News Briefs – June 19, 2019

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Rockets land in an Iraqi military post home to U.S. personnel

The Iraqi military says three rockets have hit an installation north of Baghdad used by Iraqi troops and where American trainers are also present. There was no immediate word on casualties.
The late June 17 attack on camp Taji, about 17 miles north of Baghdad, is the second on a military post housing U.S. personnel. An attack on an air base, also housing U.S. trainers, north of Baghdad on Saturday caused a small fire.
The brief military statement June 17 said Katushya rockets were used.
Two military officials speaking on condition of anonymity because investigation is still underway said the rockets landed near an Iraqi air defense unit.
The attack comes amid rising tension in the Middle East between the United States and Iran. AP
 

Japan protests Chinese activity near disputed islands

Japan is protesting what is says was an unauthorized Chinese maritime survey within its economic waters near disputed East China Sea islands.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry says it lodged a protest with Beijing after a Chinese maritime research ship was seen dropping a wire-like object into the water off the northwestern coast of Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands on June 16.
China also claims the islands, which it calls Diaoyu.
The ministry said June 17 it urged China to immediately stop the survey.
Also Monday, Japan’s coast guard says four Chinese patrol ships violated Japanese territorial waters off the Senkaku.
Japan’s Defense Ministry says a Chinese frigate was spotted Sunday near the Miyako Strait, and a Chinese reconnaissance aircraft was flying above the East China Sea. The latter prompted Japan to scramble a fighter jet. AP
 

RAF jets in Estonia scrambled 2x to intercept Russian jets

Two Royal Air Force jets deployed in Estonia have been scrambled twice in recent days, bringing the number of intercepts of Russian aircraft to eight since taking over the Baltic Air Policing mission in May.
The Typhoon jets were alerted June 14 to intercept a Russian SU-30 Flanker fighter, and passed a Russian military transport craft as it was escorting the fighter over the Baltic Sea.
On June 15, RAF crews intercepted a SU-30 Flanker fighter and an Ilyushin IL-76 Candid transport aircraft traveling north from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad toward Estonian and Finnish airspace. The RAF escorted the aircraft for 15 minutes before handing over responsibility to Finnish aircraft on the airspace boundary.
The Russian Defense Ministry said over the weekend its Baltic Fleet assets were monitoring NATO military drills in the Baltics. AP
 

Ecuador: U.S. military could use Galapagos island for flights –

Ecuador’s government says it may let the U.S. military use a Galapagos island for aircraft on anti-drug trafficking flights, drawing criticism that the agreement would damage the archipelago’s unique animal and plant life.
About 30 people protested outside the main government office in Quito on June 17, calling the plan a threat to the environment of the U.N. world heritage site as well as Ecuador’s sovereignty.
Last week, Defense Minister Oswaldo Jarrin said San Cristobal island could be a staging point for American aircraft flying surveillance missions aimed at stopping drug traffickers who transport their illicit cargo by sea. Jarrin said flight crews would stay a week at most on the island and would be monitored by Ecuadorian authorities.
The U.S. military did not immediately comment. AP
 

France, Germany sign European jet fighter deal –

France, Germany and Spain agreed June 17 to develop a European fighter jet and air combat system, as they bolster efforts to reduce their dependency on the United States.
Defense ministers from the three countries signed an agreement at the Paris Air Show that lays out how the countries will cooperate on the project, which would include a new-generation combat aircraft.
French President Emmanuel Macron presided over the signing. The project fits in with his ambition to increase European cooperation at a time when the United States under President Donald Trump is showing an increasing reluctance to support the continent militarily.
It’s going to take time though. The Future Combat Air System is not expected to be operational until 2040. Requirements for the air combat system that will also include drones will be decided by 2027 and the development phase should start by 2030.
French Defense minister Florence Parly said the deal is “concrete proof that Europe is capable of anticipating tomorrow’s great strategic challenges.”
“The FCAS is a major asset to tackle the power struggles of the second half of the 21st century. What is happening today is historic,” she said.
Dassault Aviation and Airbus are set to build the jets which will eventually replace Rafale and Eurofighters.
The program was launched by Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2017. Airbus says it will be connected and operable with a wide variety of aircraft, satellites, NATO systems as well as land and naval combat systems.
Authorities have not said how much it would cost but the dpa news agency estimates it could be 100 billion euros ($112 billion). AP