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- 05/10/16--13:07: _Special operators j...
- 05/11/16--06:24: _Beautiful pictures ...
- 05/11/16--06:36: _Chinese Navy may ou...
- 05/11/16--07:23: _The prison transfer...
- 05/11/16--07:45: _The Middle East's e...
- 05/11/16--08:05: _Vietnam is quietly ...
- 05/11/16--08:06: _West Point cleared ...
- 05/11/16--09:15: _PHOTO: The moment H...
- 05/11/16--10:10: _A massive joint mil...
- 05/11/16--12:39: _This is the only ch...
- 05/12/16--03:47: _Behold, the largest...
- 05/12/16--06:17: _Watch the F-35 fly ...
- 05/12/16--06:43: _Watch a 15th-centur...
- 05/12/16--09:26: _Australia backs up ...
- 05/12/16--09:53: _Air Force officials...
- 05/12/16--10:22: _How NATO should res...
- 05/12/16--10:25: _Watch a US-led airs...
- 05/12/16--12:56: _This F-15E scored a...
- 05/12/16--15:00: _Every vehicle used ...
- 05/13/16--06:58: _One graphic shows 7...
- 05/10/16--13:07: Special operators just rescued a high-profile prisoner from al-Qaeda
- 05/11/16--06:36: Chinese Navy may outnumber US Navy by 2020
- 05/11/16--07:23: The prison transfer of 'El Chapo' explained
Infrastructure includes the construction of bypass pipelines avoiding key choke-points and strategic storage.
Existing bypass pipelines include SUMED (which avoids the Suez Canal); the Habshan-Fujairah pipeline in the UAE (bypassing Hormuz); and the Saudi Petroline, which runs to the Red Sea, hence offering an alternative to the Gulf and Hormuz. Proposed projects include a link from other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to Oman’s planned oil terminal at Duqm on the Indian Ocean; new or rehabilitated pipelines from Iraq across Jordan and Turkey; an expansion of Petroline; and a new terminal in southern Iran at Jask.
Institutional approaches include mechanisms to deal with disruptions, such as cooperative sharing arrangements.
More analysis has focused on infrastructure than on institutional and market mitigation. Yet these approaches have to work together. Physical infrastructure is not enough: it has to be embedded in a suitable framework of regulation, legislation, and diplomacy. Cross-border or multilateral pipelines require agreements on international cooperation; strategic storage is most effective when rules for its use are clear, and when holders of storage agree not to hoard scarce supplies.
The effective combination of infrastructure and institutions has a strategic benefit even if it is never used. By making oil exporters and consumers less vulnerable to threats, it makes it less likely that such threats will be carried out.
Alliances can be useful for mutual security and coordination. However, they raise the difficult question of whom they are directed against. Mutually-hostile alliances would be a threat to regional energy security rather than a guarantor. Organizations such as the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Energy Forum (IEF), Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Gulf Cooperation Council, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) could all have roles, but none is ideally placed. Rather than creating another organization, reaching an understanding between existing bodies may be more effective.
- In general, markets cope well with the task of allocating scarce supplies. Better and timelier data, such as that gathered by the IEF, can greatly improve the functioning of markets. Governments do have a role in protecting the most vulnerable consumers and ensuring sufficient energy for critical services, but price controls, rationing, and export bans have usually been counterproductive, and many of the worst consequences of so-called energy crises have come from well-meaning government interference with the normal market process of adjustment.
However, it is generally difficult or impossible for a single company or country to capture all the benefits of building strategic infrastructure—which, as with a bypass pipeline, may only be required for a few months over a period of decades. International financing, perhaps backed by a major energy importer—mostly likely China—can help support such projects, particularly at a time of fiscal austerity in the Middle East.
- 05/11/16--08:06: West Point cleared the 16 female cadets who posed with raised fists
- 05/11/16--09:15: PHOTO: The moment Hitler declared war on the US
- 05/12/16--03:47: Behold, the largest plane in the US Air Force
- 05/12/16--06:17: Watch the F-35 fly in formation with the US Air Force Thunderbirds
- 05/12/16--06:43: Watch a 15th-century-battle reenactor take out a drone with a spear
- 05/12/16--09:26: Australia backs up the US in latest South China Sea dispute
- 05/12/16--09:53: Air Force officials weigh in on the F-35: 'It’s the Burger King jet'
- 05/12/16--10:22: How NATO should respond to Russian aggression in the Baltics
- 05/12/16--15:00: Every vehicle used by the US Marine Corps
- 05/13/16--06:58: One graphic shows 75 years of Air Force innovation
Ali Haider Gillani, the son of an ex-Pakistani prime minister, was rescued by U.S. special operators and Afghan commandos in a joint operation in Paktika province May 10.
