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The latest news from Robert Johnson on Business Insider

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    New China MapThe back-and-forth between China, Japan, and the U.S. over disputed islands in the East China Sea this week continued ratcheting up, exposing policies that could prevent any diplomatic solution.

    China's new map:

    Less than a week after Thanksgiving in the U.S. last year, China released its new "nine dash map" passport that made clear its South and East China Sea ambitions. Brushing off controversy at the time, China outraged many neighboring nations, particularly Vietnam and the Philippines whose territory the map annexed. Both countries refused to stamp the document, using a separate sheet of paper slipped into the book instead.

    Now, China’s National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation is reportedly releasing its official state map of 2013 to include 130 disputed islands in the area. Not due to be released until the end of January, the new maps are supposed to increase the Chinese people's awareness of national territory. Essentially reinforcing the nationalistic zeal against Japan already running through mainland China.

    China Passport MapPrepare for war:

    China's General Staff Headquarters, which oversees the People's Liberation Army of around 2.5 million active and reserve troops, issued training directives this week to prepare for war.

    From NTD TV:

    Forces should train to “fight and win battles,” the directive said. The strong words are in striking contrast to previous ones. Those had focused more on coordination within different branches of the PLA. In particular, the use of the word “dazheng,” Chinese for “fighting wars,” has not been seen before.
     
    Japan was not mentioned in the directive. But this commentary in the People’s Liberation Army Daily conjures up images of the Japanese invasion of China during World War II. It goes on to suggest Japan is gathering other East Asian countries to quote, “contain China.”
     
    Not itself a red flag, but Reuters reports an "increasingly hawkish rhetoric coming from senior officers in the People's Liberation Army."

    From Reuters

    But the combative streak speaks to profound shifts in Chinese politics and foreign policy that transcend the heat of the moment. The more provocative of these officers call for "short, sharp wars" to assert China's sovereignty. Others urge Beijing to "strike first", "prepare for conflict" or "kill a chicken to scare the monkeys".

    They routinely denounce the Obama administration's recent "pivot" to Asia - without naming the United States, Ren in his Melbourne speech accused "external countries" of complicating disputes in Asia.

    The U.S. picked sides:

    Just one day after the U.S. and Japan got to work Thursday revising their defense treaty guidelines for the first time in15 years, Hillary Clinton issued China a "veiled warning."

    In a meeting Friday with Japan's foreign minister, Clinton spelled out the U.S. belief that the disputed islands belonged to Japan, were under their control, and therefore under the U.S. security treaty with Tokyo.

    Chinese media is reporting Clinton's remarks effectively break the U.S. vow of neutrality in the region.

    China shows what they think of the U.S. position:China Surveillance Ship

    Within hours of Clinton's remarks Chinese ships entered Japan's territorial waters around the islands. Three Chinese Marine Surveillance ships cruised the waters around the islands for five hours before traveling away from the East China Sea.

    Backing up Clinton's words, and as a counterpoint to China's response, the Japanese foreign minister said plainly: "Japan will not concede," and will, “uphold our fundamental position that the Senkakus are an inherent territory of Japan.”

    Which all bodes poorly for peace and found the Economist Saturday saying the two countries look to be on an irreversible path. "China and Japan are sliding towards war" the magazine says in its most recent piece on the situation.

    China paper calls for foreign military bases:

    As part of its current $200 billion defense budget The Japan Times says China's foreign bases are for more than supplying and protecting trade routes. This in addition to news from a Chinese state-run newspaper advising the PLA Navy to build 18 overseas naval bases. It's an unofficial declaration and the locations are best estimates, but it's an interesting addition when considering the charged climate of the region.

    The nationalism building in both China and Japan allows little room for any leader to be seen "selling out" their country by negotiating and without negotiations the next step may be more conflict rather than less.

    Estimates of where China's new naval bases would go.

    China Military Bases

    SEE ALSO: Japan flies the best most successful US fighter ever made >

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    F-35BThe F-35 is unable to fly within 25 miles of a thunderstorm because engineers believe it could explode if struck by lightning.

    The storm restriction will not be lifted until an oxygen gauge in the fuel tank is redesigned in all F-35s.

    The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program has experienced setbacks since 2000 when the first concept designs by Boeing, and winning contractor Lockheed Martin, were scaled back due to cost overruns and development delays. Current estimates place the cost of operating the projected U.S. fleet of F-35s at about $1 trillion over the five decades it's expected to serve the Navy, Air Force, and Marines.

    This most recent development is mentioned in the Pentagon's 2012 Operational Test and Evaluation report that annually examines developing defense programs until they reach full production.

    The section on the F-35 doesn't mention the critical fuel problem until the second page where it seems to have been known about since 2009.

    From the DoD report:

    Tests of the fuel tank inerting system in 2009 identified deficiencies in maintaining the required lower fuel tank oxygen levels to prevent fuel tank explosions. The system is not able to maintain fuel tank inerting through some critical portions of a simulated mission profile. The program is redesigning the On-Board Inert Gas Generating System (OBIGGS) to provide the required levels of protection from threat and from fuel tank explosions induced by lightning.

    Lockheed released a January 11 F-35 program highlight sheet mentioning the F-35B accomplished 396 flights, met more than 2,400 test points, and executed 102 vertical landings. Of the 30 JSF deliveries made in 2012 only one was an F-35B and that was made to Britain's Royal Air Force in October. The F-35B was grounded late last week diue to problems with its fueldralic line.

    Part of Lockheed's, and the Pentagon's success at signing countries onto the program is integrating its development into foreign economies, making jobs a part of final delivery. The Telegraph points out that concern in an article today:

    The future of the aircraft is also key to Britain’s defence industry and will help to sustain over 20,000 jobs.

    Although the plane is being manufactured by Lockheed Martin, Britain is a major partner in the programme, with both BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce playing key roles in the production and design of the jet.

    The UK already cut its F-35B order to 48 from the 2006 order of 138 jets.

    A spokesman for Lockheed Martin told The Telegraph: "“The F-35 is a stealth aircraft and by definition it is less vulnerable than any fourth generation fighter flying today. We don’t consider this a major issue. We have demonstrated very good vulnerability performance and we continue to work this with the Joint Programme Office.”

    All of this comes after Canada's December announcement that it would be stepping back from its F-35 commitment. 

    Australia followed Canada's announcement a few days later saying it would buy 24 Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets if it saw any more delays in the F-35 program.

    Firming its support for the program the Pentagon promptly announced it was signing a contract with Lockheed Martin for a fifth batch of 32 jets worth $3.8 billion.

    U.S. pilots started training in the F-35 at Eglin, AFB starting this month can likely plan on duty stations at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, which will be the first U.S. F-35 overseas base in the world. 

    All of that is good news for Lockheed Martin and its investors who now expect profits in the high single digits following about 10 years of four percent profits during the F-35's development phase.

    SEE ALSO: The F-35 could learn a lot from the F-16 >

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    constantinople

    What New York City was in twentieth century, London was in the the 1900s, Constantinople was in the 600s, and so forth, back to Jericho in 7000 BC.

    They were the largest cities in the world, and arguably the epicenters of human civilization.

    These cities led mankind to new heights of culture and commerce—though in the end each of them was surpassed and some of them destroyed.

    HistoriansTertius Chandler, Gerald Fox, and George Modelski identified the largest cities throughout history through painstaking study of household data, agricultural commerce, church records, fortification sizes, food distribution, loss of life in a disaster, and more. We have parsed their work in the following slides.

    Jericho was the biggest city in the world in 7000 BC with 2,000 citizens

    Jericho may be the oldest continually occupied spot in the world, with settlements dating to 9000 BC.

    The city, nestled between the Dead Sea and Mt. Nebo, had natural irrigation from the Jordan River and the best known oasis in the region. The springs allowed residents to grow the highly lucrative opobalsamum plant, which produced the most expensive oil in the ancient world.

    It is described in the Old Testament as the "City of Palm Trees."



    Uruk took the lead in 3500 BC with 4,000 citizens

    Uruk is famous as the capital city in the epic of Gilgamesh; also thought to be the Biblical city of Erech, built by King Nimrod.

    The domestication of grain and its close proximity to the Euphrates River allowed Uruk's harvest to swell, leading to trade, advancements in writing, and specialized crafts.

    The city declined around 2000 BC due to regional struggles and was finally abandoned around the time of the Islamic conquest.



    Mari took the lead in 2400 BC with 50,000 citizens

    Mari was the robust trade capital of Mesopotamia, central in moving stone, timber, agricultural goods and pottery throughout the region.

    The city was home first to the Sumerite kings, then the Amorite kings, one of which built a massive 300-room palace.

    Mari was sacked in 1759 BC by Hammurabi of Babylon and then abandoned.

    In the 1930s a French archaeologist discovered 25,000 tablets written in an extinct language called Akkadian. Most were municipal documents, economic reports and census rolls—a third were personal letters. The find changed our understanding of the ancient Near East.



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    052 DestroyerAs the U.S. makes clear it will defend Japan should China try and lay claim to the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, this Chinese announcement from mid-2012 offers additional perspective.

    Once the U.S. announced it's turning attention from the Middle East and directing military assets to the Pacific, it didn't take long for China to make clear how it would handle what it saw as a new regional threat.

    The Economic Times reported China promptly increased its conventional missile capability to carry out multiple launches, from multiple sites —a tactic that could overwhelm a Navy ship's defenses and cripple its abilities.

    Tan Weihong, Commander of China's Second Artillery Force said, "Conventional missiles are a trump card in modern warfare. So we must be ready at any time. We must be able to deliver a quick response to attacks, hit the targets with high accuracy, and destroy them totally. Of the 114 missiles [our brigade]  has launched so far, all have accurately hit the target."

    For each incoming missile a U.S. Navy ship will have to perform some variation of the following actions:

    First it will launch a long-range air defense missile, like a SM-2ER. If that fails, then a shorter range missile like the ESSM (Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile) will go out — then the ship's main deck guns will fire anti-air rounds with fused airburst shells.

    Surviving missiles will be engaged by close-in weapons systems like the Mk-15 Phalanx or the RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile). Any incoming missiles struck by these systems will be so close, and moving so fast, that incoming shrapnel and debris would likely be unavoidable.

