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F-35C Completes First Night Flight Aboard Aircraft Carrier

By on Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

The F-35C Lightning II carrier variant Joint Strike Fighter conducted its first carrier-based night flight operations aboard an aircraft carrier off the coast of San Diego Nov. 13.

Navy test pilot Lt. Cmdr. Ted “Dutch” Dyckman piloted F-35C test aircraft CF-03 for the inaugural night flight, taking off from USS Nimitz (CVN 68). At 6:01 p.m. Dyckman conducted a series of planned touch and goes before making an arrested landing at 6:40 pm.

The night flight was part of Development Testing I (DT-I) for the F-35C, which commenced Nov. 3 and is expected to last two weeks. The Nimitz is hosting the F-35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 during the initial sea trials of the F-35C.

During DT-I, the test team has conducted a series of events designed to gradually expand the aircraft-operating envelope at sea, including crosswind and low-energy, high-wind catapult launches and approaches to test the aircraft’s ability to perform in both nominal and off-nominal conditions.

Through Nov. 13, two test F-35C aircraft have completed 28 flights for a combined 34.5 flight hours and accomplished more than 75 percent of threshold test requirements. The aircraft also performed 108 catapult launches, 215 planned touch-and-go landings, two long touch and go landings, 110 arrested landings and zero bolters.

Testing thus far has demonstrated the aircraft’s exceptional handling qualities throughout all tested launch and recovery conditions. F-35C maintenance and operations have integrated well with standard Navy carrier procedures onboard Nimitz. The F-35C has proven its ability to operate in the carrier environment and has consistently caught the optimal three-wire during arrested landings. The test team successfully landed during every attempt, with zero hook-down bolters, or failures to catch an arresting cable on the flight deck.

The goal of DT-I, the first of three at-sea test phases planned for the F-35C, is to collect environmental data through added instrumentation to measure the F-35C’s integration to flight deck operations and to further define the F-35C’s operating parameters aboard the aircraft carrier. A thorough assessment of how well the F-35C operated in the shipboard environment will advise the Navy of any adjustments necessary to ensure that the fifth-generation fighter is fully capable and ready to deploy to the fleet in 2018.

The successful night flight of the F-35C represents a step forward in the development of the Navy’s next generation fighter.

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Pakistani army chief in first US visit

Pakistan’s army chief is holding talks with top US generals and officials this week in the first visit to the United States by the country’s powerful military commander in four years, officials said Monday.

General Raheel Sharif’s trip comes against the backdrop of improved relations between the two governments with Washington encouraged by Pakistan’s offensive against Islamist militants in the country’s northwest.

After arriving in Washington on Sunday, Sharif held talks at US Central Command in Tampa, Florida on Monday and was scheduled to meet the US Army chief, General Ray Odierno, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey and the deputy defense secretary, Robert Work, over the next two days, US officials told AFP.

It was Sharif’s first trip to the United States since he took over the post in November 2013, and the first of any Pakistani army chief since 2010.

Sharif’s predecessor had an often tense relationship with Washington amid accusations Islamabad was failing to take action against Haqqani extremists and other insurgents based in Pakistan that orchestrate attacks on American and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

A senior US officer in the NATO-led force in Afghanistan, Lieutenant General Joseph Anderson, told reporters this month that Pakistani military operations in North Waziristan had “fractured” the Haqqani network.

The Pakistani military campaign “has very much disrupted their efforts here and has caused them to be less effective in terms of their ability to pull off an attack here in Kabul,” Anderson said by video link from Kabul.

US officials are also hopeful that a new president in Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, can bolster cooperation and dialogue between Kabul and Islamabad, just as NATO’s US-led force withdraws from the fight against the Taliban.

Ghani traveled to Pakistan last week for talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai routinely accused Pakistan of backing the Taliban insurgency to destabilize his country as a hedge against Indian influence there.

Pakistan was one of only three countries to recognize the hardline Taliban regime that ruled Kabul from 1996 until 2001. The regime was toppled by a US-led international military coalition following the September 11 attacks by the Al-Qaeda network, which the Taliban allowed to operate out of Afghanistan.

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France to Deliver First Mistral to Russia Around Mid-November

By on Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

The ceremony for France handing over to Russia the first Mistral helicopter carrier will occur in mid-November of this year in the city of Saint-Nazaire, a representative from the port city’s worker’s union told RIA Novosti on Monday.

“The ceremony of France transferring the first Mistral helicopter under the name of the Vladivostok to Russia is [scheduled for] November 14 of this year,” the representative said.

He said the date is not yet official, but the wharf’s employees are preparing for the ceremony.

Earlier on the day, a representative for STX shipbuilding company told RIA Novosti that the handing over of the first Mistral ship is a matter of days or weeks.

In June 2011, Russia and France signed a 1.2 billion euro ($1.5 billion) deal for two Mistral-class helicopter carrier ships. The first carrier, the Vladivostok, was scheduled to arrive in Russia by the end of 2014. The second ship, the Sevastopol, is expected in 2015.

