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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 19:20
Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base,

Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base,

 

Apr. 8, 2014 - By JENN ROWELL, (GREAT FALLS, MONT.) TRIBUNE – Defense News

 

The Pentagon announced Tuesday that it will remove 50 Minuteman III missiles from its silos to meet nuclear reductions called for under an arms-reduction treaty with Russia.

 

The empty silos will remain in warm status, meaning they will remain fully operational and can be armed with missiles at any time.

 

The Air Force and U.S. Strategic command will determine which 50 missiles will be pulled from the 450 silos currently deployed across the three missile fields operated by Malmstrom, F.E. Warren and Minot Air Force bases.

 

The empty silos count toward the non-deployed launcher limit of 800 under the New START treaty, which was ratified by the Senate and entered force in 2011.

 

The determination of which missiles will be removed hasn’t been made yet and there’s currently no timeline for that decision other than the New START deadline of February 2018.

 

To keep all 450 silos, the military has to make other cuts to the nuclear force to meet the limits of 800 non-deployed and 700 deployed launchers.

 

The Navy will convert 56 launch tubes, or four on each of its 14 nuclear submarines, so they can’t be used to carry nuclear weapons. They will also remove weapons from 40 launch tubes and keep 240 armed, for a total of 280 counted toward the New START limit of 800.

 

The Air Force will also convert 30 B-52H bombers to conventional aircraft so that they cannot carry nuclear weapons.

 

The Air Force will maintain 66 nuclear-capable bomber aircraft.

 

Because the silos will remain fully operational, no ICBM squadrons will be cut, according to defense officials. An environmental assessment also is no longer needed.

 

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said Monday night that the plan is good for Montana and good for national defense strategy. He also said ICBMs continue to be the most cost-effective leg of the nuclear triad.

 

“Right now, for the dollars spent, the ICBMs are the most effective component,” he said. “No ifs, ands or buts about that.”

 

Keeping 50 silos empty at all times allows the Air Force to conduct more thorough maintenance without disrupting normal operations, Tester said. The empty sites will also continue to be secured by Air Force security units.

 

“[ICBMs] are still our ace in the hole, and we need to make sure that’s there so that our country has a strong defense,” Tester said. “We have got these assets, we don’t ever want to have to use them, but if we need to use them, they’re there.”

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 18:20
Fourth AEHF Protected Communications Satellite Begins Integration Months Ahead of Schedule


SUNNYVALE, Calif., April 8, 2014 – Lockheed Martin

 

The fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite produced by Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] is taking shape after early deliveries of its payload and propulsion core. AEHF-4, expected to launch in 2017, will enable the constellation to reach full operational capability.

The propulsion core manufactured by Lockheed Martin and payload produced by Northrop Grumman arrived at the AEHF integration facility in Sunnyvale, Calif., earlier in the year. Both were delivered significantly ahead of baseline schedule. The propulsion core arrived eight months early, and the payload arrived two months early.

“We’re driving a shorter timeline for bigger cost savings. In fact, we are putting plans in place to finish six months ahead of our baseline schedule,” said Mark Calassa, vice president of Protected Communication Systems at Lockheed Martin. “AEHF’s propulsion system reflects Lockheed Martin’s investment in more efficient spacecraft. To complement its traditional chemical propulsion, AEHF uses the highest power electric propulsion system ever flown for orbit raising and station keeping.”

Lockheed Martin is under contract to deliver six AEHF satellites and the mission control segment. Users are testing AEHF-1, AEHF-2 and AEHF-3 on orbit, and the fourth satellite will enable the system to reach full operational capability. The fifth and sixth satellites will add to the capacity of the operational system and are being assembled at Lockheed Martin.

AEHF is the most secure communications satellite system used by the U.S. government. Its jam-resistant communications are resilient against enemy forces, including nuclear attack, and a single AEHF satellite provides greater capacity than its compatible legacy five-satellite Milstar system. AEHF’s five-fold increase in data rates speed up protected communications, such as real-time video, battlefield maps and targeting data. The constellation serves troops and national leaders, including the president and Pentagon officials.

 

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 115,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2013 were $45.4 billion.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 17:50
Russie: Washington pourrait revoir sa présence militaire en Europe (Pentagone)

 

08 avr 2014 marine-oceans.com (AFP)

 

WASHINGTON - Les actions militaires de la Russie en Crimée pourraient conduire à un réexamen de la présence militaire américaine en Europe, qui n'a cessé de décroître depuis la fin de la Guerre froide, a affirmé mardi un haut responsable du Pentagone.

 

Les "actions (russes) en Europe et en Eurasie pourraient conduire les Etats-Unis à réexaminer leur dispositif militaire et leurs besoins en matière de futurs déploiements, d'exercices et d'entraînements dans la région", a affirmé Derek Chollet, chargé des affaires de sécurité internationale au Pentagone.

 

Washington ne "cherche pas la confrontation" avec Moscou pour autant, a-t-il précisé devant les élus de la commission des forces armées de la Chambre des représentants.

 

Quelque 67.000 militaires américains sont actuellement stationnés sur le continent européen, principalement en Allemagne (40.000 hommes), en Italie (11.000) et en Grande-Bretagne (9.500). Ils étaient 285.000 à la fin 1991 quand l'Union soviétique a cessé d'exister.

 

Derek Chollet n'a pas précisé ce que le réexamen du dispositif pourrait comprendre alors que le Pentagone est confronté à des restrictions budgétaires et cherche à redéployer une partie de ses moyens vers l'Asie-Pacifique dans le cadre de sa stratégie dite de "pivot".

 

Evoquant "l'intervention militaire illégale de la Russie en Ukraine", M. Chollet a considéré que cette action changeait "le paysage sécuritaire en Europe" et provoquait une instabilité sur les frontières de l'Otan.

 

Pour rassurer les pays d'Europe de l'Est membres de l'Otan, Washington a déjà déployé six chasseurs-bombardiers F-15 en renfort dans les pays Baltes, 12 F-16 et trois avions de transport en Pologne. Un destroyer lance-missiles, l'USS Donald-Cook doit par ailleurs arriver en mer Noire dans les jours à venir.

 

La prise de contrôle de bâtiments de l'administration locale à Donetsk et Kharkiv, dans l'est russophone de l'Ukraine est "très inquiétant", a par ailleurs observé le responsable du Pentagone, d'autant qu'il ne s'agissait "pas de manifestations spontanées".

 

Une action en russe en Ukraine orientale "constituerait clairement une escalade très sérieuse de la crise", a-t-il mis en garde.

 

Les pressions de Moscou ne se cantonnent pas à l'Ukraine, a-t-il par ailleurs observé dans son témoignage écrit, un passage qu'il n'a pas prononcé devant les élus.

 

"La Moldavie par exemple a des forces russes sur son territoire, en théorie des forces de maintien de la paix, mais qui en fait soutiennent la région séparatiste de Transnistrie", selon lui.

 

Le commandant suprême des forces alliées en Europe (Saceur), le général américain Philip Breedlove, s'était déjà inquiété fin mars de la présence massive de troupes russes à la frontière de l'Ukraine, craignant qu'elle ne débouche sur une intervention de Moscou en Transnistrie.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 16:35
Australia waits on C-27J transfer approval

 

 

8 April 2014 by Andrew McLaughlin – FG

 

Sydney - Australia's programme to introduce the Alenia Aermacchi C-27J medium transport remains on track, despite a two month delay in its lead aircraft leaving Italy to undergo modifications in the USA.

 

First flown in December 2013, "green" aircraft A34-001 had been scheduled to arrive at L-3 Communications' Waco, Texas facility on 11 February, ahead of work to bring it to the Joint Cargo Aircraft configuration. Scheduled to take three months to complete, the work involves the fitting of an electronic warfare and infrared countermeasures suite, US-standard communications equipment and ballistic matting around the cockpit and loadmaster’s station.

 

The Australian Department of Defence says delays in obtaining flight clearances from EASA and the US Federal Aviation Administration have delayed the event, citing “a change in process associated with delivery of the first Foreign Military Sales customer aircraft”. However, Australian officials say they are confident the programme “remains comfortably within the scheduled need dates”.

 

Ten C-27Js will be operated by the Royal Australian Air Force’s 35 Sqn from Richmond air base near Sydney, New South Wales. Its second example is now being flight-tested from Turin, with another six aircraft in various stages of production and to be completed at roughly three-month intervals.

 

Selected in 2011, Australia's C-27Js will replace its retired de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribous. The first four aircraft are due to be flown to Richmond in early 2015, with initial operating capability scheduled for mid- to late-2016. Full operating capability should be declared by the end of 2017, following the delivery of all aircraft, a full flight simulator and a fuselage trainer.

