Tuesday, December 30, 2014

DoD News Now: 0900 December 29, 2014

NATO Allied Land Command Soldiers Prepare For Operation Resolute!

Artillery in Afghanistan! U.S. Army Soldiers Fire New Excalibur Round!

Afghanistan:US Counterterrorism Combat Will Continue;Air Strike in Somalia

On Sunday,28 December,Operation Enduring Freedom ended after 13 years of the Afghan War that cost the lives of more than 2,000 US troops.Some 10,800 US troops will remain until America's allies up their contribution;then 9800 US troops will provide the bulk of NATO's Operation Resolute Support,which will have an end strength of 13,500.The US will share an advise,assist and training mission with its NATO allies;but will handle counterterrorism combat operations on its own under the name Operation Freedom's Sentinel.
US troops will continue to engage in combat with al Qaida militants in Afghanistan still posing a national security risk to the United States.Outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement that we will work with our allies and partners as part of NATO's Resolute Support Mission to continue training,advising and assisting Afghan security forces.And we will continue our counterterrorism mission against the remnants of al Qaida to ensure that Afghanistan is never again used to stage attacks against our homeland.
General John Campbell,US Army,is commander of both NATO's Operation Resolute Support and America's Operation Freedom's Sentinel.The Afghan National Security Forces number more than 350,000 troops and police,and have shown themselves to be fairly competent in combat and security operations after extensive training,though deficient in logistics and airpower against a Taliban and al Qaida enemy that remain determined and dangerous to the fledgling Afghan democracy.*
Meanwhile,the US continues to combat Islamist militants in Somalia as well.Today it conducted an airstrike on a leader of the al-Shabab organization near Saakow,Somalia.The militant's identity was not revealed;nor had the effectiveness of the strike been ascertained;it was still being assessed.Al-Shabab is an al Qaida affiliate.
Update:On Wednesday 31 December,the Pentagon stated that the Somali Islamist militant leader targeted in Monday's airstrike had been killed when his vehicle was struck by several Hellfire missiles fired by a drone.The strike had been triggered by actionable intelligence.The leader killed was Tahliil Abdishakur,chief of al-Shabab's intelligence section.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Australian, US Marines MOUT Exercise Ssang Yong 14 in South Korea

DMZ weird moment North Korean DPRK soldiers picture

RDML Richard P. Breckenridge talks about the Ohio Class Submarine Replac...

Progress Made on New Ballistic Missile Submarine;President Signs Defense Spending Bill

Congress has established a separate account for the Ohio-class Replacement Program.The account will contain funds for the US Navy's new Trident missile submarine that will replace the Ohio-class boats,which are under US Strategic Command as part of the nation's nuclear deterrent triad,along with land-based strategic bombers and Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.The purpose of having a separate account is to take the pressure off the Navy's regular shipbuilding account,which must fund ongoing programs such as destroyers,littoral combat ships,aircraft carriers and attack submarines.This will allow the Navy to achieve its goal of a 300-ship combat force;it has 280 ships today.
The ORP account will include a transfer of excess Pentagon funds totaling 3.5 billion,plus a 1.3 billion appropriation from the 2015 Defense Spending Bill that President Obama just signed into law last Friday.The bill also forbids the retirement of the A-10 Warthog ground attack aircraft;forbids the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility;permits the awarding of Purple Heart medals to survivors of the November 2009 Fort Hood,Texas massacre by Army psychiatrist Nidal Hassan,who killed 13 and wounded more than 30 in support of Islamist militants;provides core Pentagon funding of 521.3 billion and 63.7 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan;plus funds for the training and equipping of moderate Syrian rebels and 5 billion for Iraqi security forces.*
The 12 ORP submarines will be procured from 2021-2035 at a Congressional Budget Office estimate of 7.7 billion per boat.The entire project will run about 70 billion dollars,according to the Navy estimate of 5 billion per submarine,which is lower than the CBO's.By the CBO's reckoning,the whole program would cost 92.4 billion.The submarines are intended to have a lifespan of 42 years-the same as the Ohio-class.The submarines will be the largest in the Navy's history at 560 feet long.They will be armed with 16 of the same Trident D-5 missiles the Ohio-class uses,fired from 45-foot tubes.A common missile compartment will be shared with the United Kingdom for its four new Trident D-5 submarines,each with 12 firing tubes.
The ORP submarines will enter service in 2031 and serve through 2085,carrying about 70% of the US strategic nuclear warhead arsenal in a stealthy,survivable manner.General Dynamic's Electric Boat division is currently working on their early engineering,design and prototyping at its Groton,Connecticut and Quonset Point,Rhode Island facilities.*
The ORP submarine will feature a quieter,direct propulsion drive system;advanced sound-absorbing coating;advanced sensing technologies;and the same communications system,antennae and mast as the current Virginia-class attack submarine.*
General Dynamics(GD)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Orion Explore and Beyond-official NASA video

America's Rocket - Space Launch System Animation (2014)

Orion Program's SLS Rocket Already Being Fabricated;Engine Test Soon

Some components of the Orion Program's new Space Launch System rocket are already being fabricated by a giant tool at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility,New Orleans.Parts of the rocket's engine section and the Core Stage are being welded by the Vertical Weld Center,a massive tool that is three stories high and weighs 150 tons.The barrel that holds the rocket's four RS-25 main engines was completed in November.The VWC will also weld barrel panels together to produce whole barrels for the SLS Core Stage's two pressurised tanks,intertank and forward skirt.*
The SLS will include components that were also part of the Space Shuttle system's hardware.For example,the RS-25 engine was also the Space Shuttle's main engine,and the SLS will utilise the same two solid rocket boosters that the Space Shuttle used as well.An engine firing test was planned to occur before year's end at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Hancock County,Mississippi.An RS-25 engine was placed on the A-1 Test Stand at the Center in November,awaiting final preparation and activation work.*
The Boeing SLS Core Stage contains the rocket's cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellant for the main engines.The Core Stage will tower more than 200 feet high and have a diameter of 27.5 feet.*
A new engine controller is being produced for the RS-25 engines.The controller regulates valves that direct the flow of propellant to the engines,which determines the amount of thrust generated during an engine test.Propellant flow and engine thrust determine a spacecraft's speed and trajectory,NASA explains.The engine controller also regulates the engine's start-up sequence and shutdown sequence,critical to the proper operation of the sophisticated RS-25 engine under both normal and emergency conditions.)*
The RS-25 engine is a product of Aerojet Rocketdyne,a division of GenCorp.*

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Orion Splashdown-official NASA video

Orion Soars on First Flight Test-official NASA video

Onward To Deep Space:The Orion Spacecraft's Next Missions

The Orion spacecraft arrived in San Diego late Monday in the well deck of the USS Anchorage(LPD 23),an amphibious transport dock ship.It will now be trucked back to Kennedy Space Center,Florida for data retrieval and processing for reuse.The next flight of Orion is scheduled for June 2018.It is called Exploration Mission-1.EM-1 will be another unmanned mission.On this flight,Orion will be launched into a stable orbit around the Moon to demonstrate the integrated system performance of Orion with the new Space Launch System rocket.Much of NASA's focus between now and late 2017 will be on building and testing the SLS,led by the Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville,Alabama.*
The following space flight,in 2021,will be Exploration Mission-2,Orion's first manned mission.EM-2 will fly a crew of up to four astronauts farther into space than humans have gone before,in a test flight around the Moon.Of course we have orbited the Moon before,but not at the height Orion will achieve,which means humans will be farther from Earth on Orion than the Apollo astronauts ever got.*
After EM-2,the Asteroid Redirect Mission will involve capturing a small asteroid with a robotic spacecraft and relocating it to a stable lunar orbit for astronauts to rendezvous with and study.This activity will test new systems and capabilities needed for the exploration of Mars and its moons.*
The first mission to Mars will take place sometime in the 2030's,with Orion likely carrying an international crew on the eight month trip,their exploration vehicles having been prepositioned in orbit around Mars,and returning them to Earth.*
Until at least 2020,the International Space Station will continue preparing the way for long duration space flights such as the asteroid and Mars missions.The research being done and experience accumulated on the ISS will be critical to exploring the solar system on the Orion spacecraft.ISS even participated in Orion's first mission by using its sensors to provide surface winds data at the Orion recovery site.*
Between now and 2018,Boeing will be building the SLS Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage,which will boost Orion to the correct altitude and trajectory needed to send the spacecraft around the Moon to check out vital systems on the initial test flights,NASA said.The ICPS is a liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen-based system based on Boeing's Delta Cryogenic Second Stage already used on Orion's first test flight.The ICPS will be replaced by a larger,more powerful upper stage needed for the asteroid and Mars missions.At that point,the SLS will be the tallest and most powerful rocket ever made.Boeing is also building the Core Stage of the SLS,while Lockheed Martin is prime contractor for the Orion spacecraft itself.Lockheed will be making any modifications to Orion deemed necessary after analysis of the EFT-1 data.*
Boeing(BA),Lockheed Martin(LMT)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

B-1 Bomber & F-22 Raptor Refuel During ISIS Airstrikes

F-22 Raptor sees First Combat in Syria against ISIS

On The U.S. Front Combating ISIS

Irregular Warfare:Rand Corporation Analyst on the Battle for Iraq

We don't have a clear strategy for Iraq right now,said Major Ben Connable,US Marine Corps Retired,International Policy Senior Analyst at the Rand Corporation.We have an ongoing military campaign.Several Iraqi divisions have collapsed,and several are near collapse in Anbar.What is it that the President wants to accomplish at the end of the campaign?Clarity would be very helpful to the US officers who are designing and implementing the campaign.*
Most of the Gulf countries' troops are designed for internal security and would be resented by the Iraqi people.A lot of these countries are providing bases,trainers and aircraft.An advisor is someone who is going in to advise commanders on what decisions to make in logistics,communications or as air controlers.*
The US Navy has a strong presence in Bahrain.It's a very touchy relationship with Iran.We have had a difficult relationship with them.They may already have a Quds force there advising Iraqi troops.The Jordanians have been tremendously helpful.The Emirates and Saudi have been very helpful.I know a lot of Iraqis who risked their lives to build a democratic state.*
There has been progress recently that has degraded the Islamic State and forced them to act in small groups,but if you kill or destroy the Islamic State,there has to be something that fills that void that we leave behind.Irregular warfare is incredibly difficult.Every decision is a tradeoff not leading to a clear victory.It frankly exceeds the capacity of the human mind to fully and completely understand the complexity of this scenario and a US military campaign:not understanding the crisis,you can't count them,and you don't know where they are;the Islamic State broke away from al Qaida;al Nusra is affiliated with al Qaida,but somewhat separate.If we do want to defeat and destroy the Islamic State,I don't know how we can do that without large US ground forces.Just through air power and advisors is extremely difficult,MAJ Connable observed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel: Was He Forced Out at the Pentagon?

