Posts Tagged ‘cruise missiles’

The U.S. Navy Lowers Its Sights — Donald Trump pledged the biggest U.S. Navy build-up since the Reagan administration

January 18, 2018

Has Trump given up on expanding the size of the fleet? If so, there’s still time to reverse course.

Image may contain: sky, ocean, cloud, outdoor and water

The U.S. Navy announced Tuesday that it will court-martial the officers who commanded the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain last summer when they collided with other craft in the Pacific Ocean. They will face charges of negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and hazarding a vessel. In response to the collisions Navy Secretary Richard Spencer ordered a fleetwide review of strategic readiness. An independent team of civilian executives and former senior military officers delivered their sobering report last month.

The episode should serve as a wake-up call to military and civilian leaders alike. The U.S. has entered a new age of peer and near-peer competition for which the Navy is unprepared, according to the review’s findings. A much diminished fleet has been overloaded with tasks in recent years, yet the number of ships deployed around the world has remained constant. The Navy has managed this by increasing the time that ships and their crews spend at sea. “The net result has been a dramatic increase in the operating tempo of individual ships, and accompanying reductions in the time available to perform maintenance, training, and readiness certification,” according to the review’s authors. “The growing mismatch between the supply and demand of ships taxed fleet personnel and consumed material readiness at unsustainable rates.”

Accidents are inevitable under these circumstances. While enlisted sailors are spending more time away from their home ports, junior officers are spending less time at sea than is necessary to develop what the review calls “deep maritime operating skills.” Sailing a desk on a headquarters staff has became a path to timely career advancement. The review recommends freeing up officers from staff requirements so they can spend more time honing their war-fighting skills. It also urges a better fiscal balance among the operation of ships, equipment maintenance and personnel training—all vital, all expensive.

The most problematic recommendation requires acknowledging a difficult political reality. The Navy must communicate to political leaders “that the higher cost and time to achieve established readiness standards will mean less Navy presence worldwide.”

In September, the Government Accountability Office told the House Armed Services Committee that more than a third of the ships in the Navy’s Japan-based Seventh Fleet had expired warfare-training certifications. The review calls this a “normalization of deviation,” a problem that will persist so long as the Navy lacks the resources to fulfill its obligations.

If implemented, the review’s recommendations would restore the Navy’s readiness to respond to threats and flare-ups as they present themselves. But how, and at what price?

One option—a bad one—is for the Navy to reduce its global presence. As the review’s first sentence acknowledges, the Navy’s global primacy “is being challenged as it sails into a security environment not seen since before the collapse of the Soviet Union.” If achieving naval readiness requires ceding control of the seas to aggressive rising powers like China, Russia or Iran, it won’t be worth it.

A better alternative is to increase the size of the fleet so that necessary maintenance, repairs and training can ensure America’s ability to project naval power from the Western Pacific to the Eastern Mediterranean, from the Arctic to the Arabian Gulf, and to other areas of current—and future—competition with rivals. At the top of this list must be the Baltic and Black seas, where Russian influence is expanding.

As a candidate, Donald Trump pledged to increase the size of the Navy from approximately 275 combat vessels to 350 or more. But in December the administration’s national security strategy document signaled a shift in the president’s thinking. While the document claims the Trump administration supports modernization, acquisition reform, improved readiness and a “full spectrum force,” it does not call for a 350-ship fleet. When it comes to sea power, the U.S. is lowering its sights.

A flexible Navy that retains the ability to respond to threats as they emerge and a fleet large enough to defend vital U.S. interests are not mutually exclusive. But the Trump administration appears to have concluded that since lawmakers are unlikely to pay for construction of a large number of new warships, it won’t even ask them to. It’s a different vision for America’s naval future from the one Mr. Trump outlined on the campaign trail. He was right then; he is wrong now. There’s still time to reverse course.

Mr. Cropsey is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, where he directs the Center for American Seapower. He served as an officer in the Navy and as deputy undersecretary in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, and is author of “Seablindness” (Encounter, 2017).

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-u-s-navy-lowers-its-sights-1516234039

.

*****************************************************

.

A Larger Fleet Is Not Enough

Expanding the navy is a good idea, but only in service of a strategy to ensure U.S. dominance at sea.

Published on: March 14, 2017
.
Seth Cropsey served as a naval officer and as Deputy Undersecretary of the Navy in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush Administrations. He is a senior fellow at Hudson Institute and director of Hudson’s Center for American Seapower.
.
.
************************************************
.

Trump’s Seapower Contradiction

By Bryan McGrath

President Trump made many promises on the campaign trail, including one to greatly increase the size of the Navy. However, there is a “say/do” contradiction at work between Trump and expansion of American Seapower, one that manifests itself in his view of the role of the U.S. in the world, his key personnel choices, his view of the Russia threat, and his notable lack of public leadership necessary to build support for a larger fleet.The CampaignThe centerpiece of candidate Trump’s call to rebuild American military power was his call for a 350-ship fleet built around 12 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. The Trump fleet represented an increase in size of over 25% compared to the 276 ships in the fleet on Election Day and was fully 15% larger than the 308 ships called for in the final Obama fleet plan. He distinguished himself among GOP hopefuls in calling for a larger fleet, as both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were similarly inclined. Trump’s victory in November caused a great deal of anticipation among Seapower advocates who consistently called for a larger fleet, giving the Navy political cover necessary to release its December 2016 Force Structure Assessment calling for 355 ships, an increase of 47 ships from its 2012 review (which had been the basis for the 308-ship fleet).

There was little in the way of a strategic narrative to support an increase in fleet size in Trump’s campaign rhetoric, and given the much-reported lack of policy staff preparation within the campaign, there is little reason to believe such justification existed. Additionally, given candidate Trump’s positional flexibility and propensity to make things up on the fly, it was difficult to discern where a naval buildup fell among the many promises he made on the campaign trail, or even whether it was important to him at all. Nevertheless, as 2017 dawned, a President came to office who ran on a larger fleet, the Navy had promulgated its larger (355 ships) fleet force structure, and three Congressionally mandated fleet architecture studies reached the consensus view that the Navy’s planned fleet of 308 ships was insufficient. All the cosmic tumblers were clicking into place to support a significant fleet buildup.

Nearly a year later, there is little evidence to suggest that a fleet expansion beyond the Obama Administration’s number is underway, or under serious consideration. A careful reconsideration of facts in evidence leads to the conclusion that at best, the “350-Ship Navy” claim was a meaningless campaign promise, and at worst, was an opportunistic lie deeply at odds with the rare ideological underpinnings Trump possesses.

Seapower and Globalism

Globalism, and the expansion of free trade that underpins it is responsible for much of the growth of the global economy in the past quarter-century, as well as the dramatic decline in world poverty. The fall of the Warsaw Pact was the precipitating security event that contributed to this economic dynamism, but global freedom of the seas, over which most international trade travels, is what has kept the party going, freedom provided by a preponderant United States Navy. In fact, protecting global freedom of the seas is the most important mission of the U.S. Navy, mostly because no other element of military power has even a minor role in providing it, and how utterly dependent our prosperity is upon it. America is an outward-facing trading nation that still possesses the world’s largest and most vibrant economy. Our prosperity is directly tied to global free trade, and global free trade depends on freedom of the seas. There is only one Navy on Earth with the forces and basing structure to act as the global guarantor of freedom of the seas, and it does so because the nation’s economy and security demand it. Others prosper because of global trade carried over free and open seas, but no nation prospers more than we. Our future prosperity could be at risk without free and open seas, and no nation has a greater interest in guaranteeing them.