 

Ahead of the type's introduction, the Australian DoD says it has signed an agreement with the Pentagon “to establish a training delivery contract with L-3 to enable commencement of training in the fourth quarter of 2014”.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 16:20
US Army leads development of improved coating for howitzer breech spindles

An M776 howitzer's corroded chrome-plated standard obturator spindle sits next to a newly plated production at the US Army Aberdeen test center in Maryland, US. Photo Conrad Johnson, RDECOM.

 

8 April 2014 army-technology.com

 

The US Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's (RDECOM) Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) is working on a project to identify, evaluate and implement an improved coating process for howitzer breech spindles.

 

Working in collaboration with the Product Manager Towed Artillery Systems (PM TAS), the ARDEC has shortlisted three new coating and application processes for further testing based on performance and cost. It had been evaluating 12 material formulations in small samples.

 

The selected processes include high power impulse magnetron sputtering from Sheffield Hallam University, accelerated plasma arc from Phygen Coatings, and electroless nickel plating.

 

The team had developed a list of ten primary metrics necessary for a new coating and application process, which included resistance to corrosion, mechanical wear and high temperatures.

 

In an effort to ensure that the coatings withstand the rigours of soldier use, the team has joined forces with the Aberdeen test center for live-fire testing on a howitzer range.

 

After the first round of firing, the spindle undergoes 30 days of weathering in a caustic and acidic propellant byproduct, called a swab water. This is to replicate potential combat conditions, and is followed by another round of firing and then a final weathering cycle.

 

ARDEC project technical lead and materials engineer Dr Christopher Mulligan said the new processes are vastly outperforming the legacy chrome electroplating in terms of corrosion and wear.

"The new technique will boost the howitzer performance, reduce the logistical burden on the soldier, and reduce environmental hazards."

 

The team has also identified and funded a newly developed chemical vapour deposition type coating known as Carbonyl from Canada, and is planning to start testing over the next few months.

 

A final decision is expected to be made within 90 days of the completion of testing of all processes, with an aim for a production-ready coating within six months to a year.

 

The new technique will boost the howitzer performance, reduce the logistical burden on the soldier, and reduce environmental hazards. According to Mulligan, it will save the government more than $2m each year.

 

The evaluation of foreign processes and materials is being funded through the foreign comparative testing (FCT) programme.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 16:20
Les trois versions différentes du F-35 - photo  Lockheed Martin

Les trois versions différentes du F-35 - photo Lockheed Martin

 

07/04/2014 par François Julian – Air & Cosmos

 

C'est inédit dans l'histoire du F-35 de Lockheed Martin : le coût total du programme Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aurait baissé l'an dernier, si l'on en croit les estimations du GAO, la cour des comptes américaine. Selon un rapport publié récemment, le coût de revient du F-35, pour le contribuable américain, serait passé de 343,8 Md$ pour l'année fiscale 2013, à 332,3 Md$ pour l'année fiscale en cours. Ces montants incluent la mise au point des trois versions du F-35 et l'acquisition de 2443 machines de série, pour les besoins de l'US Air Force, l'US Navy et les Marines.

 

Le GAO ne détaille pas avec précision ce calcul, ni la raison de cette baisse de coût. Pour autant, il semble que cela soit le résultat de la restructuration du programme entamée en 2012, visant à rationaliser l'ensemble des coûts, à la fois de développement et de production.

 

Dans rapport séparé, le GAO donne également une estimation du cout unitaire de chacune des versions de l'avion. Le prix du F-35A (version conventionnelle) est évalué à 124,8 M€, celui du F-35B (version à décollage court et atterrissage vertical) est de 156,8 M$, et celui du F-35C (version embarquée) est de 142,6 M$. A l'horizon 2019, il est prévu de faire baisser le prix du F-35A aux alentours de 80 M$, celui du F-35B à un peu moins de 110 M$ et celui du F-35C à environ 90 M$.

 

Le GAO maintient tout de même l'alerte sur le programme F-35  : si ce dernier ne connait plus de dérapage budgétaire et calendaire, l'inquiétude demeure sur l'avancement de la mise au point du logiciel faisant fonctionner l’avionique de bord. De même, il n'est pas impossible que le programme JSF ait à subir des coupes budgétaires, le Pentagone ayant sur le bras d'autres programmes d'aéronefs très couteux, comme par exemple le ravitailleurs KC-46A ou bien encore le très mystérieux nouveau bombardier LRS-B.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 16:20
US Global Strike Command Issues Master Plan

 

April 7, 2014 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: US Air Force Global Strike Command; issued April 7, 2014)

 

AFGSC Releases 2014 Strategic Master Plan



BARKSDALE AFB, La. --- Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, recently approved the Air Force Global Strike Command Strategic Master Plan for 2014.

The objective of the plan is to provide AFGSC Airmen with a roadmap to capture the command's priorities, Wilson said.

The plan is designed to "capture my priorities and guidance for the command," he added, and provides a framework for progression with the presentation, employment, sustainment and modernization of global strike capabilities.

Additionally, the SMP is the primary means by which the AFGSC commander communicates his strategic vision and priorities to the command to support the President and the combatant commanders.

"The SMP reminds us of our enduring mission, vision and command values," Wilson said. "It also reviews the current context of that mission - our strategic environment, to include threats and challenges. Finally, it captures my priorities for the command as we move forward."

Those priorities include:
-- Deter and assure with a safe, secure, and effective nuclear force
-- Win the current fight around the globe
-- Continue to strengthen and empower the team
-- Shape the future

Wilson told Airmen that the SMP was designed to provide general strategic direction for the command, and is designed for every Airman in AFGSC.

"It is only a framework - your energetic and disciplined effort will provide the specifics to realize the command priorities, and to accomplish our mission to provide safe, secure, and effective forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations in support of the President and our combatant commanders," Wilson said. "As a team, I am confident that we will meet that challenge."

Airmen who would like to read the Strategic Master Plan can read it here.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 11:35
US outlines possible $98 million South Korean Sidewinder deal

 

 

Apr 08, 2014 by Greg Waldron – FG

 

Singapore - The US State Department has notified congress of a possible sale of 76 Raytheon AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II infrared (IR) homing missiles.

 

The proposed $98 million Foreign Military Sales deal also includes captive air training missiles, other equipment, and training associated with the weapons, said the US Defense Security Agency in a statement.

 

“The ROK intends to use these AIM-9X missiles to supplement its existing missile capability and current weapon inventory,” says the DSCA.

 

“This sale will contribute to the Republic of Korea’s force modernization goals and enhance interoperability with U.S. forces. The ROK will use this enhanced capability to strengthen its homeland defense and deter regional threats.”

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 11:35
China: The Pundits Of War Are Unleashed

 

 

April 8, 2014: Strategy Page

 

China watched, and supported the recent Russian operation to take the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine with great interest. The land grab had a bracing effect on the other countries that, until 1991, were part of the ancient Russian Empire. The Crimean operation was the second such land grab Russia has undertaken in the last five years. The first was against tiny Georgia in 2008. Many of these former Russian subjects feel that the Russians are trying to get their empire back. Ask many Russians that question and most agree that it would be a nice thing. Some Russians are more outspoken and bluntly call for the empire to be reassembled no matter what.  Poland and the Baltic States managed to join NATO after the Cold War ended and are hoping that the mutual defense terms of the NATO alliance will dissuade Russia. Nevertheless all four, plus Finland, have increased their military readiness this year and are seeking assurances from the West that they will have help against Russia. Many Finns have called for Finland to join NATO, but a large minority has opposed this because of the fear it would anger the Russians. There was a similar division in Ukraine but now more Finns are thinking that NATO membership is preferable to trusting Russia to always behave. Even Sweden, never part of the Russian empire and successfully neutral since the early 19th century is thinking about joining NATO for protection from an increasingly aggressive Russia.

 

China sees an opportunity here. That’s because the former Soviet stans of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) have another option; China. The stans have been very receptive to Chinese diplomatic and economic cooperation. This bothers Russia, but not to the extent that threats are being made, as was the case with the former imperial provinces to the west. The stans also have a problem with never having been democracies. When the Russians conquered them in the 19th century the local governments were monarchies or tribes. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, locals who were former Soviet officials held elections and manipulated the vote to get themselves elected "president for life." But many people in the Stans want clean government and democracy, as well as continued independence from Russia. China is no help with that because the Chinese prefer dictators. But China does offer more economic opportunities and protection from what happened ti Ukraine and Georgia.

 

Another reason for China to back Russia is the fact that China is also an empire trying to reclaim lost territories. That some of those territories are currently Russia’s Far East (areas bordering the Pacific) is not officially discussed in Russia or China but is no secret to many Russians and Chinese. That is a problem for another day as currently Russia and China support each other’s imperial ambitions (as in Ukraine and the South China Sea) and help each other out to deal with any associated problems, especially the UN or economic sanctions. China is also helping by putting economic pressure on Ukraine by suing Ukraine to cancel a $3 billion loan.  

 

Yet another reason China is watching this carefully is because China is violating an international maritime borders treaty it signed by claiming all of the South China Sea. What happens to Russia for violating the 1994 agreement to protect Ukrainian borders in return for Ukraine getting rid of its Cold War era nukes. Russia simply says the 1994 agreement does not apply and that attitude will influence what China does with its numerous offshore territorial disputes. Another problem with violating the 1994 agreement is the message it sends to states like Iran and North Korea. The message is that if you really want to keep invaders out you need nukes. Iranians believe the negotiations to limit Iranian nuclear research and development are an effort to block Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Most Iranians see nukes as a necessity for maintaining Iranian dominance in the region. Iran has been the regional superpower for thousands of years. Once you get a taste of superpower status, it’s a hard thing to put behind you.

 

Russia and China are using nationalism, in this case the promise of the restoration of lost imperial territories, to distract the population from the corruption and mismanagement of their government officials. This is an ancient political technique that depends on near-total control of information available to their populations. The Internet threatens that and this is a new risk for those planning to build and maintain an empire. That’s because empires are costly and inefficient. Britain realized that by the 1940s and that’s the main reason they got rid of theirs so quickly after 1945 and why the United States never took advantage of its power to create one. But the allure of empire remains, sort of as the ultimate luxury a state can indulge. Again, the Internet spreads the bad news about the real cause, and effect of empire. China tries to cope with this by concentrating on imperial ambitions (natural resource rights from the ownership of uninhabited rocks and reefs in the South China Sea and elsewhere off the coast) that have some practical appeal. When empires involve conquered people the cost goes way up, as the Chinese are rediscovering in their northwest (Turks) and southwest (Tibetans). A growing number of Russians and Chinese are aware of these angles and are not happy about it. But both Russia and China are still police states with state-controlled media. Holding anti-government opinions is dangerous, especially if you express these traitorous thoughts in public.

 

To expand their empire as cheaply as possible China is relying a bullying, not battles. So in the last year the Chinese Coast Guard has received over a dozen new patrol ships. These are vessels of from 1,000-3,000 tons displacement with relatively small crews but lots of storage space and not many weapons. Coast guard ships are not usually heavily armed but the Chinese ships are increasingly being seen equipped with water cannon, extra searchlights and equipment for grappling with other ships. These tools are used to interfere with foreign fishing ships and transports that go to parts of the South China Sea that China has declared Chinese territory (even though other nations have a stronger legal claim). Using water cannon, bright searchlights (to blind the crews of other ships) and aggressive maneuvering (to include grappling with smaller foreign ships and forcibly moving them) the foreign ships can be “persuaded” to back off. The Chinese coast guard vessels will also use these tactics against foreign warships and if the foreigners shoot back the Chinese can declare themselves the victims of an unprovoked attack and call in more fire power.

 

The Chinese are also preparing for the possibility that the victims of this bullying might shoot back. Thus it was not surprising that Chinese Army WZ-10 helicopter gunships have been seen practicing operating from LST type amphibious ships, which have a landing pad similar in size to that found on larger Coast Guard patrol ships. The seven ton Z-10 is smaller than the 10 ton American AH-64 and also has a crew of two. The Z-10 is armed with 30mm autocannon and can carry up to a ton of rockets or missiles. This gives China immediate backup if the Coast Guard harassment tactics fail and additional firepower is needed in a hurry. Then again, a helicopter gunship coming off the back of a Coast Guard cutter can be pretty scary if you aren’t expecting it.

 

China is carrying out its military buildup with Chinese made weapons. One benefit of that is that is provides yet another export. Over the last five years China has displaced France as the fourth largest arms exporter in the world. While Russia had a record year for arms exports in 2013, moving $13.2 billion worth of weapons, military equipment and defense services, those sales are increasingly threatened by more rapidly growing exports from China. Russian officials admitted that they did not expect to increase weapons sales over the next few years, largely because arms sales worldwide, both for export and domestic consumption is shrinking. Currently about half of Russian sales are aircraft (jets and helicopters) and 25 percent are anti-aircraft systems. Russia still gets orders because they are cheaper than Western stuff, and nearly as good. What the Russians were less willing to discuss was the growing competition from China.

 

Some areas of the Chinese military buildup are for protecting China from internal threats. Thus China is now training police to be hackers. Not just imparting defensive skills, but training selected cops to launch attacks. It’s unclear what this is for although it’s most likely related to the growing incidence of Internet based criminal activity inside China. Apparently several units of police Cyber War experts are being organized. Some will probably be dedicated to helping Chinese firms and local governments improve their network security, but at least one of these new organizations will have an offensive capability, probably for harassing groups perceived as internal (foreign or Chinese) enemies of China.

 

There are more serious internal threats that police hackers won’t help solve. China is suffering from some catastrophic long-term problems that gets little attention in the news but are nevertheless very real and unavoidable. For example, there are several disastrous demographic problems approaching. This began in the late 1970s when, to control population growth most couples were restricted to only one child. This has been widely enforced, to the point where the average number of children per couple has been 1.7. But many of those couples aborted a child if it was a female, because much more importance is attached to having a male heir. Thus there are 35 million more males than females, and the number is growing. These surplus males are coming of age, and the competition for wives is causing problems. Women are taking advantage of their scarcity, but men are also going to neighboring countries to buy, or even kidnap, young women to be wives. This is causing ill will with neighbors.

 

The biggest problem, though, is the growing shortage of workers. As the population ages, all those one child families means there will be more elderly than the economy can effectively support. Currently there are 11 working age Chinese for every retiree. By 2050, there will only be two for each retiree. At that point, retirees will comprise 30 percent of the population (versus 13 percent now.) Traditionally, children cared for their parents in multi-generation households. That model is dying out, and China is faced with huge pension cost increases at the same time they expect their economy to be the mightiest on the planet. But at that point, the largest single government expense will be the care of the elderly, and this will impose crushing taxes on those of working age. Many working age Chinese are worried about this, for there is no easy solution in sight. China can relax the one-child policy, which it is apparently doing, but the newly affluent Chinese are less eager than earlier generations to have a lot of kids. To make matters worse there is not much in the way of pensions or health care for most of the elderly to begin with. The government recognizes this is a real problem but does not, and will not have the cash to deal with it.

 

Then there is corruption, which has been a problem for thousands of years. The Chinese government continues to proclaim its aggressive efforts against corruption. In 2013 the government said that it investigated 150,000 corruption cases and recovered over $8 billion. Most Chinese still encounter corruption daily and don’t really get the impression that the government is making a serious dent in the problem. The bigger crooks still seem to get away with it while the little guys get punished. The anti-corruption effort is not the only government program that is underperforming. The Internet censors have failed to keep out all the bad news about the Chinese economy that the government would rather not be publicized. This is mainly about the faltering growth rate (down from ten percent or more to seven percent a year or less since 2008).

 

China also has problems with popular sentiments that contradict official policy. Case in point is the growing anger over pollution. This is the result of three decades of rapid economic growth and a culture of corruption that allowed the pollution to grow and the government to keep it out of the news. But eventually people noticed and have been increasingly open and direct in demanding some action to deal with it. So in late 2013 the government responded in a way no one expected; pollution data was declared public data and all government organizations and businesses were ordered to make their pollution data public. Not everyone is complying but given the growing boldness of angry citizens and availability of pollution monitoring equipment, any cheaters are vulnerable to getting caught and then exposed to a public shaming on the Internet. For commercial firms this can mean lost business. For government officials this can mean more scrutiny than corrupt bureaucrats are comfortable with. With this new openness policy the government is making itself less unpopular and harnessing the power of the anti-pollution groups (who represent most of the population) for a joint effort in dealing with the dirty air and water.

 

Senior Chinese leaders are becoming increasingly bold in dealing with popular discontent, aware that throughout Chinese history such discontent often led to popular uprisings that brought down dynasties and made life very unpleasant for those in charge. Many of the lower ranking bureaucrats are less concerned with this as they are more interested in stealing as much as they can while they have the opportunities. But if decisions at the top can make this more difficult to do, then there will be less corruption and bad behavior by officials. The most senior people are making moves like this because they understand that they do not “rule” China as much as they preside over a huge bureaucracy which resists unpopular orders and is more responsive when the senior leadership makes decisions that simply put more pressure on bureaucrats to behave.

