The US military is in a frenzy of upgrading and changing its warfighting equipment at the strategic level. So much of it is so important that I’m going to list a lot of links with a few lines of content description with each. If you hunger for details, these sources provide them.
A hero’s son follows his father’s path: Son of Legendary Soldier
“On Oct. 17, 2005 during a route clearance operation in Iraq, Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe did the unthinkable: Amid an ambush, and drenched in fuel, Cashe walked through fire for his men. Not once, but three times … His heroism and selflessness ensured his soldiers made it out of the burning wreckage of their Bradley Fighting Vehicle alive, at the cost of his own life … This July, shortly after his 23rd birthday, Pfc. Andrew Cashe [Alwyn Cashe’s son] will graduate from Fort Benning, Georgia, following his completion of the Army’s grueling 22-week infantry training course … Of his decision to enlist, Andrew Cashe said that while it was met with some concern from his family, they accepted that it was something he had to do.”
SFC Alwyn Cashe was posthumously awarded a Silver Star. There has been a fight for years to get Cashe’s award upgraded to the Medal of Honor. Tell me something, if you make the ultimate sacrifice for your comrades and your country by way of choosing to burning to death, how have you not instantly earned the highest honor your country can bestow on you?
TRUMP DOES SOMETHING (ELSE, AGAIN) GOOD: in response to the ICC attempting to get evidence to prosecute American military members for war crimes, like shooting the enemy, I guess? [Members of the International Criminal Court] “… directly engaged in any effort to investigate or prosecute American military personnel will also be barred from entering the U.S. … President Donald Trump signed an executive order on the matter this week … Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, “The U.S. has never accepted the court’s jurisdiction over American personnel.” YEAH! Good deal!
More Trump footprints: Response to Russia and China making moves on Antarctica. Incidentally, this is a unique way of looking at that situation: “This could enable more persistent patrolling of Arctic and Antarctic areas, which, in turn, could be valuable for maintaining an American presence in those regions. The Arctic, in particular, has emerged as a major area of geopolitical competition as the polar ice cap continues to recede amid global climate change, allowing for new trade routes and the increased exploitation of underwater resources.”
In other words, bring on the global warming! It’s good for business!
More on US plans for the Antarctic: “US Navy Plans To Send More Ships Into The Arctic As It Looks To Establish New Polar Port … The service needs to expand its footprint in the far north as the ice continues to recede, exposing new opportunities and potential for conflict … Coast Guard ships are deployed around the globe, from the volatile Persian Gulf to the disputed waters of the South China Sea to the very tense Taiwan Strait, to execute higher-end missions sometimes alongside their more heavily armed U.S. Navy counterparts.” See this link also: Since “Russia is building literally a new armada of new icebreakers, ice-capable supply ships, a massive arctic ‘research’ submarine and icebreaker surface combatants armed with cruise missiles, the Pentagon is now looking at arming its relatively tiny fleet of future icebreakers with similar weapons as well.”
“Senate calls for new F-35 hub in the Pacific: “The Senate Armed Services Committee wants to spend nearly $7 billion over two years to launch an aggressive new military effort aimed at deterring China and shoring up U.S. defenses in the Pacific region … The Pacific Deterrence Initiative … includes $1.4 billion for next year and plans $5.5 billion for fiscal 2022 to augment missile defense, fund new efforts in support of regional allies, and forward-posture more troops in the region … In April, Pacific Air Forces took delivery of its first two F-35s, stationed at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The base is set to have 54 of the aircraft by December 2021 … $9.1 billion to buy more of the stealthy fifth-generation fighters — 14 more than the White House asked for in its budget request.” There’s more. Lots more.
But our greatest expense at the moment is the cost of “health requirements” for the COVID19 PLANdemic: “The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer presented Congress with a difficult choice Wednesday: Come up with “double-digit billions of dollars” to reimburse defense contractors for their costs related to COVID-19 or risk a degradation of military readiness. [Ellen Lord, the Defense Department’s undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment] said one unnamed prime contractor alone estimated its coronavirus-related costs at more than $1 billion and urged Congress to consider passing a supplemental bill to provide funding for assistance to the Defense Industrial Base … She added that the DoD itself ‘does not have the funding to cover these costs.’ “
Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, the ranking committee member, “asked for an estimate on how much money is needed to make up for the COVID-19 penalty … ‘Double-digit billions of dollars, [Ellen Lord] said.”
The Senate wants to block budget cuts the Air Force presented to it. Details are numerous. An example of the change from defense to offense: “Adds 10 AGM-158C Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASM) to the Air Force’s budget to ‘enhance our ability to blunt a Chinese offensive.’ – Shifts $75 million from purchases of AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) land-attack cruise missile variants to support the purchase of additional Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles. “ This is to give the US the ability to take out China’s warships if necessary.
A sudden awakening and difficult consequences: General Atomics, which builds the MQ-9 Reaper for the Air Force, got a nasty surprise when it learned that the AF is now ending purchase of the Reapers 26 units short of the original plan, this year instead of five years from now. General Atomics’ VP Chris Pehrson pointed out that not only will they likely have a layoff, but they have been buying parts 22 months ahead of need to have them ready in an uncertain world. Now their suppliers and their suppliers’ suppliers and the feedstock suppliers suddenly have no income. This happened because the Air Force realized at the midnight hour that they needed a more survivable drone in light of advancing enemy technology. Let’s hope the AF can persuade someone to pick up the contract on such drones as this new concept which was designed and tested to provide “loyal wingman” or swarm abilities at a fraction of the cost of manned craft. This one “supposedly has a range of well over 2,000 miles and is capable of carrying a pair of Small Diameter Bombs or electronic warfare and surveillance gear, is also capable of being launched using rocket boosters instead of relying on runways alone. An earlier article details the impressive capabilities the AF is aiming for in the XQ-58A.
Hypersonic news, the US is pretty good at playing catch-up: “Pentagon Has Tested A Suicide Drone That Gets To Its Target Area At Hypersonic Speed … The system would allow a drone to be delivered to a defended target far away in a matter of minutes, where it could then hunt down its target … “The project [“Vintage Racer”] successfully validated aerodynamic design with wind tunnel testing and integrated a guidance subsystem …” A flight test took place in 2019. The US Army is supposed to develop it further and investigate production.
The US isn’t the only Western nation to suddenly realize the changed battlefront and technology responses needed: “The U.K. Ministry of Defense has revealed plans for a new Royal Air Force squadron that will operate a fleet of unmanned aircraft able to fly networked together as a swarm … ‘I have decided to use the Transformation Fund to develop swarm squadrons of network enabled drones capable of confusing and overwhelming enemy air defenses,’ U.K. Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said in his remarks. ‘We expect to see these ready to be deployed by the end of this year.’ [Reality, The Drive says, is probably 3-4 years.]
On the other hand …
“Air Force C-130H Smacks Into Wall, Bursts Into Flames After Overshooting Runway In Iraq.” Granted, it was a night-time landing…
“F-35’s Gear Collapses After Landing At Hill Air Force Base“
At least our government recognizes the tightrope ride we’re on and is making a $eriou$ effort to decrease our risk.