The strike force killed four enemy combatants in the raid with no reported loss to friendly forces. Gillani was unharmed in the rescue mission.
The focus of the operation, “was to go after al-Qaida-related targets in the area, and there was an indication that there may have been a hostage being held with them,” U.S. Army Brig. Gen Charles Cleveland told the AP. “So it was a nice surprise to get that.”
Gillani and his father are members of the Pakistan People’s Party, a group which has sponsored and led several major offensives aimed at Islamic militants.
Gillani was originally kidnapped in May 2013 while campaigning for the Punjab provincial assembly. Pakistani leaders are often threatened or attacked by the Pakistani Taliban, especially if the leaders are perceived as likely to threaten the Taliban.
The kidnappers had been attempting to negotiate the release of several high-profile al-Qaeda prisoners in exchange for Gillani’s safe return.
Gillani was flown to Bagram for medical evaluation and is scheduled to return to Pakistan once cleared by doctors.
"Elephant walk" exercises are conducted quite regularly at air bases around the world to test the squadrons' ability to launch large formations of aircraft at short notice.
During this kind of drills, combat planes (including tankers) taxi in close formation the way they would in case of a minimum-interval takeoff; still, depending on the purpose of the training event, the aircraft can either take off or return back to their parking slots.
Because wartime operational conditions are simulated, tactical aircraft that take part in elephant walks are usually armed.
Elephant walks are particularly frequent in South Korea, where local-based US Air Force jets (often alongside Republic of Korea Air Force planes) frequently stage such "collective shows of force" in response to North Korea's aggressive posture and threats.
The latest one was held Monday and involved more than 40 aircraft (it looks as if there are 43), including 15 A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft with the 25th Fighter Squadron "Draggins" and F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft from the 51st Fighter Wing at South Korea's Osan Air Base, with some additional F-16 aircraft with the 179th Fighter Squadron "Bulldogs" from the 148th Fighter Wing out of Duluth Air National Guard Base in Minnesota.
The elephant walk on the runway at Osan was one of the events of Exercise Beverly Herd 16-01, whose aim was to assess US Air Force capabilities and strength and showcase the wing's ability to generate combat airpower in an expedient manner to respond to simulated contingency operations.
Click on this link to open the high-rez panoramic photograph that shows all the aircraft!
Ongoing US-China tensions in the South China Sea regarding Chinese artificial island-building are leading many at the Pentagon to sharpen their focus upon the rapid pace of Chinese Naval modernization and expansion.
While Chinese naval technology may still be substantially behind current US platforms, the equation could change dramatically over the next several decades because the Chinese are reportedly working on a handful of high-tech next-generation ships, weapons and naval systems.
China has plans to grow its navy to 351 ships by 2020 as the Chinese continue to develop their military’s ability to strike global targets, according to a recent Congressional report.
The 2014 US-China Economic and Security Review Commission recommended to Congress that the US Navy respond by building more ships and increase its presence in the Pacific region – a strategy the US military has already started.
Opponents of this strategy point out that the US has 11 aircraft carriers, the Chinese have one and China’s one carrier still lacks an aircraft wing capable of operating off of a carrier deck. However, several recent reports have cited satellite photos showing that China is now building its own indigenous aircraft carriers. Ultimately, the Chinese plan to acquire four aircraft carriers, the reports say.
The commission cites platforms and weapons systems the Chinese are developing, which change the strategic calculus regarding how US carriers and surface ships might need to operate in the region.
These include the LUYANG III, a new class of Chinese destroyer slated to enter the fleet this year. These ships are being engineered with vertically-launched, long-range anti-ship cruise missiles, the commission said. The new destroyer will carry an extended-range variant of the HHQ-9 surface-to-air missile, among other weapons, the report says.
Furthermore, the Chinese may already be beginning construction on several of their own indigenous aircraft carriers. China currently has one carrier, the Ukranian-built Liaoning. It is not expected to have an operational carrier air wing until sometime this year, according to the report.
The Chinese are currently testing and developing a new, carrier-based fighter aircraft called the J-15.
Regarding amphibious assault ships, the Chinese are planning to add several more YUZHAO LPDs, amphibs which can carry 800 troops, four helicopters and up to 20 armored vehicles, the report said.
The Chinese are also working on development of a new Type 055 cruiser equipped with land-attack missiles, lasers and rail-gun weapons, according to the review.
China’s surface fleet is also bolstered by production of at least 60 smaller, fast-moving HOBEI-glass guided missile patrol boats and ongoing deliveries of JIANGDAO light frigates armed with naval guns, torpedoes and anti-ship cruise missiles.
The commission also says Chinese modernization plans call for a sharp increase in attack submarines and nuclear-armed submarines or SSBNs. Chinese SSBNs are now able to patrol with nuclear-armed JL-2 missiles able to strike targets more than 4,500 nautical miles.
The Chinese are currently working on a new, modernized SSBN platform as well as a long-range missile, the JL-3, the commission says.
While the commission says the exact amount of Chinese military spending is difficult to identify, China’s projected defense spending for 2014 is cited at $131 billion, approximately 12.2 percent greater than 2013. This figure is about one sixth of what the US spends annually.
The Chinese defense budget has increased by double digits since 1989, the commission states, resulting in annual defense spending doubling since 2008, according to the report.
Some members of Congress, including the House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., are advocating for both a larger US Navy and a stronger US posture toward China’s behavior in the region.
In a surprise move, Mexican authorities transferred Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán from the Altiplano prison, scene of his latest Great Escape, but thought now to be highly secure, to a federal penitentiary facility in Ciudad Juárez.
The government has been rather coy about the move, simply claiming that the Altiplano prison was undergoing some renovations and that this was part of a normal prisoner rotation schedule.
Should we believe that or is there more than meets the eye?
Here’s my take:
1. The government’s explanation is weird.
Arguably, they are not renovating every section of the Altiplano prison at the same time. So why not just transfer him to a different cell? After all, they have done that several times since his recapture last January.
If they needed some space, wasn’t it easier to transfer to a different prison a couple of lower profile inmates?
2. The notion that he was sent to a prison right on the northern border as a prelude to his extradition is equally bizarre.
The barriers to extradition are legal, not physical. It’s not as if he has to be driven into the United States. From the Altiplano prison, he could be flown by helicopter to the Toluca international airport, handed over to the US Marshals, and put on a plane. The transfer would take ten minutes at most.
Add an hour or so of flight time and that’s it. No one would risk a transfer of one of the world’s most dangerous criminals to make his potential extradition to the US marginally easier (I hope so, at least).
3. How about the idea that this was just a normal rotation?
I don’t quite buy it. Yes, many inmates are transferred between different federal penitentiaries (it actually happened to El Chapo in the 1990’s), but that usually takes place after a couple of years, not after a few months.
Or at least usually not in the absence of some legal requirement (an injunction won by the defense, a new charge located in a different judicial district, etc.). Granted, nothing is normal with El Chapo.
So it might have been part of the plan from the start to move him around between different facilities, so as to make it more difficult to design and execute a new escape plan.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
“If the Americans and their regional allies want to pass through the Strait of Hormuz and threaten us, we will not allow any entry,” said deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Hossein Salami, last Wednesday.
Iran has a long history of making threats against this critical waterway, through which some 17 million barrels of oil exports pass daily, though it has not carried them out. But multiple regional security threats highlight threats to energy transit from and through the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)—and demand new thinking about solutions.
Hormuz attracts attention because of its evident vulnerability. But recent years have seen severe disruptions to energy flows across the region: port blockades in Libya; pipeline sabotage in Egypt’s Sinai, Yemen, Baluchistan in Pakistan, and Turkey’s southeast; attacks on oil and gas installations across Syria and Iraq; piracy off Somalia.
Energy security is threatened at all scales, from local community disturbances and strikes, up to major regional military confrontations.
Of course, it would be best to mitigate these energy security vulnerabilities by tackling the root causes of conflict across the region. But while disruption and violence persist, energy exporters and consumers alike should guard against complacency.
A glut of oil and gas supplies globally—with low prices, growing U.S. self-sufficiency, and the conclusion of the Iranian nuclear deal—may seem to have reduced the urgency: markets have hardly responded to recent flare-ups.
But major economies – even the United States – still remain dependent, directly or indirectly, on energy supplies from the MENA region. Spare oil production capacity is at unusually low levels, leaving the balance vulnerable to even a moderate interruption.
Most concern has focused on oil exports, given their importance to the world economy. But the security of liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments is an under-appreciated risk, particularly for countries such as Japan and South Korea which are heavily dependent on LNG.
A disruption would also have severe consequences for countries in the Middle East and North Africa, depriving them not only of revenues but potentially of critical imports.
There are three broad groups of approaches to mitigating the risk of energy transit disruptions: infrastructure, institutions, and market.