 

The other item the government wants kept out of the news is the problem in the banking system and how decades of corruption there are catching up with the government ability to keep the plundering and manipulation from crippling the economy. The fact of the matter is that there are a lot of zombie banks operating, that were essentially bankrupted by uncollectable debts (the corruption angle) that the government cannot cover for. There is also the property bubble, caused by all the building loans banks issued for stuff that is still unsold. This has caused growing downward pressure on property prices, which is lowering the net worth of a lot of Chinese. More and more Chinese (especially business owners and executives) are asking important questions about all this but the government would rather not discuss the issues.

 

The international financial community is getting nervous about the Chinese government’s ability to deal with this uniquely Chinese financial bubble. While in the West the usual bubble is one based on real estate or stock market speculation, in China there is a less well known bubble involving an unofficial banking system that provided loans to highly speculative (and often, by Chinese standards, illegal) undertakings. These “shadow banks” were also very corrupt, doling out bribes and fees to corrupt businesspeople and government officials. The problem is that all this off-the-books financial mischief has got its hooks into legitimate assets (as collateral or a source of cash to keep operating or expand). The number of bad loans (that are not, and probably never will be repaid) has been growing and that is threatening to reduce the cash the official banks have free to keep the economy going. If the government mishandles this mess the Chinese economy could suffer widespread bankruptcies and high unemployment. It could take several years to recover and during that time there could be a popular uprising. A dip in the Chinese economy (at $8 trillion second only to the American $14 trillion) would ripple throughout the global economy. It would be 2008 all over again, but possibly worse. So it’s not just China’s problem.

 

That economic growth has been good to the military. The Chinese defense budget increased again this year by over ten percent to $132 billion. Some U.S. intelligence analysts believe the real defense spending is now closer to $200 billion. Like other communist nations the Chinese keep a lot of military stuff outside the defense budget, so their actual defense spending is much higher. Official Chinese defense spending has more than doubled in the last decade. This has triggered an arms race with its neighbors. Russia is in the midst of a new military upgrade program that would increase defense spending by a third and devote over 700 billion dollars into the next decade to buying new equipment. Japan, already possessing the most modern armed forces in the region, is increasing spending to maintain their qualitative edge. A decade ago China and Japan spent about the same on defense, but now China spends more than three times as much. Even India is alarmed. Spending only a third of what China does, the Indian generals and admirals are demanding more money to cope. India and China are actually devoting a lot of their additional spending to just bringing their troops up to date. Both nations have lots of gear that was new in the 1960s and 1970s. They don't expect to be as up-to-date as the U.S., which spends over $500 billion a year, but there's plenty of newer, much better, and often quite inexpensive equipment to be had.

 

China insists that its growing military power is for defense only. That makes sense, as a lot of money is going into the navy, which protects the imports (mainly of food and raw materials) and exports (of manufactured goods) that are driving the unprecedented economic growth. The Chinese try to explain away the military buildup opposite Taiwan as political theater. This may be true, for a failed attempt to take Taiwan by force would not only disrupt the economy (and create a lot of unhappy Chinese) but would be a major failure by the government. Dictatorships cannot survive too many such failures, or too many angry citizens. So it makes sense that the Chinese military growth is largely for defense. But those large defensive forces can also be used to bully or intimidate neighbors, which is what the neighbors are worried about.

 

Despite the official Chinese line that the growing military is only for defense, the government also maintains a list of approved (as pundits for electronic media and books) retired generals and admirals who will say things that the government approves of but does not want to openly and officially discuss. This often involves the possibility 0f war with various potential enemies. For over a decade these guys have talked about the coming war with the United States. Now they are talking about the “inevitable” war with Japan over territorial disputes and lingering Chinese anger for all the damage Japan did to China during World War II.

 

April 7, 2014: Responding to Japanese concerns about the growing ballistic missile threat from North Korea and China, the U.S. agreed to send two more Aegis ballistic missile defense ships to Japan. These Burke class destroyers will arrive by 2017 and be based in Japan.

 

April 5, 2014: China has made it clear (and rather public) to Pakistan that massive (and much needed) Chinese investment is contingent on keeping the Islamic terrorist violence away from these Chinese financed (and often Chinese run) projects. The government is taking extraordinary measures to provide the security the Chinese demand but time will tell if it is adequate.

 

April 4, 2014: After two years of negotiations India and Israel have agreed to a deal where Israeli defense firms will work with DRDO (the Indian Defense Research and Development Organization) and several state-owned defense firms to design and build an integrated anti-missile defense system. India already has a tested and proven anti-missile ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) but wants something like the anti-missile system Israel has developed and deployed over the last two decades. This new arrangement implies that Israel is willing to share some of its ABM technology (among the best in the world) with India to provide some defense against Chinese and Pakistani nuclear missiles.

 

April 1, 2014:  Japan has overturned its long-time (since World War II) ban on exporting weapons. This makes it possible for Japan to equip other members of the growing anti-Chinese coalition with the most modern weapons. Japan is immune to Chinese threats of economic retaliation, which is what China usually employs to keep its neighbors from getting modern weapons from Europe or the United States.  

 

March 31, 2014: This month China commissioned the first of twelve Type 052D destroyers. This was no surprise because in late 2013 this ship was seen on sea trials in the East China Sea. This new destroyer design appears very similar to the American Aegis equipped destroyers (especially the Burke Class). Five more 52Ds are under construction and one of them is ready for sea trials. China plans to build at least twelve. The development of the 52Ds was a deliberate, and apparently successful, effort to considerably close the quality gap between American and Chinese destroyers and do it quickly.

 

Talks between North Korea and Japan and hosted by China ended on a positive note with North Korea agreeing to actually talk about kidnapped Japanese in future sessions. These were the first such talks since 2009. Actually there was some contact in 2012 in Mongolia between Red Cross officials from both countries. Then, as now, the main topic was Japanese citizens that North Korean agents kidnapped 13 Japanese in the 1970s and 80s. The talks in Mongolia produced nothing except an agreement to continue the process later with more senior officials. That was aborted when North Korea announced the resumption of long range missile tests at the end of 2013. Obtaining more information on these kidnapping victims is a big issue in Japan, but North Korea has never been eager to release anything, other than the fact that the kidnapping program did exist. Japan refuses to resume foreign aid, which North Korea needs, until the questions about the kidnapping program are answered. This has become a big issue in Japanese politics but the North Koreans refuse to cooperate. Now North Korea says it is willing to talk about cooperating.

 

March 30, 2014: The government revealed that it had formally charged Gu Junshan, the former deputy head of logistics for the army of corruption and had already seized more than $20 million from him, friends and family members. All this began in 2012 when Gu Junshan was removed from his job and the government introduced new rules which forced senior military officers to disclose their personal financial details. It was later revealed that Gu Junshan had used numerous methods to enrich himself. This included taking bribes from suppliers and officers seeking jobs in logistics (where there were more opportunities to steal). Corruption in the military has been a problem in China for thousands of years. The communists thought they had cured it, but after they took control of China in the late 1940s the rot began to reappear. There have been several major efforts since then to keep the corruption from getting out of hand (and doing serious damage to combat capabilities). This latest public anti-corruption effort is an indicator that the government believes the generals and admirals are a little too corrupt. The investigation and prosecution of Gu Junshan indicates that the most senior military officers are not immune to justice. The government has also announced more anti-corruption inspections of military bases and those who work there. These are audits seeking to detect corrupt practices and find out who was responsible.

 

In Taiwan there have been growing public demonstrations against a proposed new law that would allow massive Chinese investment in Taiwan. For decades it has been the other way around. But allowing Chinese investors in is seen as a way for China to take over Taiwan by, literally, buying most of it. 

