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U.S. Navy to christen its newest Independence-variant littoral combat ship – Defence Blog


The Navy will christen its newest Independence-variant littoral combat ship (LCS), the future USS Mobile (LCS 26), during a 10 a.m. CDT ceremony Saturday, Dec. 7, in Mobile, Alabama.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, representing Alabama’s first district, will deliver the christening ceremony’s principal address. His wife, Rebecca Byrne, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of South Alabama, will serve as the ship’s sponsor. In a time-honored Navy tradition, Rebecca Byrne will christen the ship by breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow.

”USS Mobile is a marvel of engineering,” said Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly. ”She will extend our capabilities for any mission, from the middle of the ocean to the shallowest of waters, enhancing our ability to project power ashore and at sea. This Independence-class LCS will extend the maneuverability and lethality of our fleet to confront the many challenges of a complex world.”

LCS is a highly maneuverable, lethal and adaptable ship designed to support focused mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare missions. The ship integrates new technology and capability to affordably support current and future mission capability from deep water to the littorals. Using an open architecture design, modular weapons, sensor systems and a variety of manned and unmanned vehicles to gain, sustain and exploit littoral maritime supremacy, LCS provides U.S. joint force access to critical areas in multiple theaters.

The LCS class consists of two variants, the Freedom variant and the Independence variant, designed and built by two industry teams. The Freedom variant team is led by Lockheed Martin in Marinette, Wisconsin (for the odd-numbered hulls). The Independence variant team is led by Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama (for LCS 6 and the subsequent even-numbered hulls).

LCS 26 is the 13th Independence-variant LCS and the 26th in the class. It is the fifth ship named in honor of the port city on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. The first Mobile was a side wheel steamer that operated as a Confederate government operated blockade runner. It was captured by U.S. forces at New Orleans in April 1862, commissioned as Tennessee and later renamed Mobile. The second Mobile was a passenger liner operated by Hamburg Amerika Lines between Germany and the United States until the outbreak of World War I. It was taken over by the Allied Maritime Council and assigned to the United States after the Armistice and commissioned March 1919. The third Mobile (CL 63) was commissioned March 24, 1943. It participated in numerous campaigns in the Pacific during World War II and received 11 battle stars for her service by the time she was decommissioned May 1947. The fourth Mobile (LKA 115) was an amphibious cargo ship that served from September 1969 until decommissioning in February 1994.

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USS Harry S. Truman begins flight operations in U.S. Sixth Fleet – Defence Blog


U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa said Sunday that the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) begins flight operations in U.S. Sixth Fleet to support maritime security operations in international waters, alongside our allies and partners.

Deploying ships and aircraft of the strike group, commanded by Rear Adm. Andrew J. Loiselle, include flagship USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), commanded by Capt. Kavon Hakimzadeh; the eight squadrons and staff of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, staffs of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 8, and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 28.

“We are ready to continue our steadfast commitment to our allies and partners in U.S. 6th Fleet,” said Loiselle. “These vital sea lanes must remain open for global commerce and prosperity, and nothing in the world is able to foster regional security like a carrier strike group.”

Squadrons of CVW-1, commanded by Capt. Robert Gentry, embarked on Truman include Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11 “Red Rippers;” VFA-81 “Sunliners;” VFA-136 “Knighthawks;” VFA-211 “Fighting Checkmates;” Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 137 “Rooks;” Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 126 “Seahawks;” Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 72 “Proud Warriors;” Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 11 “Dragon Slayers;” and a detachment from Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40 “Rawhides.”

The Harry S. Truman strike group last operated in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in 2018, demonstrating its ability to operate from the High North to the East Mediterranean.

In mid-November, the U.S. Navy has announced repairs to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) are complete and added that all efforts are being made to return the carrier and air wing to sea to conduct operations.

In August, the Navy announced an emergent maintenance requirement for an electrical issue aboard Truman, according to a Navy news release.

