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.
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,"
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.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

US Navy pushes for 355 Ships

The Navy on Friday issued an ambitious plan for expanding the fleet to 355 ships. The fleet now stands just north of 270 with plans to reach 308.

Included in the larger fleet would be an additional aircraft carrier, moving from 11 to 12, a hefty increase in attack submarines and more large combat warships, such as cruisers and destroyers. The biggest barrier is cost. A 350-ship fleet would require pumping $4 billion annually, on average, into a ship construction budget of around $16.3 billion.
The Navy has 10 active aircraft carriers and will move to 11 when the troubled, 12.9b Gerald R. Ford joins the fleet. Attack submarines would jump from 48 to 66.

The Navy began updating the Force Structure Assessment by asking Navy commanders around the globe "their unconstrained desire" for ships. That dream fleet would total 653
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Friday, December 9, 2016

USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) - Update

On Thursday the $4.4 billion Zumwalt berthed at Pier 12 of the San Diego Naval Base. Serenaded by a Navy band, more than 500 family members waited on the Zumwalt and its 147-member crew.

Its journey to San Diego wasn’t easy. The Zumwalt broke down twice — once off the coast of Virginia and then again when it transited the Panama Canal. The warship required weeks of repairs to the lubrication systems that cool its propulsion shafts. The Zumwalt needs at least one more year of work in dock before it’s ready for combat.
USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) is a guided missile destroyer of the United States Navy. She is the lead ship of the Zumwalt class. The ship has stealth capabilities, having a radar cross-section akin to a fishing boat despite her large size. The ship was commissioned in Baltimore on 15 October 2016.

The ship is about 185 metres long but has the radar signature of a vessel a twelfth of its size, thanks to a unique angular hull that obscures its guns, radar systems and sensors from detection. It treads quietly through the water. The warship is the most expensive destroyer in the history of the U.S. Navy, costing about US$4.4 billion.
Zumwalt-class ships carry advanced, high energy weapons. Specifically 'Long Range Land Attack Projectiles' or LRLAP. The advanced gun system was built to rapidly and precisely strike targets more than 110 kilometres away. The tests of the weapon showed promise. But there is a problem with LRLAP: The $800,000 price tag on a single shot of the GPS-guided, rocket-propelled ammunition.
Fully stocked, the ship would carry 600 rounds of LRLAP ammunition.
The $800,000 price tag is close to that of a $1 million-per-shot Tomahawk cruise missile, which is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and traveling more than 1,600 kilometres.

The Navy’s initial plan, when it began developing the warships, was to build 32 of the Zumwalt-class vessels. But as costs exploded, the program shrunk from 24 ships to seven and, ultimately, the current plan of three ships.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Canada’s search-and-rescue planes to be replaced

One of the longest defence procurements in Canadian history will inch closer to conclusion Thursday when the federal government announces a replacement for the military’s ancient search-and-rescue planes. The decision comes 14 years after plans to replace the air force’s Buffalo and Hercules aircraft, the oldest of which have been flying since the 1960s.

What followed was a series of missteps and controversies eerily similar of the efforts to replace Canada’s aging CF-18 fighter jet.
Aerospace giant Airbus has won with its C-295 design. The government originally budgeted $3 billion for 17 aircraft plus a 20-year maintenance contract.
The government will spend $2.3 billion to replace the military’s ancient search-and-rescue planes with 16 new aircraft.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Russia loses 2nd fighter jet in Syria

A Russian Su-33 Flanker warplane crashed off the coast of Syria on Monday, the second plane in less than a month to plunge into the Mediterranean Sea. The Su-33 fighter fell off the deck of the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov on landing because a cable in the arresting gear snapped. The pilot ejected and was not injured.

Last month, a Russian MiG-29K fighter jet crashed while attempting to make an emergency landing on the aircraft carrier shortly after take-off. The Admiral Kuznetsov has a history of on-board accidents. The only aircraft carrier in the Russian navy does not have a catapult system, and the jets it carries must launch off a ramp, limiting the load of fuel and weapons that they can carry.
The carrier was designed to protect home waters, not for strike missions, and only carries 15 planes. In service since the mid-1980s the ship has experienced many problems. In 2012 it broke down in the Bay of Biscay and had to be towed thousands of miles to its home port near Murmansk. It had a particularly bad year in 2009, spilling hundreds of metric tons of oil off the coast of Ireland and catching fire near Turkey, an accident in which one sailor died.

