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The latest news on Defense from Business Insider

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    china air force plaaf

    • China responded to an exercise involving the US and South Korean militaries with one near the Koreas that it said had never been done before.
    • China is asserting its position as Pyongyang's treaty ally amid escalating tensions between the US and North Korea.
    • It's in China's national interest to prevent a conflict involving North Korea — and in the Korean War of the 1950s, China fought on Pyongyang's side.


    As the US and South Korean militaries worked together on the largest-ever version of their annual air-power exercise on the Korean Peninsula, China did something that suggests it would consider backing up North Korea in the event of war.

    On Monday, the same day the exercise started, a spokesman for China's air force said it had staged exercises along "routes and areas it has never flown before" with surveillance aircraft over the Yellow and East seas near the Korean Peninsula, according to the South China Morning Post.

    While China needs to exercise its constantly expanding and modernizing military, this exercise most likely had another purpose.

    "The timing of this high-profile announcement by the PLA is also a warning to Washington and Seoul not to provoke Pyongyang any further," Li Jie, a military expert based in Beijing, told the Post, using the abbreviation for the Chinese People's Liberation Army.

    With a record 24 US stealth aircraft in South Korea for the Vigilant Ace exercises, China's move sends a clear message.

    The US and South Korea have up to 260 aircraft training to take out important North Korean targets in a realistic simulation of an air war.

    While China agrees with the US that Pyongyang's nuclear-weapons progress is dangerous, it fundamentally disagrees on the preservation of the North Korean state.

    China, North Korea's main trading partner, could effectively defund Pyongyang and bring about the collapse of the government, as the US has encouraged. But China's national interest lies in keeping North Korea as a buffer state to prevent the US from staging troops on its borders.

    In the Korean War of the 1950s, North Koreans backed by China fought US-backed South Koreans in a brutal war that is technically ongoing because it ended in a cease-fire rather than a peace treaty.

    China's latest military exercise may serve as a reminder to the US that the two military powers could find themselves on opposite ends once again should conflict break out with North Korea.

    SEE ALSO: North Korea should be very afraid of the US and South Korea's air drill with 24 stealth jets

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: A Marine explains how intermittent fasting helped him 'see his abs'


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    B-1

    • The US flew its B-1B bomber jet over South Korea during a massive aerial exercise.
    • North Korea hates it when the US does that, and has threatened to shoot the plane down.
    • The flight follows the test of North Korea's most powerful ever missile.

    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The United States flew a B-1B supersonic bomber over South Korea on Wednesday as part of a massive combined aerial exercise involving hundreds of warplanes, a clear warning after North Korea last week tested its biggest and most powerful missile yet.

    South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the Guam-based bomber simulated land strikes at a military field near South Korea's eastern coast during a drill with U.S. and South Korean fighter jets.

    "Through the drill, the South Korean and U.S. air forces displayed the allies' strong intent and ability to punish North Korea when threatened by nuclear weapons and missiles," the military said in a statement.

    B-1Bs flyovers have become an increasingly familiar show of force to North Korea, which after three intercontinental ballistic missile tests has clearly moved closer toward building a nuclear arsenal that could viably target the U.S. mainland.

    The five-day drills that began Monday involve more than 200 aircraft, including six U.S. F-22 and 18 F-35 stealth fighters.

    North Korea hates such displays of American military might at close range and claimed through its state media on Tuesday that the "U.S. imperialist war mongers' extremely reckless war hysteria" has put the region at risk of a nuclear war. The North continued to describe the B-1B a "nuclear strategic bomber" although the plane was switched to conventional weaponry in the mid-1990s.

    North Korea typically uses strong language when commenting on U.S.-South Korean war games, which it claims are invasion rehearsals. Still, perennially bad tensions are at a particularly dangerous point with North Korea rapidly advancing its nuclear weapons program.

    South Korea's military says the Hwasong-15 the North tested last week has the potential to strike targets as far away as 13,000 kilometers (8,100 miles), which would put Washington within reach. The test flight used an arched trajectory and the missile flew 950 kilometers (600 miles) before splashing down near Japan.

    The North also tested a different intercontinental ballistic missile twice in July and conducted its most powerful nuclear test in September which it described as a detonation of a thermonuclear weapon designed for ICBMs.

    SEE ALSO: China did something it's never done before to warn the US about fighting North Korea

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How couples improved their sex lives in just one week


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    hwasong 15 launcher

    • North Korea appears to have doctored photos from its latest missile launch.
    • The launch demonstrated North Korea's most capable-ever missile, but they're known to exaggerate.
    • Always take North Korean media with a grain of salt.


    North Korea is no stranger to stretching the truth in its official media releases, but analysts with keen eyes have picked up on what looks like their latest act of fakery.

    Marco Langbroek, an archaeologist by trade and a space expert who tracks North Korea's missile program, picked up on an issue with pictures of the country's Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile launching on November 29.

    Essentially, North Korea's claims about the source of their images don't match with the stars visible in the pictures. Langbroek suggested the images may have been composites, because they picture star constellations that should not appear next to each other.

    "You should see constellations that are opposites in the sky. That is not the case,"Langbroek told CNN.

    Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, pointed out to CNN that the stars in the photo looked too clear for a picture capturing a missile's rapid ascent.

    "They looked so crisp, that just didn't seem right to me," McDowell said.

    Additionally, Trey Menefee, a photographer and open-source imagery analyst, found irregularities in the images that indicate doctoring.

    North Korea's latest image drop also took longer than usual.

    It's unclear if the changes in photography reflect any substantive changes, like making the rocket appear bigger and more capable than it really is.

    However, the doctored photos again reinforce the need to take all media from North Korea with a grain of salt.

    SEE ALSO: North Korea should be very afraid of the US and South Korea's air drill with 24 stealth jets

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: What life is like on the $11 billion US military base right next to the North Korean border


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    f-22 raptor

    • The US responded to North Korea's latest missile launch with a simulated bomb run from a B-1B Lancer bomber and an F-22 in a marked escalation in military signaling.
    • North Korea hates the B-1 bomb runs and have threatened to shoot the plane down.
    • The US's F-22 is fully stealth and North Korea likely can't hope to down it.
    • With the US's most lethal planes doing the signaling, it's unclear how much higher tensions can rise.


    The US carried out another simulated bomb run with a supersonic B-1B bomber on Wednesday, but this time it included the US's top-of-the-line air superiority fighter, the F-22, according to Yonhap.

    B-1 flights represent the US's go-to response for North Korean provocations, such as missile tests, and the bomber flights draw a strong, sometimes dangerously escalating response from Pyongyang.

    Previously, North Korea threatened to shoot down B-1s flying even outside its airspace and to loft missiles at Guam, where the B-1s are based.

    But North Korea has a problem there. It apparently can't track the B-1 in flight because of its outdated radar and air-defense systems, according to NK News.

    The F-22 is the world's stealthiest aircraft, meaning it's extremely unlikely North Korea could see it coming.

    b-1b

    The combined B-1 and F-22 drill represents a step up in the normal tit-for-tat between the US and North Korea. It also comes during the Vigilant Ace aerial exercise that China and Russia warned the US about.

    "Through the exercise, the South Korean and US air forces have demonstrated the alliance's strong will and capability for strong retaliation against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats," South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said, according to Yonhap.

    But with the US using its best planes to message North Korea, and Pyongyang demonstrating missiles that experts assess can hit anywhere in the US, it's unclear just how much higher tensions on the Korean Peninsula could escalate.

    SEE ALSO: China did something it's never done before to warn the US about fighting North Korea

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Watch the US Marines place a temporary bridge across the Colorado River


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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 how you can make your home more secure. Following is a transcript of the video. 

    Clint Emerson: We tend to look at home security as just our home, the locks, and the alarm system. But the reality is there’s more layers than that that start well outside your front yard. So first is communicating with your neighbors and becoming friends again. That way if you see an odd car or a person that doesn’t belong there someone can make a phone call to either 911 or to you while you’re at work and let you know “Hey, there’s something going on in your driveway.”

    It’s not so much about the bolt that goes in the door as it is the door frame. Reinforce your door frames with two and a half inch to three-inch wood screws. That’ll basically turn the door into a one kick and open to a five kick and open. Your illumination on your house, you want to light it up. Anytime I was operating against bad guys and the target was lit up. It makes you feel almost naked and it’s the last thing a bad guy wants to feel when he’s approaching your home.

    Burglars can not stand animals or kids, both are unpredictable. So if you can litter your yard with toys, that’ll keep a lot of daytime burglars away or if you can put up some hint that you have a dog, whether you do or not, will also keep them away.

    Produced by Eames Yates. 

     

     

     

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    trump christmas jerusalem

    • President Donald Trump's announcement of plans to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem has inflamed regional leaders and drawn threats of violence against the US and Israel, but in practical terms it changes little.
    • Both US political parties have long promised to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and Palestinian-aligned regional forces have long threatened violence against the US and Israel.
    • Trump's announcement allows him to tick the box on another campaign promise with no input from Congress and only at the cost of antagonizing the Muslim world, which he seems OK with.


    President Donald Trump on Wednesday stirred the pot across the Muslim world by announcing that the US would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

    Some regional leaders didn't even wait for the announcement to become official before predicting a violent response.

    "He is declaring war in the Middle East, he is declaring war against 1.5 billion Muslims (and) hundreds of millions of Christians that are not going to accept the holy shrines to be totally under the hegemony of Israel," Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian general delegate to the UK, told the BBC on Wednesday.

    Turkey's deputy prime minister said the move "will be a major catastrophe." Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the move a "red line" for Muslims.

    The militant Palestinian Sunni Muslim group Hamas used the occasion to call for another intifada, or uprising, against Israel.

    An Iranian-backed militia operating in Iraq said the move would give some "legitimate reason to target American forces." In response, US embassies across the Middle East braced for violence.

    Trump's announcement 'will change nothing on the ground'

    Israel Jerusalem Old City Western Wall Dome of the Rock

    Despite the fury it provoked, "the Trump announcement will change nothing on the ground itself," Michael Koplow, the policy director at the Israel Policy Forum, an advocacy group supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, wrote at the Jewish Telegraph Agency.

    Israel considers Jerusalem its capital. The policy platforms of successive Democratic candidates have considered Jerusalem to be Israel's capital, and the US Congress passed legislation recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital back in 1995 (the legislation allowed the president to postpone the official recognition, something all subsequent presidents had done until this week).

    Yet Hamas frequently calls for intifadas. Iranian-backed forces have several times attacked or imperiled US forces operating in the Middle East. Turkey and Israel last year normalized relations after six years of difficult silence.

