China’s First Aircraft Carrier Leaves Homeport for Sea Trials

 

China’s First Aircraft Carrier Leaves Homeport for Sea Trials

China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, has left its homeport of Qingdao in east China’s Shandong Province to conduct scientific experiments and sea training, naval authorities said Tuesday.

This was the first time for the carrier to leave its homeport to conduct training voyage since it anchored there in February, according to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy.

The Liaoning and its crew members had conducted a series of scheduled tests and training drills in the homeport during the period.

Currently, China operates one aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which was refitted based on an unfinished Russian-made carrier and delivered to the Navy on Sept. 25, 2012.

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France keen to buy 12 US Reaper drones: minister

 

France keen to buy 12 US Reaper drones: minister

France wants to buy 12 Reaper drones from the United States, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Tuesday, as ministry officials put the cost at 670 million euros ($889 million).

Le Drian said he wanted two Reapers to be deployed in sub-Saharan Africa, where France is battling Islamist militants in Mali.

The 10 others would be deployed in French and European skies.

The deal needs the approval of Congress. Le Drian said that if it did not give a go-ahead, France could buy the drones from Israel.

The Reapers are made by California-based General Atomics.

Indian Jets violate Pakistani Airspace

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ISLAMABAD : Indian Fighter Jets violated Pakistani airspace a little before 11 AM on Tuesday, Geo News reported.

Indian Fighter Jets violated Pakistani airispace on Tuesday at 10:41 AM, flying withing Pakistani territory for a little over a minute near Head Sulemanki, approximately 170 kilometers from Lahore.

Following the violation, Pakistan Fighters scrambled in response, following which the Indian Aircraft retreated back to Indian Airspace.

In Lebanon, bravado about Syrian civil war is replaced by foreboding

Two Sunni gunmen in the northern Lebanese town of Tripoli where fighting has killed 25 people in eig

Two Sunni gunmen in the northern Lebanese town of Tripoli, where sectarian conflict has taken hold. Photograph: Omar Ibrahim/REUTERS

Beirutis like to say that their city thrives on uncertainty. “We’ve been through worse,” is a common refrain. “We’re used to war every few years,” is another.

In the last few months, though, bravado has been replaced by uncertainty and fear. Residents are often heard discussing the steadily deteriorating region in more foreboding tones.

“Is war really coming?” they regularly ask each other. Amid the rumble and whirl of drills and construction cranes, many in Beirut prefer not to draw conclusions. But away from the capital, the countryside resounds to the unmistakable drumbeat of war.

The largely Sunni north has taken on an increasingly heavy burden as Syria has unravelled. Lebanese men have gone to fight on Syrian battlefields, from where hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled to Lebanon.

Two years of sporadic clashes between Sunnis in Lebanon’s second city, Tripoli, and a minority Alawite Shia community barricaded on a residential hilltop have recently taken the shape of a more enduring battle.

Here, the Syrian civil war is unmistakably cast as a sectarian bid, led by Iran, to keep Sunnis away from power in the Levant. Fighting has intensified in each of the last three weeks, as Hezbollah – the Shia militia-cum-political powerhouse – has emerged from the shadows to take a very public stake in Syria’s war.

The speech two weeks ago by Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, announcing his militia’s role in seizing from rebels the border town of Qusair has heightened tensions. There is an undeniable sense that a reckoning now awaits the Shias of Lebanon, and especially their patrons in Tehran and Damascus. Nasrallah’s belligerent speech has done far more than the two-year creep of chaos across the Lebanon ranges to crystallise what is now at stake.

Hezbollah’s victory in Qusair, on behalf of Assad’s regime, is widely viewed as a first step in the escalation of the group’s role on other Syrian battlefronts. Many Sunni communities in the north are increasingly viewing the conflict in straight-up sectarian terms, believing they are being inexorably drawn into a fight that extends well beyond Lebanon’s borders.

