Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Bell displays mock up of Invictus PHOTOS



According to Bell:The Bell 360 Invictus’ design emphasizes exceptional performance using proven technologies to fulfill the Army’s FARA requirements at an affordable cost and on schedule. One example is the Invictus’ rotor system. This design is based on Bell’s 525 Relentless rotor system which has been tested and proven at speeds in excess of 200 Knots True Air Speed (KTAS). By incorporating proven designs and the best available technologies from commercial and military programs, Bell delivers a low-risk path to a FARA program of record.

This advanced aircraft will have a transformative impact through next-generation flight performance, increased safety and greater operational readiness—all to deliver decisive capabilities.

Some of the key 360 Invictus features include:

Lift-sharing wing to reduce rotor lift demand in forward flight, enabling high-speed maneuverability
Supplemental Power Unit increases performance during high power demands
Robust articulated main rotor with high flapping capability enabling high speed flight
Fly-by-wire flight control system—synthesizes technologies, reduces pilot workload and provides a path to autonomous flight
Speed: >185 KTAS
Combat radius: 135nm with >90 minutes of time on station
Achieves 4k/95F Hover Out of Ground Effect (HOGE)
Armed with a 20 mm cannon, integrated munitions launcher with ability to integrate air-launched effects, and future weapons, as well as current inventory of munitions
Provisioned for enhanced situational awareness and sensor technologies
Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) enabled by a Digital Backbone from Collins Aerospace
Robust design integrating lifecycle supportability processes early to ensure high OPTEMPO availability in multi-domain operations
Design-as-built manufacturing model and digital thread enabled tools to enhance affordability, reliability, and training throughout the lifecycle of the aircraft






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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Bell announces next gen attack, reconnaissance, and intelligence helicopter - the Bell 360 Invictus


BELL - Next-generation rotorcraft is designed to provide attack, reconnaissance, and intelligence to shape the tactical environment and deliver operational overmatch in highly complex multi-domain operations

Fort Worth, Texas (October 2, 2019) – Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, has announced a new rotorcraft, Bell 360 Invictus, as the company’s entrant for the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) Competitive Prototype program. Bell’s innovative approach to designing the Bell 360 Invictus combines proven low-risk technologies with advanced processes to deliver soldiers an affordable, agile and lethal solution to win on the modern battlefield. The Bell 360 Invictus meets or exceeds all requirements as laid out under the FARA contract.

“The Bell 360 will deliver advanced battlefield situational awareness, as well as lethal options, in support of the maneuver force at an affordable cost” said Vince Tobin, executive vice president of Military Business at Bell. “The multi-domain fight will be complex, and our team is delivering a highly capable, low-risk solution to confidently meet operational requirements with a sustainable fleet.”

The Bell 360 Invictus’ design emphasizes exceptional performance using proven technologies to fulfill the Army’s FARA requirements at an affordable cost and on schedule. One example is the Invictus’ rotor system. This design is based on Bell’s 525 Relentless rotor system which has been tested and proven at speeds in excess of 200 Knots True Air Speed (KTAS). By incorporating proven designs and the best available technologies from commercial and military programs, Bell delivers a low-risk path to a FARA program of record.

This advanced aircraft will have a transformative impact through next-generation flight performance, increased safety and greater operational readiness—all to deliver decisive capabilities.

Some of the key 360 Invictus features include:

Lift-sharing wing to reduce rotor lift demand in forward flight, enabling high-speed maneuverability
Supplemental Power Unit increases performance during high power demands
Robust articulated main rotor with high flapping capability enabling high speed flight
Fly-by-wire flight control system—synthesizes technologies, reduces pilot workload and provides a path to autonomous flight
Speed: >185 KTAS
Combat radius: 135nm with >90 minutes of time on station
Achieves 4k/95F Hover Out of Ground Effect (HOGE)
Armed with a 20 mm cannon, integrated munitions launcher with ability to integrate air-launched effects, and future weapons, as well as current inventory of munitions
Provisioned for enhanced situational awareness and sensor technologies
Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) enabled by a Digital Backbone from Collins Aerospace
Robust design integrating lifecycle supportability processes early to ensure high OPTEMPO availability in multi-domain operations
Design-as-built manufacturing model and digital thread enabled tools to enhance affordability, reliability, and training throughout the lifecycle of the aircraft.




"Bell is committed to providing the U.S. Army with the most affordable, most sustainable, least complex, and lowest risk solution among the potential FARA configurations, while meeting all requirements," said Keith Flail, vice president of Advanced Vertical Lift Systems at Bell. “360 Invictus is an exciting opportunity for us to continue our support of Army modernization. This is the next solution to ensure soldiers have the best equipment available for the multi-domain fight.”



Bell has decades of experience providing attack and reconnaissance aircraft to the warfighter, such as the Kiowa Warrior which delivered high reliability and availability through more than 850,000 flight hours. The Bell 360 Invictus design builds from that legacy, Bell’s commercial innovations, and from the success in the development and manufacturing capabilities required for Future Vertical Lift (FVL) as part of the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMR TD) over the past six years.



To learn more about Bell 360 Invictus and FVL, please visit our booth at the AUSA Annual meeting (#2124) or bellflight.com/.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

How Iran would respond if attacked ..

NI:

Like the rest of the Iranian Armed Forces, the Iranian Air Force was crippled by postrevolution purges. Although numerically and technologically superior to the Iraqi Air Force, Iran was unable to achieve air superiority and unable to accurately strike targets deep within Iraq.

In response, Iran purchased a number of Soviet R-17 (“Scud B”) short-range ballistic missiles from the Libyan government. These strikes, as well as retaliatory strikes by Iraqi ballistic missiles, constituted the so-called “War of the Cities.” The lack of accuracy of the missiles made cities the easiest targets, and both Iranian and Iraqi civilians bore the brunt of the crude missile campaign.

The wartime need for ballistic missiles, as well as Iran’s historical enmity with Israel, led Iran to develop its own missile industry. The first missiles were copies of existing Scud missiles. The Shahab (“Shooting Star”)-1 missile is based on the Scud-B; the Nuclear Threat Initiative estimates Iran maintains an inventory of two to three hundred missiles. The liquid-fueled Shahab-1 can loft a two-thousand-pound high-explosive or chemical warhead up to 186 miles, but like the original Scud-B, its accuracy is lacking. Just half of the warheads from a Shahab-1 would land within a half mile of the target—the rest landing even farther away. Another version, Shahab-2, has a range of 310 miles. Both versions are likely being phased out in favor of a new generation of solid-fuel rockets.

A third missile, Shahab-3, is actually a variant of North Korea’s Nodong-1 missile. Also developed from the Scud, the Nodong-1 has its origins in Pyongyang’s desire to hit U.S. bases in Japan from the Korean Peninsula. There are differing claims to the distance the Shahab-3 can deliver payloads. The Nuclear Threat Initiative states that it has a maximum range of 621 miles, which falls short of the Nodong-1’s range. The Center for Strategic and International Studies states that the Nodong-1 has a range of 932 miles, but credits the Shahab-3 a range of 1,242 miles, a significant improvement.

While the Nodong-1/Shahab-3 offers greater range than previous missiles, it is miserably inaccurate, with half of warheads expected to fall within 1.5 miles of the target and the other half even farther away. The first Iranian test of the Shahab-3 was in 1998, and the missile was declared operational in 2003. Arms-control experts theorize North Korea sold Iran a complete Nodong assembly line, while others believe Iran received approximately 150 missiles in return for financing development of the missile.

