Defense

US B-52s fly near contested islands amid China tensions

The US Air Force conducted two bomber flights this week into areas considered sensitive by the Chinese military, missions that have come amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing. Earlier this week, US B-52 bombers flew from Guam and transited through the South China Sea, an area where the Chinese government has built islands and established military facilities on disputed features. “That just goes on, if it was 20 years ago and had they not militarized those features there it would have been just another bomber on its way to Diego Garcia or wherever,” Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon Wednesday when asked about the bomber flight. “There’s nothing out of the ordinary about it,” Mattis added. On Tuesday, US B-52s also “participated in a regularly scheduled, combined operation in the vicinity of the East China Sea,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Dave Eastburn told CNN. A US defense official told CNN that the bombers were escorted by Japanese fighter jets and flew in proximity to the Japanese controlled Senkaku Islands which China lays claim to. The bombers also flew into the Chinese military’s unilaterally declared Air Defense Identification Zone which extends over the area. The two missions comes amid heightened tensions over a series of issues in the last week. Earlier on Wednesday, President Donald Trump accused China of attempting to interfere in the 2018 US elections and the countries are involved in a high profile trade dispute. In the last week, the Chinese government denied a US Navy warship permission to visit Hong Kong, the US sanctioned a Chinese defense entity over its purchase of Russian-made weapons, the State Department approved a military equipment sale to Taiwan and a high-ranking Chinese naval officer canceled a meeting with his American counterpart. “We’re sorting out obviously a period with some tension there, trade tension and all, so we’ll get to the bottom of it but I don’t think that we’re seeing a fundamental shift in anything, we’re just going through one of those periodic points where we got to learn to manage our differences,” Mattis said when asked about the tensions.

Well said, Sec. Mattis.  That’s exactly right.  Nothing really newsworthy about this military flight.  It’s just in the context of the other areas where we’re having some differences with China, that it’s somewhat relevant.

Pentagon suspends $300M in military aid to Pakistan

The Pentagon says it has suspended $300 milllion in military aid to Pakistan for not doing enough to battle terrorists groups inside its borders. The announcement comes ahead of an expected trip to Islamabad by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the U.S. military’s top officer, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In January, the Pentagon suspended nearly $1 billion in aid to Pakistan for what Defense Secretary James Mattis and other top officials said at the time was Islamabad’s failure to take on the Haqqani terrorist network. That network is believed to be holding western hostages, including Kevin King, a U.S. professor from American University in Kabul who was abducted along with an Australian colleague two years ago. King was last seen in a “proof-of-life” video, released last October. At the time of the January announcement, the Pentagon said Pakistan could earn back some of the cash from the U.S. if it did more to stop the Haqqani network and other terrorist groups.

Smart negotiating!  And, kudos to the Trump Administration for playing hardball with Islamabad!  For far too long, we’ve been sending them BILLIONS of our hard-earned tax dollars almost as if we’ve been bribed…and Pakistan has done nothing to reign in the Haqqani network, as well as Taliban, Al Qaeda and other Islamo-wack terrorists being protected within it’s borders.  It’s this dance we’ve been doing with them for over 15 years.  And, nothing has changed.  Time to have a paradigm shift.  And thanks to Trump and Sec. Mike Pompeo, it looks like we finally may be shaking up the relationship a little and putting some over-due pressure on Islamabad to get off their butts and address the elephant in their house.  Excellent!!     🙂

