Posts tagged ‘Navy’

MARITIME DOMAIN: Navy Unmanned Aircraft; Railgun Testing; Securing the Hemisphere

News Ahoy!

XB47B unmanned aircraft on board the aircraft carrier USS Harry Truman. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman by Alan Radecki)

X-47B unmanned aircraft on board the aircraft carrier USS Harry Truman. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman by Alan Radecki)

The Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition at the Gaylord Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland draws to a close Wednesday (April 15).

Your 4GWAR editor has been helping out the Seapower magazine team with their daily show news publication.

Here’s a sample of what we’ve been seeing.

The Navy’s unmanned demonstrator aircraft for showing how drones could be integrated into the busy flight deck of an American aircraft carrier is facing its last challenge.

Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) says that unmanned aircraft system (UAS), known as the X-47B, (see photo above) will soon start testing its ability to refuel in the air.

To see the full story, click here.

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Here are some other stories on the Seapower website:

Electromagnetic Railgun’s First at-Sea Test Set for Summer 2016

The first at-sea test firing of the Navy’s electromagnetic railgun is slated for late summer 2016, a Naval Sea Systems Command official said April 14.

The rail gun, which uses high-powered electromagnetic pulses instead of chemical propellants to fire projectiles that can move at seven times the speed of sound, will be mounted on a joint high-speed vessel to fire over the horizon at a target anchored in the water, said Capt. Mike Ziv, program manager for Directed Energy and Electric Weapons Systems.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

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Larger Fire Scout a ‘Great Fit’ for the Navy

The larger version of the MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned helicopter has completed 297 test sorties and is slated to begin initial operational testing and evaluation in 2016, the Navy program manager said April 13.

The Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout, is larger, faster, longer and farther-flying than the MQ-8B, with increased endurance and will reduce the burden of manned aircraft, Capt. Jeff Dodge told a briefing at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

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Coast Guard Sees Combatting Crime Networks as Key to Hemispheric Security

The U.S. Coast Guard says it’s not enough to seize thousands of pounds of cocaine at sea or even arrest the people transporting illegal drugs by boat. Instead, it’s crucial to defeat the transnational organized crime (TOC) networks behind the illicit commerce in narcotics and people, according to the Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere Strategy.

“Last year alone. the Coast Guard took 91 metric tons of cocaine out of the [trafficking] stream,” Lt. Cmdr. Devon Brennan told a briefing on the first day of the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition. He noted that is three times the amount of drugs seized by all U.S. law enforcement agencies “including along the southwestern border.”

To read more of this story, click here.

Cocaine seized in Central American waters.  (U.S. Navy photo)

Cocaine seized in Central American waters.
(U.S. Navy photo)

April 14, 2015 at 11:47 pm Leave a comment

MARITIME DOMAIN: Sea-Air-Space Expo This Week

Three-Day Maritime Conference.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paul Kelly)

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paul Kelly)

Future challenges and current needs for the sea services – the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard – will be the hot topics this week at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Expo at National Harbor, Maryland.

Top officials, including Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert, Admiral James Winnefeld Jr., the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft, Marine Corps Commandant General Joseph Dunford and naval commandants from Singapore, Australia and Japan will be among the speakers at the three-day event that starts Monday (April 13) across the river from Washington, D.C.

Big names in the defense and maritime industries like Northrop Grumman, Boeing, L-3, General Dynamics, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Austal and BAE Systems will exhibiting their latest products for the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

Components of the services like the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) will also ne detailing their plans and equipment requirements in the coming fiscal year.

Your 4GWAR editor will be there too, as part of the small army of reporters covering the goings on for the Navy League’s Seapower magazine and its daily show publication. We’ll be focusing on unmanned aircraft and the Coast Guard’s strategic plan for the Western Hemisphere among other assignments.

If you can’t make it to the Gaylord Convention Center, you can catch the latest news at the Seapower website and on Twitter at @seaairspace and @SeapowerMag

U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Ed Early

(U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Ed Early)

April 13, 2015 at 12:12 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (March 27, 2015)

A Study in Lighting.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kevin V. Cunningham

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kevin V. Cunningham

Sometimes the Friday Foto illustrates a military operation or training exercise. Sometimes it shines a spotlight on unsung heroes like para-rescue men and under-appreciated military skill sets like sappers and hospital corpsmen.

And sometimes we just feature an arresting, beautifully-composed photo by one of the services’ many photographers. This is one of those times. This sailor, waiting to take off in an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter, has been caught in what appears to be a shaft of sunlight caused by the rotating helicopter engine blades. This shot was taken on the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard in the East China Sea on March 24.

BTW, the sailor is a naval aircrewman assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25. Make sure you click on the photo to enlarge it and get the full effect.

March 27, 2015 at 12:59 am Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: Navy Commando Medic Awarded Silver Star for Heroism in Afghanistan

Corpsman Up!

Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin D. Baskin, special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman, 3d Marine Special Operations Battalion, was decorated with the Silver Star Medal for his actions in Afghanistan April 25, 2013.  (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Scott A. Achtemeier)

Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin D. Baskin, special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman, 3d Marine Special Operations Battalion, was decorated with the Silver Star Medal for his actions in Afghanistan April 25, 2013.
(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Scott A. Achtemeier)

The U.S. Marine Corps doesn’t have medics per se. Instead, their medical emergency needs aboard ship, back at base or on the battlefield are handled by sailors known as Hospital Corpsman.

These highly skilled and highly respected personnel don’t get as much attention as they should from this blog. But today is different.

Today (March 25) we learned one corpsman, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin Baskin, was recently awarded the Silver Star Medal for valor during combat actions in Afghanistan.

A special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman (SARC) assigned to the 3rd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Baskin was awarded the Silver Star — the third-highest U.S. military decoration for valor — after saving the lives of four members of his unit, according to to U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC). SARCs are special operations-skilled trauma specialists who are trained in many of the commando skills of MARSOC operators including combatant scuba diving and parachute insertion.

Baskin was attached to Marine Special Operations Team 8224 with 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion during the unit’s 2013 deployment to Herat province, Afghanistan, according to Marine Corps Times. On April 24, 2013, Baskin and his team members came under a barrage of enemy fire from insurgents near Kushe Village, in South Zereko Valley.  Disregarding his own safety, he ran through enemy fire, to provide aid to a wounded teammate. After stabilizing the wounded Marine and loading him into an evacuation vehicle, Baskin himself was shot in the back.

Baskin’s award citation reads, “Although wounded, he continued treating casualties while refusing medical treatment for his own injuries. Under intense fire, while simultaneously directing the evacuation of the wounded Marines, [Afghan National Army] partner forces and himself, he laid down suppressive fire until every team member had evacuated the kill zone. His actions ultimately saved the lives of four of his teammates.” 

SARC insignia (RekonDog via wikipedia)

SARC insignia
(RekonDog via wikipedia)

No matter where they serve, the Navy rating of hospital corpsman is the most decorated in the U.S. Navy with 22 Medals of Honor, 174 Navy Crosses. 31 Distinguished Service Medals, 949 Silver Stars and 1,582 Bronze Stars, according to wikipedia. Twenty naval ships have been named after hospital corpsman.

It is noteworthy that this all happened during Baskin’s second tour of duty in Afghanistan. His first tour, with the 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, was cut short when he was wounded by fragments from a rocket-propelled grenade — earning him the first of two Purple Heart medals for wounds sustained in combat.

March 25, 2015 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (March 20, 2015)

Foreground, Background.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean P. Gallagher/Released)

U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean P. Gallagher

While Marines doing PT jog in the background, Sailors perform maintenance on an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) in the Pacific Ocean.

The sailors are assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21. The Marines are with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The Marines and sailors are training to coordinate, integrate and work together within the confines of the 844-foot-long,  40,000-ton ship before deployment.

According to the Navy, LHDs provide transportation, command and support for all elements of a Marine landing force of over 2,000 troops during an assault by air and amphibious craft.

Editor’s Note:

The one time we took a vacation on a cruise ship, we jogged on the top deck (dodging waiters, other joggers and small children). We can’t imagine what it must be like jogging on the flight deck of what’s essentially a busy, mini aircraft carrier.

March 20, 2015 at 1:11 am Leave a comment

ARCTIC NATION: Joint Viking; Norway Defense Budget; Arctic Caucus; Ice Melt

Big Norwegian Exercise.

Thousands of Norwegian soldiers, sailors and airmen are converging on the northernmost county in Norway as part of joint service exercise called “Joint Viking.”

Norwegin troops guide a Bell 412SP helicopter in during Exercise Joint Viking. (Norwegian Armed Forces photo)

Norwegian troops guide a Bell 412SP helicopter in during Exercise Joint Viking.
(Norwegian Armed Forces photo)

Some 4,000 soldiers and 400 vehicles will take part in the largest winter exercise near the Russian border in almost 50 years. Submarines, surface ships and aircraft will also be part of the exercise

The object of the 10-day arctic exercise that began Monday (March 9) is to perfect a concept called “Joint Operative Arenas,: which fuses several sea-air-land-specific exercises together “in order to give all players an increased outcome,” according to the Norwegian Armed Forces website.

Another, pointed but less direct object of the exercise — the largest near Norway’s border with Russia since 1967 — is to send a message to Moscow. Since the end of the Cold War, Norway (a member of NATO) and Russia have conducted several joint exercises in the Barents Sea region — the latest was in 2013. But with Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, Norway as ended all military cooperation with Russia, according to the Barents Observer.

Meanwhile, Russia has launched numerous military exercises near the borders of NATO nations — including an air force war game last week over the Barents Sea.

*** *** ***

Oslo’s Arctic Buildup.

Norway, Sweden  (CIA World Factbook via University of Texas Libraries)

Norway, Sweden
(CIA World Factbook via University of Texas Libraries)

As we have said in previous posts, Russia’s new aggressiveness all along its borders with former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries (like Estonia and Ukraine) has provoked several Nordic countries to reevaluate their military spending – particularly on equipment and manpower in the High North.