Energy exporters within the MENA region may often find their interests divergent. But the field of energy security is one area for more fruitful cooperation—at least between groups of states, and some external players, particularly their increasingly important Asian customers.
If regional tensions and conflicts cannot be easily solved, such action at least alleviates one of the serious risks of the region’s turmoil.
For more on this topic, read Robin Mills’ new analysis paper “Risky routes: Energy transit in the Middle East.”
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HANOI/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vietnam hosts a defense symposium this week attended by top American arms manufacturers, ahead of a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama and as Washington weighs whether to lift an arms embargo on its former enemy.
Secrecy has surrounded the event staged by the communist country and attended by firms including Boeing and Lockheed Martin. It coincides with the biggest arms buildup in the country since the Vietnam War.
There has been no mention in state-controlled media and defense reporters are not covering the forum. Efforts by Reuters to gain permission to attend have been unsuccessful and Vietnam's defense ministry could not be reached for comment.
Vietnam has accelerated efforts to build a military deterrent and is the world's eighth largest weapons importer, as neighbor China intensifies its push to fortify South China Sea islands it has either occupied or built from scratch.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute think-tank, which tracks defense trade over five-year periods, Vietnam's total arms imports during 2011-2015 represented a 699 percent jump from 2006-2010.
The Hanoi symposium comes amid debate within the U.S. administration over whether to respond to Vietnam's longstanding request to remove an arms embargo that is one of the last major vestiges of the Vietnam War era.
Washington eased the embargo in late 2014, but has said any decision to lift it completely would hinge on the extent to which Vietnam has demonstrated progress in improving its human rights record. Its top envoy in that field, Tom Malinowski, was in Hanoi earlier this week.
Vietnam has been in talks with Western and U.S. arms manufacturers for several years now to boost its fleets of fighter jets, helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft, although Russia, its traditional supplier, maintains a dominant position.
Industry sources say Hanoi is keen on U.S. weapons yet wary of the threat of a future embargo even if the current one ends. The countries do have a common concern in China, however, whose assertiveness in the South China Sea has alarmed Washington.
Obama is due to start his Vietnam visit on May 22, the first by a U.S. president in a decade, underlining the rapidly warming relationship between the countries at a time of testy ties and growing mistrust between Hanoi and Beijing, which have competing claims to the Paracel and Spratly islands.
A spokesman for Lockheed Martin confirmed the company was attending the Hanoi event.
Boeing is also attending, although the firm made it clear it was not in contravention of the embargo.
"I would like to point out that any defense-related sales to Vietnam will follow development of U.S. government policy on Vietnam," a spokesman said.
"We believe Boeing has capabilities in mobility and intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance platforms that may meet Vietnam's modernization needs."
Those needs have included the purchase of six modern Kilo-class submarines from Russia equipped with Klub cruise missiles, Russian-built S-300 surface-to-air missile batteries, and from Israel, Galil assault rifles and AD-STAR 2888 radars.
Its navy is making Tarantul-class corvettes, known as Molniyas, modeled on Russian designs and equipped with 16 missiles with a range of 130 km (80 miles).
Though the communist parties that run China and Vietnam officially have brotherly ties, experts say Beijing's brinkmanship has forced Vietnam to recalibrate its defense strategy.
A report in the defense ministry's People's Army Newspaper Online in March quoted the vice defense minister, Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, as saying Vietnam's relationship with the United States lacked defense industry cooperation, and Hanoi wanted Washington "to provide modern, suitable and adaptable technology".
Its outreach so far has been weighted towards Russia, India and Israel in procurements, but analysts say it is unlikely to seek formal military alliances and would stick to its foreign policy of not relying on a single power.
It has, however, mulled joint exercises with another South China Sea claimant at odds with China, the Philippines, and has received recent visits by Singaporean and Japanese warships at its new international port at Cam Ranh Bay, a strategic deepwater base that is home to its submarines.
Tim Huxley, a regional security expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore, said Vietnam's interest in getting the arms embargo lifted was not only about access to U.S. technology, but boosting its bargaining power.
"It reflects concern about what's happening in the South China Sea and its need to restructure and re-arm, with a greater emphasis on greater naval and air capability," he said.
"It wants to widen options available and have more choices in the international market place in terms of range of technology and its negotiating position."
(Additional reporting by Mai Nguyen in HANOI; Writing and additional reporting by Martin Petty in MANILA; Editing by Mike Collett-White)
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The 16 black female cadets who posed with raised fists in a graduation photo at West Point have been cleared of any wrongdoing.
