Tuesday, 29 December 2009

European Security and Defence Policy

opswarfare came across an European Union (EU) website a while ago which offered to mail some of its hardcopy publications to anywhere worldwide. Well, they appeared in the mailbox today.

The European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) is something like the military "face" of the EU, taking up peacekeeping missions in Europe, but also in other areas like Africa and Asia.

2 interesting initiatives spotted in the ESDP newsletter. (Summer 2009 edition)

EUPOL Afghanistan
Regular readers will note opswarfare's earlier comments on using policing techniques (as compared to military tactics) on the situation in Afghanistan. It is therefore heartening to see the EUPOL mission, specifically training the Afghan government forces on police, law enforcement, and justice issues.

EU Satellite Center
The availability of satellite assets provides a force-multiplier effect, allowing increased intel and also more accurate maps. It can also be used to record physical changes to the terrain, which will be useful for battle-damage assessment, and early-warning initiatives.

p.s. the link to the free publications webpage can be found here.

Friday, 4 December 2009

(Organisational) Culture and Carnage

Kings of War
A great discussion going on at the King's College London, Department of War Studies blog. As someone who is interested in military operations, and yet a supporter of human rights, this topic is right up my alley :)

By accident, I stumbled upon the U.C. Berkeley War Crimes Studies Center. It documents many war crimes, going into detail in each case, explaining what happened, and how the Court came to its conclusion. Interestingly, I found the webpage after searching for "Singapore" on the HuriSearch website. It seems that some Japanese war crimes were on trial in Singapore after WWII.

Monday, 19 October 2009

The lines between the Police and the Armed Forces get blurrier

It's been happening for quite a while already.

The Police looked mainly looked at issues within the country, and concentrate on smaller groups like companies, individuals, etc.

The Armed Forces mainly looked at issues outside the country, and dealt with countries and states.

But look at the threats facing countries now. International terrorism, transnational piracy, internet crimes, etc.

Generally, the armed forces are "infringing" into policing duties, more so than the other way round. This has significant consequences on the threats above. opswarfare's personal view is that a policing mindset is more suitable for such threats.

The concepts of counter-insurgency sound more similar to a police force, than an army. Instead of using new methods to counter terrorists, perhaps using different tools can also be considered.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Upping the ante via multiple attacks

The militants are taking the initiative by bringing the fight to the urban areas, and deliberately targeting defence/security locations. They then up the ante by conducting multiple concurrent attacks. Sadly, it is all working for them, and the Pakistani armed forces are clearly struggling. Spillover effects are likely in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Pakistan gunmen 'take hostages'

The attack (and subsequent hostage taking) on the Pakistan military headquarters indicates a new tactic to spread fear among the population. It also showcases a deliberate attempt to select prominent targets which will attract media coverage. This attack follows another recent attack on United Nations (UN) offices in Islamabad on 5th October 2009. The security situation in the AfPak region deteriorates while the world remains unsure of how to resolve this dilemma.

Note: It's strange to see a deliberate refocus by opswarfare be overtaken by world events. opswarfare continues to collect open-source information on the situation in Mindanao and southern Thailand, but will not hesitate to highlight pertinent military issues.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

PBS Frontline - Obama's War

Just watching the first 5 minutes was enough to make my eyes water. Even though opswarfare has previously stated a desire to look beyond the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is tough to ignore the 600-pound gorilla in the room...

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Upcoming changes to the blog

First up, apologies for the drop in blogging rate at opswarfare. I have been busy, but have in the meantime introduced some new content (besides blog posts).

Readers may have noticed the recent inclusion of Twitter feeds, and an app that shows visitor stats. Both have been useful (in my view), but for the Twitter feed specifically, I felt that it was indirectly reducing my blogging rate, as I realised that I leaned towards Twitter for a quick blurb instead of a careful considered blog post on several occasions. I'm still reviewing whether I should continue with the Twitter posts.

A Change in focus
Since the very beginning, opswarfare has consciously avoided a US-centric focus, because not everything revolves around them. On hindsight, this has been a good decision, as it "forced" me to look beyond the usual US-centric military news (e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan, or major US weapons) but to look for more "leftfield" news.

I have now decided to further modify opswarfare's focus to concentrate on regional issues in Asia and South-East Asia. Frankly, the milblogs of Ares, Kings of War, and The Dew Line, etc are great at what they do, and opswarfare does not want to replicate their good work. Also, many regional military news are being under-reported. Examples include the tensions in Mindanao, southern Thailand, and Burma. opswarfare hopes to start off this new phase by looking at these 3 areas.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Another small submarine in the market

Russia Increasing Surface Warship Fleet | AVIATION WEEK

Scroll down to the bottom of the linked page to see the P-650E.

After the SMX-23 and the 210Mod, this looks to be yet another small submarine for smaller nations (and first time buyers). A crew of 9 sounds unbelievable...