 

March 29, 2014: The Philippines defied a Chinese blockade of Second Thomas Reef and evaded a large Chinese coast guard ship that was literally blocking the approach of Filipino ships. China was angry at the Philippines because of the continued presence of eight Filipino marines on Second Thomas Reef. Today’s successful resupply mission leaves the marines well stocked. China says this is an intolerable affront to Chinese sovereignty. This sort of statement is how China warns victims that an attack is coming and the Philippines has asked the United States for some backup here. The U.S. responded by saying it supported peaceful resolution of this dispute. By that the Americans mean they want the Chinese to wait for the recent submission of the dispute to the Permanent Court of Arbitration. This could result in a legal decision by 2015 but China has indicated that it will not abide by any such ruling. Challenging such a decision exposes China to trade sanctions, which would stall economic growth and create a recession that could cause unrest. The Chinese leaders are eager to avoid that. A military assault on the Filipino LST would also create the risk of legal and economic backlash as well as the lesser risk of military escalation. The next step appears to be a tighter blockade of the Filipino garrison to starve them out. Chinese civilian and military ships blocked two earlier efforts by Filipino supply ships to deliver food and water to Second Thomas Reef and stationing more ships there to enforce the blockade might work. The supplies can and have been air dropped. Resupply by air is expensive and uncertain during bad weather. For the last year China has been increasing pressure on the Philippines to remove small detachments of sailors and marines stationed on nine islets and reefs in the Spratly Islands. In particular the Chinese want this detachment, stationed on a World War II era landing ship (the BRP Sierra Madre) removed. The Filipino navy deliberately grounded the LST on Second Thomas Reef in 1999 to provide a place for an observation team. In 2013 Chinese patrol ships came within nine kilometers of the LST, which China insists is there illegally. The Philippines warns China that it will resist any attempts to use force against the grounded ship. The initial response from China was constructing more buildings (on stilts) on nearby Mischief Reef (which is only 126 kilometers from the Philippines’ Palawan Island). Second Thomas Reef and nearby Reed Bank are 148 kilometers west of the Philippines (Palawan Island) and well within the Philippines’s EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). Although the EEZ is recognized by international law (and a treaty that China signed and uses to defend waters off its own coast) China says that does not apply here because all the islets in the South China Sea belong to China and there is no room for negotiation on that point.  Most countries in the region (except Japan, which would rather not dwell on this) note that this was how Japan behaved before World War II. Official U.S. policy is to try and get everyone to calm down and be less provocative. American P-3C maritime patrol aircraft regularly fly over the Spratly Islands and photograph Chinese installations and naval activities. This data is shared with the Philippines and perhaps others. China is the biggest offender in the Spratly Island disputes and shows no sign of slowing, or backing, down. Now China is warning the world that it is ready to escalate but is afraid that the world will call their bluff.

 

March 22, 2014: In the United States it was revealed that the United States had been hacking into one of China’s major computer hardware companies (Huawei Technologies) in order to secretly plant Cyber War software to be activated in wartime or to deal with any Chinese aggression. This was no surprise to the Chinese and revealing details enabled China to improve its Cyber War defenses.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 11:20
Boeing Updates Timing of C-17 Production Line Closure

 

 

Apr 7, 2014 ASDNews Source : The Boeing Company

 

Boeing [NYSE: BA] today adjusted slightly the timing for ending C-17 Globemaster III production and closing its Long Beach, Calif., C-17 final assembly facility after a successful two-decade production run of the world’s premier airlifter.

 

Based on current market trends and the timing of expected orders, Boeing anticipates completing C-17 production in mid-2015, an adjustment of approximately three months from an initial estimate of late 2015. The company announced plans to end C-17 production in September 2013.

 

Boeing expects inventory–related charges of approximately $50 million, which will be recorded in the first quarter, as a result of this announcement.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 11:20
Airbus Defense and Space Delivers 17th HC-144A Aircraft to USCG

 

 

Apr 7, 2014 ASDNews Source : Airbus Defense and Space

 

    HC-144A Ocean Sentry Continues as the Coast Guard's Primary Maritime Patrol Aircraft

 

Airbus Defense and Space, Inc. has delivered the 17th HC-144A Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft to the U.S. Coast Guard. The Ocean Sentry is based on the Airbus CN235 tactical airlifter with more than 235 currently in operation by 29 countries. This is the second of three HC-144A's planned for delivery this year.

 

The latest aircraft will join a fleet of 16 Ocean Sentries operating from Coast Guard Air Stations in Cape Cod, Mass.; Mobile, Ala.; and Miami. The Coast Guard is planning to stand up the fourth HC-144A air station in Corpus Christi, Texas, later this year.

 

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 11:20
Navy to Deploy Electromagnetic Railgun Aboard JHSV

 

 

Apr 7, 2014 ASDNews Source : US Navy

 

The U.S. Navy plans to install and test a prototype electromagnetic railgun aboard a joint high speed vessel in fiscal year 2016, the service announced today.

 

This test will mark the first time an electromagnetic railgun (EM railgun) has been demonstrated at sea, symbolizing a significant advance in naval combat.

 

EM railgun technology uses an electromagnetic force - known as the Lorenz Force - to rapidly accelerate and launch a projectile between two conductive rails. This guided projectile is launched at such high velocities that it can achieve greater ranges than conventional guns. It maintains enough kinetic energy that it doesn't require any kind of high explosive payload when it reaches its target.

 

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 11:20
Nucléaire: Washington suspend la coopération avec Moscou

 

MOSCOU, 8 avril - RIA Novosti

 

Washington compte suspendre sa coopération avec Moscou dans le cadre du programme de sécurité nucléaire Nunn-Lugar en raison de la crise ukrainienne, rapporte mardi le journal russe Kommersant citant Anne Harrington, responsable de la National Nuclear Security Administration.

"Nous avons suspendu tous les travaux concernant la protection physique des entreprises nucléaires en Russie. Pour le moment, entre 40 et 70% des équipements nécessaires y sont installées, mais nous sommes obligés de reporter la fin des travaux", a fait savoir Mme Harrington.

Lancé en 1991, le programme Nunn-Lugar prévoit l'octroi d'une assistance américaine aux ex-républiques soviétiques dans le domaine du démantèlement des armes nucléaires et chimiques. Le budget total du programme s'est élevé à 8,79 milliards de dollars, indique Kommersant.

En 2012, le ministère russe des Affaires étrangères a déclaré que les propositions de Washington concernant la prorogation du programme ne correspondaient pas aux intentions de Moscou. Les Etats-Unis se sont alors déclarés prêts à négocier sur ce sujet.

Les deux parties ont par la suite convenu de réformer le programme avant de conclure en juin 2013 un accord provisoire qui réduisait le nombre de projets communs russo-américains et limitait l'accès des inspecteurs US aux sites nucléaires.

Les pays ont néanmoins accepté de poursuivre leur coopération dans la sécurité des matières radioactives, la gestion de l'uranium enrichi et le stationnement des sous-marins nucléaires. Tous ces projets seront désormais suspendus.

Washington renonce notamment aux projets prévoyant le transfert du plutonium et de l'uranium hautement enrichi dans un dépôt unique ainsi que le déploiement de systèmes de protection dans les sites d'Oziorsk (Oural) et d'Arzamas-16 (Russie centrale).

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 11:20
Boeing to Provide Maintenance Training Devices for US Navy P-8A Poseidon

 

 

Apr 7, 2014 ASDNews Source : The Boeing Company

 

    Contract includes replica components and high-fidelity simulators

 

Boeing [NYSE: BA] will broaden its support for the U.S. Navy's fleet of Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft through a recent order for maintenance simulators.

 

The Navy plans to begin using six virtual trainers, one ordnance load trainer and 14 hardware-based devices to train P-8A maintenance personnel at Naval Air Station Jacksonville starting in 2016.

 

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 11:20
Remote Troops Closer to Having High-Speed Wireless Networks Mounted on UAVs


Apr 08, 2014  (SPX)

 

Washington DC - Missions in remote, forward operating locations often suffer from a lack of connectivity to tactical operation centers and access to valuable intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) data. The assets needed for long-range, high-bandwidth communications capabilities are often unavailable to lower echelons due to theater-wide mission priorities.

DARPA's Mobile Hotspots program aims to help overcome this challenge by developing a reliable, on-demand capability for establishing long-range, high-capacity reachback that is organic to tactical units.

The program is building and demonstrating a scalable, mobile millimeter-wave communications backhaul network mounted on small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and providing a 1 Gb/s capacity. DARPA performers recently completed the first of three phases in which they developed and tested key technologies to be integrated into a complete system and flight tested in subsequent phases.

"We're pleased with the technical achievements we've seen so far in steerable millimeter-wave antennas and millimeter-wave amplifier technology," said Dick Ridgway, DARPA program manager. "These successes-and the novel networking approaches needed to maintain these high-capacity links-are key to providing forward deployed units with the same high-capacity connectivity we all enjoy over our 4G cell-phone networks."

 

Phase 1 accomplishments include:

+ Smaller, steerable millimeter-wave antennas: During field testing, the program successfully demonstrated steerable, compact millimeter-wave antennas that rapidly acquire, track, and establish a communications link between moving platforms. Steerable millimeter-wave antennas will enable the formation of a high-capacity backhaul network between aerial and ground platforms.

