Sunday, January 21, 2018

Chinese Infantry may Outgun American Troops


China claims to have entered its QTS-11 OICW into service.  

The QTS-11 is of the same breed as the now cancelled OICW the US Army was pursuing, but could not get to work: it involved an air bursting 25mm grenade launcher mated to a 5.56mm assault weapon.  That proved to be too heavy, by US Army standards and they went with just developing the grenade launcher as a standalone weapon.  Due to some weird legal wrangling - HK wanted the US gov to grant some statements regarding international law about explosive projectiles below a certain diameter and the US gov didn't - HK refused to continue with the manufacture of the weapon.  Orbital ATK was the contract holder with the US Army - having teamed with HK - and failed to deliver the weapons.  The US Army then cancelled the contract last April.  Orbital ATK is now in legal hell with HK to pursue another manufacturing partner to try to win back the contract.

However, in the mean time, if the Chinese have successfully pulled off the introduction of an effective OICW, the US Army Infantryman is outgunned.  Big time.  Really big time.  

And we have a very serious problem.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Stealth Saga #71

Sixth Generation Fighters:

Long range, hyperspectral sensors are key to defeating A2AD strategies.


Saab is joining to help develop the AESA radar for the KFX.


Russia claims it will start the PAK-DA prototype Real Soon Now.


China has stated the J-20 has participated in combat exercises for the first time.

B-2 Spirit:

3 B-2s have deployed to Guam.

A B-2 overflew the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl.

Take a look at this B-2 wing flutter video and see what it means.


The short term funding proposals might delay the B-21 program.


Lockheed won a sustainment contract for the F-22 worth $7 billion.


How the F-35 got its name.

A USAF F-16 pilot will fly with the USMC in its F-35Bs.

The USMC is planning on deploying the F-35B to CENTCOM for its 'first taste of combat' in 2018.

The USS Wasp is acting as a mini carrier in Asia.

The US Navy is integrating the F-35 into its sensor networks for its surface fleet.

Lockheed might be advertising a capability for the F-35 that may not exist.

A helicopter filmed three F-35s at the Fiesta Bowl game.

Italy has started flying its F-35B in its naval colors.

Germany may want to buy a small number of F-35 to be NATO compliant even if it does buy mostly Eurofighters.

South Korea and Japan want F-35Bs for their jeep carrier amphibs (and for remote island runways).  There is a proposal to convert the JS Izumo into a fixed wing carrier circulating in the Japanese MOD.  To start with, the Japanese want to be able to fuel USMC F-35Bs from the JS Izumo.  China is not pleased by this.

South Korea wants to buy additional (20+) F-35s.

Turkey is inviting bids to customize its F-35s.

SpaceX Commercial Human Spaceflight Missions Slip

Crucial flight tests for NASA’s two commercial crew vehicles are slipping ever closer to 2019. The space agency released the following updated schedules for Boeing’s CST-100 and SpaceX’s Dragon 2 vehicles today:

Targeted Test Flight Dates

Boeing Orbital Flight Test (uncrewed): August 2018
Boeing Crew Flight Test (crewed): November 2018
SpaceX Demonstration Mission 1 (uncrewed): August 2018
SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2 (crewed): December 2018

Boeing’s schedule has not changed from the previous update. SpaceX’s demonstration flights have slipped from April and August to August and December, respectively. No reasons have been given for the slips.


A lot of risk remains.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

China has Begun Building its Third Aircraft Carrier

China started building its third aircraft carrier, with a hi-tech launch system, at a Shanghai shipyard last year, according to sources close to the People’s Liberation Army.

One of the sources said Shanghai Jiangnan Shipyard Group was given the go-ahead to begin work on the vessel after military leaders met in Beijing following the annual sessions of China’s legislature and top political advisory body in March.

“But the shipyard is still working on the carrier’s hull, which is expected to take about two years,” the source said. “Building the new carrier will be more complicated and challenging than the other two ships.”

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Russia Tested the SARMAT ICBM

Sources in the military or defense industry tell Russian press that the first ejection test of the Sarmat missile did take place in Plesetsk. Normally, MK is not the most reliable source, but this time the information appears to be correct - sources on the other side also say that the test did happen.

The MK report leaves the impression that the test took place in the last few days of this year, but the test apparently took place in early December. Which is interesting - a few days ago Rogozin had a chance to comment on the progress of the Sarmat program and he refused to say anything. In any event, the program is clearly behind the schedule and my take is that the chances of Sarmat being deployed in 2020 are extremely slim.

One detail in the MK report caught eye of a few observers - the missile reportedly flew "several tens of kilometers" before landing "within the test site." This is a bit too far for an ejection test. It's quite possible that the reporter mixed up meters and kilometers. Or the launch involved a limited test of the first stage engines. A mix-up seems a safer bet, but a test of the engines is possible as well.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

China's Second Aircraft Carrier (Shandong) to Start Sea Trials

China's second aircraft carrier might conduct its first sea trials in February, military analysts said after Taiwan media reported that China's first aircraft carrier the Liaoning sailed near the island on Friday.

China launched its second aircraft carrier in April 2017 after the Liaoning, a refitted Soviet Union-made carrier that went into commission in 2012.

China's second aircraft carrier is the country's first domestically made carrier.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Russia is Expanding its Naval Base in Syria

A plan to expand the Russian naval facility at the Syrian port of Tartus has been formally approved in Moscow.

On 29 December Russian President Vladimir Putin formally signed into law a plan that was agreed by Moscow and Damascus on 18 January 2017. This followed ratification of the agreement by the Duma on 21 December and the Federal Council on 26 December.

The Kremlin released a document saying the agreement covered the expansion of the territory of the Russian Navy’s logistics centre at Tartus, saying Syria is transferring land and water areas, as well as real estate, in the port.

The agreement also covers visits by naval vessels to all Syrian ports and territorial waters and the status of Russian personnel in the country.

It is valid for 49 years, at the end of which it will automatically be renewed for 25-year periods.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

China is Banning Bitcoin Miners

As China’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies broadens to bitcoin miners, some of the industry’s biggest players are shifting operations overseas.

Bitmain, which runs China’s two largest bitcoin-mining collectives, is setting up regional headquarters in Singapore and now has mining operations in the U.S. and Canada, Wu Jihan, the company’s co-founder, said in an interview. BTC.Top, the third-biggest mining pool, is opening a facility in Canada and ViaBTC, ranked No. 4, has operations in Iceland and America, their founders said.

The moves underscore how China’s once-dominant role in the world of cryptocurrencies is shrinking as policy makers clamp down.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Terminator Times #40

Drones (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles):

The US will provide Lebanon with ScanEagle drones.

A drone struck a US Army helicopter.

The US Army Research Lab designed quickly 3d printable drones.

The USAF is retiring the MQ-1 Predator this summer.

The USAF's Global Hawk is getting a new optical sensor.

The USAF just gave a $48 million contract to Aurora for its Orion UAV.

The USMC has been testing fully autonomous helicopters.

USMC VMU-4 retired its last RQ-7b.

Two Marines UAV operators received Achievement Medals with the Remote 'R' Impact device.

The US Navy has placed its first LRIP order for the Triton.

China's Wing Loong II hit multiple targets with five different types of munitions a test run.

India is advancing its procurement of General Atomics Guardian UAVs.

The Israeli Navy is working on a VTOL UAV for its ships.

Russian UAV teams practiced jamming attacks on simulated opponents.

Taiwan will launch the production of the Teng Yun MALE UAV.

AeroVironment has teamed up with SoftBank to develop a long persistence, solar powered HALE drone.

Airbus has been testing autonomous fly and landing capabilities for helicopters.

Airbus is getting help with its Zephyr pseudo satellite UAV.

BAe has been testing the MAGMA drone flown without control surfaces.

Boeing unveiled its MQ-25A Stingray entry: more pix here with a link to a video.  This is the follow-on to the UCLASS that turned from a stealthy strike asset to a tanker.  It appears Boeing updated its UCLASS design to be a tanker.  The prototype is undergoing engine trials and will conduct deck handling demonstrations in the coming year.

The FAA has approved and given a designation to the Boeing MQ-25 prototype: N234MQ.  Supposedly, the Navy wants t build up to 72 MQ-25s.

General Atomics got a $328+ million contract to support the Predator and Reaper drones.

Ogres & Bolos (Unmanned Ground Vehicles):

The US Army has selected four vendors for its SMET UGV program.

Robo Boats (Unmanned Surface Vehicles):

The US Navy has given Leidos another contract for a second Sea Hunter II USV.

China has been showing off the Tianxing-1, an armed USV capable of over 50 knots.

Israeli Seagull USVs were used for mine hunters for the HMS Ocean during an exercise.

Robo Subs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles):

DARPA has awarded the payload bay design for the US Navy's Orca XLUUV.

General Atomics is building a permanent magnet motor for the US Navy's LDUUV.

The Houthi rebels in Yemen captured a US Navy UUV.


The UN is getting hung up on just defining what killer robots are, nevermind any progress on actually banning them.

Saab has laid out its vision of manned/unmanned teaming in war.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Thales Alenia Participating With THree Companies in Studying the Deep Space Gateway

Thales Alenia Space is partnering with three U.S. companies that are working on NASA studies of concepts for the proposed Deep Space Gateway, leveraging its expertise in space station and cargo module development.

Thales announced Dec. 14 that Boeing was the latest company it was working with as part of NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) 2 effort. Thales has previously also been working with Lockheed Martin and Orbital ATK. Thales did not disclose the value of the individual contracts with the three companies.

For all three companies, Thales is providing expertise in areas such as structures, environmental controls and thermal controls, said Walter Cugno, vice president of Thales Alenia Space’s exploration and sciences domain, in a call with reporters. The company’s contributions are currently limited to studies, he said, and does not include hardware at this time.