Tag: Japan

Stratcom Commander Describes Challenges of 21st-Century Deterrence

Strategic deterrence starts with nuclear capabilities because nuclear war always has been an existential threat to the nation, but deterrence in the 21st century presents new challenges and requires the integration of all capabilities, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command said during a recent interview with DoD News at his command’s Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, headquarters.  

Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten said his three priorities for Stratcom are simple: one, above all else provide a strategic deterrent; two, if deterrence fails provide a decisive response; and three, respond with a combat-ready force.

But unlike in past decades, the 21st century presents more than one adversary and more than one domain, he said.

“It’s now a multipolar problem with many nations that have nuclear weapons, … and it’s also multidomain. … We have adversaries that are looking at integrating nuclear, conventional, space and cyber, all as part of a strategic deterrent. We have to think about strategic deterrence in the same way,” Hyten said.

The vision for Stratcom, he added, is to integrate all capabilities — nuclear, space, cyberspace, missile defense, global strike, electronic warfare, intelligence, targeting, analysis — so they can be brought to bear in a single decisive response if the nation is threatened.

“We can’t [assume] that having 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons under the New START Treaty somehow deters all our adversaries. It doesn’t,” the general said. “We have to think about all the domains, all the adversaries, all the capabilities, and focus our attention across the board on all of those.”

Modernization

Modernization is critical to the future of the U.S. deterrent capability, Hyten said, because all elements of the nuclear triad — bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear submarines — will reach a point within about 15 years at which they’re no longer viable.

“They are viable today. They are safe, secure, reliable, ready, [and] they can do all the missions they need to do today,” he said. “But in the not-too-distant future, that won’t be the case. Sadly, we’ve delayed the modernization of those programs really too long. And now if you lay all the modernization programs out on a single table and you look at when they all deliver, they all deliver just in time.”

The next intercontinental ballistic missile delivers just in time to replace the Minuteman, and the Columbia nuclear submarine delivers just in time to replace the Ohio-class sub, he added.

“Any one-year delay in Columbia means the future Stratcom commander is going to be down one submarine. And any future delay in the ICBM means we’re going to be down a certain number of ICBMs,” Hyten said.

It’s the same with the nation’s B-52 and B-2 bombers, the general said. The B-52 is an old but amazing weapon delivery platform that will have no penetration capability because of evolving penetration profiles. The B-2 is aging out and must be replaced by the B-21. The B-21 will come along just in time to provide the bomber capabilities the nation needs, he added.

“I don’t want a future Stratcom commander to ever face a day where we don’t have a safe, secure, ready and reliable nuclear deterrent,” he said. “It has to be there.”

Extended Deterrence

Extended deterrence is another critical job for Stratcom, Hyten said, noting that assurance is one of the most important things the command does for U.S. allies.

“When you look at our allies like the Republic of Korea or Japan, we have capabilities here that provide an extended deterrent for those two allies and a number of other allies around the world,” he said. “It’s important that the United States always assure them that we will be there with the capabilities that we have if they’re ever attacked with nuclear capabilities. That’s what extended deterrence means.”

Assurance can come through demonstrations, partnerships and exercises, he noted.

“There is a challenge right now with North Korea, and it’s very important for the Republic of Korea and for Japan to know that we will be there. And we will be,” he said.

The Pentagon considers North Korean mobile ballistic missiles a top threat

Stratcom’s Strength

Stratcom’s strength lies with the 184,000 people who show up and do Stratcom business every day, Hyten said.

“The best part of being a commander is actually seeing the young men and women who do this mission every day,” the general said. “The soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines sign up to do some of the most difficult jobs that our country has, and man, they do it, they love it and they’re good at it.”

Hyten said he can’t emphasize the importance of Stratcom’s people enough. “Sometimes it brings tears to your eyes when you see the quality of the people who come, who raise their hand and want to come and serve our country,” he added.

The general said he loves the fact that Stratcom’s people raise their hands and swear an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution, an ideal written down on a piece of paper more than 200 years ago. That ideal still is what drives men and women of the nation to want to serve, he added.

“The people of this command take that very seriously,” Hyten said, “and they are just remarkable in what they do.”

 

Guam, Japan prepare for possible North Korea missile launch

SANTA RITA, Guam. An aerial view of U.S. Naval Base Guam. Naval Base Guam supports the U.S. Pacific Fleet. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Hagatña, Guam (CNN) North Korean military figures are putting the final touches on a plan to fire four missiles into the waters around the US-territory of Guam, to be presented to leader Kim Jong Un within days.

In a statement last week, Gen. Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army, said the plan to fire “four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic rockets … to signal a crucial warning to the US” would be ready by “mid-August.”

Recent days have seen a significant escalation of tensions in the region as preparations are put in place for a possible launch in Guam, Japan and South Korea.

A notice put out by Guam’s Joint Information Center Saturday warned residents how to prepare “for an imminent missile threat.”

“Do not look at the flash or fireball — it can blind you,” the note said. “Lie flat on the ground and cover your head. If the explosion is some distance away, it could take 30 seconds or more for the blast wave to hit.”

Guam’s Homeland Security Adviser George Charfauros said Friday it would take 14 minutes for a missile fired from North Korea to reach Guam.

Japan missile defense deployed

On Saturday, some of Japan’s land-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile interceptors began arriving at Japanese Self Defense Forces (SDF) bases in three of the four prefectures any North Korean missiles would likely fly over en route to Guam.

Pyongyang identified three of those areas — Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi prefectures — in its statement last week.

A spokesman for SDF said the missiles were being deployed not to intercept missiles, but rather “just in case.” He did not elaborate.

Sim Tack, a senior analyst for private intelligence firm Stratfor, said the Japanese batteries are designed for protecting the area where they are deployed, “(they are) not meant to shoot missiles out of the sky as they pass over Japan at high altitude.”

“So unless those North Korean missiles were to fall short, the Patriots shouldn’t have a function to serve in this particular case,” he said.
Japanese Ballistic Missile Defense Scenario

The SDF spokesman said the country’s Aegis ballistic missile defense system was deployed in the waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, but would not give a specific location.

Aegis is able to track 100 missiles simultaneously and fire interceptors to take out an enemy’s ballistic projectiles.

In South Korea, where both the military and civilians are used to facing threats from North Korea, Defense Minister Song Young-moo warned the country’s armed forces “to maintain full readiness” to “immediately punish with powerful force” any action against the South.

“Recently, North Korea made its habitual absurd remarks that it will turn Seoul into a sea of fire and that it will strike near Guam,” Song said according to ministry official. “North Korea raising tension (on the Peninsula) is a serious challenge against the South Korean-US alliance and the international community.”

Meanwhile, US-South Korean joint military exercises are due to begin later this month. The annual exercises, called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, are expected to run from August 21 to 31.

Calls for calm

Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders have called for calm as both Pyongyang and Washington upped their saber-rattling rhetoric.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump doubled down on his statement that he would unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if Pyongyang continued its threats, saying in a tweet that “military solutions” were “locked and loaded” for use against North Korea.

According to a statement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Xi told Trump in a call between the two leaders Saturday all “relevant parties parties should exercise restraint and avoid words and actions that would escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel described escalation as “the wrong answer,” while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Trump’s statements were “very worrying.”

Last week, New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English criticized Trump’s “fire and fury” comments as “not helpful in an environment that’s very tense.”

French President Emmanuel Macron called for the international community to work with North Korea to “resume the path of dialogue without conditions,” following a call with Trump Saturday.

Washington has previously said it will consider talks with Pyongyang if it agrees to give up its nuclear weapons program, a pre-condition North Korean officials have described as a non-starter.

Guam waits for news

At a church in central Guam Sunday, parishioners sang “Lord, we pray for world peace” after discussing the potential North Korean threat.

“There’s a lot of disbelief going on, there’s a lot of anxiety,” Father Paul Gofigan told CNN after the mass.

Gofigan said there is not a lot of panic in Guam, and that people’s faith — the island has been overwhelmingly Catholic since the arrival of Spanish missionaries in the 17th century– has been on display in recent days.

“Faith is so deeply rooted into our culture,” he said.

