SPECIAL UPDATE: Malaysian Airlines needs to lift the hoodoo on its Boeing 777s. Flight MH17 disappeared from radar while flying at 10,000 meters over the contested Donestsk region of the Ukraine, during a flight to Amsterdam. All 295 people are dead. The Ukrainian General Staff is claiming that it was shot down by an SA-11/17 Buk medium-range anti-aircraft missile given to (or captured by) Russian separatist forces, and says they will present evidence. The separatists say that they only have VSHORAD/ MANPAD shoulder-fired missiles, which can’t reach that high.
Fighting in Ukraine has escalated since the battle of Slaviansk. 11 Ukrainian troops were killed on Tuesday, amidst accusations of materiel and fighters moving across the Russian border, and a video claiming that rockets where fired from Russia into Ukraine.
An SU-25 jet from the Ukrainian air force was reportedly damaged by a MANPAD, and in a separate incident, the Ukrainian government accused Russia of having launched a missile from one of its military aircraft against a Ukrainian SU-25. Russia’s defense ministry rejects the allegation as “absurd.”
The Pentagon says Russia has at least 10,000 troops at the border, and the White House announced more sanctions against Russian banks and energy firms.
Russian Helicopters say they have completed delivery of 52 Mi-171E ordered by China just 2 years ago. The initial announcement mentioned an order for 55 units, but this is still a really tight delivery schedule.
Tanks often decide battles, unless aircraft are around. Iraq had a lot of unfriendly visits by the USAF from 1991-2003, which left the largest armored force in the region looking to rebuild their armored corps from zero. Early donations and salvage fielded a small set of Soviet-era weapons, but after tangling with the Americans one too many times, the Iraqis knew what they really wanted. They wanted what their opponents had.
On July 31/08, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced Iraq’s formal request to buy M1 Abrams tanks, well as the associated vehicles, equipment and services required to keep them in the field. The tanks will apparently be new-build, not transferred from American stocks. With this purchase, Iraq became the 4th M1 Abrams operator in the region, joining Egypt (M1A1s), Kuwait (M1A2), and Saudi Arabia (M1A2-SEP variant). A similar December 2008 request was confirmed to be additive, and deliveries have now finished on the initial order. So, what’s next?
The US House Armed Services Committee is holding a hearing (with live video) today on the belated FY15 war funding request, $53B of which are allocated to Afghanistan.
Islamic State insurgents reportedlyrepelled official Iraqi forces who tried to take back Tikrit.
The idea that the US will have withdrawn most of its troops from Afghanistan by 2016 doesn’t look so good in light of both the current situation in the country and how Iraq turned out post US withdrawal. During a recent event organized by the Brookings Institution, outgoing USMC Commandant General Amos said about Iraq that:
“I have a hard time believing that had we been there, and worked with the government, and worked with parliament, and worked with the minister of defense, the minister of interior, I don’t think we’d be in the same shape we’re in today.”
Canadian firm Viking Air of Sidney, BC achieved a double-breakthrough with its recent sale to Vietnam. Its modern DHC-6 Twin Otter Series 400 variant of the legendary global bush plane will become the Vietnamese military’s first western aircraft, and the Vietnamese Navy’s first fixed-wing aircraft.
While Vietnam has attracted a lot of attention for its recent submarine and fighter deals with Russia, its long coast and large Exclusive Economic Zone interests made its current lack of fixed-wing maritime patrol aircraft a major handicap. The new Twin Otters will be used for transport, resupply, maritime surveillance, and search and rescue throughout Vietnam’s coastal regions. Their short takeoff and fresh water landing capabilities could even make them useful in parts of Vietnam’s interior.
