Israeli official confirms airstrike on Syria 04/05/2013 07:04 CET
US reconsidering arming Syrian rebels 03/05/2013 03:25 CET
North Korea issues new military threats 16/04/2013 05:15 CET
Washington think-tanks mull options over Korea crisis 16/04/2013 15:35 CET
Russia expresses concern over military activity near… 29/03/2013 15:45 CET
US drone technology has taken a big step forward with the first-ever launch from an aircraft carrier.
The X-47B is the size of a piloted fighter jet and is totally automatic – unlike previous drones which had been technically-controlled from the ground by people.
The X-47B also has a range of almost double the drones currently being used.
“This will be the future of warfare and it will be a warfare that is a little less risky for humans but maybe a little more effective when it comes to delivering weapons and effect,” said James Lewis from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
America’s use of drones has caused controversy and drawn international criticism. It has also strained relations with Pakistan and Afghanistan.
More about: Military, Technology, USA
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The flight serves as a milestone for the future of drone aviation, and US Navy officers have celebrated the success of its launch. But the flight of the unmanned aircraft, which is the size of a fighter jet, is likely to become the subject of criticism from those who believe drone usage hurts the US image – especially since drones are behind many civilian deaths on foreign grounds. Critics have already condemned the Navy’s $1.4 billion drone prototype program, relaying their concerns over the development of weaponized systems in which humans will have even less control over when it comes to launching attacks. Human Rights Watch has particularly protested the development of drones that carry weapons and are fully autonomous, like the X-47B unmanned aircraft that the Navy launched from the USS George H.W. Bushon Tuesday. This unmanned aircraft can reach an altitude of more than 40,000 feet and has a range of more than 2,100 nautical miles, the Associated Press reports. This model is particularly valuable because it has the capability to take off and land on an aircraft carrier. Developing such drones would allow the US to launch strikes from anywhere in the world, regardless of whether or not a foreign country allows the US on its grounds. The drone is fully autonomous in flight, and relies on computer programs to direct it – unless an operator programs it to operate otherwise. Most drones currently employed by the military fully rely on operators to control it from a remote location. While the X-47B is only intended for testing purposes rather than operational use, the Navy will use it for research purposes to develop advanced unmanned aircraft for use in future conflicts. When it comes to using lethal force, the X-47B still requires human approval. But Human Rights Watch believes the prototype research will lead to the development of drones that conduct deadly attacks with no human intervention.Steve Goose, director of the arms division at Human Rights Watch, expressed some of his fears with AP.“For us, the question is where do you draw lines?” he said. “We’re saying you need to draw the line when you have a fully autonomous system that is weaponized. We’re saying you must have meaningful human control over key battlefield decisions of who lives and who dies. That should not be left up to the weapons system itself.” But despite fears over the future of fully autonomous drones that can launch deadly attacks from aircraft carriers, the Navy is hailing the flight of its prototype as a success it has long sought.“US Navy history is made!” the Navy wrote from its official Twitter account. “Was airborne at 11:18A. More to come.” The Navy plans to release videos and photographs of the event, which Read Adm. Mat Winter wrote marks “an inflection point in history on how we will integrate manned and unmanned aircraft on carrier flight decks in the future.” … Read More
The Red Square Parade – which honors veterans of the bloodiest war in history and showcases Russia’s modern military might – is annually held in Moscow on May 9.First to march on the bricks of the country’s main square came the future Russian officers – cadets of military schools and young Cossacks – followed by regiments of the Ground Forces, the Navy and other forces. To share the honor of taking part in the Victory Day parade, servicemen – all wearing new ceremonial dress – spent months drilling. About 100 armored vehicles rolled into the square to be followed by the most spectacular and noisy part of the show – the flight of combat aircraft.Attack choppers Mi-28, Ka-52, strategic bombers Tu-160, Tu-22 as well Su-27 and MiG-29 fighters from the Russian Knights and the Swifts aerobatics teams – a total of 68 machines have rocked the Moscow sky to symbolize the 68th anniversary since the end of the WWII in 1945.Some 1,800 WWII veterans were invited to watch the parade on Red Square along with the country’s top officials. Unfortunately, ordinary spectators couldn’t get onto the site without an invitation, but the event was broadcast live on Russian state channels.Throughout the country, the day is packed with various events and festivities – from marches of veterans and church services to open-airs, bike rides, retro-car races, and drama shows.In the capital alone, 1,500 events are planned as part of Victory Day celebrations. The city’s parks are organizing dance floors and exhibitions of military hardware of the 1940ties.At noon, a march called “Moscow remembers” will be held on the city’s central Tverskoy Boulevard. Anyone who brings photos, letters or medals of their relatives who died in the WWII will be able to participate.Similar marches have also taken place in dozens of towns and cities across the former USSR. The biggest “Immortal Regiment” march was in Tomsk in Siberia – where the very idea of the event was born. Some 10,000 people came to participate. “This column is not a funeral procession at all. We want to create an atmosphere of a holiday,” the project coordinator Sergey Kotlovkin told RIA Novosti.Meanwhile, St Pete, Ulyanovsk and