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  • Pentagon Releases New National Military Strategy

    Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, address the Pentagon press corps on July 1, 2015. DOD photo by Air Force MSgt. Adrian Cadiz.

    The Defense Department released its 2015 national military strategy on Wednesday, which calls for “greater agility, innovation, and integration,” while also acknowledging the United States’ “comparative military advantage has begun to erode.” It is the first such strategy to be released since 2011. “Today’s global security environment is the most unpredictable I have seen in 40 years of service,” wrote Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in the foreward. The United States now faces “multiple, simultaneous security challenges from traditional state actors” and non-state actors—“all taking advantage of rapid technological change,” added Dempsey. “Future conflicts will come more rapidly, last longer, and take place on a much more technically challenging battlefield.” In addition, such conflicts will “have increasing implications to the US homeland,” wrote Dempsey. The strategy notes Russia’s continued disrespect for the “sovereignty of its neighbors” and its “willingness to use force to achieve its goals.” It acknowledges the “strategic challenges” Iran’s nuclear ambitions pose to the international community and calls the country a “state-sponsor of terrorism that has undermined stability” in “Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.” North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons also threatens its neighbors, specifically Japan and the Republic of Korea. And, while the US supports “China’s rise,” the report cites regional tensions created by its actions in the South China Sea.

  • The Rise of Hybrid Warfare

    Despite repeated threats by Pentagon officials that a return to sequestration would require a change in strategy, the 2015 national military strategy released Wednesday maintains the existing requirement to defeat an adversary in a “large-scale, multi-phase campaign, while denying ... another aggressor” elsewhere. The strategy assesses the probability of an interstate war to be “low but growing,” but notes that, “Should one occur ... the consequences would be immense.” Violent extremist organizations, such as ISIS, pose an immediate risk. And, the risk of a hybrid approach to warfare, as exhibited by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is likely. “Hybrid conflicts serve to increase ambiguity, complicate decision-making, and slow the coordination of effective responses,” states the report. As such, the strategy details three national military objectives. They are: “to deter, deny, and defeat state adversaries; to disrupt, degrade and defeat [violent extremist organizations]; and to strengthen our global network of allies and partners.”

  • F-35 SPO Responds to “Can’t Dogfight” Blog

    ​The F-35 Joint System Program Office responded to a blog report—picked up by many other blogs and major British newspapers—alleging that the F-35 can't beat the F-16 in a dogfight. The War is Boring blog, which quoted a "for official use only" test pilot report, argued the F-35, in a close-in, turning dogfight, could not best the F-16. The SPO acknowledged the document seemed to be genuine, but said the piece "does not tell the entire story." Spokesman Joe DellaVedova said the F-35 in the report was an early test model, not equipped with production-representative mission systems software, stealth coatings, or sensors "that allow the F-35 to see its enemy long before it knows the F-35 is in the area." The jet was also not equipped with the missiles or software needed to allow the pilot to target an enemy with his helmet-mounted system. The test was meant to give the F-35 a "visual reference" to fly against and demonstrate that it could fly to "the edge of its limits without exceeding them." He said the F-35 is meant to "engage, shoot, and kill its enemy from long distances, not necessarily in visual 'dogfighting' situations." In multi-ship engagements where four-ship flights of F-35s have engaged F-16s, "the F-35 won each of those encounters because of its sensors, weapons, and stealth technology." The release of the out-of-context document is being investigated, DellaVedova said, but test pilots are always encouraged to offer "candid feedback … because it makes what we do better."

  • USAF Responds

    ​F-35 Integration Director Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian said operational and developmental testing for the F-35 continues, but "it is too soon to draw any final conclusions about the maneuverability of the aircraft." Responding to the War is Boring blog's assertion that test pilots have proved the F-35 can't beat the F-16 in a dogfight, Harrigian said the F-35 was "designed to be comparable to current tactical fighters in terms of maneuverability, but the design is optimized for stealth. This will allow it to operate in threat environments where the F-16 could not survive." Harrigian has previously noted that the F-22 and F-35 were intended to be a stealthy "high-low mix," like the F-15 and F-16, optimized, respectively, for air supremacy and ground attack with a secondary dogfighting capability. He also has noted that the F-22 wasn't built in the numbers USAF deemed necessary, thus imposing more of a dogfighting burden on the F-35, which wasn't designed with that mission as the priority.