    While all these "Hard Kill" options are going on, the ship's electronic warfare systems will have been trying to jam the incoming missile, offering the missile a false target, while firing off chaff (for radar guided weapons) and flares (for infrared guided weapons).

    All that for every single missile, so if China can send off several at once directed at the same ship, the chances of success on their part may increase exponentially.

    China would launch its ordnance both from shore and its new Aegis type 052 Luhu-class destroyers.  This battle plan is especially relevant given the developments in the area over the past few days, which I'll address in a following post.

    SEE ALSO: What it takes to fire the big gun on a US destroyer >

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    Caddy1, military, defenseAt a cost of over $300,000 and enough armor to stop an RPG, the President's ground vehicle is a very resilient ride.

    It looks like a Caddy STS on the outside, but on the inside it has everything the Secret Service needs to protect their boss from threats he may face on the road.

    It's so up-armored and filled with gear, agents call it The Beast.

    On the road it's surrounded by a motorcade of up to 30 other vehicles, including local police, The Beast's decoy, a mobile communications center, press, and other armed vehicles.

    In the Service's early days, the presidential vehicle wasn't exactly secure — the carriage was open, and horses can only gallop so fast.



    The invention of the car was a huge step, but the desire to be close to their constituents kept presidents in danger



    After President John F. Kennedy's death, the Secret Service gave itself a top-to-bottom policy overhaul, and open cars got the boot.



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    052 Destroyer

    When Chinese and Japanese fighters met for the first time over disputed islands in the East China Sea earlier this month, Japan promptly declared its right to fire tracers at China's jets.

    Though met with outrage by China at the time, Japan continues promoting the live firing which Chinese military academics are calling the "first shot."

    The Tokyo AP reports Japan believes it's simply following protocol:

    “Every country has procedures for how to deal with a violation of its territory that continues after multiple cautionary measures,” Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Wednesday when asked if tracer shots would be fired against intruding aircraft that refuse to change course. “We have response measures ready that are consistent with global standards.”

    If Japan is using the talk of tracer fire to gauge Chinese reaction, the tactic worked.

    The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Sunday his country is on "high alert" and that Japan and the U.S. are ignoring the fact that "the islands are China’s inherent territory."

    052 Live Fire ExerciseNever to be left out, Chinese military academics quoted in Beijing's state-run media provided far more fiery replies:

    “Japan’s desire to fire tracer warning shots as a way of frightening the Chinese is nothing but a joke that shows the stupidity, cruelty and failure to understand their own limitations,” Maj. Gen. Peng Guangqian of the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences was quoted saying by the China News Service and other state media.

    Firing tracer bullets is a type of provocation; it’s firing the first shot,” he said. “Were Japan to dare to fire tracers, which is to say fire the first shot, then China wouldn’t stint on responding and not allow them to fire the second shot.”

    China then released photos of its East Fleet 052 destroyer during live fire exercises in the disputed area. The maneuvers involved both its East and South Fleets, simulating actual combat scenarios. Including multiple jet fighters and surface vessels, The South China Morning Post reports it as the first time naval air forces employed air-to-air missiles so far out to sea. 

    The second massive drill involving the South Fleet January 8, included Hong-6 bombers flying eight hour runs while evading radar and electromagnetic interference as they'd encounter in combat. One Beijing based naval expert said the drills would only increase in frequency and scope, and include other factions of the People's Army.

    052 live fire exercise

    That appears to be accurate as China's also announced its army aviation unit of attack helicopters will shift from a logistics mission in preparation for combat.

    The Times of India quotes the PLA Daily, China's official military newspaper:

    The unit will work on major missions such as long-distance tasks, large scale offshore operations, attack coordination with other units and large scale airborne operations, it said, adding that the unit will also aim to improve its operation capability based on IT technologies.

    The English PLA Daily army section has several announcements related to its helicopter units their accelerated training, and even troops psychological readiness for "military transportation in high-tech wars".

    Finally, because war preparation takes many forms, China's Communist Party news site the Global Times reports Beijing's new subway lines are fully online and able to withstand chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks. The tunnels have gates that form a seal between below ground and the street. 

    Z-10 HelicopterFrom the Global Times:

    Jiang Hao, an engineer from the 4th Engineer Design & Research Institute of General Staff Department, said that the gates for civil defense have already been used in the subway in cities like Nanjing in Jiangsu Province and Shenyang in Liaoning Province. 

    "The new facilities also have other defensive capabilities like emergency communication equipment at each station, which makes effective communication possible during a conflict," Jiang said at the conference.

    Of course, this may all be a matter of course as China exercises its financial ability and modernizes its military and infrastructure.

    But there is little chance the disagreement over the disputed islands will quiet down any time soon with such intransigent claims of ownership coming from both countries. The feud also arrives as Japan's new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is eager to demonstrate a more assertive Japanese presence in the area.

    With entirely new regional dynamics at work, it's difficult to say how much of this back-and-forth is posturing, and how much is some kind of mad inexorable WWI-like slide toward the unthinkable. 

    SEE ALSO: The F-15 Japan flies against China's newest jets >

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    attached image

    Problems have plagued the F-22 Raptor since its inception.

    Flaking, toxic stealth coating with equally toxic glue. International dateline software glitches. Pilots nearly passing out from lack of oxygen and the feared "Raptor Cough."

