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The latest news on Defense from Business Insider

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    hitler and himmler

    Today marks the 77th anniversary of the start of World War II —when Hitler's Nazi army invaded Poland.

    Hitler's engineers secretly developed some of the most ambitious projects and rapidly produced sophisticated technology decades before its time.

    In the 2015 fall issue of Weapons of WWII magazine, author KM Lee detailed some of Hitler's advanced weaponry.

    Here's a look at are some of the secret, lethal weapons the Nazis created during World War II:

    SEE ALSO: Hitler created the largest gun ever, and it was a total disaster

    Hitler's stealth 'flying wing' bomber

    Referred to as "Hitler's secret weapon," the Horten Ho 229 bomber was designed to carry 2,000 pounds of armaments while flying at 49,000 feet at speeds north of 600 mph.

    Equipped with twin turbojet engines, two cannons, and R4M rockets, the Horten Ho 229 was the world's first stealth aircraft and took its first flight in 1944.

    Source: Weapons of WWII magazine

     



    According to the Smithsonian, Nazi Luftwaffe chief Hermann Göring allocated half a million Reich Marks to brothers Reimar and Walter Horten to manufacture the aircraft.

    Plagued with problems, the Horten didn't last long in combat. Instead, the bomber's engineering did inspire today's modern stealth aircraft — like the Northrop Gruman B-2 bomber.

    Source: Weapons of WWII magazine



    The Fritz X radio-guided bomb

    Considered the "grandfather of smart bombs," the Fritz X was a 3,450-pound explosive equipped with a radio receiver and sophisticated tail controls that helped guide the bomb to its target.

    According to the US Air Force, the Fritz X could penetrate 28 inches of armor and could be deployed from 20,000 feet,an altitude out of reach for antiaircraft equipment at the time.

    Less than a month after it was developed, the Nazis sank Italian battleship Roma off Sardinia in September 1943. However, the Fritz X's combat use was limited since only a few Luftwaffe aircraft were designed to carry the bomb.

    Source: Weapons of WWII magazine



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    During a recent trip to TSA Academy in Glynco, Georgia, we had the opportunity to meet students in their mock checkpoint classroom. We found out why they decided to join the agency, and what they were doing prior to the training.

    Follow BI Video: On Twitter

     

     

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    electronic warfare counter IED afghanistan

    On Wednesday, the US Army announced the creation of the Rapid Capabilities Office to "expedite critical technologies to the field in an effort to counter urgent and emerging threats."

    Essentially that means the Army now has an office with the authority to fast track technologies through the hulking, bloated, wasteful defense acquisition system that tried and failed three times to pick out something as simple as a new handgun.

    Even vital systems can take 10 years to reach the field, which has greatly hamstrung the Army and made their tactics stale, predictable, and therefore vulnerable. 

    “Russia goes into the Ukraine and Russia goes into Syria [and] we realize that they’ve been watching us and learning from us and adapting. So we see some areas where we want to have a more pronounced ‘overmatch,”’ Army Secretary Eric Fanning told Bloomberg News in an interview

    Ukraine Russia

    Fanning told Bloomberg's Anthony Capaccio that the office would focus on "improvements to cyber operations, electronic warfare, survivability and GPS-enabled positioning, navigation and timing."

    As Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work said of the US armed forces in 2015, "our greatest advantage is the vibrant technological community in the United States, and the vibrant technological communities in our defense industrial base."

    However, as Daniel Gouré, Ph.D., of the Lexington Institute points out, with the current lag between technology's inception to its deployment on the frontlines, adversaries like Russia and China could gain technological supremacy over the US in as little as five years.

    china hack

    “There’s no denying we have a troubled acquisition past,” Fanning told Bloomberg. “We are bringing all elements of the Army together,” he said of the Rapid Capabilities Office.

    "We're serious about keeping our edge, so we need to make changes in how we get soldiers the technology they need," Fanning said in a US Army release. "The Army Rapid Capabilities Office is a major step forward, allowing us to prioritize cross-domain, integrated capabilities in order to confront emerging threats and advance America's military dominance."

    SEE ALSO: Here's exactly what the A-10 does, and why the Air Force would be crazy to retire it

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: An Army general explains the worst thing an enemy could do to America


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    Chukotka kuril islands

    At a recent event, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that a division of troops would be stationed in Chukotka, Russia's far-east region, just slightly more than 50 miles from Alaska.

    "There are plans to form a coastal defense division in 2018 on the Chukotka operational direction," said Shoigu.

    He said that the deployment was "to ensure control of the closed sea zones of the Kuril Islands and the Bering Strait, cover the routes of Pacific Fleet forces' deployment in the Far Eastern and Northern sea zones, and increase the combat viability of naval strategic nuclear forces."

    Japan and Russia dispute ownership of the northern Kuril Islands, where Russia plans to deploy missile-defense batteries. The Bering Strait is the narrow waterway that separates Alaska from Russia.

    Broadly, Russia has taken the lead in militarizing and exploring the Arctic region, as melting ice caps open up new shipping lanes between the East and West. In that context, the deployment of a division to the sparsely populated Chukotka region makes sense.

    In the past, Russia has bemoaned NATO and US troop deployments near to its borders. How the US will respond to this deployment remains to be seen.

    SEE ALSO: Russia may set up camp in the base the US and NATO use to bomb ISIS

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's the high-tech military equipment Russia could use against the world


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    Syria

    A United Nations mandated investigatory body has officially implicated the Syrian Air Force in chemical weapon (CW) attacks in Syria.

    The report also accuses the Islamic State (IS) of one CW attack – but, in a depressingly predictable turn of events, those findings which point the finger of blame at the Assad regime have been brought into question by Syria and her allies.

    The investigation focused on a handful of the many dozens of CW attacks that the regime is alleged to have carried out since it submitted to the scrutiny of the international chemical weapon watchdog in 2013.

    'This has led to further calls for action through the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to hold the regime accountable and prevent further use.

    It has also reignited calls for Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC). But, yet again, we have seen Russia, Syria and Iran seeking to prevent or hamstring any process to prosecute the Assad regime. Indeed, this inquiry could have provided a video of Assad himself dropping chlorine barrel bombs from a helicopter and it would not have made the prospect of regime prosecution any more likely in the near term. This is despite calls from the Russian and Syrian governments on the need to “name names” of specific units and commanders in the most recent report.

    The Joint Investigative Mechanism’s (JIM) leadership panel has argued that there is overwhelming evidence that the regime and IS carried out specified attacks. The fact that this body was even in a position to carry out these rigorous and independent investigations is testament to the unique attention garnered by chemical weapons in a sprawling and horrific conflict. The investigation is also unprecedented in terms of its UNSC mandate to ascribe responsibility for atrocities.

