Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Air Force Not Able to Fly Enough Flights to Train Pilots

Air Force Not Able to Fly Enough Flights to Train Pilots: As the U.S. military continues to rely heavily on air power in its combat missions abroad, a shortage of maintainers needed to keep Air Force planes flying is preventing the force from completing its training mission.

“We’re not able to produce the sorties at home for training for our pilots,” Lt. General John Cooper said in an exclusive interview with VOA.

Cooper, who is in charge of managing maintenance manpower, said the Air Force had been “living on the edge” with its maintainer numbers and hit a 3,800 maintainer shortage in 2015 due to a series of shrinking budgets from Congress.

“We were driven to the force structure that we were at last year and growing from sequestration. There’s no doubt about it. That’s in the history books,” he said.

A training increase was approved this year that added about 500 maintainers, but there's still a shortage of about 3,300.

Cooper told VOA that even if the Air Force consistently maximizes the training pipeline, the force won’t be out of the maintainer manpower hole until 2021.

VOA Exclusive: Air Force Has Too Few Fighter Squadrons to Meet Commanders' Needs

VOA Exclusive: Air Force Has Too Few Fighter Squadrons to Meet Commanders' Needs: When Iraqi troops began the operation to retake Mosul last month, fighter pilots in America’s F-22 Raptor jets struck the first Islamic State targets there. But that kind of operation may be in jeopardy.

The U.S. Air Force says a shortage of fighter pilots has become so dire that it is struggling to satisfy combat requirements abroad.

“We have too few squadrons to meet the combatant commanders’ needs,” Major General Scott Vander Hamm, the general in charge of fixing the fighter pilot crisis, said in an exclusive interview with VOA.

The Air Force is currently authorized to have 3,500 fighter pilots, but it is 725 fighter pilots short. And with fewer pilots, the number of fighter pilot squadrons have also dropped, from 134 squadrons in 1986 to 55 in 2016.

As a greater percentage of the force has needed to be deployed over the past 10 years, readiness -- the ability to accomplish missions at home and abroad -- has dropped 20 percent.

Fort Carson Strykers vs. Russian tanks: Are they strong enough to stop them? | Colorado Springs Gazette, News

Fort Carson Strykers vs. Russian tanks: Are they strong enough to stop them? | Colorado Springs Gazette, News: Declining defense budgets along with 15 years of battling terrorists and insurgents have left a more lightly armed Army with the prospect of facing columns of Russian tanks if war erupts in Europe.

And even as Fort Carson troops train to be the first to fight if the nation heads to war overseas, politicians and pundits are debating whether the formations we'll send are strong enough to be more than a speed bump for America's potential enemies.

"The short answer is, no, they are not a replacement for heavy forces for a fight in Europe," said Steve Bucci, a defense expert for the right-leaning Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Glowing crystals can detect, cleanse contaminated drinking water

Glowing crystals can detect, cleanse contaminated drinking water: Tiny, glowing crystals designed to detect and capture heavy-metal toxins such as lead and mercury could prove to be a powerful new tool in locating and cleaning up contaminated water sources. Motivated by publicized cases in which high levels of heavy metals were found in drinking water in Flint, Mich., and Newark, N.J., a science team led by researchers at Rutgers University used intense X-rays at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) to probe the structure of the crystals they developed and learn how they bind to heavy metals.

The crystals function like miniature, reusable sensors and traps, and are known as luminescent metal-organic frameworks, or LMOFs. One type of LMOF that the team tested was found to selectively take up more than 99 percent of mercury from a test mixture of heavy and light metals within 30 minutes, according to recent results published in Applied Materials and Interfaces. No other MOFs have performed as well in this dual role of detecting and capturing, or "adsorbing," toxic heavy metals, the team reported.

Simon Teat, a Berkeley Lab staff scientist, studied individual LMOF crystals, each measuring about 100 microns (millionths of a meter), with X-rays at the lab's Advanced Light Source (ALS). Using diffraction patterns produced as the X-ray light struck the LMOF samples, Teat applied software tools to map their three-dimensional structure with atomic resolution. The ALS is one of just a few synchrotron X-ray light sources in the world that have dedicated experimental stations for chemical crystallography studies of crystallized chemical compounds such as MOFs.

Northrop Grumman passes 2 Tern program milestones

Northrop Grumman passes 2 Tern program milestones: Northrop Grumman has completed two critical design reviews for the Tern program, a project facilitating the development of new remotely piloted aircraft.

Tern is a joint effort between Northrop Grumman, the Office of Naval Research, and the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The industry team is collaborating on the development of a new unmanned aerial vehicle that can be deployed from maritime platforms for surveillance and strike missions. The new aircraft is being designed to fly in vertical and horizontal modes.

Northrop Grumman's team completed a critical design review for the vehicle's General Electric engine in mid-October, followed by another critical design review for its vehicle management system. The latest milestone marked the approval of the hardware and software architecture that will allow the aircraft to transition from vertical into horizontal flight after launch.

With the designs approved, the team is confident they will soon be able to demonstrate their new capabilities.

Growing fears of IS use of weaponised drones

Growing fears of IS use of weaponised drones

The Mosul battle in Iraq has seen the Islamic State group increasingly resort to weaponised drones, which Western governments fear could lead to a new type of attack at home.

France issued an internal note to its security forces last week warning that "this threat is to be taken into account nationwide" and ordering any drone be treated as a "suspicious package".

The first record of a deadly IS drone attack was in October when two Iraqi Kurdish fighters were killed and two French special forces soldiers wounded.

The device had been booby-trapped and did its damage on the ground when forces approached it after it landed.

"The use of drones by terrorist and insurgent forces is a growing issue of international concern," James Bevan, executive director of the Conflict Armament Research NGO, wrote in a recent report.

Western countries have seen an unprecedented wave of attacks perpetrated or inspired by IS and the new airborne threat is giving chills to security agencies.

"It's a threat we're looking into, especially with all those who will return from Iraq and Syria with bags of battle experience," a French government official told AFP.

Some countries, especially those with large numbers of nationals among IS's foreign fighter contingent such as France or Belgium, worry that attacks on home soil will spike after the collapse of the jihadists' "caliphate".

Drones are ubiquitous on the front lines of the battle for IS bastion Mosul, which Iraqi forces launched on October 17.

The jihadists have used them for some time for reconnaissance missions, just like government forces have, but they have more recently tried to modify them.

In mid-November an AFP team on Mosul's southern front saw a small commercial drone, of the kind that will fly off the shelves in the runup to Christmas, drop a grenade on a federal police position.

'Dronejacking' may be the next big cyber threat

'Dronejacking' may be the next big cyber threat

A big rise in drone use is likely to lead to a new wave of "dronejackings" by cybercriminals, security experts warned Tuesday.

A report by Intel's McAfee Labs said hackers are expected to start targeting drones used for deliveries, law enforcement or camera crews, in addition to hobbyists.

"Drones are well on the way to becoming a major tool for shippers, law enforcement agencies, photographers, farmers, the news media, and more," said Intel Security's Bruce Snell, in the company's annual threat report.

Snell said the concept of dronejacking was demonstrated at a security conference last year, where researchers showed how someone could easily take control of a toy drone.

"Although taking over a kid's drone may seem amusing and not that big of an issue, once we look at the increase in drone usage potential problems starts to arise," he said.

The report noted that many consumer drones lack adequate security, which makes it easy for an outside hacker to take control.

Companies like Amazon and UPS are expected to use drones for package deliveries -- becoming potential targets for criminals, the report said.

"Someone looking to 'dronejack' deliveries could find a location with regular drone traffic and wait for the targets to appear," the report said.

"Once a package delivery drone is overhead, the drone could be sent to the ground, allowing the criminal to steal the package."

The researchers said criminals may also look to steal expensive photographic equipment carried by drones, to knock out surveillance cameras used by law enforcement.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Mixed Signs for Foreign Military Sales Under Trump

Mixed Signs for Foreign Military Sales Under Trump: Foreign military sales (FMS) are a critical foreign policy tool, one used to bind partners to America while bolstering interoperability on US systems — and providing a boost to domestic industry.

The administration of US President Barack Obama has made good use of FMS, setting records for foreign weapons sales in 2015 and coming close in 2016. But as President-elect Donald Trump’s administration spins up, the future of US sales abroad is unclear.

As with everything related to the Trump administration at this point, there is little hard evidence to go by. But analysts are watching closely for signs of what might come. In particular, there is concern that two areas of strong sales — the Gulf region and Europe — could be impacted by either the policies of the next administration or the statements of the next president.

Analyst Byron Callan, of Capital Alpha Partners, wrote to investors the day after the election, noting some of Trump’s campaign positions could impact foreign weapon sales.

Trump Victory Galvanizes EU Defense Plans

Trump Victory Galvanizes EU Defense Plans: European officials who have been pushing for a beefed-up, better-integrated EU defense capability may have been handed the best argument they could have wished for with the election of Donald Trump.

