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- 10/19/16--05:14: _Erdogan: If Syrians...
- 10/19/16--06:56: _The US and China ar...
- 10/19/16--07:23: _70 Congress members...
- 10/19/16--08:08: _A gunman in an Afgh...
- 10/19/16--08:22: _Citing Imperial pas...
- 10/19/16--08:47: _Norway's grounded f...
- 10/19/16--09:17: _Take a look at the ...
- 10/19/16--11:59: _Russia is sending i...
- 10/19/16--14:08: _US General thinks I...
- 10/20/16--07:13: _Watch a live stream...
- 10/20/16--07:54: _The Air Force has b...
- 10/20/16--09:15: _Dogfighting in an F...
- 10/20/16--11:17: _The Royal Navy is c...
- 10/20/16--11:35: _Iran seeking ‘many ...
- 10/20/16--12:12: _A US service member...
- 10/20/16--14:09: _Assad's propaganda ...
- 10/24/16--08:23: _The Air Force has p...
- 10/24/16--12:55: _The Navy has a new ...
- 10/25/16--06:53: _The Pentagon is pre...
- 10/25/16--08:08: _Former US Navy capt...
- 10/19/16--05:14: Erdogan: If Syrians flee Aleppo, Turkey can take in 1 million
- 10/19/16--08:08: A gunman in an Afghan Army uniform has killed a US soldier in Kabul
- 10/20/16--07:13: Watch a live stream of Kurdish forces taking back ISIS' largest city
- 10/20/16--12:12: A US service member has been killed in northern Iraq
- 10/24/16--08:23: The Air Force has plans to make one of its drones even more deadly
- 10/25/16--06:53: The Pentagon is preparing to deploy mini-drone attack swarms
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday at least one million Syrians could flee to Turkey if there is an exodus from the city of Aleppo, the rebel-held east of which is currently under siege from Syrian and Russian forces.
In a speech at the presidential palace, Erdogan said he discussed with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday night an agreement on removing from Aleppo the group formally known as Nusra Front, and now called Jabhat Fatah al Sham.
SEE ALSO: Russia has muscled the US out of Syria
The Air Force will likely have high-speed, long-range and deadly hypersonic weapons by the 2020s, providing kinetic energy destructive power able to travel thousands of miles toward enemy targets at five-times the speed of sound.
“Air speed makes them much more survivable and hard to shoot down. If you can put enough fuel in them that gets them a good long range. You are going roughly a mile a second so if you put in 1,000 seconds of fuel you can go 1,000 miles - so that gives you lots of standoff capability,” Air Force Chief Scientist Greg Zacharias told Scout Warrior in an interview.
While much progress has been made by Air Force and Pentagon scientists thus far, much work needs to be done before hypersonic air vehicles and weapons are technologically ready to be operational in combat circumstances.
“Right now we are focusing on technology maturation so all the bits and pieces, guidance, navigation control, material science, munitions, heat transfer and all that stuff,” Zacharias added.
Zacharias explained that, based upon the current trajectory, the Air Force will likely have some initial hypersonic weapons ready by sometime in the 2020s. A bit further away in the 2030s, the service could have a hypersonic drone or ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) vehicle.
“I don’t yet know if this is envisioned to be survivable or returnable. It may be one way,” Zacharias explained.
A super high-speed drone or ISR platform would better enable air vehicles to rapidly enter and exit enemy territory and send back relevant imagery without being detected by enemy radar or shot down.
By the 2040s, however, the Air Force could very well have a hypersonic “strike” ISR platform able to both conduct surveillance and delivery weapons, he added.
A weapon traveling at hypersonic speeds, naturally, would better enable offensive missile strikes to destroy targets such and enemy ships, buildings, air defenses and even drones and fixed-wing or rotary aircraft depending upon the guidance technology available.
A key component of this is the fact that weapons traveling at hypersonic speeds would present serious complications for targets hoping to defend against them – they would have only seconds with which to respond or defend against an approaching or incoming attack.
Hypersonic weapons will quite likely be engineered as “kinetic energy” strike weapons, meaning they will not use explosives but rather rely upon sheer speed and the force of impact to destroy targets.
“They have great kinetic energy to get through hardened targets. You could trade off smaller munitions loads for higher kinetic energy. It is really basically the speed and the range. Mach 5 is five times the speed of sound,” he explained.
The speed of sound can vary, depending upon the altitude; at the ground level it is roughly 1,100 feet per second. Accordingly, if a weapon is engineered with 2,000 seconds worth of fuel – it can travel up to 2,000 miles to a target.
“If you can get control at a low level and hold onto Mach 5, you can do pretty long ranges,” Zacharias said.
Although potential defensive uses for hypersonic weapons, interceptors or vehicles are by no means beyond the realm of consideration, the principle effort at the moment is to engineer offensive weapons able to quickly destroy enemy targets at great distances.
Some hypersonic vehicles could be developed with what Zacharias called “boost glide” technology, meaning they fire up into the sky above the earth’s atmosphere and then utilize the speed of decent to strike targets as a re-entry vehicle.
For instance, Zacharias cited the 1950s-era experimental boost-glide vehicle called the X-15 which aimed to fire 67-miles up into the sky before returning to earth.
China’s Hypersonic Weapons Tests
Zacharias did respond to recent news about China’s claimed test of a hypersonic weapon, a development which caused concern among Pentagon leaders and threat analysts.
While some Pentagon officials have said the Chinese have made progress with effort to develop hypersonic weapons, Zacharias emphasized that much of the details regarding this effort were classified and therefore not publicly available.
Nevertheless, should China possess long-range, high-speed hypersonic weapons – it could dramatically impact circumstances known in Pentagon circles and anti-access/area denial.
This phenomenon, referred to at A2/AD, involves instances wherein potential adversaries use long-range sensors and precision weaponry to deny the U.S. any ability to operate in the vicinity of some strategically significant areas such as closer to an enemy coastline. Hypersonic weapons could hold slower-moving Navy aircraft carriers at much greater risk, for example.
An April 27th report in the Washington Free Beach citing Pentagon officials stating that China successfully tested a new high-speed maneuvering warhead.
“The test of the developmental DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle was monitored after launch Friday atop a ballistic missile fired from the Wuzhai missile launch center in central China, said officials familiar with reports of the test,” the report from the Washington Free Beacon said. “The maneuvering glider, traveling at several thousand miles per hour, was tracked by satellites as it flew west along the edge of the atmosphere to an impact area in the western part of the country.”
Scientists with the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Pentagon's research arm are working to build a new hypersonic air vehicle that can travel at speeds up to Mach 5 while carrying guidance systems and other materials.
Air Force senior officials have said the service wants to build upon the successful hypersonic flight test of the X-51 Waverider 60,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean in May of 2013.
The Air Force and DARPA, the Pentagon's research entity, plan to have a new and improved hypersonic air vehicle by 2023.
The X-51 was really a proof of concept test designed to demonstrate that a scram jet engine could launch off an aircraft and go hypersonic.
The scramjet was able to go more than Mach 5 until it ran out of fuel. It was a very successful test of an airborne hypersonic weapons system, Air Force officials said.
The successful test was particularly welcome news for Air Force developers because the X-51 Waverider had previously had some failed tests.
The 2013 test flight, which wound up being the longest air-breathing hypersonic flight ever, wrapped up a $300 million technology demonstration program beginning in 2004, Air Force officials said.
A B-52H Stratofortress carried the X-51A on its wing before it was released at 50,000 feet and accelerated up to Mach 4.8 in 26 seconds. As the scramjet climbed to 60,000 feet it accelerated to Mach 5.1.
The X-51 was also able to send back data before crashing into the ocean -- the kind of information now being used by scientists to engineer a more complete hypersonic vehicle.
"After exhausting its 240-second fuel supply, the vehicle continued to send back telemetry data until it splashed down into the ocean and was destroyed as designed," according to an Air Force statement. "At impact, 370 seconds of data were collected from the experiment."
This Air Force the next-generation effort is not merely aimed at creating another scramjet but rather engineering a much more comprehensive hypersonic air vehicle, service scientists have explained.
Hypersonic flight requires technology designed to enable materials that can operate at the very high temperatures created by hypersonic speeds. They need guidance systems able to function as those speeds as well, Air Force officials have said.
The new air vehicle effort will progress alongside an Air Force hypersonic weapons program. While today's cruise missiles travel at speeds up to 600 miles per hour, hypersonic weapons will be able to reach speeds of Mach 5 to Mach 10, Air Force officials said.
The new air vehicle could be used to transport sensors, equipment or weaponry in the future, depending upon how the technology develops.
Also, Pentagon officials have said that hypersonic aircraft are expected to be much less expensive than traditional turbine engines because they require fewer parts.
For example, senior Air Force officials have said that hypersonic flight could speed up a five- hour flight from New York to Los Angeles to about 30 minutes. That being said, the speed of acceleration required for hypersonic flight may preclude or at least challenge the scientific possibility of humans being able to travel at that speed – a question that has yet to be fully determined.
Seventy lawmakers asked House appropriators to fund 11 additional F-35 Lightning IIs in a letter on October 4 as "events around the globe continue to demonstrate the urgent need for" the Joint Strike Fighter.
The letter, penned by the House Joint Strike Fighter Caucus, argues that at this "critical juncture" in the F-35 program Congress should fund more of the planes to keep down production costs and address current and future threats around the world.
The caucus asked to fund five Air Force F-35As, four carrier-based F-35Cs for the Navy, and two F-35Bs that can take off vertically for the Marine Corps.
“Increasing the production rate is the single most important factor in reducing future aircraft unit costs,” the letter read.
“Additionally, significantly increasing production is critical to fielding F-35s in the numbers needed to meet the expected threats in the mid-2020s.”
The letter implores Congress "to provide the funding necessary to continue increasing F-35 production at a rate sufficient to meet future threats and to reach full rate production of at least 120 US aircraft per year as quickly as possible."
This effort mirrors a Senate push to add $100 million to the budget to increase the Air Force's advanced procurement, the Washington Examiner notes.
The Joint Strike Fighter program, which has been plagued by setbacks and cost overruns since its inception in the 90s, has recently cleared important hurdles as it reached initial operating capacity with the US Marine Corps and Air Force.
The Air Force hopes that a smaller fleet of more capable F-35s can relieve the legacy aircraft that comprise the bulk of its fleet — many of which were introduced in the 1970s — as tensions mount with Russia in Syria and China in the South China Sea.
US Forces-Afghanistan confirmed that an American soldier was killed and another was wounded in an attack today in the Afghan capital of Kabul. From the USFOR-A press release:
One U.S. service member and one U.S. civilian died as a result of wounds sustained in Kabul, Afghanistan today. One U.S. service member and two U.S. civilians also sustained wounds and are currently stable.
The two individuals were killed during an attack near a coalition base by an unknown assailant, who was later killed. They were conducting duties as part of the larger NATO mission to Train, Advise, and Assist the Afghan security services. An investigation is being conducted to determine the exact circumstances of the event.
U.S. Department of Defense Policy is to withhold the identity of those involved pending next-of-kin notification. We will release additional information as appropriate.
According to Reuters, “The shooting took place at about 11 a.m., while the international troops were visiting a base in Kabul.” The gunman is reported to have been wearing an Afghan Army uniform.
