Posts filed under ‘Coast Guard’

WORLD WAR CV: COVID-19 Vaccination Remains a Difficult Issue for the Sea Services

GETTING TO THE JAB.

On August 24th 2021, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin determined that requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all members of the military was necessary to protect the force and maintain readiness to defend the American people.

In the year since Austin made vaccination mandatory with President Joe Biden’s approval, the vast majority of people in uniform — nearly 2 million — have gotten fully vaccinated. As of September 7, the latest Defense Department COVID-19 statistics, 1 million, 996 thousand service members have been fully vaccinated, including 909, 699 in r the Army, 387,535 in the Navy, 200,532 in the Marine Corps and 498,541 for the Air Force and Space Force combined. More than 28,000 are considered partially vaccinated — meaning those who have received at least one dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series.

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Henry Beaty administers a COVID-19 booster shot aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge on March 23, 2022. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jesse Schwab)

However, thousands more either refused to get the jab or sought administrative or religious exemption to the vaccination requirement. While hundreds have been granted administrative exemption from vaccination, but just a few have received religious accommodation. That has led led to several lawsuits.

Almost 5,000 Sailors and Marines have been separated from the sea services since late 2021 for vaccination refusal. The Navy has received 4,251 requests for religious accommodation, the Marines 3,733. Less than 100 have been approved. However, a federal judge in Texas certified a class action by Sailors, mostly Navy SEALS, seeking a religious exemption and issued a preliminary injunction March 30, halting separation for members of the class. A similar injunction was issued against the Marine Corps on August 18 by a federal judge in Florida.

Meanwhile, seven cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy who refused to comply with the military’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate were dis-enrolled and ordered off the school’s New London, Connecticut campus in late August, SEAPOWER reported. Although a part of the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard announced a vaccination mandate for service members on August 26th, 2021. By law, the Coast Guard operates under the Defense Department as part of the Department of the Navy when war is declared and Congress directs the shift, or when the President directs the Coast Guard to switch from Homeland Security to Defense.

Fifteen cadets filed medical exemption or religious accommodation requests in September 2021. They were evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the Coast Guard’s Office of Military Personnel Policy and denied. After a series of appeals and further denials, four cadets chose vaccination. Four others resigned from the Academy and the remaining seven were removed from the school for “violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice” for not obeying orders. For more details click here to see the SEAPOWER report by your 4GWAR editor, who is also a correspondent for the magazine and its website.

On a final note, the Defense Department announced Aug. 29 a new COVID-19 vaccine, Novavax, will be available as an option at military clinics. Officials hope Novavax, which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration under an emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals 12 years of age and older, may be more acceptable to the thousands of troops who have refused the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for religious or moral reasons.

Novavax uses technology that has been used in other vaccines required by the military, like hepatitis B vaccine. Novavax is not made with, or tested on, cells from fetal tissue. It does not use mRNA or DNA technology and does not enter the nucleus of cells, Pentagon officials said.

September 13, 2022 at 1:03 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (September 2, 2022)

One of the Perks of the Job.

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Abban)

Crew members look at the aurora borealis as it’s seen from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bear while transiting northward in the Atlantic Ocean, August 9, 2022.

The Bear was heading for Operation Nanook, the Canadian Armed Forces’ signature northern operation, this year in and around Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. Nunavut is a massive, sparsely populated territory of northern Canada, forming most of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

The aurora, also known as the Northern Lights, is an electrical phenomenon in Earth’s atmosphere.

 

September 2, 2022 at 2:18 am Leave a comment

SHAKO: First Female Coast Guard Commandant Takes Over

GLASS CEILING SHATTERS

Admiral Linda Fagan took command June 1 as the first female commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. (Dept. of Homeland Security photo via Twitter.) Click on photos to enlarge image.

History was made June 1, 2022 as Admiral Linda Fagan became the first female commandant of the United States Coast Guard in a change of command ceremony with her predecessor Admiral Karl Schultz.

President Joe Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas attended the historic ceremony.

In his remarks, Biden noted Fagan had first served aboard the Polar Star, heavy icebreaker, been captain of the Port of New York, served on all seven continents and commanded Coast Guard operations in the Pacific before becoming Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard.

“Throughout her decades of service, she has demonstrated an exceptional skill, integrity, and commitment to our country. She upholds the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard.,” Biden said.

“This moment of acceleration of global challenges and hybrid threats that don’t stop at any border, there’s no one more qualified to lead the proud women and men of the Coast Guard, and she will also be the first woman to serve as Commandant of the Coast Guard — the first woman to lead any branch of the United States Armed Forces. And it’s about time,” Biden added.

“With her trailblazing career,” the President said, “Admiral Fagan shows that young people — young people entering service that we mean it when we say there are no doors — no doors closed to women.”

Fagan became the 32nd vice commandant of the Coast Guard on June 18, 2021, and the first female four-star admiral in the service’s history. Biden nominated her for the top job in early April and confirmation from the Senate came swiftly.

Keeping with the tradition of wearing shoulder boards passed down from a senior officer, Adm. Fagan wore the shoulder boards of the Admiral Owen Siler. As the service’s 15th Commandant, he opened the Coast Guard Academy’s doors to women in 1975. Despite having met Silor only once, Fagan acknowledged “the outsized impact of that decision.”

“If it were not for Owen Siler’s courage, I would not be here today,” Fagan said. “I’m wearing his shoulder boards that he wore as commandant, just to acknowledge the long blue line.”

DHS Secretary Mayorkas (3rd from left) and President Biden attended the change of command ceremony where Adm. Linda Fagan  relieved Adm. Karl Schultz (2nd from right) as the 27th commandant at Coast Guard headquarters June 1, 2022. Fagan is the first woman service chief of any U.S. military service. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Travis Magee)

In addition to praising Fagan’s service and accomplishments, Mayorkas, who heads the department that includes the Coast Guard, praised her predecessor, the 26th Commandant, Admiral Schultz, “who led the Coast Guard through a unique and unprecedented period,” Mayorkas noted.

“Throughout the global pandemic, the Coast Guard did not have the option of working from home. At the outset of the pandemic, Admiral Schultz led Coasties as they brought cruise ship passengers and crew to safety. From that time forward, he has helped keep the Marine Transportation System going, which facilitates more than a quarter of our country’s gross domestic product and maintains 31 million jobs in American ports, harbors, and waterways,” the DHS Secretary said.

“Through the most intense and active Atlantic hurricane season on record, historic levels of migration, the urgent need to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, and the Afghan resettlement effort of Operation Allies Welcome, the Coast Guard has been there, always ready and always delivering,” Mayorkas said.

June 2, 2022 at 12:02 am Leave a comment

SHAKO: Coast Guard Admiral Nominated to be First Woman Commandant

Another First for the Coast Guard.

Another glass ceiling in the military may be broken soon.

On April 5, word leaked out that President Joe Biden intends to nominate Admiral Linda Fagan to serve as the 27th Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. If confirmed by the Senate, not only will Admiral Fagan be the first woman commandant of the Coast Guard, she would be the first woman in uniform to head one the military services.

Admiral Linda Fagan, vice commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard since 2021, has been nominated to be the Coast Guard’s first woman commandant by President Biden. (Official U.S. Coast Guard portrait)

While the Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security, it operates under the Navy during times of war and by law is considered one of the six military services along with the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Space Force.

Fagan became the 32nd vice commandant of the Coast Guard on June 18, 2021, and the first female four-star admiral in the service’s history.

The vice commandant is the No. 2 commander in the Coast Guard and its chief operating officer, responsible for executing the Commandant’s Strategic Intent, managing internal organizational governance, and serving as the Component Acquisition Executive.

Pending confirmation, Fagan is expected to relieve the current commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Karl L. Schultz, during a change of command ceremony planned for June 1, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

“Admiral Fagan is an exceptional senior Coast Guard officer and nominee, possessing the keen intellect, the depth of operational experience, and the well-honed leadership and managerial acumen to serve with distinction as our Service’s 27th commandant,” said Schultz, SEAPOWER reported.

The potential gap in leadership between Schultz’s departure and his replacement’s confirmation raised concerns among lawmakers in recent weeks, On Monday (April 4) Senate Democrats Tammy Baldwin of  Wisconsin and Maria Cantwell of Washington, sent a letter to the White House urging the president to nominate a new Coast Guard leader as soon as possible, Military Times reported.

“Ensuring continuity of leadership is of the utmost importance to our national and economic security,” the pair wrote. “The Coast Guard is at the forefront of a number of strategic priorities for the United States, from the growing importance of security in the Arctic, to drug interdiction, environmental protection, and leading emergency response on the frontlines of the climate crisis.”

Congress is scheduled to break for two weeks starting April 8, but could schedule confirmation hearings for Fagan in late April or early May, Military Times noted.

Previously, Fagan served as commander of the Coast Guard Pacific Area and and Commander, Coast Guard Defense Force West. She has served on all seven continents, from Ross Island, Antarctica to the heart of Africa, and in many ports along the way. Her operational tours include: Commander of the New York sector;ore than 15 years as a Marine Inspector; and sea duty on the heavy ice breaker POLAR STAR — her first at-sea assignment.

The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, seen here on Jan. 2, 2020, was Adm. Linda Fagan’s first sea duty assignment as an officer. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Senior Chief Petty Officer NyxoLyno Cangemi)

Fagan is also the Coast Guard officer with the longest service record in the Marine Safety field, earning the service’s first-ever Gold Ancient Trident award.

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SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.

April 7, 2022 at 9:36 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (March 25, 2022)

Not All Drones Fly

(U.S. Army photo by Cpl. DeAndre Dawkins)

The U.S. Coast Guard Sentinel-class cutter Glen Harris sails near a U.S Saildrone Explorer in the Gulf of Aqaba of February 13, 2022 during the international maritime exercise Cutlass Express 2022.

A saildrone is a wind and solar-powered unmanned surface vehicle (USV) (a sea-going drone) capable of collecting ocean data for up to 12 months on the open water. In October 2013, a saildrone completed the first autonomous Pacific crossing, sailing 2,248 nautical miles in 34 days from San Francisco to Hawaii, according to the manufacturer, Alameda, California-based Saildrone Inc.

The Saildrone Explorer is 23 feet long, 16 feet tal. It’s reliant on wind power for propulsion and carries a package of solar-powered sensors.

Last December (2021) U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) began testing the new USV in the Gulf of Aqaba — a narrow body of water that separates’ Egypt’s Sinai peninsula from Saudi Arabia — as part of an initiative to integrate new unmanned systems and artificial intelligence into U.S. 5th Fleet operations.

On December 13, NAVCENT launched a Saildrone Explorer USV for the first time from the Royal Jordanian naval base at Aqaba, Jordan. A month earlier, U.S. and Jordanian naval leaders announced the base would become a joint hub for Saildrone operations in the Red Sea.

The Glen Harris, homeported in Manama, Bahrain, is the third of six fast response cutters (FRCs) that are relieving the 110-foot Island-class patrol boats assigned to the Fifth Fleet’s area since 2003. Stationing FRCs in Bahrain supports U.S. Patrol Forces Southwest Asia, the Coast Guard’s largest unit outside of the United States.

The Sentinel-class is a key component of the Coast Guard’s offshore fleet, capable of deploying independently to conduct missions, including port, waterways and coastal security, fishery patrols, search and rescue, and national defense. The FRCs are 154 feet long weighing 353 long tons in displacement. They have a top speed of more than 28 knots, a range of 2,500 nautical miles, an endurance of up to 5 days at sea. The FRCs carry a crew of up to 24.

Cutlass Express is the largest multinational training event in the Middle East, involving more than 60 nations and international organizations committed to strengthening maritime security and stability by building partnerships and interoperability.

Participating nations in Cutlass Express 2022 include Comoros, Djibouti, Georgia, India, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, the Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The international police agency, Interpol, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime are also participating in the exercise.

March 25, 2022 at 8:37 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (February 4, 2022)

I’m OK

(Minnesota National Guard photo by Anthony Housey)

What you’re seeing is actually a good thing.

If you click on the photo to enlarge it, what you’ll notice is the blue-gloved hand is making the OK sign. It’s part of the U.S. Navy-U.S. Coast Guard annual ice dive training course at the Minnesota National Guard’s Camp Ripley from January 29 to February 10, 2022.

A team of Coast Guard High-Risk Training Instructors have been conducting week-long classes in how to dive in a cold-weather environment. The course, run by Dive Rescue International, and taught by qualified Navy divers and experienced civilian instructors will provide real-world ice and cold weather dive training in arctic conditions.

Training topics range from inspecting and putting on their diving equipment to diving and using their special equipment under the frozen lakes.

Camp Ripley provide arctic conditions for real-world ice and cold weather dive training. On the third day of training the “real feel” temperature at Camp Ripley was 27 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit).

Training began with setting up tents, cutting proper holes in the ice (short video),dry suit familiarization, and SCUBA cold-water set up training before the students dove under the ice.

February 4, 2022 at 7:20 pm Leave a comment

ROBOTS, DROIDS & DRONES: Rethinking the MQ-9 Reaper; Drone Attack on Iraqi PM

DEFENSE.

Reaper Madness

 

An MQ-9 Reaper sits on the flight line at sunset at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, November 20, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class William Rio Rosado)

An aerospace analyst at a Washington area think tank has come up with a list of missions to keep the MQ-9 Reaper, a surveillance and attack drone, flying — even though the U.S. Air Force wants to retire the venerable unmanned aircraft.

The Air Force is feeling pressure from two directions. On the one hand, it needs to fund a lot of new aircraft like the B-21 long range strike bomber and the KC-46 aerial refueling tanker, to deal with the rising threat of great power competitors Russia and China.

On the other hand, the Air Force budget is already tight and expected to get tighter. So, to come up with some money to fund expensive modernization programs, Air Force planners consider retiring legacy aircraft they believe cannot survive in a high-end fight, like the General Atomics intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) and targeting drone.

But retired Air Force Major General Lawrence Stutzriem, of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, says the Reaper — sought for numerous assignments by U.S. combatant commands like AFRICOM and NORTHCOM, still has a lot it can do. Rather than send its entire 280-Reaper fleet to the boneyard by 2035, the Air Force should upgrade it for a list of new missions like air and missile defense, and communications relays, Stutzriem writes in a paper “Reimagining the MQ-9 Reaper.”

Some of those like maintaining maritime domain awareness in the Arctic, already pose a challenge for the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, your 4GWAQR editor writes in an article for the SEAPOWER website.

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Drone Attack on Iraq Leader.

The committee investigating the November 7 attempt to kill Iraq’s prime minister, has released video footage of the incident, but has yet to identify the attackers.

Mustafa al-Kadhimi escaped the attack on his Baghdad home unhurt.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Three people believed to be associated with the attack were reportedly arrested, although details of the arrests and the suspects’ identities have not been disclosed, according to al Jazeera.

National security adviser Qasim al-Araji told a November 29 news conference that the committee has not accused any specific person or entity but called for collaboration among different parties to further the investigation.

The drone attack targeted al-Kadhimi’s house inside the fortified Green Zone and came at a politically sensitive time. A government is in the process of being formed following the parliamentary elections.

*** *** ***

INDUSTRY.

Egyptian Drones.

Two locally produced drones made their debut at the Egypt Defence Expo last week.

The Nut drone — named for the ancient Egyptian goddess of the sky, was co-produced by the Arab Organization for Industrialization and the Military Technical College. It can perform tactical reconnaissance missions during the day and night using electro-optical technology, according to Defense News.

The Nut has a maximum mission payload of 50 kilograms and an endurance of 10 hours.

Also on display was the EJune-30 SW drone. Made by Industrial Complex Engineering Robots in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Military Production, it is 8.9 meters long with a wingspan of 12 meters. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 1,400 kilograms, a maximum speed of 260 kph, an endurance of 24 hours, and a maximum operating altitude of 7,000 meters.

EDEX 2021 ran from November 29 to December 2 with pavilions from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, France, the United States and South Korea.

***

AeroVironment DoD Contract.

The Puma 3 AE and Wasp AE systems combine hand-launch capabilities with a deep-stall landing for operations in confined areas on land or water. (Image: AeroVironment, Inc.)

Multi-domain robotic systems-maker AeroVironment announced December 1 it received a $4,151,320 firm-fixed-price U.S. Defense Department Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract award to provide Puma 3 AE and Wasp AE small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to an unidentified allied nation. The contract includes initial spares packages, training and support. Delivery is anticipated by September 2022.

December 2, 2021 at 11:57 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO October 29, 2021

Ahoy?

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Edward Wargo)

U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant j.g. (junior grade) Robert DiRado competes in the National Commander in Chief Cup polo  tournament in Charleston, South Carolina on October 1, 2021.

Here at 4GWAR, this is not where we expect to see a member of the Coast Guard — on horseback with a polo mallet in hand. An Army officer, maybe. They’ve been playing polo since the 1890a.

The “Sport of Kings,” is believed first to have been played by Iranian and Turkic nomads in Central Asia, with the current form originating in Iran (Persia) and spreading east to India where the British encountered it in colonial days and took it back to England and the rest of western Europe.

In 1896, the U.S. Army took up the game at Fort Riley, Kansas. In addition to improving the riding skills of cavalrymen, polo taught leadership, teamwork and strategy, according to the United States Polo Association website. Polo was introduced at West Point in 1901. By 1914, 17 Army posts were playing polo. In 1928, the U.S. Army team made it to the final of the U.S. Open Polo Championship, and there were Army polo teams across the country, as well as in the Philippines, Hawaii and Panama. The other military branches, Air Force, Marines and Navy soon followed suit.

Lieutenant DiRado, who is the Executive Officer of the Southeast Regional Fisheries Training Center in Charleston, South Carolina, represents the Department of Homeland Security on the Navy team.

Army beat DiRado and his Navy teammates in the final round of the Commander in Chief Cup tournament. Just a week later, however, Di Rado was part of a joint Department of Defense team that defeated a British Armed Forces team. At the Churchill-Roosevelt Cup polo tournament October 9 and 10, in Aiken, South Carolina, the U.S. team dominated, winning 11-8.

October 29, 2021 at 2:29 am Leave a comment

ARCTIC NATION: U.S. Ice Breaker Circumnavigating North America; Canadian Coast Guard showing Royal Navy the Ropes in the Arctic

Ice Breaker Healy Heading for Home.

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy navigates near Baffin Island, Canada on September 16, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Matt Masaschi)

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy is about a month away from completing its circumnavigation of North America. The aim of the mission is to strengthen allied partnerships along the way, while conducting Coast Guard missions and supporting scientific exploration to increase understanding of the changing Arctic environment.

Uniquely equipped to conduct scientific operations, Healy is also the premiere U.S. high-latitude research vessel. Healy is the only U.S. military surface vessel that routinely deploys to the ice-covered waters of the Arctic to provide access and secure national interests related to our maritime borders and natural resources.

After setting out from its homeport in Seattle on July 10, the 420-foot medium ice breaker sailed to the Gulf of Alaska, around the 49th state through the Bering and Chukchi seas to the Arctic Ocean where it patrolled before returning to Seward, Alaska in late August to pick up a team of international scientists to study sea ice and other conditions. Healy and its crew of 85 then retraced the cutter’s journey around Alaska to the Beaufort Sea, transited the Northwest Passage — now more accessible in summer as sea ice continues to decline — through Canadian waters to Baffin Bay, the Davis Strait and Nuuk, Greenland September 13.

Healy’s crew and  the science team deployed research equipment in Baffin Bay and off the coast of Greenland. After another stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the Healy entered Boston Harbor October 14. The next day the Coast Guard held an Arctic discussion roundtable aboard the Healy.   Coast Guard Vice Admiral Steven Poulin, the Atlantic Area commander, along with the Coast Guard 1st District command, Rear Admiral Thomas Allan, and the ice breaker’s commander, Captain Kenneth Boda, were joined by more than 20 professors, students, and Arctic leaders from several U.S. universities.

The U.S. Coast Guard held an Arctic discussion roundtable aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Healy in Boston on Oct. 15, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lieutenant Commander Katie Blue)

On Prince of Wales Strait, a narrow stretch of water separating two islands in Canada’s Northwest Territories, Boda told the Seattle Times , stretches of shoreline had collapsed due to permafrost thaw. Boda said the crew was largely able to find open water rather than having to break ice. Healy is expected to return to Seattle around November 20 after taking the Panama Canal back to the Pacific Ocean.

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Canadian Coast Guard Trains UK Royal Navy

The United Kingdom’s Royal Navy is learning the cold facts about operating in the Arctic from shipmates in the Canadian Coast Guard, who have a great deal of cold weather experience, SEAPOWER reports.

British sailors are training with Canadians on how to navigate through icy waters and how to break ice where necessary. At the same time, Canadian Coast Guard personnel will have operational training opportunities with the Royal Navy and gain experience with crewless technology.

An agreement to formalize the arrangement was signed between the two NATO nations at the Canadian Coast Guard’s (CCG) headquarters in Ottawa on October 8.

U.S., British and Canadian flags fly over Ice Camp Seadragon during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2020. ICEX 2020 is a biennial submarine exercise which promotes interoperability between allies and partners to maintain operational readiness and regional stability, while improving capabilities to operate in the Arctic environment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael B. Zingaro)

“The sharing of the Canadian Coast Guard’s wide experience and expertise will mean British sailors are better equipped when sailing to the frozen region,” the Royal Navy said in a press statement.

Canadian Coast Guard icebreaking vessels, from hovercraft to heavy and light icebreaking and long-endurance ships, keep Canadian ports open year-round, freeing ice-bound vessels, escorting ships through ice-covered waters and maintaining a constant presence the High North during the navigable season.

The Royal Navy has shown a renewed interest in the Arctic region in recent years because of its key strategic importance to the security of the U.K.

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Nuclear submarine USS Toledo in the Arctic Ocean 2020. (U.S. Navy Photo by MC1 Michael B. Zingaro)

ARCTIC NATION is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military and environmental developments in the Far North. The 2013 U.S. National Strategy for the Arctic Region described the United States as “an Arctic Nation with broad and fundamental interests” in the region. Since that strategy was developed, mineral riches beneath the Arctic Sea – which is bordered by six nations, Canada, Denmark (which controls Greenland), Iceland, Norway, Russia and the United States — have prompted concerns about a “Cold Rush” of industries, corporations, speculators and governments hoping to take advantage of resources once thought inaccessible.

October 24, 2021 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

ARCTIC NATION: B-2 Bombers in Iceland: Chinese Warships Near Alaska; MQ-9 tested Over Canadian Arctic

Stealth Bombers.

U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit stealth bombers have ended a two-and-a-half-weeks deployment in Iceland, operating from Keflavik Air Base, where they trained with U.S., British and Norwegian fighter jets. The first-of-its-kind deployment reflects the U.S. military’s increased focus on the High North, according to Business Insider.

Three B-2s from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri arrived at Keflavik on August 23 for a Bomber Task Force deployment. For the bombers that has meant more short-term deployments overseas or non-stop flights to and from distant regions for training.

Three B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, assigned to Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, arrive at Keflavik Air Base, Iceland, August 23, 2021. The stealth bombers took part in their first ever forward operation out of Iceland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Victoria Hommel)

The B-2s trained with U.S. and British fighter jets over the North Sea in late August and early September. On September 8 they trained with Norwegian F-35s over the North Sea in an “advanced mission designed to test escort procedures, stand-off weapon employment and the suppression and destruction of air defenses,” according to the Air Force.

