Friday, September 30, 2016

Electronic warfare in the palm of your hand

Electronic warfare in the palm of your hand: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded BAE Systems a contract for lightweight, handheld tactical sensors to provide better situational awareness and understanding of radio frequency signals.

The solution utilizes technologies related to what has been termed cognitive electronic warfare, which uses advances in machine learning to rapidly identify and adjust to signals in the field. BAE’s handheld EW technology is capable of rapidly detecting and identifying multiple interfering signals such as jammers or communications signals across the spectrum using cognitive processing algorithms, an announcement from the company stated.

DARPA was interested in the ability to figure out if signals exist in a particular environment and what those signals are, Apurva Mody, group leader of the Dominance, Awareness and Sharing group at BAE, explained. BAE developed a chip that enables advanced signal processing to know what those signals are, he continued.

“We call it internally spectrum analyzing on steroids,” he said.

Boots on the Ground: Why America Must Invest in Dominant Infantry Forces | The National Interest Blog

Boots on the Ground: Why America Must Invest in Dominant Infantry Forces | The National Interest Blog: There is an old saying that generals and admirals are like bass…they’re drawn to bright shiny objects. The same holds true in spades for politicians. America has sought to win its wars by investing huge sums on big shiny objects that float and fly in the hope that our wars can be won by expending materiel rather than men.

To avoid bloodshed in battle we plan to fight our wars by assuming (or hoping) that our allies will substitute their soldiers for ours; that we will fight using “non kinetic” forms of national power such as diplomacy, information and economic leverage; that tomorrow’s warriors will fight in cyberspace and that if any killing is necessary it will be done by armed drones.

Are the U.S. and China Headed Towards a Naval War in Asia? | The National Interest Blog

Are the U.S. and China Headed Towards a Naval War in Asia? | The National Interest Blog: The United States does not have a coherent strategy to deal with a rising People’s Republic of China in the Western Pacific. Nor do foreign policy experts specializing in the Asia-Pacific region have a concrete set of ideas to coax an increasingly assertive Beijing into accepting the U.S.-led post-Second World War liberal-institutional world order or to reassert Washington’s dominance in the region.

It is becoming increasingly clear that China hopes to chart its own course independent of the existing Western frameworks as Beijing reaffirms its claims to the South China Sea and continues to build artificial islands in the region, but how policymakers in Washington will deal with the issue is an open question.

U.S. Air Force and Navy May Challenge China in the South China Sea | The National Interest Blog

U.S. Air Force and Navy May Challenge China in the South China Sea | The National Interest Blog: Following a two-week trip through Asia involving numerous meetings with Asian allies, James was unambiguous in her statement that China does not appear to be stopping its effort to expand its territorial dominion through the construction of man-made “island-like” structures in contested areas of the South China Sea.

“Everywhere we went we did talk about the situation in the South China Sea. China still appears to be building and has not appeared to stop or abate. This continues to be worrisome,” James said.

Of course James did not wish to formally specify where, when or how the US might conduct these operations, for security reasons – but she was clear that they were quite possible in light of China’s continued provocations.

As evidence of the US posture, James cited a circumstance several years ago when China declared an “Air Exclusion Zone” in portions of the skies in the area. In response, the US flew B-52s through the claimed area to demonstrate freedom of navigation of the skies.

“We want a good and balanced relationship with China but we do want China to respect the rule of law. More operations are certainly a possibility,” James added.

Defense chief focuses on Asia during speech in San Diego - The San Diego Union-Tribune

Defense chief focuses on Asia during speech in San Diego - The San Diego Union-Tribune: n a sweeping Thursday morning address from the flight deck of the supercarrier Carl Vinson, Defense Secretary Ash Carter vowed to protect a “burgeoning network” of Asian allies against an increasingly powerful and assertive China.

“China is rising, which is fine. But sometimes it’s behaving aggressively, which is not,” Carter said aboard the warship, which was docked at North Island Naval Air Station.

Although his tone often turned tough when talking about Beijing during his half-hour speech, Carter suggested that American military, economic and diplomatic efforts in Asia will be more like congenial containment than armed rollback.

“The rebalance is about the future. We’re not trying to stop or rewind the clock in the Pacific,” he said.

Next Phase of Pacific Rebalance Focuses on Cyber, Interoperability

Next Phase of Pacific Rebalance Focuses on Cyber, Interoperability: The US will seek to “sharpen our military edge” in the Pacific even as it hopes China will improve relations with its neighbors, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said today.

As a result, Carter today announced what he described as a “third wave” of the Obama administration’s rebalance to the Pacific, commonly referred to as the “Pacific Pivot.”

As he has in every speech focused on the Pacific since taking over as secretary, Carter attempted to thread the needle between criticizing China for its aggressiveness in the South China Sea while holding out a hand towards the Asian power.

“Everyone gets a voice [in the region], and no one is excluded -- and by the way, that includes China, and its military, and we hope China doesn’t exclude itself,” Carter said in prepared remarks. Defense News is travelling with Carter this week as he heads to a meeting of the defense ministers from the ASEAN nations.

“The United States still has serious concerns with some of China’s recent actions on the seas, in cyberspace, and elsewhere,” Carter added. “Beijing sometimes appears to want to pick and choose which principles it wants to benefit from and which it prefers to try to undercut.”

Digital photography: The future of small-scale manufacturing

Digital photography: The future of small-scale manufacturing: What if it were possible to quickly and inexpensively manufacture a part simply by using a series of close-range digital images taken of the object? Michael Immel, instructor in the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, originally started thinking about the technique, called photogrammetry, for a different purpose, but quickly realized its application in manufacturing.

In this technique, digital images of an object that have been taken at various angles are used to create a point cloud - or a large collection of points used to create 3D representation of existing structures - from which a computer-aided design (CAD) file can be generated.

The resulting CAD file and subsequent 3D model could then be used to rebuild the part, or 3D print it, to its original specifications without using traditional methods, which are both expensive and time-consuming.

"If we can take pictures of the parts and use commercial software to create the point cloud file from the images, we can come up with the dimensions within some reasonable amount of accuracy and apply it in industry," Immel explained.

Immel received a seed grant from his department's Entrepreneurship and Innovation Fund to explore whether photogrammetry can be a more efficient way of manufacturing low-tolerance parts - parts that have sufficient limits of variation and do not have to fit into assemblies - such as large pipes and manhole covers.

US-Philippines military alliance 'ironclad': Pentagon chief

US-Philippines military alliance 'ironclad': Pentagon chief: US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Thursday said America's alliance with the Philippines remains "ironclad" even though the Asian ally's leader has vowed to end joint military exercises.

The Pentagon chief's remarks came as he headed for a security summit in Hawaii, where concerns about Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, China's continued military expansion in the South China Sea, and the return of Islamic State group jihadists to the region were high on the agenda.

"As it has been for decades, our alliance with the Philippines is ironclad," Carter said, addressing troops aboard the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, docked in San Diego.

Duterte on Wednesday said he would soon end joint military exercises with the United States, a symbolic blow to a military alliance dating back more than 60 years.

Marines Could Deploy Aboard Littoral Combat Ships, Destroyers |

Marines Could Deploy Aboard Littoral Combat Ships, Destroyers | The Navy's newest surface ship could carry contingents of Marines in the not-too-distant future, according to a new operating concept released by the Marine Corps this week.

While the Corps has long promoted the concept of Marines deploying on non-traditional vessels and seabasing platforms, the new Marine Corps Operating Concept further opened the aperture, describing a future in which troops take on a broader role in maritime security, counter-piracy operations, and sea control aboard smaller surface ships, including the littoral combat ship and future frigates.

"Navy and Marine Corps units can be task-organized to provide scalable and distributed options to defeat land-based threats with the forcible entry capability provided by up to two [Marine Expeditionary Brigades], deny enemy use of key maritime areas or terrain, or establish [expeditionary advance bases]," the document states.

