Asia’s growing market for OPV’s and UAV’s – Wendell Minnick

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Wendell Minnick

Tight defense budgets in Europe and the US, and the need for increased naval patrol in Asia shows a growing market for offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) and UAV’s, writes defense analyst Wendell Minnick in Defense News. 

Wendell Minnick:

The Philippines is frustrated over Chinese maritime incursions and counterclaims by Beijing over the Scarborough Shoal, which is within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. The Philippine Navy has begun the Capability Upgrade Program of its Strategic Sail Plan 2020.

Since 2009, the Philippine Navy also has acquired multipurpose attack craft and a landing craft utility vessel.

In 2011 and 2012, the U.S. provided two ex-U.S. Coast Guard vessels, both Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters, to the Philippine Navy. A third Hamilton-class vessel is under discussion.

In 2012, Japan announced plans to provide the Philippines with 10 100-meter patrol vessels for its Coast Guard.

Japan has been making moves to defend its southern island chain, including the announcement that the Ministry of Defense plans as early as 2015 to purchase and deploy an as-yet-unstated number of Global Hawk UAVs and monitor the nation’s far-flung Senkaku islets.

The pending deployment of the UAVs, leaked to local media in December, follows an increasingly rancorous dispute over the islands, situated in the East China Sea between Okinawa and Taiwan, which have seen repeated incursions of Chinese ships into areas around the islands.

The move to deploy U.S.-made UAVs comes on top of robust plans to increase the MoD’s abilities to deter aggression and, most recently, projected not-too-distant capacity to even retake the Senkakus if invaded.

From this April, the MoD will fund programs that will significantly boost Japan’s capabilities to defend its southern island. These include improved maritime surveillance and forward deploying a new coastal surveillance radar and coast observation unit on Yonaguni island, adjacent to Taiwan.

“I think we’re seeing the coalescence of nearly two decades of steadily increasing mistrust of China by the Japanese people. That’s been borne out by the reaction to the crises around the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands,” said James Manicom, Research Fellow at Centre for International Governance Innovation, a Canadian think tank.

The Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) marines also have been training with U.S. counterparts to enhance amphibious warfare capability.

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