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

22 October 2021

China's Hypersonic Missiles: How Worried Should the U.S. Be About Futuristic Weapons?

DAVID BRENNAN 

Arecent propaganda video released by the Chinese military has brought one of the country's most advanced and threatening technologies back to the fore—hypersonic weaponry.

Hypersonic weapons travel at incredible speed and—unlike even the most advanced ballistic missiles—can maneuver in flight. This gives the weapons enormous range and makes them much harder to track and stop.

The U.S., Russia and China are all investing heavily in hypersonic technologies. However, the Pentagon has been the slowest to jump on the bandwagon and military chiefs are warning that the U.S. could be left behind by its authoritarian adversaries, at least when it comes to nuclear-capable hypersonics.

The U.S. still maintains by far the most powerful military on Earth, supported by a military budget larger than that of the next seven biggest spending nations combined. As such, America's rivals must consider intelligent methods of leveling the playing field and—at least on a local or regional level—upending long-held U.S. military hegemony.

Bombshell leak reveals China's new hypersonic weapon: 'Game changer'

Nick Whigham

China has reportedly made a major leap in its nuclear-capable weapons technology program, testing a missile with capabilities that have caught political adversaries by complete surprise.

According to a bombshell leak reported in the Financial Times on Sunday, the Chinese Communist Party tested a new nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August that went around the globe before making its way towards the intended target.

After cruising through low-orbit space, the missile ultimately missed the target by some 38 kilometres, three people briefed on the intelligence told the paper.

However the sources said the August test showed China has made surprisingly rapid and "astounding" gains when it comes to hypersonic weapons.

"We have no idea how they did this," one official told the Financial Times.

21 October 2021

China tests new space capability with hypersonic missile

Demetri Sevastopulo

China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August that circled the globe before speeding towards its target, demonstrating an advanced space capability that caught US intelligence by surprise.

Five people familiar with the test said the Chinese military launched a rocket that carried a hypersonic glide vehicle which flew through low-orbit space before cruising down towards its target.

The missile missed its target by about two-dozen miles, according to three people briefed on the intelligence. But two said the test showed that China had made astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than US officials realised.

The test has raised new questions about why the US often underestimated China’s military modernisation.

“We have no idea how they did this,” said a fourth person.

China Tested A Fractional Orbital Bombardment System That Uses A Hypersonic Glide Vehicle: Report

TYLER ROGOWAY

Areport from Financial Times' Demetri Sevastopulo and Kathrin Hille states that China has tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic glide vehicle that goes into space and traverses the globe in an orbital-like fashion before making its run through the atmosphere toward its target. There would be huge implications if such a system were to be operationalized, and according to this story, which says it talked to five officials confirming the test, the U.S. government was caught totally off-guard by it.

The trial flight is said to have occurred around August, with the boost-glide vehicle being lifted into space by a Long March 2C rocket. The launch of the rocket, the 77th of its kind, was undisclosed by Beijing, while the 76th and 78th were—the latter of which occurred in late August. The Financial Times says that the tested hypersonic glide vehicle missed its target by a couple of dozen miles, but that is hardly reassuring considering the capabilities that are apparently in development here.

Special Operations Command to Test Fire Sneaky Laser Weapon on AC-130J Ghostrider Gunship

Sebastien Roblin

The Special Operations Command’s AC-130J Ghostrider gunship aircraft are set to test a truly ghostly new weapon: a phantasmal laser that can burn holes into targets from a distance without creating a sound or visible beam, nor leaving any evidence of the assailant.

On October 6, Lockheed Martin announced it had completed factory testing on the Airborne High Energy Laser (AHEL) and delivered it for flight testing. Earlier statements have made clear the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) intends to test AHEL in 2022, which if successful could lead to new research and the development, testing, and evaluation to create an operational capability. In July Lockheed Martin received an additional $12 million five-year contract for “technical services, integration, test and demonstration of AHEL system.”

It may be fun to imagine a brilliant beam of light lancing forth from the 1950s-era C-130 Hercules transportation airplane accompanied by an appropriate “pew-pew” sound. But, in fact, a large part of AHEL’s appeal to SOCOM is its utter lack of such pyrotechnics. It could be used to silently burn holes into equipment and vehicles, potentially causing them to combust without obvious cause and leaving the targeted party without any tell-tale munitions fragments with which to trace the strike back to its origins.