During campaigning before his shock win this month, Trump warned that if elected he would not defend countries in Europe that failed to spend enough on defense — a move which would end decades of US underwriting of Europe’s security.

For European officials, Trump’s views were the second good reason this year for the continent to collaborate on military matters.

After years of vetoing plans for better integrated European defense, the UK voted to leave the Union earlier this year, immediately spurring countries like France, Germany and Italy to plot the EU military capability they had long dreamed of.

"Europe cannot blink after Brexit, after the election of Donald Trump with all the questions being raised,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, as European defense and foreign ministers gathered on Nov. 14.

Trump Advisers Press For Major NSC Changes « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

Trump Advisers Press For Major NSC Changes « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary: The administration of Donald Trump will probably slash the size of the National Security Council and return it to its traditional role of coordinating national security policy across the national security and intelligence communities. For most of the Obama Administration, conflicting cabinets ruled and battled to often bad effect, one staffed by the actual Cabinet officers and their subordinates, and one by the shadow cabinet of the NSC staff. It made policy, instead of coordinating policy as it is charged to do by the law that created it in 1947.

There was the sudden and unexpected decision to walk away from an alliance with France aimed at overturning the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad. There were the prolonged and conflicting signals coming from top Pentagon civilians, the Navy, top Pacific commanders and the White House about whether, when and how to execute Freedom of Navigation operations in the South China Sea while China illegally and immorally destroyed some of the world’s most pristine coral reefs to lay claim to fake islands in the region. And numerous other less prominent policy decisions.

Elite U.S. Special Operators Build Center for Perpetual War on Terror - The Daily Beast

Elite U.S. Special Operators Build Center for Perpetual War on Terror - The Daily Beast: Preparing for a multi-generational, international fight against terrorists, U.S. special operations chiefs are launching a new counterterrorist nerve center at an undisclosed location in the Middle East to fight the so-called Islamic State, al Qaeda, and any other terrorist actor.

The Joint Special Operations Command, the U.S. military’s premier counterterrorist strike force, is expanding its existing targeting nerve center in the region to make space for more American terror hunting personnel from three-letter agencies like the CIA, NSA, and FBI to foreign partners like Britain, France, Iraq and Jordan.

The Obama administration is enshrining the strike force’s role of gathering multiple points of view on who to kill and capture, as it did in Iraq and Afghanistan into a permanent information sharing platform, two U.S. officials tell The Daily Beast, speaking anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss the secret task force publicly.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Obama Expands War With Al Qaeda to Include Shabab in Somalia - The New York Times

Obama Expands War With Al Qaeda to Include Shabab in Somalia - The New York Times: The escalating American military engagement in Somalia has led the Obama administration to expand the legal scope of the war against Al Qaeda, a move that will strengthen President-elect Donald J. Trump’s authority to combat thousands of Islamist fighters in the chaotic Horn of Africa nation.

The administration has decided to deem the Shabab, the Islamist militant group in Somalia, to be part of the armed conflict that Congress authorized against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to senior American officials. The move is intended to shore up the legal basis for an intensifying campaign of airstrikes and other counterterrorism operations, carried out largely in support of African Union and Somali government forces.

The executive branch’s stretching of the 2001 war authorization against the original Al Qaeda to cover other Islamist groups in countries far from Afghanistan — even ones, like the Shabab, that did not exist at the time — has prompted recurring objections from some legal and foreign policy experts.

The Shabab decision is expected to be publicly disclosed next month in a letter to Congress listing global deployments. It is part of the Obama administration’s pattern of relaxing various self-imposed rules for airstrikes against Islamist militants as it tries to help its partner forces in several conflicts.

Friday, November 25, 2016

US, South Korea Discuss Status of Forces Agreement Ahead of Trump

US, South Korea Discuss Status of Forces Agreement Ahead of Trump

U.S. and South Korean officials met Tuesday to discuss arrangements for the continued presence of 28,000 U.S. troops and possible changes that may be sought by President-elect Donald Trump.

The U.S. team for talks on the current Status of Forces Agreement was led by Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas Bergeson, deputy commander of U.S. Forces-Korea and deputy commander of United Nations Command Korea.

Yeo Seung-bae, the Foreign Ministry’s director-general for North America, led the South Korean delegation at the meeting in Seoul, the first for the joint committee on the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in nearly a year.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency noted that the meeting took place during the White House’s transition to Trump, who made campaign pledges “to have allies, including South Korea, pay more for American troops stationed in those countries.”

Trump frequently complained that Japan, South Korea and NATO allies are not contributing enough for the stationing of U.S. troops and the protection of the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

A statement issued by the South Korean Foreign Ministry said, “Both sides agreed to continue cooperation to manage various SOFA issues so that the U.S. can have a stable environment for their forces here, while South Korea can minimize the discomfort to their people.”

Future of Combat Medicine: Powdered Blood, Spray-on Skin | KitUp!

Future of Combat Medicine: Powdered Blood, Spray-on Skin | KitUp!: Researchers, doctors and biotechnicians at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research are working on a new, more efficient way to administer blood notice to troops in a heavy trauma situation.

One possibility? Powdered blood.

Researchers are looking at, “How do we replicate the red blood cell?” said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Johnson, commanding general of Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, which sits adjacent to the research facility.

During Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s Nov. 16 tour of the hospital, Johnson spoke with about the latest medical technologies the institute is cultivating “because on the battlefield, that’s a big issue for us.”

It’s complicated to keep blood, “at the right temperature, in the right volume, make sure it can still store oxygen when you put it into somebody,” Johnson said. As a result, researchers are trying to develop an artificial blood product.

“We’re looking at powder products that get reconstituted [as liquid],” he said. It would save the exhaustive measures required to keep whole blood viable while in remote areas or on the battlefield.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The F-35B Just Got A Lot Deadlier - Defense One

The F-35B Just Got A Lot Deadlier - Defense One: The F-35 now packs more punch: specifically, the 20-foot Standard Missile, or SM-6, complete with a 140-pound warhead. But not fired from under the wing — rather from a nearby Aegis destroyer.

In September, the Marines completed a proof-of-concept test in which a Marine Corps F-35B detected a cruise-missile decoy (a drone), passed targeting information to a remote sensor, and set up a shot by an Aegis combat system of the sort you’ll find on modern destroyers. A battery controlled by the Aegis fired a live SM-6 missile, which took down the drone.

“It was a metal-on-metal engagement from a significant range. I would say more than a tactically significant range. It was a very, very impressive shot to see,” Lt. Col. Richard “BC” Rusnok told reporters aboard the amphibious assault ship America, where the Marines are conducting tests with the vertical-lift F-35B. The test took place at White Sands, New Mexico, aboard the USS Desert Ship facility that the Navy uses for missile tests there.

The process of selecting the target and then launching a missile to take it out was virtually automatic, said Rusnok.

Army Must Ready for Future Fights in Dense Cities: Fanning |

Army Must Ready for Future Fights in Dense Cities: Fanning | The outgoing secretary of the Army said Tuesday that he sees the likelihood of a conflict occurring inside a densely populated city lasting for years into the future.

"I think that the broad requirements levied on the Army now -- counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, as well as preparing for a larger fight for a near-peer adversary -- are going to remain in the future," Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning told an audience at the Library of Congress.

"The issue is how technology changes, how the adversary changes and where you imagine the environment we might be fighting changing or evolving, because we know we are on a trend to increased urbanization and mega-cities.

"We've got to think about being able to fight ... in dense urban areas where the adversary is mixed in with large civilian populations."

Fanning, who will step down from his post sometime before President-elect Donald Trump takes office in January, spoke at an event to pay tribute to an upcoming exhibit at the Library of Congress.

"Echoes of the Great War -- America's experiences of World War I" is scheduled to open April 4, 2017.

Air Force Special Operations Forces Train for Next Dynamic Battlefront |

Air Force Special Operations Forces Train for Next Dynamic Battlefront | A U.S. special tactics operator saw the urgency for airstrikes to diffuse an oncoming firefight from Taliban combatants in Afghanistan recently.

The AC-130 gunship circling overhead delivered 105mm cannon rounds so precise, they screeched down just 13 meters from where U.S. and coalition troops were located, according to Col. Michael Martin, 24th Special Operations Wing commander.

From air to ground assault, Air Force and Army special operators, along with coalition partners, work together in fast-paced environments to coordinate targeted attacks. The contingents are fully "committed to fusing air and ground maneuver to defeat the enemy," Martin said of campaigns evolving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Air Force personnel "are involved" in ongoing operations across Mosul, including calling in precision strikes, Martin told on Thursday.

U.S. troops serving as advisers were moving with elite Iraqi forces outside the city units just last week, but remained behind the "forward line of" Iraqi Counter Terror Service units, according to Air Force Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.

