1. Heavier Than Normal Russian Naval Activity Off Latvian Coast

    July 25, 2014

    More Russian naval ships observed near Latvian waters

    Baltic Times

    July 24, 2014

    Russian naval ships observed near Latvian waters recently is an attempt to test Latvia’s reaction capabilities, The Latvian Defense Ministry has said. 

    A Russian naval ship was observed near Latvian territorial waters earlier this week, LETA reports.

    Defense Ministry spokesman Kaspars Galkins explained that Russia had been regularly attempting to show its military might’ over the past several months with flights of military aircraft near Latvian borders, and obviously wants to show its naval might as well.

    The Latvian Navy has reacted to every instance, and will continue to do so, Galkins said.

    NATO naval ships are not  currently roaming Latvian waters, but are currently on-duty in waters in other Baltic areas.

    The Russian naval ship Syzran was observed approximately 6.5 nautical miles from Latvian territorial waters, near Liepaja. The ship had not entered Latvian waters, thus the Latvian Navy only observed the ship’s movements.

    Similar incidents took place last month when the Russian naval ships Soobrazitelny and Boikiy were observed near Latvian waters.

    3 hours ago  /  0 notes

  2. Daily Iraq Situation Summary

    July 25, 2014

    Iraq Situation Report

    Institute for the Study of War

    July 24, 2014

     

     
    Ahmed Ali is the Iraq Team Lead and senior Iraq analyst at the Institute for the Study of War. 

        

    Read this update online

    3 hours ago  /  0 notes

  3. Ukrainian Intelligence Service Captures Suspected Russian Drone That Crashed After Conducting Mission Inside the Ukraine

    July 25, 2014

    Author’s Note: I apologize for the awful English grammar in the following SBU press release. The Ukrainians really should find someone whose command of the English language is a little better than this.

    Russian unmanned aircraft was revealed near the state border in Kharkiv region

    SBU Press Center

    July 25, 2014

    uly 24, 2014, Kharkiv region, the Security Service of Ukraine jointly with the border guards revealed an unmanned aircraft in the direct proximity to the Ukraine-Russian state border.

    It was established that the unmanned aircraft had illegally carried out an aircraft reconnaissance of Ukrainian military locations, flown over the territory of Ukraine for several kilometres and for unknown reasons made ​​an emergency landing in a field near the village of Strileche, Kharkiv region.

    According to the experts, such unmanned aircrafts are in service of the Russian security services.  

    At the moment the Security Service of Ukraine takes measures to establish agencies and individuals who’ve used this unmanned aircraft, and to clarify its tasks inside the Ukrainian territory.

    3 hours ago  /  0 notes

  4. If We Know How Dangerous ISIS Is, Why Is the Obama Administration Taking So Long to Figure Out What to Do About It?

    July 25, 2014

    Answer: Bureaucratic inertia and lack of direction in foreign policy and national security matters seems to be the norm in the White House these days.

    Obama administration knew Islamic State was growing but did little to counter it

    Jonathan S. Landay

    McClatchy News

    July 24, 2014

    — Like the rest of the world, the U.S. government appeared to have been taken aback last month when Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, fell to an offensive by jihadis of the Islamic State that triggered the collapse of five Iraqi army divisions and carried the extremists to the threshold of Baghdad.

    A review of the record shows, however, that the Obama administration wasn’t surprised at all.

    In congressional testimony as far back as November, U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials made clear that the United States had been closely tracking the al Qaida spinoff since 2012, when it enlarged its operations from Iraq to civil war-torn Syria, seized an oil-rich province there and signed up thousands of foreign fighters who’d infiltrated Syria through NATO ally Turkey.

    The testimony, which received little news media attention at the time, also showed that Obama administration officials were well aware of the group’s declared intention to turn its Syrian sanctuary into a springboard from which it would send men and materiel back into Iraq and unleash waves of suicide bombings there. And they knew that the Iraqi security forces couldn’t handle it.

    The group’s operations “are calculated, coordinated and part of a strategic campaign led by its Syria-based leader, Abu Bakr al Baghadi,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk told a House committee on Feb. 5, four months before fighting broke out in Mosul. “The campaign has a stated objective to cause the collapse of the Iraqi state and carve out a zone of governing control in western regions of Iraq and Syria.”

