Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Iranian S-300

Iran’s Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi has announced progress in the development and manufacture of an indigenous version of the advanced Russian S-300 air defense missile system. The production of an alternative missile system is underway. Iranian military officials earlier said the missile system, called Bavar (Belief) 373, is even more powerful and more advanced than the Russian S-300.

The $800-million contract to supply Iran with the missile system was signed in late 2007. Russia was to deliver five S-300PMU-1 battalions to Tehran. However, on September 22, 2010, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree terminating the contract in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1929, which bans supply to Iran of conventional weapons including missiles and missile systems, tanks, attack helicopters, warplanes and ships.

Likely Scenarios for Israeli Attack Against Iran

Likely Scenarios for Israeli Attack Against Iran

Monday, 16 April 2012

Agni V Launch

India may join a select club of countries that possess or are about to possess an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). Hectic preparations are on for the launch of Agni-V missile that day from the Wheeler Island off the Orissa Coast.

Designed and developed by India's Defence Research And Development Organisation (DRDO) scientists, the three-stage missile is scheduled to be launched from a mobile launcher. With a range of 5,000 km, Agni-V, once validated and inducted into the armed forces after several more tests couple of years down the line, will be India's longest-range missile which can carry a nuclear warhead.

Seventeen metres tall and 50 tonnes in weight, Agni-V's three stages are powered by solid propellants. It will have the capacity to carry a nuclear warhead weighing over one tonne, DRDO scientists have said. DRDO is also aiming to operationalise a Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) by 2013 and a missile shield for Delhi by 2014. 

The K-15 SLBM is now getting ready for the final phase of induction after its two recent tests (from submersible pontoons) were successful. 

Once the 750-km-range K-15, and the 3,500-km K-4 become fully operational, they will be inducted onto India's indigenously-manufactured nuclear submarines. The first home grown Nuclear submarine, INS Arihant, scheduled to undertake sea trials this August, will need these SLBMs to complete what is called nuclear-triad.

After a rare failure of Agni III missile test is Agust 2006, the DRDO has been on a roll with the tests of the two-tier ballistic missile defence (BMD) system, designed to track and destroy incoming hostile missiles both inside (endo) and outside (exo) the earth's atmosphere, scheduled to be completed  by 2013. 

All eyes are now on the launch of Agni V on April 18.

C-5 community

The culture of the Air Force C-5 community is changing...and it's changing in a "super" way.

As the Air Force transitions to the C-5M Super Galaxy, the upgraded airframe has quickly become an integral part of the airlift mission. It has set dozens of airlift world records and spanned the globe completing historic missions. In October 2011, the C-5M was also a force in the C-5 "surge" where for a week 18 active duty and 23 Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command crews and 41 total force C-5 Galaxy aircraft flew cargo in support of combatant commanders across the globe -- also an Air Force first.

The C-5 has long been known as the "Air Force's largest airlifter." In the future, Air Mobility Command officials say the goal is to have all C-5s become C-5Ms that would further strengthen the airframe's worldwide airlift capabilities.

The Air Force began an aggressive program to modernize all remaining C-5Bs and C-5Cs and many of the C-5As in its inventory when the C-5 Avionics Modernization Program, or AMP, was instituted in 1998. This effort included upgraded avionics, improved communications, new flat panel displays, improved navigation and safety equipment, and a new autopilot system. The first flight of the first AMP-modified C-5 occurred on Dec. 21, 2002.

The second part of the C-5 modernization plan is the Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program, or RERP, which includes new General Electric CF6-80C2 engines, pylons and auxiliary power units, with upgrades to the aircraft skin and frame, landing gear, cockpit and pressurization system. With both AMP and RERP upgrades, the C-5M was born. Dover AFB received the Air Force's first production C-5M in November 2010.

The Air Force plans to upgrade 52 Galaxies to "super" status by the end of 2016, said Lt. Col. Bob Shelton, A3 Strategy and Integration Officer with Headquarters AMC's Directorate of Operations.

"The C-5M significantly increases strategic airlift capability. We'll see tremendous improvement in reliability, direct-delivery capability and fuel efficiency. In turn, all of these will help reduce the demand on tanker platforms and the number of air refueling missions required," said Shelton, who has over 600 hours experience flying C-5s. "As our new strategic guidance looks towards operations in the Pacific, the improved capabilities of the 'M' will be especially beneficial to strategic airlift in the region and for overcoming the 'tyranny of distance.'"

The C-5M is also an airframe that aircrews and maintainers are talking about and eager to fly on.

"The C-5M is the future," said Staff Sgt. Steven Dow, a flying crew chief with the 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Dover AFB, Del. "I love the C-5 -- always have in any variant -- but the C-5M is spectacular."

Dow, who's been a C-5 maintainer for more than 10 years, was among 14 aircrew members who took a C-5M on the Air Force's first direct delivery airlift mission through the Arctic Circle from the United States to Afghanistan in 2011. On the 14-hour-plus flight to Afghanistan, the C-5M carried cargo for the Operation Enduring Freedom mission and "proved a strategic direct delivery concept."

On its way back, the same C-5M was also refilled with cargo from Kyrgyzstan, Southwest Asia and Western Europe that needed to be returned to the U.S. -- making efficient use of nearly all the 270,000 pounds of cargo capacity in the plane. All of the thousands of miles back to Dover AFB, the plane performed as well as expected by the crew, and added to the upgraded airframe's reputation as a "solid performer."

"The C-5M is a great mobility weapons system," Dow said. "During our mission to Afghanistan the plane flew all the way and had zero discrepancies or write-ups."

Lt. Col. Scott Erickson, a C-5 pilot from the Air Force Reserve's 709th Airlift Squadron at Dover, discussed the C-5M's capabilities and capacity.

"Having been with the M from the beginning, I'm always proud to show off what it can do," Erickson said. "Thanks to the engines, we can now carry more [with the C-5M], carry it farther and use less gas. In overflying places we used to stop for gas, or where we would have required an air refueling, the savings in time, money and maintenance adds to an already impressive package."

Dover AFB is also home to the 436th Aerial Port Squadron -- one of four original units that ushered in the "cargo precision loading" age that "standardizes air cargo build-up from depot suppliers and AMC aerial ports to maximize volume and weight utilization," according to an AMC talking paper.

According to Master Sgt. Mitch Pykosz, precision loading program manager for AMC's Directorate of Logistics, Air Transportation Cargo Policy team, one area where efficiency comes into play with precision loading is utilizing as much pallet space as possible on both contract and military airlift missions -- which in turn requires fewer missions to complete.

The effort includes building pallets to their maximum weight or volume goals, based on specific aircraft requirements including the C-5M, Pykosz said. Through February 2012, the precision loading initiative has enabled a 9 percent mission utilization increase which led to an avoidance of 195 air missions saving the Air Force and AMC millions of dollars in flight costs.

Combine the precision loading initiative with the C-5M's cargo capability -- including a world record of 176,450 pounds -- and there is a greater possibility for increased efficiency. A C-5M can actually hold up to 245,000 pounds of cargo depending on a number of factors to include runway length and atmospheric conditions, said Master Sgt. Andy Hoots, command manager for C-5 loadmaster standards and evaluations at Headquarters AMC.