    So the jet went through a battery of extensive tests, over many years, only for one general to suggest something completely unrelated to the configuration of the plane's innards: Maybe human beings just weren't physiologically equipped to max out the attributes of this total sky carnivore.

    The F-22 was America's first success in developing a 5th Generation fighter jet.



    The jet was the first of its kind referred to as 'supermaneuverable.'



    Like a spaceship in the sky; toasting competition with two Pratt and Whitney 119 Turbofan engines, allowing for an unprecedented turning radius to speed ratio.



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    Senkaku Islands

    The main point of contention over the disputed East China Sea islands consuming a feud between China and Japan is simply who controlled them first.

    China claims to have controlled the area where the islands sit since the Ming dynasty about 600 years ago, but Japan unveiled a report calling that claim into question.

    The Tokyo 'paper Yomiuri Shimbun cites a 17th century document from a Chinese official sent to a Japanese envoy explaining the dynasty's control ended far short of the Senkaku Islands.

    From the Yomiuri:

    During China's Ming dynasty, a provincial governor told a Japanese envoy that the ocean area under the dynasty's control ended with the Matsu Islands, now under Taiwan's administration, and the sea beyond that was free for any nation to navigate, said Nozomu Ishii, an associate professor of Nagasaki Junshin Catholic University.

    The Matsu Islands are much closer to China than the Senkaku Islands, which China claims to have controlled since the Ming dynasty about 600 years ago. 
    At a press conference Monday, Ishii said the Chinese governor's statement appears in "Huangming Shilu", the official annals of the Ming dynasty.

    "This historical material proves that Japan's claim over Senkaku Islands is historically correct," he said.

    The islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diayo in China are the focus of many recent verbal exchanges and confrontations between the Japanese and Chinese military.

    SEE ALSO: The fighter that may be too much for pilots to handle >

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    Surveillance Room S

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Secret Service have requested information to support the installation of a gunshot detection system in Washington D.C.

    Such a system is already in place in various cities, as outlined last May by The New York Times, and it records a whole lot more than gunshots. sergeant for the Richmond Police Department told the Times he could hear, doors slamming, birds chirping, cars on the highway, horns honking."

    These systems can also record conversations, which raises questions about the limits of police surveillance. Indeed, one murder case in New Bedford, Mass. is expected to hinge on a recorded argument, according to the Times.

    The main supplier of the current system is ShotSpotter, which lists Lockheed Martin and the Ferguson Group as two of its three Strategic Partners.

    ShotSpotterLockheed manufactures many unmanned systems that could soon be flying U.S. airspace. The Ferguson Group "lobbies Congress and the federal agencies on behalf of public and private interests across the country. The Ferguson Group is the largest federal representative of local governments in Washington, DC."

    OpenSecrets has ShotSpotter paying Ferguson Group $390,000 from 2010 to 2012.

    A few of the questions DHS wants to answers are:

    • The exact effective range of the system
    • How easily can the sensors be concealed "aesthetically to match their surroundings"
    • Can the system be used without "use of live fire or blanks"
    • Can the system be made portable
    • Will the system detect 95 percent or more of an areas gunshot incidents and can it be monitored by government agencies alone

    SpotShotter says its wide-area acoustic technology can be used to cover areas of up to 20 square miles and has already logged more than half-a-million incidents.

    In addition to this most recent request for the Secret Service, the ShotSpotter system is used by a long list of regional law enforcement agencies outlined on the company's website.

    This layout Homeland Security is looking for could be very similar ShotSpotter's regional systems, but DHS wants the ability to monitor its system solely within federal agencies. 

    SEE ALSO: How Orlando may have drones patrolling its skies by summer >

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    THAAD

    North Korea got itself in a  fist-clenching, foot-stomping twist Wednesday after the U.N. again expanded sanctions against the country.

    This recent resolution comes as a direct response to Pyongyang's "successful" long-range rocket launch late last year.

    Following the vote, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told reporters, "This resolution demonstrates to North Korea that there are unanimous and significant consequences for its flagrant violation of its obligations under previous resolutions."

    North Korea responded by saying it was full steam ahead on further missile and nuclear development that would now specifically target the United States. Here's the statement translated by Reuters' David Chance:

    "We are not disguising the fact that the various satellites and long-range rockets that we will fire and the high-level nuclear test we will carry out are targeted at the United States," the country's top military body said.

    One successful rocket launch after decades of failures and now Pyongyang is claiming a nuclear program that will actively target the U.S. It's an absurd threat, and here are just a few reasons why.

    SM-3That missile it managed to get into orbit last year, likely with a great degree of help from Iran, was propelled by liquid fuel.

    Assuming the North's rocket is similar to the Viking liquid fueled rocket used by the U.S. during the cold war, it's reasonable to expect travel speed of about 4,000 mph.

    But using liquid fuel means that in addition to hauling the rocket to its launch pad, Pyongyang then has the tactical problem of topping off two tanks for the 5,000 mile flight to the nearest U.S. target in Hawaii. Every minute an opportunity for the U.S. to blow it up where it sits.