The photo went viral, with some claiming the women were making a political statement with the gesture, but a West Point inquiry has found that "the photo was among several taken in the spur-of-the-moment," and was not a premeditated political statement.
"It was intended to demonstrate 'unity' and 'pride,' according to the findings of the inquiry," a statement from West Point read.
Initially, some thought that the cadets were showing solidarity with a political movement, which would violate Department of Defense Directive 1344.10, Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces.
The directive says active members of the armed forces "should not engage in partisan political activity" and even nonactive members "should avoid inferences that their political activities imply or appear to imply official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement."
As cadets in the US Military Academy, the women are considered to be active members of the armed forces and therefore barred from making political statements.
However West Point has concluded that "none of the participants, through their actions, intended to show support for a political movement."
Of the investigation, Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, Jr, the academy's superintendent said in a letter,"As members of the Profession of Arms, we are held to a high standard, where our actions are constantly observed and scrutinized in the public domain ... We all must understand that a symbol or gesture that one group of people may find harmless may offend others."
"As Army officers, we are not afforded the luxury of a lack of awareness of how we are perceived,” continued Caslen.
Until December 11, 1941, the US and Nazi Germany were technically neutral despite World War II having ravaged large portions of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
But following Imperial Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and the beginning of hostilities between the US and the Axis Powers on December 7, 1941, Nazi Germany followed Japan's lead and declared war on the US.
According to Rare Historical Photos, the decision to declare war was entirely Adolf Hitler's. Even before Pearl Harbor, Hitler was aware that the US and Nazi Germany would eventually come to blows, since the US was supporting the British war effort.
The decision to enter the war was announced by Hitler at a speech at the Reichstag after the German and Italian embassies burned their cables in Washington, DC.
NOW WATCH: Startling facts about World War II
The Georgian army began two weeks of military exercises with the United States and Britain on Wednesday, drawing an angry response from former Soviet master Russia which called the war games "a provocative step".
About 650 soldiers from the United States, 150 from Britain and 500 from Georgia were taking part in the maneuvers, with Washington dispatching an entire mechanized company including eight Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and, for the first time, eight M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks.
Georgia's Defence Minister Tina Khidasheli said the drills were an important event for the South Caucasus republic.
"This is one of the biggest exercises that our country has ever hosted, this is the biggest number of troops on the ground, and the largest concentration of military equipment," Khidasheli told Reuters.
But the exercises went down badly in Moscow where the Russian Foreign Ministry last week warned they could destabilize the region, a charge denied by Georgian officials.
"These exercises are not directed against anyone. There is no trace of provocation," Georgia's Prime Minister Georgy Kvirikashvili said in a statement.
Russia defeated Georgia in a short war in 2008 over the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, and Moscow continues to garrison troops there and to support another breakaway region, Abkhazia.
The exercises were run out of the Vaziani military base near Georgia's capital Tbilisi.
Russian forces used to be based there until they withdrew at the start of the last decade under the terms of a European arms reduction agreement.
"The importance of these exercises is to improve interoperability between Georgia, the United States and the United Kingdom. ... It enables us to prepare Georgia's contribution to a NATO response force," Colonel Jeffrey Dickerson, the U.S. director of the exercises, told Reuters.
The United States has spoken favorably of the idea that Georgia might one day join NATO, something Russia firmly opposes.
(Editing by Alexander Winning/Andrew Osborn)
China has been working hard to upgrade their military capabilities in order to eventually rival the power and ability of the US.
Already, the Chinese Navy is expected to outpace the US Navy in sheer numbers by 2020. Quantity is obviously not a sign of quality, but it is just one sign among many of Beijing's constantly growing military clout.
However, one of the largest signals of China's ever increasing strength is the strides it is making in ballistic missile technology. As the following chart from the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission demonstrates, China now has the capability to hit US military targets on Guam with ballistic missiles launches from the mainland.
The chart highlights the various ranges of ballistic missiles that China has in its arsenal divided into air, naval, and ground categories. The ranges are calculated showing the missile's estimated farthest possible range based upon a launching location in China that is as close as possible to the target.
China's air-launched missiles have the longest range and would be able to hit Darwin, Australia. However, the missiles are launched by bombers with large radar cross-sections that would be relatively easy to detect and defend against.
More difficult to prepare for is China's growing submarine fleet. It's latest classes of submarines can sail out to Guam in under two days, while its stealthier but slower diesel submarines can reach the US-owned island in under 4 days. These submarines can all be equipped with ballistic missiles which could greatly complicate US activities around Guam.
