Next Battle For USS Harry S Truman Will Be Over Carrier's Retirement
A Look At What Flies On U.S. Navy Carriers
The Pentagon is attempting a budget gimmick in this year’s cycle by proposing to retire an aircraft carrier more than two decades earlier than planned because doing so would save the nation billions.
The strategy has already met stiff resistance from lawmakers, who will most likely dismantle the Pentagon’s plan to retire the multibillion-dollar ship ahead of schedule. The Navy is mandated to have 11 operational aircraft carriers in its inventory, and the move would drop the fleet number to 10.
The Navy would have preferred to keep the aircraft carrier in the fleet but sacrificed it to pay for other Pentagon priorities that support the National Defense Strategy such as upgrading to the more modern Ford-class carriers instead of paying for maintenance of the legacy aircraft carrier class. Other priorities include submarines, unmanned naval systems, hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence and cyberwarfare.
Retiring an aircraft carrier early may increase U.S. Navy aviation readiness statistics
Congress must determine USS Truman’s fate this year
The nuclear-powered USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), launched in the mid-1990s, is scheduled for a midlife refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia in 2024-28. The RCOH, which refuels the carrier’s two nuclear reactors, would ensure an additional 25 years of service life...
Next U.S. Air Force Tanker Likely Autonomous
The U.S. Air Force’s next tanker aircraft will probably be autonomous, the service’s top acquisition official says.
“We can see it in the tea leaves,” said Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics.
The Air Mobility Command was scheduled by the end of last year to complete a capabilities-based assessment for KC-Z, the aircraft that the Air Force wants to follow the Boeing KC-46A into production after 2027.
The assessment marks the first step in the Pentagon’s process for launching a new acquisition program. It should be followed by a roughly yearlong analysis of alternatives, which generates the data used to set requirements ahead of a solicitation.
But Roper already seems convinced that KC-Z will not use a human operator on board the tanker aircraft to guide the Air Force’s required refueling boom into a receiver...
Will Congress Let Trump Build More Nuclear Weapons?
The administration and Capitol Hill are on a collision course over the future of U.S. nukes.
President Donald Trump’s plan to expand America’s nuclear arsenal is encountering sharp opposition in the Democratic House of Representatives, with critics saying the administration is creating unnecessary risks to world peace—particularly by adding new tactical nuclear weapons that can be used in a conventional war.
The debate is potentially set to come to a head in June, when the House will begin marking up the annual defense policy bill.
The clash comes at a pivotal moment for global arms control. The Trump administration is seriously considering dismantling at least one treaty with Russia that has set arms control policy for the past 30 years. Meanwhile, China, which is largely unbound by Cold War-era arms control agreements, is swiftly building up its military arsenal, including both nuclear and conventional missiles. And in the background, North Korea and Iran are both developing their own nuclear arsenals.
The question Congress and the administration must resolve is one that has been at the core of arms control debates for decades and has no easy answer: If potential adversaries begin to challenge U.S. dominance in nuclear weapons, is the world safer with an unmatched U.S. deterrent, or without it?
Former President Barack Obama initiated the current plan to modernize America’s aging arsenal of nuclear weapons: the Air Force’s bombers, nuclear cruise missiles, and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, as well as the Navy’s nuclear-armed submarines. In 2017, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the Obama administration’s plan to replace and maintain the arsenal over the next 30 years would cost $1.2 trillion, including $400 billion for modernization alone. Congress largely supported Obama’s plan...
DSS Helps Secure Boston Marathon, Preps Peruvians for Pan American Games
The Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) is collaborating with its counterparts from Peru as they help secure runners and onlookers at Monday’s Boston Marathon. DSS will welcome members of the Peruvian National Police, giving them a chance to observe and support security at the marathon in preparation for Peru’s hosting of the Pan American Games in Lima from July 26 to August 11.
DSS is the federal law enforcement and security sector of the U.S. Department of State – primarily focused on securing the safety of U.S. personnel, property and other resources overseas. Additionally, DSS secures the Secretary of State and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations at all times and the security of all foreign dignitaries attending the annual U.N. General Assembly in New York City. Another major task of DSS is securing American interests in overseas sporting events as well as liaising with other agencies to help secure large sporting events at home, so the Peruvian officials can take home some valuable tips as they get ready to host their games...
Libyan war escalates amid lack of U.S strategy for secret missions in Africa
The advance of a rogue militia on Tripoli, the capital city of Libya, has forced the hasty evacuation of U.S. troops from that country, highlighting the lack of a cohesive strategy for ongoing U.S. military operations in Africa and a seeming White House ambivalence about the continent, according to former officials.