Air Force preps for massive cyberattacks on large weapons systems

The Air Force is massively revving up efforts to defend stealth fighters, nuclear-armed missiles, air-launched weapons and crucial combat networks from crippling wartime cyber attacks by taking new steps with a special unit put together to find and fix vulnerabilities. The service has now solidified key weapons development procedures for its Cyber Resilience Office for Weapons Systems, or CROWS. The concept for the office, established by Air Force Materiel Command, is grounded upon the realization that more and more weapons systems are increasingly cyber-reliant. “CROWS has completed an acquisition language guidebook to support program offices in development of contracting documents ensuring cyber resiliency is baked into acquisition efforts,” Capt. Hope Cronin, Air Force spokeswoman, told Warrior Maven. This phenomenon, wherein cybersecurity threats continue to rapidly expand well beyond IT and data systems to reach more platforms and weapons systems, is often discussed in terms of a two-fold trajectory. While advanced computer processing, sophisticated algorithms and better networked weapons and fire control bring unprecedented combat advantages, increased cyber-reliance can also increase risk in some key respects. For instance, successful hacking or cyber intrusions could disrupt vital targeting and guidance systems needed for precision weapons, derail computer enabled aircraft navigation and targeting, or even seek to change the flight path of a drone or ICBM. CROWS is also designed to harvest the best thinking when it comes to anticipating potential enemy cyberattacks. By working to “think like and enemy,” CROWS experts work with weapons developers to find vulnerabilities and areas of potential attack. As part of this, the rationale for the effort is to therefore “bake in” cyber protections early in the acquisition process so as to engineer long-term cyber resilience. “CROWS efforts have been successful in identifying the highest risk cyber vulnerabilities and then working with the program offices to develop mitigation solutions to reduce those risks,” Cronin said. The CROWS has also developed multiple cyber training courses and published a cyber assessment methodology to be used in support of testing processes, Cronin added.

Iran says it has full control of Gulf and U.S. navy does not belong there

Iran has full control of the Gulf, and the U.S. Navy does not belong there, the head of the navy of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, General Alireza Tangsiri, said on Monday, according to the Tasnim news agency. The remarks come at a time when Tehran has suggested that it could take military action in the Gulf to block oil exports of other regional countries in retaliation for U.S. sanctions intended to halt its oil sales. Washington maintains a fleet in the Gulf which protects oil shipping routes. Tangsiri said Iran had full control of both the Gulf itself and the Strait of Hormuz that leads into it. Closing off the strait would be the most direct way of blocking shipping. “We can ensure the security of the Persian Gulf and there is no need for the presence of aliens like the U.S. and the countries whose home is not in here,” he said in the quote, which appeared in English translation on Tasnim. Tension between Iran and the United States has escalated since President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in May and reimposed sanctions. Senior U.S. officials have said they aim to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the most senior authority in the Islamic Republic, said last month that he supports the idea that if Iran is not allowed to export oil then no country should export oil from the Gulf.

Oh well!  Good luck with that..  The U.S. Navy should put an enhanced Carrier Strike Group (CSG) in the Persian Gulf, and up its presence in the Strait of Hormuz.  Islamic wakos like this ayatollah from Iran need to be sent the clear message that we will not be bullied, or have commerce threatened in those waterways.

Pentagon: China ‘Likely’ Training Bomber Pilots to Hit American Targets

The Pentagon’s annual report on Chinese military and security developments warns this week that China is building up a fleet of long-range nuclear-capable bombers and is “likely” training its pilots to attack American targets. The relevant section of the report concerns China’s “overwater bomber operations,” which have rapidly expanded over the past three years. The Pentagon sees Chinese pilots “gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against U.S. and allied targets.” The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) is currently the largest air force in Asia, and the third-largest in the world. Since 2017, new commander Lt. Gen. Ding Laihang has focused on developing a capacity for projecting long-range air power comparable to the U.S. Air Force. “The PLAAF continues to modernize and is closing the gap with the U.S. Air Force across a broad spectrum of capabilities, gradually eroding the United States’ longstanding significant technical advantage,” the Pentagon report cautioned. U.S. analysts are particularly concerned about the latest evolution of China’s H-6 “Badger” bomber, the H-6K, which is capable of launching from Chinese airbases and hitting Guam with standoff precision weapons. The PLAAF is also working on midair refueling techniques and might be able to field nuclear-capable stealth bombers as early as 2025. China’s use of militarized islands in the South China Sea as bases for long-range bomber activity is noted as an area of particular concern. “H-6s could, if deployed to airfields in the Spratly Islands, extend their range through the Balabac Strait into the Celebes Sea or through the Sunda or Malacca Strait to fly into the Indian Ocean,” the report stated. To secure their claims in disputed waters, the Chinese employ a unique naval command that has been given little attention until now, the People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia (PAFMM). The Pentagon judged the PAFMM to be the “only government-sanctioned maritime militia in the world.” The militia plays a “major role in coercive activities to achieve China’s political goals without fighting.” In other words, the maritime militia intimidates civilian vessels from other nations that attempt to access waters claimed by Beijing, with just enough operational separation from the regular military to give the Chinese government political cover. China portrays its militia vessels as fishing boats that just happen to have armored hulls and ammunition storage bays. U.S. defense analysts are concerned that China will not only militarize the South China Sea, but nuclearize it.

