Archive for February, 2016

US AIR FORCE REVEALS B-21 LONG RANGE STRIKE BOMBER

February 28, 2016

The USAF Official Website in an article by Mike Martin, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs on February 26, 2016, reported that Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James revealed the first rendering of the Long Range Strike Bomber, designated the B-21, at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium Feb. 26 in Orlando, Fla., and announced the Air Force will be taking suggestions from Airmen to help decide the name of the bomber. Excerpts below:

“This aircraft represents the future for our Airmen, and (their) voice is important to this process,” James said. “The Airman who submits the selected name will help me announce it at the (Air Force Association) conference this fall.”

While there are no existing prototypes of the aircraft, the artist rendering is based on the initial design concept. The designation B-21 recognizes the LRS-B as the first bomber of the 21st century.

“The platforms and systems that made us great over the last 50 years will not make us great over the next 50,” Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark A. Welsh III said during his testimony on Capitol Hill Feb. 10. “There are many other systems we need to either upgrade or recapitalize to ensure viability against current and emerging threats… the only way to do that is to divest old capability to build the new.”

James said the B-21 will allow the Air Force to operate in tomorrow’s high end threat environment, and give the Air Force the flexibility and the capability to launch from the continental United States and deliver airstrikes on any location in the world.

James also explained why the B-21 shares some resemblance to the B-2.

“The B-21 has been designed from the beginning based on a set of requirements that allows the use of existing and mature technology,” James said.

The program recently entered into the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase and the Air Force plans to field the initial capability of the aircraft in mid-2020s.

Comment: This is welcome news for those who believe in the importance of the United States for the defense of the West. It is vital that airstrikes can be launched by bombers from continental America. One can only hope that there will be no delays in the production of B-21.

COUNTERING CHINA’S AIRCRAFT CARRIERS

February 27, 2016

Washington Times on February 25, 2016, published a commentary by James A. Lyons and Richard D. Fisher Jr. on the need for a new strategy to confront China in the South China Sea. Excerpts below:

When the next U.S. president takes office in 11 months he or she will be confronted with China’s four stationary and one mobile aircraft carriers in the South China Sea. As the Obama administration is likely to continue its failed legal and diplomatic strategy for responding to China, it is necessary for the next president to now consider a far more robust strategy.

In about a year China will be ready to deploy significant air, naval and missile forces to its collective newly reclaimed 14.5 square kilometers of stationary island “aircraft carriers” in the South China Sea. These will include a 2.13 square kilometer base on Woody Island in the Northern Paracel Island Group, and the Southern Spratly Island Group bases on Fiery Cross Reef (2.74 sq/km), Subi Reef (3.95 sq/km), and Mischief Reef (5.58 sq/km).

Each of these bases will soon be able to support at least 24 combat aircraft, associated radar and refueling aircraft, and a range of 6 warships at Fiery Cross to 50 or more at Mischief Reef. China will also deploy scores of anti-aircraft missiles like the 200km range HQ-9, and anti-ship missiles like the 400km range YJ-62 anti-ship cruise missile, or the 4,000km range DF-26 anti-ship ballistic missile which can reach U.S. forces on Guam.

In addition, by the early 2020s one more aircraft carrier could join the Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, in supporting combat operations in the South China Sea.

Capturing and building up these islands will handily position China’s naval and air forces to complete its control of the South China Sea by invading the island of Palawan, which belongs to U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty ally the Philippines.

Having secured control of the South China Sea, China would then be free to threaten anybody’s portion of the $5.3 trillion in annual commerce that transits this region. It will also secure the South China Sea as its “lake” to operate its nuclear submarines armed with nuclear missiles aimed at the United States, and ensure its global projection of naval, air, amphibious and space power.

If China is allowed to consolidate control over the South China Sea uncontested, that will mark the abandonment by the United States of its dominant strategic position in Asia to a dictatorship arguably more evil than which 120,000 Americans died to defeat in World War II.

Given the potential for such a horrific reversal of the Asian peace that generations of Americans have sacrificed for, its incomprehensible that the Obama administration would remain committed to a strategy of delimited legal demonstrations and diplomacy to convince China to reverse its near consolidation of control of the South China Sea.

China’s military consolidation will only continue until Washington decides to deploy superior force to that region sufficient to destroy China’s new bases, thus deterring Beijing from using them to attack America’s allies and friends. The Philippines should be offered 200 of the 300+km range ATACMS short range ballistic missile as an initial move to deter China. This should be followed by offering Manila squadrons of F-16 or F/A-18 fighters and several frigate-size combat ships, and the stationing of U.S. fighter wings and combat ships in Philippine bases.