South Korea Picks New Site for US Missile Defense System |

South Korea Picks New Site for US Missile Defense System | A private golf course in South Korea's southeast has been chosen as the new site for an advanced U.S. missile defense system to be deployed by the end of next year to protect against North Korean threats, Seoul's Defense Ministry said Friday.

South Korean military officials in July originally picked a nearby artillery base in the rural farming town of Seongju as the site for the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD.

But Seongju residents fiercely protested the plan, expressing concern over potential health hazards they believe the system's powerful radar might cause.

The golf course owned by South Korea's Lotte business group is also within Seongju, but located farther from the town's main residential areas. However, residents of Gimcheon city, which borders the course, have protested the expected move.

The new site was selected after a month-long inspection and was approved by the defense ministers of both the United States and South Korea, Seoul's Defense Ministry said in a statement. A ministry note provided to lawmakers described the golf course as ideal because it would require less construction than two other possible sites that were on mountains.

Carter Promises More Resources for Pacific Pivot |

Carter Promises More Resources for Pacific Pivot | The U.S. will spend more and devote more of its newest assets to the Pacific in the next phase of the rebalance of forces to the Asia-Pacific region to reassure allies and keep China at bay, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Thursday.

"The United States will continue to sharpen our military edge so we remain the most powerful military in the region and the security partner of choice," he said.

"We're going to have a few surprises as well," he added, describing them only as "leap-ahead investments."

In an address aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in San Diego harbor, Carter said the U.S. will increase investments in resources in what he called the "third phase" of the so-called Pacific pivot that began five years ago.

Among the investments singled out by Carter were:
Tripling the Tomahawk missile capacity of Virginia-class submarines assigned to the Pacific;
Increasing funding for undersea drones -- in multiple sizes and diverse payloads -- that can operate more effectively in shallow waters where manned subs cannot;
Refitting the SM-6 supersonic missile so it can also strike enemy ships at sea at very long ranges;
Investing in other advanced munitions to improve range and accuracy for land attack and anti-ship missiles, including new torpedoes.

"We're going to have a few more surprises as well," Carter said. "These 'leap-ahead' investments will keep us ahead in the Asia-Pacific and elsewhere.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Marines May See Future Fights in Mega-Cities, Planners Say |

Marines May See Future Fights in Mega-Cities, Planners Say | The Marines' fresh-off-the-presses operating concept deposits readers in the center of a military debrief, set at the base here in the year 2026.

Company- and field-grade officers are rehashing a major effort: Operation Littoral Resolve, the largest integrated naval force operation since the 1950 Battle of Inchon during the Korean War.

It's never made clear where this fictional offensive takes place, but the officers in the scenario describe operations in a dense coastal city, during which Marines must monitor social media patterns to get a sense of who's friendly and how to interact with the population.

In this world, drones are everywhere providing real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, various Marine Corps elements from dispersed small infantry elements to special operations teams to coastal riverine elements integrate seamlessly, and the emerging technology of today features prominently in the fight.

"Working from our F-35 feeds, we sent up our [unmanned aircraft system] killers to take out their crew-served positions and command posts," a Marine expeditionary unit company commander reports in the debrief, referring to the new Joint Strike Fighter. "The mortar section got fire capped and was able to drop precision rounds right where the squad leaders told us to put 'em. They tapped the app and had rounds on target."

Futuristic, yes, but also an educated projection of what fights 10 years from now will look like, according to the 32-page Marine Corps Operating Concept released Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

DARPA Picks BAE’s Smart Handheld EW Sensor « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

DARPA Picks BAE’s Smart Handheld EW Sensor « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary: BAE Systems has been awarded a DARPA contract that may help address one of the most pressing threats the US Army has identified — Russia’s increasingly impressive and powerful use of Electronic Warfare on the battlefield.

The technology for a new handheld tactical sensor that soldiers can easily carry to monitor and analyze the electro-magnetic spectrum on the battlefield was developed under DARPA’s Computational Leverage Against Surveillance Systems (CLASS) program and the Cognitive radio Low-energy signal Analysis Sensor ICs (CLASIC) program.

As Sydney has reported, the brand new Army Rapid Capabilities Office is studying proposals to spend between $50 and $100 million on urgently needed electronic warfare gear. Those options include sensors to detect radar and radio signals, and jammers to block them, mounted on ground vehicles, soldiers’ backpacks, and drones. It’s unclear at this point whether the DARPA system might be considered by the Army’s RCO.

The system is part of a wider effort by BAE Systems to develop something close to the heart of Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work’s Third Offset, a system using artificial intelligence to read and analyze an enemy’s communications and EW emissions, providing soldiers at the tactical level with tools to manage something that used to be handled back in the command center.

Marines Testing Out World’s Smallest Drone – Defensetech

Marines Testing Out World’s Smallest Drone – Defensetech: Top Marine Corps brass have said they want rifle squads to deploy with drones in the future. And if they deploy with this one, they won’t even notice the weight in their pack.

The PD-100 Black Hornet, made by Proxdynamics of Norway, redefines small when it comes to unmanned aerial vehicles. The pocket-sized black or grey birds, which look like helicopters in miniature, weigh 18 grams–the equivalent of three sheets of paper, Proxdynamics General Manager Arne Skjaerpe told They come equipped with day or night-vision cameras and can be operated using a device reminiscent of a beige Nintendo Wii controller and an attached tablet.

It’s the smallest operational drone in the world by far, he said.

“From our perspective, this was developed to give the dismounted squad its own ISR capability,” Skjaerpe said. “That was the big idea, and still is the big idea.”

And the Marine Corps is buying. Skjaerpe said the service has already purchased a small number of the systems, which come with two birds apiece, for test and evaluation purposes. Marine infantry units got a chance to test them out twice this summer: at the Rim of the Pacific multinational exercise, and at Marine Air Ground Task Force Integrated Experiment 2016, which took place at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, in July.

Air Force Fielding New Sensors to High-Altitude Drone – Defensetech

Air Force Fielding New Sensors to High-Altitude Drone – Defensetech: Even as it begins developing the future B-21 stealth bomber for the U.S. Air Force, Northrop Grumman Corp. is busy outfitting new sensors to the RQ-4 high-altitude drone to meet the service’s rising demand for surveillance missions.

The Falls Church, Virginia-based company already this year flew a new sensor onboard the Global Hawk — and plans to test and field two more technologies in coming months, according to Mick Jaggers, vice president and program manager for Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system programs.

Through a cooperative research and development agreement with the Air Force, Northrop flew a Global Hawk with the latest Senior Year Electro-optical Reconnaissance System sensor, or the SYERS-2, made by UTC Aerospace Systems, Jaggers recently told

The sensor is also fitted on the U-2 Dragon Lady spy plane and provides multi-spectral imaging of targets to extreme ranges; the active-duty Global Hawk has since been returned to the Air Force “since that demo was successful,” Jaggers said.

Next up are two other systems called the Optical Bar Camera, or OBC, and the MS-177 Multi-Spectral Sensor System, he said.

Marine Corps to Equip Infantry Units with Polaris ATVs - DoD Buzz

Marine Corps to Equip Infantry Units with Polaris ATVs - DoD Buzz: The U.S. Marine Corps is about to outfit its infantry regiments with a version of the Polaris Defense MRZR four-seater, all-terrain vehicle.

Under the Utility Task Vehicle program, the Marines are planning to purchase 144 Polaris MRZR-Ds, a new version of the vehicle designed to take diesel and JP8 fuel, Joaquin Salas, business development fort Polaris Defense, told Tuesday at Modern Day Marine 2016.

No contract has been awarded yet, but the Corps is planning on fielding 18 MRZR-Ds per infantry regiment, according to UTV program information displayed at the USMC’s Program Manager Light Tactical Vehicles booth at the show.

The vehicles are scheduled to go into production in October, Salas said. In addition to the four crew seats, the MRZR-D features a small cargo bed and is capable of carrying 1,500 pounds of payload, Salas said.