The bombers returned to Missouri on September 11, after conducting more than a dozen multinational missions.

In a September 20 statement, the Air Force said Keflavik Air Base had served as a new launch point for short-notice bomber task force missions to Europe.

In 2019, the B-2 completed a stop-and-go “hot pit” refueling at Keflavik, but “this is the first time the B-2 has operated continuously from Iceland,” Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Howard, the commander of the 110th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, said in a statement.

The U.S. military has invested millions of dollars to improve infrastructure at Keflavik, which was prominent in allied operations during the Cold War but faded in importance in subsequent years, according to the Stars and Stripes website.

*** *** ***

USCG Encounters Chinese Warships Near Alaska.

The People’s Republic of China is located more than a thousand miles from the Arctic but Beijing like to style itself a “Near Arctic Nation.”

Just how seriously China takes its interests at the top of the world came into focus in August w hen two U.S. Coast Guard cutters observed four ships from the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) operating as close as 46 miles off the Aleutian Island coast.

While the PLAN ships were within the U.S. exclusive economic zone, they followed international laws and norms and at no point entered U.S. territorial waters, according to SEAPOWER. The PLAN task force included a guided-missile cruiser, a guided-missile destroyer, a general intelligence vessel, and an auxiliary vessel. The Chinese vessels conducted military and surveillance operations during their deployment to the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean.

The encounter came during a deployment of the national security cutters, Bertholf and Kimball, to the Bering Sea and the Arctic region.

“Security in the Bering Sea and the Arctic is homeland security,” said Vice Admiral Michael McAllister, commander Coast Guard Pacific Area. “The U.S. Coast Guard is continuously present in this important region to uphold American interests and protect U.S. economic prosperity.”

***

Big Drone Over Canada.

In a flight that originated from its Flight Test and Training Center (FTTC) near Grand Forks, North Dakota, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) flew a company-owned MQ-9A “Big Wing” configured unmanned aircraft system north through Canadian airspace past the 78th parallel, the company said September 10.

Long endurance drones like the MQ-9 have been unable to operate at extreme northern (and southern) latitudes, because many legacy SATCOM datalinks can become less reliable above the Arctic (or below the Antarctic) Circle – approximately 66 degrees north, SEAPOWER reported.

At those latitudes, the low-look angle to geostationary Ku-band satellites begins to compromise the link. GA-ASI has demonstrated a new capability for effective ISR operations by performing a loiter at 78.31° North, using Inmarsat’s L-band Airborne ISR Service (LAISR).

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems’ MQ-9A “Big Wing” Unmanned Aerial System flew in the hostile climate of the Canadian Arctic. (General Atomics photo)

The flight over Haig-Thomas Island, in the Canadian Arctic, demonstrated the UAS’s flexibility by operating at very high latitudes. The flight, which took off on Sept. 7 and returned to the FTTC on Sept. 8, was conducted with cooperation from the Federal Aviation Administration, Transport Canada and Nav Canada.

Covering 4,550 miles in 25.5 hours, it was one of the longest-range flights ever flown by a company MQ-9. The flight was performed under an FAA Special Airworthiness Certificate and a Transport Canada Special Flight Operations Certificate.

As global warming melts Arctic Ocean ice pack, leaving more open water for transit by Chinese and Russian ships, Washington is looking for new ways to keep an eye on the frigid region. One possibility: unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) that keep watch from above, the Flight Global website observed.

*** *** ***

Nuclear submatine USS Toledo (SSN-769) in the Arctic Ocean 2020. (U.S. Navy Photo by MC1 Michael B. Zingaro)

ARCTIC NATION is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military and environmental developments in the Far North. The 2013 U.S. National Strategy for the Arctic Region described the United States as “an Arctic Nation with broad and fundamental interests” in the region. “Those interests include national security protecting the environment, responsibly managing resources, considering the needs of indigenous communities, support for scientific research, and strengthening international cooperation.”

September 23, 2021 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

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