Friday, August 28, 2015

Russia and China trying to make stealth obsolete - Business Insider

Russia and China trying to make stealth obsolete - Business Insider: The US and its allies continue to invest heavily in the F-35 and other stealth-capable aircraft. But Russia and China are rapidly developing systems that would negate the benefits that stealth offers.

According to Zarchary Keck writing in The National Interest, both Beijing and Moscow have begun development of unmanned aerial vehicles that have the goal of finding, detecting, and possibly even eliminating enemy stealth aircraft.

China's stealth detection drone, called the Divine Eagle, is believed to be specially built to counter stealth aircraft while they are still far from the Chinese mainland.

US 'to Deploy Heavy Weapons to Poland in 2016' |

US 'to Deploy Heavy Weapons to Poland in 2016' | Poland's defense minister said Thursday the United States would deploy heavy weapons to the EU state next year, as regional tensions run high over Russia and the conflict in Ukraine.

Washington had said in June it would store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other heavy weapons for as many as 5,000 American troops in several Baltic and eastern European countries.

"We expect this deployment to take place in mid-2016," Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak told the local news agency PAP.

He said two locations for the weaponry had been identified in the west and northeast of the country following talks with the United States but would not specify the exact locations.

Siemoniak added that the terms would be finalised during a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels in early October.

The deployment of weaponry will represent the first time since the Cold War that the United States has stationed such equipment in NATO members that were once under Soviet sway.

Boeing patents flying drone that turns into a submarine - Business Insider

Boeing patents flying drone that turns into a submarine - Business Insider: Early this year, the US Patent and Trademark Office approved a patent application from Boeing's Nathan Hiller for a "rapid deployment air and water vehicle."

In other words, Boeing's has patented a remotely operated flying drone that can transform into a submarine.

Here's how it works.

According to Boeing, the patented craft could be carried into the deployment area by a host aircraft. The remotely piloted drone would then detach from the carrier aircraft and fly on its own. When required, the drone would then dive into the water.

To reduce weight and to optimize the drone's hydrodynamic properties, the craft would then shed its wings and propellers using explosive bolts and water-soluble glue.

When submerged, a set of propellers and control surfaces would appear in place of the detached wings and the propellers used in the air.

1st CAV aviators will deploy to Europe this fall

1st CAV aviators will deploy to Europe this fall: About 450 soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation, 1st Cavalry Division, will deploy to Germany in November, the Army announced Thursday.

The soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas, will deploy for nine months as part of a regular rotation of forces to support, in part, Operation Atlantic Resolve and U.S. Army Europe.

While deployed, the soldiers will conduct medical transport and aviation operations throughout Europe, partnering with NATO and U.S. forces.

“Providing trained and ready forces in support of U.S. Army Europe and NATO shows our commitment to improve interoperability and strengthen relationships,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Bills, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, in a statement

Shadow warfare: The cyber relationship between China and the US at 'breaking point' - IT Feature from

Shadow warfare: The cyber relationship between China and the US at 'breaking point' - IT Feature from Governments have always kept secrets. Governments have always spied. But the dramatic focus on technological advances in cyber espionage and hacking is shifting the battle lines of the 21st century.

Cyber attacks have now joined the traditional weapons of government as exploiting gaps in foreign networks, collecting zero-day vulnerabilities and installing network surveillance are just some of the tactics now used by nations with the ability to do so.

Nowhere is this escalation in the cyber arena being played out more openly than between the US and China.

Earlier this year a secret National Security Agency (NSA) document uncovered earlier this year revealed more than 600 successful attacks on US corporate and government networks over a five-year period had come from China.

US Army To Choose New Landing Craft Next Year

US Army To Choose New Landing Craft Next Year: In line with the Pentagon's so-called Pacific pivot, the US Army wants to buy a new fleet of boats to replace its Vietnam-era "Mike Boat," the service's first major watercraft procurement in 15 years, acquisitions officials said Tuesday.

The Army plans to solicit proposals for roughly two dozen multipurpose landing craft called the Maneuver Support Vessel (Light), or MSV(L), according to Col. Steve George, transportation capabilities manager for Army Training and Doctrine Command. They would replace the Landing Craft Mechanized 8, known as the LCM-8 or Mike Boat.

Army leadership, according to George, has realized the criticality of watercraft based on their use in the Middle East, South America and especially the Pacific, where they have been used for humanitarian and partnership efforts. In terms of transportation procurement priorities, MSV(L) was second only to the Army's major Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, Army officials said.

The MSV(L) is intended for sustainment missions and as a maneuver option to conduct riverine operations, or to get into a denied area, where there is a degraded port or none at all. It is envisioned as having an operational capability from ship to shore and along coastal waters, narrow inland waterways and rivers, according to budget documents.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Seabees build one-of-a-kind causeway

Seabees build one-of-a-kind causeway: A team of active duty and reserve Seabees from the East and West coasts have teamed up to build an expeditionary pier that has sat in storage for four years — and it’s likely that the Navy-Marine Corps team will need this one-of-a-kind pier in future operations.

With a reach of 3,000 feet, a width of 72 feet, the $60-million Elevated Causeway System (commonly called the ELCAS) is designed to provide over-the-horizon logistics to places where port facilities are damaged or don’t exist. While various floating piers are more common, they also become unusable in high seas. ELCAS sits a safe 7 feet above high tide.

“You pretty much have to drag [the floating systems] off the beach and place them in some sort of safe haven,” said Lt. John Orr, the man in charge of this ELCAS build. “This system just smiles and says, ‘Keep coming.’ So it is a perfect Seabee system.”

Indeed, hurricanes have increasingly hampered humanitarian aid, and combat can cripple port operations. As China builds air strips and outposts on reefs and islands in the South China Sea, many Pacific allies look to respond by building fortifications on desolate islands. Despite this potential demand, the ELCAS modular pier remains the only one in the world, and only 80 sailors are qualified to build it (a number that will double by the end of September). The system can be used to rapidly deliver vehicles and cargo ashore in an amphibious operation, for example.

USN kicks off LRASM integration on F/A-18E/F - IHS Jane's 360

USN kicks off LRASM integration on F/A-18E/F - IHS Jane's 360: The US Navy (USN) has begun initial integration of Lockheed Martin's Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) onto the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet carrier-borne strike fighter.

Fit checks are currently being conducted at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Maryland, ahead of the start of airworthiness testing.

Being developed and integrated under an accelerated programme to meet the navy's Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW) Increment 1 programme, LRASM is a highly autonomous, precision-guided anti-ship standoff weapon that leverages the basic design of the AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER), but introduces additional sensors and systems specific to the offensive ASuW mission. It has been conceived to be able to penetrate sophisticated shipborne defences and with reduced dependence on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms, network links, and GPS navigation.

Originally initiated in 2008 by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Office of Naval Research, the programme has now been transitioned to the LRASM Deployment Office (LDO), a partnership of DARPA, the USN (through the Naval Air Systems Command [NAVAIR]), and the US Air Force (USAF).

The US Department of Defense's fiscal year 2015 (FY 2015) budget confirmed plans to move forward with the sole-source acquisition of LRASM to meet OASuW Increment 1 programme requirements. The LDO plans to deliver an Early Operational Capability (EOC) on USAF's B-1B Lancer bomber from FY 2018; EOC on the USN's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is to follow in FY 2019. LRASM pre-production missiles have already been the subject of three successful flight tests from the B-1B. Activity to support LRASM integration on the F/A-18E/F began at NAS Patuxent River Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 on 12 August.