For several years, from a handful of outposts in Libya, U.S. special operators have been conducting counterterrorism missions with names like Obsidian Lotus and Odyssey Resolve. These are just two of dozens of named operations that, largely unknown to the American public, have been launched from a string of bases across the northern half of Africa, according to information obtained by Yahoo News via the Freedom of Information Act.
Despite the large number of military operations in the region, some former officials say neither the Obama administration nor the current White House has taken much interest in coming up with a coherent policy for U.S. military operations on the continent. “During my time at the White House with the Trump administration there wasn’t a great deal of concern about doing much in northern Africa,” said a former official who recently served on the National Security Council. “There was not a lot of interest or focus on Africa during the time I was there...”
China’s Debt Diplomacy
How Belt and Road threatens countries’ ability to achieve self-reliance.
This week, leaders from around the world are descending on Beijing for China’s second Belt and Road Forum, a conference to showcase China’s signature diplomatic initiative. But these leaders should be clear-eyed that China’s efforts to use its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to broaden its geopolitical and economic clout risk saddling developing countries with unsustainable debt while increasing their dependency on China.
The fact that poorer countries struggle with debt is nothing new, but after years of successful efforts to reduce their debt burden—including through the largest debt forgiveness program in history, started under U.S. President Bill Clinton and advanced by the George W. Bush Administration and the international community—they are once again going into the red. Unlike before, developing countries’ strategic assets, such as their resources, mineral deposits, port access rights, and the like, are now targeted by creditors as collateral in many of these predatory deals...
Pompeo says China prolonging Venezuela crisis
The U.S. secretary of state begins a four-country tour of Latin America with a stop in Chile.
SANTIAGO, Chile — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that China’s financing of President Nicolás Maduro’s government is prolonging the crisis in Venezuela.
Pompeo kicked off a four-country tour of Latin America in Chile, where he met with President Sebastián Piñera to discuss the U.S.-China trade war and the Venezuelan crisis. Hyperinflation, shortages of food and medicine and other hardships have forced more than 3 million Venezuelans — about one-tenth of the population — to flee the country in the last few years.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is greeted as he arrives in Asuncion, Paraguay, on Saturday. Associated Press/Jorge Saenz
“China’s bankrolling of the Maduro regime helped precipitate and prolong the crisis in that country,” Pompeo said, adding that China invested over $60 billion, “with no strings attached.”
“It’s no surprise that Maduro used the money to use for tasks like paying off cronies, crushing pro-democracy activists, and funding ineffective social programs,” he said...
Intrigue in the Sea of Azov. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is rumored to have urged German Chancellor Angela Merkel to send warships to the Kerch Strait in a show of support to Ukraine during a Feb. 16 meeting. Germany refused Pence's proposal and France also declined to take part, both countries deeming such a move an unnecessary provocation of Russia. This is revealing if true and would confirm the dynamic interplay of Western powers when it comes to Ukraine. The U.S. has traditionally been bolder in its support of Kiev against Russia — both in terms of rhetoric and concrete security assistance. Germany and France, however, hold a more moderate line on the Ukraine issue. If Kiev is able to get the kind of direct military support from Western or NATO powers that it seeks to build up its military and naval capabilities, there could be an escalation of tensions in the Black Sea region.
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
Chinese Wave Rider Launched In Reusable Rocket
BEIJING and LOS ANGELES—The first test flight of a privately developed Chinese reusable space launcher hurled an experimental hypersonic waverider vehicle to a speed faster than 4,300 kph (2,800 mph) on April 23, the company behind the rocket program said.
Xiamen University and the company, Space Transportation, undertook the development of the launcher and waverider combination, a test vehicle called Jiageng 1. Since Jiageng 1 was based on the winged Tianxing I-1 launcher, the company said this was also the first flight of its rocket, which is intended for a horizontal landing recovery.
The hypersonic test payload was a dual waverider design incorporating the Xiamen University-developed XTER (Xiamen Turbine Ejector-Ramjet Combined Cycle) propulsion system, a compact tandem over-under hybrid turbine-based combined cycle (TBCC) engine. Like other hypersonic waverider designs, the vehicle is designed to gain a high-speed lift-to-drag ratio benefit from the compression lift generated by its own shock wave...
China, U.S.: Washington Raises the Stakes in the South China Sea
Clashes between the United States and China in the contested waters of the Asia-Pacific region have ramped up in recent months, abetted by the two countries' ongoing great power competition. This is particularly apparent in the South China Sea, where Beijing continues to push for dominance. In response, Washington has begun evolving its strategies to deter China's growing presence — increasing the likelihood for direct confrontation in the region.