Martin provided a few more details.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Philippine, US Military Chiefs Say Ties Remain Robust |

Philippine, US Military Chiefs Say Ties Remain Robust | The chiefs of the Philippine armed forces and the United States Pacific Command said Tuesday the two countries' military ties remain robust, with both sides committed to their alliance and cooperation on maritime security, counterterrorism and humanitarian aid.

The upbeat statement issued at the end of a Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board meeting came after threats by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to reduce military cooperation with Washington and expand security ties with China and Russia.

Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., head of the U.S. Pacific Command, co-chaired the meeting with Gen. Ricardo R. Visaya, the Philippine armed forces chief.

Harris said last week in Washington that there's been no change so far in U.S.-Philippine military cooperation but that there could be a "re-scoping" of some big joint exercises in 2017.

The Philippines and the U.S. are longstanding allies who signed a mutual defense treaty in 1951.

"The successful completion of the MDB-SEB ensures continued, robust relations between the U.S. and Philippine militaries," the statement said. "This highlights the enduring commitment of both countries to the U.S.-Philippine alliance."

Japan Defense Adviser Sees Chance to Update Alliance with US |

Japan Defense Adviser Sees Chance to Update Alliance with US | A top defense policy adviser for Japan's government on Monday proposed using U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's demand that Tokyo contribute more to its own defense as a chance to update the countries' security alliance to reflect Japan's greater military capability and today's harsher security environment.

Former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, a leading candidate to become Japan's next prime minister, said Tokyo contributes more financially for the basing of American troops than any other U.S. ally, but perhaps less militarily.

Ishiba's comment comes amid concerns in Japan that Trump might demand that Tokyo pay more for the 50,000 American troops stationed in Japan under a bilateral security treaty. Japan pays about $2 billion a year, about half of the non-personnel costs of stationing the U.S. troops, while South Korea pays about $860 million a year for about 28,000 American troops based there.

Japan's pacifist constitution, written under U.S. direction after World War II, prohibits it from using force in settling international disputes. The security treaty requires the U.S. to help Japan if it is attacked and allows the U.S. to maintain military bases in Japan. Many military analysts say the U.S. benefits from having the forward-deployed bases in Japan and elsewhere in Asia.

"In the future, this structure should change," Ishiba said at a news conference in Tokyo, citing the development of Japanese military capability and changes in the regional security environment, including China's growing assertiveness and North Korea's nuclear program, since the security alliance was formed about 60 years ago.

McCain Doesn't Care What Trump Wants: No Waterboarding |

McCain Doesn't Care What Trump Wants: No Waterboarding | "I don't give a damn" what President-elect Donald Trump may want on lifting the ban against waterboarding and torture, Sen. John McCain said, adding he'll fight to keep the policy in place.

In the latest sign that the new president will have a hard time dealing with the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain said over the weekend, "I don't give a damn what the president of the United States wants to do or anybody else wants to do. We will not waterboard. We will not do it."

McCain, who was subjected to torture as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, made the remarks to applause during a panel discussion at the Halifax International Security Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

McCain said waterboarding, which was sanctioned under the administration of President George W. Bush as an "enhanced interrogation technique," doesn't work and is banned under U.S. law and the Geneva Conventions. He added, "My God, what does it say about America if we're going to inflict torture on people?"

Russia Deploys New Missiles to the Baltic Sea Region |

Russia Deploys New Missiles to the Baltic Sea Region | The Russian military has deployed state-of-the art anti-shipping missiles in the nation's westernmost Baltic region, the Interfax news agency reported Monday, a move that comes amid spiraling tensions in Russia-West ties.

Interfax said Monday that the military has put Bastion missile-launchers on duty in the Kaliningrad exclave that borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania. The Russian Defense Ministry said over the weekend that the Baltic Fleet was rearming itself with new missile-launchers, but didn't provide specifics.

The ministry had no immediate comment on the Interfax report.

The Bastion fires supersonic Oniks cruise missiles, which have a range of up to 450 kilometers (280 miles) and can be used against ships as well as ground targets. Last week, it made its combat debut in Syria where the Russian military used it against militants.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Marine Corps is Experimenting With a New Service Rifle |

The Marine Corps is Experimenting With a New Service Rifle | On the heels of a widely praised 2015 decision to issue the more maneuverable M4 carbine in lieu of the M16A4 to Marines in infantry battalions, the Marine Corps may be on the cusp of another major weapons decision.

The Marine Corps' experimental battalion, the California-based 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, has been conducting pre-deployment exercises with the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle to evaluate it as the new service rifle for infantry battalions, the commander of 1st Marine Division, Maj. Gen. Daniel O'Donohue told Thursday.

The battalion is set to deploy aboard the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit this spring. As part of its workup and deployment, it has been charged with testing and evaluating a host of technologies and concepts ranging from teaming operations with unmanned systems and robotics to experiments with differently sized squads.

"When they take the IAR and they're training out there with all the ranges we do with the M4, they're going to look at the tactics of it. They'll look at the firepower, and they'll do every bit of training, and then they'll deploy with that weapon, and we'll take the feedback to the Marine Corps to judge," O'Donohue said.

General: As Pacific Grows More Unstable, the Fight is Coming |

General: As Pacific Grows More Unstable, the Fight is Coming | With uncertain new leadership in allied countries and the sabre-rattling of hostile states growing louder, Marines in the Pacific are being prepared for a coming conflict, the commanding general of 3rd Marine Division said this week.

Speaking at Marine Corps Association's Ground Dinner near Washington, D.C., Thursday night, Maj. Gen. Richard Simcock made a plea for more amphibious ships in the region and increased collaboration with the Navy as the region braces anticipates a future that may include a confrontation or contingency involving a powerful regional competitor.

"The fight that's coming, we're not going to be able to get a hodgepodge, hillbilly organization and just throw three [Marine Expeditionary Units] together and say that's a [Marine Expeditionary Brigade] and we can land the landing force," he said. "We're not training with our Navy brethren; we're not doing the things that are going to carry us to victory in the fight that is clearly coming out of the Pacific. Those are the biggest issues that I deal with right now."

Recent upheavals in the region, he said, included the death in October of the 88-year-old king of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, a beloved ruler who leaves an uncertain political future in his son, the crown prince Maha Vajiralongkorn. Meanwhile, the newly elected Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, who took office in June, has repeatedly made headlines with his hostility toward the U.S

Friday, November 18, 2016

DARPA doubles down on Tern by funding 2nd test vehicle

DARPA doubles down on Tern by funding 2nd test vehicle: Tern, a joint program between DARPA and the U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR), seeks to greatly increase the effectiveness of forward-deployed small-deck ships such as destroyers and frigates by enabling them to serve as mobile launch and recovery sites for specially designed unmanned air systems (UASs).

DARPA last year awarded Phase 3 of Tern to a team led by the Northrop Grumman Corporation to build a full-scale technology demonstration system. The program has since made significant advances on numerous fronts, including commencement of wing fabrication and completion of successful engine testing for its test vehicle, and DARPA has tasked Northrop Grumman with building a second test vehicle.

"DARPA has been thinking about building a second Tern test vehicle for well over a year," said Dan Patt, DARPA program manager. "Adding the second technology demonstrator enhances the robustness of the flight demonstration program and enables military partners to work with us on maturation, including testing different payloads and experimenting with different approaches to operational usage."

Thursday, November 17, 2016

US-Philippine Link Strong Despite Bluster in Manila: PACOM |

US-Philippine Link Strong Despite Bluster in Manila: PACOM | The head of U.S. Pacific Command said relations with the Philippine military remain strong in spite of the Philippine president's recent anti-American rhetoric.

"I am not seeing any slowdown in the Philippines as an outcome from what has come out of the government," Adm. Harry Harris told an audience at a Nov. 15 leadership discussion in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Defense One. "I'm headed to the Philippines on Sunday for meetings with my Philippine counterparts."

The defense cooperation agreement "remains in place," despite increased uncertainty about the future of the treaty with Manila

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

US Weapons, Pacific, Commitment | DefenseTech

US Weapons, Pacific, Commitment | DefenseTech: The deployment of the latest U.S. military hardware should serve as a symbol of American commitment to its allies in the Pacific region, an admiral said.

There is an air of uncertainty over whether a new Trump presidency will continue to honor the current American strategy to pivot its military forces to the Pacific region.

While he wouldn’t speculate on likely policies of a Trump administration, Navy Adm. Harry Harris said, “I have no doubt that we will continue our steadfast commitment to our allies and partners in the Indo-Asian-Pacific region.”

Speaking in Washington, D.C., at a leadership discussion sponsored by Defense One, Harris pointed to the future deployment of the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter to Japan as sign of that commitment.

The F-35 family is “the most capable aircraft that we have,” Harris said. “I think it is a powerful signal that we are sending our very best fighter aircraft to the Indo-Asian-Pacific before we deploy it anywhere else.