“The Navy replaced damaged components and completed tests to ensure no further issues will arise. An engineering analysis, coupled with inspections aboard several aircraft carriers, show that this was a localized issue and not a class-wide concern,” the Navy message states. “The success of this repair was due to the outstanding efforts of multiple Navy organizations and industry partners who quickly brought their expertise and skills to bear to resolve this issue.”

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Russian Su-30 fighter jets criticized by Belarus, they want F-16 – Defence Blog


Russia has started implementing a contract on the delivery of a batch of its newest Su-30SM multirole fighter jets to Belarus, but some analysts raised concerns about costs over the entire life cycle of the aircraft, from fabrication to maintenance.

The publication Lenta.ru reported Friday that a wide range of renowned experts has expressed their concerns regarding Belarus selected Russian-made combat aircraft to replace ageing Soviet-era MiG-29 fleet.

Andrey Porotnikov, BelarusSecurityBlog’s project leader, said that operating and support costs of Russian aircraft are more expensive than U.S.-made F-16 fighter aircraft.

Usually, the combat aircraft life-cycle cost for an estimated life of 35 years is 2-2.5 times its purchase price, as a result of which the total cost of maintenance of each Belarus’s Su-30SM will cost $100-125 million.

“And now, to sum up, the price of aircraft [about $ 50 million], the maintain of airworthiness and modernization. We get the amount from 185 to 210 million dollars for each (!) aircraft in the next 35 years. And the squadron [12 aircraft], respectively, from 2.22 billion to 2.52 billion dollars. The amount is not small, ”- Andrey Porotnikov stated.

Another disadvantage of the fighter manufactured in Russia is its AL-31FP engines, which six units “eat” during the Su-30SM life cycle (two of them are already installed and paid for at the time of purchase). This circumstance in the publication is explained by the fact that “Soviet (Russian) aircraft engines are traditionally inferior to Western ones not only in fuel efficiency but also in between-repairs and operating life cycles.”

“The Polish Air Force simultaneously operates the Soviet twin-engine fighter MiG-29 and the American single-engine F-16. It is assumed that the American fighter will fly off all 35 years with the same engine that was originally installed on it. Unfortunately, this does not work out with the MiG-29: eight engines will have to be replaced in the same period, ” explained analyst.

Photo by Airman 1st Class Duncan Bevan

According to TASS, the Su-30SM is a generation 4++ serial-produced and upgraded two-seat super-maneuverable fighter jet. The Su-30SM is furnished with two AL-31FP thrust-vectoring reheated double-flow turbofan engines. The fighter has an operating range of 1,500 km and flight endurance of 3.5 hours without refueling.

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Turkey, Libya delimitation deal raises geopolitical tensions



Turkey has signed an agreement with Libya’s internationally recognised government on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea that could affect oil and gas exploration of other countries and heighten geopolitical tensions in the volatile region.

Ankara reportedly announced the accord and a deal on expanded security and military cooperation on 28 November.

Cyprus Natural Hydrocarbons Company CEO Charles Ellinas told New Europe on 29 November that the immediate impact of the Libya-Turkey agreement is on the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of Greece and Egypt.

Both Greece and Egypt, but also Cyprus, have already strongly condemned this as not being in agreement with international law, blatantly ignoring the rights of islands. Cairo dismissed the deal between Ankara and Tripoli as “illegal” and Athens said the accord is “completely unacceptable” because it ignored the presence of the Greek island of Crete between the coasts of Turkey and Libya and summoned Turkish Ambassador Burak Ozugergin to the Greek Foreign Ministry, Greece’s Kathimerini newspaper reported.

Cyprus’ Foreign Ministry on 29 November also condemned the deal. “Such a delimitation, if done, would constitute a serious violation of international law,” an announcement said, CyprusMail reported. “It would be contrary to the recognised principle of the convention on the law of the sea and the rights of islands’ EEZ,” it added. “With the distortion of the law of the sea and the counterfeiting of geography – Turkey will gain no footing in the Eastern Mediterranean,” it concluded.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu claimed that with the memorandum of understanding on the “delimitation of maritime jurisdictions Turkey is protecting “rights deriving from international law.” Reuters quoted him as saying that such accords could be agreed with other countries if differences could be overcome and that Ankara was in favour of “fair sharing” of resources, including off Cyprus.