More info on the Piranya (Piranha) class of mini-subs here (PDF).

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Is this the future of ISTAR?

Flight International - BAE to explore new UAV technologies for Australian DoD
The key paragraph of the article below
"...key focus points...increased autonomy during target detection and recognition, on-board image processing to reduce bandwidth demands, and the use of simultaneous location and mapping techniques to reduce reliance on GPS guidance."
3 issues are highlighted
  1. the Mark I eyeball is still often the "device" used for spotting (and identifying) targets when an UAV flys over area of interest
  2. bandwidth problems still persist, as the demand for full-motion video outstrips the supply of data bandwidth available
  3. defence planners are already thinking of future scenarios where enemy forces may have the ability to jam GPS signals, which many assets (not just UAVs) are currently relying on
The recent mushrooming of manned ISTAR aircraft is also a partial "solution" to the issues highlighted above, with humans on board being able to sieve through the footage in real-time, without having to transmit it to a ground station (which would eat up vital bandwidth), plus help to navigate the aircraft manually.

This "information management" will become more and more critical as ground commanders get increasingly "addicted" to having an extra pair of "eyes in the sky". For example, instead of just simply driving out on a patrol, a commander may first ask for an UAV to fly over the area in question before he/she sets off.

p.s. almost forgot to highlight the Taranis UCAV mentioned at the end of the article. opswarfare waits with bated breath to see which UCAV will go into production first...

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Air International - more snippets

Following from a previous post, opswarfare was able to borrow a few recent issues of Air International from Tampines Library. Some highlights from 4 issues below.

