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Monday, June 29, 2020

What's going on in the World Today 200629



U.S. Hypersonic Defense Plan Emerges, But Not Cash

A U.S. hypersonic defense system has evolved from wide-open concept studies two years ago into a densely layered architecture populated by requirements for a new generation of space-based sensors and ground-based interceptors.

Over the next two years, the first elements of the Defense Department’s newly defined hypersonic defense architecture could advance into operational reality if all the pieces can overcome various challenges, including the Pentagon’s so far ambiguous commitment to
long-term funding.

The Space Development Agency (SDA), with assistance from the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), next year will start launching satellites into orbit with new forms of tracking technology optimized to perform the challenging task of remotely targeting hypersonic missiles as they maneuver in the atmosphere hundreds of miles below...

DIA Analyst Frese Gets 30 months in Federal Prison for Sharing Classified Information ...

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on June 18 that former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst, Henry Kyle Frese, would be spending the next 30 months in a federal prison having previously pleaded guilty to providing two journalists, Amanda Macias of CNBC and Courtney Kube of NBC with classified materials...

Russian Info Ops Putting U.S. Police in Their Crosshairs

Russia appears to be intensifying its focus on police enforcement issues in the United States, using popular reactions to protests that have gripped the nation as part of a larger propaganda campaign to divide Americans ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November. For weeks Russia has used state-controlled RT and Sputnik, and social media posts, to spread. Misinformation about the protests. Only now, it seems that Russia, through the English-language RT in particular, is reaching out to U.S. police officers and union officials, in what some U.S. officials and lawmakers say is an effort to further inflame tensions.... Only now, it seems that Russia, through the English-language RT in particular, is reaching out to U.S. police officers and union officials, in what some U.S. officials and lawmakers say is an effort to further inflame tensions. “It is critical that Americans remain wary of state-sponsored and state-directed media platforms such as RT and Sputnik,” Senate Intelligence Committee Acting Chairman Republican Marco Rubio told VOA...

FBI arrests Texas man for racist video threat to kill 'at least 200' Black Lives Matter protesters

The FBI arrested a Texas man who allegedly threatened to kill Black Lives Matter protesters in a racist video posted online. FBI agents arrested Manuel Flores, a 42-year-old truck driver from El Paso, on Monday in the Dallas area on a federal charge of making a threat over the internet, the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office said Wednesday night. Flores allegedly recorded and uploaded a video to YouTube in which he made threats to Black Lives Matter protesters, the
U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas said citing a federal criminal complaint.

Rice University student group demands 'Black House,' better ID photos, statue removal [TX]

A student group at Rice University in Houston, Texas, is "demanding" the administration fund a "non-residential Black House" on campus, as well as remove a prominent statue of the university's founder -- and top student officials are deleting some comments disagreeing with those positions, Fox News has learned this week. The extraordinary demand, and apparent censorship, came amid rising left-wing sentiment on campuses across the nation after the in- custody death of George Floyd. In recent weeks, a UCLA lecturer was suspended for pointedly refusing to cancel his exam for black students; a Cornell Law School faculty member was threatened with termination for criticizing Black Lives Matter, before the school dean intervened on his behalf; and a top University of Chicago economist was demoted for questioning the wisdom of defunding all police...




Three U.S. aircraft carriers operating on doorstep of South China Sea

Jun. 21–For the first time since 2017, the U.S. Navy has positioned three of its aircraft carriers on the doorstep of the disputed South China Sea, as tensions between Washington and Beijing continue to soar.

Analysts said the dispatch to the Western Pacific of the three vessels was likely intended to send a message to China that, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the United States military would continue to maintain a strong presence in the region.
On Sunday, the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet said the USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Nimitz carrier strike groups had begun dual carrier flight operations in the Philippine Sea.

The two strike groups were scheduled to conduct air defense drills, sea surveillance, replenishments at sea, defensive air combat training, long-range strike drills, coordinated maneuvers and other exercises, according to a statement.
“This is a great opportunity for us to train together in a complex scenario,” said Rear Adm. Doug Verissimo, commander of Carrier Strike Group 9. “By working together in this environment, we’re improving our tactical skills and readiness in the face of an increasingly pressurized region and COVID-19...”

Japan confirms it’s scrapping US missile defense system

Japan confirms it’s scrapping US missile defense system

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s National Security Council has endorsed plans to cancel the deployment of two costly land-based U.S. missile defense systems aimed at bolstering the country’s capability against threats from North Korea, the country’s defense minister said Thursday.

