Wednesday, August 31, 2016

DoD Approves Israeli Radar for US Iron Curtain Testing

 The Pentagon has given Herndon, Virginia-based defense solutions company Artis the green light to integrate Israeli radars from Rada Electronic Industries Ltd. into its Iron Curtain close-in active protection system (APS).

“We have received approval from the US government to import two Rada radar units for purposes of testing and evaluating them with our Iron Curtain active protection system,” Artis executive Brian Detter told Defense News.

On Monday, Netanya, Israel-based Rada announced it would provide its Compact Hemispheric Radar-based RPS-10 radar to support Artis’ active protection against rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) and other shoulder-launched threats.   more

Advances in stealth, range expected under NGAD

The Pentagon's next-generation air dominance (NGAD) effort to develop follow-on technologies to the US Air Force's (USAF's) and US Navy's (USN's) Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and the USN's Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet is taking shape and will include improvements to low-observable capability and aircraft range, according to the service's top scientific research and technology official.
The USAF in May released its "Air Superiority 2030 Flight Plan" announcing that it would rapidly develop a programme that mates cyber warfare, electronic warfare, and even space capabilities to advance the state of the art in air-to-air and air-to-ground warfare. While the new programme is expected to harness disparate capabilities, NGAD is defined by improvements in two key areas - stealth and range - according to USAF chief scientist Greg Zacharias.  more

Advances in stealth, range expected under NGAD

The Pentagon's next-generation air dominance (NGAD) effort to develop follow-on technologies to the US Air Force's (USAF's) and US Navy's (USN's) Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and the USN's Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet is taking shape and will include improvements to low-observable capability and aircraft range, according to the service's top scientific research and technology official.
The USAF in May released its "Air Superiority 2030 Flight Plan" announcing that it would rapidly develop a programme that mates cyber warfare, electronic warfare, and even space capabilities to advance the state of the art in air-to-air and air-to-ground warfare. While the new programme is expected to harness disparate capabilities, NGAD is defined by improvements in two key areas - stealth and range - according to USAF chief scientist Greg Zacharias.  more

DoD IG: Army should buy or cancel XM25, no more development

The US Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD IG) has recommended the US Army either move forward or cancel the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement (CDTE) weapon programme.
Army officials deployed prototype XM25 systems to Afghanistan as part of a 'forward operational assessment' from November 2010 to April 2012, and then sent another set in January 2013.  more

Could the next tanks have fuel-cell technology from a Chevy truck?

General Motors and U.S. Army tank researchers  will show off a  Chevrolet Colorado-based fuel-cell electric vehicle in October in Washington, D.C.
Army officials, based at the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, known as TARDEC, in Warren, will use the vehicle to demonstrate fuel-cell electric propulsion and power generation systems that can bring the military quieter mobility, exportable power generation, low-end torque and water generation.
"Hydrogen fuel cells as a power source have the potential to bring to the force incredibly valuable capabilities,” said TARDEC Director Paul Rogers. “We expect the vehicle to be quiet in operation and ready to provide electricity generation for needs away from the vehicle.”
Hydrogen fuel cells convert hydrogen efficiently into electricity, resulting in vehicles with greater range and endurance than those powered with batteries.
The Army intends to conduct user assessments and demonstrations in 2017, in line  with the Department of Defense’s desire to leverage commercial innovation in its next-generation technologies.  more

Chief of Naval Operations Richardson: US Navy is Focusing on Enemy Submarine Threat

Enemy submarines remain the single most dangerous threat to the United States Navy’s aircraft carriers and its surface fleet at large. However the service is working on improving its anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities as the once-dormant Russian undersea force reemerges and China grows its fleet.
While anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles often capture the lion’s share of the attention, submarines armed with Russian-made 533mm and 650mm waking-homing torpedoes are among the only threats that can actually sink an aircraft carrier. “A torpedo properly placed under the right part of the keel is one of the few things that can actually flatout sink an aircraft carrier,” retired U.S. Navy Capt. Jerry Hendrix, director of the Defense Strategies and Assessments Program at the Center for a New American Security told The National Interest. more

For F-35’s First Deployment, Marines Plan ‘School of Hard Knocks’

The F-35’s first deployment next year will help the Marine Corps discover what still needs fixing with the new fifth-generation jet, and where to go in the future, Marine Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh told reporters Tuesday.
Not only will the Marines be the first force to deploy the Lockheed Martin jet in an operational context—aboard the USS Wasp next year—it will deploy a second contingent soon after, this one aboard the USS Essex.
“We will learn from that, and see what capabilities we need to further develop,” said Walsh, the commanding general of the Marines’ Combat Development Command. “A lot of it’s going to be the school of hard knocks.”
The Marines will begin moving 16 F-35Bs to Iwakuni Air Station in Japan early next year. The jets will deploy as part of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 in early 2017, a Marine spokeswoman said. At year’s end, six of that squadron’s planes will attach to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. 
In the 31st MEU, VMFA-121 will link up with the Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, a regiment charged with being the “experimental force” of the Marines for its two years in the expeditionary force, Walsh said. It’s an apt pairing, given that the F-35’s first deployment will be a testing field for the plane’s capabilities—and numerous issues with weapons and software.  more

The Marines' F-35B going to war in 2018

The Marine Corps' F-35B joint strike fighter jet is expected to make its debut downrange in 2018.

Plans call for the Marine variant of the fighter jet to deploy aboard the amphibious assault ship Essex during a spring 2018 tour to the U.S. Central Command theater of operations, according to a Navy official.
The Essex will be the third gator to operate the F-35B after. Marines did F-35B sea trials aboard the Wasp last year. An F-35B squadron is also expected to head to the Pacific aboard the America, the Navy's newest amphib, in 2018.   more

Official: Marine Corps Could Equip F-35B with Laser Weapon

The Marine Corps is working toward the day when it could equip an F-35B joint strike fighter with a directed energy weapon, a top service official said Aug. 30.
Putting a laser on board an F-35 is “absolutely,” something the Marine Corps would be interested in, said Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command and deputy commandant of combat development and integration.

