The Air Force's new tanker has another big problem - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem

The Air Force’s and Boeing’s development of the new KC-46A Pegasus tanker has been waylaid by cost overruns and operational issues over the past several years.


Officials from the Air Force and Boeing have said that significant lingering problems, like contact between the KC-46’s refueling boom and the receiving aircraft during refueling, are expected to be resolved this year, ahead of Boeing’s October deadline to deliver 18 of the new tankers.

However, a report from the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation has cautioned that while the KC-46’s most important systems could operate under EMP conditions, its operational capabilities in such a scenario have not been fully tested.

“While testing indicated the KC-46A flight-critical systems and boom refueling systems are likely survivable to the 6 decibel (dB) contractual requirement, the Program Office approved verification plan did not demonstrate the residual KC-46A mission systems capability during such an event,” according to the report, which covers fiscal year 2017 and was released last week.

“The program uninstalled or deactivated multiple mission-critical systems prior to testing and, therefore, their EMP tolerance was not tested on an aircraft in a mission-representative configuration,” the DOTE report said. “The program pre-deployed the refueling boom with hydraulics deactivated for the EMP test and therefore the capability to deliver fuel during or immediately following the EMP event was not tested.”

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem
A KC-46 Pegasus refuels an A-10 Thunderbolt II, July 15, 2016. (Boeing photo by John D. Parker)

The KC-46 underwent EMP testing in July at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland and at Edwards Air Force Base in California. During the testing in Maryland, the plane received pulses from “a large coil/transformer” above the aircraft, designed to evaluate its “ability to safely operate through electromagnetic fields … under mission conditions,” Boeing said at the time.

The DOET report said no tests were conducted with all flight and mission systems activated — a step required to fully test the aircraft under EMP conditions. But representatives from the Air Force and Boeing said the KC-46 had proven its EMP functionality as mandated by its test plan.

Air Force spokesman Maj. Emily Grabowski told Inside Defense that mission-critical systems has passed testing and that the systems the DOTE report highlighted are “non-critical.” Grabowski added that, overall, the KC-46 met system specifications and that the Air Force was working with DOTE to “reconcile” concerns raised in the report.

Related: Mattis warns he will not accept the USAF’s flawed new tankers

Charles Ramsey, a spokesman for Boeing, said EMP testing was conducted according to the Air Force’s test plan and that systems designated critical by that plan showed their functionality on a subsequent flight. “There are no EMP issues on the KC-46,” he told Inside Defense.

The Air Force is planning two tests related to nuclear threats during fiscal year 2018, which began in October and ends in September. One will evaluate the KC-46s ability to launch and fly a safe distance from a simulated nuclear attack on its base, and the other will test the tanker’s “inherent nuclear hardness” to blast, radiation, flash, thermal, and EMP effects, according to the DOTE report.

The DOTE report also notes that the KC-46 contract was awarded with a six-decibel threshold for the aircraft — a standard that the aircraft met during testing in July. However, after the contract was signed, the US military imposed a new 20-decibel standard tanker aircraft.

Without further testing, the report says, the Air Force and US Strategic Command will not know if the tanker meets that new requirement. “The Air Force should re-test the KC-46A in an operationally representative condition to determine the actual EMP design margin,” the report concludes.

‘They’re going to clear out pretty quick’

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem
The KC-46A Pegasus deploys its centerline drogue system, October 8, 2015. (Boeing photo by John D. Parker)

In December, the FAA granted Boeing an amended type certificate for the Boeing 767-2C, which is the baseline aircraft for the KC-46. The firm still needs to get an FAA supplemental type certificates for the military and aerial-refueling systems needed so the 767-2C can function as a KC-46. Additional tests are expected during the final review process.

The Air Force currently expects to receive the first operational KC-46s by late spring. Air Force Gen. Carlton Everhart, chief of Air Mobility Command, told Air Force Times in December that once testing is finished and the new tankers star arriving, he expects “they’re going to clear out pretty quick” to Air Force bases.

Boeing won the KC-46 program contract 2011, and the Air Force plans to buy 179 KC-46s under the $44.5 billion program. As a part of the contract, Boeing is responsible for costs beyond the Air Force’s $4.82 billion commitment, and as of late 2017, the defense contractor had taken on about $2.9 billion in pretax costs.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has had limited involvement in Pentagon weapons programs, but he issued a stark warning to acquisition officials in November, saying he was “unwilling (totally)” to accept flawed KC-46 tankers.