Finally, China's ground-based ballistic missiles have rapidly been advancing in range. Its DF-26 missile, unveiled last year, has enough range to hit Guam when launched from the Chinese mainland. The missile is also capable of carrying conventional or nuclear munitions.
Due to these capabilities, the report refers to the DF-26 as a "Guam Killer" and notes that "[c]ombined with improved air- and sea-launched cruise missiles and modernizing support systems, the DF-26 would allow China to bring a greater diversity and quality of assets to bear against Guam in a contingency than ever before."
As the Washington Post notes, Guam currently houses 5,000 US military personnel, and is an important Pacific base housing both nuclear submarines and aircraft.
At 222 feet across, almost 300 feet long, and 65 feet tall at its tail, Lockheed Martin's C-5 Galaxy is the largest transport aircraft in the US Air Force. With a cargo hull 121 feet long and 19 feet across, the C-5 is a flying warehouse that can carry a combat-ready military unit or deliver necessary supplies anywhere in the world.
The C-5 has a cargo capacity of 142 tons, the equivalent of carrying two M1A1 Abrams tanks, six greyhound buses, or 25,844,746 ping-pong balls. Below, see just how awesome the C-5's carrying capacity is.
The C-5 Galaxy absolutely dwarfs humans.
The engine alone is more than 7 feet across.
Even large helicopters are tiny compared to the C-5.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Even though it did not say anything special about the controversial stealth plane, some people bashed the F-35 over the cool image just because it showed the 5th generation fighter jet flying with a high AOA (Angle of Attack) close to the Thunderbirds.
The following video provides a different point of view over the same scene: taken from inside the cockpit of the F-16 #1 of the US Air Force demo team, it show the F-35 keeping a “high alpha” on the Viper’s right wing, leveraging its well-known (or alleged, depending on the “party”) high AOA capabilities.Needless to say, this post is not pro or against the F-35, it’s just about an interesting footage showing two jets belonging to different generations flying together.
This is what happens when you fly a 21st century drone over an epic 15th century battle.
Way back in the olden days, when unicorns roamed the Earth and dragons ruled the skies, before gunpowder and reflective belts and buffalo chicken MREs, your average foot soldier could throw a spear through a man’s eyeball from many, many meters away. Apparently, such a soldier still exists.
And he was recently spotted at a Renaissance festival in central Russia, where he used his awesome and extremely antiquated spear-throwing skills to slay a flying drone, which is like a dragon, but smaller and nerdier.
Australia backed the United States on Thursday in its so-called freedom of navigation operation close to a disputed reef in the South China Sea, a patrol China has denounced as an illegal threat to peace.
US guided missile destroyer the USS William P. Lawrence traveled within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of Chinese-occupied Fiery Cross Reef on Tuesday.
The operation was undertaken to challenge what a US Defense Department spokesman described as excessive maritime claims by China, Taiwan and Vietnam, which were seeking to restrict navigation rights in the South China Sea.
Australia has consistently supported US-led freedom of navigation activities in the South ChinaSea, where Beijing has been adding land reclamation to islands and reefs in waters claimed by several regional countries.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters he had reiterated that support in a phone call with US President Barack Obama early on Thursday.
"We ... talked about security issues in our region and confirmed our strong commitment to freedom of navigation throughout the region and the importance of any territorial disputes being resolved peacefully and in accordance with international law," Turnbull said.
China and the United States have traded accusations of militarizing the South China Sea asChina undertakes large-scale land reclamation to create artificial islands and construction on disputed features while the United States has increased its patrols and exercises.
Facilities on Fiery Cross Reef include a 3,000-metre (10,000-foot) runway that the United States worries China will use to press its extensive territorial claims at the expense of weaker rivals.
Although the F-35 Lightning II regularly makes headlines for all the wrong reasons, Air Force pilots at Edwards Air Force Base in California have begun weighing in on the jet's capabilities, and it's good news.
US Air Force Lt. Col. Raja Chari, director of the F-35 integrated test force and commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron, said that the F-35's automated systems free up the pilot to focus on mission planning in an interview with Defense News.
“Each plane is its own command and control platform,” said Chari, who also has experience flying a legacy platform, the F-15.
“You don’t have to do as much stick and rudder, just getting to and from, because there are so many automated modes to use on the F-35 ... [It] is almost as easy as breathing.”
US Air Force Maj. Raven LeClair, also of the 461st flight test squadron, raved about another unique aspect of the Joint Strike Fighter, the "glass" or dual touch-screen display which is highly customizable by individual pilots.
“It’s the Burger King jet,” Chari said of the F-35's versatile setups. “You can have it however you want, your way.”