Start a Homeland Security degree at American Military University.

Defense Minister Taro Kono said the country will now revise its missile defense program and scale up its entire defense posture.

The council made its decision Wednesday, and now the government will need to enter negotiations with the U.S. about what to do with payments and the purchase contract already made for the Aegis Ashore systems.

Kono announced the plan to scrap the systems earlier this month after it was found that the safety of one of the two planned host communities could not be ensured without a hardware redesign that would be too time consuming and costly...


U.S.-Polish Fort Trump project crumbles

WARSAW/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fort Trump appears to have fallen. Poland’s grand proposal in 2018 to name a military base in honor of Donald Trump, in return for the U.S. president placing a permanent presence there, has crumbled amid disputes over how to fund the deployment and where to garrison the soldiers, sources say...

...A year on, government officials in Washington and Warsaw say they still cannot agree where the troops should be stationed, and how much of the multi-billion-dollar deployment Warsaw should fund.

Poland wants to put them close to its eastern border with Russia’s ally Belarus, but on past form this is certain to antagonize Russia, and Washington would prefer to deploy them further west, the officials said.

Warsaw initially talked of contributing $2 billion, already a challenge now that the coronavirus has dented its economy, but the United States wants it to pay more, the officials added.

Then there is the legal status of U.S. troops permanently stationed in Poland for the first time; currently, around 4,500 troops are regularly rotated through...

How Europe Fell Out of Love With China
EU officials speak increasingly of Beijing as a rival, not a partner. But unlike Trump, they don’t yet want a divorce.

After years of courting closer economic ties with China, the European Union is ratcheting up its rhetoric against Beijing’s heavy-handed approach to the economy and human rights, with many officials describing what they once saw hopefully as a partnership as more of a rivalry.

Relations between Europe and China got frostier this week, after a long-delayed leaders’ summit ended with no joint communique and prompted tough talk from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. For years, much as the United States did in the past, Europe has sought to nudge China to make reforms in how it trades and does business but has nothing to show for it. Now, European officials openly talk of China as a rival that needs to start making changes—or face increasing restrictions from Beijing’s biggest trading partner.

“We are committed to making swift and substantial progress,” said von der Leyen after the summit, ticking off a litany of unfulfilled Chinese promises on trade, investment, industrial subsidies, climate change, and human rights. “We count on the Chinese leadership to match our level of ambition...”


U.S. navy ship navigates near Venezuelan coast after Iranian cargo ship arrives

CARACAS (Reuters) - A U.S. Navy ship navigated near the Venezuelan coast on Tuesday in what the U.S. military’s Southern Command called a “freedom of navigation operation,” a day after a cargo ship from U.S. foe Iran docked at a port of the South American country.

In a post on its website, the Southern Command said the USS Nitze, a missile destroyer, sailed in an area outside Venezuela’s territorial waters - which extend some 12 nautical miles from its coasts - but within an area the Venezuelan government “falsely claims to have control over...”

Tearful Mexican Cartel Chief Threatens Government After Mother's Detention

One of the most wanted Mexican cartel leaders threatened the government and his arch-foes in highly unusual video messages, including one where he can be seen fighting back tears after his mother was detained over the weekend. Jose "El Marro" Yepez, leader of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel, that has been a thorn in the side of the President Andres Lopez Obrador's government due to his gang's industrial-scale siphoning of petroleum from state-run oil company Pemex. In one of the videos widely shared on social media, Yepez can be seen lashing out against the government after his mother was allegedly arrested in a major security operation in the city of Celeya in Mexico's bloodiest state, Guanajuato...


US has hit agreed troop-cut target of 8,600 in Afghanistan

The United States has reduced its troop presence in Afghanistan to 8,600, fulfilling its obligation as part of a February deal with the Taliban, the general who oversees American forces in that region said on Thursday. Marine General Frank McKenzie gave no indication of when, or at what pace, US forces would be further reduced. He noted that the February deal requires the US to fully withdraw its forces by next May, but he called that an "aspirational" commitment that would depend on certain actions by the Taliban...


China further integrates coast guard into military

China has introduced a law that will further integrate its coast guard into the military. The amended law on the People's Armed Police Force went into effect on Sunday.... The coast guard became part of the armed police force two years ago. The law says the coast guard will conduct joint drills with the military. In an emergency, the coast guard will be put under the command of the Central Military Commission .... Chinese coast guard vessels have repeatedly intruded into Japan's territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands...

China completes satellite navigation system

China says it has successfully launched the final satellite of its global-navigation system. The BeiDou Navigation Satellite System was developed to counter GPS of the United States. State-run China Central Television has reported the rocket carrying the satellite blasted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province on Tuesday morning. The launch marks the completion of the 55-satellite system six months earlier than planned. Its operators plan eventually to integrate the system with 5G telecommunication technology, expanding its services.

China denies millions of lives at risk as catastrophic flooding threatens Three Gorges Dam

NOTE: The Three Gorges Dam in Hubei, China. Credit: TPG/Getty Images

As many as 400 million lives may be at risk as torrential rain in China threatens the world’s largest dam.

The Chinese government has moved to defend the structural integrity of the massive Three Gorges Dam, as a hydrology expert took to international media over the weekend to warn it could collapse at any moment.

The warning came as more details emerged over the drowning of eight children swept to their deaths in the swollen Fu River, upstream of the dam, on Sunday...


Iran: U.N. Adopts Resolution to Increase Scrutiny Over Nuclear Sites

What Happened: The United Nations' nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), adopted a resolution that calls on Iran to allow it access to two nuclear sites within the country, Reuters reported June 19. The resolution was submitted by the so-called E3 bloc consisting of France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Why It Matters: The IAEA resolution highlights Iran’s strained relationship with its European allies. Despite U.S. sanctions pressure, Iran has made steady progress in developing its civil nuclear program in recent years. Over time, Iran’s continued provocative nuclear actions risks pushing its European allies toward supporting the United States’ maximum pressure campaign.

Background: On June 18, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif insisted that Iran had allowed "more inspections [to its nuclear sites] over the past five years than in [the history of the IAEA]." China and Russia both opposed the new U.N. resolution against Iran, with the Russian ambassador to the IAEA calling it "counterproductive."

Iran says it successfully tests new naval cruise missile

Iran said on Thursday its navy had successfully fired a new locally made cruise missile during war games in the northern Indian Ocean and near the entrance to the Gulf. The test-firing comes as the United States is seeking an extension of a U.N.-imposed arms embargo against Iran, which is due to expire in October under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Washington withdrew from that pact...


Rumblings of an Islamic State Resurgence in Iraq


- The Islamic State has increased the scope and scale of its operations in Iraq due to its internal cohesion and strength, as well as a lack of significant pressure from the forces opposing it.

- The militant group will continue to build off of the momentum it has already gained and increase its operations in Iraq, and potentially elsewhere in the region, over the next several months.

- The developments will undermine Iraqi stability and energize grassroots militants to carry out attacks around the world, even though the Islamic State remains far from reestablishing its caliphate...

Rockets hit Baghdad's Green Zone for the fifth time in ten days

Rockets hit Baghdad's Green Zone, home to the US embassy, on Thursday, the fifth such attack in 10 days, security sources inside the high-security district told AFP.... There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage. Like previous attacks, there was no claim of responsibility. ... It was the second rocket attack near the US embassy since June 8 while other attacks have targeted Baghdad airport, where US troops are stationed, and a base north of the capital.

Iranian proxy in Iraq targets US bases

In a recently published video, the Iranian-backed front League of the Revolutionaries (LoR) claimed responsibility for recent attacks including the crash of an American C-130 military cargo plane and several rocket attacks against American-led coalition bases in Iraq. The LoR publication begins by claiming the group was responsible for a June 8 Camp Taji crash of an American C-130 which led to the injury of 4 aboard including a Wyoming Air National Guard member. A night time recording of the incident shows two rockets being launched towards the Camp Taji runway....US officials as downplaying any link to hostile activity, but added that they were “investigating” the incident.

Iraqi forces arrest men suspected of attacks targeting US

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi security forces arrested over a dozen men suspected of a spate of rocket attacks against the U.S. presence in Iraq, the Iraqi military said Friday — the strongest action to date by the new government in Baghdad against perpetrators suspected of ties to Iran.

The arrests marked a bold move by the government to crack down on groups that have long been a source of tension for U.S.-Iraq relations. Two senior Iraqi officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said the 14 men who were arrested had ties to an Iran-backed militia group.

A series of rockets have struck close to U.S. installations inside the Green Zone and an Iraqi army base near to the airport in the Iraqi capital since Baghdad embarked on strategic talks with Washington on June 11.

The U.S. has blamed Iran-backed militia group Kataib Hezbollah for orchestrating attacks against its embassy and American troops inside Iraqi bases, and criticized the Iraqi government for not identifying and arresting the culprits...