20 October 2021

PROFITEERS OF ARMAGEDDON: PRODUCERS OF THE NEXT GENERATION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

William D. Hartung

AT A GLANCE
The Pentagon and the Department of Energy are ramping up a three-decades-long plan to build a new generation of nuclear-armed bombers, submarines and missiles, along with new warheads to go with them.1 The price tag for operating existing weapons and building new ones could reach a staggering $2 trillion.2 The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that, in the next decade alone, the cost of nuclear weapons deployment, development, and procurement could reach $634 billion.3 The major beneficiaries of these expenditures will be the prime contractors for new nuclear delivery vehicles and the operators of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) nuclear weapons complex.

The nuclear weapons budget has already begun to climb over the past few years, from $37.2 billion in FY2020 to $43 billion in the Biden administration’s proposed budget for FY2022. The figure for FY2022 includes $27.7 billion for nuclear activities at the Department of Defense and $15.5 billion at the NNSA.4 This figure will grow dramatically as the nuclear weapons modernization plan ramps up over the next decade and beyond. For example, the CBO estimates that the major elements of the Pentagon’s nuclear modernization plan will cost tens of billions each over the next decade, including $145 billion for ballistic missile submarines, $82 billion for the new Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), and $53 billion for the new nuclear-armed bomber.5 And the costs will not end there. For example, the estimated lifetime cost of building and operating the new ICBM is $264 billion

New Artillery Round Promises Higher Speed, Extended Range

Stew Magnuson

A Boeing-led industry team next summer is aiming to demonstrate for the Army a new air-breathing munition that developers say will greatly improve speed and range compared to conventional artillery rounds.

The Ramjet 155 achieves longer distances and greater speed because it doesn’t have an oxidizer onboard, explained Dan Palmeter, capture team lead for Boeing Phantom Works’ Ramjet 155. Boeing is part of an industry team that includes BAE Systems and Norway-based Nammo.

“It's definitely something the Army has not seen before. We think we have something that can really help them in their long-range precision fires No. 1 modernization priority,” Palmeter said in an Oct. 13 interview from the Association of the United States Army's annual conference in Washington, D.C.

19 October 2021

The Army Just Tested Its New Ballistic Missiles That Takes Aim At Previously Prohibited Ranges (Updated)

JOSEPH TREVITHICK

Lockheed Martin has announced the latest test of its Precision Strike Missile, or PrSM, for the U.S. Army, though the company has not said exactly how far the weapon flew. The distance appears to be close to, if not over, a previous range limitation for ground-based ballistic and cruise missiles that the United States had adhered to until 2019 under the now-defunct Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, with Russia.

The PrSM test was conducted on Oct. 13, 2021, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California using an M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) truck-mounted launcher. The missile flew out into the Pacific Ocean. This test had originally been expected to take place in August but was pushed back because of scheduling conflicts.

“The Precision Strike Missile continues to validate range and performance requirements,” Paula Hartley, Vice President of Tactical Missiles at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said in a statement. “Achieving this long-range milestone for the baseline missile demonstrates PrSM’s capability to meet our customer’s modernization priorities on a rapid timeline.”

The Bright Future of Laser Weapons

Kris Osborn

Imagine that an advancing mechanized Army unit is closing with an enemy force on the outside border of an urban area when suddenly a small fleet of enemy drones emerge from behind tall buildings to attack with air-to-ground missiles. Approaching tanks and tactical vehicles in an armored column might suddenly be placed at risk if the drones were not previously detected by any air asset.

This is the type of scenario the Air Force and Army are preparing to confront. The two military services are arming small tactical vehicles and some of their larger tactical trucks with precision-laser weapons to help find and incinerate enemy targets without needing to create explosive fragments. Lasers would provide a more cost-effective long-term solution than current assets.

Much of the innovation has been oriented toward engineering mobile sources of transportable electrical power sufficient to generate and sustain operational effectiveness. Gen. John Murray, the commander of Army Futures Command, says the Army is addressing these challenges and making rapid progress integrating mobile electrical power on combat vehicles.

26 September 2021

Nuclear Weapons, Deterrence and What’s Next

WALTER PINCUS

OPINION — “Right now, we can hold any target on the planet at risk today. We do. And we do that every day, and everybody knows it. That’s the nuclear weapons that are deployed every day. The adversaries that we face cannot do anything about those nuclear weapons and so that holds everything at risk.”

That’s Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten, speaking late, in an hour-long interview eight days ago, with the Brookings Institution’s specialist in defense strategy, Michael O’Hanlon. Hyten, a former head of Strategic Command (STRATCOM) who is set to retire soon, followed up with the downside of the U.S. position saying, “But if your only ability to hold a target at risk is a nuclear weapon, that is a bad place to be. That is a really bad place to be because that runs the risk of an escalation in a war that we don’t want to risk.”

