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The latest news on Defense from Business Insider

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    f 18 sunset

    Russia says it will treat US-led coalition planes in Syria, west of the Euphrates, as targets after US downed Syrian jet after a US F/A-18 shot down a Syrian Su-22 that dropped bombs near US-backed forces.

    Russia's defense ministry also says it is suspending coordination with the United States in Syria over so-called "de-confliction zones" after the Americans downed a Syrian government fighter jet.

    The United States and Russia, which has been providing an air cover for Syria's President Bashar Assad since 2015 in his offensive against the Islamic State group, have a standing agreement that should prevent in-the-air incidents involving U.S. and Russia jets engaged in operations in Syria.

    The Russian defense ministry said in a statement on Monday that it was suspending the deal after the U.S. military confirmed that it downed a Syrian Air Force fighter jet on Sunday after it dropped bombs near U.S. partner forces.

    The ministry says it views the incident as Washington's "deliberate failure to make good on its commitments" under the de-confliction deal.


    SEE ALSO: US-led coalition aircraft shoots down Syrian fighter jet near Raqqa

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    uss george h.w. bush

    A US F/A-18 took off from the USS George H. W. Bush in the Mediterranean on Sunday and shot down a Syrian Su-22 that reportedly dropped bombs near US-backed forces, scoring the first American air-to-air kill in decades.

    The US Air Force has not shot down a manned aircraft since 1999.

    Instead, the focus of the US's airpower as of late has turned to providing air support against insurgencies or forces that do not have fighter jets of their own.

    f/a 18 uss george h w bush isis

    The F/A-18, the ubiquitous fighter aircraft aboard all US aircraft carriers, has seen its combat role shift almost solely to air-to-ground, with the USS Harry Truman breaking the all-time record for bombs dropped: 1,118 in 2016.

    However, pilots aboard the Bush could see more air-to-air.

    On Monday, Russia announced that it would treat all US and US-led-coalition jets west of the Euphrates River in Syria as targets for its air force. Russia has a few dozen fighter and bomber jets stationed in Syria, while the US has a carrier wing aboard the Bush and a few other squadrons at nearby Udeid and Incirlik air bases.

    SEE ALSO: US-led coalition aircraft shoots down Syrian fighter jet near Raqqa

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: There’s a 'Boneyard' in Arizona where most US military planes go to die

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    A handout picture provided by Iran state TV and released on June 18, 2017 shows Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps launching a missile from an undisclosed location in western Iran, towards Islamic State group bases in Syria

    Tehran (AFP) - Iran has targeted jihadists in Syria with missiles in retaliation for deadly attacks in Tehran, but the strike was also a message to its regional rivals and Washington, experts say.

    Late Sunday, the elite Revolutionary Guards launched six missiles from western Iran into Syria's mostly Islamic State group-held Deir Ezzor province, hitting an IS command base, the Guards said.

    The strike was "revenge" for twin attacks in Tehran on June 7 that killed 17 people in the first IS-claimed attacks inside the Shiite-ruled Islamic republic, a Guards spokesman added.

    As well as punishing "terrorists", it was intended to show that Iran is capable of projecting military power across the region, officials and experts said.

    iran ballistic missile reutersTehran has devoted vast military and financial resources to propping up the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a six-year civil war.

    It has also sent thousands of Shiite recruits to fight in Syria and battle IS in neighbouring Iraq, according to officials.

    But Sunday's strike was the first known missile attack launched from Iran into foreign territory since the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88.

    "The missile attacks were only a small part of Iran's punitive power against terrorists and enemies," Guards spokesman General Ramezan Sharif said Monday.

    "International and regional supporters of the terrorists must realise the warning message of the missile operation."

    Iran has long accused the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia of backing "terrorists" -- a catch-all phrase for rebels and jihadist groups fighting the Assad regime.

    US President Donald Trump meanwhile accuses Iran of backing terrorism -- a charge it denies -- and has threatened to tear up a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers. 

    'Response' to Senate vote

    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waves during a ceremony marking the death anniversary of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in Tehran, Iran, June 4, 2017. via REUTERS

    The US Senate last week passed tough sanctions on Iran for its alleged "continued support of terrorism".

    Iran condemned the move and vowed to respond with "reciprocal and adequate measures".

    Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of a parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and national security, called Sunday's strike "an appropriate response to the US Senate vote".

    Analyst Foad Izadi said the strike was intended to convey several messages.

    "The first message is that Iran punishes terrorists," he said.

    But it was also meant to show that "Iran, in its fight against terrorism, needs missiles -- and sanctions have no influence on its defence policies."

    Iran's homemade missiles, which can hit targets up to 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) away, are a major point of tension with Washington and Israel.

    Tehran argues that in a region engulfed with conflicts and wars, its missiles are an indispensible part of its defensive power.

    Iran's weapons programme is also a major concern for its Sunni arch-rival Saudi Arabia. 

    The two regional heavyweights back opposing sides in several conflicts including in Syria and Yemen. 

    Sunday's strike came amid rising tensions between Riyadh and Tehran. Izadi said it was partly intended for a Saudi audience.

    "Riyadh must know that all of its oil regions are within the range of Iranian missiles," he said.

    Message to Netanyahu'

    Netanyahu iran

    Saudi Arabia struck a giant arms deal with Washington this month during President Donald Trump's visit to the region, which saw him clearly align his administration with Riyadh and lash out against Tehran.

    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the $110 billion (100 billion euro) deal was aimed at helping the kingdom deal with "malign Iranian influence".

    Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said Monday that "unlike others, Iran doesn't buy security and stability". 

    "Security cannot be traded and those who think they can provide their security by dragging extra-regional countries here are making a stupid strategic mistake," he said.

    While Saudi Arabia has spent billions on American weapons, Iran has developed a range of homemade ballistic missiles -- including some that are capable of hitting Israel or American military bases in the region.

    Izadi said Sunday's strike on Deir Ezzor, halfway between Iranian and Israeli territory, was also meant as a message to Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, "who regularly threatens Iran."

    "The missiles that were fired are medium range -- Iran has long-range missiles with much greater ranges," he said.

    Boroujerdi said the strike marked "a new phase in the fight against terrorism."

    "So far, we only posted military advisors on the ground in Syria and Iraq," he said. 

    "But the attack shows we are capable of hitting terrorists hundreds of kilometres away." 

    SEE ALSO: A US F-18 from the USS George H.W. Bush just scored America's first air-to-air kill since 1999

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    Iran Navy

    The Saudi navy has captured three members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from a boat seized last week as it approached the kingdom's offshore Marjan oilfield, the Saudi information ministry said on Monday.

    Relations between the two countries are at their worst in years, with each accusing the other of subverting regional security and support opposite sides in conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

    "This was one of three vessels which were intercepted by Saudi forces. It was captured with the three men on board, the other two escaped," a statement from the ministry's center for international communications said.

    "The three captured members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are now being questioned by Saudi authorities," it said, citing a Saudi official.

    The vessel, seized last Friday, was carrying explosives and intended to conduct a "terrorist act" in Saudi territorial waters, it said.

    An earlier report from the Saudi Press Agency said the Saudi navy had fired warning shots at the two boats that managed to escape.

    Iran's Tasnim news agency said on Saturday that Saudi border guards had opened fire on an Iranian fishing boat in the Gulf on Friday, killing a fisherman. It said the boat was one of two Iranian boats fishing in the Gulf that had been pushed off course by waves.

    Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have steadily deteriorated. On June 5, Riyadh and other Arab governments severed ties with Qatar, citing its support of Iran as a reason.

    Days later, suicide bombings and shootings in Tehran killed at least 17 people. Shi'ite Muslim Iran repeated accusations that Saudi Arabia funds Sunni Islamist militants, including Islamic State. Riyadh has denied involvement in the attacks.


    SEE ALSO: Iran has found a new way to mess with the US Navy

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    The leader of a Sunni Muslim militant group was killed by the Revolutionary Guards in southeast Iran during operations in recent days, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported on Monday. 

    Three members of the Ansar al-Furqan group, which has attacked security forces and civilians, according to Iranian officials, were also killed by Iranian forces in the southeast region of the country last week, state media said.

    Jalil Qanbar-Zahi, leader of Ansar al-Furqan, had been pursued by Iranian security forces for 25 years and was killed by the Guards near the city of Qasr Qand, IRNA reported. 

    Iranian security forces have carried out a string of raids and arrests after a complex terror attack last week targeted the Iranian parliament in Tehran and the shrine of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, south of the capital, leaving 18 dead.

    Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack. 

    On Sunday night, the Guards fired half a dozen missiles from western Iran at Islamic State targets in eastern Syria in what Guards commanders said was a message the perpetrators of the Tehran attack and their supporters, state media said. 

    Iran's restive Sistan and Baluchestan province, in the southeast of the country on the borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan, is home to the Baluch minority and is a hotbed of Sunni militant activity against the Shi’ite-dominated government of the Islamic Republic.

    The province, one of Iran's most impoverished, is also part of a well-known drug trafficking route.

    Sistan and Baluchestan Province iran map

    Qanbar-Zahi was wanted for an attack on a Shi'ite religious ceremony in the city of Chabahar, planning suicide attacks and killing police officers among other crimes, according to IRNA.

    During the operations which led to Qanbar-Zahi's death, the Revolutionary Guards found a car bomb containing 600 kilograms of explosives, 15 suicide bombs, 700 kilograms of explosive material and tens of thousands of bullets, IRNA reported.

    Ansar al Furqan is a splinter group of Jundallah, a militant group that also carried out several attacks in the province, according to the Mashregh news site.

    Abdolmalek Rigi, the head of Jundallah, was captured and executed by Iranian authorities in 2010.

    SEE ALSO: Saudi Arabia captures, questions three members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps

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    NOW WATCH: Animated map shows what the US would look like if all the Earth's ice melted

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    f-22 f22 raptor inherent resolve arabian sea

    The U.S. military said on Monday it was repositioning its aircraft over Syria to ensure the safety of American air crews targeting Islamic State, as tensions escalate following the U.S. downing of a Syrian military jet on Sunday.

    "As a result of recent encounters involving pro-Syrian Regime and Russian forces, we have taken prudent measures to re-position aircraft over Syria so as to continue targeting ISIS forces while ensuring the safety of our aircrew given known threats in the battlespace," said Lieutenant Colonel Damien Pickart, a spokesman at U.S. Air Forces Central Command.

    SEE ALSO: A US F-18 from the USS George H.W. Bush just scored America's first air-to-air kill since 1999

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    boeing MDA drone concept

    The US Missile Defense Agency just issued a bold request for proposals for a missile defense system that could change the game and act like a silver bullet against North Korean missile launches.

    The MDA asked for proposals to build a high-altitude long-endurance unmanned aircraft capable of flying higher than 63,000 feet and carrying a laser to shoot down ballistic missiles as they arc upwards towards the sky. 

    While the laser system sounds like something out of science fiction,  — and is something the US Navy has struggled to field for over a decade — Ricky Ellison of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance told Business Insider that this drone could be the perfect application of the technology.

    "What it can do is intercept missiles in the boost phase, therefore you don’t need to have billion dollar radars all over the world to intercept with 80 million dollar interceptors," said Ellison.

    Ballistic missiles fly high into earth's atmosphere before breaking apart, often releasing multiple reentry vehicles, countermeasures, and decoys. This makes them a nightmare for traditional missile defense systems which track the launch and then fire interceptor vehicles to smash them apart upon reentry. 

    laser drone

    Even the top-of-the-line THAAD system, recently sent to South Korea, would struggle to destroy a large salvo from North Korea, and the price of installing and using the entire system, interceptors included, would cost into the billions. Additionally, THAAD's high-powered radar capability makes China extremely nervous, as they believe it could limit their ability to respond to a nuclear strike from the US

    Meanwhile, a solid state laser can be fired continuously for dollars a minute, about what you'd pay for electricity in your home. Though building the platform would cost millions in research, development, and testing.

    Traditionally, while boost-phase interception looks more attractive on paper because it hits the missile in a more vulnerable stage, it's been impractical because the interceptor has to be close to the projectile.

    So there's just no way the US could intercept a missile fired from central Russia or China in its boost phase. With a small country like North Korea though, US drones right off the border could melt down missiles with a light-speed weapon in the cloudless upper atmosphere.