The Hagel Resignation-Will It Affect Military Operations?

President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel,the first man to rise from the enlisted ranks of the US Army to the top job at the Pentagon,held several private meetings over the past month,but still couldn't see eye to eye.So the President and Hagel agreed to part ways,and the President started searching for his fourth Pentagon chief in six years.Hagel had been preceded by Bob Gates and Leon Panetta.*
Some observers described Hagel as seeming disengaged at national security meetings.
Perhaps the President needed a fall guy after the Democrats' dismal mid-term election results,losing control of the US Senate,others speculated,and the soft spoken Hagel fit the bill.Believe me,he was up to the job,Hagel's former Senate colleague and fellow Vietnam veteran Senator John McCain,R-Arizona,remarked upon hearing the news.It was the job he was given,where he was never brought into that tight circle inside the White House that makes all the decisions,which has put us into the incredible debacle that we're in today throughout the world,McCain continued.*
For instance,Hagel wrote a letter to National Security Adviser Susan Rice in which he was critical of the administration's Syria policy,according to The New York Times.Hagel was also said to differ with the President over Mr.Obama's plan to close the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay,Cuba.And the White House was consternated when Hagel contradicted the President's view that the ISIL militants were a junior varsity squad,when Hagel described ISIL as an imminent threat to everything America stands for.We must prepare for everything,Hagel said.The only way is to take a steely-eyed look at it.*
The resignation really doesn't affect the way the Pentagon views the world,said Rear Admiral John Kirby,US Navy,spokesman for the Department of Defense.We're going to keep going after ISIL.We're going to move to a train,advise and assist mission in Afghanistan,and will continue to reassure our European allies in the face of Russian agression.Winning is a daily thing that we look at.We are definitely succeeding.We are taking back ground.We constantly assess that,every single day.We're not making any big muscle moves.We think we've got it about right here,RADM Kirby insisted.*
Several service members expressed surprise about the resignation,however,and felt Mr.Hagel wasn't to blame for troop cutbacks and efforts to trim military benefits.That problem rested squarely with Congress.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Orion Spacecraft Moves to Space Launch Complex 37

Inside the battle to save Baghdad from ISIS

Hagel and Dempsey on US Strategy in Iraq

There are limited signs of progress in Iraq three months after the air campaign began,US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the House Armed Services Committee last week.The advance by ISIL in parts of Iraq has stalled,and in some cases been reversed,by Iraqi,Kurdish and tribal forces supported by US-led coalition air strikes.More than 130 of the more than 800 strikes since 8 August have been by coalition partners,including Canada,which made its first sorties last week.The coalition consists of 12 nations.*
Some 1500 new US troops supplementing the 1400 already in Iraq will work out of Joint Operations Centers in Baghdad and Irbil,as well as four new training centers in North,West and Central Iraq.*
The US is certainly considering putting boots on the ground to advise and call in airstrikes on the frontlines,Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey added.The Iraqi trops are doing a better job,but there are places that will be beyond them,such as Mosul and the Syrian border.We're considering US forces accompanying Iraqi troops.In Syria,our actions against ISIL are focused on shaping the dynamic in Iraq,which remains the priority of our counter-ISIL strategy.*
We are sober about the challenges we face as ISIL exploits the complicated,long-running Syrian conflict,Secretary Hagel explained to the Members of Congress.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

As ISIS Continues Push, How Vulnerable is Baghdad?

ISIS continues march through Anbar province

Major Increase in US Troops in Iraq-return to the Triangle of Death

A major increase in US troop strength in Iraq that could see the force roughly doubled from 1400 today up to 3100 soldiers has been initiated by President Barack Obama.The 1400 current troops there now are divided among around 600 advise and assist specialists,and 800 security forces around the US Embassy and Baghdad International Airport.Now the US has begun moving back into Anbar Province,Iraq,which it withdrew from just over three years ago.A team of around 50 US troops has arrived at Al-Asad Air Base,once a huge US military installation during the Iraq War.They are there to assess the site for a new base in the US-led coalition's advise and assist effort for the Iraqi army.*
From 2004-07,US forces,spearheaded by the Marine Corps,fought their way across Anbar province,losing hundreds of soldiers in the process.Al Qaida in Iraq proved to be a formidable enemy to the Americans in that region,which was called the "Sunni Triangle of Death,"referring to the Sunni Muslim militants taking the lives of US troops.Although not on a combat mission,some of the 50 returning US soldiers are armed for force protection purposes.They are the vanguard of a shift in coalition strategy from defensive to offensive operations in Iraq.The Iraqi military plans to go on the offensive in the spring,and they will need the US at their side,not just advising from a distance.*
US commanders have expressed frustration that targets in this anti-Islamic State operation that now has a name,Operation Inherent Resolve,are slipping away from them as they try to verify the targets according to stringent rules,in an effort to be totally sure no civilians are in these nighttime convoy targets.The White House,however,is afraid civilian casualties will spook European members of the coalition into pulling out.And the strikes on Islamic State militants in neighbouring Syria are small and CIA-led for deniability,while US commanders want them to be larger,more effective strikes.In response to the growing need for US support,the President is reluctantly increasing America's footprint on the expanding battlefield.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Launch of Worlds Largest Rocket - The Delta IV Heavy with NROL-65 Onboard

[EFT-1] Orion Rocket Erected at Launch Pad-30 September 2014,Delta IV-Heavy

Orion Spacecraft Completed-ready for December launch

NASA's new era of deep space exploration is about to begin with the first major step,Exploration Flight Test-1.On 4 December,the Orion spacecraft will be launched by a Delta IV-Heavy rocket and sent to an orbit of 3600 miles above Earth,or 15 times farther away than the International Space Station.During the 4.5 hour mission,Orion will orbit the earth twice before plunging toward splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California,reaching speeds of about 20,000 miles an hour and a heat shield temperature of almost 4,000 degrees F.The parachute system must slow the spacecraft from 300 mph down to a human-friendly 20 mph,delivering the spacecraft and its future crews to splashdown and US Navy-assisted recovery in one piece.*
The unmanned December mission will carefully evaluate all aspects of Orion's performance,with a special emphasis on the critical reentry phase.The spacecraft is currently inside the Launch Abort System Facility at Kennedy Space Center.The eighty-foot tall spacecraft,which consists of the LAS,crew module and service module,was completed by the installation of its four protective panels,or the Ogive,which are designed to lessen the drag and acoustic load on the crew module.It now awaits its 10 November ride to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral and mating with the Delta IV-Heavy rocket,a product of United Launch Alliance.Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for the Orion spacecraft itself.*
Launch is scheduled for 7:05 am Eastern on 4 December.The spacecraft is intended to embark on a manned asteroid capture mission and ferry humans to Mars and beyond in the coming decades.After EFT-1,it will be launched by the Space Launch System,the largest rocket ever built,starting in 2018.*
Lockheed Martin(LMT),Alliant Techsystems(ATK)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

End of an Era: Marines Depart Camp Leatherneck for Last Time

Pakistani army confident after North Waziristan offensive

US Marines Leave Afghanistan;Pakistanis Battle Militants

The US Marines have completed their mission in Afghanistan,withdrawing from Camp Leatherneck along with their British allies.Their numbers have declined from 20,000 Marines in Southwest Afghanistan to zero today.In 2009,the Marines were sent into Helmand Province to assist the British.More than 350 Marines died in Helmand alone.Now the Afghans are bearing the brunt of the fatalities.The Marines lowered the American flag and departed in C-130 Hercules transports and helicopters.They had turned over the watchtowers and perimeter patrols to Afghans just before their departure.
By the end of the year,only about 10,000 US troops will remain in Afghanistan to provide advice and assistance for at least the next two years.*
Meanwhile,the Pakistani miltary is waging its own war on the Taliban militants in Northwest Waziristan,which borders Afghanistan.They have killed more than 1100 militants,laying waste camps and hideouts.Alarmingly,some of the Taliban are switching allegiance to the more ruthless Islamic State,which has been recruiting Pakistanis online and scrawling graffiti in Pakistan.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Navy's E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Passes Test

The US Navy's new E-2D Advanced Hawkeye reconnaissance plane has passed its initial operational test and evaluation,and has entered the training phase.The aircraft is to be deployed aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt(CVN 71) aircraft carrier next year.It builds upon an earlier version,the Cold War era E-2C.The new version upgrades target detection and tracking with extended range electronically-scanned radar.It also has better detection over land and the littorals,or shallow waters.*
Radar planes can see much farther out than ship-based radar.This allows the warfighter to minimise threats and hone battle plans.The E-2D's upgraded real time,on-scene capability improves early warning,command and control areas of strike,maritime awareness,border and coastal protection,air traffic control,search and rescue coordination and humanitarian assistance.*
Contractor Northrop Grumman says that,with a two-generational leap in radar sensor capability,the Advanced Hawkeye will deliver critical,actionable data to joint forces and first responders.These advances provide warfighters with the necessary situational awareness to compress the time between initial awareness and active engagement.*
The E-2D is crewed by two pilots and three naval flight officers.*
Northrop Grumman(NOC)

Northrop Grumman - E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Carrier Suitability Tests [480p]

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Air War Heats Up As Syrian Front Concerns-top line warplanes used