Marines on the Hunt for a Ship-to-Shore Game-Changer - DoD Buzz

Marines on the Hunt for a Ship-to-Shore Game-Changer - DoD Buzz: On the heels of two land wars and with the prospect of conflict with a peer or near-peer global power closer than it has been in decades, innovation is the watchword for the Marine Corps. Marines are testing out new ways to integrate cutting-edge technology into their combat model and updating operating concepts with an eye to an uncertain future. And even time-honored processes are up for reconsideration.

“My father was in World War II. He went ashore in an AmTrac going four to six knots,” Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, told reporters at the Modern Day Marine expo here Tuesday. “Marines today are going to shore in [assault amphibious vehicles] at about the same speed. Let’s look at the technology out there and find different ways to do this.”

A Marine Corps task force, Walsh said, is examining the mechanics of ship-to-shore maneuver now with the goal of improving or modernizing the process. The task force, with input from Dr. John Burrow, assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, will select one prototype by next spring for demonstration at Camp Pendleton, California.

That prototype could be anything from a tactical jet ski that Navy SEALs for force reconnaissance Marines could use to come ashore as an advanced party to a sensor designed to launch off the Marines’ brand-new amphibious combat vehicles to provide additional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, Walsh said. It could even be a decoy system, he said, designed to look like vessels landing on a beach to distract the enemy while the Marines go ashore elsewhere.

The timeline for developing a prototype makes it likely the system selected will be an already-developed technology that is adapted for the Marines’ use.

US Looks to Accelerate Deployment of South Korea Missile Defense |

US Looks to Accelerate Deployment of South Korea Missile Defense | The U.S. intends to deploy a missile defense system in South Korea "as soon as possible" to counter the threat from North Korea despite opposition from China, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia said Tuesday.

Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel said he believes South Korea is firmly committed to the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD system. He told a congressional hearing the system is purely defensive and is not aimed at China but at North Korea.

The plans have complicated South Korea's efforts to foster warmer ties with China, which traditionally has had closer ties with North Korea, and have added to tensions between Washington and Beijing as well. Beijing says the system's radar could reach into Chinese territory.

Seoul and Washington began formal talks on THAAD earlier this year. Russel did not specify when the deployment would happen, but said "given the accelerated pace of North Korea's missile tests, we intend to deploy on an accelerated basis, I would say, as soon as possible."

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How To ‘Land’ A Drone On A Manned Airplane: DARPA’s ‘Gremlins’ « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

How To ‘Land’ A Drone On A Manned Airplane: DARPA’s ‘Gremlins’ « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary: This time, General Atomics’ secret weapon isn’t the drone. It’s the mechanical arm that catches it in mid-flight — and then hauls it into the back of a C-130 cargo plane, also in mid-flight.

General Atomics, which builds the iconic Predator, has rolled out its offering for DARPA’s Gremlins program, blandly called the Small Unmanned Air Vehicle (SUAS). The goal: Build drones — and equally critical, a launch and recovery system — that can take off from a manned aircraft, conduct a mission and come back aboard the plane.

Getting the drone back is “the DARPA-hard part,” said Chris Pehrson, General Atomics VP for Strategic Development in an interview at the Air Force Association conference here last week. GA’s solution blends sophisticated software with cartoony mechanics, as if their senior engineer were Wiley E. Coyote.

They recover the drone with “a mechanical arm that comes down and grabs it,” Pehrson told me. “It’s almost like a Transformer-type thing.”

Pentagon Chief Pledges $108 Billion to Fix Nuclear Force |

Pentagon Chief Pledges $108 Billion to Fix Nuclear Force | Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Monday the Pentagon is committed to correcting decades of short-changing its nuclear force, including forging ahead with building a new generation of weapons that will cost hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming decades.

In his first nuclear-focused speech since taking over the Pentagon in February 2015, Carter implicitly rejected arguments for eliminating any element of the nuclear force or scaling back a modernization plan that some consider too costly.

With the nose of a B-52 bomber at his back, Carter told airmen that the credibility of the American nuclear arsenal is crucial to ensuring its deterrence power. That credibility, he said, is built on personal performance.

"The confidence that you're ready to respond is what stops potential adversaries from using nuclear weapons against the United States or our allies in the first place," he said.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Pentagon helping Southeast Asian allies tackle IS

Pentagon helping Southeast Asian allies tackle IS: The United States is helping Southeast Asian allies do more to prevent the Islamic State group from gaining a greater foothold in the area, senior Pentagon officials said Thursday.

The IS has already established a presence in several countries across the region including Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines, and authorities worry both about domestic attacks and nationals traveling to join the jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

General Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the United States is helping partners share intelligence and information on extremist groups.

"We're trying to work with them to develop a framework within which they can share information, share intelligence," Dunford testified at the committee hearing.

"We are absolutely working close with our partners, and frankly, the limit of the support we provide is often what they are willing to accept politically," he added.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said he was meeting with regional defense ministers next week at a summit in Hawaii and IS would be one subject of discussion.

"Southeast Asia clearly is a place (IS aspires) to spreading," Carter said.

U.S. Army Working on a Dual-Mission Hand Grenade

U.S. Army Working on a Dual-Mission Hand Grenade - Kit Up!: U.S. Army weapon engineers are working on a new hand grenade designed to allow soldiers to choose between fragmentation or blast over-pressure for concussion by simply flicking a switch.

Over the past five years, Picatinny Arsenal engineers have been collaborating with Infantry School representatives, hand grenade cadre, as well as active duty soldiers and Marines, to determine warfighter needs regarding hand grenades.

“Soldiers will not need to carry as many types of hand grenades,” Jessica Perciballi, project Officer the Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose hand grenade at the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC, said in a recent Army press release.

“They are currently carrying one M67 grenade that provides lethal fragmentation effects. With the new multi-purpose grenade, they can carry one ET-MP grenade and have the ability to choose either fragmentation or concussive effects desired for the situation.”

Marines Want Uniform Dye That Doesn't Show Up Under Black Light - Kit Up!

Marines Want Uniform Dye That Doesn't Show Up Under Black Light - Kit Up!: The Marine Corps’ patented MARPAT digital camouflage pattern does a great job of blending on the battlefield. But researchers are worried that the pattern won’t be quite so stealthy against an enemy armed with optics that pick up parts of the light spectrum not visible to the naked eye. That’s why officials with Marine Corps Systems Command are collaborating with the Army to study uniform dyes and materials that won’t glow bright under special optics and give troops’ positions away.

In August, the Army published a request for information for printed fabric materials, including MARPAT woodland and desert camouflage swatches that reduce the fabric’s signature when it’s seen through short-wave infrared, or SWIR, optics. Officials at the Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development & Engineering Center in Massachusetts hope the samples they obtain will determine the availability of existing technology and materials that will meet operational goals as they continue research.

Charles Bell, product manager for Infantry Combat Equipment at SYSCOM, said research involves the full spectrum, including signatures under black, or ultraviolet, light, which can make certain colors glow bright.

“We are looking at inks and mixes and dyes that [neutralize] the reflectance,” he said in an interview with

The difference in dyes would not be visible under ordinary light, Bell said.

US Air Force Set to Replace Intercontinental Nuke Arsenal |

US Air Force Set to Replace Intercontinental Nuke Arsenal | Hidden underground in steel-and-concrete silos across rural America, more than 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles point to the skies, poised for launch -- and ready to obliterate cities across the world.

First designed in the 1960s at the height of the Cold War, the Minuteman nuclear weapons are starting to show their age, and replacement parts are difficult to find for the weapons designed in an analog age.

Also aging are their silos, many built in the 1950s and now rusting as water seeps through the decaying concrete.

Over the next 20 years, the U.S. Air Force will switch out the entirety of its Minuteman III fleet with an as-yet-unnamed new missile known only as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD).

The Air Force estimates the cost of the GBSD, to be introduced late in the 2020s and phased in over the following decade, will be around $86 billion over the missiles' life cycle of about 50 years.

Critics point to the Defense Department's long history of projects going way over budget and say the cost of replacing the nukes and maintaining their launch facilities is not warranted, given the tactical threats the United States currently faces.

Friday, September 23, 2016

$1 Trillion Needed to Reboot Military

The ongoing fight in Congress over an $18-billion hike in military spending for 2017 has stalled the budget, but it might be small potatoes.