Earlier in September, French President Francois Hollande threatened to suspend the deliveries of the ships over Moscow’s alleged involvement in the Ukrainian conflict.

In October, Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov claimed that Moscow will sue France in case the obligations on the Mistral carriers are not fulfilled. Last week, the Russian Navy said the country is not dependent on France on the issue and is capable of building similar warships on its own.

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UK MoD Set to Order Its First Batch of F-35 Lightning II Combat Aircraft

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon today announced that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has reached agreement in principle on an order for the first production batch of four Lightning II stealth combat aircraft – which will operate from both the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers and RAF land bases.

A formal contract is expected to be placed within weeks for the F-35B aircraft, which form part of the MOD’s investment in Lightning II over the next five years to procure an initial 14 of these multi-role fifth generation aircraft, together with the necessary support arrangements and infrastructure.

Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, said:

“Today’s announcement is a major step forward. The Lightning II will equip the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force with a highly advanced multi-role stealth combat aircraft, operating from both our new Queen Elizabeth class carriers and land bases.

“These aircraft will form part of the first UK-based squadron of F-35s, which will take up station at RAF Marham in 2018. This programme is also bringing substantial industrial benefits to the UK, providing thousands of skilled jobs in the UK aerospace industry.”

Bernard Gray, the MOD’s Chief of Defence Materiel, said:

“I am delighted that this agreement prepares the way for the first batch of operational combat aircraft. It ensures the MOD remains on target for achieving both operational capability from land bases and the start of flying trials aboard the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2018.”

Air Commodore Mark Hopkins, Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) for Lightning II, said:

“Lightning II will be a genuinely transformational aircraft when it enters service with the RAF and the Royal Navy. With highly advanced sensors, systems and weapons, this fifth generation stealth aircraft will offer a quantum leap in terms of capability and, alongside Typhoon, will offer the UK flexible and adept Air Power for the foreseeable future.

“As the first batch order for aircraft to form part of our first operational squadron, this marks a very significant milestone in this programme.”

It is anticipated that the contract will be finalised in the coming weeks, which will allow deliveries of the aircraft, within the contract, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, to commence from mid-2016.

The aircraft provide an important step on the path to rebuilding the UK’s carrier strike capability. They feature short take off and vertical landing (STOVL) and the latest stealth and intelligence surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) technology.

Background Information

  • The UK has already taken delivery of three F-35B jets to date, which are based at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, US, and an order was placed for a fourth UK aircraft in September 2013 which will be delivered early in 2016. These are for test and evaluation. The UK’s first operational Squadron will transition to RAF Marham in Norfolk in 2018, which will become their Main Operating Base.
  • The agreement is part of a larger contract award which will be let by the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office (JPO), based in Washington DC, with Lockheed Martin, and will procure a total of 43 aircraft for the Programme across six nations.
  • Significant UK sub-contractors to the programme include BAE Systems, Cobham, GE Aviation, Honeywell, Martin Baker, MBDA, Qinetiq, Rolls-Royce, Selex Galileo, Ultra Electronics & EDM Limited.

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Russia’s 5th Gen Fighter Receives First Sets of New Electronic Warfare System

By on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

The unique air system increases fighter jet’s jamming resistance and damage tolerance, as well as neutralizes enemy’s signature control systems

The Radio Electronic Technologies concern provided the Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation (PAC FA) T-50 with the first batch of Himalayas electronic warfare systems.

“We are currently testing it,” General Director Nikolay Kolesov told TASS. “T-50 prototypes are already equipped with the Himalayas onboard defense system. The system is used in plane tests,” Kolesov said.

The unique air system increases fighter jet’s jamming resistance and damage tolerance, as well as neutralizes enemy’s signature control systems. It also helps decrease aggregate weight of the PAC FA.

The Himalayas are integrated into the jet fighter system to the extent it functions as a so-called smart cover. “In other words, we are not producing some separate blocks, but parts of a plane with add-in electronic devices,” Kolesov stressed when talking about fifth-generation jet fighters’ electronic warfare characteristics.

The Himalayas EW system was developed by the Kaluga Scientific Research and Radio Technology Institute and is manufactured at the Signal radioplant in Stavropol. They are both part of the Radio Electronic Technologies concern.

The concern is Russia’s largest electronic industry holding company. It was established back in 2009 and is now part of the Rostec State Corporation. It specializes in development and production of systems and commercial avionics, position-radar station of air basing, identification and electronic warfare systems, measuring apparatus for various purposes. The concern includes 97 scientific research institutes, a development laboratory and production facilities.

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India test-fires first home-made cruise missile

India successfully test-fired its first domestically built nuclear-capable long-range cruise missile Friday, marking another step in building up the country´s defence prowess.

The “Nirbhay”, or “fearless”, missile blasted off from a mobile launcher at the Integrated Missile Test Range in Chandipur in the eastern state of Orissa, the Press Trust of India reported.

“The trial was totally successful,” a senior government official associated with the launch told the Press Trust of India national news agency.