To get to that point, the service would start by putting the system on a KC-130, which would be a better fit
 because of current size, weight and power constraints, he said during a breakfast meeting with defense reporters in Washington, D.C.

“As soon as we could miniaturize them, we would put them on F-35s, Cobra … any of those kind of attack aircraft,” he said. Walsh said a laser could also be installed on an MV-22 Osprey.

So far, it has been a struggle reducing the size of directed energy weapons, he said. In order to produce enough power to be effective against a threat, systems are often large, he said.

Yet laser weapons technology is something that will be increasingly critical for the service going forward, Walsh said.

“It’s very important. It’s where we want to go,” he said. Lasers will lighten the Corps' loads by reducing the amount of energy, powder and kinetic ordnance it must carry into the field, he said.

The service is currently working alongside the Office of Naval Research on the ground-based air defense directed energy on-the-move program, he said. The goal of that effort is to mount a high-energy laser on a vehicle.

“The ‘on-the-move’ piece is trying to get it onto a vehicle that we can maneuver with," 

he said. ONR has demonstrated a 10-kilowatt laser and the intent is to move to a 30-kilowatt laser, he added. The system could be used against enemy unmanned aerial vehicles, he said.

USMC aiming for 'shipboard capable and expeditionary' UAS

The US Marine Corps (USMC) is pushing ahead with a 'shipboard capable and expeditionary' unmanned aerial system (UAS) programme, and pushing back against arguments that it could instead field existing unmanned platforms.
A so-called MAGTF Unmanned Expeditionary Capabilities (MUX) programme aims to provide Marine Expeditionary Force units with a 'Group 5' UAS capability - such as the US Air Force and US Army General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1 Predator UAS - but without the need for runways.
"If you look at operations we've done, we leverage the joint force's Group V UASs … but we're trying to get something that would come from the ship to support our marines," Lieutenant General Robert Walsh, head of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, told reporters during a 30 August breakfast meeting.
The system needs to operate from an 'expeditionary environment' even after it is ashore, and therefore not reply on airfields to continue supporting marines.
"That could be a tiltrotor capability; there are a lot of different developmental capabilities out there," Lt Gen Walsh said, noting the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is progressing its Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (TERN), a tail-sitting, shipborne system.
A MUX initial capabilities document (ICD) is "marching through the Joint Staff right now", and if leadership approves the document it could become an official development programme.  more

Marines Like Lasers For F-35B

The head of Marine requirements, Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, told reporters he could “absolutely” see the Joint Strike Fighter armed with lasers. This is consistent with plans we’ve heard from Northrop Grumman for the notional sixth-generation fighter and with the heavy push across the Defense Department to shrink lasers and to arm ships, planes and armored vehicles with lasers.  more

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Major decision on troubled XM25 could come later this year

Delays and price hikes have plagued the Army's XM25 launcher acquisition, but a major program decision could come as early as the end of the calendar year.

A Defense Department Inspector General's Office report outlining some of the program's failings advises the Army's assistant secretary of acquisitions, logistics and technology to "proceed with or cancel" the program "after reviewing the results of the 2016 Governmental testing," which the report says could wrap up by November.

That major decision would come after six years without a program milestone, according to the report. That doesn't mean nothing's happened: The launcher malfunctioned at least three times during field tests in Afghanistan -- once each in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

The report blames those malfunctions on inadequate training. The weapon was pulled from the war zone after the 2013 incident, according to a report, which outlined other issues raised by Army Rangers about the XM25's weight (14 pounds) and limited capacity (five 25mm grenade rounds).

Pentagon Weapons Buyer Orders Review of Troubled New Carrier

The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer has ordered an independent review of the $12.9 billion Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, citing a list of actual and potential deficiencies with the costliest warship ever.
“With the benefit of hindsight, it was clearly premature to include so many unproven technologies” on the vessel, from those needed to generate power and launch and land aircraft to its radar and elevators to move munitions, Frank Kendall said in an Aug. 23 memo addressed to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and obtained by Bloomberg News.
The review comes three months before the carrier is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy. The Ford is being built by Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc., with advanced systems from a number of subcontractors, including Raytheon Co. and General Atomics.
The inclusion of unproven technologies was a decision “made long ago as part of a DoD-level initiative called ‘Transformation,’” Kendall wrote. The initiative, which also produced several failed space programs, came under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld starting in 2001.
The Navy plans to deploy the Ford, designated CVN-78, for worldwide operations by 2021 after a series of maintenance and training exercises and completion of full-ship shock trials by fiscal 2018, so there is time to correct deficiencies before potential combat operations. Yet resolving the problems cited so far are critical for the vessel’s success.  more

USS America Air Department Prepares For F-35B Testing This Fall

Amphibious assault ship USS America’s (LHA-6) deck crew is gearing up for F-35B Joint Strike Fighter testing this fall, with ship modifications for the new plane complete but crew training still ongoing.
The Navy and Marine Corps will test the new short-takeoff vertical-landing plane on the newest big-deck amphib in October. The ship came out of a maintenance availability in March with physical modifications to support the bigger and more powerful jet, but America‘s assistant air department head told USNI News aboard the ship last month that the crew would be busy preparing for F-35 in the intervening months.
The department plans to send 30 to 40 crew members to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina for F-35B handling and firefighting training, Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Miller said. While the deck crew of the amphibious assault ships already handles both fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, the JSF presents some unique challenges.
Noting that the F-35 stores its weapons internally to stay stealthy, the mini boss said that “normally the first thing we do if there’s a fire on deck is we put cooling water on the ordnance. Now if the ordnance is inside the aircraft, how are we supposed to cool the ordnance? This is a technical problem that we haven’t totally gotten the answer for yet, we’re hoping they’re going to come up with something. But in the mean time we’ll go there, we’ll get training on the uniqueness of the airframe, how to properly tie it down – being that it’s more composite than ever, the techniques you use on how to chain it down, how tight they are and everything else become more and more important so that we don’t mess up a $100-million jet.”
Some America leadership will go to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., for tower training, Miller said, and immediately before F-35B comes aboard the ship the whole air department will go to NAS North Island, Calif., for hands-on training with the new aircraft.  more