Neither the Taliban nor the Islamic State has claimed the attack at this time. In the past, the Taliban has infiltrated Afghan security forces to carry out such attacks or convinced soldiers or policemen to turn their weapons on Coalition personnel. The Islamic State claimed credit for killing a US soldier in an IED attack in its stronghold of Nangarhar two weeks ago.
If the shooting is confirmed to be a green-on-blue or insider attack, where Afghan police or soldiers target Coalition personnel, then it would be the first recorded incident of its kind since April 2015. [For in-depth information, see LWJ special report, Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data.]
Smarting over exclusion from an Iraqi-led offensive against Islamic State in Mosul and Kurdish militia gains in Syria, President Tayyip Erdogan warned Turkey "will not wait until the blade is against our bone" but could act alone in rooting out enemies.
In a speech at his palace, Erdogan conjured up an image of Turkey constrained by foreign powers who "aim to make us forget our Ottoman and Selcuk history", when Turkey's forefathers held territory stretching across central Asia and the Middle East.
"From now on we will not wait for problems to come knocking on our door, we will not wait until the blade is against our bone and skin, we will not wait for terrorist organizations to come and attack us," he told hundreds of "muhtars", local administrators generally loyal to the government.
"Whoever supports the divisive terrorist organization, we will dig up their roots," he said, referring to Kurdish PKK militants who have waged a three-decade insurgency against Turkey and have bases in northern Iraq and affiliates in Syria.
"Let them go wherever until we find and destroy them. I am saying this very clearly: they will not have a single place to find peace abroad."
Erdogan has struck an increasingly belligerent tone in his speeches in recent days, frustrated that NATO member Turkey has not been more involved in the U.S.-backed assault on Mosul, and angered by Washington's support for Kurdish militia fighters battling Islamic State in Syria.
He is riding a wave of patriotism since a coup attempt failed to oust him in July, his message of a strong Turkey playing well with his fervent supporters.
Ankara has been locked in a row with Iraq over the presence of Turkish troops at the Bashiqa camp near Mosul, as well as over who should take part in the offensive in the largely Sunni Muslim city, once part of the Ottoman empire and still seen by Turkey as firmly within its sphere of influence.
Erdogan has warned of sectarian bloodshed if the Iraqi army relies on Shi'ite militia fighters.
He said agreement had been reached with the U.S. military on Turkish jets joining the Mosul operation, although Washington has said it is up to the Iraqi government on who takes part.
"They thought they could keep us out of Mosul by bothering us with the PKK and Daesh (Islamic State) ... They think they can shape our future with the hands of terrorist organizations," he said. "We know that the terrorists' weapons will blow up in their hands soon."
"You are foreigners here"
Turkey has felt increasingly powerless to control events across its borders as the U.S.-led coalition focuses on fighting Islamic State in Syria rather than on removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the root cause of the war in Ankara's view.
It has been particularly angered by U.S. support for Kurdish militia fighters in Syria. Washington views the Kurdish YPG as useful allies in the fight against the jihadists, but Turkey sees them as a hostile force and an extension of the PKK.
"We know this business in this region. You are foreigners here. You do not know," Erdogan said, to loud applause, in a speech on Tuesday to mark the opening of the academic year.
While criticizing the West, the Turkish leader has restored ties with Moscow in recent weeks, vowing to seek common ground on Syria after a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week, despite Moscow's backing of Assad.
Erdogan said he discussed with Putin by phone an agreement on Tuesday night on removing from Aleppo the group formally known as the Nusra Front, and now called Jabhat Fatah al Sham. He gave no details.
Erdogan has made repeated references in his speeches this week to the term "Misak-i Milli" or National Pact, referring to decisions made by the Ottoman parliament in 1920 setting out the borders of the Ottoman Empire.
He often laments the concessions made by Turkish leaders after World War One, with the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne that brought modern Turkey into being in 1923. Pro-government media this week published maps depicting Ottoman borders encompassing an area including Mosul.
He warned of efforts to "restructure the region" and said Turkey would not sit by.
"I'm warning the terrorist organizations, the sectarian fanatic Baghdad government, and the Assad government that kills its own people: you are on the wrong path. The fire you are trying to start will burn you more than us," Erdogan said.
"We are not obliged to abide by the role anyone has set for us in that sense. We have started carrying out our own plan."
Norway expects two F-35 fighter aircraft that were grounded for repairs last month to be back in the air by the end of November, sooner than originally thought, the defence ministry said on Wednesday.
The US Air Force on Sept. 16 said 15 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35A Lightning II aircraft had been grounded due to peeling and crumbling insulation in avionics cooling lines inside the fuel tanks.
The issue affected 57 aircraft, of which 42 were still in production, it said at the time.
The insulation is now being removed and extra filters installed to intercept any potential remains, although it has not yet been decided whether this fix should be regarded as temporary or permanent, the Norwegian ministry said.
Norway plans to buy up to 52 F-35s, of which four have so far been delivered.
The USS Zumwalt, the US Navy’s newest and most technologically advanced surface ship, was commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland, on October 15 during the city’s Fleet Week festivities.
The first ship of a new class of stealthy multi-mission destroyers (worth $4.4 billion apiece), the futuristic Zumwalt features an advanced power system capable to generate 78 megawatts of power. It also has the ability to launch TLAMs (Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles) and Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (like those used in Yemen recently), as well as a wide array of other anti-ship and anti-submarine weaponry.
Several aircraft flew over the advanced multi-mission guided-missile destroyer as it travelled to its new home port of San Diego.
In this post you can find the most interesting photos.
The first picture is particularly cool. It shows a Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton overflying USS Zumwalt.
The US Navy’s MQ-4C “Triton” Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) is an ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) platform under development that will complement the P-8A Poseidon within the Navy’s Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force family of systems.
