Thursday, May 28, 2015

Analysis: Against IS, airstrikes may not suffice

Analysis: Against IS, airstrikes may not suffice: It is the modern era's military strategy of choice: overwhelming air power delivering precision-guided punishment backed by intelligence on the ground, with minimal exposure for soldiers of the striking side.

Seductive though it is to risk-averse governments with war-weary publics, the approach has its limits — and these are on display in Syria and Iraq, where a U.S.-led coalition has carried out over 4,100 airstrikes against Islamic State radicals yet failed to stop the extremists.

August will mark a year since the campaign was launched after tens of thousands of minority Yazidis were forced to flee an onslaught by the militants in Iraq, causing a humanitarian crisis.

It was clear from the start that a ground force was needed, and Iraqi and Syrian Kurdish fighters have had successes on the battlefield. The Iraqi military was also to play a key role: air power would soften up the extremists, weakening them or getting them to flee, and the Iraqis were to deliver the final blow or retake areas abandoned by the militants.

That has not gone according to plan.

Army's first Apache, Shadow unit prepares to deploy

Army's first Apache, Shadow unit prepares to deploy: Soldiers in the first AH-64 Apache unit to receive Shadow unmanned aerial systems are training hard to work out the kinks in preparation for their deployment this summer to the Middle East.

The 1st Armored Division's 3rd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment will deploy in August to Kuwait in support of Operation Spartan Shield. This will be the unit's first deployment in its new configuration — just under 500 soldiers from Fort Bliss, Texas, will deploy along with 12 Shadows. The unit will fall in on 24 Apaches already in theater.

The squadron, which was reflagged March 16 from 1st Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, was the first of 10 Apache units to receive the Shadow. This made it the first Apache battalion to be converted to a heavy attack reconnaissance squadron.

"These are really exciting times for us, turning science fiction into reality almost," said Capt. Jeremy Paquin, commander of the squadron's Bravo Troop. "We continue to improve every day."

The conversion added three platoons of RQ-7 Shadow unmanned aerial systems to the unit and is part of the Army's five-year Aviation Restructuring Initiative. Part of the restructure eliminates the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior, the venerable armed scout reconnaissance helicopter, from the Army's inventory.

First-of-its-kind Marine task force deploys to Central America

First-of-its-kind Marine task force deploys to Central America: Marines with the Corps' first rapid-response task force to be based in Central America will begin deploying this week ahead of the June start of hurricane season.

The 280-person unit will to be headquartered at Soto Cano air base, Honduras, officials with Marine Forces South said. Called Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force South, the unit will be tasked with a variety of missions ranging from humanitarian infrastructure projects to military partnership training in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility.

Navy Preps to Build Next Generation LXR Amphibious Assault Ship |

Navy Preps to Build Next Generation LXR Amphibious Assault Ship | The Navy is preparing to build its new LXR amphibious assault ship in order to meet the fast-rising need for amphibs across the globe, Congressional sources said.

Efforts to begin the process of production and delivery of the new ship come as the service is finalizing its plans to start a competition to build the vessel -- a new platform designed to replace the services' existing fleet of LSD 41/49 dock landing ships.

The existing Navy plan calls for the service to award the detail design and construction contract for the lead ship by 2020 with delivery planned for 2026, Maj. Gen. Robert Walsh, director of Navy Expeditionary Warfare, told

However, during its mark-up of the 2016 defense bill, House Armed Services Committee lawmakers added $279 million for advanced procurement of materials for the LXR.

The Navy is now finishing up what's called a capabilities development document in preparation to release a formal proposal to industry groups interested in competing to build the new ship.

After an extensive analysis, the Navy has decided to base the LXR design upon the hull of an LPD 17 Amphibious Transport Dock, Walsh added.

This decision means the new ship will have more command and control technologies and aviation capability than the LSD ships they are replacing in order to allow for more independent operations.

This is because the LSD, which is key to bringing a lot of equipment from ship to shore in Landing Craft Air Cushions, or LCACs, does not have the same ability to operate independently of an Amphibious Ready Group compared to the LPD 17.

Navy, Contractors Trimming Weight on Both Littoral Combat Ship Variants Ahead of Frigate Design - USNI News

Navy, Contractors Trimming Weight on Both Littoral Combat Ship Variants Ahead of Frigate Design - USNI News: The Navy is working with shipbuilders Austal USA and Lockheed Martin to take weight out of its current Littoral Combat Ships and future frigate design to allow for the addition of more armor and weapons, the Navy has told USNI News.

Frigate program manager Capt. Dan Brintzinghoffer said in April that to create the “frigate,” the Navy would start with the LCS design and add Mk 38 25mm machine guns, the Multi-Function Towed Array detection system, a torpedo decoy, the Raytheon SeaRAM anti-ship missile defense system and additional armor – meaning that weight and other margins would have to come off the ship somewhere else.

The Navy will tackle the LCS-to-frigate transition in several ways, Program Executive Officer for LCS Rear Adm. Brian Antonio has told USNI News. The ships contracted after Fiscal Year 2019 will be designed and built as multi-mission frigates instead of LCSs with plug-and-play mission modules. The LCSs already delivered will undergo modifications during future maintenance availabilities to have frigate-like features added in. And the LCSs that will be built between now and FY 2019 will be delivered with as many frigate features as makes sense, based on cost and schedule.

Marine F-35B conducts first operational testing at sea

Marine F-35B conducts first operational testing at sea: The Marine Corps' latest fighter jet has completed more than 80 successful sorties as part of its first operational testing at sea.

Early Tuesday morning, F-35B joint strike fighters — the service's short-takeoff, vertical-landing variant of the aircraft — screeched across the deck of the amphibious assault ship Wasp in quick succession, racking up the tally further.

Pilots in six aircraft are now conducting day and night operations off the mid-Atlantic seaboard as the first part of the final phase of real-world testing before the aircraft reaches its long-anticipated initial operational capability milestone this July. Aircraft participating in this round of testing are drawn from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 out of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona; Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 out of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina; and Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 22 out of Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina.

The multi-role aircraft, which sports electronic warfare, ISR and kinetic attack capabilities, is the linchpin of the Marine Corps' future amphibious strike capability. It will be a vital tool for the service that serves as the nation's go-to crisis response force, said Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, the assistant commandant for Marine aviation, while observing the testing that began May 18 and will continue through May 29.

Mabus: 1 in 4 Marine recruits should be women

Mabus: 1 in 4 Marine recruits should be women: Navy Secretary Ray Mabus wants more female Marines in the Corps, a goal the service's recruiting command say they were working toward before the call to action.

Mabus announced a plan to boost the sea service's enlisted female recruitment efforts to at least 25 percent of all accessions during a mid-May speech at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. The move, he said, will help attract, recruit and retain women in communities in which they are underrepresented.

"[We] need more women in the Navy and Marine Corps; not simply to have more women, but because a more diverse force is a stronger force," Mabus told an auditorium of midshipmen.

Boosting female accessions to 25 percent would dramatically change the look of the Corps. Female Marines currently make up only about 7 percent of the Corps.

It's a challenge Marine Corps Recruiting Command has attempted to address in a variety of ways in recent years, said Master Sgt. Bryce Piper, a MCRC spokesman. One example is working with groups like the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. Another is sending two million direct mail packages to female high school seniors, Piper said.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Litany of problems keep Iraqi army weak

Litany of problems keep Iraqi army weak: Iraq's leadership was indignant after US accusations that its forces lack the will to fight but assessments of the army's ability suggest the rank-and-file have reasons to shy from battle.

Pentagon chief Ashton Carter said Sunday, a week after the loss of Ramadi to the Islamic State group, that there was "an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight".

The fall of the capital of Iraq's largest province to the jihadists saw a chaotic retreat of security forces and dealt Baghdad its worst blow in almost a year.

Carter's words were criticised in Iraq as insulting and divisive and US Vice President Joe Biden later had to call Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to acknowledge "the enormous sacrifice and bravery of Iraqi forces over the past 18 months".

The problem is not whether Iraqi security forces are valiant enough but just about everything else, analysts said.

"The Iraqi forces that left Ramadi this weekend did so under great pressure and only as a last resort," said the Soufan Group intelligence consultancy in a recent brief.

"It is not bravery the forces lacked but weapons and leadership and rapid logistics," it said.

SWEEPER demonstrates wide-angle optical phased array technology

SWEEPER demonstrates wide-angle optical phased array technology: Many essential military capabilities-including autonomous navigation, chemical-biological sensing, precision targeting and communications-increasingly rely upon laser-scanning technologies such as LIDAR (think radar that uses light instead of radio waves).

These technologies provide amazing high-resolution information at long ranges but have a common Achilles heel: They require mechanical assemblies to sweep the laser back and forth. These large, slow opto-mechanical systems are both temperature- and impact-sensitive and often cost tens of thousands of dollars each-all factors that limit widespread adoption of current technologies for military and commercial use.

In an advance that could upend this status quo, DARPA's Short-range Wide-field-of-view Extremely agile Electronically steered Photonic EmitteR (SWEEPER) program has successfully integrated breakthrough non-mechanical optical scanning technology onto a microchip.

