Thursday, July 30, 2015

Panel: What's the future role of US Army in Europe? - News - Stripes

Panel: What's the future role of US Army in Europe? - News - Stripes: A panel appointed by Congress to examine the size and shape of the U.S. Army is now on a fact-finding mission in Europe to assess what role U.S. troops should have on the Continent in the years ahead.

The National Commission on the Future of the U.S. Army, headed by retired Army Gen. Carter Ham, was at U.S. Army Europe headquarters in Wiesbaden on Tuesday. It was headed to training grounds in Grafenwöhr on Wednesday to talk with leaders and make evaluations.

“Certainly, one of the things we’ve looked at is how quickly can the U.S. respond and what is the right balance of forces in Europe, both assigned and rotational,” said Ham, a former leader of U.S. Africa Command and USAREUR.

The commission, which was created by Congress through the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, was tasked to conduct a comprehensive study on the organizational structure of the Army as the service shrinks because of fiscal constraints and the winding-down of the war in Afghanistan.

US Navy Builds Largest-Ever Amphibious Assault Ship for F-35 Fighters | The Diplomat

US Navy Builds Largest-Ever Amphibious Assault Ship for F-35 Fighters | The Diplomat: Over at, Kris Osborne reports that the assembly of the second America-class amphibious assault ship, USS Tripoli, is going according to plan, with a third of initial construction already complete.

The ship “is approximately 30% complete. Fabrication has started on 211 units, 97% of all units, and 84 grand blocks are erected — 47% of the total,” according to a U.S. Navy spokesperson who provided Osborne with a written statement.

Scheduled for launch in in July 2017 and with a tentative induction date set for December 18, the ship is specifically designed to accommodate Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, along a host of other aircraft such as MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, CH-53 Super Stallions, and UH-1Y Huey helicopters.

The USS Tripoli, called LHA 7 [Landing Helicopter Assault] 7, is being assembled at the Huntington Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Once finished, the ship will displace more than 44,000 tons–similar to the size of fixed-wing aircraft carriers in France and India. Measuring 844 feet long and 106 feet wide the ship, in fact, is a small aircraft carrier.

“The ship is optimized for aviation and capable of supporting current and future aircraft with additional aviation maintenance capability and increased fuel capacities. LHA[Landing Helicopter Assault] 6 will be a Flight I ship, reintroducing the well deck without sacrificing aviation capability,” the U.S. Navy’s website notes about the USS Tripoli’s sister ship, the USS America.

While the basic characteristics of the will remain the same, the new ship of the class will display some improvements in comparison to its predecessor commissioned in October 2014.

USAF unveils roadmap for microwave weapons use - 7/29/2015 - Flight Global

USAF unveils roadmap for microwave weapons use - 7/29/2015 - Flight Global: The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has unveiled a technology roadmap for its cruise missile-based “CHAMP” high-power microwave (HPM) weapon, which successfully fried banks of computers at a test range in October 2012.

The organisation says it is working on an improved, second-generation “multi-shot, multi-target HPM cruise missile” that builds on the mature counter-electronics high-power microwave advanced missile project payload previously demonstrated.

Based on past comments by AFRL officials, this next iteration of the Boeing and Raytheon-built system will probably be carried on an extended-range Lockheed Martin AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM-ER).

New generation gunship arrives at Hurlburt

New generation gunship arrives at Hurlburt: The first Air Force Special Operations Command AC-130J gunship made a historic entrance aboard Hurlburt Field on Wednesday — complete with a flyover and taxi underneath a fire truck water arch.

The gunship, a heavily-armed, ground-attack aircraft, is one of the Air Force’s most advanced weapons. It’s known for its ability to shoot a large amount of cannon fire at night, as it’s equipped with smart bombs.

“Air Force gunships have a 50-year history of calling Northwest Florida home starting with the AC-47 Spooky gunship from Vietnam,” said Lt. Col. Brett DeAngelis, commander of the First Special Operations Group Detachment 2.

The gunships are “born” at Eglin Air Force Base, DeAngelis explained, then they come to Hurlburt Field, grow up and go off to war.

“So that’s the transition we’ve done today,” he said. “We’re bringing it from the test world and bringing it here to where combat experience operators are going to really bring out the airplane and get it right ... This was certainly a big day and it was nice to mark that transition.”

US Special Forces pursuing AC-130-based ‘active denial system’ - 7/29/2015 - Flight Global

US Special Forces pursuing AC-130-based ‘active denial system’ - 7/29/2015 - Flight Global: US Air Force Special Operations Command’s plan to mount an airborne laser and active denial system onto its new AC-130J Ghostrider gunship is maturing and has the strong support of the scientific community within the flying branch.

AFSOC chief Lt Gen Bradley Heithold outlined his “five-year plan” to install directed energy weapons on several Block 60 Ghostriders at a 28 July Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments directed energy summit in Washington.

The laser would be used initially to defend against missiles and to disable cars, boats, and small aircraft and communications equipment. The active denial system – better known as a heat ray or microwave energy gun – would be used to target threatening crowds or individuals on the ground.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

USAF holding old gunships for laser demos - 7/28/2015 - Flight Global

USAF holding old gunships for laser demos - 7/28/2015 - Flight Global: The US Air Force has kept some Lockheed Martin AC-130U gunships marked for retirement for use as directed energy weapon testbeds as the service pursues airborne lasers for offensive and defensive uses.

Maj Gen Jerry Harris, vice-chief of Air Combat Command, says a number of gunships that would have otherwise been sent to the boneyard are now being used to test emerging directed energy technologies, like lasers and microwave energy guns.

“We have a requirement for a minimum number of gunships,” Harris said at a 28 July Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments directed energy summit in Washington. “We have some additional U-models we will fly longer for testbeds.”

Navy Pursuing Upgraded Railgun, Higher-Power Laser Gun By 2020 - USNI News

Navy Pursuing Upgraded Railgun, Higher-Power Laser Gun By 2020 - USNI News: The Navy is pursuing a multi-pronged approach to fielding energy weapons by the end of the decade, with the hopes of upgrading its 30 kilowatt laser gun to 100 kw or more, and giving its electromagnetic railgun a higher repetition rate.

Rear Adm. Bryant Fuller, chief engineer at Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), said in a panel presentation at the Directed Energy Summit, hosted by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and Booz Allen Hamilton, that both follow-on technologies should be in the hands of sailors in the fleet by 2020.

The Navy sent a 30 kw Laser Weapon System (LaWS) to U.S. 5th Fleet on the interim Afloat Forward Staging Base USS Ponce in September 2014, where it has proven it can augment ship self-defense as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for better maritime domain awareness, Fuller said. LaWS was only supposed to stay out for a year, but despite the harsh environment in the Persian Gulf, it has performed well and fleet leadership agreed it will stay operational as long as Ponce remains at sea – until Fiscal Year 2017 or longer, he said.