    If the missile were to launch and show a U.S. based path, the Navy has 16 Aegis equipped ships in the Pacific theater with perhaps 20 SM-3 anti-ballistic interceptors each to bring the North Korean missile down. The Aegis system has been successful in taking down missiles for more than 10 years and the most recent SM-3 configuration is very accurate, and very reliable.

    Then there are the PAC-3 anti-missile systems in South Korea, likely Japan, U.S. bases in Guam and PAC-3Hawaii. PAC-3 is also a well-proven missile defense built on the Patriot platform with a long record of successful tests.

    Finally, assuming the North's liquid fueled rocket is still zipping toward Hawaii, there is the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system Robert Gates deployed to Hawaii in 2009 to guard against this exact threat. 

    The Lockheed THAAD system also has a long track record of taking down multiple ballistic missiles and each battery holds six launchers. 

    Add to that additional anti-ballistic missile options the military has with modified F-16 AIM-9X rockets that can take out medium range missiles and any unknown submarine options and the idea of Pyongyang getting anywhere near U.S. territory is delusional.

    But more than its missile technology, delusion is what North Korea has become best known for. The idea that its begun to believe its own propoganda is scarier than any nuclear threat to the U.S.

    SEE ALSO: The three deadly weapons the US sent to South Korea >

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    Z-10

    Alert 5 posts Chinese military hardware pictures straight from the ground, but they can lack context as PLA troops or brave civilians snap photos of classified military manuevers and post to Weibo

    Today's featured photo is a Chinese Z-10 attack helicopter saddled with "Ferry Tanks" to fly extra distance and return without refueling. While we can't say where the photo was taken or pinpoint the choppers destination, we did report the PLA earlier this week announced its army aviation unit of attack helicopters were shifting from logistics missions to combat status.

    The PLA Daily, China's official military newspaper:

    The [helicopter] unit will work on major missions such as long-distance tasks, large scale offshore operations, attack coordination with other units and large scale airborne operations, it said, adding that the unit will also aim to improve its operation capability based on IT technologies.

    The English PLA Daily army section has several announcements related to its helicopter unitstheir accelerated training, and even troops psychological readiness for "military transportation in high-tech wars".

    The Ferry Tanks seen in the picture would be particularly useful in long-distance tasks, large scale offshore operations, attack coordination with other units and large scale airborne operations

    East China Islands

    If engaged in the Diaoyu/Senkaku island dispute, the Z-10s could be stationed at Air Base Shuimen to the east. Round trip to the islands is out of reach of the Z-10s, without support ships like the Haixun 21 deployed to the South.

    But it's possible China's fleet of 48 Z-10s, spread across four attack squadrons of a dozen birds each, could act in some localized support.

    Satellite imagery of the base came to light in 2009, and experts believe it was completed late last year. 

    The Taipei Times reported in May 2012 that J-10 combat aircraft, Su-30 fighters, and various unmanned drones were arriving at the base.

    The Shuimen airbase compliments China's nearby East Fleet that maintains 35 ships in the region, including its newest warship the Type 054, seven submarines, and eight additional landing craft.In addition to aircraft, experts  believe Russian made S-300 long-range surface-to-air missiles ring the airbase, providing some of the best missile protection in the world. The S-300 is comparable to the U.S. made Patriot missile system sent recently to Turkey for its first line of missile defense against Syria.

    Among the subs are four Kilo-class diesel-electric Russian made boats capable of the most advanced underwater warfare.

    The Z-10 would provide a fine air support element to the fleet with its prototype powered by Canada's Pratt & Whitney engines and software. That's the deal which put that company in hot water for violating the Arms Export Control Act last year and incurred a $75 million fine against it.

    The Z-10 is an attack helicopter designed for air-to-ground assaults with limited air-to-air abilities, very similar to the U.S. Apache AH-64.

    AH-64

    From Military Today

    The Z-10 helicopter has a standard gunship configuration with a narrow fuselage and stepped tandem cockpits. Gunner is seated at the front and the pilot is at the rear. The fuselage has sloped sides to reduce radar cross section. All vital areas are believed to be protected by armor plates.

    Weapons of the Z-10 may consist of 30-mm cannon, HJ-9 anti-tank guided missiles (comparable to the TOW-2A), newly developed HJ-10 anti-tank missiles (comparable to the AGM-114 Hellfire) and TY-90 air-to-air missiles. It can also carry un-operated rocket pods.

    The prototype of the Z-10 is powered by two Canadian Pratt & Whitney PT6C-67C turboshaft engines, delivering 1,531 hp each. However indigenous engines might be used on production helicopters. It might use the same engine of the WZ-9 helicopter, but it is less powerful than Canadian design.

    Air Base Shuimen

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    DF-21D Carrier Test

    China's PLA "sunk" a U.S. aircraft carrier during a war game in remote China using its DF-21D "Carrier Killer" missile, reports Taiwan paper Want China Times.

    The China Times is a 63 year old Taiwanese paper slightly slanted toward unification, but with a soild reputation and accurate reporting.

    The Times report originates with a Google Earth image published at SAORBOATS Argentinian internet forum.

    The photo shows two big craters on a 600 foot platform deep in China's Gobi desert that Chinese military testers used to simulate the flight deck of an aircraft carrier.

    There has been talk of the DF-21 for years with estimates of its range, threat, and theater changing implications, but this could be the first known test of the rocket.

