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The latest news on Defense from Business Insider

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    F-22 raptor thermal image

    The US has spent decades, and hundreds of billions of dollars, on developing "fifth-generation" low-observable aircraft, such as the F-22 and F-35, but recently a couple of thermal images have cast doubt on whether or not these planes are actually as invisible as they claim to be.

    At the Royal International Air Tattoo airshow in England last month, a EC-135 Eurocopter took a detailed thermal image of an F-22, which looked like a big, juicy, $150 million target.

    F-35 thermal VTOL

    In mid August, a Star SAFIRE 380-HDc imaging system developed by FLIR showed the $100 million F-35B as plain as day. Both of these planes have done a great job of limiting their visibility to traditional radars, but these images show that thermal imaging can be a real threat.

    According to Justin Bronk, a Research Fellow specializing in combat airpower at the Royal United Services Institute, infrared search and track (IRST) systems have proliferated to modern air forces the world over.Su 27UB IRST pod thermal imaging russian jet

    "IRST looks for temperature differences using liquid hydrogen or nitrogen to cool the sensor to extremely low temperatures which provides a contrast to the outside. Then it relies on the fact that the air is very cold (at altitude) and any fighter airframe moving through the air at several hundred knots, or particularly supersonic, heats up a lot so temperature difference is huge," Bronk told Business Insider.

    Furthermore, the last decade or so has brought phenomenal improvements in computing power in algorithms, meaning that IRST systems can now filter out false positives and do an excellent job of passively scanning the skies for large, hot, and fast moving targets.

    In particular, the Eurofighter Typhoon's IRST abilities are uncanny. The Typhoon can spot "astonishingly small points of heat at long distance," according to Bronk, who joked that it could see a "campfire on the moon."

    "In theory, state of the art IRST could find and track F-22 at quite long range," said Bronk, who went on to explain that stealth planes are generally bigger requiring larger wings to create more lift.

    Even worse, the radar-absorbing materials these planes are coated in "heat up quickly" leading to a "good infrared return even if the jet exhaust is shrouded"

    f-22 f22 raptor inherent resolve arabian sea

    But aerial combat does not take place in theory.

    The fact is, even with some of the best IRST in the world, there is no way a Typhoon would know where to find the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

    "You still have to know where to look," said Bronk, which would be "almost impossible."

    First off, there is an "enormous amounts of clutter and all sorts of Air Force missile threats in any contested environment."

    Secondly, IRST is hugely affected by weather. Humid parts of the world are inhospitable, and the thermal imaging works better at night when the skies are cooler.  

    But even on a good day, looking for fifth-generation aircraft in the open skies with IRST is like "looking through a drinking straw," said Bronk.

    "The [IRST] field of regard is quite small... and it's much much harder to perform a wide sector scan in a way that a radar can," said Bronk.

    eurofighter

    Meanwhile, stealth is only one strength of fifth generation aircraft. The situational awareness of an F-35 or F-22 represents another, arguably more important, asset.

    "Stealth makes it difficult to find the plane, but mainly grants freedom of movement," said Bronk.

    Using that freedom, the fifth generation planes can chose to "avoid them, engage them, or position themselves in a engagement on their terms."

    So while the legacy aircraft of other nations can scan the skies through a drinking straw, the US fifth-gens can sense a drop of blood miles out like a shark.

    SEE ALSO: It's official — the US Air Force has no idea what it's doing trying to retire the A-10

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The F-35 has hit another snag — this time because it’s too stealthy


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    F 22 and F 15

    In a recent interview with Business Insider, Justin Bronk, a Research Fellow specializing in combat airpower at the Royal United Services Institute, revealed why the F-15, originally introduced four decades ago, is still more useful than either the F-22 or the F-35 in certain situations.

    The F-15 is a traditional air superiority fighter of the fourth generation. It's big, fast, agile, and carriers lots of weapons under the wing where everyone can see them. For that reason, it's terrible at stealth, but the other side of the coin is that it's perfect for intercepting enemy aircraft.

    Bronk says that when it comes to interception, a plane would "have to get up right next to the aircraft, fly alongside, show weapons, go on guard frequency, tell them they're being intercepted, that they're on course to violate airspace, and to turn back immediately."

    An F-22 or F-35 shouldn't, and in some cases, can't do that.

    The major advantage of fifth generation aircraft is their stealth abilities and situational awareness. Even the best aircraft in the world would be lucky to lay eyes on any fifth generation fighter, which means that they can set up and control the engagement entirely on their terms.

    But while this paradigm lends itself ideally to fighting and killing, interception is a different beast.

    The advantages of the F-22, and particularly the F-35, greatly diminish once planes get within visual range of each other. Also, fifth gens usually carry their munitions inside internal bomb bays, which is great for stealth, but doesn't really strike the same note that starring down an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile on the side of an F-15 would.

    Simply put, a fifth gen revealing itself to a legacy fighter would be akin to a hunter laying down his gun before confronting a wild beast.

    F 15 Eagle AIM 9 Sidewinder air to air

    "Fifth gen fighters are not really necessary for that... other, cheaper interceptors can do the job," said Bronk.