U.S. Marines are training with Eastern European allies to stop a ground invasion

U.S. Marines and troops from five Eastern European nations will train to band together to stop an enemy's tank invasion as tensions in that part of the world mount over increasingly aggressive behavior from Russia. 

About 300 Marines are headed to Georgia where they'll join troops from Ukraine, Latvia, Romania, Georgia and Bulgaria for a 13-day exercise that kicks off on Thursday. Their mission: To stop an enemy armor attack in the city of Akhaltsikhe, which is about a couple hundred miles from the Russian border.

Georgian tanks and Marine armored vehicles will be on defense in the exercise, during which the TOW ant-tank missile and other anti-armor weapons will be demonstrated, Marine Forces Europe and Africa announced on Tuesday. The training is part of an annual exercise called Agile Spirit, but this year's event is more robust than year's past, said Marine 2nd Lt. Joshua Hays, public affairs officer for Exercise Agile Spirit 2016.

"There will be more multinational participants than ever before, demonstrating the U.S. commitment to deepening the defense and security relationship with Georgia, as recognized in a memorandum signed during the visit of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to Georgia in July 2016," Hays said.  more

Monday, August 29, 2016

More Marines are training to fight in the jungle

After years of fighting in deserts, more Marines are sharpening their jungle warfare skills — and the training is intensifying.

As more Marines are tapped for missions in tropical locales like the Philippines, Honduras and Australia, the Corps has boosted the number of leathernecks that move through jungle training.
Over the last two years, more than 5,000 Marines have attended the Corps' Jungle Warfare Training Center in Okinawa, Japan, annually — an increase of about 30 percent, said 1st Lt. Martin Harris, a spokesman for III Marine Expeditionary Force.
When Maj. Gen. Richard Simcock became the commanding general of the Japan-based 3rd Marine Division in 2015, he said he wanted to see his Marines get better at jungle fighting. Now more Marines rotating through Japan as part of the Unit Deployment Program are being sent through the training center where they face longer courses that test their fighting skills in rigorous terrain as humidity levels soar under double-canopy jungles. 

LCS Freedom's Engine May Need Replacement

In yet another blow for its seemingly perpetually-troubled littoral combat ship program, the US Navy revealed Sunday that one of two main propulsion diesel engines on the San Diego-based Freedom has been damaged so badly it either has to be completely rebuilt or replaced. 

It’s the third time since December that a Freedom-class LCS has suffered a serious malfunction. In December, the brand-new Milwaukee broke down at sea and had to be towed to a Virginia port. In January, the Fort Worth — in the midst of what was until then a remarkably successful deployment to Singapore — was severely damaged by an in-port accident to her propulsion system. The ship languished the last seven months in Singapore, and only got underway on Aug. 22. 
The Freedom’s latest problems began July 11 when a sailor noted a drain leaking into the bilge from a seawater pump seal attached to the ship’s No. 2 main propulsion diesel engine as the LCS was operating off Southern California. Sources familiar with the incident told Defense News the leak was plugged using a damage control plug. 
Seawater then entered the engine’s lubrication oil system, said Lt. Rebecca Haggard, a spokesperson for San Diego-based Naval Surface Forces (SURFOR), but the ship continued to operate.

In a statement, SURFOR said Freedom returned to San Diego on July 13 on her own power to conduct repairs on a separate, unrelated issue and, while in port, carried out procedures to decontaminate the lube oil system of seawater. The Freedom then got underway on July 19 for more than a week of Rim of the Pacific Exercises off Southern California, returning to San Diego July 28.
But back in port, an investigation of the engine on Aug. 3 “found significant damage to the engine caused by rust and seawater,” SURFOR said. So many engine components were damaged that, SURFOR added, the engine “will need to be removed and rebuilt or replaced.”  more

Held Up In the Shipyard, Carrier Bush Is Under The Gun To Deploy On Time

The USS George H. W. Bush, newest of the fleet’s operational carriers, is under the gun. The ship emerged from a shipyard in late July five months late – seven if compared to the original schedule. It's facing a planned deployment later this year that needs to be on time if the Bush is to relieve another carrier already operating on the far side of the world. With a compressed training schedule, Norfolk-based Fleet Forces Command (FFC) is wrestling with how to get the ship, its air wing and supporting strike group fully ready to deploy to a combat zone, a situation its Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP) was conceived to handle.

Dealing with the Bush’s situation crosses a lot of Navy bailiwicks, including Naval Reactors and Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) in Washington – the latter also overseas Norfolk Naval Shipyard, where the Bush’s overhaul was performed – to Fleet Forces Command to the Pentagon’s joint planning offices, where the global disposition of the fleet’s carriers is decided. And out in the Persian Gulf, the crew of the carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower is hoping the Bush arrives around the first of the year, in time for Ike’s strike group to return home after seven months on deployment.

Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations, addressed the issue in remarks to Defense News

Air Force Prepares to Hash Out Future Fighter Requirements

After undergoing a yearlong effort that explored the tactics and technologies needed to control the skies in the future, the Air Force is taking its first steps toward making its next fighter jet a reality.