Samara WWII veterans take part in a race on retro automobiles.The celebrations will culminate with fireworks in the evening. In Moscow, some 9,000 salute shots will light the sky to the joy of thousands of people who traditionally – together with their friends and families – flock to open spaces at 2200 (1800 GMT) on May 9 to watch the show.Victory Day remains one of the most important holidays for Russians, a poll by Levada opinion research center revealed. Between 70 and 75 per cent of Russians celebrate May 9 in one or another way. The first parade to commemorate the WWII victory was staged on Red Square on June 24, 1945 – over a month after the defeat of Nazi Germany – under the order of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. The Soviet Union paid the highest price for this victory and lost over 26 million lives in the conflict, known as the Great Patriotic War in the former USSR. Military parades were regularly held on Red Square on May 9 since 1965 – the 20th anniversary of the Nazi Defeat. The tradition was dropped for a while after the collapse of the USSR, in the beginning of turbulent 90ties. However, it was revived again in 1995 and has been followed ever since.Apart from Moscow, military parades on May 9 are held in over 20 Russian cities. … Read More
Over 11,000 servicemen from all the branches of the Russian armed forces marched through Moscow’s central square to mark the 68 year of WWII Victory.The V-Day parade has always been a prestigious event for the Russian corps – and that includes the choice of defense technologies developed in the country’s design bureaus, of which the finest are brought to the forefront.The most modern make of the Russian “flying tank” T-90A has firmly taken its place at the parade. Not only does it make impressive stunts in the spirit of its fellow Soviet T-80 – it is the best equipped heavy machine for supporting infantry. T-90’s layers of protection include recently upgraded explosive-reactive armor and an infrared anti-tank missile jamming system. Its manoeuvrability, firepower and easy maintenance have made it the best-selling tank in the world.Among the parade all-timers are Russian BTRs, or 8×8 amphibious armored personnel carriers. This iconic machine has been baptized by fire in many ground operations, becoming not just a carrier, but a combat vehicle when needed. The featured BTR-82A is the latest production version with modern night vision and GLONASS navigation systems installed, as well as with improved engine power. About 30 countries currently have BTR-80 family vehicles in service.But there’re some technologies that the Russian Defense Ministry is unwilling to export despite distinct foreign interest, and a new generation anti-aircraft weapon system S-400 “Triumph” (NATO reporting name SA-21 Growler) is among them. S-400 uses 3 different missiles of varying capabilities, which can destroy airborne targets at up to 400 kilometers. This unparalleled multifunction system represents a major component of the Russian ballistic missile defense.Buk-M2 (SA-6 Gainful) is the most recent make of another Russian missile defense system brand, which is impressively mobile and easily deployed. It takes five minutes to set up Buk-M2, which can defeat most medium-range targets, such as missiles, helicopters, and strategic or tactical aircrafts. The missile system is able to operate in the presence of heavy electronic countermeasures and under intense enemy fire.The latest air defense technology is built into Pantsir-S1 (SA-22 Greyhound) weapon system, which uses phased-array radars for both target acquisition and tracking. It is said to be able to shield civilian and military objects from all the existing and upcoming means of airborne threats.Russian intercontinental ballistic missile Topol-M and tactical missile launchers Iskander-M, better known in the West by their NATO reporting names SS-27 Sickle B and SS-26 Stone, are also present at the event. The Topol-M missile, which is able to make evasive manoeuvres on its own, carries decoys and has even been shielded against nuclear explosions taking place 500 meters away, is said to be immune to any defense system.In a spectacular air show concluding the parade some 70 aircraft fly over the Kremlin, featuring renowned aerobatic teams of the Russian Air Force.Helicopters take to the skies of Moscow first, with both battle and transport machines of the Mil-family hovering over the Red Square. Mi-8 and Mi-26 carrying the flags are cargo veterans used in military and humanitarian missions on all continents by many countries. They’re followed by a squadron of Mi-28’s (“Havoc”), modern all-weather attack helicopters, which can carry out battle tasks while flying at high speeds and at extremely low altitudes.The Mil’s long-time rival, Kamov design bureau helicopters with their distinctive coaxial rotor system buzz along next. The “Alligators,” as Ka-52 (“Hokum B”) attack helicopters were dubbed, have become world airshow favorites for the unbelievable stunts their high manoeuvrability allows. In Russia, the Ka-52 and its predecessor Ka-50 “Black Shark” have been chosen as the special forces’ support helicopter, while Mi-28 has become the main army’s gunship.Gigantic cargo planes, including world’s largest strategic airlift jet An-124 Ruslan (“Condor”), fly by the Red Square. Airborne warning and control system aircraft A-50 (“Mainstay”) based on the trademark Soviet Ilyushin Il-76 transport plane is among them.Multirole fighters MiG-29 (“Fulcrum”), initially designed for gaining air superiority, have proven capable of performing a whole range of different combat tasks and need little introduction. They’re followed by fighter-bombers and interceptors of the MiG and Sukhoy families, such as Sukhoi Su-34 (“Fullback”).Amid the display of strategic bombers, there’s an imitation of mid-air refueling of the “White Swan” variable-sweep wing Tu-160 heavy bomber in pair with the flying tanker Il-78.Right before the parade’s finale a battle array of Russia’s famed fighter jets Su-27 (“Flanker”) and MiG-29 speeds along. It is followed by a joint formation of the Russian Knights (“Russkiye Vityazi”) and the Swifts (“Strizhi”) – two celebrated aerobatic demonstration teams flying the same battle jets.Six Su-25 jets spectacularly close the Victory Day parade, drawing the Russian flag with colored bursts of smoke. … Read More