Articles

Army chief sees no future for FOBBITs

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley warned his officer corps they shouldn’t expect the comforting conditions of bases in Iraq and Afghanistan in future conflicts, according to a Thursday speech in Washington, D.C.


Milley emphasized that future wars against enemies with similar technological capabilities won’t have many of the creature comforts of the forward operating bases in the Middle Eastern wars.

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem
Soldiers and contractors wait on a Popeyes line after the grand opening of the South Park food court July 4, 2012 at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. The Army’s hard-charging chief of staff says future wars won’t feature amenities like Burger King, Popeyes, Pizza Hut, and a Village Cuisine. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Gregory Williams)

“There’s an entire generation of officers now that think — their own experience in combat is to fight from Victory base, or Bagram base, or fixed sites, where you have access to a variety of comfort items, if you will. Pizza Huts and Burger Kings and stuff like that,” he stated.

Milley continued that it was unlikely future wars would entail soldiers being on a base for a protracted period of time saying, “The likelihood of massing forces on a base for any length of time certainly means you’re going to be dead. If you’re stationary, you’ll die.”

He added, “we have got to condition ourselves to operate — untether ourselves from this umbilical cord of logistics and supply that American forces have enjoyed for a long time.”

Milley added that a plus side of this new type of combat will grant more autonomy to troops in the field, saying, “A subordinate needs to understand that they have the power and they have the freedom to disobey a specific order, a specified task, in order to accomplish the purpose.”

He explained, “If you knowingly walk over the abyss because you’re following this task and this task and this task, but you don’t achieve the purpose, you’re going to get fired.”

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Articles

The 5 weirdest books on Osama Bin Laden’s bookshelf

On 1 May 2011, the President of the United States announced the death of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.  On 20 May 2015, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced the release of a partial list of documents, software, books and other material recovered from the residence where Osama Bin Laden (UBL) was killed.   There was the expected collection of Jihadist letters and propaganda which one would typically find in the hands of guys like UBL.  However, there were some unexpected things on that list.  I typically advise against judging people solely off their book collections – I know I have some really off the beaten titles in my collection – but UBL had some real oddities in his library.  Below are the five oddest things in his collection with some brief comments.


Related: 7 amazing and surreal details of the Osama bin Laden raid

1)  ‘Bloodlines of the Illuminati’ by Fritz Springmeier: This is definitely my favorite book of UBL’s collection. The author dropped out of West Point in his second year (Senator Bob Dole gave him his appointment), went to a Bible College in Ohio, and has been peddling conspiracy theories ever since. This book, in its third edition due to its popularity in Japan of all places, accuses the Illuminati of pretty much everything.  The Catholic Church, the Jews, Salvation Army, Robert E Lee and Walt Disney are all part of the Illuminati conspiracy – best part is the chapter on how Prince Charles is a vampire!  I have this mental image of UBL in his underwear smoking some really powerful mutant kush from Waziristan while eating this book up.

2)  ‘Grapplers Guide to Sports Nutrition‘ by Dr. John Berardi: It is a damn shame that UBL never realized his dream of becoming a world champion Cage Fighter. I would have paid a year’s wage to see Rhonda Rousey and UBL in the Octagon.  It would have been poetic.

3)  ‘Delta Force Xtreme 2 Game Guide’ by Novalogic: It is clear from the 2/5 score on metacritic that UBL’s taste in video games sucked. Plus, come on dude, only sixty year old losers and twelve year boys buy the strategy guides for games.  It would be major cool points if had been playing Sony’s SOCOM: US NAVY SEALS video game series.  You couldn’t buy that kind of irony.

4)  “Website Claims Steve Jackson Games Foretold 9/11”: Okay, this one is actually kind of scary. Steve Jackson games, one of the more popular table top game companies, game out with…wait for it…the Illuminati Card Game!  One of the playing cards in the 1995 edition bears a really eerie resemblance to a certain event which happened six years later.  Coincidence?

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem

5)  U.S. State Department Form, Application for Passport: We could have made it really easy guys…just saying.