The Shahab-3 has spawned at least one variant, the Ghadr-1, which has a slightly shorter range but is reportedly much more accurate, to within six hundred feet. A new warhead developed for both missiles, known as Emad, appears to bring even greater stability, maneuverability and accuracy to Iran’s medium-range ballistic missiles.

Iranian missile development took a giant leap with the fielding of the Sejil medium-range missile. Unlike previous liquid-fueled missiles, the solid-fueled Sejil does not have to be fueled before launch and can be stored ready to fire. A Sejil missile in the field also does not need a telltale convoy of refueling vehicles that can be spotted by enemy forces. Iran’s solid-fuel expertise is thought to have come from China in a late 1980s technology transfer.

First tested in 2008, the Sejil carries a one- to two-thousand-pound warhead and has a range identical to the older Shahab-3. Sejil may in fact be a replacement for the older missile. While the Sejil’s accuracy is unknown, it could hardly be worse than its liquid-fueled predecessor. There are unconfirmed reports of longer-range variants. A missile named Sejil-2 was reportedly tested in 2009, and a three-stage Sejil-3 with a 2,400-mile range is reportedly in development.

According to a 2005 report in Germany’s Bild Zeitung newspaper, Iran imported eighteen Musudan intermediate-range missiles in kit form from North Korea. The existence of these missiles was disputed for years, but an April 2017 launch was said by U.S. government officials to be a Khorramshahr, allegedly the local name for the Musudan. The Iranian missile apparently flew for six hundred miles before it exploded, a level of success North Korea itself did not experience until its sixth Musudan test. This is an unusual discrepancy, and could be indicative that the test was of another missile type entirely. Unlike its other missiles, Iran has never publicly displayed a Musudan-type missile.

In the meantime, Iran has gone back and updated its fleet of short-range, or battlefield short-range, ballistic missiles. Tehran’s latest missile, the Zulfiqar, is also based on Chinese solid-fuel technology. The Zulfiqar can carry a thousand-pound high explosive or submunition warhead that Iran claims is accurate to within fifty to seventy meters. The missile has a range of 434 to 466 miles. While it has a smaller warhead than the Shahab-1 and -2, the Zulfiqar is much more accurate and has a greater range, making it a viable replacement for the older, liquid-fueled missiles.

Iran does not currently have an intercontinental ballistic missile. Could Tehran’s missiles someday reach Washington, DC? North Korea has demonstrated that even a determined country of limited means can build a credible missile program. The Nuclear Threat Initiative lists Shahab-5 and -6 missiles as possible ICBMs that have been mentioned in Iranian literature, but these names seem to be assigned to notional design goals and not operational missiles. Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran has agreed to halt its nuclear-weapons development. Resumption of ICBM research and development would be a clue that Iran’s nuclear ambitions have reignited, something that would put the country on a collision course with the United States.

Iran’s ballistic-missile program began from a wartime requirement for a strategic terror weapon, and progressed to the development of nuclear delivery vehicle. Iran, like North Korea, is proof of the dangers of ballistic-missile proliferation, and how trade in even short-range missiles like the Scud can lead to the development of far more dangerous weapons down the road.


Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009 he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami. This first appeared back in 2017 and is being reposted due to reader interest

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

US Identifies Iran cruise missile launch sites

The United States has identified the exact locations in Iran from which a combination of more than 20 drones and cruise missiles were launched against Saudi oil facilities over the weekend, a senior U.S. official told CBS News national security correspondent David Martin on Tuesday. The official said the locations are in southern Iran, at the northern end of the Persian Gulf.

Saudi Arabia's air defenses have been aimed south for months, to protect against missile attacks launched by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, so they were useless against the missiles and drones coming in from the north, the official told Martin.

One of the missiles flew through Kuwait's airspace and the U.S. is working with a number of other countries to analyze data on the attack, which could help make the case against Iran.

A U.S. team has been on the ground at the oil facilities and identified the specific types of drones and cruise missiles fired, Martin reported. The wreckage was moved to a facility outside the Saudi capital of Riyadh, where it will be used to make what one U.S. official called, "a very compelling forensic case" that Iran launched "a complex and coordinated attack" on Saudi Arabia.

In addition to the wreckage, the forensic case will include radar tracks reconstructed after the fact that show the cruise missiles and drones coming out of Iran.

U.S. officials have already blamed Iran for the attack, but President Trump has appeared this week to lower expectations of a U.S. military response. On Monday night, one day after tweeting that the U.S. was "locked and loaded" in response to the attack on Saudi Arabia, the president told supporters in New Mexico not to panic about oil supplies.

Today, we got a lot of oil," Mr. Trump said at his rally. "We got a lot of gas."

"A few years ago, if we had a problem like you saw two days ago in the Middle East, we would've been in a panic," the president added. "Although not if I were your president — we never panic."

Earlier in the day, Mr. Trump stopped short of blaming Iran for the attacks on two Saudi oil plants, but he said the country was likely responsible.

"We want to find definitively who did this," he said. "It certainly would look to most like it was Iran."

The president's Secretaries of State, Defense and Energy have all blamed Tehran in tweets. A Saudi Arabian military spokesman said the weapons were Iranian, but was unclear on where the attack originated.

All options appear to be on the table when it comes to Mr. Trump's response. At one point, the president practiced restraint, claiming, "I don't want war with anybody, I'm somebody who would like not to have war." But he also kept open the possibility of U.S. military action, and even suggested a lethal retaliatory strike would be a proportionate response.

Former CIA acting director Michael Morell said the U.S. may have little choice. "It's not only Iran that's under pressure here, they can put pressure back on us," he said. "We have to deter them."

On Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has requested a briefing for all House members on the attack on the Saudi facilities, and Democrats are urging caution on any next steps.

"I don't think we need to be the protector of Saudi Arabia," said Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia.

Mr. Trump has also announced that a team led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will head to Saudi Arabia, and said the U.S. is talking to other countries in the region as he decides how to respond. United Nations inspectors have also traveled to Saudi Arabia to investigate, while the U.S. works on declassifying information to share publicly.

Iran continues to deny any involvement, and the nation's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ruled out talks with the U.S. at any level.
© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Pentagon lists projects to be put on back burner by border wall


WASHINGTON — The Pentagon plans to divert funds from military construction projects in nearly half the 50 states, three territories and 19 countries to the southwestern border wall as part of President Trump’s efforts to bypass Congress and redirect spending to his signature campaign promise.

Nearly every facet of military life, from a canceled dining center in Puerto Rico to a small arms firing range in Tulsa, Okla., to an elementary school in Wiesbaden, Germany, will be affected by the transfer of $3.6 billion in congressionally appropriated funds detailed by the Defense Department on Wednesday.

The cuts involve projects such as rifle ranges, aircraft simulators, hangars, port repairs and a cyberoperations center in Virginia, with the biggest impact in Puerto Rico, Guam, New York and New Mexico. In the case of Puerto Rico, the Defense Department plans to divert funds from projects targeted after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017.

The $3.6 billion, taken from 127 projects across the globe, will go toward 11 projects in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, which include both new construction and some fencing replacement. The longest stretch of new pedestrian fencing — about 52 miles — is scheduled for Laredo, Tex., along the Rio Grande.