Hyten then shared an anecdote, saying that as STRATCOM Commander, after he first briefed now-Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley for an hour on the complexities of the U.S. strategic nuclear weapons program, Milley asked for an explanation “in simple English. ‘Why do we have nuclear weapons?’ My answer,” Hyten said, “was one sentence – to keep people from using nuclear weapons on us.”

17 September 2021

NUCLEAR TERRORISM

Elisabeth Suh, Miriam Heß

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that reshaped how Western governments thought about security and terrorism. Measured by the number of causalities, they remain among the most severe terrorist events that have ever occurred. Yet, that day, the threshold to another, even more devastating form of attack was alarmingly low: According to the 9/11 Commission Report, although the perpetrators chose more feasible and symbolic targets in the end, they had considered targeting the Indian Point Energy Center – a nuclear power plant 40 kilometers north of Manhattan – to create a massive release of radioactivity.

While the human and environmental consequences of a terrorist attack with nuclear or radiological materials are barely imaginable, the threat of nuclear terrorism is real. Several terrorist groups – including Al Qaeda, North Caucasian terrorists, and the so-called Islamic State (IS) – have demonstrated their nuclear ambitions as a means of communicating with and targeting their “enemies.” Al Qaeda generally targets “the West”; North Caucasian terrorists have chosen Russia as a less abstract enemy. As a more recent example, the perpetrators of the 2015 attacks in Paris gathered information about nuclear research facilities in Belgium and Germany. Generally, European countries that engage in international counterterrorism campaigns and operate nuclear power or research programs, such as France and Germany, present high-risk targets for potential nuclear terrorist attacks.

16 September 2021

Hypersonic Weapons Are Here and Will Change Warfare Forever

Dan Goure

Here's What You Need to Remember: Aircraft capable of hypersonic flight will be able to penetrate layered anti-aircraft defenses. During its career as one of the Air Force’s premier Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms, the venerable SR-71, which could fly at speeds up to Mach 3, was fired upon unsuccessfully hundreds of times.

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.

12 September 2021

Will Lasers Change War?

Jacob Parakilas

Directed energy weapons – lasers – are a good example of a defense technology that has flitted around the edges of possibility for decades. The prospect of a weapon that needs no ammunition, and whose effects travel at the speed of light, remains tantalizing for militaries, despite numerous technical challenges, which have so far prevented lasers’ meaningful use.

Long a staple of science-fiction, directed energy weapons were mooted as part of a space-based missile defense system in the 1980s, before the end of the Cold War returned them to back-burner status. In the early 2000s, the U.S. Air Force revived the concept, going so far as to retrofit a Boeing 747 into an airborne laser platform called the YAL-1, designed to shoot down ballistic missiles in the launch phase. The program, beset by cost overruns, range limitations, and concerns about operational feasibility, was eventually abandoned.

11 September 2021

Watch Out: China Is Buying Suicide Drones

Michael Peck

Here's What You Need to Remember: For the U.S. military and other potential Chinese adversaries, this is one more advanced weapon that they may encounter in battle. Like drones in general, loitering munitions can be hard to detect and shoot down, especially the smaller models.

China’s military is looking to buy suicide drones.

The military wants two types of suicide drones, according to an announcement posted on a Chinese military procurement Web site. The desired technical specifications of the drones, or the number to be purchased, is classified.

But Chinese drone manufacturers do have products that might satisfy the demands of the People’s Liberation Army. In 2018, China Aerospace unveiled the CH-901, which Chinese media described as being 4 feet long and weighing 20 pounds, with a speed of 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour, a range of 15 kilometers (9 miles) and an endurance of two hours. The larger WS-43 is a 500-pound weapon with a range of 60 kilometers (37 miles) and an endurance of 30 minutes.

10 September 2021

Iranian Drone Power: How Tehran Uses Armed Drones Across the Middle East

Sebastien Roblin

The Liberian-flagged tanker Mercer Street was transiting through the Gulf of Oman on July 29, bound for the United Arab Emirates, when it was attacked by two delta-winged drones packed full of explosives. The startled crew issued several distress calls.

But before help could arrive, a third drone slammed into the pilothouse early in the morning of July 30. The explosion ripping a six-foot-hole in the vessel and killing the ship’s Romanian captain and his British bodyguard.

The attack on the oil tanker, which was managed by the London-based Zodiac Maritime, followed a half-year of tit-for-tat acts of maritime sabotage between Iran and Israel, though this was the first incident to result in fatalities. Unsurprisingly, a subsequent investigation by U.S. Central Command found that parts of the drones recovered from the attack matched those photographed on Iranian delta-wing drones.