    Furthermore, interception happens way more frequently than air-to-air combat. The last time a US Air Force fighter shot down an enemy plane, it was their own wayward drone over Afghanistan in 2009. Meanwhile, interceptionshappenallthetime, with the Baltics and the South China Sea being particular hot spots.

    The fifth-gens, however, make sense for entering contested air space. If the US wanted to enter North Korean, or Iranian air space, it wouldn't just be to show off, and according to Bronk, their stealth and situational awareness would afford them the opportunity to slip in hit their marks, and slip out undetected, unlike an F-15.

    F-35B

    In interception situations, it makes no sense to offer up an F-22 or F-35 as a handicapped target to an older legacy plane. F-15s are more than capable of delivering the message themselves, and whoever they intercept will know that the full force of the US Air Force, including fifth-gens, stands behind them.

    SEE ALSO: Here's why thermal imaging can't stop the F-22 or the F-35

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The F-35 has hit another snag — this time because it’s too stealthy


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    F-22

    In an interview with USA Today, the pilots of the F-22s who chased away Syrian jets bombing close to Kurdish forces with embedded US advisers revealed that the Syrian pilots had no idea they were being shadowed.

    “I followed him around for all three of his loops,” one of the American pilots, a 38-year-old Air Force major, told USA Today. “He didn’t appear to have any idea I was there.”

    Brig. Gen. Charles Corcoran, commander of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, told USA Today that once the F-22 made radio contact, "The behaviour stopped. We made our point."

    The situation in Syria is tense, as the US has limited forces on the ground, but has employed air assets to defend them. So the US effectively has told Syria that it can't fly planes within a section of their own country.

    Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said that in the event that Syrian planes get too close to US and US-backed forces that they "would advise them to steer clear in areas where we are operating," adding that "we always have the right to defend our forces." 

    Fortunately, in this case, the warning was sufficient.

    “The big concern is really a miscalculation,” said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of US air operations in the Middle East told USA Today. “It can happen on either side.”

    “We made it very clear to our folks from the highest levels: We’re not at war with the Russians or Syrians,” Corcoran told USA Today. “We’re not here to shoot down Russian or Syrian airplanes.”

    But sending servicemen and women into combat with unclear, or delicate instructions is not an ideal case. Every second a pilot spends weighing the decision to fire or not could potentially cost that pilot's life.

    F-22

    Luckily, no life or death decisions had to be made.

    “I’m thinking how do I de-escalate this scenario to the best of my ability and also keep us in a safe position while doing so,” the other pilot involved told USA Today.

    It seems also that the pilot's leadership was behind them every step of the way. Maj. Gen. Jay Silveria, the air commander in Qatar, made it clear he was ready to pull the trigger.

    “I wouldn’t have hesitated,” said Silveria.

    Syria map

    “All I needed at that point to shoot them down was a report from the ground that they were being attacked,” Silveria told USA Today. “We were in a perfect position to execute that with some pretty advanced weaponry.”

    SEE ALSO: Here's when an F-15 is better than an F-22 or an F-35

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Watch newly released footage of the F-35B taking off, hovering, and landing vertically


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    USS Squall

    Just one day after video emerged of Iranian ships swarming and harassing the USS Nitze, Business Insider has confirmed a separate incident on Wednesday involving the USS Squall, a coastal-patrol ship, in the northern Arabian Gulf.

    Cmdr. Bill Urban of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet told Business Insider that several incidents occurred where Iranian navy ships showed wanton disregard for safety and internationally recognized maritime law. 

    The USS Tempest and USS Squall were "operating in international waters of the northern Arabian Gulf when three IRGCN [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy] vessels approached at high speed." The vessels veered within 600 yards of the US Navy ships despite auditory and visual warnings from their crews.

    Later on, Urban says a Naser-class fast-attack craft charged the Tempest and came within 200 yards. At this point the Tempest fired three flares at the Iranian vessel.

    iranian ship

    "This situation presented a drastically increased risk of collision," Urban said in an email to Business Insider.

    "Ultimately, Squall resorted to firing three warning shots from their 50-caliber gun, which caused the Iranian vessel to turn away."

    Finally, two of the same craft from the second encounter harassed the guided-missile destroyer USS Stout, repeatedly crossing in front of the ship's bow. The Stout maneuvered away without incident. 

    Urban stressed that the Navy had been operating in international waters and in accordance with international law.

    Reuters notes that the recent uptick in incidents between Iranian and US vessels harkens back to the high tensions before the Iran nuclear deal somewhat normalized relations.

    However, the hardline Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which has lobbied against the nuclear deal, has continued to seek to increase tensions with the US. In June, Iran briefly captured 11 US sailors in the same region and went on to frame the capture as a huge propaganda win.

    The US and Iran are currently at odds, as Iran staunchly supports Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, who Obama has called on to step down. Also, Iran is openly hostile toward Israel, a major US ally. 

    SEE ALSO: Here's footage of the 'dangerous, harassing' Iranian attack-boat maneuvers near the USS Nitze

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The US Navy’s most expensive war ship ever is experiencing more setbacks


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    A selection of photos from some of the biggest news that you might have missed this week.

