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The latest news on Defense from Business Insider

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    fbi agents

    Kevin Patrick Mallory, a 60-year-old resident of Leesburg, Virginia, who had access to top secret US intelligence, has been charged with delivering defense information to China and faces life in prison.

    China has been known to hack US systems and pay US officials for defense information as it tries to modernize its military and reach peer status with the US.

    Previous incidents of Chinese espionage have included attempts to steal secrets behind the manufacturing of the US's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.

    “Kevin Mallory was previously entrusted with Top Secret clearance and therefore had access to classified information, which he allegedly shared and planned to continue sharing with representatives of a foreign government,” Andrew W. Vale, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, said in a Department of Justice release.

    "Furthermore, he allegedly misled investigators in a voluntary interview about sharing of this classified information. The FBI will continue to investigate those individuals who put our national security at risk through unauthorized disclosures of information."

    According to the Department of Justice, Mallory speaks fluent Chinese and was self-employed as a consultant who worked with multiple government agencies and defense contractors.

    Mallory traveled to Shanghai in March and April, at which point transmitted documents classified as secret and top secret to people believed to be in China's state intelligence service, according to an FBI review of his electronic devices.

    SEE ALSO: North Korea conducts test of rocket engine that could power an ICBM

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    NOW WATCH: A former iPhone factory worker explains why he thinks iPhones will never be made in the United States

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    South Korean UDT/SEALs

    South Korea's elite unit of frogmen have longstanding ties to US Navy SEALs, but some of their techniques, like a recent video displaying their knife training, show their unique style of close-quarters combat.

    South Korean media reports that Korean SEALs have trained with the US's SEAL Team 6 — the same group that took out Osama Bin Laden — to form an elite unit to take out North Korea's Kim Jong un.

    In the slides below, see the Korean SEALs training in combat gear and practicing a fearsome knife-fighting regimen with blinding speed and complexity.

    SEE ALSO: A guide to Russia's T-14 Armata tank

    The video starts with the Korean SEALs practicing their form in unison.

    RAW Embed

    Next, they go to one-on-one duels, which are lightning-quick and insanely complicated.

    RAW Embed

    The takedown on display here is especially savage.

    RAW Embed

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    f-22 f22 raptor inherent resolve arabian sea

    After the US downed a Syrian jet making a bombing run on US-backed forces fighting ISIS, Russia threatened to target US and US-led coalition planes West of the Euphrates river in Syria.

    But while Russia has some advanced surface-to-air missile systems and very agile fighter aircraft in Syria, it wouldn't fare well in what would be a short, brutal air war against the US. 

    The US keeps an aircraft carrier with dozens of F/A-18E fighters aboard in the Mediterranean about all the time and hundreds of F-15s and F-16s scattered around Turkey, Qatar, and Jordan.

    According to Omar Lamrani, a senior military analyst at Stratfor, a geopolitical analysis firm, Russia has "about 25 planes, only about ten of which are dedicated to air superiority (Su-35s and Su-30s), and against that they’ll have to face fifth-gen stealth fighters, dozens of strike fighters, F-15s, F-16s, as well as B-1 and B-52 bombers. And of course the vast US Navy and pretty much hundreds of Tomahawks."

    "Russians have a lot of air defenses, they’re not exactly defenseless by any means," Lamrani told Business Insider, "But the US has very heavy air superiority." Even though individual Russian platforms come close to matching, and in some ways exceed the capability of US jets, it comes down to numbers.

    So if Russia did follow through with its threat, and target a US aircraft that did not back down West of the Euphrates in Syria, and somehow managed to shoot it down, then what?

    "The US coalition is very cautious," said Lamrani. "The whole US coalition is  on edge for any moves from Russia at this point."

    Sukhoi_Su 35S_at_MAKS 2011_airshow

    Lamrani also said that while F/A-18Es are more visible and doing most of the work, the US keeps a buffer of F-22 stealth jets between its forces and Russia's. If Russia did somehow manage to shoot down a US or US-led coalition plane, a US stealth jet would probably return fire before it ever reached the base.

    At that point the Russians would have a moment to think very critically if they wanted to engage with the full might of the US Air Force after the eye-for-an-eye shoot downs. 

    If US surveillance detected a mass mobilization of Russian jets in response to the back-and-forth, the US wouldn't just wait politely for Russians to get their planes in the sky so they can fight back.

