Saturday, April 29, 2017

Trump warns of a 'major, major conflict' with North Korea

Donald Trump has said that a “major conflict” is possible with North Korea though he would prefer to solve the standoff over the country’s nuclear and missile programmes through diplomacy. Trump’s warning on Thursday came as a concerted effort to restrain Pyongyang from carrying out major new weapons tests was being made.

A ballistic missile launched early Saturday by North Korea in defiance of international pressure and at a time of heightened regional tensions appears to have failed. The missile blew up over land in North Korean territory. Trump cast the launch as a direct snub against China, one of North Korea's only allies and a nation seen by the Trump administration as a potential US ally in efforts to stamp out Pyongyang's nuclear program.
“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely,” Trump told Reuters.

 The Chinese had warned Pyongyang, an increasingly unruly client in recent years, that it would impose punitive measures if North Korea carried out provocative tests. China refused to confirm or deny the US claim of new pressure. A foreign ministry spokesman reiterated China’s support for UN sanctions on the North but stopped short of commenting on China's plans.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Nuclear Threat of North Korea

The New York Times released a classified intelligence report which concluded that North Korea is capable of producing a nuclear bomb every six or seven weeks as Pyongyang threatened its sixth nuclear test in 11 years. North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in 2006, and since then four others, the three last of which generated Hiroshima-size explosions. North Korea's most recent test was in September.

Experts estimate that Pyongyang could have anywhere between 20 and 100 nuclear warheads by 2020.
North Korea is estimated to possess enough plutonium to develop about 10 plutonium-based warheads. If the country is producing highly-enriched uranium, it could be creating multiple uranium based warheads annually.
There's no way to estimate at what rate North Koreans could be developing nuclear warheads or how many nukes Pyongyang really has in it's possession.

 Reports also indicate that Pyongyang has roughly 1,000 ballistic missiles in eight varieties. The Taepodong 2 missile is the biggest concern for the Pentagon.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

U.S. starts to ‘swiftly’ install THAAD

The U.S. military started installing a controversial antimissile defense system in South Korea overnight Tuesday, triggering protests and sparking criticism that it was rushing to get the battery in place before the likely election of a president who opposes it. The sudden and unannounced move came only six days after the U.S. military command in South Korea secured the land to deploy the system, known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD.

Moon Jae-in, a liberal candidate who has a strong lead in polls ahead of a May 9 presidential election, has promised to review South Korea’s decision to host the antimissile battery.
China has attempted to pressure the government in Seoul not to deploy THAAD. It is concerned that the system’s powerful radar could be used to keep tabs on China, and it has imposed painful economic boycotts on South Korean companies in response.

Each THAAD battery includes at least six truck-mounted launchers that carry up to eight missiles each. They are designed to shoot down enemy ballistic missiles. North Korea has bolstered the case for the system by test-firing dozens of missiles over the past year.
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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

North Korea stages massive military drill

The U.S. and North Korea continued their game of chicken, with both nations escalating the potential for a conflict in the Korean Peninsula by increasing military maneuvers and offering tense rhetoric.

North Korea's military held a large-scale artillery drill to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the country's army, while officials from the U.S., South Korea and Japan met in Tokyo to discuss Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.
North Korea's military drill underscored that Pyongyang controls a powerful standing army despite the nation's limited financial resources. North Korea’s armed forces counts 1.19 million service members and another 7.7 million reservists.
The nation of 25 million people is also home to 3,500 battle tanks, 72 submarines, 302 helicopters, 563 combat aircraft and 21,100 artillery pieces, making up one of the most powerful militaries in the world.

Monday, April 24, 2017

F-35 will take ANOTHER $1.7 billion in cost overruns - Watchdog

The Government Accountability Office released a report on Monday warning the Department of Defense against funding further software updates for the already $400 billion F-35 program until the current software becomes operational. The F-35 is already operational with the Air Force and Marine Corps, but it runs a limited version of its software, called the 3i block, which only provides 89% of the code required for full warfighting potency.

Lockheed Martin hoped to have the updated software loaded into the factory and ready to go on new jets by the end of 2017, but the GAO pegs that number at around 12 months. And while F-35 program officials admit the delay will cost an additional $532 million, GAO cites $1.7 billion in cost overruns with "approximately $1.3 billion of which will be needed in fiscal year 2018."

