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

19 January 2020

Study of industry capabilities could reshape national security investments

by Sandra Erwin 
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The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center earlier this month hosted one-on-one meetings with executives from 30 companies from across the space industry. This was the start of a multiyear market study that will influence Air Force (and Space Force) spending on private sector technologies and services over the coming decade.

The market study is titled National Security Launch Architecture (NSLA). “This is a foray into exploring new concepts,” Air Force Lt. Gen. John Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), told SpaceNews.

The companies invited to Los Angeles to brief SMC submitted white papers in response to an Oct. 25 request for information, or RFI. They included a mix of established launch providers and startups, satellite operators and emerging suppliers of in-space logistics and transportation services.

The NSLA is not a traditional launch market study but a more comprehensive look at what capabilities commercial players could bring to the military for future space operations.

18 January 2020

A Known Secret: Israel's Nuclear Arsenal Is Deadly And Ready

by Kyle Mizokami
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Key point: The country will likely not declare itself a nuclear power any time soon; ambiguity over ownership of nukes has served the country very well.

In a private email leaked to the public in September of 2016, former secretary of state and retired U.S. Army general Colin Powell alluded to Israel having an arsenal of “200 nuclear weapons.” While this number appears to be an exaggeration, there is no doubt that Israel does have a small but powerful nuclear stockpile, spread out among its armed forces. Israeli nuclear weapons guard against everything from defeat in conventional warfare to serving to deter hostile states from launching nuclear, chemical and biological warfare attacks against the tiny country. Regardless, the goal is the same: to prevent the destruction of the Jewish state.

Israel set off to join the nuclear club in the 1950s. David Ben-Gurion was reportedly obsessed with developing the bomb as insurance against Israel’s enemies. Although an ambitious goal for such a small, initially impoverished country, Israel did not have any security guarantees with larger, more powerful states—particularly the United States. The country was on its own, even buying conventional weapons off the black market to arm the new Israeli Defense Forces. Nuclear weapons would be the ultimate form of insurance for a people that had suffered persecution but now had the means to control their own destiny.

17 January 2020

How Not to Operate a Surface-to-Air Missile Battery

BY MARCUS WEISGERBER
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It’s getting clearer that the Ukrainian airliner that crashed in Tehran on Wednesday was shot down by an Iranian missile. It’s far from clear whether Iranian forces mistook the plane for an enemy aircraft, shot it down intentionally, or perhaps allowed an air defense system to fire autonomously. 

American officials said Thursday that launch detection satellites and other intelligence showed that Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was downed by an Iranian missile minutes after taking off from Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran. All 176 people aboard the Boeing 737-800 were killed.

“What’s bizarre about it being a mistake, is that not only was this an airliner that’s operating at medium altitude, it was departing from the nearby airport in Iran leaving the country, not descending into the country from outside of the country,” said David Deptula, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant general who was principal attack planner for Operation Desert Storm. “You scratch your head and go, ‘Holy cow, how could this happen?’”

The incident occurred just hours after Iran fired 16 missiles at U.S. forces based in Iraq.

15 January 2020

Missiles of China


The People’s Republic of China is in the process of building and deploying a sophisticated and modern missile arsenal, though one shrouded in secrecy due to intentional ambiguity and unwillingness to enter arms control or other transparency agreements. Beijing features its missiles most prominently in its developing anti-access/area denial doctrines, which use a combination of ballistic and cruise missiles launched from air, land and sea to target U.S. and U.S. allied military assets in the Asia-Pacific theater. China is also developing a number of advanced capabilities such as maneuverable anti-ship ballistic missiles, MIRVs, and hypersonic glide vehicles. The combination of these trends degrade the survivability of foundational elements of American power projection like the aircraft carrier and forward air bases. China also has a relatively small but developing contingent of nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the U.S. homeland, as well as a growing fleet of nuclear ballistic missile submarines.

12 January 2020

Hypersonic Missiles Are a Game Changer

By Steven Simon

Last week, President Vladimir Putin of Russia announced the deployment of the Avangard, among the first in a new class of missiles capable of reaching hypersonic velocity — something no missile can currently achieve, aside from an ICBM during re-entry.