    Instead, a giant salvo of cruise missiles would pour in from the USS George H. W. Bush carrier strike group, much like the April 7 strike on Syria's Sharyat air base. But this time, the missiles would have to saturate and defeat Russia's missile defenses first, which they could do by sheer numbers if not using electronic attack craft. 

    FILE PHOTO - U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea which U.S. Defense Department said was a part of cruise missile strike against Syria  on April 7, 2017.  Ford Williams/Courtesy U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS

    Then, after neutering Russia's defenses, the ships could target the air base, not only destroying planes on the ground but also tearing up the runways, so no planes could take off. At this point US and Coalition aircraft would have free reign to pass overhead and completely devastate Russian forces.

    Russia would likely manage to score a couple intercepts and even shoot down some US assets, but overall the Russian contingent in Syria cannot stand up to the US, let alone the entire coalition of nations fighting ISIS. 

    Russia also has a strong Navy that could target US air bases in the region, but that would require Russia to fire on Turkey, Jordan, and Qatar, which would be politically and technically difficult for them. 

    This scenario of a hypothetical air war is exceedingly unlikely. Russia knows the numbers are against them and it would "not [be] so easy for the Russians to decide to shoot down a US aircraft," according to Lamrani. 

    russia navy putin

    And Russia wouldn't risk so much over Syria, which is not an existential defense interest for them, but a foreign adventure to distract from Russia's stalled economy and social problems, according to Anna Borshchevskaya, an expert on Russia’s foreign policy in the Middle East at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

    "Russia is not a great power by most measures, like GDP, population, living standard," Borshchevskaya told Business Insider. "Russia has steadily declined. It’s still a nuclear power, but not world power."

    In Syria, "a lot of what Putin is doing is about domestic policies," said Borshchevskaya, and to have many Russian servicemen killed in a battle with a US-led coalition fighting ISIS wouldn't serve his purposes domestically or abroad. 

    SEE ALSO: Here's how a US F/A-18 shot down the first manned enemy plane since 1999

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    USS Abraham Lincoln turn

    US Nimitz-class aircraft carriers are some of the biggest Navy ships ever built, but they're surprisingly fast and agile as is evident by new footage of the USS Abraham Lincoln basically doing donuts in the open ocean. 

    Measuring nearly 1,100 feet in length, housing as many as 6,000 sailors, and supporting more than 70 aircraft, these ships are some of the most complex and imposing machines ever made by man.

    But they're anything but hulking behemoths. These titans can do almost 35 miles per hour at full steam thanks to their nuclear power plants. 

    Because aircraft carriers are such high-value targets, they have to be able to make tight turns to avoid collisions or enemy torpedoes, though their strike groups would likely fend off any threat to approach them.

    Watch the USS Abraham Lincoln swerve across the high seas below:


    SEE ALSO: Watch this huge guided missile destroyer turn on a dime

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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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    Former Navy SEAL Clint Emerson, author of "100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative's Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation," explains what to do if you're ever attacked by a dog.

    Follow BI Video: On Twitter

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    Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi gives an address after the gunmen attack in Minya, accompanied by leaders of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the Supreme Council for Police (unseen), at the Ittihadiya presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, May 26, 2017 in this handout picture courtesy of the Egyptian Presidency. The Egyptian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

    CAIRO (Reuters) -Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has ratified a maritime demarcation agreement that sees the country cede sovereignty over two uninhabited Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, the government said on Saturday.

    The Red Sea islands deal has become political sensitive for Sisi, who counts on Saudi Arabia as a key ally, after the proposed agreement fueled widespread public criticism and street protests among Egyptians angered over national sovereignty.

    Egypt's parliament last week backed the plan that cedes control of Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia, but the deal has also become subject to a legal tussle between different courts over jurisdiction.

    "President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has ratified the maritime demarcation agreement between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," the cabinet said in a statement.

    This week the constitutional court chief temporarily suspended all court decisions on the agreement until the constitutional court makes a ruling on which institution has the final say in the matter.

    Sisi's government last year announced the maritime agreement with Saudi Arabia, an ally which has given billions of dollars of aid to Egypt. The Egyptian and Saudi governments say the islands are Saudi but have been subject to Egyptian protection.Tiran sanafir

    Saudi Arabia helped Sisi with aid since he toppled President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013.

    But Egyptians are increasing critical over the state of the country's economic revival after years of political upheaval and a devaluation of the Egyptian pound, tax rises and subsidy cuts introduced by Sisi's government.

