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24 Jul 20. Russia, Wagner Group Continue Military Involvement in Libya. U.S. Africa Command has mounting evidence that Russia, through the Wagner Group, continues to position military equipment in Libya capable of conducting kinetic operations there.
Overhead imagery shows Wagner forces and equipment on the front lines of the Libyan conflict in Sirte. Wagner, also known as the Wagner Group, is a Russian private military company.
“Russia continues to play an unhelpful role in Libya by delivering supplies and equipment to the Wagner group,” said Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Bradford Gering, Africom director of operations. “Imagery continues to unmask their consistent denials.”
It is assessed that the Russian Federation continues to violate U.N. Security Council Resolution UNSCR 1970 by actively providing military equipment and fighters to the front lines of the conflict in Libya.
As Africom has documented in a series of media releases, the U.S. assesses that Russia supplied Wagner forces operating in Libya with fighter aircraft, military armored vehicles, air defense systems and supplies, further complicating the situation and increasing the risk for miscalculation, leading to continued and needless violence in Libya.
“Imagery reflects the broad scope of Russian involvement,” said Army Brig. Gen. Gregory Hadfield, Africom deputy director of intelligence. “They continue to look to attempt to gain a foothold in Libya.”
The latest imagery details the extent of equipment being supplied to Wagner. Russian military cargo aircraft, including IL-76s, continue to supply Wagner fighters. Russian air defense equipment, including SA-22s, are present in Libya and operated by Russia, the Wagner Group or their proxies. Photos also show Wagner utility trucks and Russian mine-resistant, ambush-protected armored vehicles are also present in Libya.
“The type and volume of equipment demonstrates an intent toward sustained offensive combat action capabilities, not humanitarian relief, and indicates the Russian Ministry of Defense is supporting these operations,” Gering said.
In May, U.S. Africa Command reported at least 14 Mig-29s and Su-24s had been flown from Russia to Syria, where their Russian markings were painted over to camouflage their origin. The aircraft were then flown into Libya, a violation of the U.N. arms embargo. U.S. Africa Command assesses that the warplanes are being actively flown in Libyan airspace.
U.S. Africa Command previously provided photographic evidence that Wagner had laid land mines and improvised explosive devices in civilian areas in and around Tripoli without regard to the safety of civilians.
U.S. Africa Command has continued to document how Russia uses the Wagner Group as a proxy in Libya to establish a long-term presence on the Mediterranean Sea.
“Russian involvement is evident — which the Kremlin lies about every time they deny it,” said Col. Chris Karns, Africom director of public affairs.
The U.S. supports a political solution in Libya and encourages all parties to adhere to the U.N. arms embargo. (Source: US DoD)
22 Jul 20. China May Be Building Completely New Kind of Aircraft Carrier, Reports Suggest. Rumors are swirling that the Chinese navy is looking to build a new type of warship. A recently leaked request for proposals (RFP) points to an amphibious assault ship with an electromagnetic aircraft catapult and arresting gear.
In a request for proposals posted on July 19 and subsequently leaked on social media, the project is referred to only as “Project XX6,” but observers have been calling the ship the “Type 076.”
Judging from some of the details included in the RFP, the Type 076 will be much like the Type 075 landing helicopter dock (LHD), of which China has already built two. The Type 075 is a kind of amphibious assault ship, which combines a flight deck for helicopters and vertical takeoff and landing aircraft with docking bays for amphibious landing craft to carry marines ashore.
However, this new kind of LHD would have an electromagnetic launch system (EMALS) on the flight deck for launching fixed wing aircraft, too, as well as the associated arresting wires for when they land again. No extant warship has ever used this configuration before.
One person even made a potential graphic model of the Type 076, although it is really little more than fan art.
Rumors of such a warship design began swirling in online military circles earlier this week. The general consensus seems to be that the Type 076 will likely not be much larger than the Type 075, will use its catapult system to launch combat drones instead of manned jets and is in general an adaptation for the fact that the People’s Liberation Army has no equivalent to the F-35B. The US Navy and the navies of several US allies make use of the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) capabilities of the F-35B, allowing the stealth jet to fly from helicopter carriers.
