Aerospace Security 2017 supplementing missile defense for peace
By Shafei Moiz Hali
Ever since President Xi assumed the office of President, he has been busy in incrementally implementing his vision of a stronger, interconnected and prosperous China. To realize this vision the President has been re-engineering all the factors of the state. May it be the military, may it be improving governance through anti-graft mechanisms or the economy of the country through reforms. President Xi believes the military plays a significant role in a country’s development and for enlarging China’s economic footprint which is why it also has to follow the same spirit as that of the nation and he recently said, “The army should grasp the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress and incorporate the principles into military practice.” He added that, “the army needs to enhance its capability to win wars, implement restructuring plans, and improve army management and combat mobility. The army should innovate its training theories and methods, conduct more combat drills and build soldiers' morale.” It is under the leadership of President Xi, that China’s military has started to take part in international exercises and heavy investments are being made in research and development to modernize and strengthen PLA’s military capabilities. Under the same scheme prescribed by President Xi to enhance the operational readiness and operational capabilities of PLA, comes the joint exercise known as “Aerospace Security” 2017. This is a joint exercise between China and Russia focusing on Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) defense through computer command post exercises (CPX). This exercise is an annual feature, last year in May 2016 the first edition of “Aerospace Security” was held in Russia and it was termed as the world’s first ABM CPX.
Military vehicles carry HQ-6A surface-to-air missile batteries during a parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender during World War II held in Beijing, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015.[Photo: AP/Ng Han Guan]
This year from Dec 11 – 16 “Aerospace Security 2017” is being held to augment what was achieved in the first ABM CPX held in 2016. It was announced by the defense ministries of both China and Russia in 2016 and again in 2017 that “Aerospace Security” exercise is not targeted at any particular country; rather it is an exercise to boost cooperation of the Chinese and Russian Air and Missile Defense grouping to repel missile threats whether they are ballistic or cruise missiles. The “Aerospace Security” 2017 revolves around drills based on computer simulations and practicing military responses based on those simulations, which include troops from operational and tactical levels.
An important development to note is that, just as Aerospace Security 2017 kicked off, the same day a 2-day exercise between U.S. and its allies South Korea and Japan simultaneously began. The US, South Korea and Japan exercise is a joint missile tracking exercise. Unlike “Aerospace Security” which is an annual feature and doesn’t target any third nation, the US-South Korea-Japan missile tracking exercise is a direct threat to North Korea, which is adding fuel to the fire in an already volatile region. Just like the deployment of THAAD in South Korea. China and Russia both condemn the deployment of THAAD. The U.S without having stakes in the region, keeps on adding layers to the problem, rather than solving it. Actions like tough and harsh statements, coupled with the placement of military assets like US naval vessels in close proximity, then the deployment of THAAD in South Korea and now this joint missile tracking exercise between US-South Korea and Japan are all confrontationist tactics which are eroding possibilities of peace building with North Korea and are exacerbating the problem. That’s exactly why China and Russia oppose such tactics.
People’s liberation army has come a long way, rather than simply acquiring Russian missile defense technology, under the leadership of President Xi with bolstered R&D spending, China has significantly augmented its missile defense umbrella consisting of radars, the JL-1A and JY-27A, which are designed to address the ballistic missile threat. The JL-1A is highly sophisticated radar capable of precision tracking of multiple ballistic missiles. Other indigenously developed technologies include kinetic energy intercept at exo-atmospheric altitudes, as well as interceptors of ballistic missiles and other aerospace vehicles which cater for the targeting and destroying targets in the upper atmosphere. In January 2013, China successfully intercepted a ballistic missile at mid-course, using a ground-based missile. With continuous improvement and new developments being developed at home, joint exercises like “Aerospace Security” 2017 become significantly necessary as these technologies are put to the test and thus raising the level of operational readiness.
Sun Tzu gave five essentials for a military readiness for victory: firstly he said, “He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.” Secondly he said, “He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces.” Thirdly he said, “He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.” The fourth essential is, “He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.” The last essential prescribes, “He will win who has military capacity.” The PLA’s bid to modernize itself through R&D and innovative indigenous developments, to take part in international missions like anti-piracy and UN peace missions, to create joint-weapon development programs like that with Russia and Pakistan, and most essentially to enhance join-military exercises like “Aerospace Security” complete the list of Sun Tzu’s 5 essentials.
(Dr. Shafei Moiz Hali studied at George Mason University, Virginia, USA and specialized in the field of International Commerce and Policy. He did his PhD from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China specializing in Chinese foreign policy focusing on the Belt and Road Initiative and energy issues. Currently Dr. Hali is working as an Assistant Professor with the Faculty of Contemporary Studies, National Defence University (NDU) Islamabad, Pakistan.)