Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Marines Headed For Afghanistan Killed in Training Explosion-complete details

Seven US Marines training for Afghanistan died Monday night when a 60mm mortar shell exploded prematurely at Hawthorne Army Depot in Western Nevada,about 120 miles from Reno and just east of Toiyabe National Forest.Mountain peaks in the area are from 9-11,000 feet in elevation.
Another seven service members,including a US Navy corpsman and six other Marines,were wounded in the blast.They have penetrating trauma,fractures and vascular injuries.Two Marines and the Sailor are in very serious condition,while three Marines are in serious condition and another has minor injuries.
In response to the incident,all 60mm mortar rounds and tubes have been withdrawn from both training and combat operations in Afghanistan.The 60mm is the smallest mortar the Marines use.It can fire up to 30 rounds per minute and is manned by one to three individuals,depending on firing mode.
Hawthorne Army Depot consists of 147,000 acres with more than 2,000 bunkers and harsh terrain.It is used for storing ammunition and weapons stocks awaiting demilitarisation,and also provides high desert training facilities for service members.
The Marines are part of II Marine Expeditionary Force,2nd Marine Division,based at Fort LeJeune,North Carolina.They had been training for about a month with live ammo at Hawthorne and the nearby Marine Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport,California.
President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel were immediately informed of the incident,which is under investigation.About a year ago,seven other Marines were killed when two helicopters collided near the California-Arizona border.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ohio Class Submarine Replacement A Priority

Speaking at a Senate Armed Forces Committee hearing Monday,General Robert Kehler,US Air Force,Commander,US Strategic Command,said we have to get on with it-referring to the replacement for the US Navy's Ohio class nuclear submarine.I continue to support the triad of land,air and sea-based nuclear weapons.They provide the survivability,flexibility and responsiveness which confound the enemy.
We intend to keep the Ohio submarines longer than any other submarines.I believe we understand when we will reach that point of replacement.
The land-based missile silos and airfields are not dependent on the local power grid.They are not vulnerable in that way.They are threatened by electromagnetic pulse.Defense against that is needed.
We made a number of judgements about the future.The value of a submarine-based deterrent will remain as high as it is today.The Navy's assessment is what's driving this.It's the cycles on a submarine,the pressure doing things to the metallurgy and fittings that encase them,affecting the continued safety.
Sliding the submarines over an additional two years puts them in the zone of concern.Twelve of the new class of submarine looks like the right number.It's the right capability/cost balance.We need  new long range strike aircraft as well,and the viability of land-based ICBMs beyond 2030 is an issue.
The UK wants to piggyback on the new submarine program for their own nuclear deterrent as well.It's a delicate dance.The 2013 budget continued the modernisation effort.I don't know how the 2014 budget will affect it.It continues to be a wise investment,I believe.
The 14 Ohio class submarines are the launch platform for the Trident II D5 intercontinental ballistic missiles that are the sea-based leg of the nuclear triad.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

US Navy Ship Status Part 2-plus DOD news

All dates are 2012.
Littoral combat ships:
The commissioning ceremony for the USS Fort Worth(LCS 3) was held September 22,2012 in Galveston,Texas.Coronado(LCS 4) was christened January 10 at Austal USA in Mobile,Alabama.The keel-laying ceremony for Jackson(LCS 6) was held October 18 at Austal USA.The construction contract for Little Rock(LCS 9) was awarded to Lockheed Martin on March 16;the same day,the company was awarded the construction contract for Omaha(LCS 11).
Also on March 16,Austal USA was awarded construction contracts for Gabrielle Giffords(LCS 10) and Sioux City(LCS 12).
Amphibious ships:
America(LHA 6) was christened October 20 at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula,Mississippi.A construction contract for Tripoli(LHA 7) was awarded May 31 to the company.USS San Diego(LPD 22) was commissioned May 19 at her San Diego home port.
Anchorage(LPD 23) was delivered September 17 from Avondale Shipyard,New Orleans.Arlington(LPD 24) was delivered December 7 from Ingalls Shipbuilding.Somerset(LPD 25) was christened July 28 at Avondale Shipyard.
A construction contract for pre-commissioning unit LPD 27 was awarded to Ingalls Shipbuilding on July 27.
DOD News:
Chuck Hagel was sworn in as Secretary of Defense on February 23,2013 and has attended his first cabinet meeting.He is the first former enlisted man to assume the office.Hagel is a decorated Vietnam veteran of the US Army.
Lockheed Martin was awarded a contract for the next batch of F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike fighters.The company was also awarded a US Navy contract for a long range anti-ship missile.
The Pentagon said all major weapons programs will proceed,regardless of the budget impasse.
Lockheed Martin(LMT),Huntington Ingalls Industries(HII)