Mike Fabey and Kris Osborn report: The U.S. Navy is moving at warp speed to develop lasers with more lethality, precision and power sources as a way to destroy attacking missiles, drones aircraft and other threats.
“We’re doing a lot more with lasers,” Rear Adm. Ronald Boxall, director, Surface Warfare Division, said earlier this month at the annual Surface Naval Association national symposium.
The Navy plans to fire a 150-kw weapon off a test ship within a year, he said. “Then a year later, we’ll have that on a carrier or a destroyer or both.”
And the kind of power needed to power such a weapon won’t come with a simple flip of a switch.
“The Navy will be looking at ships’ servers to provide three times that much power,” says Donald Klick, director of business development, for DRS Power and Control Technologies. “To be putting out 150 kws, they (the laser systems) will be consuming 450 kws.”
That is more than most currently operational ships are designed to accommodate, at least when they are conducting other tasks. “Few power systems onboard ships can support sustained usage of a high-powered laser without additional energy storage,” noted a recent Naval Postgraduate School paper titled “Power Systems and Energy Storage Modeling for Directed Energy Weapons”.
The paper said, “The new DDG-1000 may have enough electrical energy, but other platforms … may require some type of ‘energy magazine.’ This magazine stores energy for on-demand usage by the laser. It can be made up of batteries, capacitors, or flywheels, and would recharge between laser pulses. The energy magazine should allow for sustained usage against a swarm of targets in an engagement lasting up to twenty minutes.
The DDG 1000 is built with what’s called a total ship computing environment, meaning software and blade servers manage not just the weapons systems on the ship but also handle the radar and fire control software and various logistical items such as water, fuel, oil and power for the ship, industry officials said.
The ship’s integrated power system, which includes its electric propulsion, helps generate up to 78 megawatts of on-board electrical power, something seen as key to the future when it comes to ship technologies and the application of anticipated future weapons systems such as laser weapons and rail guns. The ship’s electric drive uses two main turbine generations with two auxiliary turbine generators which power up two 35-megawatt advanced induction motors, developers explained.
Ideally, it would charge up as fast as it discharges, allowing for indefinite use (as long as there is ship’s fuel to expend). Low maintenance, high safety, and long lifespan are other desirable characteristics.
DRS Power and Control Technologies is one of the companies which is developing a specialized energy source. “We have enough for well over 100 shots before we go to recharge,” DRS’s Klick said during a break at SNA, pointing out there’s even a mode for continuous recharge. “If you’ve got power this kind of power, you don’t go Winchester.” Read the rest of this entry »
North Korea Able to Launch Nuclear Warhead on Missile, US Military Official Warns, But Controlling it? Not So MuchPosted: December 11, 2016
WASHINGTON — North Korea now has the capability to launch a nuclear weapon, a senior U.S. military official said Thursday, adding that while the U.S. believes Pyongyang can mount a warhead on a missile, it’s not clear that it can hit a target.
“It is the threat that keeps me awake at night, primarily because we don’t know what the dear leader in North Korea really is after. Truthfully, they have the capability, right now, to be able to deliver a nuclear weapon. They’re just not sure about re-entry and that’s why they continue to test their systems.”
The official said it appears that North Korea can mount a nuclear warhead on a missile, but may not have the re-entry capabilities for a strategic strike. That would include the ability of the weapon to get back through the atmosphere without burning up and the ability to hit the intended target. The official said North Korea continues to try and overcome those limitations.
The Pentagon continues to revise itscontingency plans regarding a North Korean strike, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity. The military routinely develops plans for all threat possibilities.
“It is the threat that keeps me awake at night,” the official said, “primarily because we don’t know what the dear leader in North Korea really is after. Truthfully, they have the capability, right now, to be able to deliver a nuclear weapon. They’re just not sure about re-entry and that’s why they continue to test their systems.”