Staff Sgt. Norterious Jenkins, a C-5 loadmaster with Dover AFB's 9th Airlift Squadron, said he thinks the C-5M is the airlifter that, when flying on it, feels like "you're always going to be back on time." It changes the "broke on the flightline" mentality that some historically have said the C-5 had been known for.

"The M is not like the C-5s we've always known...they have the ability to do more," Jenkins said. "Some of the things this plane has done, compared to the B-model [for example], are mind boggling."

And maybe that's the best way to describe the C-5M -- "mind boggling" possibilities. Dover AFB is the current home to all three of the C-5Ms delivered to the Air Force. Eventually, other C-5 wings, such as the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis AFB, Calif., will have the aircraft as part of their daily operations. In turn, having the C-5M available may change the culture and the history of the C-5 community in a "super" way.

Environmental impact statement for F-35

The Air Force has filed a draft environmental impact statement for the proposed operational basing of the F-35 Lightning II within the continental United States.

The current active Air Force and Air National Guard alternatives under consideration are: Burlington Air Guard Station, Vt.; Hill Air Force Base, Utah; Jacksonville Air Guard Station, Fla.; Mountain Home AFB, Idaho; and Shaw AFB/McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C.

"Candidate installations were identified through a deliberate process that began with a clear definition of training requirements and progressed through a screening process leading to the alternatives currently being considered," said Kathleen Ferguson, the deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Installations. "The Air Force is analyzing the impacts of basing three squadrons of 24 aircraft each at the active duty location and one squadron of 24 aircraft at the Air National Guard location."

Hill AFB is the Air Force's preferred alternative for the active duty operational location and Burlington Airport is the Air Force's preferred alternative for the Air National Guard operational location. A final decision regarding selection of an operational bed down location will be made upon completion of the environmental impact statement.

The F-35A is a fifth-generation fighter aircraft designed with stealth, maneuverability and integrated avionics to assume multi-role missions. The Air Force views the aircraft integral to the future of strike aviation and to counter emerging anti-access/area denial threats.

"Our aging fourth-generation aircraft lack modern stealth technology and integrated avionics, and will become increasingly less useful against burgeoning adversary anti-access and area-denial strategies and capabilities such as air defense systems, radars, missiles, and aircraft," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said. "As such, we remain committed to the fifth-generation F-35, which represents the future of tactical aviation for the Air Force."

The draft EIS for the F-35A operational locations opens a 45-day public comment period. The Air Force will conduct 17 public hearings at locations surrounding the potentially impacted communities to receive oral and written comments on the draft EIS.

"The Air Force is committed to planning future activities while considering environmental and community impacts and minimizing them where practical," she said. "A final decision will be reflected in a record of decision expected in the fall of 2012."

The Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of the Navy are cooperating agencies in the EIS process.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

NATO cant fight without US

A classified NATO report on the bombing campaign in Libya shows the alliance is dependent on the US to wage its wars. But, even with Washington’s help, the much-praised Operation Unified Protector had military shortcomings.NATO’s air strikes against Muammar Gaddafi’s forces were carried out mostly by Canadian and European air forces. But American troops provided crucial parts of the operation, including collecting intelligence, reconnaissance, planning sorties and refueling aircraft. The problem encompasses both a lack of technical capability and trained personnel for such tasks.

One particular area, in which the alliance is dependent on the US, is the supply of precision munitions. Virtually all the 7,700 bombs and missiles dropped or fired on Libya were American. This is nothing new – this trend has been evident as early as during the Balkan wars two decades ago. Even with the American help, the alliance had only about 40% of the aircraft needed to intercept electronic communications. That drawback hindered the campaign’s effectiveness. Participating members also had difficulties sharing information about Libyan targets due to “classification or procedural reasons,” the report said.

“Nations did not effectively and efficiently share national intelligence and targeting information among allies and with partners,” the document said. “The inability to share information presented a major hindrance to nations deciding if a target could be engaged” based on information from another country. The report, completed in late February by NATO’s Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Center, stays silent on the controversies of the bombing campaign, including numerous civilian deaths in NATO attacks and alleged failures to assist refugee boats in distress.

Fred Abrahams, a special adviser for Human Rights Watch, said the report was consistent with the alliance’s refusal to acknowledge clear mistakes and revealed a “willful decision not to look at civilian casualties.” The report also overlooks some tactical details. For example, it states that NATO had no “boots on the ground,” in line with the UN Security Council resolution which explicitly forbid the alliance carrying out a ground operation in Libya. But the document did not disclose who provided forward air control, helping to guide air strikes from the ground.

The Libya report casts doubt on NATO’s ability to carry out a similar operation in Syria, which some hawkish politicians like US Senator John McCain are calling for. The Syrian army is better armed and organised than Gaddafi’s, while Syria’s armed opposition is weaker than Libya’s was. NATO is planning several measures to address the problems outlines in the report, but they will require years and massive investment to be put in place.

Russian vessels to join china Exercise

Four Russian warships from the Pacific Fleet, as well as support vessels, warplanes, helicopters and naval infantry, will leave Vladivostok on Sunday for a joint exercise with Chinese naval forces The Russian Navy will be represented by the guided missile cruiser Varyag, and three large . Antisubmarine ships in an exercise that is to take place between April 22 and 29 in the Yellow Sea. 

“Three antisubmarine vessels and the Varyag will leave the port of Valdivostok today for the exercise. They are expected to be in China on April 22,” . In all, more than 20 Russian and Chinese warships and support vessels will participate. Since 2005, China and Russia have conducted several joint military exercises within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

The group also includes the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and aims to promote regional cooperation and check U.S. influence.

Aegis getting better

Lockheed Martin’s newest edition of Aegis will be the best it’s ever been, a top company official said Friday, but there’s only so much more that software and other upgrades can do with the existing radars aboard U.S. Navy and international warships.

Jeff Bantle, the company’s vice president for naval combat and missile defense, told reporters that Aegis Baseline 9 will bring new levels of game-changery to cruisers and destroyers: It will be able to do air defense and ballistic missile defense simultaneously; use remote sensor data from tomorrow’s E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft; give greater detail when tracking targets; and be simpler and easier for crews to maintain.

Aegis has already demonstrated its ability to launch on remote in a missile defense test, he said — last year, a Navy ship launched an interceptor against a ballistic missile target with no sensor data of its own. Engineers hope to take advantage of that capability in air warfare as well. As part of the Navy’s plan for integrated fire control, a D-model Hawkeye could spot a threat and order a launch hundreds of miles beyond an Aegis ship’s own sensors, greatly increasing the range of safety for a carrier strike group.

Just like Leica lenses, Baseline 9 will be both backward– and forward-compatible, he said — the Navy can install it on its early model cruisers and destroyers and also put it to sea aboard its new run of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, starting with the very first ship, the USS William S. Sims.

Baseline 9 will sail first aboard the cruiser USS Chancellorsville, which is getting its upgrade now, and then later aboard the destroyer USS John Paul Jones.

Bantle said the latest version of Aegis will be much simpler than the earlier mods, which packed otherwise brand-new ships with a Radio Shack hodgepodge of vacuum tubes, amplifiers and ENIAC-level computing equipment. That complexity — along with Big Navy rollbacks of training and manning — has meant that Aegis has become a maintenance challenge for the surface force. As such, Capability 9 includes a “readiness and supportability maintenance system,” Bantle said, which will help crews diagnose faults, deal with repairs and generally have an easier job running their systems.