    (Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein: editing by Patrick Markey)

    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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    israeli air force blue flag israel

    BEURUT (Reuters) - Israel said on Saturday it had targeted Syrian military installations after shells landed in the occupied Golan Heights but a Syrian military source said the Israeli strikes killed some civilians. 

    Rebels including hardline Islamist factions fought the Syrian army on Saturday in Quneitra province, bordering the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Syrian state media and a war monitor reported. 

    Israel's military said 10 projectiles from inside Syria had hit the Golan and it responded with air strikes on the position they were launched from and on two Syrian army tanks, one as it was preparing to fire.

    Aerial video footage released by the Israeli military purporting to show the strikes showed a machine gun and two tanks targeted and hit.

    The military described the shellfire into the Israeli-held territory as errant fire and called it an "unacceptable breach" of sovereignty. 

    The Syrian military source said Israeli rocket fire had hit a residential building, causing a number of deaths and damage. The source did not mention Syrian fire into Israel and said the Israeli strike was in support of jihadist rebels. 

    The war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said rebel groups in Quneitra had launched an assault and were storming army positions near Baath City. 

    Syria rebel shelling mortar

    Israel has targeted Syria several times during the conflict, sometimes after projectiles have landed in the Golan Heights, but also to hit weapons supplies of Lebanon's Hezbollah group, which is fighting alongside the Syrian government. 

    Syria's civil war, between President Bashar al-Assad and rebels seeking to oust him, has lasted six years, killed hundreds of thousands and pushed millions to flee their homes. 

    SEE ALSO: Here's how an air war between Russia and the US in Syria would go down

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    Gaza Israel airstrikes

    The Israeli Defense Forces released video on Saturday purporting to show its jets taking out a Syrian heavy machine gun and two tanks after mortar fire hit parts of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

    Israel said 10 projectiles from inside Syria had hit the Golan, the border area between Syria and Israel. Israel said it responded with airstrikes on the position the mortars came from and took out two Syrian army tanks, including one as it was preparing to fire.

    Syria's military accused Israel of hitting a residential area and killing civilians in the strike, which it called an "unacceptable breach" of sovereignty, according to Reuters

    Israel released the following footage of the strike:


    SEE ALSO: Here's how an air war between Russia and the US in Syria would go down

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    NOW WATCH: Watch this US Navy aircraft carrier make some incredible high speed turns in the Atlantic Ocean

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    James Mattis

    Munich (Germany) (AFP) - The United States will not be drawn into Syria's civil war, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said, despite an increasingly complicated battle space that has seen US warplanes down pro-regime aircraft.

    Speaking to reporters on a military plane late Monday as he headed for meetings in Europe, Mattis said the US-led coalition was determined to keep a strict focus on fighting the Islamic State group.

    We won't fire "unless they are the enemy, unless they are ISIS," he said, using an acronym for the jihadist group.

    "We just refuse to get drawn into a fight there in the Syria civil war, we try to end that one through diplomatic engagement."

    His comments came shortly before White House spokesman Sean Spicer issued a statement saying President Bashar al-Assad's regime may be preparing for a chemical attack against civilians, warning that the Syrian military would pay a "heavy price" if it took such action.

    Coalition forces on the ground have accused pro-regime fighters of targeting them in recent weeks, as they shot down two Iran-made attack drones and a Syrian fighter jet.

    "If somebody comes after us, bombs us or takes a heading on us or fires on us, then under legitimate self-defence we'll do whatever we have to do to stop it," Mattis said.

    The coalition has been active in Syria since late 2014, bombing IS targets and training local fighters to conduct ground assaults against the group.

    But gains for Assad, who is being supported by Russia, have allowed regime forces and Iran-backed militias to head towards areas where the coalition is operating.

    Syria US Marines

    The Pentagon chief underscored the importance of maintaining communication with Russia as it conducts its campaign for Assad.

    So-called "deconfliction" hotlines are used regularly by the two sides to notify each other where they are operating and avoid accidents.

    Such hotlines will only grow in importance as the coalition pursues IS fighters into the Euphrates River Valley following their assumed defeat in their stronghold Raqa, as pro-regime forces also move toward the same region.

    "You've got to really play this thing very carefully," Mattis said. 

    "The closer we get, the more complex it gets."