October 2008
Israel Moves its Transports to Nevatim
  • Israel Air Force moved its heavy transport wing from Lod Air Base 27 to Nevatim Air Base 28
  • C-130E/H Hercules, IAI-1124N Seascan, KC-707/VC-707, G550 Nachshon Eitams, and GV Nanchshon Shavit involved
AT-6B for ANG
  • A AT-6B has reportedly been ordered for the US Air National Guard, due to be delivered in 2009. It is expected to be evaluated for potential use in Afghanistan & Iraq
Su-34 Fullback tactical bomber
  • 1st 2 series aircraft delivered on 15 December
  • no more production seen since
November 2008
UK seeks RC-135
  • notification (PDF) of possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS)
  • conversion of 3 USAF KC-135R Stratotankers to RC-135V or W standard
  • Nimrod R.1 was involved in upgrade programme "Project Helix"
prototype XP-1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft handed over to Japanese defence ministry
  • anticipated that 70 P-1 will be built for JMSDF to replace current fleet of P-3C Orions
Russian strategic bombers in Stability 2008 exercise
  • Tu-160 & Tu-95MS participated, carrying 6 and 12 Kh-55 (AS-15 Kent) missiles respectively
  • They were involved in live-firing exercises
  • Tu-22M3 also involved, exercise runs from 22 Sep to 21 Oct
Super Hind Mk V on display
  • upgrade programme by South African firm Advanced Technologies and Engineering
  • composite blades, PALL sand filters, Carl Zeiss Optronics sighting system, Denel 20mm cannon, and Thales chaff and flares
Gabriel to be modernised
  • Thales selected to upgrade ELINT system on Transall C160G Gabriel from 2011 onwards
  • 2 C160Gs are flown by EEA 11.054 Dunkerque from Metz-Frescaty
Georgia Air War analysed
  • Georgia - 4 million people, army of 17,000,
  • Georgian Air Force - 9 combat capable Su-25 Frogfoots, 9 Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters
  • Russian response to Georgian offensive was swift, as troops of the North Caucasus military command had been preparing for this scenario for the previous 2 years
  • first columns of Russian 58th Army moved towards South Ossetia as dawn broke, which suggests that logistic support was pre-prepared
  • they were supported by elements of the 76th Air Assault and 96th Airborne Divisions
  • opportunity to combat-test the Iskander-M tactical missile
  • absence of C4ISR architecture for Russian forces
  • few night-vision devices,
  • Georgia deployed Buk-M1 (SA-11), Osa-AK (SA-8B), and Osa-AKM SAM systems
  • Russian Air Force flew around 200 sorties during the 5-day conflict
  • lack of night-vision equipment meant it operated mostly during the day
  • no suppression of of enemy air defence (SEAD) campaign, Anti-Radiation Missiles not used
USAF 1st Special Operations Wing
  • AC-130U Spooky set to receive upgrades - AN/APQ-180 fire control system/synthetic aperture radar
  • this is an enhanced version of the APG-70 radar on the F-15E Strike Eagle
  • other planned modifications are ALQ-172 ECM and ALR-56M RWR
  • AFSOC is investigating the possibility of using C-27Js for gunship role
  • AFSOC has ordered 14 HC/MC-130Js
  • CV-22B due to deploy in October to trans-Saharan Africa for Exercise Flintlock 09
Harrier in RAF service
  • 3 (F) squadron deployed 8 GR.7s to Kandahar since Sep 2004
  • CVR-7 70mm rocket has been weapon of choice when low collateral damage is the most important consideration
  • Harriers usually sortie in pairs with mixed loads
  • One will carry CVR-7 rockets and 688lb or 1,113lb general purpose bombs, while the other will be armed with 1,201lb Enhance Paveway II laser/GPS-guided weapons
  • They use the Sniper pod purchased under UOR, and also regularly use the Digital Joint Reconnaissance pod (DJRP)
  • latest weapon cleared for use is 496lb GPS/laser-guided Paveway IV bomb
Reconnaissance airborne pod for tornado (RAPTOR)
  • DB-110 dual band electro-optical/infra-red
  • CCD day sensor with nominal 110in focal length lens
  • 55in mid-wave indium antinomide infra-red sensor
  • 72km EO, 36km IR
  • Derivative of senior year electro-optical reconnaissance system (SYERS)
  • rapid deployment electro-optical system (RADEOS)
  • Withdrawal of Canberra PR9 caused a loss of capability since the tornado could not carry RAPTOR to anything like the altitudes achieved, giving shorter stand-off range and imposing limitations (of graze angles) when operating over mountainous terrain
  • Falcon Prowl trial
  • Polish F-16 Peace Sky fitted with new 3 POV
December 2008
Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) cancelled due to Nunn-McCurdy breech
  • OH-58Ds to be upgraded in the meantime
Armed Grand Caravans for Iraq
  • 2 Cessna 208B Grand Caravans, armed with a pair of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles
  • An electro-optical/infra-red sensor is mounted under the fuselage on the port side
  • to reduce distortion for the sensor produced by heat haze, the exhaust shroud for the aicraft's turboprop has been extended to starboard
reopened Aerial Common Sensor (ACS) contract expected in 1st quarter of 2009
  • 38 aircraft
  • further update here
Mi-17 for Thailand
  • 6 to be acquired
concept design and proposals for proof of concept - DARPA submersible aircraft
  • envisaged to clandestinely infiltrate small teams into coastal regions
  • carrying 8 people, including the crew, and a payload of 2,000lb (910kg), it would have a range of 1,000nm (1,850km) in the air, 100nm (185km) on the surface of the sea, or 12nm (22 km) under it
  • air for vehicle's powerplant supplied via snorkel, limiting the depth the vessel can travel at
  • once personnel have been deployed, the craft would loiter for up to 3 days
Ac-27 Stinger II
  • 16 aircraft under the AC-XX Gunship Lite project
  • either a 30mm or 40mm cannon
  • able to carry precision-guided munitions such as Viper Strike
  • National Airborne Operations Center
  • now with 1st ACCS, 55th Wing
Diamond DA42MPP Twin Star
  • Multi-Purpose Platform (MPP)
  • wide variety of equipment
  • laser scanning, synthetic aperture radar, photogrammetric and hyperspectral scanning, a beyond line-of-sight and in line-of-sight microwave downlink, high definition/infra-red (HD/IR) video systems
  • range of over 2,500km
  • low noise signature makes its virtually undetectable at much lower altitudes and its composite construction results in a reduced radar profile
  • MPP with Scotty system - nose-mounted observation camera (thermal imaging & visible light) and beyond line-of-sight satcom link with a mechanically-steered high-gain satellite antenna in an external radome fitted on the upper rear fuselage
  • ability to upload and download data (up to 4 channels, each 64kbps transmitted via Inmarsat, allowing for simultaneous transmission of voice, data and both stored and real-time video)
  • 17 MPP aircraft completed till date
  • 6 ordered by Venezuelan government, 2 recently delivered to Niger
  • 2 to British company, DO Systems, allocated military serials ZA179 & ZA180 - speculation that they are linked to a RAF ISTAR programme
Exercise Crown Condor
  • joint RAF and Swedish Air Force exercise
  • part of Exercise Joint Warrior 2008 Serial 2
  • practice of close air-support, including sorties in an urban environment designed to replicate current operational missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, convoy support and time-sensitive targetting
Trial Imperial Hammer
  • NATO counter terrorism exercise
  • flying assets assigned to Blue Force
  • 'terrorists' of Red Force consisted of ground troops that had air defences and could jam GPS signals
  • missions included SEAD, intercepting contraband weapons on land and sea, locating hostages, escorting civilian and military convoys, locating and deactivating IEDs, and CSAR
  • IED jammer named 'Jedi' tested - manufactured by RESTOGE
  • Italian Air Force tested the Reccelite reconnaissance pod on its Tornado aircraft
  • SIGINT aircraft deployed, including a Spanish Air Force Boeing 707 (TM.17-4, 47-04, of 47 Grupo Mixto), Italian Air Force G.222VS (71° Gruppo), and USAF C-130H (with 'Senior Scout' module)
January 2009
RAF Shadow R.1
  • based on King Air 350ER airframe
  • assigned to 5 (Army Co-operation) Squadron
  • acquired under UOR to provide additional ISR over Afghanistan
  • carry a large number of communications antennae, an EO sensor in a ball turret, and a canoe-like fairing under the fuselage which seem to have windows pointing forward and to the sides
  • possible that this fairing contains an EO system similar to that deployed by the US Army in its Constant Hawk aircraft
  • these record ground activity so that perpetrators of attacks can be identified
Brazil orders Hinds
  • 12 Mi-35M ordered
  • will be used in conjunction with Super Tucanos against the narcotics trade
Flankers for Indonesia
  • 3 Su-27SKM and 3 Su-30MK2
  • due to be based at Hasanuddin air base on Sulawesi, alongside 4 others delivered in 2003
Hawgsmoke 2008
  • biennual weapons contest for A-10 pilots
  • strafing, dropping practice bombs, and firing captive carry TGM-65 rounds
Exercise Jebel Sahara 2008
  • event in Morocco to support Royal Gibraltar Regiment, and also to familiarise with conditions similar to Iraq and Afghanistan
  • allowed crews to learn how to spot safe landing sites, recognise the first signs of rapidly changing weather conditions, and operate their helicopters at the limit of the engines
  • rear aircrew also taught how to give pilots positive voice 'patter' on approaching obstacles, rotor and fuselage clearances on difficult mountain landing zones ranging from boulder and tree-strewn areas on the lower levels, to deep snow on the higher peaks