    Ballistic rocket is seen launching during a drill by the Hwasong artillery units of the KPA Strategic Force, July 2016. KCNA/via REUTERS

    "This would be far more efficient to have boost-phase intercept capability over that territory at that height to handle that," said Ellison. "As North Korea develops countermeasures, decoys, MRV (multiple reentry vehicles), and all the things that will continue to evolve, you have a great opportunity to eliminate all those advancing technologies before all that gets dispersed."

    The MDA hopes to field this technology by 2023, at which point most experts agree North Korea will have perfected an intercontinental ballistic missile. 

    SEE ALSO: North Korea is the number one threat to the US — Here's what happens when they get ICBMs

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    NOW WATCH: There’s a 'Boneyard' in Arizona where most US military planes go to die

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    Otto Frederick Warmbier (C), a University of Virginia student who was detained in North Korea since early January, is taken to North Korea's top court in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo released by Kyodo March 16, 2016. REUTERS/Kyodo

    President Donald Trump offered he and his wife's 'deepest condolences' to the family of Otto Warmbier, the US student medically evacuated from North Korea after slipping into a coma.

    "There is nothing more tragic for a parent than to lose a child in the prime of life. Our thoughts and prayers are with Otto’s family and friends, and all who loved him," read a statement from Trump on Monday.

    Trump said that his administration was determined to "prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency."

    Warmbier was tried and detained for "anti-state" activities which amounted to an attempt to steal a propaganda poster from a North Korean hotel. North Korea sentenced him to 15 years of hard labor, but Warmbier went into a coma shortly after his trial.

    The Trump administration had secured the release of Warmbier over a long period of diplomatic negotiations. Upon Warmbier's release, Trump called his family.

    Trump also commented on Warmbier's death during a technology roundtable event at the White House on Monday.

    "He spent a year and a half in North Korea. A lot of bad things happened," Trump said of Warmbier. "But at least we got him home to be with his parents, where they were so happy to see him, even though he was in very tough condition. But he just passed away a little while ago."

    He added: "It's a brutal regime, and we'll be able to handle it."

    Warmbier died at 2:20 p.m. on Monday "surrounded by his loving family,"according to a statement from the Warmbiers.

    "The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim," the Trump statement concluded.

    The State Department also released a statement on Warmbier's death, saying the US holds North Korea accountable for Warmbier's "unjust imprisonment." The department also demanded the release of three other Americans who had been "illegally detained."

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    kim jong un congress

    A tweet from President Donald Trump on Tuesday hinted at a change in direction on North Korea policy.

    "While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out," he tweeted. "At least I know China tried!"

    The president made the comments a day after an American student, Otto Warmbier, died in the US after being released from North Korean custody.

    Trump has repeatedly stressed his relationship with Xi and China as a tool to make progress on reining in North Korea, but has also made clear that the US will seek to unilaterally deal with North Korea should Beijing's efforts fall short.

    "If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you,” Trump told the Financial Times in April.

    China has taken some measures to curb trade with North Korea by rejecting their coal shipments, but they remain the country's main trade partner and engage with it on about 90% of its outside trade. China alone could bring the collapse of Kim Jong Un's regime in North Korea, but it would run contrary to its interests because it would release a flood of refugees and potentially bring forth a democratic, united Korea in which the US could base troops. 

    More than presidents before him, Trump has stressed that the US will take on an "all options" approach to dealing with North Korea, and has repeatedly iterated that military action could be in store.

    Although experts contacted by Business Insider say that prospects for diplomatic solutions with North Korea look dim, South Korea would resolutely oppose a military engagement. 

    Along with military action, Trump has also said he would be "honored" to hold talks with Kim Jong Un. White House press secretary Sean Spicer, however, said Tuesday that the Trump administration is moving away from that possibility.

    North Korea has multiple times floated the idea of curbing its nuclear weapons program if the US would scale back or stop its military exercises with South Korea. US orthodoxy on the subject maintains that the planned, regularly occurring military drills do not pose a threat to North Korea and do not compare to the Kim regime's regular nuclear threats, but it's possible that Trump could revisit that position.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Kim Jong Un

    President Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday that China's effort to reel in North Korea "has not worked," leaving officials who commented to CNN baffled as to his meaning — but reports have started to circulate indicating that North Korea may be planning to test a nuclear device.

