Russia’s ‘Killer Satellites’ Re-Awaken

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY ELIZABETH BROCKWAY/THE DAILY BEAST

 

The trio of mysterious spacecraft were idle for at least a year. Now they’re zooming toward foreign satellites again—and no one really knows why.

A trio of mysterious Russian government satellites startled space experts when, shortly after blasting into low orbit between 2013 and 2015, they began dramatically changing their orbits, demonstrating a rare degree of maneuverability for small spacecraft.

Now after being idle for a year or more, two of the mystery-sats are on the move again. On April 20, 2017, one of them reportedly shaved hundreds of meters off its orbit in order to zoom within 1,200 meters of a big chunk of a defunct Chinese weather satellite that China smashed in a controversial 2007 test of an anti-satellite rocket.

By orbital standards, that’s pretty close. Continue reading

Two Chinese fighter jets intercept US plane over East China Sea

Disputed islands in the East China Sea. (Photo: Reuters)

 

WASHINGTON: Two Chinese SU-30 aircraft carried out what the US military described on Thursday (May 18) as an “unprofessional” intercept of a US aircraft designed to detect radiation while it was flying in international airspace over the East China Sea.

“The issue is being addressed with China through appropriate diplomatic and military channels,” said Air Force spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Lori Hodge. Continue reading

U.S. special forces training for covert ops to neutralize North Korean WMD

Gen. Raymond A. Thomas

 

U.S. special operations forces are training for covert operations to locate and destroy North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems, the spec-ops commander told Congress on May 2.

“We are actively pursuing a training path to ensure readiness for the entire range of contingency operations in which [special operations forces], to include our exquisite [countering weapons of mass destruction] capabilities, may play a critical role,” Army Gen. Raymond A. Thomas said in prepared testimony to a House subcommittee. Continue reading

Russia Steps Up Anti-U.S. Military Propaganda

Gorenc told the European command he did not make the statement reported by the Russians.

 

Fake stories target troops, exercises in E. Europe

Russia is increasing disinformation operations aimed at undermining government and public support for American military forces in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. officials.

The stepped-up disinformation includes creating and circulating recent news stories falsely claiming American soldiers were engaged in sexual misconduct in Poland and were exposed to mustard gas in Latvia.

A more recent example involved a Russian broadcaster falsely attributing a statement on Russian electronic warfare to a retired U.S. general. Continue reading

US Air Force to quit Incirlik, move to Syria base

After seeing what transpired in Turkey last year, it’s definitely believable that America wants out of it. However, this story adds a twist to the plot. Not only is moving one USAF airbase into Syria odd, but five in total is a tell-tale sign of something possibly larger around the corner.

For this to happen Assad would have to be gone. Either by peaceful means or force. Syria would then be split up among three or four powers — likely American, Russian and Chinese/European forces. The Chinese have mobilized 150,000 PLA troops not only for a possible North Korean fallout.

It’s also interesting to note that the Bundeswehr (German army) is also on the move and positioning itself. Perhaps this is part of its military ‘golden triangle‘ (see also HERE) strategy.

It’s a bit of a mystery now, so this story is something to keep an eye on.

 

 

Several US engineering teams are working round the clock to build a big new air base in northern Syria after completing the expansion of another four. They are all situated in the Syrian borderland with Iraq, DEBKAfile’s military forces report.

This was going on over the weekend as senators, news correspondents and commentators were outguessing each other over whether the US missile attack on the Syrian Shayrat air base Friday, in retaliation for the Assad regime’s chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun, was a one-off or the start of a new series. Continue reading

US Air Force to deploy five Global Hawk UAVs to Japan

The USAF plans to deploy five units of the RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV (seen here) to Japan from May to October 2017. (USAF)

 

The US Air Force (USAF) plans to deploy five Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and approximately 105 personnel, currently based at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam, to Yokota Air Base in Japan from May to October 2017. Continue reading

U.S. Military has ‘No Defense’ against Russian Nuclear Missiles, Top General Says

Air Force Gen. John Hyten, who was the chief commander of the U.S. missile and nuclear warhead arsenal, told members of Congress Tuesday that Moscow’s deployment last month of at least two battalions of the SSC-8 cruise missile, also called the RK-55 Relief, violated a 1987 arms treaty and put most of Europe at risk. Hyten told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Moscow’s latest move left the U.S. and its NATO allies off guard.

We have no defense for it, especially in defense of our European allies,” Hyten told the Senate Armed Services Committee, according to the Agence France-Presse. “That system can range and threaten most of the continent of Europe depending on where it is deployed. … It is a concern and we’re going to have to figure out how to deal with it as a nation.” Continue reading

The US Air Force Is Reorganizing to Fight in Space

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV-Heavy rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 37B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., June 11, 2016. [United Launch Alliance]

 

After a scathing report, service leaders are creating a three-star czar to oversee orbital warfare.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The U.S. Air Force, under pressure from Congress to take more seriously a potential war in space, is creating a new job for a three-star general and making other organizational changes to meet what many see as a growing threat.

The move follows criticism by lawmakers that the Air Force is not properly prepared to fight in space, an area being increasingly militarized by the U.S., Russia, and China. Air Force leaders say the reorganization and new general billet will help space-related projects compete for budget dollars against earth-bound aircraft, drones, nuclear forces, and the rest. Continue reading

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

Inside the Ring: Pentagon Studies Ways to Counter Hypersonic Missile Threat from China, Russia

Navy Phoenix missiles like this one may be used to acquire hypersonic flight test data. (NASA)

 

The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency has launched a study of innovative ways to counter advanced missile threats such as ultra-high-speed maneuvering hypersonic missiles.

“MDA understands the emerging threat posed by hypersonic glide vehicle and maneuvering ballistic missile warheads and is evaluating programs and technologies to address this threat,” MDA spokesman Chris Johnson told Inside the Ring.

The agency recently released a request for information that will seek to identify weapon concepts for defense against future advanced threats such as hypersonics, he said. The responses are due Friday and will be used to develop an “analysis of alternatives” planned for 2017. Continue reading

U.S. Air Force deploys WC-135 nuclear sniffer aircraft to UK as spike of radioactive Iodine levels is detected in Europe

A follow-up from yesterday’s post:

 

 

The USAF WC-135C Constant Phoenix might be investigating a spike in radioactive levels in Norway. Someone speculates the release of this radionuclide could be the effect of a Russian nuclear test.

On Feb. 17, 2017, U.S. Air Force WC-135C Constant Phoenix Nuclear explosion “sniffer,” serial number 62-3582, using radio callsign “Cobra 55” deployed to RAF Mildenhall, UK.

As we have already reported the WC-135 is a derivative of the Boeing C-135 transport and support plane. Two of these aircraft are in service today out of the ten examples operated since 1963. The aircraft are flown by flight crews from the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron from Offutt Air Force Base while mission crews are staffed by Detachment 1 from the Air Force Technical Applications Center. Continue reading

Nuclear Submarines and Hypersonic Missiles: China Is Making Game-Changing Weapons Advances

Caption: Chinese navy formation during military drills in the South China Sea on January 2, 2017. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

 

The United States military could be in “serious trouble” in a face-off against Chinese forces in the South China Sea, according to analyses published this week. China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is making massive gains in its development of two key areas of advanced weaponry: Nuclear submarines and hypersonic missiles.

Alongside these advances, the PLA is demonstrating ever more willingness and resolve to use its military might. Analysts believe these factors could eventually tip the scales of a regional conflict in Beijing’s favor. Continue reading

Navy’s Depleted Aircraft Will Take Years to Rebuild After Obama-Era Defense Cuts

A U.S. Navy fighter jet takes off from the deck of the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier / AP

 

Nearly two-thirds of Navy strike fighters unable to fly

The Navy’s aircraft arsenal is so depleted it would take several years to rebuild the fleet even if the Trump administration allotted the funding needed to repair inoperable aircraft, according to a policy expert and former Air Force pilot.

John Venable, a senior research fellow for defense policy at the Heritage Foundation, cited a report released Monday that found two-thirds of the Navy’s strike fighter jets are unable to fly due to maintenance problems exacerbated by several years of military budget cuts. Continue reading

China Tests Missile With 10 Warheads

cctv-warheads

 

Multi-warhead weapon tested amid growing tensions with the United States

China flight tested a new variant of a long-range missile with 10 warheads in what defense officials say represents a dramatic shift in Beijing’s strategic nuclear posture.

The flight test of the DF-5C missile was carried out earlier this month using 10 multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs. The test of the inert warheads was monitored closely by U.S. intelligence agencies, said two officials familiar with reports of the missile test.

The missile was fired from the Taiyuan Space Launch Center in central China and flew to an impact range in the western Chinese desert.

No other details about the test could be learned. Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Gary Ross suggested in a statement the test was monitored. Continue reading

Trump could reset Star Wars at full throttle toward militarization of space

US Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten’s statement that Russia and China will soon pose a threat to American spacecraft resembles nothing so much as an attempt to justify the militarization of space by the Pentagon, Russian military expert Konstantin Sivkov told RIA Novosti.

Speaking at Stanford University’s Center for Security and Cooperation, the commander of US Strategic Command highlighted the importance of “deterrence in space.” Continue reading