So — another rejuvenation for the world’s greatest seagoing combat system. Built to defend carrier groups from Soviet missile attacks in World War III, now Aegis can launch on remote and shoot down intermediate-range ballistic missiles. But there’s only so much the SPY-1 radars on the cruisers and destroyers can do, which is why the Navy wants it future generations of ships to carry new ones.

U.S. Navy Names Five New Submarines

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced today the next five Virginia-class attack submarines will be named the USS Illinois, the USS Washington, the USS Colorado, the USS Indiana, and the USS South Dakota. Mabus named the Virginia-class submarines to honor the great contributions and support these states have given the military through the years. “Each of these five states serves as home to military bases that support our national defense and provides men and women who volunteer to serve their country,” Mabus said.  

“I look forward to these submarines joining the fleet and representing these great states around the world.” None of the five states has had a ship named for it for more than 49 years. The most recent to serve was the battleship the USS Indiana, which was decommissioned in October 1963. The selection of Illinois, designated SSN 786, is the second ship to bear the state name and is home to the Navy’s one and only Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes where every enlisted sailor begins his or her service. The selection of Washington, designated SSN 787, is the third ship to bear the state name and the state’s Puget Sound area, where the Navy’s third-largest fleet concentration is located. The selection of Colorado, designated SSN 788, is the third ship to bear the state name. The second ship was a battleship that stood as the lead ship of her class and took part in the Tarawa invasion. 

The selection of Indiana, designated SSN 789, is the third ship to bear the state name and is the home to the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division, in Crane, Ind., the Navy’s premier engineering, acquisition and sustainment organization which supports our maritime warriors. The selection of South Dakota, designated SSN 790, is the third ship to bear the state name. The second ship was a battleship that also stood as the lead ship of her class and fought extensively in the Pacific theater during World War II. “Prior ships carrying the names of these five states stood as defenders of freedom on the water. Now these states will represent the latest and greatest technology ever assembled to submerge below the surface and project power forward,” Mabus said. 

These next-generation attack submarines will provide the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation's undersea supremacy well into the 21st century. They will have enhanced stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities, and special warfare enhancements that will enable them to meet the Navy's multi-mission requirements. These submarines will have the capability to attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters or other sea-based forces. Other missions include anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare; mine delivery and minefield mapping. 

They are also designed for special forces delivery and support. Each Virginia-class submarine is 7,800-tons and 377 feet in length, has a beam of 34 feet, and can operate at more than 25 knots submerged. It is designed with a reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship, reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time. The submarines will be built in partnership with General Dynamics/Electric Boat Corp. SSN 786, 788 and 790 will be built by Electric Boat in Groton, Conn. SSN 787 and 789 will be built by Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va.

Friday, 13 April 2012

UAV Market : 89 Billion $ in 10 years

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) continue as the most dynamic growth sector of the world aerospace industry this decade, report Teal analysts in their latest integrated market analysis.

Teal Group's 2012 market study estimates that UAV spending will almost double over the next decade from current worldwide UAV e xpenditures of $6.6 billion annually to $11.4 billion, totaling just over $89 billion in the next ten years.

"The UAV market will continue to be strong despite cuts in defense spending," said Philip Finnegan, Teal Group's director of corporate analysis and an author of the study. "UAVs have proved their value in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and will continue to be a high priority for militaries in the United States and worldwide."

"The Teal Group study predicts that the U.S. will account for 62% of the worldwide RDT&E spending on UAV technology over the next decade, and 55% of the procurement," said Teal Group senior analyst Steve Zaloga, another author of the 574-page study.

The ninth edition of the sector study, World Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems, Market Profile and Forecast 2012, examines the worldwide requirements for UAVs, including UAV payloads and companies, and provides ten-year forecasts by country, region, and classes of UAVs.

Teal Group analysts already cover the UAV market in their World Missiles and UAV Briefing, which examines the UAV market on a program-by-program basis. Sensor payloads are also treated in Teal's Military Electronics Briefing. The sector study examines the UAV market from a complementary perspective, namely national requirements, and includes both a comprehensive analysis of UAV system payloads and key UAV manufacturers.

UAV Payloads

The 2012 study provides 10-year funding and production forecasts for a wide range of UAV payloads, including Electro-Optic/Infrared Sensors (EO/IR), Synthetic Aperture Radars (SARs), SIGINT and EW Systems, C4I Systems, and CBRN Sensors, worth $2.7 billion in Fiscal Year 2012 and forecast to increase to $6.0 billion in Fiscal Year 2021. The UAV electronics market will grow steadily, with the fastest growth and opportunities in SAR and SIGINT/EW, according to Dr. David Rockwell, third author of the new study.

"Few now question that ISR is 'the centerpiece of our global war on terrorism', with production beginning for major endurance UAV systems such as MP-RTIP, new development programs such as wide angle EO/IR systems, a variety of ground and foliage-penetrating radars and an ongoing 'sensor drift' as more sophisticated non-EO sensors are developed for smaller and smaller UAVs".

"The payload portion of the 2012 study includes many new systems and system types, including a new section on UAV self-defenses. Overall, UAV SIGINT and EW markets will see a massive 20.2% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) from FY12 to FY17," according to Dr. Rockwell.

UAV Companies

The study also includes a UAV Manufacturers Market Overview that reflects the worldwide UAV market "again continuing as one of the prime areas of growth for defense and aerospace companies," said Finnegan. The new study reflects the rapid growth of interest in the UAV business by increasing the number of companies covered to some 40 U.S., European, South African and Israeli companies, and reveals the fundamental reshaping of the industrial environment.

All companies have been updated including their involvement and strategy in UAVs and five new companies have been included: Canada's Aeryon and CAE, Inc., South Africa's Denel, US-based Griffon Aerospace and France's Dassault Aviation.

As prime contractors and small companies compete in the dynamic UAV market, they are adopting widely different strategies. "Our overview tracks the widely varying approaches being taken by these key companies, ranging from outright acquisitions to teaming arrangements and internal development of new UAV systems," said Finnegan.

The 2012 edition increased 25% in size, and, for the first time, includes UAV market forecast spreadsheets, permitting data manipulation and offering a powerful strategic planning mechanism.

The Teal Group is an aerospace and defense market analysis firm based in Fairfax, Virginia USA. It provides competitive intelligence to industry and government worldwide.

North Korea`s failed missile launch

North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command officials acknowledged today that U.S. systems detected and tracked a launch of a North Korean TaepoDong-2 missile at 6:39 p.m. EDT.

The missile was tracked on a southerly launch over the Yellow Sea, according to a statement issued from Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.

Initial indications are that the missile's first stage fell into the sea 102.5 miles west of Seoul, South Korea, the statement says. The other two stages were assessed to have failed and no debris fell on land, it says.

"At no time were the missile or resulting debris a threat," it says.

"Despite the failure of its attempted missile launch," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement tonight, "North Korea's provocative action threatens regional security, violates international law and contravenes its own recent commitments."

The action is not surprising given North Korea's pattern of aggressive behavior, he added, but any missile activity by North Korea is of concern to the international community.

"The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations, and is fully committed to the security of our allies in the region," Carney said.