    But this fact seems to have generated a false sense that the regime might somehow be dramatically held to account for this specific type of war crime. We must remember, that Syria’s allies have consistently resisted sanctions against the regime which could hurt Syria’s war effort. This has included any attempt to punish the Assad regime, or even launch an official UN mandated investigation into culpability for the Ghouta chemical weapon massacre of 2013 – a massacre which killed hundreds of civilians and injured thousands.

    Accounting problems

    Bashar Assad

    For these reasons, those who had hoped to see Assad behind bars as a consequence of the report will be disappointed. While the idea that sitting heads of state should be held accountable for this kind of violation has gained momentum since the ICC was established in 2002, the problems associated with the practice are more than evident. Indeed, if a referral came, it could also have unintended consequences. Something which is evident from experiences with Sudan, Kenya and Libya.

    The ICC charged Omar al-Bashir for crimes in Sudan dating back to 2003. But after five years, Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor at The Hague, announced a suspension of the investigation, and went as far as blaming the UN for lack of cooperation on the matter.

    This suspension came just a week after the Court dropped the charges against Uhuru Kenyatta in Kenya, blamed for the 2007 wave of political violence that left thousands dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.

    So to date, despite attempts to see justice done, it seems that holding a head of state responsible for his deeds is beyond the reach of the ICC.

    Unintended consequences

    sudan president omar al-bashir

    These two investigations also had other consequences that are worth remembering. In both situations, the reputation of those under investigation received a significant boost domestically. By politicizing the actions of the court and infusing the debate with allegations of neo-imperialism, both al-Bashir and Kenyatta gained popularity in their own countries.

    The two investigations were also followed by a tightening of governmental grip on dissent. This is particularly evident in the mass expulsion of international NGOs in the two countries, which has resulted in the eviction of roughly 20 relief organizations from Sudan and more than 500 from Kenya. This is extremely worrying since these organisations not only help sustain prosecution efforts (as clearly stated in the JIM report), but also provide clean water, food, and basic healthcare services to millions. To date, not only have investigations against sitting heads of state been inconclusive, they also appear to have contributed to domestic crises in the states they have occurred in.

    While the Sudanese and Kenyan situations have been characterized by a general lack of cooperation, the disastrous situation in Libya is another matter entirely. When, in 2011, the UNSC adopted Resolution 1970 to refer the case of Libya to the ICC, many saw this act, combined with NATO airstrikes, as the peak of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine.

    These two operations contributed to the death of the Libyan president and the collapse of the state. Five years later, the Libyan situation is hardly ever recalled as a model to follow. Recently, even the US president, Barack Obama, is reported to have stated publicly that Libya was the worst mistake of his presidency, following Russian assertions that Libya was something not to be repeated.

    Weight of evidence

    Syria chemical weapons

    In the short term, pursuit of criminal justice for these specific crimes is a secondary priority, and at worst a distraction from the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Syria. That said, while criminal justice will not fix the current conflict, evidence-gathering processes will hopefully be essential in a post-conflict future. In terms of immediate possibilities, it is apparent that one option might be to place pressure on the security council to mandate further investigation into cases which have occurred since the launch of the official investigation, cases not fully investigated by the JIM, as well as other lines of enquiry suggested in the third as well as the final report of the body – which looks set to provide further technical evidence.

    Lessons might also be drawn from the design and methodology of this investigation for future UN initiatives into the wide range of atrocities of which the Assad regime and others stand accused. It is a depressing commentary on the state of international politics that this is perhaps the best we can hope for.

    Brett Edwards, Lecturer in Security and Public Policy, University of Bath and Mattia Cacciatori, Teaching Fellow in International Security, University of Bath

    This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Forget the gross factor: There are serious health reasons for why you shouldn't pick your nose


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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 REUTERSTwo of the world's most powerful militaries are claiming responsibility for the airstrike that killed one of Islamic State's senior leaders, spokesperson and strategist Mohamed al-Adnani, in Syria this week.

    On Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry said it killed Adnani and 40 other fighters with an airstrike carried out by an Su-34 bomber in the town of Maaratat-Umm Khaush in Aleppo province.

    The Russian claim came after the Pentagon said on Monday that it targeted Adnani, but that it was still "assessing the results of the strike," which occurred in al-Bab, a different town in Aleppo province. The Pentagon has not confirmed Adnani's death.

    A US defense official told CNN on Wednesday that the Pentagon doubts Russia's claim — but if he is dead, the US is responsible.

    "It would be laughable but for the real humanitarian suffering Russia has inflicted," the official said. "We stand by the statement we made yesterday."

    The Islamic State announced Adnani's death earlier on Monday through its Amaq news agency. The group said that Adnani was killed "while surveying the operations to repel the military campaigns against Aleppo."

    Adnani was widely considered to be the militant group's second in command and the likely successor to current leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

    He was also credited with overseeing the group's slickly-produced propaganda videos, which typically show torture, executions, and bombings.

    Abu Muhammad al-Adnani

    Pentagon spokesperson Peter Cook said in a statement that Adnani's death would represent "another significant blow to ISIL."

    "Adnani has served as principal architect of ISIL's external operations and as ISIL's chief spokesman," the statement said, using an alternate acronym for ISIS. "He has coordinated the movement of ISIL fighters, directly encouraged lone-wolf attacks on civilians and members of the military and actively recruited new ISIL members."

    But Max Abrahms, a terrorism expert Northeastern University, said Adnani's death follows significant territorial losses by the group over the past few months.

    "I think the Islamic State is really struggling, and this killing is a reflection of the group's downward trajectory, and will expedite the group's declining capabilities," he said.

    He added that while the killing might be a blow to the Islamic State's morale, there's no established consensus about whether killing leaders is actually an effective way to defeat militant groups. He said that in some cases, the replacements have been even more radical than their predecessors, but this probably won't be the case with the Islamic State.

    "It's hard to imagine that Adnani's successor will be more radical than Adnani," he said. "From top to bottom, Islamic State members are about as radical as they come. They want to attack every country, and kill as many people as possible."

     

    Join the conversation about this story »

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


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    usmc f-35 AIM-120

    During tests that concluded on September 1, US Marine Corps F-35Bs proved their ability to multitask in the exact kind of way they would need to while breaching an enemy air-defense zone.

    The Marines at Edwards Air Base, California, completed multiple tests of AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles in complicated air-to-air and air-to-ground scenarios, but the highlight of the test involved a 500-pound laser-guided bomb.

