Tuesday, April 30, 2013

NASA Successfully Launches Three Smartphone Satellites

NASA Successfully Launches Three Smartphone Satellites: Three smartphones destined to become low-cost satellites rode to space Sunday aboard the maiden flight of Orbital Science Corp.'s Antares rocket from NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia.

The trio of "PhoneSats" is operating in orbit, and may prove to be the lowest-cost satellites ever flown in space. The goal of NASA's PhoneSat mission is to determine whether a consumer-grade smartphone can be used as the main flight avionics of a capable, yet very inexpensive, satellite.

Transmissions from all three PhoneSats have been received at multiple ground stations on Earth, indicating they are operating normally. The PhoneSat team at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., will continue to monitor the satellites in the coming days. The satellites are expected to remain in orbit for as long as two weeks.

"It's always great to see a space technology mission make it to orbit -- the high frontier is the ultimate testing ground for new and innovative space technologies of the future," said Michael Gazarik, NASA's associate administrator for space technology in Washington.

Disputed islands covered by US-Japan accord: Hagel

Disputed islands covered by US-Japan accord: Hagel: Islands at the center of a territorial row between Japan and China are covered by a military protection accord between Washington and Tokyo, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Monday.

"The United States does not take a position on the ultimate sovereignty of the islands, but we do recognize they are under the administration of Japan and fall under our security treaty obligations," Hagel said at a news conference with his Japanese counterpart Itsunori Onodera.

Hagel's comments came amid rising tension over the uninhabited islands known in Japan as the Senkakus and in China as the Diaoyus.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Edwards completes tests to extend KC-135

Edwards completes tests to extend KC-135

Known as "The Mighty War Wagon" of the Air Force, the KC-135 Stratotanker has proven to be the core aerial refueling capability for the Air Force for more than 50 years.

With the help of the 418th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards, along with a multitude of testers, the KC-135 Block 45 test team recently completed a series of tests in April to help extend the aircraft's service life for decades.

"There are currently 419 KC-135s and 59 KC-10s that enhance the Air Force's capability to accomplish its primary mission of Global Reach while providing aerial refueling support to Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and allied nation aircraft. These aircraft also provide mission support including cargo, aeromedical evacuation, personnel transport, and a variety of other specialized missions," said Maj. John Mikal, 418th FLTS KC-135 Block 45 lead project test pilot. "Increasing the life expectancy of the current Air Force tanker fleet is critical. Ongoing upgrade programs help to ensure there is no gap in these mission capabilities, while the new KC-46 program starts replacing the aging KC-135 fleet."

As part of the KC-135 Block 45 upgrades, Mikal said they included a digital flight director, a radar altimeter, an electronic engine instrument display, and Automatic Flight Control System or Autopilot for Communications, Navigation, Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) requirements in order to maintain global airspace access.

"Maintenance sustainability was another item that was looked at, which addresses the need to deal with parts that are obsolete, since no one makes the old parts anymore," said Mikal.

"Commercial off-the-shelf equipment or systems will be used to replace the existing analog flight director, radio altimeter, autopilot, and 21 cockpit engine instruments with newer digital technology equipment that will be integrated into the existing avionics."

According to Mikal, the new upgrades will ensure:

- the extension and improvement of mission capability and sustainability of the KC-135 fleet
- the new digital avionics technology integrated into the legacy system will increase safety, efficiency and reliability
- effective replacement of obsolete components
- the KC-135 meets current and future CNS/ATM requirements, allowing unrestricted operations in commercial and military airspace throughout the world.

"The Block 45 modification was needed to extend the KC-135 aircraft as a viable weapon system through fiscal year 2040," added Mikal. "The Block 45 systems mitigate capability gaps and improve overall KC-135 shortcomings in reliability, maintainability and supportability."

At the initial start of the KC-135 Block 45 program, it was originally estimated that testing would end in March 2011, but the technical challenge of integrating the new digital systems proved to be very challenging, according to the test team.

"It took an amazing amount of ingenuity and hard work by the collective KC-135 Block 45 upgrade team, due to the program experiencing a two-month stop in test in early 2012 to determine the cause of a structural coupling event which occurred during flight test," Mikal said. "While clearing the aerial refueling envelope, the performance of the new autopilot altitude hold was so good, re-adjustment was required to improve stability during aerial refueling coupled flight."

Along with the 418th, the massive, multi-year undertaking required support from more than 90 members to overcome technical hurdles and prevent the very real threat of program cancellation. Of those included, individuals were acquired from the 412th Test Wing, 412th Operations Group, 412th Test and Engineering Group, 773rd Test Squadron, 775th Test Squadron, 370th Flight Test Squadron, 445th Flight Test Squadron, the KC-135 Special Programs Office, Rockwell Collins, Air Mobility Command Test and Evaluation Squadron Detachment 3, AMC Air, Space and Information Operations (A3), and McConnell Air Force Base, Kan.

"There were only two KC-135 aircrew in the 418th FLTS when the program started. Eventually, the 418th FLTS KC-135 aircrew numbered four; even so, Test Operations was largely instrumental in supporting the program with their KC-135 aircrew," said Mikal.

Most notably though was the Edwards team, which was able to complete the final testing $200,000 below cost and three weeks ahead of new schedule through extremely efficient testing and test execution flexibility despite regular scope changes, priority changes, funding rebaseline, weather cancellations, maintenance issues, resource rescheduling/constraints, and the ultimate challenge of addressing the AR oscillation issue with no additional schedule or funding impacts.

"In the end, the Global Reach Combined Test Force test team proved to be a pivotal contributor, bringing this challenged program to a successful completion," added Mikal. "Successful completion of this program has secured the opportunity to field Block 45 to the KC-135 fleet, while preventing the otherwise inevitable reduction in overall mission effectiveness due to avionics obsolescence and CNS/ATM airspace access issues. Without the KC-135 Block 45, 88-percent of the USAF tanker assets would eventually be unable to complete their mission."

It is currently estimated that the first 179 KC-46 aircraft will be delivered by 2028.

