Category: Military and Defense

Warning that Beijing’s military bases in South China Sea are ready for use

China has largely completed three major military bases in the South China Sea that have naval, air, radar and missile-defence facilities, according to a US thinktank.

Related: South China Sea images reveal impact on coral of Beijing’s military bases

“Beijing can now deploy military assets, including combat aircraft and mobile missile launchers, to the Spratly Islands at any time,” said the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), part of Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Construction on Mischief Reef, in the Spratly Islands, the disputed South China SeaConstruction is shown on Mischief Reef, in the Spratly Islands, the disputed South China Sea in this March 11, 2017 satellite image released by CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Inititative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) to Reuters on March 27, 2017. MANDATORY CREDIT: CSIS/AMTI DigitalGlobe/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE: Construction on Mischief Reef.© Reuters Construction on Mischief Reef.

The thinktank published images taken this month of what it calls the “Big 3” island air bases – Subi, Mischief, and Fiery Cross Reefs – which it has analysed via commercial high-resolution satellite imagery for two years.

“China’s three air bases in the Spratlys and another on Woody Island in the Paracels will allow Chinese military aircraft to operate over nearly the entire South China Sea,” AMTI said. “The same is true of China’s radar coverage.”

Construction on Mischief Reef. Photograph: CSIS/AMIT/DigitalGlobe/Reuters Construction on Subi Reef. Photograph: CSIS/AMTI/DigitalGlobe/Reuters

China denies it is militarising the South China Sea, which is thought to have significant oil and gas reserves and is a route for half of the world’s commercial shipping. The reclamation of the islands has also had a devastating impact on some of the world’s most biodiverse coral reefs.

Beijing asserts sovereignty over maritime areas that span 3.5m square kilometres but are also claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Japan. China’s military build-up has become one of US president Donald Trump’s most explosive foreign policy challenges.

Under Barack Obama’s administration, Washington claimed it was neutral on the question of sovereignty over the South China Sea islets, reefs and shoals, but also conducted regular air and naval patrols to assert its rights of passage.

Related: Steve Bannon: ‘We’re going to war in the South China Sea … no doubt’

But US secretary of state Rex Tillerson said in January that the US should go further by blocking Chinese access to the islands. Last week Chinese premier Li Keqiang said defence equipment had been placed on islands to maintain “freedom of navigation”.

Chinese warships frequently radio US aircraft in the region, warning them not to approach. And last month, a Chinese military aircraft had an “unsafe” encounter with a US navy surveillance aircraft over the area, the US Pacific command announced.

AMTI said China had installed HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles at one island as well as anti-ship cruise missiles. It has also built enough hangars for 72 combat aircraft and several larger bombers, AMTI said.

The group’s director, Greg Poling, said the images showed new radar antennas on Fiery Cross and Subi: “So look for deployments in the near future.”

Reuters contributed to this report

http://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/world/warning-that-beijings-military-bases-in-south-china-sea-are-ready-for-use/ar-BByWC7I?li=BBqdg4K&ocid=SK2MDHP

Russia builds ‘unstoppable’ 4,600mph missile that could destroy Royal Navy’s new carriers

Personally I’d call this propagandist saber – rattling, or at least Russia simply evening out the playing field. Scramjet technology and hypersonic ramjets have been around for decades in the West. Nevertheless, I thought this worthy of interest from a military/Defence point of view:

http://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/world/russia-builds-unstoppable-4600mph-missile-that-could-destroy-royal-navys-new-carriers/ar-BByM2ON?li=BBqdg4K&ocid=SK2MDHP

Russia has developed an “unstoppable” hypersonic missile capable of destroying the Royal Navy’s most sophisticated warships, the Sunday People can reveal.

Kremlin military chiefs claim they have built an anti-ship cruise missile capable of travelling at between five and six times the speed of sound – 3,800 mph to 4,600mph.

Now experts fear the missile, called the Zircon, could sink the Royal Navy ’s two new £6bn state-of-the air aircraft carriers in a single strike.

Credits: PA© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: PA The missile flies more than twice the speed of a sniper’s bullet and is almost impossible to stop.

The cruise missile is powered by a “scramjet” – an air-breathing jet engine that can reach incredible speeds.

A swarm attack involving a dozen missiles against the world’s most modern warships would be devastating, experts believe.

The Zircon missile is believed to have a range of up to 500 miles and can be fitted with a series of warheads from high explosive to nuclear.

It can be fired from land, sea and submarines and could prove to be the most important and deadly weapon of the 21st century.

One senior defence source last night described the Zircon as a “potential game changer”.

© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc The missile can be programmed in flight to search out and attack a target while at the same time avoiding anti-missile missiles.

The Zircon is so fast that it can out run the Royal Navy’s Sea Ceptor which is designed to shoot down missiles travelling at 2,300 mph, much slower than the estimated speed of a Zircon.

Now some military experts believe that hypersonic missiles could make massive aircraft carriers redundant.

Aircraft carriers need to be positioned so that their planes can attack targets at a range which allows them to return to the ship before they run out of fuel.

But the only protection against hypersonic cruise missile would be for carriers to stay out of range – the Russians call this strategy “area denial”.

One senior Naval source said: “Hypersonic missiles are virtually unstoppable. The whole idea of the carrier is the ability to project power.

“But with no method of protecting themselves against missiles like the Zircon the carrier would have to stay out of range, hundreds of miles out at sea.

“It’s planes would be useless and the whole basis of a carrier task force would be redundant.”

© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Testing of the Zircon hypersonic cruise missile began this year and they could be fitted to a nuclear-powered cruiser by 2022.

The Kremlin is believed to have restarted a programme initiated by the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

Pete Sandeman, a naval expert, said: “Defence against hypersonic missiles presents a huge challenge to surface ships.

“There is so little time to react that even if detected, existing defences may be entirely inadequate.

“Even if the missile is broken up or detonated by close-in weapons, the debris has so much kinetic energy that the ship may still be badly damaged.”

A Royal Navy spokesperson said: “We keep threats under constant review but do not comment on Force Protection measures”.

NICKY HAGER: New Book “Hit And Run”. SAS In Afghanistan And The Meaning Of Honour.

Image result for nicky hager

Causing a stir in the MSM right now:

New Hager book is Hit & Run: The New Zealand SAS in Afghanistan and the Meaning of Honour

http://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/21-03-2017/new-hager-book-is-hit-run-the-new-zealand-sas-in-afghanistan-and-the-meaning-of-honour/

Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson have just published Hit & Run: The New Zealand SAS in Afghanistan and the meaning of honour, which they say ‘tells the story of a dark and guilty secret of New Zealand’s recent history’, and makes the case that six civilians were killed and 15 wounded in an SAS operation.

Below is the Q&A they have issued to media. Beneath that, the NZ Defence Force response, issued at 8.25pm. More comment, analysis and response to follow.

What, where, when, and who?

The events in the book occurred in 2010, mainly in an isolated and mountainous area of Baghlan province known as Tirgiran valley, about 50 kilometres across country from the then-Kiwi base in neighbouring Bamiyan province. New Zealand SAS troopers, supported by Afghan commandos and US helicopters, raided two villages in the valley early in the morning on 22 August 2010. The SAS believed, based on flimsy intelligence, that they would find a group of Taliban fighters who’d attacked a New Zealand patrol 19 days earlier. But the group wasn’t there, and the 21 people killed and wounded in the operation were all civilians – mostly women and children. The campaign continued over the following two years.

How do you know 21 people were wounded or died?

The book contains details of each person: their name and family connections, and injuries, as well as details of precisely where they were when they were wounded or killed. These names have been officially confirmed by the district governor and by numerous other sources; they were all civilians. Each name on the list has a human story: the recently graduated school teacher home on holiday who was killed behind his parents’ house; the three-year-old girl killed by exploding munitions as her mother was trying to carry her to safety; the farmer who lay without medical assistance for nine hours, with a piece of shrapnel lodged in his body, before he died. (See chapter 4)

The New Zealand Defence Force has claimed on multiple occasions that only insurgents were killed in this raid. Is this possible?

No. The defence force knew very soon after the raid that none of the fighters they were targeting had been found during the raid. The claims about killing insurgents, made then and later, were simply false. Indeed, within a day of the raid, an Afghan informer gave our defence force video footage that had been taken on a  mobile phone showing the whole insurgent group arriving alive and well at the funerals for the dead villagers. (See chapter 5). It was common in Afghanistan for US-led forces to claim that civilians killed during military operations were “dead insurgents”.

Who is responsible for the events described in the book?