The service has already begun preliminary work ahead of a 2017 analysis of alternatives that will shape the requirements and acquisition strategy for the F-35 follow on, which the Air Force been termed Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) or Penetrating Counter Air (PCA).

But Brig. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, who led the Air Superiority 2030 enterprise capability collaboration team (ECCT), emphasized that there are two major differences between the NGAD effort and its that of legacy fighter jets. The first is the relatively rapid method of acquiring it.

“We need to have something by the late 2020s,” he said in an interview with Defense News. “I think a realistic timeline is somewhere around 2028 with key investments in some key technology areas, you’d be able to have some initial operational capability of a penetrating counter air capability.”

The second difference relates to the recently concluded Air Superiority 2030 study, which made the case that the Air Force’s future dominance will rest not on a single platform, such as a sixth generation fighter jet, but on an integrated, networked family of systems. That combination of penetrating and stand-off capabilities includes a fighter plane, but also a number of space, cyber and electronic warfare assets.

What that means is that the fighter jet of the future might look more like a sensor node than the dogfighters of the past, Grynkewich said.  more

Bell’s V-247, Armed Tiltrotor Drone For Marines

A sleek little model sits on the desk of Lt. Gen. Jon “Dog” Davis, Marine deputy commandant for aviation. What is that, we asked? The next tiltrotor Bell Helicopter Textron hopes the Marine Corps will buy. But it’s not the V-280 Valor, the new manned tiltrotor Bell plans to fly next year. It’s an unmanned tiltrotor designed to give the Marines a drone that can do everything the Air Force’s armed MQ-9 Reaper does – and more. Especially taking off and landing from ships or from land where there’s no runway.
“I think there is a big need for a UAS that can go aboard the sea base,” Davis told me in an interview last week. “General Neller says he doesn’t need a Reaper, but he needs a Reaper-like capability that can go from the sea base.” Gen. Robert Neller is the Marine Corps commandant.
“This is what Bell is proposing,” Davis says, placing the model of Bell’s new concept on the table. “Single engine. It looks a lot like a V-280, doesn’t it?”  more

New Pacific Marine Leader Vows to Keep up Work with Allies

Lt. Gen. David Berger made the comments Friday after assuming command of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific from Lt. Gen. John Toolan. Berger said he will make sure his new command understands what capabilities its allies want and need and how the U.S. Marines can help them.' new commander for the Pacific said he aims to advance his predecessor's work helping allies and partners develop their skills storming beaches and moving forces ashore.
Toolan told reporters there's growing interest in amphibious capabilities in the Pacific because of China's land-reclamation efforts in the South China Sea, where several nations have contested territorial claims.
"The Vietnamese, the Filipinos, all those guys have a vested interest in the Spratlys, the Paracels. So they want to protect their sovereign territory," Toolan said. "And amphibious is the way to handle islands."
Marine Forces Pacific includes units in California, Hawaii, Japan and South Korea. Some are in Australia on a six-month rotation. more

Battle for Mosul Appears to be Entering Final Stage

After many months of delays and false starts, it finally appears that the campaign for Mosul is entering the final stage.
Earlier this month, Kurdish forces, known as peshmerga, launched an offensive to retake several villages east of the city. The capture of the air base at Qayyara, 40 miles south of Mosul, gives the Iraqis and their U.S. and international partners a strategic staging area for an assault against the city.
Kurdish officials have said they plan to advance to within about 10 miles of Mosul without entering it. That, they say, they'll leave to the Iraqi army; the peshmerga will play a supporting role.
Front-line peshmerga fighters expect a bloody, protracted and complicated fight ahead, notwithstanding a coalition assessment that enemy resistance is beginning to crumble.
Yet Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, who recently gave up command of the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition, was upbeat in recent remarks.
Islamic State fighters are becoming "even easier targets," he told reporters. The coalition has killed roughly 45,000 militants, and those remaining, an estimated 15,000 to 30,000, fight less effectively than in the past. more

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Video Games Actually Make You A Better Soldier

The debate about whether or not video games improve your cognitive abilities is over. It turns out they can make you quicker and more decisive. And as a result, the military has begun testing and using virtual reality programs to train soldiers. And while you may think that video games or simulations don’t compare to actual field training, experts within the military community suggest that you’d be wrong.

“We have somewhat solid data to support the notion that playing video games in fact actually improves your cognitive processes and your visual processes,” said Dr. Ray Perez, program manager at the Office of Naval Research’s Cognitive Science of Learning Program, in an interview with Task & Purpose.  

“Video game players are far superior to non-video game players in the ability to process things like field of vision, being able to hold digital objects in your memory. They can process information faster,” he added.  more

Abrams Tank Upgrades Will Give Marines ‘Killer Edge’

The Marine Corps is modernizing one of its most reliable battle platforms: the M1A1 Abrams tank.

A trio of upgrades to the tank commander’s weapon station will give tank commanders and gunners a “hunter-killer edge” over the enemy, according to an announcement from Marine Corps Systems Command. The improvements include better sights on the Abrams integrated display and targeting system [AIDATS], simplified handling with a single set of controls, and a “slew to cue” button that repositions the turret with a single command, officials said.

The display improvements will replace a black-and-white camera view with a color one and add thermal sights that can be used day or night. The color display is a particularly significant gain, said Michael Kreiner, AIDATS project officer in SYSCOM’s Armor and Fire Support Systems division.

Taken together, these systems could be a significant boon for the tank commander. Officials said preliminary testing showed use of the upgrades reduced target engagement time from six seconds to three by allowing the commander and the gunner to work more closely and collaborate better on target acquisition.  more

Lockheed’s F-35 Still Falls Short, Pentagon’s Chief Tester Says

A week after the Air Force declared its version of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 jet ready for limited combat operations, the Pentagon’s top tester warned that the U.S. military’s costliest weapons program is still riddled with deficiencies.