    The Dong-Feng-21D ballistic missile is expected to ring China's coast on its truck-mounted launcher, posing a significant threat to U.S. Naval forces in the region.

    The 21D is particularly deadly in that it streaks to the atmosphere guided by satellites and possibly GPS enabled drones, and then drops faster than sound straight down on its target.

    DF-21Lacking a horizontal flight path could make it much more difficult to defend against and with the Navy's new carrier's running at $13 billion plus per ship, losing one would be as great a financial blow as it would be psychological and tactical.

    But Defense analyst Roger Cliff points out to The Diplomat that the DF-21 faces a greater challenge than what it faced in the Gobi.

    "The thing to keep in mind is that, in order for China to successfully attack a U.S. navy ship with a ballistic missile,"Cliff told The Diplomat,  "it must first detect the ship, identify it as a U.S. warship of a type that it wishes to attack ... [then] over-the-horizon radars used to detect ships can be jammed, spoofed, or destroyed; smoke and other obscurants can be deployed ... and when the missile locks on to the target its seeker can be jammed or spoofed."

    Which is good news for U.S. troops as they're now facing a greater number of deployments to the region than at any time since WWII.

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    Fordow

    Reports of an explosion at Iran's Fordow nuclear facility surfaced late last week and have been independently confirmed today.

    The Jerusalem Post cites a report by Reza Kahlili who said: “The blast shook facilities within a radius of three miles. Security forces have enforced a no-traffic radius of 15 miles, and the Tehran- Qom highway was shut down for several hours after the blast.”

    There is so far no news on what might have caused the explosion. One question is whether it was the result of an attack on Iran.

    This possibility seems very remote, but talk of the U.S. possibly bombing Iran surfaced in the news late last week when Israel's departing defense minister, Ehud Barak, said his country had written off plans to attack Tehran on its own in the face of a "surgical" plan put forth by the Pentagon.

    Reports then surfaced within days that Iran's Fordow nuclear facility was severely damaged in an explosion and up to 240 workers trapped inside. The explosion was reportedly confined to the plant, suggesting that if it was an airstrike, it doesn't get more "surgical" than that. But this possibility is no more or less likely than sabotage, or an accident, assuming the explosion occurred at all.

    Iran's official news agency, IRNA, promptly denied the explosion, claiming the news was simply the result of the Western media-fueled "propoganda machine."

    That might have ended the story there, but The Times of London's Israel correspondent Sheera Frenkel is confirming the incident through her own independent sources:

    An explosion is believed to have damaged Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility, which is being used to enrich uranium, Israeli intelligence officials have told The Times. Sources in Tel Aviv said yesterday that they thought the explosion happened last week. The Israeli Government is investigating reports that it led to extensive structural damage and 200 workers had been trapped inside.

    One Israeli official said: “We are still in the preliminary stages of understanding what happened and how significant it is.” He did not know, he added, if the explosion was “sabotage or accident”, and refused to comment on reports that Israeli aircraft were seen near the facility at the time of the explosion.

    Frenkel goes on to mention that Tehran has yet to evacuate the surrounding area, but it's unclear if that's because no harmful substances have been released or if the government is trying to avoid panicking local residents.

    MOP

    The Fordow nuclear enrichment site is buried deep within a mountain and fortified to withstand attack. The only bomb believed capable of striking the facility and inflicting any real damage is the U.S. massive ordnance penetrator (MOP) bomb.

    The 30,000 pound piece of ordnance was just certified ready to use by the Pentagon

    The Pentagon’s director of operational testing, Michael Gilmore, confirmed weeks ago that tests conducted with the heavy GBU-57 (MOP) GPS-guided bomb, thought able to penetrate 200 feet of concrete before exploding, have demonstrated that the redesigned bomb is able to hit and destroy deeply buried targets.

    The enhanced MOP features tail-fin modifications to fix bugs identified in testings as well as a second fuse to destroy hardened underground targets.

    Gilmore’s report says that the modifications were tested with five bomb drops from a B-2 stealth bomber on the White Sands Missile Range, conducted between June and October, and two ground tests.

    The Pentagon tells us the B-2 is the only platform in the U.S. Air Force inventory able to carry and release its heaviest bomb, even if B-52s were used in previous tests.

    The MOP is the bomb experts believe Israel needs if it wants to derail Iran's nuclear program for any length of time. While Israel has a fresh supply of GBU-28 bunker busters, they are one-sixth the size and far less capable.

    The MOP might actually be the only conventional bomb to best Iran's concrete technology, which is perhaps the most advanced in the world. The country lies on a very active seismic fault, making earthquakes a part of Iranian life. In response, Tehran's concrete industry has developed Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC) doped with quartz and poured under the country's own high-demand blend of international codes.

    This is the stuff military planners and field officers think of when they cite the MOP's 200-foot concrete penetration capability; and why the already super-capable Boeing bomb was sent back to the drawing board for additional work in the first place.

    We'll update this report as additional news becomes available.

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    Ushering in a new era of Chinese military projection, China's Xian Y-20 indigenously produced heavy transport plane took its maiden flight January 26.

    Pakistan Defence reports the Y-20, built by Xi'an Aircraft Industrial Corporation for the Chinese PLAAF, flew for about 60 minutes while escorted bya J-15 fighter jet.

