Mark Collins – F-35 and EA-18G Growler: Stealthy Pentagon Studying

Further to these posts,

F-35 Program Glass: Half Full? Half Empty?

Stealth: What is It Good For?
[note US Chief of Naval Operations]

and these pieces,

F-35 Mission Software Needs Some Debugging, Cost-Cutting Process Working Around the Edges

F-35 programme chief [JPO] cites slow, steady progress

Navy Mulls Expanding Growler’s Future After Blanking EA-18G’s Budget
[Super Hornet version, more here]

U.S. Navy opens door to more orders of Boeing jets 

we now learn that the Pentagon, and not just the US Navy, may be doing a serious think about stealth compared to electronic suppression/attack:

Pentagon Launches Electronic Warfare Study: Growler Line At Stake 

ea-18g-growler-in-flight-ea18gvx3129-1354725733
http://breakingdefense.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2012/12/ea-18g-growler-in-flight-ea18gvx3129-1354725733.jpg

EA-18G Growler

CAPITOL HILL: The Pentagon has launched a wide-ranging study of electronic warfare, looking across the services at major platforms such as the EA-18G Growler and the F-35’s three versions.

“We are doing right now in the Department of Defense a study that looks at all electronic attack[:] what is the situation in electromagnetic warfare across the spectrum in our maneuver,” Adm. Jonathan Greenert [professional head of the US Navy and it would seem a serious thinker] told the House Appropriations defense subcommittee yesterday [Feb. 26].

That study that goes far beyond any individual weapons system to examine America’s entire capability to control the electromagnetic spectrum, on which our networks, sensors, and precision weapons all depend.

Before making any decisions on specific platforms like the Growler, “I want to hear from the whole Department of Defense, because we are thejammer provider,” Greenert said. The Air Force has a small number of electronically sophisticated but physically ungainly EC-130H Compass Call aircraft, of which they plan to retire many. The Army and Marines have a host of short-range tactical jammers to defeat roadside bombs. But only the Navy provides a survivable aircraft capable of conducting electronic warfare in contested airspace.

The Navy’s unfunded requirements list for 2015 included 22 more EA-18G Growlers, a variant of the Navy’s standard strike fighter, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Congress funded 15. There are no Growlers in the 2016 budget request, so both Boeing — which builds the aircraft — and Congress are eager to hear whether the Navy would like another plus-up. So are reporters, whose questions Adm. Greenert and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus deftly parried after yesterday’s hearing.

“We’re evaluating… how many JSFs vs. Super Hornets do we want to have” for the long-term in the 2020s, Greenert said when asked if a reduction in F-35 Joint Strike Fighter buys would require an increase in F-18s. “I haven’t had a discussion yet with the secretary” — brand-new Defense Secretary Ashton Carter — “about the unfunded requirement list,” he said. Many reports indicate there may not even be one this year…

As electronic warfare threats and countermeasures increase, the Navy is experimenting with new Growler tactics that take advantage of the aircrafts’ passive sensors, rather than having them transmit all the time. Those new tactics, though, require three jamming aircraft in the air instead of the traditional two. Keeping three planes in the air at any given time for any length of time requires a larger squadron on the aircraft carrier: seven or eight Growlers instead of the current five. Adding two or three Growlers for each of 10 carrier air wings is 20 to 30 aircraft, not counting spares needed to account for maintenance, accidents, and training more pilots.

That’s a big investment. But electronic warfare is increasingly a big priority, not just for the Navy but for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The Pentagon’s chief of research, Alan Shaffer, has warned the US has lost “dominance in the electromagnetic spectrum,” on which all our networks and sensors rely, and control of the spectrum underlies Undersecretary Bob Work’s new “offset strategy” to counter China and Japan. The Defense Science Board has identified $2 billion a year of shortfalls in electronic warfare. With Growlers the cutting edge of American electronic warfare, it’s quite likely the Pentagon study will say we need more — and even in tight budgetary times, it’s possible they’ll actually get them.

It seems to me that there is a lot rising from under the US defence bureaucratic radar–and some very serious questions are being asked about the value/efficacy of certain technologies.  Anyone in the RCAF/DND paying attention?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – Royal Canadian Navy: Three out of Four Subs Operational, at Long Last

The questions are will we be able to afford to replace them (and they’re pretty pricey to keep running, see below)–and should we?

Canadian pre-owned submarine fleet finally ready for operations

Canada’s trouble-plagued submarine fleet, once the butt of jokes after a slew of problems, has finally managed to right itself.

For the first time since they were purchased in 1998, the Royal Canadian Navy has reached a stage where three of its four diesel-electric submarines are now shipshape and available for operations…

The Navy bought the pre-owned boats from the United Kingdom for nearly $900-million, an apparent bargain at the time, but costly repairs and upgrades in the ensuing years left Canada’s sub capacity weakened [background here–delivered to us between 2000-2004].

The costly series of mishaps and breakdowns on submarines included a deadly fire, a collision with the ocean floor, maintenance errors and a defective diesel engine. Until recently, only two subs were available for operations, at most.

The Navy showcased HMCS Victoria this week off Vancouver Island to mark the achievement – cruising deep below the surface and firing simulated torpedo launches.

Together with HMCS Chicoutimi and Windsor, there are enough boats to station one on each coast with another to spare. HMCS Corner Brook, which ran aground off Vancouver Island in 2011, is undergoing maintenance and upgrades are expected to take until 2017…

Analysts warn Canada needs to start planning for the next generation of submarines, given these Victoria-class vessels are more than halfway through their operating life.

The Department of National Defence, asked this week why replacement subs aren’t part of the government’s 30-year National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, declined to answer the question.

Ottawa’s silence on the future of subs is troubling, defence watchers say.

“The submarines are already a quarter-of-a-century old, with the HMCS Chicoutimi being 29 years old, and will soon  need to be replaced [not that soon, not too much operational wear and tear yet],” Michael Byers, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia, said [but they well need replacing at the same time as the building of Canada’s most expensive defense procurement ever, the Canadian Surface Combatant, is underway–timeline here–see also: “RCN Canadian Surface Combatant’s Lunatic Never Never Land]…

The risk for submariners today is that Ottawa has learned to live without their services during the years of mishaps and problems.

Defence analyst Martin Shadwick says the limited availability of Canada’s subs over the past decade undercuts their ability to “validate and demonstrate” they’re needed in both military and non-military roles.

“They could demonstrate credible utility over time, but this assumes that the availability and related issues are well and truly resolved,” Mr. Shadwick said…

The military won’t discuss future missions, but in the past the subs have been used to thwart drug smugglers and greedy foreign fishing boats [see below] as well as train Canadian and U.S. anti-submarine forces.

CBC video here.  As for the current cost of the boats, see this from July 2013:

Canada invests in Navy capability and Canadian jobs

ESQUIMALT, B.C. – Today, the Government of Canada issued a five-year extension to Babcock Canada Inc. on its contract to refit and maintain Canada’s Victoria-class submarines.

The extension exercises the first five-year option period of the Victoria In-Service Support Contract that was competitively awarded in 2008. This contract extension has a value of approximately $531 million. The contract includes a number of extension options that could bring the contract duration to 15 years, with a potential maximum value of $1.5 billion [emphasis added, YIKES!]…

As for what the boats are for, this is from the RCN’s news release (with image gallery):

Victoria-class submarines reach operational steady state

…In addition to their inherent lethality and strategic importance as a war-fighting vessel, they fill a wide array of peacetime naval roles:

  • Fisheries patrols
  • Surveillance of all three Canadian coastlines
  • Support to maritime law enforcement and other governmental departments
  • Maintenance of fleet skills
  • Bilateral engagement with continental defence partners
  • Participation in multinational exercises
  • Deterrence of would-be terrorists, smugglers and polluters…

Good grief!  Fisheries, law enforcement, smugglers and polluters!  Those are all law enforcement/coast guard roles, not naval ones; justifying very expensive subs as important contributors to those missions is not well grounded in naval realities. No other navy cites such missions as justifications for their boats.

Only in Canada you say?  Pity.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – Sri Lanka Giving China the Maritime Boot…

And the Indians will be applauding:

1) Sri Lanka reviews land transfer to China as port deal draws scrutiny

Sri Lanka is reconsidering the outright transfer of a parcel of land to China under a $1.5 billion port city deal signed by a previous government, the energy minister said, amid concerns it could be used for Chinese naval activity.

China’s port and other infrastructure investments in Sri Lanka are under the scanner ever since former president Mahinda Rajapaksa lost power in an election last month. He had pursued close ties with Beijing, drawing neighboring India’s ire.

Under the plan, 108 hectares of land next to the main commercial port of Colombo would be taken over by China Communications Construction Co Ltd, including 20 hectares on an outright basis and the rest on a 99-year lease.

The development would include shopping malls, water sports, golf, hotels, apartments and marinas…

India, which lost out to China in infrastructure development on the Indian Ocean island, was in particular worried about the security threat posed by Chinese ownership of land, aggravated by the docking of submarines in Colombo last year…

2) Sri Lanka concerned by China loans, rules out submarine visits

Sri Lanka is concerned with the roughly $5 billion in Chinese loans it has and will send its finance minister to Beijing to discuss the issue, the foreign minister said on Saturday, as he also ruled out future Chinese submarine visits to the country.

New Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has unnerved China with his re-examination of certain projects that China has invested in, including a $1.5 billion “port city” project in the capital Colombo…

India had grown increasingly wary of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s pursuit of closer ties with China, which became a key supporter of the island’s economy after its 26-year-civil war ended in 2009.