    SEE ALSO: The US just attacked Assad for the first time — here’s how Syria's six-year civil war has unfolded

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    FILE PHOTO: A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a successful intercept test, in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency.  U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency/Handout via Reuters/File Photo

    The US has spent billions of dollars developing a complicated network of sensors, radars, and interceptor missiles to thwart nuclear-missile attacks on the homeland, but a simple, cost-effective step could render them useless.

    Oddly enough, it comes down to balloons.

    When a ballistic missile is launched, the warhead separates from the rocket early in flight. The rocket then arcs above the earth back down toward the target.

    Any country that can build an intercontinental ballistic missile could also build a handful of balloon decoys. Basically, the head of the warhead is packed with balloons. Once the missile leaves the atmosphere and the warhead releases, the balloons inflate, and one of them surrounds the nuclear warhead.

    Because the warhead is now outside the atmosphere, the light balloons travel just as fast as the heavy warhead, and they all have the same radar signature. When the interceptor missile goes to hit the warhead, it finds dozens of balloons.

    Hit-to-kill missile interception has been described as hitting a speeding bullet with another speeding bullet. Now imagine there are dozens of bullets, and some are fake.

    Watch a video explainer on ballistic-missile countermeasures:

    SEE ALSO: North Korea tested a rocket engine that could power a long-range nuke

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    US Navy aircraft carrier

    The White House announced in a statement on Monday night that US intelligence services had spotted Syrian President Bashar Assad's government potentially preparing for another chemical attack.

    "As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria," the statement said. "If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price."

    With the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier and its accompanying strike group in the Mediterranean; US Air Force presences in Qatar, Jordan, and Turkey; and forces on the ground, the US has a multitude of options for carrying out a strike in Syria, despite a heavy Russian presence and advanced missile defenses.

    Take a look at the US's firepower in the region:

    SEE ALSO: Here's how an air war between Russia and the US in Syria would go down

    Here's the USS George H.W. Bush, complete with aircraft for logistics, air-to-air, air-to-ground, intelligence and surveillance, early-warning, and antisubmarine warfare.

    Here's a loaded F/A-18E. This one has an air-to-ground heavy load out but still carries air-to-air missiles in case an enemy aircraft attacks the US or US-backed forces, as was the case when an F/A-18E had to shoot down a Syrian Su-22.

    The crew can launch one of these every two minutes or so. F/A-18Es off the Bush have flown over 4,000 sorties against ISIS since the start of the campaign.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    SOUTHWEST ASIA -- The U.S. Air Force's F-22 Raptor stealth fighter is playing a crucial yet evolving role in air operations over Syria and Iraq.

    With advanced stealth technology and powerful sensors, the aircraft is the first coalition plane back in Syrian airspace after a major incident. Such was the case after the U.S. downings of Syrian aircraft this month, as well as the U.S. Navy's Tomahawk missile strike on al Shayrat air base in April.

    Notably missing from the high-profile shoot-downs, the fifth-generation aircraft made by Lockheed Martin Corp. isn't necessarily showcasing its role as an air-to-air fighter in the conflict. Instead, the twin-engine jet is doing more deconflicting of airspace than dog-fighting, officials said.

    "This is a counter-ISIS fight," said Lt. Col. "Shell," an F-22 pilot and commander of the 27th Squadron on rotation at a base in an undisclosed location here, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. He spoke to on the condition that he be identified by his callsign.

    Related content

    "ISIS doesn't have advanced surface-to-air missiles, they don't have an air force ... but we are deconflicting the air space," Shell said. "Not everyone is on the same frequencies," he said, referring to the U.S., Russian, Syrian and coalition aircraft operating over Syria. "Deconfliction with the Russian air force -- that is one of the big things that we do."


    The pilot said the F-22's ability to identify other aircraft -- down to the airframe -- and detect surface-to-air missiles and relay their existence to other friendly forces while remaining a low-observable radar profile makes it critical for the fight.

    The Raptor is typically flying above other aircraft, though not as high as drones such as the MQ-9 Reaper and other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, Shell said.

    The F-22, along with the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), "has really high fidelity sensors that we can detect when non-coalition aircraft are getting close," he said, "and we can move the coalition aircraft around at altitude laterally, so that, for example, if a Russian formation or Syrian formation going into the same battlespace to counter ISIS, [they are] not at conflict with our fighters."

    Weapon of Choice: Small Diameter Bomb

    Even so, to defend itself in the air and strike targets on the ground, "we carry a mixed load out," Shell said.