Reacting to the Pentagon’s announcement, Democrats assailed what they said was an assault on military readiness and lawmakers from both parties voiced discomfort with what they called an attempt by the White House to subvert their constitutional mandate to set government spending.

Members of Congress began disclosing details about the projects targeted for cuts after Mark T. Esper, the defense secretary, and his department notified them about what projects in their district or state would be affected. The Pentagon later released a full list, with a senior Defense Department official insisting that the military was simply carrying out a lawful order from the president to address a national security emergency at the border.


The phone calls and formal letters from Mr. Esper were the first time that members of Congress had been notified about which specific projects would have their funding reallocated. Lawmakers had pressed both White House officials and the Defense Department to release details of the affected projects since February, when Mr. Trump declared a national emergency at the southwestern border and made the funds available under the National Emergencies Act of 1976.

The Trump administration had promised to notify lawmakers about the projects before both the Senate and the House voted to repeal Mr. Trump’s national emergency declaration and the president vetoed the legislation, which he described as “dangerous,” “reckless” and a “vote against reality.”

Mr. Trump told reporters on Wednesday that Mr. Esper had “very good conversations with various members of Congress.”

“He feels it’s a national security problem,” Mr. Trump added. “I do, too.”

In a joint statement, two Utah Republicans, Senators Mitt Romney and Mike Lee, agreed that border protections needed to be strengthened, but said that Congress had ceded power to the executive branch and needed to pass legislation defending its ability to set spending.

“Funding the border wall is an important priority, and the executive branch should use the appropriate channels in Congress, rather than divert already appropriated funding away from military construction projects and therefore undermining military readiness,” Mr. Romney said.

Democrats were more scathing in their objections. A group from the Senate Appropriations Committee, in its own joint statement, recalled that “the president promised Mexico would pay for his wall, not the military and their families.”

“This is a subversion of the will of the American people and their representatives,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader. “It is an attack on our military and its effectiveness to keep Americans safe.”

The timing of the cuts is likely to intensify the looming debate over how to fund the government and set defense policy, and the Democratic majority in the House and the Republican majority in the Senate will most likely be at odds over whether to replace the funds diverted to the border.

Privately, several Pentagon officials acknowledged that their position was tenuous, since Congress would ultimately have to agree to replace the funds. If Congress does not agree to do that, the projects will be effectively canceled.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Satellite imagery shows Iran preparing for rocket launch ..

click to enlarge 

BUSINESS INSIDER:

Iran appears to be preparing another satellite launch via rocket after twice failing this year to put one in orbit, despite U.S. accusations that the Islamic Republic's program helps it develop ballistic missiles.

Satellite images of the Imam Khomeini Space Center in Iran's Semnan province this month show increased activity at the site, as heightened tensions persist between Washington and Tehran over its collapsing nuclear deal with world powers.

While Iran routinely only announces such launches after the fact, that activity coupled with an official saying a satellite would soon be handed over to the country's Defense Ministry suggests the attempt will be coming soon.

According to two US officials who spoke to CNN, the government believes the launch will further missile development for the country because it utilizes the same technology used in long-range ballistic missiles. The launch does not break the international Iran nuclear deal, however.

Analysis by Planet Labs Inc. and the Middlebury Institute says that increased activity around the launch site suggests upcoming activity. Specifically, the groups note additional vehicles and a large vehicle with a shipping container, which the Middlebury Institute's Dave Schmerler tells CNN suggests that there is a rocket on the premises.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

USAF awards 200 million to Northrop Grumman for LAIRCM jammer system.




DEFENCE BLOG:

Northrop Grumman has won a contract to build a batch of Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasure (LAIRCM) systems. This order was received under an existing indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract.

Northrop Grumman’s LAIRCM system protects aircrews by automatically detecting, tracking and jamming incoming infrared threats.


The LAIRCM defensive system is a directional, active IR jammer that is designed to defeat a wide range of ground-fired IR (heat-seeking) missiles. The system jams the infrared missile seekers through the sensor aperture, causing the missile to miss the intended target. LAIRCM automatically detects a missile launch, determines if it is a threat, and activates a high-intensity, laser-based countermeasure system to track and defeat the missile.

The advanced LAIRCM system will allow airplanes without built in systems the safety and security to enter hot-spots around the globe.

“With this award, we continue to protect U.S. and international partner aircrews from the threat of infrared guided weapons,” said Bob Gough, vice president, land and avionics C4ISR, Northrop Grumman.

The purpose of Northrop Grumman Corporation's Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) program is to protect large aircraft from man-portable missiles. The LAIRCM system will increase crew-warning time, decrease false alarm rates and automatically counter advanced IR missile systems. The missile warning subsystem will use multiple sensors to provide full spatial coverage. The counter-measures subsystem will use lasers mounted in pointer-tracker turret assemblies. LAIRCM is an active countermeasure that defeats the threat missile guidance system by directing a high-intensity modulated laser beam into the missile seeker, explained Cappelano. In addition, the LAIRCM system automatically counters advanced IR missile systems with no action required by the crew. The pilot will simply be informed that a threat missile was detected and jammed.


Much of the technology involved in the system, with the exception of the laser jammer, are non-developmental items that have been previously tested and are in production as part of the US Special Operations Command C-130 Directed IR Countermeasures AN/AAQ-24 Program. Northrop Grumman's AN/AAQ-24 (V) NEMESIS system is currently in use by the military in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Due to protection and commonality requirements, the LAIRCM C-130 Group A configuration and installation design shall closely match the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) C-130 modifications for the AAQ-24(V) Directional Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCM) system. Based on Air Mobility Command's urgent need for this capability, the C-130 Group A development effort must be completed in an accelerated fashion, without suboptimizing CCB and test program requirements.

An initial cadre of personnel was assigned to the LAIRCM Program. This cadre is located in the Subsystems SPO (ASC/SM), Wright-Patterson AFB, OH. This Team is responsible for leading an Air Force/Industry initiative to develop and implement the acquisition strategy for large aircraft IRCM systems in the near-term. It also serves as the core group for the permanent organization with program management responsibility for the development and implementation of Group A and Group B and risk-reduction activities over the long-term.

The development and proliferation of advanced infrared guided missiles has greatly increased the threat to military and civil aircraft of attack by these low cost antiaircraft missiles. Technology is being developed to counter this threat in form of advance directed laser jammers and associated missile approach warning sensors. Air Force Research Laboratory's Large Aircraft IRCM Advanced TechnologyDemonstration (LAIRCM ATD) developed and matured subsystem and integrated system technologies to counter the ever growing threat from these missiles. The technology development includes advanced concepts such as Closed Loop IRCM that promises a high power laser response to and IR missile engagement with threat adaptable jamming applied to achieve a rapid seeker breaklock..

Test experts completed live-fire testing on the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures system 08 in White Sands, NM, putting the program on track to deliver the first laser-protected transport to Air Mobility Command by 2004. During the live fire tests, the LAIRCM system was mounted on a cable car equipped with heat sources representing a C-17 signature, which was used as a target for surface-to-air infrared-guided missiles. Live missiles were then launched against this target from inner-, mid-, and outer-ranges, across the missile's high "probability of kill" envelope. In each of these tests, the LAIRCM system was fully autonomously operated and had no prior knowledge of threat type or location. The system had to detect and declare the threat missile, then allocate the jamming assets required to defeat it.