The territory’s governor, Eddie Baza Calvo, said he spoke with Trump and the President’s chief of staff, John Kelly, on Saturday.

“Both assured me that the people of Guam are safe,” Calvo wrote on Facebook. “In the President’s words they are behind us ‘1,000 percent.’ As the head of the Government of Guam, I appreciate their reassurances that my family, my friends, everyone on this island, are all safe.”

As an unincorporated US territory, citizens of Guam cannot vote in general elections. The island is also home to a large US military presence, a fact that has led to tension with some local residents, particularly those of the indigenous Chamorro community.

“Nobody really deserves to be caught in the middle of these games,” said Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero, an activist who campaigns for a lowered military presence.

“You’re playing with people’s lives. We just want peace, we just want to continue to enjoy our lives here.”

 

UK Armed Forces star in global show

Hundreds of sailors, soldiers, and airmen are set to star in the world renowned Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Returning for a 68th season, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a thrilling display of music, dance, and military entertainment from around the world, rooted firmly in Scottish culture and history. It will take place on the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle from 4-26 August 2017.

In recognition of this being the Year of the Royal Navy, and Scotland’s unique role in building UK warships, the finale will see the Esplanade transformed into an aircraft carrier flight deck, featuring a Lynx Mk III maritime aircraft, and a CGI projection onto the Castle walls of an aircraft taking off from the deck. As the audience arrives they will also walk under a life-sized model of the new F-35B fighter, with Royal Navy personnel providing a warm welcome too.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo represents all that is best in the UK’s Armed Forces – talented, professional, and engaging internationally with our global allies.

This Tattoo helps showcase our Armed Forces and has raised over £10m through its Charitable Trust, and it contributes £77m a year to the Scottish economy.

Celebrating the theme ‘Splash of Tartan’, these Armed Forces musicians will make up a cast of 1,200 artists performing to a live audience of 220,000, and a global TV audience of more than 100 million.

Performers from 48 countries have taken part in the extravaganza with this year’s top international acts including the United States Naval Forces Europe Band and the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force Central Band.

Royal Navy involvement

  • The Massed Bands of HM Royal Marines (Portsmouth, Scotland, and Commando Training Centre)
  • There will be a 24 strong Royal Navy Guard of Honour welcoming the audience every night
  • The 90 strong Royal Navy and Royal Marines Tattoo Support Group have taken the lead in making the arrangements for the involvement of the UK Armed Forces this year
  • Type 23 frigate HMS Somerset will berth in Leith for the last week of the Tattoo and host a number of capability demonstrations
The Massed Bands of HM Royal Marines (Portsmouth, Scotland, and Commando Training Centre)

Army involvement

  • The Band of The Royal Regiment of Scotland
  • The Pipes and Drums of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards
  • The Pipes and Drums of The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland
  • A contingent from 154 Regiment Royal Logistics Corps (Army Reserves)
  • Pipes and Drum of the combined Scottish Universities Officer Training Corps

RAF involvement

  • The Royal Air Force Regiment Band
  • Royal Air Force Queen’s Colour Squadron
  • Flypasts by RAF aircraft (weather dependent)

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo facts:

  • The Tattoo was first conceived in 1949 with the 1st performance in 1950
  • 25 performances over August to a live audience of 8,800 each evening – 220,000 across the season
  • HRH The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, is the Patron of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
  • It has a VIP capacity of 148 each performance (3,700 including nightly salute takers)
  • Now into its 68th season, it has sold out for 18 years consecutively
  • Over 50 countries have taken part
  • The Show has been seen live by more than 14m people over the years
  • Filmed by the BBC in ‘High Definition’ for 59 and 90 minute programmes
  • Peak TV viewing figures of 5.3m in the UK and 100 – 300m globally
  • One of 11 Edinburgh Festivals delivering £280m to the City of Edinburgh and £313m to the national economy.

 

 

Royal Navy Merlins complete five-month stint aboard FS Mistral

FS Mistral, French Navy Landing Helicopter Dock Ship

A group of Royal Navy sailors and marines together with two Royal Navy Merlin Mk3 helicopters spent the past five months deployed aboard the French helicopter carrier FS Mistral during its Jeanne D’Arc mission.

FS Mistral, together with frigate FS Courbet, embarked Royal Navy personnel in March for a deployment that took the force as far east as Japan and Guam, as far south as the northern coast of Australia, with visits to Vietnam, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Djibouti.

Commenting on the deployment, UK’s armed forces minister Mark Lancaster said: “From fighting Daesh in the Middle East to jointly operating in Estonia as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence, our enduring defence partnership with France is stronger than ever as we work together to tackle global threats.

This deployment has demonstrated the ability of our world class Royal Navy and Royal Marines to operate alongside our French allies and international partners as Britain delivers on its commitment to global maritime security.”

Merlin Mk3 of the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF), landing on the FS Mistral LHD Ship

Throughout the deployment, UK personnel worked closely with international partners to strengthen defence cooperation in the region. British troops participated in the first ever four-part maritime exercise involving France, Japan, the UK and US, where as part of a week-long practice assault, the two Merlins moved 330 troops from the four nations to and from the island of Tinian.

UK troops also met with the Vietnam People’s Navy in Ho Chi Minh City to compare national maritime operating procedures and exchange experiences, and during a port call to Egypt, British forces took part in a cross-decking exercise alongside French and Egyptian Armed Forces.

 

North Korea fires ballistic missile toward Japan

North Korea fired a ballistic missile Friday night that may have landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tells reporters that he had called a meeting of his National Security Council, the Associated Press reports.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says North Korea launched the missile at 11:42 PM on Friday, Japan’s national public broadcaster NHK reports.

Suga says the missile is believed to have landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone 45 minutes after launch.

The zone extends about 230 miles from Japan’s coast.

In Washington, a Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, confirmed that a launch of a ballistic missile from North Korea had been detected.

He said, “We are assessing and will have more information soon.”

Japanese government sources tell NHK that warnings were issued to vessels in the zone shortly after the launch was detected.

Source: USA Today.

Taiwan scrambles jets to monitor military planes from mainland China in air defence zone

Bombers, reconnaissance aircraft spotted flying over East China Sea, island’s defence ministry says

It was the first time the defence ministry had published photos of mainland planes since the People’s Liberation Army stepped up its military exercises near Taiwan, local newspaper Liberty Times said. The ministry had published ­reports of mainland warships entering its ­ADIZ in the past.

An H-6 bomber from China’s mainland military is seen flying over the East China Sea in this image released by Taiwan’s Ministry of Defence. Photo: Handout

Earlier this month, the island scrambled jets and navy ships to shadow a flotilla led by the Liaoning aircraft carrier as the warships headed towards Hong Kong.

Former Taiwanese defence minister Yang Nien-dzu, who served in Ma Ying-jeou’s ­administration, said President Tsai Ing-wen had taken a tougher stance in defending the island against PLA threats since she came to power last year, but the photos were not enough to deter Beijing, which sees Taiwan as part of its “inalienable territory”.

“The photos send a message to Taiwanese that their army won’t back down,” Yang said. “It aims to show that the military has been keeping a close eye on the situation.”

On its website, the defence ministry said it had been monitoring the mainland warplanes during the long-range exercises and said Taiwanese people should “remain at ease”.

Zheng Zhenqing, an expert in cross-strait relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said the photos showed Taiwan’s military was on high alert as political tensions rise.

“But in terms of military power, the mainland has a clear advantage,” Zheng said. “It is unlikely to be affected by such warnings.”

Beijing does not recognise Taiwan’s ADIZ, while its own identification zone in the East China Sea covers islands that are also claimed by Tokyo.

Japan has frequently published photos of Chinese warplanes flying over the disputed airspace since China set up its ADIZ in the East China Sea in late 2013.

Japan’s Self-Defence Forces on Thursday also released photos of the Chinese planes taken by Japanese fighter jets.

Taiwan’s United Daily News quoted a military expert as saying that it was quite unusual for China’s military to send an electronic jammer to the “first island chain”. The so-called first island chain is a sea defence line Beijing unilaterally draws running from southern Japan to Taiwan, the Philippines and the southern South China Sea.

The newspaper said the mainland planes flew through the Bashi Channel, which lies ­between southern Taiwan and the Philippines, and the Miyako Strait, between Japan’s southwestern islands of Okinawa and Miyako.

The report also called attention to the increasing number of mainland Chinese planes and long-range training drills in the ADIZs of Taiwan and Japan, a strategy it said was clearly aimed at containing the United States.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

Source: South China Morning Post.

USS Milius deployment to Japan delayed amid ‘incredible’ workload in Asia-Pacific

USS Milius DDG69. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Mark Patterson II (RELEASED)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The destroyer USS Milius’ forward deployment to Japan has been pushed back to 2018, despite a need for additional ships in the busy Asia-Pacific region.

USS Milius, originally scheduled to arrive this summer, was rescheduled so the ship can undergo additional testing and certification, the Navy said Thursday in a statement. Naval Surface Forces delayed the ship’s arrival to complete the ship’s maintenance and modernization.

The announcement comes at a time when 7th Fleet is already down a destroyer. The USS Fitzgerald has been undergoing extensive repairs since a June 17 collision with a cargo ship killed seven sailors and severely damaged the ship.

“I am concerned about the number of ships that we have out here,” Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Swift said in an interview with Stars and Stripes on June 26. “Milius was coming out to help get us down to the [operations] tempo that we can really sustain. We’ve got such an incredible amount of work out here that I need Milius plus another ship to backfill behind Fitzgerald.”

Source: Stars and Stripes.

 

 

North Korea seen to prepare for another missile test-launch within 2 weeks

The Pentagon considers North Korean mobile ballistic missiles a top threat.

It has been confirmed that the South Korean military has detected signs of North Korea’s missile provocations and is tracing relevant movements. Some U.S. experts also project that North Korea will likely launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) within two weeks. There are increasing concerns among U.S. experts that Pyongyang, which has been silent about Seoul’s offer of military and Red Cross talks, will carry out a surprise missile test.


According to military sources on Thursday, South Korean and U.S. surveillance devices such as satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles have detected signs of movements by transporter erector launchers (TELs) and missile radars near Pyongyang and other inland sites. Another source said that a series of “unusual signs” near Pyongyang on Wednesday led to a heightened watch posture in South Korea, indicating a high possibility of a missile launch in preparation.

CNN also reported a Wednesday that the U.S. intelligence authorities had detected the North’s addition ICBM launch. CNN said that satellite and radar imagery indicated North Korea’s operation of ICBM or IRBM components or facilities, indicating an additional missile test-launch within about two weeks. A U.S. intelligence officer told CNN that the North is still developing submarine-launched ballistic missile, although it is still in an early stage. Washington is reportedly closely watching North Korea’s radar and communications networks for an additional provocation following the Hwasong-14 rocket launch on July 4.

Source: The Dong-A Ilbo.

North Korea’s Nuclear Programme, less than the cost of one US Aircraft Carrier

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — When North Korea decided to go nuclear, it committed to a huge investment in a program that would bring severe sanctions and eat up precious resources that could have been spent boosting the nation’s quality of life.

Money well spent?

Leader Kim Jong Un seems to think so.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs have without doubt come at a high cost, but the North has managed to march ever closer to having an arsenal capable of attacking targets in the region and – as demonstrated by its July 4 test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile – the United States’ mainland.

Good, solid figures for just about anything in North Korea are hard to find. So what follows should be taken as ballpark guesses, at best.

But here’s a look at how much that arsenal might cost Pyongyang, and why Kim might think that’s the price he must pay to survive.

THE NUCLEAR PRICETAG

South Korea has estimated the cost of the North’s nuclear program at $1 billion to $3 billion, with the higher number combining nuclear and missile development.

For context: one nuclear-powered Virginia class attack submarine costs the United States Navy about $2.5 billion. The USS Gerald Ford, America’s newest aircraft carrier, has an $8 billion price tag, not counting development costs.

South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense estimated the cost of the first 31 ballistic missiles Kim Jong Un test-launched from when he took power in late 2011 until July last year at $97 million. It put the price of each Scud at $1 million to $2 million; each Musudan from $3 million to $6 million; and each submarine-launched ballistic missile at $5 million to $10 million. Up until July last year, Kim had launched 16 Scuds, six Rodongs, six Musudans and three SLBMs.

Kim Jong-Un waving after the military parade in Pyongyang marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of late North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung.
AFP

Including the launch this month of its first ICBM, North Korea has conducted 11 tests, launching 17 missiles, so far this year.

North Korea’s total defense spending is believed to be around $10 billion a year, or somewhere between a fifth to a quarter of its gross domestic product (about $30 billion to $40 billion).

WHERE DOES IT GET THE MONEY?

That’s a matter of heated debate. But the $2 billion it made in exports in 2015 would not begin to cover it. North Korea is also believed to have relied on foreign currency sent by tens of thousands of laborers dispatched abroad, as well as exports of illegal weapons and cybercrime.

Its military-spending-to-GDP ratio far exceeds any other country, but in monetary terms it spends much less than its neighbors, including South Korea and Japan, and its budget is absolutely minuscule when compared to the United States.

Curtis Melvin, a researcher at the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, said that if the South Korean nuclear-program estimate is correct it would be a significant – but not necessarily destabilizing – draw on the North’s economy.

“This is expensive, but probably a cost the country can absorb without fomenting much resentment among North Korean “elites,” he said. “In fact, North Korean elites would probably feel less secure without a nuclear program even if its costs relative to the economy as a whole were higher.”

Melvin said the economic situation for common North Koreans would have to be in near ruin, with domestic resentment among elites reaching dangerous levels, before North Korea would reconsider its nuclear program.

“Current signals indicate that North Korea is nowhere near this breaking point,” he said.

BURDEN OR BARGAIN?

The bottom line is that regime survival is Kim Jong Un’s primary objective.

There is no way North Korea could keep up with its richer and more technologically advanced neighbors in a conventional arms race.

While certainly expensive, the North’s nuclear strategy is in one sense a potential source of savings – once developed, maintaining a viable nuclear deterrent is less costly than paying for its conventional, million-man military. Once it has reliable nuclear arms, Pyongyang could reduce its spending on other areas of the military and redirect those savings toward the domestic economy.

It’s possible Kim Jong Un has already begun doing that.

Officially announced budgets have shown increases in funds for the public good, and Kim has adopted as his guiding policy a strategy of simultaneously developing the country’s nuclear arsenal and the national economy. Outside estimates indicate the North’s GDP has been growing slowly or at least holding steady since he became leader, and there has been visible growth in construction and infrastructure projects, along with the production of consumer goods, over the past five years.

The flip side is the harder to quantify loss in revenue from trade and friendly relationships with the outside world due to sanctions aimed at getting Pyongyang to denuclearize.

Talmadge is the AP’s Pyongyang bureau chief. Follow him of Twitter at EricTalmadge and Instagram.

Source: Associated Press.

US Navy & USMC planning for the 1st F-35B shipboard deployment within the next year

Two F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters complete vertical landings aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) during the opening day of the first session of operational testing. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Remington Hall/Released)

The Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMPACFLT), Admiral Scott Swift co-hosted the Joint Strike Fighter Sustainment Summit alongside Marine Corps Forces, at COMPACFLT Headquarters June 27-28.

During the summit Rear Adm. John Palmer delivered remarks to more than 50 service members and civilians to include representatives from Lockheed Martin, who built the aircraft, Pratt and Whitney, who built the engine, Marine Corps Headquarters, Defense Logistics Agency, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Commander Naval Air Forces Pacific, Commander Naval Air Forces Atlantic, Commander Naval Surface Forces Pacific, and Military Sealift Command. The attendees focused on planning and preparing the logistical support for the F-35B Lightning II first deployment scheduled to happen within the next year.

“The summit was primarily built to maximize communication, elevate problems, and arrive at solutions. This aircraft has a unique maintenance and support structure, and it is unlike any aviation weapon system presently in the Navy and Marine Corps inventories,” said Palmer, U.S. Pacific Fleet director of logistics, fleet supply and ordnance.

According to Palmer, deploying the F-35B will require focused efforts by all stakeholders to ensure logistics resources are available to support the Fleet introduction to include funding, spares, tools, support equipment, information systems support, and training.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (July 13, 2017) Sailors perform a chock and chain evolution on an F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighter aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). Wasp is underway acquiring certifications in preparation for their upcoming homeport shift to Sasebo, Japan where they are slated to relieve the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zhiwei Tan/Released)

“The aircraft and engine are large and require keen planning for hangar and flight deck spotting & storage. The best strategy for overcoming the Joint Strike Fighter roll-out challenge is to engage in continuous communications across all stakeholders,” Palmer added.

After reaching initial operational capability, 10 F-35Bs were delivered to the fleet.

“The Marine Corps has been successfully operating the F-35B Lightning II in the western Pacific for almost 7 months now with VMFA-121 at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan. Next year, we will make the first shipboard deployment for the squadron as part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit. The F-35B is a tremendous upgrade from the legacy AV-8B and these new capabilities will be demonstrated in future operations. This aircraft, unlike any others in the past, brings unique challenges due to the global logistic network associated with this platform,” said Brig. Gen. Brian C. Cavanaugh, deputy commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific.

The aircraft is a short takeoff, vertical landing (STOVL) variant, and is the world’s first supersonic STOVL stealth aircraft. It’s designed to operate from austere bases and a range of air-capable ships near front-line combat zones. It can also take off and land conventionally from longer runways on major bases. The F-35B will replace the AV-8B Harrier and F/A-18 Hornet.

Chinese Air force Conducts ‘several’ long-range drills near Japan as military tells Tokyo to ‘get used to it’

Chinese Harbin H-6 bomber.

China’s air force said Saturday that its warplanes had conducted long-range drills over the Bashi Channel and the Miyako Strait “several times” over the past week, just a day after the country’s Defense Ministry told Japan that it should “get used to” the military exercises.

“China’s air force over the past week conducted multiple drills far out at sea, with H-6K bombers and many other types of aircraft flying through the Bashi Channel and Miyako Strait, testing actual battle capabilities over the sea,” air force spokesman Shen Jinke was quoted as saying by the state-run CGTN website.

 Shen said the drills were carried out as part of the air force’s yearly training plan, stressing that they complied with international law and were not aimed “at any specific country, region or target.”

The Miyako Strait lies between the islands of Miyako and Okinawa while the Bashi Channel separates Taiwan and the Philippines. Both are key entryways into the western Pacific Ocean.

Saturday’s announcement came after a Defense Ministry spokesman defended what he called “routine exercises” Thursday that saw six Chinese H-6 bombers fly through the Miyako Strait.

Japan scrambled fighters in response. There was no violation of Japanese airspace.

Mitsubishi F-2 Super Kai

“It is legitimate for Chinese military planes to fly through the strait, and more similar training will be conducted on the high seas as needed,” spokesman Ren Guoqiang Guoqiang said.

“The parties concerned don’t need to overact and make a great fuss about it,” he added. “They will feel better after getting used to such drills.”

Ahead of last week’s exercises, the Chinese military last sent ships and planes through the international but politically sensitive waters and airspace in April as part of its continuing push to hone its ability to operate further from its shores.

Exercises through the Miyako Strait have become more and more commonplace as China seeks to project its military clout farther into the Pacific.

In early March, Japan scrambled fighter jets after a total of 13 Chinese naval aircraft were spotted flying through the strait. That large-scale drill featured fighters, bombers and early warning aircraft.

Beijing has blasted Tokyo for hyping the exercises, calling them part of “regular” drills, while Japan has said it will keep a vigilant eye on the “expanding and increasing” actions of the Chinese military in the area.

According to data released by Japan’s Defense Ministry on Friday, the Air Self-Defense Force scrambled fighter jets in response to Chinese aircraft 101 times from April to June, down from 199 last year.

The plunge came after the ASDF scrambled fighters against Chinese planes a record-high 1,168 times in fiscal 2016, which ended in March.

Source: The Japan Times.