According to an April 28 report, Chief of U.S. Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson warned that the United States would treat China's coast guard and maritime militia the same as it does the country's navy. Richardson allegedly told the Financial Times that he made these remarks to his Chinese counterpart, Shen Jinlong, in January — adding that the U.S. Navy will respond to "provocative acts" by Chinese maritime militias in its continued effort to "conduct routine and lawful operations" around the world...
Maximum Pressure on Iran Won’t Work
Trump’s new Iran sanctions will hurt the United States in the long term.
This week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo moved to end sanctions waivers on Iranian oil—a major step to increase financial pressure on Tehran. The new policy, once it goes into force on May 2, aims to force China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey to stop buying crude from Iran, depriving the country of its primary source of cash.
In the near term, the pressure tactic will mostly work, successfully siphoning off a significant share of Iran’s oil exports. The big buyers in the handful of countries still doing oil business with Iran will plead for leniency, or kick and scream, and then grudgingly wind down. They are unlikely to get to zero, for lack of affordable and available alternatives, possible permission from the United States to slow-walk their retreat, and good old-fashioned recalcitrance. But they will likely steer away from committing reputational and financial suicide by flagrantly breaching U.S. sanctions.
President Donald Trump will surely shout victory. He is right that the United States can, for now, weaponize the global financial system. Washington can use sanctions to bring businesses around the world to their knees, making them the unwilling executors of U.S. national security policy.
Tehran is seething and threatening retaliation. It is probably closer to leaving the 2015 nuclear deal than it has ever been. European countries and other supporters of the agreement are irate. Their limited willingness to cooperate with the United States on security issues is shrinking.
These are all desired outcomes for the Trump administration, regardless of the collateral damage to the working poor around the globe, who will bear the brunt of spiking energy prices.
Ultimately, by tightening the economic vice, the Trump administration aims to isolate Iran and create enough pressure to instigate regime change.Ultimately, by tightening the economic vice, the Trump administration aims to isolate Iran and create enough pressure to instigate regime change. The White House wants to exact commitments from Iran to end its support for terrorism, missile proliferation, and human rights abuses—along with other destabilizing regional activities—and curtail the country’s nuclear ambitions. The administration also wants Iran to embrace transparency, liberal politics, and peace....
Iraq: Baghdad Looks to Germany's Siemens to Help It Improve Its Electricity Supply
The Big Picture
Unreliable electricity supplies have hampered Iraq's reconstruction efforts since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. An agreement signed April 30 with Siemens to boost its power generation capabilities will help Iraq slowly diversify its electricity sources away from Iran and reduce protests driven by chronic brownouts and blackouts.
Iraq has approved a deal with Germany-based Siemens to upgrade its dilapidated power sector and build electricity projects. The deal, which could be worth at least $14 billion, was announced April 30 while Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi was in Germany for a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Iraqi-Siemens "road map" to restore and boost Iraq's electricity supply "includes the addition of new and highly-efficient power generation capacity, rehabilitation and upgrade of existing plants and the expansion of transmission and distribution networks," Siemens said in a statement...
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
How Significant is the Dismantlement of Yongbyon?
In Hanoi, President Trump rejected a proposal by Kim Jong Un to dismantle nuclear facilities at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center in exchange for lifting most of the economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council since March 2016. For his part, Chairman Kim rejected Trump’s ambitious proposal to dismantle all of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs in exchange for lifting all US sanctions. In the aftermath of Hanoi, US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun and his North Korean counterpart Ambassador Kim Hyok Chol may resume negotiations to find a compromise between “too little and too big.” Such negotiations are likely to include further proposals to constrain or cease North Korean production of fissile material (plutonium and enriched uranium) in exchange for reciprocal actions by the US, including an “end-of-war declaration” ending the Korean War, establishment of liaison offices, and partial sanctions relief...
The North-South Dialogue: RIP or Can It Be Resuscitated?
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has been the driving force behind North-South normalization and reconciliation, inter-Korean cooperation, and peace and security building on the Korean Peninsula. Significant progress has been made on this track over the past year, but the process is on life support and badly needs an industrial-scale shot of adrenaline. Unfortunately, the Trump administration and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have left Moon with no room to maneuver. The US is not vested in the success of Moon’s inter-Korean enterprise—in fact, its uncompromising approach to denuclearization and sanctions relief has effectively kneecapped Moon. The South Korean president will not risk a major rupture in relations with the US to push his North-South agenda, while Kim Jong Un has likely lost trust in Moon as a negotiating partner because of his failure to deliver on economic cooperation and a peace declaration. Simply put, Moon is now at the mercy of Trump and Kim—and the more he is perceived by either of them as straining to do something, the less they will be impressed. The only option he has at this point is to play the long game.