    An F-35B successfully dropped the 500 pounder and supported it with onboard sensors to hit a ground target while simultaneously shooting down an unmanned F-16 drone with the AIM-120.

    “This was a phenomenally successful deployment that was made possible by the close coordination between the JSF Operational Test Team, US Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and industry,” Lt. Col. Rusnok, the officer in charge of the testing said in a statement emailed to Business Insider.

    usmc f 35 aim-120

    This test exemplifies the "multi-role" aspect of the F-35, functioning as a fighter jet and a bomber in the same moment. This test also likely means that the Navy, Air Force, and any other partner nations flying the F-35 variants will have this capability too. 

    Furthermore, it's much like what future F-35 pilots could expect when breaching enemy airspace, in that they'd have to deal with multiple threats at once.

    Should an F-35 be detected, which would be difficult, air defenses as well as fighter planes would immediately scramble to address the threat. So for an F-35, multitasking is a must and now, a proven reality. 

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

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Watch the Marines' F-35 fire an 80-round burst from its gun pod for the first time


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    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 AbdullahThe war in Yemen is surging back to high levels of violence. Since peace talks failed in early August, ending a tenuous, four-month cease-fire, airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition have hit a hospital, school, and other civilian targets.

    The result has been two-fold: The military escalation is adding to the soaring death toll of Yemen’s 18-month conflict, which the United Nations last week revised up to 10,000, nearly doubling previous estimates.

    And the surge of fighting has also made Yemen’s “forgotten war” a little less forgotten. That could make the conflict more susceptible, analysts say, to a renewed UN push for peace agreed to last week by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Persian Gulf states. The plan would include phased disarmament, withdrawals, and a unity government.

    Pressure is also coming from the US Congress, through a bid to block a $1.15 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

    In a letter this week to President Barack Obama, some US lawmakers said that the strikes on civilian targets by Saudi Arabia – which has received extensive US military assistance in its Yemen campaign, from intelligence and targeting data to mid-air refueling of jet fighters – “may amount to war crimes.”

    But whatever plans and pressures are brought to bear on the conflict, the key to success still lies with the Yemenis themselves.

    The Kerry proposal “addresses main concerns, breaks the stalemate, and has a good phased plan,” says Hisham al-Omeisy, a political analyst in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa. “Unfortunately … parties involved trying to carve wiggle room may botch [the plan] in doing so.”

    "The new proposal actually has good prospects if fully accepted by all parties and adhered to,” he says. “But Yemenis know that no matter how good a proposal is, it's the various parties’ commitment that will define the success rate…. So to be honest, prospects are still grim."

    Does world want a 'rogue Yemen'?

    People search for victims under the rubble of houses destroyed by a Saudi-led air strike in the northwestern city of Saada, Yemen August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Naif Rahma

    In an interview published Friday, the Houthi leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi said a hurdle facing the talks is that “the other party wants to achieve through the talks what it wanted to achieve through war,” Reuters reported.

    This week Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told Reuters in China that the Houthis “will not be allowed to take over Yemen. Period."

    Among the casualties of the recent strikes on civilian targets in Yemen has been the work of the aid agency Medecins Sans Fontieres (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders. MSF evacuated its staff from six hospitals in the north of the country after the Saudi-led coalition struck the Abs hospital. Nineteen people were killed in the fourth and deadliest attack on an MSF-run hospital in Yemen this year.

    “Now there is some attention to Yemen, we would like to continue to push” for a political solution, says Hassan Boucenine, the country director of MSF France, who has spent a year and a half in Yemen.

    “Do we really want to have a rogue Yemen, a destroyed country that will turn like Somalia?” asks Mr. Boucenine, contacted in the southern port of Aden, adding that peace talks “must” resume. “Now this world is becoming smaller and smaller, issues that happen in Syria and Iraq hit the shores of Europe in a couple of months. Do we really want this again in Yemen?”

    The Saudi campaign

    People inspect damage at a house after it was destroyed by a Saudi-led air strike in Yemen's capital Sanaa, August 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

    The impetus for Saudi Arabia’s latest military involvement in Yemen dates back to September 2014 when Houthi rebels, who practice a variant of Shiite Islam and are loosely supported by Iran, seized the capital and pushed the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi into exile. A Saudi-led Arab coalition, backed by the US, launched an air campaign against the Houthis in March 2015 in an effort to return President Hadi to the seat of power.

    Operation Decisive Storm was meant to last a few weeks, but turned into a bloody stalemate that devastated the Arab world’s poorest country until April this year, when it was renamed Operation Restoring Hope and a relative cease-fire began. More than 2.5 million Yemenis are displaced, and UN figures from June indicate that half the population is living with “emergency” or “crisis” levels of food insecurity.

    Airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition have been responsible for roughly 60 percent of civilian casualties, the UN human rights office reported last week. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stepped up calls for both sides to stop the conflict, noting that 70 health facilities alone had been damaged or destroyed, and that civilians “are paying the heaviest price.”

    The new push for peace may be a “last chance” for Yemen to avoid an even more dangerous downward spiral, says Adam Baron, a Yemen expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

    “The reason you are seeing more attention devoted to it now is simple: While the UN talks were going on, and while this tenuous cease-fire was in place, even when the situation was bad it was far better than it is now,” says Mr. Baron.

    If the new peace attempt fails, the framework will require “radical reshaping,” says Baron. “If you see this escalation continuing one or two months from now, there really is going to be the question: What do we do now?”

    MSF condemnation

    Armed men loyal to the Houthi movement ride on a vehicle during a protest against the Saudi-backed exiled government deciding to cut off the Yemeni central bank from the outside world, in the capital Sanaa, Yemen August 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

    The strike on the MSF hospital in mid-August was a galvanizing event. Within days, MSF announced the withdrawals of its foreign staff. MSF said it had received repeated assurances from officials of the Saudi-led coalition and had “systematically” shared the GPS coordinates of hospitals where its staff worked. In a statement, MSF said the attack showed a “failure … to avoid attacks on hospitals full of patients” and said it was not satisfied the attack was a mistake.

    MSF condemned all actors – the Saudi-led coalition, and the Houthis and their local allies – for carrying out “indiscriminate attacks without any respect for civilians.”

    The Saudi-led coalition expressed “deep regret” over MSF’s decision to evacuate.

    “It’s not only about the security of our staff, it is also to protest and make a point about the targeting and destruction of hospitals,” says MSF’s Mr. Boucenine.