    SEE ALSO: These were the best military photos of the past month

    Evacuees take refuge in the the Baton Rouge River Center arena as the state deals with the record flooding that caused thousands of people to seek shelter on August 19, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Last week Louisiana was overwhelmed with flood water causing at least thirteen deaths and thousands of damaged homes.



    President Barack Obama, flanked by US Senator David Vitter (R-LA) (3rd R) and US Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) (R), tours a flood-affected neighborhood in Zachary, Louisiana.



    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump welcomes Nigel Farage, ex-leader of the British UKIP party, to speak at a campaign rally in Jackson, Mississippi, August 24, 2016.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Turkish Border Remains Closed To Syrians Seeking Refuge From Escalating Violence

    The Arab Spring uprisings that spread across the Middle East in 2011 eventually led to regime changes, civil society crackdowns, and several bloody conflicts.

    More than five years later, new data shows life expectancy in several countries, from Libya to Syria, has also taken a hit.

    Syrians can now expect to live about six years less than they would have if the civil war there had never started.

    Since Libya devolved into conflict after Muammar Gaddafi's 2011 ousting, men in the country have lost nine years off their lives and women lost six years.

    Life expectancy also dropped by a quarter of a year in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen.

    These figures are according to new study on the state of health in the Middle East out of the University of Washington that analyzed 23 years of data extending to 2013.

    "Our study shows that the eastern Mediterranean region is going through a crucial health phase," the study states in its summary. "The Arab uprisings and the wars that followed, coupled with aging and population growth, will have a major impact on the region's health and resources."

    In Syria, where the ongoing conflict has killed 400,000 people and placed millions in dire need of humanitarian aid, war was reported as a "large contributor" to the years of life lost.

    A baby is assisted from a raft arriving from Turkey onto the island of Lesbos on October 17, 2015 in Sikaminias, Greece.

    The new numbers reverse gains in the Middle East had been making in public health despite stressful domestic conditions. Before the recent declines, Egypt, Syria, Libya, and Yemen all saw life expectancies increase by about five years between 1990 and 2010.

    Syria reduced infant mortality rate by about 6 percent each year until 2010, but the death rate for babies has since been on the rise. Syria now finds itself behind countries in sub-Saharan Africa when it comes to improving infant survival rates.

    As a whole, the Middle East saw life expectancy grow to 71 years by 2013, but the study's authors say the devastation in countries like Syria and Libya is significant enough to start rolling back these improvements as the conflict and refugee crises take their toll.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Watch the Air Force drop 8 armored Humvees out of a plane from 5,000 feet


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    turkish forces enter syria

    Turkish air strikes in north Syria killed 25 Kurdish militants, the Turkish military said on Sunday, the fifth day of a cross-border campaign launched alongside its Syrian rebel allies that aims to strike at Kurdish forces and Islamic State.

    The military said the militants were killed in the area of Jarablus, a Syrian town on the border with Turkey. The army said it was taking all measures to avoid any civilian deaths.

    The monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Sunday that at least 35 civilians were killed south of Jarablus during fighting between Turkish-backed forces and rival Kurdish-aligned Syrian militias. The militias have said no Kurdish forces are in the area.

    SEE ALSO: http://www.businessinsider.com/turkey-allow-russia-to-share-incirlik-air-base-2016-8

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: IAN BREMMER: Turkey’s president wants to emulate Putin — but it’s not going to work


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    russia military parade

    NATO's deputy secretary general says Russia is conducting unannounced military exercises, straining its relationship with the Western military alliance.

    Alexander Vershbow said Monday that Russia had staged large drills with no advance notification "with increasing frequency." He said there had been about a dozen in the past two years.

    Vershbow, on a visit to Bucharest, said Russia's drills are allowed by a loophole in a security agreement signed with Western countries. He said NATO wants to "develop a more stringent regime to increase transparency and ...predictability and a way to better stabilize what is a very unsatisfactory relationship with Russia."

    Alliance members have not staged snap drills since the end of the Cold War, he said.

    NATO members Poland and Romania are uneasy about Russia's military presence near their borders.

    SEE ALSO: Germany, Poland and France call for more efforts to end Ukraine crisis

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Belgium Crime lab attack

    Attackers rammed a car through the gates of Belgium's crime institute early Monday and set fire to a lab containing crime scene samples, apparently in an effort to destroy evidence, Brussels prosecutors said.

    As the blaze in the north Brussels suburb erupted, residents heard at least one explosion and Belgian media reported a bomb attack, but investigators said the noise was probably materials going up in flames.

    Belgium has been on high alert since suicide bombings at the Brussels airport and subway killed 32 people on March 22, and security forces remain on standby for another attack.

    Prosecutors said five people were detained for questioning and released without charge following the Monday incident, which happened at about 2 a.m. in Neder-Over-Heembeek. No one was injured.

    "It's probably not terrorism. It's a criminal act," said Ine Van Wymersch, a spokeswoman for the Brussels prosecutor's office. "I cannot confirm that there was any bomb."

    The forensic facility assists Belgium's justice authorities in carrying out their investigations and the lab contains DNA samples found at crime scenes.

