Showing posts with label WMD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WMD. Show all posts

31 March 2020

The U.S. Army and Navy Are Going All in on Hypersonic Weapons

by Peter Suciu
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Last week, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced that it had successfully tested a common hypersonic glide body (C-HGB), in an experiment conducted from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii. The launch was jointly performed by the United States Army and United States Navy, while the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) concurrently monitored and gathered tracking data from the flight experiment.

Hypersonic weapons are capable of flying at speeds greater than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5) and yet are highly maneuverable and can operate at varying altitudes. This can enable the military to strike a wide range of high-value targets that are hundreds or even thousands of miles away in just a matter of minutes.

Last week's test was considered a major milestone in the DoD's goal of fielding hypersonic warfighting capabilities in the early- to mid-2020s.

''This test builds on the success we had with Flight Experiment 1 in October 2017, in which our C-HGB achieved sustained hypersonic glide at our target distances,'' said Vice Adm. Johnny R. Wolfe, director of the Navy's Strategic Systems Programs, which is the lead designer for the C-HGB, via a statement.

23 March 2020

Under The Nuclear Shadow: Situational Awareness Technology and Crisis Decisionmaking


Improvements to strategic situational awareness (SA)—the ability to characterize the operating environment, detect and respond to threats, and discern actual attacks from false alarms across the spectrum of conflict—have long been assumed to reduce the risk of conflict and help manage crises more successfully when they occur. However, with the development of increasingly capable strategic SA-related technology, growing comingling of conventional and nuclear SA requirements and capabilities, and the increasing risk of conventional conflict between nuclear-armed adversaries, this may no longer be the case. The Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the University of California, Berkeley’s Nuclear Policy Working Group undertook a two-year study to examine the implications of emerging situational awareness technologies for managing crises between nuclear-armed adversaries.

This report is made possible by support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

19 March 2020

Why a Solar-Rich UAE Is Turning to Nuclear Energy

by Paul Dorfman

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is building the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant, capable of generating 700 megawatts. During daylight, solar power will provide cheap electricity, and at night the UAE will use stored solar heat to generate electricity.

But at the same time, four nuclear reactors are nearing completion in the UAE, built by the South Korean Electric Power Corporation, KEPCO. The nuclear power plant is named Barakah - Arabic for divine blessing.

The UAE’s investment in these four nuclear reactors risks further destabilising the volatile Gulf region, damaging the environment and raising the possibility of nuclear proliferation.

Safety flaws

Space Force Just Received Its First New Offensive Weapon

BY JOSEPH TREVITHICK

U.S. Space Force has begun operating a new offensive weapon system, an upgraded version of a ground-based satellite communications jamming system, for the first time in its short history. The first iteration of the Counter Communications System entered U.S. Air Force service in 2004 and the program has now gotten transferred to the newest branch of the American military.

The Space Force declared it had reached initial operational capability with the Counter Communications System Block 10.2, or CCS B10.2, on Mar. 9. The Harris Corporation, which merged with L3 Technologies last year to form L3Harris Technologies, had received the contract from the Air Force to develop this upgraded variant of the system in 2014. 

The National Defense Authorization Act for the 2020 Fiscal Year, which Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed in December 2019, officially established Space Force as a separate service within the Department of the Air Force. Units and assets previously assigned to Air Force Space Command now form the core of the new service, which is still very much in the process of standing up.

18 March 2020

The US Navy may soon have a way to shoot down hypersonic missiles


The U.S. Navy plans to begin deploying interceptors that can shoot down hypersonic missiles aboard some Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers in just a few years. Though some critics counter that the Navy's timeline seems awfully optimistic, as no existing missile defense system has proven capable of intercepting an inbound hypersonic weapon.

Hypersonic missiles fly in excess of Mach 5, and potentially much faster than that, making them so much faster than the ballistic and cruise missiles previously employed by national militaries that even advanced air defense systems like America's destroyer-based Aegis Combat Systems can't find and shoot down hypersonic missiles in flight. This has raised the alarm among many within the Defense Department, both in order to field America's own hypersonic weapons and, of course, to find ways to defend against those employed by foreign militaries.