“Sometime in the very near future” the Navy will award a development contract for the larger follow-on system, a laser gun of 100 to 150 kw. That weapon will go out to sea for a demonstration by FY 2018, he said, keeping in line with the goal of transitioning technology from the lab to the warfighter as quickly as possible for operational testing.

US Military's Bomb Techs Fear Flying IEDs

US Military's Bomb Techs Fear Flying IEDs: The US military's explosive ordnance disposal community, bedeviled by roadside bombs in recent wars, is girding for a new threat: flying drones as IEDs.

The crash landing of a hobbyist's quadcopter on the grounds of the White House in January has sparked fears that a low-tech enemy like the Islamic State could harness such a device to deliver a bomb — and that explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) techs would have to confront it.

"I personally believe that the unmanned platform is going to be one of the most important weapons of our age," Navy Capt. Vincent Martinez, commander of the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) EOD Technology Division, said. "I'm going to have to start thinking not only about how I defuse the payload but how I defuse the platform. When I walk up on that platform, is it watching me, is it sensing me, is it waiting for me?"

Though the quadcopter's crash landing was an accident, and no one was hurt, Martinez noted the drone's 6-pound payload could have been full of explosives.

"Imagine the media event if it lands on top of the White House and detonates, whether it kills anybody or not," Martinez said. "The signal is sent. Add C4 [plastic explosive] to that, and it's a pretty big bang."

Members of the military's EOD community said they are concerned enemies will harness technology quicker and in new ways, and that they must be vigilant and streamline acquisitions in order to keep pace. The National Defense Industrial Association on Tuesday and Wednesday held its annual EOD conference in Bethesda, Maryland, where officials discussed the issue.

Use of plane-mounted lasers could take a while, lawmaker says

Use of plane-mounted lasers could take a while, lawmaker says: Despite advancements in technology, there might not be political will to start equipping Air Force planes with lasers, according to Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., co-chair of the Congressional Directed Energy Caucus.

“I’m just not sure that that’s really where the interest or the money is going forward,” Lamborn said Tuesday. “Advanced systems unfortunately can take a back seat if sequestration continues to limit dollars.”

He was speaking at the Directed Energy Summit hosted by defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton and the think tank Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

The Air Force’s previous effort, the Airborne Laser Test Bed, was scrapped in 2012 due to funding issues. The modified Boeing 747 designed to test the lasers was sent to the scrapyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, nicknamed “the Boneyard.”

But Lamborn said he hopes to change the minds of many of his congressional colleagues, arguing that directed energy weapons can provide the American military with an edge in the coming years and should be a priority for the public and private sectors

New Army cyber officers hack improvements into DARPA's 'Plan X' | Article | The United States Army

New Army cyber officers hack improvements into DARPA's 'Plan X' | Article | The United States Army

"Do you have a map in your car? When was the last time you looked at a compass? Imagine a day when we don't have that technology such as the Global Positioning System, better known as GPS. These are the things we worry about," Capt. James McColl said.

Both McColl and Capt. Justin Lanahan are cyber officers, part of the newly created 17-series Army branch. They both participated in a week-long "hackathon" in Arlington, Virginia, July 20-24, in support of continued development of "Plan X," a four-year, $120-million program at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.

Plan X attempts to, among other things, make it easier for humans to visualize a network and its components, to automate the task of identifying as hostile or benign the anomalies that might appear on that network, to provide intuitive symbology that accurately conveys to users the status of various components of a network, and to make it easier for even inexperienced users to take action to prevent hostile parties from gaining access to and causing damage to a network.

McColl and Lanahan, both Army officers, are participating in the program on a rotational basis. Their participation involves helping develop the program, and also helping to ensure the program will yield results that are useful to the Army.

Any part of a commander's command and control network might include thousands of computers and networking components. The complexity of such networks makes them hard for humans to visualize, and difficult to defend. Plan X is meant to make that task easier.

Adversaries are always looking for ways to exploit networks for their own benefit, McColl said. And that doesn't always mean they use it for their own purpose, or that they want to steal information from it. They might also attack a network simply to disrupt its functionality and deny its use to those who own it.

As part of development of one component of Plan X, DARPA held the week-long hackathon event in Arlington, Virginia. At the event, computer science experts, including McColl and Lanahan, were broken into teams to uncover the best ways to analyze a large set of network data they had been provided for indicators of potentially nefarious network activity. The solutions they would devise to analyze the data, and the code and algorithms they would write to make such analysis easier, would then be used to improve Plan X.

"The overarching idea for the week is 'big data analytics,'" Lanahan said. "The data we have been given is what they call 'net flow.' It contains a minimal subset of all the traffic traversing a network. It tells us what the IP address was, the destination where that packet was going, how big the packet was, and the time that it happened, for instance."

Lanahan, McColl, and about 90 others at the event devised new and innovative ways to analyze for anomalies the "net flow" information they had been given. They hoped to find better, faster ways to identify things that are out of the ordinary, and to be able to accurately differentiate between the anomalies that are due to a misconfiguration of the network, for instance, and the anomalies that are due to malicious activity.

"Maybe you're seeing network traffic at 2 a.m., when no user should be working," Lanahan said. "But when we investigate, we could see that it's a system update, when the Windows updates come out. It could be just that generating traffic. It's an anomaly, but it's not nefarious. Or it could be somebody with a hard drive stealing company data."

Either way, he said, they want to be able to find what is abnormal on the network, identify if it is innocuous or malicious, and then take appropriate action. DARPA's Plan X program aims to make it easier for users to do just that.

At the hackathon, a physical manifestation of Plan X was on display. It combined both hardware and software. In the flesh, Plan X included a large touch screen monitor - as big as a flat-screen TV - connected to a computer that runs the software. On the screen, the software displayed a wiring diagram of a computer network, though in this case the network was simulated.

Lanathan and McColl demonstrated how one might use the system to monitor and defend a network. Dragging their fingers across the screen, they could zoom in on portions of the network being monitored, and could also touch on individual components to find identifying information about it, or check up on its status.

Lanahan said that a requirement for the system is to have intuitive symbology and indicators that help users quickly see problems as they arise. The symbol that represented one computer might change color if it were infected, for instance. Or it might pulse. Or it might change shape. Another graphic might appear to indicate that a particular part of the network was being hacked, or that somebody was trying to hack it.

"Looking at the screen, you'll be able to have awareness of the network in the same way you might keep track of your unit on Blue Force Tracker," Lanahan said.

The work done at the hackathon is meant to enhance the ability of Plan X to automatically identify threats to the network. During the course of the event, involved teams would periodically insert new code and algorithms into the system to see how they performed, Lanahan said.

When a threat is identified, users of Plan X wouldn't need to be computer scientists or hackers themselves to defeat it. Instead, pre-written software tools that would be part of Plan X would allow users to drag their fingers over a threat to apply a software solution that could block an intrusion or defeat an infection.

With Plan X, it will be easier for operational commanders to understand the network in the same way they might understand the physical world around them, said Ian MacLeod, technical director of Army Cyber Command's Advanced Concepts and Technologies Directorate.

