Monday, February 20, 2017

US carrier starts ‘routine’ patrols in South China Sea

The US deployed the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) to the disputed waters of the South China Sea as part of maritime “routine operations.” Sailing with the 97,000-ton Vinson is the guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer, the Navy said in a statement. The Vinson carries a flight group of more than 60 aircraft, including F/A-18 jet fighters.

During his confirmation hearing, new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said China should be blocked from accessing the artificial islands it’s built, setting the stage for a potential showdown. In a news conference, China’s Foreign Ministry said it heard about the planned deployment of the Vinson days before it happened, and warned Washington against challenging its sovereignty.
Beijing's artificial islands in the area have been outfitted with military features. Satellite imagery released by Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative in December showed China has installed weapon systems on all seven artificial islands.

The US operation comes amid growing tensions between the United States and China over territory and trade, and as the Trump administration looks set to take a more confrontational stance toward China than its predecessor.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

China sends troops to restive Xinjiang

Chinese security forces have staged another mass anti-terror rally in the restive far western region of Xinjiang, parading hundreds of armed men through the streets of the regional capital Urumqi in a show of force after an uptick in violence.

Hundreds have died in Xinjiang in the past few years, mostly in unrest between the Muslim Uygur people, who call the region home, and the ethnic majority Han Chinese. Beijing blames the unrest on Islamist militants.
On Tuesday, three knife-wielding attackers killed five people and injured another five in Pishan county before themselves being shot dead in Hotan prefecture. In December, five people were killed when attackers drove a vehicle into a government building and police shot dead what authorities described as three terror suspects last month.

Xinjiang deputy party secretary Zhu Hailun said the Urumqi rally was a sign of “real action” to deepen the fight against terror. Militants and extremists would be “smashed and destroyed”, Zhu said.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

US military sending the big guns to South Korea

Days after North Korea tested a new missile and allegedly engaged agents to assassinate Kim Jong Un's half-brother in Malaysia, the US plans to send the big guns to the Pacific in a massive show of force. The USS Carl Vinson has been making its way to the Pacific, and it will be joined by combat planes, F-22s, a nuclear-powered submarine, and possibly B-1 and B-2 nuclear-capable bombers.

South Korea is expected to spend $114 million developing an electromagnetic pulse weapon to cripple North Korea's command and control abilities as well as laser weapons systems to pull off a surgical strike on the country's nuclear missile facilities.
US and South Korean forces will participate in military drills together to enhance readiness. 'Key Resolve' and 'Foal Eagle' represent two annual major military drills carried out by US and South Korean troops that regularly rile North Korea.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Incredible Military Robots

This year, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will spend nearly $3 billion to develop new military technologies.

As artificial intelligence improves, governments may turn to autonomous weapons — like military robots — in order to gain the upper hand in armed conflict. These weapons can navigate environments on their own and make their own decisions about who to kill and who to spare.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Trump deploys tanks to Estonia

The US Defence Department said: "The movement of equipment and troops into and around Europe marks the beginning of a continuous rotation of armoured brigade combat teams from the United States as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The move of more military equipment into Europe comes days after Trump refused to call Putin a "killer" and aligned the US and Russia on the same moral plain.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Trump ‘trims $600 mil.’ from F-35 costs

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday his administration had been able to cut some $600 million from the latest U.S. deal to buy about 90 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. Negotiations for the 10th batch of F-35 aircraft — about 90 planes — have been under way. The contract was expected to be around $9 billion, with the price per plane falling below $100 million.
The United States is expected to spend some $391 billion over 15 years to buy about 2,443 F-35s.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

China places ballistic missiles on border with Russia; unconfirmed reports

China has reportedly placed ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads and are capable of reaching the United States on its border with Russia.

The 3rd generation missiles, which can carry up to ten nuclear warheads up to 8,700 miles, are reportedly being moved to Heilongjiang province in north eastern China close to the frontier with Russia. Chinese social media has carried pictures purporting to show an advanced intercontinental ballistic missile system, Dongfeng-41 in the northeast. Heilongjiang province is the closest point in China to the United States.
The Dongfeng-41 is a Chinese solid-fueled road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile. It has an operational range between 12,000 km to 15,000 km. This would make the DF-41 the world's longest range missile, surpassing the range of the US LGM-30 Minuteman which has a reported range of 13,000 km.
It is believed the DF-41 has a top speed of Mach 25
Some media claimed the People's Liberation Army leaked the social media photos of the missiles as a warning to Trump.
The US president, who took office on Friday, has rattled Beijing with tough talk on trade, national security, and the South China Sea.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Russia developing laser, electromagnetic and plasma weapons: Kremlin

Russia’s defence ministry has said it is developing laser, electromagnetic and plasma weapons that can be fired at “hypersonic” speeds. "Coming next are hypersonic weapons, which require the use of principally new materials and control systems that operate in a completely different medium, in plasma,” Russian news agency Tass reported.
Hypersonic speeds are those which exceed five times the speed of sound, equivalent to around 3,800mph. The speed of a conventional bullet is closer to 1,700mph.