    “What is not acceptable is that these mistakes are repeated, at some point something has to be done, [so] we really call on those who support the coalition, primarily on the United States,” he says.

    “We are not speaking about people fighting with bows and arrows, really it’s a high-tech war, with all that implies: GPS and satellites. It’s not possible that they can’t avoid 100 targets in the country, or 200 targets,” adds Boucenine. “It’s just not taken seriously, so we do not trust at all the process.”

    Moves in Congress

    An armed boy walks as he attends a gathering held by tribesmen loyal to the Houthi movement to show support to a political council formed by the movement and the General People's Congress party to unilaterally rule Yemen by both groups in Sanaa, August 14, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

    Into this mix, the US State Department on Aug. 8 notified Congress of a sale of tanks and other military equipment to Saudi Arabia, to partly offset losses in Yemen.

    Some members of Congress have sought to delay the sale. The Saudi-led war “has had a deeply troubling impact on civilians,” they wrote this week, noting a June House vote to block the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia.

    Amnesty International has documented “at least” 33 unlawful airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition that appeared to “deliberately” target civilians, which “may amount to war crimes,” wrote the 64 US lawmakers.

    “There’s an American imprint on every civilian life lost in Yemen,” Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, told CNN on Aug. 16.

    According to a confidential May report by the World Bank and UN, described in August by Reuters, the war in Yemen has cost more than $14 billion, led to a surge in civilian mortality rates, and wrecked the country’s economy and schools.

    “Strikes are more indiscriminate, which is quite telling of growing Saudi impunity after being emboldened by the UN and international community’s lack of action and condemnation,” says Mr. Omeisy, the Sanaa analyst, about the new surge of strikes.

    “Saudis [are] very sensitive about their public image…. If countries can’t stop selling of arms in short run, at least be honest enough to officially and publicly condemn,” he says. “Nothing irks Yemenis more than the world playing dumb [amid] flagrant humanitarian law violations.”

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Something unprecedented is happening in the Pacific, and Hawaii could be in big trouble


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    US Aircraft carrier

    In a recent interview with National InterestDave Majumdar asked Adm. John Richardson point blank if US aircraft carriers could operate inside China or Russia's supposed anti-access area denial (A2/AD) zones.

    The answer was clear — "Yes." 

    "This A2/AD, well, it’s certainly a goal for some of our competitors, but achieving that goal is much different and much more complicated,” said Richardson in the interview.

    Asked how the Navy would protect carriers, Richardson declined to say exactly for security reasons, but answered generally:

    “It’s really a suite of capabilities, but I actually think we’re talking too much in the open about some of the things we’re doing, so I want to be thoughtful about how we talk about things so we don’t give any of our competitors an advantage.”

    The Chinese on the other hand, talk openly about the "carrier killer" DF-21D, an indigenously created, precision-guided missile capable of sinking a US aircraft carrier with a single shot and that has a phenomenal range of up to 810 nautical miles, while US carriers' longest-range missiles can travel only about 550 miles.

    dong feng 21d DF 21d china military parade

    Therefore, on paper, the Chinese can deny aircraft carriers the luxury of wading off of their shores and force them to operate outside of their effective range.

    But Richardson contested that notion when speaking at a Center for a New American Security in June. 

    "I think there is this long-range precision-strike capability, certainly," Richardson acknowledged. But "A2/AD is sort of an aspiration. In actual execution, it's much more difficult."

    China's intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities (ISR), bolstered by a massive modernization push and advanced radar installations on the reclaimed islands in the South China Sea, have theoretically given them the ability to project power for hundreds of miles.

    A satellite image released by the Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies shows construction of possible radar tower facilities in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea in this image released on February 23, 2016. REUTERS/CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe/Handout via Reuters

    "The combination of ubiquitous ISR, long-range precision-strike weapons takes that to another level and demands a response," said Richardson, adding that China's extension into the Pacific created a "suite of capabilities" that were of "pressing concern."

    But the US Navy won't be defeated or deterred by figures on paper.

    Richardson said:

    "In the cleanest form, the uninterrupted, frictionless plane, you have the ability to sense a target much more capably and quickly around the world. You've got the ability, then, to transmit that information back to a weapon system that can reach out at a fairly long range and it is precision-guided ... You're talking about hundreds of miles now, so that raises a challenge."

    "Our response would be to inject a lot of friction into that system at every step of the way [and] look to make that much more difficult," he continued.

    US navy uss ronald reagan rimpac 2010 carrier strike group

    Richardson was clear that China's purported capabilities were only speculations.

    "What you see often is a display of, 'Here's this launcher. Here's a circle with a radius of 700 miles, and it's solid-color black inside' ... And that's just not the reality of the situation," he said.

    "You've got this highly maneuverable force that has a suite of capabilities that the force can bring to bear to inject uncertainty," Richardson continued.

    So at the present moment, it seems the US Navy can still travel the globe in confidence, and with the adoption of the F-35C and the MQ-25 Stingray, which both bring their own game-changing technologies, the balance appears ready to tip even more in the US's favor. 

    SEE ALSO: Report: The US's new $13 billion aircraft carrier is 'premature' with 'unproven technologies'

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: America's B-2 stealth bomber is unlike any military aircraft in the world


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    maduro

    A prominent journalist and lawyer jailed on Venezuela's Margarita island was charged on Monday with money laundering, according to family and a rights group, following his arrest after publicizing a protest against President Nicolas Maduro.

    Videos published by activists, purportedly from the locality of Villa Rosa, showed scores of people banging pots and pans and jeering the socialist leader as he visited the island on Friday evening.

    More than 30 people were briefly detained, activists said on Saturday.

    The incident came as the opposition has been stepping up its campaign for a referendum to recall Maduro, who says a coup is being planned against him.

    All those held in Margarita were released after a few hours except Braulio Jatar, 58, who was picked up on Saturday morning on his way to host his regular morning radio show, according to his family.

    They knew nothing about his whereabouts until hours later when intelligence agents came to the family home and searched it, allowing them to send him clothes, according to his sister, Boston-based Ana Julia Jatar, 60.

    Jatar was born in Chile, where Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz expressed concern over Jatar's arrest and the charges against him.

    "As a Chilean, he has the right to be protected by the state of Chile and we will take all the steps necessary on his behalf," Munoz told reporters.

    venezuela protest

    On Thursday, hundreds of thousands of people marched peacefully through Caracas to demand the right to vote on a recall of Maduro, the successor to Hugo Chavez, whose popularity has plummeted due to a brutal economic crisis.

    Of 163 people detained in relation to Thursday's protests, 29 remain behind bars, according to local rights group Penal Forum. Five of them have been formally charged.

