US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles

In late November, a missile fired by Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen came streaking through the sky toward the airport in Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh.


The Saudis spotted the incoming fire and shot off five missile interceptors from a US-supplied missile defense system to stop the threat, they say.

“Our system knocked the missile out of the air,” U.S. President Donald Trump later said of the incident. “That’s how good we are. Nobody makes what we make, and now we’re selling it all over the world.”

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles
A PATRIOT Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement advanced missile defense system launches during a recent ballistic missile target test. (Photo from U.S. Army.)

But a new analysis by The New York Times suggests that the missile’s failure to hit its target was a fluke and that the missile interceptors all missed.

Essentially, the analysis says that the parts of the Houthi-fired missile that crashed in Saudi Arabia indicate that the interceptors, fired from a Patriot Advanced Capability 3 system, did not hit the warhead as they were supposed to.

Instead, an interceptor probably hit a part of the missile tube that had detached from the warhead, The Times found. The warhead most likely continued to travel, unimpeded, to where it blew up outside the airport. Witnesses reported hearing the explosion, and satellite imagery uncovered by The Times suggests that emergency vehicles responded to the blast.

Read Also: Japan to practice missile defense at US bases

The missile, an old Scud variant, can be expected to miss by about a kilometer. The Scuds are old and error-prone, and the older ones used by the Houthis are relatively cheap.

But the missile defense system developed by the US costs a few million dollars and has been touted by defense officials as one of the most advanced in the world.

In South Korea, the same missile defense systems and technologies are designed to defend US troops and thousands of civilians from a North Korean missile strike.

“You shoot five times at this missile and they all miss? That’s shocking,” Laura Grego, a missile expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told The Times. “That’s shocking because this system is supposed to work.”

Houthis in Yemen have fired missiles at Saudi Arabia before, and over the weekend they said they fired a cruise missile at a nuclear-energy site in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates — something the UAE has denied.

Footage purportedly of the cruise missile shows that it closely resembles Iranian missiles, suggesting Tehran supplied it. Iran has also been accused of providing the missile fired at the Riyadh airport.

A failure of the missile defenses against even a short-range missile like the one the Houthis fired at the airport may sow doubt about whether the US systems can be trusted to deter conflict in the Middle East, where military tensions have escalated.

MIGHTY TRENDING

170 cybersecurity experts warn that British government’s contact tracing app could be used to surveil people even after coronavirus has gone

A group of 177 cybersecurity experts have signed a joint open letter calling on the UK government voicing concerns about the NHS’ plan to roll out a contact tracing app designed to tell people when they’ve come into contact with suspected coronavirus patients.

NHSX, the NHS’ digital experimental arm, says the app will be rolled out in Britain in the next two to three weeks. The way it works is when people sign up to the app, their phone sends out Bluetooth signals to determine what other phones are in its vicinity. If a user develops symptoms they’ll be able to report themselves in the app, and their phone will then send out an alert to all the phones it’s been nearby over the previous two weeks.


The UK has taken the decision to eschew the contact tracing API being built by Apple and Google for use by governments. This decision is partly down to the fact that the UK has decided it wants to centralize users’ data on an external server, making it easier to analyze, rather than keeping processing limited to people’s devices. Apple and Google’s API stipulates that apps use the decentralized method, which is more privacy-conscious.

“It has been reported that NHSX is discussing an approach which records centrally the de-anonymized ID of someone who is infected and also the IDs of all those with whom the infected person has been in contact,” the joint letter reads. The experts argue that this data hoard could facilitate “mission creep,” i.e. the government could later use the data for purposes other than tracking COVID-19.

“It is vital that, when we come out of the current crisis, we have not created a tool that enables data collection on the population, or on targeted sections of society, for surveillance.”

They noted that “invasive information” about users could be exploited.

“Such invasive information can include the ‘social graph’ of who someone has physically met over a period of time. With access to the social graph, a bad actor (state, private sector, or hacker) could spy on citizens’ real-world activities. We are particularly unnerved by a declaration that such a social graph is indeed aimed for by NHSX,” the experts write.

The experts ask in their letter that NHSX minimize the data it extracts from users to build trust in the app so it can be effectively deployed. Experts say 80% of smartphone users the UK would need to install the app for it to be effective in combatting the spread of coronavirus, and privacy concerns could mean falling short of that percentage.

They also ask that NHSX not build databases that could de-anonymize users, and that they lay out how the app will be phased out after the coronavirus crisis subsides.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Marines get a tank-killer upgrade just in time for Christmas

Let’s face it, when the Army bought the Stryker, in one sense, they were really just catching up with the Marines, who were making an 8×8 wheeled, armored vehicle work for quite a while. Now, though, the Marines are getting a new system for one variant of their Light Armored Vehicles, the LAV-AT, which will make them even deadlier and easier to maintain.


According to a release by Marine Corps Systems Command, the LAV-ATM project gives this version of the LAV a new turret. The LAV will still be firing the BGM-71 Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided missile.

Don’t be surprised that the TOW is still around – the BGM-71’s latest versions could be lethal against Russia’s Armata main battle tank.

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles
A Light Armored Vehicle Anti-Tank Modernization A2 model sits under an awning at Production Plant Barstow, Marine Depot Maintenance Command, aboard the Yermo Annex of Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., June 15. The turret atop the LAV-ATM is a Modified Target Acquisition System, MTAS, containing a state of the art rocket launcher designed to be more quickly deployed on target with fewer mechanical parts. The MTAS replaces the more than 30 year old Emerson 901 turret. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

“Compared to the legacy version, the new turret is unmanned, it fires both wire-guided and radio frequency TOW missiles, and it can acquire targets while on-the-move with an improved thermal sight,” said Jim Forkin, Program Manager’s Office LAV-ATM team lead.

“The turret is important because it protects Marines and gives them an enhanced capability that they didn’t have before,” Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael S. Lovell, Ordinance Vehicle Maintenance officer, PM LAV team, explained.

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles
A Marine tests the enhanced vision capability—part of an upgrade to the Light Armored Vehicle’s Anti-Tank Weapon System—during new equipment training Sept. 18-29, at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Marine Corps Systems Command completed its first fielding of four upgraded ATWS in September. (United States Marine Corps photo)

The new LAV also makes maintenance easier with an on-board trouble-shooting system that allows operators and maintenance personnel conduct checks on the systems involved with the vehicle and turret. Learning how to use the new turret takes about one week each for operators and maintainers. The Marines have also acquired 3D computer technology to enhance the training on the new LAV-AT.

But the real benefit of the turret is that “Marines who serve as anti-tank gunners will be able to do their job better,” according to Chief Warrant Officer Lovell. “We’re providing a product that gives Marines an enhanced anti-tank capability improving their forward reconnaissance and combined arms fire power on the battlefield.”

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles
3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion Marines operate a Light-Armored Vehicle equipped with a new Anti-Tank weapons system to their next objective during testing at range 500 aboard the Combat Center, Feb. 16, 2015. The testing of the new system began Feb. 9 and is scheduled to end March 8. (Official Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo)

Enemy tanks will hopefully be unavailable for comment on these enhancements.

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 things you had to have known before joining the military

Well, you took the leap and signed on the dotted line. Now you’re standing in your underwear in front of your bed at boot camp holding a camouflage bag in front of your face and some dude is screaming his head off at you. The thought that’s probably running through your head sounds a lot like, “this is nothing like what my recruiter sold me on.” Well, it’s their job is to get you in — what did you expect?

You might go through the rest of your career believing that some dude in a cool-looking uniform lied to you during an otherwise innocent visit to your local shopping mall. And you know what? If this were any other decade, a time before the internet was easily accessible by anyone, you might actually have a believable story.

But in 2018, that just doesn’t fly. Your recruiter didn’t lie to you; you just didn’t do the research.

If you’ve signed up, you’ve got no excuse for failing to know the following:


US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles

Just make sure it’s the best fit for you, either way.

If you match your branch of service

Not everyone is cut out to join the Marines; it’s a rough-and-tumble lifestyle that requires you to forsake most creature comforts. In fact, you may find that the branch that best suits you isn’t one you were considering at all.

If you’re unsure of what you want out of the military to even the slightest degree, consider each branch carefully. Next, consider the next item on this list.

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles

If want to join the Marines to purify water, more power to you…

(U.S. Marine Corps photo Cpl. Kyle N. Runnels)

If you match your MOS

This is a big deal. A lot of people join the military and sign up for an MOS they’ve never even heard of because it “sounds cool” only to realize that it’s not at all what it it sounds like (looking at you, 1179 Water Dogs). Granted, some people end up liking their job, even if doesn’t match the title — but those who end being miserable are a detriment to the unit.

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles

Air Force PT in a nutshell.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Charles Haymond)

The fitness requirements are (usually) demanding

If you’ve got a big brain but don’t like running a lot, join the Air Force. Rumor has it they only run in boot camp (and from the sound of gunfire, usually back into their air-conditioned buildings). If you want to join the Marines, but have a hard time doing push-ups, you’ll learn — but it will not be a fun experience.

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles

So, maybe you should decide on how long you want to get yelled at before you sign up.