4 September 2021

China's Autonomous Attack Drones are Ready to Take Off

Michael Peck

Here's What You Need to Remember: Up to ten heli-drones can be assembled into a swarm, with Artificial Intelligence guiding and coordinating the group. “The 10 drones can be a combination of different types, including those that can drop proximity explosive mortar shells, while others can carry grenade launchers, or make suicide attacks,” said Global Times.

China has a history of overwhelming its enemies with sheer numbers of troops.

Now, China may have a modern iteration on that tactic: swarms of tiny rocket-armed helicopter drones that will swamp enemy forces like angry bees.

“China’s domestically developed helicopter drones carrying proximity explosive mortar shells, grenade launchers and machine guns can now form swarms and engage in coordinated strikes,” according to Chinese newspaper Global Times, citing a statement by the Guangdong-based Zhuhai Ziyan company, which makes unmanned aerial vehicles. The system was also displayed at a recent Turkish defense trade show.

29 August 2021

There May Be a Way to Destroy "Unstoppable" Hypersonic Missiles

Kris Osborn

There may actually be a way to destroy "unstoppable hypersonic" missiles. As a matter of fact, there may be several emerging ways to track and destroy hypersonic weapons. But are they realistic, knowing the speed, maneuverability, and potential destruction associated with hypersonics?

Responding to the seriousness of the existing Russian and Chinese hypersonic threat, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency has presented a challenge to the industry to develop a multi-layered defensive concept.

“China continues in pursuit of advanced weapon systems with really novel attributes and capabilities, such as a hypersonic weapons dual-use capability that transcends the formal and normative delineations between domains,” Adm. Charles “Chas” Richard, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, recently said at the Space and Missile Defense (SMD) Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama.

17 August 2021

EXCLUSIVE: China building third missile field for hundreds of new ICBMs

Bill Gertz

China is building a third missile field that will hold more than 100 new DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missiles, The Washington Times has learned.

Construction of a silo array for DF-41s was identified from satellite imagery by U.S. intelligence agencies in the past several weeks and appears equal in size to two other new Chinese missile fields recently identified, according to Pentagon officials familiar with intelligence reports on the strategic development.

Adm. Charles Richard, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, said Thursday that the first two missile fields being built are part of China‘s “explosive” expansion of nuclear forces.

“We are witnessing a strategic breakout by China,” Adm. Richard told a missile defense conference in Alabama. “The explosive growth in their nuclear and conventional forces can only be what I described as breathtaking,” he said, adding that “frankly, that word ‘breathtaking’ may not be enough.”

‘Effective, Deployable, Accountable: Pick Two’: Regulating Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems

John Williams

Almost every keen cyclist knows pioneering US engineer Keith Bontrager’s famous observation about bicycles: ‘strong, light, cheap: pick two. If they don’t know it, they’ve experienced its effects at their local bike shop’s checkout when they upgrade any components. The current state of regulatory debate about Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) looks to be increasingly locked into a similar two-fold choice from three desirable criteria: ‘effective, deployable, accountable: pick two’. However, unlike Bontrager’s bicycles, where the conundrum reflects engineering and material facts, the regulatory debate entrenches social-structural ‘facts’ that make this two-from-three appear inescapable. This article explains how the structure of the LAWS regulatory debate is creating a two-from-three choice, and why the one that holds the most potential for containing the dangers LAWS may create – accountability – looks least likely to prevail. Effective and deployable, just like strong and light amongst cycling enthusiasts, are likely to win out. It won’t just be bank balances that ‘take the hit’ in this case, but, potentially, the bodies of our fellow human beings.

16 August 2021

Tracking Missile Threats

Ian Williams
Source Link

One does not need to be a rocket scientist to understand the profound way that rockets, missiles, and other strategic weapons have shaped international security. Yet, the influence of these weapon systems on deterrence, assurance, and stability continues to evolve and grow more complex. For international security professionals, journalists, and the interested public, tracking this changing landscape can be a challenge. To help navigate the wide world of missilery, the CSIS Missile Defense Project recently released a newly upgraded website to track and explain both missile threats and missile defenses alike.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, much of the world’s attention fixated on ballistic missile threats of states like North Korea. In recent years the proliferation of more advanced missiles has accelerated. In both tests and hostile acts, Iran has demonstrated capabilities to strike military targets at range accurately. North Korea has unveiled at least a dozen new missile types, from antiship missiles to intercontinental ballistic missiles. China has fielded advanced weaponry such as hypersonic glide vehicles and rocket-powered drones. Russia is rapidly modernizing its nuclear forces, experimenting with exotic weapons like nuclear-powered cruise missiles and autonomous undersea nuclear delivery vehicles. Each development adds yet another layer of complexity to the military threats facing the United States and its allies.