    Absent from Trump's speech was a timetable for moving the US Embassy.

    "As a practical matter, no embassy is constructed today anywhere in the world in shorter than three or four years — no embassy," a Trump administration official told the Washington Examiner.

    The US will probably first study sites and evaluate security concerns before then beginning a lengthy construction process that is likely to stretch past Trump's current term in office.

    As far as endangering the already dubious Palestinian-Israeli peace process, Trump on Wednesday sought to convey that the US took no position on how Jerusalem should ultimately be divided in a two-state solution.

    What actually happens now

    Hamas Palestinian Military al Qassam Brigades

    Besides inflaming an already inflamed Middle East, Trump's announcement makes a few material changes.

    As Koplow points out, it will irk the US's Sunni Arab allies who support the Palestinians and don't want to be seen as siding with the US and Israel.

    Domestically, the move allows Trump to tick the box on another campaign promise unilaterally.

    "Some say [past presidents] lacked courage, but they made their best judgments based on facts as they understood them at the time," Trump said during the announcement.

    Israel is pleased by the decision. The Palestinian Authority protests it. Fundamentalist groups have called for violence against Israel and the US. Trump's secretaries of state and of defense cautioned against the move out of security concerns, but Trump is the executive.

    Politically at home, Trump has executed on a promise and again demonstrated that for his administration, antagonizing the Muslim world is an acceptable price to pay.

    SEE ALSO: A key part of US policy on Jerusalem is staying the same — even after Trump's big embassy announcement

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: We visited the Dead Sea — the lowest place on Earth


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    Kim Jong Un

    • North Korean state-run media said that war with the US has become inevitable amid the US's large scale aerial military drills.
    • The comments came hours after the US flew bombers near North Korea, which inflames Pyongyang every time.
    • North Korea continously refers to the bombers the US uses as being nuclear, even though they were denuclearized in the 1990s and Russia certifies that they are on a yearly basis.

    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea says a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula has become a matter of when, not if, as it continued to lash out at a massive joint military exercise between the United States and South Korea involving hundreds of advanced warplanes.

    In comments attributed to an unnamed Foreign Ministry spokesman, North Korea also claimed high-ranked U.S. officials, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo, have further confirmed American intent for war with a series of "bellicose remarks."

    Pompeo said Saturday that U.S. intelligence agencies believe North Korean leader Kim Jong Un doesn't have a good idea about how tenuous his situation is domestically and internationally. The North's spokesman said Pompeo provoked the country by "impudently criticizing our supreme leadership which is the heart of our people."

    "We do not wish for a war but shall not hide from it, and should the U.S. miscalculate our patience and light the fuse for a nuclear war, we will surely make the U.S. dearly pay the consequences with our mighty nuclear force which we have consistently strengthened," the spokesman said.

    The comments were carried by the official Korean Central News Agency late Wednesday, hours after the United States flew a B-1B supersonic bomber over South Korea as part of a massive combined aerial exercise involving hundreds of warplanes. North Korean propaganda is often filled with extreme claims and threats, and the spokesman's comments were consistent with the tone of previous statements condemning Washington and Seoul.

    B-1B Lancer

    South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the Guam-based bomber simulated land strikes at a military field near South Korea's eastern coast during a drill with U.S. and South Korean fighter jets.

    "Through the drill, the South Korean and U.S. air forces displayed the allies' strong intent and ability to punish North Korea when threatened by nuclear weapons and missiles," the South Korean military said in a statement.

    B-1Bs flyovers have become an increasingly familiar show of force to North Korea, which after three intercontinental ballistic missile tests has clearly moved closer toward building a nuclear arsenal that could viably target the U.S. mainland.

    The five-day drills that began Monday involve more than 200 aircraft, including six U.S. F-22 and 18 F-35 stealth fighters.

    North Korea hates such displays of American military might at close range and typically uses strong language to condemn them as invasion rehearsals. It has been particularly sensitive about B-1B bombers, describing them as "nuclear strategic" although the planes were switched to conventional weaponry in the mid-1990s.

    SEE ALSO: The US just upped the ante on simulated bomb runs on North Korea

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This animation shows how terrifyingly powerful nuclear weapons have become


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    • HMS Queen Elizabeth is the biggest warship the Royal Navy has ever built, weighing 65,000 tonnes.
    • The warship is capable of carrying up to 40 military aircraft.
    • It is expected to be fully operational by 2021.

     

    Business Insider UK was allowed aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy's most powerful warship. 

    The huge ship weighs 65,000 tonnes and is the length of three football pitches, making it the biggest ever British warship.

    The £3 billion vessel recently arrived at its base in Portsmouth after several months carrying out sea trials.

    Aircraft flight tests will be completed by 2018, but it is expected that the ship itself won't be fully operational until 2021.

    Produced by David Ibekwe. Special thanks to Kieran Corcoran

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    hwasong 15 launcher

    • North Korea's latest launch was at night — which many consider to have been a demonstration that it could launch a surprise attack. 
    • But US intelligence sources reportedly said they knew three days in advance and watched the missile preparation.
    • Knowing in advance gives the US time to evaluate the proper response.


    North Korea launched its latest ICBM in the dead of night, which many analysts have interpreted as an attempt to show the US that they could launch a surprise nuclear attack on the US.

    But the US had been aware of the preparations for launch three days in advance, and observed the missile being erected and prepared for hours, US intelligence sources told The Diplomat's Ankit Panda.

    Each time North Korea launches a missile, it releases pictures that usually feature Kim Jong Un in an observation stand. Spotting this stand reliably helps the US determine where and when North Korea may be plotting a launch, according to Panda.

    In the case of the latest launch of the Hwasong-15, which experts say can strike anywhere in the US with a nuclear payload, North Korea used a mobile stand possibly to avoid detection, according to Panda.

    But the US, with a network of satellites, drones, and spy planes frequently patrolling the skies above North Korea, spotted the test anyway. 

    While North Korea prepared the surprise, off-season, launch, the US reportedly knew days in advance and had time to make the critical decision of whether or not to strike at the launch site. 

    So despite North Korea showing the impressive ability to launch a missile in the dead of night, it seems it still hasn't quite mastered pulling a fast one on the US military.

    SEE ALSO: The US just upped the ante on simulated bomb runs on North Korea

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: A Marine explains how intermittent fasting helped him 'see his abs'


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    aerial view of the initial blows struck against american ships as seen from a japanese plane over pearl harbor

    Under the South Pacific sun on December 7, 1941, troops serving the US fleet at Pearl Harbor began a calm Sunday morning unaware that Japanese bombers were headed toward America's most important Pacific base.

    There, like a string of pearls draped across the docks and waterfront, was the majority of the US's naval might.

    The devastating Japanese onslaught began around 8 a.m., eventually killing 2,403 Americans and wounding many others, sinking four battleships, and damaging military airfields.

    The Pearl Harbor attack spurred America into World War II, leading ultimately to Allied victory over the Japanese in the Pacific and the Nazis and other Axis powers in Europe.

    Here are photographs from the attack and its immediate aftermath.

    Amanda Macias and Kamelia Angelova contributed to an earlier version of this story.

    SEE ALSO: These are the fighter jets and military planes being used in the US and South Korea's massive air drills

    On the morning of December 7, 1941, an attack planned by Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto to demobilize the US Navy was carried out.



    Around 7 a.m., an Army radar operator spotted the first wave of the Japanese planes. The officers to whom those reports were relayed did not consider them significant enough to take action.



    The Japanese hit most of the US ships in Oahu before 9 a.m.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Vigilant Ace 18 US/South Korea Air Forces

    • North Korea says war is now inevitable between Washington and Pyongyang.
    • The US has stepped up military pressure on North Korea considerably.
    • But even though both sides make overtures toward war, it's far from a sure thing.


    North Korean state media said on Thursday that tensions between Washington and Pyongyang had increased so much that war had now become inevitable and that the only question was when.

    The US and South Korean militaries are currently participating in an air-power exercise on the Korean Peninsula involving a record number of stealth jets and an increased pace of simulated bomb runs.

    But amid North Korea's and the US's escalating rhetoric and military pressure, one option has emerged that's only slightly less desirable than all-out combat: perpetual brinkmanship.

    North Korea last week tested what it said was a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile — but one successful test is hardly a strong track record, and it will most likely have to continue testing, according to Yun Sun, an expert on North Korea and China at the Stimson Center.

    And though the US has its top-of-the-line jets in South Korea for the exercise, it could still ratchet up pressure more — for example, Sun said, by engaging in covert, unattributable military actions against North Korea's nuclear infrastructure or stepping up cyberattacks.

    Both sides are scared to shoot first

    Trump kim jong un

    "Deterrence is the main issue here," Sun told Business Insider.

    And now more than ever, both sides are deterred from conflict.

    With a credible ICBM, North Korea can more comfortably keep the US from striking, as it could retaliate with nuclear power. And as the world unites against a rogue, nuclear-capable Pyongyang, Washington's mandate to protect US citizens and crush any aggression from North Korea against US allies has also crested.

    Essentially, despite the deep differences bitter tensions, the US and North Korea have deterred each other from attacking — much like the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

    Over decades, the US and the Soviet Union butted heads continually over national security and foreign policy, but because of nuclear deterrence, war never broke out.

    Today, the US is entering a similar relationship with North Korea, but it may be less dangerous — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's influence is mainly limited to his small, impoverished country, whereas the Kremlin during the Cold War proved adept at bolstering enemies of the US wherever they were.

    No end in sight to the North Korean crisis

    Kim Jong Un

    The US and North Korea have fundamentally different views of what a peace process would entail, and war would mean Pyongyang's destruction.

    "This cycle of tensions is going to continue for a while," Sun said.

    The US, meanwhile, has pursued a diplomatic strategy of "maximum pressure" on North Korea, which has struggled amid sanctions designed to wither its economy and, ultimately, halt its nuclear program.

    SEE ALSO: North Korea's latest launch tried to simulate a sneak attack, but the US reportedly saw it coming

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: What life is like on the $11 billion US military base right next to the North Korean border


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    agm 86 calcm

    • Military and government officials are pushing a nonlethal missile that proponents say could shut down a North Korean missile launch in its tracks.
    • The missile uses readily available technology, but politicians have criticized the Pentagon for being slow to adopt it and systems like it.
    • While the missile may have advantages over a traditional one, it could still massively escalate tensions with North Korea if used.


    The White House has been informed of a newly developed cruise missile that proponents say could knock out North Korean missile launches in their tracks without killing anyone, NBC News reported on Monday.

    The missile — a Boeing AGM-86B air-launched cruise missile with a payload known as the Counter-electronics High-power Microwave Advanced Missile Project, or Champ — launches from planes, just like the nuclear variant commonly found on B-52s.

    But instead of a nuclear payload, the Champ payload fires microwave pulses that are designed to disable electronics in their path. It has successfully shut down electronics in multistory buildings in previous tests.

    David Deptula, a retired US Air Force general who ran the US's air war in Iraq, told NBC's "Nightly News" that the new missile could "quite possibly" shut down a North Korean missile on a launchpad.

    "Command and control centers are filled with electronic infrastructure, which is highly vulnerable to high-powered microwaves," Deptula said.

    Politicians say the Pentagon doesn't like change

    hwasong 15 launcher

    Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich, one of several civil and government officials who support the Champ system, told NBC the missile hadn't been accepted or widely deployed because of roadblocks within the Pentagon.

    "The challenges are less technical and more mental," said Heinrich, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, adding that "the tendency within the Pentagon is oftentimes to continue to try and perfect something," like existing missile defenses and weapons, rather than employ a new technique.

    Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, echoed that sentiment.

    Hunter said last month that "it's hard to get things through" to the Defense Department that are "doable, that are easy, that are cheap, that are efficient, and that already exist, because that makes nobody happy."

    Hunter blamed a broken defense industrial complex for the difficulties in adopting new technologies.

    "There's not retired general that works for Company A that says, 'I would like to do that thing that costs no money and it doesn't get me a contract,'" Hunter said, according to Inside Defense. "No one says that."

    B-1B Lancer

    Champ is an interesting option, not a silver bullet

    But while the Champ system may represent advantages over existing missile defenses that fire interceptors after a missile has launched, exited the atmosphere, and separated into possibly several warheads, it's not without disadvantages.

    The system has to get close to its targets before knocking them down, meaning it could have to violate North Korean airspace, which could be perceived as an act of war.

    And if North Korea spotted the incoming cruise missile, which looks exactly like a nuclear-capable cruise missile, it may respond automatically, regardless of the missile's nonlethal nature.

    Military equipment has redundant wiring and insulation to harden it against electronic warfare and attacks like the Champ, so the system would most likely need more work before it could be certified as capable of shutting down a missile launch — if it could achieve such a thing.

    For now, NBC reports, officials have briefed the White House on the Champ system and its availability. Whether it fits into President Donald Trump's strategy of "maximum pressure" against North Korea remains to be seen.

    Watch a video explainer on Champ:

    SEE ALSO: The US just upped the ante on simulated bomb runs on North Korea

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Watch the US Marines place a temporary bridge across the Colorado River


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    JASSM

    • Japan will buy a new missile with a range of over 600 miles, meaning it can strike North Korea.
    • Japan officially renounced the right to wage war after World War II, but its current government has dialed that back in light of North Korea's provocations.
    • The missile will be mounted on Japan's F-15 fighters, and eventually its F-35s.

    TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan is to acquire medium-range, air-launched cruise missiles, capable of striking North Korea, a controversial purchase of what will become the longest-range munitions of a country that has renounced the right to wage war.

    Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera did not refer to North Korea when announcing the planned acquisition and said the new missiles would be for defense, with Japan still relying on the United States to strike any enemy bases.

    "We are planning to introduce the JSM (Joint Strike Missile) that will be mounted on the F-35A (stealth fighter) as 'stand-off' missiles that can be fired beyond the range of enemy threats," Onodera told a news conference.

    Japan is also looking to mount Lockheed Martin Corp's extended-range Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM-ER) on its F-15 fighters, he said.

    The JSM, designed by Norway's Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, has a range of 500 km (310 miles). The JASSM-ER can hit targets 1,000 km away.

    The purchase plan is likely to face criticism from opposition parties in parliament, especially from politicians wary of the watering down of Japan's renunciation of the right to wage war enshrined in its post-World War Two constitution.

    But the growing threat posed by North Korean ballistic missiles has spurred calls from politicians, including Onodera, for a more robust military that could deter North Korea from launching an attack.

    Japan's missile force has been limited to anti-aircraft and anti-ship munitions with ranges of less than 300 km (186 miles).

    The change suggests the growing threat posed by North Korea has given proponents of a strike capability the upper hand in military planning.

    North Korea has recently test-fired ballistic missiles over Japan and last week tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that climbed to an altitude of more than 4,000 km before splashing into the sea within Japan's exclusive economic zone.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How much money you need to save each day to become a millionaire by age 65


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    FILE PHOTO: Israeli border police officers stand guard as Palestinians pray at Lion's gate, an entrance to Jerusalem's Old City, in protest over Israel's new security measures at the compound housing al-Aqsa mosque, known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo

    • Israeli police brace for a Palestinian "day of rage," but did not restrict Muslims' access to an important mosque in Jerusalem.
    • Palestinian factions called for the "day of rage" after President Donald Trump announced plans to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and recognize that as Israel's capital.
    • On Thursday at least 31 Palestinians were wounded in clashes with Israeli troops in the West bank and over the Israel-Gaza border.

    JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli police preparing for a Palestinian "day of rage" increased their presence in Jerusalem on Friday but set no extra restrictions on access for worshippers at the flashpoint Al Aqsa Mosque, saying they had no indication of unrest there.

    Palestinian factions have called for demonstrations in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, has urged Palestinians to launch a new uprising.