Bilateral relations between the North and South have undergone a rapid and positive transformation. The dark and stormy days of 2017, when dialogue was scarce to nonexistent, have been replaced by a de facto normalization of relations where it is now plausible to envision a permanent end to over 70 years of mutual hostility. It is no longer frowned upon for South Korean officials to meet their North Korean colleagues, a complete change in tone from previous years that provides the leaders of both countries with the time and political space, at least until recently, to discuss problems in a respectful and constructive way.
This April 27 will mark the first anniversary of the historic inter-Korean summit in Panmunjom, where Moon and Kim clasped hands and ceremonially crossed the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in a symbolic demonstration to the world of a fresh start. The North-South track hasn’t been all symbolism and historic photo ops, however. The three Kim-Moon summits have produced concrete agreements on everything from military de-escalation measures and cross-border economic projects to discussions about joint work on ecology and tourism. The April 2018 Panmunjom declaration, which committed both countries to “more active cooperation, exchanges, visits and contacts,” jumpstarted more regular interactions at the working level. Pyongyang and Seoul reaffirmed their commitment to reconciliation during their third summit in the North Korean capital five months later. The liaison office established in the border town of Kaesong, one of the summit’s main deliverables, has been operational for months; according to South Korean officials, the office hosted 285 meetings in its first three months.
In perhaps the most iconic scene since the first Kim-Moon summit last April, North and South Korean soldiers, who are normally trained to wage war against one another, were instead seen greeting each other as they worked to verify the removal of 22 guard posts on both sides of the DMZ. Taken together, all of these measures have contributed to a period of quiet and stability on the Korean Peninsula, an objective that serves the interests of the US, North Korea, South Korea and the wider East Asian region...
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
MIDDLE EAST GENERAL
Why Business as Usual May Soon Change in Saudi Arabia
More than three-quarters of Saudis live in the kingdom's big cities, like the capital, Riyadh, where jobs and other opportunities are rich.(SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Following the broader, global trend of urban migration, differences in economic opportunity in Saudi Arabia, both between its outlying provinces and its urban core and within the cities themselves, are growing wider.
Although the kingdom is responding to the dissatisfaction that these opportunity gaps are creating, its current actions will not be enough to offset the strain. This will open the door for more pushback by Saudi citizens on development projects.
To alleviate popular concerns, the kingdom will look at changing the current elite-controlled development model, which could fundamentally alter its investment strategies and the way it develops and conducts business.
Saudi Arabia's economic transformation has made big promises to its people. But for many Saudis, the dream of a middle-class lifestyle is becoming increasingly elusive. As their disappointments add up, the social contract between the Saudi rulers and citizens becomes more frayed. A growing popular dissatisfaction is driving Saudi policymakers to look for ways to increase opportunities for their people. But the process of doing so risks politicizing the kingdom's development strategies and fundamentally changing the way Saudi Arabia does business...
Washington Tries a Softer Approach in Anti-Huawei Campaign
The Trump administration claims progress in signing up European allies in the fight against Beijing.
Having failed to pressure its allies to ban Huawei outright from next-generation telecommunications networks, Washington appears to be trying a softer approach in its campaign to prevent the Chinese electronics firm from dominating the market for 5G equipment.
The strategy, on display in a Wednesday conference call conducted by the U.S. diplomat leading Washington’s anti-Huawei campaign, Robert Strayer, featured something the allies in question, including Germany and France, are not accustomed to getting from the Trump administration: praise.
“At this point we’re looking for governments to adopt security standards like we’re seeing in Germany,” Strayer told the mostly European reporters on the call.
Germany has emerged as a central battleground in Washington’s campaign to curtail Huawei’s spread. But Washington’s threat to scale back U.S. intelligence sharing with Berlin if Huawei is allowed to build German networks has so far been met with indifference.
Strayer was referring to telecommunications regulations German officials announced last month that committed Berlin to working only with “trustworthy suppliers” but failed to ban Huawei outright. U.S. officials had viewed the regulations as a snub, but Strayer appeared to be more conciliatory, referring to “risk mitigation” and fears regarding “rule of law...”
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
What the Easter Attacks in Sri Lanka Tell Us About the Islamic State
By Scott Stewart
VP of Tactical Analysis, Stratfor
While a jihadist attack on Easter was unsurprising, the site of the attack, Sri Lanka, was.