    The testimony raises an obvious question: If the Obama administration had such early warning of the Islamic State’s ambitions, why, nearly two months after the fall of Mosul, is it still assessing what steps, if any, to take to halt the advance of Islamist extremists who threaten U.S. allies in the region and have vowed to attack Americans?

    In fresh testimony before Congress this week, McGurk revealed that the administration knew three days in advance that the attack on Mosul was coming. He acknowledged that the Islamic State is no longer just a regional terrorist organization but a “full-blown” army that now controls nearly 50 percent of Iraq and more than one-third of Syria. Its fighters have turned back some of the best-trained Iraqi units trying to retake key cities, while in Syria, it’s seized nearly all that country’s oil and natural gas fields and is pushing the Syrian military from its last outposts in the country’s east.

    “What started as a crisis in Syria has become a regional disaster with serious global implications,” Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Wednesday.

    Yet Defense Department officials say they might not complete work on proposed options for U.S. actions until the middle of August, a lifetime in a region where every day brings word of another town or village falling to the Islamic State. Some lawmakers and experts say the delay borders on diplomatic malpractice.

    “We did see this coming,” said Royce, adding that Iraqi officials and some diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad began urging the administration in August 2013 to launch U.S. drone strikes against Islamic State bases near Iraq’s border with Syria.

    “This was a very clear case in which the U.S. knew what was going on but followed a policy of deliberate neglect,” said Vali Nasr, the dean of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and a former State Department adviser on the Middle East.

    “This miscalculation essentially has helped realize the worst nightmare for this administration, an administration that prided itself on its counterterrorism strategy,” said Nasr. “It is now presiding over the resurgence of a nightmare of extremism and terrorism.”

    Administration officials deny the charges of inaction. U.S. policy, they contend, was aimed at helping the Iraqi government deal with the growing threat.

    “That was also the desire of the Iraqi government. The Iraqi government wanted to act on its own with our assistance,” McGurk told Congress this week. He insisted that Baghdad didn’t formally request U.S. airstrikes until May.

    The situation, however, was far beyond the Iraqi government’s ability to cope.

    One complicating factor was the administration’s approach to Syria and the uprising there to topple President Bashar Assad, a goal President Barack Obama adopted as America’s own in an August 2011 statement that said Assad had lost all legitimacy to rule and must go.

    Some experts argue that Obama committed a key error in 2012 by rejecting calls from top national security aides, lawmakers and others to train and arm a moderate rebel force to fight Assad.

    Obama administration officials say that rejection was based on a variety of concerns, including that weapons passed to moderate rebels might end up in the hands of more radical elements such as the Nusra Front, an al Qaida affiliate that by mid-2012 had taken the lead in many of the anti-Assad movement’s major victories.

    But without a well-armed moderate force, the battlefield was left open to increasing jihadi influence, others respond.

    “This crisis was allowed to fester and get worse in many ways due to inaction against Assad and ISIS,” said Phillip Smyth, a Middle East researcher at the University of Maryland.

    A review of the record shows, however, that support for the anti-Assad movement also hampered U.S. action to quash the Islamic State, which until earlier this year rebels considered an ally in the push to topple Assad.

    In testimony in November, McGurk said that one of the reasons the United States had not granted Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s request for assistance against the Islamic State was Maliki’s refusal to close Iraqi airspace to Iranian planes flying arms to Assad’s military.

    While Maliki’s fears about the Islamic State “are legitimate,” McGurk said then, “it’s equally legitimate to question Iraq’s independence given Iran’s ongoing use of Iraqi airspace to resupply the Assad regime.”

    In another misstep, some experts said, the Obama administration appears to have turned a blind eye as U.S. allies Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and others provided arms and money that allowed Islamist groups to hijack the Assad opposition and ultimately provide Baghdadi with a secure patch in Syria from which he eventually would send men and weapons back into Iraq.

    Smyth disputed that idea in part, noting that the Islamic State was largely self-sufficient financially, although the influx of foreign fighters provided a crucial boost to its manpower.

    What is indisputable, Smyth said, is that the White House became immobilized by the complexity of the crisis: Having declared that Assad had to go, it found that there was no opposition group that didn’t have some ties to jihadists, and actively backing the rebels would put the United States on the same side as al Qaida.

    “When you have a policy that was paralyzed by a number of different things, the result is a confused policy,” he said.

    On Iraq, meanwhile, the public testimony shows that the administration moved slowly to respond to the rising Islamic State threat. One complication: Doing so would have put the United States effectively on the same side as Iran, the main regional ally of Baghdad and Damascus.

    Maliki, whose Shiite Muslim majority dominated Iraq’s government, formally sought stepped-up U.S. military and counterterrorism assistance in October 2013. But he had been asking privately for help much earlier.

    One such appeal came after a March 4, 2013, attack inside Iraq by Islamic State forces on Iraqi army troops who were escorting back to the border dozens of Syrian soldiers who’d fled into Iraq to escape an attack on their post by anti-Assad rebels. While still inside Iraq, their buses drove into bombs and gunfire. At least 49 Syrians and 14 Iraqis died. It was one of the first documented instances of the Islamic State coordinating attacks on both sides of the border.

    Ali al Mousawi, Maliki’s spokesman, called then for the United States to immediately give priority to arming Iraq with weapons that the country already had requested so that it could fend off any future incidents.

    “We need equipment as fast as it was delivered to Turkey,” Mousawi said, referring to the deployment of Patriot anti-missile batteries by the United States and several NATO allies after Syrian missiles landed in Turkish territory.

    “They managed to install the Patriot systems within two weeks. We need something like that,” he told McClatchy the day after the incident.

    Instead, the White House stuck with a policy that tried to make use of the crisis to pressure Maliki into replicating the U.S. success late in the 2003-2011 occupation of enlisting Sunni tribes to help fight al Qaida’s Iraqi affiliate, which eventually became the Islamic State.

    “We made it clear to Maliki and other Iraqi leaders that the fight against terrorists and militias will require a holistic _ security, political, economic _ approach,” McGurk told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Nov. 13 in describing talks held with the Iraqi leader during a visit he’d made to Washington a week earlier.

    The approach called for Maliki to be more accommodating to his Sunni Muslim political rivals. The administration called on Maliki to end a harsh crackdown on Iraq’s Sunni Muslim minority, restore their political rights and provide salaries and other benefits to Sunni tribes that agreed to fight the Islamic State. Maliki failed to make good on numerous assurances that he’d comply.

    Washington also had other priorities: trying to mediate a feud between Maliki and Kurdish leaders over oil revenues, boost the country’s petroleum industry and promote ties between Iraq and its Arab neighbors.

    It was only after Islamic State assaults in December on the Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Ramadi that the administration began stepping up military aid to Baghdad. It sent unarmed spy drones and 75 Hellfire missiles _ which had to be dropped from propeller-driven passenger planes _ for use against Islamic State bases in western Iraq.

    And the United States has yet to deliver helicopter gunships and F-16 jet fighters that Iraq already had purchased. It also dragged its feet on Baghdad’s request for U.S. military advisers, some 300 of whom were dispatched only after Mosul fell.

    While there are many reasons for the Obama administration’s failure to tackle the rise of the Islamic State earlier, lacking intelligence is not among them.

    By early 2013, U.S. intelligence agencies began delivering more than a dozen top-secret high-level reports, known as strategic warnings, to senior administration officials detailing the danger posed by the Islamic State’s rise, said a senior U.S. intelligence official. The reports also covered the threat to Europe and the United States from the return of thousands of battle-hardened foreign fighters, including dozens of Americans, who’d fought to topple Assad.

    Intelligence analysts well into this year “continued to provide strategic warning of (the) increasing threat to Iraq’s stability … the increasing difficulties Iraq’s security forces faced … and the political strains that were contributing to Iraq’s declining stability,” said the senior U.S. intelligence official, who requested anonymity in order to discuss the sensitive issue.

    On Feb. 11, Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in public that the Islamic State “probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014.”

    Flynn warned then that Iraqi forces were “unable to stem rising violence in part because they lack mature intelligence, logistics and other capabilities.” They also “lack cohesion, are undermanned, and are poorly trained, equipped and supplied,” leaving them “vulnerable to terrorist attack, infiltration and corruption,” he said.

    Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said his committee had been regularly briefed on both Syria and Iraq.

    “I do not think it was an intelligence failure. I think that we got the information we needed to have,” he said recently when asked his assessment of the developments in the region. “I don’t feel like I could lay responsibility at the feet of the intelligence community for not seeing this coming, because they were aware of the growing risk.” 



    3 hours ago  /  0 notes

  5. ISIS Fighters Advancing on Two Vital Syrian Army Garrisons

    July 25, 2014

    Islamic State presses Syria offensive, targets two key government garrisons

    Mousab Alhamadee

    McClatchy News

    July 24, 2014

    — A week after seizing a major oilfield in an offensive that left 270 Syrian government soldiers dead, the extremist Islamic State on Thursday targeted two more key government garrisons, posting photos on the Internet of headless bodies the group claims had been soldiers killed in the attacks.

    Among the dead, anti-government activists told McClatchy, were Gen. Samir Aslan, the head of military intelligence in Raqqa province, and Gen. Miziad Salameh, the commander of Regiment 121, a major military installation in Hasaka province.

    The Islamist forces also launched attacks on government garrisons in Hasaka city and in Deir el Zour, further south.

    The death toll from the confrontations was uncertain, but at least 30 soldiers were killed when Islamic State forces overran Division 17, a unit of about 300 based a half-mile outside of Raqqa, the Islamists’ administrative capital and the only Syrian provincial capital not in government hands. The base was the largest military facility in eastern Syria still controlled by the government, according to the anti-government Raqqa Media Center.

    In Hasaka province, the Islamic State forces succeeded in overrunning part of a base belonging to Regiment 121. As many as 10 soldiers died there after Islamic State forces attacked from three sides, anti-government activists reported.

    The pitched battles on multiple fronts were the latest sign that the Islamic State, which previously had avoided direct confrontations with the Syrian army, is now pressing to expel units loyal to President Bashar Assad from the area where it has declared an Islamic caliphate. Previously, the Islamic State and the Syrian army rarely fought, leading some anti-Assad rebel groups to accuse the Islamists of working with the Assad government. But whatever accommodation had existed between the two forces, if there were one, clearly has been abandoned now.

    The Islamist State said that its attack on Division 17 outside Raqqa began late Wednesday with the detonation of two suicide bombs. By Thursday morning, the Islamic State had captured the headquarters of one of the division’s battalions and had taken control of a strategic hilltop inside the base.

    The government responded by shelling the city of Raqqa and firing two SCUD missiles from the Qalamoun area north of Damascus toward Raqqa. Neither missile did any damage, however; one exploded in midair and the other landed harmlessly in an empty area.

    Opposition sources in Raqqa said government planes launched 13 air attacks on the city and the Division 17 base. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based opposition group that monitors violence in Syria, said that at least 35 Islamic State fighters had been killed or injured. It said the dead and wounded Islamists were taken by ambulance to hospitals in Raqqa.

    In Hasaka province, in the country’s northeast, government forces in Hasaka city were placed on alert after word of the attack on Regiment 121 circulated. Activists reported that roads leading in to and out of the provincial capital were blocked and fresh checkpoints were thrown up. Still, Islamist forces managed to storm the headquarters in the city of Assad’s Baath party and capture or kill an undetermined number of military and civic leaders. Activists said fierce fighting raged throughout the city late Thursday.

    Government positions were not the only target of the Islamic State. Masar Press, an opposition news outlet, said the Islamic State also targeted Kurdish fighters in Hasaka, killing an undetermined number.

    In nearby Qamishli, activists reported that a huge explosion, apparently the work of the Islamic State, devastated the local headquarters of military intelligence.

    By comparison, the clashes in Deir el Zour were relatively minor. The Islamic State, however, had dispatched reinforcements to surround the city’s military airport, but those forces had not attacked the facility.

    Syria’s official media, which is devoting most of its attention to the Israeli “aggression” in Gaza, ignored the Islamic State offensive. But government supporters took to social media to demand that the government launch efforts to rescue both Division 17 and the city of Hasaka.

    Activists close to the Islamic State posted on Twitter that the offensives involved 1,400 fighters _ 600 in Raqqa and 800 in Hasaka.

    Hammam al Raqqa, an Islamic State activist who was reached via Skype, told McClatchy from Raqqa that after the Islamists “clean” Raqqa, Hasaka and Deir el Zour of regime forces, the jihadis would target Homs and Damascus to the east. Hammam said that the government resistance to Thursday’s attacks had been very strong but that it had been overcome by suicidal fighters who “came to die.”

    He said that most of the fighters involved in the attack were from Azerbaijan and Chechnya, with a few Syrians and Saudis.

    Islamist State sympathizers on Twitter blamed U.S.-backed moderate rebels for the delay in the fall of the Assad government, which has withstood more than three years of civil war.

    “If they (moderate rebels) only obeyed the Islamic State from the beginning, it would have liberated the whole of Syria,” read one tweet. “Islamic State said to them from the beginning: leave us alone to face the infidels … but it was ‘the damnation’ of the dollar ‘that prevented them.’”



    3 hours ago  /  1 note

  6. North Korea’s Antique Air Force Falling Apart

    July 25, 2014

    Attrition: North Korean Air Force Develops Dementia

    strategypage.com

    July 25, 2014

    North Korea recently lifted a flight ban on most of its older warplanes. This ban was imposed in May after a MiG-17 crashed into the sea off the west coast. There was a mechanical failure and given the age of most North Korean aircraft and shortages of spare parts and fuel for flying time over the last decade it was felt prudent to ground most of the air force until the oldest aircraft could be checked for any common problems. The MiG-17s were particularly suspect since they had been in service since the 1950s. North Korea is the only country still using MiG-17s and has a few dozen of them still flyable (at least in theory). 

    South Korea considers the North Korean air force more of a nuisance than a threat and plans to destroy most North Korean aircraft in the air or on the ground (or in caves where many are kept) in the early stages of any future war. North Korea seeks to avoid this by using most of these aircraft first in a surprise attack and holding back some of them back, basing these in tunnels. South Korea has plans to deal with all that but will not, for obvious reasons, discuss details.

    With the exception of some MiG-29s, the North Korean air force consists of 1,300 Cold War era Russian and Chinese aircraft, about half of them combat planes. The Chinese aircraft are knockoffs of older Russian designs, and most of the North Korean fleet consists of aircraft designs that were getting old in the 1970s. Recent North Korean Air Force training exercises, like the loss of the MiG-17 in May, confirms what many South Korean and American intelligence analysts already suspected: that the North Korean Air Force can barely fly and hardly fight.

    The most modern aircraft the North Koreans have are 40 MiG-29s they got in the 1980s, when they were still getting freebies from the Soviet Union. The rest of their combat aircraft are poorly maintained and infrequently used (because of fuel and spare parts shortages) antiques. There are 50 MiG-23s, an unreliable 1960s design which few other countries still use. There are about 190 MiG-21s (40 of them Chinese copies of the Russian design) and about 90 each of F-6s and F-5s (Chinese copies of the MiG-19 and MiG-17, both 1950s designs hardly anyone else uses). They have 160 bombers and ground attack aircraft, most of them elderly Russian and Chinese designs. The best of this lot are the 32 Su-25s, which are a decent contemporary of the U.S. A-10 that has proven itself in Afghanistan and the Caucasus.

    The helicopter force is also elderly. The best of them are 20 Russian Mi-24 gunships and 80 American MD-500D, smuggled in from Germany in the 1980s. Perhaps the most dangerous aircraft are 300 AN-2 single engine bi-plane transports. A sturdy Russian aircraft which, although designed in the 1940s, is simple, rugged, popular, and remained in production until 2002. Able to carry ten passengers, the North Korean AN-2s have been seen practicing flying low and at night. Since each AN-2 can carry ten soldiers, it is believed they are meant to deliver commandos into South Korea early on in a war. Several thousand of these troops could cause a lot of confusion as South Korea mobilized for war. But since 2007 fuel shortages have meant few AN-2s have been flying. That means the pilots are not really skilled enough to carry off a night operation, especially flying low (to avoid radar) through the mountains separating the two Koreas. Using AN-2s now would lead to a lot of them, if not most of them, not making it. Then there are whatever surprises South Korea and the U.S. have developed to counter this daring use of AN-2s.

    3 hours ago  /  0 notes

  7. Chinese Military Building Large SIGINT Listening Post in Hong Kong

    July 25, 2014

    China builds listening station in Hong Kong

    Ian Cameron

    IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly

    July 24, 2104

    A view of the geodesic dome atop Hong Kong’s tallest mountain - the 957 m-high peak of Tai Mo Shan - belonging to the PLA, plus an antenna mast alongside. The facility is protected by security cameras and razor wire-topped fences. Source: Gordon Arthur

    The existence of a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) communications installation atop Hong Kong’s tallest mountain - the 957 m-high peak of Tai Mo Shan - recently came to light.

    Construction began around 2010, with a geodesic dome first appearing in satellite imagery in 2011. The facility has been operational for approximately three years.

    The installation sits inside a fenced compound that also includes a Civil Aviation Department terminal area radar and Hong Kong Observatory weather radar. The Hong Kong government has admitted giving the PLA a plot of land measuring 9,300 m² on which the army has constructed a geodesic dome, antenna mast, two large buildings, and a basketball court for use by the resident garrison.

    The PLA has installed security cameras and also tinted building windows to reduce observation. On two occasions IHS Jane’s has observed PLA vehicles ascending Tai Mo Shan to deliver supplies or replacement staff. Personnel wearing PLA Navy-style uniforms have been observed inside the compound.

    The PLA has refused to explain the facility’s purpose, claiming that “military secrecy” means it is “not appropriate for disclosure”, although it is extremely likely that it is an electronic and signals intelligence (ELINT/SIGINT) facility. If so, the facility will be similar in purpose to a British radar station based on Tai Mo Shan and used to monitor mainland China until the colony was returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

    The PLA occupies 18 military sites in Hong Kong covering 2,700 hectares that were transferred from the British Army as Military Installations Closed Areas (MICA) in 1997. The Tai Mo Shan radar site does not appear on official lists of PLA installations.

    A 19th site is a controversial new military berth set aside for PLA warships on prime Hong Kong Island waterfront.

    A Hong Kong government spokesman said: “The Garrison Law provides that the government of the HKSAR [Hong Long Special Administrative Region] shall support the Hong Kong Garrison in its performance of defence functions. It is inappropriate to disclose the details of any defence operations.” He also refused to say whether other secret military sites existed in the territory.

    Meanwhile, the Development Bureau declined to comment on whether the Tai Mo Shan site was a short-term tenancy or private treaty grant.

    The installation has attracted controversy in Hong Kong because its existence has not been publicly confirmed, and due to concerns that a loophole in government land allocation could allow the PLA to build yet more secret facilities without governmental approval or a need to inform the public.

    3 hours ago  /  0 notes

  8. Russian Navy Commissions New Ballistic Missile Sub and Nuclear Attack Sub

    July 25, 2014

    REVIEW: Borei-Class Submarines Enter Service Ahead of Russian Navy Day

    RIA Novosti

    July 25, 2014

    Borei-Class Submarine Alexander Nevsky

    MOSCOW, July 25 (RIA Novosti) – Two Russian submarines are entering service just in time for the Russian Navy Day, which falls on July 27 this year: a Yasen-class nuclear attack submarine Severodvinsk and a Borei-class ballistic missile submarine Alexander Nevsky.

    Construction of the Severodvinsk began in 1993, but its completion was significantly delayed because of limited funding as a result of economic problems Russia faced in the 1990s. The submarine was finally launched in 2010.

    The submarine, whose rivals are the US Navy’s Seawolf-class and Virginia-class submarines, is equipped with the Russian equivalent of the US Tomahawk missile, which can carry a nuclear warhead and has a firing range of up to 3,000 kilometers (1,800 miles).

    The Yasen-class submarine also has additional missiles that can be used for high-precision strikes against ground targets.

    The Borei-class Alexander Nevsky submarine began trials in October 2010. It was involved in test-firing Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles, which all Borei-class submarines are equipped with. Aleksander Nevsky is the first series-built submarine of the Borei class.

    Two additional Borei-class submarines and two Yasen-class submarines are currently under construction. In total, Russia plans to build 8 Borei-class submarines and 8 Yasen-class submarines by 2020.

    Russia has been stepping up the development of its navy since Crimea became part of the Russian Federation in March. In addition to the Russian naval base in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, Russia is developing a port in the country’s southern city of Novorossiysk, so that part of Russian’s Black Sea Fleet vessels and troops could be deployed there.

    By 2017, six Adm. Grigorovich-class frigates and six improved Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines will join the Black Sea Fleet.

    Russia is also awaiting the delivery of two French-made Mistral-class assault carriers. The first one, Vladivostok, is expected in St. Petersburg in October, where it will be equipped with Russian weapons. The second carrier, Sevastopol, should be delivered in 2015.

    3 hours ago  /  0 notes

  9. Half of Chinese Military Air Bases Threatened by Urban Encroachment, Report

    July 25, 2014

    Over Half of China Military Airfields Threatened by High-Rises

    Reuters

    July 25, 2014

    BEIJING — More than half of China’s military airfields have flight paths that are obstructed by tall buildings, causing accidents and airport closures, Chinese state media reported on Friday.

    Nearly 100 accidents have occurred at military air bases due to high-rise buildings and development in the past 20 years, the website of the ruling Communist Party’s mouthpiece, the People’s Daily said.

    The problem has become so great that more than 10 military airfields have been forced to close or move.

    "With the continuous expansion of the scale of cities, a relatively large number of military air bases have merged with new city districts and development zones, leading to a deterioration in clean airspace," the website said.

    Requirements for “clean” airspace around military airports are more strict due to special training demands, it said, citing the People’s Liberation Army General Staff Headquarters.

    There are more than 1,000 buildings that violate height restrictions near military air bases across China and some structures are built on landing and take-off flight paths, leading to serious safety problems, the news agency said.

    China’s military frequently expresses concerns about urban development infringing upon its bases. China approved a law to strengthen protection of military bases in June.

    But China also recently relaxed restrictions on low-altitude flying in its mainly military-controlled airspace in a boost to the growing helicopter industry.

    Air safety has been in focus internationally after a series of deadly crashes around the world in recent weeks.

    4 hours ago  /  0 notes

  10. JCS Chairman: Russian Military Likely Is a Reluctant Participant in Ukrainian War

    July 25, 2014

    Russian Military Likely Reluctant Participants in Ukraine: U.S. General

    Reuters

    July 25, 2014

    ASPEN Colorado (Reuters) - Russia’s military is likely a reluctant participant in Ukraine’s conflict, the top U.S. military officer said on Thursday, adding that although he had not spoken to his Moscow counterpart in about two months he was keeping an open line of communication.

    "I think the Russian military and its leaders that I know are probably somewhat reluctant participants in this form of warfare," General Martin Dempsey said, noting Russia’s use of both conventional forces along the border and of proxies inside the country.

    His comments came as the United States accused Russia of firing artillery across its border with Ukraine to target Ukrainian military positions in the conflict with pro-Russian separatists.

    The State Department also said there was evidence that Russia intended to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers to the separatist forces.

    "I think it does change the situation," Dempsey said, speaking at a security forum in Aspen, Colorado. He added that instead of de-escalating, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has "actually taken a decision to escalate."

    Russia has in the past denied it is directly involved with the rebellion in its western neighbor.

    Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March strongly boosted Putin’s popularity at home. But relations with the West, already at their lowest since the Cold War, dived further after a Malaysian airliner was shot down over eastern Ukraine last Thursday, killing the nearly 300 people on board.

    The United States says it believes a Russian-made SA-11 ground-to-air missile fired from rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine brought down the jetliner.

    Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, voiced concerns about the implications of Russia’s actions on its ties with the United States and with Europe.

    "My real concern is that having lit this fire in an isolated part of eastern Europe, it may not stay in eastern Europe. And I think that’s a real risk," Dempsey said.

    "I’m keeping an open line of communication with my counterpart and he’s doing the same with me."

    4 hours ago  /  0 notes