    "The location was not chosen randomly," Van Wymersch said. She said the lab contains "sensitive information" being used in ongoing investigations.

    The fire and damage hampered the efforts of investigators to enter the scene, and she said it would take some time to establish exactly what had been destroyed.

    crime lab tech

    "The laboratory does thousands of analyses each year, so we don't know what damage has been done yet," Van Wymersch told reporters. "It is obvious that several individuals would have an interest in making elements in their justice file disappear."

    Belgium's police and army have been deployed in large numbers since suicide bombers attacked Paris last November, leaving 130 dead. Many of the attackers had links to Belgium.

    Tensions have also been running high in Belgium in recent weeks amid a series of criminal knife and shooting attacks and two hoax anthrax attacks.

    On Friday, one person was killed and at least four were injured in an accidental explosion at a sports center near the French border.

    Over the weekend, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel announced new plans to ease the load on the security services, including creating a new force to protect key buildings and using more private security firms for concerts or sports events.

    SEE ALSO: NATO: Russia increasingly staging snap military drills

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Watch how European cities are showing solidarity with France after the Nice attack


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    obama jordan middle east

    It has long been clear that the Obama administration will hand its successor a dangerous mess in the Middle East, centering on Syria and emanating outward. Is it now ceding so much initiative that it risks delivering the next president an outright failure?

    That prospect’s just a little way out in the middle distance. All of the region’s major powers now appear intent on pushing the Americans to the side, or they stand in open defiance of U.S. policy (such as anybody can make one out). Or both.  

    Secretary of State Kerry’s continuing ceasefire and cooperation talks with Sergei Lavrov, his Russian counterpart, are just about the only American initiative left. While the success of this effort remains far from certain, working carefully but more closely with Moscow now emerges as the best chance Washington has to influence the outcome in Syria.

    At this point, the magnitude of the fix the Obama administration is in, primarily due to its mistakes, can’t be exaggerated. Amid stunningly rapid realignments across the Middle East, the pre-eminence Washington assumed after the Suez crisis in 1956 suddenly appears at risk.

    Big changes portend historic shifts, and those early signs are in the making.

    The events of just the past few weeks must have a lot of heads spinning at State. Turkey, Iran, Russia, and even Syria—four non–Western powers—are all converging in one way or another to advance toward a solution in Syria.

    There are some shockers here. Sunni-nationalist Turkey is reconnecting with Shiite Iran—this after President Erdoğan’s startling new rapprochement with Russia. Now we have reports that Turkey is conducting back-channel talks with the Assad government in Damascus; Sputnik, the Russian wire service, just published aninterview with one of the Turkish mediators.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) gestures next to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir during a meeting on Syria in Geneva, Switzerland May 2, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

    Now there’s a set of proper pivots for you.

    Iran’s relations with Russia, which have been on again, off again since the Safavid and Russian empires established ties in the 16th century, are now on again. Given all the effort Kerry put into the nuclear accord with Tehran two years ago, it must have been bitter when Russian bombers flying sorties into Syria took off from Iranian airfields two weeks ago.

    Still absorbing that out-of-nowhere news, the spokesperson at State managed no more than an embarrassing splutter at his daily presser the next day. The Iranians, increasingly angry as they allege the U.S. is blocking much of the business they expected to come their way, have since moved provocatively against U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf—an unmistakable poke in the Obama administration’s eye.

    The ever-unpredictable Erdoğan, meantime, has Obama and Vice-President Biden in knots by way of a take-it-or-leave-it new military arrangement. Turkey, which is deeply committed to crushing the Kurdish autonomy movement in Syria and Turkey both, sent special forces into Syria last week for the first time, nominally against the Islamic State.

    In evident gratitude, Biden turned on the Kurds—the best ally Washington has against ISIS—and demanded they retreat during a visit to Ankara last week. Now look: By last Friday, it was clear that Erdoğan’s priority—as it always has been—is attacking the Kurds, not the Islamic State, first and most vigorously.

    putin syria

    On various battlefields, the Assad government just retook a key suburb of Damascusfrom U.S.–backed opposition forces. On the other side of the border, since Baghdad retook Fallujah earlier this summer, it’s awkwardly obvious that Washington’s effectively dependent on Iranian militias.

    That’s quite a list of mishaps, bad calls, and reversals. But it’s what Kerry must keep in his attaché case while he’s talking to Lavrov in Geneva, as he did once again last week.

    A few new realities are attaching to these talks now.

    One is that Kerry has no chance of success until Washington clarifies its intentionally blurred position on Assad. Moscow has no great affection for him, but there’s no chance in hell it will accept removing him before political processes and institutions are in place to prevent Libyan-style chaos.

    Another concerns the Pentagon. Kerry needs to face down those at Defense who have been effectively sabotaging his talks with Lavrov to establish some form of on-the-ground military cooperation. Generals are supposed to execute orders; policy is the purview of diplomats.

    Syria Iran

    Looming over all are Washington’s hostile relations with Russia. It’s time to stop dismissing its aspirations to global influence out of hand and recognize that, like it or not, Moscow has quite a lot of clout. “It should be obvious, then, that Washington needs a better Russia policy,” Foreign Policy wrote in a clear-eyed essay published last week.  