    That brings the total of political prisoners in Venezuela to 93, said Alfredo Romero, the director of Penal Forum.

    Both Romero and Jatar's sister confirmed the charge of money laundering. They offered no details, saying only that they had been told he would remain under arrest for the time being.

    The Ministry of Information did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Jatar's case or other arrests.

    Government officials have sought to downplay the incident on Margarita, saying videos had been "manipulated" by pro-opposition media. Showing video clips of their own, they say Maduro was cheered by supporters on his visit to the island.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: We did a blind taste test of KFC and Popeyes fried chicken — here's the verdict


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    North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un ordered the test-firing of three ballistic missiles

    Seoul (AFP) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un called on his military to continue building up Pyongyang's nuclear force after issuing orders for the latest test-firing of ballistic missiles, the North's state media said Tuesday. 

    The isolated communist state test-fired three missiles into the sea Monday, South Korea said, in a new show of force as world leaders met for the G20 summit in China.

    "He stressed the need to continue making miraculous achievements in bolstering up the nuclear force one after another in this historic year," the official KCNA news agency said.

    Kim was guiding a fire drill of his military aimed at checking the "capabilities of the units" and the accuracy of the "improved ballistic rockets deployed for action," it added.

    Seoul's defense ministry said the missiles were speculated to be Rodong missiles with a range of 1,000 kilometres (620 miles), and that they were fired without navigational warning to Japan. 

    Describing the combat performance of the rockets as "perfect", KCNA said Kim expressed "great satisfaction over the successful successive firing drill of ballistic rockets".  

    SEE ALSO: North Korea fires three ballistic missiles (again)

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    Reaper drone

    The US Air Force has turned to using contractors to fly drones, according to the Michael S. Schmidt of The New York Times.

    The Times reports that the contractors, civilians working for private companies, will not execute strikes, but rather conduct recon missions. 

    Though an Air Force official told the times that the contractors “have oversight from both a government flight representative and a government ground representative,” the use of non-military personnel represents a deep problem with the US Air Force.

    US Air Force Drone pilots suffer a high rate of burnout, as they work 12 to 13 hour days, performing mainly intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. But pilots also conduct strikes where mistakes caused by tired eyes can cost lives.

    Additionally, the pilots are known to suffer from PTSD at similar rates to ground troops. This, coupled with the fact that they do their work in a chair, staring at a computer screen, makes the job punishing, dangerous, and not very rewarding.

    "Demand for our services is way, way up. But we are meeting those demands today with the smallest Air Force in our history," said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James in a "State of the Air Force" address.

    The US Air Force recently agreed to a pay bump for the beleaguered drone pilots, but the financial incentive remains strong for them to defect to the private sector, where they can earn much more as contractors.

    Drone pilots

    “The Air Force is the one creating unmanned pilots who have experience — there is nowhere else to draw on pilots from,” Frederick F. Roggero, a retired major general told the Times.

    The embrace of military contractors in drone operations by the US Air Force shows another instance of the US military being forced to concede, and join with their main competitors in the labor market, as they've failed to beat them.

    SEE ALSO: FORMER NSA DIRECTOR: America is ‘really good’ at stealing data from other countries

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    NOW WATCH: The military could grow future drones in chemical baths


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    Iranian ship

    For the fifth time in about a month, Iranian fast-attack craft have harassed US Navy ships with "unsafe and unprofessional" maneuvers at sea in the gulf between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

    While experts acknowledge that Iran is "playing with fire" against the best navy in the world, don't expect these incidents to stop anytime soon.

    "The number of unsafe, unprofessional interactions for first half of the year is nearly twice as much as same period in 2015, trend has continued. There's already more in 2016 than all of 2015," Commander Bill Urban of the Navy's 5th Fleet told Business Insider in a phone interview.

    Urban stressed that despite the Iranian navy fast-attack craft being several orders of magnitude less potent than US Navy ships, the threat they pose in the gulf is very real.

    "Any time another vessel is charging in on one of your ships and they’re not talking on the radio ... you don’t know what their intentions are," said Urban.

    Urban confirmed that Iran sends small, fast attack ships to "swarm" and "harass" larger US Naval vessels that could quite easily put them at the bottom of the ocean, but the ships pose a threat beyond firepower.

    According to Urban, these ships are "certainly armed vessels with crew-manned weapons, not unarmed ships. I wouldn't discount the ability to be a danger. A collision at sea even with a much larger ship is always something that could cause damage to a ship or injure personnel."

    In the most recent episode at sea, Urban said that an Iranian craft swerved in front of the USS Firebolt, a US Coastal Patrol craft, and stopped dead in its path, causing the Firebolt to have to adjust course or risk collision.

    "This kind of provocative, harassing technique risks escalation and miscalculation," Urban added.

    The messages Iran wants to send

    sailors iran

    "In my view, [Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic] Khamenei decided it's time to send a message: I’m here and I’m unhappy,"Cliff Kupchan, chairman of Eurasia Group and an expert on Iran, told Business Insider in a phone interview.

    According to Kupchan, the Iranian navy carries out these stunts under directions straight from the top because of frustrations with the Iran nuclear deal. Despite billions of dollars in sanction relief flowing into Iran following the deal, Kupchan says Iran sees the US as "preventing European and Asian banks from moving into Iran and financing Iranian businesses," and therefore not holding up their end of the Iran nuclear deal.

    But despite their perception that the US has under delivered on the promises of the Iran nuclear deal, Kupchan says Iran will absolutely not walk away from the deal, which has greatly improved their international standing and financial prospects.

    The lifting of sanctions on Iran's oil has resulted in "billions in additional revenue ... they're not gonna walk away from that."

    So Iran seems to be simply spinning its wheels to score political points with hardliners, but what if the worst happens and there's a miscalculation in a conflict between Iranian and US naval vessels resulting in the loss of life?

    USS Squall

    "The concern is miscalculation," Kupchan said. "Some guy misjudges the speed of his boat, people could die. There is a lot on the line." According to Kupchan and other experts, Iran's navy doesn't stand a serious chance against modern US Navy ships.

    "Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Iranian Navy are not very capable or modern," Kupchan said.

    The fast-attack craft we've seen challenge US Navy boats have simply been older speedboats, some Russian-made, outfitted with guns.

    The Iranian craft can certainly bother US Navy ships by risking collisions and functioning as "heavily armed gnats, or mosquitoes" that swarm US ships, but a recent test carried out by the Navy confirms that the gunships wouldn't have much trouble knocking them out of the water. The ensuing international incident, however, would dominate headlines for weeks.

    A military truck carrying a missile and a picture of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is seen during a parade marking the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), in Tehran September 22, 2015. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/TIMA

    "The wood is dry in US and Iranian relations," said Kupchan, suggesting that a small miscalculation could spark a major fire, and that harassing these ships is "one of the ways the Iranian political system lets off steam."

    "Hardliners on both sides would go nuts," said Kupchan, referencing both the conservative Islamist Iranians and the conservative US hawks who would not pass up any opportunity to impinge Obama over his perceived weakness against the Iranians.

    Yet Kupchan contends that even a lethal incident would not end the deal. Both sides simply have too much riding on the deal's success: Obama with his foreign-policy legacy and Iran with its financial redemption and status in the region as the main adversary to Western powers.

    RTR2VQX9

    But Iran's Khamenei may be sending a second message to incoming US leadership, specifically Hillary Clinton, who seems likely to be the next commander-in-chief.

    "They know Clinton is tough," said Kupchan, and Khamenei may be addressing Clinton with a second message, saying, "Madame Secretary, I’m still here. I know you’re tough, but I'm ready."

    For now, Kupchan expects these incidents at sea to carry on as Iran vents about its larger frustrations and that a violent exchange would "not be the end of the deal" or the start of a larger war "but a serious international incident."

    SEE ALSO: US Navy ship fires warning shots after multiple ships 'harassed' by Iranian attack craft

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    NOW WATCH: Obama said the White House previously announced the $400 million payment to Iran — here's the footage


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    Charles de gaulle dassault rafale

    France said on Tuesday it was deploying artillery to Iraq and readying its aircraft carrier for deployment to reinforce foreign military support for the Iraqi army's expected push to recapture Mosul, the de facto capital of Islamic State in Iraq.

    The Iraqi army and its elite units have gradually taken up positions around the city 400 km (248 miles) north of Baghdad, with international coalition forces keen to capitalize on the militant group's loss of territory in both Iraq and Syria.

    "We decided to bolster our support of the Iraqi forces this Autumn with the aim of recapturing Mosul," French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told a gathering of defense and military officials in Paris.

    "At this very moment, artillery is arriving close to the front line," Le Drian said, adding that the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier would soon leave for the Middle East.

    French defense officials declined to give details on the nature of the artillery.

    A tank of the Iraqi army is seen in the town of Qayyara , Iraq August 24, 2016.  REUTERS/Stringer/Files

    It was from Mosul's Grand Mosque in 2014 that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdad declared a caliphate spanning regions of Iraq and Syria.

    France, the first country to join US-led air strikes in Iraq, has stepped up aerial operations against Islamic State, including in Syria, after several attacks by the group in France. Paris also has special forces operating in both countries and has provided weapons to Syrian rebel groups.

    syria map august

    SEE ALSO: Why Iran is 'playing with fire' in the Persian Gulf against US Navy ships

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


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    Laotian President Bounnhang Vorachit, left and U.S.President Barack Obama inspect a honor guard at the Presidential Palace in Vientiane, Laos, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016.

    Declaring a "moral obligation" to heal the wounds of a secret war, President Barack Obama on Tuesday pledged help to clear away the 80 million unexploded bombs the U.S. dropped on Laos a generation ago - more than 10 for every one of the country's 7 million people.

    Half a century ago, the United States turned Laos into history's most heavily bombed country, raining down some two million tons of ordnance in a covert, nine-year chapter of the Vietnam War.

    Obama the first president to set foot in Laos while in office, lamented that many Americans remain unaware of the "painful legacy" left behind by a bombardment that claims lives and limbs to this day.

    "The remnants of war continue to shatter lives here in Laos," Obama said before an audience of students, businessmen and orange-robed Buddhist monks who held up cellphones to snap photos of the American president. "Even as we continue to deal with the past, our new partnership is focused on the future," he said.

    To that end, Obama announced the U.S. would double its spending on bomb-clearing efforts to $90 million over three years - a relatively small sum for the U.S. but a significant investment for a small country in one of the poorer corners of the world. Obama plans to put a human face on the issue when he meets Wednesday in Vientiane with survivors of bombs that America dropped.

    The president did not come to apologize. Instead, he called the conflict a reminder that "whatever the cause, whatever our intentions, war inflicts a terrible toll - especially on innocent men, women and children."

    Thanks to global cleanup efforts, casualties from tennis ball-sized "bombies" that still litter the Laotian countryside have plummeted from hundreds to dozens per year. But aid groups say far more help is needed. Of all the provinces in landlocked Laos, only one has a comprehensive system to care for bomb survivors.

    U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the Lao National Cultural Hall in Vientiane, Laos, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016.

    "We're incredibly proud of the progress the sector has made over the last five years in terms of the decline in casualties and new victims," said Channapha Khamvongsa of the nonprofit Legacies of War. "But we are concerned about the upwards of 15,000 survivors around the country that are still in need of support."

    The $90 million to clean up bombs joins another $100 million the U.S. has committed in the past 20 years. The Lao government, meanwhile, says it will boost efforts to recover remains and account for Americans missing since the war.

    The punishing air campaign on Laos was an effort to cut off communist forces in neighboring Vietnam. American warplanes dropped more explosives on this Southeast Asian nation than on Germany and Japan combined in World War II, a stunning statistic that Obama noted during his first day in Vientiane.

    Obama was one of several world leaders visiting Laos to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Taking its turn as chair of the regional forum, Laos' communist government is seizing a rare moment in the spotlight.

    For Obama, the visit serves as a capstone to his yearslong effort to bolster relations with Southeast Asian countries long overlooked by the United States. The outreach is a core element of his attempt to shift U.S. diplomatic and military resources away from the Middle East and into Asia in order to counter China in the region and ensure a U.S. foothold in growing markets.

    Laotian President Bounnhang Vorachit, left, and U.S. President Barack Obama toast during an official state luncheon at the Presidential Palace in Vientiane, Laos, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016.

    Yet Obama's outreach took an uncomfortable turn just as he headed to Laos from another summit in China. The White House called off a scheduled meeting Tuesday with President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippine - a U.S. treaty ally - after the brash new leader referred to Obama as a "son of a bitch."

    Duterte, who had been expecting Obama to criticize his deadly, extrajudicial crackdown on drug dealers, later said he regretted the personal attack on the president.

    Obama filled the hole in his schedule by meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye in a display of unity a day after North Korea fired three ballistic missiles. Obama vowed to work with the United Nations to tighten sanctions against Pyongyang, but said the door wasn't closed to a more functional relationship.

