Posts filed under ‘Navy’

FRIDAY FOTO (May 5, 2017)

Projecting Power.

FRIFO 5-5-207 F-18s on USS Theodore Roosevelt

(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Austin Clayton)

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) travels in the Pacific Ocean during a training event off the coast of Southern California on April 30, 2017.

One of the main functions is to project U.S. power into remote areas of the world, a mission flattops have been performing since the 1940s.

Parked on the flight deck are the Roosevelt’s main offensive weapon, the F/A-18C Hornet jet fighter. You can also see the shadow of the helicopter used to take this photo.

 

May 5, 2017 at 1:32 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (April 28, 2017)

Tradition meets Tradition.

FRIFO 4-28-2017

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Devan K. Gowans)

Folk dancers in Papua New Guinea line up with U.S. Marines and sailors during a  closing ceremony banquet for a military tactics training exchange at Taurama Barracks, Papua New Guinea.

Marines and sailors assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted the training with Papua New Guinea Defense Force service members.

 

 

April 28, 2017 at 12:44 am Leave a comment

AIRCRAFT: The Close Air Support Debate

Supersonic Swiss Army Knife Vs. Flying Tank.

Here is a photo of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, America’s newest fighter/bomber and the most expensive military acquisition program in U.S. history.

f-35a-lightning-ii_008-ts600

A Fifth Generation Fighter with a host of targeting and surveillance sensors, the Lockheed Martin F-35 was develop[ed with the ability – depending on the variant – to fly off an aircraft carrier or take off and land vertically on an amphibious ship or tiny airstrip. Some have called this multi-role aircraft a flying Swiss Army knife because of its advanced integrated avionics and next generation radar-evading stealth technology. It is also a flying intelligence platform with enormous processing power and sophisticated sensors.

The F-35, officially known as the Lightning II, has a range of capabilities including: air-to-air combat; close air support; ground attack and intelligence gathering for joint and coalition irregular warfare operations, as well as major combat ops.

The next photo is the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II. Sporting the latest 1970s technology, it was built to blow up Soviet tanks in Cold War battles that never happened.  Better known as the “Warthog,” for its homely appearance, punishment-absorbing air frame and ferocious attack capabilities, the hog has won the respect of pilots and the love of ground troops in deployments from Bosnia to Iraq and Afghanistan and currently against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

A-10 Warthog

The single seat, twin engine jet’s sturdy airframe and fearsome armament, including a 30-milimeter, seven-barrel GAU-8/A Gatling gun, have led some to call it a flying tank. But those features made it ideal for delivering close air support to troops on the ground.

Because of congressionally-mandated budget constraints, the U.S. Air Force has been trying, since 2014, to retire the approximately 300 remaining A-10s. The cost of maintaining and upgrading the 40-year-old Warthogs threatened funding for the F-35 and two other top priority Air Force programs: the long range strike bomber and a new aerial refueling tanker. The Pentagon said the Air Force could save $3.5 billion over five years by retiring the A-10 fleet rather than upgrading it. Instead, said then- Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh — himself a former A-10 pilot — the  F-35 could handle the A-10’s single mission of close air support.

But the A-10’s very vocal supporters in Congress, like Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), disputed that claim. They maintained the F-35, flying at Mach 1.6 (approximately 1,200 mph), moved too fast to loiter over a battlefield, while its lighter 25-milimeter canon only carried 182 rounds in the Air Force variant ( 220 rounds in the Navy and Marine Corps versions), compared to the Warthog’s 1,100-round capacity.