Israel's Annexation Plans Will Leave It in Need of New Allies

Israel's impending annexations in the West Bank will not spark immediate international backlash, but growing pro-Palestine sentiment in the United States and Europe will ultimately leave it politically and economically isolated in the long term. This will lead Israel to seek increased partnerships with countries whose citizens and politicians are less invested in the prospect of a Palestinian state, such as Russia and China, though doing so will come at the risk of further stoking U.S. ire.

Israel will most likely annex some major settlements in the West Bank on July 1, which the United States will acquiesce.

Israel's emergency unity government, which was formed in April in light of the COVID-19 crisis, hinges on a pledge made by the country's major political factions to begin the annexation process outlined in the White House's Middle East peace plan. The plan, which was unveiled in January, envisions a final settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Territories in which large parts of the current West Bank remain under permanent Israeli control, including the strategic Jordan River Valley. And since then, the United States and Israel have been cooperating on a mapping project to implement that vision.

The United States has signaled some displeasure with the annexation strategy's pace and scope, but not with annexation itself. This has manifested in mild U.S. pressure to adjust how much West Bank territory Israel will seize starting July 1, though Washington has yet to threaten any significant diplomatic, economic or military action.

Europe, for its part, will voice its diplomatic opposition to annexation, but the bloc's consensus-based policy-making process will make sanctions and other major penalties difficult to pass.

The European Union and the United Kingdom are both diplomatically opposed to annexation but have not signaled interest in a major isolation or punitive sanctions campaign.

But while the veto power held by pro-Israel EU states such as Czechia and Hungary will limit the European Union's ability to impose significant bloc-wide sanctions against Israel, Brussels may move to suspend its research and trade agreements with Israel that don't require consensus votes, as well as block future deals...

The Palestinians Move to Cut Security Ties With Israel: A Bluff or Something Bigger?

To protest Israel's aggressive annexation push, the Palestinian Authority is beginning to act on longstanding threats to cease coordination with Israeli authorities in the West Bank. On May 19, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared an end to decades of security and intelligence cooperation with Israel and its main ally, the United States. The timing puts pressure on the Israeli government just before it's slated to begin annexing portions of the West Bank in July, and will raise the risk of violence and unrest in the area.

If this rupture deepens and endures, it will undo the coordination between Israeli and Palestinian Authority police and intelligence forces that has helped guarantee some stability in the West Bank since the signing of the 1993 Oslo accords.

- Hamas, the Islamist militant group that governs the Gaza Strip, will welcome the break in Israeli-Palestinian ties, which has impeded its ability to gain a strong foothold in the West Bank.

- Hamas has long advocated for the Palestinian Authority to take a harsher stance against Israel, and could use the break in relations to encourage grassroots attacks against Israeli settlements both within Gaza and in the West Bank.

- In 2017, the Israeli military said Palestinian security forces were crucial in thwarting up to 40 percent of militant attacks in the area.
Thanks to the construction of a border wall and tighter security surveillance, most Israeli territory is better protected now than it was during the Second Intifada in 2000, but settlements in the West Bank remain vulnerable to attacks if violence escalates.


North Korea suspends military action plans against South Korea

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea has decided to suspend military action plans against South Korea, the official KCNA news agency reported on Wednesday, as a report suggested North Korean troops were taking down loudspeakers recently reinstalled at the fortified border.

Political tensions between the rival Koreas had been rising over Pyongyang’s objections to plans by defector-led groups in the South to send propaganda leaflets into the North. Stalled negotiations regarding economic sanctions imposed because of the North’s nuclear weapons programme had also fuelled tensions...


U.S. seeks to widen nuclear arms deal with Russia

VIENNA (Reuters) - The United States wants to broaden its main nuclear arms control agreement with Russia to include all their atomic weapons, a U.S. envoy said on Tuesday after talks with Moscow on a new accord.

U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea also said Washington would keep pressing China to join the talks on replacing the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) which expires in February.

The two sides, who were rivals in the Cold War, agreed to set up technical working groups and to hold further talks, possibly in late July or early August, he said, but gave no details of the working groups.

Washington wants Beijing involved because it says China is secretly racing to increase the size and reach of its nuclear arsenal, but Moscow favours a multilateral accord, possibly including France and Britain, Billingslea said.

“We, the United States, intend and believe ... that the next arms control agreement must cover all nuclear weapons, not just so-called strategic nuclear weapons,” he told a news conference in Vienna that followed the talks there on Monday.

New START caps the countries’ deployed strategic nuclear weapons warheads at 1,550 each, far fewer than the thousands of atomic weapons they possess...