The price tag to rehabilitate the military after about 15 years of war and relentless overseas operations would be about $1 trillion over a decade, according to the Republican-led House Armed Services Committee.

The committee is spearheading the $18-billion annual increase for more equipment, training and troops. But it is facing a tough political fight with the Senate and Democrats, who oppose busting defense spending caps and raiding the Islamic State war fund to pay for the hike.

A $1 trillion increase would require obliterating spending limits passed by Congress and doling out an average of an additional $100 billion each year on the military through 2027.
Such an increase appears highly unlikely on Capitol Hill where budget gridlock and stop-gap legislative solutions have become normal. It foreshadows the hard political fight ahead for Republican defense hawks who want more money for a military that they say is depleted, inexperienced and unready for war with major world powers such as Russia and China.

Female Marine Reaches End of First Phase of MARSOC Course

The first Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command assessment and selection course to admit female Marines had one woman make it to the end of the first phase, MARSOC officials confirmed this week.
A female corporal stayed in the 19-day course until its completion at the end of August, but did not have the minimum academic and physical training scores needed to make it to the second phase, MARSOC spokesman Maj. Nicholas Mannweiler told
The Marine, who has not been publicly identified, plans to re-attempt the assessment and selection (A&S) phase when the next cycle begins early in the new year, he said. Marines trying out for MARSOC are given up to three attempts to make it through the first phase, as long as they are not limited by remaining time in service or time in their current rank, and there are enough "boat spaces" in the course to accommodate them.
The A&S phase began Aug. 11 with two female Marines. The other woman, a staff sergeant, departed the course a day in after failing to complete a timed ruck march within the required time. It's not clear if the staff sergeant plans to re-attempt the course. Thirty-one male Marines had also washed out of the grueling course before the first week was out.
According to MARSOC promotional materials, Marines must be able to complete a 12-mile march carrying a pack weighing more than 45 pounds within three hours to pass the first phase of A&S. Participants are also required to tread water for 15 minutes, to swim 300 meters in their camouflage utility uniforms in under 13 minutes, and to get top scores on regular physical fitness tests, in addition to achieving passing scores on various classroom exercises.  more

Monday, September 19, 2016

U.S. Army Designs a New Hand Grenade After More Than 40 Years

Hand grenades are an ancient weapon but hardly irrelevant. There are few devices as brutally effective at killing inside enclosed spaces, such as caves or rooms, than a device such as the U.S. Army’s M67 fragmentation grenade.
The M67 has been around for awhile, being first introduced into service in 1968. And mechanically, it’s little different from the grenades American soldiers lobbed into bunkers during the World Wars. It’s a relic, one still quite practical and useful, that has survived like the M2 Browning machine gun into the 21st century.
But the Army’s Picatinny Arsenal is working on a replacement, which if introduced into service, will amount to the first new lethal American grenade since Vietnam. And there’s an interesting design choice behind it.  more

Air Force on track to retire Predator drones by 2018

The Air Force announced recently that its last squadron operating MQ-1 Predators has launched its first MQ-9 Reaper, the Predator’s larger and more capable cousin.

“Maintainers assigned to the 432d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Tiger Aircraft Maintenance Unit, launched their first-ever MQ-9 Reaper Aug. 25, 2016,” the Air Force release stated. “Tiger AMU is the last active duty squadron maintaining the MQ-1 Predator and has started transitioning to the MQ-9 Reaper to meet current and future warfighter requirements.”

The Air Force had set a date of 2018 to officially retire its fleet of Predators and replace them with an all Reaper fleet, and is still on track to meet MQ-1 retirement by 2018, an Air Force spokeswoman told C4SIRNET in an email.

Additionally, they said there are four active duty and three Air National Guard MQ-1 squadrons operating in combat with two active duty squadrons conducting MQ-1 training for a total of nine squadrons supporting MQ-1 operations.  more

Military readiness crisis: Is it reality or just politics?

The ongoing debate over whether the military is sufficiently ready to fight and defend the country was shaken up in August.
Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus and Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the nonprofit Brookings Institution think tank, said the readiness “crisis” being hammered home by Republicans in Congress is a myth.
“While there are areas of concern, there is no crisis in military readiness,” Petraeus and O’Hanlon wrote in a joint column published by the Wall Street Journal in August.
The claim runs contrary to the growing alarm among lawmakers, dire warnings from military brass testifying to Congress and recent media reports of Marines scavenging museum parts to keep aircraft flying.
Petraeus and O’Hanlon argued defense spending is still comparable to Cold War-era spending, sufficient money is being spent on new hardware and the hardware the military already owns is in good shape. Furthermore, training is increasing and the all-volunteer force attracts high-quality troops. more

Air Force Mulls Flight Demo for Possible Light Attack Aircraft Buy

The Air Force is considering a near-term buy of light attack aircraft to help relieve mounting operations costs, ameliorate a fighter pilot shortage and improve readiness, a top general told Defense News in an exclusive interview.

Lt. Gen. James M. "Mike" Holmes, the service’s deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements, is floating a number of options to Air Force leaders, including a potential flight demonstration of inexpensive, off-the-shelf tactical airplanes that could occur as early as spring 2017.

Holmes stressed that a new light attack craft, which has been termed OA-X, would not replace the A-10 Warthog fleet. Instead, it would be a supplement to the Warthog that would give combatant commanders a low-cost option for battling the violent extremist groups in light of the high operations and maintenance costs associated with the A-10 and various fighter jets currently doing that job. 

Air Force Hopes to Shrink Inventory, but Congress Will Have Say

The US Air Force plans to shrink its total air asset inventory by 235 planes over the next five years, a net drop largely driven by standing down legacy fighter aircraft as the F-35 joint strike fighter comes online.An analysis by analytics firm Avascent of the Air Force’s most recent budget submission, which covers fiscal years 2017 through 2021, showed that the Air Force plans to divest 232 T-38 trainers, 166 A-10 Warthogs and 160 F-16s over the next five years, while adding 185 F-35s.

The majority of the 77 types of aircraft that are in the non-classified inventory will keep their current levels under the budget plan. The service plans to plus up its target-drone inventory by 108 aircraft, including 91 new QF-16 aircraft. Active drones will also get an increase, with 81 MQ-9 Reaper unmanned systems scheduled for procurement.

These trends should not be a surprise to anyone who has been tracking the Air Force, said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the Teal Group. For years, service leaders have talked about the need to keep the F-35, KC-46A tanker (64 procured in this time frame) and B-21 bomber on track. And if the Air Force wants to shift anything around with its next budget plan, it will need to find ways to work around that reality.

Goldfein's gambit: Former Air Force chiefs weigh in on his ambitious plans

New Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein’s plans to overhaul the structure of squadrons, improve command and control, and strengthen how the service develops joint leaders are on the right track, former Air Force leaders say, but turning them into reality could be tricky.

During a Sept. 11 address at the Baltimore conference of the National Guard Association of the United States, Goldfein outlined those plans, which he called his top three goals. “My intent is to pull these forward, and to focus on them the next four years,” he said.

At the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference, Monday to Wednesday outside Washington, the chief of staff's priorities will be a prime topic of discussion. He also plans to issue three short papers on the priorities, which draw upon ideas from the service’s strategic master plan and Air Superiority 2030 flight plan.

“I think they are not only the right moves, but they are inevitable,” said retired Gen. John Jumper, who was chief of staff from 2001 to 2005, in an interview Thursday. “We’ve entered a new era of warfare. We’re responding to a different concept of operations on the battlefield than we have been in the past.”  more

Clean Sheet T-X Designs Stir Up Excitement, But Face Uphill Battle

Four competitors, two clean sheet designs and $11 billion at stake. The Air Force’s T-X trainer competition is heating up, and now that all four proposed aircraft have been made public, the field couldn’t be any more varied.  

In the run up to the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber conference, aviation enthusiasts got a glimpse of the two purpose-built trainers — a twin-tailed plane manufactured by a Boeing-Saab team and a compact design from Northrop Grumman, which is partnered with BAE Systems and L-3.