China has built a seaport and airport in the south of the country, raising fears it is seeking influence in a country with which India has traditionally had deep ties…

Speaking in Beijing at the end of a two-day visit, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said there were concerns about the manner in which the some $5 billion Chinese loans for his country had been raised.

The Dragon is sure doing a bang-up job of alienating its extended ‘hood.
Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – Some Muslims More Honest About ISIS and Islam Than Obamaprof

Further to this post, and “Comments”,

Poor POTUS, or, Obamaprof and ISIS…

some observations on an event poorly covered in Western media:

An Anti-ISIS Summit in Mecca
A little-noticed conference in Mecca on ‘Islam and Counterterrorism’ offers a counterpoint to the Obama administration’s narrative on how to defeat ISIS...

At the conference in Mecca…speakers seem to have been less certain that Islamist terror can be divorced from Islam. Some statements did echo those made by the White House. According to a translation by the Muslim World League, al-Tayeb argued, “The violence and terrorism … of these groups are strange to Islam. They have nothing to do with our creed, Sharia, ethic, history, and civilization.” And much as Obama sought to expand the discussion of violent extremism to include examples like the Oklahoma City bombing and the attack against a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, participants at the Mecca conference similarly argued that terrorism is associated with no one religion,remarking that “if a Muslim … commits an act of terror, it is linked to Islam. But if the same terror act is committed by a Christian, Jew, Hindu, or Buddhist, it is seldom linked to the perpetrator’s religion,” according to a report by the Saudi Gazette.


At other times, though, speakers asserted that ISIS could not be disassociated from Islam. After discounting poverty, social marginalization, and incarceration as the primary causes of radicalization, al-Tayeb said that in his opinion, “the most prominent” source of radicalization among Muslims is the “historical accumulations of extremism and militancy in our heritage.” Abdullah bin Abdelmohsin al-Turki, secretary-general of the Muslim World League, was even blunter: “The terrorism that we face within the Muslim Ummah and our own homelands today … is religiously motivated. It has been founded on extremism, and the misconception of some distorted Sharia concept.” King Salman’s speech referred to the phenomenon of “Islamized terrorism,” and the program for the conference explicitly stated that “our own children” are responsible for extremist violence [but see: “Those Jolly Jihadi Saudis“]…

Very relevant:

Islamic Reformation?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – Ukraine and Russia, or, What Stinking “International Community”? China Section

Further to this post,

Ukraine and Russia, or, What Stinking “International Community?”

poor POTUS and Secretary of State Kerry really are rather out to lunch in they think most of the world is united against Bad Vlad:

Chinese diplomat tells West to consider Russia’s security concerns over Ukraine

Enough said.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – Dragon Makes Own Homes in South China Sea

Possession nine-tenths of the law or something?

McCain Points To ‘Dramatic Change’ In Chinese-Built Islands

Chinese artificial island landing strip

http://breakingdefense.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2015/02/Chinese-artificial-island-landing-strip-1024×457.jpg

Chinese-built permanent “island” in South China Sea. Credit: CSIS

WASHINGTON: What began with a tiny artificial island built by China to stake a concrete claim in the South China Sea is fast on its way to becoming 600 acres of at least seven islands spread across the South China Sea. One of the most impressive is so-called Fiery Cross Island, the permanent structure above complete with an air strip and, perhaps, the ability to permanently station advanced weapon systems there to patrol the skies and seas.

Sen. John McCain made a point of asking Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about the Chinese actions just before the end of this morning’s [Feb. 26] Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on worldwide threats, calling the Chinese actions “a rather dramatic change.”

DNI Clapper told the SASC “this is a worrisome trend of the Chinese because of the tensions this is going to create in the South China Sea. They have been very aggressive about it.”

The biggest worry about these efforts by the Chinese is that they could base advanced aircraft and ships at some of these locations, trying to enforce their so-called Nine-Dash Line claiming most of the South China Sea. That would grant them the presumptive ability to block international shipping in an area every other country in the region — including the United States — says are international waters. It would also provide China much greater range to project power through the region…

More:

China’s Dangerous South China Sea Challenge

Earlier:

India-Vietnam Talks: Guess Who’s Whispering Fire

in the Background?
That Stormy South China Sea [with map]

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian

Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – The World Needs More Canada, or, B.C. LNG Heartbreak, Part 2?

Further to this post, a story at The Economist in which there is no mention of Canada:

Natural gas
Golden scenarios
A promised golden age of gas is arriving—but consumers are cashing in well before producers do

Meanwhile:

B.C. LNG projects unlikely to produce by 2020: analysts

Projects face fall in Asian LNG import prices, tightening of capital spending
So how about a bit of, er, corporate welfare from supposed Conservatives?

