Russia’s Arctic Dreams Have Chinese Characteristics

The most significant geophysical event on our planet since the end of the ice age is taking place today—the opening of the Arctic. As the High North maritime environment warms, the Arctic Ocean’s abundant energy, minerals, fish stocks, and other natural resources are becoming increasingly accessible, while new potential maritime routes promise to reduce shipping times and costs and accelerate ties between major commercial centers. These new opportunities for energy development, natural resources extraction, and shipping suggest that the region risks becoming an arena of intense competition, tension, and potentially even confrontation, not only between the United States and its two near-peer strategic competitors—China and Russia—but also among other Asia-Pacific states with observer status in the Arctic Council. Continue reading

F-35 May Never Be Ready for Combat

The F-35’s cannon door causes the plane to pull to one side, reducing the accuracy of the gun. (Photo by http://www.jsf.mil)

 

Testing Report Contradicts Air Force Leadership’s Rosy Pronouncements

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is the most expensive procurement program in Pentagon history. It’s been plagued by schedule delays, gross cost overruns, and a slew of underwhelming performance reviews. Last month the Air Force declared its variant “ready for combat,” and most press reports lauded this as a signal that the program had turned a corner. But a memo issued from the Pentagon’s top testing official, based largely upon the Air Force’s own test data, showed that the Air Force’s declaration was wildly premature.

Dr. Michael Gilmore’s latest memorandum is damning. The F-35 program has derailed to the point where it “is actually not on a path toward success, but instead on a path toward failing to deliver the full Block 3F capabilities for which the Department is paying almost $400 billion.” The 16-page memo, first reported by Tony Capaccio at Bloomberg and then by others, details just how troubled this program is: years behind schedule and failing to deliver even the most basic capabilities taxpayers, and the men and women who will entrust their lives to it, have been told to expect.

The Pentagon’s top testing office warns that the F-35 is in no way ready for combat since it is “not effective and not suitable across the required mission areas and against currently fielded threats.” (Emphasis added) As it stands now, the F-35 would need to run away from combat and have other planes come to its rescue, since it “will need support to locate and avoid modern threats, acquire targets, and engage formations of enemy fighter aircraft due to outstanding performance deficiencies and limited weapons carriage available (i.e., two bombs and two air-to-air missiles).” In several instances, the memo rated the F-35A less capable than the aircraft we already have. Continue reading

F-35 programme remains at risk at SDD conclusion, chief Pentagon test official warns

…and just a few weeks ago it was warned here that the F-35 program was touted as combat ready — out of rushed haste, not confidence.

 

Key Points

  • The Pentagon’s director of operational testing has warned that the F-35 programme is still at risk of failing to deliver its full combat capability at the conclusion of SDD
  • The USAF and the USMC have declared IOC with interim 3i combat software, while the USN has said that it will wait until 3F software is complete

Continue reading

Four in a Row: China’s Stealth Fighter Fleet Grows Again

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Fighter on a Truck: Wrapped in a tarp, the second J-31 prototype leaves Shenyang, on an escorted convoy for specialized testing (since the wings are completely integrated into the fuselage, it’s too wide to be shipped by train or air). | =GT at China Defense Forum

 

In July 2016, the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation rolled out two more low rate initial production (LRIP) J-20 stealth fighters. This brings to a total of four J-20 fighters built for service into the Chinese air force, as opposed to the original eight J-20 prototypes, which are still undergoing a rigorous flight testing regimen. At this rate of production, China may have 12 production J-20 ready to hand off to a PLAAF squadron for operational and flight familiarization, with an initial operating capability (IOC — meaning those fighters can conduct combat operations) in 2017-2018. Continue reading

The F-35’s Terrifying Bug List

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AP / RICK BOWMER

 

The Pentagon’s top testing official has weighed and measured the F-35 and found it wanting.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the most expensive military program in the world, is even more broken than previously thought. The jet can’t tell old parts from new ones, randomly prevents user logins, and trying to eject out of it will likely result in serious neck injury and maybe death. A Pentagon office is warning that the plane is being rushed into service. Continue reading

Fifth Generation Super Weapons to Significantly Increase China’s Air Power

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The Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (J-20) and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (J-31) are subsidiaries of the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). These two companies have been working on the designs of the super jets.

J-20 is closer to becoming operational it is expected to reach initial operating capability (IOC) by 2018. As both jets are still in the prototype stage, their exact capabilities are not certain. Continue reading

Putin to visit Tehran. King of Morocco invites Iran to “Jerusalem Committee” – with Kerry’s approval

Tehran’s offensive for establishing itself as the leading Middle East power bar none is in full flight. On his arrival in Moscow Thursday, Jan. 17, Foreign Minister Javad Zerif handed Vladimir Putin an invitation to visit Tehran from President Hassan Rouhani. The Russian president replied: “I hope to visit you in Tehran very soon.” Iran also sent out invitations to Gulf rulers to tour its nuclear reactor at Bushehr,  combined with a round table discussion on regional nuclear cooperation.

This visit would be tantamount to the Arab oil emirs’ recognition of the legitimacy of Iran’s nuclear program. It is likely to come off because the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman are already in favor of rapprochement with Tehran. Continue reading

China Will Soon Face Arc Of US F-35s, Other Fighters, Bombers

WASHINGTON: The American who leads the leading edge of our sword in the Pacific — the Air Force — worries that China‘s sometimes “aggressive approach” in using its fighters, bombers and ships to signal its territorial claims across the Pacific creates “the potential” for a serious incident in the region.

But the United States and its allies are clearly working well together to remind China that it faces enormous power and cannot act unilaterally without cost. The latest American fighters and bombers will be deployed in an arc from Japan to India, lacing across all of China’s maritime regions, Carlisle made clear. Continue reading

India sheds its ‘landlocked mindset’

TIMES A-CHANGIN’: The Indian navy and army are looking East and pursuing strategic defence ties with regional allies

FOUR Indian Navy ships’ voyage last month through the strategic Malacca Straits, calling at Port Klang, Da Nang and Manila, though not extraordinary, points to a significant trend.

Slowly, India seems to be shedding what critics call its “landlocked mindset” and is surveying the vast expanse of water around it.

A country conducting maritime trade from times immemorial rarely flaunted its naval power. Its navy came into being, thanks to the British East India Company only four centuries ago. Continue reading

Russian Deployment of Missile Defenses Hidden in Plain Sight

Despite its incessant propaganda against U.S. ballistic missile defense efforts, Russia is building a unified “aerospace defense” system aimed at intercepting U.S. ballistic missiles.

Russia is now pressing for a legally binding commitment by the U.S. that would limit our missiles defenses. Furthermore, Russia is demanding a veto on U.S. deployment decisions. Indeed, as General Nikolai Makarov stated, “The main condition for joint work [in the area of missile defense] should be the permanent participation of Russian experts in drafting the European missile defense architecture.”

Moreover, Russia’s effort to build an aerospace defense system began far before the 2002 U.S. decision to deploy very limited missile defenses. As Colonel-General Boris Cheltsov of the Academy of Military Sciences, Aerospace Defense Department Chief, revealed: “Back in 1994, the first Russian Federation’s Aerospace Defense project came about. In 2006, the Russian president [Putin] has approved the Conception for the Creation of the Aerospace Defense System.” As a result of the 2006 decision, according to Colonel-General Cheltsov, and after President Putin approved the Russian Federation Aerospace Defense Construction Blueprint 6, work began to be conducted on the development of a real-time data transmission system, on active antenna arrays and on fundamentally new detection, reconnaissance and weapon systems, including systems based upon “new physical principles.” Continue reading