Many important developments have happened in the last several days.
Firstly, China test-fired a multi-warhead heavy ICBM, the road-mobile DF-41, with two mock warheads. This is a sign that the missile is nearing completion. The Washington Free Beacon was wrong, however, to write that the DF-41 will only be the second Chinese multi-warhead-capable ICBM. The DF-31 is also capable of carrying multiple warheads, and in all likelihood, is armed with them.
In any case, the DF-41 and the JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile are now nearing deployment.
Secondly, Iran has thrown even further obstacles in the way of the recently-signed Vienna Agreement between it and the P5+1 countries. It has announced that any nuclear inspector wishing to visit an Iranian nuclear site must receive express approval from Iran’s intelligence agency – which was not mentioned in the Vienna Agreement as a condition of the inspections. However, under that shameful “agreement” (capitulation would be a better word), Iran does have a right to refuse access to inspectors, or to grant it conditionally (based on any conditions it wants). The Western powers simply capitulated to Iran in Vienna on July 14th. There will be NO “anytime, anywhere” inspections, despite the Obama administration’s earlier promises (John Kerry’s blatant lies to the contrary notwithstanding).
Moreover, the Iranians have threatened the IAEA’s Director, Yukio Amano, with physical violence if he reveals the side deals concluded between the IAEA and Iran to the US Congress (let alone to the general public).
Thirdly, today Russia signed a deal with Iran to supply a modernized version of the state-of-the-art S-300 air defense system to the Islamic Republic. This will firmly close Iranian airspace to any nonstealthy bomber and any nonstealthy, unmaneuverable fighter (including, but not limited to, the B-52, the B-1, the F-15, the A-10, the F/A-18, the F/A-18E/F, the F-35, etc.). It will also provide a very capable defense against all but the stealthiest and fastest cruise missiles.
This also means that now there is NO country in the world to which this state-of-the-art air defense system is off-limits. Iran was the last such country.
For the US, this means that the Pentagon’s new Long-Range Strike Bomber and planned air-launched cruise missile are absolutely necessary and that their development should be greatly accelerated – not delayed as some leftists have proposed. The B-52 and B-1 are already hopelessly obsolete and utterly useless, and have been for many years already. The only environment in which these (and virtually all other nonstealthy) aircraft are useful are Counterinsurgency (COIN) environments, where the only opponents are insurgents or weak, primitive states like Iraq or Libya, unable to contest control of the air.
This also means that the Pentagon MUST make the X-47/UCLASS drone very stealthy and capable of carrying a serious payload, because that drone will have to overcome state-of-the-art enemy air defenses. Against such defenses, the Hornet, the Super Hornet, and the partially-stealthy F-35 are utterly useless. Failure to develop such a drone would be an utter waste of American taxpayers’ money and would put American naval aviators in needless jeopardy.
Fourthly, the Investors’ Business Daily has revealed that Russia has violated the INF Treaty not only by testing the R-500 ground-launched cruise missile, but also by testing the RS-26 Rubezh “ICBM” at a range of 1,242 miles:
“A June 6 test of the Yars M, first disclosed by the Free Beacon, revealed it was launched from a missile base at Russia’s Kapustin Yar and landed at an impact range at Sary Shagan, 1,242 miles to the south. That is “clearly INF range,” Schneider said.”
According to the INF treaty, whether a missile is prohibited depends on its maximum range, and in case of ballistic missiles, their “maximum range” is the farthest range to which they have ever been tested:
Article VIIFor the purposes of this Treaty:
4. The range capability of a GLBM not listed in Article III of this Treaty shall be considered to be the maximum range to which it has been tested.
Whether the Rubezh/Yars-M is an INF treaty violation depends on whether 1,242 miles is the farthest range to which that missile has ever been tested. If it has been tested to a range exceeding INF treaty parameters (i.e. 5,500 kms), it is not, in an of itself, an INF treaty violation (though it is a clever circumvention of it).
However, maintaining ANY test facilities for intermediate-range ground-launched missiles IS a clear violation of the treaty, to wit:
9. The term “missile support facility,” as regards intermediate-range or shorter-range missiles and launchers of such missiles, means a missile production facility or a launcher production facility, a missile repair facility or a launcher repair facility, a training facility, a missile storage facility or a launcher storage facility, a test range, or an elimination facility as those terms are defined in the Memorandum of Understanding.
Article IV1. Each Party shall eliminate all its intermediate-range missiles and launchers of such missiles, and all support structures and support equipment of the categories listed in the Memorandum of Understanding associated with such missiles and launchers, so that no later than three years after entry into force of this Treaty and thereafter no such missiles, launchers, support structures or support equipment shall be possessed by either Party.
Article X1. Each Party shall eliminate its intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles and launchers of such missiles and support structures and support equipment associated with such missiles and launchers in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Protocol on Elimination.
Under the treaty, both the US and Russia (ex-USSR) are prohibited to possess not only ground-launched missiles of a range between 500 and 5,500 kms, but also any support structures for them, including test, training, and production facilities. By maintaining any testing facilities for such missiles, Russia has blatantly violated the INF treaty.
Last, but not least, getting back to China, it has commissioned a second Type 052D (Chinese Aegis) destroyer, with a state-of-the-art air and missile defense system, and it may have developed an AESA radar on par with the F-22 Raptor’s APG-77 radar six years ago.
Stay tuned in, Dear Readers. I will write more on these subjects in the next few weeks.