Such weapons have long been an object of desire by Russian, Chinese and American military leaders, for obvious reasons: Launched from any of these countries, they could reach any other within minutes. No existing defenses, in the United States or elsewhere, can intercept a missile that can move so fast while maneuvering unpredictably.

Whether or not the Avangard can do what Mr. Putin says, the United States is rushing to match it. We could soon find ourselves in a new arms race as deadly as the Cold War — and at a time when the world’s arms control efforts look like relics of an inscrutable past and the effort to renew the most important of them, a new START agreement, is foundering.

11 January 2020

Iran Ends Nuclear Limits as Killing of Iranian General Upends Mideast

By Alissa J. Rubin, Ben Hubbard, Farnaz Fassihi and Steven Erlanger
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BAGHDAD — The consequences of the American killing of a top Iranian general rippled across the Middle East and beyond on Sunday, with Iran all but abandoning a landmark nuclear agreement and Iraqi lawmakers voting to expel American forces from their country.

Steeling for retaliation from Iran, an American-led coalition in Iraq and Syria suspended the campaign it has waged against the Islamic State for years, as hundreds of thousands of Iranians took to the street to mourn the general, Qassim Suleimani.

“Iran’s nuclear program will have no limitations in production, including enrichment capacity,” the Iranian government said in an announcement Sunday that seemed to signal the de facto collapse of the 2015 agreement.

Warning Iran not to attack, President Trump said the United States had pinpointed 52 targets in Iran — including cultural sites. The sites, he said, represented the 52 American hostages held at the United States Embassy in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Hypersonic Missile Nonproliferation

by Richard H. Speier, George Nacouzi, Carrie Lee, Richard M. Moore
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What are the implications of the proliferation of hypersonic missiles to additional nations? That is, why should the United States and the rest of the world be concerned with such proliferation, and why should it be addressed now?

What are the possible measures to hinder such proliferation? That is, is it feasible to hinder the spread of this technology, and who should buy into such an objective and with what measures?

Which specific hypersonic technologies could be subject to export controls?

What are the technical barriers to mastering hypersonic technologies?

What are the economic barriers to mastering hypersonic technologies?

Hypersonic missiles — specifically hypersonic glide vehicles and hypersonic cruise missiles — are a new class of threat because they are capable both of maneuvering and of flying faster than 5,000 kilometers per hour. These features enable such missiles to penetrate most missile defenses and to further compress the timelines for a response by a nation under attack.

10 January 2020

Hypersonic Missiles Are a Game Changer

By Steven Simon

Last week, President Vladimir Putin of Russia announced the deployment of the Avangard, among the first in a new class of missiles capable of reaching hypersonic velocity — something no missile can currently achieve, aside from an ICBM during re-entry.

Such weapons have long been an object of desire by Russian, Chinese and American military leaders, for obvious reasons: Launched from any of these countries, they could reach any other within minutes. No existing defenses, in the United States or elsewhere, can intercept a missile that can move so fast while maneuvering unpredictably.

Whether or not the Avangard can do what Mr. Putin says, the United States is rushing to match it. We could soon find ourselves in a new arms race as deadly as the Cold War — and at a time when the world’s arms control efforts look like relics of an inscrutable past and the effort to renew the most important of them, a new START agreement, is foundering.

Hypersonics represent an apotheosis of sorts for many warfare theorists and practitioners, who have long contended that air power alone can have a decisive effect in a conflict. They have always been wrong. The allies lost about 100,000 aircrew members in an attempt to destroy German industry and the popular will to fight during World War II, but the war in Europe was won with boots on the ground.

8 January 2020

The challenge of non-state actors and stand-off weapons

The proliferation of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and uninhabited aerial vehicles to non-state actors in the Middle East represents a future challenge for national militaries, explores Timothy Wright.