The live-fire tests follow extensive laser tests conducted earlier in the year at the Air Force Electronic Warfare Evaluation Simulator at Fort Worth, Texas. Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures program got the green light for system low-rate initial production 22 August 2002. The production decision gave Aeronautical Systems Center officials the green light to buy the first four LAIRCM production ship sets, with an additional nine systems scheduled for purchase in 2003.

The system currently consists of five basic elements: a Control Indicator Unit (CIU), an ultraviolet Missile Warning Subsystem (UV MWS), a Fine Track Sensor (FTS) subsystem, a Countermeasures Processor (CP), and a laser jam source subsystem. The CP is the master system controller and the interface among the subsystems. The Air Force may install up to three laser jammers on each aircraft type. In 2003, the Air Force tasked the LAIRCM program to support two Quick Reaction Capability requirements to get IRCM equipment into the field as quickly as possible. The first capability installed and tested a one-jammer turret configuration (vice three on the full-up system) on the C-17. The second requirement installed a system on the MH-53M Pave Low IV helicopter gunship. LAIRCM will undergo developmental test/operational test (DT/OT) and IOT&E on the C-17 during FY04 to support the full-rate production decision.

In response to the urgent requirement stated in the LAIRCM Operational Requirements Document, the Aeronautical Systems Center developed an evolutionary strategy to yield a near-term solution for the protection of large transport type aircraft. The use of proven subsystem solutions, integrated into a LAIRCM system, is the first step in the LAIRCM Evolutionary Acquisition strategy to address the overall requirement. This first step, designated Phase 1, is to identify a near-term LAIRCM solution. The LAIRCM System Program Office, in association with Air Force Research Laboratory, conducted comprehensive market research to evaluate options available from industry as well as from government programs. Based on the market research, only four subsystems demonstrated the maturity and performance to provide a near-term solution. All or part of the selected subsystems will comprise the LAIRCM system. 

Four of the subsystems (CIU, FTS, CP, and UV MWS) will come directly from the Special Operations Command's (SOCOM) DIRCM program, presently in production. The final subsystem will be a Multi-Band Laser Subsystem, which has been developed by Northrop Grumman as part of its Internal Research and Development Program and has undergone considerable laboratory and field testing. The United Kingdom (UK) has installed the system on nine different aircraft types and there are plans for integration on eight additional aircraft types. SOCOM procured DIRCM systems under the UK contract. DOT&E approved the IOT&E Plan in October 2003.


The CLIRCM technology has been under development at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, OH, for nearly three decades and was  moved to the Air Force Research Laboratory (Dayton, OH) Laser IRCM Flyout Experiment (LIFE) program. Past experimentation with critical components that were tested in an at-range static environment at AFRL-Dayton demonstrated significant promise in the CLIRCM technology to defeat all types of IR missiles. In fact, the US Navy borrowed the technology to demonstrate the defeat of advanced surrogate IR imaging and line scanning sensors. The closed loop system can rapidly identify and defeat the enemy missile.

The Air Force conducted highly successful field testing of the LIFE system in December 2000 at the White Sands Missile Range. These tests proved that the CLIRCM technology provides the system improvements that the Air Force had hoped. The laser-based CLIRCM techniques and technology offer a tremendous performance improvement and cost savings over the current laser-based open loop system being procured for the LAIRCM program.

With evolving threats of IR surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and air-to-air missiles (AAM), as defined in the Multi-Command LAIRCM Operational Requirements Document (ORD) for advanced IRCM protection of large aircraft, the Air Force needs to focus on fielding a laser-based CLIRCM system. This system will ensure that the men and women of the armed services are protected from lethal IR SAM and AAM threats. The LAIRCM Phase 2 system, employing laser CLIRCM technology, could equip a Small Scale Contingency (SSC) of 79 aircraft (C-17, C-130, KC-135).


Monday, August 19, 2019

And the sky fell ... what the Russian explosion tells us

CNN:

An explosion. An abruptly-canceled village evacuation. Five dead nuclear experts. And a few traces of radioactive iodine in the air over the northern Norwegian coastline.

These are the fingerprints of what appears to have been Russia's latest failed bid to test its Burevestnik missile, also known as Skyfall.

It's claimed by its owner, Russian President Vladimir Putin, to have unlimited range and be able to outflank all US air defenses. But this month, it proved, for a Kremlin keen to emphasize its growing military muscle, yet another high-profile hiccup.

It wouldn't be the first time that a test of the missile wasn't entirely successful, according to US officials.

But what is Skyfall? In truth, analysts don't really know, but their guesswork leads them to believe it's a form of cruise missile designed around a nuclear reactor.

The spiking of radiation levels in the area, potentially reaching as far away as Norway, lends credibility to the theories.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declined to confirm widespread international speculation that the accident involved a nuclear-powered cruise missile, but said the mishap would not set back Russian efforts to develop advanced military capabilities.

Peskov said that only experts could speak with authority on such matters, but added: "Accidents, unfortunately, happen. They are tragedies. But in this particular case, it is important for us to remember those heroes who lost their lives in this accident."

Jon Hawkes, associate director of land warfare at Jane's IHS Markit, said the system could work one of two ways. It could be an "air-breathing engine employing a small nuclear reactor core to heat incoming air that is expelled to generate thrust."

Or it could be a "nuclear thermal rocket engine, where the nuclear core is used to heat a liquid fuel such as hydrogen before expelling it through a nozzle to produce thrust."

Yet he added, "given the Russians are claiming unlimited range, then one would assume it has to be along the lines of the first option, as the hydrogen fuel device would have a limit to its range."

The major problem with the 9M370, or SSC-X-9 Skyfall (as NATO calls it), is the exhaust. You can't use a nuclear reactor to power a rocket without likely creating a form of dirty bomb on wings.

"This is a doomsday weapon really," said Dr Mark Galeotti, from Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies.

"It's not something that could be deployed in anything other than a full-scale nuclear war. It is a cruise missile that can stay in the air for a long time, but it is belching out radioactive plumes behind it."

The US indeed had a similar program in the 1960s, called Project Pluto, which was abandoned as they concluded it was too dangerous at the time.

When Putin launched the missile with great fanfare in March 2018 he extolled its unlimited range -- that it could circle the globe many times and then fire itself at its target from an unexpected angle, perhaps even days after launch.

Is Putin bothered that it doesn't appear so far to have worked that well? Not really, said Galeotti.

"Vladimir Putin's Russia is basically trying to puff itself up," he said. "It is trying to look more militarily formidable than it is. Although they don't like the fact that this failed, the fact that we are talking about the latest Russian military technology is definitely something of a plus."

US officials told CNN it's been tested a few times, but never fully successfully. How far along the project is, and how big a setback this, is is anyone's guess.

But the Kremlin has had a number of incidents to brush off in the past month.

In early July, the AS-31, or Losharik, super-deep, super-secret spy submarine, ran into trouble off the northern coast. State media said 14 sailors on board died of smoke inhalation, and the Kremlin insisted its nuclear reactor was intact when it was returned to port.

The Losharik -- named after a Soviet-era cartoon horse because of the compartmentalized components that enable it to dive to the bottom of the ocean floor -- was meant to plunge to depths that nuclear and attack submarines could not.

Again, Putin found himself being briefed on a clean-up operation.

Weeks later, a munitions dump in Achinsk suffered a series of explosions over five hours, some causing devastating shockwaves and debris to be scattered over the area. A week later, local officials admitted forty people were injured.

These three incidents amount to a bad summer for the Russian military, who after the invasion of Ukraine, and their intervention into Syria, had benefited from a short-term lift in their domestic prestige.

Could over-reach be behind this recent spate of problems?

Andrey Kortunov, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, said, "if you look at the current defense budget of the Russian Federation, it reached its peak in 2016."

He added it had decreased since.

"So basically, the military and the defense sector are asked to do more for less," he added, "and that might be a stretch. Maybe some of these accidents are a part of the price that the military has to pay from this relatively modest budget but the [substantial] ambitions behind this budget."

A turbulent month of unexpected blasts and leaks that begs the question as to whether the Kremlin's race to the bottom of the sea, or top of the heavens, will scorch too much in its wake.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Moscow orders evacuation of Nvonoksa - then cancel it.


MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian military on Tuesday told residents of a village near a navy testing range to evacuate, but cancelled the order hours later, adding to the uncertainty and confusion fueled by a missile explosion last week that led to a brief spike in radiation that frightened residents and raised new questions about the military’s weapons program.

Initially the military told residents of Nyonoksa, a village of about 500, to move out temporarily, citing unspecified activities at the range. But a few hours later, it said the planned activities were cancelled and rescinded the request to leave, said Ksenia Yudina, a spokeswoman for the Severodvinsk regional administration.

Local media in Severodvinsk said Nyonoksa residents regularly receive similar temporary evacuation orders usually timed to tests at the range.

The Defense Ministry initially said Thursday’s explosion of a rocket engine at the navy range killed two people and injured six others, but the state-controlled Rosatom nuclear corporation said two days later that the blast also killed five of its nuclear engineers and injured three others. It’s still not clear what the final toll is.

And just as the Severodvinsk administration reported a brief spike in radiation levels, the Defense Ministry insisted that no radiation had been released — a blunt denial reminiscent of Soviet-era attempts to cover up disasters that added to public nervousness.



1 of 4
In this grab taken from a footage provided by the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM press service, a Russian military band prepare to attend the funerals of five Russian nuclear engineers killed by a rocket explosion in Sarov, the closed city, located 370 kilometers (230 miles) east of Moscow, which has served as a base for Russia's nuclear weapons program since the late 1940s, Russia, Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. Russia's Rosatom state nuclear concern said Thursday's explosion at a military testing range in northwestern Russia occurred while the engineers were testing a "nuclear isotope power source" for a rocket engine, a tragedy that fueled radiation fears and raised new questions about a secretive weapons program. (Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM via AP)
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“It’s shocking when people who live there, let alone us, have no idea what really happened,” Svetlana Alexievich, a Nobel Prize-winning author who wrote a book containing first-hand accounts of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, said on Ekho Moskvy radio. “It looks like we haven’t learned the lessons of Chernobyl and Fukushima.”

When reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Soviet Ukraine exploded and burned on April 26, 1986, Soviet leaders initially tried to hide the disaster from the public and it took them days to acknowledge the full scale of the world’s worst nuclear accident.

After Thursday’s missile explosion, the Severodvinsk city administration said the radiation level rose to 2 microsieverts per hour for about 30 minutes before returning to the area’s natural level of 0.1 microsieverts per hour. Emergency officials issued a warning to all workers to stay indoors and close the windows. Spooked residents rushed to buy iodide, which can help limit the damage from exposure to radiation.

Yudina said that radiation levels in Severodvinsk, a city of 183,000 about 30 kilometers (20 miles) east of Nyonoksa, have been normal since Thursday.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Storm Area 51 turns into Aleinstock - but Nevada locals are not happy.


SKY NEWS;

The nearest town to Area 51 has warned people to stay away from a music festival being organised by the man behind a call to arms that saw more than two million people sign up to storm the military base.

So many committed to the proposed raid of the complex in Nevada in the hope of seeing aliens that the US air force felt compelled to warn it "stands ready to protect America and its assets", and the Facebook event was eventually shut down after its organizer admitted it was a joke.

Storm Area 51 creator Matty Roberts has teamed up with event producer The Hidden Sound to put on the festival, where people can safely display their "unified curiosity" in the existence of extra-terrestrial life.

The organizers are promising to deliver an "amazing experience" with "headlining artists" - but those claims have been questioned by local authorities.

In a warning to those planning to make the trip for the planned event, the official website for Rachel says the three-day gig will "undoubtedly attract crooks trying to capitalize on the chaos".

It advises people to "stay away" from residential areas of the town, which has become a tourist attraction because of how close it is to Area 51, as most locals "do not like where this event is going and will respond accordingly".

The statement continues: "The residents were not asked and are not on board and will certainly not allow their town to be taken over. This has a high potential of getting ugly. Please consider visiting at another time."

Sceptics of Alienstock - which is accepting donations - have already compared it to the ill-fated Fyre Festival, which was pitched as a luxury music event in the Bahamas but quickly turned to chaos.

Tickets went for up to $75,000 (£58,000) and there were a vast array of problems, from guests sleeping in hurricane disaster tents to bland cheese sandwiches replacing the advertised gourmet food.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Israel said to be making strikes Iranian sites in Iraq



TIMES OF ISRAEL :

Israel has expanded its operations against Iranian targets to Iraq, where Air Force jets have struck twice in ten days, a report said Tuesday morning.

Israel commonly conducts strikes in Syrian territory, targeting Iranian missile shipments meant for Lebanese terror group Hezbollah to use against the Jewish state, but strikes in Iraq by Israel have not been reported since the 1981 bombing of a nuclear reactor.

Asharq Al-Awsat, an Arabic-language newspaper published in London, cited Western diplomatic sources as saying an Israeli F-35 plane was behind a July 19 strike on a rocket depot in a Shiite militia base north of Baghdad.

The Saudi-based al-Arabiya network reported at the time that members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and Hezbollah had been killed in the strike. It said the base had shortly before the strike received Iranian ballistic missiles, which had been hidden inside trucks.

Iraq’s military said at the time that one fighter was killed and two Iranians wounded, saying the strike was carried out by an unmanned drone. The United States denied involvement.

That strike targeted Iranian advisers and a ballistic missile shipment, the report cited sources as saying.

The report also mentioned a strike in Syria last week blamed on Israel, in which nine were killed including six Iranians fighting for the Syrian regime, claiming it was meant to prevent Iran from taking over a strategic hill in the Daraa province in the country’s south.

Israeli missiles targeted “military positions and intelligence facilities belonging to Iran and [pro-Iranian] militias” in the southern provinces of Daraa and Quneitra early on Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at the time.

The other three killed in the strike were pro-regime Syrian fighters, it added.




Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria since the beginning of the conflict in 2011, targeting Iranian and Hezbollah forces in the country, as well as those loyal to the Assad regime, as part of a stated policy to prevent arms transfers to Hezbollah in Lebanon and the entrenchment of Iranian military forces across from Israel’s northern border.

Israel does not usually comment on specific reports of strikes, but does insist it has the right to defend itself by targeting positions held by Iran and Hezbollah.

Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi boasted last week that Israel is the only country in the world that has been “killing Iranians.”