US, Russia to Start Nuclear Talks in Austria

Delegations from the United States and Russia are meeting in Vienna Monday and Tuesday to discuss their nuclear arsenals after more than a year’s pause. The delegations did not make any statements to reporters, when they arrived at the Niederoesterreich Palace in Vienna at 8:30 am local time. President Donald Trump has abandoned several U.S. treaties with Russia, including ones on overflights and on intermediate-range nuclear forces. Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Ambassador Marshall Billingslea is leading the U.S. delegation for the talks with their Russian counterparts led by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov. They are to discuss mutually agreed topics related to the future of arms control, the State Department said in a statement last week...


New U.S. Sanctions Will Keep Syria Firmly in Russia and Iran's Corner

New U.S. sanctions against the Syrian government will likely leave Damascus dependent on Russian and Iranian support, while deterring aid from potential future partners such as China and the United Arab Emirates. On June 17, the United States sanctioned 39 individuals associated with the Syrian government, including President Bashar al Assad and his wife. Washington also indicated that more sanctions were to come in order to force the Syrian government back into U.N.-led peace negotiations.

With stronger U.S. sanctions now in effect, countries that have previously shown interest in providing Syria aid are unlikely to see many opportunities in the war-torn country's reconstruction...

Israeli PM announces 'cooperation' with UAE to fight coronavirus
Netanyahu says two countries will soon collaborate in different areas to improve region's health security.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced Israel will join forces with the United Arab Emirates in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, despite the lack of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

"This collaboration will be in the areas of research and development and technology, in areas that will improve health security throughout the region," Netanyahu said in a statement on Thursday.

Netanyahu said a formal announcement on working together with the UAE on confronting coronavirus was imminent and would be made by the UAE and Israeli health ministers...


North Korean Malicious Cyber Activity

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Department of Defense (DoD) have identified three malware variants—COPPERHEDGE, TAINTEDSCRIBE, and PEBBLEDASH—used by the North Korean government. In addition, U.S. Cyber Command has released the three malware samples to the malware aggregation tool and repository, VirusTotal. The U.S. Government refers to malicious cyber activity by the North Korean government as HIDDEN COBRA. CISA encourages users and administrators to review the Malware Analysis Reports for each malware variant listed above, U.S. Cyber Command’s VirusTotal page, and CISA’s North Korean Malicious Cyber Activity page for more information...

Russian Criminal Group Finds New Target: Americans Working at Home
A hacking group calling itself Evil Corp., indicted in December, has shown up in corporate networks with sophisticated ransomware. American officials worry election infrastructure could be next.

A Russian ransomware group whose leaders were indicted by the Justice Department in December is retaliating against the U.S. government, many of America’s largest companies and a major news organization, identifying employees working from home during the pandemic and attempting to get inside their networks with malware intended to cripple their operations.

Sophisticated new attacks by the hacking group — which the Treasury Department claims has at times worked for Russian intelligence — were identified in recent days by Symantec Corporation, a division of Broadcom, one of the many firms that monitors corporate and government networks.

In an urgent warning issued Thursday night, the company reported that Russian hackers had exploited the sudden change in American work habits to inject code into corporate networks with a speed and breadth not previously witnessed...


BlueLeaks: Data from 200 US police departments & fusion centers published online

An activist group has published on Friday 296 GB of data they claim have been stolen from US law enforcement agencies and fusion centers. The files, dubbed BlueLeaks, have been published by Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoSecrets), a group that describes itself as a "transparency collective." The data has been made available online on a searchable portal. According to the BlueLeaks portal, the leaked data contains more than one million files, such as scanned documents, videos, emails, audio files, and more. DDoSecrets claims the leaked files contain more than ten years-worth of files belonging to more than 200 police departments and law enforcement fusion centers from across the US. According to DDoSecrets, most of the files are police and FBI reports, security bulletins, law enforcement guides, and more. Some of the files also supposedly contain sensitive and personal information, such as names, bank account numbers, and phone numbers...

W.Va. woman charged with mishandling classified information

A West Virginia woman who had already been accused of kidnapping her daughter faces a new charge of retaining top-secret information from the National Security Agency in a storage unit she leased, court papers show.... The document contains only sparse information about the allegations, but says that between 1999 and August 2019, Shirley had unauthorized possession of documents “relating to the national defense" and “failed to deliver them to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive them." Prosecutors say Shirley kept without authorization in a storage unit she leased a document relating to “the national defense that outlines intelligence information regarding a foreign government’s military and political issues." The charging document does not specify the information but says it was classified at the top secret level from the National Security Agency...