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Afghanistan: Battle in Helmand Province

Getty Images photographer John Moore was embedded with British forces in Southern Afghanistan in 2007.

Information overload

The situation has been getting tougher by the day. RSS feeds allowed for consolidated viewing via a RSS reader, but it does not reduce the huge amount of military news and analysis floating around in cyberspace. Twitter has made the situation worse, with reporters able to post quick tidbits, even before their full blog posts are completed. opswarfare has reduced the number of its blog posts, as info found while trawling the Net is now usually tweeted instead of expanded upon in a proper blog post. opswarfare is monitoring the situation, and hopes to resume its production rate, and more specifically, will seek to blog about info from new sources.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

French urban warfare tactics

Currently watching a TV5MONDE (french TV channel) programme featuring the French Army, possibly in conjunction with Bastille Day.

One of the segments involved the use of the FELIN system at a french urban warfare training facility called CENZUB

In one scene, the troops drive their VBCI armoured vehicle to the side of a building and climb out of the top hatch to storm a building via a window on the 2nd floor. No sure if other forces do this, but it's the first time opswarfare has seen this. It looks like a viable alternative o the usual methods of clearing from 1st level windows, or from the roof down.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

The oldest trick in the book

BBC NEWS | South Asia | US soldiers killed in Afghanistan
While a massive offensive kicks off in the South, a deadly attack on a camp occurs in the East. This is classic insurgency warfare. Lie low when the enemy comes in force, strike them hard at their weakest point (or the point where they think is the safest).

It's relatively "easy" to make an IED and detonate one as a vehicle drives past. That is a target of opportunity. In comparison, it takes quite some effort to plan an attack on an army camp, using a mixture of troops, mortars, and a suicide truck. This is a deliberate target.

There are no easy solutions in sight for the war in Afghanistan.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Delays for Heron UAV programme in Turkey

Incorporating a customer package into a weapons system is often tricky, as can be seen in the delay to the Heron UAV programme in Turkey. Quite a few countries like to be "nationalistic" by requiring a certain proportion of local content in a foreign-acquired weapon. The other common requirement is technology transfer from the overseas manufacturer. This often results in less bidders, slower delivery (more time to incorporate local content instead of the original specification), and possibly, poorer performance. opswarfare remembers that Turkey's attack helicopter programme has been delayed for a very long time for similar reasons.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Chinese Fishermen Serving as Early Warning?

Ares Homepage
Interesting intel on the North Korea situation. As usual, great comments too, furthering the discussion. There is no easy solution, as even limited airstrikes on nuclear facilities may result in a full-scale North Korean attack on South Korea and Japan.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Parliament query on Mine Ban Treaty

The following question was tabled in Parliament today.
1. Ms Sylvia Lim: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence
(a) whether Singapore is working towards ratifying and acceding to the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction;
(b) what impediments still exist to Singapore doing so; and
(c) if he will provide an update on what steps Singapore has taken to address the humanitarian concerns surrounding the use of anti-personnel land mines.
opswarfare will be tracking it to see MINDEF's response.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Tested Early by North Korea, Obama Has Few Options

As mentioned in my twit, the article seems to suggest that Resolution 1718 hasn't been fully utilised. I'll be verifying this, but in the meantime, another question that begs to be asked is whether a naval blockade would work, or rephrased, how would North Korea react to such a move?

opswarfare thinks the chances of the Obama government trying it is slim. But if it did so, North Korea might try to circumvent through its land border with China.

More likely is an increase in alert status in the short term, and an increase in troops in South Korea in the medium term. Overt monitoring of traffic (short of a full naval blockade) is also possible.

And I'm sure all the Aegis ships in the region are been reprepped for missile interception...

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

North Korea’s Nuclear Test: Another Fizzle?

FAS Strategic Security Blog
A friend was asking me today what all the fuss was about North Korea in the news. Well, this is what the "fuss" is about; whether they are calling a bluff, or are they for real. Iran's provocations look manageable in comparison...

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Traditional media vs blogs - an unscientific but quick comparison

opswarfare previously wrote about the standoff between Somali pirates and the US Navy.

The 20th April 2009 edition of Aviation Week & Space Technology (AWST) had a short article in its 'News Breaks' section. (see below)
SHIPBOARD UAVS PROVE COMBAT NEED Use of Boeing/Insitu's Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle, flown from the USS Bainbridge to monitor Somali pirates' treatment of a hostage U.S. ship captain on board the pictured lifeboat, showed both strengths and weakness.

On the plus side, the aircraft can use its persistence to sit on top of an event with an unblinking infrared (IR) or electro-optical (EO) eye, provide critical 3D situational awareness and be directed by the tactical commander, explains Capt. J.R. Brown, the program executive officer (PEO) for Navy and Marine Corps UAVs.

However, Scan Eagle presents users with a low-resolution picture and cannot provide both EO and IR coverage during a single flight, Brown notes. "Warfighters want more and they want better."

So the Navy plans to replace the Scan Eagle with a specialized, small tactical UAV-competition for up to 56 systems officially started Apr. 2-which simultaneously would provide EO/IR real-time, high-resolution, full-motion video around the clock; a communications relay for a much larger surveillance footprint; and the ability to look into Afghanistan's deep valleys, says Gary Kessler, deputy PEO for unmanned aviation.

But, with the increasing demand for surveillance capabilities, the Scan Eagle's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance services will be shifted to smaller craft, such as smaller littoral combat ships and boats, as they are replaced by larger capital ships. The small, tactical UAV is scheduled to be operational in 2012.
So how does this article compare with the opswarfare post? The AWST article comes across as more techy and also manages to look into the future. My post comes across as newsy, with video and additional focus on the SEAL snipers that eneded the standoff. Looks like I still have some way to go...

Monday, 18 May 2009

LFWA Exercises Desert Ram, Western Defender, Total Ram

Canadian Army
A major training exercise to prepare Task Force 3-09 for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. Plenty of coverage and stories, with a good variety of topics, from simulation to safety, and also links to coverage by TV stations.

Hercules tanker to take on multiple roles

Harvest Hawk modification to KC-130J Aircraft
The United States Marine Corps (USMC) is implementing a fast-track project to obtain a "gunship-lite" capability, by bolting on a 30mm cannon and Hellfire missiles on existing Hercules tanker aircraft. With the installation of targeting sensors for firing the cannon, the Harvest Hawk may also be able to serve as a surveillance platform.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Imdex Asia 2009

Military Nuts
Photos and discussions from the Milnuts forum. Some of the forumers got the opportunity to visit the visiting warships. opswarfare attended during the previous IMDEX, and it was a blast, including a memorable tour of an Australian Collins-class submarine.

Spirale missile launch warning satellite demo

Ares Homepage

Great to see a non-US missile warning satellite in development. The proliferation of various ballistic and cruise missiles warrant a defensive system to counter them. First mentioned in a previous Ares post, opswarfare will be monitoring on the progress of this system. By the way, SPIRALE is a French acronym for "Preparatory System for IR Early Warning".

More details here and here.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Live firing - Simulating return fire?

Headlines | Canadian Army | National Defence and the Canadian Forces

I was watching the video clip in the above story when I suddenly hit upon the idea of having a speaker at the base of the drop-down target. This could simulate the sound of return fire, which would make the live-fire training more realistic.

Simulating returning fire may "encourage" soldiers to fire from behind cover, instead of firing in the open.

Instead of a target that pops up, the target could simply stay in a figure 15 exposed (head showing) position, and then emit the opening shot for the soldier to react and take cover. The soldier then returns fire, and when hit, the target drops down, and stops emitting sounds of rifle fire.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Closing the loop

Previously, ISAF commanders complained about the futility of fighting Taliban forces stationed near the border, as they easily slipped to neighbouring Pakistan. With no permission from Islamabad to pursue them over the border, the ISAF forces found themselves hampered severely.

This problem was later partially mitigated with the (perhaps semi-illegal) use of armed UAVs to attack targets within Pakistan from the air.

However, daring attacks in major cities on government buildings, and the conciliatory measures like the implementation of radical forms of Sharia law, made the situation bleak.

The recent "sacking" of the US general in charge of Afghanistan showed that serious reforms were being implemented to try to turn back the tide.

With the renewed Pakistan offensive in the Swat valley, one natural question that pops up, is whether ISAF forces are stationed at the other side of the border, ready to "mop" up the Taliban forces that may be retreating from the offensive.

The first part of the answer would be find out where Swat is, and what lies on the other side of the border.

A new BBC map made the work much easier.

So it seems Swat is not near the border. But the "famous" regions of North and South Waziristan are near the border. So are these areas being actively reclaimed by Pakistan forces? Not yet it seems.

But it could happen soon, according to this Daily Telegraph report. Another new development is the inclusion of Pakistani input in UAV flights over Pakistan.

The next few months will be critical to see if the loop is being closed...

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

A GEOINT Analysis of Terrorism in Afghanistan

Secrecy News
Its high time proper scientific analysis is brought to bear on the world of warfare. Although such analysis should not replace a shrewd commander's instinct on the ground, the snippets obtained should at least be considered for further intel collection.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Global Express 'mystery aircraft' deployed to Afghanistan

Another prototype deploys to Afghanistan. opswarfare recently twitted about a mysterious UAV operating in Afghanistan.

Extracts from the full article on page 7 of the magazine (via Zinio)
Launched circa 2004, Northrop Grumman's BACN is described as being an Internet Protocol (IP)-based communications relay and information server that links radios and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems for US Department of Defense networks.

BACN extends the range of line-of-sight radios, while its 'forward-edge tactical server', as Northrop Grumman terms it, provides real-time access to situation awareness, surveillance, imagery and network management information for air- and ground-based units.

BACN is controlled from the ground and its airborne processor manages ad-hoc IP networks together with bridging tactical data and voice networks.
The practice of testing prototypes in actual warzones is relatively rare. These 2 instances could be an indication that
  1. the Western forces operating in theatre feel that they have complete air supremacy (and so there is no danger of these precious prototypes being shot down), or
  2. the utility provided by these prototypes are so useful (or perhaps even critical) that it is worth it to deploy them to a warzone.
Anyway, these are good signs of a conscious attempt to fast-track the procurement of new platforms.

Monday, 27 April 2009

SIPRI: Significant rise in arms transfers to the Middle East

SIPRI mainpage
New data from the Swedish think tank. The effects of the global financial crisis on the sale of arms remain murky for now.

Hunting pirates with the French Navy off the Somali coast

France 24
As the various navies confront the issue of piracy around the waters near Somalia, they come up against issues that remain sticky
  • rules of engagement
  • prosecution procedures for pirates caught at sea
  • is food aid that lands safely at Mogadishu really being distributed to the needy further inland?
With most countries acknowledging that a comprehensive (read: land forces) solution is required, the fear remains of a repeat of the "Black Hawk Down" incident.

opswarfare believes that the African Union peacekeeping troops play a big role here. A regional solution may be more acceptable to the Somalis...

Improving International Responses to Armed Conflict

When the latest Israeli-Gaza war (Operation Cast Lead) started, many observers were speculating over how long it would last before public opinion would "force" the IDF to stop.

IPI have done a paper detailing the options available in such a situation.

One conflict that could use a bit of the options described is the war in Sri Lanka.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Adaptive Army

Australian Army
The Aussies are restructuring the Army in a big way. Basically, the Army will be divided into 3 groups
  • Headquarters 1st Division (current operations)
  • Forces Command (force development & strategic planning)
  • Special Operations Command (pretty much self-explanatory)
A quick review of the information paper (PDF) reveals that the changes proposed are sound. It will enable their Army to be more ops-oriented while a separate group looks after longer term issues.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Welcome back AEL

Army Electronic Library (AEL)
The Canadian Army Electronic Library is back on public access, well sort of. I remember the days when it was one of the few (if not the only) non-US repository of Training and Doctrine (TRADOC) materials available online. Then a few years ago, it was taken of public access, no doubt due to concerns about Operations Security (OPSEC). Recently, the website has allowed some documents to be placed back on public access. There's also a useful Publications Explorer which shows a bird's-eye view of the documents available.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Publications/Handouts from "The Basic School"

United States Naval Academy Leatherneck program
A list of useful handouts from The Basic School, which trains all newly commissioned United States Marine Corps officers.

Regular readers should know that opswarfare has an inclination to discussions on urban warfare, specifically defensive operations. Below is an extract from B0386 - Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT) [PDF].
  1. The cover and concealment available, coupled with restrictions to normal observation and line of sight in urban terrain require special attentiveness to all-around defense and mutual support to counter enemy observation and infiltration.
  2. Movement is generally restricted to the streets, roads, and alleys. Therefore, defending infantry seek to barricade these and all other avenues of approach to deny an attacking enemy freedom of movement and to canalize the enemy into established kill zones or engagement areas. At the same time, the defender must plan to improve his own ability to move within the built up area and even within certain buildings.
  3. Surveillance of the flanks and rear is intensified, and the defense must be flexible enough to permit defense in any direction to prevent encirclement. Three dimensional security - above, below, and adjacent to the defensive position - is imperative.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The X-Files: Low-Tech, High Payoff


A good idea by the Marine Corps to package Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) in a pocketable form, for easy reading and usage in the field. Keeping the text short (only 1 booklet is more than 50 pages) make it more likely that users will read it too.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Navy commander: Trio of shots ended sea standoff

The Associated Press
The dramatic ending to the standoff (between the US Navy and Somali pirates) is beginning to sound even more amazing as new details emerge.

3 shots, 3 dead. The images mentioned in the above article, taken by a Scan Eagle UAV are below, from the US Navy website. It should be clarified that when the shooting took place, the lifeboat was not so far from the USS Bainbridge.

From BBC News
The lifeboat, which had no power, was attached on a tow line about 100 ft (27 metres) behind the warship after the pirates had accepted an offer to be moved out of rough seas.
Amazing resolution from a video grab, showing the lifeboat, on which Capt. Richard Phillips was held captive.

opswarfare previously wrote about helicopter snipers, and wondered how they could shoot on such a platform. In this incident, what the SEAL snipers did was no mean feat.

The 2 images above also show the usefulness of a shipborne UAV. A persistent stare capability, coupled with a bird's eye view, enables better situational awareness for a warship.

To end off, a video clip from msnbc, which includes animation of what possibly happened during the shooting.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Northrop Grumman settles DOJ defective parts suit

The Associated Press
US$325 million minus US$325 million equals zero; unbelieveble. But perhaps more importantly, how was the US spying capability affected by the problematic satellite spare parts?

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Malaysia details Astros II plans

From JDW...
18 March 2009

Malaysia will take delivery of an additional order of 18 Brazilian Avibras Astros II multiple rocket launchers (MRLs) in September, Malaysian Army Chief General Tan Sri Muhammad Ismail Jamaluddin announced on 1 March.

The new MRLs will form a second regiment to add to the Malaysian Astros II regiment already in service. The 18 launchers, their various support vehicles and munitions were ordered in 2007. Deliveries of munitions for the launchers have commenced, with most of the material already in country.

Malaysia currently has 18 Astros II MRLs in service from an earlier order that was delivered in 2002. The second regiment, 52 Artillery Regiment, will be operationally ready in 2010 and will be based in the state of Kedah as part of the 2nd Division. The regiment already in service, 51 Artillery Regiment, is currently based in Negri Sembilan state as part of the 3rd Division.

Meanwhile, plans for the army to procure a self-propelled artillery capability have been postponed to the timeframe of the 10th Malaysian plan (2011-16) owing to budget constraints. Similarly, plans to buy an additional nine Denel G5 155mm guns as replacements for some of the 28 G5s currently in the inventory have also stalled due to a lack of funding.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Israeli drones destroy rocket-smuggling convoys in Sudan

Times Online
Further info on the airstrikes in Sudan, and the first time that the rumoured UAV involvement has been reported in mainstream media. Many have suspected for a long time that Israeli UAVs can fire ordnance (like a US Predator UAV)...

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

NATO advances towards landmark in coalition ISR

Besides the sharing of C-17 transport planes (under a project named Strategic Airlift Capability), NATO is now also looking at sharing intel from UAVs. This will benefit the poorer nations that can't afford a mid-size UAV.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Exploring Humanitarian Law (EHL) Virtual Campus

Saw this site a while ago, but just recently realised that I hadn't highlighted it yet. Ample educational resources for teaching humanitarian law to students. Should really make use of it one of these days...

Disaster management - an Air Force angle

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)
A humanitarian situation for an training exercise. Good to see some variety being injected into validation exercises.
Pacific alert
17 March 09
By FLTLT Carl Lorrigan
THE scenario: flooding on a scale never seen before has hit a Pacific neighbour, destroying infrastructure, causing outbreaks of vector-borne diseases, food shortages and simmering tribal tensions. Not for real, of course, but it raises the question: if it did really happen, how would we help? That was answered positively when the Northern Expeditionary Combat Support Squadron (NECSS) Command Post (CP) team went to work on just that situation for four days last month as part of Exercise Night Watch. For the purposes of the scenario, the stricken country was dubbed Stunod.