Turkey has authorised the use of military force against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.It has also given permission for other countries to use its bases,such as Incerlik Air Base,in the conflict.
Several US and Arab ally airstrikes have been carried out in the Kobani area of Northern Syria in recent weeks as US allies the Kurdish ground forces attempt to save the strategically important city from Islamic State militants.The IS is trying to stretch its control over a swath of territory more than 100 kilometers-or 62 miles-from its headquarters in Raqqa,Syria to Kobani near the Turkish border.The airstrikes destroyed two IS fighting positions south of Kobani Tuesday.Also,witnesses observed two large plumes of smoke just west of Kobani after hearing the sounds of military aircraft.Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been participating in these Syria airstrikes.
One of the targets struck was an IS staging area/IED factory.
Despite the increased tempo of the air war against them,the militants have succeeded in capturing several villages near the city and making various incursions into it,raising their black and white flag.The IS has seized several buildings on the southern edge of town,as well as a hospital being built on the western side.Kurdish forces were still flying their flag over the center of town as of Tuesday,but are outnumbered and outgunned.*
Over the weekend,US Army Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter gunships were brought into the air war for the first time to engage the enemy west of Baghdad,a sign of the deteriorating situation in Anbar Province.The targets there,as well as many of them in Kobani,are too close to Kurdish forces or the Turkish border to use fighter aircraft
On 22 September,the US Air Force sent its front line Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor fighters into combat for the first time ever.The Raptor,a stealth aircraft with internalised weapons bays,were used to strike IS targets in Syria.It was deemed appropriate to send them because of uncertainty about whether Syria might switch on its advanced air defences as the US conducted its first raids over Syria.In the event,Syria did not respond.
The Raptors were sent in the second wave of attacks.Stationed in the Middle East,the fifth generation warplanes can fly very high and fast-more than Mach 1.5-in all weather.The US Air Force has 188 of these agile strike aircraft.*
Also recently brought into the air war over Iraq were the RAF Panavia Tornado fighters.These swept wing aircraft are considered to be among the best high speed/low level attack planes in the world.They flew in from RAF Akrotiri,Cyprus.*
Lockheed Martin(LMT),Boeing(BA)

RAF Tornado jet fighter and bomber,which responded to recent beheadings.

They're back: US uses Apache helicopters against ISIS in Iraq

Apache Helicopter Shreds Snipers in Iraq

Kurdish forces fight back against ISIS strongholds

F-22 Raptor In Action!! ((U.S AIR FORCE))

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Santuario de la Mariposa Monarca Piedra Herrada-Monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico.

Nature Note:Monarch Butterflies More Numerous

I have already seen more monarch butterflies in the Mid-Atlantic region this autumn than last autumn:two,as opposed to one.The first of the iconic orange and black migrating monarch butterflies,many of them traveling from as far north as Canada,have been seen early this year at their winter haven in Mexico,said Dr.Orly "Chip" Taylor of the University of Kansas,founder and director of the Monarch Watch project.Conditions in spring and summer have been favourable this year.There are as many as two to four times last year's number at the overwintering sites south of the border.That's still below historical numbers,but shows the species is resilient and can recover if given more habitat.*
Favourable conditions for the monarch include higher temperatures and better planting conditions on the breeding grounds.Conditions in these northern breeding areas allowed the population to increase.Milkweed is the host plant for monarch larvae and pupae.We've lost 167 million acres of milkweed habitat over the past 10-15 years.Herbicide-tolerant crops allowing more spraying of harmful chemicals,and the ethanol mandate for gasoline encouraging the conversion of habitat into cornfields,are the causes of this loss.*
I wouldn't say this year's numbers are a fluke,Dr.Taylor continued.The population has come back in more normal conditions.I suspect we only have enough habitat to support three to four hectares of monarchs at the wintering sites.We need to restore a lot of habitat for both bees and monarchs,the insect expert urged.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Delta IV Stages Arrive at Cape for NASA's Orion Inaugural Flight-the first step to deep space

U.S. spy satellite launched into space-same rocket that will launch Orion in Dec.

NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Moves in Preparation for First Flight

Orion Spacecraft Assembled,Ready for Fuel

NASA's deep space capsule and service module,the Orion spacecraft,has been attached to its rocket adapter and transported from the Neil Armstrong Checkout and Operations Building to the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center.After extensive testing at the checkout building,Orion is ready for the next phase of preparation for its maiden,unmanned voyage in December,Exploration Flight Test-1.
While at the PHSF,Orion will be fueled with high pressure helium,ammonia and hydrazine.Once fueled,it will be mated with the Launch Abort System in October.*
The transfer of the stacked crew module,service module and adapter to PHSF took place last Thursday at a cautious pace on a special transport vehicle-essentially a large,very strong flatbed truck.It was overseen by Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin,United Launch Alliance and security personnel on its brief but deliberate journey.*
Orion's GPS receiver is radiation-hardened and can lock onto a GPS satellite in eight seconds,providing the position,velocity and time information critical for navigation.*
This week,a joint NASA-US Navy team is practicing recovery techniques off the coast of California-first with a crane on the rescue and salvage ship USS Salvor(ARS-52),then with the well deck of amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage(LPD-23) in preparation for EFT-1.*
Orion's deep space missions to an asteroid and Mars will be launched by the new Space Launch System,which will be the world's most powerful rocket,while EFT-1 will be launched by United Launch Alliance's Delta IV Heavy.*
Orion can accommodate a crew for up to 21 days.Longer missions will require an additional habitat for living and working space.Many of the spacecraft's critical safety systems will be evaluated in December's approximately 3600 mile journey into space.*
Lockheed Martin(LMT),Alliant Techsystems(ATK)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Steadfast Javelin II Canadian Air Assault

Steadfast Javelin II,US Army Helicopters Land in Latvia,C-130 Takeoff

Sea Breeze,Steadfast Javelin II Exercises Prove NATO's Commitment

NATO is currently conducting the Sea Breeze 2014 naval exercise in the Northwest region of the Black Sea.It runs from 8-10 September.Three warships from the Standing NATO Maritime Group Two are participating,namely,the frigates HMCS Toronto from Canada;Spain's ESPS Almirante Juan de Borbon;and Romania's ROS Regale Ferdinand.SNMG2 is one of four SNMGs.
On Monday,two Russian Su-24 Fencer fighter jets and a surveillance plane buzzed HMCS Toronto.The move was unnecessarily provocative,Canadian Defence Minister Rob Nicholson said.Russia dismissed the complaint,saying their aircraft were strictly in line with international law.*
The guided-missile destroyer USS Ross(DDG-71) hosted the opening ceremony on Monday.The Ross will actively participate in the entire spectrum of surface,air and sub-surface evolutions during this exercise,said Ross commanding officer Commander Tadd Gorman.These events will challenge the crew of Ross in their capabilities and level of knowledge.Anytime you exercise with other countries,and deal with language barriers,you're going to be challenged.That's the point of this exercise,overcoming these challenges and working together to become a team,CDR Gorman pointed out.
The Ross is forward deployed to Rota,Spain.*
Even as Sea Breeze was starting,Steadfast Javelin II was winding up.These seven-day exercises were underway across Latvia,Estonia,Lithuania,Germany and Poland,conducted by nine countries.About 2,000 troops participated,including the US Army's 173d Airborne Brigade and 2nd Cavalry Regiment with their Stryker armoured personnel carriers.They disembarked from C-17 and C-130 aircraft at Lielvarde Air Base,Latvia.
Steadfast Javelin II showed NATO's commitment to Baltic member states in the face of an assertive Russia.It simulated the deployment of NATO troops and equipment to another country during a crisis.*
At the NATO Wales Summit held last week,the alliance established a spearhead force of 4-5,000 troops capable of deploying across the alliance within 48 hours.The force builds upon intelligence,agility and precision-as opposed to weight of military force.It is an agile,precise,intelligence-led rapidly deployable force,NATO said.It reflects the alliance shifting its emphasis from the Afghan War to defending member nations in a direct way.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

B-1B Lancer Bomber Takeoff (2010)-2 planes-US Strategic Command

Up Close B-1B Lancer Bomber "The Bone" Taxi and Takeoff - US Strategic Command 2009

NATO Wales Summit Considers Multiple Security Threats-ISIL,Russia,Afghanistan

Among the topics being discussed at the NATO Summit in Wales on Thursday and Friday are the Islamic State terrorist organisation;Russia's invasion of Ukraine;and the alliance's drawdown in Afghanistan.President Barack Obama;UK Prime Minister David Cameron;and other western leaders are in attendance,including special guest Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.*
According to General Jack Keane,former Vice Chief of Staff,US Army,the Pentagon has put together a comprehensive campaign plan for combating ISIL.This is not containment,GEN Keane said.It's going to take a combination of brute force and ideology.This is going to take at least 50 years.
Military action matters.The US and a coalition should launch an interdiction campaign.I'm absolutely convinced that their assumption is that the US will not attack Syria.What we should be driven by is what this movement portends for our vital interests in the Middle East and our homeland.Our goal should be to degrade and destroy ISIL so that it is no longer a threat.*
Two hundred US troops have been sent to Ukraine to conduct small unit tactics training.At least 1,000 Russian troops have moved in en masse near Donetsk and on the road to Mariupol.There are actually as many as 4,000 of them,a rebel source confided.
A Russian counteroffensive in Donetsk and Luhansk has been launched thirty miles inside Ukraine,with very heavy fighting in two areas to the south of these cities.Separatist forces were backed by Russian troops,and dozens of civilians were killed.In Mariupol,there was another offensive with Russian tanks.*
In Afghanistan,NATO stands ready to provide a post-2014 train,advise and assist mission.The problem is,the Afghans have not so far been able to form a government following the disputed presidential election results.A government is needed to sign an an agreement with NATO allowing such a post-2014 force to operate in the country.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

U-2 Spy Plane - Prep & Takeoff

Modern U-2 Spy Plane Landing at Undisclosed Location

Intel Gathering Over Syria Begins-possibly with the U-2 spy plane

We have a fundamentalist state in the center of the Middle East,General Michael V. Hayden,US Air Force Retired,former director of both the CIA and NSA,said of the Islamic State-also called ISIL or ISIS.We have got to take the wood to ISIS and clearly make them less capable.It's a government and an army.We need to begin to treat ISIS territory the way we have treated Waziristan,the Islamic militant stronghold in Pakistan,making them wary about their own security.*
There was genuine grief,genuine anger in the President's statement on the beheading of the journalist James Foley by ISIS in Syria.The question I have is,what are we going to do about it?I think we have to do more to degrade them.The tide of war is not receding.We might have to do it with some of our own forces on the ground,GEN Hayden noted.*
President Obama has just ordered the beginning of reconnaissance flights over Syria,a precursor to possible airstrikes on the Islamic State heartland.The militants had seized an airfield in Northern Syria on Monday.You have no allies to speak of in Syria;zero intelligence in Eastern Syria where ISIL is concentrated,said Bob Baer,formerly with the CIA.*
A possible choice to carry out at least some of the recon is the Lockheed U-2 spyplane,which can fly at 70,000 feet,day or night and in all-weather.It has superior cameras and sensors to the RQ-4 Global Hawk drone.The House Armed Services Committee has forbidden the expenditure of funds on the retirement,planned retirement or storage of the U-2 in its 2015 budget markup.*
U-2 units that could be tasked with Syrian overflights are the US Air Force 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron out of Al Dahfra Air Base,UAE;or the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron Detachment 3 out of RAF Akrotiri,Cyprus.*
Lockheed Martin(LMT)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Kurdish Anti-terror Forces (Dizha Tiror) Fighting Against ISIS/ISIL in J...