Combined with the F-35's helmet, which employs six infrared cameras positioned around the plane to allow pilots to see through the jets' airframe, F-35 pilots have an unprecedented awareness of the entire battle space.
“In this plane it’s 360 degrees and a much larger range of stuff that you are looking at so that you are not just thinking about what your particular jets doing, but now you are looking at other elements in a notional strike package,” said Chari.
“So whether that’s looking at ground targets or emitters or air targets, you are building a much bigger picture than the traditional planes.”
Chari also spoke highly of the F-35's ability to fly at a high angle of attack, or with its nose pointed up, saying that pilots are learning to use this quality to perform close-in flight maneuvers.
Not only are pilots touting the F-35's next-gen capacities, maintainers are big on the plane's internal diagnostic system.
Though critics have claimed that the Joint Strike Fighter's Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), a system that internally tracks and diagnoses problems with each part of each plane worldwide, could be wiped out by a single server failure, maintainers told Defense News that the claim is ludicrous.
“We’ve had that happen multiple times, and we can still use ALIS," said RJ Vernon, supervisor of the Third Air Force about server failures affecting the F-35. In the event of a long term server failure, the worst case scenario would be that maintainers have to track the parts manually, which they already do with legacy fighters.
On the whole, Lockheed Martin contractors and Air Force technicians agree, the ALIS is a big help.
“It tells you everything you need to know instantly,” Vernon said. “ALIS reduces our troubleshooting drastically, it makes my job very easy.”
Air Force Staff Sgt. Cody Patters, who as worked on the A-10 and F-16s, said the F-35 was far easier to work on. His only complaint was waiting on the computer to load new tasks.
“We could teach you in 15 minutes,” Patters said of the user-friendly interface.
Additionally, the F-35 was built with maintainers in mind. The time they save working on the plane will translate to millions of dollars in savings over the life of the program.
For example, the panels of the plane allow easy access to maintainers, like the nose that comes off in a single piece. Also, the weapons bay doesn't require cleaning, because the missiles are launched with air pressure instead of explosives that leave behind residue.
“Our jobs are drastically easier because of the way the jet takes care of itself," concluded Patters.
Russia has a population smaller than Nigeria, and a GDP smaller than Italy, but an outsized military presence that looms over NATO's Baltic members, and the alliance at large.
Ongoing military campaigns in Syria, Ukraine and Crimea, as well as past infractions in Moldova and Georgia underscore just how willing Russia is to use conventional forces, as well as softer means of undermining neighboring states.
Russia has been increasingly flaunting their military might and daring with a series of provocative moves towards US and NATO ships and planes, and a RAND Corp study, as well as testimonies from several prominent US generals, has concluded that Russian forces could overrun NATO defenses and take over Baltic capitals like Riga and Tallinn in as little as 36 hours.
A new report from the Atlantic Council contends that with the proper organization, and preparation, NATO could configure their forces to deter, and if necessary, defeat Russia in the Baltics.
In the slides below, see how NATO can refocus to provide adequate support for democracies to weather even a surprise attack from a newly rearmed and aggressive Russia.
The Russian threat
Russia's borders are only a few hundred miles from the capitals of the Baltic States, and Russia sees these states as an important buffer zone between them and major European powers.
They actively use NATO as an adversary in their military exercises, and have developed substantial capabilities to move large forces against their NATO neighbors.
Russia has proven successful in their abilities to destabilize neighboring countries through threatening postures and hybrid warfare. The conflict in the Donbas region of Ukraine is a clear example of this.
Source: Atlantic Council
A fundamental need of NATO forces is to understand what Russia is up to in the first place. NATO must leverage every possible source of intelligence. This includes both human and open source intelligence.
A useful model the type of intelligence apparatus NATO needs to monitor Russia can be seen in South Korea, where the 501st Military Intelligence Brigade, based in South Korea "conducts theater level multi-discipline intelligence for Joint and Combined Warfighters.
But as NATO needs to worry about Russia's hybrid warfare, as well as conventional forces, they must include an understanding of "development of social and behavioral sciences."
This includes having human intelligence assets and analysts with an understanding of the language, as well as a "deep cultural awareness” who can be "placed in the field in order to be best postured for intelligence operations and conflicts.”
Source: Atlantic Council
RAND Corp's troubling assessment of Russia's advantage over NATO forces in the Baltics is based on a conventional assumption that heavier, larger forces will defeat smaller, more lightly armed forces.
To reinforce the Baltics, Baltic nations must first adhere to the 2014 Wales Summit when they were tasked with increasing defense spending to 2% of their GDP. However, even 2% of theses countries entire GDP is not enough to make much of a difference.