  • Korea Chooses Airbus Tanker over KC-46

    Airbus’ A330 multi-role tanker transport has beaten Boeing’s KC-46 in Korea’s first aerial tanker competition, it was announced late June 30. The Korean deal is worth about $1.33 billion, and covers four aircraft—the first of which is to be delivered in 2019—plus support. Korea’s defense ministry said Airbus won based on price (the Euro is trading nearly level with the US dollar), performance, and size of the aircraft, which will perform as both a tanker and transport. Korea will join Australia, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates as MRTT users. France is certain to replace its aged KC-135s with the homegrown Airbus, and India has signaled it will buy the MRTT as well. A consortium of The Netherlands, Norway, and Poland has also requested MRTT pricing. Boeing had high hopes for the Korean deal, and a spokesman said that while the company is “disappointed … we remain committed to our partnerships with Korea.” Korea operates Boeing’s F-15K and a version of the USAF F-15E with significant improvements in radar. This is the second big disappointment for Boeing in Korean military aircraft competitions. Last year, Korea selected the F-35 as its next fighter, having previously settled on a variant of Boeing’s F-15S Silent Eagle; however, it re-opened the competition, which the F-35 won.

  • Can Boeing Make Back Its Investment

    ​While they're disappointed not to win Korea's tanker competition, Boeing officials feel there are other opportunities ahead. "Regarding future tanker sales, world-wide interest remains high and we're talking to a number of potential customers," a Boeing spokesman told Air Force Magazine on Wednesday. The KC-46 "is a franchise program for Boeing and we feel that with the advanced capabilities it offers it sets the standard for a next-generation, multi-role tanker." The spokesman did not have an immediate response when asked if there are sufficient sales opportunities to cover Boeing's investment in the KC-46 above and beyond the Air Force's development contract funding. By its own admission, Boeing lowballed its tanker bid in the 2011 US Air Force KC-X contest, deeming it a "strategic investment" in a long-term program offering synergies with its commercial product line. Industry estimates peg Boeing's tanker out-of pocket at upwards of $250 million. Company officials note privately that while the Airbus A330 MRTT has won the tanker contests so far, the numbers don't stack up to the 179-aircraft commitment the company has with the Air Force, to say nothing of the future USAF KC-Y and KC-Z competitions, where Boeing thinks it will have incumbent advantage. First flight of the all-up KC-46A has been delayed due to a wiring harness design flaw; Boeing officials hope to fly the tanker in August, about six-eight months late.

  • What’s Next in Afghanistan

    Air Force MSgt. Cory Ross, Train, Advise, Assist Command—Air weapons advisor, discusses a prototype boresight rack adapter that will be used for the Afghan Air Force at Kabul Air Wing, Afghanistan, May 18, 2015. Air Force photo by TSgt. Joseph Swafford.

  • The Growing Importance of Afghan Air Support

    Brussels—The need for air mobility and air support for Afghan forces is proving to be a vital concern in continued combat with Taliban militants, NATO officials and others told reporters at the Alliance's recent ministerial meetings. Acting Afghan Defense Minister Masoom Stanekzai, visiting Brussels to speak with NATO defense ministers, said the Afghan military's "biggest emphasis" will be building up its air forces, both combat and transport, in order to "support our forces on the ground properly," he told reporters June 25. Stanekzai said he is giving a lot of focus to making sure qualified and trained pilots can fly both helicopters and aircraft to support combat operations, saying the Afghan military has a "major need" in this area. "It should receive more attention, with training and more resources," he added. A senior NATO policy official, speaking on background during the ministerial, told Air Force Magazine the Afghan military has proved it is able to push back the Taliban in certain areas, but logistics and sustainment continue to be a challenge, something that is particularly acute with airpower. While the largely US-led plan to get the Afghan air force up to basic capability by 2017 is "more or less on track," the NATO official added, the Afghans are adjusting to not having as much air assistance from the allies with the lower troop presence in country. From evacuation to close air support, "the Afghans saw how useful in overmatch air support is … so this emphasis on the requirement for transport and attack aircraft is something that has struck them significantly as the result of the end of ISAF support," he added.

  • Neller Nominated to be Marine Corps Commandant

    7/2/2015

    Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the nomination of Lt. Gen. Robert Neller to be the next Commandant of the Marine Corps. Neller, who currently serves as commander of US Marine Corps Forces Command, would replace Gen. Joseph Dunford, who has been tapped to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “Bob is a warrior, is a leader. He’s a statesmen,” Carter told Pentagon reporters on Wednesday. “We traveled together to theater and around this country and I saw Bob’s outstanding relationship with our troops. He loves them, and he relates to them, and they light up when he’s talking to them. I know he’ll be a magnificent C​​ommandant to the marines and another strong addition to the Joint Chiefs.” The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a nomination hearing for Dunford on July 9.

  • Happy Fourth of July

    7/2/2015

    ​The next Daily Report column will be on July 6 due to the Fourth of July holiday.