Kurdish Forces Fight Isis in Iraq

Militants Repulse Iraqi Army-but US Navy aircraft help retake dam

Islamic State militants held their position in the Iraqi city of Tikrit against an attempt to recapature it Tuesday by the Iraqi army,Iraqi officers told the Reuters news agency.Tikrit was the hometown of the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.The Iraqi forces were checked by heavy fires from mortars and machine guns south of Tikrit,and land mines and snipers west of town.*
Despite the Iraqi effort,the militants continued to patrol the streets of Tikrit,maintaining their dominance.Over the weekend,however,US Navy F/A-18 fighter jets and Predator drones carried out 35 sorties on the militants holding the Mosul Dam area north of Mosul city,striking 90 targets ranging from military vehicles and checkpoints,to firing positions.This air support for Kurdish special operations forces and Iraqi troops resulted in the recapture of the strategically vital dam from the militants,who nonetheless continue to firmly grasp Mosul itself.The dam supplies water and hydroelectric power to a vast portion of the country,including the capital Baghdad.*
Analysts believe that US air power alone cannot defeat the militants,and some US combat troops will eventually be needed to complete the task.It's a view shared by Congressman Peter King,R-NY,member of the House Homeland Security Committee.I don't think we need large amounts,he said.I think by arming the Kurds and by working with the Iraqi army,by having leadership in there,that we can do it,and also massive use of our air power-all of that together,I believe,is sufficient without any large number of ground troops at all.*
There are roughly 1,000 US troops currently serving in Iraq,but they are in support roles such as advising,security and intelligence,rather than offensive combat operations.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

F/A-18 Super Hornets are launched from USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77)-Warning,very loud

F-18 Super Hornets, USS Nimitz, Launch/Recovery, Flight Operations

Navy Air Strikes Continue in Iraq;More Troops Arrive

US Navy fighter jets struck another Islamic State militant position today,taking out a mortar just to the north of Mt.Sinjar.The mortar position threatened the thousands of Yazidi people camped on the mountain for refuge.The militants want to get rid of them in their campaign of ethnic cleansing.*
This same humanitarian crisis has resulted in 129 more US military advisors being sent to Iraq.There were already 250 of them engaged in assessing,advising and assisting the Iraqi military.Many of these advisors are special operations troops.*
In addition to these US forces,there are an additional 450 providing security to the US Embassy and Baghdad International Airport.If the additional 75 US troops are sent to Mt.Sinjar to assess the number of Yazidi people there and how best to evacuate them,there would be 829 pairs of American boots on the ground.All the troops are authorised to defend themselves,but not to conduct offensive operations.*
In addition to the ground forces,the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George W. Bush(CVN 77) has provided the airpower in the current Iraqi campaign,with the exception of the drones that have also been in use.The Boeing F/A-18 Hornets or Super Hornets have been dropping GPS/laser guided bombs on militant positions,but can also deliver air-to-ground missiles.Both aircraft can fly at up to Mach 1.7 at a ceiling of 50,000 feet.
With three external fuel tanks and four 1,000 pound bombs,the Hornets have a range of 369 nautical miles;the Super Hornets have a range of 486 nautical miles.The Hornets have a wingspan of 40.4 feet and a length of 56.0 feet;the Super Hornets have a wingspan of 44.9 feet and a length of 60.3 feet.There are about 60 aircraft aboard the George H.W. Bush,manned and maintained by an air wing of 1500 personnel.*
Military cargo planes from the US,France and Great Britain have been dropping humanitarian aid to the Yazidi people,a religious minority in Northern Iraq.*

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen meets Gen. Joseph Dunford a...

American Two Star General Dies in Attack on NATO Troops

An Afghan man the Kabul government described as a terrorist in uniform shot a US Army major general dead and wounded up to 15 other NATO troops Tuesday,Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said.The gunman was wearing military clothing and fired on the allied troops with a light machine gun at the Marshal Fahim National Defense University in Kabul,Afghanistan,where Afghan commissioned and non-commissioned officers are trained at the British-led academy.The NATO soldiers were on a routine site visit,RADM Kirby told reporters.*
Believed to be among the wounded are a German general and at least seven Americans and five British troops.Some of them were seriously wounded;others received only minor injuries.
The general who was killed has been identified as General Harold J. Greene,deputy commanding general of the Combined Security Transition Command.A 34-year veteran,he is the highest ranking US soldier to have been killed in either the the Iraq or Afghan War,which began in 2001 following the 9-11 attacks.*
The so-called green on blue attack is the latest of a long series of similar incidents,many of them attributed to disgruntled Afghan National Security Forces personnel.*
Army Lieutenant General Timothy J. Maude died in the 9-11 attack on the Pentagon.*
General Joseph F. Dunford,Jr.,US Marine Corps,Commander of ISAF forces in Afghanistan,briefed Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on the incident this morning.The attack will be jointly investigated by ISAF and Afghan personnel.ISAF consists of NATO troops and those of partner nations.
Most US and allied forces are to be withdrawn by the end of 2014,but plans to leave a limited number of trainers and special operations troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014 are on hold until the disputed Afghan presidential election is resolved.An audit of the election finally began on Sunday even as squabbling between the parties continued,with one candidate's supporters boycotting the audit.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

ナーヴァル・ストライク・ミサイル Naval Strike Missile(NSM) ステルス対艦ミサイル [HD]

Admiral Harris Likes Norway's New Missile

Admiral Harry B. Harris,Jr.,Commander,US Pacific Fleet,is so impressed by Norway's new Naval Strike Missile,or NSM,that he has arranged a September test of it aboard the Independence-class littoral combat chip USS Coronado(LCS 4).The sea-skimming NSM had struck a decommissioned Newport-class Landing Ship Tank,the USS Ogden(LPD 5),during a SINKEX live fire exercise that was part of RIMPAC 2014,the world's largest naval exercise.RIMPAC is being held off the coast of Hawaii and runs through 1 August.*
ADM Harris praised the NSM's great range,which would fill a gap in the LCS surface warfare package.Only two short range missiles are currently being considered for the LCS surface warfare package,along with two 30 mm guns and the permanently mounted Bofors 57 mm gun.The combination of those kinds of missiles,plus the gun that we have,I think,makes LCS a very interesting platform,ADM Harris told IHS Jane's Defence Weekly.*
Kongsberg manufactures the Norwegian NSM,which is being eyed for wide NATO application.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Orion Spacecraft Ticking Off Milestones-Navy divers rehearse

In June,the Orion spacecraft crew module,or capsule,reached a milestone when it was sucessfully stacked on the service module at the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at Kennedy Space Center.The three Orion components-the third component being the launch abort system that is attached to the top of the capsule-are being readied in the facility for December's Exploration Flight Test-1.
The stacked modules are in the Final Assembly and System Testing(FAST) cell,where they undergo final systems tests before being rolled out for mating with the Delta IV Heavy rocket.Power connections are made,and bolts and fluid connector are placed during this phase of mission preparation.There are also electrical,avionic and radio frequency tests.*
The unmanned EFT-1 will see Orion launched to 3600 miles above Earth for a two-orbit,4.5 hour test flight.During the flight,systems critical for manned deep space missions will be evaluated.Finally,the Orion capsule will reenter the atmosphere at nearly 20,000 miles an hour before parachute system deployment and splashdown in the Pacific,where a US Navy amphibious warfare vessel will retrieve it.Engineers will scrutinise the performance of Orion's heat shield,which is the largest ever built,and the adapter linking the spacecraft to its rocket.*
Early in June,US Navy divers trained for recovering the capsule at the NASA Neutral Bouyancy Lab in Houston.They got an overview of Orion's thermal protection system hardware;worked out procedures for installing the back-up horse collar fixture for a well deck recovery and the contingency basket lifting straps.They also rehearsed the baseline attachment approach using upgraded hardware and a forward bay cover flip operation so the capsule can be recovered and placed right side up on the ship.*
At the end of June,a rigorous parachute system test was conducted over the Arizona desert of the US Army's Yuma Proving Ground.An Orion crew module mock-up was pulled out of a C-17 aircraft at 35,000 feet.In the final complete parachute system sequence test before December's inaugural Orion spaceflight,engineers applied various stresses to the system,which it in fact breezed through.*
In 2017,Exploration Mission-1 will integrate Orion with the new Space Launch System rocket,the most powerful rocket in the history of spaceflight.Its booster is manufactured by Alliant Techsystems,while its first stage engine is by Pratt&Whitney Rocketdyne.Lockheed Martin builds the Orion spacecraft,designing it for missions to an asteroid and Mars.*
Lockheed Martin(LMT),United Technologies(UTX),Alliant Techsystems(ATK)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