Constantinos Filis, director of research at Institute of International Relations, told New Europe on 29 November Turkey’s illegal acts do not have legal repercussions. “Ankara’s attempt to agree with an unstable regime, which represents only part of Libya and therefore any deal it signs is uncertain, is a result of its isolation particularly from energy developments. Given that Turkey cannot agree with any other regional actor not only in the delimitation of the continental shelve or EEZ but also on how to stabilize the region and make it prosperous, it is left with no option but to approach a semi-rogue regime in order to showcase its regional power,” he said, adding that the message it wants to send is that any agreement or plan, including energy projects, cannot be fulfilled without Ankara’s consent.

Ellinas said the Libya-Turkey agreement indirectly affects Cyprus as well, as Turkey uses the same justification to delineate its ‘EEZ’ in the Mediterranean. “In effect, this ignores the entitlement of islands, including Cyprus and Crete, to an EEZ. Turkey defines its ‘EEZ’ to be coextensive with its continental shelf, based the relative lengths of adjacent coastlines, which completely disadvantages islands. It is a ‘unique’ interpretation not shared by any other country and not in accordance to the United Nations UNCLOS treaty, ratified by 167 countries but not Turkey,” Ellinas said.

He argued that Ankara appears to be picking and choosing, as it has used UNLOS principles to delineate its ‘EEZ’ in the Black Sea but does not accept them in the Mediterranean. “That may be challengeable under customary international law,” the Cyprus Natural Hydrocarbons Company CEO said.

“In all likelihood Turkey is doing this, as well as through its aggressive actions in carrying out exploration and drilling in Cyprus’ EEZ, in order to establish a position of strength from which eventually to enter into negotiations. But also as a reaction to the growing cooperation among almost all the other countries bordering the East Med. Turkey’s claims have no internationally recognised legal basis,” Ellinas said.

According to Filis, it is not clear whether there is an agreement – rather, it seems to be a preliminary step of expressing their intention to sign an agreement in the future. “But the most dangerous repercussion might be Turkey’s attempt to use it as a basis for projecting its supposed sovereign right to proceed with seismic activities in the area between Rhodes and Crete, especially in the southeastern part of the matter, thus confirming its strategic interest for the triangle between Crete, Kastellorizo and Cyprus,” he said.

Asked what could be the US and EU reaction to this agreement and how does it affect geopolitics in the region, Ellinas said both Washington and Brussels, and all other neighbouring countries in the East Med, recognise Cyprus’ and other countries’ rights to their EEZs declared in accordance to UNCLOS. He explained that as UNCLOS is not legally enforceable against a state that declines to sign and ratify it, the way to resolve this may eventually be through negotiations or arbitration on the basis of internationally recognised law and not through aggressive actions as Turkey is now pursuing.



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“Mystery” missile battery spotted on roof of building across street from White House – Defence Blog


NBC News reported Tuesday that the White House and the U.S. Capitol were put on temporary lockdown following an airspace violation in Washington D.C., according to law enforcement sources.

The Secret Service said in a statement that the brief lockdown was due to a “potential violation of the restricted airspace in the National Capital Region.”

During lockdown also was spotted point of mystery air defense system atop a building across the street from the White House.

Sara Cook, a CBS News producer covering the White House, tweeted out an image showing a missile battery in the roof of a building near the White House.

Andrew Leyden wrote in response to Sara Cook tweet: “There are several types of anti-aircraft missile batteries around DC, near DCA, JBAB, Carderock and other locations. That one you spotted was actually put in place many many years ago.”

According to some sources, the air defense system that was spotted is an element of AN/TWQ-1 Avenger pointed on the roof of the New Executive Office Building (NEOB), a U.S. federal government office building in Washington, D.C.. The building is located at 725 17th Street NW, on the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue. To the south is the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB), which is next to the White House.

The Drive said that the AN/TWQ-1 is more typically seen mounted on a Humvee, but can be positioned in fixed emplacements, as well. It is armed with the two four-round launchers for the FIM-92 Stinger missile and a .50 caliber M3P machine gun.