“It will showcase not only American technology but also American capability. There is no other aircraft on the planet that can touch it,” he said. “I am a huge believer in it.”

Report Warns of Asia Arms Race if Trump Withdraws US Forces |

Report Warns of Asia Arms Race if Trump Withdraws US Forces | The U.S. approach to Asia faces a major overhaul when Donald Trump takes office, but what will take its place? A new report warns of a leadership vacuum and even a nuclear arms race if the U.S. withdraws from a region threatened by a provocative North Korea.

But authors of the Asia Foundation report provided to The Associated Press ahead of its publication Tuesday also say in some parts of the region there's hope that a shift from President Barack Obama's signature foreign policy could be for the good.

Despite the major diplomatic capital invested by Obama in reaching out to Asia in the past eight years, his so-called "pivot" policy has yielded only modest gains in countering the rise of an assertive China. There's been a slight increase in the U.S. military presence in the region; a political opening in former pariah state Myanmar; and better relations with old enemy Vietnam.

The main economic plank of his policy — the Trans-Pacific Partnership — is in ruins. Trump's election victory has erased chances of early U.S. ratification of the 12-nation trade pact.

Determining what else of Trump's populist campaign rhetoric translates into action remains a guessing game — one with high stakes for Asia.

Trump has raised the specter of withdrawing U.S. forces from South Korea and Japan unless they share more of the burden of hosting the 80,000 troops — even as neighboring North Korea has conducted nuclear and missile tests with unprecedented intensity.

The Asia Foundation report, based on consultations among academics and former officials from 20 Asian nations, warns that withdrawing U.S. forces could compel Tokyo and Seoul to seek their own nuclear deterrents — rather than rely on America's — which in turn would "trigger massive destabilization of the regional order."

China Says Aircraft Carrier Now Ready for Combat |

China Says Aircraft Carrier Now Ready for Combat | China's first aircraft carrier is now ready to engage in combat, marking a milestone for a navy that has invested heavily in its ability to project power far from China's shores.

The Liaoning's political commissar said in an interview with Tuesday's Global Times newspaper that his ship is "constantly prepared to fight against enemies," signaling a change from its past status as a platform for testing and training.

Senior Captain Li Dongyou's comments appear to indicate that the ship has taken on its full aviation complement. Purchased as an incomplete hull from Ukraine more than a decade ago, it was commissioned in 2013.

China hasn't described specifically how it intends to use the Liaoning, but it is seen as helping reinforce China's increasingly assertive claims in the South China Sea in the face of challenges from the U.S. Navy and others.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

US, Philippine Special Forces Set to Hold Joint Drills |

US, Philippine Special Forces Set to Hold Joint Drills | U.S. and Philippine special forces are set to start annual military exercises in a sign that such joint drills will continue despite vocal opposition by the Philippine president.

Philippine army spokesman Col. Benjamin Hao says the Balance Piston exercises will start Wednesday in the western province of Palawan. He says both sides have agreed to forego live-fire drills during the monthlong exercises.

Hao didn't give a reason Tuesday for dropping the live-fire maneuvers, but the Philippine defense department has said President Rodrigo Duterte wants such assault drills to be discontinued.

Carter: Opening Combat Jobs to Women 'Makes Sense' |

Carter: Opening Combat Jobs to Women 'Makes Sense' | As questions swirl over whether President-elect Donald Trump will seek to roll back recent social changes in the military, the outgoing defense secretary said the push to open more combat jobs to women "makes sense."

Speaking to reporters traveling with him to military installations around the U.S., Ashton Carter said of the Obama administration's rule change to let more women serve in combat roles, "It makes sense."

The secretary said, "Females are half of our population. We're an all-volunteer force. So we recruit from the population it makes sense for us to recruit people, from as wide a population as possible."

Carter added, "Now they have to be qualified, but it's a benefit to our military to be able to draw from what is a competitive [market] … to have the ability to have access to the best people we can."

Trump is facing calls from some conservatives to undo the women-in-combat provisions, which affects a large portion of the military -- hundreds of thousands of troops -- serving in combat-related military occupational specialties.

Autonomous Huey, Aurora Flight Services, Helicopters | Defensetech

Autonomous Huey, Aurora Flight Services, Helicopters | Defensetech: An autonomous Huey.

It’s the goal of the futuristic Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System (AACUS) program created by Virginia-based Aurora Flight Sciences. The program integrates another Aurora-created system, the tactical autonomous aerial logistics systems, or TALOS, in order to send up helicopters at the request of troops on the ground.

“The primary goal of the AACUS program is to enable rapid cargo delivery by unmanned, and potentially optionally-manned, vertical take-off and landing systems,” the company said in a release Thursday.

Aurora hopes to integrate TALOS and demonstrate it on a Huey in 2017 and 2018, the company said. The Office of Naval Research is funding and sponsoring the program.

“TALOS is not an aircraft, nor is it a robot flying an aircraft – TALOS is transferrable intelligence designed with both manned and unmanned aircraft requirements in mind,” said John Wissler, vice president of Aurora’s research and development center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“The arrival of a Huey as our third test platform frames a key point for future customers – the TALOS system is platform agnostic; you’re not buying a new fleet of helicopters, you’re buying a capability set for your current fleet,” he said.

Most Female Vets Feel Service Isn't Valued, Survey Finds |

Most Female Vets Feel Service Isn't Valued, Survey Finds | A new survey of female military veterans and service members shows most perceive the public doesn't recognize or value their service the way it does their male counterparts, and their contribution isn't adequately portrayed in the news and entertainment media.

The survey, conducted by the advocacy group Service Women's Action Network, includes nearly 1,000 service women and veterans from 49 states representing all states, with both officers and enlisted troops represented.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents, 74 percent, said they believe their service isn't publicly recognized. They said they most wanted the public to know more about their leadership and contributions, their stories and experience, and the challenges they face. About two-thirds, or 68 percent, of respondents said the military was responsible for building this awareness, while more than half, or 57 percent, said they wanted veteran service organizations to tell their story.

Among other dramatic findings was that 71 percent of those surveyed didn't belong to a veteran service organization, a possible symptom of a perceived disconnect between the male-focused community they offer and the needs of female veterans. One-third of survey respondents said that they actually didn't feel welcome in existing veteran service organizations, and more than half, 51 percent, said they hadn't been informed about membership opportunities for these organizations.

EU backs defence plan after Trump win fuelled fears

EU backs defence plan after Trump win fuelled fears: EU ministers approved a common defence plan on Monday despite sharp differences over how far it should go, as Donald Trump's election win stoked fears about Washington's commitment to European security.

Trump's campaign threat to think twice about defending NATO allies unless they up their defence spending has driven calls for the European Union to press ahead on its own, despite objections from Britain.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini insisted the plans -- to boost the bloc's ability to respond to external conflicts, help partner countries build their defence capabilities and protect EU citizens -- would not undermine NATO.

"It's not about a European army, it's not about creating a new European Union SHAPE-style headquarters," Mogherini said after talks with foreign and defence ministers in Brussels, referring to NATO's own military HQ.

Britain has long opposed any such moves as undermining NATO, but after its shock June Brexit vote, France and Germany jumped in with plans to boost defence cooperation that have now gained extra urgency with Trump's election victory.

Mogerhini said the bloc was working on the issue long before the US vote and that it would "continue to do this in strong partnership with NATO".

First flight for new jet-powered Avenger UAV

First flight for new jet-powered Avenger UAV: A turbojet-powered unmanned aerial vehicle by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. has successfully completed its first flight.

The aircraft is called the Avenger Extended Range, a variant of the company's jet-powered Predator C Avenger, which has accumulated over 13,000 flight hours to date.

GA-ASI said the flight occurred late last month at its Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Air Force's Next Fighter Jet a Program to Watch in 2017

Air Force's Next Fighter Jet a Program to Watch in 2017: 2017 could be a decisive year for the Air Force’s future fighter jet, as the service begins multiple efforts that will help determine the requirements of its so-called Penetrating Counter Air capability.

The service’s current plan hinges on several lines of effort. The Air Force is preparing to kick off an 18-month analysis of alternatives this January that will explore a handful of fighter-jet concepts and evaluate their ability to meet future threats, said Col. Thomas Coglitore, chief of ACC’s ‎air superiority core function and next-generation air dominance working groups.

The AOA group is working hand-in-glove with another team at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, that is responsible for formulating an acquisition strategy and will conduct risk-reduction activities, he said.

A separate study by the Air Force’s Scientific Advisory board, which will span fiscal year 2017, will identify and review key technologies—including sensors, countermeasures, weapons and low-observability capabilities, among others. The board plans to provide a roadmap documenting essential tech and the timeline for maturing them. It will brief the Air Force secretary in July 2017 and publish its report in December.

For Clues To Trump's National Security Policy, Look To His Advisers : Parallels : NPR

For Clues To Trump's National Security Policy, Look To His Advisers : Parallels : NPR: What is Donald Trump's national security plan?

Some things are clear: Trump supports billions of dollars in new Pentagon spending for military hardware. He'd permit more veterans to seek care outside the federal system of the Department of Veterans Affairs. He'd keep open the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Much else, however, is not.

During Trump's campaign against Hillary Clinton, the candidates rarely talked about terrorism, Iraq, Syria or other issues, aside from using it as a way to condemn one another.

Trump blasted Clinton for what he called the failure of President Obama's administration to safeguard the stability of Iraq after the U.S. withdrawal in 2011. He complained the U.S. hadn't gotten anything for its efforts and should have "taken the oil."

Does that mean President-elect Trump supports preserving an American military force in Iraq? Would he order American troops to seize Iraqi or Syrian oil infrastructure and bring the subsequent revenues into the U.S. Treasury?

Trump’s Big-League Defense Buildup Would Face Hurdles in Congress

Trump’s Big-League Defense Buildup Would Face Hurdles in Congress: If US president-elect Donald Trump pursues multi-billion-dollar plans to “rebuild” the military with new fighter jets, ships and troops, analysts are optimistic the Republican-led Congress will lift spending caps to fund it.

But to do so, he would have to surmount GOP fiscal hawks with an aversion to deficit spending and Democrats who want parity for defense and non-defense spending.

Far from a doctrinaire conservative, Trump cast himself as a pragmatist and transformational figure. He ran on populist promises to cut taxes, rebuild infrastructure and to expand the military, all while refusing to cut Medicare or Social Security benefits. Simple math suggests this yields higher budget deficits—a debt increase of between $4.4 and $5.9 trillion, according to the Tax Foundation.

The campaign’s proposed action plan for the first 100 days includes a Restoring National Security Act, aimed at “eliminating the defense sequester” — assumed to mean repeal of the Budget Control Act and its multi-year caps — “and expanding military investment.” It would also expand health care options for veterans, protect infrastructure from cyberattacks and impose politically charged screening on immigrants.

Will Donald Trump's Pentagon reverse Obama's women-in-combat rules?

Will Donald Trump's Pentagon reverse Obama's women-in-combat rules?: The Obama administration’s historic decision to open military combat jobs to women, a process well underway for nearly a year, could be reviewed or even reversed as President-elect Donald Trump and his Republican Party take control of Washington in January.

Trump has been a vocal skeptic of the new policy, calling the change “politically correct” and linking it to a rise in reported sexual assaults throughout the ranks. The Republican Party's official platform, drawn up this summer, expressly calls for reversal. And top lawmakers who will control Congress for at least the next two years have voiced clear opposition as well.

The policy affects nearly 300,000 military jobs involved in direct ground combat.

“Those policies have to be rolled back,” said Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, an advocacy group opposed to the slate of Obama-era military personnel reforms. “Right now the policy is that women can and will be assigned to ground combat units. That pronouncement can indeed be changed by a future secretary of defense."

Friday, November 11, 2016

No legal reason US could not walk away from Iran deal: official

No legal reason US could not walk away from Iran deal: official: The Iran nuclear deal would fall apart if a US administration walked away from it, as President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to do, the State Department said Thursday.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani had argued on Wednesday that the deal -- which saw world powers lift sanctions on Tehran in return for controls on its nuclear program -- has been enshrined in international law.

The outgoing US administration is proud of the agreement and has no intention of dropping it, but Trump said several times during his campaign that moving away from it will be a priority once he takes power in January.

"Any party -- and I'm speaking very hypothetically here, because I don't want in any way to attempt to hypothesize about what the incoming administration's going to do -- I'm just talking purely about an agreement that any party can walk away from," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

"And that will have profound consequences on the integrity of the agreement."

Toner said that the Iran deal was not a legally binding treaty, but that the current US administration believes it is in Washington's interest to continue it.

Asked whether if the US withdraws support for the deal whether Iran might start building a nuclear weapons program, Toner said: "Yes. That's the reality of the situation."

In Final Months, SecDef to Aggressively Pursue Obama's Goals |

In Final Months, SecDef to Aggressively Pursue Obama's Goals | The Pentagon and State Department plan to aggressively pursue President Barack Obama's military and diplomatic goals in the remaining two months in office despite potential conflicts with the views of President-elect Donald Trump.

Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was committed to a "smooth and effective transition" to the next administration but also made a point to note "we do this job right, and we serve the current commander-in-chief."

Carter was "carrying out the policies of the current commander in chief," Cook said. "We have one commander-in-chief at a time. We leave it to the next administration to speak to their policy choices."

The press secretary and a State Department counterpart, Mark Toner, said the departments were following Obama's policies on Iran, Iraq, Syria, North Korea, China, NATO, and climate change -- all areas in which Trump has expressed pointed differences of opinion. However, Cook said "we're not going to get into a policy debate that was part of the campaign."

As for policy decisions by incoming administration officials, Cook told reporters Thursday at a Pentagon briefing, "You're best served by speaking to them."

Ukraine Hopes for US Support Under Donald Trump |

Ukraine Hopes for US Support Under Donald Trump | Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko congratulated US president-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday, expressing hoping that Washington will maintain its support for Kiev after he moves to the White House.

"I sincerely congratulate Donald Trump on his election as president of the United States," Poroshenko told US Ambassador to Kiev Marie Yovanovitch, also inviting Trump for a visit, according to a statement from the presidency.

He said he hoped for "continuing support of the US... in Ukraine's fight against Russian aggression, for freedom, independence and restoration of sovereignty and territorial integrity," referring to the pro-Russian separatist regions in the east.

Nearly 10,000 people have been killed since the Ukraine conflict began in 2014, pitting pro-Russian rebels against government troops.

Some in Ukraine have expressed worry that Trump, who praised Russian President Vladimir Putin during the campaign, would sacrifice Ukraine to improve relations with Moscow.

Trump's campaign reportedly snubbed Poroshenko when the Ukrainian leader reached out to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this year, though he was able to meet with Clinton.

Isolationist Trump Stokes NATO Defense Fears |

Isolationist Trump Stokes NATO Defense Fears | Donald Trump's "America first" approach has Europe worried he may cut US commitments to NATO just as it mounts its biggest military build-up since the end of the Cold War to counter a more assertive Russia.

Trump caused uproar during the campaign when he suggested Washington would think twice about coming to the aid of an endangered NATO ally if it had not paid its dues.

The fear is that Trump embodies an isolationist tradition -- "avoid entangling alliances" -- which will add to uncertainties as Europe faces challenges new and old from the east, the Middle East and North Africa.

"A Trump administration will increase US isolationist tendencies, which is a further blow to (its global) leadership role," said Fabian Zuleeg, chief executive at the European Policy Center in Brussels.

With Trump, a Major US Shift in Mideast |

With Trump, a Major US Shift in Mideast | President-elect Donald Trump's positions on Middle East issues, if carried out, could bring yet more volatility to the world's most combustible region.

Besides vowing to rip up the international nuclear deal with Iran, Trump says he will ramp up the war on Islamic State militants; he could make the Palestinians more desperate by siding with Israel's hard-line right wing. He also seems set to end the Obama administration's cold shoulder toward authoritarians like Egypt's Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Trump has most often been vague and sometimes outright contradictory about plans in the Mideast. And his stances could change. His call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. worried many in the region, but he has since watered down that stance, and many opinion-makers in the Gulf at least call it simply campaign rhetoric.

Overall, Trump has shown a focus on fighting Islamic militants and favoring strongmen who do so. He's shown less concern with human rights or the complicated minutiae of the Mideast's many factions and interests.

That is a simpler, black-and-white stance in the eyes of some, but it can also bring a backlash.

US reinforcingtroops in Europe as planned

US reinforcingtroops in Europe as planned: The United States is continuing to reinforce its military forces in Europe as planned, irrespective of President-elect Donald Trump's future intentions, the Pentagon said Thursday.

Trump, who will take office in January, raised serious concerns in Europe by promising during his campaign that US engagement in NATO under his presidency would be conditional on members' payments to the alliance.

Washington is scheduled to start deploying an additional combat brigade in Europe in February to bring the number of brigades on the continent to three.

The plan is part of an effort to boost Eastern European defenses against possible attack by Russia.

"We are executing plans as they were constructed with our NATO allies," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.

"We leave it to the next administration to speak their policy choices," he added. "We have one commander-in-chief at a time."

The new brigade is set to begin its deployment with an exercise in Poland before sending companies to Bulgaria, Romania and the Baltic States.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

What Will Donald Trump’s Asia Policy Look Like? | The Diplomat

What Will Donald Trump’s Asia Policy Look Like? | The Diplomat: “I’ll tell you what I’ve told the diplomats: we’re serious about what we said [and] flexible about how we do things too,” a source close to President-elect Donald Trump told The Diplomat early Wednesday morning in response to inquiries about his Asia policy following his stunning victory over Hillary Clinton just a few hours earlier.