The Shia of the south, meanwhile, cast Hezbollah’s role in Syria as a pre-emptive bid to protect them from an ancient inter-Muslim foe, salafists or takfiris – fundamentalist streams of Sunni Islam who the Shia claim are trying to attack them. This mutual demonisation is clearly hardening sectarian positions in the south and north. It is also being felt in parts of the capital, where both sects live alongside each other. Here, tensions run just as high as in the respective heartlands.

In Lebanon’s moribund parliament, though, there seems to be some kind of a detente at play. “Hezbollah sends us messages constantly that they don’t want things to get out of hand here,” said one member of the opposition March 14 political bloc. “We believe them about that. But what has been unleashed could prove unstoppable.”

Meanwhile, Beirut’s construction boom – legacies of contracts signed in better years – continues unabated. Hotels, however, stand largely empty and high-street shopping strips are deserted. Lebanon is not yet a country at war, but nor is it at peace with itself.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/09/lebanon-bravado-syria-replaced-by-fear

Fort Campbell air warriors light up Oklahoma sky with C-RAM

Fort Campbell air warriors light up Oklahoma sky with C-RAM
A loudspeaker blared “incoming, incoming, incoming” and Soldiers immediately dropped to the ground. A Counter — Rocket, Artillery and Mortar gun whirred as the weapon system tracked the threat. A four-second burst from the Gatling-type gun filled the air with tracer fire. Then the 300 rounds crackled as they exploded looking like a fireworks show that created a wall of flack which intercepted and destroyed the incoming mortar. The Soldiers scrambled to their feet and headed toward a bunker.

This was the scene May 26, at Thompson Hill Range here as 60 air defenders from B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery, from Fort Campbell, Ky., participated in a Counter — Rocket, Artillery and Mortar, known as a C-RAM, live fire. The live fire was part of their six-week pre-deployment certification to prepare them for C-RAM missions at outposts.

“The certification is going smooth. The group of Soldiers ahead of us took out every target that came toward them,” said Sgt. Orlando Rodriguez, B/2-44th, air and missile defense crewmembers team chief.

Instructors and contractors from D Battery, 2nd Battalion, 6th ADA, at Fort Sill conducted the training which is something they do about every nine months with deploying ADA units that are given the C-RAM mission, said trainer Sgt. 1st Class Kleber Soriano, D/2-6th ADA, academics section.

During the certification, the Fort Campbell short-range air defenders, who are a mix of Avenger missile crewmembers, air defense battle management system operators, and radar repairers, learn the C-RAM weapon system. The training culminates with about 10 days of live-fire training.

The biggest change from the Avenger system is learning the different procedures used by the C-RAM weapon system, Rodriguez said.

Raytheon contractor James Scott said the Avenger and C-RAM use similar electronics, but there is a different end process.

“It’s kind of like going from Microsoft to Apple,” he said.

One of the most challenging aspects of the certification is getting the gun crew and the engagement operations cell to communicate with each other, Soriano said.

“They need to learn how to work together and know what each other does,” he said.

Soriano emphasized that C-RAM is more than just an electric four-barrel gun that can fire 75 20mm high explosives rounds per second with a greater than 80 percent kill probability of mortar rounds.

Its layered network of counter-mortar radars can detect where mortars and rockets are coming from, he said. Soldiers can perform pattern analysis of the threats. This intelligence can be provided to, say, a forward operating base’s commander, who will then know where the threat is and how to address it.

Spc. Jason Campos, B/2-44th, air and missile defense crewmember, said he was looking forward to his first deployment, and using the C-RAM.

“After two years and three months, it’s really exciting for me,” he said.

Rodriguez said he believes his battery’s presence will definitely make a difference during deployment.

“I’m excited to get out there and help protect my team members from this enemy and indirect fire,” Rodriguez said.

Lockheed Martin Conducts Successful PAC-3 MSE Missile Flight Test

Lockheed Martin Conducts Successful PAC-3 MSE Missile Flight Test

Lockheed Martin’s (LMT) PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) Missile successfully engaged, intercepted and destroyed two different threat representative targets during a flight test today at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

The first target engagement involved two PAC-3 MSE Missiles ripple fired against an advanced Tactical Ballistic Missile (TBM) target. The first MSE Missile successfully engaged a TBM target, while the second missile self-destructed as planned. A third PAC-3 MSE Missile engaged a BQM-74 cruise missile target. Preliminary data indicates that all test objectives were achieved.