The vessel lumbers along belching black smoke, accompanied by tugboats standing ready to tow because of it's frequent breakdowns.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Railgun; Electromagnetic Weapon

The US military is developing an incredible new weapon called a railgun. There is little, if any, defense against it. It is unlike a common gun that uses some type of explosive charge to propel a bullet; this is an electromagnetic device that fires a non-explosive projectile at a staggering velocity causing great damage on impact.

A railgun uses a pair of parallel conductors, or rails, along which a sliding armature is accelerated by the electromagnetic effects of a current that flows down one rail, into the armature and then back along the other rail. While explosive-powered military guns cannot readily achieve a muzzle velocity of more than about 2 km/s, railguns can readily exceed 3 km/s, and thus far exceed conventionally delivered munitions in range and destructive force.
Increased muzzle velocities increase firing ranges while increasing terminal velocities. The use of a kinetic energy round acts as a replacement for explosive shells.
Railguns can muster the equivalent kinetic energy of a school bus weighing 5 metric tons, travelling at 509 km/h (316 mph).

The first weaponized railgun planned for production, the General Atomics Blitzer system, began full system testing in September 2010. The weapon launches a round at 5,200 ft/s, (about Mach 5). During one of the tests, the projectile was able to travel an additional 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) downrange after penetrating a 1⁄8 inch (3.2 mm) thick steel plate. In October 2013, General Atomics unveiled a land based version of the Blitzer railgun. The company claimed the gun could be ready for production by 2016.
Railguns are being examined for use as anti-aircraft weapons to intercept air threats, particularly anti-ship cruise missiles. A supersonic sea-skimming anti-ship missile can appear over the horizon 20 miles from a warship, leaving a very short reaction time for a ship to intercept it.
A railgun projectile can reach several times the speed of sound faster than a missile. It can hit a target, such as a cruise missile, much faster and farther away from the ship.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

MIM-104 Patriot

The MIM-104 Patriot is a surface-to-air missile (SAM) system. It is manufactured by the U.S. defense contractor Raytheon and derives its name from the radar component of the weapon system. The AN/MPQ-53 at the heart of the system is known as the "Phased array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target" or the bacronym PATRIOT.

The Patriot System has been given the function of the U.S. Army's anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system, which is now Patriot's primary mission. An anti-ballistic missile (ABM) is a surface-to-air missile designed to counter ballistic missiles. Ballistic missiles are used to deliver nuclear, chemical, biological or conventional warheads in a ballistic flight trajectory. The term "anti-ballistic missile" is a generic term conveying a system designed to intercept and destroy any type of ballistic threat.
The ‘Hit-To-Kill’ PAC-3 Missile is the world’s most advanced, capable and powerful terminal air defense missile. It defeats the entire threat: tactical ballistic missiles (TBMs), cruise missiles and aircraft.

The PAC-3 Missile is a high velocity interceptor that defeats incoming targets by direct, body-to-body impact.
The PAC-3 Missile uses a solid propellant rocket motor, aerodynamic controls, attitude control motors (ACMs) and inertial guidance to navigate. The missile flies to an intercept point specified prior to launch by its ground-based fire solution computer.
Target trajectory data can be updated during missile flyout. Shortly before arrival at the intercept point, the PAC-3 Missile’s on board Ka band seeker acquires the target, selects the optimal aim point and terminal guidance is initiated.
Unit cost is between US$2 to 6 million

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Russia announces major offensive in Syria

Russia’s defense minister says the air force has launched a major operation on the Syrian provinces of Idlib and Homs, while Syrian activists report the resumption of airstrikes on rebel-held eastern Aleppo for the first time in three weeks. It could signal the start of a new government offensive in the northern city.

Warplanes are firing missiles and helicopters are dropping barrel bombs on the eastern part of Syria’s largest city.
The flagship aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov has begun combat operations towards the war torn city after reaching Syrian shores last week.

Intelligence sources previously told how they feared Russian President Vladimir Putin will launch a huge assault on Aleppo while America is distracted with the US election. These fears will be heightened now it has emerged the huge vessel has begun combat operations days after Donald Trump was declared the new US president.
The ship's Russian type designator is "heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser". The cruiser role is facilitated by Admiral Kuznetsov's complement of 12 long-range surface-to-surface anti-ship Granit cruise missiles.

Admiral Kuznetsov's main fixed-wing aircraft is the Sukhoi Su-33. It can perform air superiority, fleet defence, and air support missions and can also be used for direct fire support of amphibious assault.