U.S. officials have steadily expanded their assessments of Pyongyang’s nuclear abilities. Adm. William Gortney, then-head of U.S. Northern Command, said in March that Pyongyang may have figured out how to make a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on a long-range missile. Read the rest of this entry »
It was the first time Beijing is known to have sent fighter jets through the area, and comes days after Japan’s defense minister announced plans to step up engagement in the disputed South China Sea.
Jesse Johnson reports: The Air Self-Defense Force scrambled aircraft on Sunday as at least eight Chinese fighters and bombers — and possibly more than 40 — passed through a critical international entryway into the Western Pacific.
They used a legal but politically sensitive passage through Okinawa, apparently to send a message to Tokyo.
“This is a response to what Beijing will allege is a provocation by Japan in joining the U.S. in South China Sea drills despite Beijing warning Tokyo against participating.”
— University of Miami political science professor June Teufel Dreyer
The Chinese aircraft, which also included refueling tankers, flew over the Miyako Strait in Okinawa Prefecture but did not infringe Japanese airspace, the Defense Ministry said in Tokyo.
China said more than 40 aircraft were involved. They flew between Miyako Island near Taiwan and Okinawa’s main island on the way to “regular” patrols and drills in the Western Pacific, the Chinese Defense Ministry said in a statement posted to its website.
People’s Liberation Army Air Force spokesman Shen Jinke said the massive show of force, which included H-6K bombers, Su-30 fighters and tanker aircraft, conducted reconnaissance and early warning exercises, attacks on sea surface targets, and in-flight refueling “to test the air force’s fighting capacity on the high seas.”
Chinese bombers and fighters also conducted what Shen called a “regular patrol” in the East China Sea air defense identification zone (ADIZ) that China unilaterally declared in 2013.
“The regular Western Pacific drills and ADIZ patrols are necessary to safeguard national sovereignty, the country’s security and maintain peaceful development,” Shen said.
The air force will continue patrolling the East China Sea ADIZ and conduct training to improve its combat capacity in order to “uphold the legitimate rights and interests of China,” Shen added.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government’s top spokesman, told a news conference Monday that although the aircraft never violated Japanese airspace, Tokyo “will continue to devote every effort to vigilance and surveillance and rigorously enforce steps against intrusions into our airspace based on international law and the Self-Defense Forces law.”
While it was apparently the first time for Beijing to send fighter jets on the route, its air force first flew other types of jets over the strait in May 2015, China’s Defense Ministry said.
Defense Minister Tomomi Inada angered Beijing with a speech last week, in which she said Tokyo would “increase its engagement in the South China Sea through … Maritime Self-Defense Force joint training cruises with the U.S. Navy.”
There was a fiery reaction in Chinese state media, but experts said she had not broken new ground in Japan’s approach to the South China Sea.
Still, according to University of Miami political science professor June Teufel Dreyer, the Chinese flights were meant to send a message to Japan not to meddle in the South China Sea issue. Read the rest of this entry »
Peter Layton reports: American air supremacy is in a bear market of long-term decline with no end in sight. The RAND Corporation recently determined: “continuous improvements to Chinese air capabilities make it increasingly difficult for the United States to achieve air superiority within a politically and operationally effective time frame. . . .” These improvements are part of the reason the Center for Strategic and International Studies considers that: “ at the current rate of U.S. capability development, the balance of military power in the [Asia-Pacific] region is shifting against the United States.”
“The advantage that we had from the air, I can honestly say, is shrinking…This is not just a Pacific problem. It’s as significant in Europe as it is anywhere else on the planet…I don’t think it’s controversial to say they’ve closed the gap in capability.”
America’s current air supremacy rests on the F-15 fighter fleet complemented by small numbers of F-22s. The elderly F-15s are though having problems handling the latest, new-build Russian and Chinese fighters. In assessing performance against the Russian Su-35 fighter (now being acquired by China), the National Interest’s Dave Majumdar observes: “Overall, if all things were equal, even a fully upgraded F-15C with the latest AESA upgrades would have its hands full…”
As regards the much higher performance F-22, only about ninety are available for global air supremacy tasks. This is arguably too small for winning air supremacy in one theatre, let alone both Europe and the Pacific. Ongoing peacetime training attrition is further gradually reducing this small fleet. The 2009 decision ceasing F-22 production early was based in part on beliefs that it was irrelevant to countering Islamic extremists or the counterinsurgency wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Events have now overtaken this perspective.