President Barack Obama "has been clear that he is prepared to engage constructively with North Korea," the press secretary said, adding that the president "has also insisted that North Korea live up to its own commitments, adhere to its international obligations and deal peacefully with its neighbors."

North Korea will only show strength and find security, Carney added, "by abiding by international law, living up to its obligations, and by working to feed its citizens, to educate its children, and to win the trust of its neighbors."

A spokesman for the Korean Committee for Space Technology announced March 16 that North Korea would launch a long-range Unha-3 rocket between April 12 and 16.

He said the rocket would carry a North Korean-made Kwangmyongsong-3 polar-orbiting observation satellite to mark the 100th birthday of the late President Kim Il Sung on April 15.

America`s Stealth Strike Force

The first sign of the coming U.S. air raid was when the enemy radar and air-defense missile sites began exploding. The strikers were Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, flying unseen and faster than the speed of sound, 50,000 feet over the battlefield. Having emptied their weapons bays of super-accurate, 250-pound Small Diameter Bombs, the Raptors turned to engage enemy jet fighters rising in defense of their battered allies on the ground.

That’s when all hell broke loose. As the Raptors smashed the enemy jets with Amraam and Sidewinder missiles, nimble Air Force F-16s swooped in to reinforce the F-22s, launching their own air-to-air missiles and firing guns to add to the aerial carnage. 

With enemy defenses collapsing, B-1 bombers struck. Several of the 150-ton, swing-wing warplanes, having flown 10 hours from their base in South Dakota, launched radar-evading Jassm cruise missiles that slammed into ground targets, pulverizing them with their 2,000-pound warheads. Its weapons expended, the strike force streaked away. Behind it, the enemy’s planes and ground forces lay in smoking ruin. 

The devastating air strike on April 4 involved real warplanes launching a mix of real and computer-simulated weapons at mock targets scattered across the U.S. military’s vast Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex near Fort Yukon, a tiny former fur trading post, population 583. “Operation Chimichanga,” as the exercise was reportedly designated, was the first-ever test of a new Air Force long-range strike team combining upgraded Lockheed Martin F-22s and Boeing B-1s carrying the latest air-launched munitions, along with old-school fighters, tankers and radar planes for support. 

Officially, Operation Chimichanga was meant “to validate the long-range strike capability of the B-1s as well as the F-22s’ and F-16s’ ability to escort them into an anti-access target area,” according to Lt. Col. Joseph Kunkel, commander of the Alaska-based Raptor squadron with the latest “Increment 3.1″ upgrade. 

Unofficially, the exercise was a proof-of-concept for the Air Force’s evolving tactics for battling China over the vast western Pacific. Of course, the Air Force would never say that. In fact, the flying branch has said very little about Operation Chimichanga, aside from an official news story containing few details. We know when and where the exercise took place, which planes were involved and, to a lesser extent, which munitions. The scenario described above is largely a recreation based on these known facts plus years of aerospace reporting and a general understanding of the Air Force’s methods and aims. 

While the Alaska test apparently proved that the stealthy strike team can defeat determined enemy forces at long range, it also underscored America’s vulnerability against the fast-growing Chinese military. It takes the latest stealth fighters and upgraded bombers flying as a team to beat China, and thanks to developmental problems America has only so many of those airplanes to work with. 

Pacific Pivot 

For more than a decade the Air Force has been quietly preparing for the unthinkable: a full-scale war with China. For such a conflict to occur, multiple layers of diplomatic and economic safeguards would have to simultaneously fail. In other words, war with China is as unlikely as it is unthinkable. All the same, as China grows more powerful, America boosts its own weaponry to keep pace. “The peace of East Asia has largely been kept by the very conspicuous presence of American military power,” Jonathan Levine notes in The National Interest. 

America’s Pacific arsenal — 100,000 forward-deployed troops, 100 warships and thousands of warplanes — suffered somewhat from the resource-intensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But with those wars ended or ending, Washington has pivoted back towards the western Pacific. U.S. Pacific Command is getting a greater share of American submarines, aircraft carriers, Littoral Combat Ships, stealth fighters and drones. 

The Air Force’s roughly 150 B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers will play a bigger role, too. Originally designed to drop nuclear bombs on the Soviet Union, in recent years all three models have been upgraded with new sensors, better communications and conventional weaponry including smart bombs, bunker-busters and cruise missiles. 

Bomber tactics have gotten a refresh, too. In 2003, the Air Force began posting bomber squadrons to Guam on a rotating basis, putting them within quick flying range of China. A year later, Danger Room pal Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula, now retired, helped organize thefirst-ever test sinking of a warship by a Boeing B-52 carrying smart bombs. 

The 60 B-1s, normally based in Texas and South Dakota, have spent much of the last decade flying close air support over Iraq and Afghanistan. The ebbing of the those air campaigns freed up the 150-foot-long planes for other assignments. Last year two B-1s flew an epic, 24-hour mission from South Dakota to Libya, striking no fewer than 100 ground targets — a feat that required careful coordination and a mountain of paperwork by the different commands involved. Operation Chimichanga a year later was meant to see whether the same methods could work over the Pacific. 

In parallel, the Air Force has tweaked the B-1′s equipment specifically for its new Pacific role. Last fall the flying branch added new GBU-54 Laser JDAMs, a version of the classic satellite-guided bomb that has also has laser guidance for last-minute adjustments — the kind you’d need to hit a moving ship. “It’s the first weapon where you can control it after it’s left the jet,” Capt. Alicia Datzman, a B-1 crewmember, tells Danger Room. 

But it’s the new Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, built by Lockheed, that could prove the most important in any future war against China. The B-1 is only moderately stealthy. “We’re about the size of an F-16 on radar,” says Col. David Been, commander of the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess Air Force Base in Texas. “But we’re by no means low-observable.” That means the 1980s-vintage bomber needs to stay outside the range of China’s deadly surface-to-air missiles, such as the HQ-15. The Jassm, which comes in 200-mile-range and 600-mile-range versions, can strike targets from farther away than the HQ-15 can defend. The B-1 can carry 24 of the cruise missiles, more than any other plane. 

One-Two Punch 

China is steadily improving its air defenses. To make sure the bombers can get through, the Air Force plans to send fully-stealthy warplanes in first. The Northrop Grumman B-2 stealth bomber is the ideal trailblazer, as it proved over Libya when three B-2s knocked out the bulk of Libya’s radars, missiles and airfields in a single pass. But the Air Force possesses just 20 B-2s, only a handful of which are combat-ready at any moment. 

So the F-22 fills in. With the latest Increment 3.1 upgrade, the F-22s can lob 250-pound, Boeing-built Small Diameter Bombs at least 60 miles with pinpoint accuracy, a capability apparently tested out during Operation Chimichanga. The Raptor-bomb combo “was critical to follow-on forces completing their missions,” F-22 commander Kunkel said. 

But even the F-22 is in short supply. So far only one Alaska-based squadron has the Increment 3.1 Raptors. When the upgrade is complete, around 150 F-22s will be able to carry the tiny, precise bomb — still a relatively small force for taking on potentially thousands of Chinese radars, missiles and jet fighters. The smaller F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is supposed to give the Air Force stealth capability in large numbers, but the F-35 is tens of billions of dollars over-budget and five years behind schedule. 

In 2006, the Air Force launched an effort to build as many as 100 new stealth bombers. But the Next Generation Bomber experienced its own out-of-control cost growth. Then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates canceled the new bomber in 2009 and told the Air Force to start from scratch. 

With the approval of current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, last year the flying branch initiated development of the Long-Range Strike Bomber, a slightly down-graded version of the Next-Generation Bomber. Allegedly, it will cost just $550 million per copy — a fraction what the B-2 cost. (Although many military observers believe the new bomber’s price tag will grow significantly.) If and when the new bomber enters service sometime in the 2020s, it could significantly shift the Pacific balance of power. 

In the meantime, teamwork is the key. The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are working on AirSea Battle, a new playbook for combining their forces in Pacific combat. In that spirit, B-1s and other upgraded bombers will fly and fight alongside the latest F-22s and other warplanes, relying on new weapons and coordinated tactics to make up for a paucity of stealth. If Operation Chimichanga is any indication, these methods are deadly effective. 

Unmanned marine vessel

Textron built two of the vessels, at its own expense, in the hope that the U.S. Navy or another international navy will be interested in them. The prototypes, which were constructed in Maryland, will undergo testing with the Navy this summer at Camp Pendleton in San Diego.

The vessels can be adapted to perform several functions. They can root out underwater mines, conduct security patrols, perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations and execute surface warfare. "We really give the potential customer a variety of missions they can use for the same craft," said Ryan Hazlett, CUSV program director for Textron Marine & Land Systems.

Hazlett would not say how much each vessel cost to manufacture. The price, Hazlett said, can vary depending on what task the vessel is designed to perform.

The CUSV was created using technology from AAI, a unit of Textron Inc., of which Textron Marine & Land Systems also is a part. The AAI technology has previously been used in shadow craft flight vehicles. Although militaries have been using unmanned flight vehicles for years, the pilotless marine vessel has been absent from the market, Hazlett said.

"There's just been a delay in the acceptance and change in the tactics for the Navy to readily accept this technology," Hazlett said. "While everyone has focused on the unmanned air vehicles, it only makes sense to say what's next." The CUSV can be operated from another ship, from land or from the air. It can also be configured beforehand and left on its own. With no payload, the vessel can operate on its own for about 48 hours.

"Unmanned craft do the dull, the dirty and the dangerous jobs," Hazlett said. "They keep troops safe." If the Navy does option the vessel, production would be conducted in the New Orleans area, likely at Textron's facility on Chef Menteur Highway. Such a manufacturing program would be a win for the area following the loss of the external fuel tank program at the Michoud Assembly Facility and next year's planned closure of the Avondale shipyard. Both facilities had employed thousands of people.

"From an economic standpoint, bringing those jobs to Louisiana and New Orleans is always and important part," said Tom Walmsley, senior vice president and general manager of Textron Marine & Land Systems.

S-300V to russia

The Army air defence of the Land Forces of Russia will be additionally equipped this year with the advanced, fourth modification of the S-300V anti-aircraft missile system.  "Within the development of air defence weapons of the Land Forces this year it is planned to complete the modernisation of the C-300V system to the S-300V4 level," . "The state contract on the supply of new anti-aircraft missiles of the S-300V4 systems has also been signed." 

"The range of the heavy missiles' firing is over 300 kilometres,". In late March, he recalled, tactical exercises of the Naro-Fominsk antiaircraft missile brigade were conducted at the Kapustin Yar ranged in the Astrakhan region.  During the weapons training exercise the S-300V upgraded anti-aircraft missile systems confirmed their high performance, hitting air targets. 

The S-300V (Army), in contrast to the S-300 conventional medium-range missile system, was specially developed for RF Land Forces and its launcher is installed on tracked transporters.  A major difference of the S-300V from the "parallel" system is that it has not one but two types of anti-aircraft guided missiles. 

One is used for hitting aerodynamic targets at ranges of up to 75 kilometres. Another missile of the "ground- to-ground" class can hit ballistic targets, as well as all types of aircraft with speeds of up to 3,000 metres per second at a range of up to 100 kilometres. 

The S-300V system is carried on tracked MT-T transporters, which gives it better cross-country mobility than even the S-300Ps on 8x8 wheeled transporters. The performance characteristics of the S-300V4 exceed 1.5-2.3 times the capacity of the preceding, third modification of the system. 

In the firing range and other parameters it is close to the S-400 "Triumph" characteristics owing to the introduction of new components, hardware and computing facilities. 

Boeing delivers Wideband Global SATCOM military communications satellite

Boeing announced today that the U.S. Air Force accepted control of the fourth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) military communications satellite on April 11, after the spacecraft passed several weeks of rigorous on-orbit tests.

WGS-4 was launched Jan. 19 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket. It is the first spacecraft in the program's upgraded Block II series, which includes a new radio frequency (RF) bypass that supports the transmission of airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance imagery at data rates approximately three times greater than those currently available on Block I satellites.

"This fourth WGS satellite adds substantial capacity and resiliency to the WGS constellation," said Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager, Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems. "The team worked around the clock to ensure that all testing was completed successfully, and that the satellite was healthy and ready for customer handover. We remain committed to the Air Force, the WGS mission, and to continuing to support the delivery of this critical enhancement of warfighter communications."

On-orbit testing demonstrated the functionality of WGS-4's communications payload features by passing test signals through each of the satellite's 19 antenna beams. The tests also verified WGS-4's beam-steering functions.

Boeing performed the on-orbit testing from the company's Mission Control Center in El Segundo and from government facilities in central California. Air Force operations personnel at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado are conducting additional tests and preparing to move WGS-4 into its operational position. The satellite is expected to go into service this summer.

WGS satellites are built on the proven Boeing 702HP platform, which features highly efficient xenon-ion propulsion, deployable thermal radiators, and advanced triple-junction gallium-arsenide solar arrays that enable high-capacity, flexible payloads. The WGS communications payload has unique flexibility that is important to the military, as well as the ability to interconnect terminals that operate in different frequency bands and to reposition coverage beams based on evolving mission needs. WGS supports missions including tactical communications to and between ground forces, and relaying data and imagery from airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

India's tank fleet without ammunition

India's tank fleet lacks ammunition, its air defences are "97 percent obsolete" and its elite forces need essential weapons, the country's army chief wrote in an explosive letter leaked. The letter to the prime minister dated March 12 -- widely reported by the Indian media -- lists shortcomings of the armed forces in embarrassing detail in a serious blow to the government and the Asian giant's military prestige.

The state of the major (fighting) arms i.e. mechanised forces, artillery, air defence, infantry and special forces, as well as the engineers and signals, is indeed alarming. The army's entire tank fleet is "devoid of critical ammunition to defeat enemy tanks", while the air defence system is "97% obsolete and it doesn't give the deemed confidence to protect... from the air,". The infantry is crippled with "deficiencies" and lacks night fighting equipment, while the elite special forces are "woefully short" of "essential weapons."

India remains concerned over China's military build-up along the countries' disputed border -- the trigger for a brief war between the Asian giants in 1962 -- and faces arch-foe Pakistan to its west.