“Today’s test provides the final flight test data required to demonstrate the design maturity of the PAC-3 MSE configuration and its readiness to enter into production,” said Richard McDaniel, vice president of PAC-3 programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “Additionally, we demonstrated for the first time a multi-target engagement with MSE interceptors.”

The PAC-3 and PAC-3 MSE Missiles are two of the world’s most advanced, capable and reliable theater air and missile defense interceptors. They defeat advanced tactical ballistic and air breathing threats. As the most technologically advanced missiles for the PATRIOT air and missile defense system, PAC-3 and MSE Missiles significantly increase the system’s firepower, allowing 16 PAC-3 or 12 MSE Missiles to be loaded in place of just four legacy PATRIOT PAC-2 missiles on the launcher. The PAC-3 MSE Missile is packaged in a single canister that stacks to provide even more loadout flexibility for the operational warfighter.

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control is prime contractor for the PAC-3 Missile Segment and Missile Segment Enhancement upgrades to the PATRIOT air defense system. The upgrades consist of the highly agile hit-to-kill PAC-3/MSE Missiles, the PAC-3 Missile canisters (in four/one packs), the Fire Solution Computer and the Enhanced Launcher Electronics System, all of which are modularly integrated into PATRIOT.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 118,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration, and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products, and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2012 were $47.2 billion.

First Carrier Countermeasure Anti-Torpedo Launched

First Carrier Countermeasure Anti-Torpedo Launched

USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) conducted the first aircraft carrier-borne end-to-end at-sea test of the Surface Ship Torpedo Defense (SSTD) System, the Navy announced, June 6.

The SSTD System combines the passive detection capability of the Torpedo Warning System that not only finds torpedoes, but also classifies and tracks them, with the hard-kill capability of the Countermeasure Anti-Torpedo, an encapsulated miniature torpedo. The at-sea tests were conducted May 15-19.

The Countermeasure Anti-Torpedo is being developed by the Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Laboratory (PSU-ARL). It is designed to locate, home in on and destroy hostile torpedoes. Over the four-day testing period, Bush engaged seven torpedo-like targets with seven Countermeasure Anti-Torpedoes. Designed to validate the end-to-end of the system, the testing proved successful.

“These tests are a culmination of a very focused effort by the Navy including the program office, Bush’s crew, Norfolk Naval Shipyard and our academic and industrial partners. With all seven of our shots doing what they are designed and built to do, it validates our work and significantly enhances our current capabilities,” said Capt. Moises DelToro, the Undersea Defensive Warfare Systems program manager.

This first end-to-end test of the SSTD System achieved several firsts: the first Torpedo Warning System detection of targets from a carrier, the first automatic detection and automatic targeting of an incoming torpedo target from a ship, the first launch of Countermeasure Anti-Torpedo from a carrier and the first end to end Torpedo Warning System and Countermeasure Anti-Torpedo system detection-to-engage at-sea test.

“It is gratifying to have these tests go so well,” said Rear Adm. David Johnson, program executive officer, Submarines, whose portfolio includes the Undersea Defensive Warfare Systems Program Office. “The engineering involved to detect a hostile torpedo, process its direction, speed, depth, and then engage it with a carrier-launched Countermeasure Anti-Torpedo is impressive. I am confident that the fleet will be pleased with the results.”

Given the complexity of the system, the program office is taking an incremental approach to the development and acquisition of the Surface Ship Torpedo Defense System.

“What is currently aboard Bush is an engineering development model, or EDM, that is a fully-functioning system, but not the final configuration or production model,” DelToro said. “We’re learning from the Bush to improve the system so we can provide the most robust and cost-effective hard-kill anti-torpedo capability possible.”

The Navy currently plans to equip all aircraft carriers and other high-value units with the Surface Ship Torpedo Defense system by 2035.