    Obama's Asia project - dubbed his pivot or rebalance - has yielded uneven results, as conflict in the Middle East has continued to demand attention and China has bristled at what it views as meddling in its backyard.

    So with just four months left in office, Obama used his historic trip to Laos to reassert his aims. He touted new military aid and U.S. support for regional cooperation in addressing maritime disputes and made a plug for the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, the policy's central economic component that is now stuck in Congress.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    ash carter

    US Defense Secretary Ash Carter is strongly criticizing Russia for what he says is Moscow's "clear ambition to erode the principled international order" through coercion and aggression.

    Carter used a speech Wednesday to students at Oxford University to blast what he calls Russia's "unprofessional behavior" in Ukraine, Syria and cyberspace. He's accusing Moscow of nuclear "saber rattling."

    Carter says Russia seeks to sow instability beyond its borders, including in the Middle East. He's also urging Russia to take a more constructive role in Syria to arrange a lasting cease-fire.

    He cites progress the countries made together in the aftermath of the Cold War, but says Russia now "appears driven by misguided ambition and misplaced fear."

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    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina, U.S., September 6, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Segar

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, pledging a major new military buildup, and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton get a chance on Wednesday to show how they would lead the US armed forces as commander-in-chief.

    The two Nov. 8 election opponents are to make back-to-back appearances at an NBC "commander-in-chief" forum in New York, Clinton first, followed by Trump. It will offer a prelude of what to expect from them when national security issues come up in their three presidential debates.

    Trump is to lay out a major military rebuilding proposal at an 11 a.m. EDT address in Philadelphia. A senior aide said he would outline a plan for new ships, planes, submarines, combat troops and missile defense systems.

    It would be paid for by lifting congressionally mandated spending caps and launching a new round of budget reforms to save money. The Trump campaign did not immediately provide an estimate of how much the buildup might cost.

    The forum in New York will allow both campaigns to shift their messages to national security, a major topic for voters given the threat of Islamist militants, China's military activities in the South China Sea, and nuclear-armed North Korea's ballistic missile tests.

    Clinton is trying to raise questions about Trump's temperament and fitness for office given his history of incendiary rhetoric, such as declaring President Barack Obama "the founder of ISIS," an acronym for the Islamic State militant group.

    On Tuesday in Tampa, Florida, Clinton seized on Trump's statement the previous day that if he had been treated like Obama had been on arrival in China last week, he would have ordered the plane to return him home.

    obama air force one

    Obama was made to disembark from Air Force One on a secondary set of stairs and reporters who traveled with him were hectored by Chinese officials for trying to watch him get off the aircraft.

    “Apparently Trump said if there had been the kerfuffle about the stairs and the press, he would have just stayed on the plane and gone home. I think that’s yet another very strong piece of evidence as to why he should never be anywhere near the White House," Clinton said.

    NO ADVANTAGE

    Neither candidate had an advantage when it came to national security, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling in August.

    Respondents were evenly split between Clinton and Trump when asked “which presidential candidate do you believe will be better at keeping us safe?”. Some 38 percent of likely voters picked Clinton, while 39 percent picked Trump.

    David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, said Clinton and Trump both face tests in convincing voters that they are up to the task.

    Hillary Clinton

    "As the first woman to be a major party nominee, Clinton is forging new ground. A lot of voters will be asking themselves: Is she tough enough? And Trump's excited a lot of people and he scares a lot of others who'll be asking 'is this the guy I want protecting me and my family? Can he handle having his finger on the big red button?'," Yepsen said.

    Trump is to use his Philadelphia speech to accuse Clinton of backing "military adventurism" for her handling of conflicts in Libya and the Middle East while she was Obama's secretary of state from 2009-13.

    Trump's engagement with the Middle East, by contrast, would be to work with governments even if they were not necessarily strong on democracy, his senior aide said.

    Trump has some convincing to do on foreign policy. Many national security experts from past Republican administrations have declared him unfit for the Oval Office.

    Presidential scholar Thomas Alan Schwartz of Vanderbilt University said Trump was likely to cite then-US senator Clinton's vote in favor of the much-criticized 2003 Iraq war as evidence of why he is more suited for commander-in-chief.

    "I think one thing you'll see at the debates is him suggesting that he'll be a careful commander-in-chief and that it's Hillary more likely to get us into war," he said.

     

    SEE ALSO: House GOP asks for investigation into whether Clinton committed obstruction of justice

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    NOW WATCH: This animated map shows the most probable path to a Trump victory


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    Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte attends the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Laos September 7, 2016. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

    Controversial Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte donned a lounge suit for his first international summit on Wednesday, a rare show of sartorial conformity as pressure mounts on him to act presidential.

    The maverick former city mayor, who was shunned on Tuesday by the White House for insulting U.S. President Barack Obama over his bloody "war on drugs", looked dapper as he posed for pictures in a classic, two-button charcoal suit and silk tie.

    Filipinos are drawn to Duterte's no-nonsense, man-of-the-people style, which sits oddly with the pomp and protocol he encountered at this week's meeting of Southeast Asian leaders in Laos.

    He typically wears a polo shirt, jeans and slip-on loafers and on formal occasions has dressed in a barong, a traditional long-sleeved Filipino shirt, which he wore at a gala dinner on Tuesday.

    Salvador Panelo, the presidential legal adviser, said Duterte found suits uncomfortable but he probably wore one to try to blend in better in the international political arena.

    "The problem is wearing a barong, when people are wearing black suits, you stand out," he said.

    "Maybe he might feel embarrassed as the center of attention. Did you see, he was a rock star? He wants to be less conspicuous ... Our president is a very good and humble fellow."

    Presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte, 71, once said he had never owned a suit and does not wear socks.

    In his first month in office, he ordered sharp spending cuts on red-carpet state events and issued a decree outlawing use of the term "Excellency" for himself and ministers. His aides say he prefers to be called mayor rather than president.

    White House officials were dismayed on Monday when Duterte - responding to criticism over the killing of hundreds of suspected drug dealers since he came to office - used the term "son of a bitch" during a news conference in which he lashed out at Obama.

    The White House then called off a meeting with Obama that was scheduled for the following day in Laos.

    Duterte subsequently issued a statement expressing regret that Obama was offended.

    Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met the Philippine leader on Tuesday and told Duterte he was "very excited" to meet him in person because he had become famous among Japanese people.

     

    (Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Writing by Martin Petty)

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    Antonov

    A recent deal between Beijing and Ukraine's Antonov Company to restart production of the largest-ever cargo plane could potentially remedy the logistical woes of China's People's Liberation Army.