Lockheed, AM General May Protest JLTV Award | DoD Buzz

Lockheed, AM General May Protest JLTV Award | DoD Buzz: Defense contracting giant Lockheed Martin Corp. and Humvee-maker AM General LLC may protest the U.S. Army’s decision to award a contract to truck-maker Oshkosh Corp. to build a Humvee replacement.

In separate statements after the Army awarded Oshkosh a $6.7 billion contract to build the first 17,000 production models of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, the losing bidders expressed disappointment that they weren’t selected for the work.

Notably, they didn’t rule out the possibility of filing a protest over the decision with the Government Accountability Office, which adjudicates contract disputes

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Marine tanks, artillery arrive in Bulgaria for training rotation - News - Stripes

Marine tanks, artillery arrive in Bulgaria for training rotation - News - Stripes: Marine tanks, artillery and light-armored vehicles arrived Tuesday in Bulgaria as part of a new Corps training rotation in the Black Sea region.

The Combined Arms Company of roughly 160 Marines will be stationed at the Novo Selo Training Area in eastern Bulgaria for six months. Created to train with forces in the region, the company will fall under a Marine battalion based at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania, which oversees the Corps’ Black Sea Rotational Force.

Four Abrams tanks, six light-armored vehicles and three howitzers arrived with the Marines in Bremerhaven, Germany, from the U.S. East Coast last week, according to Marine Forces Europe-Africa. The company moved the equipment east by rail over the past week.

Marine leaders say the new company adds to U.S. and NATO reassurance efforts in eastern Europe, where countries remain nervous over recent Russian assertiveness. They say the company also opens up more options for Marine crisis response in the region. The Marine crisis-response force for Europe and Africa is based out of Moron Air Base, Spain.

Three rotations are planned over the next year and a half, staffed by Marines from II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Funding for the rotations comes through the European Reassurance Initiative, a roughly $1 billion account aimed at expanding the U.S. presence and exercises in Europe.

French-American who would 'give anything' is new attack hero - Europe - Stripes

French-American who would 'give anything' is new attack hero - Europe - Stripes: Mark Moogalian and his wife were seated facing each other on the high-speed train when he suddenly told her, "Get out, this is serious." Then, Isabelle Risacher Moogalian said, she ducked behind some seats as he lunged to grab the assault rifle from the gunman's hands.

"When my husband collapsed, I saw across the seats. He looked at me and he said `I'm hit, I'm hit.' He thought it was over and he was going to die," she told Europe-1 radio. The bullet struck him in the back and exited through the neck.

The American teacher and artist who has lived in France for more than two decades has emerged as another hero in the high-speed train attack thwarted by a group of quick-thinking men. According to French President Francois Hollande, a Frenchman was the first to encounter the gunman as he left the toilet, alerting others in the area. That person, Hollande said, wished to remain anonymous.

USAF Reviewing Boeing's Tanker Schedule After Setbacks

USAF Reviewing Boeing's Tanker Schedule After Setbacks: The US Air Force is reviewing Boeing's schedule for its KC-46 tanker to ensure the recapitalization program is still on track to meet a critical deadline as repeated setbacks threaten to derail the company's tight testing schedule.

Despite eating an $835 million pre-tax charge that stemmed from development issues with the integrated fuel system on the plane, as well as repeated delays of the first flight, Boeing is bullish about its ability to deliver 18 ready-to-go tankers to the Air Force by August 2017.

“Boeing is committed to delivering the initial 18 tankers by 2017 and we continue to talk daily with the Air Force on our progress,” Boeing spokeswoman Caroline Hutcheson said Aug. 25.

But the Air Force needs more convincing, Secretary Deborah Lee James indicated Monday during a press conference at the Pentagon.

Unmanned helo sets endurance record

Unmanned helo sets endurance record: An MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter system has set a new flight record for itself during endurance flight testing by the U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman.

The record set was 11 hours in a 150 nautical mile flight from Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, Calif.

The test was part of a series of capability tests used by the Navy to validate their concept of operations and previously tested performance parameters.

"Endurance flights provide a full evaluation of the MQ-8C Fire Scout systems," said Capt. Jeff Dodge, program manager, Fire Scout, Naval Air Systems Command. "We can better understand the capability of the system and look at crew tasks and interactions in a controlled environment. This will allow us to adjust operational procedures to maximize the system's effectiveness."

The MQ-8C Fire Scout is designed to provide persistent reconnaissance, situational awareness, and precision targeting support for ground, air and sea forces. It completed developmental flight testing earlier this year and is scheduled for operational assessment later this year.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

US Air Force: Cost Error Won’t Impact Bomber Planning

US Air Force: Cost Error Won’t Impact Bomber Planning: The US Air Force’s botching of a 10-year cost estimate for its next-generation bomber two years in a row has been corrected and will not impact the service’s planning for the program, according to US Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James.

“The mistake was a regrettable error, but it has been corrected, so it is not going to affect us internally,” James said Monday during a press conference at the Pentagon.

James’ remarks come as the Air Force scrambles to do damage control after reports emerged of massive cost discrepancies in the service’s most recent cost estimates for the long-range strike bomber. Last year, the Air Force estimated costs for the LRS-B from fiscal years 2015 to 2024 at $33.1 billion. This year, the service pegged costs for fiscal 2016 to fiscal 2025, a similar 10-year period, at $58.2 billion.

The mistake occurred partially due to human error and partially due to “process error,” James said.

“A couple of our people got the figures wrong and the process of coordination was not fully carried out,” James said. “Coordination of course means other people are providing a check and balance and looking at the numbers, so that typically is how something like this would get caught.”

Joint High Speed Vessel Launches 2 UAV Types In Fleet Experimentation - USNI News

Joint High Speed Vessel Launches 2 UAV Types In Fleet Experimentation - USNI News: As the Navy tries to figure out what to do with its growing fleet of Joint High Speed Vessels, a recent experiment showed the platform could serve as a staging base for unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Navy Warfare Development Command partnered with U.S. 4th Fleet and Military Sealift Command to put the Scan Eagle and Puma unmanned aerial systems on USNS Spearhead (JHSV-1) for two two-week periods this summer, with positive results.

Lt. Mark Bote, the experiment lead for the Joint High Speed Vessel 2015 Fleet Experimentation (FLEX) – conducted in conjunction with the Southern Partnership Station series of events – said the idea of the dual-UAV operations was to determine how Puma and Scan Eagle “could fit into potential adaptive force packages in the future and how to use the JHSV in a more diverse way.”

Pentagon: More Firepower for Asia-Pacific Region - Blog

Pentagon: More Firepower for Asia-Pacific Region - Blog: A Defense Department Asia-Pacific maritime security roadmap released Aug. 21 calls for more personnel and weapon systems to be forward deployed in the region.

The “Asia-Pacific Maritime Security Strategy” said the Pentagon in the near future will be “bringing its finest capabilities, assets and people to the Asia-Pacific region.”

The region has for decades remained free from major conflicts, the congressionally mandated report noted. “However, the security environment is changing, potentially challenging the continued stability of the region.”

Included in its list of assets being sent to the region would be the first forward-stationed F-35B Marine Corps joint strike fighters, which will be based in Iwakuni, Japan. The new aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan will replace the USS George Washington this year. Japan will also host the newest air operations-oriented amphibious assault ship, the USS America, by 2020, two more Aegis-capable destroyers and the latest class of stealth destroyers, the DDG-100.

“The department will also procure 395 F-35 aircraft over the next several years, many of which will be deployed to the Asia-Pacific region,” the report said.

It will base an additional attack submarine and two additional Virginia-class submarines in Guam.