In a speech to the UN General Assembly last September, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that “Israel will do whatever it must do to defend itself against Iran’s aggression. We will continue to act against you in Syria. We will act against you in Lebanon. We will act against you in Iraq. We will act against you whenever and wherever we must act to defend our state and defend our people.” An excerpt from that speech was utilized in a recent Likud election campaign clip.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Marines arrested for human smuggling



WASHINGTON, July 25 

Sixteen U.S. Marines were arrested on Thursday for their alleged involvement in illegal activities including human smuggling and drug-related offenses, the U.S. military said.

In a press release, the Marine Corps said that the Marines were arrested at Camp Pendleton in California based on information gained from a previous human smuggling investigation.

The statement added that in addition to the Marines arrested, eight others were questioned for unrelated alleged drug offenses.

The Marine Corps said none of those arrested or detained were serving in support of the military's mission along the border with Mexico.

The arrests took place in a dramatic fashion on Thursday morning at Camp Pendleton, California, during a battalion formation.

"Information gained from a previous human smuggling investigation precipitated the arrests," the statement said. Eight other Marines were also questioned on their involvement in alleged drug offenses unrelated to today's arrests, the Marine Corps said.

Byron Law II and David Salazar-Quintero, both lance corporals, were arrested after their vehicle was pulled over by Border Patrol agents about 20 miles east of the Tecate port of entry.
Law was driving, and Salazar-Quintero was in the passenger seat. There were three passengers in the back of the car, and they told the agent they were Mexican citizens, had no immigration papers and were not permitted to enter the United States, according to the complaint.

The three immigrants apprehended from the back of Law's car told Border Patrol agents that they'd made arrangements to be smuggled into the United States and had been told via cellphone to get into Law's car.

Two of the migrants said they were planning to pay $8,000 to be smuggled into the country, the complaint says. One planned on traveling to Los Angeles, the other to New Jersey.
The driver and passenger, under questioning, began pointing fingers at one another, the complaint says, detailing their involvement in a smuggling operation.

According to their service records supplied by the US Marine Corps, both of the men charged earlier in the month are riflemen with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. They have been awarded the National Defense and Global War on Terrorism service medals.

Capt. Christopher Harrison, Marine Corps spokesman, previously told CNN that the corps is "aware of the charges facing Lance Cpl. Law and Lance Cpl. Salazar-Quintero."
"We continue to cooperate fully with the investigative efforts into this matter," he said earlier this month.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

BREAKING: NORTH KOREA LAUNCHES TWO MISSILES

North Korea has fired two unidentified projectiles believed to be missiles into the sea, South Korea has said.

The projectiles were launched from an area near the eastern city of Wonsan, according to the South’s joint chiefs of staff.


Last week, Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, inspected a newly built submarine, potentially signalling continued development of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) prograM.

The reclusive nation’s leader inspected the operational and tactical data and combat weapons systems of the submarine, which state news agency KCNA said was built under “his special attention” and will be operational in the waters off the east coast.

“The operational capacity of a submarine is an important component in national defense of our country bounded on its east and west by sea,” Mr Kim said.

It comes amid another delay in the resumption of talks between the reclusive nation and the United States, in which Washington has been pushing the hermit kingdom to give up its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

Monday, July 22, 2019

U.S. military has begun reestablishing air base inside Saudi Arabia


NBC NEWS 

July 19, 2019, 5:42 PM CDT / Updated July 20, 2019, 8:45 AM CDT
By Courtney Kube

ASPEN, Colo. — In June the U.S. military began moving equipment and hundreds of troops back to a military base in Saudi Arabia that the U.S. deserted more than 15 years ago, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the deployment.

Over the coming weeks the deployment to Prince Sultan Air Base, intended to counter the threat from Iran, will grow to include fighter jets and Patriot long-range missile defense systems, the officials said. The Patriots have already arrived at the base and should be operational in mid-July, while the aircraft are expected to arrive in August.

Several hundred U.S. service members are already on site preparing the facility south of Riyadh, which is controlled by the Royal Saudi Air Force, a number that will grown to more than 500 after the arrival of an air squadron.

The officials said the deployment focuses on defensive capabilities, with Patriot batteries for missile defense and the fighter jets intended to defend U.S. forces on the ground. But they acknowledged the aircraft could be used offensively as well.

The U.S. announced this increase of forces in the region in June, but did not say where the troops and equipment would be based.

The Pentagon declined to comment on the deployment to Prince Sultan air base. "U.S. Central Command continually works to manage our force posture in the region and will continue to do this in cooperation with our partners and allies in the region," said Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Earl Brown on Thursday.

Central Command said in a statement Friday, “In coordination with and at the invitation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Secretary of Defense has authorized the movement of U.S. personnel and resources to deploy to Saudi Arabia.”

“This movement of forces provides an additional deterrent, and ensures our ability to defend our forces and interests in the region from emergent, credible threats,” the Central Command statement said.

The U.S. military deployed troops and equipment to Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Gulf War, and U.S. aircraft based in the Kingdom were later used to enforce the no-fly zone over Iraq.

After the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing killed 19 U.S. airmen and injured 400 others, the U.S. military moved most aircraft and service members in Saudi Arabia to Prince Sultan Air Base, where they remained until the U.S. began Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. In April 2003, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the Saudi defense minister decided to withdraw all U.S. troops from the base and turn it back over to the Saudi government.

While Prince Sultan Air Base is an active facility, portions of the base will need an upgrade to accommodate the U.S. military, including reinforcing and expanding roads and runways, one U.S. official said. Base housing will also need updating, the official said, and the U.S. will build a medical facility. Many of the U.S. service members deployed there over the past few weeks are engineers preparing the base for the new mission.
This new deployment provides the U.S. military with another location in the region to counter a possible threat from Iran. The U.S. official said the base provides the U.S. with "strategic standoff" and "defensive depth" with Iran, meaning the ability to counter Iran from a distance while not being in range of Iranian missiles.

The officials described this deployment as expeditionary rather than permanent basing, with the new presence remaining there as long as tensions remain high with Iran.

The officials said Saudi Arabia has already agreed to pay some of the costs associated with having U.S. personnel and assets there.
Courtney Kube

Courtney Kube is a correspondent covering national security and the military for the NBC News Investigative Unit.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Iran seized two UK tankers

BBC: 

The Stena Impero is British-flagged and the Mesdar is Liberian-flagged but British owned.

The Mesdar's operator said the vessel was now free to continue its journey after it was boarded by armed guards at around 17:30 BST on Friday.

The Stena Impero's owners say they have been unable to contact their vessel, which was "heading north towards Iran".

They say there are 23 personnel on board the British-flagged oil tanker and it was approached by "unidentified small crafts and a helicopter".

The Mesdar's Glasgow-based Norbulk Shipping UK said communication had been re-established with the vessel and its crew was "safe and well".

The government's emergency committee, Cobra, is meeting in Whitehall for the second time on Friday to discuss the incident.

Mr Hunt said the seizures were "unacceptable" and the emergency meeting would review what the UK could do to "swiftly secure the release of the two vessels".

"It is essential that freedom of navigation is maintained and that all ships can move safely and freely in the region," he added.

He said the tankers' crews were made up of a range of nationalities but no British citizens were understood to be on board either vessel.

"Our ambassador in Tehran is in contact with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to resolve the situation and we are working closely with international partners," he said.

These latest developments come amid heightened tensions between the UK, the US, and Iran.