The government this month announced a 17-percent rise in defence spending to $40 billion in its budget for 2012/13 -- following a 12-percent increase in the previous budget. Between 2007 and 2011, India overtook China to be the biggest arms importer, accounting for 10 percent of the global arms market, according to recent data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

India's military is also negotiating to acquire a slew of new equipment from combat aircraft to submarines and artillery. It is currently finalising a deal with France's Dassault Aviation to buy 126 Rafale fighter jets in a contract worth an estimated $12 billion.

Pakistan`s increasing nuclear arsenal

From Weapons and technology

Estimated to have more nuclear weapons than India, Pakistan is rapidly developing and expanding its atomic arsenal, spending about $ 2.5 billion a year to develop such weapons, a report has said.

“Pakistan has been rapidly developing and expanding its nuclear arsenal, increasing its capacity to produce plutonium, and testing and deploying a diverse array of nuclear-capable ballistic and cruise missiles,” said the report ‘Assuring Destruction Forever: Nuclear Modernisation Around the World’

“Pakistan is moving from an arsenal based wholly on HEU to greater reliance on lighter and more compact plutonium-based weapons, which is made possible by a rapid expansion in plutonium production capacity,” said the 150-page report by Reaching Critical Will of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

“Pakistan is also moving from aircraft-delivered nuclear bombs to nuclear-armed ballistic and cruise missiles and from liquid-fuelled to solid-fuelled medium-range missile. Pakistan also has a growing nuclear weapons research, development, and production infrastructure,” it said.

According to the report Pakistan is estimated to have 90-110 nuclear weapons.

“A long-term concern now driving Pakistan’s nuclear programme is the US policy of countering the rise of China by cultivating a stronger strategic relationship with India. This may tie the future of Pakistan and India’s nuclear weapons to the emerging contest between the United States and China,” said the report.

Pakistan has a number of short—range, medium, and longer—range road—mobile ballistic surface—to—surface missiles in various stages of development.

“It has developed a second generation of ballistic missile systems over the past five years. It is estimated that Pakistan could have a stockpile of 2750 kg of weapon—grade HEU and may be producing about 150 kg of HEU per year,” it said.

Estimates suggest Pakistan has produced a total of about 140 kg of plutonium, the report said.

While not much information is available on the funding of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons project, the report said estimates indicate that Pakistan spends about $ 2.5 billion a year on nuclear weapons.

Despite extensive foreign military assistance, Pakistan’s effort to sustain its conventional and nuclear military programmes has come at increasingly great cost to the effort to meet basic human needs and improve living standards, the report said.

India, the report says, is estimated to have 80-100 nuclear warheads.

“It is also developing a range of delivery vehicles, including land— and sea—based missiles, bombers, and submarines,” it said.

“While nuclear weapons used to be seen as a ‘necessary evil’, there is no more enthusiasm for India to become a bonafide nuclear weapon power that can exercise its military might in the region,” it said.

HMS Defender sails

The fifth of Britain's Type 45 destroyers is getting closer to being taken in to operational services after completing her second period of sea trials off Scotland.

HMS Defender spent nearly a month off the Scottish coast testing her combat systems and sensors ahead of her impending handover to the Royal Navy and is now in the final weeks of trials and tests on the Clyde as she prepares to join her sisters in Portsmouth.

Defender put to sea for her first sea trials last autumn, sailing two years to the day of her launch, to test the basics – engines, power and manoeuvrability.

As with those inaugural trials, Defender's second trials period saw a mixed crew from her builders BAE Systems, plus the growing band of Royal Navy personnel assigned to her, to give the ship a thorough run-out.

After a few sea safety trials, which all went well, the ship quickly knuckled down to manoeuvring and power and propulsion trials before the crux of the renewed spell at sea: combat systems.

The team aboard attuned all the various weapons and sensor sub-systems to the main command system – the brains of Defender where all the information is fused to give the operations room team the complete picture.

Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Pearce said:

"It is a great privilege to be serving as the Weapon Engineer Officer in HMS Defender, these trials marked another significant step to not only acceptance of the ship by the Royal Navy but success on operations in the future.

"Defender boasts extremely impressive capability throughout her decks which was tuned to optimum performance over the trials period."

The ship is affiliated to Glasgow and Exeter and her second time at sea gave her mixed BAE Systems and Royal Navy ship's company the chance to help out good causes in those cities.

Horse racing nights, an Ironman athletics competition, bingo and quizzes helped raise £1,500 for Kelbourne School for physically-impaired youngsters in Glasgow, Dream-a-Way Holidays in Exeter which organises holidays for people in the West Country with disabilities, and BAE's favoured charity, Erskine Hospital.

Defender also hosted her first VIP sea day where she welcomed the destroyer's sponsor, Lady Julie Massey, who launched the ship on Trafalgar Day 2009, as well as the great and the good from industry and the MOD's maritime defence procurement team.

HMS Defender continues to hit every milestone towards her delivery to Portsmouth and the Royal Navy in July.

She's due to be declared operational in early 2013, by which time the final ship in the Type 45 programme, HMS Duncan, will have made her debut at sea. She's in the latter stages of fitting out at Scotstoun and sails later this year on her first trials.

INS Teg will join Indian Navy in April

INS Teg, a Project 11356 (INS Talwar) class frigate, will be handed over to the Indian Navy on April 27 at a ceremony at Yantar Shipyard in Russia.

The ceremony will be attended by high ranking Indian diplomats and Navy officers, besides Russian officials.

According to RusNavy.com, an Indian Navy crew carried out acceptance trials of the frigate starting March 5 in the Baltic Sea. Currently, on shore acceptance trials are underway at Yantar Shipyard, having started on April 9.

Earlier in February, the frigate completed its final sea trials, including main gun and Brahmos missile firings.

Launched on November 27, 2009, INS Teg commenced sea trials on September 1, 2011. The trials were originally scheduled to start Feb-March 2011.

During the sea trial in October 2011, the port side cruising turbine of INS Teg was damaged forcing suspension of trials and a return to shipyard. The damaged turbine was replaced in two weeks, adjusted, and the ship tested at dagaussing station at the Baltiysk base. The ship then cleared its mooring trials using the replaced turbine and on November 5 took to the sea again.

The Indian Navy currently operates three Project 11356 (Modified Krivak III) class stealth frigates. They are INS Talwar (2002), Trishul (2003) and Tabar (Jul 2004). Additional three ships are on order from Russia under Project 11356.

Below is a video showing the 100mm A-190 gun on the INS Teg firing 28 rounds in succession during its sea trials on December 22, 2011 in the Baltic Sea.

2 Russian planes flies over Japanese destroyer

Two Russian anti-submarine aircraft have flown over a Japanese destroyer preparing to shoot down a North Korean rocket if it passes over Japan's territory. 

According to the ministry, the Il-38 planes were seen on Tuesday off the south-west coast of the largest Japanese island of Honshu, where the destroyer is currently based. The ministry said that Japanese fighters accompanied the IL-38s during their flight.

The NHK TV channel suggested that the Russian planes had been collecting information on the multi-purpose combat system Aegis which is installed on the destroyer. Russian patrol aircrafts have been spotted performing reconnaissance missions, without violating borders, off the coast of Japan since the end of March, NHK reported.

Japan has dispatched destroyers as North Korea makes final preparations for a rocket launch that could take place this week. The isolated East Asian state will launch a rocket it says will put a weather satellite into orbit to mark the 100th birthday of its late founder, Kim Il-sung. It also says the launch is in compliance with the Space Treaty, which guarantees every state the right to carry out space programs.

Rolls-Royce power behind Littoral Combat Ship

From Weapons and technology

Rolls-Royce, the global power systems company, has secured a contract to supply power and propulsion systems for the two latest vessels in the U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) programme.

Designed to operate in combat zones close to the shore (littoral waters), each LCS will be equipped with two Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbines powering four large Mk1 waterjets. This will enable the vessels to reach speeds in excess of 40 knots.

This latest order is for ships named Little Rock and Sioux City, and follows previous orders for the Milwaukee and the Detroit, which are both under construction. Rolls-Royce already powers two Lockheed Martin Littoral Combat Ships, the USS Freedom, which was deployed two years early and the Fort Worth, which is due to complete trials later this spring.

Andrew Marsh, Rolls-Royce, President - Naval said: “This order builds on the success of the    Rolls-Royce powered Littoral Combat Ships to date and we’re delighted that we will also power the Little Rock and the Sioux City.

“We have worked closely with Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Navy and other partners during the LCS programme, using our extensive experience to further develop these highly advanced ships. The combination of the MT30 gas turbine and our latest waterjet technology will ensure these ships are at the cutting edge of global naval capability.”

The MT30 is derived from Rolls-Royce aero engine technology and builds on over 45 million hours of operating experience.  At 36 megawatts, it is the world’s most powerful marine gas turbine and has the highest power density - a key factor in naval propulsion where delivering a high power output in a compact space is essential. The MT30 has also been selected for the U.S. Navy’s DDG-1000 Zumwalt class destroyer programme as well as the UK Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.

The waterjets are among the largest produced by Rolls-Royce and can pump water at a combined rate of 25,000 gallons per second – enough to fill an Olympic style swimming pool in 25 seconds.

In addition to gas turbines and waterjets, a significant range of Rolls-Royce equipment is specified in the Lockheed Martin design, including shaftlines, bearings and propulsion system software.

Philippines navy against Chinese Navy

The Philippines said its biggest warship was locked in a standoff on Wednesday with two Chinese surveillance ships that were blocking the arrest of Chinese fishermen in the disputed South China Sea.

The incident is one of the most high-profile flare-ups in recent years between the two countries over their competing territorial claims to parts of the South China Sea, which is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits.

Eight Chinese boats that had been caught illegally fishing were anchored within Philippine territory off Scarborough Shoal, 124 nautical miles from the western coast of the country's main island of Luzon, the government said.

The foreign affairs department statement said the Philippine Navy's flagship vessel, the Gregorio Del Pilar, found the fishing boats there on Sunday while patrolling the area.

Two "Chinese maritime surveillance ships" then sailed to the shoal on Tuesday, the statement said.

The surveillance ships placed themselves between the Gregorio del Pilar and the fishing boats, "thus preventing the arrest of the erring Chinese fishermen", the statement said.

"The situation has remained unchanged as of this morning," it said.

Philippine navy personnel who initially boarded the Chinese boats discovered illegally collected corals, giant clams and live sharks inside their compartments, according to the statement.

Foreign department spokesman Raul Hernandez said it was not clear whether the Chinese surveillance ships were armed, and that efforts were being made to settle the issue peacefully.

"What is happening now is that there is this situation that has not changed, there is a standoff, and we would like to resolve this," Hernandez said over DZBB radio in Manila.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario contacted China's ambassador to the Philippines, Ma Keqing, on Tuesday night to emphasise that the area was "an integral part of Philippine territory", according to the government statement.

Ma had been called in for discussions with del Rosario on Wednesday morning, it said.

China insists it has sovereign rights to all of the South China Sea, even waters close to the coast of other countries and hundreds of kilometres (miles) from its own landmass.

The Philippines says it has sovereign rights over areas of the sea within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, and that its position is supported by international law.

Apart from China and the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam also have overlapping claims to parts of the South China Sea, making the waters one of Asia's potential flashpoints for armed conflict.

The Philippines and Vietnam complained last year of increasingly aggressive acts by China in staking its claim to the South China Sea.

The Philippines accused Chinese vessels of firing warning shots at Filipino fishermen, as well as harassing an oil exploration vessel and placing markers on islets within Filipino territory.

Philippine concerns about China's perceived aggressiveness prompted it to seek help from the United States in building up its poorly equipped military and weak maritime defence capabilities.

The United States responded favourably, delivering the Gregorio del Pilar, a a 115-metre (378-foot) decommissioned US coast guard cutter, to replace a World War II-era vessel as the Philippine Navy's biggest and newest ship.

The United States promised more military aid and a second patrol vessel is due to arrive this year.

The Philippines is also hoping to acquire American F-16 fighter jets, President Benigno Aquino told AFP last month.

Russia waiting for S-500

From Weapons and technology

The S-500, a new generation surface-to-air missile system, is to enter the Russian Air Defense arsenal in 2015. At present, the Russian Air Forces are outfitted with the S-400 and S-300V4 complexes, which see their production rates gradually increasing. Still, the older generation of these missile defense systems is here to stay.

The planned date of the S-500's introduction into service was announced last week by Major General Viktor Gumennoi, Head of the Russian Air Defense Forces. Under the 2011-2020 State Armament Program, the Russian Air Forces will be supplied with ten S-500 battalions over the first five years of the system's batch production. The S-500 surface-to-air complex can engage cruise, ballistic and medium-range missiles, as well as planes, drones and space targets.

The development of the unified S-500U system for the Russian Air Defense and army air defense units was launched in the 1960s by the Russian military and the First Design Bureau with the Soviet Ministry of Radio Industry, the main research unit of the Almaz-Antei company. The initial S-500U was supposed to engage predominantly enemy aircraft.

At the end of the 1960s, however, the military changed their heart in favour of a unified S-300 family, which included the S-300V, its army version, designed to engage ballistic missiles as well as the anti-cruise missile and anti-aircraft S-300P which was designed for the Soviet Air Forces.

The latter served as the basis for the naval S-300F missile. Still, their unification failed. The radar stations of the S-300V and S-300P shared only 50% of common design, whereas other crucial systems were completely different.

The collapse of the Soviet Union stalled many prospective projects, while the surface-to-air system research lived on. Towed S-300PT launchers were scrapped by the end of the 1990s; self-propelled S-300PSs, deployed in the mid-1980s, were revamped and re-emerged as S-200PMs.

Meanwhile, another version of the system, known as the S-300PMU, gained world recognition and became a clear favourite. The anti-missile S-300V remained in the background, while the versions that had already entered into the service were modernized.

Further research in the field of next generation anti-missile and anti-aircraft systems resulted in the new S-400 system, an invention that allowed to resume the development of the unified S-500 complex on a new conceptual level. The batch production of the S-400 was officially launched in 2006, with the first battalion entering the Russian service as early as next year. However, their production rate has turned out to be lower than expected.

Today, a lot of hopes are pinned on the new plants that are to be built in Kirov and in Nizhny Novgorod, where the first lines are set to be started in 2015. The Kirov factory will be building anti-aircraft missiles, while the Nizhny Novgorod facility will produce launchers, radar stations, and command posts.