    This is now very key. And that’s nowhere clearer than in Syria and in all the political jockeying the Syrian crisis prompts. Absent a rethink of U.S. relations with Russia—toward cooperation and away from confrontation—the word we’re looking for amid the rapidly realigning Middle East may be “marginalization.”

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's why the Olympic diving pool turned green


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    One killed, three wounded in car explosion in front of Chinese embassy in Bishkek.A powerful explosion rocked the Chinese embassy in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, on Tuesday, after a car laden with explosives reportedly rammed the gates of the compound, killing at least one and wounding three, according to Kyrgyz national news agency 24.kg.

    Kyrgyz security officials described the blast as a terrorist attack, the local AKIpress reports.

    The driver of the vehicle reportedly died in the blast, Emergency Response headquarters told 24.kg.

    Three embassy employees, all Kyrgyz nationals, were injured, Deputy PM Zhenish Razakov said, according to BBC. They suffered non-life-threatening wounds from shrapnel.

    The vehicle reportedly smashed through the gates and exploded in the centre of the compound, close to the ambassador's residence, the Emergencies Ministry told Interfax, cited by RT news agency, which is funded by the Russian government.

    Police also confirmed receiving reports of the explosion, saying that first responders have already been dispatched to the site, RT reports.

    map

    Several buildings at the compound were damaged and fragments of the car flew into the distance of 200 meters from the explosion, AKIpress reports.

    Top Kyrgyz officials including the minister for emergency situations Kubatbek Boronov and Bishkek Prosecutor Kubanychbek Beshekeyev have arrived at the scene of the explosion, AKIpress reports.

    AKIpress also quoted the chief of security at the Chinese embassy as saying that there are no injuries among Chinese nationals working at the Embassy — only the attacker died and he was alone in the car.

    Forensic experts and the State National Security Committee personnel are working at the scene. Bomb technicians are examining the area, which has been cordoned off.

    The GKNB state security service said it was investigating the blast but provided no other details, Reuters reports.

    Employees from the Chinese and nearby American embassy were evacuated, the BBC reports.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 'We're not playing games any longer': Trump ramps up his rhetoric on China


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    According to the US Air Force inventory projection over the next 3 decades, the force structure could get a lot more homogeneous, with only the F-35A, some F-15s, a handful of F-22s, and a new, as of yet undetermined of F-X fighter, patrolling the skies by 2046.

    US Air Force force projection f-35aOf course, this projection represents the Air Force's planning, which is subject to legislative oversight. But still, the above graphic shows just how strongly the force feels about the F-35A dominating the skies, and the A-10 and F-16 exiting the picture sooner rather than later.

    While such long range predictions as this demand to be taken with a grain of salt, it shows the supreme confidence the Air Force has in the F-35A. 

    SEE ALSO: Here's when an F-15 is better than an F-22 or an F-35

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The F-35 has hit another snag — this time because it’s too stealthy


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    Ford

    Three months before the delivery of the Navy's first-in-class, $13 billion Ford class carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, an independent review ordered by the Pentagon's top weapons buyer has revealed some serious problems with the program.

    “With the benefit of hindsight, it was clearly premature to include so many unproven technologies” Frank Kendall said in an August 23 memo to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, as reported by  of Bloomberg News.

    The Navy has been looking forward to the Ford class, originally promised to be delivered in 2014, to slowly start replacing the Nimitz class carriers that were originally introduced in 1975.

    The Ford class promises several improvements on the aging Nimitzs, from improved launching and landing gear, radars, and ship design, all the way down to the nuclear core that powers the ship and it's power-generation capabilities. 

    ford class nimitz class aircraft carrier

    But aircraft carriers already constitute some of the largest and most complicated machines ever built by man, and the independent review suggests the program may be buckling under the weight of it's own complexity.

    “The USS Ford, like every first-of-class ship ever built, has and will continue to face challenges,” Commander Mike Kafka, a Navy spokesman told Bloomberg News.

    “However, the capabilities resident on Ford are needed now and in the future, and the Navy will continue to work hard to get Ford completed and into the fleet, paying close attention to both new and legacy systems.”

    But the problems with the USS Gerald R. Ford might be a bit more serious than just growing pains. The independent review states that the launching and landing gear have problems and the dual-band radar has serious integration issues that "need to be avoided" with the next ships in the class.

    USS Gerald R. Ford

    Even the power plant of the ship, the nuclear core said to triple the Nimitz class' output so it can power weapons of the future (think railguns and lasers), has serious problems with the main turbine generator, according to the memo seen by Bloomberg.

    Unfortunately, any significant changes to the Ford class will have to wait for years, as the USS Gerald R. Ford is built, and the USS John F. Kennedy is nearly built, leaving any improvements available only for the third ship in the class.

    As for now, “what we have to determine now is whether it is best to ‘stay the course’ or adjust our plans,” the independent review said. 