Norway, for one, is planning on an $8 billion defense budget in 2015. Norway is beefing up manpower and equipment for Arctic combat units as part of the Norwegian Defense Forces’ Smart Defense Strategy. The strategy places a higher priority on Arctic-class specialized equipment procurement and more intensive training for Arctic-deployed units.

According to Defense News, a Joint Operational Command Headquarters “is overseeing the evolution of Norway’s High North defenses into a centralized command and coordinated fighting structure” that will be able to rely on air force F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets, army battalions deploying CV90 tracked armored infantry fighting vehicles and Archer self-propelled artillery units, naval surface vessels like anti-aircraft and anti-submarine Arctic-class Fridtjof Nansen frigates and Skjold corvettes.

*** *** ***

Congressional Arctic Caucus.

Two U.S. senators are forming an Arctic Caucus in the Senate to focus on building U.S. leadership in the region.

Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said March 4 that she and Maine Independent Senator Angus King are forming the caucus to initiate discussions on a range of issues including defense, energy, environment and trade. “I’m calling on colleagues in the Senate to join me, to step up, to help us not only build out policy initiatives, but really take that leadership role we should be doing as an Arctic nation,” Murkowski said from the Senate floor, adding: “Embrace your inner-Arctic self,” The Hill newspaper reported.

The new caucus comes as the United States is poised next month to begin a two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental group that focuses on cooperation in the region.

King said his priorities include: appointing a U.S. ambassador to the Arctic; ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, examining the need for infrastructure investments — such as building more ice-breakers, evalue tthe challenges of Arctic shipping and how the United States might work cooperatively with Russia on Arctic issues, according to the Portland Press  Herald.

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Arctic Sea Ice Melt.

Sea ice still thinning. (Photo courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory website)

Sea ice still thinning.
(Photo courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory website)

Research shows that Arctic sea ice is not only covering less of the planet, but it’s also getting significantly thinner. That makes it more susceptible to melting, potentially altering local ecosystems, shipping routes and ocean and atmospheric patterns, The Guardian newspaper and other news outlets report.

“New data compiled from a range of sources – from Navy submarines to satellites – suggests that thinning is happening much faster than models have estimated, according to a study aiming to link those disparate data sources for the first time,” the Guardian said.

According to the report from the National Snow & Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, the extent of Arctic sea ice is well below average, but it remains to be seen whether March will see a rise or set a record low maximum. “Regionally, Arctic ice extent is especially low in the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea. In the Antarctic, sea ice shrank to the fourth highest minimum in the satellite records,” the report said.

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

Polar bears explore a surfaced U.S. submarine in the Arctic. U.S. Navy photo. (Click on the image to enlarge)

March 10, 2015 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (February 22-28, 1815)

Waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Ink and watercolor by John Rubens Smith. [circa 1814]

Ink and watercolor by John Rubens Smith. [circa 1814]

The war of 1812 is officially over but there are still a few chess moves to complete before the game is up. For instance, British troops in Canada haven’t gotten the word yet about the Treaty of Ghent

However, none of these events occurred this week.

Instead, we thought we’d share the list of books that have informed this weekly blog post for nearly three years.

1812: The War that Forged a Nation by Walter R. Borneman, 2004. Making sense and nation-building in “Mr. Madison’s War.”

1812: The Navy’s War by George C. Daughan, 2011. Despite its title, a detailed account of the war on land and sea.

Union 1812: The Americans Who Fought the Second War of Independence by A.J. Langguth, 2007. Profiles of the war’s winners and losers.

The Dawn’s Early Light by Walter Lord, 1972. The firts book we read on the War of 1812, an accessible, popular history.

Through the Perilous Flight: Six Weeks That Saved The Nation by Steve Vogel, 2013.  A Washington Post writer brings a historian’s eye and a reporter’s writing to the story of the battles that didn’t destroy the United States.

Our Flag Was Still There: The Sea History Press Guide to the War of 1812 by William H. White, 2012. As one would expect, lots of naval history, but key incidents on land are not ignored. Very accessible and simple.

The Battle of New Orleans: Andrew Jackson and America’s First Military Victory by Robert V. Remini, 1999.  Simply the best book on this momentuous battle.

Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars by Robert V. Remini, 2001. The Indians of the Southeast called him “Sharp Knife,” and it wasn’t a compliment.

Patriotic Fire, Andrew Jackson and Jean Laffite at the Battle of New Orleans by Winston Groom, 2006. Groom plugs some of the holes in Reminis ‘s battle narrative, and brings some insight — and interesting facts about the pirate who saved America.

This post isn’t the end of THIS WEEK in the War of 1812. There are still the formalities of war: turning over captured territory; determining the fate of captured privateers; seamen rioting in a notorious British prison, rising stars and shattered careers. And much more …!

February 24, 2015 at 11:41 pm Leave a comment

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