At this rate, by 2016, the Russian defence industry will reach the production capacity of five to six battalions a year. This will lead to the Russian Air Forces falling short of sixteen to twenty S-400 battalions out of the expected fifty six.

Considering that the S-500 program is still running behind schedule, it will probably be tested only in 2015, with its batch production kicking off after 2017.

As a result, the Russian military can actually fall short of some twenty five battalions out of the sixty six S-400/500 artillery batteries slated to enter its service by 2020. Although the S-300V4 deliveries will be running their course, they will replace the obsolete S-300V versions and therefore won't improve the situation around the outdated S-300P series.

Thus, it's becoming increasingly important to revamp the deployed S-300PM systems or even their earlier variants. The air force "workhorses" can even be given a second life by using the modern components and upgraded missiles, which will allow Russia to compensate for the shortage of new air defense systems while the S-400/500 production is gaining steam.

Today, the Russian military has eighty to hundred S-300PM and S-300 PS battalions at its disposal. To prevent its air defense field from shrinking, it will have to keep at least fifty S-300 batteries in its ranks by 2020.

2,000th microwave power module

Northrop Grumman Corporation recently celebrated the completion of its 2,000th microwave power module, an integral component in radars, jammers and other military electronics.

Microwave power modules are devices that amplify radio frequency signals to high power. These assemblies are critical components in electronic warfare and countermeasure systems such as the AN/ALQ-135 for U.S. and international F-15 aircraft. The power these modules generate allows systems like the ALQ-135 to defeat electronic threats with strong signals, protecting the aircraft and its crew.

"For 20 years and counting, Northrop Grumman has been manufacturing highly reliable miniaturized microwave power modules that our warfighters depend on in combat," said Janine Nyre, Northrop Grumman's vice president of radio frequency combat information systems. "Our continued investment has led to microwave power modules that are both smaller and more powerful; enabling systems ready to protect aircrews from the threats of today and tomorrow."

Northrop Grumman's experience in electronic warfare and countermeasures spans decades. In addition to the ALQ-135, Northrop Grumman has developed a variety of systems such as the AN/ALQ-218 Tactical Jamming Receiver, Falcon Edge Integrated Electronic Warfare Suite and dual mode/dual beam traveling wave tubes for the B-1B bomber.

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.

Future Vertical Lift

From Weapons and technology

The Army's aircraft of the future will be faster than what the service has now, it will carry more weight, it will require less of a logistical footprint, and officials said it will better do what Army aviation is meant to do: serve the ground commander.

While what is now being called "Future Vertical Lift," or FVL, by the Army is still a concept, its capabilities are already known.

The FVL concept will be "able to support the Army and the ground commanders better than we can do it today," said Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, commander, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence." I see this aircraft being able to do all the missions that we currently do. I see the aircraft that can do it because it can be scaled. It may be a medium variant, something that is the size of maybe a Black Hawk or an Apache is today, that can do the attack mission, or the assault/lift mission. I see the same aircraft scaled smaller that will be able to do the reconnaissance mission, similar to what a Kiowa Warrior does today."

Crutchfield said it's not known if the FVL concept will end up producing a rotary-wing aircraft, like the Army AH-64 Apache, or a tilt-rotor aircraft like the Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey.

What the FVL will do is perform missions the Army does today with its aviation assets, missions that will not change.

"The vision is that we can have an aircraft that can do all the missions that we currently have," he said. "Our missions will not change. We still will do attack and reconnaissance, we still will do sustainment and troop movements. It's an enduring mission that will not change. I just want to do it better."

The FVL aircraft will perform multiple roles, Crutchfield said, and that means that the end result is that there will be fewer types of aircraft in the Army's fleet. It's also possible that there will be fewer aircraft overall, because a more capable aircraft means that fewer aircraft will be needed.

"Today there are concepts where there are aircraft that we consider rotary wing, that can fly in excess of 300 knots," Crutchfield said. "No other aircraft we have today can fly 300 knots. If you have an aircraft that can fly 300 knots, it can cover more terrain faster, and if you can cover more terrain faster, theoretically, you would need less airframes to do the same type mission."

And because Crutchfield said the idea behind the FVL concept is to have the same aircraft be able to perform multiple missions, the Army will need fewer types of aircraft. That means a smaller number of parts will be needed to sustain the fleet, and a shared pool of maintainers and maintenance equipment. That will result in a reduced cost for logistics.

Crutchfield said that the FVL could come in different sizes, depending on the mission it will perform, but things like engine, drive train, and cockpit components would be the same, common between the two, and swappable.

Today's Army aircraft, Crutchfield said, are capable. But there is a limit to the performance that can be squeezed from them.

"Although we have great aircraft today, the best in the world, no matter how much money we invest in these aircraft of today - the aircraft are not going to fly any faster than they fly right now," Crutchfield said. "They are not going to be able to carry any more payload than they do right now. They will not be able to reduce any of the logistical footprint [more] than they do right now. That's what future vertical lift will do. That's what we see for the Army Aviation force of 2030."

It's expected that this summer, performance specifications for the FVL aircraft will be unveiled. Development of the program is an Army-led, joint program, that includes all military services, including the Coast Guard.

Paramarine advanced marine design software

Paramarine advanced marine design software, developed by QinetiQ GRC, is being used by BAE Systems' Maritime - Naval Ships business, in the assessment phase for the design of the latest Royal Navy frigates.

Paramarine is being used for early stage design and structural development of the Type 26 Global Combat Ship (T26 GCS). The T26 GCS is a globally deployable and sustainable warship that will form the spine of the Royal Navy's future fleet.

BAE Systems' Maritime - Naval Ships business, specialises in naval ship design, build and combat systems capability delivering maritime capability to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and other navies around the globe.

Its experience in military naval design, construction and delivery of complex whole ship, design, build and integration encompasses the entire spectrum of military vessels. Through a 15-year Terms of Business Agreement with the UK MoD, it is providing the backbone of the UK Royal Navy's surface fleet for the next 30 years and beyond.

"We are charged with developing a design that generates the most effective balance of cost vs. benefit. We develop different configurations to assess the impact on the cost of building the ship. Paramarine enables us to develop and test scores of options in the early design stage and at the same time we are able to very rapidly gain a powerful insight into the impact of structural changes to aid the decision making process.

"Paramarine is a powerful and effective ship design solution which is very flexible, supported by a responsive and highly knowledgeable customer support team," observed Chris Muskett, Engineering Manager Hull and Structure, BAE Systems' Maritime - Naval Ships.

Paramarine has been and is used extensively across BAE Systems on projects such as the Astute class of submarines, Type 45 Royal Navy ships, and the new aircraft carrier programmes. Approved by the MoD as its stability software of choice, BAE Systems has extensive experience and understanding of Paramarine's capabilities. Paramarine is based on over 20 years' experience in advanced marine design.

Thousands of concept vessels have been modelled and their stability analysed using Paramarine. It is used by many of the world's leading shipbuilders, as well as many of the world's leading universities including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University College London.

"BAE Systems use Paramarine on a wide range of projects for both surface vessels and submarines. We are delighted to continue providing BAE Systems with the ability to perform cost versus capability studies efficiently to inform their bidding cycle.

BAE Systems provide us with very valuable feedback which we keep incorporating into the product to continuously provide a more effective tool" said Vittorio Vagliani, Managing Director, QinetiQ GRC.