U.S.-Australia agreement promotes space situational awareness

U.S.-Australia agreement promotes space situational awareness

A new agreement made between the United States and Australia represents the first in what U.S. Strategic Command's commander hopes will be many that promote transparency in the space domain.

Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler signed the agreement on behalf of the United States, short-cutting the process for the Australian government to request data through STRATCOM's Space Situational Awareness Sharing Agreement Program.

The agreement represents another step in the November 2010 pact between the two countries to cooperate on space situational awareness activities.

It streamlines the process for the Australians to make specific requests about space data gathered by STRATCOM's Joint Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. This information, which includes locations of some 23,000 man-made objects in space, is critical in planning launches into the increasingly crowded space domain.

"Many nations share the space domain, and it is in our best interest to create an environment where the sharing of [space situational awareness] data facilitates transparency and improves flight safety," Kehler said.

The new U.S.-Australian agreement paves the way for similar ones between the United States and its closest allies and partners, and is modeled on commercial agreements STRATCOM has forged with commercial companies over the past three years.

Space situational awareness exchanges will assist partners with activities such as launch support, maneuver planning, support for on-orbit anomaly resolution, electromagnetic interference reporting and investigation, support for launch anomalies and de-commissioning activities, and on-orbit conjunction assessments, officials noted.

President Barack Obama's National Space Policy and the National Security Space Strategy promoted this concept in 2010 and 2011, respectively, noted Col. Lina Cashin, STRATCOM's division chief for space, cyber and deterrence policy and security cooperation.

Japan vows force if Chinese land on disputed islands

Japan vows force if Chinese land on disputed islands: Japan's prime minister vowed Tuesday to "expel by force" any Chinese landing on islands at the centre of a territorial row, after eight Chinese government vessels sailed into the disputed waters.

The latest clash over the archipelago upped the stakes in a tense diplomatic battle as nearly 170 Japanese lawmakers visited the controversial Yasukuni war shrine in central Tokyo, seen as a potent symbol of Japan's imperialist past, riling its neighbours China and South Korea.

Tokyo summoned the Chinese ambassador to Japan after the state-owned Chinese ships entered its territorial waters while Beijing called the shrine visit an "attempt to deny Japan's history of aggression".

The flotilla is the biggest to sail into the disputed waters in a single day since Tokyo nationalised part of the island chain in September.

The islands are surrounded by rich fishing grounds and are believed to harbour vast natural resources below the seabed.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to "expel by force" any Chinese landing on the islands in the East China Sea, and promised "decisive action".

U.S. seeks $220 million for Israel missile defense

U.S. seeks $220 million for Israel missile defense

The Pentagon has stepped up efforts to fund Israel's anti-missile shield with the Missile Defense Agency requesting $220 million in fiscal 2014 for Israel's air force to buy more Iron Dome batteries.
It's the first time the MDA has specifically sought funds for Iron Dome, developed and built by Haifa's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, in its annual budget process.That underlines the U.S. Defense Department's effort to maintain military aid for Israel despite major cutbacks in defense spending.The agency is also expected to seek another $520 million to fund other Israeli anti-missile systems, including the David's Sling and the high-altitude Arrow 3, which is under development.

Monday, April 22, 2013

200 US Troops to Jordan Could Jump to 20,000 | Military.com

200 US Troops to Jordan Could Jump to 20,000 | Military.com

The Pentagon will send some 200 U.S. soldiers to Jordan to control spillover violence from the Syrian civil war, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the Senate.
But the troops, near Jordan's border with Syria, could be the forerunner of 20,000 or more U.S. troops deployed if the Obama administration decides to intervene in the 2-year-old civil war, senior U.S. officials told the Los Angeles Times.
The 200 or so troops from the 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, Texas, will work alongside Jordanian forces to "improve readiness and prepare for a number of scenarios," Hagel told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Those scenarios could include securing chemical weapons arsenals or to prevent the war from spilling into neighboring countries, he said.
But the Pentagon has drawn up plans to possibly expand the force to 20,000 or more, the officials told the Times.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Into darkness: the art of troop life in Afghanistan

Into darkness: the art of troop life in Afghanistan: Watching the solemn parade of special forces soldiers climb into their trucks, blessed by a priest, and drive into the grey Afghan night, Australian artist Ben Quilty wondered if they would ever return.

Quilty, winner of Australia's prestigious Archibald portrait prize, spent 24 days embedded with troops in Kandahar and Tarinkot as the nation's official war artist, sketching, photographing and filming life as a modern soldier.

It is an "often very mundane existence, spiked with these extremely horrific, terrifying moments all the time -- much more than we hear in the press, they're all engaged constantly," he told AFP.

"People say 'So tell me what it was like', and it's an impossible question to answer. (For the soldiers) after eight months of driving out there into the desert and being engaged by an enemy, being involved in deaths so directly, there's no answer."

The embed in 2011 led to a collection of works titled "After Afghanistan" that is currently touring Australia after being exhibited in Sydney's National Art School this month.

Europen allies seek FMS deals

Europen allies seek FMS deals

U.S. military allies in Europe are seeking missiles and support services under Foreign Military Sales deals worth a total of $565 million.
All three sales packages, if approved, would "contribute to the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States," the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in its required notification to Congress.DSCA said Britain, which has military forces in Afghanistan, requested 500 AGM-114-N4/P4 HELLFIRE missiles in one contract worth $95 million."The proposed sale will support the U.K.'s ability to meet current and future threats by providing close air support to counter enemy attacks on coalition ground forces in Afghanistan," it said, "enhancing the close air support capability of the United Kingdom in support of NATO, ISAF, and other coalition operations.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Navy Develops High Impact, High Integrity Polymer for Air, Sea, and Domestic Applications

Navy Develops High Impact, High Integrity Polymer for Air, Sea, and Domestic Applications: U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Chemistry Division scientists have developed a second generation, cost-effective polyetheretherketone (PEEK)-like phthalonitrile-resin demonstrating superior high temperature and flammability properties for use in numerous marine, aerospace, and domestic applications.