"We need technology to help us translate something we can't touch or feel easily into something we can rationalize about," he said. "To me that's what the Plan X does. It helps us operate in that environment. So the future of this is that these systems, the technology that comes out of this program, will help our forces better understand very complex actions. The domain of cyberspace is larger than any other domain. And with the speed at which it operates, we need computers to help us understand it. When Plan X gets in the hand of operators ... we will bring the military operational mindset to this domain. It helps us to understand the domain a little better."


Army Secretary John M. McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno approved the creation of the Cyber branch in September of last year. In October of this year, both enlisted and warrant officers will be included in that branch. But for now, there are only 17-series officers. McColl and Lanahan were among the first to join the branch.

Lanahan said the Army is still defining the work role of a cyber officer, but said the future is promising as the branch continues to grow and evolve by the month.

"At minimum, the cyber mission force is going to be the primary unit we operate in," he said. "We'll be bouncing between the tactical-level cyber mission force, and the strategic-level at the actual service component headquarters or U.S. Cyber Command. So the work roles would look like an operational planning team leader or a mission commander."

McColl said that one role of the cyber officer will be to translate the sometimes arcane language of computers, networking, algorithms and the various types of threats that exist into language that kinetic commanders can understand.

"One of the things we bring is, aside from a love for technology, the ability to translate between military science and computer science," McColl said. "The Army is primarily relying on us to be able to bring cyber effects into the fight. If you think about maneuver elements like infantry and artillery, they are delivering direct or indirect fire effects to a target. For us, we are trying to translate to those kinetic leaders how to use cyber effects to augment their mission. In a situation where dropping a Joint Direct Attack Munition on a building isn't necessarily the best option, we offer an alternative."

Lanahan said that with the new cyber career field, it's important to understand the difference between combat operations, and supporting combat operations. Computers, networks, and radios are often seen as merely supporting a combat mission. But Lanahan said that's not the case anymore.

"Cyber isn't just an enabling mission for the kinetic mission," he said. "Cyber can be an effect unto itself, not just enabling some other kinetic action."

McColl said 17 series officers, and the Cyber branch, are being called on to do more than protect the command and control network so that it can be used by commanders to deliver kinetic effects. Cyber officers must show the commander how if disruption of their own network means they are crippled from doing their mission, disrupting an enemy's network will cripple their ability to do their mission - and that is the digital equivalent to kinetic effect.

"If an enemy was to disrupt our ability to use our GPS, we'd have to go back to map skills," McColl said, though he was quick to point out that infantry and artillery are still adept at using maps. "But we are a more effective, lethal force when those things are protected. And our enemies are less effective and less lethal when they don't have access to the same. If we disrupt their command and control, their logistics, we can cause disarray among their forces. That will better enable our forces to overtake them, while protecting our forces from the same effect."

The Cyber career field will help the Army be able to gain the edge on adversaries, who have become increasingly proficient in the use of technology, McColl said.

Lanahan and McColl, who graduated together in 2011 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, said they are excited to be among the first officers involved in the Cyber branch. The newness of the career field, and their early involvement, they say, will provide them an opportunity to chart the future of the career field, and to help the Army develop the best way ahead for cyber missions.

"It's really cool to take something that is emerging, and find a way to best put it for the defense of the nation, either offensively or defensively," McColl said.

"It's hard sometimes in the Army, with its size and complexity, to influence how things are done," Lanahan said. "But knowing this branch is brand new and that there are only 100 of us in the branch now - we can have an impact."

McColl likened his and Lanahan's roles in the Cyber branch to that of the first aviators in the military - back when the Army signed a contract with the Wright Brothers in 1909 for the first military aircraft. Then, as now, those first involved worked daily to find new applications for a technology that continued to advance as quickly as a use for it could be found.

"It's like back when airplanes just came out," he said. "First you're trying to figure out what you can do with an airplane. It can only fly for 15 minutes, maybe. Then later it flies for 30 minutes... and then it flies faster. With cyber, we're on that driving edge of how to make it better and make it do things to improve the way we fight."

Navy researches use of transparent material as armor

Navy researches use of transparent material as armor: The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory is working to improve a transparent material for use as bullet-proof windows and for military optics.

The material is called spinel.

"Spinel is actually a mineral; it's magnesium aluminate," said Dr. Jas Sanghera, the researcher leading the NRL project. "The advantage is it's so much tougher, stronger, and harder than glass. It provides better protection in more hostile environments -- so it can withstand sand and rain erosion.

"For weight-sensitive platforms-UAVs, head-mounted face shields -- it's a game-changing technology."

The NRL said it developed a low-temperature process, called sintering, that uses a hot press to mold the mined material into transparent sheets. Using shaped presses, the spinel can be made into multiple shapes, such as a wing for an unmanned aerial vehicle.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Boeing Running Low on Margin for KC-46

Boeing Running Low on Margin for KC-46: Boeing promises it is still on track to meet a key August 2017 deadline on its KC-46A Pegasus tanker, which will provide the backbone of America's future air refueling efforts for decades to come.

But with the revelation of its latest design challenge, the world's largest aerospace company is running thin on margin left to hit that milestone.

As part of its second quarter earnings report, Boeing confirmed that it had encountered an issue with the integrated fuel system on the tanker, a militarized version of its 767 commercial flight.

Because the Air Force's liability for the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the tanker program is capped at $4.9 billion, anything over that is paid for directly by Boeing. The work to fix the fuel system issue came with a pre-tax charge of $835 million. When combined with a $425 million pre-tax charge from last summer's wiring issue, the company has now racked up $1.2 billion in pre-tax overages on the program.

Real U.S. allies in Iraq difficult to identify, experts say

Real U.S. allies in Iraq difficult to identify, experts say: The steady growth of Shiite militias in Iraq is making it increasingly difficult for American forces deployed there to determine exactly which Iraqi forces they are supporting, experts say.

The official line from Defense Department is that the U.S. will support operations involving both the Iraqi army and some militia forces that are operating "under command and control of the Iraqi government."

But the Pentagon wants to avoid providing direct support for anti-Islamic State militia forces loyal to Iran, a longtime enemy, a reflection of the deeply opaque and tumultuous politics of the Middle East.

"I love this line, 'We only want to support the militias under the command and control of the Iraqi government.' You can't really look at it that way. There is a lot of fuzzy gray area in that zone," said Phillip Smyth, an adjunct fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

"It's not some binary situation like people keep trying to make it out to be," Smyth said.

US extends training to Ukrainian military

US extends training to Ukrainian military: The United States is to begin training Ukrainian army troops in an expansion to its military involvement in the divided country, the State Department said Friday.

US troops have already deployed in small numbers to Ukraine to train National Guard forces, but under the new plan would also take on regular military units.

This will bring the total cost of a security assistance package for the embattled country -- locked in a conflict with pro-Russian separatists -- to $244 million since 2014.