    Thousands of protesters in Muslim-majority Indonesia and Malaysia joined protest rallies on Friday and authorities there tightened security outside U.S. embassies. On Thursday at least 31 Palestinians were wounded in clashes with Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank and over the Israel-Gaza border. Protests also took place in Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan and Tunisia.

    At times of heightened tension between Israel and the Palestinians, violence has often erupted after Friday prayers at the Jerusalem compound where Al Aqsa is located, atop a hill known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount. Frequently Israel has imposed age restrictions to the site, when it has expected clashes.

    "We have no indication there will be disturbances on the mount therefore there is no age restriction. If there will be disturbances then we will respond immediately," Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Reuters.

    Rosenfeld said the police had stepped up their forces in the city. On Thursday, the Israeli military began reinforcing troops in the West Bank.

    Trump's reversal of decades of U.S. policy on Wednesday, when he also announced his administration would begin a process of moving the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, has infuriated the Arab world and upset Western allies.

    The status of Jerusalem is one of the biggest obstacles to a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

    Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its capital. Palestinians want the eastern part of Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state of their own. Most countries consider East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in a 1967 war and annexed, to be occupied territory, including the Old City, home to sites considered holy to Muslims, Jews and Christians.

    For decades, Washington, like most of the rest of the international community, held back from recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, arguing that its status should be determined as part of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. No other country has its embassy there.

    SEE ALSO: Trump ticks the box on another campaign promise at the expense of inflaming the Muslim world

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    NOW WATCH: The disturbing reason some people turn red when they drink alcohol


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    vigilant Ace b1

    • The US has doubled down by ordering provocative B-1 bomber flights near the North Korean border.
    • At the same time, Pyongyang has warned that war is right around the corner.
    • Both Russia and North Korea have blamed the US for increased tensions.
    • The ultimate US goal is to denuclearize North Korea — and deliberate escalation may be part of that.


    The US doubled down on provocative bomber flights near the border with North Korea this week, at the same time as Pyongyang asked when, not if, war would break out.

    On Wednesday, a B-1B Lancer strategic bomber flew from Guam to carry out simulated bomb runs against North Korean targets at a test range in South Korea.

    And on Thursday, two B-1s joined Vigilant Ace, a massive US and South Korea aerial exercise involving 230 aircraft, 12,000 personnel, and the US's top stealth jets.

    The US has previously conducted B-1 flights in response to North Korean provocations like missile tests; North Korea has typically responded with vitriol.

    For example, after a B-1 flew across North Korea's maritime border in response to intercontinental ballistic missile testing in September, North Korea threatened to shoot down subsequent flights.

    But usually the B-1 flights happen on a nearly one-for-one basis. The back-to-back flights, the inclusion of stealth aircraft, and the massive scope of this week's exercise all point to a marked escalation in tensions just a week after North Korea conducted a surprise test of a missile experts say could reach any US city.

    Russia, China urge the US to pump the brakes

    Vigilant Ace Guards

    "The remaining question now is: when will the war break out?" North Korean media said in response to the US's air drills. "We do not wish for a war but shall not hide from it."

    China, through its Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, said "we hope all relevant parties can maintain calm and restraint and take steps to alleviate tensions and not provoke each other," according to the Reuters news agency.

    Russia blamed the US's exercises with South Korea for escalating tensions and said North Korea was ready to talk.

    "North Korea wants above all to talk to the United States about guarantees for its security. We are ready to support that — we are ready to take part in facilitating such negotiations," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, according to Russian media.

    But the talks put forward by North Korea were shot down by the State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, who said talks were"not on the table until they are willing to denuclearize."

    As it stands, North Korea refuses to negotiate away its nuclear weapons and instead proposes some version of a "freeze for freeze" whereby the US stops military drills and North Korea stops missile tests.

    The US national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, on Sunday said the chance for war with North Korea was "increasing every day."

    US 'maximum pressure' makes the world uncomfortable

    Aircraft Carrier drill

    President Donald Trump's administration has laid out a strategy of "maximum pressure" for dealing with North Korea. It entails military, economic, and diplomatic pressure simultaneously applied, with the goal of denuclearization.

    There have been several indications that lowering the bar for talks from denuclearization to pausing tests could prompt discussions in short order.

    But the US seems determined not to back down. The increased firepower at the Vigilant Ace exercise, the worldwide diplomatic pressure campaign, and the US's refusal to halt legal, above-board military drills in response to North Korea’s illegal missile tests all point to a US administration bent on not just pausing but ending the North Korean conflict.

    Implied in the US's maximum-pressure campaign against North Korea is that the situation should feel tense.

    The US wants North Korea to fear its military might, its ability to isolate the country from world markets, and its patient resolve to deny half-measures in waiting for denuclearization.

    Russia and North Korea blame the US for escalating tensions with its airpower and bomber displays, but for the US, maybe that's the point.

    SEE ALSO: Defense insiders are pushing a nonlethal microwave missile that they say could stop North Korea's launches in their tracks

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    NOW WATCH: What life is like on the $11 billion US military base right next to the North Korean border


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    f 35b

    • Preliminary tests and defense insiders indicate that the F-35 could use air-to-air missiles to intercept ballistic missiles like the ones North Korea has tested.
    • Air-to-air intercepts appear much more promising than the US's current missile defenses.
    • The Pentagon seems reluctant to institute new technologies, but the current crisis with North Korea may call for it.
    • But North Korea could see the US's using the F-35 to shoot down a missile as an act of war.


    The F-35, the most expensive weapons system in history that boosters say can do just about anything in aerial combat, could have a new mission: shooting down intercontinental ballistic missiles.

    Ballistic missiles, like the kind North Korea has been perfecting with the goal of being able to reach the US with a nuclear warhead, pose a huge threat to the US as they reenter the atmosphere at over a dozen times the speed of sound.

    The US uses advanced radars and ground-based missile interceptors without explosive charges to "hit to kill" incoming missiles. This method has been compared to hitting a bullet with a bullet, and it has really only been successful against unsophisticated, short-range targets or test dummies.

    But there's plenty of reason to doubt the US's missile defenses against North Korea would work. And advanced ICBMs with multiple warheads or decoy warheads could most likely confuse missile defenses and render them useless.

    But as an ICBM takes off the launchpad and lurches up to speed, the entire missile, warhead and all, is a single target.

    At that point, why not shoot it down with an air-to-air missile from an F-35?

    The F-35 as a missile interceptor

    F 35A

    The US Air Force has for decades had air-to-air missiles that lock on to hot, flying targets, and an ICBM in its first stage is essentially that.

    In 2007, Lockheed Martin got $3 million to look into an air-to-air hit-to-kill missile system. In 2014, a test seemed to prove the concept.

    But the F-35 program, usually not one to shy away from boasting about its achievements, has been hushed about the prospect of using it to defeat one of the gravest threats to the US.

    "I can tell you that the F-35 is a multi-mission fighter," Cmdr. Patrick Evans of the Office of the Secretary of Defense told Business Insider when asked about the program. "It would be inappropriate to speculate on future capabilities or missions of the weapon system."

    Rep. Duncan Hunter, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, was more open to speculating about why the Pentagon hadn't gone through with missile-intercepting planes.

    "Very simple — what we're trying to do is shoot [air-to-air missiles] off F-35s in the first 300 seconds it takes for the missile to go up in the air," Hunter said during a November meeting on Capitol Hill with the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, according to Inside Defense.

    Hunter also pointed out that in some places North Korea is just 75 miles across — well within the F-35's missile range, Aviation Week noted.

    Hunter blamed a broken defense industrial complex for not picking up the air-to-air intercept sooner while spending $40 billion on ground-based missile interception.

    "There's not a retired general that works for Company A that says, 'I would like to do that thing that costs no money and it doesn't get me a contract,'" Hunter said, according to Inside Defense. "No one says that."

    An F-35 missile intercept over North Korea may be an act of war

    usmc f-35 AIM-120

    The present crisis with North Korea may demand some expediency from the Pentagon regarding the F-35.

    The F-35, with its all-aspect stealth, is ideal for breaking into North Korea's protected airspace. It can already use the air-to-air missile in question, and its sensor fusion would make it the best plane for the job.

    The drawback, though, is that the F-35 would need to get close to the target missile as it's leaving the launchpad, which could mean firing interceptor missiles over enemy territory — something North Korea could see as an act of war.

    If North Korea were to actually threaten the US or its allies with a missile, an F-35 intercept could be a game-changer. The US reportedly knew about North Korea's latest launch three days in advance, despite the North's efforts to hide preparations. In a similar situation, the US would have plenty of time to get the F-35s in place.

    But the F-35 was already a nightmare for North Korean defenses before the prospect of using it to intercept a missile came up, and it's unclear how Pyongyang would react to the stealth plane going anywhere near its borders.

    For now, at least one member of the House Armed Services Committee seems to think the F-35 is the best bet for giving the US an advantage over North Korea's nuclear program.

    SEE ALSO: Defense insiders are pushing a nonlethal microwave missile that could stop North Korea's launches in their tracks

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    Chief of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces, Valery Gerasimov, arrives for the opening ceremony of the International Army Games 2017 in Alabino, outside Moscow, Russia, July 29, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

    • Russia's military chief warned that exercises by Japan, the US, and South Korea could create more instability.
    • Instead, the general called for the US to enter into talks with North Korea.

    TOKYO (Reuters) - Russia's military chief warned on Monday that military exercises by Japan, the United States and South Korea aimed at countering North Korea only raise hysteria and create more instability in the region.

    Russian Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces General Valery Gerasimov, issued his warning in Tokyo as the United States, Japan and South Korea began a two-day exercise to practice tracking missiles amid rising tension over North Korea's weapons programs.

    "Carrying out military training in regions surrounding North Korea will only heighten hysteria and make the situation unstable," Gerasimov said at the beginning of a meeting with Japanese Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera.

    This week's exercise by the United States and its two Asian allies, in which they will share information on tracking ballistic missiles, comes just days after large-scale drills by U.S. and South Korean forces that North Korea said made the outbreak of war "an established fact".

    North Korea says its weapons programs are necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

    On Nov. 29, North Korea test-fired its latest ballistic missile, which it said was its most advanced yet, capable of reaching the mainland United States.

    China has also repeatedly called for the United States and South Korea to stop their exercises, which North Korea sees as preparation for an invasion.

    Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, asked in Beijing about the latest U.S., South Korean and Japanese drills, said the situation was in a vicious cycle that if followed to a conclusion would not be in anyone's interests.

    "All relevant parties should do is still to completely, precisely and fully implement the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions toward North Korea, and do more for regional peace and stability and to get all parties back to the negotiating table. Not the opposite, mutual provocation," Lu said.