    SEE ALSO: A new type of aircraft carrier is gearing up to dominate the seas

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This is why a US aircraft carrier is a force to be reckoned with


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    F-35

    In a recent interview with Business Insider, Justin Bronk, a research fellow specializing in combat airpower at the Royal United Services Institute, dropped a bombshell about the US's $1 trillion F-35 program:

    "The F-35 cannot out dogfight a Typhoon (or a Su-35), never in a million years."

    In earlier stages of the F-35's development, some bad reports came out claiming it lost in simulated dogfights to the F-16, a legacy platform the F-35 intends to replace.

    Lately, the news coming out about the F-35's dogfighting ability has taken a visible turn to the positive, but dogfighting was never the main purpose or strong suit of the Joint Strike Fighter.

    For that reason, older fighters, like the Eurofighter Typhoon or the Sukhoi Su-35, could likely outmaneuver and kill an F-35 in a close range confrontation. 

    While every credible report indicates that the F-35 will dominate in stealthiness, situational awareness, and beyond visual range confrontations, dogfights, or up close fights with opposing fighter pilots jockeying for position and a clean shot, depend on a different set of characteristics.

    Eurofighter Typhoon

    Thrust-to-weight ratio and wing loading, or the loaded weight of the aircraft divided by the area of the wings, comprise some of the chiefly important factors in dogfighting.

    "Typhoon and Su-35 both have positive thrust-to-weight ratios at combat loadings, meaning that they can accelerate vertically and generally both maintain and regain energy in a turn much more successfully than the F-35 (particularly the heavier B and C models)," explained Bronk.

    The F-35 does have a positive thrust-to-weight ratio, but when loaded up with fuel and ordinance for combat, it's unclear if that will remain.

    Ultimately, having small wings and a design more geared toward stealth than kinematics hurts the F-35's dogfighting prospects.

    "A low wing loading means that Typhoon and Su-35 can sustain much tighter turns than the F-35 whilst also creating less induced drag and losing less energy," said Bronk.

    In the case of the Russian Su-35, an adversary infinitely more likely to face the F-35 than the Typhoon, the F-35 overcoming the Su-35's supermaneuverability while dogfighting seems an insurmountable task.

    "Su-35 also has thrust-vectoring engines, meaning that it can maintain control and continue to point its nose where the pilot wants even after the wings have stalled (called supermaneuverability) which is a potentially large advantage within visual range and at low speeds."

    Not only does stealth limit the F-35's mobility, it also limits its capacity for ordinance. 

    Su-35

    "Typhoon and Su-35 also carry larger missile loadouts than F-35 in normal combat configurations meaning that at close range they have twice as many infra-red seeking missiles to fire at their opponents," Bronk said.

    As Business Insider previously explored, infra-red tracking is key to finding and fighting advanced stealth aircraft like the F-35.

    But none of this would be news to the US Air Force, who have intentionally sacrificed dogfighting abilities for stealth and situational awareness. The whole point of the F-35 is to see enemy jets from far beyond visual range and engage them with advanced missiles.

    According to Bronk, neither an Su-35 or a Typhoon would see the F-35 until it is very close, at which point the legacy jets are completely at the mercy of the more advanced fifth-gens who can "avoid them, engage them, or position themselves for an engagement entirely on their terms."

    So while an F-35 most likely cannot win a dogfight against a Typhoon or an Su-35, it's game-changing capabilities at long range all but guarantee it will never have to.

    SEE ALSO: The F-35 'will absolutely thrive' in the most militarized region on the planet

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    Warthog A10 aircraft Air Force Al Asad Air Base Iraq.JPG

    A new report from the Government Accountability Office dives deep into the all important question the Air Force and the Senate Armed Services Committee have been wrestling with for years — should, or can, the Air Force divest itself of the A-10?

    The report, thoroughly researched and evaluated, gives a clear answer — definitely not. 

    Even with the looming adoption of the all important F-35, the report finds that retiring the A-10 would leave significant capability gaps behind, and that the Air Force currently has concrete plans to bridge those gaps.

    In the slides below, find out exactly what the A-10 does, and how the Air Force, whether they admit it or not, just can't live without it.

    SEE ALSO: Why the F-35 could 'never in a million years' out dogfight the RAF Typhoon or the Russian Su-35

    Here's an overview of the Department of Defense's close air support (CAS) platforms:

    This graphic shows that the US actually employs many different CAS platforms, but the A-10 remains unique among them.

    The A-10 has the cheapest operating cost of any of the manned aircraft pictured here. It also has its famous gun.

    No other plane in the Air Force's inventory packs anything close to the A-10's GAU-8 Avenger 30 mm gun.

    Source: Government Accountability Office



    Primary mission: CAS

    Description: Air action by fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft against hostile targets that are in close proximity to friendly forces and that require detailed integration of each air mission with the fire and movement of those forces.

    Why the A-10 does it best: The simple reason the A-10 community dominates at CAS is their training. They train twice, in some cases three times, as much on CAS compared to other pilot communities.

    This graphic shows the full details:

    gao a-10 training close air support

    Also, the A-10 has the benefit of its gun. The gun can strike targets more precisely and than even the best, million-dollar guided munitions in the Air Force's arsenal. 

