News Briefs – August 20, 2018


Russia says drone attacks on its Syria base have increased

The Russian military says the number of drone attacks on its main base in Syria has increased.
The Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, says in just one month air defense assets have downed 45 drones targeting the Hemeimeem air base. The base in the province of Latakia serves as the main hub for Russian operations in Syria.
Konashenkov said Aug. 16 that while the drones appear primitive, they use sophisticated technologies and have a range of up to 60 miles.
All drone attacks on Hemeimeem were launched by militants based in the northern province of Idlib, Konashenkov said.
He added that the militants wouldn’t have been able to assemble the drones without outside help, but didn’t specify who might have assisted them. AP

Russian strategic bombers deploy near Alaska

The Russian military says that two nuclear-capable strategic bombers have flown to the easternmost Chukotka Peninsula, near Alaska, as part of an air force exercise.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that the Tu-160 bombers flew about 4,350 Miles from their home base near Saratov in southwestern Russia to Anadyr, on Chukotka, before returning to their home base. The ministry said the mission was the first time the bombers had flown to Chukotka, which faces Alaska across the Bering Strait.
The ministry said the air force exercise also involved the Tu-95 strategic bombers and tanker planes.
The Russian military has increased the intensity and scope of its drills amid strain in relations with the U.S. and its allies. The flight demonstrated that Russian bombers could be deployed close to the U.S. AP

Pakistan confirms U.S. suspended military training program

Pakistan’s foreign ministry has confirmed the suspension of a U.S. military training program for Pakistani soldiers.
The Aug. 16 announcement by the ministry reflects continued tensions between the two allies in the war on terror.
The training of Pakistani soldiers in the United States is the latest program to be hurt by the cutoff of security aid to Pakistan, which was announced at the beginning of this year.
The United States often accuses Pakistan of harboring militant groups and providing safe havens for insurgents who carry out attacks in neighboring Afghanistan, a charge Islamabad denies and says U.S. criticism is unfair.
Pakistan also repeatedly reminds the United States that it has lost thousands of soldiers — more than the U.S. and NATO combined in Afghanistan — fighting militants on its territory. AP

Taiwan improves missiles to counter China military expansion

Defense experts say Taiwan is responding to China’s arms buildup by developing missiles and interceptors of its own that could reduce Beijing’s military advantage over the self-ruled island.
Since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016, Taiwan has deployed one set of missiles, perfected another and sped production of a third. Chinese President Xi Jinping has taken a hard line against advocates of independence for the self-governed island democracy and has sent warships, bombers and fighter planes on training missions circling the island in a show of strength.
Alexander Huang, strategic studies professor at Tamkang University in Taiwan, says while Beijing has an increasingly overwhelming military advantage, Taiwan’s missile systems advance its odds of holding off China in asymmetrical warfare. AP