RIMPAC 2014 Sinking Exercise Held

RIMPAC 2014,the largest naval exercise in the world,is well underway off the coast of Hawaii.It runs from 26 June to 1 August.Some 22 nations,49 surface ships,submarines,200+ aircraft and 25,000 personnel are honing their skills in a broad range of maritime operations.*
On 14 July,the USS Tuscaloosa(LST 1187),a de-commissioned tank landing ship from the 1970s,was sunk in a live fire exercise in waters about 15,000 feet deep,57 nautical miles NW of Kauai.Proficiency in targeting,tactics and live firing was achieved by the participating ships,submarines and aircraft,which hail from the US,Canada,Brunei and Japan.
According to Royal Australian Navy Rear Admiral Simon Cullen,Deputy Commander of the RIMPAC Combined Task Force,it enabled individual units to conduct training that they could not otherwise have in their own waters,and allowed them to improve their interoperability by working with their partner nations to achieve their training objectives.*
The SINKEX was conducted in strict compliance with the regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Launch of the New Horizons Spacecraft-2006 on a 10-year flight to Pluto

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

NASA Mars MAVEN Launch 11/18/2013

Atlas V Launch MRO-Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Exploring Deep Space:NASA Admin Outlines Quest

Major General Charles F. Bolden,US Marine Corps Retired and Administrator of NASA,is directing the space agency on its challenging new path-and isn't taking any prisoners.The Obama administration has committed to the International Space Station for at least another 10 years,he told the audience at the Humans 2 Mars summit at George Washington University in April 2014.We have now been on the ISS continuously for almost 14 years.*
Astronauts in the Orion spacecraft will explore an asteroid and return samples to earth beginning in 2017.We've chosen an asteroid in lunar orbit as our proving ground.The Space Launch System that will get them there will be the most powerful launch system ever flown.*
Mars and its moons are probably not like low earth orbit.What we don't know is,what it is like flying out there.Then we will probably fly around the moons of Mars,and finally,figure out how to land humans on Mars.The data on radiation from Mars rovers will tell us how to protect astronauts on Mars.The challenge is huge,but we love huge challenges.*
The Space Launch System is already being manufactured in New Orleans.It will launch a Mars mission in the 2030s,GEN Bolden said.*
GEN Bolden is a graduate of the US Naval Academy.He became a Naval Aviator in 1970 and a Navy test pilot in 1979.In 1980,he was selected as an astronaut candidate.By 1992,he was the space shuttle commander of seven astronauts aboard STS-43.He left the astronaut corps to resume his Marine Corps career in 1994,with assignments as Deputy Commandant at the USNA and Commanding General,I Marine Expeditionary Force in support of Operation Desert Thunder,Kuwait.In 2009,President Barack Obama appointed GEN Bolden NASA Administrator.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Big Security Push:Hundreds More US Troops Sent To Iraq

Two hundred more US troops have arrived in Iraq,in addition to the 180 Special Operations Forces advisors already there.These new 200 will assist with securing the US embassy in Baghdad,as well as Baghdad International Airport and roads connecting them.The embassy would be a prime target for ISIL militants,should they get much closer to Baghdad.The militants have long-range artillery now,which they have captured.
A further 100 US troops are on the way from the Middle East,where they have been on standby,to help with security and logistics.The total number of US troops now in Iraq is said to be about 750.
South of Baghdad lie the country's main oil fields,which must also be considered prime targets of the ISIL militants.
The new US troops are bringing more helicopters and drones for airfield and travel route security,the Pentagon said.A major concern is evacuating the thousands of American civilians who remain in Iraq,in the event of a militant push into the capital city.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Training with U S and Australian Special Operations Forces

Iraq Crisis:The Role of Special Forces and Intelligence

The Special Operations Forces team that arrived in Iraq Saturday will assess where the other SOF members should be stationed,said Rear Admiral John Kirby,Pentagon Press Secretary.Some of the troops at the US embassy may be reassigned to assist the SOF troops.
The SOF team's mission in Iraq is to assess the enemy's capability;the equipment they have;and how bad off is the Iraqi army.They will also be drawing from military contractors,many of them former SOF members,RADM Kirby revealed.*
The Iraqi state is in danger,warned Senator Dianne Feinstein,D-California,a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.The piercing with human intelligence is very difficult.This is extraordinarily difficult to do.The terrorist recruiting in Europe,the number of passport fighters,including Americans who are coming back into this country through countries we have a visa agreement with-there will be plots to kill Americans.*
A hundred Americans are believed to have been recruited by social media and are fighting alongside Islamist militants in Syria.*
What is the contingency plan for a complete takeover of Iraq and Syria?I don't know what the contingency plan is.I do know we're at the foot of an all-out civil war.We're on the verge of something very serious.I think our allies have to help us,and I think Iran can help encourage an inclusive Iraqi government.There has to be one.There can be a direct threat to US national security,Senator Feinstein said.*
Both manned and unmanned reconnaissance flights are going on over Iraq.A target list is being reviewed and revised constantly,the Pentagon added.
Out in the countryside,our very accurate airpower can do a successful job,said Admiral James Woolsey,US Navy retired and former CIA director.In the cities,I'm not sure it's appropriate,ADM Woolsey noted.*
The SOF troops are believed to include members of the US Army Delta Force,US Navy SEALs and US Army Rangers.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

US Forces Poised For Iraq Response-USS George H.W. Bush carrier strike group

US warships,aircraft and troops are poised for orders to respond to the advance of Iraqi Islamist militants toward Baghdad.In the Persian Gulf,aka Arabian Gulf,are the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush(CVN 77) and its strike group:guided missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea(CG 58) and guided missile destroyer USS Truxtun(DDG 103),as well as one or more attack submarines.
The George H W Bush has about 60 aircraft to coordinate and execute any strike mission against the militants the President may order.The cruiser and destroyer can launch Tomahawk cruise missiles for precision strike,as can attack submarines.
Also in the Persian Gulf is the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde(LPD 19) with 550 US Marines aboard.The Marines are on standby to evacuate up to 5,000 American civilians currently in Iraq.In Iraq itself,170 Marines and Army troops have been added to the permanent US embassy guard force to bolster security and support for US personnel.The Baghdad embassy compound,located in the International Zone,aka Green Zone,is the largest in the world.The Green Zone is a heavily guarded,closed-off area of central Baghdad that houses Iraqi government buildings;private military contractors;and the US,British,Australian and Egyptian embassies.
Another 100 US troops have arrived in the region and are on standby for airfield management,security and logisitics support.
The White House is also considering sending up to 100 special forces troops to Iraq.They would be non-operational,soley for training and advising the Iraqi army on military bases,although authorised to defend themselves.
The main militant group is formally known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,or ISIL,and has captured extensive territory in both Iraq and Syria.They are only 37 miles North of Baghdad at this writing.

USS George H.W. Bush: Freedom at Work

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Air Force Seeks Nuke Command Upgrade;B-2s Arrive in England

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James has submitted a proposal to upgrade Global Strike Command,which oversees the nation's Minuteman III ICBM force and strategic bombers,from a three-star billet to a four-star billet.As well,1100 more personnel will be added to the command in the proposal sent to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for his approval.Congress will have the final say on the plan.
The reforms are intended to shore up the troubled command,which has been rocked by a cheating scandal among some missile launch officers and morale problems among Airmen.There is a general impression that the nuclear deterrence mission has been valued less than other Air Force missions since the end of the Cold War.In a press release,Secretary James said this important mission in the Air Force deserves the highest level of oversight similar to our other operational core mission areas.
Incentive pay will also be instituted under the proposal,and a new Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal has already been approved by Ms.James.The staffing increase will address shortfalls and offer our Airmen a more stable work schedule and better quality of life,according to Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh III.*
In other GSC news,on 8 June,two of the Command's B-2 Spirit bombers flew to RAF Fairford,England to train and integrate with US and allied forces in the region.The heavy bombers will be conducting training flights in the US European Command area of operations,so air crews can sharpen skills in key operational sets and familiarise themselves with regional air bases and operations.
The deployment of strategic bombers provides an invaluable opportunity to strengthen and improve interoperability with our allies and partners,said Admiral Cecil Haney,US Navy,commander of US Strategic Command,which includes GSC and all three elements of the US nuclear triad:ICBMs,bombers and ballistic missile submarines.The training and integration of strategic forces demonstrates to our nation's leaders and allies that we have the right mix of aircraft and expertise to respond to a variety of potential threats and situations,ADM Haney continued.
The B-2s are from the 509th Bomb Wing out of Whiteman Air Force Base,Missouri.The Spirit is a multi-role bomber that can deliver both conventional and nuclear munitions.Its stealthy characteristics allow it to penetrate the most sophisticated of the enemy's defences and threaten their most heavily defended,highest value targets for decades to come.
GSC's other strategic bombers are the B-52 Stratofortress and B-1B Lancer.*
The deployment of the B-2 Spirit bombers to Europe is in line with a series of augmented and stepped-up deployments of US aircraft,ships and troops to NATO countries in light of the Ukraine crisis.The moves strengthen readiness and reassure allies of America's commitment to the NATO treaty obligation of collective defence.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Nature Note:Red-Shouldered Hawk

I heard a close kee-yer call of a red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus),but at first I couldn't locate it.Finally,something made me look straight up,and there it was in silhouette,soaring right over my head.I was walking along a northern riverine forest,well within the habitat of this species.
The red-shouldred hawk dwells in and near floodplain forests from New Brunswick,west to Minnesota and south to the Gulf of Mexico,and on the West coast from Northern California to Baja California,Mexico.
The kee-yer cry of red-shouldered hawks is often imitated by blue jays-in fact,it's a favourite trick of blue jays to play on hikers.These hawks hunt from low perches for small mammals,frogs,snakes and insects.They are slightly smaller than the red-tailed hawks so often seen along country roads.
They spend the winter as far north as Southern New England and the Ohio Valley.With the warmer winters of today,perhaps they are even wintering into Ontario now.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Air Force Security Forces Flunk Nuke Test-corrective action taken

