People’s Liberation Army which conducted a physical survey of 20,000 PLA ground troops. The good news for the PLA is that while Chinese troops continue to grow in two dimensions, U.S. troops favor the horizontal axis  “A pilot survey of 3,000 male soldiers on active duty in 2007 found they were about as tall as their 1988 counterparts, but averaged two inches more around the chest, waist and hips.”