    The F-22 wields the AIM-9X Sidewinder missile, the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM); the laser-guided GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) and the GPS-guided GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM).

    F 22 dropping small diameter bomb

    The Small Diameter Bomb is more likely to be used, especially in the counter-ISIS fight in urban areas where the Raptor is conducting precision strikes, Shell said.

    "We carry the low collateral damage weapon, the Small Diameter Bomb GBU-39, to precisely strike enemy combatants while protecting the civilian population," he said. "We also can carry the 1,000-pound JDAM GBU-32 used for targets where there is less-to-little collateral damage concern," meaning a larger blast for attack.

    Location Isn't 'Scramble-able'

    f-22 f22 raptor inherent resolve arabian seaThe Combined Air Operations Center, or CAOC, based in another location, develop the F-22's mission tasking typically three days out, Shell said. For logistical purposes, all aircraft in theater don't fly unless the mission is deemed critical, he said.

    "Typical maintenance practices will not have every airplane airborne at once," he said.

    In addition, "We're not in a scramble-able location," he said. "We're not [a dozen or so] miles away from the OIR fight -- we have to drive."

    Between flying in Iraq and Syria, "there are different rules based on where we're flying," Shell said, stopping short of detailing each country's rules of engagement and flight restrictions. "They're minor in the technical details."

    'The Only Thing That Can Survive'

    FILE PHOTO - U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea which U.S. Defense Department said was a part of cruise missile strike against Syria  on April 7, 2017.  Ford Williams/Courtesy U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS

    During the Navy's TLAM strike, "serendipitously," there were more F-22s in the area of responsibility because some were getting ready to fly home while others were coming in, according to Brig. Gen. Charles Corcoran, commander of the 380th Expeditionary Wing, which houses the F-22 mission in an undisclosed location for Operation Inherent Resolve, the Pentagon's name for the anti-ISIS campaign.

    After incidents like that, "We kind of go to F-22s only -- fifth gen only" because "it's the only thing that can survive in there," he said, referring to the plane's ability to fly in contested airspace despite the presence of anti-access aerial denial (A2AD) weapons.

    Should Russia paint coalition aircraft with surface-to-air missile systems, "the only thing we'll put in there is F-22s," Corcoran said. Leaders will then decide which types of fourth-generation fighter -- like an F-16 Fighting Falcon with capable radars -- and/or drone can return to the fight, he said. Only later would they allow "defenseless aircraft" such as tankers to circle back through taskings, he said.

    "If an F-15 or an F-18 -- which is really more of a ground-attack airplane -- is busy doing this, they're not available to do the close air support stuff, so if we [have] got to keep this up, we're probably going to need some more forces over here that can do their dedicated jobs," Corcoran said. That includes more "defensive counter air" assets like F-22s so the tactical fighters can drop more bombs "and get after ISIS," he said.

    'We Can Bring More'

    F-22 raptor south korea

    Given the nature of how the U.S. air operation against ISIS has evolved in recent months, Shell acknowledged the possibility that commanders may decide to deploy more F-22s to the area of responsibility.

    "The airplanes that we have here, it's not the maximum we can bring, we can bring more if directed," he said. With more Raptors in theater, "they would obviously task us more," he said.

    Shell said, "People often call us the quarterback [in the air]. I don't like that because we're not always in charge -- there is a mission hierarchy ... and most of the time it is not the F-22. We enhance the mission commander's situational awareness by feeding him information based on off our sensors for him or her to make a decision."

    When asked if that meant the stealth fighter works as a "silent partner" gathering intel, he said, "We're not really silent. We're pretty vocal."

    SEE ALSO: The US may be on the verge of striking Syria — here's a look at its firepower in the region

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    Secretary of Defense James Mattis

    BRUSSELS (AP) — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says Syria's government has taken seriously the U.S. warning against launching another chemical weapons attack.

    Mattis noted there has been no such attack since the White House issued a surprise statement Monday night that threatened President Bashar Assad's government with "a heavy price" if it used chemical weapons.

    The U.S. says it saw active preparations at Syria's Shayrat airfield for using such weapons. Mattis wouldn't say what specifically triggered U.S. concerns that an attack might be imminent. He said President Donald Trump has showed "how seriously we took them."

    Asked if other activity has been seen, Mattis told reporters traveling with him to Brussels: "I think that Assad's chemical program goes far beyond one airfield."

    SEE ALSO: The US may be on the verge of striking Syria — here's a look at its firepower in the region

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    f 35

    The US military's potentially trillion dollar F-35 program has reliability problems that could hobble fleet readiness and balloon its cost even further, according to a Department of Defense testing office assessment seen by Bloomberg News.

    The assessment states that the supply chain for spare parts hasn't kept up with demand, and that the parts have proven less reliable than expected. As a result, up to 20 percent of the jets must sit vacant awaiting spares, hobbling the ability of squadrons to train in the jets.

    Over the lifetime of the F-35, which includes buying, developing, and maintaining it for decades, it could cost the US upwards of $1.2 trillion, according to the assessment. 

    Despite the F-35's Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), which tracks wear and tear on individual components and even orders new parts when needed, the testing offices say the “life cycle costs” of the aircraft are “likely to increase significantly.” 

    Lockheed Martin, the jet's manufacturer, has pressed the Pentagon and investors for larger block buys to allow economies of scale that would reduce the prices associated with the jet and its components, but the assessment, dated May 8, seems to cast doubt on whether or not the US Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps can actually afford the 2,443 F-35s they plan to purchase.

    Read the full story at Bloomberg here >

    SEE ALSO: Here's how an air war between Russia and the US in Syria would go down

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    US F-16s in South Korea and Japanese F-35s are both set to get long-range missiles that are ideal for striking North Korean mobile missile launchers.

    The US Air Force in South Korea recently increased the range and strength of its aircraft with 10 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles, or JASSMs, that can hit Pyongyang with 2,000 pounds of explosives from almost 200 miles away, according to Yonhap News and other South Korean media reports.

    The JASSM allows US F-16s to safely strike nuclear infrastructure and targets deep into North Korea from secure locations near Seoul.

    The munition isn't the only signal that the US is ramping up its response to North Korea. 

    A defense official told Yonhap that US military leaders were considering "making public a live-fire drill involving the JASSM in case North Korea carries out another strategic provocation, such as a sixth nuclear test."

    Lockheed Martin, the JASSM's manufacturer, is working on an even longer-range variant of the missile that should be able to accurately strike targets over six hundred miles away.

    Meanwhile, Japanese F-35s are expected to field the Joint Strike Missile (JSM), developed primarily by Norway’s Kongsberg Defence Systems, according to the South China Morning Post. The JSM has an extremely stealthy profile, high precision, and can fly just a few yards above the ground to deliver its 500-pound warhead before ever being detected.

    f-35 joint strike missile raytheon

    “The JSM has a tremendous capability and Japan has never previously had anything like this,” said Lance Gatling, a defence analyst and president of Tokyo-based Nexial Research Inc told the South China Morning Post.

    “This weapon, combined with the F-35, will permit Japan to get much closer to targets with a high degree of stealth,” he added.

    The JSM can sit inside the F-35 and fly almost 200 miles before hitting a moving target, meaning an F-35 could take out a North Korean mobile missile launcher without even getting close to the country.

    This update to the firepower of US and Japanese jets comes after a series of North Korean missile tests that could spell out danger in the very near future. North Korea recently tested a rocket engine that could be used to power a missile with sufficient range to hit the US mainland. In the past, rocket engine tests like these have been closely followed by testing of actual missiles.

    Check out the JASSM in action with fragmentation bursts and penetrating variants. 

    And here's footage of the naval version of the Joint Strike Missile doing work:

    SEE ALSO: This video shows missile defense is basically useless against Russian or North Korean nukes

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    NOW WATCH: Watch Russia’s newest fighter jet in action — the MiG-35

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    After US spy satellites picked up a rush of activity around North Korea's underground nuclear testing site, the US military has prepared a new set of options for President Donald Trump on how to deal with the burgeoning nuclear power, two military officials told CNN.

    Trump will receive the options if North Korea carries out another nuclear test or tests a missile that could hit the US mainland, the officials said.

    "What we have to do is prepare all options because the President has made clear to us that he will not accept a nuclear power in North Korea and a threat that can target the United States and target the American population," National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said at the Center for a New American Security conference on Wednesday.

    "The threat is much more immediate now. We can't repeat the same failed approach of the past," McMaster said. "The President has directed us to not do that and to prepare a range of options, including a military option, which nobody wants to take."

    As McMaster pointed out, decades of diplomacy dating back to former President Bill Clinton's administration have failed to denuclearize North Korea, but the threat of long-range nukes has quickly materialized in the last year.

    Secretary of Defense James Mattis recently testified to the House Appropriations Committee that though the US would ultimately win in a conflict with North Korea, it "will be a war more serious in terms of human suffering than anything we've seen since 1953," involving heavy deaths in Seoul, South Korea. 

    Experts contacted by Business Insider said that while a full-scale war with North Korea would lead to disaster, a limited strike against few high-value targets could happen. The US has recently moved to arm its F-16s in South Korea with extremely long range missiles that could lend themselves to such a strike.

    Under Trump, the US has responded to North Korea's rapidly advancing threat by attempting dialogue with Kim Jong Un, while applying economic and military pressure.

    CIA Director Mike Pompeo recently toldMSNBC's Hugh Hewitt that Trump asks him almost every day about North Korea, and that the conflict is very much "at the top of his mind."

    SEE ALSO: US and Japanese fighters are reportedly getting missiles ideal for striking North Korea

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    FILE PHOTO - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 (Mars-12) in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 15, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS/File photo

    North Korea has spent decades developing nuclear devices and the missiles to launch them while threatening to flatten cities in the US, Australia, and Asia.

    Though experts in the past could credibly dismiss those threats as fantasy, North Korea has recently made swift progress toward that end.

    "I wouldn't be incredibly surprised if it happened in the next few months," Mike Elleman, the senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told Business Insider in May of the potential for a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile test.

    "They have a higher tolerance for risk. If it fails, it fails. I don't think that greatly concerns them. They're more interested in trying to demonstrate what they're trying to do. [There's] a lot of political messaging going on with these tests."

    North Korea first tested a nuclear device in 2006, and it has tested missiles since 1984. The missiles started with limited capacity and could be fired only at short ranges. Initial nuclear tests were weak and ineffective.

    But now the country seems poised to make a leap toward missiles that could cross the globe with almost unlimited firepower.

    Siegfried Hecker, a nuclear scientist at Stanford University, told South Korea's Yonhap News on Monday that the North Koreans could produce tritium, an element that can turn an already devastating atomic bomb into a hydrogen bomb.

    Stephen Schwartz, the author of "Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of US Nuclear Weapons Since 1940," told Business Insider that while atomic bombs release enormous amounts of energy through fission, hydrogen bombs increase that energy by combining it with fusion, the same reaction that powers the sun.

    "There is no theoretical upper limit on the maximum yield of a hydrogen bomb, but as a practical matter, it can't be too large or heavy to fit on its intended delivery system," said Schwartz, who noted that the largest hydrogen bomb designed, Russia's Tsar Bomba, had an explosive yield of 100 megatons.

    Such a bomb, if dropped on Washington, DC, would flatten buildings for 20 miles in every direction and leave third-degree burns on humans 45 miles out, or past Baltimore.

    The gutted Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall (R), currently known as the Atomic Bomb Dome or A-Bomb Dome, is seen after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945, in this handout photo taken by U.S. Army in November, 1945, and distributed by Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. REUTERS/U.S. Army/Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum/Handout via Reuters

    "Those possibilities are sufficiently worrisome that I maintain that the crisis is here now," Hecker said, not when North Korean missiles "are able to reach the US." He added, however, that it would take more time for North Korea to weaponize hydrogen bombs. US spy satellites have recently seen increased activity around North Korea's nuclear test site, but no conclusions can yet be drawn. In the past, North Korea has claimed it has built hydrogen bombs, though not credibly.

    On the missile front, North Korea has made fast progress, surprising many experts contacted by Business Insider, who now say the country could test an intercontinental ballistic missile as soon as this year.

    A recent rocket-engine test from North Korea could serve as a bad omen. In the past, North Korea has tested rocket engines less than a year before testing the missiles that would use them. Experts said North Korea's latest rocket-engine test could indeed have been in preparation for an ICBM.

    north korea rocket motor test

    Hecker urged the US to diplomatically engage with North Korea to get it to adopt a "no use" policy with its nuclear arsenal, a concession from the total denuclearization the US currently demands.

    Denuclearization so far has been a nonstarter with Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader who has written the possession of nuclear weapons into North Korea's constitution as a guarantor of its security.

    "North Korea wants an ICBM with a thermonuclear weapon," Jeffrey Lewis, the founding publisher of Arms Control Wonk, previously told Business Insider. "They're not going to stop ‘cause they get bored."

    For now, it seems inevitable that North Korea will get it.