Iranian media reported Stena Impero had been seized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

The Tasnim news agency quoted the Ports and Maritime Organisation of Iran as saying: "We received some reports on the British oil tanker, Stena Impero, causing problems.

"We asked the military forces to guide this tanker towards Bandar Abbas port to have the required investigations carried out."

Stena Bulk, the vessel owner, and Clydebank-based ship manager Northern Marine Management confirmed the UK-registered Stena Impero was approached at around 16:00 BST on Friday while it was in international waters.

A statement said there were no reported injuries and the safety of the crew was the priority of the tanker's owners and managers.

Tensions between the UK and Iran flared up earlier this month when Royal Marines seized an Iranian tanker which was suspected of breaking EU sanctions.

The UK suspected Grace 1, detained on 4 July near Gibraltar, was carrying oil bound for Syria.

In response to the seizure, Iran threatened to seize a British oil tanker.

On 9 July, the UK raised the threat to British shipping in Iranian waters in the Gulf to "critical" - the highest level.

A day later, Iranian boats attempted to impede a British oil tanker in the region, before being warned off by a Royal Navy ship, according to the Ministry of Defence.

Iran denied any attempted seizure.

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson tweeted that the latest reports were of "real concern", adding that "any move to seize a British tanker would be a significant and harmful escalation of a situation where de-escalation is needed".

Sir Richard Dalton, former UK ambassador to Iran, told the BBC that Iran was "trying to put a scare into the owners and operators of tankers" in the region.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

"Top gun Maverick trailer drops and it is awesome!

San Diego Comic Con's tentpole Thursday morning panel, dedicated to the Paramount and Skydance film Terminator: Dark Fate, saw an interruption from another big face at that combined film company: Tom Cruise. Tom, apparently, couldn't let Arnold Schwarzenegger have all the fun, as he used the opportunity to reveal the first public footage of next year's Top Gun: Maverick.

The two-minute trailer is at its most impressive when we see Cruise continuing his streak for performing his own stunts, as he's established in so many Mission: Impossible films up until now. Unless Cruise and company have figured out a whole new level of CGI and green-screen trickery, that sure looks like the actor himself piloting an F-18 as it takes off from a Naval aircraft carrier at sea—and then pulling some serious Gs while flying over a snowy mountainside in formation.

In terms of plot, we see a face-off with a rear admiral played by actor Ed Harris. Harris is angry about Cruise's unwillingness to retire after "30-plus years of service" and his continued status as a Navy captain. "You should at least be a two-star admiral by now," Harris says. Eventually, Harris insists that "your kind is headed for extinction," which might hint to the Navy's increased emphasis on automation or remotely controlled crafts.

Pentagon considers moving key Brit intel hub

STUTTGART, Germany — A U.S. intelligence gathering hub at RAF Molesworth, one of several American bases that had been slated for closure, could stay where it is as the Pentagon reconsiders a plan to move the center to a different site.

“The Department of Defense is currently re-assessing the future location of the Joint Intelligence Analysis Complex and the NATO Intelligence Fusion Center,” Lt. Col. Carla M. Gleason, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said in a statement.

The center provides intelligence information for the U.S. European and African commands as well as NATO.

The Pentagon stopped short of saying whether it is considering scrapping a plan to build a new center at RAF Croughton, which would include $200 million in upgrades, and keep the intelligence activities at Molesworth.

But the Senate’s 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which still requires House approval, calls for funds to build an “intelligence fusion center” and “battlefield information collection and exploitation system center” at Molesworth.

The Senate NDAA did not specify how cancelling the move would affect the $200 million slated for the Croughton project.

The change is the latest twist in a plan that has been a source of controversy for nearly five years.

Moving to Croughton was part of a broader base-consolidation effort in Europe. RAF Molesworth, which was set to shutter around 2023, was one of many facilities the Pentagon had targeted for closure.

But relocating the intelligence center was met with fierce resistance from Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who said the military failed to consider more affordable alternatives to RAF Croughton. Nunes also accused the military in Europe of providing faulty information to justify the move.

Nunes’ concerns prompted an Inspector General investigation that examined whether U.S. European Command failed to sufficiently consider its options. The IG ultimately cleared EUCOM officials of intentionally misleading Congress, but the probe found that the military’s financial analysis contained inaccurate information.

The military’s joint intelligence center was established in the U.K. in 1991 because there was insufficient space at EUCOM’s Stuttgart, Germany headquarters.

Molesworth was chosen because it had vacant facilities that were ready for use. With the establishment of AFRICOM, however, the mission has grown, leading to concerns that the base’s World War II-era buildings were undersized and unequipped to handle expanding operations.

While the Pentagon has said it is reassessing the move from Molesworth to Croughton, it didn’t offer details.

“This decision does not change the U.S. commitment to strengthen the NATO alliance, deter aggression from potential adversaries, and to support multinational operations,” Gleason said. “We are working closely with the United Kingdom to determine next steps for the future location of the JIAC and NIFC.”

Monday, July 15, 2019

VIDEO: Italian Police raid finds Neo Nazis in possession on a Matra R530F missile.

ROME (Reuters) - Italian police have seized a large arsenal of weapons, including an air-to-air missile, in raids on neo-Nazi sympathizers, they said on Monday.

Elite police forces searched properties across northern Italy following an investigation into Italians who had fought alongside Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, a police statement said.

Three men were arrested, including a customs officer who has previously stood for parliament for an extreme right party.

During their raids, police discovered a French-made Matra air-to-air missile that appeared to have once belonged to the Qatar armed forces. Subsequent checks showed the weapon was in working condition but lacked an explosive charge.
Police said the suspects had tried to sell the missile via the WhatsApp messaging network.

Among other weapons uncovered were 26 guns, 20 bayonets, 306 gun parts, including silencers and rifle scopes, and more than 800 bullets of various calibers. The arms were primarily from Austria, Germany and the United States.

Police also seized Nazi memorabilia from the properties.


Monday, July 1, 2019

FBI warns of possible July 4th ISIS attacks

Federal authorities are warning that political radicals may attack people celebrating on July 4th.
A bulletin to law enforcement around the country states that domestic terrorists “have attacked perceived oppressors, opponents, or enemies engaged in outdoor First Amendment-protected rallies or protests during past summers.” 
The warning comes from a joint intelligence bulletin issued by the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and National Counterterrorism Center, telling law enforcement to remain vigilant for suspicious activity.
“The FBI, DHS, and NCTC remain concerned that [they] could target upcoming Independence Day celebrations, gatherings, or parades, though we are unaware of any current plots specifically targeting such events,” says the bulletin, obtained by ABC News. “We note that attacks can occur with little to no warning because of the frequently lower levels of security around civilian targets, challenges in securing large crowds, and calls for attacks against soft targets.”
Both domestic” and “homegrown” terrorists “likely would use simplistic tactics and relatively easily obtainable weapons such as firearms, knives, and vehicles—although some violent extremists have historically sought to use explosive devices.”
The bulletin also warns that ISIS has renewed calls for sympathizers to launch attacks inside the United States.
The FBI is currently tracking about 1,000 suspected “homegrown” terrorists inside the United States inspired by foreign terrorist organizations, a senior FBI official recently testified to Congress.
The official also said the FBI currently investigating about 850 suspected “domestic” terrorists. Officials told ABC News the agency has seen a large increase in domestic terrorism investigations involving white supremacists since last year.
“In fact, there have been more arrests and deaths in the United States caused by domestic terrorists than international terrorists in recent years,” the head of the FBI's counterterrorism division, Assistant Director Michael McGarrity, recently told a House panel.
The bulletin issued Wednesday ahead of the July 4th holiday mentioned the case of James Fields, who in 2017 drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing a woman and injuring scores of others.
Wednesday’s bulletin emphasized: “The FBI, DHS, and NCTC are not aware of any specific, credible threats surrounding the upcoming Independence Day holiday, but note that previous attacks in the Homeland have happened with little to no warning.” 
Asked about the new bulletin, an FBI spokeswoman said in a statement, “The FBI regularly assesses intelligence regarding possible threats to the U.S. and will continue to work closely with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners should there be any potential threat to public safety. We ask members of the public to maintain awareness of their surroundings and to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement immediately.”