Those companies will be going up against at least two teams that are proposing modified versions of trainers operated by foreign air forces. And as exciting as the promise of shiny new aircraft can be, Northrop and Boeing will have to prove to the service that their T-X proposals are as affordable and low-risk as their rivals, analysts told Defense News.

"The challenge is, can the clean sheet designs catch up to T-50 and to a lesser extent, the T-100?” asked Rebecca Grant, president of IRIS research, referencing the Lockheed Martin and Raytheon offerings. “Can the clean sheet designs catch up and demonstrate what the off-the-shelf aircraft already have?"  more

Strategic Capabilities Office Focused on Autonomy for USAF, Marines

A largely hidden office until earlier this year, the Strategic Capabilities office (SCO) is a small team within the Department of Defense that seeks to take existing technologies and exploit them to give US warfighters an edge for near-term potential conflicts.

If DARPA is focused on the needs for 10 years in the future, the SCO is about the next three or four years, and that means the office needs to turn out programs as quickly as possible, SCO head William Roper told reporters Sept. 8. And that means working closely with the services to identify needs and test solutions.

“Every project you see with SCO, if we’re doing it, there is a service partner with us. Most of the time we’re not asking them for funding,” Roper said, although the services can kick in money to help with testing. The goal of SCO, he added, is to “burn down the risk of a concept that the service likes, but is too risky for their budget at present.”

For both the Air Force and Marines, the SCO has experimented with autonomy to boost current capabilities, with an emphasis on teaming manned assets with unmanned systems.   more

‘Plan Colombia’: How Washington learned to love Latin American intervention again

The guerrillas summoned Camilo Gómez to the jungle on Dec. 24, ruining his Christmas.
It was 2001, and Gómez was the Colombian government’s chief negotiator in failing peace talks with the rebels. He grudgingly said goodbye to his family in Bogota and went to meet with the two most powerful men in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. As usual, he went alone, like an envoy from a foreign nation.
The Marxist rebel army was near the height of its power then, dominating a third of the country with nearly 20,000 fighters. Gómez said he met on a riverbank with FARC founder Manuel “Sureshot” Marulanda and legendary guerrilla commander “Mono Jojoy.” But this time, their usual swagger was missing.
Colombia’s long conflict was changing. The Americans were intervening. They called it “Plan Colombia.” more

Republicans press administration to take action against Russia over airstrikes in Syria

Senate Republicans are pressing the Obama administration to take a tougher stance toward Russia over recent airstrikes it launched from Iran against opposition forces in Syria, which the lawmakers say violate the nuclear deal with Tehran.
In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry they plan to deliver Monday, almost three dozen Republican senators, including the entire GOP leadership team, are asking for evidence the airstrikes were permissible under the U.N. Security Council resolution that endorsed the nuclear accord. If they were not, the senators are urging the administration to take action to dissuade Russia from taking similar steps in the future.
“Even if the current round of Russian airstrikes from an Iranian air base has come to a halt, we have no reason to believe they would not happen again, especially if there are no consequences for Russia’s prior use of Iranian territory from which to launch attacks in Syria,” the senators wrote. more

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sea-level rise to radically affect military strategy, study says

Rising sea levels caused by climate change will present serious risks to military readiness, operations and strategy as America’s coastal installations become inundated in coming decades, according to a report by a panel of retired military officers.
Among the recommendations made in “Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission,” released this week by The Center for Climate and Security, is a call to integrate climate-impact scenarios into the Department of Defense’s regular planning cycles.
The panel, composed of five retired flag officers representing all the services, is part of the non-partisan security and foreign policy institute based near Washington, D.C.
The report synthesized recent studies conducted by the DOD, Congress and independent researchers and then analyzed what those findings mean for the U.S. military’s future around the world.
“Essentially, the very geostrategic landscape in which the U.S. military operates is going to be different from what it is today,” the study said.
“To use military parlance, the theater is, in essence, flooding. Adjusting to that rapidly changing theater will be absolutely critical for the U.S. military to maintain its ability to fulfill its mission, and for the United States to adequately pursue its national security interests.”
Recent research has found that low-lying and exposed areas that contain coastal U.S. bases will be significantly affected, but by widely varying degrees.  more

The Air Force is employing 'two-ship' approach to RPA operations

The Air Force is using a two-ship approach to operations with its unmanned aircraft, described as a lead aircraft accompanied by a second, each providing the other mutual support.

“So typically right now as MQ-9s [Reapers] are tasked – and MQ-1s [Predators] – it’s one airplane to achieve one mission. What we’ve found out at…weapons school is that you can have twice the effect sometimes twice as fast with two airplanes,” Lt Col Landon, chief of MQ-1 and MQ-9 operations in the persistent attack and reconnaissance division at Air Combat Command, told C4SIRNET in a recent interview. For security reasons, we refer to him by only his rank and first name.

Expanding on this concept, Landon said "it would be like an F-16 – you have a lead, you have a number two – they operate two-ship operations for mutual support of one another and then in the MQ-9-MQ-1 world we’ve taken that mutual support construct and changed it to or have grown it to achieve effects on the battlefield faster, whether those are kinetic or non-kinetic effects."

DoD unfazed by Philippine president's call for end of U.S. military operations

he Pentagon is optimistic that the U.S. alliance with the Philippines remains intact despite the new president’s abrupt call for ending major American military operations there.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter is unconcerned about the comments this week from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that appear to signal a major shift away from the U.S..

Duterte said he wants U.S. special operations troops to leave the southern Philippines. The Philippine navy will end joint patrols with U.S. Navy vessels and its military may begin buying weapons from Russia or China rather than the United States, Duterte said.

"This is a longtime ally," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said Thursday.

"The secretary believes that this is one of the most enduring relationships in the Asia-Pacific region and will be for some time to come.  more

Why is the Navy’s largest shipbuilder looking for a subcontractor in China?

Senior executives from a major U.S. defense contractor toured China last month as part of their search for a foreign company to build a dry dock for U.S. Navy ships, with the help of the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The trip raised eyebrows both inside the Pentagon and among experts who don’t believe a Chinese company should be involved in U.S. military-related projects.
The company, Ingalls Shipbuilding, is a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, which advertises itself as “America’s largest military shipbuilding company” and has built more U.S. Navy ships than any other military shipbuilder. Ingalls is based in Mississippi. The problem is, it needs a new dry dock to build ships there and says there are no American companies that can do it. So Ingalls is looking abroad for help.
Last month, senior Ingalls executives traveled to China for two weeks to visit several different ports. They also met with officials at the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai, a meeting facilitated by a very powerful Mississippi lawmaker.
“The staff of Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, has requested that Consulate Shanghai meet with a Mississippi constituent company Ingalls Shipbuilding,” wrote an official from the State Department’s legislative affairs bureau in a July 19 email I obtained. “The constituent is looking for a new Chinese vendor to build a new drydock for their shipbuilding company. They would like advice from the Consulate to walk them through how to do business in China.”  more

Four Service Chiefs Say They Can’t Defend US Under Sequestration

If the Budget Control Act goes into full effect, the heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines told the Senate Armed Services Committee today, they will not be able to protect the United States as they are charged to do.
Sequestration was meant to be the poison pill no one would swallow so Republicans and Democrats would be forced to negotiate a way out of America’s debt and funding problems. Then came the Tea Party, bellowing and fulminating that they would not support increases in federal spending. The GOP leadership collapsed. The White House didn’t help much either. Ever since, the Defense Department has been stuck between hoping for temporary deals to relieve sequestration and fulminating about how deaf both sides on the Hill have been to the dangers of sequestration to the military in the long term.
Lindsey Graham, who seems to increasingly serve as one of the few members of either chamber able to discuss sequestration in a rational manner, told the Joint Chiefs they need to go to the White House and tell President Obama that they cannot execute the current strategy of defeating one major power and hold another if sequestration continues.
The ultimate cost, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told the committee, will be that conflicts will last longer. That means, he said, “the butchers bill is paid with American lives.” Milley noted that Army weapons systems’ readiness already is “well below 90 percent, and that is great cause for concern.” more

Design of new LPD ship class accelerated

Ingalls Shipbuilding is to accelerate the design of a new U.S. Navy's amphibious warfare ship replacement vessel known as LX(R).
The new ship, which will replace Harpers Ferry- and Whidbey Island-class dock landing ships, will use the same hull as the LPD 17 class, or San Antonio-class vessels."This acceleration contract is extremely important for a shipbuilding program that is extremely important to this nation," said Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias. "The LX(R) program will continue a stable, hot production line of talented shipbuilders and a robust supplier base across this country.  more

DARPA announces Aerial Dragnet drone monitoring program

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced this week it is seeking proposals for its Aerial Dragnet program, a new initiative that seeks to monitor drones flying below 1,000 feet in large cities.
The program seeks to map small drones in urban terrain using innovative technologies that would provide persistent, wide-area surveillance, the agency said in a statement.While Aerial Dragnet's focus is on protecting military troops in overseas urban settings, the system could also find civilian applications to help protect U.S. metropolitan areas from drone-enabled terrorist threats.The need for a comprehensive tracking system has increased as off-the-shelf drones become less expensive, easier to fly and more adaptable to terrorist and military needs."U.S. forces will increasingly be challenged by the need to quickly detect and identify such craft -- especially in urban areas, where sight lines are limited and many objects may be moving at similar speeds," DARPA said.  more

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Differences Between Army & Marine Corps Infantry Units

The U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps infantrymen pride themselves on being some of the biggest badasses on every block they roll into. They have more similarities than differences, but they’re unique forces. Here are 5 ways you can tell Marine and Army infantry apart:

Pentagon to Accelerate Rail Gun Projectile Weapon - Fires From Army Howitzer

An Army Howitzer is now firing a 5,000-miles per hour, high-tech, electromagnetic Hyper Velocity Projectile, initially developed as a Navy weapon,  an effort to fast-track increasing lethal and effective weapons to warzones and key strategic locations, Pentagon officials said.
Overall, the Pentagon is accelerating developmental testing of its high-tech, long-range Electro-Magnetic Rail Gun by expanding the platforms from which it might fire and potentially postponing an upcoming at-sea demonstration of the weapon, Pentagon and Navy officials told Scout Warrior.
While initially conceived of and developed for the Navy's emerging Rail Gun Weapon, the Pentagon and Army are now firing the Hyper Velocity Projectile from an Army Howitzer in order to potential harness near-term weapons ability, increase the scope, lethality and range ability to accelerate combat deployment of the lethal, high-speed round.
The rail gun uses an electromagnetic current to fire a kinetic energy warhead up to 100 miles at speeds greater than 5,000 miles an hour, a speed at least three times as fast as existing weapons.
Firing from an Army Howitzer, the rail gun hypervelocity projectile can fire a 5,000-mile and hour projectile at enemy targets to include buildings, force concentrations, weapons systems, drones, aircraft,vehicle bunkers and even incoming enemy missiles and artillery rounds.
"We can defend against an incoming salvo with a bullet. That is very much a focus getting ready for the future," Dr. William Roper, Director of the Pentagon's once-secret Strategic Capabilities Office, told Scout Warrior among a small group of reporters. more

Navy Develops Laser Weapon Prototypes for Destroyers, Cruisers - maybe Carriers

The Navy plans to arm its destroyers and other ships with high-tech, low-cost ship-board laser weapons engineered to quickly incinerate enemy drones, small boats, aircraft, ships and missiles, service officials told Scout Warrior.
The Office of Naval Research is working on 12-month, $53-million deal with Northrop Grumman to develop a Laser Weapon System Demonstrator through three phases; the phases include an initial design phase, ground-testing phase and then weapons testing at sea aboard a Navy Self Defense test ship, a Northrop statement said.
“The company will design, produce, integrate, and support the shipboard testing of a 150-kilowatt-class solid state (electric) laser weapon system,” the Northrop statement added. “The contract could grow to a total value of $91 million over 34 months if ONR exercises all of its contract options.”
Office of Naval Research officials told Scout Warrior an aim of the developmental program is to engineer a prototype weapons for further analysis.
"This system employs multi-spectral target detection and track capabilities as well as an advanced off-axis beam director with improved fiber laser technologies to provide extended target engagement ranges. Improvements of high power fiber lasers used to form the laser beam enable the increased power levels and extended range capabilities. Lessons learned, operating procedures, updated hardware and software derived from previous systems will be incorporated in this demonstration," Dr. Tom Beutner, director of the Air Warfare and Weapons branch, Office of Naval Research, told Scout Warrior in a written statement a few months ago.  
“The possibilities can become integrated prototypes -- and the prototypes become reality when they become acquisition programs,” an ONR official said.

Philippines’ reversal on troops, patrols could upend US-China strategy

America’s strategy for confronting China in the South China Sea is threatening to unravel as the new leader of a key frontline state backs away from military cooperation — including joint naval patrols — with the U.S.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said this week he wants U.S. special operators to leave Mindanao island, where they are assisting in the fight against Islamist extremists.
The next day, Duterte said he won’t allow the Philippine navy to conduct joint patrols with foreign powers near the South China Sea, apparently scrapping an agreement his predecessor reached with the U.S. before he took office in June.
“The Obama administration’s containment strategy against China is falling apart as front-line countries like the Philippines change gear, creating a cascade effect,” Richard Heydarian, a security analyst De La Salle University in Manila, said in a phone interview last week.
“They (U.S. officials) want enough diplomatic pressure on China to give it an incentive to behave. That is where the U.S. might have a problem with Duterte,” he said.
The Filipino strongman has expressed regret for calling President Barack Obama a “son of a whore” at the recent G20 meeting in China. But he raised more questions Monday about the U.S.-Philippines relationship.
Speaking during an oath-taking ceremony for state officials, Duterte blamed America for Islamic militancy in the archipelago’s south and called for the withdrawal of U.S. advisers from the area, according to The Associated Press.  more

Monday, September 12, 2016

Special Operators Are Getting a New Autonomous Tactical Drone

A prototype microdrone that maps a building’s rooms will change the urban battlefield.
In the movie Eye in the Sky, a joint U.S.-British military operation puts an insect-sized drone inside the house of a terrorist. The live feed allows the onlookers in Washington, London, and elsewhere to verify the target and collect data that would be inaccessible from a sensor ball mounted on a Predator flying overhead. aSan Diego company called Shield AI is bringing that vision to life.

Taking off with the push of a button, the Shield AI drone flies into a building and autonomously maps its interior using cameras, lasers, and inertial and ultrasonic sensors.  Unlike your average off-the-shelf drone, it requires no human piloting and doesn’t need GPSmore

New Navy Ship-to-Shore Amphib Craft Transport Abrams Tanks into Combat

The Navy is nearing completion of its first two new, high-tech ship-to-shore connectors for amphibious operations designed to transport large numbers of Marines, equipment and weapons to shore from beyond-the-horizon, senior Navy officials said.
The service plans to build 73 Ship-to-Shore Connectors, or SSCs, to replace the existing fleet of 72 Landing Craft Air Cushions, or LCACs, Maj. Gen. Christopher Owens, Navy Director of Expeditionary Warfare, told Scout Warrior.
With some of the existing fleet of LCACs approaching 30-years of service, the Navy needs to begin replacing them with new ones, service officials said.
“We have two (SSCs) under construction to deliver in 2017 and two more that will begin construction in March of 2016. This is an upgrade to the current LCAC,” Owens said in an interview last year.
While the SSC design will be very similar to an LCAC, the new craft will incorporate a number of innovations and upgrades which will give in more speed, greater range, more payload capacity, improved digital controls and a new engine, Owens added.
“The new craft will have a greater load capacity so we can return to carrying M1A1 battle tanks aboard them,” he explained.
In addition, the SSCs will have a new Rolls Royce engine – the same one currently used in an MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, Owens said.
The new SSCs also increase the strength of the deck and improve the propellers when compared with existing LCACs, he said. The new SSCs can carry up to 74-tons across the ocean, enough to move an M1A1 Abrams tank with a mine plow, officials said.  more

Drastic proposals to improve Navy's fleet manning

Thousands of sailors will see a change in the time they spend at sea over their career  — and the impact, for many, will be felt immediately. 

The changes announced in August immediately affect 28 ratings, 13 of which will see a rise in sea time. The sea-shore tour overhaul, the first in four years, tips the enlisted force towards more time at sea over a sailors' career. 

Officials are concerned that their move ups the numbers of ratings considered “sea-intensive” from 14 in 2008 to 25 today. Sea-intensive ratings are those where a sailor would spend 18 years or more assigned to sea duty over a 30-year career. In simplest terms, these ratings have many more sea billets than shore spots. 

“That’s a little bit of an alarming trend and what that’s saying is that the shore duty billet base for those ratings is insufficient to support the number of sea duty billets,” said Craig Schauppner, who has managed sea/shore flow for the chief of naval personnel since it was created in 2008. “So we know that those ratings are going to have manning challenges so an increase in the number of those ratings is a concern.”

The service is also weighing some larger changes proposed by CNA's Center for Naval Analyses, a research agency that assesses personnel management for the Navy. Among the proposals to fill more billets across the force:

Friday, September 9, 2016

Iraq, Syria might not 'be put back together again': CIA head

Iraq and Syria have been so thoroughly damaged by warfare, sectarian conflict and killing that it is unclear they "can be put back together again," CIA Director John Brennan said.
In an interview this week with the CTC Sentinel, a publication from the West Point military academy's Combating Terrorism Center, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency said the current system of governance in the two countries might change altogether. "I don't know whether or not Syria and Iraq can be put back together again. There's been so much bloodletting, so much destruction, so many continued, seething tensions and sectarian divisions," Brennan said."I question whether we will see, in my lifetime, the creation of a central government in both of those countries that's going to have the ability to govern fairly."He added that he could envision some type of a federal structure governing autonomous regions.  more

NASA to Shine Lasers on Future Aircraft Concept

As NASA aeronautics engineers prepare to develop a series of greener, quieter, faster X-planes, they are already testing concepts that could be candidates.
One of those is a blended wing body (BWB). A six-percent scale model of a Boeing BWB is being tested for six weeks in the 14-by 22-Foot Subsonic Tunnel at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia."We're happy to have the model back in our wind tunnel," said Dan Vicroy, principal investigator at NASA Langley. "It gives us a couple of opportunities - to add to our knowledge about this configuration as well as how to improve our testing methods."A blended wing body doesn't look like a conventional airplane. Instead of the usual tube and wing design - it's shaped more like a triangle where the wings are, in essence, merged into the body. Another difference is that it does not have a tail.This same model was put through its paces in the Langley 14-by 22-Foot tunnel in 2014 and in the 40-by 80-Foot Wind Tunnel at NASA's Ames Research Center in California in 2015. That work was part of NASA's Environmentally Responsible Aviation program, which developed technologies to improve fuel efficiencies, lower noise levels and reduce emissions.But for this test it looks a little different.   more

Cocaine Bust Highlights Growing Air Force Role in Southern Hemisphere

The line of cocaine the Air Force and Joint Interagency Task Force-South seized last month in the Caribbean would stretch “from the Pentagon to the center of Philadelphia.”
The Air Force’s top civilian shared that detail with reporters Wednesday when describing how the service is working harder to train pilots in the Southern hemisphere while aiding the global anti-drug war.
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said the service is looking for ways to use more assets in the Southern Command region that would be “of training benefit to our forces, but also contributing to counter drug and counter transnational crime commission.”
“The idea of all of this was to see if we could get more of a double ‘bang for your buck,’ ” James said at a Pentagon briefing.  more

Army Defends New Airburst Weapon Targeted by Pentagon Critics

Army weapons officials are planning a late-September response to Pentagon investigators' recent criticisms of the XM25 as the service wrestles with how this high-tech but heavy 25mm airburst weapon will fit into combat formations.
In late August, the Pentagon's Inspector General released a scathing audit of the XM25 program, criticizing the service for repeatedly delaying the weapon's initial production decision and failing to justify a basis of issue plan.
Nicknamed "the Punisher" and designed by Orbital ATK Inc. and Heckler & Koch, the XM25 is a shoulder-fired weapon featuring a target acquisition/fire control system that allows soldiers to identify a target, determine the range and program the 25mm ammunition to explode above or near enemy fighters out to 600 meters.
But the sophisticated weapon has been plagued by two years of program delays after a 2013 malfunction that inflicted minor injuries to a soldier during its second round of operational testing in Afghanistan.
The double feed and an unintentional primer ignition of one of the 25mm high explosive rounds prompted the Army to halt the operational testing and pull all prototypes from theater.  more

Retired US General to Advise Ukraine's Defense Minister

.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has appointed a retired U.S. Army general as a special adviser to Ukraine's defense minister.
The Pentagon says John Abizaid will advise defense chief Stepan Poltorak as Ukraine tries to strengthen democratic civilian control of its military, take on corruption and put in place other reforms.
Carter and Poltorak met Thursday on the sidelines of a U.N. peacekeeping conference in London. Carter tells reporters the appointment wasn't a signal of U.S. plans to help Ukraine in offensive operations against Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.  more

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

US Bombers to Buzz Europe in Show-of-Force Exercise

Three U.S. long-range bombers will be flying over the Czech Republic this week for Joint Terminal Attack Controller Exercise Ample Strike, U.S. European Command announced this weekend.

Two Air Force B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, and a single B-52 Stratofortress from the 307th Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, deployed to RAF Fairford, United Kingdom, last week for the NATO exercise, which kicked off Aug. 30.

The Czechs are hosting the exercise, aimed to train partners in air-land scenarios, for the third time, according to NATO. The bombers will conduct day and night operations Sept. 5-16, EUCOM said. Approximately 300 participants from 18 countries will attend. more

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Pentagon: 'Play hardball' against Ryan plan

The Pentagon has crafted a secret plan to play “hardball” against House Speaker Paul Ryan’s defense spending proposal, according to a memo obtained by POLITICO that calls for pitting the House and Senate against each other, capitalizing on the “discomfort” of one key Republican lawmaker and finding ways to undermine the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

The five-page strategy blueprint also suggests possibly enlisting top military brass to help make the case that the Republican speaker’s budget “gimmick” would weaken the nation's defenses.

The memo, prepared for Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Deputy Secretary Bob Work, reads at times like an intelligence assessment of congressional leaders. It provides an unusually clear window into the tactics the Defense Department’s top officials are using in an increasingly partisan feud over their budget — particularly striking for an agency that seeks to avoid the perception of involvement in election-year politics.

The strategy it lays out will come to a head as Congress returns Tuesday, and will probably spill into the lame-duck session, as the House and Senate decide whether to include an extra $18 billion in war funding in the final defense authorization and appropriations bills they send to President Barack Obama.

The White House strongly objects to Ryan’s proposal to boost the Pentagon’s budget without increasing domestic spending, both of which are under tight caps imposed by a 2011 spending deal.

Read more:

Military Turns to Online Auctions to Unload Unwanted Gear

Nineties-era Humvees can be had for $7,000. Dump trucks and tractors that once trudged through warzones start at $15,000. And construction cranes that helped build military outposts bear price tags from $20,000 to $23,000. Most are in good working order and many of the trucks have surprisingly low mileage.
These are some of the 1,300 pieces of surplus military hardware that will be
up for auction September 7. “Every Wednesday we sell 350 to 400 items,” says Jeffrey L. Holmes, senior vice president of government solutions and auction management at GovPlanet.
GovPlanet, based in Pleasanton, California, is the government-focused arm of used-equipment marketplace IronPlanet. The company won a six-year contract from the Defense Logistics Agency to help offload surplus inventory that has accumulated over decades.

Holmes, a former Army officer and long-time defense industry executive, is insistent that the military should sell off aging forklifts, cranes, trucks and trailers sooner, rather than later.