“In fact the program is actually not on a path toward success but instead on a path toward failing to deliver” the aircraft’s full capabilities, “for which the Department is paying almost $400 billion by the scheduled end” of its development in 2018, Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department’s director of operational testing, said in an Aug. 9 memo obtained by Bloomberg News.

“Achieving full combat capability with the Joint Strike Fighter is at substantial risk” of not occurring before development is supposed to end and realistic combat testing begins, he said of the F-35.

The memo provides a timely reminder of an issue that the next president and defense secretary will inherit. They are scheduled to decide in 2019 whether to let the fighter jet move into full production, the most lucrative phase for Lockheed, the biggest U.S. defense contractor.

The Air Force made its declaration of initial combat capability on Aug. 2, but “most of the limitations” previously identified with software, data fusion, electronic warfare and weapons employment continue, Gilmore wrote.  more

Naval Aviators Describe How the F-35’s Brains Will Change Air Warfare

Naval aviators say guiding the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter onto the flight deck of U.S. aircraft carriers is almost like flying a plane that flies itself. The new plane’s software is meant to allow the military to train pilots faster and, in war, fly more sorties against the enemy. Pilots would spend less time throttling and figuring for flight conditions and more time coordinating with other aircraft, working with huge volumes of data, and managing complex missions against ever-more sophisticated adversaries.

“The aircraft does a lot of stuff that, before, I would have to fight the aircraft,” said Marine Maj. Eric Northam with the VX-23 test squadron. The jet’s Delta Flight Path software, created by F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin has changed all that. “If I want to capture the barrier altitude that I’m climbing to … I dial in the altitude; it will climb up and capture it. If I want to capture the heading I can just use the pedals to dial in a new heading. I can keep my hands on the controls where I need to and then redirect the aircraft as required.”

But questions about the software remain. more

What Will Replace the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler?

The U.S. Navy’s analysis of alternatives (AOA) for its next generation replacement for its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fleet is well underway. The AOA will be roughly a year-and-a-half long, but the process is in its infancy. While the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program will aim to fill the gap in the carrier air wing when the Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler airborne electronic attack aircraft retire, the service does not yet have any concepts emerging from that on-going analysis.

The Navy’s AOA is looking at a broad range of concepts that would fill the void left by the Super Hornet and Growler in the 2030s using “set-based design methodology,” RA DeWolfe Miller said. The Navy and the Air Force will conduct two separate AOAs for their respective sixth-generation fighter efforts that will likely develop two separate solutions for their respective missions. That being said, the two jets could share technology and they will be able to operate together seamlessly. “We will leverage each other on the technology and we’ll leverage each other on the interoperability,” Miller said. “So we’ll be informed of what each others’ efforts are doing.”

The process that the Navy is using essentially projects the carrier air wing out to the future using its current design. To examine the gap left by the F/A-18-series airframe, the Super Hornet and Growler would be removed from the air wing and substituted with a range of new concepts, Miller explained. “What they’ll do is take our air wing of that timeframe and they’ll remove the Super Hornets and they’ll remove the Growler, and they’ll say: ‘OK, what are the capabilities that we need to provide. That’s when they’ll start to come up with various options that they’ll bring forward to us.” more

Navy F-35C Landed So Precisely, It Tore Up a Runway

Before seven of the Navy’s carrier-variant F-35 Joint Strike Fighters embarked aboard the carrier USS George Washington for a third and final round of developmental testing, they completed a required ashore training period, practicing landings at Choctaw Naval Outlying Field near Pensacola, Florida.

The landings went well — maybe a little too well.

“They were landing in the same spot on the runway every time, tearing up where the hook touches down,” Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, head of Naval Air Forces, told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. “So we quickly realized, we needed to either fix the runway or adjust, put some variants in the system. So that’s how precise this new system is.”  more

Friday, August 19, 2016

America’s Awesome Military: And How to Make It Even Better

The United States has the best military in the world today, by far. U.S. forces have few, if any, weaknesses, and in many areas—from naval warfare to precision-strike capabilities, to airpower, to intelligence and reconnaissance, to special operations—they play in a totally different league from the militaries of other countries. Nor is this situation likely to change anytime soon, as U.S. defense spending is almost three times as large as that of the United States’ closest competitor, China, and accounts for about one-third of all global military expenditures—with another third coming from U.S. allies and partners.

Nevertheless, 15 years of war and five years of budget cuts and Washington dysfunction have taken their toll. The military is certainly neither broken nor unready for combat, but its size and resource levels are less than is advisable given the range of contemporary threats and the missions for which it has to prepare. No radical changes or major buildups are needed. But the trend of budget cuts should stop and indeed be modestly reversed, and defense appropriations should be handled more rationally and professionally than has been the case in recent years.

Most major elements of U.S. defense policy are on reasonably solid ground, despite innumerable squabbles among experts over many of the details. Through­out the post–Cold War era, some variant of a two-war planning framework (with caveats) has enjoyed bipartisan support and should continue to do so for many years to come. Forward presence and engagement in East Asia, Europe, and the Middle East remain compelling pillars of U.S. national security strategy. Robust research-and-development programs continue to be supported, as does an unparalleled intelligence com­munity. more

Preserving Primacy: A Defense Strategy for the New Administration

The next U.S. president will inherit a security environment in which the United States con­fronts mounting threats with increasingly constrained resources, diminished stature, and growing uncertainty both at home and abroad over its willingness to protect its friends and its interests. Revisionist powers in Europe, the western Pacific, and the Persian Gulf—three regions long considered by both Democratic and Republican administrations to be vital to U.S. national security—are seeking to overturn the rules-based international order. In Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin has seized Crimea, waged proxy warfare in eastern Ukraine, and threatened NATO allies on Russia’s periphery. Further demonstrating its newfound assertiveness, Russia has dispatched forces to Syria and strength­ened its nuclear arsenal. After a failed attempt to “reset” relations with Moscow, U.S. President Barack Obama has issued stern warnings and imposed economic sanctions, but these have done little to deter Putin.