Most of all, people in the SAS. They gathered the intelligence, planned the raid and commanded and led the operation. The authors believe that the deaths and injuries of 21 civilians, the destruction of homes, and the beating and torture of a detainee were due in large part to their actions and inactions, and that they led the efforts to keep it quiet afterwards. Next there are officers in the defence force who were responsible for overseeing the SAS and who should have investigated more responsibly when news of civilian casualties emerged. This includes the then-chief of defence force Lieutenant-General Jerry Mateparae, who was in Afghanistan at the time, and who watched on the screens at the SAS operations room in Kabul as the operation unfolded. Then there are the political leaders. Most government decisions are made by individual ministers or by Cabinet as a whole. However in this case, as Chapter 2 describes, the prime minister John Key was briefed by phone from the SAS compound in Kabul and personally gave his approval for the raid.

How did you get the information for the book?

This book would not have been possible without the assistance of present and former New Zealand, Afghan and US military personnel, who spoke to the authors on the condition that their names and identities would not be revealed. These interviews allowed the facts gradually to be assembled and cross-checked. At the same time, people from the Afghan villages that were raided assisted enormously, describing in detail what they experienced and where and when each part of the event occurred.

Why should New Zealanders care?

New Zealanders were told that their military was in Afghanistan to bring peace and reconstruction and that they treated the locals with empathy and respect. But when a New Zealander died in the attack on a New Zealand patrol, our military response was reckless: innocent people were killed and wounded, houses were blown up or burnt down, and our soldiers did nothing to check on or assist the wounded. All this happened in New Zealand’s name, in an operation commanded by New Zealanders, by people whose salaries are paid for by the New Zealand public. Our soldiers’ actions, and those of their US allies, alienated locals and led many to join or support the insurgents and was a key factor in the Taliban gaining complete control of the area.

Surely bad things happen in all wars?

Even in wars and conflicts, people must behave legally. It is vital for the world that they do, or there would be chaos. This is why we have international agreements like the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture which New Zealand has signed and is committed to observing. The New Zealand Defence Force prides itself on obeying international law and acting with integrity. Its core values and Code of Conduct lay out the principles and rules. What is seen in this book goes against much of what the New Zealand military stands for.

Is this book an attack on the troops?

Not at all. Many people in our defence force will be appalled by what is revealed in the book. It was kept secret from most of them as well. Indeed, there would be no book now if there had not been professional New Zealand personnel who were upset with what happened, believed the story needed to be told and helped the authors. Most criticism in the book is reserved for the senior staff and politicians who made the decisions, failed to stop abuses and then, later, when news of the tragedy began to leak out, did nothing about it and joined in the cover up.

Have parts of this story come out before?

Yes. A few of details have emerged in the past, thanks to the efforts of journalists. But the vast majority of the story has remained secret, and what the authors have discovered is much worse than anyone knew. As the book reveals in chapter two, the defence minister at the time, Wayne Mapp, has privately called the raid on Tirgiran “our biggest and most disastrous operation. A fiasco.” (Chapter 2.) But the military decided to keep it all from the public.

Is the SAS responsible for casualties and destruction of property caused by US helicopter gunships or the torture of a detainee by the Afghan secret police?

For a number of reasons, the answer is yes. Under military law, the commander of an operation is responsible for the actions of the subordinate personnel. This was an SAS-led and commanded operation, with a dedicated radio network linking the various New Zealand, Afghan and US components. The SAS collected the intelligence, decided the targets, and led the raid on the ground. That ground commander reported to SAS operations staff at their compound in Kabul. The SAS had requested the use of US helicopters for the operation and were responsible for briefing the pilots. During the operation, US attack helicopters made numerous attacks in two different villages while the SAS commander was present at the scene, yet the SAS on the ground did nothing to help the people caught in the heavy fire. In addition, some of the deaths appear to have been from bullets, not helicopter weapons. An inquiry is needed to determine if any of those deaths were caused by SAS snipers who were reportedly involved in the raid. (See chapters 3 and 4.) Later, when one of the fighters was captured in Kabul, he was beaten by an SAS trooper and handed to the Afghan secret police, where he was tortured. It is not good enough to say that our Afghan allies were responsible for the torture; the SAS knew the people they were handing him to were notorious for mistreating and torturing detainees, yet they transferred him anyway (Chapter 6). When they learnt he had been tortured, they did nothing.

Does the book undermine the safety of the troops by talking about secret SAS operations?

No. And it is very important that “security” isn’t used as an excuse for the military and government to evade responsibility for their decisions and actions. The events in the book occurred when New Zealand was running a military base in Bamiyan province and an SAS contingent in Kabul, but both groups returned to New Zealand several years ago. This is the time to face up to wrongdoing. In fact, international law requires countries to investigate their own breaches, including potential war crimes. The government and military have failed to do this. It’s fallen to others to get the story out.

Are you saying there were war crimes?

