Navy Destroyer Modernization Program Could Cost $17B, Take Up to 2 Years Per Hull

USNI News – The plan to upgrade the Navy’s fleet of Flight IIA Arleigh Burke guided-missile destroyers with new radars and electronic warfare suites is estimated to cost about $17 billion and take anywhere from a year and a half to two years to upgrade each warship. The service has been working for the last several years to develop a plan to back fit about 20 Flight IIAs with the AN/SLQ-32(V)7 Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program Block 3, the AN/SPY-6 air and missile defense radar and the Baseline 10 version of the Aegis Combat System.

US seeks deal on Philippines bases to complete arc around China

BBC – If you look at a map of East Asia, you can see an arc of US alliances stretching from South Korea and Japan in the north to Australia in the south. But smack in the middle of that is a missing link – the Philippines, which borders two of the biggest potential flashpoints, Taiwan and the South China Sea, or the West Philippine Sea as Manila insists on calling it.  America hopes to finally stitch that gap when Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin meets Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr in Manila on Thursday.

The Russian Arctic Threat: Consequences of the Ukraine War

CSIS – The impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine has been felt in the Arctic. The region’s primary diplomatic venue is paused, and military tensions are increasing. When Sweden and Finland join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), every Arctic country save Russia will be a member of the U.S.-led alliance. The war has not diminished Russia’s core economic and security interests in the region, but it has had some impact on its military readiness there in the short term, especially in terms of ground capabilities, if not at sea or in the air. In addition, there are some preliminary indications that sanctions and export controls may diminish Russia’s ability to deploy precision munitions to the Arctic to a degree. At the same time, Russia’s use of hybrid tactics in the region seems to be increasing in both frequency and severity. The United States and NATO will need to take stock of these developments in a region they have not historically prioritized as they begin to implement their new, respective strategies.

How Gray-Zone Ops in the Yellow Sea Could Trigger a Maritime Crisis

Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies – The body of water dividing the People’s Republic of China and the Koreas has inherent geostrategic importance and military operational significance. It’s long been a complex, congested, contested water space: an overfished area beset by conflicting historical narratives and sovereignty claims. 

China Maritime Report No. 25: More Chinese Ferry Tales: China’s Use of Civilian Shipping in Military Activities, 2021-2022

Chinese Maritime Studies Institute – This report provides a comprehensive assessment of Chinese civilian shipping support to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), examining civil maritime-military activities from October 2021 through September 2022. As of 2022, the PLA and its reserve civilian merchant fleet are still probably unable to provide significant amphibious landing capabilities or the maritime logistics in austere or challenging environments necessary to support a major cross-strait invasion of Taiwan. However, large volume lift exercises conducted in 2022 suggest that the PLA has made significant progress in the use of civilian vessels for the large-scale lift of PLA troops and equipment into undefended ports, a capability that may be leveraged in a military assault on Taiwan. This report also discusses other civil maritime-military activities not previously observed, including the use of civilian vessels and infrastructure to conceal PLA troop movements, operations from austere ports, use of ocean-going vessels to transport PLA forces along inland waterways, and logistics support for China’s South China Sea outposts.

Northrop Grumman makes play to add power, space on DDGs for weapons

Defense News – The U.S. Navy’s next-generation destroyer is slated to provide more space and power for new weapons that today’s Arleigh Burke destroyers cannot accommodate — but the DDG(X) program continues to be delayed. With those new weapons needed now, Northrop Grumman is pitching a way to free up space and weight on existing ships for additions like lasers and microwave weapons.