Lawmaker Demands Answers on LRS-B Cost Discrepancy

Lawmaker Demands Answers on LRS-B Cost Discrepancy: Rep. Jackie Speier is demanding answers after the US Air Force reportedly botched estimates for the 10-year cost of its next-generation bomber.

The California Democrat sent a letter to Air Force Secretary Deborah James on Monday morning decrying “massive discrepancies” between this year and last in 10-year cost estimates for the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B), and demanding an explanation by Sept. 30.

Last year, the Air Force estimated costs for the LRS-B from fiscal years 2015 to 2024 at $33.1 billion. This year, the service pegged costs for FY '16 to FY '25, a similar 10-year period, at $58.2 billion. This is a 76 percent increase, Speier points out in the letter — a change the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on oversight and investigations calls “alarming.”

“This sudden 76 percent increase in estimated cost is alarming, because it raises questions about the management of a crucial program that lacks transparency, on which we cannot afford serious cost overruns, development errors, and reduced production numbers that would deprive the United States of one of its core military capabilities,” Speier wrote.

Monday, August 24, 2015

US Air Force to Send F-22 Fighter Jets to Europe in Response to Russia |

US Air Force to Send F-22 Fighter Jets to Europe in Response to Russia | The U.S. will deploy F-22 Raptors – its most advanced fighter jets -- to Europe as part of the NATO buildup to deter Russian aggression in the region, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said Monday.

"We will very soon deploy F-22s to Europe as part of the European Reassurance Initiative" to bring a persistent air, land, and sea presence to the region, James said.

The U.S. has already increased training exercises and rotational deployments in Europe but "an F-22 deployment is certainly on the strong side of the coin" with the "air-to-air capability" it brings in sending a message to Moscow, she said.

For security reasons, James said the timing of the deployment, and where the F-22s will be based, were not being disclosed, but having the F-22s on station will "demonstrate our commitment to the security and stability of Europe."

LCS to Boost U.S. Presence in Disputed South China Sea | DoD Buzz

LCS to Boost U.S. Presence in Disputed South China Sea | DoD Buzz: The speed, maneuverability and shallow draft of the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship makes the platform well suited for the South China Sea, Pentagon leaders said while releasing a new Asia-Pacific maritime strategy document.

“The LCS is ideally suited for a role in the South China Sea. It is fast, light and flexible and it has a fifteen foot draft so it can go places other vessels cannot go. We plan to have four LCS ships in Singapore on a rotational basis by 2018,” David Shear, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, told reporters on Friday.

The service has long planned to rotate the ships through Singapore as part of the Pentagon’s shift to the Pacific. However, the increasing LCS fleet size underscores the potential value of the platform in the South China Sea region, where there are many shallow ports inaccessible to larger-draft ships.

Lockheed welcomes U.S. plan to use its combat system for frigates | Reuters

Lockheed welcomes U.S. plan to use its combat system for frigates | Reuters: Lockheed Martin Corp on Friday welcomed the U.S. Navy's decision to use Lockheed's integrated combat system for future frigate-class ships to be built beginning in fiscal 2019, saying it would allow greater commonality across the entire Navy fleet.

"It's great news," Joe North, vice president of Littoral Ships and Systems at Lockheed, told Reuters in a telephone interview. "Now we get to move out and get the fleet on one system."

Neither the Navy nor Lockheed provided an estimate for the value of the combat system, but North said each system accounted for less than 10 percent of the cost of the ship. The last three ships ordered by the Navy ranged in price from $345 million to $441 million.

Pentagon taps General Dynamics to test fireball bunker bomb - 8/20/2015 - Flight Global

Pentagon taps General Dynamics to test fireball bunker bomb - 8/20/2015 - Flight Global: The US Air Force could soon have a new air-delivered tool in its arsenal for destroying chemical and biological weapons – a Hammer, fittingly, or Heated And Mobile Munitions Employing Rockets.

A $7.2 million contract recently awarded to General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems Aerospace furthers the development of a new munitions concept, which involves littering an underground bunker or weapons storage facility with hundreds of 2.4kg (5.5lb) rocket-propelled fireballs designed to incinerate chemical and biological agents at temperatures in excess 538°C (1,000°F).

The “kinetic fireball incendiaries” would be delivered inside a 907kg (2,000lb) BLU-109B bunker bomb – which has enough punching power to penetrate 1.8m (6ft) of reinforced concrete.

A spokeswoman for the air force’s armaments directorate at Eglin AFB in Florida tells Flightglobal that over the next nine months, General Dynamics will demonstrate three basic subsystem functions – ejection, ignition and dispersal. Additional contract options are available to fund static and sled testing of the complete HAMMER weapon system.

There are currently no flight tests planned, since that depends on the success of the sled tests.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Women as Navy SEALs: controversial plan presses ahead

Women as Navy SEALs: controversial plan presses ahead: The "Navy does not intend to request any exemptions" banning women from serving in special warfare positions, including as a SEAL commando, Cmdr. William Marks, a top Navy spokesman, told Navy Times Thursday.

His comments underscore those made by the Navy's most senior officer, Adm. Jon Greenert, who told Navy Times in an exclusive interview Tuesday that the service was "on a track to say, 'Hey look, anybody who can meet the gender non-specific standards, then you can become a SEAL.' "

The Navy and all the services must notify the Defense Department by Sept. 30 of any exemption they want from new Defense Department policy that would end long-time bans on women serving in numerous combat billets. Greenert's comments were the first reported statement on the Navy SEALs' intent not to seek that exemption.

If the Navy, as Marks said, does not seek an exemption, then for the first time in its history, the service will open all positions and assignments regardless of gender. That would include about 2,500 SEAL positions and 750 positions in the Special Warfare Combat Crewman community.

First female Ranger grads share credit with classmates

First female Ranger grads share credit with classmates: The first women to earn the coveted Ranger Tab credited their classmates with helping them get through the famously punishing course. The soldiers, along with 88 others, will officially graduate from Ranger School on Friday during a ceremony on Victory Pond at Fort Benning.

"It's awesome to be part of the history of Ranger School in general, and graduating with these guys next to me, and the 90-plus other Ranger students will probably be the highlight of my life," said 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, an AH-64 Apache pilot with the 4th Infantry Division.

Haver, Capt. Kristen Griest and six of their classmates spoke to the media Thursday at the Georgia post.

"I'm just happy to be done with the course," said Griest, a military police officer. "I came here to be a better leader and improve myself, and I feel like I did that."The soldiers also were glad to be done with the course, which is known for pushing students through tough conditions on minimal sleep and food.

The women were part of the Army's gender-integrated assessment of Ranger School.

US's Loss of Kyrgyzstan Means Losing Its Foot hold in Central Asia

US's Loss of Kyrgyzstan Means Losing Its Foot hold in Central Asia: On Thursday, the US-Kyrgyz cooperation agreement on aid lost its legal force, following a decision made last month by a Kyrgyz government irritated over Washington's continued interference in its internal affairs. In an article for RIA Novosti, journalist Vladimir Ardaev explained why losing Bishek is an important blow to US plans for Central Asia.

The treaty on "Cooperation to Facilitate the provision of Assistance," signed in 1993, was officially aimed at "facilitating the provision of humanitarian, economic and technical assistance" to the people of Kyrgyzstan. The agreement provided for US aid to the country to be brought into and out of the country without the levying of taxes and customs duties. Moreover, US aid workers and military personnel were granted near-diplomatic status.

Last summer, the US military air base in Manas, outside Bishkek, long serving as a key logistics hub for the transport of goods and forces to the NATO coalition in Afghanistan, was closed.