(U.S. Marine photo by Lance Cpl. Angelica I. Annastas)

Boot camp and basic training suck

Marines call it boot camp because, well, you wear boots and you’re at camp (not the fun kind). The other branches call it basic training. Not only will you experience vary across branches, the amount of time you’ll spend there will, too. The “easier” branches go for 9 weeks at most and the toughest (and, in my non-biased opinion, most handsome) branch goes for 13.

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles

This may be the thing that changes your mind more than anything.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jeremy D. Wolff)

Real-life experiences may vary

It may do you some good to ask about the experiences of friends or family members who’ve served and don’t look back on it with rose-tinted glasses. If your uncle’s tales seem a little too far-fetched, rummage around on Reddit and other online communities to get an idea of peoples’ general experiences in the branch you’re considering. The facts are out there if you look.

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles

If you don’t do the research and you feel like you got screwed — that’s on you.

(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Duane Duimstra)

Recruitment tactics are tactical

Before you set foot into the recruiting office, keep this in mind: Recruiters are essentially the salespeople of the military. They’re not going to outright lie to you, but they’re trying to sell you on the service they represent.

The fact of the matter is that you should be able to recognize the tactics they’ll use to try and get you to sign up. Treat it like you would any other big decision. If the person you talk to is echoing things you’ve found in your research, they’re probably being honest.

Articles

Marines train with AK-47s, PK machine guns to prep for Afghanistan deployment

Marines are heading back to Helmand province, Afghanistan this spring for an advisory mission that will put them back in the thick of the fight between the Taliban and Afghan National Security Forces.


In preparation for the upcoming mission, the 300-man contingent of Marines assigned to Task Force Southwest spent a day honing foreign weapons skills to familiarize themselves with the arms the Afghans use every day. On Jan. 17, the Marines practiced firing two well-known Soviet-era Kalashnikov weapons: the PK general-purpose machine gun and AK-47 rifle, according to a news release from II Marine Expeditionary Force by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins.

Related: Service branches and elite units are testing a 60-round drum

Hopkins noted in the release that these weapons are used by both allies and enemies in the region, making it important for the Marines to understand them and their use.

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles
Marines with Task Force Southwest fire PK general-purpose machine guns during foreign weapons familiarization training. | U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins

“We want these Marines to familiarize themselves with weapons they might find down range,” Staff Sgt. Patrick R. Scott, the foreign weapons chief instructor with Marine Corps Security Cooperation Group, said in a statement. “They need to be able to talk intelligently about them to their foreign security force, and that’ll help them build rapport and hopefully help them become successful in the long run.”

The weapons course also included live-fire ranges with weapons systems more familiar to Marines: the Mk-19 machine gun and the 60mm mortar.

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles
A Marine with Task Force Southwest fires an AK-47 during foreign weapons and familiarization training. | U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins

Before the Marines deploy, they will also train with hired Afghan roleplayers–a mainstay of military cultural training.

“I find it… inspirational that I get to help and be a part of the step that gets Marines back into Afghanistan,” Sgt. Hayden Chrestmen, a machine gun instructor with the Division Combat Skills Center, said in the release “As an Afghanistan veteran, it’s extremely important they know how to operate these weapon systems because they’re protecting their brothers to the left and right of them.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Coalition forces’ slow progress against terrorists in Iraq

Forces battling the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria continue to make progress. However, the environment in Iraq and Syria is complex and the defeat-ISIS forces require continued support, coalition officials said Aug. 15, 2018.

Army Col. Sean Ryan, the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, spoke to Pentagon reporters about progress being made against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. He spoke via satellite from Baghdad.


“In Iraq, operations continue to secure areas across the country, as Iraq security forces locate, identify and destroy ISIS remnants,” Ryan said. “Last week alone, … operations across Iraq have resulted in the arrest of more than 50 suspected terrorists and the removal of 500 pounds of improvised explosive devices.”

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles

Children stand outside their home in a village near Dashisha, Syria, July 19, 2018. Residents of local villages are enjoying an increased sense of freedom and security since the defeat of ISIS in the area. Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve is the global coalition to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

(Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Corey Hook)

Progress in Iraq’s Anbar Province

Iraqi forces are moving in Anbar province, in the Hamrin Mountains and Samarra. Reconstruction efforts are ongoing with roads reopening in the north. Iraqi engineers “cleaned the main road between Salahuddin and Samarra of IEDs, making travel safer between the two cities,” he said.

In the Baghdad area, the ISF established central service coordination cells, a program designed to use military resources to enable local communities to restore basic infrastructure and services. “Initial efforts by the coordination cells include trash collection, road openings, maintenance of water facilities,” Ryan said.