The resin can be used to make composite components by established industrial methods such as resin transfer molding (RTM), resin infusion molding (RIM), filament winding, prepreg consolidation, and potentially by automated composite manufacturing techniques such as automated tape laying and automated fiber placement.

Phthalonitrile-based polymers constitute a class of high temperature thermosets that remain strong at temperatures up to 500 degrees Celsius (C), and that are easily processed into shaped fiber reinforced composite components by low-cost non-autoclave techniques. They are also nearly fireproof.

UN chief in unprecedented visit to Pentagon

UN chief in unprecedented visit to Pentagon: Ban Ki-moon became the first UN secretary general to visit the Pentagon Thursday, holding talks with US military leaders on the crisis over North Korea and a planned peacekeeping mission in Mali.

Ban had asked for the meeting amid mounting tensions on the Korean peninsula and drastic threats from the regime in Pyongyang, officials said.

Ban was welcomed with an honor guard at the steps to the Pentagon before a 30-minute meeting with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey.

The talks focused on North Korea as well as planned or potential United Nations missions in Mali, Somalia and Syria, a senior defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

NKorea 'bark worse than bite': expert

NKorea 'bark worse than bite': expert: North Korea is incapable of carrying out most of its threats of recent weeks, a prominent US expert who has visited the country's nuclear facilities several times said Thursday.

"The bark is much greater than the bite," Siegfried Hecker from Stanford University, who revealed in 2010 the existence of a uranium enrichment facility in North Korea, said in Vienna.

"All of these things that they have threatened to do, most of them they cannot do," said Hecker, currently a visiting scientist at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.

He played down the significance of North Korea's April 2 announcement that it would re-start its main Yongbyon nuclear complex, mothballed in 2007.

Astrium's secure milsatcoms now cover the world

Astrium's secure milsatcoms now cover the world

Astrium will soon be able to offer near-global coverage in X-band with the successful entry into service of Skynet 5D and the launch of its hosted payload on Telesat's Anik G1 satellite.
Evert Dudok, CEO of Astrium Services said: "We are the only operator in the world providing near-global coverage reserved exclusively for government and military usage. Reaching from 180 degrees West to 135 degrees East with 75 X-band transponders our constellation has a total of 2.2 GHz - and we now offer more available capacity for our customers."Astrium Services has a 15 year contract with Telesat for the exclusive use of the X-Band hosted payload. The Anik G1 satellite launched on 16 April from Baikonur is due to be positioned at 107.3 degrees West. It will provide the first commercial X-band coverage across North and Latin America, with substantial coverage of the Pacific Ocean reaching out to Hawaii and Easter Island.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Operation Praying Mantis - US-Irani Military Clash 25 Years Ago

Operation Praying Mantis Demonstrates Same Priorities Navy Values Today

An engagement 25 years ago on April 14, 1988 sparked a determined and quick response four days later from the U.S., known as Operation Praying Mantis, which demonstrated the same priorities the Navy maintains today.

In early 1988, as part of Operation Earnest Will, the U.S. Navy was engaged in maintaining freedom of navigation in the Arabian Gulf as Iraq and Iran continued in a bloody war. The USS Enterprise (CVN 65) was operating in the region.

Little did anyone know that what would happen that day would draw naval forces into action and alter the course of history.

Watchstanders aboard USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58), Northeast of Qatar, sighted three mines floating approximately one-half mile from the ship. Twenty minutes after the first sighting, as Samuel B. Roberts was backing clear of the minefield, it struck a submerged mine. The blast injured 10 Sailors and tore a 21-foot hole in the hull, nearly ripping the warship in half. Quick and determined actions by the crew, who worked for seven hours to stabilize the ship, kept the vessel from sinking.

"We heard about it right away and very shortly thereafter I was told I was going to fly off to Bahrain to help put a plan together and command one of the Surface Action Groups (SAG)," said Vice Adm. (Ret.) James B Perkins, III, who was a Surface Action Group (SAG) commander during Operation Praying Mantis. "We spent the 17th of April flying from one side of the gulf to the other, briefing the SAG commanders as to what the plan was."

Four days after the mine blast, forces, of the now-Joint Task Force Middle East, executed a response -- Operation Praying Mantis. The operation called for the destruction of two oil platforms used by Iran to coordinate attacks on merchant shipping.

"The gas-oil platforms were huge structures," said Perkins. "What I had in mind were the oil platforms off the coast of Santa Barbra. But These were floating cities with berthing quarters and all that sort of stuff," Perkins recalled.

"On the morning [of April 18] we called them up and told them, in Farsi and English, that we were getting ready to destroy them and to get off the platforms," said Perkins. "There was a lot of running around looking for boats to leave the decks."

By the end of that day the coalition air and surface units not only destroyed the two oil rigs but also Iranian units attempting to counter-attack U.S. forces.

Naval aircraft and the destroyer USS Joseph Strauss (DDG 16) sank the Iranian frigate Sahand (F 74) with harpoon missiles and laser-guided bombs. A laser-guided bomb, dropped from a Navy A-6 Intruder, disabled frigate Sabalan (F 73), and Standard missiles launched from the cruiser USS Wainwright (CG 28) and frigates USS Bagley (FF 1069) and USS Simpson (FFG 56) destroyed the 147-foot missile patrol boat Joshan (P 225). In further combat, A-6s sank one Bodghammer high-speed patrol boats and neutralized four more of the speedboats.

"The air wing from Enterprise did a superb job taking on the Bodghammers," said Perkins.

By the end of the operation, U.S. air and surface units had sunk, or severely damaged, half of Iran's operational fleet.

"This particular exercise, in my view, finished the Iranian Navy in the Arabian Gulf," said Perkins. "They were still around - but after that operation, they didn't have as active a stance.

Operation Praying Mantis proved a milestone in naval history. For the first time since World War II, U.S. naval forces and supporting aircraft fought a major surface action against a determined enemy. The success of Praying Mantis and the broad-based allied naval cooperation during Operation Earnest Will proved the value of joint and combined operations in the Gulf and led the way for the massive joint coalition effort that occurred during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

The operation also demonstrated the importance of being ready to fight and win today, of providing offshore options to deter, influence and win in an era of uncertainty; and showcased the teamwork, talent and imagination of the Navy's diverse, capable force.