The news comes as the new American President revealed the basic outline of his defence policy, which includes a pledge not to “allow other nations to surpass our military capability”. Military engineers have developed their own versions of alternative weapons for the US army.

The US Navy is already using a 30-kilowatt laser weapon that can shoot drones out of the sky.
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Sunday, January 22, 2017

US Army selects replacement to iconic M9 pistol

The US Army has selected the Sig Sauer P320 to replace the iconic M9 Beretta, the Army’s pistol of choice for more than three decades.
The Beretta M9, the current sidearm, officially entered service with the US military in 1990. However, reliability issues, design flaws, and concerns over low stopping power began emerging with time. In September 2015, the military held a competition called the Modular Handgun System (MHS) to seek an appropriate replacement to the M9.

One of the major goals of the MHS was to find a pistol chambered for a more potent round than the current 9mm.

Friday, January 20, 2017

U.S. Military's Latest Super Weapon: ‘The Swarm’

The United States Navy and the Pentagon’s secretive Strategic Capabilities Office have demonstrated swarming autonomous drone technology in flight using over 100 unmanned aircraft.


During the test three Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets launched 103 Perdix drones that demonstrated swarm behaviors such as collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying and self-healing. "Perdix are not pre-programmed synchronized individuals, they are a collective organism, sharing one distributed brain for decision-making and adapting to each other like swarms in nature,” SCO Director William Roper said in a statement.
“Because every Perdix communicates and collaborates with every other Perdix, the swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to drones entering or exiting the team.”

With the use of this technology, the enemy has to work much harder to take down individual components of the swarm to destroy it. The swarm is still operational even after multiple aircraft have been destroyed.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Congress Produces Its Shopping List for Beefing Up the U.S. Military

The Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Arizona Senator John McCain, released a paper calling for the Pentagon to receive a nine percent boost in defense spending next year. The plan calls for spending more than $430 billion over five years.

The document warns that "China and Russia aspire to diminish U.S. influence and revise the world order in ways that are contrary to U.S. national interests." It also warns that North Korea and Iran pose threats to regional security, and that Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and other terrorist groups are threats into the foreseeable future.
The Navy, currently at 273 ships, was set to climb to 308 ships. President-Elect Donald Trump campaigned on a promise of 350 ships. Once Trump had won the office, the Chief of Naval Operations did him even better and declared the service needed 355 battle force ships.

Starting with submarines, McCain wants to accelerate production from two per year to three per year, up to four per year by 2021.
The Marines would mostly get manpower out of the defense increases. The Marines would grow from 182,000 personnel today to 200,000 by 2022.

The Air Force would see a major influx. Partially due to delays in the fielding of the F-35A, the service is short 100 active, combat-ready aircraft. Older aircraft are being retired before their replacements come on line, leaving a shortage of warplanes.

The Army is set to receive a mixture of both equipment and personnel. McCain wants to increase the Army from 475,000 active duty troops to 525,000 over five years.

Monday, January 16, 2017

F-35 has 276 deficiencies and counting, unfit for combat operations – Pentagon

The F-35 stealth fighter jet suffers from hundreds of problems and won’t be fully combat-capable before 2020, says a scathing report from the Pentagon’s top evaluator. New issues keep cropping up, and fixing them all may cost over $1 billion.

Dr. Michael Gilmore’s damning assessment paints a grim picture of America’s much touted, futuristic Joint Strike Fighter. The program is 70 percent over initial cost estimates and years behind schedule.
In addition to long running software trouble, the jet is plagued by structural problems. On the maintenance side, technicians are still required to physically connect the Portable Maintenance Aid (PMA) laptops to the aircraft in order to conduct almost all activities.