It has recently come to light that last August,US Air Force Security Forces at Malmstrom Air Force Base,Montana,flunked a test of their ability to quickly regain control of a missile silo captured by the enemy.This fault resulted in the base flunking its entire safety and security inspection.According to an internal review obtained by the Associated Press,the forces failed to take all lawful actions to immediately regain control of nuclear weapons.
At the time,the Air Force said tactical level errors were committed in one phase of the inspection,without elaborating.The unit received a rating of "unsatisfactory." The review cited insufficient training resulting in a lack of familiarity with complex scenario exercises;unspecified shortcomings in leadership culture;and a lack of standardized simulations throughout the nuclear missile forces.The failure reportedly involved missing the mark by a matter of seconds.
Lieutenant General Jim Kowalski,who was at the time Commander,Global Strike Command,which oversees the nuclear missile and strategic bomber forces,denied that the incident means the safety of the nuclear missile arsenal is at risk,since the inspections are designed to be tough.The unit fumbled in this exercise.
The unit was tested again a few months later and passed.Nearly all the corrective actions proposed by the review have been accomplished,according to GSC.*
Malmstrom AFB is one of three Minuteman III bases,each housing 150 of the ICBMs.The other two bases are in North Dakota and Wyoming.Malmstrom defines its mission as being to defend America with safe,secure and effective nuclear forces and combat ready Airmen.The 341st Security Forces Group,including the Tactical Response Force,are critical to this effort.
In the Nuclear Advanced Designated Marksman program,members of the TRF are trained at Camp Guernsey,Wyoming for six weeks.They become adept at observing enemy forces unseen and engaging them when appropriate.They are trained in weapons accuracy,camouflage and the ability to sustain themselves in the field.
A few times a month,the TRF trains with the base's Huey UH-1N helicopters.They practice infiltration and exfiltration in order to achieve instant response capability anywhere on the base,to reassert control of captured convoys and launch sites.
The 341st Security Forces Group generally is entrusted with securing roads to and from launch sites on which nuclear weapons are transported;weapons storage facilities;launch control centers;and controlling access to Malmstrom AFB.*
LT GEN Kowalski is now Deputy Commander,US Strategic Command,of which Global Strike Command is a part.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sikorsky/Lockheed Win Marine One Contract

The Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin team has been awarded a 1.24 billion US Navy contract for the next fleet of Marine One presidential helicopters.The contract is to modify,test and deliver an initial order of six Sikorsky S-92 helicopters:two engineering vehicles and four demonstrator aircraft;to be followed by 17 more in three groupings,beginning in 2019.
The process will be run as follows:
1.Build off-the-shelf S-92s,which are currently used for civil search and rescue,executive transport and offshore oil&gas operations,at the Sikorsky plant in Coatesville,Pennsylvania.
2.Modify them for presidential use at the Sikorsky headquarters plant in Stratford,Connecticut.
3.Install advanced communications and mission systems at Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training in Owego,New York.
4.Install the cabin back at Stratford.
We stand ready to deliver the next Marine One,the world's most advanced executive transport helicopter,said Sikorsky president Mark Maurer.The helicopters will transport the President,Vice President and visiting heads of state.In April 2010,Sikorsky teamed with Lockheed Martin to develop a military version of its medium-sized S-92 helicopter.
The project will create or sustain about 200 jobs in Owego,New York,Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillebrand said.*
United Technologies(UTX),Lockheed Martin(LMT)

SIKORSKY S-92 HELICOPTER Chosen for Marine One

NORAD F-15 Air Alert

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Infantry Operations:US Marines Battle For Helmand Province

Although the Afghan National Army is taking over more and more bases and functions,American troops are still carrying out certain tasks by themselves even as their involvement trails off to nearly full withdrawal by the end of 2014.For example,US Marines of Bravo Company,1st Battalion,7th Marine Regiment conducted a mission in Tagrevshk Village in Helmand Province,Afghanstan on 1 May,2014,as documented in a Department of Defense photo essay.The Marines were inserted into the village by CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters.Their mission was to disrupt suspected Taliban militants in the area.It's a show of force,a security sweep and an intellgence operation.
Several of the Marines went down on one knee to provide security,while an automatic rifleman secured the mission by assuming a prone position with his weapon.Platoon commander 1ST LT Robert Key,Jr. knelt on one knee while he established radio communications with his headquarters.
Under a fire team leader,some of the Marines patrolled the perimeter of the village.Assisted by an interpreter,SGT Warren Sparks gathered intelligence from a village elder.A biometric enrollment and screening device,which is applied to the forehead,was used by a corporal to check out an Afghan man who wore a camouflage vest.
At the conclusion of the mission,a yellow M18 Colored Smoke Grenade was set off to mark the landing zone and two Super Stallions extracted Bravo Company from Tagrevshk Village.Besides marking landing zones,the grenades are used for ground-to-ground or ground-to-air signaling;target marking;and as a screening device for unit manueuvering.The grenades come in red,green,yellow and violet smoke and produce clouds of smoke for 50-90 seconds.
The CH-53E is primarily an assault support helicopter that lifts heavy weapons and materiel such as Humvess,howitzers and general support cargo,but can also transport up to 55 troops.It is armed with two XM-218 and one GAU-21 .50-caliber machine guns.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Still Making News:The Vital U-2 Spy Plane

Nearly 57 years since it entered service on 1 August 1957,the U-2 spy plane is as relevant today as ever.Despite repeated attempts to schedule its retirement,the US Air Force cannot seem to rid itself of this remarkable Lockheed Martin achievement.
The U-2S is an all-weather tactical reconnaissance aircraft.Designed for minimal weight,this very aspect makes it difficult to fly.The pilots must also wear a partially pressurised space suit that delivers oxygen and protects from a loss of cabin pressure.An hour before takeoff,they must breathe pure oxygen to prepare for the rigourous flight.It's still one of the most exciting rides around.*
The US Air Force 9th Reconnaissance Wing,based at Beale Air Force Base,California, has a fleet of 32 U-2Ss scattered among bases in California;South Korea;Cyprus;and the UAE.Their classified missions may take them to altitudes in excess of 70,000 feet,where they can simaltaneously collect signals,imagery and air samples.The imagery is captured by wet film,electro-optics or radar.A ground view is provided to the pilot by an off the shelf Sony digital video cam,replacing the old periscope.*
The essence of the U-2's usefulness is its superior sensor package that can be targeted at short notice,unlike even the best satellites,coupled with unmatched all-weather capability.The proposed replacement,the expensive RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV drone,just hasn't measured up to the old Dragon Lady yet,pushing her retirement ever farther into the distance.The last projected date for the phaseout to begin was 2016,but Congress isn't happy about that one,either.*
NASA has its own fleet of white U-2s called ER-2s that fly out of the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards,California.They conduct atmospheric,celestial,terrestrial and oceanic research.*
A U-2 flying over the Los Angeles Basin at high altitude last Wednesday apparently confused the FAA's new air traffic control software at the Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center in Palmdale,California.As a result,some 500 flights out of Los Angeles International Airport had to be grounded for up to an hour while engineers worked the problem.The FAA says mitigation measures have been put in place and software changes will be made to prevent a reoccurrence.The Air Force denies that any signals were being emitted by the spy plane at the time.*
Lockheed Martin(LMT),Sony(SNY)

U-2 spy plane landing at Beale AFB U2 raw video from chase car of TU-2S 2-seat trainer

Modern U-2 Spy Plane Landing at Undisclosed Location

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

US,Philippines Strengthen Military Ties

The US and the Philippines signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement on 27 April,saying it updates and builds on the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951.Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren,US Army,said the pact facilitates the enhanced rotational presence of US forces,expands opportunities for training and supports the long-term modernisation of the Philippines military.The US is particularly focused on strengthening Philippine maritime security,enhancing maritime domain awareness and improving humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities,according to COL Warren.
The signing was part of President Barrack Obama's visit to the Philippines during his recent Asian tour.The President said the agreement aims to enhance our capabilities so that if there's a natural disaster that takes place,we're able to potentially respond more quickly;if there are additional threats that may arise,that we are able to work in a cooperative fashion.COL Warren added that the US is allowed to pre-position relief supplies in the Philippines under the pact,but it does not provide for permanent US bases,and we have no intention to open permanent bases in the Philippines.
The agreement does permit the US to build infrastructure to support the new US troop rotations,although the exact nature and schedule of the rotations has yet to be finalised.Philippine President Benigno Aquino said the pact takes security cooperation to a higher level of engagement,reaffirms our countries' commitment to mutual defence and security and promotes regional peace and stability.
The subtext of the agreement is:we need to better contain China's increasing capabilities and intentions in the South China Sea and elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region.
In 2012,the Philippines agreed in principle that the US could once again use Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Base with prior Philippine approval.The former US bases were closed in the early 1990s.Since then,US Marines have held jungle warfare training with Philippine marines and US Special Operations forces have helped Philippine soldiers combat Islamic and other militants in the south of the country.
The US Marine Corps has likewise established troop rotations in Darwin,Australia as part of America's pivot to the Pacific national security strategy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

US Paratroopers,Frigate Bolster Eastern Europe

Four companies of US Army paratroopers from the 173d Airborne Brigade Combat Team have arrived in,or are en route to,Poland and the Baltic states of Estonia,Latvia and Lithuania.As well,the US Navy frigate USS Taylor(FFG 50) is to replace the destroyer USS Donald Cook(DDG 75) on station in the Black Sea.Both moves are in response to Russian activity in the region.
The soldiers will begin a series of infantry exercises across the four NATO allies that border Russia.They are initiating rotational deployments,so that about 600 troops-one company of 150 for each country-will be in place through at least the end of the year,and possibly into next year.The US-Polish exercises will begin Wednesday,and the US-Baltic states exercises will start on Monday.
These countries have requested more of a US presence in light of what the NATO alliance considers to be Russian agression against Ukraine in recent weeks.They will be live fire exercises.According to Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby,even more US forces could be dispatched to other NATO countries.It will be a persistent,protracted presence.The deployments will last through the end of 2014 at the very least.They were added to the normal schedule of bilateral exercises because of the tension in Ukraine,RADM Kirby said.
All the expanded land forces training activities will be in place by 28 April.When the first exercises are completed,we will rotate fresh troops in for more,RADM Kirby explained.Talks are ongoing about expanding them into other countries in the region.This may include other NATO forces and those of partner nations.We take our obligations very,very seriously on the continent of Europe,RADM Kirby stated.*
Meanwhile,the USS Donald Cook is finishing up its deployment to the Black Sea and will be replaced by the USS Taylor,which has been repaired at Naval Support Activity Souda Bay,Greece.Since March,18 US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons have been beefing up NATO air patrols over Poland and the Baltic states in response to Russian military activity in Ukraine and Kaliningrad,a Russian enclave adjacent to Northeast Poland.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Zumwalt Destroyer Christened in Maine

On Saturday 12 April,the US Navy's Pre-Commissioning Unit Zumwalt was christened at Bath Iron Works,Maine.The ship's sponsors,Mouzetta Zumwalt Weathers and Ann Zumwalt,daughters of the the late Admiral Elmo "Bud" Zumwalt,broke a bottle of champagne over the warship's bow in the formal naming ceremony.Also attending was Lt.Colonel Jim Zumwalt,US Marine Corps retired,the admiral's son,and Senator Susan Collins(R-Maine).*
Bud Zumwalt is best known for improving the living conditions of Sailors and opening up opportunities in the Navy to women and African Americans.He promoted the first female and African American officers to the rank of admiral and allowed women to fly warplanes and serve on ships at sea.*
The PCU Zumwalt is the first of three of the new Zumwalt class of destroyer that will be built at Bath by General Dynamics.She has the most advanced features,including a composite deckhouse with hidden radars and sensors;a stealthy shape;a wave-piercing hull that reduces her wake;electric propulsion;and surplus power for weapons of the future,such as the electromagnetic railgun to be tested at sea in 2016.*
The highly automated ship will have a crew of just 148-about half the size of other destroyers.At 610 feet in length,there will be plenty of room for the Sailors.Cameras and video monitors will reduce the number standing watch.The Zumwalt will be delivered late this year and commissioned in 2016.
It could be called a battleship,given its large size and heavy armament.Besides VLS cells for launching Tomahawk and several other missiles,the ship will initially have two fully automated 155 mm Advanced Gun Systems with rocket-assisted munitions that have a range of 83 nautical miles,and two Mk 110 57 mm guns.Later,the electromagnetic railgun may be added.The ship can also carry two MH-60R helicopters,or one MH-60R plus three RQ8B Firescout unmanned aerial vehicles.*
General Dynamics(GD)

US Navy - DDG 1000 Zumwalt-Class Destroyer Launched From Drydock Timelap...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Secret Air Force Space Plane Nears Milestone

The US Air Force's classified Boeing X-37B spacecraft will reach a major milestone later this month.Launched on an Atlas V rocket in 2012,the third mission of the X-37B,called OTV-3,will mark 500 days in orbit on 25 April.It has already surpassed its former record for length of a continuous space plane mission of 479 days.
The Air Force has two of the heavily cloaked Boeing spacecraft,which resemble a small version of the space shuttle,although lacking a central tailfin.It has two smaller tailfins instead-one on each side.*
The first of the unannounced space plane missions occurred in 2010.The spacecraft land at Vandenburg Air Force Base,California.There are rumours that a larger,manned version,the X-37C,is to follow.The Air Force formerly launched classified military missions from Vandenburg as part of the space shuttle program.*
The X-37B is 8.8 meters long,with a payload bay of 2.1 by 1.2 meters.It weighs in at 4990 kilograms at liftoff.Once it space,it unfolds a solar panel to power operations.The space plane reportedly makes multiple passes over China and North Korea daily.On at least one occasion,it drew near to a Chinese satellite.*
The X-37B is visible to the naked eye,reaching a magnitude in excess of +1.Check the website Heavens-Above to find its course through the night sky.*
Given the X designation,it is probably a testbed for such things as reconnaissance technology or space warfare projects.Satellite tracking and anti-satellite weapons are possible areas of interest the program is furthering.China has intercepted and destroyed one of its own aging weather satellites with an intercontinental ballistic missile,demonstrating a capability the Air Force may be eager to respond to.*

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Royal Navy Submarine Joins MH-370 Search

Perhaps the last,best hope of the MH-370 search is the Royal Navy nuclear submarine HMS Tireless(S88).The Tireless brings to bear the most advanced sonar technology to scan the depths of the Indian Ocean for wreckage of the near-hopelessly lost airliner.Launched in 1984,she is one of five Trafalgar class subs still in Service.She was the third of her class and was built by Vickers at Barrow,according to the Royal Navy.
HMS Tireless underwent an extensive overhaul of her propulsion,weapons systems and sensors.She was deployed to the Middle East in 2010 for 11 months in support of British interests in the region.With 130 personnel,the refurbished Cold War era attack sub will use advanced sonar to add a new dimension to the search,and is already at work in the search area.
With 130 personnel,Tireless is 85.4 meters in length,and has a beam of 9.8 meters.She has a top speed of 32 knots.Her commanding officer is Commander Hywel Griffiths.Educated by the monks of Belmont Abbey,Hereford and in Sixth Form College,Winchester,he joined the RN in 1992 and had initial training appointments in HMS Brilliant,HMS Walney and HMS Avenger.CDR Griffiths volunteered for Service in submarines in 1994 and previously served in HMS Vengeance and HMS Talent,as well as in the Directorate of Navy Resources and Plans in the UK Ministry of Defence.He is a fan of the Welsh rugby team,as well as a surfer and a skier when he has the time.*
On the way to the Indian Ocean from Europe to aid in the search for the aircraft's black boxes and debris is the Royal Navy warship HMS Echo(H87),a multirole hydrographic survey ship that can collect an array of military hydrographic and oceanographic data,but is also equipped for mine warfare and amphibious operations.She carries a small detachment of Royal Marines,the RN says.The Echo packs an impressive array of force protection weapons while improving seafarers' charts for the UK Hydrographic Office.*
The search could drag on for a long time,warned retired Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston,head of the Joint Interagency Coordination Centre in Perth,Australia.It's not something that's going to be resolved in the next few weeks.Still,CNN Perth correspondent Kyung Lah described the search crews as being cheery and seeming to be on task.They are very determined.This is special to them as they all have families and can relate to the mission.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

US Pacific Command:Strategy and Assets

China is trying to change the balance of power in the Pacific,Admiral Samuel Locklear agreed,appearing before the Senate Armed Serrvices Committee on Tuesday.Their maritime strategy is pretty clear.It is an incremental strategy.They look at their strategy and the current situation in the South China Sea,and I believe they think they are on their strategy,said the admiral,who is Commander,US Pacific Command.
They watch very carefully the US;our alliances,the status of those alliances;our forces,the capability of our forces.I believe there is more defence spending than they report annually.I would agree that their actions have been provocative.*
The littoral combat ship has a shallow draft,has speed,has a small crew.It only meets a portion of what my requirements are.I'm still a supporter of the LCS and what it can do.If you talk about having a 320-325 ship navy,having 50-55 littoral combat ships makes sense;if you're talking about a smaller navy with budget constraints,the LCS doesn't make a lot of sense,and I can understand why it would be reduced.*
We are seeing a Chinese navy with a more global reach;more forward-deployed,longer deployments;out of area deployments by their submarines.As their economic interests grow,they need to protect those interests.Certainly they have a credible submarine force today.In the next decade or so,they'll have a modernised force of 50-60 submarines.That's a lot of submarines for a regional power.They also have sophisticated surface ships.Their missile technology is among the best in the world.*
We have had a good return of our Marines back to the Asia-Pacific.I have five Amphibious Ready Groups:four in San Diego;one in Sasebo,Japan.I have asked that additional amphibious lift be put into the Pacific.We wouldn't be able to do an opposed amphibious assault without it.*
My assessmet across the joint force is,we are where we need to be in detecting submarines.China's advances in nuclear technology will enable their acquiring a submarine-based nuclear deterrant by 2017.We still maintain a significant advantage in undersea warfare,and we need to maintain that.Submarines figure heavily into scenarios all the way from peace into contingency.They have a wide range of missions.These have been figured into the design of the future Virginia class attack submarine.*
I believe our industrial base is under pressure.We have to continually update that workforce.It has to be figured into the calculation of our national security strategy for the long term.*
Our first priority is to support General Scaparrotti in Korea and make sure Kim Jong Un is contained,then to support our alliances,maintain our parterships,maintain peace and stability.US military pressure has maintained the stability.We have a strategic partnership with Singapore-also partnerships with Malaysia,Indonesia and Brunei.
The Asia-Pacific has 50% of the world:17% of the land;83% of the water.Six out of ten people live on that 17%.Most of the global economy is generated there.We're a Pacific nation.Our economy is Pacific-centric.It's important that a peaceful,stable Pacific be maintained,according to Admiral Samuel J Locklear III of US Pacific Command.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

US Air Force Augments Baltic Presence

Over March 14-15,12 US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons plus a C-130 transport and about 200 support troops arrived at Lask Air Base near Lodz,Poland.The planes and personnel are with the 555th Fighter Squadron,31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base,Italy.They will be conducting an off-site exercise with the Polish air force to demonstrate US commitment to the NATO collective defence pact,Air Force News reported.
Lt.Col.John Peterson,Squadron Commander,said one of their objectives is to develop bonds so that if something happens,and we have to take action in a real world environment,you want to have trained together in advance.You want to develop those tactics,techniques and procedures before you're in a combat environment.Unless you figure out how to work together at a tactical level,from the Squadron Commander to the Junior Airman turning wrenches-you lose out on the opportunity to know each other's strengths and develop your weaknesses.
There is a permanent detachment of about 10 USAF personnel in Poland to act as a coordinating element for joint training between the US and its NATO ally Poland.Its aim is to remain ready to operate across the range of military operations with precise,full-spectrum capability.It was activated in November 2012 and makes it possible to host multiple allied air force elements,and serves as a regional hub for air training and multinational exercrises.
The current augmentation by the USAF with common assets-Poland has 48 of its own F-16 fighters-is seen as a milestone in the rotational deployment of US military resources in Poland since 2012.*
At the same time,another augmentation has occurred in the Baltic state of Lithuania with the deployment of six USAF F-15C Eagles and a KC-135 tanker,plus more than 60 airmen,from RAF Lakenheath,England to Siauliai Air Base at the request of the Baltic allies Lithuania,Latvia and Estonia.These countries lack their own air force and NATO sends aircraft to patrol their airspace on a rotational basis.The six F-15s are an augmentation of the current routine USAF deployment to Lithuania,which runs from January through April,when Poland will assume the patrols.
The Lithuanian defence ministry said the augmentation was in response to the Russian aggression in Ukraine and its amplified miltary activity in the Kaliningrad
region,Baltic News Service reported.Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite told journalists in Brussels that Russia was trying to redraw the boundaries,so first it's Ukraine;Moldova will be next;and,finally,it can reach the Baltic states.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered live fire exercises in Kaliningrad without following the standard protocol of notifying the nearby Baltic states and Poland or inviting international observers,according to Polish General Marek Dukaczewski.Kaliningrad is a Russian enclave bordering Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea.*
Another NATO ally,Turkey,which is across the Black Sea from Ukraine,has recently scrambled fighter jets to intercept Russian warplanes probing its air defences.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

US Forces Arriving in Eastern Europe

A constellation of US forces including the destroyer USS Truxtun(DDG 103),as well as US Air Force planes and troops,have begun arriving in Eastern Europe to conduct planned yet augmented exercises,as well as bolster NATO's presence in the face of the Russian invasion of Crimea,Ukraine.The Truxtun docked at Constanta,Romania on Saturday,March 8 prior to visiting the Bulgarian port of Varna.The US warship will be honing such interoperational skills as divisional tactics,passing and helicopter landings with the Romanian and Bulgarian navies.Black Sea exercises by the three NATO allies have been postponed by a day,however,because of poor weather in the western Black Sea.*
In 1988,two US Navy ships,the cruiser Yorktown and destroyer Caron,were slightly damaged when Russian warships sideswiped them in the Black Sea.The Russian navy is currently blockading Ukrainian navy warships in Crimea.*
Up to 30,000 Russian troops are in Crimea now.They have surrounded several Ukrainian military bases and demanded their surrender.As well,on Tuesday Russian troops seized the control tower of Crimea's main international airport,cancelling all flights except those to and from Russia.On Monday,Russian troops seized a Ukrainian missile base and military hospital.
The Ukrainian troops will not resist,acting Ukrainian President Oleksander Turchynov said,because Russia has massed tank divisions on Ukraine's eastern border,and would use resistance as an excuse to invade the Ukrainian mainland.*
Meanwhile,US Air Force assets began arriving in Lithuania last Thursday.Six F-15C Eagle fighters and a KC-135 tanker,along with more than 60 airmen from RAF Lakenheath,England have stepped up NATO's presence in the Baltic state,which is near Russia.NATO has also dispatched two AWACS reconnaisance aircraft to the area.*
The first of 12 US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons,two C-130s and more than 300 troops began arriving in Poland on Monday,the Polish Defence Ministry said.The rest will arrive later this week.There had already been an exercise planned before the Ukraine crisis,but not of this scope.
In April,three more C-130s and 100 airmen from Ramstein Air Base,Germany are scheduled to arrive for joint training with Polish forces,the US Air Force announced last week.

USS Truxtun (DDG 103) Arrives in Constanta, Romania

USS Truxtun (DDG 103) Arrives in Constanta, Romania

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Orion: Exploration Flight Test-1 Animation (with narration by Jay Estes)

NASA To Hold Asteroid Initiative Forum

NASA is moving its Asteroid Initiative forward by holding an Asteroid Intiative Opportunities Forum on March 26 at NASA Headquarters in Washington,DC.The Forum will gather industry,academia and interested individuals for an update on Asteroid Redirect Mission studies,and summarise how responses to NASA's 2013 Request For Information will benefit the program.*
The two-part Asteroid Intitiative consists,first,of the deep space Asteroid Redirect Mission,which will send a robotic spacecraft to capture a near-earth asteroid or remove a boulder from a larger asteroid,then redirect the object to a stable lunar orbit for rendevous with a manned Orion spacecraft.At that point,Orion astronauts will remove samples from the captured object and carry them back to earth for study.It may be the farthest from earth that humans have ever ventured,and will in any case be an interim step to a Mars mission.*
The March 26 Forum will seek ideas for alternate capture system concepts;rendevous sensor systems;secondary payloads;feasibility studies on adapting commercial spacecraft buses for the mission;and commercial and international partnership opportunities for the mission.*
The second part of the Asteroid Initiative is The Grand Asteroid Challenge,which seeks the best ideas for finding all asteroids that threaten humanity,and accelerating NASA'a existing work on planetary defence.*
The Orion spacecraft is scheduled to undergo its first unmanned flight test,Exploration Flight Test-1,in September 2014.It will be launched on a Delta IV Heavy rocket.The Orion and its service module will reach a distance ten times farther than low-earth orbit.The Orion will then jettison the SM and return to earth,spalshing down in the ocean and being retrieved by a US Navy ship with a well deck.The test will evaluate Orion's heat shield and parachute systems,as well as capsule recovery procedures,in preparation for manned missions atop the new Space Launch System deep space rocket.Lockheed Martin is prime contractor for the Orion spacecraft.*
Lockheed Martin(LMT)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The DOD Budget:Hard Times,Tough Decisions

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel presented the Pentagon's 2015 budget request to the media Monday.Next week,he will go before Congress with the plan.The proposal would shrink spending by more than 75 billion dollars over the next two years,in line with the recent agreement between Congress and the President to limit defence spending to 446 billion dollars over the next two years,cutting the Army by about 80,000 troops from 520,000 today to around 440,000.The Army National Guard and Reserve would take a 5% cut.Not since before World War II has the Army been this small.*
As we end our combat mission in Afghanistan,this will be the first budget that reflects that,Mr.Hagel said,in a world that is growing more volatile,more unpredictable,and in some ways more threatening to the United States.It is guided by an updated defence strategy focused on defending the homeland against all strategic threats.The Department of Defense will continue to shift its forces and focus to the Pacific and maintain its alliances.We must now adapt,innovate and make difficult decisions.*
As a result of large budget cuts,our future force will face additional risk.We chose to terminate or delay some modernisation programs.On March 1,2013,sequestration set in,costing us 37 billion last fiscal year on top of 487 billion in cuts required by a previous act.Two months ago,Congress provided some relief through 2015,but defence spending remains below the President's requests.
While DOD welcomes the measure of relief and stability,it still forces us to cut more than 75 billion dollars,and sequestration remains the law for 2016 and beyond.The military still faces significant modernisation and readiness challenges.Continued sequestration cuts would compromise our national security both over the short and the long term.It would result in a force that is not ready.The resulting force would be too small to implement the President's defence strategy.The proposal balances our national security with the need to be realistic about the budget.
We first focused on management costs.We are paring back contract spending.We cannot achieve our goals without another round of BRAC-base realignment and closure-for 2017.If Congress continues to block this,we will continue to reduce overhead,but this will not be enough.We have to carefully examine our force structure.Our recommendations favour a smaller and more capable force.They have preserved all three legs of the nuclear triad.The forces can project power over great distances and are well-suited to the strategy of rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region.Special Operations forces for counterterrorism will grow to 69,700 personnel from 66,000 today.*
For the Air Force,we have protected the new bomber,the Joint Strike Fighter and the new refueling tanker.We will also ensure a robust and strong industrial base.We will retire the A-10 fleet,replacing them with the F-35 in the early 2020s.The A-10 cannot survive with more advanced air defence,and its age makes it more difficult to maintain.The Air Force will also retire the 50 year-old U-2 in favour of the unmanned Global Hawk.With its greater range and endurance,it is more effective.
If sequestration is reimposed,the Air Force will have to retire 80 more aircraft and slow down the JSF purchase,as well as take deep cuts to flying hours.*
The proposal will enable the Navy to maintain 11 carrier strike groups.If sequestration remains in 2016,the George Washington will have to be retired before its nuclear refueling.Under the proposal,half of the cruiser fleet will be laid up and modernised for greater capability and lifespan.Two destroyers and one attack submarine a year will continue to be produced.
As for the littoral combat ship,it will be capped at 32 ships instead of 52.I am concerned the Navy is relying too heavily on it.We need to closely examine whether it can operate and survive on its own.It would represent one-sixth of our Navy.We must have platforms that will operate in all environments.I have directed the Navy to design a new frigate/small surface combatant.*
The Marine Corps will draw down to 182,000 from 190,000.If sequstration resumes,it will have to go down to 175,000.We will devote about 900 Marines to embassy security.
The Army will terminate the ground combat vehicle program.I have directed the Army and Marine Corps for more realistic recommendations.
This force would be decisively able to prevail in a ground combat theatre,while actively supporting the Navy and Air Force in another theatre,Secretary Hagel promised.*
In sum,the proposed force would be able to fight 1.5 wars simaltaneously.The Air Force will retire its A-10 ground attack planes and U-2,but preserve its major fighter,bomber and tanker buys,as well as the Global Hawk unmanned surveillance aircraft.The Navy will keep 11 carrier strike groups,cut the littoral combat ship from 52 to 32,modernise its cruisers,and keep building two destroyers and one attack submarine a year,while also designing a new frigate/small surface comabatant.All three legs of the nuclear deterrant will be preserved:sea,air and land.Special Ops forces will grow,but the conventional Army and Marine Corps units will shrink.
As always,Congress must approve this proposed budget,which will probably not happen in total.More likely,bits and pieces of it will be approved over time with modifications.The rest will be delayed or abandoned.One thing is sure:the military will be changed over the next few years as the Afghan War ends and budget cuts are imposed.The question is,how orderly this will be,and hence how much damage will be done to national security.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

USS Donald Cook Reaches New Home

After departing from Norfolk,Virginia on 31 January,the guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook(DDG 71) arrived at its new homeport of Rota,Spain on 11 February.The ship is the first of four US Navy destroyers that are being moved to Rota.The USS Ross will follow later in 2014,and the USS Carney and USS Porter in 2015.
These warships have been or will be modified for ballistic missile defence,armed with SM-3 missiles that,together with the shipboard Aegis defence system,can detect,seek and destroy certain types of short and medium range ballistic missiles.A total of 18 Arleigh Burke class destroyers were initially selected for the modification,and more are expected to follow.*
The SM-3 was developed by the Missile Defense Agency from the SM-2 ER Block IV missile for sea-based defence against ballistic missiles in midcourse flight.The upgrade consists of a third stage;a GPS/inertial guidance system;and a Boeing kinetic warhead.
Besides destroyers,the SM-3 will be deployed on guided missile cruisers and Japanese destroyers.A version will also be deployed to European land bases.The SM-3 has intercepted and destroyed several test targets.
The Arleigh Burke class destroyers are also armed with Harpoon and Tomahawk missiles,5-inch guns and torpedoes.*