“The outcome of the trial was ascertained by analyzing the data retrieved from radars and telemetry points,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Unlike other ballistic missiles, Nirbhay has a wing and tail fins. The missile is intended to cruise like an aircraft, helped by its small fins, and can be launched from land, sea and air.

The surface-to-surface missile is fitted with a turbojet engine and is capable of flying at low altitudes to avoid detection. It can even hover near the target, striking from any direction without being seen on radar.

With a range of up to 1,000 kilometers (600 miles), it gives India the capability to strike “deep into enemy territory”, NDTV news network reported.

The Nirbhay is regarded by military experts as India´s version of the US Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Friday´s success comes after the subsonic missile´s first test launch in March 2013 had to be aborted midway after it veered off course.

India, which shares borders with arch-rivals Pakistan and giant China, both of which are nuclear-armed, is developing the missile system to strengthen its air-defence capabilities.

India already has in its arsenal the supersonic BrahMos missile which it developed jointly with Russia.

India in 2012 successfully launched its nuclear-capable Agni V ballistic missile with a range of more than 5,000 kilometers.

The Indian military views the Agni V missile as a key boost to its regional power aspirations and one that narrows — albeit slightly — its huge gap with China´s technologically advanced missile systems.

While the shorter-range Agni I and II were mainly developed with India´s traditional rival Pakistan in mind, later versions with longer range reflect the shift in India´s military focus towards China.

Just last month, Indian government scientists were in the news for winning Asia´s race to Mars when its unmanned Mangalyaan spacecraft successfully entered the Red Planet´s orbit after a 10-month journey on a tiny budget.

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Army National Guard activates first cyber protection team

The Army National Guard’s first cyber protection team received its new shoulder sleeve insignia here, Oct. 7, during a ceremony conducted by U.S. Army Cyber Command/Second Army.

Lt. Gen. Edward C. Cardon, commanding general, U.S. Army Cyber Command, cited the ceremony as a major milestone for Army cyberspace operations, Guard and Reserve forces and for the Army.

“It is another indication of the tremendous momentum that the Army is building to organize, train and equip its cyberspace operations forces,” Cardon said. “Army Cyber Command is taking a Total Force approach to building and employing the Army’s cyber force.”

Army Maj. Gen. Judd H. Lyons, acting director of the Army Guard, joined Army Lt. Gen. Edward C. Cardon, commanding general of U.S. Army Cyber Command/Second Army, and Col. Jayson M. Spade, commander of the 1st Information Operations Command (Land), to present the patches on a drizzly afternoon.

For many, the ceremony represented something larger than the presentation of a uniform item.

“It’s symbolic of the integration of the Reserve forces into the active forces in the common defense of our networks,” said Maj. Hung Diep, team chief of the 1636th Cyber Protection Team, and an Iraq war veteran. “The team represents one of the most diverse forces that we have in the (Army) National Guard. We represent 19 states and two territories.”

The ceremony also represented a number of firsts for the Army.

“Today this cyber protection team represents another first―the first Army National Guard/active duty cyber protection team,” said Cardon. “The Army plans to build 10 additional Army National Guard cyber protection teams in the future.”

Cardon cited the experience that Army Guard Soldiers bring with them from both the military and civilian sectors as being beneficial to the mission.

“They bring a wide range of experience, not only from serving in the Army National Guard, but also from working in industry, state government or other government agencies,” he said. “They are experienced, educated, and motivated.”

The team will be an invaluable part of the cyber force, said Cardon, adding that the teams will be responsible for conducting defensive cyberspace operations, readiness inspections and vulnerability assessments as well as a variety of other cyber roles and missions.

For Lyons, cyber operations tie into the Guard’s heritage and are the next step forward in the Guard’s history.

“Since 1636, the Army National Guard has been called upon to respond to floods, wildfires, storms and threats far from our shores,” he said. “The cyber threat is no less real, and it is absolutely in keeping with the finest traditions of the National Guard that Guard Soldiers will be fully integrated into the cyberspace force.”

The cyber threat, said Lyons, is synonymous with other key moments in history.

“In 1775, the ‘shot heard round the world’ signaled the start of the American Revolutionary War,” he said. “Today, 239 years later, we face a world in which the first shots of the next war may be fired in cyberspace. And unlike the shots fired in 1775, those shots may indeed be heard around the world, in a very real sense, as systems and components thousands of miles away are instantaneously disabled by a keystroke.”

Protecting against that is critical.

“The billions of lines of code, massive server farms and cloud-based assets that govern our power, water, fuel, communications, transportation, and national defense must be protected,” Lyons said.

The 1636th Cyber Protection Team is just one part of a larger force.

“Today’s ceremony may seem like a small step,” Lyons said. “The men and women here are relatively few in number compared to those who man our divisions, brigades and battalions. But they are true pioneers of the Army Guard; the vanguard of a larger force yet to be built.”

The team is just as important as those larger brigades and divisions.

“Their role is just as essential as that played by our combat units on the front line,” said Lyons. “They defend the nation on a different front – vigilant in ensuring our enemies never get the chance to fire the next ‘shot heard round the world,’ against our nation.”

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