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22 Feb 18. Pentagon budget 2019: Russian, Chinese hypersonics emerge as clear concern. Development of hypersonic weapons, and defences against those weapons, are given new life in the US Department of Defense’s fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019) budget amid concerns that peers such as Russia and China are advancing hypersonics technologies.
These systems, such as hypersonic glide vehicles, are meant to be capable of significant range within a short period of time; a hypersonic weapon would reach speeds between Mach 5 and Mach 10.
“We have investments in critical areas, such as hypersonic technology,” Pentagon Comptroller David Norquist told reporters at the Pentagon during the budget rollout.
For example, in FY 2019 the Pentagon is requesting USD263.414m for its Conventional Prompt Global Strike (CPGS) project. The now-secretive effort involves the military services, government agencies, national research laboratories, and industry. Previous projects included the US Army’s Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, the US Air Force’s Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2, and US Navy efforts towards launching hypersonic weapons from submarines (likely via Ohio-class guided-missile submarines or a future version of the new Virginia-class fast attack submarines). Now, the programme broadly “funds the design, development, and experimentation of boosters, payload delivery vehicles (PDVs), non-nuclear warheads, thermal protection systems, guidance systems, test range modernisation, and mission planning and enabling capabilities”. Among other goals, the Pentagon wants “effects on targets in a very short period of time from execution order; non-ballistic flight over the majority of the flight path; positive control from launch to impact; adequate cross-range/maneuverability to avoid [sovereign country] overflight issues; [and] controlled stage drop over Broad Ocean Area”. This project is also developing non-nuclear warhead technologies to defeat time-sensitive targets. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
22 Feb 18. India test-fires nuclear-capable Prithvi II SRBM. India successfully conducted a night-time test-launch of its indigenously developed nuclear-capable Prithvi II short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) to a range of 350km off the country’s east coast on 21 February. Official sources told Jane’s that Indian Army (IA) personnel from the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) fired the 9m-long, liquid-fuelled, surface-to-surface missile at around 2030 h (local time) from a mobile launcher at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur, eastern India. India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which designed the SRBM, said the tested missile had been selected randomly from the production lot of public-sector company Bharat Dynamics Limited, which manufactures the missile in Hyderabad, southern India. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
21 Feb 18. Mattis Upguns Infantry: Task Force To Invest Over $1bn. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a former Marine Corps rifle platoon leader, wants better technology and training to keep frontline foot troops alive.
He sent a Feb. 8 memo (below) to the Joint Chiefs, service chiefs, combatant commanders, and other top officials to create a Close Combat Lethality Task Force, applying the kind of top-level Pentagon focus on ordinary infantry usually reserved for jet fighters. Several sources tell us large investments are on the way for everything from night vision to body armor, a new rifle to replace the M16/M4 family, and frontline cyber/electronic warfare, with over a billion dollars in the “initial” phase alone.
The heart of the memo:
“I am committed to improving the combat preparedness, lethality, survivability, and resiliency of our Nation’s ground close combat formations. These formations have historically accounted for almost 90 percent of our casualties and yet our personnel poli