Archive for the ‘U.S. military equipment’ category

Lockheed Martin F-35 Fighter Poised To Become One Of America’s Biggest Exports

May 30, 2018

BY: Loren Thompson May 29, 2018 via Forbes

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Lockheed Martin F-35 Fighter Poised To Become One Of America’s Biggest Exports

{More bang for the bucks. – LS}

The Pentagon’s F-35 fighter has completed its development program and begun deploying overseas. About 300 have been delivered, and that number will double by the end of 2020. The U.S. military plans to buy 2,443 of the stealthy aircraft in three distinct variants tailored to the needs of the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

To date, public discussion of F-35 has focused mainly on what the fighter can do for U.S. warfighters, and at what cost. But there is another dimension to the F-35 story, and that is the positive impact the plane will have on America’s trade balance as overseas friends and allies acquire well over a thousand of the fighters, mainly to replace aging F-16s bought during the Cold War.

The F-35 program from its inception has had eight partner countries that helped pay for its development and now are poised to purchase over 600 of the planes. But that is just the beginning of the program’s trade impact. An additional 800 planes are expected to be bought by other countries through the Foreign Military Sales program. That process has already begun, with Israel, Japan and South Korea signing on before development was even completed.

Other potential customers currently include Belgium, Finland, Germany, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. Over the longer term, virtually every military power that might one day need to contemplate coalition warfare with America will want to take a look, because (1) no other tactical aircraft will be as survivable, (2) no other tactical aircraft will be as versatile, (3) no other tactical aircraft will be as cost-effective, and (4) no other tactical aircraft will mesh as seamlessly with U.S. air power.

I suppose this would be a good point at which to note that F-35 prime contractor Lockheed Martin is both a contributor to my think tank and a consulting client. If I had made the above four claims a few years ago, you might rightly have questioned my objectivity. But not now. After 9,000 flight tests, F-35 has demonstrated all of the performance features expected of it, including the ability to avoid being tracked by Chinese and Russian air defenses.

In addition, the price has fallen to a level where the most common variant will soon cost no more than the latest F-16 — for a great deal more capability. For instance, the electronic warfare suite on F-35 will generate ten times more radiated power than previous fighters, meaning it will not need a jamming aircraft flying escort in order to safely penetrate hostile air space. Every military power within a thousand miles of Russia or China is likely to want that, because when combined with low observables (“stealth”) it makes F-35 unstoppable.

What could be a more credible deterrent than a supersonic (1,200 mph) strike aircraft that can’t be tracked by radar and yet can strike ground targets with pinpoint accuracy and see air targets hundreds of miles away? As if all that were not enough, neither Russia nor China are likely to have anything comparable until the 2030s — if then. Bottom line: F-35 is setting the global standard for tactical air power through mid-century, and overseas sales of the plane will deliver a powerful boost to America’s trade balance.

So how big might that boost be? I’m guessing that over the long run, it will approach a trillion dollars. For starters, if we assign a nominal price of $100 million per plane — which is close to what the most common, Air Force variant costs today — then the value of the 1,500 or so planes Lockheed currently expects to sell overseas is $150 billion. But that doesn’t include life-cycle support and services, which typically cost more than the initial purchase price over decades of operation.

Lockheed has incorporated various “sustainment” features into the F-35 design that will make it easier to maintain than legacy fighters, and more are coming. On the other hand, threats are changing so rapidly that F-35s will likely require frequent software upgrades and periodic hardware modifications across a service life stretching to 2070. Add in the government’s inflation projections across the same timespan, and the export value of the program as currently baselined is already pushing half a trillion “then-year” dollars.

Of course, if inflation were to spike at some point during this period — which it almost certainly will — then the nominal value of the program will too. Let’s leave that possibility out of the estimate since it is incalculable. But let’s not omit the likelihood of multiple wars that stimulate demand, or the need to replace planes lost in combat and training, or the new requirements that might emerge when F-35 pilots find themselves fighting novel challenges such as supersonic drones.