US Army soldier charged in plot to ambush his unit overseas

The new top federal prosecutor in Manhattan has announced her first case since the weekend’s upheaval: the arrest of a U.S. Army soldier charged with plotting a deadly ambush of his unit in Turkey by extremists. ... Melzer, 22, of Louisville, Kentucky, “... plotted to let members of an extremist group descend on his unit by providing details about its location an security arrangements. She identified the group he tried to work with as the Order of the Nine Angles, also known as O9A, described in the release as an occult-based neo-Nazi and racially motivated violent extremist group. “Melzer was motivated by racism and hatred as he attempted to carry out this ultimate act of betrayal,” Strauss said...


The U.S. Looks to Mine the Moon on Its Own Terms

The Big Picture

With the United States and China gearing up to send astronauts back to the moon and beyond, the competition of space resources between Washington and its rivals will heat up, as will the race to define the international rules, standards, laws and regulations governing the final frontier.

The White House's attempt to lead the development of space resources with like-minded countries through an international pact will struggle, and ultimately fail, to gain global acceptance.

- According to leaks cited in a recent Reuters report, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump will begin formal negotiations with key allies over a U.S.-drafted legal blueprint for mining on the moon in the coming weeks.

- The Trump administration said the pact, called the Artemis Accords, will provide a framework of rules and regulations for companies selling resources produced in space.

- The agreement will also reportedly aim to set up "safety zones" around operations to prevent damage and interference from other companies' and countries' operations that could be seen as a claim to sovereignty.
The United States plans to start negotiations with its closest allies and partners with space exploration capabilities, including France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada and the United Arab Emirates...

Russian and U.S. delegations meet June 22 in Vienna to initiate talks on a potential New START extension. The United States has long held off on negotiations over the nuclear arms control treaty, but recent leaks from the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump and the move toward talks suggest that Washington may be considering extending the treaty before it expires in February 2021. Such an extension might only be for a shorter period of time than the five-year extension option the treaty itself provides, but the United States has been reluctant to sign off on this without China's unlikely inclusion in the treaty.

Canada Mimics Marine Corps Makeover For F/A-18C/D Fleet
As Canada’s CF-18 fleet enters an unexpected fourth decade of service, the details of a nearly $1 billion upgrade package are settled.

With operators in Europe, the Middle East and Asia looking on, an upgrade package approved by the State Department on June 16 for up to 36 Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) F/A-18C/Ds cements a new configuration aimed at keeping the Boeing-made jets in service decades beyond their planned retirement dates.

A group of Raytheon-made sensors and weapons—APG-79(v)4 active, electronically scanned array radars, AIM-9X Block II air-to-air missiles and AGM-154C Joint Standoff Weapons—will be included in the RCAF’s newly defined Phase 2 upgrade to help keep a subset of the 94-member CF-18 fleet operating into the 2030s. The State Department previously cleared Canada to acquire 32 AIM-120D advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles for the CF-18.

- New radars, weapons for CF-18s

- Future Fighter contract bids due July 31...

Why Are GPS Signals So Vulnerable To Disruption From The Ground?

Ask the Editors: The Aviation Week Network invites our readers to submit questions to our editors and analysts. We’ll answer them, and if we can’t we’ll reach out to our wide network of experts for advice.

Why are GPS signals so vulnerable to disruption from the ground? And if GPS is so vulnerable, why haven’t actions been taken to remedy these vulnerabilities?

Jen DiMascio, Aviation Week’s Executive Editor, Defense and Space, responds:

It’s a perplexing question. The Pentagon has long known about the potential threat to GPS signals and is working to make the situation better for the military. Protecting the GPS signal for civilian users though is not as certain.

GPS signals are vulnerable to disruption because signals from satellites are weak by the time they reach receivers on the ground, Michael Griffin, the Pentagon’s undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, recently told the Senate Armed Services Committee. They are easily drowned out by stronger signals from ground-based networks. Therefore, the government has assigned GPS an exclusive portion of the radio spectrum.

Government rules have protected GPS by surrounding that portion of the spectrum with something of a buffer for decades. “But the radio spectrum is valuable property, worth many billions of dollars when portions of it are placed for auction by [the Federal Communications Commission],” Griffin said in his testimony. “Thus, unfortunately, some have proposed dismantling the rules that protect GPS in order to allow earthbound operators to use frequency bands previously reserved for space communications in general, and those adjacent to GPS in particular...”

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