Freed from the traditional architecture of gimbaled mounts, lenses and servos, SWEEPER technology has demonstrated that it can sweep a laser back and forth more than 100,000 times per second, 10,000 times faster than current state-of-the-art mechanical systems.

Japan to join major US-Australia military drill

Japan to join major US-Australia military drill: Japanese troops will take part in a major US-Australian military exercise for the first time in July, as Washington looks to bolster links among its allies in the face of an increasingly assertive China.

Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) -- its army -- will send 40 personnel to participate in Talisman Sabre, a two-yearly drill that begins on July 7, which will involve around 27,000 servicemen, a spokesman told AFP.

"We will participate in joint exercises with the US Marines, rather than operating directly with the Australian military," he said.

"But our participation is seen as part of efforts" to strengthen defence ties between Japan and Australia, he added.

The drill, which takes place in Australia, is intended "to improve tactical expertise in amphibian operations and to strengthen Japan-US interoperability," an army statement said.

News of Japan's participation came as tensions remain high in the region, with increasing criticism of China's behaviour in the South China Sea, where it has accelerated building artificial islands in disputed waters.

U.S. Caution in Strikes Gives ISIS an Edge, Many Iraqis Say -

U.S. Caution in Strikes Gives ISIS an Edge, Many Iraqis Say - American intelligence analysts have identified seven buildings in downtown Raqqa in eastern Syria as the main headquarters of the Islamic State. But the buildings have gone untouched during the 10-month allied air campaign.

And just last week, convoys of heavily armed Islamic State fighters paraded triumphantly through the streets of the provincial capital Ramadi in western Iraq after forcing Iraqi troops to flee. They rolled on unscathed by coalition fighter-bombers.

American and allied warplanes are equipped with the most precise aerial arsenal ever fielded. But American officials say they are not striking significant, and obvious, Islamic State targets out of fear that the attacks will accidentally kill civilians. Killing such innocents could hand the militants a major propaganda coup and alienate the local Sunni tribesmen, whose support is critical to ousting the militants, and Sunni Arab countries that are part of the fragile American-led coalition.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Gen. Dempsey’s first fight in Iraq shapes his approach to Islamic State - The Washington Post

Gen. Dempsey’s first fight in Iraq shapes his approach to Islamic State - The Washington Post: In the summer of 2014, President Obama and his senior aides were scrambling to respond to the lightning advance of Islamic State fighters across Iraq and the collapse of local forces in the face of the onslaught.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, Obama’s top military adviser, recommended sending U.S. Special Forces troops to take stock of the situation. But Dempsey, unlike other aides who favored an immediate offensive response, also made a case for restraint, arguing that American air power should be unleashed in earnest only after the Iraqis struck a political agreement that would unify the country’s fractious leaders.

As the general liked to tell his aides: “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”

Sikorsky S-97 Raider Achieves First Flight

Sikorsky S-97 Raider Achieves First Flight: The Sikorsky S-97 Raider hit an important milestone Friday with the successful first flight of its experimental rotorcraft.

The S-97, with two pilots, took off at the company's West Palm Beach, Fla., facility about 7 a.m. and performed all of its proscribed movements over roughly an hour. The flight test took on the basics — among them three take-offs and landings, and movements in all cardinal directions at 10 knots — before more advanced tests over the year.

"This was, we feel, a really spectacular day for Sikorsky and aviation in general," said Mark Miller, Sikorsky's vice president for research and engineering. "It's not every day you have a first flight, and when you add on top of that a very differentiated, new and compelling product like the S-97 Raider, it makes it even more special.

"We're very excited, it was everything we wanted it to be and more, and it's the start of a new generation of helicopters and capabilities that we're really excited about," Miller said.

With the platform, Sikorsky officials said the company was firmly planting its flag for the Army's future vertical lift - light concept and armed aerial scout requirement. The S-97 was envisioned at one point as a contender replacement for the US Army's OH-58 Kiowa Scout, but the Army changed plans and scuttled the armed aerial scout for budgetary reasons, using the AH-64 Apache on an interim basis.

McCain Language Would Shift Acquisition Authorities

McCain Language Would Shift Acquisition Authorities: A new push by US Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain to increase the armed services' authorities to manage major weapon programs could weaken the power of the Pentagon's top acquisition office.

The move comes as Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics (AT&L), is in the midst of a series of Better Buying Power initiatives to reshape the Pentagon's sprawling acquisition system.

The upper chamber's version of the 2016 defense policy bill, the first under the Arizona Republican's control, contains language that would shift to the service chiefs, secretaries and acquisition executives program management authorities now held by the AT&L.

The biggest changes McCain is proposing — with the SASC's overwhelming backing — would make the service acquisition executives the milestone decision authority for non-joint weapon programs transferred to or started under service control.

Special Operators Face Terrorist Evolution

Special Operators Face Terrorist Evolution: For years, Afghanistan dominated the talk at the US Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) here, but this year there was nary a mention of the Taliban, now eclipsed by the Islamic State group and threats that are many, varied and globally networked.

The chief of US Special Operations Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, speaking at a National Defense Industrial Association conference, said his forces are "operating in possibly the most complex strategic environment in recent history." Defense budgets are being squeezed even as demand for special ops forces grows.

Recent months have seen an "incredible eruption" in foreign fighters flowing into the Middle East from all over the world in support of the Islamic State group and its affiliates, increasing connections between transnational criminal organizations and violent extremist groups, and ISIS-inspired flare-ups in Africa and Asia. A resurgent Russia is using special operations forces and information operations, Votel said.

He lamented the budget cuts hitting the services and rippling into the special ops forces they support.

"Even small changes to their budgets will have an impact on [special operations forces'] ability to meet mission requirements around the globe," Votel said of the services.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Hill, CSIS Seek New Defenses For ‘A New Missile Age’ « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

Hill, CSIS Seek New Defenses For ‘A New Missile Age’ « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary: With new missile threats proliferating worldwide, both the House and Senate versions of the annual defense policy bill push new approaches to missile defense such as laser weapons and “boost phase” defenses that shoot down missiles just after launch.

That’s also why one of Washington’s foremost thinktanks has launched a new program on the problem. “I think a missile defense project is so exciting and so salient right now because, in a sense, we’re entering into a new missile age,” said Tom Karako, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The ‘missile defense’ label captures something that people are used to, but it does reach out beyond the traditional definition.”

That traditional image was formed 24 years ago during the first Gulf War: The bad guy’s Scuds go up, our Patriots shoot them down. (The Patriot’s actual effectiveness in 1991 remains controversial). But Scuds are crude ballistic missiles, not far removed from the Nazi V-2. They fly in a predictable arc and land with little accuracy. Since then, ever more adversaries have acquired precision guidance — which makes any kind of missile much more dangerous — and/or cruise missiles — which are much slower, lower, and harder to detect.

X-37B Mysteries Continue

X-37B Mysteries Continue: The launch of the fourth X-37B mission has not resolved some of the biggest mysteries that surround this flight, and the X-37B program in general. X-37B is a robot mini-shuttle launched by the US Air Force on semi-secret missions that last for months or well over a year.

It was a surprise to be openly informed of two payloads on this latest launch. The X-37B is testing an electric Hall Effect thruster in its small payload bay, which will be used on future US Air Force satellites. It is also carrying small material samples for NASA, which are being tested for their exposure to outer space. The Air Force has never discussed the payloads carried on previous missions, and we are still no closer to finding out.

Curiously, we do not know which X-37B is being used on this flight. We were openly told about the particular model in the past. So why not now? For the record, two X-37B spaceplanes have flown before. One made the first and third flights.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Ultralight Vehicles Star at Specops Show

Ultralight Vehicles Star at Specops Show: Several offerings in the developing market for ultralight vehicles showed up at the US special operations community's annual industry conference, including three hopefuls for an expected Army tender.

The Boeing Phantom Badger, GD Flyer 72 and Polaris Dagor appeared at the convention in Tampa as respondents to the US Army's presolicitation for the ultralight combat vehicle (ULCV), which closed earlier this month. Though not at the show, Hendrick Dynamics' Commando Jeep and Vyper Adamas' Vyper have also reportedly responded

Congress has taken an interest in the effort, and language proposed for the 2016 defense authorization bill would require the secretary of the Army to brief the House Armed Services Committee on the ULCV.

Americans Start to Leave Air Base in Azores, and Locals Fear Economic Impact -

Americans Start to Leave Air Base in Azores, and Locals Fear Economic Impact - Above the mirror in his barbershop, João Rocha has an old picture of American airmen filling all the seats and getting, of course, crew cuts.

Far fewer Americans are showing up these days, he said, and soon probably none. “It’s really bad for everybody here that the Americans are leaving,” Mr. Rocha said.

By the end of the year, the Air Force plans a major downsizing of its base here on Terceira Island in the Atlantic’s Azores archipelago, as part of broader cuts in American military spending and as mid-Atlantic stopovers drop down the list of Washington’s military priorities.

The number of personnel at the base is expected to drop to 165 from 650, while the number of Portuguese workers will be cut in half, to 400. The local municipality expects the loss of 1,500 indirect jobs and a cut of 6 percent in the island’s gross domestic product. Air Force officials here said the goal was to offer employees an early retirement package and to avoid firing staff members.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

SOCOM Engineers Examining Capability Tradeoffs of ‘Iron Man Suit’ - Blog

SOCOM Engineers Examining Capability Tradeoffs of ‘Iron Man Suit’ - Blog: Engineers at U.S. Special Operations command are in the process of sorting through the tradeoffs between size, weight and power as they seek to develop a revolutionary tactical assault light operator suit, according to program officials.

TALOS, also known as the ‘Iron Man suit’, is intended to protect special operators during raids and other missions. The armored exoskeleton needs to be thick enough to stop bullets but not limit the special operator’s mobility. The suit must also be supplied with enough energy to power the command, control, communications, computers and intelligence systems for extended missions, SOCOM officials have said.

Each of these requirements presents daunting technical and engineering challenges. When combined, the difficulties become even more acute. Improvements in one area can create problems in another. For example, increasing the armor or the size of the power supply system increases the weight of TALOS, placing strain on the exoskeleton and the operator, program officials said at a National Defense Industrial Association conference May 21.

Tradeoffs could be necessary. To get a better idea of how much a change in one aspect of the system will impact another, SOCOM is conducting a size, weight and power analysis for TALOS, the officials said.

Space Command Moving Quickly to Uphold US Space Supremacy

Space Command Moving Quickly to Uphold US Space Supremacy: In organizations around the world, "studying" a problem is often just a way of postponing a difficult decision. One of my key takeaways from last month's Space Symposium in Colorado Springs is that the U.S. Air Force Space Command wants to focus less on conducting studies of "what" will best serve the DoD's global communications requirements, and more on executing "how" the command can best meet those needs.

This change in direction is being fueled by factors beyond tighter budgets. General John Hyten, the new Commander of Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), has taken charge at a time when American supremacy in space in being challenged as never before.

Space technology is proliferating, with many nations now having the capability to launch and operate satellites. The same missile technology that can launch a satellite into space can also be used to destroy the spacecraft of adversaries. Ground stations that communicate with satellites can also be used to jam spacecraft operated by other nations.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

USMC Eyes Options for Light Vehicle

USMC Eyes Options for Light Vehicle: As the US Marine Corps returns to its expeditionary roots, it is planning a safety and reliability upgrade — and a possible replacement — for its internally transportable vehicle (ITV), designed to fit in an MV-22 Osprey.

The efforts dovetail with higher demand in operations and the service's Expeditionary Force 21 concept, which emphasizes lighter forces, such as its quick-reaction Marine expeditionary units (MEUs), a Corps official said. When the last dozen or so MEUs have deployed, each has brought as many as 20 ITVs with them.

"Dispersed company operations are our way forward, and with this platform we are finding, with the infantry community, a desire to reduce the load they're carrying on their backs," said Mark Godfrey, transportation branch chief at the Marine Corps' logistics division and capabilities integration directorate.

The efforts also run parallel with US Special Operations Command's effort to develop an Osprey-transportable vehicle.

This fall, the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory is conducting a limited objective experiment and a limited technical assessment to define the need and find vehicles that could fill it. Though originally designed for light-strike missions, such a vehicle is also considered a contender for logistics and casualty evacuation missions.

Air Force mystery space plane poised for Wed. launch - Yahoo News

Air Force mystery space plane poised for Wed. launch - Yahoo News: A mini military space plane is poised for liftoff Wednesday on another long orbital test flight. But as usual, the Air Force isn't saying much about the unmanned mission.

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This will be the fourth flight of an X-37B space plane, a secretive, experimental program run by the Air Force. The three previous missions also began with rocket launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The mystery test vehicle — essentially a technology test bed — is designed to orbit the Earth and then land like one of NASA's old shuttles. It is operated robotically, without anyone on board, and is reusable. It is 29 feet long — about one-fourth the size of a NASA shuttle.

US air force considering new 2,000lb rocket-propelled penetrating weapon - 5/20/2015 - Flight Global

US air force considering new 2,000lb rocket-propelled penetrating weapon - 5/20/2015 - Flight Global: The US Air Force’s chief scientist says the high velocity penetrating weapon (HVPW) its research laboratory has designed for internal carriage on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is ready to transfer to a development and production programme.

The air force research laboratory has been testing a 2,000lb-class, rocket-propelled bomb for attacking fortified targets like underground bunkers and tunnel networks, but unlike traditional gravity bombs, this new kinetic weapon is rammed into the ground like a pile driver instead of being accelerated naturally by gravity.

Very little has been said about the programme since its inception in 2011, but according to the air force’s Dr David Walker, HVPW has been “very successful” and is now part of a study into future “hard-target munitions” requirements, which includes an examination of Boeing’s 30,000lb Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) as well as other traditional bunker-busting ordnance.

Walker says the laboratory has proven that the concept works, but the questions now is what to do with it, and how much is the air force is willing to spend to field such a capability.

R&D Budget Request Rises for US Special Operations

R&D Budget Request Rises for US Special Operations: The leadership of US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) said the force and its acquisitions — facing a multitude of hotspots and threats from around the globe — must be more flexible than ever, fueling an increase in research an development funding.

SOCOM's total R&D budget rose from a low of $368 million in 2014 to $538 million in the 2016 budget request — a development USSOCOM acquisition executive Bill "Hondo" Geurts called "a huge win for us" as the command looks past Mideast-specific technologies for gear for global operations.

While the operational tempo for conventional forces has slowed, SOCOM commander Gen. Joseph Votel said his forces are "operating in possibly the most complex strategic environment in recent history."

Pentagon to Prioritize Boeing Missile Defense Program | DoD Buzz

Pentagon to Prioritize Boeing Missile Defense Program | DoD Buzz: The Pentagon plans to prioritize funding for the ground-based missile defense system being developed by Boeing Co., the second highest-ranking U.S. military officer said.

The governments of North Korea and Iran are trying to build intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the U.S., according to Navy Adm. James Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And while neither country has yet achieved mature ICBM designs, the military must take the threats seriously, he said.

“The number of nations trying to achieve that capability is growing, not shrinking,” he said during a speech on Tuesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. “A robust and capable national missile defense is our best bet to defend the United States from such an attack.”

US SOCOM Evaluates Vehicle for Osprey

US SOCOM Evaluates Vehicle for Osprey: US Special Operations Command is evaluating what it needs for a vehicle to be transported inside a CV-22 Osprey — the Pentagon's latest foray into the growing light-vehicles market.

Air Force special tactics squadrons would use a speedy off-road vehicle for combat search-and-rescue operations, deep reconnaissance missions and combat controller team insertions on rugged, hostile territory, program officials say. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) has, since trading its MH-53 Pave Low for the tilt-rotor Osprey in 2008, sought a narrow vehicle to fit inside it.

Special Operations Command (SOCOM) plans to wrap up a yearlong proof-of-concept evaluation of the General Dynamics Flyer 60 in July and finalize its requirements. The goal is to post a request for proposals in late 2016 and a competitive award for 68 vehicles in 2017. Program officials said the Flyer 60 was evaluated as a representative of the class of light, commercially available vehicles.

"The evaluation wasn't to determine whether the Flyer 60 is the vehicle, but rather does a vehicle like this satisfy an ITV [internally transportable vehicle] capability gap," said Marine Corps Col. James Utsler, program manager for the family of special operations vehicles. "During this whole evaluation, AFSOC had been revising its capability production document."

NATO's missile defense capability set for modernization

NATO's missile defense capability set for modernization: NATO's missile command-and-control system is to be modernized by ThalesRaytheonSystems under a contract worth more than $105 million.

The upgrades will strengthen and expand the functions of the alliance's current missile defense command-and-control system and allow the alliance to link national sensors and interceptors with NATO's Air Command at Ramstein Air Base Germany.

USMC F-35Bs undergoing shipboard operational tests

USMC F-35Bs undergoing shipboard operational tests: The first shipboard operational tests of U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II fighters are being conducted from the carrier USS Wasp.

The Marine Corps said six of its F-35B aircraft landed on the carrier on Monday and that the OT-1 phase will occur over the next two weeks while the vessel cruises off the U.S. East Coast.

The testing is to assess the integration of the F-35B while operating across a wide array of flight and deck operations. Specific objectives of the testing includes assessing day and night flight operations; digital interoperability of aircraft and ship systems; the effectiveness of the landing signal officer's launch and recovery software; day and night weapons loading; and all aspects of maintenance, logistics, and sustainment support of the F-35B at sea.

The Marine Corps said data collected and lessons learned the OT-1 phase will lay the groundwork for F-35B deployments aboard U.S. Navy amphibious carriers.

The F-35B is expected to receive an initial operating capability declaration in July.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

U.S. Navy grants IOC status to missile variant

U.S. Navy grants IOC status to missile variant: The new variant of a U.S.-German developed missile for defeating anti-ship cruise missiles has gained Initial Operational Capability with the U.S. Navy.

The Block II Rolling Airframe Missile features improved kinematic performance in maneuverability and range, as well as a more sophisticated radio frequency receiver. It received IOC status after its latest U.S. Navy tests in the Pacific aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington.

"We're very excited about the significantly increased capability Block 2 gives our warfighters," said Capt. Craig Bowden, RAM program manager. "It could not have been done without the outstanding cooperation between the U.S. and German governments. This program has become the hallmark of trans-Atlantic cooperation."

RAM is a small, lightweight, infrared homing surface-to-air missile, which came about from a 1970sm U.S. German Cooperative agreement. The missile is manufactured by Raytheon and Diehl BGT Defense.

The U.S. Navy IOC declaration for the Block II RAM comes after two years of joint development and operational testing by the U.S. Navy and the German government.

Engineers develop ballistic wallpaper to reinforce temporary shelters | Article | The United States Army

Engineers develop ballistic wallpaper to reinforce temporary shelters | Article | The United States Army

Troops often use abandoned masonry, brick or cinderblock structures for defensive purposes instead of building their own or digging foxholes.

While these structures offer a degree of protection, they are blast impact from missile or other large projectiles, said Nick Boone, a research mechanical engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Engineer Research and Development Center, or ERDC, in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Boone spoke during DOD Lab Day, at the Pentagon, May 14, where a large number of Army laboratory exhibits were on display.

Engineers at ERDC came up with a novel idea of fortifying these structures with rolls of lightweight ballistic wallpaper with adhesive backing that can quickly be put up on the inside of the walls, he said.

The wallpaper consists of Kevlar fiber threads embedded in flexible polymer film, he said.

Without the wallpaper, a wall that is hit will "rubblize," he said, sending shards of rock and mortar flying at the occupants inside.

When the blast occurs with the wallpaper installed, it acts as a "catcher's net," containing the rubble and preventing debris from injuring Soldiers.

Engineers built unreinforced structures and actually bombed and blasted them, Boone said, showing a video of the experiments. Small blast testing was done at nearby Fort Polk, Louisiana, and large-blast testing was conducted at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

Ballistic wallpaper is still in the research and development stage and does not yet have an official name, but it could one day be produced and fielded and hopefully save lives, Boone said.


Improved protection mortar pits and guard towers, designed by engineers at ERDC and royal engineers from the United Kingdom, have recently been shipped to Afghanistan, Boone said.

ERDC engineers developed the Modular Protective System, or MPS. These are inexpensive, lightweight, easily-assembled and disassembled panels attached by cross-braces, which offer "a lot of protection," he said. The panels were developed by ERDC and the cross-braces were developed with collaboration from the royal engineers.

"We got the idea from picnic chairs that fold up neatly," he said.

The structures are pretty basic, he said. The braces are made of lightweight galvanized steel tubing and the panels are made of multi-layered fiberglass.

Boone showed models of the fortification as well as full-sized versions. They resembled scaffolding. The steel tubing is crossed-braced at angles that afford the greatest strength, he said. It is strong enough to protect against military-grade rounds.

Besides being inexpensive, strong and lightweight, the MPS can be quickly assembled with by just a few Soldiers without any specialized tools or equipment, he said.

Another positive is that the entire MPS structure fits inside a small container that can be sling-loaded under a CH-47 Chinook helicopter for rapid delivery, he said. The beauty of it is that the shipping container itself then becomes the ammunition storage for the mortar pit structure. For the guard tower, the shipping container becomes a platform to support it.

Once the mission ends, everything gets packed back into the shipping container. Nothing gets wasted or left behind, he said.

The mortar pit MPS kits are being used by Soldiers, of the 82nd Airborne Division, in Afghanistan, he said. The guard towers are being used by the royal engineers there as well. A small, expeditionary guard tower for the U.S. Army has not yet been deployed.

MPS is standing by for licensing and for a possible transition to a program of record, he said.


While protection from blast is fairly evident, protection from the unseen can be just as deadly.

Dr. Brandon Lafferty, a research soil scientist with ERDC, said that while operating in enemy territory, Soldiers sometimes come across existing infrastructure that poses threats that cannot be seen.

"Sometimes, those buildings were abandoned for a reason," Lafferty said. "They may have been a chemical processing site, a waste dump, we just don't know. There are currently no portable tools to rapidly determine possible hazards."

Soldiers on the move often do not have time to wait for heavy test equipment to be trucked in and tested by specialists, he continued.

ERDC engineers developed the "Environmental Toolkit for Expeditionary Operations" to address this problem, he said.

An engineer, who is not a specialist, can toss all the instruments he needs in his rucksack and determine if contaminants are present and what their levels of concentration are, he said, so that a commander can make an informed decision whether or not to occupy the structures or area.

The three pieces of gear used for testing include the Hand-held Fluorescent Spectrometer, which measures heavy metals in soil and water; the Petroleum Environmental Test Kit, which identifies and measures petroleum content in soil and water; and the Water Dog, which tests water properties for hardness, acidity, conductivity and turbidity to determine if the water is contaminated, good for drinking or maybe just clean enough for washing clothing.

When Soldiers decamp, the area is tested once more because of environmental reporting that requires an area to be left uncontaminated, he said.

Soldiers are being trained to use the test equipment at the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence on Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Test equipment is now being field tested in Kuwait and Iraq, he said.


When Soldiers need to set up an outpost or bivouac in an unfamiliar area, there might be hazards nearby like landslides or flooding that they're not aware of.

To determine if the location is safe, Soldiers can contact the experts at ERDC who have all of that information readily available, said Vernon Lowery, general engineer, ERDC.

To make contact in remote areas possible, ERDC has supplied the entire Army with Telecommunications Equipment Deployable, or TCED. This video teleconferencing capability comes in a small suitcase that is easily carried by one person, he said. The communications equipment links to Vicksburg via satellite.

Soldiers in remote areas might also want to communicate with people other than at ERDC for various reasons. Lowery said ERDC can relay them to Video Teleconferences, or VTCs, elsewhere around the world.

For example, when Soldiers deployed to Haiti to assist with earthquake humanitarian assistance relief in 2010, they used TCED to establish command and control. Lowery said Soldiers told him it was their "lifeline," and without it, they could not have accomplished their mission.


Laser guns may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but engineers at the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command - Technical Center at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, have successfully developed and tested just such a system, known as High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator, or HEL MD.

Dee Formby, an engineer involved in its development, said that a 10-kilowatt laser, mounted on a Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck A4 platform, successfully took out 60mm mortars and unmanned aerial vehicles at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, last year.

Once the laser locks on, it essentially fries its target, Formby said. It is a cost-effective way to destroy cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, mortars, rockets and artillery.

In good weather, the laser achieves a high success rate, he said. Right now, the system does not perform as well in degraded weather and atmospheric conditions. Distance-to-target remains classified.

In 2017, a 50-kW version will be tested, followed by a 100-kW demonstration in 2020. Higher power means quicker kill-time of the projectile, he said, because more power is on the target.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Tiny device could save lives on battlefield | Article | The United States Army

Tiny device could save lives on battlefield | Article | The United States Army

Getting rapid treatment for wounds or injuries suffered on the battlefield can mean the difference between life and death.

Army medical researchers recently developed "a device that will revolutionize triage," said Lt. Col. Robert Carter. In other words, it could lower casualties in the first few minutes dramatically.

Carter, task area manager for Tactical Combat Casualty Care Research at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, spoke during Lab Day at the Pentagon, May 14.

He demonstrated the Compensatory Reserve Index, or CRI, device. It's about the size of a small matchbox with a computer display. A wire connects it to a plastic clip that's placed on an injured Soldier's finger.

Once it's attached to the Soldier's finger, it displays his vital signs: body temperature, heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure.

"One of the challenges now with triage is that with multiple casualties on the battlefield, the medic may have a difficult time determining which patients need to be treated first," Carter said.

He explained that while someone who is bleeding profusely might obviously need to receive care first, someone else may be suffering from internal injuries caused by a blast that resulted in injuries even more severe. But the extent of those injuries would likely go unnoticed until the vital signs were taken.

With the CRI, the medic can quickly snap the device on to everyone who is down and the vital signs are almost immediately displayed, Carter said.

In addition to the CRI, the medic has a smart tablet that displays multiple vital signs of multiple casualties, all on one screen, he said. So once the medic snaps the CRI on a finger, he doesn't need to monitor each one. He can see the data from all patients on one screen and that makes it easier to keep track of things and do the prioritization.

Each CRI transmits its data signal wirelessly to the smart tablet. For purposes of the Lab Day display, a Bluetooth was used for the transmission, but Carter said in real-world operations, a more secure method of transmission would be needed. That determination has not yet been made.

The most important aspect of CRI is the "machine-learning algorithm" embedded in its chip that drives its intelligence, Carter said.

That algorithm extracts the patient's vital signs using "a material waveform-based photoplethysmography," which is the medical way of saying that it uses a non-invasive, optical method of detecting blood volume changes in the microvascular tissue, he said.

So, for example, each time the heart contracts, blood enters the finger at a maximum rate and as the heart muscle relaxes, the amount of blood decreases. The algorithm analyzes the wave form it produces over time, meaning a matter of seconds, he said.

If a patient is losing blood, the waveform changes and the algorithm analyzes the rate and type of change taking place. It predicts how long the patient has before he "decompensates" due to loss of blood and reaches a dangerous threshold where death is at risk.

If the CRI indicates very poor vital signs, the medic would then know to provide blood or resuscitative fluids to the patient immediately, Carter said, before it's too late to resuscitate him.

Another appealing factor of the CRI is that it's inexpensive and rugged, Carter said. During the interview, he inadvertently dropped the CRI and it continued to work.

Currently, CRI is being tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for certification. Then the Army will determine whether or not to field it, Carter said. Meanwhile, multiple civilian trauma care centers and clinics around the country are testing and using the device, as the Army has decided to share its technology.

"Right now, the Israeli Defense Force is using it and saving lives," he added, predicting that in the future, CRI "will save a lot of time and a lot of lives" when it gets in the hands of U.S. Army medics.


Lab Day featured many other Army medical displays showcasing combat casualty care advances, including hemorrhage control and blood products, the Army's Ebola response and research efforts, as well as regenerative medicine, including burn care, wound healing and skin substitutes.

Sgt. Aniysa Barnes, lab technician, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease, at Fort Detrick, Maryland, and her co-worker, Spc. Elizabeth Meza Hernandez displayed a disposable Tyvek suit used to protect Army medical personnel from infectious diseases like Ebola.

Barnes explained that the suit is very comfortable to wear, especially in the tropics. Both Soldiers work at the lab where they take real samples of blood flown in from the field. She said they break down the DNA into RNA and then measure the amount and type of disease present.

While some of their co-workers have traveled to Africa to work at Ebola treatment units, Barnes said she and Meza Hernandez remained at Fort Detrick. She said they wear non-disposable rubber suits that are not quite as comfortable.

"It's exciting to know you're part of the big picture and making a difference," Barnes said.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Senior ISIS leader killed in U.S. raid in Syria - The Washington Post

Senior ISIS leader killed in U.S. raid in Syria - The Washington Post: U.S. Special Operations killed a senior Islamic State leader in a ground raid inside Syria on Friday night, the White House said in a statement Saturday.

The statement said that Abu Sayyaf, described as having a senior role in overseeing gas and oil operations that have been a key source of revenue for the militant group, had been killed when he “engaged U.S. forces” and resisted capture.

His wife, who was said to be an Islamic State member, was captured during the operation, and a young woman who appeared to be held as a slave of the couple was freed. The young woman was a member of the Yazidi sect in Iraq, the White House statement said.

“We intend to reunite her with her family as soon as feasible,” said National Security Council spokesman Bernadette Meehan.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said in a separate statement that no U.S. forces were killed or injured during the operation.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mabus: UCLASS Likely A Bridge to Autonomous Strike Aircraft, F/A-XX ‘Should be Unmanned’ - USNI News

Mabus: UCLASS Likely A Bridge to Autonomous Strike Aircraft, F/A-XX ‘Should be Unmanned’ - USNI News: The Navy’s planned carrier-based unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) will help the service in a transition from manned strike aircraft to a future autonomous strike platform, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said on Wednesday.

While the final character of the Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) is still being developed, Mabus said whatever the outcome it would likely not possess the autonomous deep strike capability into contested areas the service ultimately will require.

“What we currently think it won’t be able to do is in the current [request for proposal] we’re looking at, is to do autonomous contested strike,” Mabus told reporters following an address at the U.S Naval Academy (USNA).
“What we’re looking at UCLASS is to be the bridge between manned systems and completely autonomous unmanned strike — which will be sometime in the 2020s — to develop that program using UCLASS to get us there.”

The final Navy requirements for UCLASS’ air segment are contingent upon the findings of a Department of Defense UAV strategic program review (SPR, pronounced spear), which will be finalized later this year.

New bomber on track despite possible $460M cut, USAF says - 5/14/2015 - Flight Global

New bomber on track despite possible $460M cut, USAF says - 5/14/2015 - Flight Global: The two-star general in charge of the US Air Force’s nuclear mission says the Long-Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) programme is “going exceedingly well” and meeting its major milestones despite a four-month delay to downselecting a prime contractor.

Maj Gen Garrett Harencak says he agrees with the $460 million funding reduction recently proposed by the house armed services committee for fiscal 2016, since the air force won’t be able to spend big on the programme until the contract is awarded anyway. Northrop Grumman and a Boeing-Lockheed Martin team are vying for the contract.

“We can keep this system on track and take those reductions,” he said at a 13 May Air Force Association event in Washington, noting that there would likely be years when money needs to be shifted from another account to support the bomber.

According to language in the committee’s defense policy bill, the four-month contract delay left the air force with $360 million in surplus funding appropriated for fiscal 2015 that can cover some of next year’s expenditures. The additional $100 million can be cut due to a “slower spend rate” in fiscal 2016. In total, the committee would fund the LRS-B at $786.2 million. The programme requires $14 billion in funding over the next five years.

White House Says F-35s Not For Sale to Gulf Arab States | DoD Buzz

White House Says F-35s Not For Sale to Gulf Arab States | DoD Buzz: President Obama’s Camp David summit with the Gulf Arab states on Thursday will seek to boost arms sales to the Gulf neighbors but the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been taken off their wish list.

White House officials on Monday sought to tamp down speculation that King Salman of Saudi Arabia canceled his attendance at Camp David when the U.S. made clear that his country would not be permitted to buy F-35s.

“We do not and never anticipated this to be a summit that only focused on one capability, like the F-35, for instance,” said Ben Rhodes, the deputy National Security Advisor to Obama.

Evidence Mounts That Russia Supplied Buk Missiles To Ukraine Separatists

Evidence Mounts That Russia Supplied Buk Missiles To Ukraine Separatists: M
ore and more evidence is emerging that seems to document a large Russian military convoy that traveled to eastern Ukraine in June 2014 and brought Buk antiaircraft systems to Russia-backed separatists fighting against Kyiv.

On May 13, a group of pro-Ukrainian citizen activists published a report purportedly identifying a Russian soldier who was a driver in that convoy and showing photographs of Buk systems apparently being escorted across Russia to Ukraine.

A few weeks later -- on July 17, 2014 -- Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine's Donetsk region. All 298 people on board were killed.

Although the investigation into the MH17 downing is ongoing, many believe the aircraft was shot down by the separatists using a Russian-provided Buk system.

The separatists and Russia have blamed Kyiv for the downing of MH17, and Moscow denies providing Buks -- or any other weapons -- to the separatists.

Israel, Germany Mark 50 Years of Ties

Israel, Germany Mark 50 Years of Ties: Invoking their tragically unique history as a springboard for ever-strengthening strategic ties, leaders from Germany and Israel, in parallel meetings in Tel Aviv and Berlin on Tuesday, marked 50 years since the establishment of formal relations on May 12, 1965.

From the ashes of the Holocaust, Germany has evolved into Israel's largest European trade partner and strategic benefactor, second only to the United States.

"In the 50 years since formalization of our diplomatic relations, Germany has proven in word and in deed its commitment to Israel's security," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

Speaking with Netanyahu after a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial museum, von der Leyen praised Israeli willingness to forge relations, despite the "horrors" of the past.

"After my visit to Yad Vashem it's even clearer to us that it is not to be taken for granted that 50 years ago, when we outstretched our hand to Israel, that Israel didn't turn her back on us and we appreciate that."

US Army Plans Show-of-Force Exercise in Romania

US Army Plans Show-of-Force Exercise in Romania: More than 350 American soldiers and 80 US Army vehicles — most of them Strykers — will begin a 400 kilometer "cavalry march" across Romania, with cover from US Air Force, this week, to kick off multinational exercises in Romania, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

The Canadian, UK, US and Romanian exercises will also involve A-10 Thunderbolt II's from the 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, which will demonstrate close-air-support by conducting multiple close passes above the convoy. The squadron belongs to the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.

"This cav march represents the joint-Romanian effort to honor the past and build the future and demonstrate NATO interoperability," said Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren.

Obama picks new chiefs for US Army, Navy

Obama picks new chiefs for US Army, Navy: President Barack Obama has chosen a submarine officer to serve as the next head of the US Navy and an infantry officer who commanded troops in Afghanistan for army chief, officials said Wednesday.

Admiral John Richardson, currently the head of naval reactors, has been nominated to lead the navy, and General Mark Milley, who also served in Iraq, was picked to lead the army.

US weighs moves to counter China's 'wall of sand'

US weighs moves to counter China's 'wall of sand': The US military might deploy warships and surveillance aircraft near artificial islands being built by China to challenge Beijing's territorial claims in the South China Sea, officials said Wednesday.

But the US officials acknowledge such a move may fail to halt Beijing's massive land reclamation effort, recently dubbed China's "great wall of sand" by an American naval commander.

The Pentagon is weighing a range of options, including sailing destroyers or other naval ships within 12 nautical miles of the man-made islands, as well as flying P-3 and P-8 surveillance planes overhead, two defense officials told AFP.

The maritime and air patrols would be designed "to demonstrate support for freedom of navigation" and "to reassure our allies," said one official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Next X-37B Mission Set Begin Soon

Next X-37B Mission Set Begin Soon: The fourth flight of the X-37B robot spaceplane will soon begin. This mission is groundbreaking! It's hardly the first launch, but it's the first time that we have been openly told about the payloads carried inside the spaceplane. This caught the spaceflight community by surprise, given the tight secrecy that has surrounded the previous three missions.