2 Graduating Rangers, Aware of Their Burden - The New York Times

2 Graduating Rangers, Aware of Their Burden - The New York Times:

First Lt. Shaye Haver, an Apache attack helicopter pilot who on Friday will be one of the first women to graduate from the Army’s elite Ranger School, wants to remain an aviator. But she takes away weighty lessons from her grueling Ranger training: “Your mind can take a whole lot more than your body,” she said.

“I think I would be crazy to say” that the thought of quitting never occurred, she said on Thursday in her first public appearance since completing the exhausting nine-week course of little sleep and constant hiking with backpacks, water, weapons and other gear that weighed more than 100 pounds. But, Lieutenant Haver said, “the ability to look around to my peers and see that they were sucking just as bad as I was kept me going.”
The other woman poised to make history by graduating Friday, Capt. Kristen Griest, said that if the Army ever allowed women to take the final step into combat, she may want to join the Special Forces. Captain Griest admitted she felt “internal pressure” over how her performance could affect future opportunities for women.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Marines merge Europe, Africa commands under one 2-star

Marines merge Europe, Africa commands under one 2-star: A single general took charge of all Marine forces in Europe and Africa Tuesday as part of a significant merger of commands as officials work to streamline the service’s post-war crisis response mission.

During a ceremony in Stuttgart, Germany, Maj. Gen. Neil Nelson took charge of Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa, according to a Marine news release. With Nelson stationed in Germany, the merger puts him closer than his predecessors to the Marines and sailors who operate across Europe and Africa.

“Not only does Nelson unite the Marines operating across two continents under one commander, he is the first commander to be based in Germany alongside the two geographical combatant commanders, [Air Force] Gen. Philip M. Breedlove and [Army] Gen. David M. Rodriguez,” the release states.

Until Tuesday's change of command ceremony, Marine forces in Europe were commanded by Lt. Gen. Robert Neller, who was based in Norfolk, Virginia. Marines in Africa were previously led by Maj. Gen. William Beydler, who is the head of II Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Lockheed Skunk Works designing next-gen U-2 spy plane - 8/19/2015 - Flight Global

Lockheed Skunk Works designing next-gen U-2 spy plane - 8/19/2015 - Flight Global: Lockheed Martin Skunk Works is designing a next-generation high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) surveillance airplane, known internally as RQ-X or UQ-2, as an optionally-manned successor to the U-2 and Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk.

U-2 programme officials told reporters at the Skunk Works headquarters in Palmdale, California, that its engineers have been mulling designs for stealthy HALE platform that would combine the best of the U-2 and its unmanned rival, the Global Hawk.

The advanced research and development arm of Lockheed is essentially pursuing an improved version of the U-2, which is powered by the same General Electric F118 engine and optimised to fly at 70,000ft or higher. It would carry many of the same sensors, since those are already calibrated for use at that altitude. The biggest difference will be the aircraft’s low-observable characteristics.

“Think of a low-observable U-2,” says Scott Winstead, Lockheed’s U-2 strategic development manager. “It’s pretty much where the U-2 is today, but add a low-observable body and more endurance.”

The disclosure comes on the 60th anniversary of the U-2 programme, and as stagnant defence budgets force the Pentagon to choose between retiring the U-2 or Global Hawk.

The US Air Force has no formal requirement for a U-2 successor, nor has it released a time frame for when it might start pursing a next-generation HALE platform.

Officials: Military likely to open most combat jobs to women

Officials: Military likely to open most combat jobs to women: Two women have now passed the Army's grueling Ranger test, and even tougher and more dangerous jobs could lie ahead. The military services are poised to allow women to serve in most front-line combat jobs, including special operations forces, senior officials told The Associated Press.

Based on early talks, officials say the Army, Navy and Air Force likely will not seek exceptions that close any jobs to women. Marine Corps leaders, they say, have expressed concerns about allowing women to serve in infantry jobs and yet may seek an exception.

The services are wrapping up reviews and must make their recommendations to Defense Secretary Ash Carter this fall. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the internal debate.

Even if Marine leaders object, they are likely to meet resistance from senior Navy and Defense Department officials who want the military to be united on this issue.

Undercutting the Marines' reservations is that Special Operations Command is likely to allow women to compete for the most demanding military commando jobs — including the Navy SEALs and the Army's DeltaForce — though with the knowledge that it may be years before women even try to enter those fields.

Navy SEALs set to open to women, top admiral says

Navy SEALs set to open to women, top admiral says: The Navy is planning to open its elite SEAL teams to women who can pass the grueling training regimen, the service's top officer said Tuesday in an exclusive interview.

Adm. Jon Greenert said he and the head of Naval Special Warfare Command, Rear Adm. Brian Losey, believe that if women can pass the legendary six-month Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, they should be allowed to serve.

"Why shouldn't anybody who can meet these [standards] be accepted? And the answer is, there is no reason," Greenert said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with Navy Times and its sister publication Defense News. "So we're on a track to say, 'Hey look, anybody who can meet the gender non-specific standards, then you can become a SEAL.'"

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Army, SOCOM to take on daily drone missions

Army, SOCOM to take on daily drone missions: The Pentagon will significantly expand the number of daily drone sorties conducted around the globe during the next several years and will for the first time expand the mission beyond the Air Force, a defense official said.

The plan reflects a high-level recognition that the Air Force's remotely piloted vehicle fleet can no longer meet the forcewide demand for combat air patrols flown by drone pilots, mainly due to severe pilot shortages.

"Demand exceeds supply in this type of mission," Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said Monday.

The new plan aims to ratchet up the number of daily drone flights from the current level of about 60 each day to 90 by 2019, a goal that will affect long-term planning for budgets and manpower, Davis said.

The Air Force's drone fleet will maintain its current requirement of 60 daily combat air patrols, Davis said. The Army will assume responsibility for between 10 and 20 daily sorties; U.S. Special Operations Command will provide 10 drone flights per day; and contractors will handle up to 10 additional flights, Davis said.

Any sorties conducted by contractors would have to be unarmed, Davis said.

Marine Corps sends tanks, weapons to Eastern Europe

Marine Corps sends tanks, weapons to Eastern Europe: Marines with a new Bulgaria-based unit designed to deter Russian aggression will soon be equipped with some serious firepower that arrived in Europe this weekend.

The Marine Corps shipped four Abrams main battle tanks, three howitzer artillery cannons and six light armored reconnaissance vehicles to the Combined Arms Company on Sunday, said Capt. Richard Ulsh, a spokesman for Marine Corps Forces Europe.

The vehicles and weapons were first transported to Bremerhaven, Germany, from North Carolina. The heavy equipment was then loaded onto trains and sent about 1,100 miles to the Novo Selo Training Area in Bulgaria, where about 160 Marines are deployed on six-month rotations.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Pentagon Fears It’s Not Ready for a War With Putin - The Daily Beast

Pentagon Fears It’s Not Ready for a War With Putin - The Daily Beast: The U.S. military has run the numbers on a sustained fight with Moscow, and they do not look good for the American side.

A series of classified exercises over the summer has raised concerns inside the Defense Department that its forces are not prepared for a sustained military campaign against Russia, two defense officials told The Daily Beast.

Many within the military believe that 15 years of counter-terrorism warfare has left the ground troops ill prepared to maintain logistics or troop levels should Russia make an advance on NATO allies, the officials said.

Among the challenges the exercises revealed were that the number of precision-guided munitions available across the force were short of the war plans and it would be difficult to sustain a large troop presence.

“Could we probably beat the Russians today [in a sustained battle]? Sure, but it would take everything we had,” one defense official said. “What we are saying is that we are not as ready as we want to be.”