Sir Walter Raleigh’s dictum that “…whosoever commands the sea commands the trade; whosoever commands the trade of the world commands the riches of the world, and consequently the world itself” has animated America’s naval strategy since World War II, although it has done so in a manner enriching the entire world. That strategy is under increasing pressure, and nowhere more so than in the South China Sea, where China’s naval and missile buildup is designed to challenge America’s ability to provide unimpeded movement for its commerce and that of others, enabling China to exercise de facto dominance over a region of great importance to the United States.

Finally, the U.S. Navy’s global posture provides the catalytic spark for U.S. led regional security in areas where our interests are most notable, and most threatened. Because the U.S. Navy is strong and forward deployed, smaller, less powerful nations are incentivized to join with us in cooperative maritime security efforts and can do so without fear of retribution from other powerful, regional actors (see China, Russia, Iran). Were the U.S. Navy less forward and less strong, regional powers could exert more pressure on these weaker nations resulting potentially in either destabilizing arms races or painful accommodation of the regional power in ways antithetical to our security interests. In other words, it is in our interest to be there, and it is in these lesser powers’ interest to be there with us.

What Trump Believes

Donald Trump’s political views have been flexible over the years. He has been both pro-life and pro-choice. He has been a gun-control supporter and guardian of the second amendment. He has been stridently anti-immigrant while stocking his resorts with foreign guest workers. Some of Trump’s supporters believe that this positional flexibility is a good thing, which the lack of ideological moorings leaves him free to “make deals.” And while the record is clear that Trump does not have many deeply held principles underlying his politics, one consistently held and vocally expressed strain of thought is that the United States is overextended, that allies are not paying their share, and more recently, that free trade often works against American interests. By way of evidence are two articles covering Trump nearly thirty years apart. The first was a recent piece looking back on a younger Donald Trump who took out a full-page advertisement in the Washington Post, The New York Times, and the Boston Globe on September 2, 1987. Here is how a portion of it went:

“For decades, Japan and other nations have been taking advantage of the United States… “The saga continues unabated as we defend the Persian Gulf, an area of only marginal significance to the United States for its oil supplies, but one upon which Japan and others are almost totally dependent….why are these nations not paying the United States for the human lives and billions of dollars we are losing to protect their interests…the world is laughing at America’s politicians as we protect ships we don’t own, carrying oil we don’t need, destined for allies who won’t help.”

Nearly thirty years later while running for President, Trump said the following during a campaign speech in April 2016:

“Secondly, our allies are not paying their fair share, and I’ve been talking about this recently a lot. Our allies must contribute toward their financial, political, and human costs, have to do it, of our tremendous security burden. But many of them are simply not doing so. They look at the United States as weak and forgiving and feel no obligation to honor their agreements with us. In NATO, for instance, only 4 of 28 other member countries besides America, are spending the minimum required 2 percent of GDP on defense. We have spent trillions of dollars over time on planes, missiles, ships, equipment, building up our military to provide a strong defense for Europe and Asia. The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense, and if not, the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves. We have no choice.”

Thirty years apart, these statements bespeak the consistent view of a man with little understanding of how much the United States benefits economically from its forward-deployed military posture, and even less of an understanding of the choices those nations face in their regional security environments especially were we to abandon our alliances. Additionally, given that a naval expansion on the order of what he promised on the campaign trail would cost upwards of $40B a year in total costs, it begs credulity to believe that he would advocate doing so given the laggard performance of our friends and allies in paying for their own defense. If the Administration does begin to assert the need for a larger fleet, Congress must require it to explain the role of this dramatically expanded force, in light of the President’s clear disdain for forward operations.

The Russia Question

The Navy’s 355 Ship Force Structure assessment and each of the three congressionally-mandated fleet architecture studies shared an underlying threat assumption that contributed to their broad consensus on force levels. That assumption was that Russia posed a significant and growing threat to our interests in the North Atlantic, the Norwegian Sea, the Baltic Sea, and the Eastern Mediterranean. In fact, in the CSBAstudy in which I participated, we considered the Russian threat to be more serious in the near term than the China threat, and our recommended naval force posture reflected it (see pp. 53-59)

Putting aside for the moment ongoing questions of Russian meddling in the 2016 Election and potential Trump campaign collusion therein, it is not at all clear the degree to which President Trump views Russia as a military threat to American interests. If Russia is not a threat, the Navy likely does not have to be 350 ships. If Russia is a threat requiring a Navy that large, the President should be required to say so—something he has not authoritatively done, but which would have to be made clear in a coherent justification for a naval buildup. The impending release of the Trump Administration National Security (NSS) Strategy should provide some indication of what the President believes, but Congress should not rely solely upon the NSS. It should insist that the President name a resurgent Russia as a clear national security threat to the United States and that the threat warrants additional buildup in U.S. forces.

Personnel is Policy

Perhaps the most obvious sign of Trump’s less than arduous attachment to his promise to grow the fleet was his selection of former South Carolina Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) as his Director of Management and Budget. Originally elected with the Tea Party Class of 2010, Mulvaney earned a reputation for opposing the more hawkish elements of the GOP in the House. Clearly, Mulvaney works for the President and will carry out the President’s wishes, but in the absence of Presidential leadership, Mulvaney will be an unlikely supporter of increasing the size of the Navy. In fact, the original FY 18 budget submission to Capitol Hill in the spring of 2017 accounted for no additional ships above what the Obama Administration had planned for that year. A furor from the Alabama and Wisconsin Congressional delegations added a second Littoral Combat Ship to the budget—presumably against Mulvaney’s wishes.

The selection of retired Marine General James Mattis as Secretary of Defense has also put a chill over the warm talk of naval expansion, as one of his initial acts upon taking office was to issue budget guidancethat made growing the force his third priority, behind current readiness and replenishing weapons stocks, and that more detailed plans for force growth would be held in abeyance pending the White House issuance of a National Security Strategy and the Defense Department’s submittal of a National Defense Strategy—neither of which is expected until early next year. It is difficult indeed to find anything other than generalized statements of support for a larger Navy from Mattis, a situation of some irony given his propensity as the U.S. Central Commander to demand the near-continuous presence of two aircraft carriers.

Finally, the only evidence we have thus far of the top-line management of the Department of Defense budget is the President’s 2018 Budget Submission, which represented only a 3% increase over the Obama projection for 2018. Three percent does not a massive military buildup make.

Presidential Leadership

The final evidence offered for the lack of priority afforded a naval buildup under President Trump is that he has done almost nothing to make it happen, and historically speaking, nothing is as important to growing a Navy as Presidential support. As stated earlier—building a larger Navy is an expensive proposition, and while Congress appears ready to provide the Navy with more resources, it will not do so in the absence of a clear plan of how that money will be spent and the sense that the President is dedicated to following through on it. A campaign promise is insufficient reason for the expense. A clearly articulated, consistently reinforced statement of need is central to the persuasive case that must be made for the American people to allocate massive resources in peacetime to a naval building program. That case has not been made, and the President must be the one to make it. Thus far in his Presidency, we have not seen active Presidential support for policies the President was believed to be personally invested in (see Health Care, tax reform), so it remains to be seen whether he will muster the effort to get behind a larger Navy.

Is All Hope Lost?

Given the conflict between the benefits of dominant American Seapower and the consistency of Donald Trump’s most long-standing national security belief, the dubious nature of the President’s view of the Russian threat, his appointment of senior subordinates not likely to be committed naval expansionists, and his own lack of leadership on the issue—the 350 ship Navy appears to be just another broken campaign promise.

The way forward is clear; Congress must assume a greater share of the lead in moving forward with a naval expansion. Uniformed Navy leadership must step forward and relentlessly reinforce the strategic benefits conferred by preponderant American Seapower. For the first time in its history, the nation must attempt to increase the size of its Navy in the absence of Presidential leadership or attention.

.

https://www.hudson.org/research/14047-trump-s-seapower-contradiction

.

************************************************

Donald Trump pledged the biggest U.S. Navy build-up since the Reagan administration

Donald Trump has pledged that he’ll lead the biggest U.S. Navy build-up since the Reagan administration, but the details on what’s likely to be an expensive and potentially decades-long effort remain to be seen.

Trump vowed to build the 350-ship fleet Republican defense hawks have long sought and reverse decades of fleet contraction which has yielded today’s battle force of 272 ships. And while the politics of large increases to the defense budget are dicey in the best of times, Trump sees a naval build-up as part of his agenda to create jobs, according to an October internal Trump campaign memo obtained by Navy Times.

The plan, if enacted, would aim to restore the Navy to a size it hasn’t been since 1998, and would mean tens of thousands of new sailor jobs. So far, it remains unclear what mix of ships the incoming administration wants to build more of, from $10 billion Ford-class carriers or $3 billion Virginia-class attack submarines to $500 million littoral combat ships, and how that fleet composition is connected to a strategic vision.

Trump’s camp believes generally that if you have more ships and more capabilities, you give the government more options in a crisis to deter conflicts and defeat enemies. That’s what top Trump advisers told Navy Times’ sister publication Defense News in October ahead of the election.

“I think at this point in history with the credibility of president of the United States eroded, were they to suspect that the United States is abandoning its defense spending,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., in the interview. “It takes more than a speech to turn this around.” 

Trump has pledged to build a much larger fleet that experts say will cost many billions more per year, as state-of-the-art technology raises the price of new ship classes.Photo Credit: U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin”Trump’s plans are actually to build more ships and maintain a higher number of troops and aircraft. It will go a lot further than words to convince the world that we remain strong. It will help us to maintain the peace.

In the campaign memo, sent by a senior aide to Rep. Randy Forbes, an outgoing Virginia congressman and a top contender to be Trump’s Navy secretary, Trump promises to fund modernizing “a significant number of the Navy’s Ticonderoga-class cruisers,” some of which the Obama administration has sidelined for months or years until they get their modernization overhauls.

The memo also lays out a plan to invest heavily in new submarines and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, and to revitalize the shipyards and get warships the maintenance that has been deferred in the last few years because of across-the-board budget cuts.

“Mr. Trump’s plan will require a significant partnership with a defense industrial base that has been strained by years of significant cuts to shipbuilding and ship repair,” the memo reads. “The nationwide infrastructure of yards, depots, and support facilities that created and sustained the World War II and Cold War-era Navy has been largely dismantled.”

The solution, the memo says, is to find places where old shipyards went out of business and have the ability to restart, an effort that would be led by the incoming Navy secretary. Trump also wants to build a robust training pipeline for skilled workers in the shipyards to increase the support base for the growing Navy.

Growing the fleet

Expanding the fleet is an idea that has gained currency both in the current administration, which is trying to boost the fleet to 308 ships up from 272, and among conservative defense proponents who have advocated for a much larger fleet.

The fleet could be grown to the size advocated by Trump, or at least close to it, by the 2030s, said Bryan Clark, a former senior aide to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert and an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

would need to start building three Virginia-class attack submarines per year and continue to pump out LCS and its follow-on frigates starting in 2019 to do low-end missions. The submarine build-up would need to continue even as the nation begins on the next-generation of ballistic missile submarines, which are estimated to cost at least $5 billion per hull.

The Navy, he said, could also accelerate the production of the aircraft carriers to get the fleet up to 12 by the 2030s. That buildup would get the Navy from an end strength of about 330,000 sailors today to more than 380,000 in Trump’s Navy.

One idea that wouldn’t work, Clark said, would be to bring ships out of the mothball fleet the way the Reagan administration did. Reagan famously recommissioned the World War II-era Iowa-class battleships to try and meet his 600-ship Navy goal.

“The difference between the ships in the fleet and the ships in mothballs is the technology is two or three generations removed from what’s in use today,” Clark said. “In the 1980s, the ships you could pull out of mothballs, the combat systems were not that far removed from the systems of the day. It wasn’t that dramatic.”

Clark said the modern-day equivalent would be to modernize all the existing cruisers to keep them in the fleet through the 2030s, an idea that has gained traction in the incoming Trump administration.

Now they just have to find a way to pay for it.

Navy and defense spending isn’t the only thing Trump wants to spend money on, and figuring out the winners and losers among Trump’s policy agenda is going to be a challenge, experts warn.

“There are going to have to be lot of trade-offs,” said Dan Palazzolo, a professor of political science at University of Richmond.

Donald Trump wants a lot of things: Big tax cuts, big infrastructure spending, doesn’t want to touch entitlements, defense spending. There are tensions here that are going to have to get unwound.

“Really this is going to be the challenge of Trump’s presidency: How do you translate these broad policy proposals into policies, and defense in that mix. It’s going to be on Congress to help him figure that out.”

.

https://www.navytimes.com/news/your-navy/2016/11/15/donald-trump-wants-to-start-the-biggest-navy-build-up-in-decades/

.

********************************************************

.

Does the US Navy have a strategy beyond hope?

The U.S. Navy begins the new year in crisis. By its own admission many of its ships and aircraft are in poor condition. Training is not where it should be, its ships can’t maneuver properly around other ships, and Navy leaders for years have complained the service is overstretched, constantly struggling to meet requirements and falling short in any number of areas. It is by no means clear that new ideas and concepts are being implemented to counter ever-growing military rivals.

Worldwide challenges abound. China is effectively moving the U.S. out of the western Pacific positions of influence held since the 1940s — ironically using a fast-growing and evermore effective naval force modeled on that of the United States. Virtually every country in the region is re-evaluating political and military realities as China’s influence grows. Russian sea power is reasserting itself in the Mediterranean, Black and Baltic seas and most disturbingly in the undersea arena, where a growing threat could compromise or destroy the undersea cables upon which the internet relies. The Middle East remains problematic — stability in the region is threatened by the war in Yemen, eternal squabbling among Arab states and a restless Iran. Terrorist groups, humanitarian crises and natural disasters all increase instability. The list of potential conflict areas widens virtually every week. Above all, the very real threat of armed conflict with North Korea —nuclear or conventional —has many smart people convinced that some sort of clash is rapidly nearing.

Is the U.S. Navy ready? Is it up to the task? Do we see evidence that it is? In a word, no. Aside from resting on past laurels, there seems little reason to persuasively argue otherwise.

Looking for more on the U.S. Navy’s surface fleet? Get the latest here.

The world’s media abounds with stories, videos and images of the growing military capabilities of those who would challenge the U.S., much of them put out directly by those governments or with their support. Check out YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites and it’s no problem to get an impressive and often detailed picture of what the other guys are doing.

Where is the U.S. Navy in all this? Pretty much nowhere. Sure, there’s lots of product coming from Defense Department sources, but increasingly it’s watered down, devoid of much real content. By decree, information about operational movements and war-fighting capabilities is largely stripped from official content — certainly whatever remains is a shadow of what was only a couple years ago a robust picture of U.S. military might.

The independent media, of course, would love to take up the slack, but it’s become harder as the Pentagon and service leadership — led by the Navy — warn against giving away too much information. The resulting desire to err on the side of caution means real information has all but dried up.

Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, noted in a March 1 memo to department personnel that public communications should be done to “communicate with purpose” — but, he added, “very often less is more.”

“Sharing information,” the CNO wrote, “even at the unclassified level, makes it easier for potential adversaries to gain an advantage.” Should there be doubt about a message, he continued, “bias on the side of caution. I am not asking you to throttle back engagement with the media or with the public.”

But make no mistake, the flow of information has indeed been throttled back. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis continued the clampdown in an Oct. 5 memo warning against leaks and divulging classified information. “We must be vigilant in executing our responsibility to prevent disclosure of any information not authorized for release outside the Department of Defense,” Mattis wrote.

There is no question that divulging military secrets would be a mistake, and the great majority of the media doesn’t seek to do so. But one of the goals of putting out information is deterrence, to portray expertise, capabilities, readiness and commitment to deter an enemy from provoking or prompting armed conflict. Mere pronouncements of strength — and the U.S. military leadership has become stridently adept at substituting clichés and slogans for substantive content — don’t deter anyone.

Media requests have become routinely stifled, delayed or denied. Interviews no longer take two or three weeks to arrange — two or three months has become the norm, if at all. A recent development, according to many reporters, is for interviews becoming qualified at the last moment. “We can’t talk about XXX,” officials tell reporters, sometimes a day or less before an appointment, “but we understand if you’ll want to cancel the interview.”

Another tactic to delay or avoid responding to questions is for officials to claim: “We don’t want to get out ahead of leadership,” meaning a topic or program can’t be discussed until higher-ups explain their position. But the higher-ups repeat the assertion, and the request is kicked up multiple levels to the point where executives don’t discuss such things because it’s simply beneath their level.

This information chill is not just about securing defense secrets. It is also about not attracting unwanted attention, particularly from congressional overseers. Heaven forbid some poor program manager mentions a problem and the next day several congressional offices want answers. Sure, no one likes people looking over their shoulder telling them what to do, but that’s exactly what oversight committees are charged with. It’s their job, and the system of checks and balances is a fundamental principal of our government.

Trust and confidence stem from sharing information and having faith the information bears something close to the truth. It is difficult these days to have much faith and confidence that the Pentagon and the Navy can deter war or successfully prosecute an armed conflict. One hopes so, but as someone once said, hope isn’t much of a strategy.

Christopher P. Cavas is a naval analyst and commentator. He was formerly the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.

https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/surface-navy-association/2018/01/04/does-the-us-navy-have-a-strategy-beyond-hope/

Related:

.

.

Advertisements

Japanese Cabinet OKs record ¥5.19 trillion defense budget to counter North Korea with interceptor batteries, first cruise missiles

December 23, 2017
BY 

STAFF WRITER
Japan Times

DEC 22, 2017
Japan deployed Patriot interceptor launchers at Ishigaki in February last year. Tokyo is laying the groundwork for an expanded military presence on Japan’s southwestern islands. JIJI PRESS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The Cabinet on Friday approved a record-high draft defense budget for fiscal 2018 to beef up Japan’s missile defenses against the growing threat from North Korea, breaking the record for the fourth consecutive year.

The draft budget for fiscal 2018 rose to ¥5.19 trillion from ¥5.13 trillion the previous year, and covers upgrades to the ballistic missile defense system and procure long-range cruise missiles to be launched from fighter jets.

Image may contain: ocean, sky, outdoor and water

“Our nation’s security is under a greater threat. It is significantly important that we procure cutting-edge equipment,” Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters Friday.

“It’s important that we continue to increase pressure on North Korea to urge the regime to alter its policy. (U.S.) President (Donald) Trump repeated ‘all options are on the table.’ We must prepare to be able to correspond to various situations,” he said.

On Tuesday the government said it will introduce two Aegis Ashore interceptor batteries, so ¥700 million was allocated to survey potential sites and design a deployment plan.

The U.S.-made land-based version of the Aegis combat system developed for warships is a collection of radars, computers and missiles. Japan plans to deploy two Aegis Ashore batteries by 2023 at the earliest.

Image may contain: sky, cloud and outdoor

AEGIS Ashore missile launch

Aegis Ashore will add a new layer of protection to Japan’s current missile shield, which consists of Patriot interceptor batteries, backed up by Aegis-equipped destroyers.

Defense officials say acquiring Aegis Ashore would allow the government to cover the entire country from Hokkaido to Okinawa, and make preparations for interception easier than that for the Aegis destroyers.

To buy Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptors for Aegis Ashore, the ministry allocated ¥44 billion. The interceptor was co-developed with the United States.

Narushige Michishita, professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo, welcomed Aegis Ashore as a “cost-effective” way to improve Japan’s missile shield.

“Aegis Ashore uses the SM-3 Block IIA, which is able to defend a very wide range and shoot down missiles at extremely high altitudes,” Michishita said.

The government had also considered the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, also made by the U.S.

Michishita said introducing Aegis Ashore instead of THAAD was an effective way to cut costs because the government says 16 THAAD systems are required for total coverage instead of two.

But Michishita warned that deploying Aegis Ashore could trigger health concerns because its radars emit strong radio waves, adding that the government must encourage residents hosting the batteries to cooperate.

Image may contain: grass, plant, sky, tree, outdoor and nature

Japans Air Self-Defense Force members set up PAC-3 surface-to-air missile launch systems during a temporary deployment drill

Another highlight of the draft is the ¥2.2 billion allocation to procure Japan’s first long-range cruise missiles mountable on fighter jets.

The Joint Strike Missile by Norway’s Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace AS, with a range of about 500 km, will be loaded on F-35A stealth fighters.

Image result for F-35A, japan, photos

F-35A

The government denied that the cruise missiles are for attacking other countries. It claimed that they will instead be used to defend Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers equipped with the Aegis missile defense system.

Michishita the professor suggested they could be used for island defense.

The ministry has also allocated ¥78.5 billion to buy six F-35As and ¥14.7 billion to obtain RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance aircraft.

Some ¥92.2 billion was allocated to build a 3,900-ton escort ship and ¥69.7 billion for a 3,000-ton submarine with improved underwater sound detection capabilities.

The ministry also allocated ¥39.3 billion to obtain four V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft.

While Japan tries to stay prepared for North Korea’s missile threat, it is also apparently keeping an eye on China’s growing maritime activities.

Japan is looking to strengthen its defense of remote islands, especially in the East China Sea and around Okinawa.

The ministry allocated ¥55.3 billion to prepare for the deployment of Ground Self-Defense Force units on Miyakojima Island in Okinawa and Amami-Oshima Island northeast of Okinawa. Both are near the Senkaku Islands. The budget will be used to develop facilities, such as government office buildings and repair factories.

Elsewhere, ¥197.7 billion was earmarked for so-called host-nation support, which covers the cost of workers, utilities and other items at U.S. military bases. The amount was ¥194.6 billion in fiscal 2016.

Since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in 2012, the defense budget has been climbing under the government’s five-year defense buildup through fiscal 2018.

Onodera said Friday that a new five-year program will be debated next year.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/12/22/national/politics-diplomacy/japanese-cabinet-oks-record-%C2%A55-19-trillion-defense-budget-counter-north-korea-interceptor-batteries-first-cruise-missiles/#.Wj4_rN-nGUk

Related:

Japan’s Defense Ministry seeks funds for cruise missiles

December 10, 2017

 

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Defense Ministry requested on Friday additional funds in the fiscal 2018 budget for introducing long-range cruise missiles that would be loaded onto Self-Defense Forces aircraft.

If another country occupied a remote Japanese island or launched a similar invasion, the ministry would aim to attack from outside the weapons range of the enemy forces by extending the range of the SDF’s missiles. The cruise missiles would be used to enable the SDF to retake territory.

The ministry requested the additional funds for two purposes. The first — for ¥2.16 billion — is to purchase joint strike missiles (JSMs), which have a range of about 500 kilometers.

Image result for f-35, photos

The second is for research on modifying F-15 fighters and other aircraft so they can be equipped with Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER) missiles and Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASMs), both of which have a range of about 900 kilometers. This request amounts to ¥30 million.

JSMs loaded onto F-35 fighters would be used to attack targets on the ground or warships.

The ministry would aim to begin deploying the missiles in fiscal 2021.

Image result for JASSM-ER missiles, photos

JASSM-ER missiles are for attacking targets on the ground. LRASMs are for attacking both ground targets and warships.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said at a press conference Friday that the missiles would make it possible “to respond to enemy fleets or landing forces invading our country’s territories without approaching them closely.”

The ministry’s plan to introduce the new types of missiles is apparently a precaution against China, which has stepped up its maritime expansion.

However, because the new missiles are also capable of reaching targets inside North Korea from the skies over the Sea of Japan, the ministry also apparently aims to strengthen deterrence against Pyongyang.

The government’s position is that, although the capability to attack enemy bases is allowed under the Constitution, Japan has made it a policy decision to not possess that capability in light of the nation’s exclusively defense-oriented policy.

“[The introduction of the new types of missiles] would not run counter to the exclusively defense-oriented policy,” Onodera said.

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004117987

Image may contain: text

Japan plans long-range missiles amid N. Korea threat

December 8, 2017

AFP

© AFP | North Korea has threatened to sink Japan into the sea and has fired missiles over the country
TOKYO (AFP) – Japan plans to purchase offensive air-to-surface missiles to counter North Korea’s rising military threat, its defence minister said Friday, a move likely to stir debate over its decades-long pacifist policy.Itsunori Onodera said the ministry intends to request a special budget for the fiscal year starting April 2018 to purchase long-range cruise missiles deployed on fighter jets.

According to local media, the ministry plans to buy JASSM and LRASM long-range, air-to-ground missiles with a range of some 900 kilometres (560 miles) from US firms.

AGM-158 JASSM (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AGM-158_JASSM

AGM-158C LRASM (Long Range Anti-Ship Missile)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AGM-158C_LRASM

It also plans to buy Joint Strike Missiles with a range of some 500 kilometres from Norway’s Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace, news reports said.

The move will likely draw controversy as Tokyo has long maintained an exclusively defence-oriented policy under its pacifist constitution, which bans the use of force as a means of settling international disputes.

But Onodera insisted his ministry will continue to uphold the policy, telling reporters: “We will introduce them as standoff missiles that allow us to deal with our opponents from outside the range of threats.”

Japan’s military policy has been restricted to self-defence and relies heavily on the US to attack enemy territory under the Japan-US security alliance.

US President Donald Trump had caused consternation during his White House campaign by suggesting allies such as Japan need to do more to defend themselves, although since taking office Trump and his diplomats have offered reassurances of support.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told parliament that North Korea’s missile tests were an “imminent threat” to Japan and talking to the reclusive state was meaningless.

The upper house unanimously adopted a resolution protesting against the North’s firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile that dropped into the sea inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone last week.

Global anxiety about North Korea has steadily risen this year, and Washington last week called on other UN members to cut ties with Pyongyang in order to squeeze the secretive regime.

The call, however, has fallen short of persuading key North Korean backers China and Russia to take steps to isolate the regime.

© 2017 AFP

Six Minutes to Counterattack: South Korea Shows Plan to Strike Back at North’s Missiles

November 30, 2017

Seoul fired missiles into sea, but analysts note it may not be able to respond as quickly in a war scenario

SEOUL—In the dead of night, at 3:17 a.m., a South Korean air force Boeing 737 early-warning aircraft detected the first missile launch from North Korea in more than two months.

Six minutes later, the army’s ground-based launchers, navy Aegis destroyers and air force F-16 jets began firing missiles into the waters off eastern Korea, in what was meant as a demonstration of Seoul’s readiness for conflict and its ability to hit back.

The display appeared largely successful, but security analysts noted that in a real wartime scenario South Korea may not be able to respond as swiftly or accurately.

North Korea’s launched its latest ICBM—a new type of missile that experts say is capable of hitting Washington—early Wednesday from Pyongsong, about 20 miles north of the capital, a site the regime hadn’t previously used for weapons tests.

The Threat From North Korea’s Missiles

According to a detailed account Thursday from South Korea’s defense ministry, the location in the sea targeted by its military was calibrated to match the distance to the launch site to show that it could hit it the site if it chose to. President Moon Jae-in had already been notified.

But detecting missile tests is an imperfect science, involving misses as well as hits. In a conflict situation, North Korea is likely to take more steps to conceal its movements, for instance by deploying decoy launchers, said Yang Uk, senior defense researcher at the Korea Defense and Security Forum, a Seoul think tank.

In such a scenario, the likelihood that South Korean, U.S. or Japanese forces would pinpoint the exact launch site falls, said Mr. Yang. Still, he viewed the South’s response to the missile test as a success, especially considering the short time the military needed to return fire.

A spokesman for the U.S.-led U.N. Command in Korea said no U.S. or other forces participated in the response.

“What we saw Wednesday was an active response to a North Korean missile launch that South Korea calls its ‘kill chain’ system,” Mr. Yang said. The kill chain is part of a larger defense system designed to pre-emptively strike the North’s missile systems in the case of a nuclear attack.

South Korea this year installed a U.S.-operated Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense antimissile battery that can shoot down short- and medium-range missiles, complementing its Patriot PAC-2 antiballistic missile system. The new battery has a longer-range, but it can’t cover the whole country.

A retired senior South Korean military official said that the South lacks a military satellite that can watch the North, although U.S. and Japanese satellites share images with South Korean officials in real time.

Analysts said North Korean officials install devices onto missiles that generate signals and send them to ground-based control towers. The South has a way to tap into these signals and track the missiles, they said.

But in a real missile launch targeting a South Korean, Japanese or U.S. city, the North Koreans may choose not to install them, said Jo Dong-joo, deputy director of the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University. This means that the South might have no way to track a hostile missile, Mr. Jo said.

The retired military official also noted that the South has a network of human intelligence in the North that may have tipped off Seoul officials about this week’s launch. He declined to give further details, citing security concerns.

Details on the South’s spy network in the North remain murky, but local media have reported in recent months that the South has lost most of its human network in North Korea in recent years.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/six-minutes-to-counterattack-south-korea-shows-plan-to-strike-back-at-norths-missiles-1512038479

A Russian Ghost Submarine, Its U.S. Pursuers and a Deadly New Cold War

October 20, 2017

A resurgence in Russian submarine technology has reignited an undersea rivalry that played out in a cat-and-mouse sea hunt across the Mediterranean

Animation: George Downs/The Wall Street Journal

 

The Krasnodar, a Russian attack submarine, left the coast of Libya in late May, headed east across the Mediterranean, then slipped undersea, quiet as a mouse. Then, it fired a volley of cruise missiles into Syria.

In the days that followed, the diesel-electric sub was pursued by the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, its five accompanying warships, MH-60R Seahawk helicopters and P-8 Poseidon anti-sub jets flying out of Italy.

In the days that followed, the diesel-electric sub was pursued by the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, its five accompanying warships, MH-60R Seahawk helicopters and P-8 Poseidon anti-sub jets flying out of Italy.

The U.S. and its allies had set out to track the Krasnodar as it moved to its new home in the Black Sea. The missile attack upended what had been a routine voyage, and prompted one of the first U.S. efforts to track a Russian sub during combat since the Cold War. Over the next weeks, the sub at points eluded detection in a sea hunt that tested the readiness of Western allies for a new era in naval warfare.

Russia’s Krasnodar submarine.Photo: Russian Look/ZUMA PRESS

An unexpected resurgence in Russian submarine development, which deteriorated after the breakup of the Soviet Union, has reignited the undersea rivalry of the Cold War, when both sides deployed fleets of attack subs to hunt for rival submarines carrying nuclear-armed ballistic missiles.

When underwater, enemy submarines are heard, not seen—and Russia brags that its new subs are the world’s quietest. The Krasnodar is wrapped in echo-absorbing skin to evade sonar; its propulsion system is mounted on noise-cutting dampers; rechargeable batteries drive it in near silence, leaving little for sub hunters to hear. “The Black Hole,” U.S. allies call it.

“As you improve the quieting of the submarines and their capability to move that much more stealthily through the water, it makes it that much harder to find,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Benjamin Nicholson, of Destroyer Squadron 22, who oversees surface and undersea warfare for the USS Bush strike group. “Not impossible, just more difficult.”

Russia’s support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has given Russian President Vladimir Putin opportunities to test the cruise missiles aboard the new subs over the past two years, raising the stakes for the U.S. and its allies.

The USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier on July 22 in the Mediterranean Sea.Photo: Daniel Gaither/Planet Pix/ZUMA PRESS

Top officials of North Atlantic Treaty Organization say the alliance must consider new investments in submarines and sub-hunting technology. The findings of a study this year from the Center for a New American Security, a Washington-based think tank, grabbed the attention of senior NATO leaders: The U.S. and its allies weren’t prepared for an undersea conflict with Russia.

“We still remain dominant in the undersea world,” said Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Europe. “But we too must focus on modernizing the equipment we have and improving our skills.”

The U.S. Navy, which for years trained its sub-hunting teams through naval exercises and computer simulations, is again tracking Russian submarines in the Baltic, North Atlantic and Mediterranean seas. The challenge extends beyond Russia, which has sold subs to China, India and elsewhere.

“Nothing gets you better than doing it for real,” Capt. Nicholson said. “Steel sharpens steel.”

This account was based on interviews with officials from the U.S. Navy, NATO and crew members aboard the USS Bush, as well as Russian government announcements.

The U.S. Navy is engaged in a technology-fueled game of hide and seek, hunting for stealthy Russian submarines like the Krasnodar, a.k.a. “The Black Hole.” Video/Image: George Downs/WSJ.

Lookout duty

On May 6, after a last volley of cruise-missile tests conducted in the Baltic Sea, the Russian defense ministry said the Krasnodar was to join the country’s Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol, Ukraine, via the Mediterranean. American allies already knew.

The sub, traveling on the ocean surface, was accompanied by a Russian tug boat. The U.S. and its NATO allies had hashed out a plan to follow the sub using maritime-patrol aircraft and surface ships.

“Even if you are tracking a transiting submarine that is not trying to hide, it takes coordination and effort,” said Capt. Bill Ellis, the commodore of Task Force 67, the U.S. sub-hunting planes in Europe.

NATO’s maritime force, led by a Dutch frigate, took first lookout duty. The Dutch sent NH-90 helicopter to snap a photo of the sub in the North Sea and posted it on Twitter. Surveillance of the Krasnodar then turned to the U.K.’s HMS Somerset on May 5, about the time the sub entered the North Sea by the Dutch coast.

The Krasnodar passed through the English Channel and continued past France and Spain, where a Spanish patrol boat took up the escort.

When the submarine reached Gibraltar, a U.S. Navy cruiser monitored the sub’s entry into the Mediterranean Sea on May 13. U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft, flying out of the Sigonella air base in Italy, also took up watch.

“We want to see where it goes,” Capt. Ellis said. “At any time a submarine could submerge and start to be hidden, so we want to follow.”

As the Krasnodar headed east, Russia’s defense ministry notified international airlines that it would be conducting drills off the coast of Libya. U.S. officials and defense analysts said the drills were part of a sales pitch to potential buyers, including Egypt, that would show off the submarine’s cruise missiles.

A more dramatic and unexpected display came a few days later. Russia’s defense ministry announced on May 29 that the sub’s cruise missiles had struck Islamic State targets and killed militants near Syria’s city of Palmyra. Suddenly, a routine tracking mission turned much more serious.

Russia released images of what officials said was the Krasnodar submarine launching cruise missiles at Islamic State targets near Palmyra, Syria, as well as images of missile strikes.Photo: Russian Defence Ministry Press Office/TASS/ZUMA Press

With both U.S. and Russian forces crossing paths in Syria, each pursuing distinct and sometimes conflicting agendas, the battlefield has grown more complicated. The Russians have given only limited warnings of their strikes to the U.S.-led coalition. That has required the U.S. and its allies to keep a close eye on Russian submarines hiding in the Mediterranean.

Nuclear-armed submarines are the cornerstone of the U.S. and U.K.’s strategic deterrent. For the U.S., these subs make up one leg of the so-called triad of nuclear forces—serving, essentially, as a retaliatory strike force.

Smaller attack submarines like the Krasnodar, armed with conventional torpedoes and cruise missiles, can pose a more tangible threat to U.S. aircraft carriers, which are the Navy’s most important weapon to project American power around the world.

On June 5, the USS Bush, a $6.2 billion carrier, and its warships, passed through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean. Its mission was to support U.S.-backed Syrian rebels and attack Islamic State positions.

A sailor on the bridge of the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier on June 21 while at sea on the Mediterranean. Photo: Bram Janssen/Associated Press

Amid rising tensions between U.S. and Russian military forces in Syria—and with the Krasnodar trying to evade Western surveillance—the job of the USS Bush now also included tracking the sub and learning more about its so-called pattern of life: its tactics, techniques and battle rhythms.

By then, the Krasnodar had slipped beneath the waves and begun the game of hide and seek. Sailors and aviators with little real-world experience in anti-sub warfare began a crash course.

“It is an indication of the changing dynamic in the world that a skill set, maybe we didn’t spend a lot of time on in the last 15 years, is coming back,” said Capt. Jim McCall, commander of the air wing on the USS Bush.

Image may contain: ocean, sky, cloud, outdoor, water and nature

USS George H.W. Bush

Into the deep

The Krasnodar was designed to operate close to shore, invisible to opposing forces and able to strike missile targets 1,600 miles away. The coastal waters of the Mediterranean south of Cyprus, which put it within range of Syria, provided plenty of places to hide.

Finding a submarine that is operating on batteries underwater is very difficult. How many hours or days the Krasnodar’s batteries can operate before recharging is a secret neither Russian officials who know, nor the U.S. Navy, which may have a good idea, will talk about.

Generated by AI2DynInsetPhoto: Sources: news reports; U.S.S. George H.W. Bush crew

Western naval analysts say the sub most likely must use its diesel engines to recharge batteries every couple of days. When the diesel engines are running, they say, the sub can be more easily found.

The Krasnodar wasn’t likely to challenge an aircraft carrier. But the U.S. Navy was taking no chances. “One small submarine has the ability to threaten a large capital asset like an aircraft carrier,” said Capt. Ellis, the P-8 task force commander.

For many days in June, a squadron of MH-60R Seahawk helicopters lifted off from the deck of the USS Bush and its accompanying destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean. Some used radar for signs of the Krasnodar on the water’s surface. Others lowered sonar beacons to varying ocean depths.

Image may contain: sky and outdoor

MH-60RSeahawk helicopter

“When you find what you are looking for in an ocean of nothingness, then it feels really good,” said Naval Aircrewman First Class Scott Fetterhoff, who manned radar gear aboard a Seahawk helicopter. U.S. Navy radar, used on ships, helicopters and jets, can detect objects as small as a periscope.

Cmdr. Edward Fossati, the commander of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 70, the Bush Strike Group’s sub-hunting helicopters, said Russian subs have gotten quieter but the cat-and-mouse game remained about even with advances in tracking: “We are much better at it than we were 20 years ago.”

That includes narrowing down where to look. The USS Bush had on board three Navy anti-sub oceanographers to help track the vessel.

Submarines look for ways to hamper sonar equipment by exploiting undersea terrain and subsurface ocean currents and eddies. Differences in water temperature and density can bend sound waves, making it difficult to pinpoint the source of a sound.

U.S. Navy computer systems analyze the ocean environment and make predictions about how sound will travel in a given patch of ocean. Using the sub’s last known position and expected destination, the oceanographers use the data to mark potential hiding places and determine where search teams should focus.

“It is a constant foot race,” said U.S. Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer. “And, as I say, ‘Game on.’ ”

On June 18, a Syrian Sukhoi jet fighter threatened U.S.-backed rebels advancing toward Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital. Fighter planes from the USS Bush warned away the Sukhoi. When the Syrian pilot ignored flares and radio calls, Lt. Cmdr. Michael Tremel shot down the Sukhoi. Moscow threatened to shoot down U.S. planes in western Syria.

Five days later, the submerged Krasnodar fired another salvo of cruise missiles. Russian officials said they hit an Islamic State ammunition depot.

“They were flexing their muscles,” said Rear Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, commander of the USS Bush strike group. U.S. officials wouldn’t say how long the Krasnodar remained hidden underwater, but Adm. Whitesell said the launch was watched by a French frigate and U.S. Navy aerial surveillance.

Image may contain: airplane and sky

P-8 U.S. Navy submarine hunter

Flight-tracking companies don’t log military flights, but amateur plane watchers examining transponder data often catch clues. On July 2, with the USS Bush in a five-day port call in Haifa, Israel, a P-8 flew toward the Syrian coast, apparently searching the seas, according to amateur plane watchers.

On July 20, the flight-tracking data showed two P-8s flying south of Cyprus, close to six hours apart. The first plane was observed on flight-tracking sites making tight circles over the Mediterranean south of Cyprus, a flight pattern typical of a plane homing in on a submarine.

Capt. Ellis wouldn’t say if his P-8s had the Krasnodar in their sights.

F/A-18E Super Hornet jets of U.S. Navy strike fighter squadron VFA-31 and Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye planes of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 126 on the USS George H.W. Bush on July 3..Photo: ronen zvulun / pool/European Pressphoto Agency

Tables turn

After the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, Moscow curtailed undersea operations. In 2000, the nuclear-powered Kursk sank with 118 sailors, a naval tragedy emblematic of the decline.

Russia’s military modernization program, announced in 2011, poured new money into its submarine program, allowing Russian engineers to begin moving ahead with newer, quieter designs.

When the Krasnodar was completed in 2015 at the St. Petersburg’s Admiralty Shipyards, Russia boasted it could elude the West’s most advanced sonar. NATO planners worry subs could cut trans-Atlantic communication cables or keep U.S. ships from reaching Europe in a crisis, as Nazi subs did in World War II.

“If you want to transport a lot of stuff, you have to do that by ship,” said NATO’s submarine commander, Rear Adm. Andrew Lennon. “And those ships are vulnerable to undersea threats.”

NATO’s military leaders have recommended reviving the Cold War-era Atlantic Command, dedicated to protecting sea lanes, alliance officials said, a proposal that defense ministers are expected to approve.

U.S. officials have said they believe that Moscow’s support of the Assad regime is partly for access to a strategic port in the eastern Mediterranean to resupply and rearm warships. The Syrian port of Tartus is expanding to include a Russian submarine maintenance facility, according to Turkish officials.

On July 30, the Krasnodar surfaced in the Mediterranean. The Krasnodar’s port call in Tartus, coinciding with Navy Day, a celebration of Russia’s maritime forces, marked the end of its hide-and-seek maneuvers with the USS Bush. On Aug. 9, the Krasnodar arrived in Crimea to join the Black Sea fleet, Russian officials said. Its mission appeared a success: Moscow showed it could continue unfettered strikes in Syria with its growing undersea fleet.

The Krasnodar, Russia’s diesel-electric attack submarine, at its new home port in Crimea. Photo: Pavlishak Alexei/TASS/ZUMA PRESS

By then, the Bush carrier strike group had left the eastern Mediterranean for the coast of Scotland, where the U.S. and British navies, along with a Norwegian frigate, were conducting a joint exercise called Saxon Warrior. U.K. sailors boarded the USS Bush and heard lessons from the Krasnodar hunt.

Days before the exercise, Capt. Nicholson predicted another Russian sub would be nearby. “We are in the Russians’ backyard,” he said. “Prudence dictates we are ready for whatever or whomever might come out to watch.

A senior U.S. official later said a Russian sub had indeed shadowed the exercise, which ended Aug. 10. NATO officials wouldn’t comment.

A new nuclear-powered class of Russian submarines even more sophisticated than the Krasnodar, called the Yasen, are designed to destroy aircraft carriers. They are built with low-magnetic steel to better evade detection and can dive deeper than larger U.S. submarines

At the time of the U.S.-U.K. exercise, Russia said its only Yasen sub officially in operation, the Severodvinsk, was in the Barents Sea. But a second, more advanced Yasen sub, the Kazan, was undergoing sea trials.

Crew members at the launching of the Kazan, one of a new class of nuclear-power Russian submarines. Photo: Ryumin Alexander/TASS/ZUMA PRESS

Russian, NATO, and U.S. officials won’t say whether the Kazan was shadowing the U.S.-U.K. exercise in the North Atlantic.

On Aug. 17, a U.S. P-8, flying from a Norwegian base, conducted three days of operations, according to amateur aviation trackers. Canadian air force patrol planes also flew out of Scotland. On Aug. 26, French planes joined.

Allied officials said some of the flights were searching the waters for a Russian submarine. The USS Bush, however, was out of the hunt. On Aug. 21, she returned to port in Norfolk, Va.

Write to Julian E. Barnes at julian.barnes@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-russian-ghost-submarine-its-u-s-pursuers-and-a-deadly-new-cold-war-1508509841

Syrian forces enter one of Islamic State group’s last strongholds

October 6, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Syrian pro-government forces hold a position near the village of al-Maleha, in the northern countryside of Deir Ezzor, on September 9, 2017.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-10-06

Syrian government forces pushed into one of the last remaining urban strongholds of the Islamic State group in the country’s east on Friday, activists and officials said.

This followed days of fierce fighting and intense Russian airstrikes that involved cruise missiles from the Mediterranean.

The push into the town of Mayadeen came as al-Qaida-linked fighters attacked a key central Syrian village at the crossroads between areas under government control and those controlled by insurgents, activists said.

Taking Mayadeen would mark another blow to the extremist group, which has lost wide areas of Iraq and Syria in its self-declared caliphate over the past year.

Fierce battles are still expected in the town that over the past months became one of the extremists’ main centers after losing other strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Syrian forces and allied militiamen entered western parts of Mayadeen, including the town’s wheat silos compound and the sheep market.

The Russian state RIA Novosti news agency quoted a Syrian army general as saying that the Syrian forces have fought their way into Mayadeen. The agency quoted the unidentified officer as saying that the army entered the western neighborhoods of the town on Friday.

Syria’s state news agency SANA said troops killed many IS fighters on the western outskirts of Mayadeen and captured western parts of the town. The Russian Defense Ministry announced its submarines fired 10 cruise missiles on Thursday at IS positions outside of Mayadeen.

Airstrikes on the town and nearby areas over the past days have killed and wounded scores of people, including 15 civilians   women and children among them   who were killed when a missile slammed into a government-held neighborhood in the city of Deir el-Zour on Thursday evening.

In central Syria, the attack on the village of Abu Dali in Hama province was led by al-Qaida-linked Hay’at Tahrir al Sham   Arabic for Levant Liberation Committee and also known as HTS. It came two weeks after insurgents attacked a nearby area where three Russian soldiers were wounded.

Earlier this week, Russia’s military claimed the leader of the al-Qaida-linked group was wounded in a Russian airstrike and had fallen into a coma. The military offered no evidence on the purported condition of Abu Mohammed al-Golani.

The al-Qaida-linked group subsequently denied al-Golani was hurt, insisting he is in excellent health and going about his duties as usual. The group’s fighters have been gaining more influence in the northwestern province of Idlib and northern parts of Hama, where they have launched attacks on rival militant groups, as well as areas controlled by the government.

Abu Dali had been spared much of the violence and had functioned as a local business hub between rebel-run areas and those under President Bashar Assad’s forces.

The Observatory said al-Qaida fighters captured several areas in the village on Friday. The HTS-linked Ibaa news agency did not mention the attack but said Russian warplanes were bombing areas the group controls in northern Syria.

Violence in eastern Syria has escalated significantly in recent weeks as Syrian troops with the help of Russian air cover have been closing in on Mayadeen.

The DeirEzzor 24 monitoring group said the missile in the Thursday evening airstrike that killed 15 hit near a school in the Qusour neighborhood. Three children and three women were among those killed, the group said Friday, blaming IS for the attack. The school and a nearby residential building were destroyed.

The Observatory also reported the incident, putting the number of civilians killed at 13. Both the Observatory and DeirEzzor 24 also reported that an airstrike hit the village of Mehkan, just south of Mayadeen, and said it killed several families.

Syrian troops broke a nearly three-year siege on parts of Deir el-Zour last month and are now fighting to liberate the remaining parts of the city from IS.

In other developments, Russia‘s military said one of its helicopters had made an emergency landing in Syria but that its crew was unhurt.

According to the Defense Ministry, the Mi-28 helicopter gunship landed in Hama province on Friday due to a technical malfunction. The two crewmen were not injured and were flown back to base. The ministry said the helicopter was not fired upon.

The ministry’s statement followed a claim by IS-linked Aamaq news agency, which said the group had downed a Russian helicopter south of Shiekh Hilal village in Hama.

Also Friday, the Russian military accused the United States of turning a blind eye and effectively providing cover to IS operations in an area in Syria that is under U.S. control.

The Defense Ministry’s spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, said IS militants have used the area around the town of Tanf near Syria’s border with Jordan   where U.S. military instructors are also stationed   to launch attacks against the Syrian army.

The area has become a “black hole,” posing a threat to Syrian army’s offensive against the IS in eastern Der el-Zour province, he added.

The Russian accusations likely reflect rising tensions as U.S.-backed Syrian forces and the Russian-backed Syrian army   both of which are battling IS   race for control of oil and gas-rich areas of eastern Syria.

(AP)

Fear of North Korean Missile Attack Restarts Debate on Pre-Emptive Strike in Japan (“The best defense is a good offense”)

September 2, 2017

TOKYO — Japan is debating whether to develop a limited pre-emptive strike capability and buy cruise missiles — ideas that were anathema in the pacifist country before the North Korea missile threat.

Image result for japanese aegis warships, JMSDF, photos

Pictured JMSDF Akizuki (“Autumn Moon”): Japan’s newest class of destroyer

With revisions to Japan’s defense plans underway, ruling party hawks are accelerating the moves, and some defense experts say Japan should at least consider them.

Japan has a two-step missile defense system, including interceptors on destroyers in the Sea of Japan that would shoot down projectiles mid-flight and if that fails, surface-to-air PAC-3s on land.

In a pre-emptive strike, by Japanese definition, cruise missiles, such as Tomahawk, fired from destroyers or fighter jets would get the enemy missile clearly waiting to be fired, or just after blastoff from a North Korean launch site, before it approaches Japan.

Iran in ‘successful’ test of rocket able to put a satellite into orbit

July 27, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Iranians take pictures of the Simorgh satellite rocket during celebrations in Tehran to mark the 37th anniversary of the Islamic revolution on February 11, 2016

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran on Thursday “successfully” tested a satellite-launch rocket, days after warning Washington of a response to new US sanctions over the Islamic republic’s ballistic missile programme, state television said.It said the launch vehicle, named Simorgh after a bird in Iranian mythology, was capable of propelling a satellite weighing 250 kilograms (550 pounds) to an altitude of 500 kilometres (300 miles) above earth.

The launch marked the official inauguration of Iran’s Imam Khomeini space centre, named after the late founder of the Islamic republic, built for sending satellites into space, the television said, without giving its location.

Western states suspect Iran of developing the technology capable of launching long-range ballistic missiles with conventional or nuclear payloads, a charge denied by Tehran which insists its space programme has purely peaceful aims.

Iran’s four other launches of domestically produced satellites since 2009 have all sparked condemnation in the West.

President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that Iran would respond in kind to any breach by the United States of a 2015 nuclear deal after the House of Representatives passed a new sanctions bill.

“If the enemy steps over part of the agreement, we will do the same, and if they step over the entire deal, we will do the same too,” Rouhani said at a cabinet meeting.

The Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign affairs committee said it would hold an extraordinary session on Saturday to discuss its formal response.

The parliament voted earlier this month to fast-track a bill introduced in June that would increase funds for Iran’s missile programme and Revolutionary Guards.

“We must always develop our defence capability and we will strengthen our defensive weapons regardless of the opinion of others,” Rouhani said.

The US House passed a new sanctions bill on Tuesday targeting the Revolutionary Guards over its missile programme.

As part of its space programme, Iran has also sent two capsules into space, the first in February 2010 carrying a rat, tortoises and insects, and the other in January 2013 when a monkey was sent into space and returned to earth safely, according to official media.

Related:

Related image
USS Thunderbolt

 (Qatar stands in support of Iran)

Iran Claims Successful Rocket Test, Move Likely to Anger U.S.

July 27, 2017

DUBAI — Iran has successfully tested a rocket that can deliver satellites into orbit, state television reported on Thursday – an event likely to raise tensions with the United States because of its potential use in a ballistic missile.

“The Imam Khomeini Space Centre was officially opened with the successful test of the Simorgh (Phoenix) space launch vehicle,” state television said. “The Simorgh can place a satellite weighing up to 250 kg (550 pounds) in an orbit of 500 km (311 miles).”

“The Imam Khomeini Space Centre … is a large complex that includes all stages of the preparation, launch, control and guidance of satellites,” state television added.

The United States this month slapped new economic sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile programme, and said Tehran’s “malign activities” in the Middle East had undercut any “positive contributions” from a 2015 accord curbing its nuclear programme.

The measures signalled that President Donald Trump wanted to put more pressure on Iran while keeping in place the accord between Tehran and six world powers, which he has in the past condemned.

On Saturday, Iran announced the launch of a new facility to produce a missile that can target fighter planes, unmanned aerial vehicles, cruise missiles and helicopters.

Image may contain: mountain, sky, outdoor and nature

In 2013, Iran said it had successfully launched a monkey into space and retrieved it alive, which officials hailed as a major step towards their goal of sending humans into space.

But in March, an official said the state-run space agency had cancelled a project to launch a human into space because of high costs.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Kevin Liffey)