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Karem, Northrop, Raytheon team for Army’s future attack recon helo competition
By: Jen Judson
01 July 2019

View attachment 8921
Karem Aircraft is teaming with Raytheon and Northrop Grumman to design a Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft for the U.S. Army. This is a conceptual rendering of a future aircraft but is not meant to be representative of the company's design for FARA. (Artist rendering by Karem Aircraft)

WASHINGTON — Karem Aircraft has forged a team with Northrop Grumman and Raytheon to compete in the Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) competition, according to a July 1 company statement.

Karem was one of five companies awarded a prototyping development contract in April.

While details are scant as to how each company will contribute to the overall design, due in January or February of 2020, the teaming announcement says the three companies together “will apply decades of combined knowledge, skills and abilities to bring the best of vehicle and systems technologies and processes to the first aircraft within the Future Vertical Lift family of systems.”

Karem is bringing its “unique active variable speed rotor technologies,” which have been developed over the last 10 years through collaboration with the Army, to the teaming effort.

The company’s experience “will be augmented with Northrop Grumman’s manned and autonomous military aircraft development, system integration, production and support expertise and Raytheon’s systems architecture, mission equipment and weapons capabilities,” the company statement adds.

While Karem competed to be one of two teams selected to build a flying aircraft for the Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD), it was not selected. Instead, the Army awarded it a smaller technology development contract to continue to refine its unique technology.

The JMR TD program will inform a Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program of record to replace UH-60 Black Hawks and AH-64 Apache helicopters. The JMR TD program is not a head-to-head competition between the Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant coaxial helicopter and the Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft, but will inform the FLRAA program.

Bell and a Sikorsky-Boeing team have each built a JMR TD aircraft which is flying in that program. AVX Aircraft Co. also received a smaller technology development contract similar to Karem’s award.

The Karem-Northrop-Raytheon team will compete with an AVX-L-3 Communications Integrated Systems team, Bell, Boeing and Lockheed Martin-owned Sikorsky to provide design plans to the Army for FARA. The Army will choose just two teams to advance to build a flyable prototype, much like it did for the JMR TD program — except this time, one of those aircraft will be chosen for production.

The Army has set an ambitious schedule for FARA, with plans to fly prototypes in 2023. A production decision could happen in 2028, but the service is looking at any way possible to speed up that timeline.

Truncating the timelines for both FLRAA and FARA has been on the table for many years and the service continues to assess any way possible to bring the aircraft online faster.

With the advent of the new Army Futures Command — focused on six major modernization priorities, of which FVL is third — the service is moving faster on prototyping capability to ultimately procure major weapon systems at a somewhat unprecedented speed. Through the AFC and the use of contracting mechanisms like OTAs, the Army has found a way to compress parts of the acquisition process that previously took three-to-five years into periods of time often amounting to less than a year.

FARA is intended to fill a critical capability gap currently being addressed by the AH-64E Apache attack helicopter teamed with Shadow unmanned aircraft, following the retirement of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters. The service has tried and failed three times to fill the gap with an aircraft.

 

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F-22 Raptor stealth aircraft arrive in Qatar
F-22 Raptor stealth fighter planes were deployed to Qatar for the first time, as tensions between Iran and the United States continue to heighten.
July 1, 2019
By Ed Adamczyk


View attachment 8925
The United States has deployed F-22 Raptor stealth fighter planes to Qatar, the Defense Department announced on Friday. File Photo by Senior Airman Tyler Woodward/U.S. Air Force

July 1 (UPI) -- F-22 Raptor stealth fighter planes were deployed to Qatar for the first time, Defense Department officials said, as tensions between Iran and the United States heightened.

Between five and 12 of the advanced tactical planes arrived at Al Udeid Air Base, from which the United States runs its Middle East air operations, a U.S. Central Command statement said on Friday. It also houses about 10,000 U.S. troops.The planes arrived on Thursday from Moron Air Base in Spain, a week after a U.S. drone was shot down near the Strait of Hormuz by Iran. The incident nearly led to a decision for air strikes on Iranian targets. The United States also blamed Iran for mine attacks against commercial tankers in the Gulf of Oman in June.