China’s next fleet carriers, the Type 002-class ships now under construction, are also widely believed to sport EMALS catapults, which are only used on the US Navy’s Ford-class carriers so far.
China’s Naval Drone Choices
As far as drones, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has several to choose from, including the Gongji-11 (GJ-11) “Sharp Sword” stealth unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) that entered service late last year and several new kinds of helicopter drones.
Tyler Rogoway, editor of The Drive’s War Zone section, mused last year that China using carrier-based, stealthy intelligence drones to dramatically expand the effectiveness of its long-range missile arsenal “makes complete sense.”
“Eliminating its weapons carriage capabilities would probably be necessary to reliably launch it off China’s ski-jump equipped carriers that don’t benefit from a catapult’s assistance. A configuration without a weapons bay would allow designers to tailor the aircraft’s weight, sensor, and fuel load to the ski-jump’s limitations,” Rogoway wrote in September 2019, noting it would be “far more impactful” as an unarmed spotter than as a strike aircraft.
While the Sharp Sword could still be used by the Type 076 in that capacity, the warship’s EMALS catapult brings the question of an armed GJ-11 back into the picture. The GJ-11 is widely believed to have two weapons bays capable of carrying a total of 4,400 pounds of bombs or missiles. Its range is estimated at 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles).
More recently, what is believed to be a small helicopter drone was spotted on the flight deck of the first Type 075 LHD, which has remained dockside at Shanghai’s Hudong Zhonghua shipyard since it was launched in September 2019.
China’s Global Times reported earlier this month it could be an AR500C, but French defense publication East Pendulum speculated it could be a WZ-5B Sky Hawk 5; both are experimental vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) drones built by China in recent years.
Either way, the drone is about half the size of the Z-8 transport helicopter sitting next to it, or just a little smaller than the Z-9, a French Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin built in China under license.
The US already operates a similar VTOL drone, the MQ-8 Fire Scout, which is now deployed on its littoral combat ships as a spotter. (Source: News Now/https://sputniknews.com/)
23 Jul 20. OIR Follows in Predecessors’ Footsteps in Defeating ISIS, Official Says. The Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve coalition has achieved great success in its mission to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the deputy commander of CTJF-OIR said in a live satellite feed from Baghdad.
In an update on the coalition’s operations, Air Force Maj. Gen. Kenneth P. Ekman emphasized that the success in defeating ISIS is built on the triumphs of predecessors and Iraqi and Syria partners.
With ISIS no longer in control of physical territory, Ekman said the organization struggles to conduct coordinated activities, because Iraqi security forces find and destroy their hideouts and weapons caches. ISF efforts are enabled by coalition support, including advising, intelligence planning and precision airstrikes, he added.
“The ISF continues to prove their capabilities as a cohesive force, even in complex operations,” he said, citing how the Iraqi Joint Operations Command recently wrapped up the fourth phase of the Heroes of Iraq Campaign. They showed outstanding cooperation among the Iraqi army, Federal Police intelligence service and anti-terrorism troops in clearing ISIS hideouts in remote areas.
“Wherever [ISIS] seeks sanctuary, the ISF will find them,” Ekman said.
Progress also is evident in coalition reposturing, he said.
“We are getting smaller. In the early days of the coalition, a broad network of bases was essential. We were battling ISIS in Mosul, Anbar and Abu Kamal,” he said, noting that the bases were used to foster U.S. relationships with the ISF and stage training and tactical capabilities.
Now, more than six years later, the coalition has trained in excess of 250,000 ISF and has built strong relationships based on trust and mutual interests, the general said, adding, ”The ISF is doing things for itself — training forces and even developing training cadre that we used to do for them.”
On July 25, he added, ”we will take another step by handing over control of the base Besmaya to the Iraqis. Spain led the coalition effort in their training of 50,000 ISF since 2015. Their work is done there.”
So the coalition in Spain can depart — divesting equipment and facilities to include enhanced weapons ranges and mock-urban villages, valued at almost $5m to the Iraqi government.
