Posts tagged ‘Navy’
Hitting the Beach
The cloudy brown bursts above the water are simulated artillery fire from the beach defenders while the white smoke is being generated as a screen by the marines’ amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs). Ssang Yong, which stands for ‘Twin Dragons,” measures the amphibious capabilities of the South Korea-U.S. Navy-U.S. Marine Corps team.
For the exercise, both the ROK and U.S. AAVs were commanded by the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) III Marine Expeditionary Force.
Click on the photo above to see an enlarged and more detailed version of this image. To see more photos of this beach assault exercise, click here.
Your 4GWAR editor is over at National Harbor, Maryland outside Washington, D.C. this week at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition. We’re working for Seapower magazine this week, which has the daunting task of trying to cover every speech, panel discussion, corporate and service briefing for its daily show paper. You can see what we’ve been up to (unmanned aircraft today, missiles and rockets tomorrow) by clicking here or going to the Seapower website.
It’s a huge industry show with big name defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Atomics showing their offerings for the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
And then there are presentations by several government entities like Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), the Office of Naval Research, the Marine Corps Systems Command, Military Sealift Command, the Maritime Administration (MARAD) and the Coast Guard Acquisition Directorate.
The photos above and below – taken at the end of the day Monday – don’t do the show and the crowds justice. We understand attendance is up this year after all the fiscal uncertainty of last year’s congressional budget battles depressed attendance at many military trade shows.
One technology briefing by the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division looked especially interesting. The folks from the Navy unit based at China Lake, California were slated to talk about Spike, a miniature missile launcher they have developed. But, unfortunately, the briefing was called off.
We learned some interesting things, prepping for the briefing. To date, according to a China Lake press release, about 26 advanced development test missiles have been built and tested at NAWCWD. But Spike is something else again. It was an in-house project, completely developed and funded by NAWCWD.
Measuring 25 inches and weighing less than six pounds, the miniature precision guided missile has been tested sucessfully against small boat targets. The mini missile was originally intended to provide a lightweight shoulder-fired weapon for use against soft and lightly-armored targets at close range (less than two miles) but the anti-small boat testing has planners wondering if Spike could be used to protect warships against swarming small boat attack, according to IHS Jane’s Navy International.
The mini missile has piqued the interest of the Marine Corps, Naval Special Warfare, special operations forces and the intelligence community, according to Navy Times. The Army’s Research and Development Command (ARDEC) is interested in using Spike the weapon as a counter unmanned air vehicle attack platform, according to the Naval Air Systems Command.
One benefit of the small weaponry, it can take out a few bad guys or a lightly armored vehicle with a reduced risk of collateral damage. We’ll be keeping an eye on this technology and its apparently many potential uses.
The Navy League expo ends Wednesday (April 9).
UPDATES with new final item: court martial of Brig. Gen. Hull returns guilty verdict.
A Widening War
From the cane bottoms of Alabama to the Pacific Coast of South America, military and naval actions in March 1814 illustrate how the war between the United States and Great Britain has spread far beyond the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence River. U.S. Navy ships and privateers raid British commerce in the Caribbean Sea and around the British Isles. The Royal Navy sends more and more ships to tighten the blockade of most U.S. ports along the Atlantic Coast. In Mississippi Territory, Major General Andrew Jackson confronts the pro-British Red Stick faction of the Creek Indian Nation … and the American frigate USS Essex is raiding the English whaling fleet in the South Pacific.
Sharp Knife’s Revenge: Horseshoe Bend
March 27, 1814: With more than 3,000 troops, including regulars from the 39th U.S. Infantry Regiment and 700 Native American allies – mostly friendly Cherokees and about 100 Creeks – Andrew Jackson prepares to attack the Creek Indian stronghold, Tohopeka, at a bend in the Talapoosa River known to the whites as the Horseshoe.
Politically, the Red Sticks are more anti-American than pro-British, but the Brits, looking to offset their limited resources in the Americas while fighting Napoleon, give the Indians ammunition, supplies and encouragement. The 1813 massacre of American settlers and friendly Creeks at Fort Mims on the Mississippi-Spanish Florida border incensed Jackson and other Americans in the western states intent “on a single purpose: the destruction of the Creek Nation as a potential threat to the safety of the United States,” according to historian Robert V. Remini.
Of course, in hindsight, Jackson seems little troubled by the wholesale slaughter his troops committed .