Let’s also bear in mind that F-35 has never lost an overseas competition in which it was entered. Avascent reported last year that over 50 competitions were under way around the world for new tactical aircraft, although less than half had been disclosed publicly. But as geopolitical developments unfold, Washington may decide it needs to sell F-35s to India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and other countries not currently on the short list of prospective buyers.

That doesn’t mean India can’t produce and export F-16s to countries unable or unwilling to buy F-35s (as it is currently contemplating), but India may decide it needs a “high-low mix” of fighters to deal with threats emanating from China or other neighbors. With Washington deeply valuing its strategic ties to New Delhi and F-35 poised to become the global standard for multi-role tactical aircraft, it’s easy to imagine India buying over a hundred eventually. Other customers no one is talking about today might too.

Finally, let’s keep in mind that the F-35’s arrival has dovetailed nicely with a wholesale revision of U.S. arms transfer policy by the Trump administration. The president signed a memorandum on April 19 streamlining the sale of weapons to other countries and committing the government to participating in the overseas promotion of U.S. military products. Trump rightly noted in the memorandum the multiple ways in which such sales stimulate the U.S. technology and industrial base.

That policy isn’t likely to change once Trump leaves office, because Americans would dearly like their allies to take on more of the burden of collective defense. Countries like Germany can show their commitment to shared security objectives while better defending themselves and reducing trade imbalances by buying the F-35. I won’t waste your time with conjectural calculations about how all these factors might combine to make F-35 America’s first weapons program to generate a trillion dollars in export earnings, but it’s probably going to happen.

 

USA vs North Korea: This is the US military arsenal poised to WIPE OUT Kim’s threat

September 4, 2017

USA vs North Korea: This is the US military arsenal poised to WIPE OUT Kim’s threat, Express [UK]Will Kirby, September 4, 2017

[French] Foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned a nuclear strike on Europe was possible and said a world war could erupt in months.

He said: “The situation is extremely serious… we see North Korea setting itself as an objective to have, tomorrow or the day after, missiles that can transport nuclear weapons.

“In a few months that will be a reality.”

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After ’s UN envoy said the country would never bow down to international pressure and give up its nuclear weapons program, diplomatic means of addressing the hostilities appear to have been sidelined in favour of military action.

’s UN ambassador Nikki Haley and the President himself have said “the time for talk is over”, despite China, Russia, and other members of the US administration claiming dialogue remains the main aim.

The US military has a huge presence in the area around North Korea, particularly in Japan and increasingly close allies South Korea.

There are almost 40,000 US troops serving in Japan, more than in any other country, and earlier this year the US Air Force lined up a huge array of helicopters, tactical fighter jets and surveillance aircraft in a show of force aimed to intimidate Kim Jong-un.

Among the aircraft were HH-60 Pave Hawks, a twin-turboshaft helicopter primarily used for the insertion and rescue of special operation personnel.

The aircraft’s versatility makes it incredibly useful in other operations too, including civilian rescue and disaster relief.

The F-15 Eagles, America’s twin-engine, all-weather tactile fighter jets, are also stationed in the region and are among the most successful modern fighters, with over 100 victories and no losses in aerial combat.

Also headquartered in Japan is the Seventh Fleet, the largest of the US navy’s deployed sea forces.

The flagship carrier is the USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered aircraft supercarrier that forms part of “the most effective and agile fighting force in the world”.

Two US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers fly from Guam escorted by a pair of Japanese F-15 fighter jets. REUTERS

Also in the fleet are up to 14 destroyers and cruisers at any given time, some armed with ballistic missile interceptors.

A collection of long-range Tomahawk land missiles, which made headlines earlier this year when President Trump fired 59 of them at an airbase in Syria, joins the arsenal.

As if that wasn’t enough, there are also 12 nuclear-powered submarines available should war break out.

South of the demilitarised zone (DMZ), the US has 23,468 troops at 83 different sites as well as hundreds of tanks and armoured vehicles, meaning there is always a heavy military presence should North Korea decide to launch a land attack.

There is also the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system, which, despite criticism from Beijing and Pyongyang, is ready and waiting to intercept missiles and destroy the incoming projectiles while in mid-flight.