X-37B is roughly the size of a car, and carries a small payload bay with clamshell doors that open in orbit. It deploys a small solar panel from this bay after the doors open. There is no cockpit. The spaceplane is launched atop an Atlas V rocket, covered by a large payload fairing. It stays in orbit for months or even more than a year before gliding to a runway landing.

Let's recap what we know about this flight. We were first told by the US Air Force that the X-37B is carrying a Hall Effect thruster in its payload bay, along with the associated parts to run the thruster. Hall Effect thrusters are different from normal chemical fuel rockets. They use a single propellant (such as xenon gas) and ionize it with the use of electricity. The electrically charged propellant is thus expelled from the engine at a high velocity, making this thruster very fuel-efficient. Hall thrusters are great for making minor orbital corrections over long periods of time, but they are useless for launching objects from the ground.

The thruster is a modified version of a Hall Effect thruster used on some USAF satellites. The new, upgraded version will find its way on board future satellites if it proves its worth on this flight.

Soon afterwards, NASA explained that the mission will also carry a materials test experiment provided by the space agency itself! This will expose "more than 100 different materials" to space. Like the Hall thruster, these material samples are intended for use in future spacecraft.

DARPA developing zoom lens to spot distant space objects more clearly

DARPA developing zoom lens to spot distant space objects more clearly: Imaging of Earth from satellites in space has vastly improved in recent years. But the opposite challenge-using Earth-based systems to find, track and provide detailed characterization of satellites and other objects in high orbits-has frustrated engineers even as the need for space domain awareness has grown.

State-of-the-art imagery of objects in low Earth orbit (LEO), up to 2,000 km (1,200 miles) high, can achieve resolution of 1 pixel for every 10 cm today, providing relatively crisp details. But image resolution for objects in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO), a favorite parking place for space assets roughly 36,000 km (22,000 miles) high, drops to just 1 pixel for every 2 meters, meaning many GEO satellites appear as little more than fuzzy blobs when viewed from Earth.

Enabling LEO-quality images of objects in GEO would greatly enhance the nation's ability to keep an eye on the military, civilian and commercial satellites on which society has come to depend, and to coordinate ground-based efforts to make repairs or correct malfunctions when they occur

New modular, scalable radar passes Critical Design Review

New modular, scalable radar passes Critical Design Review: An advanced integrated air and ballistic missile defense radar for the U.S. Navy has passed a critical design review by Raytheon and the U.S. Navy.

The CDR of the AN/SPY-6(V) system involved technical aspects of the program, from hardware specifications, software development, risk mitigation and producibility analysis, to program management, test and evaluation schedules, and cost assessments, Raytheon said, and confirmed the maturity of its design and technologies to meet all Navy radar performance requirements.

"This successful milestone is the culmination of our team's unwavering focus on continuous technology maturity, risk mitigation and cost reduction throughout all phases of development," said Kevin Peppe, Raytheon's vice president of Integrated Defense Systems' Seapower Capability Systems.

"With customer validation in hand, we will now advance production, driving toward the ultimate -- and timely -- delivery of this highly capable and much-needed integrated air and missile defense radar capability to the DDG 51 Flight III destroyer."

The Flight III variant of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer is under development.

Raytheon said the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase of the AN/SPY-6(V) is still in progress and is now more than 40 percent complete.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Air Force to base Ospreys at Yokota

Air Force to base Ospreys at Yokota: The Air Force will station a squadron of CV-22 Ospreys in Japan beginning in 2017, the Defense Department announced Monday.

The first three tilt-rotor aircraft will arrive at Yokota Air Base in the second half of 2017, with another seven expected to arrive by 2021, according to the Pentagon. The Ospreys, flown by Air Force Special Operations Command, will "provide increased capability" for special operators to respond to crises in Japan.

In addition to responding to natural disasters, the aircraft will "increase interoperability" and strengthen relationships with the Japan Self-Defense Forces, the department said in a statement.

The Air Force Ospreys will join Marine Corps MV-22s already stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma near Okinawa. These Ospreys have been a point of contention with local residents, who have protested the aircraft over worries about the aircraft's noise and possible mishaps.

The Air Force also is in the midst of sending a squadron of Ospreys to Royal Air Force Mildenhall in England. The service currently has 33 of the aircraft primarily used for long-range special operations missions.

Military to Test Floating Seaport During Culebra Koa Exercise |

Military to Test Floating Seaport During Culebra Koa Exercise | Thousands of sailors and Marines, but also Army and Air Force personnel, will participate in exercise Culebra Koa, May 18-21, to practice large-scale expedition- ary operations.

The centerpiece of the test is an unlikely Navy vessel: the 785-foot USNS Montford Point, a "mobile landing platform" based on an existing commercial design, an Alaska-class crude oil carrier, but with the center section removed to provide a submersible deck.

Described as a floating port at sea, the Montford Point has the ability to mate up with supply ships to offload equipment. Material can be moved across the Montford Point's deck to big waiting hovercraft known as "landing craft, air cushion," or LCACs, for delivery ashore.

Participating ships also will include the helicopter carrier USS Essex, amphibious ships USS Rushmore and USS Anchorage, the Pearl Harbor-based cruiser USS Port Royal, the cargo ship USNS Dahl and the joint high-speed vessel USNS Millinocket, Navy officials said.

"Sea-basing provides the means to generate Marine Corps forward presence and facilitates rapid response to emerging crises without the need to establish bases ashore," Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck said in a December report.

The Montford Point was launched in 2012. Last July the ship practiced docking and launching with 87-foot hovercraft and 26-foot Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicles off San Diego.

In late October, meanwhile, the Montford Point linked up with the cargo ship USNS Dahl to practice humanitarian assistance operations.

Defense bill mandates huge cuts in DoD HQ workforces

Defense bill mandates huge cuts in DoD HQ workforces: The Defense Department would be required to cut its headquarters budget and personnel by 20 percent over the next few years, under legislation to be voted on in the House this week.

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2016 would require DoD to save $10 billion over five years and complete all of the cuts needed by the end of fiscal year 2019. The Defense Department also needs to come up with a comprehensive plan for how it would implement the cuts by March 31, 2016.

The Defense Department had previously said it could save $10 billion by cutting its headquarters workforce by 20 percent, but its most recent estimate showed only about $5.3 billion in possible savings.

And while its earlier estimates were based on the Defense Department voluntarily cutting its staff as part of a management efficiency and cost-cutting initiative, the NDAA would codify the cuts and the new time frame into law, requiring the agency to follow through on them.

New GPS system could transform virtual reality and mobile devices

New GPS system could transform virtual reality and mobile devices: Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a centimeter-accurate GPS-based positioning system that could revolutionize geolocation on virtual reality headsets, cellphones and other technologies, making global positioning and orientation far more precise than what is currently available on a mobile device.

The researchers' new system could allow unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver packages to a specific spot on a consumer's back porch, enable collision avoidance technologies on cars and allow virtual reality (VR) headsets to be used outdoors.

The researchers' new centimeter-accurate GPS coupled with a smartphone camera could be used to quickly build a globally referenced 3-D map of one's surroundings that would greatly expand the radius of a VR game. Currently, VR does not use GPS, which limits its use to indoors and usually a two- to three-foot radius.

Most Advanced GPS Satellite Comes Together

Most Advanced GPS Satellite Comes Together: Using a 10-ton crane, Lockheed Martin engineers and technicians gently lowered the system module of the U.S. Air Force's first next generation GPS III satellite into place over its propulsion core, successfully integrating the two into one space vehicle.

GPS III space vehicle one (SV 01) is the first of a new, advanced GPS satellite design block for the Air Force. GPS III will deliver three times better accuracy, provide up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities and extend spacecraft life to 15 years, 25 percent longer than the satellites launching today. GPS III's new L1C civil signal also will make it the first GPS satellite interoperable with other international global navigation satellite systems.

The systems integration event brought together several major fully functional satellite components. The system module includes the navigation payload, which performs the primary positioning, navigation and timing mission. The functional bus contains sophisticated electronics that manage all satellite operations. The propulsion core allows the satellite to maneuver for operations on orbit.

Monday, May 11, 2015

ANG European theater security package arrives in Bulgaria > U.S. Air Force > Article Display

ANG European theater security package arrives in Bulgaria > U.S. Air Force > Article Display

The U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander spoke to U.S. and Bulgarian Airmen and local community leaders about the Air Force's first European theater security package (TSP) of F-15C Eagles deployed to Graf Ignatievo Air Base, near Plovdiv, Bulgaria, May 11.

Gen. Frank Gorenc, the USAFE-AFAFRICA commander, welcomed the approximately 200 Airmen of the 159th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron to Europe.

"These 200 Airmen and 12 F-15s led by the Florida National Guard and comprised of Airmen and equipment from several National Guard units provide a strategic symbol as they represent the United States' commitment to European security and stability," Gorenc said.

The squadron will fly with NATO allies and support Operation Atlantic Resolve. OAR is a demonstration of U.S. European Command and USAFE-AFAFRICA's continued commitment to the collective security of Europe and dedication to the enduring peace and stability in the region.

