by Max Barry

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Region: Greater Middle East

OOC: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental, and does not reflect the current real-life situation regarding said topics.

Board of Works

The Board of Works has announced it would begin stockpiling an Emergency Strategic Resource Reserve (ESRR), which will contain 100 days worth of food, water, critical equipment, firearms and ammunition, medicine, medical equipment, fuel, mineral resources, and various types industrial equipment.

Following the near conclusion of the COVID-19 pandemic within the Zhen (sans Hubei), the Board of Works has thought it prudent to take steps to prevent future supply shortages, especially when it comes to protective medical equipment. Due to a filibuster in the National Assembly, the Imperial Cabinet voted the ESRR Bill through to law, at 13 for and 0 against.

The ESRR will be a series of underground complexes, hardened shelters, and storage vaults, which will contain various items of critical importance. Any shortage in such items could prove catastrophic for the future function of the Zhen, potentially leading to a massive loss of life, economic stagnation, and global spillover (due to the Zhen being the world's most populous nation and its largest economy).

Prior to the establishment of a massive aquaponics facility in the Underground City complex 106 days ago, the Board of Works had also announced that it would build 33 hydroponic farms in Shandong, 22 in Tianjin, 28 in Beijing, 17 in Jiangsu, and 17 in Shanghai, with a price tag of roughly $13 billion USD. Together, these agricultural facilities would be capable of producing over 942 tonnes of produce on a daily basis. In contrast, both the Zhen and He combined produce over 1,557,870,339 tonnes of produce per annum, or over 4.2 million tonnes per day. The nation's massive population has accelerated its need for food security, which becomes an especially prevalent problem in future emergency situations. However, as COVID-19 had slowed the economy, it has raised concerns amongst many in the government and markets.

"If our farmers are crippled, there could be a famine."

This was what Ejetai Beile, a Manchu noble in the Board of Revenues, said in a press conference as he announced the "100 Underground Vaults Initiative". The massive projects will produce 100 underground vaults, each of which could store up to 100 days worth of critical supplies for the nation. The project's gargantuan scale has led to it expending a total of $45 billion USD over a period of 5 years (2020-2025), employing over 2,000,000 workers across all 17 provinces, and providing a much-needed economic boost to the COVID-impaired economy. The projected Q1 growth rate for the Zhen slipped to a low 2.4%, but it is expected to rise up to 5.6% by Q2, and back to its normal range of 6% by the end of the year.

"The 100 Vaults' substantial resource demand will undoubtedly stimulate the economy," sources say. "The sheer amount of enterprises that are pitching in, as well as the quantity of manufactured goods needed to be stockpiled will bring the factories into overdrive. Contracts worth as much as $1 billion ZGD are being doled out like candy, and as the nation resumes work, it will find itself shipping goods and produce at the highest possible efficiencies."

"The demand for goods incentivises companies to set up more production lines and hire more workers. It's a win-win."

Over 100 state-owned and private enterprises will make contributions, including major companies such as Norinco, Sinopec, COFCO Group, and even Baidu.

Provincial governments are expected to make contributions to the funding of the project as well, with various provincial departments hashing out $500 million USD worth of funds, adding to the central government's hefty amount.

The 100 Vaults will be underground complexes, all identical in configuration and capacity, with their entrances located 12 meters underground via access tunnels. Each of the complexes covers 50 squared kilometres worth of floor space, with 10 floors extending to 62 meters underground. Blast doors, coupled with steel, titanium and lead-reinforced concrete walls serve to keep the areas NBC protected. Each of these vaults will contain items such as:

    preserved foods, MREs, canned foods, pickled foods, water, water purification apparatus, UV germicidal lights, battery cells, solar cells, electrical generators (powered by fuel, hand, etc.), disinfectants, biocides, seeds, saplings, soils, industrial chemicals, plastic chemicals, synthetic fabrics, machine parts, machine tool components, desiccants, fire extinguishing materials, firearms, precision munitions, ammunition, body armour, plain-coloured clothing, dyes, alcohols, fuel tablets, biodiesel, diesel, fuel oil, reactor fuel cells, hazmat suits, liquid nitrogen, refrigerants, metal parts, metal bars, raw ores, face masks, disposable gloves, antibiotics, antivirals, supportive care apparatus, IVs, syringes, surgical kits, personal protective equipment, respirators, gas masks, defibrillators, circuit boards, semiconductors, vehicle parts, dialysis machines, stem cells, embryos, vaccines, prescription medicines, data storage devices, flame retardants, cleaning agents

The supplies are stored in mixed rooms, each with a BSI PAS 95:2011 and VdS 3527en:2007 certified hypoxic fire suppression system. Fire extinguishers are also readily available, as are emergency-activated air vents, which could siphon oxygen away from potential fire hazards. Storage rooms are surrounded by a small containment room, which can be pumped full with an inert gas or fire extinguishing material to prevent fires from spreading.

The Vaults will be located in every province, with the first inaugural Vault to be completed in Chongming District of Shanghai by the end of the year.

OOC: imagine something like this:


Board of War - Classified

The Board of War has proceeded with a $560 million purchase for 8 Ilyushin Il-76 airlifters from Greatest-Russia.

The 8 Il-76s will be refitted to KJ-2000 Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft, which can detect, identify and track enemy targets flying at long ranges. It can also be used to carry out command and control, battle management and airborne surveillance missions in all weather conditions, making its presence important to strengthening the military's C4ISTAR capabilities.


Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute - Classified

The Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute has begun to produce initial prototypes of the Dark Sword UCAV.

The Dark Sword drone is the latest in a long line of jet-powered unmanned aerial vehicles that the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation and sister firms have been developing since the early 2000s.

The UAV exhibits a mature design that leverages existing elements found on other Chinese tactical aircraft. In 2018, photos have surfaced, showing a full-sized 'Dark Sword' UCAV mockup. The concept has been talked about and shown in renderings and models for over a decade, with a small-scale remote-controlled demonstrator flown as well. Now that a far more mature and substantive iteration of Dark Sword has been seen, the Design Institute has begun to go forward with maturing the UAV's development.

The Dark Sword UAV has a low observable/stealth configuration, designed for sustained speed and agility. Designs show a wide, splayed tail section with canted vertical stabilizers and swept wings round out the rest of the design and a single-engine is fed by a sharp, forward-swept, chin-mounted intake. It also features a Diverterless Supersonic Inlet, reducing its radar cross-section. In essence, it is a stealthy unmanned airframe that can likely supercruise upon introduction.

Similar to the Hongdu GJ-11 stealth UAV, 4 of which are currently operated by the Air Force, it is equipped with two bomb bays that hold ~2,000 kilograms of payload. It would also be the world's only supercruising stealth drone, giving it a broader combat ability.

There have been plans to make the drone airworthy by AVIC, the Shenyang Institute's parent company.

The company will prepare a full-sized, flight mockup by the end of April, where it will enter wind tunnel tests by May. However, it is unlikely that the drone will be introduced or reach IOC (initial operating capabilities) until at LEAST next year.

OOC: 2018 article -