But a spokesman said the training would take place in the west of the country, far from the frontline in the rebellious east and did not mark a major change in US strategy.

"This is going to be small unit training conducted by US Army Europe for Ukrainian Ministry of Defense personnel to help strengthen Ukraine's internal defense capabilities," Mark Toner told reporters.

"This training is part of our long-running defense cooperation with Ukraine and is taking place at the invitation of the Ukraine Government," he said.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Back in Europe, Navy commander faces new threats in Russia, Islamic State - News - Stripes

Back in Europe, Navy commander faces new threats in Russia, Islamic State - News - Stripes: When he left the Navy’s 6th Fleet three years ago for a planning job at the Pentagon, then-Rear Adm. James Foggo III was fresh from U.S. and NATO air campaigns against the Libyan regime of Moammar Gadhafi.

“I thought we were really busy back then,” Foggo said in a recent interview. “Then I came back this time.”

Now with a third star on his lapel and full command of the fleet, the former submariner faces new threats that had yet to emerge in his last tour. Russia has grown more assertive, testing European boundaries in air, on water and undersea. The rise of the Islamic State group and the growth of Islamic militants in North Africa — the latter finding fertile ground in the vacuum of post-Gadhafi Libya — threaten European security and have contributed to a crush of migrants trying to enter the continent.

It’s an operational plateful for an officer who has spent the past two years in the Navy’s strategy chair, guiding concepts like Air-Sea Battle, which was designed to counter access challenges for military operations, and the new maritime strategy, intended to coordinate the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard strategies.

New technology will link night vision and rifle scope

New technology will link night vision and rifle scope: The Army is closing in on wireless technology that will connect an infrared image from a rifle scope camera into the view of a soldier's night vision goggle. When the new gear rolls out in a few years, officials say it will revolutionize how deadly — and safe — soldiers can be.

The view via the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle, including the rifle's crosshairs, will mean a “leap-ahead capability” in target-acquisition and situational awareness, said Col Michael Sloane, Project Manager for Soldier Sensors and Lasers.

"It’s really blow-your-mind cool," Sloane told Army Times and other media outlets at a roundtable at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, on Wednesday.

The ENVG, first fielded in to soldiers in 2009, provides thermal imagery that amplifies heat signatures, rather than simply enhancing visible light. This means potential threats appear with substantially more contrast, even through visual impediments, such as smoke.

PEO Soldier has linked the ENVG program into another program for a rifle scope, the Family of Weapon Sights — Individual. By linking the two, a soldier will be able to aim his weapon in the middle of the night, without raising it to his eye.

The pairing of equipment also improves situational awareness by retaining ENVG’s wider field of vision — about 40 degrees compared to the rifle scope’s 18-26 degrees, according to product manager for soldier maneuver sensors Lt. Col. Timothy Fuller.

Air Force tests internal integration of Gatling gun on F-35A

Air Force tests internal integration of Gatling gun on F-35A: The U.S. Air Force is testing the internal integration of a four-barrel Gatling gun into the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter.

The first phase of ground testing began last month on an F-35 test aircraft -- the AF-2 -- at the Edwards Air Force Base Gun Harmonizing Range. Flight tests could begin in late September.

The Gatling gun is the GAU-22/A, which fires 25 millimeter rounds, the Air Force said.

"As an Air Force pilot, it's going to be one more thing that I can select to either strafe air-to-ground targets or shoot as an air-to-air weapon," said Maj. Andrew Rollins, 461st Flight Test Squadron, assistant director of operations. "The GAU-22/A uses a 25mm shell, which is significantly more powerful than what I've been used to in legacy aircraft, the F-16 the F-15E, F-15C - all those aircraft use a 20mm shell."

The first shots fired in initial testing were non-exploding PGU-23/U practice rounds. An operational gun capability will be added with a future block of software, which is in the beginning stages of testing at Edwards.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Marine Corps Developing Low Cost Robot Swarms to Counter Enemy Drones

Marine Corps Developing Low Cost Robot Swarms to Counter Enemy Drones: As the technology for unmanned systems proliferates, one of the biggest challenges facing the military today is countering small, inexpensive drones used by the enemy in unexpected ways, said a Marine Corps official.

“Growth in [unmanned system] capabilities, coupled with their affordability and accessibility, make it increasingly more difficult to identify how our potential adversaries will employ these systems,” said Jeff Tomczak, director of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory’s science and technology division. “Based upon our success in using unmanned systems, we know that the enemy is adapting, and to a larger degree, openly purchasing similar technology to use on tomorrow’s battlefield.”

For these reasons, the service is aggressively pursuing capabilities to counter unmanned systems that will be ready when they are needed the most, he said.

There are several government agencies and military branches examining this problem, said Capt. Adam Thomas, the aviation combat element branch head for the S&T division of the warfighting lab.

These threats exist today, he added. “These aren’t future threats we’re talking about. This is stuff that is out there that we are running up against.”

US Navy shifting its most modern aircraft to the Pacific - 7/21/2015 - Flight Global

US Navy shifting its most modern aircraft to the Pacific - 7/21/2015 - Flight Global: The US Navy will extend its air arm in the Asia-Pacific region over the coming five years with the first deployment of the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton unmanned maritime patrol aircraft to Guam in 2017 and an increased presence of other newly developed flying assets like the Boeing P-8A Poseidon and Northrop MQ-8C Fire Scout.

The increased emphasis on the Pacific theatre will also see the latest upgraded Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets deployed to the region, backed by Northrop E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes for airborne command and control and Boeing EA-18G Growlers for standoff electronic attack.

This is according to chief of naval operations Adm Jonathan Greenert’s latest “navigation plan”, which was unveiled 20 July.

The five-page, five-year strategy document comes amid renewed concern by the Pentagon about the potential threat China poses to US interests in the region. It also arrives as Congress finalises its annual defence spending bill, which is likely to spend more money on the military than planned by circumnavigating unpopular automatic spending limits known as sequestration.

According to the navigation plan, the navy aims to replace its aging E-2C Hawkeye with the new and improved D-model at four carrier air wings by 2020, which is around the same time it hopes to retrofit an aerial refuelling capability.

GAO report suggests regular troops can do some commando jobs | and The Tampa Tribune

GAO report suggests regular troops can do some commando jobs | and The Tampa Tribune: At any given moment, thousands of commandos are on duty around the globe.

But maybe they don’t all need to be, suggests a new report by the Government Accountability Office that calls on military leaders to determine whether conventional forces can take on more jobs traditionally performed by Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets and Rangers and by Marine and Air Force special operators.

Released last week, the 72-page report comes as Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force is addressing a high rate of deployment and the strain it places on commandos who saw a record number of suicides in their ranks three years ago.

With the Pentagon looking to squeeze every penny out of its more than half-trillion dollar budget, the GAO also is recommending greater transparency in how much money the military services spend on Socom. A lack of clarity, according to the report, is making it harder to properly manage forces and funding.