Lockheed to Design Missile That Hits Multiple Warheads | DoD Buzz

Lockheed to Design Missile That Hits Multiple Warheads | DoD Buzz: Lockheed Martin Corp., the world’s largest defense contractor, plans to design a missile defense component that can take out multiple warheads.

The Bethesda, Maryland-based company on Thursday said it will design a multi-object kill vehicle for the Pentagon’s ground-based missile defense system under a $10 million contract from the Missile Defense Agency.

“We will devise and explore the most effective solutions for destroying more than one warhead with a single interceptor, an important step in changing the cost curve for missile defense engagement,” Doug Graham, vice president of missile systems and advanced programs at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, said in the release

Uncertainty Surrounds the Cost of New Bomber - Blog

Uncertainty Surrounds the Cost of New Bomber - Blog: Questions remain about whether the Air Force will be able to meet its cost and quantity targets for the new long-range strike bomber as the service prepares to announce which industry team has been chosen to build the aircraft, analysts said.

The Air Force plans to acquire 80 to 100 bombers at an estimated cost of $550 million per plane. Research-and-development costs for the jet are projected to reach $25 billion.

During an Aug. 13 roundtable discussion hosted by the Center for a New American Security, a Washington, D.C-based think tank, defense experts noted that much remains unknown about the Air Force’s requirements for the aircraft, which is a top secret program. Black areas include range, speed, service ceiling, payload capacity, the types of ordnance it will carry, and how it will preserve stealth capabilities in the decades to come.

“There’s a logic that says invest here [and] make it the stealthiest you can make it,” said Andrew Hunter, an industry analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “There are other technologies that you are going to probably have to add to … the original design to keep ahead of the threat.”

Air Force officials have publicly stated some of the requirements for the new bomber: It must be stealthy, nuclear-capable, and optionally manned or unmanned.

Friday, August 14, 2015

From Area 51 to the Skies of Syria

Sorties across the stratosphere > U.S. Air Force > Article Display

The enemy should fear what it can’t see. At high altitudes toward the edge of space, the U-2S is invisible to the naked eye, transmitting critical intelligence to the warfighters below.

The single-seat, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft has been part of the Air Force’s arsenal for nearly 60 years ensuring decision-makers receive pertinent information, which feeds into deciding courses of action on the battlefield.

“It was originally developed by the Air Force, Central Intelligence Agency and Lockheed at Area 51,” said Maj. Brian, an expeditionary reconnaissance squadron U-2 pilot. “The airplane went through many different evolutions and expansions between 1955 and the 1960’s. Now, we’re able to fly above every other airplane in the world; because we can fly that high we can look farther into enemy or denied territory better than anyone else.”

Ground and air operations frequently depend on the U-2’s intelligence to ensure the most efficient and effective tactics are used during missions.

The U-2 and its pilot, suited in what looks like astronaut gear, fly at altitudes routinely above 70,000 feet for extended amounts of time gathering information that keep warfighters several steps ahead of the enemy.

“Most airstrikes are using, in some capacity, intelligence gained by the U-2,” Brian said. “We also provide warnings to identify threats to some of our strike aircraft. We contribute to mission precision, efficiency and of course information dominance; we can take pictures and listen to radios of the enemy and they have a far limited ability to do that of us.”

While the pilot is responsible for flying and gathering information, several support teams behind the scenes are essential to the U-2’s success.

One of those teams is vital to keeping the mission alive, literally.

The fate of U-2 pilots rests in the hands of the physiological support detachment team. Airmen are responsible for preparing the specialized equipment as well as suiting up the aviator prior to takeoff.

“What our team provides for pilots is safety, mobility and comfort,” said Airman 1st Class Christian, an expeditionary reconnaissance squadron physiology support technician. “The equipment we provide gives our pilots peace of mind during the mission, and it’s not a false peace of mind. If something serious were to actually happen, the equipment is there to support them; it stands between life and death.”

For 60 years the U-2 has bridged the gap for warfighters, painting a clearer picture of the battlefield ahead.

The U-2’s tasks haven’t changed with the current campaign, Operation Inherent Resolve. The operation is a multinational effort with a shared objective to degrade and ultimately eliminate the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

“Our customers include all the services, many different governmental agencies and coalition forces,” Brian said. “The intel we provide is varied and expansive; it can be anything from improvised explosive device placement, IED manufacturing facilities, specific houses or airfields.”

The demand for accurate intelligence supplied by the U-2 and other ISR platforms is an essential component in aiding efforts to end ISIL’s movement. The contributions from the ISR community help keep the enemy in a vulnerable state.

The team of U-2 Airmen brings a unique capability to Air Force and coalition partner operations. Lurking at the border of space, the U-2 continues to conduct missions giving the Air Force even more leverage in the fight against ISIL.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

China’s New Islands Are Clearly Military, U.S. Pacific Chief Says - Defense One

China’s New Islands Are Clearly Military, U.S. Pacific Chief Says - Defense One: The top U.S. military officer in the Pacific sternly warned China on Friday to immediately cease its “aggressive coercive island building” in the South China Sea, which he argued was intended clearly for China’s military use as forward operating bases in combat against their regional neighbors.

US Navy considers reduced annual F-35C buy - 8/13/2015 - Flight Global

US Navy considers reduced annual F-35C buy - 8/13/2015 - Flight Global

The US Navy believes budget pressures and competing priorities could drive it to purchase fewer Lockheed Martin F-35Cs per year in the 2020s, and a worst-case scenario could see it procure as few as 12 aircraft per year, or one squadron.

Naval Air Forces commander Vice Adm Mike Shoemaker says the current plan is to purchase around 20 carrier variants per year in the 2020s, but depending on the resources available, annual output could fall to anywhere between 12 and 20 aircraft.

“I think the current realities of the budget and other priories inside the navy may drive something between those two numbers, but we’re still on the path to [initial operational capability] for our first squadron in 2018,” Shoemaker said at the US Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“I’ll keep working as hard as I can with our leadership in the [Pentagon] to ensure we can stay on the path and get out of Classic Hornets and replace them with our F-35C as quick as we can.”

The admiral had two charts with him at the forum, one showing an annual buy of 12 C-models per year through the 2020s and one showing a buy rate of 12. The navy’s latest five-year spending plan shows production peaking at 12 in 2020 as it works toward a total purchase of 369 aircraft to replace its legacy fleet of Boeing F/A-18C/D Hornets.

Talk of decreased production rate comes just one month after incoming chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Gen Joseph Dunford told lawmakers the Pentagon was reviewing how many F-35s it should purchase given new defence strategic guidance and budget pressures, casting doubt about the current requirement for 2,443 aircraft, which was set about two decades ago.

The navy is by far the least enthusiastic recipient of the F-35, with the Marine Corps and Air Force holding firm on their annual buys despite facing similar budget pressures. The C-model was designed specifically for carrier-based operations and has larger wings and horizontal tails as well as stronger landing gear than the A- and B-models.

Rockwell Delivers First Gen 3 Helmet for F-35

Rockwell Delivers First Gen 3 Helmet for F-35: Marking a milestone for the joint strike fighter program, Rockwell Collins this week delivered the first Generation 3 helmet for the F-35.

The Generation 3 Helmet-Mounted Display System (HMDS), which was handed over to the Joint Program Office Tuesday in a ceremony at the company's headquarters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is crucial to the F-35's advanced suite of technologies. It provides a 360-degree digital view of what's going on around the aircraft, essentially letting the pilot "look through" the cockpit floor and walls. All the information pilots need to complete their missions is projected on the helmet's visor.