For its part, the United States should build and deploy new arsenal ships and arsenal submarines, equipped with hundreds of offensive and defensive missiles, and railguns which can defeat China’s latest anti-ship ballistic missiles. There should also be consideration of a super large amphibious assault ship based on our nuclear powered aircraft carriers, but armed with multiple railguns and future laser weapons to defeat all Chinese missiles.

China will not be deterred from imposing increasing control over the South China Sea until Washington and its allies deploy forces sufficient to eliminate China’s new island aircraft carriers.

James A. Lyons, a U.S. Navy retired admiral was commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Richard D. Fisher Jr. is a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center

CHINA BENT ON HEGEMONY AS ARE RUSSIA AND IRAN

February 24, 2016

Washington Times on February 23, 2016, reported that the top U.S. military commander in the Pacific has warned that China was bent on achieving “hegemony in East Asia”. Excerpts below:

Navy Adm. Harry Harris Jr. issued a bracing warning about China’s increasing assertiveness during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on February 22, hours before a report that Chinese fighter jets had been deployed to a disputed Island in the South China Sea (see a separate report below) — the latest in a series of provocative moves by Beijing to bolster its sovereignty claims against its regional rivals.

U.S. officials confirmed the report…but cautioned against reading too much into the development because Beijing has been known to send fighter jets on such missions over the years.

Faced with competing claims from Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and others, China has been building up and “militarizing” its possessions in the South China Sea, Adm. Harris said. “You have to believe in a flat earth to think otherwise.”

The South China Sea dispute was clearly a hot topic on Capitol Hill and in the Wang-Kerry discussions.

Beijing’s recent deployment of surface-to-air missiles, its installation of radar facilities and its construction of airstrips on territorially disputed islands are flat-out changing “the operational landscape in the South China Sea,” Adm. Harris said.

While most analysts say the latest developments are unlikely to trigger a direct military confrontation, unease has spread in Washington since last week, when reports emerged that the Chinese military had deployed anti-aircraft missiles on the Paracels Islands chain.

On February 22, the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies reported that China has also built radar facilities in the Spratly Islands, another disputed chain. On February 23, there were reports that Beijing has now sent J-11 and Xian JH-7 fighter jets to the Paracels.

Citing “two U.S. officials” who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Fox News reported that U.S. intelligence had spotted the fighter jets on Woody Island, which has effectively been under Chinese control for more than 40 years but is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.

…the Obama administration has already raised the stakes in recent months by sending guided missile destroyers USS Lassen and USS Curtis Wilbur close to disputed areas occupied by Beijing, in an assertion of what U.S. officials said was the right of transit through international waterways.

The Pentagon also has conducted sea and air patrols near artificial islands China has built in the Spratlys, including by two B-52 strategic bombers in November.

Some argue that the administration’s approach may be ineffective because Beijing is engaged in a long-game strategy of patience known as “salami-slicing” — effectively carrying out a stream of small actions over time that will eventually amount to a major reorganization of the region’s military landscape.

Robert Haddick, a former editor of the Small Wars Journal and a contractor for U.S. Special Operations Command, wrote in a 2012 analysis for Foreign Policy magazine that U.S. policymakers and military planners should be wary of China’s incremental moves toward dominance.

Beijing’s approach “could confound Washington’s military plans” to contain overt Chinese aggression by growing the U.S. defense footprint in the region, he wrote.

Adm. Harris said…that China’s recent actions present a “strategic opportunity” for the U.S. to beef up its alliances with nations on China’s periphery, including the Philippines and Vietnam, whose leaders have increasingly called on Washington to take a more aggressive posture.

The latest wave of friction over the South China Sea has come against a backdrop of disagreement between Washington and Beijing on another front: North Korea.

Washington Times on February 23, 2016, further reported that In a move likely to further increase already volatile tensions in the region, China has deployed fighter jets to a contested island in the South China Sea, the same island where China deployed surface-to-air missiles last week, two U.S. officials tell Fox News.

Chinese Shenyang J-11s (“Flanker”) and Xian JH-7s (“Flounder”) have been seen by U.S. intelligence on Woody Island in the past few days, the same island where Fox News reported exclusively last week that China had sent two batteries of HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles while President Obama was hosting 10 Southeast Asian leaders in Palm Springs.