Guam, the US territory that Kim Jong-un has threatened to fire four ballistic missiles towards, is also host to a huge military presence.

Much of the island is controlled by the armed forces and the Andersen air base hosts a range of bombers, resulting in Guam being dubbed a “permanent aircraft carrier”.

Among the aircraft at the base are B-1B bombers, B-52 bombers and F-35B stealth fighters, some of the US Air Force’s most impressive jets.

The revered B-52 bomber is capable of carrying more than 30 tonnes of weapons. GETTY

The B-1B bomber is heralded for its survivability and although initially designed to carry nuclear arms, it was converted to carry more conventional weaponry after the Cold War.

The US is believed to have at least six B-1B bombers stationed in Guam and is best suited to a ‘medium threat environment’, rather than a heavily defended airspace.

Speaking about plans for a possible preemptive strike on North Korea earlier this month, retired Admiral James Stavridis told NBC News: “The B-1b has also been selected because it has the added benefit of not being able to carry nuclear weapons.

“Military planners think that will signal China, Russia, and Pyongyang that the US is not trying to escalate an already bad situation any further.”

The B-52 was first introduced in 1955 and was originally designed to carry nuclear weapons during the Cold War. It remains one of the most superior aircraft in the US Air Force.

The long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber is capable of carrying more than 30 tons of weapons. The aircraft’s fearsome appearance and reputation has resulted in the nickname BUFF, which stands for Big Ugly Fat F*****.

The US also maintains a smaller presence in other countries in the region, including Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines. US military aircraft use Thai runways while the US Navy will operate four warships out of Singapore by next year.

Tensions have been stepped across the region over recent days following North Korea firing a test missile over Japan.

The provocative action saw South Korea and US forces drop bombs on the border of the hermit state.

Earlier today France warned the situation was “extremely serious”.

Foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned a nuclear strike on Europe was possible and said a world war could erupt in months.

He said: “The situation is extremely serious… we see North Korea setting itself as an objective to have, tomorrow or the day after, missiles that can transport nuclear weapons.

“In a few months that will be a reality.”

U.S. Navy Tests World’s First Laser Weapons System

July 18, 2017

U.S. Navy Tests World’s First Laser Weapons System, Washington Free Beacon, July 18, 2017

(Can it be deployed by ground-based troops? — DM)

The U.S. Navy recently tested the world’s first-ever active laser weapons system, which is now deployed and ready for war.

The Laser Weapons System, or LaWS, is now deployed aboard the USS Ponce amphibious transport ship, where CNN was able to witness the system destroy a drone in flight and moving targets on the Persian Gulf.

The system has special materials that release photons, and, at the speed of light, it silently hits an object, burning it to a temperature of thousands of degrees. Each strike travels 50,000 times the speed of an incoming ICBM.

In one test, a drone’s wing caught fire after being hit by the LaWS, leading it to crash into the sea.

“We don’t worry about wind, we don’t worry about range, we don’t worry about anything else. We’re able to engage the targets at the speed of light,” Lt. Cale Hughes, a laser weapons system officer, told CNN.

“We’re doing that engagement at the speed of light so it really is a point and shoot—we see it, we focus on it, and we can negate that target,” he added.

Its cost per use is also quite impressive for such a revolutionary new weapon: approximately $1 per shot. The $40 million system requires electrical power and a three-man team.

The LaWS is also extremely accurate. The system can target a single component of an enemy target, such as a boat’s engine, and make it catch fire so that the entire vessel does not have to be destroyed and the Navy can avoid collateral damage.

“I can aim that at any particular spot on a target, and disable and destroy as necessary,” said Christopher Wells, captain of the USS Ponce. “It reduces collateral damage—I no longer have to worry about rounds that may go beyond the target and potentially hurt or damage things that I don’t want to hurt or damage.”

The system, whose strikes are silent and invisible, is currently active at sea, ready on the USS Ponce for an enemy. It is primarily intended to take on drones, aircraft, and small vessels that could be used in an attack from countries such as Iran and North Korea.

One of the weapon’s biggest strengths is its versatility.