The GAO report is mandated under a 2014 defense spending act.

Add Missiles To the List of Weapons You Can (Sorta) 3-D Print

Add Missiles To the List of Weapons You Can (Sorta) 3-D Print: 3-D printing has already spawned dart guns, pistols, and rifles, but up until now, the 3-D printed arsenal has been lacking the firepower of a guided missile.

That’s something that Raytheon, noted producer of things that go bang, wants to change. The company has been working on 3-D printing the component parts of its guided missiles. According to Raytheon engineer Jeremy Danforth, they’ve already succeeded in printing 80 percent of the parts.

Given all the stuff that goes into a missile — complicated electronics, precise housings, and rocket boosters — that’s an impressive achievement. For the time being, Raytheon is mostly interested in the cost savings that additive manufacturing can promise, but for the military, there’s a lot of logistical upsides as well: put a stack of raw materials and a 3-D printer on an aircraft carrier, and you could have a virtually unlimited supply of munitions for the aircraft.

That particular logistical dream isn’t quite ready yet — there’s still some components that can’t be 3-D printed, and even if you could theoretically print an entire missile, it’s still a complicated process with fine tolerances better suited to a dedicated factory. Thankfully, that also probably means that your local upholder of the Second Amendment probably isn’t going to be printing Sidewinders any time soon.

U-2 uses F-22 data to help re-target anti-ship missile - 7/22/2015 - Flight Global

U-2 uses F-22 data to help re-target anti-ship missile - 7/22/2015 - Flight Global: A high-flying Lockheed Martin U-2 spy plane has enabled a mission control station to dynamically re-target a simulated Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), using data passed from an F-22 Raptor over the deserts of Southern California in a recent flight trial.

During the tests, targeting data was passed from the F-22 to a ground station via an L-3 Communications modem on the U-2, says Scott Winstead, Lockheed Martin's head of strategic development for the U-2 programme. This allowed the ground station to re-target the LRASM surrogate, essentially a cruise missile mission systems flown on a business jet.

In addition, the U-2 was able to translate and pass data between the F-22 and a Boeing F-18 Hornet during the series of flights, which took place in June. The tests were designed to evaluate new US Air Force open mission system (OMS) standards using a Skunk Works product called Enterprise OMS.

Company officials told Flightglobal in a recent interview that the U-2 testbed was on loan from the operational fleet, and has been modified to comply with open standards the air force has been developing through an “OMS consortium” involving the top aircraft manufacturers and suppliers.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

New tank ammunition enters production for U.S. Army

New tank ammunition enters production for U.S. Army: A fifth-generation 120mm advanced kinetic energy tank round from Orbital ATK is entering production after passing U.S. Army First Article Acceptance Testing.

The production contract from the U.S. Army Maneuver Ammunition Systems is for one year, with options for two follow-on production years and is worth $80 million.

Orbital ATK said fulfill Army inventory requirements for the ammunition is expected to be fulfilled with an additional five-year production contract.

"During our more than 30 years of large caliber ammunition program experience with the Army, we have now partnered with the U.S. Army to type classify 11 of the 13, 120mm tactical and training rounds for the Abrams tank," said Dan Olson, vice president and general manager for Orbital ATK's Armament Systems division of the Defense Systems Group. "From initially providing the 120mm ammunition that 'upgunned' the Abrams from a 105mm to a 120mm main gun platform until today, our company has made it a business priority to partner with the Army to maintain the Abrams' standing as the world's dominant tank."

The M829E4 is an armor-piercing, fin-stabilized, discarding- sabot with tracer cartridge. It features a penetrator capable of defeating all current armor protection suites as well as future armor protection concepts.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Science and Technology Help Navy Prepare for Future Arctic Operations

Science and Technology Help Navy Prepare for Future Arctic Operations

On July 14, Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Mat Winter was the Navy keynote speaker at the Sixth Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Maritime and Naval Operations.

Winter discussed ONR's investments in Arctic science, stressing the importance of international partnership and science and technology diplomacy.

"The Office of Naval Research [ONR] has extensive research on computer modeling and prediction of sea waves, ice movement, seasonal ice cycles and air-ocean interaction," Winter said.

He highlighted a few current initiatives: an integrated program of observations and computer simulations to study the marginal ice zone (MIZ), the transition area between sea ice and the open ocean; an initiative to provide better physics for computer modeling of waves in the MIZ; experiments to understand the effects of changing Arctic conditions on low-frequency sound in the water and sonar operations; and research into vertical heat distribution and movement in the Arctic Ocean.

Winter also addressed ONR's research in issues like ship stability risk from ice accretion; improved hull design for ice operations; ice-phobic coatings to prevent ice from adhering to exposed material; and propellers and propulsors that are less vulnerable to ice damage.

Reflecting higher level strategic guidance, including the Navy's Arctic Roadmap, Winter emphasized the importance of partnerships in Arctic preparations. He noted that his researchers are uniquely postured to build partnerships, a practice he called "S&T diplomacy."

"Our ONR Global outreach mission allows our scientists to collaborate with other scientists around the world to discover the breakthrough technologies and build the scientific relationships vital to addressing the unique challenges in the harsh Arctic environment," Winter said.

Later in the day, ONR's Dr. Scott Harper, lead for the Navy's Arctic and Global Prediction initiatives, went into more detail about environmental research in his presentation. Harper noted that there are three main focus areas.

First is to develop an improved understanding of the changing Arctic environment, which will enable more accurate representation in environmental computer models and improved forecasting capabilities.

Harper explained that the loss of summer sea ice cover was allowing more interaction between the atmosphere, waves and ocean surface, creating much more dynamic conditions.

"Understanding how these things work together is the first step towards making reliable predictive models for better forecasting," he said.

The second focus is the development of technologies for sustained observations and measurements that will provide long-term monitoring, further scientific understanding and improve models. This focus includes the use of unmanned and autonomous vehicles and the collection of remote sensing data.

"We need to build the operational data set," Harper noted, "not only for the science that we need to do, but also to provide real-time awareness to operational forces."

Improved understanding and enhanced data collection support the third focus: the development of computer models that include the influence of ocean, atmosphere, ice and waves.

"The goal is to build system models that operate in high resolution, capture important Arctic processes and assimilate all this data," Harper said, "and then run these models out to the future to predict not only what will happen in the next few days, but to also provide seasonal guidance as well as looking out multi-year to decades to figure out how fast the ice will continue to diminish."

The Symposium was jointly sponsored by the U.S. Arctic Research Commission and the National Naval Ice Center, with funding support from ONR.

Army Chief: Russia Major Threat, Iran Bears Watching

Army Chief: Russia Major Threat, Iran Bears Watching: The Army’s top general does not believe adding a surge of US troops to Europe will help the standoff between Russia and Western Europe, but he is concerned that troop cuts could send the message to the government of Vladimir Putin that America is weak.

Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, also said that despite the new nuclear agreement with Iran, the government in Tehran will continue to require oversight. He made his comments to a media roundtable Friday.

In recent weeks, Pentagon leaders, including Marine Gen. Joe Dunford – widely expected to be confirmed as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – have begun publicly calling Russia the greatest threat to American security in the world.

U.S. Marines nearing F-35B combat readiness declaration | Reuters

U.S. Marines nearing F-35B combat readiness declaration | Reuters: The U.S. Marine Corps' topaviator flew to an Arizona air base this week as part of a finaleffort to certify the combat-readiness of an initial squadron of10 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35B fighter jets, their pilotsand technicians.

Marine Corps officials were due to brief Lieutenant GeneralJon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation, on a week-long reviewwhich included operational and simulator flights in five coremission areas, an inspection of the maintenance department, andacademics for both pilots and technicians.

If Davis is satisfied, he will brief Marine Corps CommandantGeneral Joseph Dunford, who will decide whether to declare an"initial operational capability," or IOC, of the stealthy newjets, a key milestone for the $391 billion weapons project.

Officials at Lockheed and the Pentagon see the expected Marine Corps declaration as evidence that the F-35 program hasturned the corner after years of cost overruns and scheduledelays.

Odierno: ISIS Fight Will Last '10 To 20 Years'

Odierno: ISIS Fight Will Last '10 To 20 Years': The Army’s top officer believes the fight against the Islamic State, commonly known as ISIS or ISIL, will last “10 to 20 years,” an expansion of the timelines generally offered by the Obama administration.

Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, added that the solution to the militant group cannot come entirely by military means.

“In my mind, ISIS is a ten to twenty year problem, it’s not a two years problem,” he told reporters Friday. “Now, I don’t know what level it will be a problem, but it’s a long term problem.”

White House officials have been warning since strikes began against the militant group that the fight could be years long, but Odierno’s assessment is by far the longest timetable laid out by a Pentagon official.

“The administration has said ‘three to five’ years. I think in order to defeat ISIL, it’s going to take longer than that,” Odierno said. “This movement is growing right now, and so I think it’s going to take us a bit longer than we originally thought.”

Friday, July 17, 2015

Philippines to re-open former US base amid China sea row

Philippines to re-open former US base amid China sea row: The Philippines said Thursday it would re-open a former US naval base that was closed more than 20 years ago, stationing its own military hardware at the facility that faces the flashpoint South China Sea.

The announcement comes as the Philippines is embroiled in a bitter dispute with China over rival claims to parts of the sea, including a rich fishing shoal close to the military base.

Defence department spokesman Peter Galvez said the Philippines would station aircraft and naval vessels at Subic Bay, which was one of the US military's biggest overseas bases until it closed in 1992.

"It's location is very strategic," Galvez said, referring to its position facing the South China Sea, which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.

"If we need to deploy to the West Philippine Sea, it (Subic) is already there, we do not deny that. It's a deepwater port."

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

US soldiers evaluate potential upgrades to Bradley fighting vehicles - Army Technology

US soldiers evaluate potential upgrades to Bradley fighting vehicles - Army Technology: US Army soldiers with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armoured Brigade Combat Team, and 1st Cavalry Division, have evaluated a new capability that enhances the situational awareness for crew members of the M2A3 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle.

Designed by the Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), the capability will be installed into existing armoured vehicles to provide troopers inside a 360° picture of their surroundings.

Currently, soldiers riding in the back of an M2A3 Bradley are exposed immediately to threats as soon as they dismount.

TARDEC special project officer major Stephen Tegge said: "When the ramp drops on the Bradley, there is a moment of disorientation.

"You need to be able to tell where you are; similar to being blindfolded, spun in circles, taking the blindfold off, and orienting yourself.

"What we are trying to do is to reduce that (disorientation) by getting more information into the back of the vehicle."

TARDEC aims to split squads into two smaller, lightweight, more agile vehicles, while also increasing the amount of intelligence soldiers have in the back of their vehicle, and then compare it to their efficiency in current procedures.

During trials, the TARDEC team installed two cameras outside of the Bradleys and installed tablets in the areas where infantrymen would sit. The tablets simultaneously displayed up to four different video feeds and a map of the area.

Additionally, the two vehicles were able to tap into each other's camera feeds, enabling them to see around both vehicles.

Monday, July 13, 2015

US Army Targets Multinational Comms

US Army Targets Multinational Comms: As the shrinking US Army places greater emphasis on working with and through partner-nation militaries, it is struggling to link its communications networks with theirs.

The issue was highlighted during a multinational force-on-force exercise in Germany this year when an allied unit made a failed call for artillery fire from its Army partners. After waiting 30 minutes without success, the friendly forces advanced on the target — as the faux artillery finally arrived.

"Am I satisfied with where we are with interoperability, no I am not, and I can tell you our partners and allies aren't either," Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Allyn said on July 9. "The good news, between all of us in this environment of constrained resources, is that dialogue is happening at the developmental stage, and in our modernization process."

Speaking at an Association of the US Army event on networks (the electronic kind), Allyn talked about networks (the organizational kind). Specifically, he stressed the value of the "global land power network," which he described as linking Army forces with Marine, special operations and host-nation forces with the goal of preventing conflict by showing force, not using it.

"The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting," Allyn said, quoting Sun Tzu. "This global land power network is focused on doing just that."

Mixed Reaction to US National Military Strategy

Mixed Reaction to US National Military Strategy: Released with little fanfare July 2, when most of the national security world was focused on the upcoming holiday, the Pentagon's 2015 National Military Strategy serves as a window into a unique time for US security, as the Pentagon grapples with threats from state and non-state actors alike.

However, analysts warn that the document talks too much in generalities while failing to provide much in the way of hard guidance for how the Pentagon should move forward on the major issues of the day.

The strategy document, the first update since 2011, was penned by the office of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey.

"Since the last National Military Strategy was published in 2011, global disorder has significantly increased while some of our comparative military advantage has begun to erode," Dempsey wrote in his introduction to the strategy document.

"We now face multiple, simultaneous security challenges from traditional state actors and transregional networks of sub-state groups — all taking advantage of rapid technological change," Dempsey continued.

That is a major shift from where the Pentagon was in 2011 under then-Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen, said Katherine Kidder, Bacevich Fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

The 2011 strategy, she said, was largely focused on non-state actors. While the fact China could grow into a regional superpower was apparent, its aggressiveness in the region was not expected — and the idea that Russia would invade one of its neighbors and set off a European-wide security panic was certainly not on the table.

Many critics of Army cuts ignored Pentagon warnings, supported sequestration | McClatchy DC McClatchy DC

Many critics of Army cuts ignored Pentagon warnings, supported sequestration | McClatchy DC McClatchy DC: Some of the loudest critics of the proposed staffing cuts the Army announced Thursday at bases around the United States were the very members of Congress who four years ago voted to impose government-wide budget measures that the Pentagon warned then would compel it to slash the military.