The Iron Dome defense system is again proving quite effective, leading Hamas to try other tactics, including launching strikes deeper into Israel, trying commando infiltration by sea, and launching bomb-loaded drones. Hamas reportedly fired more than 1,000 rockets at Israel without inflicting any casualty while close to 200 Palestinians died and more than 1,200 were wounded in the past week. This leaves them with little leverage and fewer options. yet as of Tuesday morning Hamas rejected an Egypt cease-fire proposal that Israel had approved.
However using a million-dollar PATRIOT missile to shoot down a relatively small drone looks like an expensive solution.
The Islamic State in Iraq may have successfully expanded its mode of operations from usual terror tactics to something that looks closer to a regular military, but despite its efforts Hamas is finding it harder to do so effectively against a well-trained and disciplined adversary.
Militias have fired rockets on Libya’s main airport in Tripoli, damaging the control tower and several aircraft. The central government is considering asking for international help as it has clearly been unable to fulfill its core security responsibilities.
A new report from the CSIS think tank on the state of Afghanistan points out that:
“US and ISAF reporting that minimize the Taliban and other insurgent threat and levels of activity is directly contradicted by a sharp increase in civil casualties on a national and regional level. Violence is sharply intensifying and Afghan forces have so far proved unable to cope.”
Alliant Tech Systems’ GPS-guided Precision Guidance Kit hopes to do for artillery shells what Boeing’s JDAM tail kit has done for conventional bombs – or what ATK’s APMI kit has done for 120mm mortars.
The Western way of war has largely pushed conventional artillery off of the battlefield. A 200 – 300 meter CEP (Circular Error Probable, where 50% of rounds hit within that radius) just isn’t viable when you need to reduce the risks of friendly casualties and collateral damage. Attempts to improve that performance began in the 1980s, but ran into 2 big roadblocks: cost, and reliability…
A barrage of over 100 Palestinian rockets was aimed at Israeli cities on Saturday, and IDF told North Gaza residents to evacuate ahead of launching a significant attack.
Jordan’s King is unhappy about that prospect, and US State Secretary John Kerry is echoing those concerns, but Israel doesn’t care in a post-ISIS world. People haven’t paid enough attention to PM Netanyahu’s recent speech. American officials certainly have not, and there seems to be a bit of divergence between them and Congress. Even some Israelis are less than enthused about the prospect of a ground operation.
US officials told the NYT that according to a classified report many Iraqi military units are infiltrated with informants for Sunni extremists or Iran-backed Shiites.
The US Navy’s JHSV ships won’t be the only ones of their kind. Oman, which already operates a pair of 65m Austal fast catamarans as civil ferries, has decided to add a pair of slightly larger ships for military use.
The USA’s JHSVs are 103m in length, but Oman has picked an “HSSV” based on Austal’s smaller 72m TSV design. Cargo payload drops far faster than length, from 600t fully loaded for the JHSV to just 320t for the HSSV, which also carries 69 crew with 69 fixed berths and can seat 250.
In 1999, South Africa became the Saab JAS-39 Gripen‘s 1st export customer, ordering 26 fighters. The country is generally considered to be one of Africa’s stronger economies, and a regional security partner. On the defense front, their arms firms have managed to survive, albeit with some adjustment pains and restructuring. They can still produce weapons that are relevant on the world stage.
Unless current trends change, however, outside views of the country’s regional security role may need a rethink.
December 2005 saw confirmation that Saudi Arabia had ordered Eurofighter Typhoons, but the 72-plane deal started sinking into the tar sands shortly thereafter. Investigations from Britain’s Serious Fraud Office swirled around a GBP 43 billion oil-for-planes deal from the 1980s called Al-Yamamah (see Appendix A); in return, the Saudis played some hardball of their own. The investigation was eventually called off at the highest levels of government, and later confirmed by the House of Lords. After a period of uncertainty, a contract was finally signed on Sept 11/07. Ironies aside, the price was a bit lower than many expected; even so, it comes with support arrangements that are likely to push the final value quite a bit higher.
This DID Spotlight article covers the Saudi Eurofighter deal, its associated controversies, and related developments.