    Spy satellites over spotted activity at North Korea's nuclear test site that could indicate preparations for a possible detonation, and Trump has been briefed on his options, should he choose to act, according to CNN.

    Additionally, the online flight monitor CivMilAir has detected a flight of the WC-135, or the Constant Phoenix "nuke sniffer," which surveys the atmosphere to detect nuclear explosions. While CivMilAir has not pinpointed the location of the WC-135, it regularly flies around North Korea.

    In April, Trump told CBS he would "not be happy" if North Korea tested a nuclear device, though he did not specify whether he would take action in response. Trump did not specify if "not being happy" meant that military action would follow.

    At that time there was a flurry of speculation the North Koreans may test another nuclear device, but they have not since then. While North Korea has carried out missile tests almost weekly since April, it has only carried out six nuclear tests.

    Generally, nuclear tests draw harsher condemnation from the United Nations, with China, North Korea's sole ally, signing on to increased sanctions on North Korea every time after a nuclear detonation.

    Experts have told Business Insider that a military intervention against North Korea remains unlikely because of the spread and mysterious nature of the country's arsenal, but a limited strike against a single, high-value target could happen.

    North Korea, the only country to test nuclear weapons in the 21st century, carries out its nuclear tests in a hardened structure underground.

    SEE ALSO: 'It has not worked out': Trump tweet hints that the US might take action on North Korea

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    f 18 sunset

    In the wake of a US F/A-18 shooting down a Syrian Su-22, Russia issued strong warnings to the US by threatening to target US and US-led coalition planes in Syria.

    But a head-on, conventional fight with the US is the last thing Russia wants, and it has already started to backpedal.

    At first, Russia said it would target US aircraft west of the Euphrates river in Syria.

    Then, just a few hours later, another statement refined that point, saying US aircraft in that region would be "tracked by the Russian [surface-to-air missile] systems as air targets."

    The incident resembles the aftermath of the April 7 US strike on Syria's al Sharyat airbase, where 59 cruise missiles from US Navy destroyers took out a handful of Syrian President Bashar Assad's jets after a chemical-weapon attack killed civilians, many of them children.

    At that time, Russia suspended the deconfliction line— a line of communication established to reduce the risk that Russian and coalition aircraft could get too close. Russia also vowed to meet additional strikes against Syria with force.

    Military experts shuddered at the thought that Russia and the US were operating within mere miles of each other with no mechanism to deconflict possible incidents, but Russia reestablished the deconfliction lines just days later.

    Now Russia has again suspended this line of communication, and again threatened force against the US. But according to Anna Borshchevskaya, an expert on Russia’s foreign policy in the Middle East at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, it's all just bluster from Putin.

    "I don’t think Putin wants a direct military confrontation with the US. He never wanted it," Borshchevskaya said. "In fact, I think it’s the last thing he wants."

    su 24 frogfoot syria

    Borshchevskaya pointed to Turkey's 2015 downing of a Russian jet that only entered their airspace for a few seconds as evidence of Putin's lack of resolve when it comes down to brass tacks. "There were multiple ways that Putin reacted" to Turkey's shoot down "but certainly not a direct war," said Borshchevskaya.

    And if Putin was wary of war with Turkey, he'd be downright fearful of a fight with the US.

    "To be perfectly frank, no one can really match the US in conventional terms, and certainly not Russian armed forces," said Borshchevskaya.

    Instead, Russia can continue to prop up Assad and bomb small rebel factions in asymmetrical warfare without much fear of reprisal. Similarly, Iran has sent in proxy militias to fight on Assad's behalf but likely wouldn't dream of lining up their armed forces against the US's.

    Perhaps H.R. McMaster, President Trump's National Security Advisor, said it best: "There are two ways to fight the United States military: Asymmetrically and stupid."

    Nick Heras, an expert on Syria from the Center for New American Security, told Business Insider that in terms of Russia directly going after US forces in Syria, "We’re not there yet in the escalation chain."

    Instead, Russia is reacting to the reality that the US and partnered forces have gained control over a large swath of eastern Syria that ISIS once held, which would be "an existential threat to the Assad regime, as it opens it up to internal dissent and destabilizing," said Heras.

    Syria map june 2017

    But as Assad-aligned actors try to nudge the US and its partners out of eastern Syria, they meet with stiff resistance. Five times in a little over a month, US-led coalition planes have struck pro-Syrian forces that they claim were advancing on or threatening their partners' positions.

    "My assessment is that Assad and his Iranian sponsors have tried to test a theory to target US proxies in Syria rather than to respond to US soldiers," said Heras.

    According to Heras, Assad and his allies may now try to knowingly target ground forces that have US elements in them. But Iran can do that through proxies, and Assad can do it knowing the US won't advance west toward Damascus.

    But, he said, if Russia does the same with its air force, the US would respond in kind — and that would be bad news for Moscow.

    "Putin responds to strength, and if he perceives weakness he always pushes ahead. That’s what happened in Syria," Borshchevskaya said.

    If Putin or his allies decide to push ahead against US forces on the ground in Syria, the US seems willing to respond.

    SEE ALSO: The US, Russia, and Iran are edging closer to an all-out clash in Syria

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    Shock Trials

    The US Navy's $13 billion dollar next-generation USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier has slipped behind schedule and over budget while the other 10 aircraft carriers are overworked — so they may skip an important step to get her deployed faster.

    Each new type of US Navy ship undergoes shock trials, where it detonates large explosives near the ship to make sure it can take the strain, though the first ship in every class doesn't always undergo such testing

    In the case of the Ford, the House Armed Services Committee's Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee is letting the Navy off the hook for shock testing the Ford, according to Defense News

    The result is that the Navy could deploy the Ford as early as 2020, about when it had originally hoped for. It would also give the Navy more time to work out kinks in the new aircraft launching and recovering systems that have dogged engineers and caused massive cost overruns

    "Once the Ford comes online you can have the East Coast carriers essentially cover the Middle East with short gaps and have the West Coast carriers fill the gaps in the Pacific while [the carrier] Reagan is in its spring maintenance availability," Bryan Clark, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments told Defense News. 

    SEE ALSO: Russia just threatened to target US jets in Syria — but the last thing it wants is an air war with the US

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    NOW WATCH: Watch how the US would shoot down an incoming ICBM in its tracks

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    Kim Jong Un

    South Korea's sports minister, Do Jong-hwan, suggested that North Korea host some events at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic games in an attempt to engage Kim Jong Un and promote peace, the Guardian reports

    The idea reflects a larger effort by South Korea's newly elected President Moon Jae-in, who seeks to revive the old "sunshine policy" whereby South Korea makes overtures of friendship and unity to the North to ease military tensions. 

    Moon has also pushed for both Koreas to host the 2030 World Cup, saying "if the neighbouring countries in north-east Asia, including North and South Korea, can host the World Cup together, it would help to create peace.”

    North Korean athletes have made limited appearances at global sporting events like the World Cup and the Olympics, with two gold medals in Rio's 2016 games. In soccer, the North Koreans haven't fared as well. 

    Do said the Winter Games could go down as the "peace Olympics," and help to "thaw lingering tensions" between the North and South, according to the Korea Herald

    But building stadiums and holding games in North Korea would raise two major questions: How sound is investment in a nation that continues to threaten its neighbors and enemies with an ever-evolving nuclear missile program, and would international travelers feel at ease visiting the country that just released a US detainee in a coma?

    SEE ALSO: 'It has not worked out': Trump tweet hints that the US might take action on North Korea

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    The F-35 has for years been dogged by reports that it can't maneuver to keep up with older dog fighters like the F-16, but the aircraft's display at the Paris Air Show should shut down all but the most stubborn haters.

    From the maximum power takeoff, to vertical climbs, to appearing to fall from the sky like a leaf off a tree, the F-35 showed it can move like the best of them. In fact, the routine borrows some tricks from the F-22, the deadliest combat plane around.

    Amazingly, the F-35 did all these tricks in a configuration that would work for combat. Older planes like the F-16 don't do tricks like this with external stores of weapons. Meanwhile, the F-35 can hold thousands of pounds of bombs and missiles in its internal weapons bay. 

    “After 10 years since first flight, with our first opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities and the maneuverability of the F-35, we are going to crush years of misinformation about what this aircraft is capable of doing,” Billie Flynn, the test pilot in Paris told Aviation Week.