The Horseshoe is a heavily wooded peninsula jutting out into the river above high bluffs. Across the neck of the Horseshoe peninsula, the Red Sticks have built a 350-yard-long barricade of horizontal logs five-to-eight feet high. Behind the wall are some 1,000 warriors and 300 women and children.
Jackson’s two small cannon open fire on the stout log wall at 10:30 a.m. With little effect. The 39th Infantry and Tennessee militiamen face the barricade but Creeks firing through slits in the logs keep them pinned down. On the opposite side of the river, surrounding the rest of the Indian stronghold, are Colonel John Coffee with 700 mounted riflemen and Jackson’s Indian allies. Those Indians cross the river in canoes and begin the climb the bluff, attacking the stronghold from the rear – distracting its defenders on the log barricade.
Taking advantage of the confusion, Jackson orders a charge. The regulars and militiamen breech the barricade and a killing orgy begins inside the Red Sticks’ encampment. When the fighting ends at sundown, an estimated 800 Red Sticks are dead. Jackson’s losses are 49 killed, 154 wounded – many mortally.
The military power of the Creeks has been crushed and Jackson will pressure their leaders to sign a treaty in August ceding 23 million acres of land. Much of it will form the state of Alabama in 1819. The Indians begin calling Jackson, “Sharp Knife” for his tough tactics on and off the battlefield.
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Valparaiso: USS Essex vs. HMS Phoebe
March 28, 2014: Trapped in Chile’s Valparaiso Harbor for the last six weeks by two Royal Navy ships, American Captain David Porter decides to make a run for it in the USS Essex before more British ships arrive on the scene.
Since rounding South America’s Cape Horn in early 1813 – the first U.S. warship to do so – the Essex has been playing havoc with the British whaling fleet in the Pacific Ocean. Between April and October 1813, Porter captured 12 of the 20 British whalers operating in the Eastern Pacific.
Essex sailed back across the Pacific to Valparaiso, a neutral port, arriving on February 3, 1814. According to author George C. Daughan in his book, 1812, The Navy’s War, Porter was “intent on falling in with an enemy frigate. He knew British hunters were after him, and he meant to accommodate them.”
On February 8, the 36-gun HMS Phoebe and the 28-gun HMS Cherub arrived on the scene. Porter tried to provoke the Phoebe’s captain, Capt. James Hillyar into a one-on-one duel but Hillyar declined to accommodate the American. The took up position at the harbor’s mouth, trapping the Essex.
Taking advantage of a change in the wind, Porter attempted to outrun the slower British ships on the 28th. But a sudden heavy squall carried away the Essex’s main topmast. Porter tried to slip back into the harbor unscathed but the Phoebe and Cherub headed straight for the Essex. A brutal sea-battle ensued. Essex carried 46 cannon, but only six were long range guns. But the Phoebe carried mostly long range canon that were able to pound the Essex out of the range of the American ship’s 40 heavy – but short range – guns. After failing to close with Phoebe to board her, Porter tried to run Essex aground and destroy her to keep the ship out of enemy hands. But the wind wouldn’t cooperate and Porter finally had to surrender.
The Essex suffered 58 killed, 39 severely wounded, 26 slightly wounded and 312 missing out of a crew of 255. On the Phoebe, five were killed and 10 wounded. Porter and his crew were paroled by Hillyar and allowed to return to the United States in one of the English whalers the Essex had captured.
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A General’s Disgrace
Looking for Answers
UPDATES with U.S. military’s participation in the search, adds photos, video link.
There are more questions than answers in the continuing mystery of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER which disappeared last Saturday (March 8).
While we at 4GWAR are not going to report every new development – there are many rumors and far too much speculation flying around the Internet – we will note significant updates as they occur.
It turns out that the two people on board Flight MH370 travelling with stolen passports were identified as Iranian men, but INTERPOL, the international police agency, says there is nothing to indicate either man was involved in a terrorist plot. Nevertheless, the revelation that these two were able to fly with stolen travel documents exposed a major gap in airline security and is expected to goad more nations into checking the INTERPOL database of stolen passports and travel documents before allowing passengers to board. Last year, INTERPOL, officials said, one billion travelers were able to board flights without having their passports checked against the database.
Military aircraft and naval vessels from at least eight nations — including the U.S.Navy (see below) — have joined the search in and around the South China Sea. So far, no debris or wreckage has been spotted. Confusing and contradictory information from Malaysian authorities about what they know has angered the families of missing passengers and frustrated the Chinese government among others.
Malaysian authorities say the missing plane and its 239 passengers and crew may have flown hundreds of miles west of its scheduled flight plan after it disappeared from local radar. And a Chinese government agency said one of its satellites may have spotted the missing plane’s wreckage.
The USS Pinckney and USS Kidd – both Arleigh Burke-class destroyers with the U.S. Seventh Fleet — are on station in the Gulf of Thailand conducting search-and-rescue operations, the Pentagon said Monday (May 10).
Two Navy MH-60R Seahawk helicopters are flying off the ships to aid the search, using forward-looking infrared pods to search at night. A P-3 Orion from Kadena Air Base, Japan, is also being employed in the search. The Orion brings long-range search, radar and communications capabilities to the efforts. It can loiter in the search area for about nine hours at a time.
Additionally, the USNS John Ericsson, an oiler, is providing logistical support. The American ships are working with ships from Malaysia, China and Singapore in the search effort.
To see more photos, click here.
To view a video report from The Pentagon Channel, click here.
Inside the Osprey
Cobra Gold, the largest and oldest military exercise in Southeast Asia, originally started as a training exercise to strengthen the relationship, mission readiness and interoperability between troops of the Kingdom of Thailand and the United States. This year, the 33rd iteration of Cobra Gold, the United States and Thailand welcomed participants from Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and, for the first time, the People’s Republic of China.
The exercise included an amphibious operations, helicopter assault, disaster site evacuation and training with live ammunition, according to the Pattaya Mail. The U.S. Marines seen here are with 2nd platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.
To see what the Osprey tilt rotor aircraft looks like from the outside and other photos of the exercise, click here.
Trying Something New
The U.S. Navy has a nearly silent TV commercial that notes 70 percent of the world is covered by water, 80 percent of the people in the world live near water and 90 percent of all trade around the world travels by water.
The ad concludes with a massive aircraft carrier cruising past. Get the message?
But the Navy and the Marine Corps have both acknowledged that a lot of those people living near water reside in cities on the coast or along rivers where big ships can’t go. In future conflicts that could pose an access problem.
The solution was supposed to be the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) – a vessel small and light enough to naviagte shallow coastal waters, but carrying enough armament to do the jobs of chasing submarines and clearing away mines in “premissive environments” where the opposition isn’t packing a lot firepower — think: pirate strongholds and failed states without an air force or long range missiles.
Since the $32 billion program began in 2002, the LCS development has encountered numreous problems including cost overruns and a complex competition that led to construction of two separate designs by Lockheed Martin and Austal (an Australian company). There have also been firepower, crew manning and vulnerability issues. Critics say it is too lightly armed and armored to survive battle in a contested area, like the waters off China or North Korea.
“LCS is not expected to be survivable in high-intensity combat,” according to a 2013 report by the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, because the LCS design requirements do not include “survivability features necessary to conduct sustained combat operations in a major conflict as expected for the Navy’s other surface combatants.”
Facing severe post-Afghanistan budget cuts, the Pentagon wants to stop acquisition of both versions of the ship – at 32 vessels instead of the planned 52.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Monday (February 24) that he was concerned the Navy was “relying too heavily on the LCS” to achieve its long-term goals for expanding the size of the fleet to 300 ships to meet demands for global presence.
“We need to closely examine whether the LCS has the independent protection and firepower to operate and survive against a more advanced military adversary and emerging new technologies, especially in the Asia Pacific,” Hagel said, noting that if the program is allowed to grow to 52 ships, the lightly armed LCS would represent one-sixth of the future 300-ship Navy.
“Given continued fiscal restraints, we must direct future shipbuilding resources toward platforms that can operate in every region and along the full spectrum of conflict,” Hagel concluded.
So he’s directed the Navy to submit alternative proposals for procuring “a capable and lethal small surface combatant, generally consistent with the capabilities of a frigate.”
Those proposals — to include a completely new design, existing ship designs and a modified LCS design — are due back to Hagel later this year in time for planning next year’s budget request.
Speaking at a defense industry conference in Washington today, Admiral James Winnefeld, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, defended the decision, calling it smart “to look at what else can we do” with the existing two LCS designs “or with a different concept to make sure we are covered in the future..”
However the new vessel turns out, Winnefeld told Bloomberg’s BGOV Defense Summit, he thinks there is great potential for it to perform additional jobs, including strike and special operations missions, as well as offering a potential platform for the Marines.