Today, the dangers of a resurgent Russia and a more assertive China have become both more apparent and important. America’s current air supremacy force structure remains highly effective for wars against third world tyrants, such as Saddam Hussein in 2003. These kinds of wars though are not the only conflicts now possible. Instead, there is a growing need to be able to deter, and potentially to win, wars involving near-peer competitors.
Some consider the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will in time address declining air supremacy. Countering this sanguine view, the worrying RAND study earlier noted included the F-35 (and the F-22) albeit not the new Chinese J-20 or J-31 stealth aircraft. This study, in looking at 2017, may actually understate what China will be capable of later this decade when it has more than 1,000 advanced fighters in service.
So what? Does air supremacy matter? Air supremacy will not win a war but it will stop a war being lost. America has not won a war without air supremacy—a point that has been widely recognised. It’s no surprise that China sees air superiority as one of the key “Three Superiorities” that can decide a conflict’s outcome. Nor is it a surprise that a major part of Russia’s force modernisation is fighter development and procurement.
The still-in-development F-35’s contribution to future American air supremacy is mixed. The aircraft was designed as a short-range aircraft primarily for attacking ground targets while having a secondary air-to-air capability. Twenty years ago American air supremacy was unquestioned except for Russian-built SAM systems that the F-35 was built to defeat. But times change, albeit the F-35’s 1990’s era airframe design cannot.
Given that, the F-35s avionics have now been tweaked to compensate for the F-35’s designed-in constrained air-to-air fighting capabilities. The idea is that data received from the aircraft’s onboard systems fused with information from accompanying aircraft and distant sensors will provide the pilot with a god’s eye view of the battlefield. With this, the pilot will be able to kill hostile aircraft at long range before opposing fighters can close and engage the F-35 where it is weakest. Close-in manoeuvrability is then irrelevant. There are several concerns with this concept.
Data fusion is an inherently complex business. Before every flight the F-35’s mission data files must be updated with the latest electronic signatures of friendly and hostile forces. Without this, the pilot’s god’s eye view may be inaccurate and dangerously misleading. In broad terms, the process involves advanced in-theatre and national intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems collecting the tetra-bytes of data necessary, skilled teams analysing this before on-forwarding to the United States, on-call software teams quickly translating the evolving tactical circumstances into mission data files and then retransmitting back out to the field to load onto each F-35 before every sortie.
The video emerged as CIA Director Brennan told the Center for Strategic and International Studies‘ annual Global Security Forum on Monday that he hoped the attacks were a wake-up call for security services and warned that ISIS will attempt more terror atrocities.
‘I would anticipate that this is not the only operation that ISIS has in the pipeline.’
This comes as thousands lined the streets of Paris for a minute’s silence to remember those killed in a wave of attacks which included suicide bombs at the Stade de France, a massacre at the Bataclan theatre and mass shootings at bars and restaurants across the city.
In Paris, President Francois Hollande and his cabinet, all dressed in black, bowed their heads at the Sorbonne University, surrounded by scores of students.
And at Place de la Republique near the site of many of Friday’s attacks, hundreds more stood still to remember the 129 people who were killed in the bloodbath.
Meanwhile, in the chilling film, which appeared on a site used by ISIS to post its messages, the video begins with news footage of the aftermath of Friday’s Paris shootings.
A message to countries involved in what it called the ‘crusader campaign’ was delivered by a man dressed in fatigues and a turban, and identified in subtitles as Al Ghareeb the Algerian.
It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the video, which purports to be the work of ISIS fighters in the Iraqi province of Salahuddine, north of Baghdad.