"The mission of the Bulgarian Air Force is to guard and protect the sovereignty of Bulgarian airspace," Gorenc said. "The men and women of this TSP look forward to working with you to further our collective defense."

The U.S. Air Force's forward presence in Europe, augmented by a rotational force like the TSP, allows us to work with our allies to develop and improve ready air forces capable of maintaining regional security," Gorenc explained.

While this is the first time the ANG has deployed to Europe as a TSP, these types of deployments are not new to the Air Force. Fighter squadrons have been deploying like this to the Pacific since 2004.

"We know how much effort and resources it takes to be deployed here," said Maj. Gen. Rumen Radev, the Bulgarian Air Force commander. "I want to thank the U.S. Air Force command represented by Gen. Gorenc, because you are here again and our joint training continues. If the Bulgarian Air Force is an inseparable part from the alliance today, it is to a great extent because of these trainings."

Florida ANG’s 125th Fighter Wing leads the first ANG theater security package to deploy in support of OAR. The aircraft and Airmen are based out of units in Florida, Oregon, California, Massachusetts and various bases throughout Europe. Regardless of their origin, together, they make up the 159th EFS.

U.S. report details China's work on anti-satellite weapons | Reuters

U.S. report details China's work on anti-satellite weapons | Reuters: May 8 China has the most rapidlygrowing space program in the world, and continues to developlasers, satellite jammers and other weapons aimed at thespace-based assets of adversaries, a new U.S. report said onFriday.

China has also built a "vast ground infrastructure" tobuild, launch and control satellites, said the U.S. DefenseDepartment's annual report to Congress on military and securityissues related to China.

The report marked the latest push by U.S. military officialsto highlight increasing threats to U.S. satellite systems. Those concerns prompted the Obama administration to propose $5billion in extra spending over the next five years to increasethe security and resilience of U.S. military and spy satellites.

By October 2014, China had launched 16 spacecraft that hadexpanded its satellite communications and surveillancecapabilities, including the first satellite that provided veryhigh resolution imagery, the report said.

The report provided new details about China's so-called"counterspace" technologies. It said a launch in July 2014 hadrenewed concerns about China's development of destructive spacetechnologies, despite public statements about the use of spacefor peaceful purposes.

USAF Kills Key Space Control Program | Defense content from Aviation Week

USAF Kills Key Space Control Program | Defense content from Aviation Week: The U.S. Air Force is terminating one of its flagship defensive counterspace programs—one designed to identify sources of satellite communications interference—due to “cost and performance” issues.

Ending the Rapid Attack Identification Detection Reporting System (Raidrs) comes as Air Force officials have taken their most public and vocal stand in years in favor of improved space control projects, including a $5 billion addition to the fiscal 2016-20 budget request and an uncharacteristically open interview by Air Force Space Command chief Gen. John Hyten on the U.S. television program 60 Minutes in April.

Raidrs, a collection of ground-based monitoring antennas, was one of three acknowledged defensive counterspace projects created more than a decade ago. It was designed to ensure that military operators—especially those supporting war operations in Iraq and Afghanistan— had nonstop service from military and commercial satellites providing crucial communications. At the time, roughly 80% of the satellite communications for forces there was provided by commercial systems. As demand for using satcom has grown so have instances of interference—friendly and hostile.

And just as soon as it was fielded, the Air Force pulled the plug.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Kurds push US to arm them directly

Kurds push US to arm them directly: The leader of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region insisted Friday that the United States should arm his forces fighting the Islamic State group directly instead of passing though the federal government in Baghdad.

At the end of a week-long visit to Washington to lobby for support, Kurdish leader Massud Barzani thanked President Barack Obama's administration for its support but reiterated his demand that weapons be shipped directly to his troops.

Barzani said the central government had not honored a deal struck in 2007 between US, Iraqi and Kurdish commanders that Kurdistan's peshmerga militia receive its share of US military aid from Baghdad.

"We eventually ended up having the peshmerga not receiving a bullet or a piece of weaponry from Baghdad," he told reporters.

Barzani was careful not to criticize Obama or US Vice President Joe Biden, who both met him during his visit, but pointedly thanked "our friends in Congress" who have proposed a bill that would oblige Washington to arm the Kurds.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ripsaw could lead Soldiers into battle someday | Article | The United States Army

Ripsaw could lead Soldiers into battle someday | Article | The United States Army

The Ripsaw Unmanned Ground Vehicle might someday take point and lead Army combat formations across enemy terrain.

The unmanned vehicle, though still in development, has been tested and is capable of driving up to 1 kilometer ahead of various types of formations, Bob Testa said.

Testa, lead engineer for the Remote Weapons Branch of the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC, showcased the Ripsaw on media day at Picatinny Arsenal, May 4.

"We cut the copper cable and made it wireless so that the vehicle and weapon can both be driven remotely," said Testa, explaining how it works.

During tests, the Ripsaw was followed by an M113 Armored Personnel Carrier. Trailing up to a kilometer behind, the M113 was driven by a Soldier. Another Soldier, in the vehicle, would control the Ripsaw and its weapon wirelessly, Testa said.

Rather than reinvent something, Testa said his team selected a vehicle already produced by Howe and Howe Technologies, since it had remote driving capabilities.

In 2009, "Popular Science" magazine named the Ripsaw the invention of the year, so the technology has been around for a while.

Testa and his team converted the vehicle for Army use. Atop the Ripsaw sits a system Soldiers are familiar with - a Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station, or CROWS.

CROWS has been used in combat as far back as 2004 in Iraq. Testa's team supported that initiative, fielding more than 10,000, he said.

CROWS allows a Soldier inside a tank, Humvee, Stryker or any other vehicle to fire his weapon safely from inside the armor-protected vehicle.

In other words, he does not have to stick his head out to see to fire. Cameras and range finders on CROWS see for him and the system can tilt and swivel the weapon as needed.

While that capability probably resulted in a lot of saved lives, the Soldier inside the vehicle could still be killed or injured from a large enemy mine or projectile. So Testa's team took the remotely-operated system one step further. They completely removed the Soldier from the vehicle.

The weakness of the entire system was the weapon itself, he said, meaning the M2 .50-caliber machine gun, Mk19 40-mm automatic grenade machine gun, M240B 7.62 mm machine gun, M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, or any number of other weapons that can be mounted in CROWS.

What Testa meant by weakness is that those weapons still required a trigger finger to fire.

So the next step for his team was to design a weapon to fire remotely. ARDEC developed the Advanced Remote Armament System, or ARAS, a gun that self-loads its own ammunition and even can swap out various types of ammunition, such as lethal and non-lethal, in just a few seconds, he said.

The Ripsaw's speed and mobility is such that it can keep pace with normal operations tempo, he said.


While it is technically feasible to go one step further and make the whole system robotic, meaning fully autonomous, Testa said that would not happen.

The Ripsaw and its ARAS are "tele-operated," he said. That means a Soldier remotely drives it and operates and fires the weapon.


Army leaders have repeatedly said that "war is a human endeavor" and robots will never replace Soldiers, he said.

Besides the ethical reason, Department of Defense Directive 3000.09 "Autonomy in Weapon Systems," published in November 2012, prohibits robots from making life and death decisions without a human in control.


While a lot of experimentation and testing has occurred, Testa said formal certification testing at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, would still be required to move forward. Also needed will be a "firm requirement" from the Army to move ahead past the development phase.

Soldiers themselves would need proper training and indoctrination with regard to using unmanned platforms on the battlefield, he said.



EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Department of Defense welcomed its first female F-35 Lightning II pilot here May 5, 2015.

Lt. Col. Christine Mau, 33rd Fighter Wing Operations Group deputy commander, completed her first training flight in the single-seat fifth-generation fighter following 14 virtual training missions in the Full Mission Simulator at the F-35 Academic Training Center.

"It wasn't until I was taxiing to the runway that it really struck me that I was on my own in the jet," said Mau, formerly an F-15E Strike Eagle pilot. "I had a chase aircraft, but there was no weapons system officer or instructor pilot sitting behind me, and no one in my ear like in simulators."

And with that, like the other 87 F-35A pilots trained over the last four years at Eglin, Mau thundered down the runway and was airborne as the first woman in the Air Force's premier fighter.

"It felt great to get airborne. The jet flies like a dream, and seeing the systems interact is impressive. Flying with the Helmet Mounted Display takes some adjusting, but it's an easy adjustment," said Mau. "The training missions in the simulator prepare you very well, so you're ready for that flight."

The initial flight in the F-35 training syllabus is designed to orient pilots with the physical aspects of flying the F-35 compared to other fighters they've flown previously, such as the F-15E Strike Eagle, F-15C Eagle, F-16 Falcon, A-10 Warthog or F-22 Raptor.

Women have served in combat aviation roles in those and other aircraft for more than 20 years.

Mau acknowledged that although she may be the first female in the F-35 program, her gender has no bearing on her performance as a fighter pilot.

Mau joked that the only difference between her and her fellow F-35 pilots is the size of her G-suit and facemask.

They are both extra-small.

"Flying is a great equalizer," said Mau. "The plane doesn't know or care about your gender as a pilot, nor do the ground troops who need your support. You just have to perform. That's all anyone cares about when you're up there - that you can do your job, and that you do it exceptionally well."

Mau's combat experience and technical prowess in the cockpit were the primary draws for her selection to her position with the 33rd Operations Group.

"Lt. Col. Mau brings a valuable level of combat and operational knowledge to our team," said Col. Todd Canterbury, 33rd Fighter Wing commander. "We're nearly a year out from declaring Initial Operational Capability with the F-35. We need battle-tested pilots to help us put the F-35A through its paces and ensure we have a trained and ready force of F-35 pilots to feed into our combat air forces."

Canterbury witnessed Mau's leadership and combat effectiveness first-hand when they were both deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, where she was part of another important milestone for women in the combat aviation community.

While with the 389th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, Mau was part of the first all-female combat sortie. The combat mission provided air support to coalition and Afghan forces in the Kunar Valley, Afghanistan. From the pilots and weapons system officers of the two F-15E jets to the mission planners and maintainers, the entire mission was carried out entirely by women.

"As a service, we need to attract the most innovative and skillful Airmen possible for one reason - it makes us more effective," said Canterbury. "The broader the net that we cast into the talent pool, coupled with a laser focus on performance, ensures we have the best Airmen in place to carry out the mission. Performance is key, and it's the standard we hold all of our Airmen to in the Air Force," said Canterbury.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

New military chief is 'strategist,' not cyber expert | TheHill

New military chief is 'strategist,' not cyber expert | TheHill: President Obama’s pick to become the nation’s next top military officer, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., bucks a recent trend of cyber-focused appointments.

“He’s not a cyber expert,” said Peter Metzger, a former CIA intelligence officer and Marine who served with Dunford on four occasions. “But he doesn’t need to be.”

Cyber military specialists believe the Obama administration is seeking an operational expert and relationship builder, not a technological savant, to carry out Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s recently unveiled cyber vision.

“They went with a strategist,” said Chris Finan, a former military intelligence officer and adviser to the Obama administration on cybersecurity policy. “An operational artisan.”

Dunford made a name for himself as head of the coalition forces in Afghanistan during the drawdown of troops in 2013 and 2014. He also led a Marine unit during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

If confirmed by the Senate, Dunford would replace Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, who has served as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff since 2011.

As chairman, Dunford would likely oversee one of the largest military transformations in recent history. Traditional warfare is gravitating to cyberspace, as rogue nations and terrorist groups rapidly develop destructive hacking skills.

Navy Needs New Servers for Aegis Cruisers and Destroyers After Chinese Purchase of IBM Line - USNI News

Navy Needs New Servers for Aegis Cruisers and Destroyers After Chinese Purchase of IBM Line - USNI News: The Navy needs new servers for its upgraded Aegis Combat System after the current IBM line was sold to Chinese computer maker Lenovo.

The $2.1 billion sale closed in October and made Lenovo the number three server maker in the world.

IBM shedding its server business creates a security concern for the U.S. Navy, which included the company’s x86 BladeCenter HT server in its Aegis Technical Insertion (TI) 12. The TI-12 hardware upgrades, along with Advanced Capability Build (ACB) 12 software upgrades, compose the Aegis Baseline 9 combat system upgrade that combines a ballistic missile defense capability with anti-air warfare (AAW) improvements for the Navy’s guided missile cruiser and destroyer fleets.

“The Department of Homeland Defense identified security concerns with the IBM Blade Center sale and placed restrictions on federal government procurement of Lenovo Blade Center server products,” Navy spokesman Dale Eng told USNI News.

U.S. Air Force says may revisit rocket plan if firms do not respond | Reuters

U.S. Air Force says may revisit rocket plan if firms do not respond | Reuters: The U.S. Air Force may have to revisit its strategy to develop a new U.S.-fueled launch vehicle aimed at ending American reliance on Russian rocket engines if U.S. companies fail to bid to build prototypes for the government, a senior general said Tuesday.

Lieutenant General Ellen Pawlikowski, the Air Force's top military acquisition official, said she had received positive feedback from some companies about a draft request for proposals on the Air Force's approach, but other companies were "not so happy". She declined to name the firms.

Air Force Secretary Deborah James last week said the Air Force expects to finalize the terms of the competition by the end of May, and could award contracts for prototypes of new U.S.-fueled launch vehicles as early as September.

Pawlikowski told reporters at a Women in Aerospace conference that the involvement of private firms - Blue Origin run by founder Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk's SpaceX or Space Exploration Technologies - complicated the situation since neither company's engine work relied on government funding.

Obama expected to push for Gulf missile defense at U.S. summit | Reuters

Obama expected to push for Gulf missile defense at U.S. summit | Reuters: President Barack Obama isexpected to make a renewed U.S. push next week to help Gulfallies create a region-wide defense system to guard againstIranian missiles as he seeks to allay their anxieties over anynuclear deal with Tehran, according to U.S. sources.

The offer could be accompanied by enhanced securitycommitments, new arms sales and more joint military exercises,U.S. officials say, as Obama tries to reassure Gulf Arabcountries that Washington is not abandoning them.

With little more than a week to go before Obama hosts thesix-nation Gulf Cooperation Council at the White House and thenat Camp David, aides are discussing the options in pre-summitmeetings with Arab diplomats. Officials say no final decisionson possible U.S. proposals have been made.

Obama faces a formidable challenge in deciding how far to goto sell skeptical Sunni-led allies on his top foreign policypriority, a final nuclear deal with Shi'ite Iran due by a June30 deadline. Failure to placate them could further strain ties,though additional defense obligations would carry the risk ofthe United States being drawn into new Middle East conflicts.

Joe Dunford, Joint Chiefs head, to cut Pentagon personnel costs - POLITICO

Joe Dunford, Joint Chiefs head, to cut Pentagon personnel costs - POLITICO: Joe Dunford may enjoy the trappings of a four-star general with his own plane and coterie of aides. But President Barack Obama’s nominee to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sometimes walks down to the Pentagon’s A-Ring by himself to get a sandwich — a common touch those who know him say he has maintained with the troops throughout his four-decade Marine Corps career.

It is a bond with the rank and file that will be sorely tested if the 59-year-old Dunford is confirmed by the Senate to be the nation’s top military officer: The Obama administration is counting on Dunford to take the lead in pushing a series of proposals designed to shrink the pay and benefits of troops as the Pentagon wrestles with the need to rein in its personnel costs.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Study: Not all veterans struggle when they come home | |

Study: Not all veterans struggle when they come home | | The first examination of civic involvement of veterans, released Thursday, shows results that debunk stereotypes of the wounded former service members struggling to adjust to civilian life.

The study, which looked at recent census data, found that nearly 60 percent of veterans under 50 vote in local elections, compared to 48.7 percent of non-veterans under 50. It also found that veterans serve an average of 160 hours annually as volunteers, about four full workweeks. Non-veteran volunteers serve about 25 percent fewer hours annually.

Over the past eight years, the report says, veterans have consistently earned more than their non-veteran counterparts and had slightly lower unemployment rates in 2014: 6.13 percent for non-veterans compared to 5.65 percent for veterans, according to Bureau of Labor statistics.

The study — called the Veteran Civic Health Index — was initiated by the non-profit Got Your Six campaign, and conducted by and produced in partnership with the National Conference on Citizenship.

"It's important for all of us to provide counterpoints to the misconceptions we have been told for years and years," said Army veteran Chris Marvin, who is managing director of Got Your Six, originally a fighter pilot term that means "I've got your back." "We want people to know that we are not a population that requires services. But a population that has services to offer."

Top NATO commander: alliance to move command HQ temporarily to Romania for military exercise | Fox News

Top NATO commander: alliance to move command HQ temporarily to Romania for military exercise | Fox News: A top NATO commander says the alliance will briefly move its allied joint force command from Italy to Romania as NATO continues to react to Russia's moves in Ukraine.

Admiral Mark Ferguson, Commander of Allied Joint Force Command based in Naples, Italy, said the command will be based in Cincu, central Romania, for 12 days in June, to support a NATO exercise involving 1,000 troops from 21 NATO states.

Cincu is Romania's largest military shooting range, some 180 kilometers (112 miles) northwest of Bucharest.

"This deployment will be the first time a NATO Joint Force Command Headquarters has deployed to Romania," Ferguson said Tuesday.

At the same time, NATO will conduct exercises in Poland, the Baltics and the Baltic Sea.

SEAPOWER Magazine Online

SEAPOWER Magazine Online: The Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) site being built in Romania is on track to begin operations later this year, according to the commander of U.S. European Command.

Speaking to reporters April 30 at the Pentagon, Air Force Gen Phillip M. Breedlove, commander, U.S. European Command (EUCOM), said the Aegis Ashore site is “very slightly behind in construction” but is “on budget.”

“Right now, we are on time to deliver and stay on schedule to bring this site up,” he said. “It will be important, the first of those shore sites that enable the EPAA, European Phased Adaptive Approach. Our allies are coming along right beside us.”

The Aegis site being installed in Deveselu, Romania, is one of two Navy-operated BMD sites being established in Eastern Europe, with the second slated for Poland. The Deveselu site will feature a SPY-1 radar mounted on a built-for-the-purpose deckhouse and launchers for 24 Standard SM-3 Block 1B missiles.