+ Low-noise amplifiers: Performers also demonstrated an advanced low-noise amplifier (LNA), which boosts the desired communications signal while minimizing unwanted noise. The prototype achieved the record for the world's lowest noise millimeter-wave LNA at about half the noise figure of a typical LNA.

+ More efficient and capable power amplifiers: Efficient millimeter-wave amplification is required to achieve the long ranges (> 50 km) desired in the Mobile Hotspots program. During Phase 1, performers demonstrated output power exceeding 1 watt and 20% power added efficiency (PAE) from a single gallium nitride (GaN) chip operating at E-Band frequencies (71 GHz to 86 GHz). Output powers exceeding 20 watts and approaching 20% PAE were also achieved using power-combining techniques.

+ New approaches for robust airborne networking: Mobile ad-hoc networking approaches were developed to maintain the high-capacity backhaul network among mobile air and ground platforms. Phase 1 performers developed unique solutions to overcome connectivity and network topology challenges associated with mobility and signal blockages due to terrain and platform shadowing.

+ Low-Size, Weight, and Power (SWAP) pod design to carry it all: Performers created engineering designs for small, lightweight pods to be mounted on an RQ-7 Shadow UAV. The pods, with all of the Mobile Hotspots components inside, are designed to meet the challenging program goals of widths no more than 8 inches, weight less than 20 pounds, and power consumption less than 150 watts.

 

Phase 2 of the program began March 2014. Two performers, L-3 Communications and

FIRST RF, were chosen to lead teams comprising several Phase 1 performers. Phase 2 goals include the integration of the selected Phase 1 technologies into Shadow-compatible aerial pods and ground vehicles.

Phase 2 will conclude with a ground demonstration of at least four Shadow-compatible pods, two ground vehicles and a fixed ground node. A planned third phase will encompass field testing of the Mobile Hotspot systems on networks of multiple SRQ-7 Shadow UAVs and mobile ground vehicles.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 11:20
Blackhawks of 4th Sqdn, 6th Air Cav Regt

Blackhawks of 4th Sqdn, 6th Air Cav Regt

 

April 8, 2014: Strategy Page

 

Not surprisingly, for the country that pioneered the development and production of helicopters, American models comprise 48 percent of the military helicopters now in service. The most common, with 18 percent of the military market, is the S-70 (also known as the UH/SH/MH-60 Black Hawk) a ten ton transport that replaced the UH-1 (a 4.6 ton helicopter developed in the 1950s and was known as the “Huey” during the Vietnam War) in the 1980s. However the UH-1 still has 8 percent of the market and has been much upgraded and is no longer manufactured. But many firms specialize in refurbishing UH-1s and Huey will be around for a few decades more. The civilian version of the UH-1, the 5.3 ton Bell 212/412 has four percent of the military market and is still in production. The 22 ton CH-47 is a heavy transports (carrying up to ten tons) and has five percent of the market and the smaller (1.3 ton) OH-58 and MD500 are scout helicopters and each has four percent of the market. The 11 ton AH-64 has five percent of the market.

 

Mi-24 RAE 2013

Mi-24 RAE 2013

Russian Cold War era helicopters have 16 percent of the market. These include the 11 ton Mi-8/17 transport with 11 percent and the 12 ton Mi-24 gunship with five percent. The rest of the military helicopters are mainly European models although China and India are beginning to introduce their own designs.

 

The United States has the largest military helicopter fleet, with 30 percent of the world total. Russia is second with 5 percent followed by South Korea and China (4 percent each), Japan, India and France (3 percent each) and then Turkey, Germany and Italy with 2 percent each. By tonnage lift the U.S. has about half the world total because of its large number of heavier transports.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 07:51
Berlin Powerless to Challenge US Drone Operations At Ramstein Air Base

 

April 7, 2014 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: Deutsche Welle German radio; issued April 5, 2014)

 

The US Air Force base at Ramstein is reportedly a hub for coordinating Washington’s global drone war. Although the revelation has stirred controversy in Germany, Berlin has little political leeway to challenge the US.

 

Statements made by Brandon Bryant, a former drone pilot for the US Air Force, reveal that Germany plays a greater role in the US drone war than previously thought.

 

"The entire drone war of the US military wouldn't be possible without Germany," Bryant told German media. During his time in the US Air Force, Bryant flew more than 1,000 operations from the US.

 

The current debate centers around the US Ramstein Air Base in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. The pilot controlling the drones is in the US, but with the long distance between the operational area and the US, the data from the remote controlled drones is transmitted via satellite to Germany and then sent via fiber optic cable back to America. What's more, live pictures taken from the drone operations are analyzed in Germany and compared with intelligence.

 

For years the US has been using drones to fight terrorism in Africa, the Middle East and in the Pakistani-Afghan border region. Since 2004, the Investigative Bureau of Journalism estimates there have been 383 US drone strikes in the Pakistani-Afghan border region alone. At least 2,300 people have been killed, among them 416 civilians.

 

Foreign policy spokesperson for the Greens party, Omid Nouripour, called on the government to take action against the potential involvement of US air force bases stationed Germany in drone attacks.

 

"It is shameful that the German government simply closes its eyes to violations of international law on German territory," said Nouripour in an interview with the news agency DPA.

 

Legal grey area

 

But there are differing views on whether drone strikes violate international law. In many cases, the strikes are secret. The border regions, where the drone assaults take place, are often difficult to access even for the country's government.

 

Human rights organizations like Amnesty International accuse the US of violating international law. However, Washington sees itself in a cross-border war against terror – a conflict with al Qaeda and its allies, not particular countries. In such conflicts, persons directly involved in fighting are deemed legitimate targets. Therefore, the US argues, killing such a person would not violate international law.

 

"If the execution of drone attacks does not violate international law, it is not a problem," said Andreas Zimmermann, professor of international law at the University of Potsdam.

 

The deployment of US troops in Germany has been regulated since the 1950s with the NATO Status of Forces Agreement. Therefore "military forces and civilian personnel are allowed to take required measures for the satisfactory fulfillment of its defense obligations on the provided premises." And this applies to drone attacks according to US legal interpretation.

 

But even if Germany believed international law had been violated, it would be difficult for Berlin to take legal action. Jurisdiction lies with the US. The German government could terminate the Status of Forces agreement, said Zimmermann, "but that would be a huge political decision that would question the entire alliance."

 

Little political leeway

 

The German government could use political measures, says Zimmermann. "If there is evidence the US has violated international law on German territory, the German government could demand that the US stops these acts," he said.

 

But for that, the German government needs to know about it. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert outlined what is known at a media conference on Friday (04.04.2014):

 

"The US government has confirmed that such armed and remote aircrafts are not flown or controlled from US bases in Germany," he said.

 

The German government has never specifically asked Washington, giving America the opportunity to avoid the issue, said Marcel Dickow from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin.

 

The main question is "whether these operations would be possible without American technology based in Germany. And without the analysis, the risk assessment and the evaluation of whether it is a target person or not, the attacks would not be carried out," he said.

 

Apparently the German government intends to ask the US for more specific information relating to the drone program. Seibert has indicated the government will demand a statement from the US about the new allegations. Nevertheless, it is a politically delicate question.

 

"What do you do against an ally who possibly violates international law from your own territory?" asked Marcel Dickow. "The Americans are the most important strategic partner. You don't easily challenge such a partner, particularly when you use the same tools and values in the common war against international terrorism."

 

Not much more can be expected other than a protest behind closed doors.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 07:40
Ukraine: le recours à la force risque d'entraîner une guerre civile

 

 

08 avril 2014 Romandie.com (AFP)

 

MOSCOU - La Russie a appelé mardi les autorités ukrainiennes à cesser des préparatifs d'intervention dans les régions prorusses de l'Est, mettant en garde contre la perspective d'une guerre civile.

 

Le ministère russe des Affaires étrangères affirme aussi que des membres d'une société privée américaine participent à cette opération.

 

Nous appelons à cesser immédiatement tout préparatif militaire, qui risque de déclencher une guerre civile, a déclaré le ministère des Affaires étrangères dans un communiqué diffusé mardi, alors que la tension s'est brusquement aggravée depuis dimanche quand des manifestants prorusses se sont emparés de bâtiments officiels dans plusieurs villes de l'Est ukrainien.

 

Selon nos informations, des unités des forces de l'Intérieur et de la garde nationale ukrainienne affluent dans les régions du sud-est de l'Ukraine, notamment à Donetsk, avec des combattants du groupe armé illégal Pravy Sektor, un mouvement ultranationaliste ukrainien, déclare le ministère russe.

 

La tâche leur a été confiée d'écraser par la force la contestation des habitants du sud-est du pays contre la politique des autorités de Kiev, ajoute la diplomatie russe.