After shrugging off much of what Trump said during the election campaign and writing off his chances of winning, many are now rushing to figure out to what extent his words will translate into actions after the biggest U.S. election upset since Harry Truman beat Thomas E. Dewey back in 1948. His approach to Asia has unsurprisingly attracted a lot of attention, given the fact that the future of U.S. President Barack Obama’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific hangs in the balance (See: “US Asia Policy After Obama: Opportunities and Challenges”).

Asia has certainly been an area of focus for the Trump campaign, though most are probably familiar only with the headline-grabbing statements about U.S. alliances and nuclear weapons rather than how the region factors into Trump’s overall worldview and what that means for his likely Asia policy. With Trump set to take office in January 2017, it is worth taking a closer look at what America’s new president might do in the region.

How Much Will Donald Trump Really Spend on Defense?

How Much Will Donald Trump Really Spend on Defense?: Defense industry stocks are soaring in reaction to a clean Republican sweep of the executive and legislative branches. But how much will President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to rebuild the military actually cost? Given this will be a president who campaigned on the idea that the U.S. military should be focused on counter-terrorism as its most important mission, can this plan stay on track?

First, President Obama’s defense plan is already $113 billion over the amended Budget Control Act spending caps for the next four years. Trump and the Republican Congress will need to repeal those legal caps and add that money before turning to their own priorities. Then, the foundation of Trump’s own plan would require another $100 billion over the same four-year timeframe. Conservatively, that’s about $55 to $60 billion extra per year over four years for the meat and potatoes of a military buildup. Adding in crucial smaller programs, accounting for weapons cost growth, and returning the entire force to adequate readiness pushes the real price tag even further upward to somewhere between an additional $250 to $300 billion over four years.

By comparison, the Budget Control Act has already cut $350 billion in planned military spending relative to the budget levels recommended by Secretary Gates in 2012. In a recent exercise, the American Enterprise Institute spent $1.3 trillion over ten years, but remained unable to match the Gates plan. The only limiting factor to the proposals below is the absorptive capacity of the defense industrial base.

DARPA Banks on Robot Copilots to Help Quell Military Pilot Shortage

DARPA Banks on Robot Copilots to Help Quell Military Pilot Shortage: The US military has a well-known shortage of pilots — a problem that is exacerbated by aging legacy aircraft that require at least two people in the cockpit — but the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency may have a solution on the way.

DARPA is making headway on two different concepts for robotic copilots that would be able to autonomously operate aircraft and offer advice to the human pilot onboard. In October, the two defense contractors developing those systems, Aurora Flight Sciences and Sikorksy, conducted a series of flight demonstrations ahead of a downselect to a single vendor for the program’s third and final phase.

The impetus behind the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program is to develop a system that can reduce the number of crew onboard manned platforms, going “from two pilots down to one, and then possibly down to zero,” explained Jean Charles-Lede, program manager of DARPA’s tactical technology program office, during a recent briefing.

Defense Industry Expecting Boost from Trump Election

Defense Industry Expecting Boost from Trump Election: The election of Donald Trump as the next President of the United States should give a boost to the defense industry, although one analyst warns there may be new challenges that arise in the international market.

Stocks for defense firms, including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics jumped between five and seven percent the morning after the election, a sign of early investor confidence that the Republican control of the White House and both chambers of Congress will mean boom times for the military-industrial complex.

Byron Callan of Capital Alpha Partners believes a Trump White House, combined with a GOP-controlled House and Senate, should mean the next budget is “at least $18 billion more for FY17 than the [Obama] Administration’s request, with $10 billion or more of that going to investment. Thus, FY17 investment budget authority could be up 2%-3% from FY16, not the flat comp we expected.”

Jim McAleese, a well known industry analyst, predicts a jump in across the board funding, including an increase of $9-18 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding and moderate top-line funding for the next budget.

Analysts: Trump Victory Forces Europe's Hand on Russia Policy

Analysts: Trump Victory Forces Europe's Hand on Russia Policy: Europe must start making its own decisions on confronting Russian aggression following the shock victory of Donald Trump in the US

presidential elections, a European analyst has warned.

“As far as we know, Donald Trump has a very different view of Russia to Barack Obama and has been calling Vladimir Putin reliable,” said Roberto Menotti, an analyst at the Aspen Institute in Rome.

“This is a big challenge for Europe, which does not have a coherent Russia policy beyond its thin agreement on sanctions. With Trump in

office it will be more necessary to quickly come up with a more consistent, common position,” he said.

“We would have expected Hilary Clinton to set the framework, but with Trump it could take time for a framework to emerge, so we need to be clear in a short time about what we want,” he added.

Menotti said that despite Trump's differences with Obama, if he now seeks to reduce US interventionism around the world, he would be

following a policy started by the outgoing president.

Will Top Cyber Talent Join the Trump Team? Jury’s Out -

Will Top Cyber Talent Join the Trump Team? Jury’s Out - Will cybersecurity experts who shunned President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign sign on to secure government and private sector networks during the Trump presidency? The answer’s far from clear.

Some former officials and cyber experts sounded an optimistic tone Wednesday, saying duty to country would outweigh partisan divisions or hostility to Trump’s particularly divisive style in technology and national security sectors.

Others were less sanguine.

After Donald Trump's surprising win, Pentagon launches immediate transition

After Donald Trump's surprising win, Pentagon launches immediate transition: With only 68 days before the inauguration, transition teams from the campaign of president-elect Donald Trump are headed to federal departments, immediately developing plans and priorities for how to take over operations at each agency.

That work is especially complicated at the Defense Department, where military missions continue in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere despite the change in power in Washington, D.C.

“We're ready today to transition on big programs, on the budget, on the way forward,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said late last month during a panel discussion with other top defense officials. “There's no luxury of having a couple of days after the inaugural to figure things out.”

Inside the Pentagon, early fears Trump will micromanage the generals more than Obama did

Inside the Pentagon, early fears Trump will micromanage the generals more than Obama did: Trump has signaled some intent to second-guess military leadership. Last year, for instance, he said of the Islamic State group “I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.” And some experts say that, during the campaign to be president, the business mogul revealed important insights about his management style. Turnover among his top advisers was common, and Trump often ignored recommendations from those closest to him.

“He’s micromanaged everything. He disregards the advice of the people working for him, and he makes the final decision himself. So it's hard to think that he would change that style,” said Larry Korb, a defense expert with the Center for American Progress, a think tank in Washington.

As an executive, Trump was often eager to stay involved in the day-to-day operations of his businesses, according to a biographer. He "didn’t surrender any actual power. He signed checks, read documents, interrogated everyone about assignments and did not hesitate to call the people they were calling,” wrote Gwenda Blair, author of “The Trumps,” a book about his family published in 2000.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

hypersonic cruise missiles, air force, contracts | Defensetech

hypersonic cruise missiles, air force, contracts | Defensetech: The U.S. Air Force is moving forward with plans to develop hypersonic cruise missiles.

The service has teamed with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA — the Pentagon’s research arm — to fund development of the technology as part of the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept program, or HAWC.

The agency in recent weeks awarded Raytheon Co., the world’s largest missile maker, and Lockheed Martin Corp., the world’s largest defense contractor, with contracts valued at roughly $170 million a piece to help develop the air-launched hypersonic weapons.

Weapons capable of traveling at hypersonic speeds of at least Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, could operate farther away from targets and with faster response times, according to DARPA’s website on the project. At such speeds — 3,400 miles per hour — a missile could travel from Washington, D.C., to Atlanta in just several minutes.

“These demonstrations seek to open the door to new, responsive long-range strike capabilities against time-critical or heavily defended targets,” the DARPA website states.

Lockheed earlier this year touted a “breakthrough” in hypersonic technology and has floated the idea of developing a hypersonic spy plane for the U.S. military.

NavCube could support an X-ray communication test in space

NavCube could support an X-ray communication test in space: Two proven technologies have been combined to create a promising new technology that could meet future navigational challenges in deep space. It also may help demonstrate - for the first time - X-ray communications in space, a capability that would allow the transmission of gigabits per second throughout the solar system.

The new technology, called NavCube, combines NASA's SpaceCube, a reconfigurable and fast flight computing platform, with the Navigator Global Positioning System (GPS) flight receiver. Navigator GPS uses the GPS signal to enable on-board autonomous positioning, navigation, and timing even in weak-signal areas. Considered one of the enabling technologies on the agency's flagship Magnetospheric Multi-Scale (MMS) mission, Navigator GPS recently was included in the Guiness World Records for the highest-altitude GPS fix.