    China's military, still largely dependent on railroads for moving troops and heavy freight, could gain a lot from having the gigantic aircraft. 

    The plane, the AN-225 Mriya, holds 240 world records for its size and strength. It has six massive engines creating over 300,000 pounds of thrust, and the plane can reportedly carry a 200-ton load nearly 2,500 miles.

    Such capability would be game-changing for the People's Republic of China.

    “It would provide China with the large and global lift that not even the US has possessed, except by rental,” wrote Peter Singer, an avid China watcher on Popular Science. “It’s large enough to carry helicopters, tanks, artillery, even other aircraft.”

    For the most part, as Singer mentioned, China will rent the massive planes, but the agreement does allow for China to domestically build An-225s. 

    Additionally, the Center for Strategic and International Studies uncovered the fact that China has been developing large, military-grade runways, as well as military hardened hangars on it's reclaimed islands in the South China Sea. Having massively improved freight dynamics in the region could greatly benefit China.

    Antonov an 225

    But the herculean plane lends itself to civil applications too. China could easily use it to move construction supplies, to offload its glut of steel, or to bring supplies to its several building projects as part of the "One Belt, One Road" initiative. 

    As Marcus Weisgerber at DefenseOne points out, the adoption of old, soviet-era technology from Ukraine is an instance of history repeating itself, as China's sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, is also a refurbished Ukrainian hull. 

    SEE ALSO: China and Ukraine are going to build the largest plane in the world

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    NOW WATCH: China just opened the world’s highest and longest glass bridge


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    US China Coast Guard

    A recent report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies exposed a troubling tactic used by China to harass and intimidateneighboring nations into steering clear of their unlawful claims to militarized islands in the South China Sea.

    In short, China has turned their coast guard into a sort of paramilitary force, the largest of it's kind in the world. In some cases, China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) vessels have simply been painted white and repurposed for maritime "law enforcement."

    Sometimes, the .50 caliber machine guns still hang over the sides of vessels once used for war and now used to intimidate neighboring nations.

    But unlike military disputes, where internationally agreed-upon accords regulate standard operating procedures, these coast guard ships fall in a legal gray zone that China has come to exploit.

    "What we have is a situation in East Asia where China in particular is not using naval vessels to intimidate, not using [traditional] force, but they’re taking actions that are below that line of triggering any kind of military confrontation, and yet intimidating other actors,"Bonnie Glasser, an expert on security in the Pacific from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Business Insider in a phone interview.

    Glasser, who headed up the report on China's coast guard, compiled 45 incidents in the South China Sea and found China's coast guard involvement in two thirds of them.

    But according to Glasser, "what we have been able to compile is just a fraction of the number of incidents in the South China Sea," where China's larger ships have repeatedly rammed, harassed, and used water cannons on fishing vessels from the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and others.

    "In my conversations in the Philippines — Chinese ramming of other ships is considered to be part of their acceptable rules of engagement. That’s just what they do," said Glasser.

    Nothing stopping them

    U.S. President Barack Obama (C) walks down from the stage with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (center R) after a family photo with ASEAN leaders after the US-ASEAN meeting at the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, November 21, 2015.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    Recently, China touted an agreement they reached with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on a Code of Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES), which provides a legal framework for how the navies of different nations should interact at sea.

    According to Glasser, the legal framework marks a step in the right direction, but does nothing to stop the harassing actions of China's coast guard, which operates as a navy in all but name. What's more, the majority of signatories to the recent ASEAN CUES agreement had already signed a similar agreement in April 2014, rendering the agreement even more empty.

    "China's ASEAN CUES agreement is not new, and was already agreed upon. [Chinese state media] portrayed it as some breakthrough... Everyone is applauding, and it's nice to have, but it doesn’t address the problem," said Glasser. The real problem, of course, is that no meaningful laws regulate their paramilitary coast guard. 

    According to Glasser, there have been fatal incidents at sea, and not all involving China. Unlike in the Persian Gulf, where Business Insider previously reported that a hypothetically fatal incident between Iran and the US would touch off a major international incident, belligerent behavior like China's is the norm in the South China Sea.

    Looming conflict

    china coast guard scarborough

    "China is building very large coast guard vessels," and lots of them in a "quantity as well as quality" approach, said Glasser. The sheer size of the ships, usually weighing more than 1,000 tons, as well as the way they're armed, make other nation's law enforcement craft "pale in comparison."

    Essentially, the Chinese bully civilian craft with hulking boats that intimidate on sight. Only Japan even comes close to having the capability to defend itself, with 105,000 total tonnage of coast guard ships to China's 190,000. But Glasser says that actual military capability should come second to infrastructure, in the form of internationally agreed-upon law.

    "Putting in place acceptable procedures of behavior and other confidence building measures is the way to go, rather than everyone having the ships the size of China's," said Glasser, nodding to the potential arms race that could result from China's unilateral military buildup. 

    Glasser suggests that extending CUES to coast guard ships, as well as naval ships, could be a good model going forward. US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly discussed this topic in a recent meeting.

    philippine south china sea scarborough

    But it's hard to imagine China agreeing to something that would limit its influence. Japan recently loaned some ships to the Philippines to monitor the Scarborough Shoal, where China continues to visit despite the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling against their claims to the land mass. 

    China has completely ignored this ruling, and should they go as far as militarizing that shoal, which Obama has warned against, the US would be forced to act or risk losing all leverage in the region. 

    "Many different risks are posed if China goes ahead and develops the Scarborough Shoal... it would undermine US credibility, cause the Chinese to continue to test the US, and push forward a greater agenda of seeking control of the air and sea space," Glasser said.

    Scarborough shoal map south china sea philippines manilla subic bay

    Furthermore, China undermining the US would cause "enormous anxiety in the region, with the US seen as weakening in it’s ability and will," Glasser said.

    "Reverberating effects, as well as security threats eventually posed by China having capability near main bases (the Subic Bay) would be a threat to the Philippines and the US."

    So for now, China has found a loophole in international law that allows its paramilitary "second navy" of a coast guard to muscle smaller nations out of their rightful claims. China has shown a persistent will to militarize and enforce its claims in the South China Sea. Unless the US, and its allies in the Pacific, can get China to agree to a legal framework, Beijing appears ready to continue pushing its claims by force.

    There is a perceived weakness in the way international law is enforced at sea, and China is exploiting it handily. As Donald Rumsfeld said, "weakness is provocative."

    SEE ALSO: China is trying to expand its military reach with the biggest plane in the world

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