The US Navy has issued a statement that the mass exercises are aimed at “enhancing capability to preserve freedom of navigation in international waterways.” The drills will reportedly focus on mine-sweeping and search-and-seizure operations, and some on-shore training.The Pentagon is directing the maneuvers, which will reportedly involve 35 ships, 18 unmanned submarines and unmanned aircraft. The 40 other countries participating in the drills have not yet been named; Britain, France, some Middle Eastern states, and nations as distant as New Zealand have previously participated in similar exercises.The Obama administration has stated that the maneuvers are not a warning to Iran, and are intended solely to secure a key oil route in the region.Tehran has said it will be monitoring the exercises, and voiced concerns about how the maneuvers come in the run-up to the Iranian elections.Iran has previously threatened to close the Hormuz Strait, through which 40 percent of the world’s oil is transported by ship, if “its interests are in serious trouble”. The US condemned the threats and warned that such a move would provoke US Military action.The last drills of this scale were held in September 2012 in the Gulf, with 29 nations participating. At the time, Israel was pushing for a strike against Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons program.Iran has also been building up its military presence in the area, and plans to deploy submarines to bolster its defenses. In January, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) conducted military exercises in the Strait, stating that it was “prepared for any threat.”“Our present capabilities are incomparable to the past. Today, our youth, banking on the past experiences and modern science, have managed to show their capabilities to the world and be prepared for any threat,” IRGC Navy Commander Rear-Admiral Reza Torabi was quoted as saying.The US has punished Iran with heavy economic sanctions for its supposed atomic weapons program. Tehran has denied that it is producing nuclear weapons on a number of occasions, and maintains its atomic program is purely for civilian purposes.Israel called on the US last year to strike at nuclear sites in Iran, but the Obama Administration refused, preferring to pursue sanctions as a means of curbing Tehran’s supposed nuclear ambitions. … Read More
During an interview with Republican members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Gregory Hicks said that if the US had deployed military aircraft to fly over Benghazi it may have prevented the second attack that killed two CIA security officers. Excerpts of Hicks’ interview with lawmakers were released to the press in preparation for his testimony in front of the committee Wednesday. “I think it was a terrorist attack from the get-go,” Hicks is quoted as saying. “I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning.” Republicans, perhaps most notably Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have maintained their accusation that the Obama administration has covered up the full story of the September 11, 2012 attack on the nation’s consulate. Hicks’ comments are expected to reignite a political debate that began just before the US presidential election in 2012 and could factor into any of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential aspirations. Despite being heavily favored to be the Democratic candidate in the next election, Clinton was secretary of state at the time of the Benghazi attack, eventually resigning because of it. Hicks complained that the State Department somehow prevented Special Forces from making the trip to Benghazi even after US intelligence indicated Stevens had been killed. “They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it,” he told the GOP interviewers. “I guess they just didn’t have the right authority from the right level.”He reiterated the claim that had US jet fighters assembled they could have thwarted a mortar attack from Libyan insurgents. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other military leaders have repeatedly stressed that the events in Benghazi happened too quickly for the military to effectively send help.“I believe the Libyans would have split. They would have been scared to death that we would have gotten a laser on them and killed them,” Hicks is quoted as saying. The GOP committee has been criticized by Democrats for seemingly examining the attack selectively, with more regard for political gain and sensationalism than for the truth. “It certainly seems so, so far,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told the Associated Press when asked. “I mean, this is not sort of a collaborative process where the committee is working directly with us and trying to establish facts that would help as we look to keep our people safe overseas in a very complex environment.” Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who will lead the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday, accused State Department leadership of trying to bury the story. “Early on in this fight these people made a critical bad decision in that they did not activate these people simply because they were afraid it would be labeled as terrorism,” he said. “It was pure politics.” In the interview snippet Hicks told investigators that on the night of the attack he spoke with Col. Keith Phillips, the consular defense attaché, who told him that the nearest fighter jets were located at Aviano Air Base in Italy. It would take two to three hours to get the planes into the air because they were low on fuel, Phillips responded, according to Hicks, and there was no aircraft or tanker to refuel them. Hicks is also expected to claim Wednesday that he was the last American to speak to Stevens before the ambassador was transported to a Libyan hospital and died after a cardiac arrest.“Greg, we’re under attack,” he claimed Stevens said. “My response is, ‘Okay,’ and I’m about to say something else and the line clicks.” … Read More
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