Nor has the administration’s “pivot” to Asia, now five years on, been matched by effective action. China continues to ramp up its military spending, investing heavily in weapons systems designed to threaten U.S. forces in the western Pacific. As a result, it is proving increas­ingly willing and able to advance its expansive territorial claims in the East China and South China Seas. Not content to resolve its disputes through diplomacy, Beijing has militarized them, building bases on natural and artificially created islands. The United States has failed to respond vigorously to these provocations, causing allies to question its willingness to meet its long-standing security commitments.  more

Boeing moves ahead with initial KC-46A production

On 12 August, the Pentagon’s top acquisition official cleared the KC-46A for Milestone C, which allows the programme to move into initial production for delivery to operational squadrons. The recent contract directs funding for seven LRIP aircraft, two spare engines and five wing refueling pod kits in Lot 1. Lot 2 will include 12 LRIP aircraft, two LRIP spare engines and five LRIP wing refueling pod kits.
“It’s an important day for the company and program," says Leanne Caret, president and chief executive of Boeing Defense and Space. "We’re excited about building low-rate initial production aircraft, and it’s only possible because of the hard work of the joint Boeing-Air Force team.”  more

Navy To Modernize Boeing Super Hornets To Fly With Lockheed F-35

The Navy plans to "continue to modernize" Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornets, said Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, the commander of Naval Air Forces, calling newer versions "4.5-generation" fighters.

During a talk Thursday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Shoemaker said he isn't minimizing the need for Lockheed Martin's F-35, a fifth-generation fighter. Instead, he sees a role for both of them.

"We absolutely need the F-35 as soon as we can get it," he said. " We want to pair those two up together."

Shoemaker said the two jets could be flown in tandem to take advantage of the planes' "very good complement of high-low mix."  more

US Navy's Mighty Aircraft Carriers Plan to Fight While Under Enemy A2/AD Attack

The United States Navy is confident in its ability to operate nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVN) and their air wings inside zones protected by anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) weapons.

The service expects that the massive ships and their escorts will be able use their combination of speed, maneuverability and defensive capabilities to fight while under fire from enemy anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles. Meanwhile, the carrier air wing (CVW) will rely on the Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighter, the forthcoming unmanned MQ-25A Stingray aerial refueler and its fleet of Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft to defeat advanced enemy air defenses such as the Russian-built S-300 and S-400 families.  more

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Pentagon is looking to lasers as a cheaper, more effective way to shoot down long-range missiles fired at the United States by North Korea and Iran.

After experimenting with the technology for more than a decade, U.S. military officials said “directed energy” is near the point where they could use it on the battlefield.

Military officials struck a common theme at this week’s annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium, arguing that lasers could ultimately augment existing missile interceptors. They want lasers for two main reasons: they could shoot down missiles earlier than today’s interceptors and they’re much cheaper to fire.


Navy Studying Installing SeaRAM on More Destroyers, Other Ship Classes

The Navy is considering expanding the number of SeaRAM installations on its ships beyond a quartet of ballistic missile defense ships based in Spain and Littoral Combat Ships, a service official told USNI News on Tuesday.

While no decisions have been made, the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations assessment arm (OPNAV 81) is in the midst of the look on which ships it could add the system designed to intercept and destroy incoming cruise and anti-ship missiles.

Officials with SeaRAM manufacturer Raytheon told reporters on Monday the company was in talks with the service to add the 11 missile system to additional guided missile destroyers beyond the Rota quartet.

The vulnerability prompted U.S. 6th Fleet and OPNAV to push for the installation of the SeaRAM on the Rota ships for an added layer of protection via an urgent operational request. more

Marine-driven changes make 2 ships more lethal

Military Sealift Command is making Marine-driven changes to its nontraditional fleet to give amphibious forces a greater edge on an ever-evolving battlefield. The developments promise to advance the Corps’ use of alternative platforms for everything from maritime security and riverine missions to disaster response and flight operations.

The MV-22 is also key to this new concept. Its ability to deliver forces hundreds of miles from a host ship could enable, for example, forces to fall in on an existing missile battery or establish advanced bases in multiple locations across an archipelago like the Philippines, said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments who previously served as special assistant to the chief of naval operations and director of his Commander’s Action Group.

As such, one key conversion will enable dry cargo and ammunition ships to stow an MV-22 Osprey.

MSC dedicated two dry cargo and ammunition ships (the two oldest) to the Marine Corps pre-positioning fleet: Lewis and Clark, and Sacagawea. They provide ammunition, food, repair parts, stores and small quantities of fuel — but the aft flight deck is a highlight among Marine strategists who have used ships from the T-AKE class as alternate command, control, operational and logistics platforms in recent exercises.

Landing an Osprey is not enough. The Corps has asked for a converted hangar that will allow an MV-22 to be folded and stowed. Sacagawea will receive these modifications during a regular overhaul planned to run from October through January, said John Thackrah, MSC’s executive director. Lewis and Clark is scheduled to receive the same modification during its regular overhaul in June 2018. There are no plans to install the hangar modification on the remaining 12 combat logistics force T-AKEs, though all are capable of landing an MV-22.

“This is good because today we often do not exploit the full capacity of T-AKEs,” Clark said.