War crimes are a highly technical area of law and the authors will leave it to experts to determine whether they have been committed. What we are saying is that there are grounds to suspect that war crimes were committed and it is vitally important that these are taken seriously and investigated in an independent way. We asked human rights lawyer and former Chief Human Rights Commissioner Margaret Bedggood to read the book before it was published and her response is printed on the back cover. She says the alleged actions and decisions described in the book, “if confirmed, would seriously breach international human rights and humanitarian law and could amount to war crimes.”

What do you expect the Defence Force and the government to do in response to the book?

We hope they will order a full and independent inquiry into the raid at Tirgiran and other operations and incidents outlined in the book. We also hope they’ll consider immediately offering an apology and reparations to the affected people in the Afghan villages. What do we expect? Based on their actions to date, there is a chance they may deny and dodge, running the dishonourable line that if anything bad happened – which they won’t admit – it had nothing to do with New Zealand. The whole country will be able to watch how they respond. It will be an important test of the military’s avowed core values: courage, commitment, comradeship and integrity.

Is this all too old to worry about?

Not at all. Things as serious as potential crimes of war fester away, sometimes for decades, until they reach the public and are dealt with. It took six years in this case until enough of the people involved felt ready and willing to help reveal the guilty secrets.

What needs to happen?

First, there needs to be the independent inquiry into all these events, with the power to gather all the relevant information and compel witnesses to appear. Besides the SAS’s own secret reports on their various operations, there may be radio communications and weapon systems video recorded during the raids. There will also be reports and official paperwork relating to the handover of the detainee to the Afghan secret police, and the reports the defence force received describing his torture and interrogation. Finally, there will be defence force and SAS documents showing how much the SAS tried to keep the story secret – even from the rest of the defence force. Chapter 7 documents years of cover-up and it is now time for the SAS and defence force to front up about this.

The government also needs to give the apology and reparations to the villagers. But perhaps most important, there need to to be changes to the SAS and defence force to make what occurred in Afghanistan less likely to happen again. The public should have been told about the SAS action within days of it happening – not years later. The public should not have had to rely on insiders being willing to be whistle blowers. The defence force needs a culture change to be more open to the kind of accountability and democratic control we expect from other government organisations. These issues are explored in Chapter 8.

NZDF RESPONSE TO BOOK

The New Zealand Defence Force stands by the statement it made dated 20 April 2011.

As the 2011 statement says, following the operation, allegations of civilian casualties were made. These were investigated by a joint Afghan Ministry of Defence, Ministry of the Interior and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) assessment team, in accordance with ISAF procedures.

The investigation concluded that the allegations of civilian casualties were unfounded.

The NZDF does not undertake investigations or inquiries into the actions of forces from other nations.  That was the role of the joint Afghan-ISAF investigation.

The NZDF is confident that New Zealand personnel conducted themselves in accordance with the applicable rules of engagement.

Chris Finalyson:

A spokesperson for acting defence minister Chris Finlayson has said in a statement: “The matter was investigated at the time and I am advised by the New Zealand Defence Force they stand by what they said at the time.”

Syria Shoots Down Israeli Plane After Air OP. Launched To Support ISIS

Syria Shoots Down Israeli Plane After Israel Launches Air Operation In Support Of ISIS

By Brandon Turbeville

Only a week away from a number of Israeli officials making statements suggesting the buildup to a war with Hezbollah, the Israeli Air Force once again launched airstrikes in Syria, alleging that the strikes were taken against a weapons convoy of the Lebanese militia coming through Syria. Four airplanes took place in the operation according to the Syrian military.

However, the Syrian military activated their anti-aircraft missile defense system against the Israeli jets, taking one down and hitting one more. The jet crashed in Israeli territory, however, as the planes were back over Israeli soil by the time the missile was able to connect.

The Israeli operation and the missile firing were both confirmed by the Syrian and Israeli governments. Israel would not confirm that a plane had actually been shot down, however. This is typical of Israel who tends not to acknowledge any military defeats or setbacks publicly.

Israel claimed that its air defense system, Arrow, was able to intercept one of the missiles but would not elaborate. It also refused to say whether or not the missiles caused any further damage to Israeli territory, saying that the missiles did not compromise the safety of civilians or compromise any aircraft.

The Syrian government responded to the Israeli operation by calling it “blatant aggression” designed to support “terrorist gangs” and “deflect from the victories” of the SAA. Of course, one could scarcely argue with the Syrian statement because Israel’s operation, as well as all of its past operations in Syria, is, indeed, blatant aggression. Not only that, but bombing a militia fighting terrorists is, undoubtedly, a bombing operation in support of terrorists.

Still, some are disputing the Israeli claims that Hezbollah was ever the target to begin with. These sources have argued that the Syrian military and its operations around Palmyra, particularly those centered around removing terrorists from the oil and gas fields which aid ISIS in terms of funding.

Interestingly enough, Arrow, one of Israel’s multi-layered missile defense systems, is designed to intercept long-range ballistic missiles that are located higher in the stratosphere, not mere anti-aircraft missiles. This fact has caused many to question the veracity of the Israeli claim regarding the interception of the Syrian missile.

Israel has launched a series of attacks against the Syrian military and Hezbollah inside Syria since the crisis began in 2011. Indeed, Israel has even been provided material and medical support to terrorists since the crisis began in earnest.

Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Neve…, and Resisting The Empire: The Plan To Destroy Syria And How The Future …. Turbeville has published over 1000 articles on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. His website is BrandonTurbeville.com He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.

This article may be freely shared in part or in full with author attribution and source link.

Cue The “Star Wars” Analogies: US Army Laser Tests Laser Weapons

http://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/world/warfare-game-changer-as-us-army-chiefs-prepare-to-take-delivery-of-drone-busting-laser-weapon/ar-BByiiIz?li=BBqdg4K&ocid=SK2MDHP

US army chiefs are to be handed a laser weapon that developers say will blast drones from the sky.

Weapon manufacturing giant Lockheed Martin says it has finished a 60-kilowatt laser system that will be handed to the Army for further testing.

First tests on the tank saw it reach 58 kilowatts of power but bosses at Lockheed believe it will fulfil its full potential in the next few months as development continues.

The “combined fibre” laser beam uses several lasers to form a larger, stronger beam.

Credits: Lockheed Martin© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Lockheed Martin Lockheed has been testing the new mega weapon, that experts believe will change the face of warfare, in Washington state.

Now it is expected to transport the tank to an army base in Alabama.

Robert Afzal, senior fellow for laser and sensor systems at Lockheed Martin, said: “We’re really at the dawn of an era of the utility of laser weapons.”

Credits: Lockheed Martin© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Lockheed Martin He added that special vehicles “can now carry something which is small enough and powerful enough for what we believe will be militarily useful.”

Boeing has also been testing similar weapons and shared a video in 2014 of a 10-kilowatt laser destroying an airborne mortar.

Military experts are particularly excited about the developments because firing laser weapons will cost a fraction of the price of firing traditional weapons, be more accurate and will not require reloading.

Credits: Lockheed Martin© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Lockheed Martin Mark Gunzinger, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, described a recent incident in which a US ally had used a multimillion-dollar Patriot missile to destroy a quad-copter similar to those easily bought in toy shops.

He told the Washington Post: “That’s $3 million to shoot down a three-or-four-hundred-dollar drone. . . . What if you could do that with a beam of light that costs a buck?”

The US army is already testing other laser weapons, however the latest Lockheed design is thought to be more powerful and portable.

 

Image result for tarkin you may fire when ready

Must Watch. Rumsfeld gets a Grilling

 

Cynthia McKinney has Rumsfeld by the balls in this 2005 archival footage. Child trafficking, 911, and missing $trillions are all questioned here. A timely reminder.

 

Declassified Nuclear Test Footage Now On YT

http://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/world/you-can-now-watch-dozens-of-declassified-nuclear-test-films-on-youtube/ar-BByeGML?li=BBqdg4K&ocid=SK2MDHP

Mushroom clouds were a common sight in the Nevada desert and the Pacific Proving Ground between 1945 and 1962.

The US used the regions to carry out more than 200 atmospheric nuclear tests, before above ground explosions were banned in 1963.

Now, a team of nuclear weapon physicists is seeking to preserve decomposing footage of those tests by embarking upon a major digitisation project.

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLLN) uploaded the first 64 declassified videos to its YouTube channel this week.

Greg Spriggs, a weapon physicist at LLLN, told Gizmodo: “I think that if we capture the history of this and show what the force of these weapons are and how much devastation they can wreak, then maybe people will be reluctant to use them.”

In a YouTube video introducing the project, Spriggs said they’ve uncovered about 6,500 of the 10,000 films made during that era of history.

“By looking at these films, we found a lot of different pieces of information that had not been analysed back in the ‘50s, and we’re discovering new things about these detonations that have never been seen before,” he said.

Virtual Warfare 3D: US Navy