The bombings show the Islamic State movement continues to pose a threat through its franchise groups and grassroots terrorists, but are not a useful gauge of its core organization.
The jihadist threat in Sri Lanka will no longer be ignored, and future would-be attackers will face a far less permissive environment.
The attacks against three churches and four hotels in Sri Lanka on April 21, Easter Sunday, rocked the island nation, reverberating around the globe. While the attack location — Sri Lanka — was a surprise, a holiday attack of some kind had been anticipated. In fact, Stratfor's Threat Lens team had warned clients of the elevated threat of attacks against houses of worship over Passover and Easter.
The high death toll in the Sri Lanka bombings generated much media attention, and some reports presented the attacks either as unprecedented, or as a gauge of the Islamic State's status. But neither of those assertions were accurate...
DARPA Wants To Assemble, Demo Nuclear Rocket in Orbit
DARPA plans to demonstrate a nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) system that can be assembled on orbit to expand U.S. operating presence in cislunar space, according to the Pentagon advanced research agency’s fiscal 2020 budget request.
The agency is seeking $10 million in 2020 to begin a new program, Reactor On A Rocket (ROAR), to develop a high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) propulsion system. “The program will initially develop the use of additive manufacturing approaches to print NTP fuel elements,” DARPA’s budget document says.
“In addition, the program will investigate on-orbit assembly techniques (AM) to safely assemble the individual core element subassemblies into a full demonstration system configuration, and will perform a technology demonstration,” the document says.
In a nuclear thermal rocket, propellant such as liquid hydrogen is heated to high temperature in a nuclear reactor then expanded through a rocket nozzle to produce thrust. Propulsive efficiency, or specific impulse, can be twice that of a chemical rocket.
Single-Use Cargo UAV Demoed For DARPA, USMC
A disposable unmanned cargo glider designed to enable aircraft to resupply fast-moving ground forces over greater distances has entered a new phase of flight testing under contracts from DARPA and the U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory.
U.S. startup Logistics Gliders says it has completed 12 prototype flight tests, six for each customer, with testing still ongoing under follow-on contracts with both. Of the prototypes flown so far, six have been deployed as sling loads under a helicopter and six have been dropped from a cargo aircraft.
Compared with the standard air-dropped parachute Container Delivery System (CDS) used to resupply ground forces, the glider would allow aircraft to deliver cargo from greater standoff range. This would increase protection from air defenses and reduce the flying time required to reach the release point.
CDS is most cost-effective when large numbers of containers can be air-dropped at a single point of need. If several locations need to be resupplied, then it will be less expensive to release multiple gliders from one point to then fly independently to the different sites, says Marti Sarigul-Klijn, principal investigator for Dixon, California-based Logistics Gliders.
The LG-2K glider developed under the DARPA-funded Revolutionary Airlift Innovation project is 12.7 ft. long with a 23.2-ft. wingspan. Payload capacity is 1,800 lb. and cargo volume about 42 ft³. Empty weight of the prototype is 400 lb. An optional landing parachute adds 45 lb. and reduces cargo volume to 36 ft³...
SpaceX's Controversial Starlink Satellite Plan Wins FCC Approval'
SpaceX's controversial plan to fly part of its initial 4,425-satellite Starlink broadband constellation at half the altitude approved in its original license has been approved by the FCC. The plan has drawn wide criticism from satellite operators concerned about interference and other issues.
The FCC ruling, issued April 26, will allow SpaceX to proceed with launch of an undisclosed number of Starlink satellites as early as next month.
Its amended license application requested permission to access U.S. markets with as many as 1,584 satellites orbiting 342 mi. (550 km) above Earth—half the altitude approved in its original license to fly 4,425 satellites in 83 orbital planes at five altitudes in the 690-823-mi. range.
SpaceX also asked to use Ku-band frequencies for up to 75 of those lower-flying satellites to communicate with ground-based gateways. Its original license, granted in March 2018, was to use Ka-band spectrum for gateway communications and Ku for user links.
The modification, SpaceX noted in its Nov. 8 request to the FCC, reflects a “rigorous, integrated and iterative process that has unlocked a constellation design that will accelerate the deployment of its satellites and services while reducing the potential for orbital debris through operation of part of the constellation at a lower altitude...”
Police Work, Politics and World Affairs, Football and the ongoing search for great Scotch Whiskey!
Monday, May 6, 2019
What's going on in the World Today 190506
HYPERLINKS MAY REQUIRE AN EMAIL: