Posts Tagged ‘cruise missiles’

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

Iran Announces New Missile Production Line: State Media

July 22, 2017

BEIRUT — Iran announced the launch of a new missile production line on Saturday, according to state media, against a backdrop of tension between the United States and Tehran.

The Sayyad 3 missile can reach an altitude of 27 km (16 miles) and travel up to 120 km (74 miles), Iranian defense minister Hossein Dehghan said at a ceremony.

The missile can target fighter planes, unmanned aerial vehicles, cruise missiles and helicopters, Dehghan said.

Last week, the United States slapped new economic sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program, and said Tehran’s “malign activities” in the Middle East undercut any “positive contributions” coming from a 2015 Iran nuclear accord.

The measures signaled that the administration of President Donald Trump was seeking to put more pressure on Iran while keeping in place the agreement between Tehran and six world powers to curb its nuclear program in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions.

 Image result for Iranian defense minister Hossein Dehghan, photos
Iranian defense minister Hossein Dehghan

The U.S. government said it was targeting 18 entities and people for supporting what it said were “illicit Iranian actors or transnational criminal activity”.

Those sanctioned had backed Iran’s military or the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps by developing drones and military equipment, producing and maintaining boats, and procuring electronic components, it said. Others had “orchestrated the theft of U.S. and Western software programs” sold to Iran’s government, the Treasury Department said.

On Monday, the Trump administration said Iran was complying with the nuclear agreement but that it was in default of the spirit of the accord.

It was the second time Trump has certified Iranian compliance with the agreement since he took office in January, despite having described it as “the worst deal ever” during his 2016 presidential campaign, criticizing then-President Barack Obama, whose administration negotiated the accord.

Dehghan said at the ceremony on Saturday that the recent $110 billion military deal between the United States and Saudi Arabia, announced during Trump’s visit to Riyadh in May, was intended as a threat to Iran.

“We recently witnessed an immense purchase that some countries in the region paid as a ransom to America and they intend to bring weapons into the region, and this purchase was done with the goal of threatening Islamic Iran,” Dehghan said according to the website for state TV.

(Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Andrew Bolton)

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

Iran reveals production line of new missile it says can shoot down stealth fighter jets 75 miles away

  • The new Sayyad-3 missile is allegedly capable of hitting targets at altitudes of up to 17 miles 
  • Iranian defense chiefs boast it’s ‘completely indigenous technology’ and can track 30 targets simultaneously
  • They insisted the move was defensive and said Iran was the ‘protector of peace and security in the region’
  • Although Iran’s nuclear programme was dismantled in 2016 tensions with Israel and the U.S. still remain high 

Iran has begun a production line for a new version of an air defense missile.

The new weapon is called the Sayyad-3, which means ‘hunter’ in Farsi, and has range of roughly 75 miles. It is allegedly capable of hitting targets at altitudes of up to 17 miles.

The country’s air defense chief, Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili, said during a ceremony that the missile is ‘a completely indigenous technology.’

The new missile, which translates as 'hunter-3', is allegedly capable of tracking up to 30 targets simultaneously 

The new missile, which translates as ‘hunter-3’, is allegedly capable of tracking up to 30 targets simultaneously

The country's Defense Minister claimed it was capable of engaging with threats including drones and stealth aircraft 

The country’s Defense Minister claimed it was capable of engaging with threats including drones and stealth aircraft

Iran’s Defense Minister, General Hossein Dehghan, told local media the weapons system can track 30 targets and engage 12 of them simultaneously.

He said: ‘Sayyad-3 is designed based on the latest technologies in the world and is capable of fighting with various types of threats including drones, stealth aircraft, cruise missiles, helicopters and various types of other aircraft.

‘We regret that our neighbours consider Iran’s capabilities and power as threats to themselves, while we are the protector of peace and security in the region.’

The Sayyad-3 joins Iran’s formidable arsenal of Surface to Air Missiles, which includes the Russian-built S-300 air defense system – installed last August around the Fordo nuclear site, south of the capital Tehran.

Iran commonly boasts about its indigenous military technology, but it has not been verified by outside experts

Iran commonly boasts about its indigenous military technology, but it has not been verified by outside experts

NATO considers the missiles system to be one of the most advanced in the world. Israeli Air force commander Major General Amir Eshel said the S-300 could pose a ‘significant but not insurmountable challenge’.

Iran has long been preoccupied with potentially having to defend its nuclear weapons programme from Israeli or American fighters.

In 2016 it agreed to dismantle major parts of its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions, however tensions remain.

Iran's Defense Minister, General Hossein Dehghan, said the country was the 'protector of peace and security in the region' 

Iran’s Defense Minister, General Hossein Dehghan, said the country was the ‘protector of peace and security in the region’

Iran occasionally announces production of sophisticated homegrown weapons that cannot be independently verified.

In 2013, the Iranian Air Force announced that it had built a prototype for a single-seat stealth aircraft called the Qaher-313. However independent experts widely ridiculed the plane.

In 1992 the country began a military self-sufficiency program under which it produces mortars to missiles and tanks to submarines.

Iran’s Air Force, however, still comprises of Cold War-era aircraft, liken the F-14 Tomcat and the MiG-29.

In 1992 Iran began a military self-sufficiency programme to produce everything from tanks to planes and missiles 

In 1992 Iran began a military self-sufficiency programme to produce everything from tanks to planes and missiles

An Israeli Air Force F-15. Tensions between the two countries remain high, despite the Iranian nuclear deal in 2016

An Israeli Air Force F-15. Tensions between the two countries remain high, despite the Iranian nuclear deal

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4720642/Iran-reveals-production-line-new-missile.html#ixzz4naHsivzr
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EU to consider additional NKorea sanctions after missile test

July 4, 2017

AFP

© AFP | A South Korean soldier watches a television news showing file footage of a North Korean missile launch, at a railway station in Seoul on July 4, 2017

BRUSSELS (AFP) – The European Union on Tuesday warned it may consider additional sanctions against North Korea after it carried out what Pyongyang tested what it claimed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Last month, the EU expanded its sanctions blacklist after North Korea launched a volley of surface-to-ship cruise missiles off its east coast.

The EU’s external affairs arm said in a statement that the bloc expected North Korea to abide by UN resolutions and halt all work on its nuclear and missile programmes.

The European Union “will consider an appropriate response, in close consultation with key partners and in line with UN Security Council deliberations, including possible additional restrictive measures,” it said.

The EU expected North Korea to refrain from any further action which could increase regional tensions and to take part in talks on resolving the crisis, it added.

In an unusual joint statement earlier, Russia and China condemned the missile test as “unacceptable” and urged against “any statements or actions that could lead to an increase in tensions.”

EU sanctions against North Korea date back to 2006 and are part of international efforts to halt a nuclear and ballistic missile programme which experts say is intended to give Pyongyang the capability to hit the US mainland.

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