A U.S. troop surge of about 2,500 troops in the region began in May, and the Pentagon has not ruled out additional increases in personnel. New sanctions were places on Iran, and the United States is reportedly seeking international partners in a military coalition to pressure Tehran.

The arrival of the F-22s is part of a previously announced deployment of new forces into the Middle East to improve U.S. ability to protect its forces throughout the region, notably in Iraq and Syria.

Credible intelligence indicated that Iranian forces and their regional allies could be planning to attack Americans in the region, U.S. officials said. Combat engineer forces have been sent to the region to bolster defensive structures, as well as several Army batteries and the Patriot missile system, a defensive anti-missile, anti-aircraft surface-to-air missile system.

F-22 Raptor stealth aircraft arrive in Qatar
 

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LCS USS Montgomery arrives in Philippines on first deployment
July 1, 2019
By Ed Adamczyk

View attachment 8928
After leaving San Diego and crossing the Pacific Ocean, the USS Montgomery arrived in the Philippines on Friday, the first forward deployment of a littoral combat ship in 19 months. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy

July 1 (UPI) -- The USS Montgomery arrived in the Philippines, it's first deployment and the first time in 19 months any littoral combat ship has been used in forward deployment.

The ship, with 70 personnel on board, is on its first deployment after leaving its home port of San Diego without announcement of its departure, the Navy said on Monday.

After making a port of call on June 10 in Hawaii, it arrived at in Davao City on the Philippine island of Mindanao on Saturday for what Cmdr. Edward Rosso called a goodwill visit.

"Port visits allow us to demonstrate our commitment to maritime security in the region while strengthening relationships with our friends, partners, and allies," Rosso said.

The Montgomery, one of three LCS vessels expected to be deployed this year, is the first deployment of an LCS in more than 19 months. The last was the USS Coronado, which was deployed from June 2016 to December 2017.

Fast and agile, littoral combat ships are designed to operate in near-shore, shallow water situations as well as ocean crossings. The ships employ modular mission packages that can be configured for surface warfare, mine countermeasures or anti-submarine warfare.

The USS Montgomery undertook its first five-day Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical training exercise in April. Crews practiced surface warfare operations, including live-fire shots and use of its SeaRAM missile defense system, as well as anti-air warfare operations. It is part of the Navy's 7th Fleet, which supports U.S. national interests in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Montgomery was commissioned in September 2016, and months later was damaged while transiting the Panama Canal.

 

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Raytheon receives $36.7M Navy contract for RAM missiles, GMLS launchers
July 1, 2019
By Ed Adamczyk

View attachment 8931
The amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans fires a surface-to air-intercept missile from its Rolling Airframe Missile launcher. File Photo by MCS2 Gary Granger Jr./U.S. Navy/UPI

July 1 (UPI) -- A $36.7 million contract for Rolling Airframe Missiles and Guided Missile Launching Systems has been awarded to Raytheon Missile Systems, the Defense Department announced.

The missile system was ordered by the U.S. Navy and the Japanese military, under the Foreign Military Sales program. Japan will underwrite the cost of nine percent of the contract, which was announced on Friday.

The missile is a small, infrared homing surface-to-air missile in use since the 1980s and used primarily as a weapon against anti-ship cruise missiles. It was jointly developed by the U.S. and German governments.

The missile is named for its ability to roll on its longitudinal axis to stabilize its flight path. The six-ton Guided Missile Launcher unit can store 21 missiles.

The missile is in use aboard Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers, Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, Wasp-class amphibious assault ships and San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ships, as well as on dock landing ships and littoral combat ships.

The contract calls for procurement of parts, assembly, testing and delivery of RAM Mk 49 Mod 3 GMLS units, with a completion date of June 2021. Work will be done largely in Raytheon facilities in Tucson, Ariz., Ottobrun, Germany, and Louisville, Ky.

The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, D.C., is the contracting agent.

 

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Boeing To Supply Trailing Edge Flaps For US Navy’s F/A-18 Aircraft
02 July 2019

View attachment 8949
F/A-18F Super Hornet

Boeing has won $43 million contract to supply 48 Trailing Edge flaps for US Navy’s F/A-18 fighter aircraft, the US Department of Defense said in a statement Monday.

