Russian special forces land in S. Syria. US Raptors “deter” Syrian, Iranian, Russian combat aircraft

 

Unfolding Russian, US and Israeli military steps are raising the big power stakes in Syria on the eve of a Trump-Putin summit, DEBKAfile’s military sources report. Russian special forces have arrived and been attached to the Syrian military command in the southern Al-Safa region east of the Druze town of Sweida – officially as “advisers” to the Syrian offensive against ISIS, and markers of Islamist targets for Russian air strikes. Russia pulled those units out in June after helping Bashar Assad’s army capture rebel-held territory on Israel’s Golan and Jordan’s borders. Now, the Russians are attached to the Syrian Army’s elite 42nd Brigade-Ghiath Forces of the 4th Division. Continue reading

Fewer planes are ready to fly: Air Force mission-capable rates decline amid pilot crisis

The F-22 saw an 11.17 percentage point reduction in mission-capable rates in 2017. It was one of several airframes that saw similar dips, contributing to an overall decline in mission-capable rates across the Air Force. (Tech Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth/Air Force)

 

The readiness of the Air Force’s aircraft fleet is continuing its slow, steady deterioration — and this could spell trouble for the service’s effort to hold on to its pilots and its ability to respond to contingencies around the world.

According to data provided by the Air Force, about 71.3 percent of the Air Force’s aircraft were flyable, or mission-capable, at any given time in fiscal 2017. That represents a drop from the 72.1 percent mission-capable rate in fiscal 2016, and a continuation of the decline in recent years.

Former Air Force pilots and leaders say that this continued trend is a gigantic red flag, and warn it could lead to serious problems down the road.

“It scares the heck out of me,” said retired Gen. Hawk Carlisle, former head of Air Combat Command. “It really does.”

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Russia to Israel: We will defend you if Iran attacks, but also defend Iran’s presence in Syria

This is a mixed message with the aim of outwardly projecting propaganda in the sense that the Iranian buildup isn’t a threat, when in reality Russia is saying the Persian state has green light to do as it pleases with full protections. They are baiting Israel into attacking, and they just might should the threat level continue to increase in this Middle Eastern game of chicken.

“If Iran attacks Israel, Russia will stand alongside the US to defend Israel,” said Russian ambassador to Israel Alexander Shein at the Munich security conference last week –  in a mixed message from Moscow. This assurance is part of the effort Moscow has been making for some time to allay Israel’s concerns and stop the Netanyahu government from agitating against the peril posed by an Iranian military presence in Syria.  The Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu carried this message when he paid an unprecedented visit to Jerusalem last October. Continue reading

US Air Force Grounds F-35s at Arizona Base

An F-35A Lightning II on static display at Luke AFB, Arizona, in April 2016. (U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Christopher Boitz)

 

Base officials halted local flights after five pilots experienced symptoms of oxygen deprivation.

The U.S. Air Force has grounded 55 of its F-35 Joint Strike Fighters at Arizona’s Luke Air Force base following five incidents in which pilots experienced symptoms of oxygen deprivation.

The pilots “reported physiological incidents while flying” but a backup oxygen system turned on, allowing them to land safely, Capt. Mark Graff, an Air Force spokesman at the Pentagon, said in an email Friday afternoon.

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Growing readiness woes: Only 7 in 10 Air Force planes are ready to fly

Staff Sgt. Shane Dewyar of the 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, inspects an engine while deployed to Southwest Asia. Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Eboni Reams/Air Force

 

On March 22, as North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un prepared to test-launch a missile and tensions rose on the volatile Korean peninsula, a lone B-1B Lancer bomber took off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam and flew across the Pacific on a Continuous Bomber Presence sortie.

It rendezvoused with Japanese F-15J Eagles for a training mission, before flying on to South Korea to further train with their F-15Ks and F-16s.

But there were supposed to be two B-1Bs there that day. The second bomber that was “scheduled to respond to a clear and present danger in North Korea,” as Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., said in a hearing later that day, was unable to take off. Pacific Air Forces later said a maintenance issue kept the second Lancer on the ground. Continue reading

Wikileaks Releases Encrypted “Vault 7” Torrent, Will Unveil Password Tuesday 9am

Last month, following a series of seemingly random tweets by Wikileaks, we reported that starting on February 4th, each day Wikileaks began sending out a series of cryptic question Tweets teasing the world about “Vault 7”. The questions were framed in Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How format (but not in that order). Each came with an image “clue”.

Here they are in chronological order starting with the earliest. Continue reading

US admiral announces F-22 deployment to Australia and warns of South China Sea confrontation

The United States will begin operating Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor multirole fighters from northern Australia in 2017, Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the US Pacific Command, said in Sydney on 14 December. Continue reading

US Dispatches F-22 Stealth Fighters to Intercept Syrian Aircraft

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An F-22 Raptor from the 43rd Fighter Squadron takes off in Savannah, Ga., during Sentry Savannah 16-3, Aug. 2, 2016. The F-22 is a fifth-generation, single-seat, twin-engine, all-weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft developed for the U.S. Air Force. (Photo by Solomon Cook/U.S. Air Force)

 

The U.S. military on Friday dispatched two F-22 Raptors stealth fighter jets to intercept a pair of Syrian Su-24 Fencer aircraft that flew in the vicinity of Hasakah, Syria, according to news accounts citing an unnamed Pentagon official.

The American pilots of the fifth-generation fighters made by Lockheed Martin Corp. tried to radio the Syrian pilots but didn’t receive a response, according to CNN’s Barbara Starr. Continue reading

Asia Times: Chinese Espionage and Intelligence Activities at All Time High, Experts Say

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The US announced criminal charges in 2014 against five Chinese army hackers for stealing trade secrets from American companies

 

Chinese intelligence operations worldwide to steal important information both through human agents and cyber attacks are a growing threat, according to experts who testified at a US congressional commission last week.

Beijing’s spies, operating through the civilian Ministry of State Security and People’s Liberation Army Intelligence Bureau (IB), have scored impressive gains against the United States in particular, where economic espionage — the theft of trade secrets and high technology — remains at unprecedented levels.

Technology espionage by China was highlighted by the conviction in California last week of Wenxia Man of San Diego who was convicted of illegally conspiring to export fighter jet engines and an unmanned aerial vehicle to China. Continue reading

Russia said to deploy advanced missile system in Syria

Other than Israel and the United States, Russia has nobody else to keep out of Syria. This should be taken as an unofficial warning and threat to both countries.

Report claims Moscow put S-400 missile battery in Latakia, capable of hitting targets 400 kilometers away

Moscow has reportedly deployed a sophisticated anti-aircraft system near the Syrian port city of Latakia capable of striking aircraft as far distant as Tel Aviv, the Daily Mail reported Friday.

The paper said that photos released by the Russian Defense Ministry appear to show installations at the Russian air base near Latakia belonging to the S-400 Air Defense System, known to NATO as SA-21 “Growler.” Continue reading

Russia Developing Fifth Generation Lightweight Fighter Jet

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The new concept is loosely based on Mikoyan Project 1.44 (NATO reporting name: Flatpack). The venture was meant to create an alternative to the US’ Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) project which gave birth to the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. Continue reading

Divine Eagle: How much of a threat is China’s new high-flying drone to US air superiority?

Yesterday the press doubted China and Russia’s ability to pose a serious challenge. Today they’re 50-50. Tomorrow there’s likely to be no question.

 

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The US has led the way in the use of stealth aircraft in combat. Now the game could soon be up, as scientists in China and Russia are discovering ways to make the invisible visible. Mark Piesing reports

In May, grainy pictures emerged of a huge new twin-fuselage, high-altitude Chinese drone called the Divine Eagle. Those in the know instantly labelled it the “stealth-hunting drone”. Stealth technology is the equivalent of electronic camouflage for planes, making them hard for enemy radar to spot – but the Chinese drone is certainly big enough to carry the special radars developed to detect stealth aircraft. It’s able to fly high enough to detect them long before they can reach their targets. Its radar is rumoured to have been able to pick out an American stealth F-22 Raptor off the coast of South Korea almost 500km away. Continue reading

Russia to Begin Testing Three More Stealth Fighter Prototypes

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PARIS — United Aircraft Corp. plans to deliver three more prototypes of an advanced stealth fighter jet to the Russian military for testing as early as next year, a company official said.

The president of the Moscow-based company, Yuri Slyusar, said three more of the T-50 PAK-FA, a fifth-generation stealth fighter made by United Aircraft subsidiary Sukhoi, will be transferred to the Russian air force in late 2016 or early 2016 as part of a test program. Continue reading

Japan can’t outgun China’s J-20 with F-35A purchase

As the US is refusing to sell Japan the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor fighter, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) will have to settle for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II instead, according to an analysis piece posted on Sina’s military news web portal.

The F-35 will still allow the JASDF entry into the stealth fighter club, however. China is likely to respond to the Japanese fighter upgrade with appropriate measures of its own, said the website. Continue reading

5 Chinese Weapons of War Japan Should Fear

Why Tokyo should be concerned over Beijing’s rising military might.

Over the last several years Sino-Japanese relations have reached low after new low—all thanks to claims and counterclaims over the Senkaku islands (China refers to them as the Diaoyu islands). The relationship between the two countries, which had been tepid at best—quickly cooled beginning in 2010 as both sides jockeyed for position over the disputed islands.

The challenge posed by the People’s Liberation Army has shaken a complacent Japanese government, which had left its national security establishment virtually unchanged since the 1980s. A national security council similar to that in the United States has been formed, secrecy laws have been passed and Japan’s defenses are shifting southward. Here are a five weapon systems that Tokyo should worry about as tensions with Beijing continue to simmer:

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