Globe editorial

Harper government looks to tax break to gas up B.C. LNG

Hmm.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – A Great Canadian Ambassador on Our Obamaproblem

Allan Gotlieb’s wonderful diaries about his time as ambassador at Washington, D.C. for most of the 1980s are worthy of the best of British and beat any American I have read.  Now for today:

Dean of diplomats sees a historic ‘cool’ in Canada-U.S. relations

US President Ronald Regan poses with Ambassador Allan Gotlieb and his wife Sondra at a diplomatic credential presentation ceremony at the White House in this Dec. 8, 1981 file photo. The elder statesman among all the former diplomats who've served as Canada's ambassadors to the United States says he's never seen the relationship between the two national governments quite this cool. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP,Barry Thumma
http://assets.nationalnewswatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/2096555252128_low.jpg

US President Ronald Regan poses with Ambassador Allan Gotlieb and his wife Sondra at a diplomatic credential presentation ceremony at the White House in this Dec. 8, 1981 file photo. The elder statesman among all the former diplomats who’ve served as Canada’s ambassadors to the United States says he’s never seen the relationship between the two national governments quite this cool. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP,Barry Thumma


What he sees now is a relationship that’s neither at its best, or worst, just most distant.

“I think the relationship is as cool as I ever remember,” said the 86-year-old ex-diplomat..

He was speaking in an interview this week, a day after President Barack Obama vetoed legislation to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

In past disagreements, Gotlieb said there was hostility against the neighbour’s policies. As an example, he said Trudeau’s National Energy Program infuriated the U.S. administration. In his time there were also disputes about cross-border TV ads, softwood lumber and, until there was a deal, acid rain.

But in those days, he said, American presidents paid special attention to Canada-U.S. issues. Ronald Reagan even campaigned on the idea of a North American Accord in 1980.

Obama, meanwhile, hasn’t made a bilateral visit to Canada since his first month in office. Gotlieb lays much of the blame on the president, not the prime minister.

“The Keystone project has been handled with considerable insensitivity. Our history has been characterized by … a sensitivity to each other’s interests,” he said.

“And I think some of that is intrinsic in the style of Obama. He sees his legacy, maybe, as standing up to big oil and Canada’s interests are secondary to the much bigger primary interest of Obama to go down in history as the man that stopped carbon from heating up our planet [RIGHT].”..

He gives Canada’s prime minister credit for keeping his cool throughout the Keystone affair.

“The relationship I’d say is correct,” Gotlieb said. “In a context where strong language could well have been used, in Canada, because of White House insensitivity to our relationship and our joint interests, I think (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper has been restrained. I don’t think there’s anything he could have done differently.”..

“We have the longest unprotected border in the world [no we don’t, see “Meanwhile, Concerning What Used to Be the World’s Longest Undefended Border“]… 

Gosh darn poop: “…POTUS Pinocchios and baloney…”

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – US Airpower Update (plus no Canadian drones)

Two headlines:

1) Less than half of [USAF] combat squadrons fully ready for combat

2) Nations Racing to Overtake U.S. Lead in Drone Development

As for Canada:

Plan to buy drones for Canadian military dogged by problems, audit shows [more here]

Surprised?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – Boko Haram Messes up Ex Flintlock–Canadian Special Forces Move

Further to this post,

Who Knew? Canadian Special Forces at US Africa Command’s Ex Flintlock 2015
[note links]

the exercise avoids an unplanned–one presumes–contact

Canadian soldiers ordered to leave region threatened by Boko Haram

Canadian special-forces soldiers providing counterterrorism training in Niger have been forced to pack up from a border region and relocate to another part of the African country in order to stay out of the way of fighting between Boko Haram extremists and government troops.

At the same time, the Canadian military says it stands ready to step up its role in Niger if Ottawa decides to send aid [!?! emphasis added]. The government of Niger, a poor desert country, recently declared a state of emergency in the border region of Diffa after a number of attacks by Boko Haram, an Islamist terror group…

The operations are being conducted as part of an annual U.S.-sponsored military exercise called Flintlock, which this year began in February and runs until March 9.

Canadian special-forces soldiers were in Diffa as part of the operations but Boko Haram has repeatedly struck the border region in recent weeks, reportedly raiding a local prison, launching mortar shells and setting off bombs. They have repeatedly clashed with Niger forces.

The Canadian Armed Forces says the multinational training exercises planned for Diffa were relocated elsewhere in the country to avoid being disrupted by the conflict…

Canada’s military said special forces is [sic] prepared to shift tasks and help the Niger government cope with the impact of Boko Haram attacks if Ottawa decides to do so [emphasis added].

“We will remain responsive to the situation and support any Government of Canada decision regarding humanitarian assistance or any other required assistance,” Mr. Le Bouthillier [DND spokesman] said…

But we would not do much in Mali:

Why No Canadian Participation in UN Mali Force?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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