Bonus:  ‘Lots of Porn’ (Not in the ODNI list, but come on, you know it was there):  Anybody that ever interacted with the Iraqi or Afghan security forces or checked out stuff found on terrorists and insurgents we captured knows that Middle-Eastern men are world class porn-hounds.  I am not even joking; every single guy I talked to over there would eventually feel compelled to shove a cell phone in my face with some utterly raw video where you just feel really bad for the people involved.  The not so weird thing was the more religiously devout the guy was, the more deviant the material.  I imagine that UBL’s collection wasn’t good clean wholesome American stuff.  Instead, it was probably the nasty Eastern European industrial porn – the kind where you have the sit in the shower with your clothes on for four hours, sobbing bitterly under the water while listening to Natalie Merchant albums till you feel better.

Tell me I’m wrong.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

This toddler’s White House briefing on COVID-19 is the best thing you’ll see today

With an abundance of data points on COVID-19 — the news, your friend from high school who has turned into a respiratory and infectious disease expert on social media despite never going to med school, your family, your neighbors, that group text — it’s difficult to discern what is relevant and what is truthful.

Finally, here’s one source that absolutely nails it. Three-year-old toddler “Dr. Big Sister” Hannah Curtis delivers a spot on briefing from her very own White House.



Articles

This makeshift armored vehicle is actually an ISIS suicide bomb truck

As anti-ISIS forces retake Mosul and march on Raqqa, more and more of the terror group’s mystique is falling away. It’s hard to be the international bogeyman when your forces are suffering defeats across your caliphate.


The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem
Not pictured: ISIS victories. (Photo: CJTF Operation Inherent Resolve YouTube)

But one of ISIS’s most prominent battlefield weapons is still deadly frightening, the armored vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. While VBIEDs were already common in Iraq and Afghanistan, ISIS upped the ante by creating especially effective armored versions and then employing them like artillery — softening their enemy’s lines and breaking up attacks.

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem
A captured ISIS vehicle-borne improvised explosive device is displayed where it is held by the Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq. (Photo: YouTube/ Sky News)

For the Iraqi Army, the Kurdish Peshmerga, and other anti-ISIS forces, understanding these weapons is a matter of life or death. But typically, the weapons are destroyed before they can be captured, either because the soldiers hit it with a rocket, tank, or artillery round, or because the operator triggers his explosive cargo.

This makes it relatively rare that a suicide vehicle is captured intact. But there have been a few, and Sky News got the chance to tour one of these captured vehicles during the Iraqi military’s initial punch into Mosul.

The vehicle, captured by Kurdish Peshmerga, had been heavily modified with the removal of any unnecessary weight, the addition of thick, heavy armor, and the installation of a massive amount of explosives.

See the full tour of the vehicle in the video below:

MIGHTY TRENDING

US Navy submarines now are deploying with new ‘low-yield’ nuclear weapons

US Navy ballistic missile submarines — boomers — are now sailing with ballistic missiles armed with new “low-yield” nuclear weapons, the Department of Defense announced Tuesday.


“The U.S. Navy has fielded the W76-2 low-yield submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) warhead,” John Rood, under secretary of defense for policy, said in a statement.

“This supplemental capability strengthens deterrence and provides the United States a prompt, more survivable low-yield strategic weapon,” he said.

Rood, who told the Associated Press that these new weapons lower the risk of nuclear war, added that it “demonstrates to potential adversaries that there is no advantage to limited nuclear employment because the United States can credibly and decisively respond to any threat scenario.”

The fielding of the new low-yield nuclear warheads, which arm submarine-launched Trident II missiles, was first reported by the Federation of American Scientists, which explained that each W76-2 has an explosive yield of about five kilotons, significantly smaller than the 90-kiloton W76-1 or the larger, 455-kiloton W88.

For comparison, the W76-2 has a smaller explosive yield than either of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki — which together killed hundreds of thousands of people.

It is unclear exactly when and on which vessels the new “low-yield” nuclear weapons were deployed, but FAS, citing unnamed sources, reports the new weapons may have been deployed aboard the US Navy Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) USS Tennessee, which set out on an Atlantic deployment at the end of last year.

The W76-2 is a product of the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review.

“DoD and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will develop for deployment a low-yield SLBM warhead to ensure a prompt response option that is able to penetrate adversary defenses,” the review explained.

“This is a comparatively low-cost and near term modification to an existing capability that will help counter any mistaken perception of an exploitable ‘gap’ in U.S. regional deterrence capabilities.”

Production of the new warheads began in January 2019 at the Pantax Plant in Texas.

While the Department of Defense argues in favor of the new weapons, many arms control experts argue that low-yield nuclear weapons lowers the barrier to entry into nuclear-armed conflict, thus increasing the risk of a conflict escalating to a full-scale nuclear war.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How the Marines would stomp the Russians in the Arctic

About 90 Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Lejeune carried out a mock air assault in Iceland in October 2018 as part of the initial phase of NATO’s largest war games since the end of the Cold War.

The NATO war games, called Trident Juncture 2018, will begin on Oct. 25, 2018, in Norway and include more than 50,000 troops from 31 countries.

According to NATO, the purpose of Trident Juncture is “to ensure that NATO forces are trained, able to operate together, and ready to respond to any threat from any direction.”


But the war games are also largely seen, by the East and West, as de facto training for a fight with Russia.

Along with the carrier USS Harry S. Truman, the US has sent about 14,000 troops to the games, and the initial mock air assault was to help prepare Marines for a large-scale amphibious assault to be carried later in Norway.

But that’s not all the Marines did.

Here’s how they trained in Iceland for a potential cold-weather fight with Russia.

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem

Marines load onto a CH-53E Sea Stallion aboard USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) while conducting an air assault in Icelandic terrain on Oct. 17, 2018.

(Photo by US Marine Corps)

The 90 US Marines aboard the USS Iwo Jima were first loaded onto MV-22 Ospreys and CH-53 Sea Stallions.

Source: US Marine Corps

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem

A V-22 Osprey departs from USS Iwo Jima for an air assault in Icelandic terrain on Oct. 17, 2018.

(Photo by US Marine Corps)

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem

A US Marine posts security at Keflavik Air Base in Iceland on Oct. 17, 2018.

(Photo by US Marine Corps)

Where they set up a security post.

Source: US Marine Corps

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem

US Marines post security at Keflavik Air Base in Iceland on Oct. 17, 2018.

(Photo by US Marine Corps)

“During the air assault we landed on an airfield and immediately set up security which allowed for the aircraft to leave safely,” Cpl. Mitchell Edds said.

Source: US Marine Corps

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem

A US Marine aims his weapon while posting security during a mock air assault in Iceland.

(Photo by US Marine Corps)

“We then conducted a movement to a compound where Marines set up security to allow U.S and Icelandic coordination,” Edds said.

Source: US Marine Corps

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem

US Marines hike to a cold-weather training site in Iceland on Oct. 19, 2018.

(Photo by US Marine Corps)

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem

A Marine adjusts a fellow Marine’s gear as they prepare to move for a cold-weather training hike in Iceland on Oct. 19, 2018.

(Photo by US Marine Corps)

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem

Cold-weather insulated boots used by US Marines in Iceland on Oct. 19, 2018.

(Photo by US Marine Corps)

In fact, they appear to have tried out their new cold-weather boots, which were just issued by the Corps.

Source: US Marines

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem

US Marines overlook a training area from a hill in Iceland on Oct. 19, 2018.

(Photo by US Marine Corps)

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem

US Marines set up camp during cold-weather training in Iceland in October 2018.

(Photo by US Marine Corps)

Where they began setting up camp.

Source: US Marine Corps

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem

US Marines set up tents in Iceland in October 2018.

(Photo by US Marine Corps)

“We’re just getting the gear out — the tents, stoves and stuff like that, making sure we know how to use it … and making sure we know how to use it before we get to Norway,” one US Marine said.

Business Insider contacted the US Marine Corps to find out more about the cold-weather training they conducted, but the Corps did not immediately respond.

Source: US Marine Corps

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This wounded sailor earned herself 8 gold medals

On August 5, 2014, Master Chief Raina Hockenberry, 41, was a senior chief midway through a deployment in Afghanistan. She was helping train Afghan forces. While leaving an Afghan military camp in Kabul, a rogue Afghan gunman opened fire. Hockenberry sustained bullet wounds in her stomach, groin, and tibia. This is where the story could’ve ended Hockenberry’s military career. But Hockenberry’s running life theme is never giving up.


The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem

Hockenberry celebrates after winning gold in the 50 meter freestyle at the 2018 DoD Warrior Games.

(Master Sgt. Stephen D. Schester)

According to The Navy Times, while she recovered at Walter Reed medical center she immediately asked for a laptop so she could continue to contribute.