Another Twitter user wrote: “Isn´t it quite normal that in/around Washington DC and especially around the hill/White House several defense installations are available? I would be more confused if there are not such things in place?!…as well as they hopefully change positons random to screw up observers!”

As to ‘lockdown’, U.S. Capitol Police confirmed that access to the Capitol Complex buildings was halted “for a short time.” The situation was cleared at 9:12 a.m., Capitol Police said, about 45 minutes after the aircraft was first reported in the restricted airspace.

A spokesperson for NORAD said in a statement later Tuesday that the object could have been “a flock of birds or a weather balloon.”

The event was “resolved without incident,” the spokesperson said.

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U.S. Air Force retired integral component of long-range strategic bombing capabilities – Defence Blog


The U.S. Air Force retired an integral component of the United States’ long-range strategic bombing capabilities – the final Conventional Air-Launched Cruise Missile (CALCM) package.

The CALCM missile package is retired at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Nov. 20, 2019.

Initially beginning design in 1974, the CALCM missile has been employed in combat operations to include Desert Storm, Desert Strike, Desert Fox, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Decades later, the final missile package was disassembled to become demilitarized.

“It’s incredible to see the tail end of a weapons system come full circle,” Tech. Sgt. Carlos Solorza, 2nd Munitions Squadron weapons system bay chief said during the final upload of the CALCM weapon system. “I don’t think I’ll ever be apart of another weapon retirement and the fact that I’m here right now is pretty special.”

The CALCM missile is a small, winged missile powered by a turbofan jet engine, able to fly complicated routes through terrain with the guidance of a GPS aided inertial navigation system.

“I’ve loaded this weapon system well over 300 times,” said retired Chief Master Sgt. Paul LaFlame, former weapons superintendent at Barksdale. “This has been the primary weapon system on the B-52 for decades now.”

Although missile design began in the mid-1970s, CALCM wasn’t employed in combat until January of 1991, during Operation Secret Squirrel, a mission in which seven B-52G Stratofortresses took off from Barksdale toward Iraqi targets, launching 35 CALCM missiles.

Opening the first strikes of Operation Desert Storm, the then-new CALCM missiles devastated Saddam Hussein’s forces and marked the first time GPS has been used to guide a missile to a target.

Former members of the mission, retired Cols. Trey Morriss and Warren Ward alongside LaFlame were in attendance for the final download of the last CALCM missiles.

“It’s awesome to see these young Airmen, it makes me feel young,” said Ward. “It’s always great to interact with young troops, they’re phenomenal. It’s great to see the Air Force still moving along seamlessly, with great people who still get the job done,” LaFlame added.

The CALCM weapon system is to be replaced over time as more advanced Long-Range, Stand-Off (LRSO) weapons enter the active stockpile.

Photo by Airman Jacob Wrightsman

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U.S. Army orders 30mm automatic chain guns – Defence Blog


The U.S. Army has awarded a contract to Alliant Techsystems Operations LLC, part of Northrop Grumman, to deliver 30mm automatic chain guns and bevel gears.

The contract, from U.S. Army Contracting Command and announced by the Department of Defense, is valued at more than $8 million.

According to a statement issued Friday, Alliant Techsystems Operations was awarded an $8 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of the M230 30mm automatic gun and the bevel gear.

The U.S. Department of Defense also noted that work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Nov. 19, 2024.

The M230 chain gun is a 30mm, single-barrel automatic cannon developed by Hughes and now manufactured by Northrop Grumman. It is an electrically operated chain gun, a weapon that uses external electrical power (as opposed to recoil or expanding gas generated by the firing cartridge) to cycle the weapon between shots.

A 30mm automatic M230 chain gun is located under the fuselage. It provides a rate of fire of 625 rounds a minute. The helicopter has a capacity for up to 1,200 rounds of ammunition.

The gun has a positive cook-off safety for open bolt clearing and double ram prevention. Spent casings are ejected overboard through the bottom of the gun.

Photo by Capt. Brian Harris

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