"NavCube is more flexible than previous Navigators because of its ample computational resources. Also, because we added the ability to process modernized GPS signals, NavCube has the potential to significantly enhance performance at low, and especially, high altitudes, potentially even to the area of space near the moon and lunar orbits," said Luke Winternitz, Navigator's chief architect.

"This new product is a poster child for our research and development efforts," added Peter Hughes, the chief technology officer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, whose organization funded the development of all three technologies and named the NavCube team as this year's winner of his organization's "Innovators of the Year" award.

Salty batteries

Salty batteries: Smartphones, laptops, electric cars--whatever the device, an efficient battery is high on any user's wish list. The search for the next-generation battery has recently focused on sodium- oxygen batteries. Theoretically, these should provide previously unattainable efficiency but their practical implementation has proven to be a stumbling block.

Researchers now report in the journal Angewandte Chemie, that a highly concentrated electrolyte solution may make the sodium-oxygen battery more stable, and therefore more practicable. Researchers have high hopes for alkali metal/oxygen batteries, because their theoretical energy density is particularly high. In such batteries, one electrode is made from the pure alkali metal. Upon discharging, this electrode gives up electrons to the circuit and positive ions to the electrolyte.

The counter electrode is made of porous carbon and is in contact with the air. At this electrode, oxygen is reduced by taking up electrons in the presence of the metal ions. This may result in a variety of metal oxide compounds. As the battery is charged, this process is reversed: Oxygen (O(2)) is released to the air at the positive electrode, while the alkali metal is deposited at the negative electrode.

Ceradyne producing next-gen helmets, body armor

Ceradyne producing next-gen helmets, body armor: Ceradyne Inc., a 3M company, has been awarded two U.S. Army contracts for helmets and hard body armor inserts.

The low-rate initial production contracts have a combined value of $43 million.

Ceradyne said the Integrated Head Protection System is a lighter-weight ballistic helmet system that also provides passive hearing protection and increased blunt-impact performance. This helmet system includes numerous accessories, including a mandible, visor, night vision goggle attachment device, rails and modular ballistic applique.

More than 5,300 of the next-generation helmets are to be delivered under the $7 million award, with their production to begin next year.

More than 30,000 Vital Torso Protection – Enhanced Small Arms Protective Inserts will be produced starting next year under a $36 million contract.

Pentagon Sends Huge Ammo Shipment to Forces in Europe |

Pentagon Sends Huge Ammo Shipment to Forces in Europe | The U.S. Defense Department just completed the largest single shipment of ammunition for Army and Air Force units in Europe in more than two decades.

More than 600 shipping containers worth of ammo arrived at the port of Nordenham, Germany, as part of the continued effort to reassure NATO allies in Europe and bolster deterrence against potential Russian aggression.

The ammo build-up is intended to increase the readiness of U.S. forces stationed in Europe, said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of U.S. Army Europe in a recent Army press release.

"This is about deterrence," he said. "We could have 1,000 tanks over here, but if we didn't have the ammunition for them they would not have any deterrent effect. It's another example of the commitment of the United States to security and stability in Europe."

The shipment by itself is significant because it equates to more than 620 containers, according to Lt. Col. Brad Culligan, commander, 838th Transportation Battalion, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command.

The ammunition will be transported by train to Miesau Army Depot, Germany.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Code One: Rethinking Air Power - How Hybrid Airships Haul More Than Hot Air · Lockheed Martin

Code One: Rethinking Air Power - How Hybrid Airships Haul More Than Hot Air · Lockheed Martin: A blimp. A Zeppelin. A dirigible. All are variations of airships, but what if it was as tall as an eight-story building, had a cargo ramp and door similar to a C-5 Galaxy and hauling capacity of a C-130 Hercules? What if this vehicle could carry a crew, land on any surface and provide access to remote locations around the world that until now were virtually inaccessible? Then you’re talking about a next generation airship.

More than two-thirds of the world’s land area and more than half of the world’s population do not have direct access to paved roads or runways. This lack of infrastructure presents numerous challenges for worldwide humanitarian relief, natural resource extraction and heavy cargo operations. In most cases, developing these areas to accommodate roads or airways is not an option, so for centuries they’ve remained isolated.

True to form, the Skunk Works ® team in Palmdale, California, recognized this challenge and since the early 1990s has developed technologies that evolved into today’s Hybrid Airship; a cargo airship that revolutionizes remote access through patented innovations such as the Air Cushion Landing System (ACLS), thrust-vectoring propulsion and a Self-Propelled Instrument for Damage Evaluation and Repair (SPIDER).

The Most Militarily Decisive Use of Autonomy You Won’t See - Defense One

The Most Militarily Decisive Use of Autonomy You Won’t See - Defense One: Armed drones and robot pack mules may get the headlines now, but far more powerful strategic effects will be achieved by artificial intelligence and machine-learning systems that select and attack targets autonomously — and fend off the enemy AIs trying to do the same.

As shown by the monograph “20YY: Preparing for War in the Robotic Age,” co-authored by now-Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, and the public discussion around Third Offset strategy, U.S. defense officials believe autonomy will change warfare in the air, sea, land and space domains. Yet policymakers, acquisition professionals, and operators have yet to grapple fully with the implications of autonomy in cyberspace. The word does not even appear in the 2015 DoD Cyber Strategy, nor in the draft National Cyber Incident Response Plan of 2016.

Progress, however, is being made. In June, the Defense Science Board issued an important report that differentiated between “autonomy in motion,” such as robots and self-driving vehicles, and the less-well-known “autonomy at rest,” including most autonomous cyber systems.

Just a few months later, DARPA turned a spotlight on cyber autonomy with its Cyber Grand Challenge at the 2016 DEF CON hacking convention in Las Vegas. Seven teams pitted algorithms against each other in a $2 million contest to autonomously interpret and fix brand-new code, and to patch vulnerabilities at machine speed without causing harm.

The Next President Will Face a Cyber Crisis. Here's How to Handle It -

The Next President Will Face a Cyber Crisis. Here's How to Handle It - The next president will inherit initiatives to shore up federal agency cybersecurity and to improve cyber information sharing within critical infrastructure sectors, studies on the tradeoffs between strong encryption and national security and how to secure cyberspace for the next decade, and proposals to rejigger how cyber is managed in both the Defense and Homeland Security departments.

There will also surely be new crises. The research and advisory group Forrester predicted last week the 45th president will face a major cyber incident during her or his first 100 days in office.

Given these competing priorities and an uncertain future, it will be extremely difficult for the next president to make progress. Here are five high-level priorities that experts and former federal officials tell Nextgov should guide the next president.

F-22, F-35 Outsmart Test Ranges, AWACS « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

F-22, F-35 Outsmart Test Ranges, AWACS « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary: How smart is too smart? When F-35 Joint Strike Fighters flew simulated combat missions around Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, their pilots couldn’t see the “enemy” radars on their screens.

Why? The F-35s’ on-board computers analyzed data from the airplanes’ various sensors, compared the readings to known threats, and figured out the radars on the training range weren’t real anti-aircraft sites — so the software didn’t even display them. While the software and pilots on older aircraft hadn’t noticed the imperfections and inaccuracies in how the Eglin ranges portrayed the enemy, the F-35s’ automated brains essentially said, “Fake! LOL!” and refused to play.

The Eglin anecdote is just one example of how the F-35 Lightning and its twin-engine older brother, the F-22 Raptor — collectively called fifth-generation fighters — are overturning how the Air Force operates. The sophistication of fifth gen sensors, software, and stealth requires the Air Force to overhaul training and network infrastructure. They even challenge longstanding assumptions about who makes what decisions and who’s in command. If the pilot of a fifth gen jet infiltrating enemy airspace has a clearer picture of the battle than senior officers further back on a vulnerable AWACS command plane or back at base in Air Operations Center, why should they be telling him or her what to do?

Pentagon Could Look to Close Bases Without BRAC Authorization

Pentagon Could Look to Close Bases Without BRAC Authorization: For several years, the Pentagon has been blocked by Congress in its request to begin another round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). Now, facing an expected wave of modernization bills in the next decade, a top DoD official has suggested the building needs to look for alternative ways to shut down excess infrastructure.

Jamie Morin, the head of the Pentagon’s office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE), told Defense News that he believes the department needs to look at all the options on the table and try to work with Congress to dump excess infrastructure, even if it means going outside the BRAC procedure.

“It’s not clear to me that BRAC is the only model to follow. Maybe we need to think about redefining what a process might be for getting to recognition that some installations need to close,” Morin said in an Oct. 22 interview. “I am not writing a legislative proposal at this point, but I think if Congress can’t see its way through to BRAC, what was constituted in the Nineties and reprising one of the 1990’s rounds, then we need to find another alternative that does work for them.”

US election: a gift for Chinese propaganda

US election: a gift for Chinese propaganda: No matter who triumphs on Tuesday, the US election has been a big win for China's national propaganda machine, which has gleefully catalogued the seemingly endless parade of skeletons marching out of America's political closet.