Developed and built by the Rockwell Collins ESA Vision Systems joint venture, the new helmet includes an improved night vision camera, improved liquid-crystal displays, and automated alignment and software upgrades, according to an Aug. 11 company statement. The Gen 3 helmet will be introduced to the fleet as part of the low-rate initial production lot 7 in 2016.

News of the delivery marks a victory for the futuristic helmet program, which has faced challenges over the years. After a series of technical failures on the original system, the Pentagon requested that BAE Systems develop a back-up, lower-tech helmet, in case the kinks could never be worked out with the primary system.

Jeb Bush offered inaccurate version of Iraq war history | McClatchy DC

Jeb Bush offered inaccurate version of Iraq war history | McClatchy DC: Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, in his Tuesday speech that was billed as a major foreign policy address, provided a distorted version of the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq and an incorrect account of the origins of the Islamic State.

Bush vowed that if elected he would expand U.S. military intervention in the Middle East significantly. His version of events, however, seemed intended to absolve his brother, President George W. Bush, of blame in destabilizing the region while trying to pin the region’s current bloodshed on President Barack Obama and his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, the current Democratic presidential frontrunner.

The former Florida governor asserted that the Islamic State’s takeover of large swaths of Iraq in 2014 was a direct consequence of the “fatal error” of Obama’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from the country in 2011 after the eight-year U.S. military occupation. He claimed the withdrawal squandered the “success, brilliant, heroic and costly,” of the 2007 U.S. troop surge. He said Clinton “stood by as the hard-won victory by American and allied forces was thrown away.”

Bush’s account of the withdrawal as a “case of blind haste” omitted the fact that it was his brother who’d set the withdrawal date of Dec. 31, 2011, in an agreement that he signed with the Iraqi government in 2008.

Odierno Wades Into GOP War Over Iraq War - Defense One

Odierno Wades Into GOP War Over Iraq War - Defense One: Gen. Ray Odierno, the U.S. Army’s top officer, pushed back on the Iraq War blame game that has dominated the GOP 2016 presidential campaign trail, saying that the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 was the Bush administration’s plan all along. Odierno, formerly the senior U.S. general in Iraq, said he was unconvinced at the time that the Iraqi parliament would have approved a longer stay for American troops had Obama administration officials successfully negotiated for it.

Departing US army chief says Iraq may have to be partitioned

Departing US army chief says Iraq may have to be partitioned: The US Army's outgoing chief of staff warned Wednesday that reconciliation between Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq is becoming harder and that partitioning the country "might be the only solution."

General Raymond Odierno, who once served as the top US commander in Iraq and retires Friday after nearly 40 years in uniform, said the US focus for now should be on defeating the Islamic State, the jihadist group that has seized large portions of the country.

But in a valedictory news conference he took a pessimistic view about the underlying conflict between Shiites and Sunnis that brought the two communities to brink of civil war in 2006.

Asked if he saw any possibility of reconciliation between the two, Odierno said "It's becoming more difficult by the day" and pointed to a future in which "Iraq might not look like it did in the past."

Asked about partition, he said: "I think that is for the region and politicians to figure out, diplomats to figure out how to work this, but that is something that could happen.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Pentagon Directs Shock Tests on Carrier Ford

Pentagon Directs Shock Tests on Carrier Ford: The Pentagon rejected a US Navy plan to carry out shock and survivability tests on the second ship of its new aircraft carrier design, and instead directed the service to test the first ship — even though doing so may delay the ship's first deployment by at least half a year.

In an Aug. 7 memo to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's top acquisition official, ordered the "full ship shock trial" (FSST) to be carried out on the Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), first of a new class of carriers and expected to enter service in 2016.

The ship is in the final stages of construction at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.

The Navy had wanted to wait until the second ship, the John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), was available, but that carrier isn't expected to enter service until late 2022 or 2023. Among other issues, the Navy argued that the time taken to perform the tests on the Gerald R. Ford would delay the ship's first deployment.

Virtually all new ship designs undergo shock testing, where real explosives are set off close to the ship, which is then examined to see how well it withstood the stresses. The tests, however, are not always performed on the first ship to enter service.

When it comes to war in space, U.S. has the edge

When it comes to war in space, U.S. has the edge: Quietly and without most people noticing, the world’s leading space powers — the United States, China and Russia — have been deploying new and more sophisticated weaponry in space.

Earth’s orbit is looking more and more like the planet’s surface — heavily armed and primed for war. A growing number of “inspection” satellites lurk in orbit, possibly awaiting commands to sneak up on and disable or destroy other satellites. Down on the surface, more and more warships and ground installations pack powerful rockets that, with accurate guidance, could reach into orbit to destroy enemy spacecraft.

A war in orbit could wreck the delicate satellite constellations that the world relies on for navigation, communication, scientific research and military surveillance. Widespread orbital destruction could send humanity through a technological time warp. “You go back to World War Two,” Air Force General John Hyten, in charge of U.S. Space Command, told 60 Minutes. “You go back to the Industrial Age.”

It’s hard to say exactly how many weapons are in orbit. That’s because many spacecraft are “dual use.” They have peaceful functions and potential military applications. With the proverbial flip of a switch, an inspection satellite, ostensibly configured for orbital repair work, could become a robotic assassin capable of taking out other satellites with lasers, explosives or mechanical claws. Until the moment it attacks, however, the assassin spacecraft might appear to be harmless. And its dual use gives its operators political cover. The United States possesses more space weaponry than any other country, yet denies that any of its satellites warrant the term.

Odierno: Army 'dangerously close' to being cut too deep

Odierno: Army 'dangerously close' to being cut too deep: As the Army prepares to cut 40,000 more soldiers in order to fit into a shrinking budget, the service is in danger of becoming too small for an increasingly dangerous world, the chief of staff said, and that may embolden our enemies to act.

"If we get small enough where some of these [world] leaders don't believe the Army can respond or deter them, if you can't ... deter them from believing they can accomplish something ... that increases the threats and danger to the United States," Gen. Ray Odierno said in an exclusive sit-down with Army Times. "And I don't know what that level is, but I think we're getting dangerously close to that level now."

Since 2012, the Army has cut 80,000 soldiers and shut down 13 brigade combat teams, including two in Germany and one in South Korea, to reach an end-strength of 490,000.

The service will cut 40,000 more soldiers for an end-strength of 450,000 by the end of fiscal year 2018; another 30,000 soldiers could be forced to go if sequestration returns in fiscal 2016, which begins Oct. 1.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Nuclear upgrade costs $700 billion over next 25 years, think-tank study estimates

Nuclear upgrade costs $700 billion over next 25 years, think-tank study estimates: The U.S. will face a “bow wave” of increased costs to update its nuclear arsenal, but operating budgets could thereafter return to levels comparable to today's, according to a new study released by a Washington, D.C. think tank.

The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment, in a report released Tuesday, estimates it could cost $704 billion between 2015 and 2039 to fully update and upgrade the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

Although all parts of the nuclear triad need updates, the largest cost is likely to be borne by the Navy while working on a replacement for the Ohio-class nuclear submarines. The Navy’s costs could climb above $12 billion annually in the late 2020s and early 2030s, Harrison said.

The Air Force, meanwhile, will see its greatest expense between fiscal 2029 and 2031, as costs break $4 billion a year as the service seeks to bring the next-generation Long Range Strategic Bomber online, the study estimates.

US Army to acquire enhanced MH-47G Block 2 Chinooks - IHS Jane's 360

US Army to acquire enhanced MH-47G Block 2 Chinooks - IHS Jane's 360: The US Army is looking to renew production of the Boeing MH-47G Chinook special mission helicopter in an upgraded Block 2 configuration, it disclosed on 3 August.