With a 130.9-foot wingspan, the drone features an AN/ZPY-3 multi-function active-sensor (MFAS) radar system, which gives the Triton the ability to cover more than 2.7 million square miles in a single mission. The missions, amazingly, can last as long as 24 hours at a time, at altitudes higher than 10 miles, with an operational range of 8,200 nautical miles.
A test proved the gigantic Navy drone’s ability to pass FMV (Full Motion Video) to a Poseidon MPA (Maritime Patrol Aircraft) last June.
The US Navy plans to procure 68 aircraft and 2 prototypes in the coming years. The program received Milestone C low-rate initial production approval after a successful Milestone Decision Authority review at the end of September 2016.
After successfully replacing the US as the best-connected player in the Syrian conflict, Russia's deployment of their sole aircraft carrier and entire Northern Fleet to Syria represents its latest attempt to unseat the US as the premier naval power in the Middle East.
A successful deployment of a full-blown aircraft carrier represents the kind of sophisticated military task only a first-rate world power can pull off, and that seems to be exactly what Russia hopes for.
Much like their 2015 salvo of cruise missiles fired from the Caspian sea into Syria, the event will likely serve as a commercial for Russian military exports — one of the few bright spots in Russia's ailing economy.
The deployment will seek to present the best and brightest of Russia's resurgent military. The Kuznetsov, which has suffered from a litany of mechanical failures and often requires tow boats, will stay tight to Syria's shores due to the limited range of the carrier's air wing.
The air wing, comprised of only 15 or so Su-33s and MiG-29s and a handful of helicopters, does not even have half of the US Nimitz class carrier's 60 plus planes.
Furthermore, the carrier lacks plane launching catapults. Instead, the carrier relies on a ski-jump platform that limits how much fuel and ordnance the Russian jets can carry.
Even so, the Russian jets aboard will be some of the latest models in Russia's entire inventory, according to Russian state-run media. The bombs they carry will be guided, a sharp departure from Russia's usual indiscriminate use of "dumb" or unguided munitions which can drift unpredictably when dropped from altitude.
Russian media quotes a military source as saying that with the new X-38 guided bombs, "we reinforce our aviation group and bring in completely new means of destruction to the region." The same report states the bombs are accurate to within a few meters, which isn't ideal, but an improvement.
Indeed, the Kuznetsov's entire flight deck will function as somewhat of a showroom for Russian military goods. China operates a Soviet-designed carrier, as does India. Both of those nations have purchased Russian planes in the past. A solid performance from the jets in Syria would bode well for their prospects as exports, even as India struggles to get its current crop of Russian-made jets up to grade.
"Despite its resemblance to the land-based version of the MiG-29, this is a completely different aircraft," Russian media quotes a defence official as saying of the MiG-29K carrier-based variant.
"This applies to its stealth technologies, a new system of in-flight refueling, folding wings and mechanisms by which the aircraft has the ability to perform short take-offs and land at low speeds."
But the Russian jets practice on land bases that simulate the Kuznetsov, and any US Navy pilot will tell you that landing on a bobbing airstrip sailing along at sea is an entirely different beast.
One thing Russia's upcoming carrier deployment does have going for it will be having the world's premier naval and carrier power, the US, at least nominally aligned with them in a recently brokered cease-fire.
US Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of US forces in the Middle East, said on Wednesday that he believes Iran was behind missile strikes on US Navy ships fired from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen.
"I do think that Iran is playing a role in some of this. They have a relationship with the Houthis, so I do suspect there is a role in that," said Votel at the Center for American Progress, The Hill's Kristina Wong reports.
Iran does have a history of harassing US ships in the Persian Gulf. In January, Iran even went to the extreme length of taking US sailors captive after their ships broke down in Iranian national waters.
While experts have indicated to Business Insider that Iran likely supplied the Houthis with the missiles used in three separate attacks on US Navy ships, Votel's comments mark perhaps the first time a US official has laid the blame on Iran.
After the US struck the radar sites used by the Houthis, an armed uprising battling the internationally recognized government of Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour al-Hadi, Iranian vessels rushed to the waters off of Yemen under the premise of protecting "trade vessels from piracy."
If Iran does prove to be behind the missiles attacks, it's possible that the US's limited and defensive strikes have not addressed the larger problem.
Jonathan Schanzer, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider that the Obama administration "doesn’t want to get dragged into another Middle East conflict, but [it's] also an administration that is phobic of clashing with Iran-sponsored actors," as it tries to preserve the fragile nuclear deal with Iran.
SEE ALSO: Russia has muscled the US out of Syria
The Kurds, an ethnic group centered around the borders of Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Iran, and a with diaspora of members around the world, have proven to be one of the most potent ground forces in fighting and defeating ISIS. Throughout the campaign against ISIS, the US has trained and equipped Kurdish forces.
Now, in the push to take back Mosul, the Kurds are descending on the besieged town where Iraqi officials estimate more than 5,000 ISIS militants have entrenched themselves with IEDs and tunnels. In addition to the Kurds, Iraqi Security Forces and Shiite militias are also taking part in the battle against ISIS.
Be warned that this livestream contains potentially graphic images, as it is live footage from an active war zone:
The footage can be monotonous, but Rudaw's twitter feed has broken out a few key moments.
Here Kurdish forces destroy an ISIS suicide bomber with a rocket attack:
Here are scenes of a firefight:
Air Force F-35A Joint Strike Fighters coordinated close air support with Navy SEALs, trained with F-15Es and A-10s, dropped laser-guided bombs and practiced key mission sets and tactics in Idaho as part of initial preparations for what will likely be its first deployment within several years, senior service officials said.
“We are practicing taking what would be a smaller contingent of jets and moving them to another location and then having them employ out of that location,” Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, former Director, F-35 Integration Office told Scout Warrior in an interview several months ago.
Harrigian said the Air Force plane would likely deploy within several years and pointed to mini-deployments of 6 F-35As from Edwards AFB in Calif., to Mountain Home AFB in Idaho as key evidence of its ongoing preparations for combat.
“They dropped 30-bombs – 20 laser-guided bombs and 10 JDAMS (Joint Direct Attack Munitions). All of them were effective. We are trying to understand not only how we understand the airplane in terms of ordnance but also those tactics, techniques and procedures we need to prepare,” Harrigian explained.
During the exercises at Mountain Home AFB, the F-35A also practiced coordinating communications such as target identification, radio and other command and control functions with 4th-generation aircraft such as the F-15E, he added.
The training exercises in Idaho were also the first “real” occasion to test the airplane’s ability to use its computer system called the Autonomic Logistic Information System, or ALIS. The Air Force brought servers up to Mountain Home AFB to practice maintaining data from the computer system.
A report in the Air Force Times indicated that lawmakers have expressed some concerns about the development of ALIS, which has been plagued with developmental problems such as maintenance issues and problems referred to as “false positives.”
“This is a new piece of the weapons system. It has been challenging and hard. You have all this data about your airplanes. We learned some things that we were able to do in a reasonable amount of time,” Harrigian said.
F-35A "Sensor Fusion"
The computer system is essential to what F-35 proponents refer to as “sensor fusion,” a next-generation technology which combines and integrates information from a variety of sensors onto a single screen. As a result, a pilot does not have to look at separate displays to calculate mapping information, targeting data, sensor input and results from a radar warning receiver.
Harrigian added that his “fusion” technology allows F-35A pilots to process information and therefore make decisions faster than a potential enemy. He explained how this bears upon the historic and often referred to OODA Loop – a term to connote the Observation Orientation, Decision, Action cycle that fighter pilots need to go through in a dogfight or combat engagement in order to successfully destroy the enemy.
The OODA-Loop concept was developed by former Air Force strategist Col. John Boyd; it has been a benchmark of fighter pilot training, preparation and tactical mission execution.
“As we go in and start to target the enemy, we are maximizing the capabilities of our jets. The F-35 takes all that sensor input and gives it to you in one picture. Your ability to make decisions quicker that the enemy is exponentially better than when we were trying to put it all together in a 4th generation airplane. You are arriving already in a position of advantage,” Harrigian explained.
Also, the F-35 is able to fire weapons such as the AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missile “off boresight,” meaning it can destroy enemy targets at different angles of approach that are not necessarily directly in front of the aircraft.
“Before you get into an engagement you will have likely already shot a few missiles at the enemy,” Harrigian said.
The F-35s Electro-Optical Targeting System, or EOTS, combines forward-looking infrared and infrared search and track sensor technology for pilots – allowing them to find and track targets before attacking with laser and GPS-guided precision weapons.
The EOTs system is engineered to work in tandem with a technology called the Distributed Aperture System, or DAS, a collection of six cameras strategically mounted around the aircraft to give the pilot a 360-degree view.
The DAS includes precision tracking, fire control capabilities and the ability to warn the pilot of an approaching threat or missile.
The F-35 is also engineered with an Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar which is able to track a host of electromagnetic signals, including returns from Synthetic Aperture Radar, or SAR. This paints a picture of the contours of the ground or surrounding terrain and, along with Ground Moving Target Indicator, or GMTI, locates something on-the-move on the ground and airborne objects or threats.
F-35A Joint Strike Fighter Deployment
Once deployed, the F-35 will operate with an advanced software drop known as “3F” which will give the aircraft an ability to destroy enemy air defenses and employ a wide range of weapons.
Full operational capability will come with Block 3F, service officials said.
Block 3F will increase the weapons delivery capacity of the JSF as well, giving it the ability to drop a Small Diameter Bomb, 500-pound JDAM and AIM 9X short-range air-to-air missile, Air Force officials said.
As per where the initial squadron might deploy, Harrigian said that would be determined by Air Combat Command depending upon operational needs at that time. He did, however, mention the Pacific theater and Middle East as distinct possibilities.
“Within a couple years, I would envision they will take the squadron down range. Now, whether they go to Pacific Command or go to the Middle East – the operational environment and what happens in the world will drive this. If there is a situation where we need this capability and they are IOC – then Air Combat Command is going to take a hard look at using these aircraft,” he said.
Civilian pilot Adam Alpert of the Vermont Air National Guard wrote an interesting and enjoyable article on his training experience with the vaunted F-35 in a mock mission to take out nuclear facilities in North Korea.
Chief among the interesting points in the article is a quote from Alpert's instructor pilot, Lt. Col. John Rahill, about the F-35's dogfighting ability.
Speaking about the nuanced technical and tactical differences between the F-35, the future plane of the VANG, and the F-16, the VANG's current plane, Rahill said this:
"If you get into a dogfight with the F-35, somebody made a mistake. It's like having a knife fight in a telephone booth — very unpredictable."
The F-35 has been criticized for its dogfighting abilities. But as more information comes to light about the F-35's mission and purpose, it becomes clearer that measuring the F-35 by its ability to dogfight doesn't make much more sense than measuring a rifle by its capability as a melee weapon.
"The pilot uses onboard long-range sensors and weapons to destroy the enemy aircraft before ever being seen. The combination of stealth and superior electronic warfare systems makes the F-35 both more lethal and safer," said Rahill, according to Alpert.
In Alpert's mock mission to North Korea, planners sent only four planes, two F-35s and two F-22s, instead of the older formation of F-18s for electronic attacks, F-15s for air dominance, F-16s for bombing, and airborne early warning radar planes. Altogether, the older formation totals about 75 lives at risk versus four pilots at risk with the F-35 version.
Alpert's piece highlights many of the ways in which the F-35 outclasses the F-16 with an easier, more intuitive interface that allows pilots to focus more on the mission and less on the machine. In fact, Alpert compares the F-35's controls to an "elaborate video game" with a variety of apps he can call up seamlessly to access any relevant information — including an indicator that tells him how stealthy he is.
The British Royal Navy has sent warships to "man-mark," or closely watch, Russia's northern fleet, including the Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia's only aircraft carrier, as it prepares to pass though the English Channel.
"When these ships near our waters we will man-mark them every step of the way. We will be watching as part of our steadfast commitment to keep Britain safe," a Ministry of Defence spokesman told the Telegraph.
The Admiral Kuznetsov task group, which includes the carrier, battlecruisers, and smaller destroyers, set out for Syria's coast in the Mediterranean to continue the brutal siege of Aleppo, a strategically important city in northeastern Syria that government forces have tried to retake control of for years.
Britain's Prime Minister, Theresa May, called Russia's actions in support of Syria's Assad "sickening atrocities."
The Royal Navy is no stranger to run-ins with Russia's fleet, as tensions between Russia and the West mount and as Russian submarine activity spikes to its highest level since the Cold War.
Norwegian navy ships photographed the aircraft aboard the Kuznetsov taking off, in apparent practice for their upcoming carrier-based strikes against Aleppo.
The pictures do not indicate conclusively whether or not the customary tugboat sails alongside the Kuznetsov, which has been plagued by mechanical troubles in the past.
The Royal Navy's The Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan will monitor the group, the Associated Press reports.
Iran is seeking “many billions of dollars” in payments from the United States in exchange for the release of several US hostages still being detained in Iran, according to reports by Iran’s state-controlled press that are reigniting debate over the Obama administration’s decision earlier this year to pay Iran $1.7 billion in cash.
Senior Iranian officials, including the country’s president, have been floating the possibility of further payments from the United States for months.
Since the White House agreed to pay Tehran $1.7 billion in cash earlier this year as part of a deal bound up in the release of American hostages, Iran has captured several more US citizens.
Future payments to Iran could reach as much as $2 billion, according to sources familiar with the matter, who said that Iran is detaining US citizens in Iran’s notorious Evin prison where inmates are routinely tortured and abused.
Iranian news sources close to the country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, which has been handling prisoner swaps with the United States, reported on Tuesday that Iran expects “many billions of dollars to release” those US citizens still being detained.”
“We should wait and see, the US will offer … many billions of dollars to release” American businessman Siamak Namazi and his father Baquer, who was abducted by Iran after the United States paid Iran the $1.7 billion, according to the country’s Mashregh News outlet, which has close ties to the IRGC’s intelligence apparatus.
The Persian language news report was independently translated for the Washington Free Beacon.
Six hostages have been sentenced to 10 years in prison by Iran in the past months, including the Namazis.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told NBC News in late September that his government is in talks with the United States to secure future payouts, a disclosure that may have played a role in the White House’s recent decision to veto legislation to block future ransom payments to Iran.
“We’re currently conducting conversations and various dialogues in order to return this money to Iran,” Rouhani was quoted as saying. “Perhaps these dialogues can be still conducted simultaneously on parallel tracks while we’re conducting those same conversations in order to free the sums of money that are still owed to us.”
Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) told the Free Beacon that the US is incentivizing the abduction of Americans by Iran.
“I am saddened to learn of the sentencing of Baquer Namazi and his son Siamak by Iran this week,” said Kirk, the co-author of key Iran sanctions laws and chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on National Security and International Trade and Finance, which oversees Iran sanctions policy.
“After airlifting $1.7 billion in cash ransom payments to Iran, even the US State Department now warns of increased dangers that the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism will continue to illegally seize Americans and Westerners who travel or do business with Iran. Companies, banks, and American citizens would be wise to stay away from Iran,” Kirk said.
One senior congressional adviser familiar with the issue told the Free Beacon that Iranian officials have been pressing for another $2 billion from the United States for months.
“Iranian officials including Foreign Minister [Mohammad Javad] Zarif have been bragging for months that they’re going to force the US to pay them several billion dollars more,” the source said. “Now officials across the spectrum in Iran—from IRGC hardliners to the ostensibly moderate President Rouhani—are talking about those billions, and maybe several more, alongside chatter about the US hostages.”
“Even some family members of the hostages talk that way, which is completely understandable given what they’re going through, but it doesn’t change the fact that the administration is gearing up to give Iran another ransom in the hundreds of millions and maybe again billions,” the source added.
Rumors of future ransom payments to Iran come as Congress continues to investigate the circumstances surrounding the $1.7 billion cash payment, a portion of which was delivered by plane to Iran just hours before it released several US prisoners.
The Free Beacon recently disclosed that details of this payment and other details bound up in the hostage release are being stored in a highly secure location on Capitol Hill, preventing many from accessing the documents, which are not classified but are being treated as such.
The three documents show that the cash payment was directly tied to the prisoner release, adding fuel to claims of a ransom payment, according to sources who have viewed them.
Iran experts who spoke to the Free Beacon said that Iran senses weakness in the United States and is angling to squeeze more money from the administration before it leaves office.
“Paying $1.7 billion to Iran to release the US prisoners has encouraged Iran to arrest more Americans,” said Saeed Ghasseminejad, an associate fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “Iran senses weakness in the US leadership as it constantly tests the administration through a chain of provocative actions. To put an end to Iran’s abduction program, the administration should make it clear, by action and not words, that it does not reward Iran for its bad behavior.”
Conceding to Iran’s demands will only bolster the hardline regime, Ghasseminejad said.
“The administration must show strength in response to Iran’s other provocative actions in the region,” he said. “The administration also should warn American citizens and green card holders that Iran is a very dangerous place for them to travel or do business. However, such warning contradicts the administration’s continuous efforts to encourage investors and big banks to do business with Iran. The administration also should impose sanction on the entities and individuals involved in this abduction program.”
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. service member died on Thursday from wounds sustained in an improvised explosive device blast in northern Iraq, the U.S.-led military coalition said in a statement.
A U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the incident took place near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
Roughly 5,000 U.S. forces are in Iraq. More than 100 of them are embedded with Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces involved with the Mosul offensive, advising commanders and helping them ensure coalition air power hits the right targets, officials have said.
The statement did not identify the service member.
This is the fourth U.S. service member to be killed since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve in 2014, focused on fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
The Pentagon this week played down any new role for U.S. forces in Iraq's battle to retake Mosul and said they would be behind the forward line of troops. But as the United States has increased its presence in Iraq this year to help in the Mosul fight, officials have acknowledged Americans will be "closer to the action."
(Reporting by Idrees Ali and Yeganeh Torbati, editing by G Crosse and Cynthia Osterman)
"May I show you a picture?" the Swiss broadcaster asked, producing the photo of Daqneesh, the 5 year old Syrian boy whose photo went viral as a human face to the ongoing tragedy in Aleppo.
"Do you know this picture? His name is Omran, 5 years old, covered in blood, scared, traumatized, is there anything you'd like to say to Omran and his family?"
"I have something to say to you first of all," said Assad. "Go to the internet to see the same picture with the same child with his sister."
Assad goes on to say that both children were rescued by the "White Helmets," Syrian volunteers who work to search for survivors following airstrikes. Currently, the White Helmets are overwhelmed by the widespread suffering caused by Syria and Russia's vicious air campaign on Aleppo. Recently, either Syrian or Russian warplanes bombed a UN humanitarian aid convoy directly.
But Assad's direct quote is that these volunteers are "a facelift of al Nusra," which is to say that they're covert al Qaeda agents. Assad claims that the White Helmets rescued the children twice as part of a publicity campaign.
"It is manipulated," Assad said of the photo.
However, the photo is only a still from a longer video released by the Aleppo Media Center. The video shows rescuers pulling Daqneesh from the rubble of an airstrike and placing him in an ambulance. Later photos show the boy cleaned up and bandaged.
"This is a forged picture, not a real one," said Assad.
In interviews, Assad consistently sticks to his talking points and the same narrative he's held since the beginning of the war in Syria. In an earlier interview with the Associated Press, Assad claimed he was virtually blameless for six years of death and devastation in Syria that started when he used excessive violent force against his own people to crush largely peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations.
For the world at large the photo of dejected Daqneesh, born after the start of the brutal conflict, was a heartbreaking reminder about the suffering going on in Aleppo.
For Assad, during this interview, it was an opportunity to sink to a new low in both denying the legitimacy of the young boy's unimaginable suffering and of slandering the White Helmets.
SEE ALSO: Russia has muscled the US out of Syria
The Air Force is in the early phases of adding new weapons to the Reaper drone platform, a large 66-foot unmanned system able to conduct aerial surveillance and weapons attacks in key areas across the globe.
The Reaper currently fires the AGM-114 Hellfire missile, a 500-pound laser-guided weapon called the GBU-12 Paveway II, and Joint Direct Attack Munitions or JDAMs which are free-fall bombs engineered with a GPS and Inertial Navigation Systems guidance kit, Air Force acquisition officials told Scout Warrior. JDAM technology allows the weapons to drop in adverse weather conditions and pinpoint targets with “smart” accuracy.
The Air Force Military Deputy for Acquisition told Scout Warrior in an interview last year that the service has begun the process of adding new weapons to the Reaper, an effort which will likely involve engineering a universal weapons interface.
“We are looking at what kind of weapons do we need to integrate in. We're looking at anything that is in our inventory, including the small diameter bomb. We're working to get universal armament interface with an open mission systems architecture,” Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch said.
A universal interface would allow the Reaper to more quickly integrate new weapons technology as it emerges and efficiently swap or replace bombs on the drone without much difficulty, Bunch explained.
“If I can design to that interface, then it costs me less money and takes me less time to integrate a new weapon - I don’t want to go in and open up the software of the airplane. As long as I get the interface right, I can integrate that new weapon much sooner,” he added.
There are many potential advantages to adding to the arsenal of weapons able to fire from the Reaper. These include an ability to strike smaller targets, mobile targets or terrorists, such as groups of enemy fighters on-the-move in pick-up trucks as well as enemies at further ranges, among other things.
Drone attacks from further ranges could reduce risk to the platform and help strikes against Al Qaeda or ISIS targets to better achieve an element of surprise. Furthermore, an ability to hit smaller and mobile targets could enable the Reaper drone to have more success with attacks against groups of ISIS or other enemy fighters that reduce the risk of hurting nearby civilians. Both ISIS and Al Qaeda are known for deliberately seeking to blend in with civilian populations to better protect themselves from U.S. drone strikes.
Also, at some point in the future it may not be beyond the realm of possibility to arm the Reaper for air-to-air engagements as well.
One new possibility for the Reaper drone could be the addition for the GBU-39B or Small Diameter Bomb, Bunch said.
The Small Diameter Bomb uses a smart weapons carrier able to include four 250-pound bombs with a range of 40 nautical miles. The bomb’s small size reduces collateral damage and would allow the Reaper to achieve more kills or attack strikes per mission, Air Force officials said.
The Small Diameter Bomb, which can strike single or multiple targets, uses GPS precision. It is currently fired from the F-15E, F-16, F-117, B-1, B-2, F-22 and F-35, Air Force officials stated.
The Air Force currently operates 104 Reaper drones and has recently begun configuring the platform with additional fuel tanks to increase range. The Reaper Extended Range, or ER as it’s called, is intended to substantially increase and build upon the current 4,000-pound fuel capacity of the drone with a range of 1,150 miles.