    "It's a low-collateral-damage weapon, pinpoint accurate, and we employ high-explosive incendiary rounds so nothing's walking away from that if they get hit," Air Force Col. Sean McCarthy said of the A-10's gun.

    Source: Government Accountability Office



    Primary mission: Forward Air Control (Airborne) (FAC(A))

    Description: A specifically trained and qualified aviation officer who exercises control from the air of aircraft engaged in CAS of ground troops. The FAC(A) also provides coordination and terminal attack control for CAS missions, as well as locating, marking, and attacking ground targets using other fire support assets.

    Why the A-10 does it best: Again, it comes down to the incredible training the A-10 community undergoes. A-10 pilots train about 4 times as much as F-16 pilots do for FAC(A), and are required to "Attain mission proficiency" in this role "while F-16 FAC(A)s and future F-35 FAC(A)s are only required to have familiarity with the mission," the report states.

    About half of the Air Force's airborne Forward Air Controllers are A-10 pilots, and for good reason it would seem. 

    Source: Government Accountability Office



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    IS spokesman and head of external operations Abu Muhammad al-Adnani is pictured in this undated handout photo, courtesy the U.S. Department of State.  U.S. Department of State/Handout via REUTERS

    Russia's Defence Ministry said on Wednesday that Russian air strikes in Syria had killed one of Islamic State's most prominent leaders, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani.

    The ministry said that Adnani was one of up to 40 rebels killed on Tuesday by air strikes carried out by a Russian Su-34 bomber in Maaratat-Umm Khaush in Aleppo province.

    Islamic State said on Tuesday Adnani had been killed in what appeared to be an US air strike in Syria. A US defense official told Reuters the United States targeted Adnani in a strike but stopped short of confirming his death.

    Russia's Defence Ministry said Adnani's killing by the Russian air strike had been confirmed "through several intelligence channels".

    Islamic State's Amaq News Agency reported on Tuesday that Adnani was killed "while surveying the operations to repel the military campaigns against Aleppo".

    russian airstrikes Syria

    SEE ALSO: A top ISIS official's death could have major implications for the future of the group

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    A selection of military photos that you might have missed this month.

    SEE ALSO: These images show the US-South Korean exercise North Korea threatened with a nuclear strike

    A US Marine fires a M240 machine gun as another Marine guides his fire through his night vision optics at the Marine Air-Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, August 18, 2016.



    A US airman jumps out of a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, 12,000 feet above the Malmsheim Drop Zone, Stuttgart, Germany, August 17, 2016.



    US Marines watch the illumination from artillery during a live-fire exercise, August 18, 2016, at Bradshaw Field Training Area, Northern Territory, Australia.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Nicholas Irving is a retired US Army Ranger sniper who has served in Afghanistan. Irving, author of "Way of the Reaper," discusses the scariest part about being a sniper. 

    Follow BI Video: On Twitter

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    From the killing of a major ISIS leader to recent military flareups in Ukraine, August has been a month of historic geopolitical interest.

    The following map gives a brief rundown of the enduring geopolitical problems across the globe:

    BI GRAPHICS_geopolitics map

    Ukraine has seen a steady uptick in violence and militaristic posturing by Russia around its borders. In the beginning of the month, a spate of attacks between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian military led to the nation being on the verge of an all-out war. 

    Fortunately this has not come to pass, but tensions are still high as Russia has accused Ukraine of trying to carry out terror attacks in Crimea. Moscow has also launched snap military drills across the nation, including close to the Ukrainian border.

    The South China Sea continues to heat up as China refuses to back down from its controversial territorial claims despite a unanimous ruling against it on July 12 in the Hague. Despite the ruling, Beijing continues to expand its military presence on islands throughout the sea.

    Additionally, the US has made a show of force in the region to reassure its ally the Philippines. The US has also considered placing mobile artillery systems throughout the region to deter Chinese aggression.

    South Sudan is facing the renewed prospect of civil war after peace talks in the country fell apart in July. The country had faced 20 months of civil before the signing of a peace agreement in August 2015. A recent report from UNICEF shows that fighting is still raging in the nation and that the South Sudanese government is recruiting child soldiers to help in the conflict.

    Yemen continues to face a multi-sided civil war that shows no signs of stopping. The fighting, which consists of a Saudi Arabian-led coalition, Iranian-supported rebels backed by military members loyal to the previous government, al Qaeda, and ISIS, has done significant harm to the nation. The UN estimates that at least 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict so far.

    A soldier looks at people rallying to show support to a political council formed by the Houthi movement and the General People's Congress party to unilaterally rule Yemen by both groups, in the capital Sanaa August 20, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

    And to make matters even worse for Yemen, the UN envoy recently said that the fighting is fueling extremism, meaning that the war could continue for an unforeseeable duration.

    Libya continues to grapple with the difficulties inherent in having two competing governments and an array of armed groups operating in the country. Despite the inherent lawlessness of the state, a Danish team has successfully removed the last of Libya's stockpile of chemical weapons. 

    Additionally, Libyan forces have managed to oust ISIS from its stronghold in the city of Sirte. During the battle, US and western forces also played a key role in driving out the militants.