With production of the final eight Block 1 MH-47Gs set to be complete by the end of the year, the US Army Aviation Integration Directorate is proposing the resumption of production after this date to deliver an undisclosed number of additional MH-47G helicopters in a Block 2 configuration, according to a solicitation posted on the Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) website.

The US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) currently fields 61 remanufactured Block 1 MH-47Gs (62 were delivered - 35 CH-47Ds, nine MH-47Ds and 18 MH-47Es - although one was lost on operations in Afghanistan). The USASOC is to receive the additional eight new-build MH-47Gs by the end of 2015 to offset the fleet's high operational tempo.

The army is known to be looking at options for replacing some or all of its remanufactured Block 1 MH-47Gs with new-build airframes, and it is this requirement that the solicitation posted on FedBizOpps site likely pertains to. Boeing deferred questions related to the solicitation to the US Army, which did not respond to a request for information by the time of publication.

Pentagon: Team Obama Is ‘Too Timid’ on Putin - The Daily Beast

Pentagon: Team Obama Is ‘Too Timid’ on Putin - The Daily Beast: America’s military brass keeps calling Russia an ‘existential’ danger to the U.S.—and the White House isn’t exactly thrilled.

Every time a U.S. military commander calls Russia the biggest threat to the United States, the White House fumes.

In recent weeks, there’s been a dramatic, if little noticed, shift in how the Pentagon talks about the world. Russia—once dismissed as a military has-been—is now being regarded as an enemy with the potential to do “existential” damage to America. Everyone from the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on down is raising the alarm about a Russia that is revamping its nuclear arsenal, launching ultra-sophisticated cyberattacks, and, of course, stirring up trouble in Eastern Europe. And that talk is not sitting well with the staff at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Russia is just one of myriad threats, White House officials say—calling it a top threat is a step down a slippery slope toward the risk of conflict. And the talk from the Pentagon about arming the Ukrainians, so they can resist Putin? The White House is having none of it. Putting more weapons in the hands of Russia's enemies would only create an excuse for more Russian violence, the White House worries, just as they are trying to secure a sustainable cease-fire.

The Ukrainians and America’s NATO allies in the Baltics “need to see us take action right away,” a senior defense official said. But the administration’s approach is to avoid “getting involved in any kind of conflict…They’re being a little too timid.”

Of course, nobody wants a wider war with the Russians

US Army seeks Stinger-based defence against cruise missiles - IHS Jane's 360

US Army seeks Stinger-based defence against cruise missiles - IHS Jane's 360: The US Army issued a request for information (RfI) for a Raytheon FIM-92 Stinger-based air defence system to counter cruise missiles on 4 August.

The RfI, which was posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website, calls for sources with the capability to provide engineering services in support of the Stinger missile in relation to the development of the Cruise Missile Defense Systems (CMDS) for both United States and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers.

As highlighted in the RfI, the Stinger is a short-ranged fire-and-forget shoulder-launched man-portable air defence system (MANPADS) designed to provide point-defence for ground forces against attack or observation by low-flying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), helicopters, and fixed-wing threats out to 4.5 km.

The missile currently utilises a high-explosive, hit-to-kill warhead with a contact fuze, and can be fired from a range of platforms, including ground vehicles, UAVs, and helicopters. While no configuration has been disclosed, in the CMDS role it will be either a static or mobile ground-based system.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Mini Drones Spark Heightened Interest in Countering Threat

Mini Drones Spark Heightened Interest in Countering Threat: They may only cost a few hundred dollars to buy but the growth of incidents involving micro-UAVs has given birth to a potentially multimillion dollar industry to protect people and infrastructure from these threats.

You would have struggled to find much counter-UAV technology on public view at previous Paris Air Shows. Last week's exhibition, though, was different; there was plenty of evidence military, security forces and even industry organizations have turned their attention to the threat posed by mini and micro machines in the wrong hands.

Controp, MBDA and Thales Nederland were among the companies marketing equipment ranging from electro optical/imaging infrared turrets to radars and laser attack weapons.

Nor was it individual systems on offer. Thales briefed reporters on how its capabilities as an air defense systems integrator might find a role in counter-UAV, pulling together options such as ground surveillance radars, direction finders, acoustic sensors, command and control, electronic support, jamming, smart munitions and even drone interceptors into mini-air defense systems.

Concept of a nuclear-armed F-35C divides opinion - 8/4/2015 - Flight Global

Concept of a nuclear-armed F-35C divides opinion - 8/4/2015 - Flight Global: The US government may currently have no plans to carry nuclear weapons on the F-35C, the carrier-based variant of Lockheed Martin's Joint Strike Fighter, but some in Washington are keen to revive the concept.

They see as attractive the concept of carrier-based nuclear deterrence operations, particularly with an eye towards a 2017 review of the country's nuclear posture and planned initial operational capability of the naval fighter jet in 2018.

Thomas Karako of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies says it might not be the current policy to deploy nuclear weapons on aircraft carriers, but there needs to be some debate, particularly while the F-35C is still in development.

The problem, he says, is that America is coming to rely on fewer and fewer types of nuclear weapons and delivery platforms under the current so-called “3+2 strategy” where dual-capable fighters and bombers will be armed with just one type of nuclear gravity bomb (the B61-12) and one Long-Range Standoff (LRSO) cruise missile.

He says the current strategy is based on 1992, post-Cold War thinking and there is a case to be made for diversifying and distributing nuclear capabilities across the force to restore credibility to the “nuclear deterrent,” which is designed to keep traditional atomic adversaries like Russia and China in check.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

With new paint and grease, Navy tries to lengthen subs' life

With new paint and grease, Navy tries to lengthen subs' life: As it tries to get the most out of each of its $2.6 billion attack submarines, the U.S. Navy is finding a lot depends on the right paint job.

A new painting process that helps keep marine life from fouling the hulls is among dozens of innovations aimed at reducing the maintenance needs for attack submarines, which are coming out of service faster than they can be replaced.

"They're not very glamorous, but they're huge in terms of payback to the fleet," said Navy Capt. Mike Stevens, a manager for the Virginia-class submarine program at Naval Sea Systems Command.

The changes were developed by private and government shipyards in response to a request from the Navy, which wants to squeeze more service life out of each vessel. In addition to the paint, updates include water-resistant grease for hatches, a special coating on the metal rods that extend the bow planes to minimize deposits, and redesigned water-lubricated bearings to improve support of the propeller shaft.

The goal is for the submarines eventually to go eight years between lengthy and expensive major overhaul periods, up from six years currently.

US Navy conducts initial LCS SSMM tests - IHS Jane's 360

US Navy conducts initial LCS SSMM tests - IHS Jane's 360: The US Navy has conducted engineering development tests of a modified AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire Missile in support of an intended lethality increment for both classes of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) platform.

The navy in April 2014 selected the AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire as the surface-to-surface missile for early increments and testing for the LCS Surface Warfare Mission Package (SuW MP) requirement. In July of the same year, the navy confirmed Longbow Hellfire as "the selected missile" for the LCS SuW MP engagement requirement per the LCS Capabilities Description Document (Flight 0+).

Integration of the Longbow Hellfire system, designated Surface-to-Surface Missile Module (SSMM), which will be included in Increment 3 of the SuW MP set for LCS, is intended to deliver a stand-off engagement capability against fast inshore attack craft (FIAC) and fast attack craft (FAC) to complement the LCS' Mark 110 Mod 0.57 mm naval gun system, SeaRAM anti-ship missile defence system, and armed MH-60R Sea Hawk anti-submarine warfare/anti-surface weapon system.