The Army’s announcement of plans to reduce its active duty force by 40,000 troops over the next two years was panned widely in Congress, especially by lawmakers from states with bases hit hard by the proposed cuts.

Dunford: Potent infantry essential to 'balanced' military portfolio

Dunford: Potent infantry essential to 'balanced' military portfolio: The U.S. military's technological modernization cannot come at the expense of its ground combat forces, incoming Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford told Senate lawmakers earlier this week.

Rather, the general said during his confirmation hearing Thursday on Capitol Hill, planning for future threats requires a "balanced inventory of capabilities."

Friday, July 10, 2015

Army includes special ammunition in hunt for new handgun

Army includes special ammunition in hunt for new handgun: The U.S. Army competition to replace its M9 handgun has been expanded to include new types of ammunition for them.

The change to the service's draft solicitation for the new handgun project, called XM17 Modular Handgun System, was presented on Wednesday at an industry day for interested vendors at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.

"Expanding the XM17 Modular Handgun competition to include special-purpose ammunition will provide the warfighter with a more accurate and lethal handgun," said Richard Jackson, special assistant to the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General for Law of War. "Other types of ammunition allow the XM17 Modular Handgun System to be optimized by vendors, providing a more capable system to warfighters across the spectrum of shooter experience and skill level."

Jackson told the industry day participants that federal, state, local and military law enforcement elements routinely use expanding and fragmenting ammunition, such as hollow point bullets, instead of full metal jacket -- or ball -- ammunition in handguns because of their increased capability and the Army is looking at doing so as well.

Fiberglass armor with printed electronic antenna tested

Fiberglass armor with printed electronic antenna tested: Fiberglass armor panels that incorporate printed electronic antenna for communications have been successfully tested by Applied Nanotech Inc.

The multi-function armor eliminates the need for multiple high-profile communications antenna structures on military vehicles and ships, and also has a jamming capability to block radio signals, such as those used to remotely trigger explosive devices.

The technology employs two wideband low-profile antennas capable of carrying signals at multiple frequencies and was developed by ANI with Armortex -- a manufacturer of bullet- and blast-resistant products -- the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and Villanova University.

A federal Small Business Technology Transfers program sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, promoted the project.

"This has been a challenging yet exciting program to take a passive composite material and create a complex antenna structure that not only provides ballistic protection but also may help defeat improvised explosive devices and other threats," said Dr. Aly Fathy, Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UT Knoxville.

Russia poses 'greatest threat' to US national security: Dunford

Russia poses 'greatest threat' to US national security: Dunford: Russia now poses the greatest threat to US national security and its behavior is "nothing short of alarming," Marine General Joseph Dunford, the nominee to be the US military's top officer, said Thursday.

Dunford, currently the commandant of the US Marine Corps, told senators at his confirmation hearing it would be "reasonable" to provide lethal weapons to Ukrainian forces battling pro-Russian rebels.

But he also said that the Pentagon nevertheless needed to maintain some kind of "effective" military-to-military relationship with Moscow.

"Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security," Dunford, who is expected to replace General Martin Dempsey as chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

He stressed that Russia is a nuclear power that is capable of violating the sovereignty of US allies and doing "things inconsistent with national interests."

"If you want to talk about a nation that could pose a threat to the United States, I would have to point to Russia. If you look at their behavior, it's nothing short of alarming," Dunford said.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Panel: U.S. Should Think Beyond North Korea to Forge Ties Between Japan and South Korea - USNI News

Panel: U.S. Should Think Beyond North Korea to Forge Ties Between Japan and South Korea - USNI News: Lingering antagonism between Japan and Korea are part of a host of reasons relations between the two key U.S. allies in Asia have yet to improve, according to a Tuesday panel at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.
“Washington can be a lot more imaginative in talking to both sides” and not falling back on the belief that “North Korea is the glue that holds us together,” Michael Auslin of the American Enterprise Institute said.

The stability and order that the United States brought to the region after World War II and the fostering of democracy in Japan and Korea “is at risk. [The three] must act together to take a leadership role in Asia.”

While agreeing on the larger issue of nuclear non-proliferation, the split between the two Asian countries over an agreement on UNESCO World Heritage Sites was only the latest manifestation of how they view 20th-century history and its impact on their relationship.

Army plans to cut 40,000 troops

Army plans to cut 40,000 troops: The Army plans to cut 40,000 soldiers from its ranks over the next two years, a reduction that will affect virtually all its domestic and foreign posts, the service asserts in a document obtained by USA Today.

The potential troop cut comes as the Obama administration is pondering its next moves against the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria. President Obama said Monday he and military leaders had not discussed sending additional troops to Iraq to fight the Islamic State. There are about 3,500 troops in Iraq.

"This will not be quick — this is a long-term campaign," Obama said at the Pentagon after meeting top military brass in the wake of setbacks that have prompted critics to call for a more robust U.S. response against the Islamic State.

Ash Carter's unwelcome news: Only 60 Syrian rebels fit for training - Austin Wright and Philip Ewing - POLITICO

Ash Carter's unwelcome news: Only 60 Syrian rebels fit for training - Austin Wright and Philip Ewing - POLITICO: Defense Secretary Ash Carter caused a stir Tuesday when he told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the $500 million program to train and equip “moderate” Syrian rebels to take on the Islamic State had so far yielded just 60 vetted candidates.

Republicans quickly pounced on the number — far short of a goal for at least 5,400 fighters in the first year — as evidence that President Barack Obama’s strategy for defeating the terrorist group isn’t working, a day after the president defended the plan at a rare Pentagon press briefing. And Democrats quickly went into damage-control mode, noting there are valid reasons the number is so small.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Pentagon says damning report of F-35 troubles ‘doesn’t tell the entire story’ - The Washington Post

Pentagon says damning report of F-35 troubles ‘doesn’t tell the entire story’ - The Washington Post: The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the $400 billion futuristic jet program that so many love to hate, found itself, once again, in the crosshairs this week when a popular military blog published a report from a test pilot who apparently found its performance less than stellar.

“Test pilot admits the F-35 can’t dogfight,” read the headline in War is Boring. “New stealth fighter is dead meat in air battle.”

By now, after years of media beating up the most expensive weapons program in the history of the U.S. military, the Pentagon’s joint program office and Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor, have well-oiled media response teams that are quick to rush to the plane’s defense. And they wasted no time as the War is Boring report gained traction in military circles.

Pentagon Releases National Military Strategy

Pentagon Releases National Military Strategy: The Pentagon has released a new National Military Strategy, the first update to that document since 2011 — one that warns the threat of major war with another nation is "growing."

The strategy is being updated to reflect the new global security situation, one in which the US is facing near-peer adversaries like Russia and China while simultaneously having to handle diffuse militant groups like the Islamic State.

"Since the last National Military Strategy was published in 2011, global disorder has significantly increased while some of our comparative military advantage has begun to erode," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey wrote in his introduction to the strategy document.