Dry cargo and ammo ships aren’t the only ones slated for an amphibious upgrade. Two expeditionary fast transports — Spearhead and Trenton — have upgraded cranes that allow boats and personnel to launch from the mission bay. That modification will eventually be added to all EPF ships, Thackrah said.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

F-35's New Landing Technology May Simplify Carrier Operations

The system that makes the difference is Delta Flight Path, developed by Lockheed Martin Corp. with input from Naval Air Systems Command. That system is one of more than a half-dozen F-35C features that are being tested in this third and final round of carrier exercises.
During a 20-day developmental testing period aboard the George Washington that will conclude Aug. 23, pilots will test the aircraft's ability to fly symmetrical and asymmetrical external weapons loads, execute aircraft launches at maximum weight and against crosswinds, try out a new helmet software load designed to improve visibility in dark conditions, test the capabilities of Delta Flight Path and the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System, and take out and replace an entire F-35C engine to simulate major maintenance aboard a carrier.
At the conclusion of these tests, officials believe the F-35C will be substantially ready for initial operational capability, a milestone the aircraft is expected to hit in 2018.
But success of the built-in carrier landing technology may have even wider-reaching effects.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Petraeus Argues Military Readiness Crisis Is a 'Myth'

Retired Gen. David Petraeus joined in an op-ed piece Wednesday that said doomsday predictions of a growing military readiness gap were largely a myth.

"While there are areas of concern, there is no crisis in military readiness," Petraeus and Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, wrote for The Wall Street Journal.

The service chiefs all have made readiness a top priority, and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly called military preparedness a "disaster," but Petraeus and O'Hanlon said that there was more than enough money in current and projected budgets to meet any concerns.

"The current national defense budget of over $600 billion a year far exceeds the Cold War average of about $525 billion (in inflation-adjusted 2016 dollars) and the $400 billion spent in 2001, according to official Pentagon and Office of Management and Budget data," Petraeus and O'Hanlon said.

"Spending has been reduced from the levels of the late Bush and early Obama years, but that isn't unreasonable in light of scaled-down combat operations abroad and fiscal pressures at home," they said.

"Assuming no return to sequestration, as occurred in 2013, Pentagon budgets to buy equipment now exceed $100 billion a year, a healthy and sustainable level. The so-called "procurement holiday" of the 1990s and early 2000s is over." more

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Marines May Add Assistant Squad Leaders

The Marine Corps is looking to add assistant squad leaders to infantry units to fly unmanned aircraft, said Commandant Gen. Robert Neller.

“One of the things we’re looking at right now is providing every infantry squad an assistant squad leader,” Neller told reporters. “He would be the Marine that would fly the squad’s UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] and help the squad leader manage the information. We’re going to find out: Can the squad leader handle all of that.” more

Marine commandant: Corps must be modified for modern warfare

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Marine Corps will adjust its force structure in the near future as it identifies gaps in capability and technology that it could face in a battle with a modern enemy, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said Tuesday.
The Corps in recent years has made adjustments to the way it trains and equips Marines to prepare them to fight a near-peer adversary, Neller said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a bipartisan Washington think tank. Additional adjustments, including to the way front-line units are structured, will be necessary for the Marine Corps to be prepared to face a rival with similar capabilities, such as Russia or China.
“We are going to reshape this Marine Corps,” he said. “We aren’t going to stay exactly the same, because I don’t think we can. The threats and the capabilities out there are changing too fast and we have to be able to survive on the modern battlefield.”  more

CMC Neller: Marines Now Training to Battle Drones, Fight Without Comms

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Marine Corps must train for the environment it expects to face going forward, which means a near-peer adversary with a capable air force, a savvy web presence, the ability to leverage unmanned systems, and cyber and electronic warfare capabilities, the commandant said today.
Gen. Robert Neller said the Marines haven’t faced a near-peer fight in recent memory, putting the onus on the training community to challenge Marines to work in a communication-denied environment, or under the watchful eye of enemy drones, or other emerging potential threats.
“We’ve developed a system of warfighting that is very dependent on the Internet, the network, and space,” Neller said at an event co-hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the U.S. Naval Institute.
“So looking at our potential adversaries, do we think that’s going to be there, that network is going to be there, if we were to engage with these folks? I would say, I don’t know, I don’t think you could assume that.”  more

USMC to continue deploying, disaggregating Amphibious Ready Groups

The US Marine Corps (USMC) will continue to deploy multi-ship Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs) despite regularly needing to disaggregate the groups to meet global commitments, General Robert Neller, the USMC commandant, said on 9 August.
An ARG generally consists of three US Navy amphibious ships - a landing helicopter dock (LHD), a landing ship dock (LSD), and a landing platform dock (LPD) - as well as some additional naval assets and a USMC Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
The corps has more missions and tasks than capability, Gen Neller told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, so to be in multiple places it needs to disaggregate ARG/MEUs and send the smaller forces out for various operations or exercises.
However, he said the USMC does not plan to deploy the groups as only one or two ships because it wants to maintain the ability to seamlessly aggregate and function together in case the ARG/MEU is called upon for a more serious high-end contingency, such as landing ashore in a hostile environment.  more

USMC mulls battalion restructures as it sheds end-strength

The US Marine Corps (USMC) is mulling some changes in how units are structured as it seeks to maintain capabilities while dropping to 182,000 active-duty marines.

USMC end-strength is to reach that number "within the next few months" and, although it plans to maintain 24 infantry battalions, it is re-considering what should constitute those units, General Robert Neller, the USMC commandant, said during 9 August remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  more

Turn Off That IPhone, Commandant Tells Marines

“We’ve got to change the way we’re thinking….An adversary can see us just as we see them,” said Gen. Neller. “If you can be seen, you will be attacked.”

In particular, US field HQs have grown into notoriously large targets. In one exercise, Neller said, a Marine Expeditionary Force headquarters did almost everything right. They covered everything in camouflage netting — a largely lost art since 9/11 — and set up their radio antennas at a distance so a strike homing in on them wouldn’t hit the HQ itself. But old counterinsurgency habits die hard, and the Marines also put concertina wire around a key location. Seen from the air, the barbed wire glinted in the sun and made a shining circle, like a bull’s eye, around what it was supposed to protect.