For decades Beijing has disparaged US democracy, calling into question the most basic building blocks of the state, from competitive elections to freedom of the press.

Ahead of this year's election, Chinese journalists received instructions to write stories making American politics look bad, according to sources familiar with the orders.

As the primaries began, one reporter at a major state-run media organisation, who spoke to AFP on the condition of anonymity, worried he would have a hard time finding sufficiently damning material.

His doubts were unjustified.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Will Naval Operations Heat Up In The Arctic?

Will Naval Operations Heat Up In The Arctic?: As diminishing sea ice in the Arctic Ocean expands navigable waters, scientists sponsored by the Office of Naval Research have traveled to the region to study the changing environment and provide new tools to help the U.S. Navy operate in a once-inaccessible area.

"This changing environment is opening the Arctic for expanded maritime and naval activity," said Rear Adm. Mat Winter, chief of naval research. "Developing a deeper understanding and knowledge of this environment is essential for reliable weather and ice predictions to ensure the safety of future scientific and operational activities in the region."

A recent announcement from the National Snow and Ice Data Center revealed 2016's sea ice minimum -- the annual measurement of when sea ice hits its lowest point -- tied with 2007 for the second-lowest ice minimum since satellite monitoring began in the 1970s. The lowest minimum ever occurred in 2012.

ONR sponsored its scientific research through two initiatives within its Arctic and Global Prediction Program-Marginal Ice Zone and Waves and Sea State. Additional research involved the program's Canada Basin Acoustic Propagation Experiment (CANAPE) initiative.

Army Debuts Strategy to Counter Drone Threats

Army Debuts Strategy to Counter Drone Threats: There is no magic, silver bullet when it comes to solving the ever-growing unmanned aircraft systems threat, the Army has acknowledged, and therefore its newly released strategy to counter enemy drones looks to address the problem jointly, at every angle, using a variety of solutions.

The Army has some physical solutions coming soon down the pipeline, like its Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2 system the service has prioritized to detect and counter UAS and cruise missiles. Several other solutions and upgrades to current systems have been tested in a variety of exercises from Black Dart to the Network Integration Evaluation to the service’s recently concluded Army Warfighting Assessment.

But the unclassified version of the strategy the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command released Tuesday doesn’t just list equipment it wants to develop, but attempts to outline how it will "provide forces at all echelons with solutions across the doctrine, organization, training, material, leadership, personnel, facility-policy (DOTMLPF-P) framework that will enable defeat of UAS threats.”

Northrop Grumman to develop next-gen fighter laser system

Northrop Grumman to develop next-gen fighter laser system: Northrop Grumman will help the U.S. Air Force to develop a directed energy laser system that will offer self-protection for the service's next-generation jets, the company announced Wednesday.

The work, under an Air Force Research Laboratory contract, will see Northrop Grumman develop and produce the beam control piece of an airborne laser weapon demonstration array that the laboratory is developing as part of the Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator, or SHiELD, program, Northrop said in a statement.

The laser would reside in a pod that could be attached to fighter-sized aircraft, with the system tested on aircraft flying at supersonic speed.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Air Force, DIUx Seeking Out 'Ender’s Game' Technology to Enable Drone Swarms

Air Force, DIUx Seeking Out 'Ender’s Game' Technology to Enable Drone Swarms: In the classic sci-fi book Ender’s Game, the title character manages thousands of aircraft with a swipe of his hand.

That’s the kind of command-and-control capability the Air Force needs to have for future drone swarms, Col. Brandon “BB” Baker, chief of the Air Force’s remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) capabilities division, said during an Oct. 26 speech at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International conference.

Artificial intelligence and autonomy are advancing to the point where, in the near future, unmanned aircraft will no longer need pilots to move small drones with a stick and rudder, he said. "I need a way to orchestrate swarms, for instance, or a loyal wingman that's independent of our common structures that we have today, our common ground station that we have today.”

The Air Force has asked Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) — the Pentagon’s outpost in Silicon Valley — to seek out technologies that could help transition the service from a common ground station that flies a single aircraft to a command-and-control cell with the ability to direct a swarm of small unmanned aerial systems (UAS). DIUx is working with commercial industry, particularly gaming companies, and will “create a presentation that’s a cross between Ender’s Game and Minority Report,” Baker said.

Boeing's Newest Next-Gen Fighter Concept | Ares

Boeing's Newest Next-Gen Fighter Concept | Ares: Boeing is out with new concept art for the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation fighter jet, a sleek, tail-less design featuring conformal engine inlets and what looks like a manned cockpit.

The latest image, provided to Aviation Week Nov. 1, looks more like a fighter-bomber than a pure fighter. The tail-less airframe, thin swept wings and conformal shaping suggest a stealthy, penetrating aircraft that may be able to fly supersonic. The silhouette of a pilot inside the cockpit indicates Boeing is banking on the Air Force sticking with at least an optionally manned platform for the future capability.

U.S. Navy's first drone squadron stands up

U.S. Navy's first drone squadron stands up: The U.S. Navy's first drone squadron was stood up Friday at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

The new unit will be known as Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19 and is comprised of Northrop Grumman-built MQ-4C Triton drones.

The squadron will be co-located with manned P-8A Poseidon squadrons and will fall under Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 11, the U.S. Naval Institute reported last week.

Its first deployment to U.S. 7th Fleet is slated for 2018, the institute reported.

While the squadron does not yet have any air vehicles, they are slated to arrive late next year.

Until then, squadron members are rotating through Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland to train with the test pilots who are stationed there.

A Triton trainer will arrive in Jacksonville in January for training.

The new squadron's crews will also collaborate with P-8 pilots to develop tactics, techniques and procedures, the naval institute reports.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Losing its Cool: Will Ice Melt Heat Up Naval Operations in Arctic Ocean?

Losing its Cool: Will Ice Melt Heat Up Naval Operations in Arctic Ocean?: As diminishing sea ice in the Arctic Ocean expands navigable waters, scientists sponsored by the Office of Naval Research have traveled to the region to study the changing environment and provide new tools to help the U.S. Navy operate in a once-inaccessible area.

"This changing environment is opening the Arctic for expanded maritime and naval activity," said Rear Adm. Mat Winter, chief of naval research. "Developing a deeper understanding and knowledge of this environment is essential for reliable weather and ice predictions to ensure the safety of future scientific and operational activities in the region."

A recent announcement from the National Snow and Ice Data Center revealed 2016's sea ice minimum -- the annual measurement of when sea ice hits its lowest point -- tied with 2007 for the second-lowest ice minimum since satellite monitoring began in the 1970s. The lowest minimum ever occurred in 2012.

ONR sponsored its scientific research through two initiatives within its Arctic and Global Prediction Program-Marginal Ice Zone and Waves and Sea State. Additional research involved the program's Canada Basin Acoustic Propagation Experiment (CANAPE) initiative.

Scientists measured the strength and intensity of waves and swells moving through the weakened Arctic sea ice. The accumulated data will be used to develop more accurate computer models and prediction methods to forecast ice, ocean, and weather conditions.

CANAPE researchers used sophisticated oceanographic and acoustic sensors to gauge temperature, salinity, ice, and ambient noise conditions under the surface of the ice and water -- factors that can dramatically impact the effectiveness of sonar operations and antisubmarine warfare.

"Abundant sea ice reduces waves and swells, and keeps the Arctic Ocean very quiet," said Dr. Robert Headrick, an ONR program officer overseeing the CANAPE research. "With increased sea ice melt, however, comes more waves and wind, which create more noise and makes it harder to track undersea vessels. The goal of CANAPE is to gain a better and more comprehensive understanding of these changing oceanographic conditions."

Because of its thick shield of sea ice, the Arctic historically has had limited naval strategic relevance beyond submarine operations. But as this frozen cover changes, it is opening new commercial shipping lanes; increasing oil and natural gas exploration, fishing, and tourism; and raising potential new security concerns. It also may create new requirements for the Navy's surface fleet.

"Having accurate forecasting models will help the Navy determine what types of surface vessels it will need to build in the near future and 30 years from now, to withstand the climate conditions," said Dr. Scott Harper, an ONR program officer overseeing the Marginal Ice Zone and Waves and Sea State research. "That way, the Navy can operate as safely and effectively in the Arctic as it does throughout the rest of the world."

Are some of the Army's best soldiers being forced out?

Are some of the Army's best soldiers being forced out?: The Army is in a talent crisis. Its most recent study on the issue, in 2010, found only 6 percent of Army officers thought the service did a good job of retaining its best leaders.

The Army fights to keep private industry from leeching its best soldiers. With better pay, more comprehensive benefits and a stable location, the private sector seems tempting compared to military life.

But former Army officials and experts who spoke to Federal News Radio as part of a special report: The Army is Shortchanging its Future Force say the service is forcing out some of its best leaders even without the appeal of a private sector job luring them away.