    China Daily reports the flight is a milestone in Beijing's military development:

    "A genuine strategic air power must possess a strong power projection capability, which is highly reliant on large aircraft, namely a strategic air freighter and a strategic bomber," Wang Yanan, deputy editor-in-chief at Aerospace Knowledge magazine and a military analyst, said.

    "The long-range power projection capability of the Chinese air force still lags behind. But the Y-20 means we have made strides toward building a strategic air power." He said the breakthrough in the technology of large military aircraft will substantially accelerate the development of China’s aviation industry and boost the drive to modernize the People’s Liberation Army.

    David Cenciotti at The Aviationist frst reported sightings of the Y-20 in December and noted it looked like the plane could be a C-17 hybrid.

    Y-20

    Y-20

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    Freemasonry

    As Chuck Hagel seeks support for his nomination to Secretary of Defense, Bob Woodward has released a story about a White House trip the former Senator made in 2009.

    The Washington Post reports:

    According to an account that Hagel later gave, and is reported here for the first time, he told Obama: “We are at a time where there is a new world order.

    "We don’t control it. You must question everything, every assumption, everything they” — the military and diplomats — “tell you. Any assumption 10 years old is out of date. You need to question our role. You need to question the military. You need to question what are we using the military for."

    Hagel warned the president about getting "bogged down" in Afghanistan and voiced concern over the deployment of 51,000 additional troops sent at the time to fight in the war. 

    The Post reports Hagel went so far as to say in 2011: “The president has not had commander-in-chief control of the Pentagon since Bush senior was president,” Hagel said privately in 2011.

    Hagel is likely referring to Donald Rumsfeld's battle for control of the military, both against generals and the President. The perception was that Bush was less the decider, and more a person to be advised of decisions already made.

    Obama encountered his lack of control early in his first term. His stated intent was to draw down forces in Afghanistan. Later, through a controlled leak, Gen. Stanley McCrystal, then-commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, grudgingly leveraged 30,000 troops out of a stubborn Obama administration.

    Some would call that normal politics, but again the perception is that the commander in chief is not really in charge of the military.

    The common word on the street nowadays is that the U.S. needs to de-escalate its overseas military obligations, focusing more on a lighter "footprint" approach to global counterinsurgency. The assessment falls in line with the president's Defense Secretary nomination.

    It looks like Hagel's nomination could be approved and if so, he and the President could share deeply common views.

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    Marines Female IOCThe Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course is a grueling unapologetic machine, producing only a few hundred elite, light infantry officers per year.

    On a quarterly basis, about 100 candidates attempt to survive 86 days of pain, brutal conditioning, and "live-fire" game theory designed to weed out all non-hackers. 

    Only 80 percent pass the course, sometimes fewer. The rest, IOC mercilessly spits out to become truck drivers and public relations reps — anything but infantry.

    Most long distance endurance tests are accompanied by intelligence tests — on paper, in an air conditioned room — or a field intelligence test — tactics, on your feet, possibly to the sound of rounds passing through the air. Call for fire, long distance land navigation, forced marches, 20 miles to the fight, planning, executing, calling a casualty evacuation, grouping your Marines and issuing orders, killing the enemy, bringing everyone home alive, in one piece, while more exhausted than you ever thought possible.

    General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs, assured America his decision to allow women into combat roles is not a preamble to watering down physical requirements. So while the U.S. military has opened the infantry to women, female soldiers still have to make the cut.

    Thus far, the course has been attempted by only two women — in September 2012 — and both of them failed. The Marine Corps has plans to send another 90 through the course this fiscal year, simply to see if women can meet the minimum general requirement.

    'No Easy Day': Day 1 is about as easy as it gets.

    Prospective students show up and report as all Marines do: in their service alpha uniforms, carrying all their issued gear, and the all important Service Record Books.

    It's a test of patience: They'll attend a series of short orientations; do reams of paperwork; and set up their racks and living quarters for the next ten weeks.



    Day 2 will be brutally early for everyone, and so will every day after that.

    "They drop you off in the woods, zero five in the morning, hand you an envelope, and say 'Go!," one officer tells us.

    This is the indoctrination test, or indoc.

    The indoc is just to see if you have what it takes to do 15 to 20 miles of land navigation (land-nav), while carrying a rifle and necessary gear.

    There's a reason the weight of the M-16 strap is on the Sergeant's exam: Every ounce matters.



    They'll wear you down to your most ragged physical point, then hit you with strategic decision tests.

    Decisive navigation is elemental for Marine leaders.

    Defining points on a map, following them in real time, while simulating hostile conditions is called "grunt stakes." Each stake tests a slice of infantry training.

    - Calling for fire

    - Calling a casualty evacuation (CASEVAC)

    - breaking down and rebuilding weapons

    Most of it's literally done on the run. It's a timed course, and most finish by noon the same day.



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    YF-23

    Back in 1997, the US Air Force had to choose between the F-22 Raptor and the YF-23 for its fifth-generation fighter.

    The YF-23 had a greater flight range, giving the fighter the potential to strike much further targets.

    The F-22 Raptor had a more conventional design and more effective program management, and was seen as less costly and less risky.