Space Force Just Received Its First New Offensive Weapon

BY JOSEPH TREVITHICK
Source Link

U.S. Space Force has begun operating a new offensive weapon system, an upgraded version of a ground-based satellite communications jamming system, for the first time in its short history. The first iteration of the Counter Communications System entered U.S. Air Force service in 2004 and the program has now gotten transferred to the newest branch of the American military.

The Space Force declared it had reached initial operational capability with the Counter Communications System Block 10.2, or CCS B10.2, on Mar. 9. The Harris Corporation, which merged with L3 Technologies last year to form L3Harris Technologies, had received the contract from the Air Force to develop this upgraded variant of the system in 2014. 

The National Defense Authorization Act for the 2020 Fiscal Year, which Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed in December 2019, officially established Space Force as a separate service within the Department of the Air Force. Units and assets previously assigned to Air Force Space Command now form the core of the new service, which is still very much in the process of standing up.

16 March 2020

Digital Strangelove: The Cyber Dangers of Nuclear Weapons

By Jon Lindsay 

Cyberspace is the most complex sociotechnical system ever created, while nuclear weapons are the most destructive military tools in history. They are increasingly entangled in ways that we do not fully understand. Partly this is due to a lack of information—cyber operations and nuclear weapons are both highly classified realms. Partly this is due to the increasing complexity of interactions, which are hard to model. Yet the greater challenges, perhaps, are political.

Nuclear command, control and communications (NC3) is the nervous system of the strategic deterrent. NC3 enables critical informational functions such as early warning and situation monitoring, operational planning and assessment, strategic decision-making and tactical force direction. Commanders aim to ensure that weapons are always available for authorized use and never usable without authorization. There is some tension between these requirements, insofar as a highly alert posture to ensure usability increases the risk of accident, and some close calls resulted during the Cold War.

The Changing Geopolitics of Nuclear Energy: A Look at the United States, Russia, and China


The nuclear industry of advanced industrialized countries is under significant pressure to remain competitive as the market landscape for new nuclear power opportunities changes. The relative decline of U.S. nuclear export competitiveness comes at a time when Russia is boosting its dominance in new nuclear sales, and China is doubling down on its effort to become a leader in global nuclear commerce. This report illuminates how the changing market competition among the United States, Russia, and China will affect their future relations with nuclear commerce recipient countries, and discusses why Russia and China promote nuclear commerce, as well as which factors may alter their market competitiveness. The report further provides recommendations regarding the U.S. approach to continued commercial competitiveness in nuclear energy.

The key findings include:

Nuclear power generation projects have never been a purely commercial endeavor in the United States, and civilian nuclear export is difficult to be viable as a purely commercial undertaking.

Global nuclear market dominance by state-led capitalist economies with limited accountability and governance capacities would endanger the future of global nuclear safety and nonproliferation.

15 March 2020

Can the nuclear nonproliferation regime be saved when arms control is collapsing?

John Mecklin
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When limits on nuclear weapons get public attention nowadays, the discussion generally focuses on the disintegration of this or that arms control agreement, and whether its diminishment or disappearance should or shouldn’t be lamented. So far, the Trump administration has lamented little, as many arms control and disarmament experts expressed alarm.

The United States’ withdrawal from the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, its backing away from the Iran nuclear deal, and the impending lapse of New START – the treaty that limits US and Russian deployed strategic nuclear weapons – would indeed be worrisome enough, even considered in isolation from one another. Taken together, this broad erosion of the world’s infrastructure for controlling nuclear weapons arsenals is part of what the Bulletin Science and Security Board recently called “a new willingness of political leaders to reject the negotiations and institutions that can protect civilization over the long term.” In fact, this erosion was a major factor in the board’s decision to move the hands of the Doomsday Clock just 100 seconds from midnight – closer to the apocalypse than they have ever been.

The NPT turns 50: Will it get to 60?

Henry Sokolski
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In the next decade, it is all too likely that the past success of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons among the world’s nations will be reversed. Three trends make more proliferation likely. First is the decay of nuclear taboos. Second, and arguably worse, is renewed vertical proliferation – the increase in size and sophistication of nuclear arsenals by states that already have them. Third, the technical information to fuel nuclear breakouts and ramp-ups is more available now than in the past. These trends toward increased proliferation are not yet facts. The author describes three steps the international community could take to save the NPT: making further withdrawals from the NPT unattractive; clamping down on the uneconomical stockpiling and civilian use of nuclear weapons materials (plutonium and highly enriched uranium); and giving real meaning to efforts to limit the threats that existing nuclear weapons pose.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the 10th five-year review of its status at the United Nations. With 190 state parties, it is one of the few treaties to enjoy almost universal adherence. Its supporters already are talking about the treaty’s next half century.

But will it see out the next decade? There’s plenty to argue it won’t.

Russian nuclear forces, 2020

Hans M. Kristensen, Matt Korda

The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists, and Matt Korda, a research associate with the project. The Nuclear Notebook column has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987. This issue’s column examines Russia’s nuclear arsenal, which includes a stockpile of approximately 4,310 warheads. Of these, 1,570 strategic warheads are deployed on ballistic missiles and at heavy bomber bases, while an additional 870 strategic warheads, along with 1,870 nonstrategic warheads, are held in reserve. The Russian arsenal is continuing broad modernization intended to replace most Soviet-era weapons by the mid to late 2020s.

Russia is in the middle of a decades-long modernization of its strategic and nonstrategic nuclear forces to replace Soviet-era weapons with newer systems. President Vladimir Putin reported in late 2019 that modern equipment now makes up 82 percent of Russia’s nuclear triad and that “our equipment must be better than the world’s best if we want to come out as the winners.” He further declared that Russia is “ready to work out new arms control agreements. But until this process is launched we will continue to strengthen our nuclear forces.” Moreover, he said, “we will continue to create other promising missile systems” to deter Russia’s potential adversaries (Russian Federation 2019a). These modernizations, combined with an increase in the number and size of military exercises and occasional explicit nuclear threats against other countries, contribute to uncertainty about Russia’s long-term intentions and growing international debate about the nature of its nuclear strategy. These concerns, in turn, stimulate increased defense spending, nuclear modernization programs, and political opposition to further nuclear weapons reductions in Western Europe and the United States.

10 March 2020

The U.S. Military Is Dead Wrong: Hypersonic Weapons Can Be Defeated

by David Axe

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff seems a little confused about hypersonic weapons and what the United States can do to defend against them.

U.S. Army general Mark Milley’s confusion was apparent in his March 4, 2020 testimony before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee.

Milley overhyped the capabilities of China and Russia’s Mach-five missiles, potentially stirring uncertainty into ongoing negotiations over the Pentagon’s budget for 2021.

"There is no defense against hypersonic,” Milley said. “You're not going to defend against it. Those things are going so fast you're not going to get it.”

It’s true that hypersonic weapons such as China’s DF-17 and Russia’s Avangard essentially are impossible to intercept during the middle of their flight, the so-called “midcourse” phase.

The U.S. Navy deploys SM-3 interceptors that can destroy, during their midcourse flight, slower medium-range ballistic missiles, such as the type to which Iran might fit a nuclear warhead.

9 March 2020

JUST IN: Pentagon to Spend Billions Mass-Producing Hypersonic Weapons

By Jon Harper

The Defense Department plans to spend billions of dollars in the coming years on large-scale production of hypersonic weapons, a senior official said March 4.

The systems are designed to fly faster than Mach 5 and challenge enemy defensive systems with their high speed and maneuverability. They have been a top priority of Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin.

“We're actually to the point where we're beginning to believe that, at least for rocket-boosted hypersonic glide vehicles, we really think we have the technology close to being in hand,” he said at the McAleese & Associates annual conference in Washington, D.C.

To compete with great power competitors China and Russia, the U.S. military will need to field large numbers of them, he said.

“The adversaries are not going to be scared by production levels where we produce one a week,” Griffin said. “I mean that's 500 by the end of the decade. That doesn't scare anybody. Our adversaries are accumulating them by ... hundreds of thousands. So we are making a major investment in production of hypersonic weaponry at scale. I'm not going to quote a number, but I'll just say we're going to be making a major investment of many billions of dollars.”

Nuclear Threats Are Growing. How Should U.S. Missile Defenses Be Upgraded?

Loren Thompson
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When future historians analyze U.S. security policies during the early decades of the 21st century, they may be hard-pressed to explain what policymakers were thinking.

Between 2001 and 2019, Washington spent a trillion dollars defending Afghanistan from the Taliban. During the same period it spent 5% of that amount, $50 billion, defending the U.S. homeland against ballistic missile attack by another nuclear power.

The logic explaining why so little money went to a seemingly more important mission was that Washington had come to rely on the threat of massive retaliation to deter Russia and China from nuclear aggression. Threatening horrible consequences turned out to be cheaper than building real defenses.

Unfortunately, before the new century had progressed very far, other potential nuclear aggressors began to appear. It wasn’t clear whether a nuclear-armed North Korea or Iran could be deterred in a crisis by threatening retaliation.

6 March 2020

Hypersonic Missiles: Plethora Of Boost-Glide & Cruise

By THERESA HITCHENS
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Lockheed Martin’s Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW)

PENTAGON: Hypersonic missiles will be deployed across the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, not as “niche” weapons but as a broad new capability, according to DoD’s two top officials charged with managing department wide development efforts.

“It’s not going to be one or two hypersonic weapons,” Mark Lewis, director of modernization at DoD’s Research and Engineering office headed by Mike Griffin, told reporters here today. “Hypersonics isn’t a single thing. It’s a range of capabilities. It’s intermediate range. It’s long range. It’s things coming off of ships. It’s things coming off of trucks. It’s things coming off the wings of airplanes and out of bomb bays.”

Lewis said the Pentagon’s focus this year on hypersonic weapons — weapons that can fly faster than Mach 5 — will be on transitioning from science and technology development work to prototype weapons that can be used in the field by all of the services.

2 March 2020

India is building nuclear submarines and ICBMs. That’s a $14 billion mistake.

By Frank O’Donnell, Alexander K. Bollfrass

India’s INS Vela, a diesel-electric attack submarine, seen in 2019. Aside from these attack submarines, India is in the process of building nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed submarines and has built two so far, but neither has begun patrols. It plans to build several more. Photo credit: Indian Ministry of Defense.

Despite struggling to modernize outdated conventional forces with the current defense budget, India is investing in two new nuclear platforms. The first is the Arihant-class submarine fleet, the second the mobile Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile. Together, their combined price tag will top $14 billion. Is this money well spent?

Pessimism about its strategic balance with China is driving India’s nuclear arms procurement. An altercation between troops of both countries in summer 2017, which came to be known colloquially as the Doklam crisis, stimulated introspection among Indian officials and experts about the future of the relationship with China. Politically, the Indian strategic community has largely concluded that the peaceful resolution of border disputes has become less likely, forecasting more rivalry than cooperation.

Get Ready for Unstoppable, Deadly Hypersonic Weapons

by Dan Goure

A new technological competition has begun, one in which America’s rivals, particularly Russia and China, may be ahead. This is the race to build and put in the field super-fast or hypersonic weapons and vehicles. The military defines a hypersonic weapon as one that travels at least Mach 5 or five times the speed of sound. In comparison, commercial aircraft fly at around Mach 1 while some military jets can push themselves to around Mach 3, but only for a short time.

There are two basic types of hypersonic weapons: super-fast cruise missiles, and boost-glide vehicles that are mounted on ballistic missiles. Hypersonic cruise missiles, which would most commonly be launched from aircraft, maintain powered flight from launch to impact. Boost-glide vehicles are lofted by a ballistic missile launched from an aircraft, ship, submarine or ground unit to the edge of space from which point they use their speed and aerodynamic design to skip along the top of the atmosphere for up to 10,000 miles.

Hypersonic weapons have several advantages over existing cruise and ballistic missiles. Because they fly so fast, they can close on their targets in a very short period of time. Compared to slower weapons, their extremely high speed means that these weapons can evade or outrun any existing air and missile defenses. Some hypersonic weapons are so fast and maneuverable that they are unlikely to even be seen by existing radars.

1 March 2020

The UAE Nuclear Project Is Nearing Operation, but Will It Usher in a Nuclear Power Boom in the Middle East?


Last week, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) moved a step closer to becoming the first Arab country to host a nuclear power project. Unit 1 of the Barakah nuclear power plant received a long-awaited operating license. After a series of additional testing, the reactor will be set to operate for 60 years. The four-unit Barakah plant in Abu Dhabi, supplied by South Korea, is expected to meet about one-quarter of the country’s electricity needs while also helping to avoid around 21 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

Will the successful completion of the second nuclear power project in the Middle East (after the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran in September 2011) herald an expansion of nuclear power generation in the region? Besides the additional three units in the UAE, one unit is under construction in Iran. Additional regional players with plans for introducing nuclear power include Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The list is even longer when nuclear aspirant countries less far along in their planning are included.

Policymakers in the region are increasingly drawn to nuclear energy as a partial solution to growing energy demand, increasing global concern over greenhouse gas emissions, and overdependence on fossil fuels in the domestic economies. The share of nuclear energy in the region’s primary energy mix could grow from 0.26 percent today to about 2 percent, according to the International Energy Agency stated policies scenario and ExxonMobil, or as much as 6 percent (Shell’s Sky Scenario) in 2040.

27 February 2020

The Gulf and the Challenge of Missile Defense: Net Assessment Indicators


The Burke Chair at CSIS has developed an analysis of the key factors and requirements for a net assessment of the missile threat in the Arab/Persian Gulf and the need for missile defenses. This analysis is entitled The Gulf and the Challenge of Missile Defense: Net Assessment Indicators, and is available on the CSIS website.

U.S. defense planners have been examining the need to create effective missile defenses in the Gulf since at least Iraq’s first use of ballistic missiles against Iran during the Iran-Iraq War in the mid-1980s. Actual progress, however, has been slow and has taken place on a country-by-country basis rather than a part of an integrated effort to create effective regional defenses.

Israel has developed effective layered missile and rocket defenses for itself, but the defenses of our Arab strategic partners consist largely of limited coverage by dual capable Patriot missile and air defense systems and surface-to-air missiles that provide some coverage against cruises missiles, UCAVs, and drones. Meanwhile, Iraq, Oman, and Bahrain do not have a Patriot missile system.

The United States has deployed Aegis cruisers in the past on a contingency basis and has now deployed THAAD missile defenses to the region. Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have also bought THADD systems. As yet, however, there are no clear plans to provide an integrated missile defense system for the region, and the deep divisions between Arab strategic partners make it impossible to even develop integrated air defenses.

25 February 2020

STRATCOM on China's nuclear buildup

By Bill Gertz
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The commander of U.S. Strategic Command told Congress recently that China is engaged in a troubling buildup of nuclear forces that could be used to wage regional conflict or to coerce nations in Asia.

“Competitors, such as China and Russia, are developing advanced capabilities to directly challenge our strengths across all domains,” Adm. Charles A. Richard, the commander, said last week, singling out Beijing for its large-scale nuclear force modernization.

China is advancing a comprehensive modernization program for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and is building a robust, lethal force with capabilities spanning all domains, the electromagnetic spectrum and the information environment,” he stated in prepared testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Feb. 13. “These initiatives increase China’s ability to project power further from their mainland and support their aspirations to impose China’s will throughout the Indo-Pacific region.”

The goal of the force buildup is to “establish regional hegemony, deny U.S. power projection operations in the Indo-Pacific and supplant the U.S. as the security partner of choice.”