    Watch the video below:


    SEE ALSO: An F-35 pilot explains why Russia and China's counterstealth can't stop him

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    NOW WATCH: Trump approved the largest weapons deal in US history — here's what Saudi Arabia is buying

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    petro poroshenko trump ukraine

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he had received strong assurances of U.S. support for his country from Donald Trump during a meeting in the White House on Tuesday.

    Trump has called in the past for improved U.S. ties with Russia, stoking fears in Ukraine that he might row back from past U.S. pledges of support for Poroshenko's pro-Western administration inKiev.

    Moscow seized Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in 2014 and has backed pro-Russian separatist rebels battling Kiev's forces in eastern Ukraine.

    "There was a full, detailed meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump. We received strong support from the U.S. side, support in terms of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the independence of our state," Poroshenko was quoted as telling journalists by Ukrainian news agency Interfax Ukraine.


    SEE ALSO: Russia just threatened to target US jets in Syria — but the last thing it wants is an air war with the US

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    NOW WATCH: Animated map shows what the US would look like if all the Earth's ice melted

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    U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis shakes hands with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko during a meeting at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2017. Mykola Lazarenko/Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERSKIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said after meetings in Washington thatKiev and the United States would soon sign a number of agreements boosting defense cooperation, news agency Interfax Ukraine reported on Wednesday.

    Poroshenko said U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Vice President Mike Pence had told him that key members of President Donald Trump's administration would visit Kiev in the next two to three months.

    "And very important agreements will be signed, including agreements on defense cooperation, including an agreement on defense procurement and an agreement on military-technical cooperation," Poroshenko was quoted as saying at a briefing.

    SEE ALSO: Russia just threatened to target US jets in Syria — but the last thing it wants is an air war with the US

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    Kim Jong Un

    Even though he's the supreme leader of his country, Kim Jong Un has reportedly been living like a hunted man out of fear that the US and South Korea are collaborating on a special forces team to take him out in case of a contingency. 

    South Korean intelligence services told lawmakers recently that the moves of US and South Korean forces make Kim "extremely nervous,"according to the Korea Herald. Apparently, Kim has been riding in his subordinates' cars and making fewer public appearances.

    In March, South Korean media reported that the US Navy's SEAL Team 6, the same group that pulled off the 2011 raid that killed Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan had arrived in South Korea for a joint-training exercise.

    The Pentagon maintains that the US does not train for decapitation strikes of any kind, but with the threat from North Korea growing hotter every day, and civilian casualties like Otto Warmbier, it may be that its preparing a quick strike option in case of an untenable provocation from the Kim regime.

    The US would not confirm the presence of Navy SEALs in South Korea, but it did announce the arrival of the USS Michigan, a submarine that sometimes carries special operations forces. 

    “Kim is so engrossed with collecting information about the ‘decapitation operation’ through his intelligence agency," Rep. Lee Cheol-woo told the Korea Herald. 

    Kim recently took the bold step of assassinating his half brother, Kim Jong Nam, in Malaysia, possibly to head off an outside attempt to install a new Kim governement in North Korea. 

    USS Michigan submarine us navy SEALs

    "Imagine you're the president. North Korea is a human-rights abuser and an exporter of dangerous technology,"Ken Geers, a cybersecurity expert for Comodo with experience in the National Security Agency, previously told Business Insider. "Responsible governments really need to think about ways to handle North Korea, and one of the options is regime change."

    But the fact remains that a raid on Kim's palace within North Korea would be much, much more difficult than the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. US forces would have to navigate air defenses in one of the most heavily protected spaces on earth as well as risking a nuclear response even if their mission is successful. 

    Nevertheless, the Korea Herald reports that the US and South Korea will have completed a team that can take out Kim and paralyze the country's command and control systems by the end of this year.

    SEE ALSO: Defense Secretary Mattis explains what war with North Korea would look like

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    a-135 russian missile interceptor nuclear tip

    The Russian military recently tested a short-range ballistic missile interceptor that's meant to detonate a small-yield nuclear warhead in the air over Moscow to prevent a nuclear strike.

    But there are a couple of problems with that, mainly that a nuclear blast over Moscow would already provide an electro-magnetic pulse effect that would cripple the city's electric grid. 