Base transfers to include Besmaya reflect a shift to providing high-end advice and support at the operational command level. Because the Iraqis still need coalition help with planning, intelligence and surveillance capabilities and coalition airpower, OIR activated a military advisory group July 2 in Baghdad, Ekman said.
The centralized location allows military advisors from 13 coalition nations to work alongside senior Iraqi officers to plan and execute operations against ISIS across all provinces in the country, he noted.
“This approach has already proven its value in recent large-scale operations, to clear [ISIS] remnants,” Ekman said. ”The ISF is already stronger than ISIS. Our high-level advising approach is moving our Iraqi partners to improve self-reliance. Together, we remain united and resolved to achieve the enduring defeat of [ISIS] and regional stability.”
After recently traveling to northeast Syria, the deputy commander highlighted the coalition’s close partnership with the Syrian Democratic Forces and their success against ISIS.
“They are capturing ISIS lieutenants, busting smuggling networks and denying [ISIS] territory, critical infrastructure and revenues. Overall, the SDF is a strong, capable force, and we are committed to partnership with them,” Ekman said.
The general reminded reporters of the selfless service of U.S. troops. “Yesterday, we lost one of our young warriors, who was conducting a security patrol in northeastern Syria,” he said. ”On behalf of our commander, [Army] Lt. Gen. Pat White and the entire 82-member coalition, we send our condolences and prayers to the families of our fallen comrade.” (Source: US DoD)
22 Jul 20. Indo-Pacific Commander Details Regional Deterrence Efforts. The Indo-Pacific is the most significant region for America’s future, and it has become the nation’s highest-priority theater, the commander of the Hawaii-based U.S. Indo-Pacific Command told the Defense Writers Group in Washington.
Navy Adm. Philip S. Davidson held a virtual meeting today with the nonprofit association of military and national security correspondents, and he repeatedly stressed the danger to the free world that is posed by the Chinese Communist Party’s rule over the world’s most populous country.
The region is about opportunity, as Indo-Pacific basin nations will represent two-thirds of the world’s economy in 10 years, the admiral said. With its long Pacific coastline, he noted, the United States is an integral part of the region.
Since World War II, the nations of the region have taken advantage of the peace and developed at a phenomenal rate. Japan had been flattened during the war and grew to be the world’s second-largest economy in the 1980s. South Korea was a developing nation in 1945. It is the world’s 12th-largest economy today, making the leap from an agrarian economy to a high-tech, industrialized society in a generation.
Other nations have also made impressive gains, including Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore.
However, the country that made the biggest leap is China. Since the nation opened up to the West following President Richard Nixon’s visit in 1972, the country has experienced immense growth and is now the world’s second-largest economy. It has profited immensely from the rules-based international order.
Security is a requirement for such prosperity, and Davidson said he sees major security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region. “First and foremost, I think the greatest strategic challenge to the United States comes from the People’s Republic of China,” he said. Davidson also said Russia is a factor in the Indo-Pacific region, and North Korea continues to be a challenge. Indo-Pacom also faces the threat of violent extremist organizations in the region, most notably in the Philippines, the admiral told the group. “And, then, of course, we have natural and manmade disasters here,” he added.
A natural disaster that has far-reaching consequences is the coronavirus pandemic. “I would say that the values of a free and open Indo-Pacific are even more critical today as we operate under the impacts of COVID-19,” Davidson said. “We face increasing challenges to the established rules-based international order in that environment, as many nations are forced to divert substantial resources in the form of troops, money [and] certain mitigations … to handle the COVID-19 crisis [and] to help plan for future efforts.”
Nations are hurt by the pandemic, and Davidson said he sees the Chinese Communist Party emboldened by that fact. “[The party] seeks to exploit this current global pandemic crisis, and they’re doing so with more assertive military behavior, malign diplomatic and information behavior throughout the Indo-Pacific and, really, across the globe,” he said.
“Make no mistake the party is actively seeking [to] supplant the established rules-based international order, trying to dictate new norms and behaviors [to] the international community — one that they articulate as a new order with Chinese characteristics,” the admiral said.
What the nation is doing against minorities inside China, disregarding the rights of those in Hong Kong, issuing threats to Taiwan, and continuing the militarization of the South and East China Seas gives all nations pause, he said.
“Indeed, the region as a whole is in a strategic competition with Beijing,” the admiral said. “But I want to make clear [neither] the international order nor the United States seeks to contain China, nor do we seek conflict.”
Times have changed, and the nature of war is morphing, military leaders have said. “We remain aware that we can certainly lose without fighting in this environment as well,” Davidson said. “So deterrence is critically important, and I’m a key advocate for that. It’s important to keep Beijing from achieving its goal of overturning the rules-based international order in the pernicious manner in which they’re trying to do it. We must ensure our diplomatic and economic efforts are reinforced by a strong military deterrent.” (Source: US DoD)
22 Jul 20. Chinese military threat on the rise, Taiwan foreign minister warns. China is stepping up military preparedness to overtake Taiwan, the island’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said on Wednesday, following a recent spike of Chinese drills near the island which Beijing considers its own.
Taiwan has complained that China has stepped up threatening military activities near Taiwan in recent months. Beijing has not renounced the use of force to bring the democratic island under its control.
“Looking on the long-term trend, China appears to be gradually stepping up its military preparedness, especially in air or on the waters near Taiwan,” Wu told reporters.
“What China is doing now is continuing to ramp up preparedness to solve the Taiwan issue,” he said.
“The threat is on the rise.”
Beijing routinely says such exercises are nothing unusual and are designed to show the country’s determination to defend its sovereignty.
Taiwan’s defence ministry in June reported eight incidents of intrusion of Chinese military planes in its air defence identification zone, in which Taiwan jets gave radio warnings to usher the intruders out of the airspace.
Wu said such intrusions “happened almost every day” in June and were “much more frequent” than what the government had disclosed to the public. He said China has also made several “simulated” military attacks on Taiwan.
“These behaviors worry us,” Wu said, adding that Taiwan was deepening its security ties with allies, including the United States which has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is its strongest international backer and main arms supplier.
Wu said attacking Taiwan could be a “very convenient scapegoat” for the Chinese government to divert domestic pressure, which he said is struggling with a fast-slowing economy amid the coronavirus pandemic and the current wave of floods.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who won re-election by a landslide in January pledging to stand up to China, has made military modernisation a priority. The island unveiled its largest defence spending increase in more than a decade last year.
Taiwan, one of a growing number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, conducted live-fire exercises simulating the repulsion of an invading force last week, with Tsai saying it showed their determination to defend the island. (Source: Reuters)
21 Jul 20. Esper Discusses Importance of Indo-Pacific Strategy. The United States is following the tenets of the National Defense Strategy and prioritizing resources to the Indo-Pacific theater, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said during a virtual speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
During today’s presentation, Esper said the U.S. military is emphasizing the three pillars of the Indo-Pacific strategy: preparedness, strengthening partnerships and promoting a more networked region.
He also said the Trump administration “looks forward to working with the United States Congress to establish a Pacific Deterrence Initiative that will prioritize our investments, maintain a credible deterrent and demonstrate an enduring whole of government commitment to the region.”
China is seeking to overturn the current values-based international order that has provided peace for more than 70 years, Esper said, noting that the system is based on shared values and long-established economic ties with allies and partners in the region.
The devastating worldwide effects of the coronavirus pandemic reinforce the need for a rules-based international order rooted in transparency, openness, honesty and other shared values, the secretary said. “In this era of globalization, the antidote to a viral contagion is communication and collaboration, not disinformation and deception,” he added.
While the United States and its allies and partners are working in this time of plague to support one another, the Chinese Communist Party continues to engage in systematic rule-breaking, coercion and other malign activities, Esper said. “Most concerning to me,” he added, “the People’s Liberation Army continues its aggressive behavior in the East and South China Seas.”
China’s excessive claims in the area affect all trading nations and neighbors such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea, Esper said.
“Most recently, Beijing advanced national security legislation that violates its commitment to the Hong Kong people to enjoy a high degree of autonomy, calling the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, a statement of policies rather than the treaty that it is,” the secretary said.
China has also conducted large-scale exercises simulating the seizure of Taiwan. The secretary called this a destabilizing activity that significantly increases the risk of miscalculation.
“Make no mistake, the [Chinese Communist Party] has been engaged in this sort of behavior for many years,” Esper said. “But today, its true intentions are on full display for all to see.”
The United States and allies and partners in the region call on China to stop its destabilizing actions and abide by the international laws and norms that China arguably benefited most from since World War II.
“While we hope the CCP will change its ways, we must be prepared for the alternative,” he said. “Together, we must uphold the free and open system that has secured peace and prosperity for millions and defend the principles that undergird it — namely, respect for sovereignty and independence for all nations, regardless of their size, peaceful resolution of disputes, mutual adherence to international laws and norms, and the promotion of free fair and reciprocal trade.”
The military plays a role in this whole-of-government approach in the region. “We’re not only prioritizing the development and deployment of game-changing technologies such as hypersonic weapons, 5G and artificial intelligence, but we’re also investing in platforms critical to the Indo-Pacific and transforming the way we fight,” the secretary said.
The Navy is building a more survivable, adaptable, sustainable and larger fleet. The Marine Corps is focused on becoming leaner, faster, more lethal and precise and more geographically distributed in the Pacific. The Army has prioritized long-range precision weapons to stay ahead of China’s growing anti-access, area-denial capabilities, the secretary said. “The Air Force continues its focus on enhanced stealth capabilities and the advancement of joint all domain command and control – a vital initiative that will link any sensor to any shooter in the battlefield in real time,” he added.
To weave all these changes together, the U.S. military is developing a new joint warfighting concept – and ultimately, a doctrine – for the 21st century, Esper said.
America’s greatest advantage not only in the Indo-Pacific region, but also worldwide, is its network of allies and partners, the secretary said, promising that the United States will continue to cultivate partners moving forward.
“I want to highlight our increased defense cooperation with India, one of the all-important defense relationships of the 21st century,” he said. “We conducted our first ever joint military exercise last November,” Esper said. “As we speak today, the USS Nimitz is conducting combined exercises with the Indian navy in the Indian Ocean, demonstrating our shared commitment to stronger naval cooperation and supported by free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Bilateral relationships are good, but multilateral cooperation is better, Esper said. “We are encouraging indo Pacific nations to expand their own intra-regional security relationships and networks of like-minded partners,” he said.
Japan, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea, Malaysia and others are working more closely together, the secretary said, calling it a trend that needs to continue.
Esper called China “a country with a storied history, a rich culture and a wonderful people” and said no Indo-Pacific nation wants to see conflict with China.
“We are committed to a constructive and results-oriented relationship with China and within our defense relationship to open lines of communication and risk reduction,” he said. “I’ve personally spoken to my [People’s Republic of China] counterpart on multiple occasions. And before the year is out, I hope to visit the PRC for the first time as secretary in order to enhance cooperation on areas of common interest, establish the systems necessary for crisis communications, and reinforce our intentions to openly compete in the international system in which we all belong.” (Source: US DoD)
20 Jul 20. Indonesia says it wants to buy Austria’s entire Typhoon fighter fleet. has expressed interest in acquiring Austria’s fleet of Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets, in yet another surprise defense procurement plan from the southeast Asian country.
Indonesia’s defense minister, Prabowo Subianto, wrote a letter to his Austrian counterpart, Klaudia Tanner, seeking to initiate negotiations to buy all 15 Typhoons belonging to the Austrian Air Force.
In his letter, which was published by Indonesian news outlets, Prabowo said the potential purchase will assist in his aims to continue modernizing the Indonesian Air Force.
He added that he understood the “sensitivity” of his proposal, which was likely to be a reference to the continued controversy surrounding Austria’s 2002 acquisition of the Typhoon. That purchase has been dogged by questions about cost and the effectiveness of the aircraft. More recently, there have been allegations of corruption related to the original contract award.
These culminated in Austria’s 2017 decision to retire the aircraft from service this year in favor of a “more effective and cost-effective” solution for the central European country’s air defense needs.
Indonesia’s interest in the fleet comes two weeks after the surprise announcement that the U.S. State Department cleared the country to buy the Bell-Boeing MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft.
Indonesia has been seeking a fighter aircraft to serve alongside its fleet of 23 refurbished early-block Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Fighting Falcon jets. These are all former aircraft operated by the U.S. Air National Guard, and were delivered from 2014 onward.
The decision to seek the Austrian Typhoons, which are all Tranche 1 aircraft configured primarily for air defense missions, is a blow to Russian aspirations to sell the Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker interceptor to Indonesia.
Indonesia had selected the Su-35 as its next fighter to provide continuity with its existing fleet of Su-27 and Su-30s Flankers acquired in the early part of the last decade. Negotiations for the Russian jets ended in 2018, but Indonesia had been reticent to sign the $1.14bn contract, reportedly over fears that it may be subject to American sanctions.
The sanctions would come from a U.S. law, Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, that targets Iran, North Korea and Russia. CAATSA was passed by Congress in 2017 and is meant to discourage governments or entities from acquiring weapons or military hardware and parts from U.S. adversaries. (Source: Defense News)
17 Jul 20. North Korea striving to build nuclear-capable missiles that can defeat BMD systems, says CRS report. North Korea’s recent ballistic missile tests suggest that Pyongyang is striving to build a credible nuclear warfighting capability designed to evade ballistic missile defence (BMD) systems in the region, according to a 14 July report published by the US Congressional Research Service (CRS).
The report, which was authored by Mary Beth Nikitin – a specialist in non-proliferation – and research assistant Samuel Ryder, says the tests conducted over the past years have demonstrated “growing success and, coupled with increased operational training exercises, suggest a pattern designed to strengthen the credibility of North Korea’s regional nuclear deterrent strategy”.
“The recent advances in North Korea’s ballistic missile test programme appear to be directed at developing capabilities to defeat or degrade the effectiveness of missile defences deployed in the region: Patriot, Aegis BMD, and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD),” said the authors.
Moreover, they said, North Korea’s progress with submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) suggests “an effort to counter land-based THAAD missile defences by launching attacks from positions at sea outside the THAAD’s radar field of view, although local Aegis BMD systems could likely still track these projectiles”, they added.
The level of progress made by Pyongyang with its short- and medium-range ballistic missile (SRBM and MRBM) systems demonstrates “the North Korean shift toward solid-propellants and satellite guidance systems”, said Nikitin and Ryder, noting that these advances could be carried over to “larger, more potent systems” such as the country’s Hwaseong series of intermediate-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles (IRBM and ICBMs). (Source: Jane’s)
20 Jul 20. IAF to deploy Rafales in Ladakh amid border tensions with China. The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to discuss the role of Rafale fighters, focusing on the ongoing border clashes of the Indian Army with Chinese Forces, at its commanders’ conference in New Delhi.
Due to be held on 22-24 July, the conference will discuss IAF’s preparedness and new purchases to deal with future expected combat situations.
Hindustan Times reported that the IAF could deploy its new Rafale fighter jets in the Ladakh sector amid the border tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LOC) with the Chinese Forces.
Under a special request extended by the IAF, France is speeding up the deliveries of Rafale fighters to India.
Originally, four jets were scheduled to be a part of the first batch of delivery. However, six jets are expected to be delivered at their home base in Ambala later this month.
Once deployed to the border in line with mission requirements, operationalisation of the Rafale jets will strengthen India’s military posture in the region.
An undisclosed source was reported as saying: “Air and ground crews have undergone full training on the aircraft including advanced weapons systems over the last year in France.”
The Rafales will have a cold engine start capability to operate from high-altitude bases. They will be equipped with Meteor beyond-visual-range missiles.
Under an emergency purchase in September 2016, India ordered 36 Rafale jets from France in a deal worth Rs5.9m ($78m) to enhance the airforce’s combat capabilities. Originally, the first 18 jets were scheduled to be delivered to the IAF by February next year. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
17 Jul 20. USS Nimitz may conduct Passex with Indian Navy. The US Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) may conduct a passing exercise (Passex) with the Indian Navy. According to Zee News, the drill may be held off the coast of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Malacca Strait. The news comes at a time when India and China are engaged in border tensions and disputes in Ladakh.
It also comes after the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group and Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group carried out high-end dual-carrier exercises in the South China Sea (SCS).
Nimitz Carrier Strike Group has also conducted operations with the Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier in the SCS.
Nimitz Carrier Strike Group commander rear admiral Jim Kirk said: “Nimitz and Reagan Carrier Strike Groups are operating in the South China Sea, wherever international law allows, to re-inforce our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, a rules based international order, and to our allies and partners in the region.
“Security and stability is essential to peace and prosperity for all nations, and it is for that reason the US Navy has been present and ready in the Pacific for over 75 years.” Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment. Furthermore, reports emerged that Australia is expected to join India, the US and Japan for the Malabar exercise to be held later this year. (Source: naval-technology.com)
20 Jul 20. Iran Rebuilds Downed US Navy Global Hawk. Information about the U.S. Navy’s RQ-4A Global Hawk shot down by Iran on June 20, 2019, continues to surface a year on. The carcass of the aircraft has been largely pieced together by Iran, in the manner of an air accident investigation. The way it was done, and the reasons, are likely to be very different, however.
The drone was reportedly shot down by an IRGC “3rd Khordad” missile. A 3rd Khordad missile launcher has been paraded by the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) to celebrate the downing of the spy drone. The ‘kill marking’ painted on the door of the vehicle closely resembles the piloted U-2 spy plane instead of a Global Hawk, however.
The 3rd Khordad has a reported maximum range up to 65 miles and can hit targets flying at high altitudes. So the Global Hawk spy drone is a natural prey for a system like this.
It is an Iranian copy of the Russian developed Buk-M2 missile system. This extended family of missiles has been involved in several incidents. A Russian Buk is believed to have been used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine on July 17, 2014.
According to Iranian media the drone was salvaged from the sea floor. The Iran Press reported that the drone has been “pulled out by IRGC Navy from the deep waters of southern Iran.” The IRGC was established as a counterweight to Iran’s military that reports directly to the ayatollah and is dedicated to protecting the Islamic system. It is known to be more likely to be involved in confrontational incidents than the comparatively professional Navy and Air Force.
The IRGC-Navy does not have a significant salvage capability, however. While it does have divers, they are equipped similarly to civilian scuba divers. And it does not have suitable ships.
Dave Owen, an underwater warfare expert involved in underwater surveys, outlined the types of equipment that the IRGC would require. “They would need to have a well maintained dive ship available. It would need a decompression chamber for the divers. And a reliable ROV (remote operated underwater vehicle) with well trained operators.”
He also believes that they would need “experienced medical personnel to manage the health of and divers. The divers would have to be trained, experienced and available for the operation, and well prepared to recover the asset.”
Additionally Iranian media sources infer that the wreckage was retrieved almost immediately after the incident, which makes a deep-sea salvage less likely. Owen points out “to retrieve the asset they would require a survey of the location topographically and oceanographically to accurately assess condition for the time of year and location.”
So how did they reconstruct the aircraft? Well much of the debris was actually displayed the day after the incident, so it must have been retrieved from the surface. Some of the heavier items displayed, such as avionics boxes, may have been attached to the floating debris.
But their reason for reconstructing the Global Hawk is not to establish what happened. As well as propaganda value, Iran is likely seeking to gain intelligence. An IRGC General told the Iran Press in February this year that they “have gained access to all its codes and passwords, and we can disable this drone within thousands of kilometers away from Tehran.”
The choice of an uncrewed air vehicle as the target, and the rapidity with which they retrieved the floating debris, may indicate a degree of planning. Potentially it was an intelligence gathering exercise from the outset. Which countries have benefited from any intelligence retrieved from the wreck? (Source: UAS VISION/Forbes)
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