A few mid-week links covering developments in defense around the Asia-Pacific:
The Singaporean Air Force declared its new drone fully operational this week. As IHS Jane’s 360 reported earlier this week, Singapore’s Elbit Hermes 450 tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is ready for operational use by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), eight years after its original delivery in May 2007. The Hermes 450 is a long-endurance UAV, measuring 6.1 m nose-to-tail with a wingspan of 10.5 m. As IHS Jane’s notes, the Hermes 450 “is capable of fully autonomous flight with in-flight redirection capability and features GPS-based navigation, advanced dual computers, dual datalinks and redundant electrical and avionics systems.” The Hermes 450 is of Israeli origin and is primarily used for reconnaissance, communications, and surveillance use.
Aaron Stein, writing for Jeffrey Lewis’ excellent ArmsControlWonk blog, offers the latest debunking of the common refrain that the Middle East is at risk of a nuclear domino effect should the United States poorly navigate the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran. The reasons states chose to pursue nuclear weapons programs are complex and often misunderstood. Stein’s post offers some clarity in the context of the current public debate surrounding the P5+1 negotiations with Iran.
Stein references the “elephant in the room,” which is Pakistan tossing Saudi Arabia a ready-made nuke should Iran go nuclear. My former colleague Zach Keck explains why we should remain wary of that line of thought over at the National Interest.
Talking about South Asia as the world’s most likely nuclear flash point may not be new, but David Brewster offers a refreshing take, looking at the potential for nuclear use in the Indian Ocean.
In Myanmar, rebel groups and the government signed a landmark cease-fire deal, bringing hostilities to a lull. It remains to be seen if the ceasefire can hold, especially in the country’s restive northeast.
Over at Foreign Policy, Arif Rafiq has an excellent run-down of Pakistan’s approach to the current Saudi-led campaign against the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Rafiq’s piece offers a succinct history of Pakistan’s close relationship with Riyadh and outlines Islamabad’s calculus before rushing to the Arabian peninsula to lend a hand. I explored the topic in a short piece on the Pulse a few days after the Saudi campaign began last week.
On Tuesday, Taiwan commissioned a missile corvette, the Tuo Jiang, and fast combat support ship, the Panshih. I covered the Panshih earlier this year for The Diplomat: the ship has the distinction of being indigenously developed in Taiwan and is a capable supply-and-support vessel with limited offensive capabilities. Its offensive capabilities include “a Phalanx close-in weapons system, a 20 mm Gatling gun and short-range Sea Chapparral surface-to-air missile (SAM) system.” The Tuo Jing has been described as a carrier-killer.
Also, in case you missed it, Dingding Chen, Franz Gady, Michael Cole, Rob Farley, and I did an Ask-Me-Anything community interview with the Reddit Geopolitics community on Tuesday. More than a few questions focused on defense issues and trends. If you missed the chance to ask us questions, don’t fret. The Diplomat is partnering with Reddit Geopolitics and there will be more opportunities to interact with our writers. We’ll also be featuring some of the questions and answers on Flashpoints.