 

Le fait que participent à cette opération environ 150 spécialistes américains du groupe militaire privé Greystone, qui ont revêtu l'uniforme de l'unité (ukrainienne) Sokol suscite une inquiétude particulière, déclare le ministère des Affaires étrangères.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 07:30
Oman Air Force Continues F-16 Legacy

 

 

Apr 6, 2014 ASDNews Source : Lockheed Martin Corporation

 

The Sultanate of Oman accepted the first of its second order of Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] F-16 Fighting Falcons in a ceremony April 3 at Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth facility. The fighter aircraft will ferry to Oman later this year.

 

In 2002, the Sultanate of Oman became the 23rd member of the F-16 family and now joins the 15 other countries which have ordered additional F-16 jets for their air defense. The new F-16s will add to the Oman Air Force's existing fleet of F-16s used to defend Oman's borders.

 

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 07:30
photo USMC

photo USMC

 

7 April 2014 by Jon Hemmerdinger – FG

 

Washington DC - The US military continues talks with potential foreign buyers of Bell Boeing's V-22 Osprey as the service works to decrease the tiltrotor's costs.

 

US Marine Corps Col Daniel Robinson, manager of the V-22 joint programme office, tells reporters that the service is getting closer to securing a contract to sell V-22s to Israel, and says the military has a team of negotiators in that country working on a deal.

 

He adds that up to one dozen other countries have shown significant interest in the aircraft, but declines to specify those nations or say how close the military and Bell Boeing are to securing an order.

 

"Its definitely growing in demand," he says.

 

Robinson's comments, made during a press briefing at the Navy League's Sea-Air-Space Exposition near Washington, DC, on 7 April, follow an announcement in January that Israel requested permission from the US Defense Department to buy six V-22s.

 

Then, in February, at the Heli-Expo, Bell Helicopter chief executive John Garrison said Israel is now interested in acquiring a total of 12 aircraft, six of which would come from existing orders that are assigned to the Marine Corps.

 

Any order from Israel or another country would help Bell Boeing preserve V-22 sales beyond 2015 and could help keep production alive past 2019.

 

Robinson notes, however, that the production line has enough capacity in the next few years to handle some new aircraft orders.

 

Meanwhile, Robinson says the US military continues a rigorous effort to bring down the expense of V-22s, which currently have a flyaway cost of about $72.1 million, according the US Navy's recently-released fiscal year 2015 budget proposal.

 

Robinson notes that the V-22's cost per flight hour has dropped 25% since 2009 while its readiness has increased 20%.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 07:20
USNS Mispillion (T-AO-105) conducting an underway replenishment.

USNS Mispillion (T-AO-105) conducting an underway replenishment.

 

 

07 avril 2014 Romandie.com (AFP)

 

WASHINGTON - Après la voile et la vapeur, la Marine américaine pense avoir la pierre philosophale pour propulser ses navires: ses chercheurs ont réussi à transformer de l'eau de mer en carburant, espérant à terme s'affranchir de la dépendance au pétrole.

 

L'idée de départ est simple: les hydrocarbures sont composés de carbone et d'hydrogène, présents en grande quantité dans l'eau de mer. En capturant le dioxyde de carbone (CO2) et l'hydrogène contenus dans l'océan, il est possible de produire un kérosène de synthèse utilisable dans les moteurs de navires ou d'avions.

 

Les chercheurs du Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) ont démontré la viabilité du concept en parvenant à faire voler un modèle réduit d'avion avec du carburant produit à partir d'eau de mer.

 

C'est une étape énorme, se félicite le vice-amiral Philip Cullom, chef d'état-major adjoint de l'US Navy, qui cherche à se désengager de sa dépendance au pétrole et des variations de son prix.

 

Et la Marine est gourmande: en 2011, la Navy a consommé près de deux millions de tonnes de carburant. La transformation d'eau de mer en kérosène pourrait coûter à terme entre 3 et 6 dollars par gallon (3,8 litres), espère le NRL.

 

Après neuf ans de travail sur le sujet, Heather Willauer, une chimiste du NRL ne cache pas sa joie: pour la première fois, nous avons été capables de mettre au point une technologie pour capturer de façon simultanée le CO2 et l'hydrogène contenue dans l'eau de mer et d'en faire un carburant liquide, c'est une percée importante.

 

- Directement utilisable -

 

Le CO2 -dont la concentration est 140 fois plus importante dans l'océan que dans l'air- et l'hydrogène sont capturés par un processus d'électrolyse et ensuite liquéfiés et transformés en hydrocarbures.

 

Ce carburant a sensiblement la même apparence et la même odeur qu'un kérosène conventionnel, assure Heather Willauer. Surtout, le grand avantage, selon le vice-amiral Cullom, est qu'il est directement utilisable dans les moteurs de navires et d'avions actuels. Pas besoin donc de mettre au point de nouveaux moteurs.

 

La production de ce carburant ne s'effectue pour l'instant qu'en petites quantités en laboratoire. L'unité de production, dont les divers éléments sont disponibles dans le commerce, est installée sur une palette d'environ 1,5 mètre de côté. Pour passer à une quantité industrielle, il suffira de multiplier les unités de production.

 

Mais avant cela, en partenariat avec plusieurs universités, le laboratoire veut améliorer encore la quantité de CO2 et d'hydrogène capturés. Nous avons démontré la faisabilité, nous voulons améliorer l'efficacité, explique Mme Willauer.

 

Les implications de cette innovation sont prometteuses sur le plan stratégique car elles devraient permettre de raccourcir la chaîne logistique, un maillon faible dans chaque armée car plus facile à attaquer.

 

Dans la Marine, on ne va pas nécessairement à la station-service pour se ravitailler, c'est la station-service qui vient à nous par le biais d'un pétrolier ou d'un navire de ravitaillement, explique le vice-amiral Cullom. Les Etats-Unis disposent d'une flotte de 15 pétroliers-ravitailleurs militaires.

 

Seuls les porte-avions sont dotés d'une propulsion nucléaire. Tous les autres navires doivent fréquemment abandonner leur mission pendant quelques heures pour naviguer en parallèle avec le pétrolier le temps de faire le plein, une opération délicate, surtout par gros temps.

 

Mais les chercheurs préviennent: il faut encore compter dix ans au moins avant que les navires américains soient en mesure de produire à bord leur propre carburant.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 07:20
Boeing F/A-18E/F Advanced Super Hornet with upper conformal fuel tank.

Boeing F/A-18E/F Advanced Super Hornet with upper conformal fuel tank.

 

Apr.7, 2014– FG

 

The US Navy says it is pleased with results of recent flight tests of a Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet that had been upgraded with conformal fuel tanks and an external weapons pod -- a configuration Boeing calls the "Advanced Super Hornet."

 

Captain Frank Morley, F/A-18 programme manager for the USN, says on 7 April that the tests give lawmakers additional options as they consider whether to add orders for Super Hornets or A/E-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft to the US military's fiscal year 2015 budget.

 

"The measures we were able to get on signature reduction and flying quality were spot on predications," Morley tells reporters during a press briefing at the Navy League's Sea-Air-Space Exposition near Washington, DC. "It helps better inform decisions made through the budget bills and provides options as needed."

 

Conformal fuel tanks added to the upper fuselage of Super Hornets and belly-mounted external weapons pods are two primary upgrades that Boeing is pitching as its Advanced Super Hornet.

 

The Advanced model can also be improved with better engines, avionics and weapons systems, including an upgraded radar and improved infrared search-and-track abilities, Boeing has said.

 

The Advanced Super Hornet designation will be applied to new aircraft and existing aircraft that have been upgraded, Boeing has said.

 

The US government's fiscal year 2015 budget, which is currently working through Congress, does not include money for more Growlers or Super Hornets, but the USN expressed interest in additional aircraft by adding 22 Growlers to an unfunded list of priorities sent to lawmakers in recent weeks.

 

Morley says Growler's electronic jamming and other capabilities are critical to the "blue kill chain", the process by which friendly military forces identify, track, target and fire upon enemy forces. They are equally effective in disrupting the enemys ability to do the same against US forces, he adds.

 

"Given the environment we are [moving] into, that type of airplane plays a major role," Morley says. "You could use a lot of them. You could continue to [identify] places where they could [be of] benefit."

 

The USN intends to operate Super Hornets through the 2030s, Morley says.

 

Boeing has been seeking additional orders for Growlers or Super Hornets so as to keep its production line in St. Louis running.

 

Unless it receives more orders, the line will run out of aircraft to build by the end of 2016, Boeing has said.