Syrian Democratic Forces are preparing for the final assault on ISIS in the Middle Euphrates River Valley. The SDF is reinforcing checkpoints and refining blocking positions ahead of clearance operations in Hajin, Ryan said.

Military operations, reconstruction in Syria

In Syria, too, reconstruction efforts go hand in hand with military operations. “In Raqqa, the internal security forces have destroyed more than 30 caches containing 500 pounds of explosives discovered during the clearance operations in the past weeks,” the colonel said.

ISIS remains a concern in both countries, the colonel said. “Make no mistake: The coalition is not talking victory or taking our foot off the gas in working with our partners,” he said.

Defeating ISIS, he said, will require a long-term effort.

“We cannot emphasize enough that the threat of losing the gains we have made is real, especially if we are not able to give the people a viable alternative to the ISIS problem,” Ryan said. “We continue to call on the international community to step up and ensure that conditions that gave rise to ISIS no longer exist in both Syria and Iraq.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Venezuela threatens White House ‘stained with blood’

The beleaguered Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro refused to call new elections in response to demands from several European countries.

He also warned that the US presidency would be “stained with blood” if President Donald Trump goes ahead with plans to intervene.

European Union countries including Austria, Britain, France, Germany, and Spain told Maduro to call fresh elections by Feb. 3, 2019, or else they would formally recognize Maduro’s opponent, Juan Guaidó, as Venezuela’s interim president.


Guaidó, the National Assembly president, declared himself the country’s interim president in January 2019. Critics of Maduro have accused him of vote-rigging in last May’s presidential election and say his presidency, which started Jan. 10, 2019, is unconstitutional and fraudulent.

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

Tens of thousands of people have been protesting Maduro over the past month. Maduro has presided over one of the worst economic crises, leading to hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing Venezuela.

Maduro rejected the European countries’ call on Feb. 3, 2019, the day of the deadline, telling the Spanish TV channel La Sexta that “we don’t accept ultimatums from anyone.”

“It’s as if I told the European Union that I give it a few days to recognize the Republic of Catalonia,” he added, referring to the Spanish region of Catalonia’s failed attempt to break away from Spain in October 2017.

Catalonia’s regional president, Carles Puigdemont, declared autonomy from Spain after a contested referendum, and Madrid’s Constitutional Court canceled the independence bid the next month. Spanish authorities have since arrested and detained some of Puigdemont’s allies.

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles

Catalonia’s regional president, Carles Puigdemont.

Britain, Denmark, France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden formally recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president on Monday in response to Maduro’s refusal to organize new elections, Sky News reported.

‘Stop, stop, Donald Trump!’

Maduro on Feb. 3, 2019, also warned that Trump’s presidency would be “stained with blood” if Trump decided to intervene in Venezuela.

Trump, who backs Guaidó as interim president, on Feb. 3, 2019, said that sending troops to Venezuela was “an option.”

In response, Maduro threatened the possibility of his country descending into widespread violence.

When La Sexta asked whether the political turmoil could end in civil war, Maduro said, “Nobody can answer now with certainty.”

“Everything depends on the level of madness and aggressiveness of the northern empire,” he said, referring to the US.

He also told La Sexta that “thousands of innocent Venezuelans may end up paying with their lives … if the US empire attacks the country.”

Venezuela’s Maduro ‘leaves voicemail’ for rival Guaidó

www.youtube.com

“Stop, stop, Donald Trump!” Maduro said. “You are making mistakes that are going to stain your hands with blood, and you are going to leave the presidency stained with blood. Stop!”

He added: “Or is it that you are going to repeat a Vietnam in Latin America?”

Maduro also warned Guaidó to “stop this coup-mongering strategy and stop simulating a presidency in which nobody elected him.”

Guaidó argued in The New York Times last week that his interim presidency was not a “self-proclamation” because the Venezuelan Constitution says that “if at the outset of a new term there is no elected head of state” he becomes interim president.

He said that since Maduro’s reelection was not legitimate, that condition has been fulfilled.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Mattis’ brother says he has ‘no anger’ about early departure

The phone call Tom Mattis got from Jim Mattis on Dec. 23, 2018 wasn’t a pleasant one, but he said his younger brother was “unruffled” by President Donald Trump’s decision to force him out early, the elder Mattis told The Seattle Times.

“He was very calm about the whole thing. Very matter of fact. No anger,” Tom Mattis told The Seattle Times. “As I have said many times in other circumstances, Jim knows who he is … many more Americans (now) know his character.”

Jim Mattis announced his resignation as defense secretary on Dec. 20, 2018, reportedly prompted in large part by Trump’s decision to withdraw the roughly 2,000 US troops deployed to Syria.


