Thursday, April 6, 2017

U.S. Navy tests updated Triton drone

U.S. Navy tests updated Triton drone: The U.S. Navy recently completed a round of tests with an updated variant of the Northrop Grumman-built MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle.

According to the manufacturer, enhancements included software designed to improve the aircraft's autonomous operational capabilities. Testers say the trials enable the platform to enter Early Operational Capability for the U.S. armed forces in early 2018.

"The integration of this enhanced software suite expands Triton's operational maritime intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting capabilities and moves it that much closer to qualification for operational missions in the Pacific theater," Triton program vice president Doug Shaffer said in a press release.

Can the US Defend Against a North Korean Missile Strike? |

Can the US Defend Against a North Korean Missile Strike? | A flurry of recent missile tests by North Korea has set nerves on edge and stirred fresh concern about whether U.S. defenses could protect Americans against a sneak attack. North Korea has detonated nuclear devices and is trying to develop long-range missiles capable of reaching the United States.

The Pentagon has spent more than $40 billion on the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system -- GMD for short. It's designed specifically to thwart a nuclear strike by North Korea or Iran. Yet there are grave doubts about whether it's up to the task.

Here is a look at the system's origins, how it's supposed to work and the technical problems that have bedeviled it.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

'No defense' against multiple Russian missiles: US general

'No defense' against multiple Russian missiles: US general: The United States and its allies would have "no defense" against large numbers of ground-launched cruise missiles of the type recently deployed by Russia, a top US general warned Tuesday.

Washington has repeatedly accused Moscow of deploying a land-based cruise missile system in contravention of a 1987 US-Russia arms control deal, known as the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

General John Hyten, who heads the US military's Strategic Command, told lawmakers that a single ground-launched cruise missile is not a significant threat, but the calculus changes if multiple missiles are launched.

"We have no defense for it, especially in defense of our European allies," Hyten told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"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."

US officials have not described the missile deployed by the Russians, but experts say it could be easily tipped with a nuclear warhead.

The New York Times has reported that the Russian missile deployment is in the region of Volgograd and at a second non-identified site.

General Warns of Need to Boost Airlift Capacity |

General Warns of Need to Boost Airlift Capacity | The Air Force projects its muscle through fighter jets, bombers and drones. But without tankers, those aircraft are short on flight time. And without airlift support, the pilots, crew and maintenance units needed to keep them flying stay stateside.

That connection is what Air Mobility Commander Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II wants lawmakers to remember. And it's why the service is working to upgrade its C-5 Galaxy fleet and keep its C-17 Globemaster III aircraft in key condition.

"Just a few years ago, we had 112 C-5s. Today, we have 56," Everhart told congressional staffers during a demonstration day here March 31. The presentation included a tour a C-5, plus two C-17s and a C-130 Hercules.

Sequestration resulted "in moving eight C-5s into backup aircraft inventory … which means we still have the aircraft but lost all manning and funding to operate them," he said.

Now Everhart wants them back, and he's making it his top priority.

"I need them back because there's real world things that we've got to move, and they give me that … added assurance capability," he said.

"Those eight C-5Ms? I was going to buy them back within a two-year period," Everhart said. With budget caps in place and without an appropriations bill, "that's been delayed twice … in two budget cycles."

US Air Force Preparing for War in Space |
US Air Force Preparing for War in Space | The U.S. Air Force is preparing airmen for a future in which war is waged in space, with training on hardening satellites against anti-jamming technology to protecting spacecraft from incoming missiles.

The goal is to train the service members to combat new and evolving threats against the service's "vulnerable" space infrastructure, much of which dates to the Cold War, an official said.

The 527th Space Aggressor Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, is tasked with training service members to fight in a contested space environment. Historically, that has meant jamming Global Positioning System and satellite communications signals, making it so troops can't access the space assets they rely upon and forcing them to think of alternatives.

"There really is no such thing as a space war -- it's just war," said Lt. Col. Kyle Pumroy, chief of Space Force Structure Plans for the Space and Cyberspace Superiority Division of the Air Force's Directorate of Strategic Plans. sat down with Pumroy at the Pentagon before he was awarded the General Bernard Schriever Award by the National Space Club last month for his service and enhanced training techniques while leading the space aggressors in 2016.

Military Sees Dire Future If Congress Doesn't Act on Budget |

Military Sees Dire Future If Congress Doesn't Act on Budget | The military services are warning that their combat operations and training will be curtailed severely if Republicans and Democrats fail to end their bickering over the federal budget and pass only a stopgap spending measure, according to Pentagon documents.

Ships won't leave port, aircraft will be grounded, weapons modernization programs will be postponed and critical industrial skills could be blunted should Congress approve another so-called "continuing resolution" for the remainder of the 2017 fiscal year, according to military documents assembled to buttress the Pentagon's plea. These documents were recently sent to members of Congress.

"We will have to cease flight operations within (the United States) at the end of July 2017," the Marine Corps assessment reads. "Cancel three surface ship deployments, resulting in gaps in European and Central Commands," the Navy said. A stopgap bill, according to the Air Force, "limits our ability to rebuild" and increases the risk to the warfighter.

The chiefs of the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy are expected to amplify these concerns at a House Armed Services Committee hearing scheduled for Wednesday. They'll argue for Congress to approve a $578 billion defense bill for 2017 and also pass a $30 billion supplement to the legislation that President Donald Trump requested last month.

Senior U.S. military officials have cautioned many times before about the need for Congress to avoid stopgap measures and do its job of passing individual spending bills. Yet the deep ideological divides have stoked worries that another continuing resolution is in the military's future.

A temporary government-wide spending bill approved late last year runs out at midnight April 28.

Spot's Back: Marines Resume Testing With Four-Legged Robot |

Spot's Back: Marines Resume Testing With Four-Legged Robot | After a long hiatus, the Marine Corps is about to start experimenting again with one of its most fanciful concepts.

Officials with the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab told that Spot, the Corps' four-legged robot, will enter developmental testing this fall focused on the possibilities of manned-unmanned teaming with ground troops.

The dog-sized robot's hydraulic legs may prove more maneuverable than the Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System, a small unmanned system with tank-like treads that has also been tested at the Warfighting Lab, said Capt. Mike Malandra, the lab's ground branch head for science and technology.

"It's not a tracked vehicle so it can turn around on a dime. The other benefit of something like that is it can get up when it falls over, whereas MAARS can't," Malandra said. "So that's really what we're looking at doing, potentially, with those kinds of things moving forward here in fall: Use it as a surrogate platform for something that is maneuverable in a way similar to a human."

The Corps has had a long flirtation with the idea of incorporating four-legged robots into infantry operations.