 

If Congress adds 22 Growlers into next fiscal years spending bill, the line would continue running until the end of 2017, Mike Gibbons, Boeing's vice president of the F/A-18 programme, says during the press conference.

 

Gibbons adds that Growlers are the only aircraft that provide a broad spectrum of electronic protection, allowing fighters and other aircraft to penetrate enemy airspace that is guarded by multiple layers of electronic defence.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 07:20
Navy to Test F-35C on Carrier This Fall

 

April 7, 2014 by Brendan McGarry defensetech.org
 

The U.S. Navy for the first time will begin testing its version of the F-35 fighter jet from an aircraft carrier this fall, according to the No. 2 official in charge of the program.

Rear Adm. Randy Mahr, deputy director of the Defense Department’s Joint Strike Fighter program, didn’t specify a date or ship for the upcoming evaluations. But he spoke confidently of the planned milestone for the F-35C, the Navy variant designed for taking off from and landing on carriers.

“It’s going to be the year of the F-35C,” he said during a briefing at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space conference on Monday in National Harbor, Md.

Mahr acknowledged hardware and software problems that have plagued the three versions of the aircraft being developed by Lockheed Martin Corp., from a tailhook that didn’t catch the arresting cable to a bulkhead that cracks to logistics software that improperly grounded jets. In February, the program office discovered that an engine fan blade “came apart” into pieces, he said.

But the issues have either been resolved or are in the process of being fixed and won’t threaten the Marine Corps’ plans to begin in July 2015 operational flights of the F-35B, Mahr said. That version is designed for short takeoffs and vertical landings, meaning it can fly like a plane and land like a helicopter.

Corps leaders last week hinted to lawmakers that the aircraft may not meet that date.

“We are tentatively behind schedule,” Gen. John Paxton, the assistant commandant, told lawmakers during an April 2 hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Seapower. “The IOC is forecasted for July 2015,” Paxton added, referring to the date for initial operational capability. “We have every expectation that could be delayed by several months. It will continue to be conditions based.”

Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck, who heads up the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, also said at the hearing that the Corps would not declare IOC until the software is developed to meet the requirements of the service.

The Government Accountability Office, known as the investigative arm of Congress, in a March 24 report cited an assessment made by the Pentagon’s own director of operational test and evaluation that software problems could delay delivery of the aircraft’s most advanced technology by 13 months.

When asked specifically about F-35B operational flights, Mahr said, “the Marines have not expressed any concerns at all about the IOC in 2015.”

The F-35B operational flights will rely on a less robust version of software, known as 2B, designed to provide basic close-air support and fire such weapons as the Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile, or AMRAAM, and Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM. Both weapons have been successfully test-fired from the aircraft, Mahr said.

“We expect to be able to show that that software is ready to deploy,” he said, adding that two more software upgrades, or “drops,” are scheduled for the next two months.

Mahr acknowledged “some challenges” with the more robust version of software, known as 3F and designed to provide the full suite of war-fighting technology, which is scheduled for delivery in 2017.

“We think we have four to six months of risk on that end,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to meet that date.”

The program office has also made improvements to the Autonomic Logistics Information System, or ALIS (pronounced “Alice”), which determines whether the plane is safe to fly. A recent software upgrade to the system has drastically shortened the time it takes maintainers to load a webpage, to about 30 seconds from about five minutes, Mahr said.

 
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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 07:20
USAF Releases Outllook for Remotely-Piloted Aircraft

 

 

April 07, 2014 defense-unmanned.com

(Source: US Air Force; issue April 04, 2014)

 

Future Outlook Released for Remotely Piloted Aircraft

 

WASHINGTON --- Air Force leaders outlined what the next 25 years for remotely piloted aircraft will look like in the RPA Vector, published April 4.

“The RPA Vector is the Air Force’s vision for the next 25 years for remotely-piloted aircraft,” said Col. Kenneth Callahan, the RPA capabilities division director. “It shows the current state of the program, the great advances of where we have been and the vision of where we are going.”

The goal for the vector on the operational side is to continue the legacy Airmen created in the RPA field. The vector is also designed to expand upon leaps in technology and changes the Airmen have made through the early years of the program.

“The Airmen have made it all about supporting the men and women on the ground,” Callahan said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them for their own advances in technology to expand the program, making it a top platform.”

The document gives private corporations an outlook on the capabilities the Air Force wants to have in the future, ranging from creation of new RPAs to possibilities of automated refueling systems.

“There is so much more that can be done with RPAs,” said Col. Sean Harrington, an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance command and control requirements chief. “Their roles (RPAs) within the Air Force are evolving. We have been able to modify RPAs as a plug-and-play capability while looking to expand those opportunities.”

In recent years, RPAs not only supported the warfighter on the ground, they also played a vital role in humanitarian missions around the world. They provided real time imagery and video after the earthquake that led to a tsunami in Japan in 2011 and the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, according to Callahan.

Then, most recently, during the California Rim Fire in August 2013, more than 160,000 acres of land were destroyed. Though this loss was significant, it was substantially decreased by the support of the California Air National Guard’s 163rd Reconnaissance Wing, with support from an MQ-1 Predator, a remotely piloted aircraft.

With this vector, technologies may be created to improve those capabilities while supporting different humanitarian efforts, allowing the Air Force to support natural disaster events more effectively and timely.

The future of the Air Force’s RPA programs will be continuously evolving, to allow the Air Force to be the leader in Air, Space, and Cyberspace.

“We already combine our air, space and cyber forces to maximize these enduring contributions, but the way we execute must continually evolve as we strive to increase our asymmetric advantage,” said Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of staff. “Our Airmen's ability to rethink the battle while incorporating new technologies will improve the varied ways our Air Force accomplishes its missions.”


For more information and to view the remotely piloted aircraft vector (101 PDF pages) click here.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 07:20
US Army Rejects GD's Vehicle Protest; Company Mulls Further Action

General Dynamics will have to decide whether to pursue a more formal protest regarding the fairness of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle program. (US Army)

 

Apr. 7, 2014 - By PAUL MCLEARY – Defense News

 

WASHINGTON — The April 4 rejection by US Army Materiel Command of a General Dynamics Land Systems protest disputing the fairness of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) competition puts the ball squarely back into GD’s court, which has the option of lodging a more formal protest with the Government Accountability Office — a move that would halt all work on the program for weeks or even months.

 

On Feb. 14, GD filed a protest contending “the AMPV solicitation provides a competitive advantage” to competitor BAE Systems, since BAE “has years of Army test and performance data” on the M113 personnel carrier, which the competition has been launched to replace.

 

“In our view, the AMPV procurement process is not consistent with the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984, requiring a “full and open competition,” the company said in a statement.

 

These statements could indicate the company will file a protest with the GAO during the 10-day window that began when the initial protest was denied on April 4.

 

At issue is the fact that the Army wants competitors to incorporate parts from the Bradley fighting vehicle and the M113 in their AMPV designs, both of which are made by BAE. General Dynamics contends that it doesn’t have all of the relevant historical information on those parts to fully compete. The company has long said that it would submit a version of its eight-wheeled Stryker vehicle, of which the Army currently fields nine full brigades and a smaller Special Operations contingent.

 

BAE launched its own salvo on Friday afternoon, saying that it “is pleased” at the decision and that “cost savings, political expediency and business reasons do not justify putting soldiers’ lives at risk. The Army has had this solicitation in the works for two years and has adjusted requirements based on industry feedback to accommodate the broadest number of competitive offerings possible.”

 

On April 3, 10 members of Congress wrote a letter to the Pentagon’s top weapons tester, Frank Kendall, urging the Army to rewrite the five-month-old request for proposals. The lawmakers wrote that the Army should rework the program with a view toward “allowing for a mixed fleet of both track and wheeled vehicles” to meet the requirements for the competition.

 

In other words, the Army should split up the buy for 3,000 AMPVs between Stryker and Bradley variants.

 

The lawmakers also outlined the core reason for GD’s protests: the dearth of new ground vehicle programs in the Army’s near-term future.

 

“Given the intensely restrictive budget requirement the Army faces, the AMPV might be the only new vehicle entering the fleet for decades,” they wrote.

 

Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, who represents the district that houses the Red River Army Depot — and its 4,500 jobs — which performs a great deal of work on Bradleys, issued a statement on Friday applauding the decision.

 

“No current vehicles meet the survivability, mobility, and reliability upgrades outlined in the Army’s competitive bid,” he wrote. The program “cannot be delayed a year or more by rehashing the multi-year bidding process.”

 

On March 4, Hall sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel pitching BAE’s AMPV bid as good for the local economy, saying that “if BAE Systems is awarded the contract, jobs will be protected at Red River Army Depot and additional jobs could be added.”

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