But the admiral indicated it was too soon to count the LCS out completely. “I think the LCS is going through it’s V-22 phase,” he said, harking back to the criticisms of the Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft during its development, especially after several fatal crashes.
From Africa to Afghanistan to East Asia, V-22s are now very popular with area commanders. “There’s a demand signal out there in the real world today – I wish I could tell you all about it – for V-22s. I wish we had more out there,” Winnefeld said.
Our friend and colleague, Aviation Week’s Mike Fabey, is the winner of the 2014 Timothy White Award, given by the American Business Media association to a journalist who demonstrates “bravery, integrity, passion and quality of product.” Fabey, Aviation Week’s Naval Editor, was cited for his work detailing design, fabrication and operational problems with the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship. To see more, click here.
Pentagon’s 2015 Budget: Dropping the First Shoe
Updates with Sen. Ayotte comments
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today (February 24) outlined the painful cuts to programs and reductions in the armed services imposed by Congressional budget cutters.
Under the Bi-Partisan Budget Act passed by Congress in December, defense spending is capped at roughly $496 billion for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015 – forcing the Pentagon to come up with more than $75 billion in cuts over the two-year period, Hagel said.
He noted those cuts come on top of “the $37 billion cut we took last year and the Budget Control Act’s 10-year reductions of $487 billion.” If sequestration-level cuts remain the law for Fiscal Year 2016 and beyond, more cuts will have to be made, Pentagon officials said.
Starting in Fiscal 2015 [October 1, 2014-September 30, 2015], the Army will see a large reduction in size over five years – down to pre-World War II numbers, 440,000 to 450,000 – and the Navy can expect to see the number of cruisers and Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) drop. The Air Force is dropping some of its tactical aircraft inventory, including its 40-year-old A-10 close air support jets and U-2 spy planes as cost savings measures.
But the Pentagon continues to see a need for increasing the size of Special Operations Forces. In the 2015 budget request to Congress, Defense Department leaders are choosing to reduce troop strength and force structure in all of the military services, “in order to sustain our readiness and technological superiority” and to “protect critical capabilities like Special Operations Forces and cyber sources,” Hagel said.
The 2015 budget seeks to increase the number of personnel serving in Special Operations Command by 3,700 to 69,700, Hagel said, to protect “capabilities uniquely suited to the most likely missions of the future” counter terrorism and crisis response. That’s more than double the 33,000 SOF complement in 2001.
To protect “higher priorities” like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, new aerial refueling tanker and long range strike bomber programs in this era of fiscal austerity, the Air Force plans to eliminate the entire A-10 Thunderbolt fleet. Called the “Warthog” for its stubby appearance, punishment-taking air frame and lethal armament, the 1970s era A-10 is best known for effective close air support in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Air Force can save $3.5 billion over five years by retiring the 300-plus A-10 fleet rather than upgrade it, said Hagel. The move would also speed up Air Force plans to replace the A-10s with the F-35 in the early 2020s.
Hagel said it was a tough decision to eliminate the beloved A-10. But he noted it was a “40-year-old single-purpose airplane originally designed to kill enemy tanks on a Cold War battlefield.” The A-10, which can fly low and slow to provide covering fire for ground troops “cannot survive or operate effectively where there are more advanced aircraft or air defenses,” Hagel said. And the Pentagon believes the advent of precision munitions means there are more types of aircraft to provide effective close air support – a point A-10 advocates and several members of Congress dispute.
Senator Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican and member of the Armed Services Committee, was quick to criticize the move.
“The Pentagon’s decision to recommend the early retirement of the A-10 before a viable replacement achieves full operational capabability is a serious mistake based on poor analyses and bad assumptions,” said Ayotte, who has been battling Pentagon efforts to ground the Warthogs. “Instead of cutting its best and least expensive close air support aircraft in an attempt to save money, the Air Force could achieve similar savings elsewhere in its budget without putting our troops at increased risk,” she added.
In addition to the A-10, the Air Force also plans to retire the 50-year-old U-2 high altitude spy plane in favor of the unmanned Global Hawk system. But the Air Force is also slowing the growth of its unmanned aircraft inventory. “While effective against insurgents and terrorists,” UAVs “cannot operate in the face of enemy aircraft and modern air defenses,” Hagel said.
The actual budget numbers for each service and program – the other shoe, if you will – will drop next week (March 4) when the White House releases the president’s full budget request. And then the “fun” will begin when Congress weighs in.
What Do Special Operators Want?