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Greg Torode reports: U.S. plans to send warships or military aircraft within 12 nautical miles of China’s artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea, possibly within days, could open a tense new front in Sino-U.S. rivalry.
A range of security experts said Washington’s so-called freedom of navigation patrols would have to be regular to be effective, given Chinese ambitions to project power deep into maritime Southeast Asia and beyond.
But China would likely resist attempts to make such U.S. actions routine, some said, raising the political and military stakes. China’s navy could for example try to block or attempt to surround U.S. vessels, they said, risking an escalation.
Given months of debate already in Washington over the first such patrol close to the Chinese outposts since 2012, several regional security experts and former naval officers said the U.S. government might be reluctant to do them often.
U.S. allies such as Japan and Australia are unlikely to follow with their own direct challenges to China, despite their concerns over freedom of navigation along vital trade routes, they added.
“This cannot be a one-off,” said Ian Storey, a South China Sea expert at Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
“The U.S. navy will have to conduct these kinds of patrols on a regular basis to reinforce their message.”
The Obama administration has said it would test China’s territorial claims to the area after months of pressure from Congress and the U.S. military. It has not given a timeframe.
“I think we have been very clear – that we intend to do this,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters last Monday.
Chinese Foreign Ministry officials said this month that Beijing would “never allow any country to violate China’s territorial waters and airspace in the Spratly islands in the name of protecting navigation and overflight”.
Under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, 12-nautical mile limits cannot be set around man-made islands built on previously submerged reefs.
Four of the seven reefs China has reclaimed over the last two years were completely submerged at high tide before construction began, legal scholars say.
China claims most of the South China Sea. Other claimants are Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. Read the rest of this entry »
In early August, China’s foreign minister said the country had stopped land reclamation projects in the South China Sea that were worrying neighbors and irking the U.S. With Chinese President Xi Jinping gearing up for a state visit to the U.S., a Washington-based think tank has published satellite images that cast doubt on that statement.
A report published earlier this week by the Center for Strategic and International Studies contains high-definition photos of Chinese-controlled reefs in the disputed Spratly Islands taken in early September. The images suggest China’s island-building efforts are ongoing, and that China could soon have three airfields in the area, according to CSIS.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said this week when asked about the report that China has “indisputable sovereignty” over the islands and its works there are both for defensive needs and the public good. Read the rest of this entry »
That could be bad for regional security, but it’s a boon for defense contractors who have already cut deals with Middle Eastern states worth roughly $6 billion in the months leading up to the historic nuclear accord.
Saudi Arabia is having a tough summer; all while Lockheed Martin has a banner year. The latest confluence of these trends came Wednesday as the U.S. State Department approved a $5.4 billion sale of 600 Lockheed-made PAC-3 missiles to Saudi Arabia, alongside an additional half billion dollars in ammunition for various smaller weapons. The deals still have to be approved by Congress, but such deals typically are.
“It marks the first major arms deal since the Iran nuclear deal struck earlier this month raised the prospect of reduced sanctions against the state. The deal would lift Iran’s conventional arms embargo within five years and leave the country free to pursue long-range missile technologies within eight.”
“The proposed sale will modernize and replenish Saudi Arabia’s current Patriot missile stockpile, which is becoming obsolete and difficult to sustain due to age and limited availability of repair parts,” the Pentagon said in it’s written notification to Congress of the pending deal. “The purchase of the PAC-3 missiles will support current and future defense missions and promote stability within the region.”
“I think we saw quite clearly at Camp David when President Obama met with several of the Gulf partners back in May that missile defense cooperation would be a prime area of investment going forward as a way to bolster partner defense.”
— Melissa Dalton, a Middle East defense and security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
The sale of so many PAC-3 missiles—the most advanced missile for the Patriot missile launcher and built by Raytheon is the latest in a string of high-priced, high-profile arms deals between the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf Cooperation Council allies in the region. It marks the first major arms deal since the Iran nuclear deal struck earlier this month raised the prospect of reduced sanctions against the state. The deal would lift Iran’s conventional arms embargo within five years and leave the country free to pursue long-range missile technologies within eight.
That could be bad for regional security, but it’s a boon for defense contractors who have already cut deals with Middle Eastern states worth roughly $6 billion in the months leading up to the historic nuclear accord. U.S. defense companies like Boeing, and General Dynamics [fortune-stock symbol=”GD”] are all poised to reap the benefits of a Middle East arms race. Given the threat, (or at least the perceived threat) posed by Iran’s collection of ballistic missiles, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin look to have a busy year ahead. Read the rest of this entry »
China is no refuge from Obama’s woes
Edward Luce writes: Second-term US presidents traditionally seek solace on the global stage. Barack Obama is no exception. Following last week’s drubbing in the US midterm elections, he lands in China on Monday for a summit with Xi Jinping. He is unlikely to find Beijing more pliable than Washington DC. As time goes on, it becomes ever harder to separate his domestic weakness from his global standing. Even the tone is spreading. “US society has grown tired of [Obama’s] banality,” China’s semi-official Global Times said last week.
“It is a fair guess that China would be more assertive whoever was in the White House. Its aim is to become a global power.”
Mr Xi is too polite to put it like that. Yet there is no mistaking which of the two is on the way up. In his first year in office, Mr Obama offered Beijing a “G2” partnership to tackle the world’s big problems. China spurned him. Mr Obama then unveiled his “pivot to Asia”. China saw it as US containment and reacted accordingly. Its defence spending today is almost double in real terms what it was when Mr Obama first visited China in 2009. Over the same period, the US military budget has barely kept pace with inflation.
Will a weakened Mr Obama have better luck with China? The answer is not necessarily “no”.
“This is where his domestic weakness really bites. Little headway has been made in the Pacific talks because Congress has refused to give Mr Obama fast-track negotiating authority. That was with the Democrats in charge.”
With the exception of North Korea, China’s neighbours are clamouring for a stronger US presence in the region. As the quip goes, Mr Xi talks like Deng Xiaoping – who opened China to the world – but acts like Mao Zedong, the imperial strongman. Countries that were once wary of military ties with the US, such as Vietnam, India and the Philippines, are now openly courting it. Mr Obama’s pivot means 60 per cent of America’s military resources will be deployed in the Pacific – against the old 50:50 split with the Atlantic. Read the rest of this entry »
Even Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf was a Sun Tzu devotee.
But when it comes to China’s foreign policy, Sun Tzu’s theories is leading China astray.
That’s one of the intriguing arguments put forward by Edward Luttwak, a China expert and military strategist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in his new book, “The Rise of China vs. the Logic of Strategy.”
Luttwak argues that by bullying its neighbors and resorting too often to deception, China is suffering the shortcomings of ancient strategic ideas. These practices, he says, have generated resentment toward China. Read the rest of this entry »
By Jim Geraghty
Being nicer to countries like Russia will not make them nicer to you. The United Nations is not an effective tool for resolving crises. Some foreign leaders are beyond persuasion and diplomacy.
There is no “international community” ready to work together to solve problems, and there probably never will be.
You can pin this on Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Susan Rice, but most of all, the buck stops with the president. Those of us who scoffed a bit at a state senator ascending to the presidency within four years on a wave of media hype and adoration are not quite so shocked by this current mess. We never bought into this notion that getting greater cooperation from our allies, and less hostility from our enemies, was just a matter of giving this crew the wheel and letting them practice, as Hillary Clinton arrogantly declared it, “smart power.” (These people can’t even label a foreign-policy approach without reminding us of how highly they think of themselves.) They looked out at the world at the end of the Bush years, and didn’t see tough decisions, unsolvable problems, unstable institutions, restless populations, technology enabling the impulse to destabilize existing institutions, evil men hungry for more power, and difficult trade-offs. No, our problems and challengers were just a matter of the previous hands running U.S. foreign policy not beingsmart enough.