The F-35 program office, Gilmore wrote, "has no plan to adequately fix and verify hundreds of these deficiencies using flight testing within its currently planned schedule and resources"

Friday, January 13, 2017

Aircraft Carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)

The USS Gerald R. Ford 'supercarrier' is 99 percent complete the USN reports. The lead ship in the Navy's new class of "supercarriers," the $12.9 billion nuclear-powered warship can be measured in acres rather than square feet -- 4.5 acres, to be precise. It weighs 100,000 tons.

Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is 99 percent overall complete with 93 percent of the test program complete (93 percent Hull, Mechanical & Electrical, 92 percent propulsion testing, and 93 percent electronics testing). Sea trials are scheduled for March 2017, followed by "acceptance trials" and delivery in April, assuming the trials go well.
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With weeks to go, the Navy's most-expensive aircraft carrier is on track to miss the service's November delivery deadline. That's the latest slip for the $12.9 billion USS Gerald R. Ford. The carrier was originally expected to be delivered in 2014 but has been beset by delays, cost overruns and technological problems with unproven, untested systems.

In June and again in July, two of Ford's electricity-generating main turbines experienced issues. As of August, the Ford was 98 percent complete. The shipbuilder had turned over 98 percent of the ship's compartments and 91 percent of the overall shipboard testing was finished. "We continue to look for opportunities to get Gerald R. Ford to sea as soon as possible,"
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The USS Gerald R. Ford, the Pentagon’s largest and most advanced aircraft carrier, is two years late for delivery, $2.9 billion over budget, and is “not fit for combat.” It is the most expensive warship ever built, coming in at $12.9 billion.

Right this minute the ship can’t launch and recover aircraft, can’t mount a defense, and can’t transport bombs around the ship. In other words, the core functions of an aircraft carrier cannot be met. The Pentagon is hoping that it will all be fixed and delivered before November.

"As delivery of (Ford) approaches later this year, my concerns about the reliability of these systems remain and the risk to the ship's ability to succeed in combat grows as these reliability issues remain unresolved"
Some argue the US military budget has far less to do with defending the United States than it does to further enrich entrenched military contractors. Politicians are under intense pressure to push weapons systems that produce “jobs” for their districts. An example is the disastrously expensive F-35 fighter that is built in 45 states and several foreign countries.

Last October, the Pentagon's chief weapons tester expressed serious concerns about the reliability of key systems on the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

U.S. Army Wants a Super Weapon: Combine a Machine Gun and a Grenade Launcher

The U.S. Army is in the early stages of beginning to draft requirements for a new externally-mounted weapon to replace both the M2 .50-cal machine gun and the Mk19 grenade launcher. The planning is to engineer a weapon that has the attack and fire ability of a .50-Cal along with an explosive "area weapon" effect of a grenade launcher.

Meanwhile the Army is creating a new, lightweight version of its iconic .50-cal machine gun. A new addition to the weapon is called a Mounted Gun Optic, or MMO. It is basically an optic or direct view optic which will have some type of laser crosshair.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

F-35C hits another major snag

The Pentagon has established a "red team" to address the considerable shortcomings with the F-35C, the carrier-based naval variant of the most expensive weapons project in history.

The problem, detailed in a Navy report with data dating back to 2014, deals with rough takeoffs that hurt and disorient pilots at the critical moment when they're taking off from a carrier. Factors related to the plane's design will take several months to several years to fully fix. The report states that long term actions to address the problem will not take place until 2019.
Extreme movements in the cockpit during launch risk pilot health. Pain threatens the ability of pilots to read flight-critical data as they perform the complicated task of launching from a moving platform at sea. Redesigns to the plane, as well as to carriers, may be necessary.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

US leads global weapons sales again

The United States again ranked first in global weapons sales last year, signing deals for about $40 billion, or half of all agreements worldwide. The largest buyers of arms in 2015 were Qatar, signing deals for more than $17 billion in weapons last year, followed by Egypt ($12 billion), and Saudi Arabia with over $8 billion.

The total size of the global arms trade dropped to around $80 billion in 2015 from the 2014 total of $89 billion.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Trump asks to ‘price-out’ cheaper F-18s

US President-elect Donald Trump signalled that he might dump the controversial F-35 program after asking Boeing to cost up its cheaper and older F-18 Super Hornet jets. The US President-elect slammed the huge cost of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighter jet, saying in a tweet that he asked Boeing, the manufacturer of the F-18, to offer a lower price for the “comparable” aircraft.

The US is slated to buy 2,443 F-35s, valued at an acquisition cost of $379 billion.