Nice..  For more, click on the text above.

Trump signs new defense policy bill that rebuilds military, boosts troop pay

Capping a major victory, President Trump signed a $716 billion defense bill Monday that authorizes hundreds of new planes, ships and tanks, increases troop strength and raises military pay, modernizes the U.S. nuclear arsenal and tightens control of government contracts with Chinese technology companies. Speaking to troops at Fort Drum, N.Y., Mr. Trump said the new National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2019 is “the most significant investment in our military, and in our warfighters, in a generation.” “After years of devastating cuts, we’re now rebuilding our military like never before,” Mr. Trump said. “Every day our military was fighting for us, and now we’re fighting for you.” The signing ceremony also fulfilled Mr. Trump’s promise to provide more certainty for military funding, after years of budget “sequestration” caps under President Obama. It’s the earliest in the year that Congress has completed an NDAA in more than 20 years. The White House said the NDAA helps to develop “a more lethal and resilient force,” and will increase the size of U.S. forces by authorizing 15,600 more troops across the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. The new recruits will bring the total strength of the Army to 487,500 soldiers; Navy, 335,400 sailors; 186,100 in the Marine Corps; and 329,100 in the Air Force. Mr. Trump also got what he wanted in the measure with controls on U.S. government contracts with China’s ZTE Corp. and Huawei Technologies because of national-security concerns; the restrictions are nevertheless weaker than earlier versions of the bill.

🙂

Pentagon sees quantum computing as key weapon for war in space

Top Pentagon official Michael Griffin sat down a few weeks ago with Air Force scientists at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio to discuss the future of quantum computing in the U.S. military. Griffin, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, has listed quantum computers and related applications among the Pentagon’s must-do R&D investments. Quantum computing is one area where the Pentagon worries that it is playing catchup while China continues to leap ahead. The technology is being developed for many civilian applications, and the military sees it as potentially game-changing for information and space warfare. The U.S. Air Force particularly is focused on what is known as quantum information science. “We see this as a very disruptive technology,” said Michael Hayduk, chief of the computing and communications division at the Air Force Research Laboratory. Artificial-intelligence algorithms, highly secure encryption for communications satellites and accurate navigation that does not require GPS signals are some of the most coveted capabilities that would be aided by quantum computing. Hayduk spoke last week during a meeting of the Defense Innovation Board, a panel of tech executives and scientists who advise the secretary of defense. The DIB met at the Pentagon’s Silicon Valley location, the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental. Quantum computers are the newest generation of supercomputers — powerful machines with a new approach to processing information. Quantum information science is the application of the laws of quantum mechanics to information science, Hayduk explained. Unlike traditional computers that are made of bits of zero or one, in quantum computers bits can have both values simultaneously, giving them unprecedented processing power. “The Air Force is taking this very seriously, and we’ve invested for quite a while,” Hayduk said. The Pentagon is especially intrigued by the potential of quantum computing to develop secure communications and inertial navigation in GPS-denied and -contested environments. “It’s a key area we’re very much interested in,” said Hayduk. Some of these technologies will take years to materialize, he said. “In timing and sensing, we see prototype capabilities in a five-year timeframe.” Communications systems and networks will take even longer. Quantum clocks are viewed as a viable alternative to GPS in scenarios that require perfect synchronization across multiple weapons systems and aircraft, for example, said Hayduk. “We’re looking at GPS-like precision in denied environments,” he said. “It often takes several updates to GPS throughout the day to synchronize platforms. We want to be able to move past that so if we are in a denied environment we can still stay synchronized.” Meanwhile, the Pentagon continues to watch what other nations are doing. China is “very serious” about this, he said. It is projected to invest from $10 billion to $15 billion over the next five years in quantum computing. China already has developed quantum satellites that cannot be hacked. “They have demonstrated great technology,” said Hayduk. In the U.S., “we have key pieces in place. But we’re looking at more than imitating what China is doing in ground-satellite communications. We’re looking at the whole ecosystem: ground, air, space, and form a true network around that.”

Fascinating!  For more, click on the text above..