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Air Force drones on despite Iranian shoot-down.


WASHINGTON — Iran’s downing of a U.S. surveillance drone has not slowed the U.S. Air Force’s flight operations in the Middle East, its top general said Wednesday.


“We’re continuing to fly. And we continue to fly where we need to be, when we need to be there,” Air Force Chief of Staff Dave Goldfein said at an Air Force Association event.

“This is a conversation we could have in the South China Sea, this is a conversation we could have anywhere in terms of international airspace. In the global commons, we continue to protect those global commons for everyone and we continue to operate where we need to operate.”

On June 19, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down a U.S. Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance—Demonstrator drone, a version of the RQ-4 Global Hawk used by the Air Force and a precursor to the Navy’s MQ-4 Triton. BAMS-D, like other versions of the RQ-4, conducts its high-altitude surveillance missions without weapons.

Iran has maintained that the RQ-4 had been flying inside its airspace — a claim that U.S. officials have repeatedly denied. On June 20, Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, head of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, presented a map showing the drone’s location over international waters and told reporters that the aircraft had been operating at high altitude approximately 34 kilometers from Iran at the time it was attacked by Iranian surface-to-air missiles.

The downing of the BAMS-D was also precipitated by a number of attacks on less expensive MQ-9 Reaper drones, which the U.S. Defense Department ties to Iran.

Both Iranian and U.S. leaders have publicly stated that they contemplated actions that could have led to loss of life, which would have greatly escalated the dispute between the two nations. Iranian leaders have said they opted not to strike down a manned P-8 maritime plane operating near the RQ-4 that was shot.

U.S. President Donald Trump also considered a strike on Iranian missile and radar sites as retaliation for the RQ-4 attack, but he stopped the mission because the response — which could have killed as many as 150 people — was not proportionate to shooting down one unarmed drone, he said in a tweet.


Goldfein downplayed U.S.-Iran tension on Wednesday, saying he didn’t see a “significant change” in the Iranian military’s capabilities and that his role as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff continues to be providing Trump with a range of military options.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Advanced Russian warship makes port in Havana


HAVANA — One of the Russian navy’s most advanced warships entered Havana’s harbor Monday and docked at the port used until this month by U.S. cruise lines.

The Admiral Gorshkov entered service last year. It is one of the Russian navy’s most advanced warships and is armed with cruise missiles, air defense systems and other weapons. The frigate is based at the Arctic port of Severomorsk and is part of Russia’s Northern Fleet. It’s the first ship in a new class of frigates intended to replace aging Soviet-era destroyers to project power far away from Russian shores. It is accompanied by the multifunctional logistics vessel Elbrus, the medium sea tanker Kama and the rescue tug Nikolai Chiker, the Russian navy says.

The navy says the Admiral Gorshkov crossed through the Panama Canal into the Caribbean Sea on or around June 18. The naval group has covered a distance of over 28,000 nautical miles since leaving Severomorsk in February, with stops in China, Djibouti, Sri Lanka and Colombia, the navy says. It says the ships are scheduled to make calls at several Caribbean ports, without specifying which. The naval group was greeted with a 21-gun salute from Cuban forces stationed at the entrance to the Bay of Havana. The Gorshkov responded with its own salute.

Russia has not provided details about the purpose of its trip, but the Kremlin has moved to bolster Russia’s military capability amid tensions with the West following the annexation of Crimea in 2014. The Russian armed forces have received hundreds of new warplanes and dozens of warships in recent years as part of a sweeping military modernization program that allowed Moscow to project power abroad.

As the U.S.-Russian relations have sunk to the lowest levels since the Cold War, Moscow has been considering further steps to boost its global presence. An air base and a naval facility in Syria are currently Russia’s only military outposts outside the former Soviet Union but Russian military officials have talked repeatedly about plans to negotiate deals for Russian warships and aircraft to use foreign ports and air bases.

Russian ships have become an occasional presence in Havana over the last decade. In 2008, after a visit by then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, a group of Russian ships entered Cuban waters in what Cuban media described as the first such visit since 1991. Another group visited the southern city Cienfuegos in 2010, reportedly with a cargo of wheat. Others visited in 2013 and in 2014.

In January 2015, the reconnaissance and communications ship Viktor Leonov arrived unannounced in Havana a day before the start of discussions between U.S. and Cuban officials on the reopening of diplomatic relations. The Viktor Leonov returned again in March 2018.

All of the Russian naval missions to Cuba have been seen as a projection of military power close to U.S. shores, although neither Cuba nor Russian have described them as anything other than routine.

Early during his presidency, Russian leader Vladimir Putin ordered the military to shut a Soviet-era electronic surveillance outpost in Cuba and a naval base in Vietnam as he sought to warm ties with the United States. Amid tensions with the U.S., Russian military officials talked about the possibility of reinstating a presence on Cuba and in Vietnam.

Russian warships and aircraft have periodically made forays into the Caribbean. In a show of power, a pair of Russian nuclear-capable Tu-160 strategic bombers visited Venezuela in December in what the Russian military described as a training mission. The deployment came before the latest crisis in Venezuela. Russia also sent Tu-160s and a missile cruiser to visit Venezuela in 2008 amid tensions with the U.S. after Russia’s brief war with Georgia. A pair of Tu-160s also visited Venezuela in 2013.

It is not publicly known if the Admiral Gorshkov will visit Venezuela.

Russians were once the most important group of foreigners in Cuba, with many thousands of Soviet workers and advisers collaborating on projects in fields ranging from agricultural production to military defense. That ended with the fall of the Soviet Union, which saw the end of the Soviet and Russian presence and the start of a grueling depression in Cuba known as the “Special Period.” That period ended with the start of Venezuelan aid around 2000.

Cuba also somewhat diversified its economy by attracting Latin American, European and Asian investment, and tourism primarily from Canada, Europe and the U.S. U.S. tourism surged in 2015 and 2016 as the Obama administration loosed restrictions on travel to Cuba as part of the opening with the communist government. That opening included allowing cruise ships. But the Trump administration has been trying to cut off income to Cuba and reduce the number of travelers to the island. The latest blow was ending cruise ship travel to the island, a measure that went into effect this month.

In what some Cubans saw as a potent symbol of changing times, the Admiral Gorshkov is moored at the cruise terminal where ships from cruise lines like Carnival and Norwegian loomed over Old Havana as recently as June 6.

• Associated Press writers Michael Weissenstein and Andrea Rodriguez reported this story in Havana and AP writer Vladimir Isachenkov reported from Moscow.


Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.


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