General Electric GAU-8/A

A size comparison of the GE GAU-8 Gatling gun, used on A-10 Thunderbolt II, and a Volkswagen Beetle. (U.S. Air Force photo via wikipedia)

Other advocates argued the A-10 could also fly combat search and rescue and surveillance missions. McCain noted in a white paper that funding constraints led the Air Force to slow procurement to a maximum 48 aircraft a year between Fiscal years 2018 and 2022. He has called for buying 300 “low-cost, light-attack fighters” to bridge the gap. The Air Force plans to test light attack aircraft at the OA-X demonstration this summer at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

The Air Force also says it will not begin retiring the A-10 fleet before 2021, but Congress put language in the latest defense authorization bill barring the Air Force from parking the A-10s until it proves the F-35 can take over the close air support role.

To learn more, visit the Close Air Support Summit 2017 page on the IDGA website.

April 27, 2017 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (February 24, 2017)

Narrow Margin.

170220-N-WV703-158

(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Amy M. Ressler.)

Two Navy air crewmen share close quarters aboard an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter during a live fire exercise over the South China Sea, on February 21, 2017.

These crewman are assigned to the USS Coronado, a fast agile littoral combat ship.

February 24, 2017 at 12:36 am Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPS: Closing in on “Iron Man” Prototype Suit

TALOS.

prowler1

Revision Military’s Prowler Human Augmentation System, which distributes a soldier’s combat load, is among the technologies SOCOM is studied for its ballistic protection suit project. (Photo courtesy Revision Military).

BETHESDA, Maryland — The quest for a lightweight, ballistic protective suit for U.S. commandos is about 18-months away from a major milestone, the top acquisition official at Special Operations Command (SOCOM) says.

“We’re about a year and a half-ish out,” from unveiling the next prototype, James “Hondo” Geurts, SOCOM’s civilian acquisition executive told an industry conference on Wednesday (February 15).

In development since 2013, the Tactical Assault Light Operators Suit, or TALOS, was the brainchild of then-SOCOM commander, Admiral William McRaven, who was concerned that SOCOM operators were at particular risk during raids when they didn’t know what was on the other side of the door.

The futuristic commando body armor has been likened to the suit worn by the superhero, “Iron Man,” a characterization SOCOM has not discouraged – although TALOS won’t be able to fly.

Geurts’ estimate of when the prototype — the fifth TALOS test suit — would be ready is in keeping with the timeline envisioned by McRaven and his successors. In addition to lightweight body armor, the original concept of TALOS called for sensors to monitor the wearer’s heart rate, temperature and other vital signs. Using an integrated “system of systems” that would combine sensors, communications equipment and an electrically-powered exoskeleton, TALOS advocates believed it would not only protect special ops troops but also make them run faster, hear and see better and carry heavy loads without excessive fatigue.

“Will it do everything we want? Probably not,” Geurts conceded at the Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict Symposium hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association. But that was never the intent, he added. Research for the various TALOS components has explored improving night vision goggles, shrinking communications technology and developing more powerful, more portable and longer lasting power sources. One technology improvement, a powered exoskeleton, enabled a Marine Corps captain paralyzed by a sniper’s bullet to walk to his valor award ceremony.

Geurts is looking to leverage TALOS technology developments to get new capabilities into the field. The number of spinoffs arising from TALOS has been “phenomenal,” Geurts said. He noted SOCOM is always interested in bringing innovation and improvements into the field as soon as possible. “Velocity is our competitive advantage,” he said. Survivability doesn’t rely on body armor alone, said Geurts, adding “it’s also part ‘what information do you have and what’s your situational awareness.”

February 17, 2017 at 1:24 am Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: SO/LIC Conference, Yemen Raid,SOF Risks

Special Ops Conference.

Riverine command boats GUNEX

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michelle L. Turner)

The annual Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict Symposium opens Monday in Bethesda, Maryland, tackling issues ranging from the acquisition and training needs of special operations forces (SOF) to budget challenges and the demand for cooperation and  information sharing with partner nations.

The four-day conference — sponsored by the National Defense Industry Association (NDIA) — will also address the widening challenge of creating a networked, connected and unified force of SOF, as well as U.S. and international law enforcement and intelligence organizations.

Speakers will include Army General Raymond Thomas, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), and James Geurts, the civilian head of acquisition at SOCOM. [More on the conference at the bottom of this post.]

Yemen Raid.

A Navy SEAL was killed in a raid on an al Qaeda base in Yemen late last month. The Defense Department identified the slain sailor as Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens, 36, of Peoria, Illinois. He died January 29 from wounds sustained in the raid. He was assigned to an East Coast based Special Warfare unit, which most news organizations have identified as SEAL Team 6. map-yemen

The raid sparked controversy in both the United States and the Middle East.

A “chain of mishaps and misjudgments,” according to the New York Times, plunged the elite commandos into a ferocious 50-minute firefight that also left three other servicemen  wounded and forced the raiders to destroy a U.S. V-22 Osprey, when the $75 million tilt-rotor aircraft was unable to take off after making a hard landing during the fire fight. There are allegations — which the Pentagon acknowledged on February 1 as most likely correct — that the mission also killed several civilians, including some children, the Times reported.

Yemeni officials were unhappy about the raid and civilian casualties but they told the Reuters news agency that permission had not been withdrawn for the United States to carry out special ops ground missions. But they made clear their “reservations” about the latest operation, according to the Voice of America website. A statement by the Yemeni embassy in Washington, VoA added, said the government “stresses that it has not suspended any programs with regards to counterterrorism operations in Yemen with the United States Government.”

The White House called the raid, the first authorized by the Trump administration, a success. But Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee challenged that conclusion, telling NBC:  “When you lose a $75 million airplane and, more importantly, an American life is lost, I don’t believe you can call it a success.”

But White House spokesman Sean Spicer defended the operation, calling it “absolutely a success,” VoA reported. “I think anybody who undermines the success of that raid, owes an apology and disservice to the life of Chief Owens,” Spicer said, referring to the Navy SEAL who died.

Earlier, Spicer said it was “hard to ever call something a complete success when you have the loss of life, or people injured.  But I think when you look at the totality of what was gained to prevent the future loss of life here in America and against our people and our institutions, and probably throughout the world in terms of what some of these individuals could have done, I think it is a successful operation by all standards.”

SOF Deaths.

The  casualty rate for highly skilled and experienced special operators, like Chief Owens, has been on the rise as the United States relies more and more on elite forces.

In the past year — for the first time — according to a New York Times report (via the Seattle Times), special-operations troops have died in greater numbers than conventional troops. During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan SOF made up only a fraction of the dead. That they now fill nearly the whole casualty list, the report continues, shows how the Pentagon, hesitant to put conventional troops on the ground, has come to depend almost entirely on small groups of elite warriors.

Meanwhile, Navy SEALS and other elite units are quietly battling a frightening rise in parachute deaths, according to a Military Times investigation.

Between 2011 and 2016, 11 special operators have died in high altitude, free fall training jumps. That is a 60 percent increase over the previous five-year period, according to 13 years’ worth or records analyzed by Military Times.

Southern Strike 17

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Trevor T. McBride.)

More SO/LIC

The four-day conference is being held at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. All the commanders of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps special operations commands will take part in a panel discussion on the strategic and operational implications caused by the necessity to conduct coalition and inter-agency operations.

Another panel discussion on law enforcement special mission units will include representatives from several Department of Homeland Security units, including Customs and Border Protection, the Secret Service, the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard.

February 12, 2017 at 10:43 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO ( February 10, 2017)

Brrrrr!

frifo-2-10-2017-icy-ship

(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jeremy Graham)

Sailors clear snow and ice from the forecastle of the USS McCampbell (DDG-85) in the Sea of Japan, on February 3, 2017. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer is patrolling in the 7th Fleet area of operations to support security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

The McCampbell is named in honor of Naval Aviator Captain David S. McCampbell, a Medal of Honor and Navy Cross recipient who was the Navy’s leading ace in World War II.

February 10, 2017 at 12:08 am Leave a comment

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