Mattis went to the White House that day in an effort to get Trump to keep US forces in the war-torn country. Mattis “was rebuffed, and told the president that he was resigning as a result,” The New York Times said at the time.

Trump initially reacted to Mattis’ resignation gracefully, tweeting that the defense chief and retired Marine general would be “retiring, with distinction, at the end of February,” echoing Mattis’ resignation letter.

But Trump reportedly bridled at coverage of Mattis and his letter, which was widely interpreted as a rebuke of Trump and of the president’s worldview.

On Dece. 23, 2018, Trump abruptly announced that Mattis would leave office two months early, sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to tell Mattis of the change. Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will take over the top civilian job at the Pentagon in an acting capacity.

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles

Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.

Trump’s sudden move to push Mattis out was reportedly a retaliatory measure, but Mattis evinced no ire over it when he told his older brother on Dec. 23, 2018.

The Mattises are natives of Richland, Washington. Tom, who was also a Marine, still lives there, as does their 96-year-old mother, Lucille.

Tom said his brother was faithful to the Constitution and would always speak truth to power “regardless of the consequences.”

“No one should assume that his service to his country will end. And the manner of his departure is yet another service to the nation. It is the very definition of patriotism and integrity,” Tom Mattis added.

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

(DOD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

Jim Mattis — who checks in with their mother almost daily, Tom Mattis said — had no plans to return home from Christmas, according to the elder Mattis, hoping instead to visit troops in the Middle East.

But Trump’s announcement appeared to forestall that trip.

On Dec. 19, 2018, a day before his resignation, Mattis released a holiday message to US service members, telling them “thanks for keeping the faith.”

On Dec. 24, 2018, Mattis signed an order withdrawing US troops from Syria, the Defense Department said, though a timeline and specific details are still being worked on. On Christmas Day, Mattis was reportedly in his office at the Pentagon.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Navy wants to deploy an unmanned ‘ghost fleet’

As the Navy advances plans for a 10-ship “ghost fleet,” leaders are assessing how much decision-making power to give large unmanned vessels that can operate without any humans aboard.

The Navy wants $400 million in fiscal 2020 to build two “large unmanned surface vessels.” Budget documents show service leaders plan to request $2.7 billion to build 10 of the ships over the next five years.

But with the programs still largely in the research and development phase, the plans raise questions about what the Navy is actually planning to buy, and how those ships would function in the real world. Not only is it unclear exactly what these future unmanned ships will look like, but also what capabilities they’ll have.


“Doing [research and development] and figuring out exactly the capabilities that we need, it’s critical,” James Geurts, the Navy’s assistant secretary for research, development and acquisition, recently told lawmakers. “…The real RD is in a lot of the guts: the autonomy, the decision-making, how are we going to control it, how are we going to do those things?”

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles

James Geurts, the Navy’s assistant secretary for research, development and acquisition.

(US Navy photo)

The service has completed the first phase of testing on its large unmanned surface vessel, Geurts said, but much about those plans is shrouded in secrecy. Earlier in 2019, the Navy’s 132-foot-long medium-unmanned vessel named Sea Hunter sailed from California to Hawaii and back again, mostly without anyone aboard. Officials declined to talk to Military.com about the transit, citing operational security while it’s in development.

Rear Adm. Randy Crites, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for budget, told reporters March 2019 that the large unmanned surface vessels will serve “as both a sensor and a shooter.” And since they’re smaller than conventional ships, he added, the 200- to 300-foot vessels should be cheaper to produce and operate.

The Navy’s budget also requests funding for dozens of underwater drone vehicles and unmanned aircraft.

Navy leaders are pushing funding for projects like the Sea Hunter as it faces new threats at sea from more sophisticated adversaries. The service’s 2020 budget request has some in Congress questioning the decision to push an aircraft carrier into retirement early, but leaders say it’s essential to use the savings the ship’s retirement would provide on newer cutting-edge technology, such as a self-driving ghost fleet.

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles

The unmanned prototype ship ‘Sea Hunter’ is part of the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel program.

(U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams)

“[That] led to some tough choices,” Geurts told lawmakers. “One of those is to retire that ship early in favor [of] looking at other technologies, other larger cost-imposing strategies.”

The Navy’s future aircraft carriers will include a mix of manned and unmanned aircraft and boats that can operate on the surface or underwater as the service prepares to counter more high-tech threats at sea, leaders have said.

Geurts said he expects to see the development of large unmanned vessels pick up quickly over the next year.

“It’s less about the ship design, because you could make a lot of different ship designs autonomous,” he told reporters last week. “The capabilities you would put on there could be fairly flexible and fairly mobile, so our real emphasis, and where I think you’re going to see an acceleration versus a traditional shipbuilding program, is you’re going to focus more on the autonomy technology — the capabilities you want to strap onto the ship — and less about the ship hull form.”

The Navy is proving its ability to sail unmanned vessels with the Sea Hunter transit, Geurts said.

“We learned a lot from that,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

Articles

China could be preparing for a paramilitary invasion in the East China Sea

Tokyo delivered a humiliating public protest to Beijing for the intrusion of a vast Chinese “fishing fleet” escorted by more than a dozen coast guard and other law-enforcement vessels in or near waters of the disputed Senkaku islands.


Such protests are common in the ongoing cat and mouse game in the East and South China Seas, but they are usually delivered in private. In this case, Tokyo decided to turn its protest into political theater.

China’s Ambassador to Japan, Cheng Yonghua, was summoned to the foreign ministry, where news and television camera were waiting to film the encounter. Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida kept Cheng waiting for ten minutes then entered, a stern look on his face, gesturing Cheng to sit down.

“Relations with China are becoming noticeably wors[e] because China is trying to change the status quo,” Kishida lectured Cheng, who looked embarrassed by the media presence. He said the Diaoyu, as China calls them, were Chinese territory and the two nations should “strive to reach a solution.”

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles
A boarding team from the People’s Liberation Army (Navy) | U.S Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Manda M. Emery

Japan has become used to Chinese Coast Guard intrusions into its claimed territorial waters. On the average of once every two weeks, two or three Chinese ships slip into Senkaku waters. They stay for a couple hours then leave.

But there had been nothing like what happened August 8 when a flotilla of more than 230 “fishing boats” escorted by up to 28 Chinese Coast Guard and other law enforcement vessels virtually surrounded the Senkaku islands for several days.

It was not immediately clear exactly what message the Chinese were trying to convey, although Tokyo has been very vocal in supporting the Philippines in its legal action against China resulting in the July 11 ruling that confirmed all of Manila’s charges.

Was the latest intrusion a dress rehearsal for war?

The various scenarios for war in the East China Sea, and possibly in the South China Sea, usually fall into two main categories. There is the “accidental” fight scenario. A Chinese destroyer’s radar locks onto a Japanese warship. The Japanese captain fires back in self-defense and the incident spirals out of control.

That is one scenario. Another, possibly more realistic, is the “swarm” scenario: Several hundred “fishing boats” sail from ports in Zhejiang province for the Senkaku, where they overwhelm the Japanese Coast Guard by their sheer numbers.

This time, the fishing boats land some 200 or so commandoes disguised as fishermen or “settlers.” The Senkakus are not garrisoned by Japanese troops, so no shots are fired. The Chinese side says it is not using force, merely taking possession of what it claims to be its sovereign territory.

Tokyo feels obliged to respond, although the Chinese landing force is too large to dislodge by ordinary policing methods, such as those that have been used in the past when a handful of activists – Chinese and Japanese – tried to land on the disputed islands and plant their flags.

That would put Japan in the position of being the first party to fire shots, possibly landing elements of the Western Infantry Regiment, which was created and trained specifically to recapture islands. Meanwhile, Tokyo hurriedly consults with Washington seeking assurance that it will honor its commitments to defend Japan.

On more than one occasion, including in remarks from President Barack Obama himself, the United States has stated that the Senkaku come under the provisions of the joint security treaty as they are administered by Japan.

In the most recent incident, the estimated 230 Chinese fishing vessels escorted by Chinese law enforcement vessels made no effort to land anyone, though the Japanese Coast Guard shadowing the vessels kept a sharp eye out for any sign of it.

China boasts the world’s largest fishing fleet, but it is a matter of debate among security analysts as to extent to which China’s fishing fleet constitutes a paramilitary force, or as they sometimes say, a “maritime militia.” Somehow, a swarm of Chinese Fishing boats always seem to materialize on cue in disputes in the East and South China Sea.

The use of fishing boats, not to mention the nominally civilian coast guard, tends to blur the distinctions between what is civilian and what is military. In any conflict, the Japan and the U.S. would have to deal with ostensibly civilian boats that could flood the battlefield turning it into a confusing melee.

“China’s fishing fleet is being encouraged to fish in disputed waters . . . and are being encouraged to do so for geopolitical as well as commercial reasons,” says Alan Duport, a security analyst at the University of New South Wales.

Swarm tactics have been used often in the South China Sea. Hundreds of boats converged in the Gulf of Tonkin in 2014 in the dispute over the oil-drilling rig that the Chinese erected in Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Beijing has dispatched swarms of fishing boats to Laconia Shoals off the coast of Sarawak to fish in Malaysia’s EEZ, with escorts of coast guard vessels to protect them should Kuala Lumpur try to arrest them. Similar confrontations have taken place in Indonesia’s South Chia Sea EEZ.

China has been commissioning new coast guard vessels, either converted navy frigates or purpose-built cutters, at an astonishing rate to the extent that it can now deploy ships in various corners of the contested waters simultaneously.

It may be better that principle actors in the unfolding conflict are civilian vessels. But certainly lurking nearby and ready to respond are the warships of the regular Chinese, Japanese, and America navies.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Trump hints at breaking with generals on Iran

U.S. President Donald Trump appears increasingly willing to defy some of his top generals, as his administration grapples with how best to deal with Iran.


Trump is facing a May 2018 deadline to recertify the Iran nuclear deal and signaled again March 20, 2018, that he is not afraid to pull the U.S. out of the agreement unless other signatories are willing to make major changes.

“A lot of bad things are happening in Iran,” the president said during a visit to the White House by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Also read: How Mattis is the stabilizing force of the Trump White House

“The deal is coming up in one month, and you will see what happens,” he added.

Trump has long been critical of the 2015 Iran deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which aimed to contain Tehran’s nuclear program and block the country’s pathway to building nuclear warheads.

In January 2018, Trump said he was waiving nuclear sanctions against Iran for the “last time,” demanding U.S. lawmakers and Washington’s European allies “fix the deal’s disastrous flaws.”

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles
President Donald Trump speaks with Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, during their meeting Tuesday, March 14, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

But since then, top U.S. military officials have pushed back, repeatedly describing the deal as mostly beneficial, even as they continue to voice deep concerns about Tehran’s aggressive behavior across the Middle East.

“As I sit here today, Iran is in compliance with JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action],” the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, General John Hyten, told lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 20, 2018.

“From a command that’s about nuclear [threats], that’s an important piece to me,” he said. “It allows me to understand the nuclear environment better.”

Related: Why Russia, Syria, and Iran are no match for just 2,000 US troops

Hyten’s comments follow those made to the Senate Armed Services Committee by the commander of U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for U.S. operations in the Middle East.

“The JCPOA addresses one of the principal threats that we deal with from Iran so, if the JCPOA goes away, then we will have to have another way to deal with their nuclear weapons program,” said CENTCOM’s General Joseph Votel.

“Right now, I think it is in our interest,” Votel added. “There would be some concern [in the region], I think, about how we intended to address that particular threat if it was not being addressed through the JCPOA.”

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles
General Joseph Votel.

Both Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, have argued that staying in the deal is in the best interest of the U.S.

But despite having expressed confidence in his military advisers and officials early in his presidency, Trump has slowly been pushing aside those who have argued in favor of keeping the deal, most recently firing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“When you look at the Iran deal, I think it’s terrible. I guess he thinks it was OK,” Trump told reporters after announcing Tillerson’s removal. “I wanted to break it or do something, and he felt a little bit differently.”

‘Destabilizing influence’

The man tapped to replace Tillerson, current U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, has gained a reputation for favoring a much tougher approach to Iran.

“The deal put us in a marginally better place, with respect to inspection, but the Iranians have on multiple occasions been capable of presenting a continued threat,” Pompeo said during an appearance in Washington in October 2017.

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles
Mike Pompeo (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

“The notion that the entry into the JCPOA would curtail Iranian adventurism or their terror threat or their malignant behavior has now, what, two years on, proven to be fundamentally false,” he added.

Those concerns, both from the U.S. intelligence community and from defense officials, have only grown.

Top defense officials have criticized Iran for what they described as malign and destabilizing activities in places such as Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and even Afghanistan.

More: That time the US and Iran teamed up to fight the Taliban

“They [Iran] are not changing their behavior,” Mattis warned during a visit to the region. “They’re continuing to be a destabilizing influence.”

Other defense officials said such concerns cannot be discounted when contemplating U.S. policy toward Iran.

“We are taking a comprehensive look,” chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White told reporters March 15, 2018.

“We remain in the agreement, but we want our partners to understand that Iran is the source of chaos and confusion in the region,” she said. “Everywhere you look, Iran is there.”

Articles

Military Saves Week kicks off worldwide

Military Saves Week kicked off at U.S. military installations worldwide on Monday.


Every year, America Saves, a non-profit foundation designed to help Americans make smarter financial choices, hosts Military Saves Week, a military oriented campaign observed aboard military installations and sponsored by various financial institutions and other organizations.

Military Saves Week focuses on helping to educate military service members and their families on healthy saving and spending habits as well as assessing their own savings status, reducing their debt, and increasing their wealth.

Military Saves Week offers events and classes across all branches of service at over 100 installations worldwide during the week. Some of the events include luncheons, workshops, youth focused savings discussions, and prizes.