F-35 Gen III Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS)
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Sunday, April 23, 2017

China tries to drive away planes with top Filipino officials

Chinese forces tried to drive away two Philippine planes carrying Manila's defense and military chiefs Friday near a Chinese man-made island.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the aircraft continued uninterrupted after Filipino pilots messaged back to the Chinese that they were flying over Philippine territory. The Chinese warned the Philippine aircraft they were entering the periphery of Chinese installations and told to avoid miscalculation.

The Philippine-claimed Thitu Island. Philippine Defense Secretray Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Ano and other officials flew to the island to assert the country's claim to the heartland of the disputed area where China is believed to have added missiles on man-made islands.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Russian parachute bomb destroys Syrian village

A video appearing to show a fresh attack on Syria with Russian parachute bombs has emerged online. Footage captures the moment a bomb lands on the Syrian city of Al-Lataminah as a mushroom cloud of smoke bursts skywards. A man recording the footage is heard praying for the souls of those near of the blast.

Russia have launched more than 70 airstrikes since their anti-Islamic State campaign began in September 2015. Jets bombed the villages of Al-Lataminah as well as Kafr Zita and Morek. Military bosses discovered that mines which detonated at roof level could inflict more damage on buildings than bombs which went off on impact

Friday, April 21, 2017

US approves nearly $300 million weapons deal to Kurdish Peshmerga

The US State Department has approved a sale of military equipment to the Peshmerga to an estimated cost of $295.6 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement that the weapons deal will be enough to fully outfit two Peshmerga light infantry brigades and two support artillery battalions.

Although the sale has not been finalized yet, some of the equipment the Peshmerga has requested including machine guns, armored vehicles, body armor, small arms, chemical weapon detection and protection equipment, medical equipment, MRAPs, and ambulances.
The sale would assist in the defeat of ISIS and would not “alter the basic military balance in the region.” The Kurdistan President, Barzani, said that the region will push for independence.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Mobile High Energy Laser - MEHEL

The US military is testing a laser weapon designed to take out the aerial drone menace, and small enough to be mounted on a Stryker armored vehicle. The Mobile High Energy Laser (MEHEL) fires a 5-kilowatt beam that can either scramble the drone’s circuits and sever its communications with ground control – a “soft kill” – or destroy it outright in a “hard kill” Vehicles equipped with the MEHEL took part in the 10-day Maneuver Fires Integration Experiment exercises at Fort Sill, Oklahoma last week. 50 drones were shot down, some just a few seconds after being engaged
The MEHEL is mounted on top of the 16-ton Stryker wheeled infantry vehicle, outside the commander’s hatch, where it replaces a machine gun mount. It is powered by externally mounted batteries, which can be recharged by the vehicle. Technology that would allow the laser to use the vehicle’s power source directly is still in development.
Drones are detected by radar, and a camera included in the system displays the target on the screen, enabling the operator to aim the laser. The artillery then goes after the ground control.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Fisheries at the Heart of South China Sea Dispute

Although the South China Sea covers only 2.5 percent of the Earth’s surface, it is home to some of the world’s richest reef systems and over 3,000 fish species, comprising about 12 percent of the total global fish catch.

Since 2008 virtually all fisheries are in serious decline. Roughly 25% have collapsed entirely, 25% are seriously over-exploited and the rest is fully-exploited. The situation is getting much worse.

Catches now consist of smaller species whose populations have increased as natural predators have been over-fished — a phenomenon known as “fishing down the food web.”
The fishing industry is critical to China’s economy. Fishing revenues make up about 3 percent of China’s GDP and generate up to $279 billion (1.732 trillion RMB) annually. China employs between 7 and 9 million fishermen (over 14 million industry-wide) who operate over 450,000 fishing vessels, half of which are ocean going. This is the largest fleet on Earth.

Fish is increasingly important to the Chinese diet. China’s fish consumption grew annually at 6 percent between 1990 and 2010. China consumes 34 percent of the global fish food supply, over five times the amount of North America. Further, China’s fish consumption will increase 30 percent to over 41 kilograms per capita by 2030.
China perceives its access to disputed fisheries as declining and foreign fishermen are “killing the chicken to harvest its eggs”. Chinese fishermen widely complain of foreign harassment.