It also proved the value of all the training the Navy had done.

"You have to be ready on a moment's notice," Perkins said. "You may not always have sufficient time to get prepared, so train hard and often. (In this case) it worked out very well."

Implementation of the European Phased Adaptive Approach

Implementation of the European Phased Adaptive Approach

EPAA Phase One gained its first operational elements in 2011 with the start of a sustained deployment of an Aegis BMD-capable multi-role ship to the Mediterranean and the deployment of an AN/TPY-2 radar in Turkey. With the declaration of Interim Operational Capability at the NATO Summit in Chicago, this radar transitioned to NATO operational control.
Demonstrating their support for both NATO and the EPAA, Spain agreed in 2011 to host four U.S. Aegis-capable ships at the existing naval facility at Rota. These ships will arrive in the 2014- 2015 timeframe, in time for EPAA Phase Two.

For Phase Two of the EPAA, we have an agreement with Romania that was ratified in December of 2011 to host a U.S. land-based SM-3 interceptor site beginning in the 2015 timeframe. This site, combined with BMD-capable ships in the Mediterranean, will enhance coverage of NATO from short- and medium-range ballistic missiles launched from the Middle East.

And finally there is Phase 3, which is centered on the first of the three host nations to ratify their hosting agreement – Poland. The Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement between the U.S. and Poland entered into force in September of 2011. This agreement places a land-based interceptor site, similar to Phase 2, in Redzikowo, and includes the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor. This EPAA Phase 3 site is on schedule and on budget for deployment in the 2018 timeframe. The interceptor site here in Poland will be key to the EPAA. Not only will it protect Poland itself, but when combined with the rest of the EPAA assets, Phase 3 will be able to protect all of NATO Europe against ballistic missile threats from the Middle East.

On March 15, Secretary Hagel announced changes to U.S. missile defense policy to strengthen U.S. homeland missile defenses due to the growing ballistic missile threat from Iran and North Korea. One of these policy changes is that the SM-3 IIB missile defense interceptor program - the core element of EPAA Phase 4 - is being restructured into a technology development program.

With the SM-3 IIB interceptor, Phase 4 would have provided an intercept capability against ICBMs launched at the U.S. homeland from the Middle East. But the SM-3 IIB program also experienced significant delays, in part due to the U.S. Congress underfunding this interceptor. So as you know, the SM-3 IIB interceptor will no longer be developed or procured. The United States will instead strengthen its homeland defense by procuring additional Ground Based Interceptors – GBIs- for deployment at our existing missile defense site in Fort Greely, Alaska.

As Secretary Hagel announced, we will increase the number of deployed GBIs from the current 30 to 44, providing a nearly 50 percent increase in our capability.

The other two steps that Secretary Hagel announced include:

  • Deploying, with the support of the Japanese Government, an additional AN/TPY-2 radar in Japan. This will provide improved early warning and tracking of any missile launched from North Korea at the United States and/or Japan; and
  • Conducting studies for a potential additional GBI site in the United States. While the Obama Administration has not made any decision on whether to proceed with an additional site, conducting these studies would shorten the timeline for construction should that decision be made.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Lockheed Martin PAC-3 Missile Intercepts and Destroys Tactical Ballistic Missile in New Test

Lockheed Martin PAC-3 Missile Intercepts and Destroys Tactical Ballistic Missile in New Test: Lockheed Martin's PAC-3 Missile successfully detected, tracked and intercepted a tactical ballistic missile (TBM) in a Lower Tier Project Office flight test today at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

Two PAC-3 Missiles were ripple-fired in the test per current doctrine. The first interceptor destroyed the target and the second PAC-3 Missile self-destructed as planned. Mission objectives were focused on reducing risk for a flight test of the PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) scheduled later this year.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Newest LCS Suffers Fire at Sea, Damage ‘Minor’ | Defense News | defensenews.com

Newest LCS Suffers Fire at Sea, Damage ‘Minor’ | Defense News | defensenews.com: Fire broke out aboard the littoral combat ship Coronado late Friday morning while the vessel was on its second day of sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico, a U.S. Navy official confirmed Saturday.

No one was injured in the accident, and early indications are that the damage was minor, the official said.

The incident happened as the ship was conducting a full-power demonstration and running at high speed. Insulation on the starboard diesel exhaust first smoldered, then ignited but, according to the official, the flames were “extinguished immediately.”

Shortly after, the lagging on the port diesel exhaust repeated the sequence and again, the flames were immediately put out.

Running on its gas turbines, the Coronado returned to the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala., late Friday night to begin the incident assessment by representatives from the Navy, Austal USA, diesel builder MTU and others.

China, US to work together on cybersecurity: Kerry

China, US to work together on cybersecurity: Kerry

China and the US, which are embroiled in a bitter dispute over hacking, have agreed to set up a cybersecurity working group, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday. "All of us, every nation, has an interest in protecting its people, protecting its rights, protecting its infrastructure," he told reporters on a visit to Beijing. "Cybersecurity affects everybody," he said. "It affects airplanes in the sky, trains on their tracks, it affects the flow of water through dams, it affects transportation networks, power plants, it affects the financial sector, banks, financial transactions. "So we are going to work immediately on an accelerated basis on cyber." The world's two largest economies have traded accusations this year over cyber attacks after US research company Mandiant said in February that a Chinese army unit had stolen hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organisations, mostly based in the United States. China dismissed the report as "groundless", saying its defence ministry websites were often subjected to hacking attacks originating in the US. Last month President Barack Obama said cyber threats affecting US firms and infrastructure were increasing and some were "state sponsored".

Saturday, April 13, 2013

US-Russia reset on 'pause': US general

US-Russia reset on 'pause': US general: A "reset" in US-Russia relations is now on pause and Moscow likely will be "the primary actor of regional concern," the American general nominated to take over as NATO commander said Thursday.
General Philip Breedlove, President Barack Obama's pick to serve as NATO's next supreme allied commander, described Russia as an "aspirational superpower" and told lawmakers an attempt to forge more cooperative ties with Moscow had faltered for the moment.
"I've described the reset as sort of, on pause," Breedlove told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"We had made some progress. There were some political changes in Russia and we are now sort of very much slowed down."
In comments that were sure to produce irritation in Moscow, he said the United States needed to renew efforts to improve relations but said it had to be a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Space Command's ops chief discusses new warfighter role

Space Command's ops chief discusses new warfighter role

The Director of Air, Space and Cyberspace Operations for Air Force Space Command spoke at the Space Warfighters Luncheon April 9 during the 29th National Space Symposium held at the Broadmoor Resort, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein addressed a packed room of both military and civilian attendees on the impact of Gen. Shelton's designation as Commander, Air Force Forces for space and cyber forces to United States Strategic Command and its importance to the warfighter.

"This new design for the AFSPC commander as COMAFFOR is a truly revolutionary and positive change for our Air Force," said Weinstein. "The COMAFFOR operates and supports the Air Force Forces assigned or attached to the Joint Force commander... a COMAFFOR is a warfighter."

Weinstein stated that two tasks best explain the AFSPC commander's new role.

"Commander, Air Force Space Command presents integrated Air Force space and cyberspace capabilities to deliver global effects to achieve commander, USSTRATCOM missions per the Unified Command Plan throughout the full spectrum of war," the general said.

The second task is operational planning to develop strategies that explain how the COMAFFOR can use Air Force cyber and space capabilities to support combatant commander's objectives.

"This new responsibility is focused at the strategic level and is linked to Combatant Commander strategic planning efforts," said Weinstein. "Air Force Space Command helps provide a focus at the strategic level of war to USSTRATCOM for Air Force space and cyberspace forces."

As strategic capabilities, space and cyberspace are being focused to enhance the capabilities of combatant commanders.

"Air Force Space Command must help United States Strategic Command identify why and with what we fight in the space and cyber domains," Weinstein said. "Space and cyber are incredibly complex domains, and they have fundamentally changed the way we fight and win wars."

Equipping and grooming space and cyber personnel with training on the operational and tactical levels as well as strategic-level capabilities is one way that AFSPC fits into the broader national security architecture.

"We are able to provide our expertise and knowledge gained ... and then apply strategic-level thinking to assist our Combatant Command, ensuring Air Force space and cyber capabilities fit appropriately into the larger picture." said Maj Gen Weinstein.

The general stated that the warfighter is already benefitting from the change in the strategic-level focus of AFSPC.

"Air Force space and cyber capabilities can help shape perceptions, and with the right level of integration between COMAFFOR and joint force planning, we can synchronize to achieve maximum Joint Force Commander effects and unity of effort," said Weinstein. "Ideally, AFSPC will become a fully integrated warfighter supporting the Combatant Commander's campaign and operational planning processes, as well as real-world and exercise management of operational crises and contingencies."

Future development of the role of the AFSPC COMAFFOR is expected to help shape the battlefield across the full spectrum of warfare.

"The Air Force is postured to ensure all of its world-class capabilities are deployed, sustained, and employed to achieve strategic objectives and defend our nation and its allies," Weinstein said. "In the end, the warfighting benefit of having a 4-star COMAFFOR that can interface with and support Combatant Commanders is to hopefully save lives and achieve national objectives."

EUCOM nominee outlines priorities during confirmation hearing

EUCOM nominee outlines priorities during confirmation hearing

The Afghan security transition, the Arab Spring and the U.S.-Russia relationship were among the command priorities discussed this morning during the Senate Armed Services Committee's confirmation hearing for President Barack Obama's choice to be the next commander of U.S. European Command and NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe.

If confirmed, Gen. Philip M. Breedlove -- now commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, U.S. Air Forces Africa and the NATO Allied Air Command, will succeed Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, who has served as commander of EUCOM and as supreme allied commander for Europe since 2009.

Breedlove, accompanied by his wife, children and members of his extended family, told the Senate panel that one of his biggest challenges if he's confirmed will be to manage the evolution of NATO past its operational focus in Afghanistan.

"My first focus is going to be getting the transition in Afghanistan right," he said.

Over the next 20 months, Breedlove said in written testimony, "we must fully recruit, field and ensure the sustainment of the (Afghan national security force) while we shift the main effort for security lead to the Afghans in 2013."

It's important to keep the pressure on ensuring the professionalism of the Afghan military, the general said.

"Quite frankly," he added, "we're doing pretty good there in the armed forces piece, and we have some work to do in the Afghan police piece."

Breedlove said it's important to make the Afghan security forces credible, capable and responsive, and to make sure they appear credible to the Afghan people they would protect.

One of the biggest challenges in the transition process, the general said, involves "enabling tools" such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, technology.

"As I talk to the other NATO nations and as I've talked to other commanders there in past trips as an Air Force officer, they are very concerned about ... being able to do the ISR that we do, the personnel recovery, medevac and inter- and intra-theater airlift," he said.

"These are all things that (the Afghans) are not capable of doing and that NATO has been providing," the general added, "and I think those are things we need to be concerned about."

Preparations also must be made for the Afghan presidential election while redeploying thousands of International Security Assistance Force troops and restructuring the basing posture to be ready for the post-2014 mission, he added.

NATO, Breedlove said, has changed with the times since its inception.

"The alliance has evolved from a Cold War construct to one with ambitious aspirations and capabilities after integrating former Warsaw Pact and Eastern European Soviet Republics and building an out-of-area expeditionary capability," he said.

As EUCOM commander, Breedlove said, his challenge would be to work to support the broader U.S. government effort to ensure that NATO makes the right choices to maintain its capability, capacity and credibility.

Severe budget cuts called for by sequestration are another challenge, Breedlove said.

"Sequestration negatively affects both theater operations and EUCOM's ability to support the U.S. defense strategy by further reducing an already-declining budget," he noted. Such reductions increase risk, degrade security cooperation relationships forged over many years, and reduce partner participation in operations, the general said, adding that sequestration also weighs on the minds of troops.

"From the numbers of questions that (my command chief master sergeant) and I have gotten as we've circulated the battlefield, forward and in Europe, this is a concern on the minds of our troops," Breedlove told the senators. "And I am concerned that it will impact the long-term retention, health and welfare of our troops."

Another challenge for EUCOM and NATO is the potential for a long-term continuation of the Arab Spring and its impact on Israel's shrinking strategic depth, the general said.

Iran's malign influence in the politics of Syria and Lebanon are a constant concern, he added, and for Israel, specific concerns include Iran's nuclear ambitions, security considerations relative to Syrian chemical weapons and high-end conventional weapons, the decline in influence of Egypt's military and resulting instability in the Sinai, and the strength of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group and political party.

"This instability will remain throughout the region for some time," Breedlove said. "Our challenge is to lead the military effort to assure Israel of the U.S. resolve to guarantee its security."

EUCOM also must deal with Russia, which Breedlove called an "aspirational superpower hindered by endemic deficiencies" that include mounting internal political, economic, sociocultural and demographic stressors.

Russia is an important influence on many nations on its periphery, the general said -- nations that have been leaning more to the West than the East and have become good partners with the United States and NATO in places like Afghanistan.

"But these nations are clearly still tied to Russia for such things as energy needs, transportation and more," he said. "There are lots of tentacles that go back and forth. So Russia's ability to either help us or hinder us as we work with these nations is still very great.

"I think we would be better off if we quit thinking of Russia as an enemy and tried to bring them into a partnership as we deal with Europe and other places around the region," he continued, adding that Russia has been helpful in areas such as counterpiracy.

"We need to try to find out how to work with them," Breedlove said.

SecAF discusses $114.1 billion budget proposal

SecAF discusses $114.1 billion budget proposal

The Air Force's top civilian leader today presented his service's fiscal 2014 $114.1 billion baseline budget request to Congress and shared some of the fiscal challenges the Air Force has faced.

"As with all budgets, our FY (2014) request represents a snapshot in time," Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley told the House Armed Services Committee. "(It's) our best analysis of Air Force needs based on available information."

Donley, who was accompanied at the House hearing by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, said the Air Force's priorities remain aligned with the Defense Department's strategic guidance.

"This includes supporting combatant commanders in the current fight in Afghanistan, maintaining a strong and stable presence in the Pacific and (South) Korea, supporting nuclear and regional deterrence, counterterror and other operations," Donley said.

"There is demand for air power, and your Airmen are busy around the world," he added.

The secretary noted that more than 57,000 Airmen are stationed overseas and more than 132,000 members are providing support to combatant commanders.

However, "as the fiscal constraints get tighter, we must tighten our alignment with the new strategy and strengthen our commitment to joint interdependent solutions to the nation's military challenges," Donley said.

"You've heard many times that the implications of sequestration reductions are dire," he said. "They are, (and) that's why the president has put forward a balanced deficit reduction proposal that would allow Congress to repeal sequestration in FY (2013) and beyond."

Donley summed up the state of the Air Force in three broad areas -- force structure, readiness and modernization.

Last year, in efforts to meet the requirements of the first half of the Budget Control Act, he said, the Air Force's FY 2013 budget proposed a number of force structure changes including aircraft transfers, retirements and changes in unit missions.

The 2014 budget proposal, Donley said, would cut Air Force end strength by about 1,800 active duty Airmen, reduce Air Force Reserve end strength by just fewer than 500, and reduce Air National Guard end strength by 300.

The fiscal 2014 budget proposal will focus on implementing the retirements, transfers and mission changes that were approved in the National Defense Authorization Act, he said.

With regard to readiness, Donley said he expects the demand for Air Force capabilities to remain constant with the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, and a continued presence in the Middle East and Africa.

"We must improve readiness to prevent a hollow force," he cautioned. "With respect to FY (2013), the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Air Force leaders have already recounted the readiness impacts we anticipated this year as a result of sequestration."

Anticipating challenges due to sequestration, Donley said the Air Force took steps to cut back normal operations, including a civilian hiring freeze, canceling non-mission critical official travel and conferences and reducing major command and combatant command budgets by approximately 10 percent.

"However, these steps alone are not sufficient to absorb the full impacts of sequestration without affecting readiness," he said.

Donley said sequestration reductions and readiness impacts are now being felt across the Air Force.

"This week, eight fighter and bomber units ceased flying operations, and four additional squadrons will completely stand down when they return from deployment in the next few weeks," he said.

"And one additional bomber squadron will stand down this summer when it returns from deployment," Donley added. "Flying hour reductions will halt training for the rest of the year in many units, and (it) will take up to six months to restore pilot proficiency."

Donley also noted the potential furlough of the Air Force's civilian work force, which he said would be "potentially devastating" to morale and would slow productivity.

Turning to Air Force modernization efforts, the secretary said the challenges faced by his service are pervasive, and will, if unaddressed, seriously undermine its ability to accomplish the missions the nation asks of it.

"The average age of our fighter aircraft is now 23 years," Donley said. "Rescue helicopters, 22 years; training aircraft, 25 years; bombers, 36 years; and tankers, nearly 50 years."

Donley said the Air Force's "most significant" priorities remain on track in fiscal 2014 -- the fifth generation F-35A Lightning II, the KC-46 tanker and the long-range strike bomber.

"The continued modernization of existing fleets, such as the B-2, the F-22, F-15, F-16 and C-17, to name some, to keep them operationally effective and to extend their service lives is also key," he said.

Donley told members of the House committee that it was "all the more critical" to get their support for a new base realignment and closure program.

"The Air Force executed BRAC 2005 on time and under budget, and those adjustments are today generating savings estimated at $1 billion per year," Donley said.

"We're looking at European basing requirements with our DOD partners, and we're ready to begin (the) next steps in the continental U.S.," he added. "We estimate more than 20 percent of our basing infrastructure is excess."

RealClearDefense - American Seapower: A Global Navy for a Global Mission

RealClearDefense - American Seapower: A Global Navy for a Global Mission

Why does the United States maintain such a robust Navy? It's a fundamental question we should be asking because the answer has both major economic and national security implications. Many assume we have a strong Navy simply because others states that may do us harm also have strong Navies or because the U.S. is flanked by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, waterways potential enemies may use to bring war to our shores. But if we maintained a Navy just to defend our coasts than our current battle force fleet of 285 ships would be more than sufficient for the task.
A better question, then, might be to ask what the Nation expects its Navy to provide. A number of enduring American interests present themselves. First, and most importantly, Americans expect to be safe and secure in their homeland. Our Navy provides this direct security through what one naval commentator called an extended "defensive perimeter" each and every day. From just off our shores to distant regions of the world, the Navy provides a flexible and scalable means of protecting American core interest of security here at home. Specifically, it performs drug interdictions in the Gulf Coast, provides sea-based ballistic missile defense against rogue states, counters weapons of mass destruction from proliferating, prevents hostile states from operating off our shores, and maintains a sea-based nuclear deterrent against the possibility of great power conflict.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wing adopts new space surveillance mission

Wing adopts new space surveillance mission: The 21st Operations Group assumed the Cobra Dane radar mission at Eareckson Air Station, Shemya Island, Alaska, April 1, and takes responsibility for contract and program management Oct. 1.
Eareckson Air Station is located on the western tip of Alaska's Aleutian Islands near the larger island of Attu, and is approximately 1,500 miles southwest of Anchorage. The airport lies on the south side of the two-mile by four-mile island.
The radar is about 120 feet tall, the face is about 95 feet in diameter, and with its ability to detect objects about 2,000 miles away, it provides data for the Space Surveillance Network and the Ballistic Missile Defense System.
"The Cobra Dane radar will support the 21st Space Wing missile defense and space situational awareness missions," said Lt. Col. Paul Tombarge, 21st Operations Group commander.

Army assures commercial mobile devices are secure | Article | The United States Army

Army assures commercial mobile devices are secure | Article | The United States Army: The Army agrees with the recently released DOD Inspector General report that found two Army organizations did not follow policies for tracking and configuring commercial mobile devices using the Android, Apple iOS, and Windows operating systems between October 2010 and May 2012.

Both the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center moved immediately to remedy the issues and revised their administrative controls.

"This year, the Army has published additional policies that help ensure oversight of all IT equipment, security and spending, to include commercial mobile devices," said Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence, the Army Chief Information Officer/G-6 (CIO/G-6). For example, no IT equipment -- including commercial mobile devices, or CMDs -- can be purchased without approval through the Army CIO/G-6 process.

The Army published new requirements to enforce information assurance, or IA, and cybersecurity, and improve commander accountability, Feb. 1. Commanders must assess their IA posture and weaknesses via Army assessment tools, and develop a plan of action within five months. During a planned Army-wide IA/Cybersecurity awareness week this fall, commanders will train and teach their program to all in their command.

Obama's budget avoids big cuts to US military spending

Obama's budget avoids big cuts to US military spending: The Pentagon laid out a budget plan Wednesday that holds military spending steady next year without taking into account the cost of the war in Afghanistan or rolling automatic budget cuts.
President Barack Obama's request of $526.6 billion for the Defense Department keeps the base budget at about the same level as in 2013, avoiding dramatic cuts to weapons or benefits.
But the proposal leaves out the cost of the war in Afghanistan, projected to surpass $80 billion in the current fiscal year. And it does not address automatic cuts that remain in force without a deal in a deadlocked Congress

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

US Navy Awards Boeing High Altitude Anti-Submarine Weapon Contract

US Navy Awards Boeing High Altitude Anti-Submarine Weapon Contract: A new precision-guided weapon that Boeing will provide to the U.S. Navy will fundamentally change anti-submarine warfare by incorporating technologies never before used on an anti-submarine weapon.
Through a recently awarded $19.2 million contract, Boeing will design and build the High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon Capability (HAAWC).
The system will leverage combat-proven technologies from Boeing's Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) so it can be launched from high altitudes and far from targets.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Afghan Army Learning to Fight on Its Own - NYTimes.com

Afghan Army Learning to Fight on Its Own - NYTimes.com

As Afghans begin taking the lead from American forces this year, each mission the new Afghan National Army takes on will be a step toward answering critical questions about the country’s fate. Can Afghan forces effectively fight the Taliban after the Americans are gone? And can they gain the support of local leaders and populations who are so critical to that fight?
The challenges were highlighted over the weekend by a sprawling and drawn-out battle between Afghan forces and a Taliban stronghold, an indication that the fighting season had begun again in earnest. The battle ended only after nearby American forces called in an airstrike on the Taliban commander’s home, killing him and a number of civilians, including at least 10 children.
A recent week with a well-regarded Afghan Army unit in Kunar Province showed marked differences from the American way of war. While the unit generally acquitted itself well in combat, logistical and political challenges were evident. The operation in Kunar was characterized by Afghan and American military commanders as one of the biggest of its kind in the area: a search-and-clear mission centered on the village of Damdara in Ganjgal Valley, a notorious Taliban stronghold where an insurgent ambush killed nine Afghans and four of their American Marine advisers in 2009. This time, no Americans would be in sight at any stage.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Obama thanks Singapore for military help

Obama thanks Singapore for military help: President Barack Obama thanked Singapore for its military help Tuesday, as the first of a new generation of US coastal warships steamed to the city state to support his policy "pivot" to Asia.
Obama made a point of pouring praise on Singapore as an example to the world and as an important ally and source of counsel for Washington in Asia as he welcomed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for Oval Office talks.
The meeting took place just before the USS Freedom, a littoral combat ship, arrives to start a temporary deployment, one of four of the stealthy vessels that will be rotated through Singapore.
"We have extremely close military cooperation," Obama said ahead of the meeting, as he praised Singapore as "one of the most successful countries in the world."

Lockheed Martin Demonstrates Gyrocam Sensor Maritime Capability with US Navy

Lockheed Martin Demonstrates Gyrocam Sensor Maritime Capability with US Navy: Lockheed Martin has recently completed a series of successful demonstrations of its Gyrocam 15-inch Dual Sensor and 15-inch Triple Sensor in a realistic military maritime environment.
The demonstration was conducted as part of a cooperative research and development effort with the Stiletto Maritime Demonstration Program. That program was established to help accelerate the delivery of innovative maritime technologies across all armed services.
During the demonstration in Virginia Beach, Va., U.S. Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) sailors used the 15-inch gyro-stabilized optical sensors in both day and night exercises. After successfully tracking items of interest and acquiring on-the-move, high-resolution electro-optical and thermal video, end-users provided immediate feedback on the technology.
"Lockheed Martin's 15-inch Gyrocam sensors provided NECC sailors with an elevated, unobstructed, 360-degree surveillance advantage," said Dave Huber, senior program manager at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "Our Gyrocam sensors can detect and track items of interest beyond line of sight, giving sailors the critical time needed to deploy proper defensive measures."

US Navy Awards Lockheed Martin Contract to Upgrade Electronic Warfare Ship Defense System

US Navy Awards Lockheed Martin Contract to Upgrade Electronic Warfare Ship Defense System: The U.S. Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $57 million contract to upgrade the fleet's electronic warfare defenses against anti-ship missile threats.
Under this low-rate production contract for Block 2 of the Navy's Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP), Lockheed Martin will upgrade the AN/SLQ-32(V)2 system found on all U.S. aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers and other warships with key capabilities to determine if the electronic sensors of potential foes are stalking the ship.
"The SEWIP Block 2 upgrade will ensure the AN/SLQ-32 system continues to outpace the threat and establishes a framework to easily install future upgrades," said Joe Ottaviano, SEWIP program director for Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training.

Female Soldiers set sights on special operations | Article | The United States Army

Female Soldiers set sights on special operations | Article | The United States Army

The recent decision to open direct combat positions to women in the military has sparked a lot of discussion. One might hear a casual debate at their workplace or favorite restaurant about women's capabilities to perform outside the security of an operating base. While the discussion is popular, it seems unlikely one would hear it debated around members of a U.S. Army Cultural Support Team.

Women have been going on missions as part of all-female cultural support teams, or CSTs, with special forces units in Afghanistan since 2011. For those female Soldiers, after two years of successfully completing missions, a debate regarding their capabilities probably seems outdated.

In fact, one of the reasons CSTs were implemented during deployments is because of the advantages that only come from an all-female element, said 1st Lt. Krista Searle, a Chesterfield, Va., native, and intelligence officer with 1st Battalion (HIMARS), 94th Field Artillery Regiment.

"[The military] found this niche where they see female Soldiers have an impact in establishing relationships with the (Afghan) female population, being able to build trust and talk to them and get kind of an inside look at what's going on in the civilian population," Searle said.

Searle is one of two Soldiers with 1-94 FA going through the selection process required to join a CST.

Sgt. Emmy Pollock, a Yates Center, Kan., native, and healthcare specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1-94 FA, is the second Soldier from the "Deep Steel" battalion going through the CST selection process this month.

Pollock already attended CST selection when she volunteered in 2012 during a deployment to Kuwait. While she wasn't chosen to be part of a CST, she got a better understanding of what it takes to be selected.

Pollock previously focused on being physically fit and learning about the Afghan female population. With confidence high in those areas, she shifted her studies and explored how a CST fits into the big picture of counterinsurgency operations.

"I think that they're looking for very professional Soldiers, which they should be, " said Pollock.

"It's a high-visibility team, so they're looking for someone they know will represent them in the right light. Throughout different parts of the [first] selection course, I probably didn't present myself in that way," she continued. "So, this year, I feel I have a better idea of what they're looking for, focusing on just being a professional."

Armed with new knowledge, more experience as a Soldier and a recent promotion to sergeant, Pollock hopes she's developed the professional image it takes to make the cut.

Searle, on the other hand, was required to quickly develop professional qualities during her deployment to Kuwait in 2011 as a platoon leader for a high mobility artillery rocket system platoon. While she said the tour was relatively uneventful, it gave her time to train with her Soldiers and learn firsthand how to operate on assignment.

"When we were deployed, we did a lot of resourcing and communicating with outside units. It made me see that the Army is a lot like a family, just being able to communicate and build relationships with people you've never met before I think will benefit me in the selection process," she said.

Searle's experiences during deployment allowed her to grow as a leader and a member of a team. With those qualities instilled, she concentrated heavily on physical training and research of Afghan female culture during her preparation for selection.

Being able to physically keep up with Special Forces Soldiers is an unavoidable necessity for anyone in a CST, and one that Searle understands. When she played on the softball team for University of North Carolina at Wilmington, her coach helped her realize she could push herself physically, more than she ever tried before. That realization led her to train to a level where she could best contribute to her team, a concept she continued to follow in preparation for selection.

In addition to exercising twice a day, Searle immersed herself in literature and documentaries about Afghan culture, women and history.

While she was initially interested in volunteering for CST as a challenge and a new experience, her research has increased her aspiration to help Afghan women.

"Now that I've done more reading and I understand more of what women go through in Afghanistan, just being able to communicate and assist over there I think would be very eye opening and rewarding," Searle said.

Similarly, Pollock initially looked into volunteering for the CST course as a way to challenge herself, but realized new goals after working toward her application.

"The women in these villages are seeing [a CST member] as a respected female, educated, with a job, so just by being there I think it's making a difference," Pollock said.

But Pollock said she wants to go beyond that; she wants to make significant contributions to a CST and its mission to improve life in general for the Afghan population.

"I don't want to just make the team and be able to keep up physically or mentally," she said. "It would be a really cool thing if I was actually an asset to a team, as a CST member."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Raytheon's Patriot missiles receive US Army service life extension

Raytheon's Patriot missiles receive US Army service life extension: Raytheon's Patriot missiles, critical components of the Patriot Air and Missile Defense System, have received U.S. Army approval for a second recertification, extending the operational life of the worldwide inventory of Patriot missiles from 30 to 45 years.
This extension allows customers to recertify and/or upgrade their inventory of Raytheon's Patriot missiles at a fraction of the cost of replacing them with alternative interceptors.