    The Air Force chose the Raptor, but after 16 years of technical problems, leaving the plane grounded as recently as last year, they may well regret it. Nevertheless, the F-22 remains a "critical component" of U.S. air dominance, and the only place to see the losing model is at a couple out-of-the-way museums.

    The YF-23 was the runner-up in the Air Force's "Advanced Tactical Fighter" competition that resulted in the trouble-ridden F-22 Raptor — only two were ever made.



    The YF-23 was a radical design with diamond-shaped wings, a radar-evading profile, and an all-moving V-tail.



    It was powered by two turbofan engines that pushed exhaust through 'troughs' that helped dissipate heat to lower the chance of infrared missile detection.



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    Schoolgirl Abu Dhabi Crown Prince General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan

    This picture was spreading around online this morning, credited to a UAE Facebook page hosting a story supposed to have happened this week.

    Though a good tale, it appears the image at least is from 2011 and not taken during the supposed event. A reverse photo search with TinEye came up clean before posting, but BI commenter Hamad pointed us to a 2011 version of the Pic found here.

    Anyway, this is the story that's already gotten a couple thousand likes and shares on Facebook. 

    Imagine that you are the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi traveling through the streets of Abu Dhabi with your entourage.

    Iran is refining its ballistic missile program, Egypt is the worst shape it has been in in a generation, and your entourage is pounding through the Mid-East sun on its way to meet the King of Jordan.

    The Syria debacle is flooding Jordan with hundreds-of-thousands of refugees— something must be done.

    But wait. 

    That looks like a young girl on the corner looking confused and concerned.

    That glimpse of a lone schoolgirl apparently prompted Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to put the brakes Wednesday on his entourage, and grind the wheels of power to a halt, if only for a spell.

    With his assistant tagging along through the baking heat, the prince asked the girl if she was lost.

    The rest comes from a United Arab Emirates' Facebook page.

    "No," the girl replied. "I'm just waiting on my father."

    It's not hard to imagine a slight quiver in the voice, nervous words, eyes not knowing where to fall. But maybe not because when the prince offered her a ride home, she simply had to refuse. "My father says not to ride with strangers," she firmly told the prince.

    She could not be swayed by status or position, even as the prince's assistant doubtlessly tried to keep on schedule. So, the prince parked on the curb beside the girl and settled in for the wait.

     

    Schoolgirl Abu Dhabi Crown Prince General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan

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    A-10

    The A-10 Thunderbolt is a bit of a miracle. It flies slow and low under the most cantankerous weather conditions while delivering highly advanced weapons to troops that need them most.

    Imagine the moment behind a sliver of cover, knowing precisely how many rounds are between capture and freedom when the heavy droning sound of the A-10 cascades in from the distance.

    The deep breath of relief inspired by the A-10 is like noting else in the world because no more reassuring sound exists than the twin engines of the A-10 Thunderbolt screaming in from the distance.

    That's what you think anyway, until you hear the 30mm Gatling gun pounding 3,500 rounds per minute at the guys just trying to end you.

    That's when it hits and you finally understand the truly most reassuring sound you'll ever hear. 

    The A-10 is an old plane, that continues to provide massive air support to ground troops with that cannon and missiles that can take out a main battle tank in a single shot.

    Sometimes old is good. And sometimes a single sound can turn an entire battle around.

    The A-10 Thunderbolt II was introduced in 1977



    The A-10 is more commonly known as the "Warthog" or "Hog"



    The A-10 has a reputation for extreme toughness and the ability to remain in the air even after sustaining damage



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    US Command Pacific

    As the Pentagon pours attention and resources into the conflict-ridden Asian-Pacific theater, it's made an unheard of command choice.

    The AP reports Australian Maj. General Richard Burr is now Deputy Commanding General for Operations at U.S. Pacific Command (USARPAC) out of Hawaii.

    It's the first time a non-American has served in such a high-ranking position at this type of command.

    This isn't some out-of-the way little military base — this is the command led by Major General George Moore in the days after World War II. Moore fought at Battan along with enough other dark Pacific campaigns to fill a wall map. This command today will be pivotal in organizing and supplying military operations in the region, and key in building U.S. projection within the Asian theater.

    Gen Richard BurrUSARPAC is commanded by LTG. "Frank" Wiercinski, who just left the Acting Commander Spot at Ft. Campbell, home to the 101st Airborne Division. That "Air Assault" group called the Screaming Eagles has perhaps been deployed more in the past ten years than any other military division in the U.S.

    With nearly non-stop, back-to-back deployments, LTG Wiercinski has a bevy of experience with active troop rotations "down range". That logistical, hands-on experience with forward troops may come in handy if conflicts spring up in the region.

    Together the men will package and deliver troops to locations U.S. forces haven't been in decades. It seems like a solid match as the Pacific Command strives to fulfills its mission:

    USARPAC postures and prepares the force for unified land operations, responds to threats, sustains and protects the force, and builds military relationships that develop partner defense capacity in order to contribute to a stable and secure USPACOM area of responsibility.

    They've got their work cut out for them as the U.S. tries to renew and forge fresh relationships with countries throughout the Pacific Rim.

    Along with many medals and USMC training, Maj. Gen. Burr is also holds the honor of the Patron of the Defence Australian Rules Football Association.

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