Conducted off the coast of Virginia in mid-June aboard the USNS Relentless (T-AGOS-18) research vessel, the trials - designated Guided-Test Vehicle-1 - were designed to specifically test the Longbow Hellfire launcher, missile, and millimetric wave seeker against representative FIAC threats using surrogate high-speed manoeuvring surface targets (HSMSTs). The SSMM successfully engaged seven of eight HSMSTs, "with the lone miss attributed to a target issue not related to the missile's capability", according to the navy.

U-2 poised to receive radar upgrade, but not un-manned conversion - 7/31/2015 - Flight Global

U-2 poised to receive radar upgrade, but not un-manned conversion - 7/31/2015 - Flight Global: The Lockheed Martin proposal to “un-man” the U-2 is dead, but the old high-altitude surveillance aircraft is very much alive despite repeated attempts to kill the programme.

The air force pushed back the aircraft’s retirement from 2016 to 2019 in its latest budget submission, giving it more time to upgrade the Northrop Grumman RQ-4B Global Hawk before sending the U-2 to the boneyard.

But the Lockheed Skunk Works thinks retiring the U-2 would be premature, since the U-2 fleet is as active and capable today as at any point in its 60-year history.

In fact, the U-2 programme is set to receive an improved Raytheon Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar System (ASARS-2B) with double the range of the original -2A model, and a third-generation L-3 Communications radio that can relay data between fourth- and fifth-generation fighter jets, among other things.

“We’ve done some extensive stress analysis to verify our airframe is good through 2050,” Lockheed U-2 programme director Melani Austin tells Flightglobal. “That’s based on information generated from the engineering team here as well as concurrently evaluated at Warner Robins [Air Logistics Centre], our acquisition customer.”

Report: US strategic bomber spending totals $58B through 2024 - 7/31/2015 - Flight Global

Report: US strategic bomber spending totals $58B through 2024 - 7/31/2015 - Flight Global: The US government expects to spend $33.1B building its next-generation strategic bomber over the coming decade and a further $24.4B upgrading the Northrop Grumman B-2 and Boeing B-52, according to a 30 July Government Accountability Office report.

The figures come as the US Air Force prepares to award a development contract for the Long-Range Strike Bomber to either Northrop Grumman or a Boeing-Lockheed Martin team. An announcement is expected in late August or early September and could be worth upwards of $80B to the winner for 80 to 100 new bombers.

The 10-year spending projections are accurate as of May 2014, but represent the most comprehensive bomber figures made public so far.

By comparison, the Congressional Budget Office reported in January that strategic bomber spending would total $40B through 2024, $18B less than the government estimate.

GAO’s numbers come from its analysis of the Pentagon and National Nuclear Security Administration’s joint 2014 forecast of nuclear weapons spending, and the LRS-B total was not reported in 2013.

The report shows that the total estimated cost of sustaining and modernising the nuclear force rose 40% in 2014 compared to the 2013 projections, partly because the new sum includes LRS-B and the air force’s replacement for the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile, called the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD).

China's military wants more teeth to counter India, US, Japan - The Economic Times

China's military wants more teeth to counter India, US, Japan - The Economic Times: Bracketing India along with the US, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam as "threats" to China'a airspace, the PLA in a study has sought the broadening of its air surveillance and attack capabilities with high-speed cruise missiles and a new generation of bombers.

China's Air Force Command Academy in its report last year identified the United States, Japan, Taiwan, India and Vietnam as "threats" to its military airspace until the year 2030, Japanese news agency Kyodo reported.

While the massive expansion of Chinese navy with a second aircraft carrier and a new bomber to operate from its decks attracted worldwide attention, the new study showed that the airforce has started developing a similar expansion strategy, the report said.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Marines change European mission amid Russian aggression

Marines change European mission amid Russian aggression: The Marine Corps' mission in Eastern Europe is rapidly evolving in the face of Russian saber-rattling, according to the outgoing commander of the Romania-based Black Sea Rotational Force.

The unit's latest deployment was the busiest ever and saw a shift in training of European allies away from counterinsurgency operations. Instead, they're practicing conventional combat, amphibious raid operations, and have even stood up a new company-sized unit complete with tanks and artillery, said Lt. Col. David Fallon, who led the unit from late January to July.

It puts Marines in Russia's backyard and is just one way the U.S. is working to reassure allies, he said. That is critical given recent developments in the region.

"Our future chairman [of the joint chiefs of staff] and commandant is saying the biggest security threat as a nation is Russia," Fallon said. "I think you can predict with near certainty we will have a continued presence there as long as that remains so. Just in talking with our Eastern European allies and partners, it is very reassuring to them that our highest decision makers are clearly focused on this part of the world."

Fallon echoed recent comments by Brig Gen. Norm Cooling, the deputy commander of Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa, who cited the first ever deployment of MV-22 Ospreys to Romania in late May to participate in Exercise Platinum Eagle, as evidence of an increased commitment to a region spooked by Russian saber-rattling and intervention in places like Ukraine.

CNO: More ships to be forward-deployed

CNO: More ships to be forward-deployed: Greenert's plan says the Navy is on track to maintain an average of 36 ships at any point in the Middle East by 2020, from an average of 22 today. In large part, that's due to an increase in the number of forward-based ships, from 95 to 115, by 2020.

The Navy is also on track to station seven LCSs in the Persian Gulf, stationed in Bahrain on a rotational basis by 2020.

The service is also going to begin deploying a coastal patrol ship to Southern Command, which includes Central and South America, and expects to deploy at least one joint high speed vessel per year to Africa and one to South America.

Greenert called this an "innovative, low-cost and small-footprint" approach to providing presence in the areas.

The JHSVs, civilian-crewed high-speed ferries that can be configured to carry Marines and heavy equipment, would also be used to provide additional presence in Europe.

Marines Declare F-35B Operational

Marines Declare F-35B Operational: a milestone for the F-35 joint strike fighter, the US Marine Corps today declared the F-35B jump-jet model to have achieved initial operational capability (IOC).

The news means that the Marines consider the F-35B model – one of three designs of the multi-role fighter — to be an active plane that can perform in operations the same way any other active aircraft in its arsenal can.

The plane was declared operational by Gen. Joe Dunford, the outgoing Marine Corps commandant — and incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs — in a July 31 announcement.

"I am pleased to announce that VMFA-121 has achieved initial operational capability in the F-35B, as defined by requirements outlined in the June 2014 Joint Report to Congressional Defense Committees," Dunford said in a statement. "VMFA-121 has ten aircraft in the Block 2B configuration with the requisite performance envelope and weapons clearances, to include the training, sustainment capabilities, and infrastructure to deploy to an austere site or a ship. It is capable of conducting close air support, offensive and defensive counter air, air interdiction, assault support escort and armed reconnaissance as part of a Marine Air Ground Task Force, or in support of the Joint Force."

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Latvia to buy Stinger ground-to-air missiles from US

Latvia to buy Stinger ground-to-air missiles from US: Latvia said Friday it would buy Stinger ground-to-air missiles from the United States next year, amid concern in the ex-Soviet Baltic state over Russia's sabre-rattling in the region.

"A decision was taken to buy the Stinger missile system," Latvian chief of defence Lieutenant General Raimonds Graube said on public television.

He added that the total cost and number of missiles would be decided after the EU and NATO member agrees next year's budget, which is likely to happen in October.

He said the Stingers would likely be kept at the Adazi military base near capital Riga -- the same base due to host heavy US weaponry starting later this year as part of a reinforcement of Baltic defences announced last month.