“That was where the intel people where,” Neller said to laughter.

Some times, the giveaway won’t be visual; it’ll be electronic and it’s not necessarily military electronics. In the same exercise, the biggest, most glaring source of electromagnetic transmissions wasn’t from the HQ’s radios: It came from the billeting area, where young Marines were using their personal devices. “So we had to take everybody’s phone away,” Neller said. “I know that sounds silly, but it’s not.”

The enemy can take away your electronics too, Neller noted, so Marines are increasingly training to operate when their GPS mapping, digital radios, and other 21st century standbys have been jammed or hacked. The simulated Opposing Force (OPFOR) at 29 Palms now uses off-the-shelf quadcopter UAVs to spy on the US side in wargames.

Part of the solution is just going back to pre-9/11 basics. In Afghanistan and Iraq, Neller said, Marines didn’t paint their faces dark colors for night operations, stick foliage to their helmets to break up their silhouette, or dig foxholes. Those Cold War skills must be relearned, he said. more

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Pentagon Eyes Iron Dome to Defend Forward Based Forces

Israel’s state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Raytheon, its US partner for Iron Dome production, are working to transform the combat-proven Israeli interceptor into a fully American system in defense of forward-deployed US forces.

Americanized versions of the Iron Dome’s Tamir interceptors are being offered under the Raytheon-trademarked SkyHunter brand for a US Army program aimed at defending against a spectrum of threats, from cruise missiles and UAVs to rockets, artillery and mortars.

The Israeli-designed Tamir interceptor has already been adapted for launch from the US Army’s developmental Multi-Missile Launcher (MML), part of the service’s Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2 — Intercept (IFPC Inc 2-I) program.

In an April IFPC program test at the Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the MML-launched Tamir scored its first intercept on US soil against a target drone. more

GOP National Security Experts: Trump Would Be "Most Reckless President in US History"

Among the signatories who say they “are convinced that in the Oval Office, he would be the most reckless President in American history” are: Tom Ridge, the first head of Homeland Security; Kori Schake, former head of strategy at the National Security Council; John Negroponte, the first Director of National Intelligence; William H. Taft IV, great-grandson of Republican President Taft and former Deputy Defense Secretary; Dov Zakheim, former Undersecretary of Defense for policy; his son, Roger Zakheim, former deputy assistant Defense Secretary; and Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA as well as the National Security Agency.

The authors say they “have doubts” about Hillary Clinton and will not vote for Trump. Among the reasons:

Monday, August 8, 2016

military spending caps haven't brought the total disaster so many predicted

When Congress passed the Budget Control Act in 2011, defense leaders warned the spending caps could have disastrous consequences for military programs and planning.
Five years later, many of those fears have not materialized. But Pentagon leaders and presidential hopefuls are still condemning the law as a danger to national security, and searching for a solution to the problem known as sequestration.
The budget caps, originally proposed as a poison pill to force lawmakers into a more comprehensive fiscal plan for federal spending, place strict limits on how much defense and nondefense money can be allocated through fiscal 2021. Mandatory federal spending and some agencies like the Department of Veterans Affairs are exempt.
Despite giving lawmakers a target number for their annual appropriations work, the law has nearly paralyzed budget negotiations on Capitol Hill, giving members of Congress little room to negotiate with the White House on spending shifts and priorities.
That’s especially true for the Defense Department, with Pentagon planners delaying some major new equipment purchases for years to ensure enough money stays in place to maintain current priorities. Both Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton have made the budget caps a talking point on the campaign trail. more

Friday, August 5, 2016

Army to Meet with Firms Interested in Developing New Light Tank

The U.S. Army plans to meet next week with firms to discuss the idea of developing a new light armored vehicle with mobile protected firepower.
The Army plans to hold a so-called industry day on Tuesday at Fort Benning in Georgia to discuss the requirements for such a vehicle, essentially a light tank, in the areas of lethality, mobility, protection, transportability, sustainability, energy and cyber, according to a statement released on Thursday from the service.
The MPF program “will be a lightweight combat vehicle that provides the Infantry Brigade Combat Team long range, precision direct fire capability that ensures freedom of movement and action during joint expeditionary maneuver and joint combined arms operations,” according to the statement.
Speaking at the event will be Maj. Gen. Eric Wesley, commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence; Lt. Gen. John Murray, deputy chief of staff for programs (G8); Brig. Gen. David Bassett, program executive officer for ground combat systems; and Col. William Nuckols, director of the maneuver requirements division, according to the Army.
The service has been experimenting with ways to bring more firepower to soldiers.

Monday, August 1, 2016

US General Rejects Charges That He Backed Failed Coup in Turkey

Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, was put in the position Friday of denying that he backed the attempted coup in Turkey following a tirade aimed at him by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"Any reporting that I had anything to do with the recent unsuccessful coup attempt in Turkey is unfortunate and completely inaccurate," Votel said in a statement.
"Turkey has been an extraordinary and vital partner in the region for many years. We appreciate Turkey's continuing cooperation and look forward to our future partnership in the counter-ISIL fight," he said in response to Erdogan's inflammatory remarks accusing him of "taking the side" of the coup plotters.
Erdogan, speaking at a police headquarters that was bombed by the coup leaders, took issue with an interview Votel gave Thursday at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado in which he said that there was "friction" in U.S.-Turkey military relations since the attempt to bring down the government.
"We have certainly had relationships with a lot of Turkish leaders -- military leaders in particular," said Votel, the former head of U.S. Special Operations Command and one of the most respected officers in uniform. "I am concerned about what the impact is on those relationships as we continue."  more