    Mexico has reached a grizzly milestone as violence and competition between cartels across the country continues to spiral. In July, Mexico suffered from 2,073 homicides — the most since Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto entered office in December 2012.

    Iraq is continuing to push back against ISIS throughout the country, although the country remains as divided along ethnic and sectarian lines as ever. However, a US general has stated that operations to retake Iraq's second largest city from ISIS are on track to be completed this year. And US-led airstrikes continue to hammer ISIS across the country.

    Still, a new report highlighting how ISIS buried thousands in mass graves across the country shows how far Iraq needs to come to fully repair itself.

    Kurdish female iraq

    Syria faces an increasingly complex civil war now that Turkish forces, along with Turkish-backed rebels, have intervened in the north of the country against both ISIS and the US-supported Kurdish YPG forces. The move will only further muddy US efforts to forge an anti-ISIS coalition on the ground.

    Additionally, a top ISIS official in Syria was killed. And a new report has shown that the years of war in Syria has caused life expectancy in the country to drop by 6 years

    North Korea has continued to test ballistic missiles despite UN sanctions. The reclusive country successfully tested a submarine-based missile on August 23, following a the test of two ballistic missiles shot into the sea of Japan at the start of the month.

    The tests have led to a rare joint statement from Japan, China, and South Korea which stated tha the tests "simply cannot be tolerated." Japan has also pressured the UN today for a new round of sanctions on North Korea for the tests.

    SEE ALSO: These images show the US-South Korean exercise North Korea threatened with a nuclear strike

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    Abu Muhammad al-AdnaniThe death of Islamic State’s chief propagandist, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, has removed the group’s most valuable figure in its war against the west, but his demise does not mean an end to the carnage.

    Over the past two years, Adnani has set in motion a phase of the terror group’s growth that will continue to give it lead billing among the threats to Europe and the US. The people he empowered and the structures he put in place mean the menace of Isis will continue without him.

    Since 2014, Adnani had been the voice who galvanised so-called lone wolves to launch attacks. He had also overseen the deployment of some of the group’s most lethally trained operatives, many of whom have been sent to Europe to wait for instructions to launch more co-ordinated missions, like those that struck Paris and Brussels.

    Global savagery had become Adnani’s calling card. Operating with more autonomy than most other leaders, he had ensured the group could still make its mark even as the territory it held shrank rapidly.

    The foreign operations file was given to him by the Isis leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in as early as 2014. By then he was already the group’s leader in Syria, one of two centres of gravity for Isis, the other being Mosul in Iraq.

    The heady early months of Isis’s rise kept Adnani focused on consolidating gains in Syria until mid-2015, by which time land it held in both countries was being steadily stripped from its control. Population groups had started to flee en masse, many leaving for Europe on the migrant route, and out of chaos, Isis, led by Adnani and Baghdadi, sensed opportunity.

    Adnani, as well as another senior Iraqi member of the group, was responsible for smuggling militants disguised as refugees to Europe. Intelligence services in the UK, France, Germany and elsewhere believe the number of operatives to be at least 200. The fraught job of tracking the whereabouts of militants who left their home countries for Iraq and Syria has left European spies fearing the actual number may be substantially higher.

     

    ISIS

    Since late last year, Adnani had spent much of his time plotting attacks abroad. He is believed to have had direct links to the Paris cell and is also thought to have had a hand in Brussels and the strike on Istanbul’s Atatürk airport in June.

    By then the group had lost an estimated 35,000-50,000 of its fighters, many of them jihadis who had travelled to join them. A stock take of the group’s fortunes makes for grim reading for those who remain.

    More than 10 senior members of its two organising bodies, the shura and military councils, have been killed by airstrikes in the past 18 months. The toll on more junior members – mid-ranking commissioned officers in military terms – has been substantially higher.

    What to make of morale within the group is exercising military and intelligence chiefs ahead of what they believe will be a defining push against Mosul mooted for early next year. With Iraq’s national army making surprising ground from the south and the Kurds holding positions to the north, and victories in three other Iraqi cities already up their sleeve, Mosul appears to be a less formidable target than it was a year ago.

    Libya fights isis

    Isis’s days as a standalone military force appear numbered. However, the group’s ideological appeal is harder to defeat in a region that continues to offer little political buy-in for disenfranchised Sunni Muslims. A large part of Isis’s appeal, even among communities that do not share its implacable take on Islam, is that it offers support in the absence of any other organised system.

    Adnani was one of the last last leftovers of the original alumni that had adopted a de facto role as protector of the region’s Sunni Muslims. He was among the few surviving leaders with personal links to the group’s founder, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who moulded the most ruthless group of modern times from the resentment that steamed from the ousting of Saddam Hussein.

    Military men who had lost all when the Iraqi dictator fell were central to all subsequent incarnations of Isis. They blended their own strategic calculations with the zealotry of the Zarqawi’ists, laying the ground for Isis’s success and in doing so creating the most capable enemy that the west has seen for decades.

    Adnani had championed an expansion of Isis at any cost. His legacy will be written far from the northern Syrian town of al-Bab where a suspected US airstrike finally caught up with him.

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