“Being in the hospital, you’re a patient and you lose who you are. That laptop was huge. It gave me my identity back. It gave me something to focus on. I was useful again.” Hockenberry said, “My identity was Senior Chief Hockenberry.”

Hockenberry doesn’t take all the credit for staying engaged during the early stages of her recovery process. She extended her gratitude to the junior enlisted service members surrounding her at Walter Reed, “Every time I wanted to quit, there always seemed to be some junior sailor popping in saying, ‘Hey senior, you going to PT?”

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem

One of the injuries sustained by Hockenberry.

(Dennis Oda/The Star)

Despite the complications from her injuries sustained in battle, Hockenberry takes part (and kicks ass) in multiple athletic competitions. Such as the Invictus Games, or the Warrior Games (a competition for wounded, sick, or injured troops). Just last year she set 4 new swimming records en route to 8 gold medals in the latter.

She will be returning with high hopes again this year.

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem

Hockenberry receiving the George Van Cleave Military Leadership Award at 53rd USO Armed Forces Gala.

(Senior Chief Petty Officer Michael Lewis)

Nowadays, when Hockenberry isn’t dominating the Warrior Games, she serves on board of the USS Port Royal, in Hawaii—and she’s grateful to be back.

“Today, I’m just another sailor,” She added, “Granted, I’m a master chief and that’s awesome, but I do drill, I do general quarters, I’m up and down ladder wells. I do what every other sailor does.”

Hockenberry serves as a beacon for other service-members who are battling injuries every single day. Hockenberry’s advice is simple, “You’ve got to fight for what you want,” she said. “If you really want it, there’s so many in the Navy who will help you, you just have to ask.”

She acknowledges the road to recovery is not linear, and that while injuries change how you interact with the world, they do not define the afflicted, “”You don’t have to be perfect. I don’t walk perfect, I sure don’t swim perfect. But that’s okay […] The four gentlemen I went with have all been through the gamut and now have productive lives. It’s just an injury. It’s not your life.”

Hockenberry set up “Operation Proper Exit” in 2016 as a way to bring soldiers wounded in action back to the place where they sustained their injuries, in order to give soldiers proper closure.

Hockenberry will be honored as the Sailor of the Year at the Service Members of the Year ceremony on July 10th.

Articles

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block

Even though President Donald Trump’s defense budget is committed to keeping the A-10 Thunderbolt II attack plane, as many as three squadrons could still be shut down.


According to a report in DefenseNews.com, the Air Force says that unless funding to produce more new wings for the A-10 is provided, three of the nine squadrons currently in service will have to be shut down due to fatigue issues in their wings. Re-winged A-10s have a projected service life into the 2030s.

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem
A U.S. Air Force A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II from the 355th Fighter Squadron is surrounded by a cloud of gun smoke as it fires a 30mm GAU-8 Avenger Gatling gun over the Pacific Alaska Range Complex in Alaska on May 29, 2007. (DoD photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Snyder)

“We’re working on a long-term beddown plan for how we can replace older airplanes as the F-35 comes on, and we’ll work through to figure out how we’re going to address those A-10s that will run out of service life on their wings,” Gen. Mike Holmes, the commander of Air Combat Command told DefenseNews.com.

Presently, only 173 wing kits have been ordered by the Air Force, with an option for 69 more. The Air Force currently had 283 A-10s in service, but some may need to be retired when the wings end their service lives.

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Trevor T. McBride

The A-10 has a number of supporters in Congress, notably Rep. Martha McSally, who piloted that plane during her career in the Air Force. In the defense authorization bill for Fiscal Year 2017, Congress mandated that at least 171 A-10s be kept in service to maintain a close-air-support capability.

According to MilitaryFactory.com, the A-10 was originally designed to bust enemy tanks, and was given the 30mm GAU-8 gatling gun with 1,174 rounds. It can also carry up to eight tons of bombs, rockets, missiles and external fuel tanks.

Fully 356 Thunderbolts were upgraded to the A-10C version, which has been equipped with modern precision-guided bombs like the Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM. A total of 713 A-10s were built between 1975 and 1984.

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Homecoming’ season 2 continues the dark military conspiracy thriller

This article contains spoilers for Season one of Homecoming. You have been warned.

The second season of Homecoming is live on Amazon Prime Video. A psychological thriller based on the podcast of the same name, Homecoming unravels a conspiracy around an organization that ostensibly exists to help military veterans transition to civilian life but in reality was designed to make warriors forget their trauma so they’d be willing to reenlist.


In the first season, Julia Roberts played a character named Heidi Bergman, a therapist working for the Homecoming Transitional Support Center. The season followed two timelines: one in 2018, where Heidi worked with veterans at homecoming; the other in 2022, where Heidi couldn’t remember the details of her previous job and worked to unravel the mystery of what really happened there.

Season two begins with another mystery, as lead actress Janelle Monáe wakes up adrift in a rowboat with no memory of how she got there or who she is. Here’s the trailer:

HOMECOMING | Trailer – New Mystery on Prime Video May 22, 2020

www.youtube.com

“I knew something was wrong with me, but I couldn’t explain it to anyone. It was like the people around me were keeping a secret,” her character shares. As images of the red fruit from season one — which was responsible for the characters’ memory loss — flood the trailer, Monáe uncovers an image of herself in uniform.

“What was I doing? Why was I there?” Monáe asks Hong Chau’s Audrey Temple, who appeared as an assistant in season one until she forced her boss to confess to Homecoming’s dark purpose.

“It’s complicated,” replied Chau.

What makes conspiracy stories – especially military conspiracy stories — so compelling is that they are uncomfortably conceivable. Service members are expected to color inside the lines and follow orders without question. The conflicts they fight in, the targets they neutralize, the people they kill are all ordered by someone above them they hope they can trust.

What if that trust is shattered?

MIGHTY TRENDING

Belarusian president praises US, derides plans for Russian base

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has said that the U.S. “military and political role” in Europe is crucial to regional security and emphasized that he does not want a Russian military base in his country.

Lukashenka, who frequently mixes praise and criticism of both the West and Belarus’s giant eastern neighbor, Russia, was speaking to a group of U.S. experts and analysts in Minsk on Nov. 6, 2018.

“The Belarusian armed forces are capable of providing security and performing their duties much better than any other country, including the Russian Federation,” Lukashenka said.


“That is why today I see no need to invite some other countries, including Russia, to the territory of Belarus, to perform our duties. That is why we are absolutely against having foreign military bases, especially military air bases,” he said.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced plans to station warplanes in Belarus in 2013, but they have not been deployed and the issue remains under discussion.

In January 2018, media reports in Russia and Belarus said that a Russian Air Force regiment that Moscow had planned to station in Belarus would instead be located in Russia’s western exclave of Kaliningrad.

Lukashenka told his audience that Belarus was “a European country” that is interested in “a strong and united Europe,” adding that Europe today is “a major pillar of our planet.”

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

“God forbid somebody ruins it…. We are certain that regional security [in Europe] depends on the cohesion of the region’s states and preservation of the United States’ military and political role in the European arena,” Lukashenka said.

“Belarus is eager to build an equal dialogue with all sides via reinstating normal ties with the United States, supporting good neighborly ties with the European Union, and widening partnership with NATO,” he said. “We support more openness and development of mutual understanding in order to strengthen regional security.”

An authoritarian leader who has ruled Belarus since 1994, Lukashenka has sought to strike a balance between Russia, which he depicts as both an ally and a threat, and the EU and NATO to the west. He has stepped up his emphasis on Belarusian sovereignty and expressions of concern about Moscow’s intentions since Russia seized Crimea and backed armed separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

The EU eased sanctions against Belarus in 2016 after the release of several people considered political prisoners, but has criticized Lukashenka’s government for a violent clampdown on demonstrators protesting an unemployment tax in March 2017.

Belarus and Russia are joined in a union state that exists mainly on paper, and their militaries have close ties — though Lukashenka has resisted Russian efforts to beef up its military presence in Belarus, which lies between Russia and the NATO states.

The countries have held joint military exercises including the major Zapad-2017 (West-2017) war games.

Belarus is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EES) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, regional groupings observers say Russian President Vladimir Putin uses to seek to bolster Moscow’s influence in the former Soviet Union and counter the EU and NATO.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China likely has a new bomber, tipping South China Sea

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force (PLANAF) appears to have a new bomber in its ranks, and it could boost China’s military strength in disputed waterways.

Satellite images of the PLANAF base at Guiping-Mengshu in Guangxi Province, China show what observers suspect are Xian H-6J bombers, new naval variants of the upgraded H-6Ks that have been in service with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) since 2011, IHS Janes first reported Oct. 11, 2018.

The H-6Js are expected to replace the H-6G maritime striker bombers first fielded in the 1990s, The Diplomat reported Oct. 12, 2018.


The new bombers are believed to carry three times as many anti-ship missiles as their predecessor, with experts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Missile Defense Project predicting that the new aircraft will be paired with the YJ-12 anti-ship cruise missile, which can cover roughly 400 km in about six minutes.

The Chinese PLAN has at times found itself in tense showdowns with the US military. When the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur conducted a freedom-of-navigation operation near Chinese military outposts in the Spratly Islands in early October 2018, the Chinese navy dispatched the Type 052C Luyang II-class guided-missile destroyer Lanzhou to confront the American warship.

The PLANAF H-6Js would give China extra firepower in any potential conflict. The H-6Js are also thought to have a greater range of about 3,500 kilometers, allowing these aircraft to patrol almost all of the South China Sea with mid-air refueling.

The satellite photos, taken on Sept. 7, 2018, appeared on Twitter around the start of October 2018.

The PLANAF appears to have at least four H-6Js in its arsenal, but it will presumably want to establish a full regiment, The Diplomat explained.

Chinese bombers have been increasingly active above contested waterways, such as the East and South China Seas, in recent years, according to a 2018 Department of Defense report on China’s military power.

“The PLA has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against US and allied targets,” the report said. In 2017, the PLA flew a dozen operational flights through the Sea of Japan, into the Western Pacific, around Taiwan, and over the East and South China Seas — all potential regional flash points.

In recent months, the US military has been putting pressure on China with regular B-52H Stratofortress heavy long-range bomber flights through the East and South China Seas, with the most recent occurring in October 2018.

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem

A B-52 Stratofortress.

(Photo by Airman 1st Class Victor J. Caputo)

“One US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bomber, deployed to the 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, conducted a routine training mission Oct. 10, 2018,” Pacific Air Forces told Business Insider on Oct. 12, 2018. “The bomber integrated with four Koku Jieitai (Japan Air Self-Defense Force) F-15Js in the vicinity of the East China Sea before returning to Guam.”

China has previously characterized these types of flights as “provocative,” criticizing the US for its repeated flybys in August and September 2018.

The recent flight, like the many others before it, was in support of US Indo-Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence operations, which are intended to send a deterrence message to any and all potential challengers.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

North Korea offered to give up this threat to 9 million people

North Korean diplomats talking to South Korean officials in the demilitarized border zone between the two countries reportedly offered to remove the North’s long-range artillery guns, which have been a dagger pointed at Seoul’s throat for decades.

Before North Korea tested its first nuclear weapon, before it even built its first facility to create fissile material, its artillery had established a strong deterrent against South Korea and the US.


North Korea is estimated to have thousands of massive artillery guns hidden in hardened shelters among the hills and mountains of the country’s rugged terrain. Artillery batteries located within range of the South Korean capital of Seoul could kill tens of thousands of people every hour if war were to break out.

Accounts in South Korean media differ over who exactly proposed the latest measure, but it came at a general-level military dialogue, which hadn’t happened for over a decade before.

The two nations, still technically at war after signing an armistice in the 1950s, met under the banner of “practically eliminate the danger of war,” as South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to do on April 27, 2018, during their historic first summit.

Not nuclear, but not nothing

The Air Force’s new tanker has another big problem
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un providing guidance on a nuclear weapons program in an undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang on September 3, 2017.

North Korea’s artillery guns have little to do with its nuclear weapons program, the elimination of which is the stated purpose of all recent North Korean diplomacy.

But the guns represent a substantial part of North Korea’s threat to Seoul, perhaps acting as the main deterrent holding off a US or South Korean invasion during the multidecade military standoff.

Precisely because the artillery is so formidable, expect to see North Korea ask for something in return. Kim could ask for a withdrawal of or a reduction in US forces in South Korea — a longstanding goal in Pyongyang. Roughly 28,000 US troops are stationed in South Korea as a deterrent.

Experts assess that any steps made to wither the US-South Korean alliance could precipitate the decline of the US as a power in Asia and then the world.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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