    SEE ALSO: The US military has prepared a new set of options for Trump on North Korea

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    As the F-35 marches closer to full combat readiness, pilots test the jet in ever more challenging environments, most recently by firing a AIM 9x air-to-air missile while flying upside-down.

    "This unique missile launch is a situation we don’t expect a pilot to be in very often," read the release. Firing a missile upside-down is nothing new. Fighters have had this capability for decades, and the stealth F-35 shouldn't often find itself in a turning fight with adversaries.

    But now they know that if they need to fire a missile while experiencing negative G forces and inverted, they can.

    “We want to provide the maximum capability of the F-35 to the fleet to get them where they need to be for training and operational use,” said James Shepherd, the test pilot who fired the missile at Patuxent River Navy Base. “This will ensure we meet our promises to deliver the most advanced fifth generation fighter in the world.”

    Check out the missile in the pictures below:

    f-35 Neg G Missile Launchf-35 Neg G Missile Launch

    SEE ALSO: US and Japanese fighters are reportedly getting missiles ideal for striking North Korea

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    Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on

    James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, recently gave a speech detailing a somewhat radical new approach for how the US should deal with North Korea's nuclear posturing while swiping at some elements of President Donald Trump's approach to the situation.

    In his speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Clapper detailed his decades of experience in intelligence and with North Korea before concluding it would not give up its nuclear weapons no matter what, and there's nothing the US military can do about it.

    "In my view, the US has no real pre-emptory military options. I understand the need for the public rhetoric about no options being off the table, but realistically, it would be reckless to attack," said Clapper.

    Clapper's dismissal of military action undercut the Trump administration's repeated attempts to pressure North Korea to the negotiating table, and went as far as saying Trump's actions had been counterproductive in part.

    "I don’t think threatening rhetoric like 'major, major conflict'and dispatching an 'armada'—someplace--is helpful. In fact, it only serves to magnify that paranoia and siege mentality that I observed when I visited Pyongyang," said Clapper.

    In light of what Clapper sees as unavoidable realities, he suggested a new approach to dealing with North Korea that departs from US orthodoxy on the subject. Clapper proposes the US set up an "interest section" in Pyongyang, similar to how the US maintained contact with Cuba with an office in Switzerland's embassy in Havana. 

    FILE PHOTO - Military vehicles carry missiles with characters reading 'Pukkuksong' during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of North Korea's founding father, Kim Il Sung, in Pyongyang, April 15, 2017.     REUTERS/Sue-Lin Wong/File photo

    In exchange, North Korea would get their own diplomatic presence in Washington D.C., and the US would require them to stop nuclear and missile tests. Clapper said that the move would create a regular dialogue between the US and North Korea, two countries still technically at war, as well as providing a window into the outside world for North Koreans that could help break the stranglehold of state-supplied information.

    "To me, this is the only path to what I might call a “soft implosion” in North Korea," said Clapper.

    With North Korea closing in fast on both a thermonuclear device and intercontinental ballistic missile, and Trump declaring decades of diplomacy a failure and the doctrine of "strategic patience" over, maybe a novel approach like Clappers is worth trying. 

    Read Clappers full speech here. 

    SEE ALSO: The US military has prepared a new set of options for Trump on North Korea

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    HMS Queen Elizabeth

    In July the world saw the debut of two powerful new classes of aircraft carriers, the US Navy's USS Gerald R. Ford and the UK Royal Navy's HMS Queen Elizabeth. Both carriers push the boundaries of modern engineering and represent the first new carrier designs in decades.

    But they join oceans already teeming with aircraft carriers and navy ships with helicopter decks. Both the US and UK have vital interests at sea and in ensuring freedom of navigation as they ready new carriers to secure those goals.

    Here's how the Queen Elizabeth and the Ford stack up to other carriers worldwide.

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    The USS Gerald R. Ford is without a doubt the largest, most powerful aircraft carrier ever put to sea. It improves on the Nimitz-class carriers that ruled the seas since the 1970s, with an improved power plant and more sophisticated systems to launch and recover planes. The US will commission the Ford on July 22.

    Here's the USS Carl Vinson, one of 10 Nimitz-class carriers the US currently operates. These behemoths can carry around 70 aircraft and have been battle-tested time and time again.

    Read more about US carrier operations and aircraft »

    A side by side view shows how the Navy plans to pack more jets on the Ford-class with subtle reconfigurations of the deck.

    For more information on how the Ford class improves on the Nimitz click here.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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