The upgrades to Reaper, would add two 1,350-pound fuel tanks engineered to increase the drones endurance from 16 hours to more than 22 hours, service officials said.
Okay let’s be honest, it’s the combat planes that get most of the attention.
What airplane did “Top Gun” turn into a star? The F-14 Tomcat. “Iron Eagle’s” sex appeal came from the spritely F-16 Fighting Falcon. Even “Flight of the Intruder” made the portly A-6 Intruder attack plane the belle of the ball.
So, where does that leave some of the support planes? Out in the cold, and that just ain’t fair.
A Navy release on Oct. 21 centers on one of the most important planes in a carrier’s air wing – the E-2 Hawkeye airborne radar and control plane. Specifically, the new E-2D, which is making its Pacific Fleet debut with Air Wing 11 on board USS Nimitz (CVN 68), is a game-changer for the Sea Service.
The E-2D made its debut with the fleet last year with VAW-125 when USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) deployed to the Middle East, Mediterranean Sea, and in the Western Pacific.
The E-2 has been in service since 1964 – sharing the same airframe as the C-2 Greyhound carrier onboard delivery, or “COD,” aircraft. Initially, it used the AN/APS-138 radar, which was later replaced with the AN/APS-145. The E-2C entered service in 1971, and since then has been continuously upgraded.
The E-2D, though, adds a new radar, the AN/APY-9. This Active Electronically Scanned Array radar not only provides more detection capability, it makes it harder for an opposing plane to know if it is being seen.
The E-2D has far more than better eyes, though. It also can help guide missiles like the AIM-120 AMRAAM and the RIM-174 SM-6 against aerial targets.
But wait, there’s more! The E-2D also has some other upgrades that will help make this plane even more of a game-changer than it was before. It will gain a mid-air refueling capability, enabling it to stay aloft longer. It also will feature a glass cockpit, which not only improves situational awareness for the crew, but will allow the plane’s co-pilot to serve as a tactical controller in emergencies.
So, give the E-2 its due. Without this plane, it’s a safe bet that Maverick and Iceman would probably have no idea where the bandits were until it was too late.
The Pentagon has been testing swarms of low-cost surveillance and attack drones engineered to jam enemy air defenses, blanket areas with small sensors or function as attack weapons, DoD officials said.
Using fast-developing computer algorithms for autonomous flight engineered to prevent mini-drones from crashing into one-another, the swarms are intended to perform a wide-range of strategically relevant missions.
The Pentagon’s once-secret Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO), aimed at harnessing promising technologies for nearer-term development than most acquisition programs, has already launched these drones from F-16 and F-18s numerous times in testing.
The mini-drones, called Perdix, are government designed yet built with commercial off-the-shelf elements. William Roper, who reports to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter as the Director of the Strategic Capabilities Office, said the effort was showing promise for possible near-term combat advantage.
“They are expendable and fly low as a surveillance asset. You can have a lot of them for a saturation approach. Saturating has an advantage over the thing it has to defend against. Its defender has to take more time and money to defend against it,” Roper told a small group of reporters.
While Roper did not wish to openly discuss the particular sensor technologies used by Perdix, he did explain that they could be quickly launched from an aircraft’s flare dispensers.
“If you go and walk around a fighter jet to pop trunk there is not a lot of storage in a fighter but the one place you can fit an expendable is in the flare dispenser because a flare is an expendable. There is a place that it sits in a canister and there is a button that makes them dispense,” Roper said.
Test results and data for further development are now being analyzed as part of an effort to modify designs if needed.
While launching drone swarms are showing promise, there are a number of key limitations to Perdix; the Pentagon can launch expendable mini-drones but has not yet been able to engineer mini-drones that can return to the aircraft from which they are launched. In addition, although they do provide a distinct cost advantage compared with many weapons which would defend against it, the small drones have limited range, Roper added.
The small drone is, however, created to deal with both enemy weapons and extreme temperatures, Roper said.
“The numbers for speed and endurance are not what the capability should be. It gives commanders a little bit of surprise about what big aircraft can do,” he said.
The outer-mold of Perdix is created with 3D printing to both allow for rapid production and lower costs.
The Pentagon’s SCO, which works closely with the military services to develop the technologies, was created to help circumvent the often lengthy, expensive and bureaucratic formal acquisition process.
“It will be important for us in SCO is to play the role of cross service connector. Often people who have never met are natural partners. There is a synergy,” Roper explained. “We don’t hold the copyright on innovation. We want to give Cocoms (combatant commanders) the biggest advantage they could have. We take a risky concept and turn it to a point when we can hand it over.”
In an opinion piece on the US Naval Institute's News blog, retired US Navy Capt. Sean R. Liedman argues that as long as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (or the Iran nuclear deal) enriches the Islamic Republic, the US will see Iranian-sponsored proxy attacks with increasing frequency.
Liedman points to an extensive history of Iran sponsoring terrorist activities in the region, including direct attacks on US servicemen.
The previous Iranian training and supplying of Hezbollah fighters with C-802 cruise missiles, the kind experts believe were fired at US Navy ships near Yemen, is evidence that Iran seeks to expand influence in the region in direct opposition to the US.
According to Liedman: "Money is the lifeblood of Iran’s support to its proxy groups, and the lifting of economic sanctions will provide Iran with more money to further achieve its objectives in the region."
The US lists Iran as a state sponsor of terror, and Liedman goes as far as comparing access to funding for Iran to access to funding for al-Qaeda or ISIS, stating that only the naive would think Iran would change it's strategic goals without sufficient international pressure.
So until the US finds other ways to leverage Iran, the US should "brace for impact from other proxy attacks," Liedman says.