A Trailing Edge is the rear edge of an aircraft’s wing flap where the airflow separated by the Leading Edge, which is a part of the wing that first contacts the air, rejoins. The trailing edge is the location for essential control surfaces.

Work is expected to be completed in June 2021.

 

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Lockheed Martin To Integrate, Test Combat System On New Guided Missile Frigates
02 July 2019

View attachment 8951
Lockheed Martin Freedom-variant FFG(X) Frigate conceptual design

Lockheed Martin has won a $7 million contract for Combat System Ship Integration and Test on Guided Missile Frigate (FFG(X)) new-construction ships.

The work executed under this contract includes combat system (CS) ship integration engineering support and test planning, conducting a waterfront CS ship integration and test program, post-delivery engineering support to government test teams, engineering services for CS ship integration and test and developing test program documents for FFG(X) ships, the US Department of Defense said in a statement Monday.

According to the US Navy, the next-generation FFG(X) frigate will have "multi-mission capability to conduct air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, electronic warfare and information operations." The ship would have at least 32 vertical launching system cells and an AEGIS-based combat system.

Work is expected to be complete in June 2025.

 

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Trump to airmen in Korea: We’re keeping the A-10 ‘as long as we can’
02 July 2019

View attachment 8960
With a U.S. Air Force Thunderbolt II in the background Sunday, President Donald Trump speaks to military personnel and their families at Osan Air Base, South Korea. (Ed Jones/Pool via AP)


President Trump on Sunday told airmen in South Korea that he wants the Air Force to hold on to the A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft.

During his visit to Osan Air Base after his visit to the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, Trump cheered plans in the Pentagon’s budget to buy 78 more F-35s, 24 new F/A-18s and eight F-15X fighter jets, before pivoting to the Warthog.

“By the way, the Warthog right behind me is not so bad,” Trump said. “I’ve got more people asking us to keep the Warthog. They say it’s sort of running out, but we’re fixing up — you know, we’re going to keep them as long as we can."

“But people love them. Are they that good?” Trump said to applause.

Trump also gave a hat tip to Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., who flew A-10s in the Air Force and has consistently advocated for keeping the airplane.

“Every time I see her, she said, ‘Please don’t let the Warthog go,’” Trump said. “It’s just a very great machine, and we’re looking at ways that maybe we can keep it around a little bit longer.”

During the Obama administration, the cash-strapped Air Force repeatedly sought to mothball the A-10 as it brought on board an F-35 fleet that required more people and resources. The Pentagon ran into resistance on Capitol Hill, however, and the A-10s stayed.

Last month, the House Armed Services Committee advanced an authorization bill that would continue to provide full funding for Warthog upgrades, including re-winging them. The Air Force said in 2017 that nearly half of its 283 A-10s could be permanently grounded unless the service received money to restart production and re-wing them.

During his remarks at Osan, Trump also praised the F-35 for its stealth capabilities.

“They say they’re hard to beat because you can’t see them, literally,” Trump said. “I’ve gone to some of the great pilots; I say, ‘What do you think of the F-35? How does the enemy do?’ ‘Well, they have a problem: They can’t see it, sir.’ I mean, that’s pretty much it, right? We’ve got a lot of them."

 

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Israeli media: Russian and US submarines clash in Alaska
Thursday, July 4, 2019

View attachment 9073
Russia and the US are holding urgent consultations due to an encounter between their submarines, according to a report by the Israeli military news portal DEBKAfile.

Citing anonymous military sources, the site reports that the incident took place in American territorial waters near Alaska, when a US submarine intercepted a Russian nuclear submarine.

The Russian submarine that was escorting the strategic submarine reportedly responded with a Balkan 2000 torpedo, which breached the American submarine’s hull.

The White House and the Kremlin began consultations on Tuesday night, DEBKAfile writes.

Conspiracies surround abrupt changes to US Vice President Mike Pence’s schedule, as he unexpectedly called off his trip to New Hampshire without explanation.

Pence received an “urgent call” which necessitated his return to Washington, the vice president’s spokesperson Randy Gentry told the press.

“Something came up that required the VP to remain in Washington. It’s no cause for alarm,” wrote his press secretary, Alyssa Farah, later on Twitter.

According to Ms. Farah, Pence did not leave Washington, and the reason for the cancellation could be publicized within a few weeks.

On Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that 14 submariners of its North Fleet had been killed in a fire on Monday in a deepwater submersible. According to RBC, the incident took place on the AS-12 nuclear deepwater station, also known as “Losharik”. Development of this unarmed submarine began in the 1980s and was completed only in the 2000s, writes the Russian news outlet Military Survey. Its purposes include eavesdropping on foreign underwater communication lines and monitoring Russia’s own cables, sources told RBC.

Russia will not officially publish any information about the submersible on which the tragedy took place, said Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. “It is classified as absolutely top-secret information,” he noted.

Some of the crew members were saved, said Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu, adding that the victims will be given national awards.

Shoygu said that the submariners were “heroic” during the fire in one of the modules, and first evacuated a “civilian industry representative”.

“They closed the hatch behind him in order to prevent the fire from spreading throughout the submersible, but they themselves fought to the end for the vessel’s survival,” he observed.


 

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Putin Signs Law Which Cuts Russia's Participation In INF Treaty

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President of Russia Vladimir Putin has signed a new law that axes Moscow’s participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty signed between the US and Russia in 1987 to avoid a repeat of incidents such as the ‘Cuban Missile Scare’.

The law, which was backed by parliament was published on the government portal for legal information on July 3, Repors Radio Free Europe.

In February, the United States suspended its participation in the 1987 INF Treaty, with Washington and its allies accusing Russia of deploying a missile system that violates the pact.

Russia, which denies the allegation, later followed suit. Moscow accuses the United States of breaking the accord itself, a claim rejected by Washington.

The INF treaty bans the usage of missiles with short and intermediate ranges, ie between 500- 5,500 km (310-3,420 miles). The two countries, in 1962, were on the brink of a nuclear war when Moscow responded to a US missile deployment in Turkey by sending ballistic missiles to Cuba. To avoid such an event again, the INF pact was signed between the Soviet Union and the US on December 8, 1987. It took effect on June 1, 1988, just before the Cold War ended in 1991.

Last month, Leonid Slutsky, Chairman of the Russian State Duma’s International Affairs Committee, hinted at the potential signing of a trilateral nuclear deal between the US, Russia and China. The 2011 accord, or the New START treaty, is the only US-Russia arms control pact limiting deployed strategic nuclear weapons. It will expire in
February 2021 but can be extended for five years if both parties agree.

 

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Mystery of NSA leak lingers as stolen document case winds up
By TAMI ABDOLLAH and ERIC TUCKER
35 minutes ago
06 July 2019

View attachment 9139
FILE - In this June 6, 2013 file photo, the sign outside the National Security Administration (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md. A high-profile raid at the home of an NSA contractor seemed to be linked to the devastating leak of U.S. government hacking tools. Three years later, the case is being resolved but whoever was behind the leak of the hacking tools remains a mystery with significant national security implications. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal agents descended on the suburban Maryland house with the flash and bang of a stun grenade, blocked off the street and spent hours questioning the homeowner about a theft of government documents that prosecutors would later describe as “breathtaking” in its scale.

The suspect, Harold Martin, was a contractor for the National Security Agency. His arrest followed news of a devastating disclosure of government hacking tools by a mysterious internet group calling itself the Shadow Brokers . It seemed to some that the United States might have found another Edward Snowden, who also had been a contractor for the agency.

“You’re a bad man. There’s no way around that,” one law enforcement official conducting the raid told Martin, court papers say. “You’re a bad man.”

Later this month, about three years after that raid, the case against Martin is scheduled to be resolved in Baltimore’s federal court. But the identity of the Shadow Brokers, and whoever was responsible for a leak with extraordinary national security implications, will remain a public mystery even as the case concludes.

Authorities have established that Martin walked off with thousands of pages of secret documents over a two-decade career in national security, most recently with the NSA, whose headquarters is about 15 miles from his home in Glen Burnie, Maryland. He pleaded guilty to a single count of willful retention of national defense
information and faces a nine-year prison sentence under a plea deal.

Investigators found in his home and car detailed description of computer infrastructure and classified technical operations in a raid that took place two weeks after the Shadow Brokers surfaced online to advertise the sale of some of the NSA’s closely guarded hacking tools. Yet authorities have never publicly linked Martin or anyone else to the Shadow Brokers and the U.S. has not announced whether it suspects government insiders, Russian intelligence or someone else entirely.

The question is important because the U.S. believes North Korea and Russia relied on the stolen tools, which provide the means to exploit software vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure, in unleashing punishing global cyberattacks on businesses, hospitals and cities. The release, which occurred while the NSA was already under scrutiny because of Snowden’s 2013 disclosures, raised questions about the government’s ability to maintain secrets .

“It was extraordinarily damaging, probably more damaging than Snowden,” cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier said of the Shadow Brokers leaks. “Those tools were a lot of money to design and create.”

Yet none of that is likely to be mentioned at Martin’s July 17 sentencing. The hearing instead will turn on dramatically different depictions of the enigmatic Martin, a Navy veteran, longtime government contractor — most recently at Booz Allen Hamilton — and doctoral candidate at the time of his arrest.

Prosecutors allege Martin jeopardized national security by bringing home reams of classified information even as, they say, he once castigated colleagues as “clowns” for lax security measures. Soon after his arrest, they cast aspersions on his character and motives, citing a binge-drinking habit, his arsenal of unregistered weapons and online communication in Russian and other languages.

The agents who searched his house that August 2016 afternoon found a trove of documents in his car, home and a dusty, unlocked shed. The 50 terabytes of information from 1996 to 2016 included personal details of government employees and “Top Secret” email chains, handwritten notes describing the NSA’s classified computer infrastructure, and descriptions of classified technical operations.

Defense lawyers paint him as a compulsive hoarder whose quirky tendencies may have led him astray but who never betrayed his country.

“What began as an effort by Mr. Martin to be good at his job, to be better at his job, to be as good as he could be, to see the whole picture at his job, became something more complicated than that,” public defender James Wyda said at a 2016 detention hearing. “It became a compulsion.

“This was not Spycraft behavior,” he added. “This is not how a Russian spy or something like that would ever conduct business.”

It’s unclear how Martin came to the FBI’s attention, but a redacted court order from a judge suggests agents may have been looking for a Shadow Brokers link when they obtained search warrants for his Twitter account and property before the raid.

The December 2018 ruling from U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett notes that the FBI was investigating the online disclosure of stolen government property. It cites a Twitter message from an account allegedly belonging to Martin — @HAL_999999999 — that requested a meeting with someone whose name is blacked out and stated “shelf life, three weeks.”

In a likely reference to the Shadow Brokers disclosures, investigators said tweets from Martin’s account were sent hours before stolen government records were advertised and posted online. Investigators also alleged that Martin would have had access to the same classified information as what appeared online.

The recipient of the message is redacted, although Politico reported it went to the Moscow-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, which in turn notified the U.S. Kaspersky declined to discuss the Martin case.

The roughly 20 officers who stormed Martin’s home did so with dramatic force, arriving with a battering ram and a “flash bang” device meant to cause temporary disorientation. State troopers shut down the road as agents interrogated Martin for four hours.

Martin was never charged with disclosing information and was accused only of unlawfully retaining defense information. The Shadow Brokers, which two weeks before Martin’s arrest surfaced on Twitter with the warning that it would auction off NSA hacking tools online, continued trickling out disclosures after Martin was in custody, a seeming indication that someone else may have been responsible.

Even so, his case refocused public attention on repeated government failures to safeguard some of the nation’s most highly classified information, with Martin one of several contractors accused of mishandling or spilling government secrets. Most notable is Snowden, a fellow Booz Allen contractor facing U.S. charges and living in Russia.

The NSA has since done more to protect its network and security and increased the monitoring of its employees, said security and counterintelligence director Marlisa Smith.

“I won’t tell you we’ve erased the risk of insider threat, it will never be down to zero, but we’ve worked very hard to mitigate and minimize the risk,” Smith said.
Booz Allen scrambled to respond to Martin’s arrest, hiring ex-FBI director Robert Mueller to investigate. Since Martin’s arrest, the company said it has added policies to improve its review process of employees at hiring and to ensure managers are more in touch with their subordinates.

As for the mystery of who or what is behind the Shadow Brokers, there’s little certainty that the government will ever publicly resolve that lingering question, especially given the classified nature of the theft and the embarrassment it caused the U.S.

“I don’t know if anybody knows other than the Russians,” said former NSA computer scientist Dave Aitel. “And we don’t even know if it’s the Russians. We don’t know at this point; anything could be true.”

 

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U.S. Air Force works to push boundaries of speed
Jul 7, 2019

View attachment 9175
In an op-ed for the Airman official magazine of the U.S. Air Force, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Air Force Research Laboratory officials have provided few details about future of American combat aircraft.

According to the Airman, Air Force Research Laboratory and DARPA are working to push the boundaries of speed and make future technologies possible today.

Since the first flight of Bell X-1 rocket plane in 1947, the Air Force has continually stretched and pushed the limits of speed – finding new ways to make its aircraft fly faster and farther.

However, the U.S. is not alone in this quest for speed. China and Russia are already flight-testing hypersonic weapons and several other countries have shown interest in pursuing technologies for hypersonic flight.

Hypersonic refers to flying at five times the speed of sound, also known as Mach 5 or higher. From an Air Force perspective, it is a game-changing capability, which can amplify many of the enduring attributes of airpower, including speed, range, flexibility and precision.

“My biggest fear is that the country’s lost the ability to stay ahead, and we’re moving slowly now, very deliberately, where we have adversaries that are moving unbelievably fast,” said Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command. “Twenty years from now, if we’re not careful, somebody could catch up to us. I believe we can never let that happen, so we have to stay ahead of technology.”

The Air Force Research Laboratory also has extensive efforts underway in foundational hypersonic technology maturation, including work in ordnance, tactical boosters, airframe and structures, guidance, navigation, and control, and materials and manufacturing.

The Air Force continues to partner with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency on flight demonstration programs for high speed strike weapon technologies which address challenge areas such as air vehicle feasibility, effectiveness and affordability.

Helping the Air Force stay continually one step ahead for the past 60 years is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA.

DARPA’s mission as the central research and development agency for the Department of Defense is to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security and to prevent strategic surprise. Together with the Air Force Research Laboratory, a fusion of ideas is leading to newly highlighted innovations.


 

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U.S. Special Forces Soldiers train with Polish, Latvian allies in West Virginia
07 July 2019

View attachment 9179
The West Virginia National Guard has announced that members of the U.S. Special Forces train with Polish and Latvian allies in West Virginia.

West Virginia Army National Guard (WVARNG) Special Forces Soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) recently completed the first irregular and unconventional warfare training iteration for members of the Polish Territorial Defense Forces and Latvian Zemmessardze as a part of the Ridge Runner program in West Virginia.

Ridge Runner is a WVARNG training program that provides various National Guard, active duty, and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally nation armed forces training and experience to in irregular and asymmetrical warfare tactics and operations.

Both nations have newly established national guard-type forces for their militaries, the Territorial Defense Forces for Poland and the Zemmesardze for Latvia, that are focused on the defense of their homeland and resistance against an aggressor.

“The conclusion of this Ridge Runner training is an exceptionally important milestone for both West Virginia and our allies in Poland and Latvia, who we have a longstanding relationship within our State through the State Partnership Programs with the Illinois and Michigan National Guards,” said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard. “West Virginia is the perfect venue for our highly trained special forces to help these two nations’ military forces develop the skills vital to their mission at home, which is extraordinarily important in this era of geo-political uncertainty.”

“This exercise provides us a unique set of skills needed in developing our unconventional warfare skill sets,” said Marek Zaluski, acting public information officer for the Polish Territorial Defense Forces. “Our primary role is similar to that of the National, which is to support the local communities. In addition, we serve as a reserve base for conventional forces. Here at Ridge Runner, we developed skills beyond that. We’ve learned how to work with Special Forces, serve as liaisons, how to speak the same language, have the interoperability and cooperation.”

He continued, “We greatly appreciate the opportunity to train with the West Virginia National Guard, through Ridge Runner and the State Partnership Program. All those skills being developed go right along with what we learn at home. The soldiers who came with us for this exercise were specifically handpicked from a larger group because they represent the skills needed to operate with the Special Forces community as liaisons, pathfinders, and as people who are the points of contact in case of an unconventional warfare situation.”

Ridge Runner’s mission is to develop and execute irregular warfare training across the State of West Virginia that contributes to the development of Special Operations Forces’ (SOF) and General-Purpose Forces’ (GPF) irregular warfare understanding and capabilities, in order to support national security.

The Ridge Runner program operates in different parts of the state because of its diverse training needs and the terrain the State of West Virginia offers. Ridge Runner is held numerous times per year to train forces in both the United States and around the world.

The State Partnership Program (SPP) is a National Guard Bureau initiative that links states and territories with partner countries around the world to foster mutual interests, establish long-term relations, enhance U.S. national security interests, and promote political stability. Through the SPP program, the Illinois National Guard is partnered with Poland and the Michigan National Guard is partnered with Latvia.

 

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U.S. Army to upgrade all its Avenger air defense systems
07 July 2019

View attachment 9180
The Army News Service has confirmed that the U.S Army has plans to upgrade all its Avenger short-range air defense systems.

The Avenger is a surface-to-air missile system often mounted on a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, commonly known as the Humvee. The combined weapon system provides mobile protection against missiles, low-flying aircraft and most recently – unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Avengers have multiple optics, range-finders and a forward-looking infrared receiver or FLIR monitor. It’s difficult to see some of the smaller drones with the naked eye, Sgt. 1st Class Arianna Cook, senior career advisor for 14Ps at the ADA School said, whereas radars can pick them up and direct the Avenger turret to lock onto them.

When the Avengers were pulled out of depot storage last year, some were modified with a new “Slew-to-Cue” Avenger Targeting Console. This enables the turret to automatically turn and lock onto targets provided by remote radars, Cook said.

“A Soldier still needs to pull the trigger though,” she said.

The remainder of the Avengers that didn’t get Slew-to-Cue last year will receive it as part of an ongoing two-phase Modification Service Life Extension Program known as SLEP, said Holler. All Avenger consoles should be upgraded by the end of September 2020, he said.

The second phase of the SLEP upgrade includes installation of a Mode 5 Identification Friend or Foe, a new fire-control computer, and converting analog communications equipment in the Avengers to digital communications. It also includes a new air-conditioning and heating unit and a new .50-caliber machine gun. The Phase II upgrades are scheduled to begin in the 4th quarter of FY 2020 and continue through FY 2023, Holler said.

Along with the battalion of Avengers that stood up last year in Germany, the active Army also has four separate Avenger batteries: one in Korea, one at Fort Sill, one at Fort Campbell, Kentucky; and one with the Global Response Force at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

In addition to Avenger upgrades, proximity fuses are being installed in some of the Stinger missiles, Holler said. Stingers with proximity-fuse warheads will have greater lethality against small drones and unmanned aerial vehicles, he explained.

U.S. Army to upgrade all its Avenger air defense systems
 

Eagle1

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US call for Syria troops divides German coalition
Updated 5 sec ago
AFP
July 07, 2019

View attachment 9190
The US has called on Germany to send military trainers, logistics specialists and technicians to help the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the fight against Daesh. (File/Reuters)


  • The US wants ground troops from Germany to partly replace their soldiers
  • A clear rejection of the American request came from Merkel’s junior coalition partners
BERLIN: Discord broke out in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition Sunday, after the United States urged the country to send ground troops to Syria as Washington looks to withdraw from the region.

“We want ground troops from Germany to partly replace our soldiers” in the area as part of the anti-Daesh coalition, US special representative on Syria James Jeffrey had told German media including Die Welt newspaper.

Jeffrey, who was visiting Berlin for Syria talks, added that he expects an answer this month.

Last year US President Donald Trump declared victory against Daesh and ordered the withdrawal of all 2,000 American troops from Syria.

A small number have remained in northeastern Syria, an area not controlled by the regime of President Bashar Assad, and Washington is pushing for increased military support from other members of the international coalition against Daesh.

“We are looking for volunteers who want to take part here and among other coalition partners,” Jeffrey said.

A clear rejection of the American request came from Merkel’s junior coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD).
“There will be no German ground troops in Syria with us,” tweeted a member of the interim SPD leadership, Thorsten Schaefer-Guembel.
“I don’t see people wanting that among our coalition partners” in Merkel’s center-right CDU, he added.

But deputy conservative parliamentary leader Johann Wadephul told news agency DPA that Germany should “not reflexively reject” the US call for troops.
“Our security, not the Americans’, is being decided in this region,” added Wadephul, seen as a candidate to succeed Ursula von der Leyen as defense minister if she is confirmed as European Commission chief.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

Washington has two goals in northeastern Syria: to support the US-backed Kurdish forces that expelled Daesh from northern Syria as they are increasingly threatened by Turkey, and to prevent a potential Daesh resurgence in the war-torn country.

The US is hoping Europe will help, pressuring Britain, France and now Germany, which has so far deployed surveillance aircraft and other non-combat military support in Syria.

However Germany’s history makes military spending and foreign adventures controversial.

Berlin sent soldiers to fight abroad for the first time since World War II in 1994, and much of the political spectrum and the public remains suspicious of such deployments.

As well as the SPD, the ecologist Greens, liberal Free Democrats and Left party all urged Merkel to reject the US request for troops.

The US appeal comes after Trump has repeatedly urged Berlin to increase its defense spending, last month calling Germany “delinquent” over its contributions to NATO’s budget.

But such criticisms have more often hardened resistance to forking out more on the military rather than loosening the country’s purse strings.

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder told business newspaper Handelsblatt on Saturday that Trump wanted “vassals” rather than allies.
“I’d have liked the federal government to tell him once or twice that it’s none of his business” how much Germany spends on defense, Schroeder said.
“This isn’t a banana republic here!“

 

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U.S. Air Force sent its ballistic missile detection aircraft to Persian Gulf
Jul 8, 2019

View attachment 9230
A U.S. Air Force RC-135S Cobra Ball aircraft assigned to the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron takes off from Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, May 8, 2019. Photo by Senior Airman Jacob Skovo-Lane

A U.S. Air Force RC-135S Cobra Bal reconnaissance aircraft, that specializes in surveilling and collecting data on ballistic missiles, was reportedly sent to Persian Gulf.
Aviation enthusiast, Maleshov surprised many by released on Twitter the track of RC-135S Cobra Ball aircraft over the Persian Gulf.

”USAF RC-135S Cobra Ball a measurement and signature intelligence MASINT collector equipped with special electro-optical instruments designed to observe ballistic missile flights at long range 61-2662 PYTHN77 over Persian gulf,” he tweet said.

The Cobra Ball’s sent to the Persian Gulf comes after increasing tensions between the US and Iran have worsened since Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and several world powers, and reinstated sanctions on Tehran. Last month, in response to what American officials characterised as an imminent threat, the US announced it would rush an aircraft carrier and other assets to the region.

The RC-135S Cobra Ball is a rapidly deployable aircraft, which flies Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed missions of national priority to collect optical and electronic data on ballistic targets. According to the U.S. Air Force’s website said this data is critical to arms treaty compliance verification, and development of U.S. strategic defense and theater missile defense concepts.

Crew composition includes a minimum of two pilots, one navigator, three electronic warfare officers, two airborne systems engineers, and two or more airborne mission specialists.

All Cobra Ball airframe and mission systems modifications are overseen by L-3 Communications, under the oversight of Air Force Materiel Command.

There are three RC-135S aircraft in the Air Force inventory all assigned to Air Combat Command and permanently based at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.. The Cobra Ball is operated by the 55th Wing, and manned with aircrews from the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron, and the 97th Intelligence Squadron, using various forward deployment locations worldwide.
USAF RC-135S Cobra Ball a measurement and signature intelligence MASINT collector equipped with special electro-optical instruments designed to observe ballistic missile flights at long range 61-2662 PYTHN77 over Persian gulf pic.twitter.com/r5T3RWfThk
— Maleshov (@maleshov) July 8, 2019
 

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