For their part, Baltic nations must convert to armored, mechanized, or mixed brigades and focus on anti-tank and armor capabilities, as Russia has developed impressive new tanks. The rest of their reinforcement will have to come from their NATO allies.
Source: Atlantic Council
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
The US military has released a video that shows the US-led anti-ISIS coalition obliterating an ISIS car bomb near Manbij, Syria.
The airstrike was conducted on March 11 and was part of a larger operation by the anti-ISIS coalition on that day. Altogether, the anti-ISIS coalition carried out airstrikes on four locations in Syria and four in Iraq.
US Central Command notes that in addition to the strike against the ISIS car bomb, known officially as a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED), the coalition also struck ISIS tactical units, heavy weapons, and fighting locations in Syria.
In Iraq, the airstrikes destroyed ISIS rocket positions, tactical units, and a heavy machine gun position.
VBIEDs are among the most dangerous weapons in ISIS's inventory. In general, they are advanced enough to produce even macabre amazement in their potential victims. One Baghdad police officer told Der Spiegel that these car bombs "were so sophisticated that they destroyed everything; there was nothing left of the car and nothing to investigate how the explosive charge was assembled."
Aside from smaller car bombs, ISIS has also perfected the use of multiton truck and Humvee bombs as military weapons. Among the group's favorite tactics is filling stolen armored US Humvees with explosives to decimate static defenses of the Iraqi Security Forces.
You can watch a full video of the strike below:
The first time the F-15 Strike Eagle saw combat was in the skies over the Middle East during Operation Desert Storm. Although the F-15 C and D were incredibly lethal in air-to-air combat, the F-15E was primarily used to take out mobile Scud missiles and surface-to-air missile sites. It was the F-15E’s only air-to-air kill during Desert Storm that would become the most memorable.
On Valentine’s Day 1991, the offensive part of the First Gulf War was in full swing. U.S. Air Force Captains Richard “TB” Bennett and Dan “Chewie” Bakke were pilot and weapons system officer, respectively, on a Scud patrol. AWACS ordered their F-15E to hit Mi-24 Hind Gunships that were close to a U.S. Special Forces operation.
Bakke told the author of “Debrief: A Complete History of U.S. Aerial Engagements” that the F-15E’s radar became “intermittent” when they moved to strike. The pilot couldn’t get a missile lock on the targets because one the Hinds began to accelerate so fast. Bakke switched his thinking to a ground attack.
Since he could only see the rotors using his LANTIRN pod (the ground targeting system used by the Strike Eagles) Bakke used a laser-guided, 2,000-pound GBU-10 bomb on the helicopter as it began to lift off.
The bomb when through the rotors and the cockpit, its fuse delay exploding the munition underneath the Hind, completely disintegrating the helicopter. The other helicopters bolted after that and more U.S. air cover came in to protect the ground force.
After the Special Forces team was extracted, they confirmed the F-15E’s kill and sent Bennett and Bakke a “Thank You” via their headquarters based in Riyadh.
The Marine Corps is one of the most adaptable military forces in the world.
Tasked with everything from assault operations to security missions, the Corps relies on a wide range of equipment suited for every possible mission.
These are the vehicles that the Marines rely on to carry out missions from shore to mountain.
Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle (MRAP)
Mission: The MRAP is a specially designed and armored vehicle designed for survivability against Improvised Explosive Devices. Blast resistant bases provide support for the vehicle from below, while armor plating and armored glass provide protection for the vehicles upper body.
Source: US Marine Corps
Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV-7)
Mission: AAV-7s are tracked highly mobile vehicles that serve to ferry Marines and cargo through hostile territory. The vehicles are amphibious, and are equally able to serve in water and on land.
Source: US Marine Corps
M1A1 Abrams Tank
Mission: The principal battle tank of the Marine Corps, the M1A1 Abrams Tank weighs close to 70 tons. Heavily armed and armored, the tank provides firepower in support of Marine Corps ground forces.
Source: US Marine Corps
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
The above graphic shows how the F-35 Lightning II compares with its namesake and 75-year-old predecessor, the P-38J Lightning.
In many ways, the planes do not resemble each other, and represent 75 years of technological and conceptual advancements. But the planes do have their similarities.
Like the coming F-35, the original Lightning was a multirole fighter/bomber with an innovative design. The P-38 earned a fearsome reputation against Axis powers during World War II when it was manned by some of the US's ace pilots.
Now, as the F-35 begins to reach operational capability, US pilots are once again training to rule the skies in a new generation of aircraft.