“Aim towards enemy.” – Instructions on U.S. rocket launcher.

Dear Readers,

The building of two paved runways in the Antarctic, one by Australia and the second by China, looks set to ramp up the strategic rivalry in this once pristine environment.

In 2018 the Australian Government announced its intention to build a paved runway near its Davis research station, adding greater flexibility than its existing summer-only ice runway at Walkins Aerodrome, near the Casey research station.

According to the Australian Antarctic Programme: “The runway will be almost 5,000 kilometres from Hobart, with a flight time of around six hours, and 1,400 kilometres from Wilkins Aerodrome. It will be 2,700 metres long, based on the length required by large commercial aircraft.”

As of December 2020, the Davis Aerodrome Project was awaiting environmental assessment under the Antarctic Treaty (Environment Protection) Act 1980 (ATEP Act) and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). However, a request has been made to solicit ‘expressions of interest’ for the construction of the runway.

China however, is planning the construction of its own permanent airport 17 miles from its Zhongshan ice research station, in east Antarctica. The problem with this is that it lies within the 42 percent of Antarctica already claimed by Australia.

According to a study conducted by Australian research organisation The Lowy Institute: “The geopolitical and security concerns of China’s proposed aerodrome within the Australian Antarctic Territory are real and undeniable.”

Seven countries have traditionally laid claim to territory in Antarctica – Australia, Argentina, Chile, France, Norway, New Zealand, and United Kingdom – while one sector, Marie Byrd Land in West Antarctica, is unclaimed. However, around 30 countries operate 70 research stations (40 year-round). China currently has four with a fifth being built, although not all five are able to remain over the coming couple of decades.

With the new runway however, and China’s demonstrated expansionist policies, the fear is that when significant elements of the Antarctic Treaty are reviewed around 2048, China may opt to ignore the internationally agreed rules as it has done in the South China Sea. Any militarisation of the region would go against the current agreements but in 30 years the economic riches of Antarctica might prove to tempting to ignore.

Best to all,




Following the sinking of the KRI Nanggala-402 submarine in waters off northern Bali, it is emerging that there have been numerous reports of sickness among the submariners past and present who have served with the Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Laut – TNI-AL).

One such case is that of Marine Colonel Iwa Kartiwa, a former submarine unit commander between 2016-19 and former commander of the KRI Nanggala-402. According to a Tweet by one of his former classmates, Col Iwa is ill “because of his metal / mercury poisoning.”

The Colonel’s elder brother, former West Java Regional Police Chief Inspector General (ret) Anton Charliyan, previously stated his younger brother was “seriously ill as a result of consuming too much iron [likely heavy metal exposure] during his ten years serving [in the] submarine special force.” Gen Anton had also stated that “almost all members of the submarine special forces experience the same thing”, as reported by Kompass.com.

Jakarta media organisation VOI reported that during a news conference on 4 May, Col Iwa denied what his brother had said although he admitted that “he had nerve pain and a history of other diseases that made him unable to do much activity.”

He also stated: “[My] disease started in 2017 when [I was] Commander of the Submarine Unit. In fact, I was bedridden for a month. [I was] ordered to go to Dr. Mintohardjo Hospital for an MRI. Apparently, we were exposed to ‘hernia nucleus pulposus’ (HNP) or pinched nerve.”

Kompass.com also reported that Commander of the Naval Staff and Command School (Seskoal) Rear Admiral Iwan Isnurwanto had experienced the same submarine going into a ‘blackout’ and that it “began to tilt and ‘sank’ quickly.” He said the situation was recovered when the main ballast tank was blown.

On Monday 26 April the chief of staff of the Indonesian Navy Admiral Yudo Margono stated that the Navy’s initial analysis of the sinking of the KRI Nanggala-402 submarine was due to “natural factors’, ruling out human error or blackout or power failure.

Quite how the Navy can come to that conclusion so quickly without the wreckage of the submarine being analysed, or the medical records of the crew being examined, or maintenance reports being cleared, suggests that there is a lot of supposition being made without evidence to support it.


NATO’s Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 will begin in May and run through to June and will involve the forces of over 20 NATO allies. According to a NATO statement, it “will be the first large-scale test of NATO’s adapted Command Structure, with the involvement of two new NATO commands – Joint Support and Enabling Command based in Ulm, Germany and Joint Force Command Norfolk, based in the United States.

Forces will deploy from the United States and a total of over 9,000 troops will be involved in all aspects of the exercise. Divided into phases, the first will see the rapid deployment of American troops to Europe and will comprise 5,000 forces and 18 ships, including the UK’s Carrier Strike Group led by HMS Queen Elizabeth.

There will also be a command ‘table-top’ exercise conducted in Ulm, Germany. This is designed to “train and test the ability of NATO’s new Joint Support and Enabling Command to coordinate the speedy movement of Allied forces and equipment across European borders.”

The final part of the exercise, Noble Jump (19 May – 2 June) will involve “the deployment of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), led by Turkey, to Romania.” This exercise will involve over 4,000 troops from 12 countries and associated exercises will be run alongside.

Countries participating in Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 are: Albania, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and NATO partners Finland and Sweden.

US MAJOR ARMS SALES (Defence Security Cooperation Agency – DSCA).

No further updates this week.