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Military Saves Week runs from Feb. 27 to March 3. The Financial Readiness Program is offering financial counseling, classes, and other events to help service members and their families manage their money. (U.S. Army photo by Kristen Wong)

Most of the events will focus on benefits and how best to use them, with nearly every installation hosting at least one event focused on the new Blended Retirement System.

Military Saves Week works alongside the Department of Defense’s Financial Readiness Campaign.

General Dunford wrote in a memo for the chiefs of the military services on Oct. 7, 2015, in preparation for last year’s Military Saves Week:

“Military Saves Week is an opportunity for our military community to come together with federal, state, and local resources, to focus on the financial readiness of military members and their families and help them reduce debt and save their hard-earned money.”

Dunford went on to write, “We are asking our military members to commit to feasible financial goals.”

Participants in Military Saves Week are asked to sign a pledge that reads “I will help myself by saving money, reducing debt, and building wealth over time. I will help my family and my country by encouraging other Americans to Build Wealth, Not Debt.” The pledge goes on to help the participant set goals for savings, with the option to receive text message updates for savings tips and financial advice.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Navy’s new supercarriers can’t deploy with the new stealth fighters

The new Ford-class supercarriers are being delivered to the US Navy without the ability to deploy with the service’s new stealth fighters, and lawmakers have decided to put a stop to it.

It’s very difficult to get something like an aircraft carrier cheaply and quickly and have it work well. In the case of the Ford-class carriers, the Navy program is facing cost overruns, delivery delays, and missing capabilities.

The Navy has been accepting unfinished aircraft carriers that are lacking critical capabilities, such as the ability to deploy with fifth-generation fighters.


The service has been planning to complete the necessary work after delivery to skirt the caps imposed by Congress to keep costs from soaring, USNI News reported this week. The workaround ultimately results in higher costs in the long run.

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles

The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ridge Leoni)

The USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), which should be delivered back to the fleet this fall, currently lacks the ability to deploy with F-35s, and the USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79), which is still in the works, will not be able to deploy with F-35s either, at least not upon initial delivery.

That’s a big problem for Congress.

“CVN-79 will not be able to deploy with F-35s when it’s delivered to the Navy,” a congressional staffer said this week, telling reporters that it’s “unacceptable to our members that the newest carriers can’t deploy with the newest aircraft.”

The Navy argues that while the newest carriers may not be ready to carry F-35s upon delivery due to the need for additional modifications, none of which require significant redesigns to the ship, they will be ready to go by the time the air wing is stood up and the carrier-based F-35Cs are ready for operational deployment aboard the Navy’s new flattops.

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles

An F-35C Lightning II carrier variant joint strike fighter conducts a touch and go landing.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Eli K. Buguey)

The “F-35C modifications for CVN-78 and CVN-79 are currently scheduled for a future post-delivery modernization maintenance period that will occur prior to the planned F-35C operations on those carriers,” Captain Daniel Hernandez, a spokesman for the Navy acquisitions chief, told Business Insider.

The two follow-on Ford-class carriers, CVN-80 and 81, “will be constructed with those modifications made during construction and will not require a post-delivery modification,” he further explained.

Congress isn’t having it

Lawmakers, however, are not satisfied with the Navy’s plans.

The House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces has included a line in the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which is still ongoing legislation, requiring that the USS John F. Kennedy be capable of deploying with F-35s before the Navy takes delivery of the new carrier.

US missile defense system fails to actually shoot down missiles

Artist impression of the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy.

(U.S. Navy photo illustration courtesy of Newport News Shipbuilding)

Experts agree that it’s time for action.

“I think it’s a good idea to drive the Navy to make the ship more complete when it’s delivered because that’s a problem that’s getting worse, not better,” Bryan Clark, a defense expert and former Navy officer, told Business Insider, explaining that Congress will need to provide financial relief as changes to the service’s current approach to aircraft carrier development will likely result in higher upfront costs.

Lawmakers have proposed amending the cost caps on the new supercarriers, a change the Navy welcomes.

“The Navy supports the lifting of cost caps on CVN78 – CVN81 so that it can take full advantage of opportunities to deliver capability earlier and more rapidly incorporate new requirements into the ship baseline,” Hernandez told Business Insider.

The new legislative measures could address a serious problem for the Navy that truthfully extends well beyond the ability of its new carriers to carry F-35s.

With the USS Gerald R. Ford, the Navy has faced challenges with the electromagnetic aircraft launch system and the arresting gear for recovering planes, the propulsion system, and the advanced weapons elevators, basically everything required for an effective next-generation aircraft carrier.

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

Do Not Sell My Personal Information