Ongoing wars in the Middle East are setting a worrying precedent, revealing a proliferation in the region not only of ballistic missiles, but also cruise missiles and improvised stand-off munitions in the form of low-cost uninhabited aerial vehicles (UAVs). Iranian ballistic- and cruise-missile technology has been ‘supplied’ to Ansarullah in Yemen, while Iranian-sourced weapons in Hizbullah arms depots in Syria continue to be attacked by the Israeli Air Force.

The latest round of Israeli airstrikes against alleged Iranian missile depots in Syria and recurrent missile attacks by the Houthis against a variety of targets in southern Saudi Arabia underscore the extent of the proliferation of precision-guided missiles and associated missile technology to non-state actors in the Middle East.
Ansarullah and Hizbullah

Ansarullah’s use of ballistic and cruise missiles and UAVs – the latter deployed as improvised stand-off munitions – is an attempt to begin to offset the Saudi-led coalition’s air power in Yemen’s civil war. The group’s ability to strike back, however limited, has propaganda value in this regard.

4 January 2020

What if China Offered a Nuclear Shield to North Korea?

by Brian J. Kim
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A nuclear umbrella is a guarantee by a nuclear weapons state to defend a non-nuclear allied state. It promotes nonproliferation by allowing states to access nuclear deterrence without nuclear weapons of their own. The American nuclear umbrella, for instance, is an important reason South Korea abandoned its nuclear ambitions in the 1970s. A Chinese nuclear shield over North Korea is a realist solution that similarly obviates Pyongyang’s case for a homegrown program while still enabling it to reap the security benefits of nuclear deterrence.

According to Pyongyang’s unilateral deadline, President Trump has until year’s end to produce a more dramatic proposal on North Korean denuclearization. Pyongyang has warned the United States of an ominous “Christmas gift” and claims it is no longer interested in denuclearization talks unless Washington first terminates its “hostile policy.” North Korea maintains its nuclear weapons are necessary for regime security and that it will only exchange its arsenal for a credible security guarantee.

Progress, Peril, Hope: The Nuclear Decade in Review

BY JOE CIRINCIONE
Never take progress for granted. That is the big lesson from the past ten years of dealing with nuclear threats. The decade began with great hope for a transformational U.S. nuclear policy and increased global cooperation. It ended with nuclear risks resurgent across the board. 

At the beginning of 2010, one of us was writing another book on nuclear policy, the other was finishing senior year in college. But we end this nuclear decade in the same place: deeply worried about multiple nuclear dangers and the failure of U.S. nuclear policy. 

There is some good news. We end the decade better off than we began by several measures. In 2010, there were 22,400 nuclear weapons on the planet. Today, there are fewer than 14,000, a 40-percent reduction. For the first time in the Atomic Age, a decade passed without a new nation joining the nuclear club. (North Korea became the ninth nuclear-armed state in 2006.) Moreover, there was no nuclear terrorist attack, not even a dirty bomb—though that was the top threat cited in the U.S. National Security Strategy of 2010. 

3 January 2020

Hypersonic Putin and Gonzo Weaponry


Weapons of dazzling murderousness have always thrilled military-industrial establishments. They make money; they add to the accounts; and they tickle the pride of States who manufacture them. From time to time, showy displays of restraint through arms limitation agreements are made. These can apply to either the offensive element of such weapons, or their defensive counters.

The calculus of death is often premised on ensuring that, for every destructive advance made, some retarding force accompanies it. By way of example, nuclear warheads spraying a country can be countered by anti-defence missiles. However, the nature of such a defence should never be impregnable. The balance of terror must be maintained in these acts of amoral accounting.

Of late, treaties restraining the deployment of weapons that gallop ahead of such a balancing act have been confined to shredders and dustbins. There was the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), a reminder of a thawing period between the Soviet Union and the United States from 1987. It prohibited the fielding of land-based missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometres. But President Donald J. Trump has never been a man for history, treating it as an encumbrance on the United States. Violations by Russia were cited, with the 9M729 missile singled out as a stand out culprit. Russia duly countered; the United States’ Aegis Ashore facility based in Romania could technically be used to launch missiles in breach of the treaty. Both countries have now confined the document to oblivion.

Is a New Nuclear Age Upon Us?

By Nicholas L. Miller and Vipin Narang 

Ayear ago, it was clear that a storm was brewing on the nuclear horizon. Writing in Foreign Affairs in January, we warned that “the United States could find itself in not one but three nuclear crises in the next 12 months.” We pointed to the risk that negotiations with North Korea would break down, that arms control between the United States and Russia would further deteriorate, and that Iran would begin violating its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal.

Looking back, it is clear that we missed the mark—by being too optimistic. Over the past year, Washington has not only faced nuclear crises with North Korea, Russia, and Iran, as predicted; it has also watched as nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan stumbled to the brink of all-out war and a host of U.S. allies began to rethink their nuclear options. Unless governments in Washington and elsewhere act quickly to reverse course, future scholars may look back on 2019 as the turning point from an era of relative calm to one of intense nuclear competition and proliferation—the dawn of a dangerous new nuclear age.

THE BREAKDOWN OF ARMS CONTROL

28 December 2019

Nuclear Weapons Might Just Be the Ultimate Paper Tiger. Here Is What a Military Analyst Told Us.

by Robert Farley

Overrated” is a challenging concept. In sports, a player can be “great” and “overrated” at the same time. Future Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Derek Jeter, for example, is quite clearly a “great” player, well deserving of the first ballot invitation he will likely receive. However, as virtually all statistically minded aficionados of the game have noted, he is highly overrated (especially on defense) by the baseball press. Similarly, no one doubts that Kobe Bryant is an outstanding basketball player. However, many doubt that he is quite as good as his fans (or the NBA commentariat) seem to believe.

The five weapons of war listed below are “overrated” in the sense that they occupy a larger space in the defense-security conversation than they really deserve. Some of them are fantastic, effective systems, while others are not. All of them take up more ink than they should, and (often) distract from more important issues of warfighting and defense contracting.

Nuclear Weapons:

27 December 2019

The Significance of an India-Philippines Brahmos Missile Deal

By Prashanth Parameswaran

Last week, we heard renewed talk of the Philippines’ interest in acquiring Brahmos missiles from India. While speculation about such a deal is far from new, it has nonetheless spotlighted the significance of an ongoing activity between the two countries which, if materialized, could extend beyond their bilateral relationship.

As I have observed before in these pages, while defense collaboration between India and the Philippines has been quite basic up to this point, with areas such as naval ship visits, training, and education, there have been efforts by both sides to boost this aspect of ties still further in realms such as military equipment and maritime security amid wider regional developments, including concerns about aspects of China’s behavior and broader convergences tied to the Indo-Pacific. This has continued on into 2019 as well, which marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Is Nuclear Power Worth the Risk?

By Carolyn Kormann

On a blustery Sunday in Okuma last spring, a crowd was seated under red-and-white tents awaiting the arrival of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. They had gathered to celebrate the opening of a new town hall, and the reopening, just a few days earlier, of the town of Okuma itself. In March, 2011—after a magnitude-nine earthquake, one of the most powerful in recorded history, triggered a twelve-story tsunami—the nearby Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant flooded and lost power, prompting three of the plant’s six reactors to partially melt down. Radioactive water flowed into the sea, and plumes of radioactive particles spewed into the sky. The fallout contaminated Okuma and the surrounding towns. More than a hundred thousand people were ordered to leave their homes, with little sense of when, if ever, they would be able to return. Many more people across Fukushima Prefecture—which is slightly larger than Connecticut—self-evacuated, afraid and uncertain about the danger the fallout posed.

“It’s been 2,956 days since 3/11,” Jin Ishida, Okuma’s vice-mayor, told me, referring to the date of the disaster. We were standing near the entrance to the new town hall, a glass-and-cedar building next to a stubbly field that had once been rice paddies. Ishida, who is sixty-five, had returned to live in Okuma alone, without his family. He had given the day’s opening speech, followed by a parade of officials, including Fukushima’s governor, a member of the national assembly, representatives from Japan’s Ministries of Environment and Economics, and the Okuma mayor. Abe, who was late, was coming from a nearby sports complex known as J-Village, which had, until recently, served as a logistics base for disaster-response workers. In 2020, the Japan leg of the Tokyo Olympic-torch relay will begin on its grounds, to celebrate the region’s recovery—at least, that is the hope.

The challenge of non-state actors and stand-off weapons


The proliferation of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and uninhabited aerial vehicles to non-state actors in the Middle East represents a future challenge for national militaries, explores Timothy Wright.

Ongoing wars in the Middle East are setting a worrying precedent, revealing a proliferation in the region not only of ballistic missiles, but also cruise missiles and improvised stand-off munitions in the form of low-cost uninhabited aerial vehicles (UAVs). Iranian ballistic- and cruise-missile technology has been ‘supplied’ to Ansarullah in Yemen, while Iranian-sourced weapons in Hizbullah arms depots in Syria continue to be attacked by the Israeli Air Force.

The latest round of Israeli airstrikes against alleged Iranian missile depots in Syria and recurrent missile attacks by the Houthis against a variety of targets in southern Saudi Arabia underscore the extent of the proliferation of precision-guided missiles and associated missile technology to non-state actors in the Middle East.
Ansarullah and Hizbullah

Ansarullah’s use of ballistic and cruise missiles and UAVs – the latter deployed as improvised stand-off munitions – is an attempt to begin to offset the Saudi-led coalition’s air power in Yemen’s civil war. The group’s ability to strike back, however limited, has propaganda value in this regard.

26 December 2019

As the US, China, and Russia build new nuclear weapons systems, how will AI be built in?

By Matt Field

Researchers in the United States and elsewhere are paying a lot of attention to the prospect that in the coming years new nuclear weapons—and the infrastructure built to operate them—will include greater levels of artificial intelligence and automation. Earlier this month, three prominent US defense experts published a comprehensive analysis of how automation is already involved in nuclear command and control systems and of what could go wrong if countries implement even riskier forms of it.

The working paper “A Stable Nuclear Future? The Impact of Autonomous Systems and Artificial Intelligence” by the team of Michael Horowitz, Paul Scharre, and Alexander Velez-Green comes on the heels of other scholarly takes on the impact artificial intelligence (AI) will have on strategies around using nuclear weapons. All this research reflects the fact that militaries around the world are incorporating more artificial intelligence into non-nuclear weaponry—and that several countries are overhauling their nuclear weapons programs. “We wanted to better understand both the potentially stabilizing and destabilizing effects of automation on nuclear stability,” Scharre, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, told the Bulletin.

Death of efforts to regulate autonomous weapons has been greatly exaggerated

By Neil C. Renic

Arms control has seen better days. In August, the United States formally withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The Open Skies Treaty will likely soon follow suit. There are doubts as to whether the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty will be renewed before it expires in February 2021, as well as concerns over the future of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. “The painstakingly constructed arms control regime is fraying,” argued UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, in a recent statement.

The forecast looks equally gloomy for efforts to regulate emerging military technologies, such as lethal autonomous weapons systems, or LAWS. For example the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots has been striving since 2013 to secure a pre-emptive ban on the use of this weaponry, but no prohibition has materialized. Instead, some states have been intensifying their investment in autonomous weapons, in cooperation with the private sector. We seem to be moving ever closer to the use and normalization of this technology in war.

This raises two closely related questions: Has the regulation of LAWS failed?

And if so, where exactly should we assign blame?

25 December 2019

GAO: DoD has no clear plan to acquire satellite-based wideband communications

by Sandra Erwin
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DoD should “develop a plan to guide implementation of the Wideband AOA recommendations,” said the Government Accountability Office.

WASHINGTON — The Government Accountability Office says the Pentagon has not figured out how it will meet future demand for wideband satellite communications for military operations even though it has spent years studying the problem.

A study that DoD wrapped up in June 2018, titled Wideband Communications Services Analysis of Alternatives, or Wideband AoA, laid out options for how to move forward but DoD has not taken action to implement those recommendations, the watchdog agency said in a report released Dec. 19.

DoD should “develop a plan to guide implementation of the Wideband AOA recommendations,” GAO said.