"We now face multiple, simultaneous security challenges from traditional state actors and transregional networks of sub-state groups — all taking advantage of rapid technological change," Dempsey continued. "We are more likely to face prolonged campaigns than conflicts that are resolved quickly."

The contents of the document should be no surprise to those who follow the Pentagon. It is a straightforward military document, devoid of politics. The words "budget" and "sequestration" are nowhere to be found.

NATO navies should beef up against Russia: commanders

NATO navies should beef up against Russia: commanders: NATO should beef up its maritime arm in response to the rising threat from an increasingly "bold" and "aggressive" Russia, commanders said on Wednesday.

The 28-member defence alliance's naval forces have in recent years focused on issues such as counter-terrorism and piracy, but speakers at a London conference said the group needed to prepare more to counter Russian military ambitions.

"Russian international maritime presence has grown significantly in recent years, specifically since the Ukraine crisis erupted in 2014," senior NATO commander General Adrian Bradshaw, told a conference in London on NATO's naval future.

"The Russian Federation is shadowing and presumably collecting intelligence from NATO nation naval units in the Baltic, the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, using methods that can be considered bold and sometimes aggressive," he said.

One area that NATO will focus on is how to better project maritime force on land using amphibious units and air power, said British Vice Admiral Peter Hudson.

US warns of Russia, China military threat amid growing global chaos

US warns of Russia, China military threat amid growing global chaos: America's new military strategy singles out states like China and Russia as aggressive and threatening to US security interests, while warning of growing technological challenges and worsening global stability.

A somber report released Wednesday by General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warns of a "low but growing" probability of the United States fighting a war with a major power, with "immense" consequences.

Russia has "repeatedly demonstrated that it does not respect the sovereignty of its neighbors and it is willing to use force to achieve its goals," the 2015 National Military Strategy says.

"Russia's military actions are undermining regional security directly and through proxy forces."

It points to Russian troop presence in the Ukraine conflict, though Moscow denies it has deployed its military in eastern Ukraine to bolster a separatist insurgency.

And the report expresses concern about states developing advanced technological capabilities that are causing the US military to lose its edge in that field.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

F-35 Loses Dogfight to Fighter Jet From the 1980s | The Diplomat

F-35 Loses Dogfight to Fighter Jet From the 1980s | The Diplomat: The United States Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps are planning to acquire a total of 2,457 F-35 fighter jets with operation and maintenance costs estimated as high as $1,016 billion over the next four decades, according to the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense.

The 5th generation stealthy multirole aircraft is primarily designed for ground attack, aerial reconnaissance, and air defense missions rather than air combat. Yet, the plane obviously should still have the capacity to successfully defend itself against enemy air superiority fighters (In fact, some countries interested in procuring the F-35 want to deploy it first and foremost in an air-superiority role).

However, according to a report obtained by War is Boring, defending itself against legacy 4th generation air-superiority fighters is perhaps too tall of an order for the F-35. A five-page report by a test pilot of an aerial combat exercise over the Pacific Ocean near Edwards Air Force Base in California in January 2015 notes that the F-35 could not beat the F-16 in a close-range dogfight (aka “visual range air-to-air engagement tests”).

Navy Won't Commit to Proposed Congressional Cost Cap for Second Ford-Class Carrier - USNI News

Navy Won't Commit to Proposed Congressional Cost Cap for Second Ford-Class Carrier - USNI News: Lawmakers are considering lowering the congressional cost cap for the second Ford-class aircraft carrier, John F. Kennedy (CVN-79), to a dollar figure the Navy says it cannot commit to.

The Senate Armed Services Committee proposed lowering the cost cap by $100 million in its version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016. The committee did so based on a new, lower “total ship estimate” the Navy submitted in its budget request documents in February – $11.348 billion, compared to the current congressional cost cap of $11.498 billion.

The Senate committee chose to lower its cost cap by $100 million rather than the full $150 million to hold the Navy accountable for some cost reduction while still leaving some margin for the second-in-class ship, USNI News understands.

The Navy, however, will only commit to meet the higher figure, not the lower estimate from February, Naval Sea Systems Command officials told USNI News.

The program office requested the full $11.498 billion in last year’s FY 2015 budget submission, NAVSEA spokeswoman Colleen O’Rourke said. This year, however, “the FY 2016 president’s budget request reflects $80.5 million in congressional reductions.

PICTURES: USN Prowler embarks on final flight - 6/30/2015 - Flight Global

PICTURES: USN Prowler embarks on final flight - 6/30/2015 - Flight Global: The US Navy’s last Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft flew its final flight from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington on 27 June, concluding 44 years in service with the force.

The carrier-based aircraft took part in a ceremonial final take-off and flyaway from its previous home base, leading the way for the Boeing EA-18G Growler to take over as its replacement.

Stennis, SPAWAR Prepare for First Carrier Deployment with Next Generation CANES Network - USNI News

Stennis, SPAWAR Prepare for First Carrier Deployment with Next Generation CANES Network - USNI News: Navy communications at sea will take a big leap forward in capability and capacity later this year. The service’s next-generation IT infrastructure, which promises faster connections and greater cyber security protections, will be tested and deployed for the first time on an aircraft carrier, USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74).

Stennis is preparing for both a deployment in the fall and its five-year Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) examination in late July, and it will be the first aircraft carrier to do either with the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES).

Sailors aboard Stennis may notice faster and more reliable connections, but the real advantages of CANES are behind the scenes. It combines five legacy networks into a single environment that the Navy says is easier to defend from cyber attacks. It will eventually be put on surface combatants, amphibious ships and submarines, standardizing the computing environment across platforms to make upgrades easier and ownership costs lower.

The new IT backbone has been installed on 24 ships, with another eight in progress now, but Stennis – being the first aircraft carrier – was orders of magnitude more complex and challenging than the guided missile cruisers and destroyers that came before it, officials said.

America needs Russian rocket engines to fly to space

America needs Russian rocket engines to fly to space: US space agencies need additional Russian-made RD-180 rocket engines until a domestically produced equivalent is ready for use, the head of US Space Command said June 26.

"Without access to the RD-180... we severely limit our assured access [to space], undermine the competition we have worked so diligently to enable and will have traded one monopoly for another in the medium and intermediate vehicle classes," Gen. John Hyten said at a House Armed Services Committee hearing, National Defense magazine wrote on Friday.

The nine RD-180 rocket engines available will not ensure access to space for the United States national security needs, said Hyten. He supported the

Defense Department request to fulfill the 2012 purchase of additional RD-180 rocket engines in order to allow the ULA to participate competitively until a new launch system is available to deliver necessary space capabilities.

Congress earlier prohibited the use of the Russian-made engines for heavy lift rockets after 2019. Now, the aeronautic industry is working to produce a domestic version, but there are concerns that a replacement will not be ready in time. That may leave SpaceX, founded by billionaire Elon Musk, alone in offering heavy lift services if its Falcon Heavy is developed by then, the magazine noted.