Iron mountains of surplus inventory sit all over the United States. If it’s not needed by the military, why not sell it? “They bought a lot, and not all the equipment got used as often as they had anticipated,” Holmes tells National Defense. “This isn’t junk. There is some junk, but some good value. And every piece of equipment comes with a full inspection report.”


US Army scopes unmanned recovery capability

The US Army has issued a Sources Sought notice in response to an identified need for an unmanned recovery vehicle variant of the service's future Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport (SMET).
Under the notice the army is looking to identify manufacturers capable of building a robotic platform that can retrieve other UGVs in the small and large class, 0-3,000 lb (1,360 kg) and 3,000-6,000 lb respectively.
The recovery UGV should itself weigh no more than 7,000 lb and be capable of winching, towing and/or carrying a disabled platform; furthermore, if required it should be capable of transporting the recovered vehicle for a distance of two miles to a designated maintenance location.
At present, the army's projected concept of operations (CONOPS) for its UGVs sees them employed in a wide range of roles, including intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition (ISTAR), explosive ordnance disposal, and logistics support, among others; these will be carried out in a variety of scenarios, spanning peacekeeping missions through to full-spectrum warfare.
The service's concern is that the current practice for recovering UGVs requires personnel to expose themselves to potential dangers while attaching a rope or cable to the stricken vehicle before it is retrieved, for example by a winch.
An unmanned recovery vehicle would enable the army to remove soldiers from harm's way.  more

US Navy's New Super Stealth Destroyer Getting Ready to Test Its New Guns and Missiles

The Navy's new "first-of-its-kind" stealthy destroyer will soon go to San Diego, Calif., where it will go through what’s called “ship activation" - a process of integrating the major systems and technologies on the ship leading up to an eventual live-fire exercise of its guns and missiles.

As part of this process, the Navy will eventually fire long-range precision guns and missiles from its lethal, stealthy new destroyer -- in anticipation of its ultimate deployment on the open seas, service and industry officials explained.

The new Destroyer, called DDG 1000 or the future USS Zumwalt, is a 610-foot land and surface warfare attack ship designed with a stealthy, wave-piercing “tumblehome” hull.

“The shape of the superstructure and the arrangement of its antennas significantly reduce radar cross section, making the ship less visible to enemy radar at sea,” a Navy statement said. "The U.S. Navy accepted delivery of the most technically complex and advanced warship the world has ever seen," Rear Adm. (select) James Downey, DDG 1000 Program Manager, said in a written statement. more

US Navy Orders Engineering Stand Down, Retraining for LCS Crews

Following two more serious engineering incidents involving separate littoral combat ships, the commander of US naval surface forces ordered an engineering stand down on all LCS crews and directed all LCS sailors to be retrained in engineering procedures.

Although the Navy announced the moves Sept. 5, the stand downs were all completed by Aug. 31, the Navy said in a statement released late Monday.

The training, Vice Adm. Tom Rowden said in the statement, will take place over the next 30 days, and allow leadership “to review our training program and determine if other changes need to be made to the training pipeline.” 

Navy orders big changes for littoral combat ships after engineering problems

The littoral combat ship Coronado returned to port Sunday after a high-profile engineering snafu that came only days after another LCS breakdown. The failures have put new urgency behind big changes that will alter the training pipeline, as well as the way ships are crewed and employed in the fleet.

While engineers lift the hood on the trimaran to discover the extent of the damage it sustained on its maiden cruise, Navy leadership faces an even more daunting challenge: Fixing the ships that will in coming years become a substantial swath of the fleet.

The Navy's top surface warfare officer announced Monday that he ordered a review of safety procedures for the ships, which was completed Aug. 31.   more

Air Force, Running Low on Drone Pilots, Turns to Contractors in Terror Fight

The American military’s extensive use of drones against the Islamic State and other terrorist groups has resulted in a shortage of Air Force pilots and other personnel to operate the aircraft, leading the Pentagon to rely more on private contractors for reconnaissance missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Pentagon has used contractors to perform many duties traditionally carried out by uniformed personnel, like protecting military bases and feeding service members. The contractors who are now serving as drone pilots are based in the regions where the drones are flown, and they are legally prohibited from being “trigger pullers” and firing weapons, Air Force officials said. But there is no limit on the type of reconnaissance they can perform, and they are providing live video feeds of battles and special operations.
As the Obama administration has accelerated its campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria and Libya over the past 10 months, the Pentagon has added four drones flown by contractors to the roughly 60 that are typically flown every day by uniformed Air Force personnel.
Over the next two years, the Pentagon plans to add six more operated by contractors, the officials said. The number and identities of contractors working on the drone flights are considered classified information, the Air Force said. But Pentagon officials said there are at least several hundred contractors, many of them former drone or fighter pilots who are making double or triple their military salaries.  more

Enlisted Airmen to Fly Half the Global Hawk Fleet

The U.S. Air Force wants enlisted personnel to eventually account for more than half of the pilots flying the RQ-4 Global Hawk drone, an official said.
Faced with high operational demand and a pilot shortage, the service this week announced plans to open to all career fields the job of steering the high-altitude spy drone made by Northrop Grumman Corp., based in Falls Church, Virginia.
As of fiscal 2015, the service had a total of 33 RQ-4s in the inventory, according to Air Force documents.
Roughly 200 officers are authorized to fly the Global Hawk — yet enlisted personnel over the next several years will make up most of those slots, according to Maj. Bryan Lewis, a spokesman for the service at the Pentagon.
“By 2020, the Air Force hopes to have a little more than half of its 198 RQ-4 pilots be enlisted airmen,” he said in an email to “And by that point, roughly 70 percent of the 121 airmen flying Global Hawk missions on a day-to-day basis — not performing other duties such as staff positions at the wing — will be enlisted airmen.”
The prospective applicant pool is huge — upwards of 50,000 airmen — though it’s not clear how many of those men or women will actually apply to make the move, Lewis said.
“We’ll have a better idea once the window for the program closes,” he said.
Also unclear is whether enlisted personnel who distinguish themselves flying the spy drones will eventually be allowed to pilot their armed counterparts, including the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper systems made by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., based in San Diego.
The Air Force has much larger inventories of these medium-altitude “hunter-killer” systems.  more

Army’s Swelling Budget for XM25

The goal of this piece is to simply try to quantify how much funding the Army has earmarked for the XM25 Counter-Defilade Target Engagement System, more commonly known as The Punisher. The semi-automatic, shoulder-fired weapon fires 25mm high-explosive, air-bursting ammunition and was designed by Orbital ATK Inc. and Heckler & Koch.
According to the IG, Army is still wrangling with questions over whether to buy and how to field the weapon to infantry units. According to budget documents, the service plans to request more funding for it — to the tune of as much as a quarter-billion dollars over the next five years.
In short, the Army has spent at least $33 million on the program and related efforts in the two-year period through fiscal 2016, which ends Oct. 1, the documents show. Going forward, it expects to spend at least another $132 million on the program in the five-year period from fiscal 2017 through fiscal 2021, they show.
It’s important to note these figures encompass more than just procurement dollars because the Army includes funding for the XM25 across multiple budget lines — four, actually, and three of those are for research, development, test and evaluation. However, the figures above exclude the RDT&E funding related to insensitive munitions advanced technology and test range and facilities because they’re such broad, all-encompassing categories.  more

US Army gives combat medics new type of tourniquet

Throughout the history of modern warfare, countless wounded fighters have been saved from bleeding to death by tourniquets -- the straps or ties that wrap around a damaged limb and staunch hemorrhaging.
But what if a soldier is shot through the pelvis, or in the armpit, where a tourniquet would be of no use?Militaries the world over have grappled with the question for decades, and the issue took on new urgency during the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.Now the US Army has found an answer.The service currently is training and equipping its combat medics with a new device, called a junctional tourniquet.It looks a bit like a belt, but comes with two inflatable bladders that can be pumped up to put pressure over a wound, even in locations where a traditional tourniquet would be ineffective.  more