    'Important meaning'

    Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) reviews members of Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) during the JSDF Air Review, to celebrate 60 years since the service's founding, at Hyakuri air base in Omitama, northeast of Tokyo, in this October 26, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/FilesGerasimov's visit to Japan is the first by a senior Russian military official in seven years and follows the resumption of "two-plus-two" defense and foreign minister talks in March after Russia annexed Crimea.

    Relations between Russia and Japan have been hampered for decades over the ownership of four islands north of Japan's Hokkaido, captured by Soviet forces at the end of World War Two. Japan has declined to sign a formal peace treaty with Russia until the dispute is resolved.

    Gerasimov also met Katsutoshi Kawano, the chief of staff of Japan's Self Defence Forces.

    China's Defence Ministry said on Monday it had begun a planned joint simulated anti-missile drill with Russia in Beijing, which had "important meaning" for both countries in facing the threat from missiles. It said the exercise was not aimed at any third party.

    China and Russia both oppose the development of global anti-missile systems, the ministry added in a statement.

    China and Russia both oppose the deployment in South Korea of the advanced U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system.

    China in particular fears the system's powerful radar could look deep into its territory, threatening its security.

    The United States and South Korea say the system is needed to defend against the threat of North Korean missiles.

    It is not clear if this week's exercise by U.S., South Korean and Japanese forces will involve the THAAD system.

    SEE ALSO: Boats full of dead people from North Korea keep showing up in Japan — here's why

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    Akayed Ullah

    • An attacker detonated an explosive device in a major New York City transit hub on Monday morning.
    • Footage shows the bomb exploding but appearing to injure only the attacker, identified by authorities as Akayed Ullah, and to merely startle commuters.


    Video captured Monday morning's attempted suicide bombing that ended with no deaths and the attacker sustaining the most significant injuries after his explosive device only partially detonated.

    The police later identified the attacker as Akayed Ullah, a 27-year-old Bangladeshi man who had been living in Brooklyn, and said he had been inspired by ISIS attacks on Christmas markets in Germany. The New York Times cited law-enforcement officers as saying Ullah targeted the crowded passage connecting two major New York City subway stops because of its Christmas-themed posters on the walls.

    CNN suggested Ullah may also have wanted to make a statement about Israel's actions in Gaza.

    But the homemade bomb failed, with Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York saying the attacker "did not achieve his ultimate goals."

    Video from the blast, which wounded Ullah and gave three others ringing ears and headaches, clearly shows the explosion, which shot up a column of smoke and caused commuters to flee in either direction.

    But in the end, the smoke clears and only the attacker appears to remain virtually motionless on the ground. The police found Ullah there and strip-searched him on the spot, The New York Times reported.

    Watch the video below:

    SEE ALSO: The ISIS-inspired New York bomber chose to attack Port Authority because of its Christmas posters

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    japan air force

    • Japan joined in the US and South Korea's military airpower drill south of the Korean Peninsula.
    • The exercise has put pressure on North Korea, which just completed a missile test.

    TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese F-15 fighters on Tuesday held drills with U.S. B1-B bombers, F-35 stealth aircraft and F-18 multirole combat jets above the East China Sea, south of the Korean peninsula, Japan’s Air Self Defence Force (ASDF) said.

    The exercise was the largest in a series aimed at pressuring North Korea following its ballistic missile tests. The latest launch, on Nov. 29, featured a new missile type the North said could hit targets in the United States, such as Washington D.C.

    "The drill was meant to bolster joint operations and raise combat skills," the ASDF said in a statement.

    Two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flew from Andersen Air Force Base on the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam, joined by six F-35s four F-18s and a tanker aircraft from U.S. bases in Japan.

    The Japanese air force dispatched four F-15 jet fighters and a patrol aircraft.

    SEE ALSO: Russian general warns the US and South Korea over provoking North Korea with military drills

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    J-20

    • China's J-20 stealth jet is getting closer to completion, and it poses a real threat to the US's weapons systems.
    • The J-20 has many of the F-35's most favorable features, but slightly worse stealth.
    • China has created the first stealth fighter outside of the US, and it will only improve it further.


    China's Chengdu J-20, the first stealth jet ever produced by anyone other than the US, has presented a mystery to American military planners trying to maintain an edge in the Pacific.

    As China gets closer and closer to actually fielding the revolutionary jet, details are becoming more abundant, and its role in the future of warfare more apparent.

    The Center for Strategic and International Studies has put together a report on the J-20, complete with a 3D interactive model that shows the plane's greatest strengths and weaknesses.

    The J-20 benefits from a stealth airframe that will radically reduce its radar cross section and any adversaries' ability to detect it. The jet holds a competitive amount of ordnance, and it's slated to carry very long range missiles that can keep US systems at bay.

    The J-20 also has some of the revolutionary hardware that makes the US's F-35 such a standout.

    China's new stealth jet features advanced radars and sensors, a datalink to interface with other systems, six cameras to give the pilot spherical awareness in the sky, and a chin-mounted heat-seeking tracking radar.

    But as Business Insider previously reported, the J-20's design isn't fully stealth. Some angles stick out and will light up enemy radars.

    However, it appears to have a low radar cross section from the forward angle, which would help its proposed air interception role

    Read CSIS' full report here, and view the 3D model below:

    SEE ALSO: We asked an F-22 Raptor fighter-wing commander if he's worried about Russia's Su-57 stealth fighter

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