Highlighting a selection of $100 million+ government awarded contracts awarded between 3-7 May 2021 and Foreign Military Sales contracts.

7 May
Acts/Meltech JV2; Athena; Argus CJW JV3; Belt Build; Binary Technologies; CCI Alliance of Companies; CCSI DCI JV; Constructure; Cypress SDC Group; EB MEI One; FCC ICC JV; GBoss; GM Hill; Impyrian; Kekolu Contracting; MaChis Mid Atlantic; Miami Wiipica; Midnight Sun Centennial JV; Mountain Consulting; SUCCOR Ocean; Puyenpa; QED; Reliance Construction; Ritz, Fredrick; SanDow RSC; Silver Lake TMG JV2; Snodgress SJV2; Superior Structures; TSC Edifice; Vanguard Pacific; VHB; Westerly; and XL Construction, have collectively been awarded a not-to-exceed $700,000,000 IDIQ contract for streamlined means to complete minor construction projects, maintenance and repair. The 316th Contracting Squadron is the contracting activity.

Alliant Techsystems Operations was awarded a $105 million modification contract to produce, deliver and maintain the new production configuration build of 30×173 mm XM813 cannons. U.S. Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity.

Relyant Global received a $19 million contract for construction of a new airfield, security fencing and other facilities at Kainji Air Base. Fiscal 2021 Foreign Military Sales (Nigeria) funds in the amount of $19 million were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the contracting activity.

6 May
CACI has been awarded an estimated maximum $496 million IDIQ contract for Automated Test System Sustainment Initiative II (ATSSI II). This contract provides support to the Ogden Air Logistics Complex’s (OO-ALC) ATSSI II program for the continued development and sustainment of a depot technology infrastructure supportive of the OO-ALC mission to perform critical test functions important to the ongoing operational safety, suitability, and effectiveness of multiple Air Force weapon systems/subsystems. Air Force Sustainment Center is the contracting activity.

Raytheon has received a $495 million IDIQ contract to provide logistics consulting services to coordinate the complex repair process for the supply chain management center logistics integration support secondary repairable program. The Marine Corps Logistics Command is the contracting activity.

BAE Systems Information and Electronic Systems Integration has been awarded a $325 million contract for Global Positioning Systems receiver parts and vendor-managed inventory services. Using military services are Army, Navy and Air Force. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime.

5 May
Engineering and Software System Solutions; Southwest Research Institute; and University of Dayton Research Institute, have been awarded a combined ceiling $300 million multiple-award, IDIQ contract for the Comprehensive Landing Gear Integrity Program. Air Force Sustainment Center is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics has been awarded a $51 million contract in support of the French Air Force for long-term sustainment of C-130 aircraft. This contract provides for the program management, field service representatives, travel and per diem, data, replenishment of spares and other sustainment tasks. This contract involves unclassified Foreign Military Sales for the French Air Force. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is the contracting activity. (Awarded 30 April, 2021)

Robertson Fruit & Produce, has been awarded a maximum $111 million IDIQ contract for fresh fruits and vegetables. Using customers are Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Department of Agriculture schools. The contracting agency is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support.

L3 Adaptive Methods has received a $13 million modification contract to exercise an option for the procurement of engineering services, program management, systems engineering, software development, risk management, algorithm and software prototype development, configuration management, and information assurance. This contract combines purchases for the Navy (97 percent); and the governments of Australia (two percent) and Japan (one percent) under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. FMS Australia funds in the amount of $98,000); and FMS Japan funds in the amount of $74,000. The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity.

4 May
Atlantic Diving Supply, doing business as ADS; W.S. Darley; Owens and Minor Distribution; Regulus Global; and TQM, doing business as Two Rivers Medical, are sharing a maximum $516 million IDIQ contract for the Foreign Military Sales Medical and Surgical Tailored Logistics Support program. Using customers are foreign military services worldwide. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2021 through 2022 defense working capital funds and Foreign Military Sales funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support.

3 May
Gen Probe-Inc was awarded a $178 million contract for Panther Fusion SARS-CoV-2 assays, Aptima SARS-CoV-2 assays, multiplex test kits and associated reagents and consumables. U.S. Army Health Contracting Activity is the contracting activity.


No further updates.


IDEF – 25-28 May now moved to 17-29 August, Istanbul, Turkey
The 15th IDEF International Defence Industry Fair, IDEF 2021, has been postponed from 25-28 May. Organisers of the event announced that it will be held between 17 – 20 August 2021 in İstanbul. IDEF is held under the management and responsibility of the Turkish Armed Forces Foundation.


  1. La Haye Sainte is a walled farmhouse compound at the foot of an escarpment on the Charleroi-Brussels road in Belgium. it was one of the key strategic buildings during the Battle of Waterloo, 18 June, 1815.
  2. Originally called Misión San Antonio de Valero, today know as the Alamo, where the Mexican Army under the command of General Santa Anna defeated a small element of Texan volunteers on 24 February, 1836.
  3. The main gate of Imperial palace in Hue. Coinciding with the North Vietnamese Tet offensive, the Battle of Huế (31 January 1968 – 2 March 1968), also called the Siege of Huế, was a major military engagement during the Vietnam War.

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

Best wishes,

Andrew Drwiega

Armada International / Asian Military Review