The big money defense budgets of the past decade have come to an end. And thanks to additional across-the-board cuts imposed by Congress, each of the armed services is being asked to find even more programs, platforms and procedures to cut.
So what do Special Operations Forces (SOF) – who depend in part on the other services’ capabilities – need to do their job in this austere funding environment?
Well the No. 3 commissioned officer at U.S. Special Operations Command cited some technology needs in a question-and-answer session at last week’s Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict Symposium sponsored by the National Defense Industry Association in Washington.
There’s always a need for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) technologies – especially for sensors that can see through foliage in places like Africa and South America, Air Force Lieutenant General Bradley Heithold, SOCOM’s vice commander, told industry representatives.
“Our focus is on high definition. That’s a game changer for us,” Heithold said, adding that “We’re in the business of man hunting – whether to kill someone or capture them – so the fidelity that we get from our sensors is very important.”
He said SOCOM was in the process of modifying its fixed wing and unmanned aircraft with updated signals intelligence capabilities. “I don’t think we have a gap there, but it’s a game you’ve got to be in all the time. You can’t fall behind,” Heithold said.
Major General Mark Clark, commander of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC), said the command was “absolutely” looking at a Joint High Speed Vessel, for a MARSOC maritime platform — as long as it could accommodate MV-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft or helicopters; operate in the littoral environment and include SOF equipment modules “so you can put them on or take them off.”
Modularity for SOCOM aircraft was also important, said Richard Holcomb, civilian deputy to the commanding general of Army Special Operations Command. Modular ISR, strike and air drop packages for Special Ops aviation assets “are clearly the way of our vision [going] forward,” he said. Army experts are also exploring how to arm the Osprey tiltrotor. Another area needing future study is non-lethal capabilities like directed energy, Heithold said.
Undersea mobility is another crucial technology, Heithold added. While progress is being made with the Advanced Seal Delivery System, a mini undersea vessel to transport Navy SEALS from a submerged submarine to shore, he urged industry to come forward with any technology that might help. SOF’s stealthy capability, “our true magic,” Heithold called it, “is going to be our ability to infiltrate and ex-filtrate from the sea – under the sea.”
And, as we posted last week, Heithold said the Tactical Assault Light Operators Suit (TALOS) is the top acquisition priority. SOCOM commander, Admiral William McRaven, “is way focused on that,” said Heithold, noting that McRaven very much wants to protect “the first person through the door” during a raid or night action.
A U.S. Marine and two South Korean marines attempt to flip a boat as they conduct amphibious operations drills during Exercise Cobra Gold 2014, Asia’s biggest military exercise, at Hat Yao in Rayong,Thailand.
The exercise is designed to advance regional security and effective response to regional crises through a multinational force created out of the nations that share common goals and common security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region.
The exercise also reaffirms the commitment by the United States and Thailand to their 181-year-old alliance and regional partnership in the Asia-Pacific region.
This year’s participants come from the U.S. and Thailand, but also Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.
For the first time, China will participate with a tiny contingent in the exercise, the Straits Times website reported. Beijing has had disputes with several nations — including the Philippines, Japan and Vietnam — over territorial boundaries in the South China Sea.
The Cobra Gold drills started in 1982 and have developed in to the largest multinational military exercise. China has been an observer since 2002 but has never been invited to take part before, according to CCTV.com.
The U.S. Marines participating in the exercise come from the 3rd Marine Division’s 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion.
The U.S.S. Constitution, a three-masted heavy frigate, has been prowling the Caribbean Sea since New Year’s Eve, looking to intercept British shipping and commerce.
The Pictou, is escorting the armed merchant the Lovely Ann from Bermuda to Suriname, when it is spotted by the Constitution under the command of Captain Charles Stewart. The American warship captured the Lovely Ann, taking her for a prize and then fired on Pictou.
The 54-gun Constitution stopped Pictou with a shot through her sails, capturing the smaller British vessel. Stewart decides to keep the Lovely Ann but orders the Pictou destroyed. The Pictou was one of five British warships captured or destroyed by the Constitution during the War of 1812. In addition to Pictou, they were HMS Guerriere, Java, Cyane and Levant.
On this Caribbean cruise, Stewart and Constitution captured five British merchant ships and Pictou before problems with the main mast force the captain to take Old Ironsides back to port.
Constitution, one of the six original frigates authorized by Congress in 1794, remains in service today – the oldest, still functioning warship in the world. The other frigates, that formed the backbone of the U.S. Navy were: President, United States, Constellation, Chesapeake and Congress.