Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Report: Asia upgrading military

Source: CNN.

April 10, 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) -- While China has been modernizing its military in recent years, Japan, South Korea and Russia -- all neighbors and potential rivals -- have been pushing ahead with upgrades of their own, according to a report released Tuesday.

But Taiwan's military spending has actually been decreasing, reflected in the government's failure to appropriate funds to buy $18 billion in U.S. arms authorized by President George W. Bush for sale in 2001, the report said.

The report, titled "U.S.-China Relations: An Affirmative Agenda, A Responsible Course," was sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, an independent private-research group based in New York.

The study said Japan has significantly upgraded capabilities over 15 years, even though it spends less than 1 percent of its gross national product on defense.

It has deployed the Aegis radar system and accompanying missile systems for its navy and advanced fighter aircraft armed with advanced air-to-air missiles for its air force, the report said.

"Japan is working in partnership with the United States to develop theater missile defenses, primarily oriented against the North Korean threat, but with obvious application in the event of any conflict with China," it added.

South Korea, the report said, has also undertaken a major modernization drive, replacing antiquated fighter aircraft, frigates, tanks, and artillery pieces with advanced systems, many of them purchased from the United States or developed in partnership with U.S. defense industries.

"South Korean forces enjoy a high level of interoperability with U.S. forces, proven again during South Korea's deployment of more than 3,000 troops to Iraq," it said.

The report noted that Russia is simultaneously China's largest supplier of advanced military hardware and also a potential great power rival.

Thanks to strong oil revenues, Moscow seems poised to begin a significant force modernization drive, the report said, pointing out that Russia's official defense budget has nearly quadrupled from $8.1 billion in 2001 to more than $31 billion in 2006.

While Russia may not complete an eight-year $190 billion military modernization plan announced in February, its growing capabilities "will complicate China's defense planning and force posture as its keeps a wary eye on its 4,300-kilometer border with Russia."

As for Taiwan, the study said that the island is not standing still even though it has not followed through on projected purchases from the United States. It said Taiwan is pursuing a $3 billion purchase of 60 new F-16 fighter aircraft to offset the retirement of aging F-5 fighters.

"But funding for this purchase has not yet been appropriated, and the United States is urging Taiwan to resolve at least some of the outstanding arms procurement issues before making any new requests," the report said.

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