    The system, called the A-135 AMB, also highlights differences in philosophies between the US and Russia when it comes to missile defense. The US builds missile interceptors that hit to kill, requiring a high degree of precision and guidance. The US's THAAD missile defense system, for example, doesn't even have a warhead

    Russia solution to the complicated problem of hitting an incoming warhead at many times the speed of sound is to nuke a general area of the sky. 

    While the US tries to station its nuclear weapons far from population centers. Russia has 68 of these 10 kiloton interceptors all around Moscow, its most populous city. Unfortunately, even in the most careful settings, nuclear mishaps occur with troubling regularity.

    Additionally, as Jeffrey Lewis, the founding publisher of Arms Control Wonk writes, interceptor misfires do happen, and with a nuclear tip, that could mean catastrophe. 

    "It is not clear to me that, if a nuclear-armed interceptor were used over Moscow against a flock of geese, that the Russian command-and-control system would understand it was one of their own or survive the EMP effects. Then all hell might break loose,"writes Lewis

    The fact that the Kremlin is willing to have 68 nuclear devices strewn about Moscow speaks to how much they fear an attack that would threaten its regime security. 

    Watch the video below:


    SEE ALSO: Russia just threatened to target US jets in Syria — but the last thing it wants is an air war with the US

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    f 18 missile

    New details have emerged from the downing of a Russian-made Su-22 by a US F/A-18E Super Hornet over Syria.

    The Pentagon said that after Syrian jets had bombed US-backed forces fighting ISIS in Syria and ground forces headed their way with artillery and armored vehicles, US jets made a strafing run at the vehicles to stop their advance.

    But then a Syrian Su-22 popped up laden with bombs.

    "They saw the Su-22 approaching," Navy Capt. Jeff Davis,a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters Tuesday, as CNN notes. "It again had dirty wings; it was carrying ordnance. They did everything they could to try to warn it away. They did a head-butt maneuver, they launched flares, but ultimately the Su-22 went into a dive and it was observed dropping munitions and was subsequently shot down."

    A US F/A-18E off the USS George H.W. Bush in the Mediterranean then fired an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile at the Syrian jet, but the Su-22 had deployed flares causing the missile to miss. The US jet followed up with an AIM-120 medium range air-to-air missile which struck its target, US officials told CNN.

    The pilot ejected over ISIS territory, and Syrian forces declared him missing in action.

    The focus of the US's airpower in recent years has turned to providing air support against insurgencies or forces that do not have fighter jets of their own. Before the Su-22, the US had not shot down a manned enemy aircraft since 1999.

    F-18, Hornet

    Since the downing of the Syrian jet, Russia has threatened to target US and US-led coalition jets flying over Syria west of the Euphrates river.

    Both Syria's Su-22 and the US's F/A-18E Super Hornet are updated versions of 1970s aircraft, but Russia and the US both have much more advanced systems to bring to bear. Fortunately, an air war seems unlikely between major powers in Syria.

    SEE ALSO: Russia just threatened to target US jets in Syria — but the last thing it wants is an air war with the US

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    north korea rocket motor test

    North Korea carried out a test of a rocket engine that could possibly power an intercontinental ballistic missile to take one of its nuclear devices to the US mainland, Rueters and Fox News report.

    North Korea tested three similar motors in March, which could benefit its space programs or efforts to threaten the US mainland. 

    Engine tests have been a particular concern for observers of North Korea, as the engine previously employed in missiles, the Musudan, had a terrible track record and several recorded failures. 

    Mike Elleman, the senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said that North Korea may have started to domestically produce a rocket engine it better understands and can more quickly integrate into weapons.

    "If they have this new engine, they can design an ICBM around it in a pretty straightforward fashion," Elleman told Business Insider in May. "That doesn’t mean it will happen tomorrow, but they’ll be able to test [an ICBM] sooner than I had thought previously possible."

    The test also coincides with intelligence reports that North Korea would test a nuclear device. But a US official conceded to Fox News that although spy satellites have spotted increased activity around the test site, “nobody knows what that means.” 

    The US has recently tested a missile defense system meant to counter launches from North Korea, but in reality, it's woefully unprepared for a serious missile attack

    SEE ALSO: The US and South Korea are reportedly building a special ops team to take out Kim Jong Un

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