“It’s not a niche weapon system like some other weapons that we have throughout the military where it’s only good against air contacts, or it’s only good against surface targets, or it’s only good against, you know, ground-based targets,” Wells said. “In this case this is a very versatile weapon, it can be used against a variety of targets.”

A second generation LaWS system is currently in development, CNN reported. The newer system is believed to be intended to take on faster targets such as incoming missiles.

Trump authorizes heavy weapons for Kurds fighting Raqqa

May 9, 2017

Trump authorizes heavy weapons for Kurds fighting Raqqa, DEBKAfile, May 9, 2017

US President Donald Trump has approved supplying weapons to Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State in Syria, the Pentagon says. The Kurdish YPG leading the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) would be equipped to help drive ISIS from its stronghold, Raqqa, a spokeswoman said. The US was “keenly aware” of Turkey’s concerns about such a move, she added. The SDF, which comprises Kurdish and Arab militias, is already being supported by elite US forces and air strikes from a US-led coalition. The group is currently battling for control of the city of Tabqa, an ISIS command centre just 50km (30 miles) from Raqqa. The equipment would include ammunition, small arms, machine guns, heavy machine guns, construction equipment such as bulldozers and armored vehicles. The Pentagon ource added that the US would “seek to recover” the equipment afterwards.

 

Two Hizballah brigades deployed to Aleppo

November 20, 2016

Two Hizballah brigades deployed to Aleppo, DEBKAfile, November 20, 2016

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The two Hizballah brigades carry both American and Russian weaponry. DEBKAfile’s military sources report: The motorized rifle brigade is armed with American armored personnel carriers and tanks, whereas the Light Brigade carries Russian arms. Some of the units use both American and Russian hardware, like the Russian ZPU-2 anti tank guns which are mounted on US M113 APCs.

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Hizballah this week transferred two brigades of some 5,000 fighters to the Aleppo front to bolster the Assad regime’s concentrated push to finally rout the rebels who have been holding out year after year in the eastern half of the ravaged city. Indiscriminate Syrian air strikes continue.

The new spearhead is made up of Hizballah’s heavy motorized rifle brigade of tanks and heavy weapons and its light commando brigade, which is trained to operate behind enemy lines. Their arrival brings the total number of Hizballah fighters in Syria to 15,000.

Russian military sources say that, after Aleppo is won for Bashar Assad, the two Lebanese Shiite brigades will turn to Idlib province in the north, to tackle the largest concentration in the country of Al Qaeda’s Syrian arm, the Nusra Front.

The two Hizballah brigades carry both American and Russian weaponry. DEBKAfile’s military sources report: The motorized rifle brigade is armed with American armored personnel carriers and tanks, whereas the Light Brigade carries Russian arms. Some of the units use both American and Russian hardware, like the Russian ZPU-2 anti tank guns which are mounted on US M113 APCs.

Sunday, Nov. 14, on the day that Hizballah started moving the two brigades to the Aleppo front, its propaganda machine released to the Arab media images of a military parade in Qusayr, in the Qalamoun mountain range of western Syria, showing Hizballah troops marching with American hardware. The parade, according to our sources, was faked, the point being to show the world that the Iranian proxy was amply supplied with American equipment.

Assad rewarded Hizballah for capturing Qusayr three years ago by allowing the Iranian proxy to turn the ghost town into a military center. Several workshops for recycling captured weapons for reuse in battle were set up there. (In the same way, the IDF recycled the masses of Russian weapons taken booty from Arab armies in the 60s and 70s.)

Another project was the creation and arming of the Light Brigade modeled on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards special operations units. They are equipped with highly adaptable “jihad-mobiles” which are designed to move in all-terrain and all-weather conditions to take the enemy by surprise from the rear. The the battle of Aleppo sees their first operation in the Syrian war.

Like Syrian special forces units, the Hizballah Light Brigade drives Russian UAZ Patriot-SUV pickup trucks on which are mounted Kord heavy machine guns and AGS-17 grenade launchers. These vehicles are equipped with automatic filters adapted for combat in arid desert conditions to overcome difficulties in vision and breathing.