JASSM-ER makes combat debut in Syria | F-35 to get anti-ballistic missile capability, says MDA head | DC wants South Korea to pay more for assetsApr 17, 2018 05:00 UTC
- Breaking Defense reports that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter could be capable of detecting and tracking ballistic missiles by 2025. The projection was made by Head of the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA), Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, when speaking to the Senate appropriations subcommittee on defense on April 11. He added that the stealth fighter could take down a ballistic missile by having a new “fast missile that’s hung on the bottom of” the fighter. “I’d say six to seven years to essentially work out the Concept of Operations (and) develop the capabilities — (whether) it’s sensor-based or a new fast missile that’s hung on the bottom of an F-35 for the BMDS (Ballistic Missile Defense) mission — integrate those capabilities, test them, and deliver them into a theater of operations,” Greaves said. While the military has tested out this concept in the past—in 2014, an F-35 infrared sensor installed on a surrogate aircraft successfully tracked a launch and transmitted tracking data over the military’s standard Link-16 network, while in in 2016, an actual Marine Corps F-35B detected and tracked a missile, then passed the data over the Navy’s NIFC-CA network to the Aegis missile defense system, which shot the threat down—this is the first time a senior official has given a timeline on incorporating a F-35 into missile defense.
- Researchers from Canada’s University of Waterloo are developing a quantum radar they claim will detect stealthy aircraft and missiles. The university’s Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) have been given $2.7 million (USD$2.1 million) in funding from the Department of National Defense to develop the radar, which promises to help radar operators cut through heavy background noise and isolate objects—including stealth aircraft and missiles—with unparalleled accuracy. The new technology will also help radar operators cut through electromagnetic noise caused by geomagnetic storms and solar flares. Stealth aircraft rely on special paint and body design to absorb and deflect radio waves—making them invisible to traditional radar. They also use electronic jamming to swamp detectors with artificial noise. With quantum radar, in theory, these planes will not only be exposed, but also unaware they have been detected.
Middle East & Africa
- The USAF has fired Lockheed Martin’s AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER) missile in combat for the first time. 19 such missiles were launched from two B-1B Lancer bombers during last weekend’s sortie against Syrian chemical weapon research and storage facilities, and were joined by 57 Tomahawk missiles launched from US naval assets, as well as Storm Shadow and SCALP missiles from British and French warplanes. While Russian sources in Syria claim that Russian and Syrian air defenses managed to down 71 or the total 105 cruise missiles launched during the Friday night operation—claims Washington refutes—a report on the mission by the Aviationist reckon the newer missiles—in particular the JASSM-ER, SCALP and Storm Shadow—would have been highly effective against their targets. Despite the geo-political posturing, the $1.3 million per unit JASSM-ER has now officially debuted with potential buyers of the missile, like Japan, getting a preview of its capabilities.
- Morocco’s air force is to withdraw its F-16 fighter aircraft from the Saudi-led coalition currently engaged in Yemen in order to bolster security capabilities at home. News of the pullout came at the weekend amid reports of rising tensions between the Moroccan military and militants from the Polisario Front—a separatist group backed by Algeria that aims to rid the Western Sahara region of Moroccan interference. Morocco controls the vast majority of the Western Sahara territory, with a security wall and buffer zone keeping the Polisario Front and the Sahrawi people they represent confined to its arid interior. According to sources from the air force, the move was not a pullout from the Saudi coalition itself, but rather a move to strengthen the Moroccan military capabilities, and said military action will be taken if the Polisario separatists set up any permanent structure or facility in the Sahara territory east of the Moroccan-built security wall. Polisario officials meanwhile announced their intentions to set up a capital in Bir Lahlou which would alter the buffer zone. In 2009, Morocco purchased 18 single-seat F-16Cs and six two-seat F-16D in $841.9 million deal and comes equipped with AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles.
- Two workers were injured in northern France after an inert bomb fell off from a Mirage 2000D. The incident happened at the Faurecia automobile parts factory in Nogent-sur-Vernisson on April 10, with a witness saying the noise from the impact was louder than the noise of the jets flying overhead. The bomb—used as a stand-in for the real thing in training exercises—was made of metal and plastic, and contained no explosives. Air Force (l’Armée de l’Air) spokesperson Olivier Celo apologised to those injured, and said: “We cannot explain the reasons for this drop [at the moment]; it is a very rare thing to happen.” The aircraft in question was one of two Mirages that had been on a routine flight from an airbase near Nantes.
- Discussions coming out of South Korea’s Jeju Island island last week suggest that the US is trying to get South Korea to pay more for rotationally-deployed military assets sent to the peninsula. At present, the arrangement sees Seoul cover the cost of stationing American troops in the country, however, now Washington wants them take over the tab when a US carrier strike group or flight of bombers are stationed in the country. While the exact figure of how much the US pays for these deployments is unknown, local experts predict that the cost of sending a strategic bomber to South Korea comes in at $5.6 million. But the talks did not include who would pay for THAAD, the Terminal High Altitude Area air defense system that was deployed to South Korea last year to much local protest. Both countries agreed that the US would cover the cost of THAAD’s deployment while the South would provide the land and infrastructure, but South Korea’s National Defense Minister Song Young-moo said last February that Seoul was “preparing a strategy” in case Washington tries to turn the table around and ask the country to cover deployment costs as well.
- India’s indigenous LCA Tejas fighter has participated in its first major combat exercise—Gagan Shakti. The exercise is taking place between April 10 to 23 and will see the Indian Air Force will mobilise more than 1100 combat, transport and rotary wing (helicopter) aircraft in order to practice the real time scenario, to be conducted day and night, of Combat with the enemy encompassing along Pakistan border in the Western areas and along China border in the Northern areas. During the event, the Tejas is expected to take part in both offensive and defensive roles from a forwarding base and will be tested on its air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities.
- Doc on the Tomahawk: