Andrew Drwiega, Editor-in-Chief, Armada International / Asian Military Review.

Dear Readers,

Here are a selection of news stories that will be worth following. As NATO looks to broaden its international cooperation with ‘like-minded’ nations who share common values, the Philippine government has reconfirmed its commitment to one of its islands in the middle of the Spratly Islands, the very area that the Chinese have been building up in order to strategically dominate the South China Sea.

NATO navies are also exercising in the Baltic where, in 2017, the Russian and Chinese navies exercised together for the first time. Ties between the two look to be strengthening as both met again to exercise again in the East China Sea and Yellow Sea from 1-4 May, 2019.


NATO Secretary General launches NATO 2030

On Monday 8 June, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reflected on NATO 2030, his vision for the Alliances’ future, during a discussion hosted by the Atlantic Council.

Stoltenberg initially highlighted the huge impact that the COVID-19 virus and stated that it had “magnified existing trends and tensions” with regard to the security of nations within the Alliance.

His warnings encompassed state and non-state actors: Russia continued to pursue its international military activities; ISIL (Daesh) and other terrorist groups he described as “emboldened’; the spread of ‘disinformation and propaganda” continued; and he described the China’s rising power and spread of influence as “fundamentally shifting the global balance of power.”

Stoltenberg added that this activity served to increase the drive for “economic and technological supremacy”.

NATO’s vision for 2030 must now be to adapt to the ‘new normal’ by being militarily strong, showing more political unity and as a result taking a much broader global approach. The called for continued investment in the armed forces, despite the effects of COVID-19.

He also hinted that there needed to be a quicker and more direct way for NATO to address wider issues that affect its members “so that we can forge stronger consensus sooner and more systematically.”

He called for NATO to become stronger by using means that are “military and non-military, economic and diplomatic.”

Almost as a reminder to the White House, he said that “NATO is the only place that brings Europe and North America together, every day.” He stated that the structures and institutions, backed by the political will” were enough to deliver shared security, but that it needed to be viewed more globally. “China coming closer to us from the Arctic to cyber space,” he warned, reaffirming that what was needed was not “a global presence, but …a global approach.”

In summary, Secretary General Stoltenberg called for NATO to work with “like-minded countries [including] Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea.”

Clearly, as has been outlined before, the global rules based order and institutions that rely on that structure need to be defended, whether traditionally, in cyber space or in space.

“The challenges that we face over the next decade are greater than any of us can tackle alone,” he said. “My vision for NATO 2030 is not about reinventing NATO. It is about making our strong Alliance even stronger. Strong militarily. Stronger politically. And more global.”


This call for greater integration was somewhat ‘ambushed’ by the breaking news that US President Donald Trump announced that 9,500 troops would be withdrawn from Germany, despite NATO countries committing to increased spending.

While it is still not clear whether this would be a complete withdrawal from Europe, or perhaps a partial withdrawal with some redeployment to other bases in Poland or elsewhere, it is the lack of advanced warning of such announcements that has caused concern both within Germany and NATO.




On 10 June, the Philippine Department of National Defense announced that it had completed the construction a beaching ramp on Thitu Island (Pag-asa), the second largest of the naturally occurring Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

Covering an area of 37.2 hectares (92 acres), it is the largest of the Philippine-administered islands and is located around 300 miles west of the Philippine city of Puerto Princesa. China has said that the island falls within its spurious Nine-Dash Line claim to the vast majority of the South China Sea.


“We can now proceed with the other projects planned for Pag-asa Island. This is a necessary first step which will facilitate the transportation of essential construction equipment to the island,” said Secretary of National Defense Delfin N. Lorenzana speaking during a ceremony on the island which was staged on Tuesday, June 9, 2020.

A budget of $5.3 million (PhP 267.18 million) had been set for the ramp construction and other projects around the local Kalayaan municipality, with a further $25.8 million (PhP 1.3 billion) to be spent on additional projects including the repair and concreting of the island’s runway. There is now also a basic sheltered port for fishing vessels to find sanctuary in during bad weather.

The Chinese reaction to this definite threat to their strategy of turning the South China Sea into a large Chinese Lake allowing them to control both shipping and air movements will not be long in coming.



Exercise BALTOPS 2020

The annual NATO Baltic Naval exercise initiated on Sunday 7 June and will run for just over a week ending on Tuesday 16 June.

The 49th BALTOPS exercise involves 3,000 personnel from 19 NATO countries. The exercise is using both maritime and air forces; around 30 warships and submarines, and 30 military aircraft. Tactics being practised include air defence, anti-submarine warfare, maritime interdiction and mine countermeasure operations.

“The Baltic Sea is of vital strategic importance for the Alliance and is bordered by six NATO countries, and two close partners”, said NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu. She added, ”While we continue to take all the necessary measures to protect our armed forces against the health crisis, our operational readiness remains undiminished”.

For the first time, the exercise is being commanded from the land by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) from its headquarters in Lisbon, Portugal.

“BALTOPS provides the opportunity for NATO and partner nations to operate together, sharing best practices to improve real world operations,“ said US Vice Admiral Lisa Franchetti, commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO and commander, US 6th Fleet.

NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) in Uedem, Germany, is directing all air operations. “We are supporting BALTOPS by planning and coordinating exercise air operations and synchronising maritime and air operations with STRIKFORNATO and U.S. 6th Fleet,” said Lieutenant General Klaus Habersetzer, Commander of the CAOC. NATO AWACS surveillance aircraft will also participate and coordinate some of the air manoeuvres.

BALTOPS is the largest exercise series in the Baltic Sea. Participating troops come from Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the UK, and the United States.


Highlighting a selection of $100 million+ government awarded contracts awarded between 8-12 June 2020:

12 June
US Foods has been awarded a $525 million contract for full-line food distribution. Using customers are Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and federal civilian agencies. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support.

Sysco Hampton Roads received a $377 million contract for full-line food distribution. Using military services are Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy. Again the contracting agency is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support.

Federal Contracts is sharing a $189 million contract for agricultural equipment. Other contracts have been awarded under this solicitation and additional awards are expected. Using customers are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support.

Lockheed Martin has received a $375 million contract modification to provide non-recurring efforts to design and develop unique hardware and software for the Multi-Role Helicopter MH-60R development program for the government of India. Contract via Naval Air Systems Command.

Lockheed Martin was also awarded a $183 million modification contract which incorporates additional operation, security and technical services in support of the F-35 Lightning II program for the Republic of Korea. This contract also via Naval Air Systems Command.

Versar; E3 Federal Solutions; Accura Engineering; and Stanley Consultants will compete for each order of the $300 million contract to support various construction activities along the southern border of the US. Contract through the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Advanced Technology International was awarded an Other Transaction Authority agreement with a ceiling of $180 million for enhanced technology maturation and risk reduction for Precision Strike Missile. Award through US Army Contracting Command.

Raytheon has received a $202 million contract for F-15 sustainment. This contract provides support for the APG 82(V)1 radar modernisation programme depot activation in support of the Air Force. Contract by Air Force Life Cycle Management Center.

11 June
Lockheed Martin; BAE Systems Information and Electronics; General Dynamics Mission Systems; Northrop Grumman Systems; Cobham Advanced Electronics Solutions; Raytheon; Boeing; and Honeywell International have been awarded a $10.2 billion modification on Advanced Technology Support Program IV (ATSP4) contracts. The contracts are for engineering services designed to resolve problems with obsolete, unreliable, unmaintainable, underperforming, or incapable electronics hardware and software through development of advanced technology insertions and applications to meet the requirements of the Department of Defense for a quick reaction capability. The Defense Microelectronics Activity is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics has been awarded a $368 million contract modification for the procurement of five F-35A Lightning II lot 14 aircraft, one F-35B lot 14 combat aircrafts and associated red gear for the government of Italy. It also authorises the common capability scope of work at the Final Assembly and Checkout Facility in Cameri, Italy. The Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity.

DRS Systems has received a $120 million contract to provide non-recurring engineering to design, develop, integrate and test engineering development models and production representative models of weapons replaceable assemblies for the AN/AAQ-45 Distributed Aperture Infrared Countermeasure system. The Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity.

10 June
General Dynamics Land Systems received a $2.4 billion contract for the production of Stryker Double V-Hull A1 engineering change proposal vehicles. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin received a $1 billion modification contract for incidental services, hardware, facilities, equipment, and all technical, planning, management, manufacturing, and testing efforts to produce Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target Advanced Capability-3 missiles. Fiscal 2020 missile procurement, Army; and Foreign Military Sales (Bahrain, Germany, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Republic of Korea, United Arab Emirates). U.S. Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.

General Dynamics Mission Systems was awarded a $104 million contract for fiscal 2020-2023 Columbia (US01) and Dreadnought ballistic missile submarine class development, production and installation requirement. Strategic Systems Programs is the contracting activity.

9 June
APTIM Federal Services received a $129 million contract for the dismantlement and disposal of the Surface Ship Support Barge, a radiologically controlled Navy support facility. This contract will accomplish engineering planning efforts, dismantlement, transport and disposal of the Surface Ship Support Barge. The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity.

8 June
CORRECTION: The contract originally announced on May 29, 2020, has been changed as follows: Canadian Commercial was awarded a $380 million contract for MX sensor systems product and system support. US Army Contracting Command, is the contracting activity. 


No events reconfirmed this week.


No events reconfirmed this week.


Keep safe and healthy everyone.

Andrew Drwiega

Armada International / Asian Military Review