One U.S. official put the number of Chinese warplanes in the single digits, “under ten,” he said.

Woody Island is the largest island in the Paracel chain of islands in the South China Sea, and has had a runway since the early 1990s. It lies 250 miles southeast of a major Chinese submarine base on Hainan Island. China has claimed Woody Island since the 1950s, but it is contested by Taiwan and Vietnam.

In the last two years, China has created 3,000 acres of artificial islands atop reefs hundreds of miles south of Woody Island in the Spratly chain of islands. One runway was tested in January, when two commercial airliners landed at Fiery Cross Reef.

After the deployment of fighter jets to Woody Island, officials are concerned the Chinese might send them south to the Spratly islands next.

Comment: It is quite possible that China is seeking regional hegemony in East Asia. Two other empires are seeking domination in the rimland of Eurasia (the World Island according to Sir Halford Mackinder): Russia and Iran. One can only hope that the incoming US president in 2017 begins taking the growing challenge to the West by the three anti-Western empires: Russia, China and Iran more seriously.

MARCO RUBIO PICKS UP BACKERS AS GOP FIELD NARROWS

February 22, 2016

Wall Street Journal on February 21, 2016, reported that important Republican backers are turning to Marco Rubio after his strong position in the South Carolina primary. Excerpts below:

Mr. Norm Coleman – who originally backed South Carolina Sen.Lindsey Graham before he quit the race in December 2015 — is throwing his support to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Virginia Republican fundraiser Bobbie Kilberg, who joined Mr. Bush’s camp last week, said nine donors reached out Sunday to say that if she backed Mr. Rubio, they would, too.

“That’s a lot of people to call you at 10 in the morning on a Sunday,” said Mrs. Kilberg, who originally backed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s now-defunct presidential campaign. “I really believe (Mr. Rubio) is the only candidate around which mainstream Republicans can coalesce in order to win this nomination and win the general election.”

These Republicans view New York billionaire Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as too extreme to win a general election, and they’re skeptical Ohio Gov. John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson can win the nomination.

“Republicans got what they wanted and needed — a proven, experienced, and electable political leader to emerge as an alternative to Trump,” said Fred Malek, a major Republican donor who has not endorsed a candidate because of his fundraising duties for the Republican Governors Association. “Sen. Rubio has proven the ability to bring people together across the spectrum, not just on the far right.”

Mr. Rubio’s campaign said he picked up support from at least four other prominent donors, including former ambassador Francis Rooney, who donated $2.3 million through his company last year to the pro-Bush super PAC, and Chicago investor Muneer Satter, who gave $550,000 to that super PAC. Other new donors include coal billionaire Joe Craft and former ambassador and Florida developer John Rood.

Endorsements from elected officials behind Mr. Bush are also starting to roll in for Mr. Rubio. Nevada Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Mark Amodei switched teams Sunday, two days before that state’s Republican caucus.

On February 22, three current and one former members of Congress from Miami who had been backing Mr. Bush – Republicans Carlos Curbelo, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, are expected to throw their support to Mr. Rubio.

IT COULD BE A REPUBLICAN RACE BETWEEN MARCO RUBIO AND DONALD TRUMP

February 21, 2016

Daily Caller on February 21, 2016, reported that after a strong showing in South Carolina, Marco Rubio said, “After tonight, this has become a three person race and we will win the nomination.” Excerpts below:

Taking the stage with his family, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Rep. Trey Gowdy and Sen. Tim Scott, Rubio congratulated the winner, Donald Trump.

While Trump won South Carolina… Rubio got second place…over Cruz, leading Rubio to declare, “After tonight, this has become a three person race and we will win the nomination.”

Rubio said of Bush, “I have an incredible affection and admiration not just for Governor Bush but for his family and for their service to our country. Jeb Bush has many things to be proud of, he is an extraordinary husband, he’s an extraordinary father, he was the greatest governor in the history of Florida and I believe and I pray that his service to our country has not yet ended. And I thank Jeb Bush for everything he did for the state of Florida and for running a campaign based on ideas.”

“If tonight, you are that single mother, who has made it the purpose of your life to leave your children better off than yourself in the 21st Century, we conservatives will fight for you,” Rubio said.

Concluding his speech, Rubio said, “If it is God’s will that we should win this election, then history will say that on this night in South Carolina, we took the first step forwards in the beginning of a new American century.”

A US UNMANNED SUB-HUNTER SET TO REVOLUTIONIZE NAVAL WARFARE

February 20, 2016

Fox News on February 18, 2016, reported that The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that pioneers tech for the US military has created the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program. Oregon-based company Leidos is working with the agency to develop the groundbreaking ship. Excerpts below:

Without a human crew, this drone vessel will be able to execute important missions independently like tracking and trailing an enemy sub over thousands of miles – not just for a day or two, or even a few weeks – this drone could hunt the enemy for months.

The ACTUV enemy submarine hunter is expected to be about 130 feet long. DARPA has announced that it will be revealed for the first time on April 7 when it will also be christened in Portland, Oregon.

In addition to hunting enemy subs, ACTUV will be capable of a wide range of missions, such as reconnaissance and counter-mine deployments. It could also be useful to resupply troops.
The rise of tough-to-detect and track diesel electric submarines poses a significant challenge to the U.S. Navy. ACTUV is designed to excel at tracking these ultra-quiet subs.

ACTUV…could roam the oceans for thousands and thousands of miles executing missions.

For next level tracking, the vessel will be armed with state-of-the art sensors allowing it to detect the quietest of enemy subs. The idea is that it will be nearly impossible for a hostile sub to slip the ACTUV when the unmanned vessel is on its tail.

Despite being smaller than traditional subs, the ACTUV will be able to achieve speeds that exceed diesel electric propulsion submarines – and for a fraction of the cost.

When ACTUV enters service, it will give the U.S. military a range of advantages. Rather than send out a destroyer or a nuclear sub, ACTUV could be deployed, freeing up those assets and keeping costs down.

After the big reveal in April, ACTUV will continue to be tested and refined.

SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR NIKKI HALEY ENDORSES MARCO RUBIO

February 19, 2016

Washington Times on February 2017 reported that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential bid. Excerpts below:

“I wanted somebody with fight. I wanted somebody with passion. I wanted somebody that had conviction to do the right thing, but I wanted somebody humble enough that remembers that you work for all the people,” she said at a rally in Chapin, SC.

Losing out on the endorsements of the newspaper and the governor, Ms. Haley, was a blow to Mr. Bush, whose claim to be the chief anti-Trump candidate is quickly fading. He has seen no apparent boost from having his brother, former President George W. Bush, join him on the campaign trail in the Charleston area Monday.

Mr. Rubio, meanwhile, stayed mostly positive as he collected Ms. Haley’s endorsement. She joins his other top supporters from the state, Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. Trey Gowdy, signaling that Republicans are coalescing around Mr. Rubio and hoping he emerges as the chief alternative to Mr. Trump.

Comment: Senator Rubio has strong Republican support in South Carolina and needs to be at least third in the primary to be able to challenge Mr. Trump and Senator Cruz in the coming primaries.

GOOGLE PLANS SHOWING ANTI-ISIS ADS TO COUNTER TERRORISM

February 9, 2016

Fox News on February 9, 2016 reported that Google is planning counter terrorism ads. Excerpts below:

Google has a new strategy to use its highly targeted advertising system in the battle against ISIS. Last week, Anthony House, the senior manager for public policy and communications at Google, revealed plans to show users anti-radicalization links in response to terrorism-related searches. The plan was outlined before a committee of the British parliament dedicated to counter-terrorism.

The program is still in its pilot stages, but House is hopeful that this new plan may provide a clever tool that protects the freedom of the Internet while protecting the livelihoods of the world’s citizens. “We should get the bad stuff down, but it’s also extremely important that people are able to find good information, that when people are feeling isolated, that when they go online, they find a community of hope, not a community of harm,” said the Google manager.

The idea, the Internet giant says, is to provide a sort of alternative narrative to those looking for information about extremism. In a statement, a Google spokesperson further explained, “What was referenced is a pilot Google AdWords Grants program that’s in the works right now with a handful of eligible non-profit organizations. The program enables NGOs to place counter-radicalization ads against search queries of their choosing.”

In addition to the counter-terrorism ads, Google is also ensuring that its subsidiary YouTube makes anti-extremism videos more discoverable, further aiding the overall efforts against ISIS and similar groups.

ISIS is known for leveraging sites like Twitter and Facebook for both recruitment and propaganda purposes, and a recent lawsuit against twitter suggested that ISIS has only reached its current level of influence with the (albeit unintentional) help of social media platform.