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.