Fishing is equally important to other countries. The Philippines employ some 1.5 million fishermen and the industry accounts for 2.7 percent of national GDP. Fish comprises some 35.3 percent of all animal proteins consumed in Vietnam and in the Philippines and Indonesia that number is even higher—42.6 percent and 57.3 percent.

As one Filipino senator put it, retaining access to fisheries in the face of Chinese advances is not a matter of economics, but of “starvation.”

Saturday, April 15, 2017

North Korea parades military might

North Korea displayed new long-range missiles that could one day threaten continental America at a vast military parade, showcasing the isolated nation’s defiance as a US aircraft carrier group headed to the region.

Pyongyang warned it was prepared to take the “toughest” action unless the US ended its “military hysteria”, with speculation growing that the regime is preparing to conduct a sixth nuclear test.
On a sunny morning in the North Korean capital, military vehicles and tens of thousands of soldiers filled Kim Il-sung Square to celebrate the birth of Kim Il-sung, the country’s founding father, as a band played rousing military music, the instruments falling silent for oaths of loyalty to leader Kim Jong-un.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

U.S. strikes at Islamic State tunnels with "mother of all bombs" - GBU-43B

U.S. forces in Afghanistan struck an Islamic State tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan with "the mother of all bombs," the largest non-nuclear weapon ever used in combat by the U.S. military. The bomb, known officially as a GBU-43B, or massive ordnance air blast weapon, unleashes 11 tons of explosives.

MOAB costs around $16 million per unit. So far the U.S. military has spent $314 million on the production of the explosive. The bomb weighs 20,000 pounds and is equipped with GPS tracking systems.

The Achin district is 100 percent Pashtun tribal. During the Soviet/Afghan war of the 1980s, it was a stronghold of the U.S. backed Mujaheddin. There is a population of around 95,000. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said in 2000 that the area was the greatest opium growing district in eastern Afghanistan.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

North Korea next for Pre-emptive Strike?

Is Pyongyang going to be next? That's the question many experts have been asking themselves in the wake of last week's cruise missile attacks on Syria. If the U.S. does decide to launch a pre-emptive strike, North Korea is likely to launch retaliation, possibly involving an invasion of the South.

The North Korean military has substantially more manpower than the south though the north's equipment is outdated while the South Korean military boasts state of the art weapons.
With Seoul a mere 35 miles from the border, North Korea's considerable number of artillery pieces could prove devastating

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

US Military Deployment at Syrian-Jordanian Border

The US military is reportedly concentrating troops and military equipment at the Syrian-Jordanian border. Local sources said that about 20 US Army armoured vehicles including battle tanks and artillery pieces were carried on trucks in Al-Mafraq.
US troops were allegedly accompanied with the Jordanian Army’s 3rd Division.
US Special Operation Forces, the UK Special Operation Forces and units from other countries have been conducting operations across the Syrian-Jordanian border for a long time. However, this is the first time US armoured vehicles are reported there. The US ship Liberty Passion, loaded with vehicles, arrived at the Jordanian port of Al-Aqapa a few days ago.

 These moves followed a meeting between the Jordanian King and the US president.

Abu Jaber, the leader of the newly formed Hay'at Tahrir al Sham (HTS)
The US-led coalition could prepare a large-scale military operation in southern Syria. The goal of the operation will likely be to get control over the Syrian-Iraqi border and to reach Deir Ezzor. Sources suggest that the Iranian-Syrian-Russian alliance could launch a fresh military operation in order to reach Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib’s southern countryside. Intense clashes are ongoing in the Hama countryside where the joint militant forces led by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) oppose the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies.

Monday, April 10, 2017

S-500: Russia's Super Weapon

The Russian military expects to receive the first examples of the new Almaz Antey S-500 air and missile defense systems. The new weapon—which will form the upper tier of Russia’s layered integrated air defense system—is expected to be able to engage targets at altitudes of about 125 miles—or 660,000 feet. That means that S-500 will be able to engage targets such as incoming ballistic missiles in space at ranges as great as 400 miles.
The S-500 is expected to able to detect and simultaneously attack up to ten ballistic missile warheads flying at speeds of 23,000 feet per second. It is also designed to use hit-to-kill interceptors, a design like Lockheed Martin's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.
The S-500 is so capable that many U.S. defense officials worry that even stealth warplanes like the F-22, F-35 and the B-2 might have problems overcoming them.