NECSS was required to establish Air Point of Departure (APOD) services at Stunod Airfield, assist with the supply of essential provisions and provide combat service support to an Expeditionary Health Flight. Night Watch is a newly-developed training activity by HQ 396 Expeditionary Combat Support Wing in the form of a CP exercise. It was specifically designed to validate the online status of NECSS before going online on March 1. WGCDR Neville Donnelly, from the HQ 396ECSW validation team, said he believed it was the first time this type of exercise had been developed and executed specifically for an ECSS CP. “Exercise Control tested CP staff by generating a wide range of scenarios and communications from all command levels,” he said.

The exercise started after NECSS executives participated in lessons regarding the roles and responsibilities within a CP and set up of the squadron CP at RAAF Base Tindal. While having to maintain command and control of APOD services, the team was faced with a diverse range of realistic injects testing CP procedures within an uncertain environment. Scenarios included past challenges and incidents that still occur within a deployed environment. Night Hawk was conducted successfully and all exercise objectives were achieved. The NECSS command and control elements met the challenges posed by the exercise. HQ 396ECSW has also further developed a workable ECSS CP exercise model for future training applications.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Dealing with land mines and/or IEDs

The landmine/IED threat is significant for operations. Some of the methods to mitigate the dangers are as follows
  1. foot patrols with sniffer dogs
  2. transport long distances using airlift (e.g. heli-insertion) instead of convoys
  3. avoid known IED routes
However, there are disadvantages when adopting the above
  1. slower movement to contact
  2. insufficient firepower of dismounted troops (less organic heavy weapons)
  3. insufficient airlift capability to deal with required missions
  4. reduced choice of routes to target location
A DTI article highlights some further technological solutions
  1. spectroscopic imaging to detect nitrogen plume from explosives
  2. x-ray backscattering can reveal the outline of bombs under clothing or in vehicles
  3. imaging in the terahertz region
There are also several ongoing projects that utilise IED detection devices on UAVs, allowing commanders to "scan" a route before deploying a convoy.
  • sentinel hawk
  • warrior alpha
  • green dart
  • copperhead sensor on tiger shark
  • yellow jacket
Interestingly, several ASEAN countries have not ratified the Mine Ban Treaty. (List below accurate as of 1 Sep 2008)
  • Laos
  • Myanmar
  • Singapore
  • Vietnam

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Calling for choppers - the current shortage of utility helicopters

The recent news regarding doubts over the renewal of the UN peacekeeping mandate in Darfur, Sudan, reminded opswarfare of another issue, the shortage of helicopters in operations.

3 examples come to mind
  • lack of choppers for NATO in Afghanistan
  • insufficient helicopters for the relief effort in Sichuan, China
  • no pledge of helicopter transport for UN mission in Darfur
But before one jumps to quick conclusions, there are different factors at play for each of the 3 cases mentioned, and we need to look at these factors, before we start talking about solutions.

Helicopters for combat in Afghanistan
low threat level of MANPADS (although RPGs are sometimes used as makeshift alternative)
choppers useful for quick insertion of troops and supplies
usage means travelling by road is reduced (and reduced IED threat)
critical for casualty evacuation (casevac)

Helicopters for utility in Sichuan, China
remote region where earthquake hit
heavy lifting

Helicopters for peacekeeping in Darfur
long distances, lack of road network
insufficient troops to station everywhere; helicopters aid as quick reaction force

(was stuck in draft since August 2008...)

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Air International - 5 past issues

A lot of detailed info from a new magazine that opswarfare picked up recently at the Bukit Merah library. A quick check shows that Air International is available at the following NLB branches. (p.s. this was another old draft post, brought back to "life")
  • Bishan
  • Bukit Merah
  • Jurong
  • Tampines
A quick rundown below of some "juicy" bits from 5 past issues.

November 2007

RAF Quick Reaction Alert (QRA)
  1. RAF is in charge of Air Policing Area 9
  2. QRA comes under command of NATO's Combined Air Operations Centre 9 at RAF High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
  3. 27mm cannon on Typhoon is still not cleared for use
  4. Falkland islands has a QRA detachment
  5. RAF participates in NATO Baltic Air Policing QRA, rotating with other NATO partners
Retirement of SEPECAT Jaguar
  1. A capability gap created?
  2. Comparison of Jaguar with Typhoon, the latter coming off looking quite deficient in air-to-ground capability
  3. Maybe they should compare with Tornado instead
Indian Air Force at 75
  1. 2 SU-30MKI are deployed at Car Nicobar
  2. Andaman & Nicobar are just 200km from Myanmar and 100km from Indonesia
Feb 2008
EA-6B Prowler
  1. ICAP III program
  2. ALQ-218
  3. ASQ-140
  4. EA-18G will add ALQ-227
July 2006
MASC project for Royal Navy (AEW platform for new RN carriers)

Global Hawk numbers
  • 7 Block 10
  • 6 Block 20
  • 11 Block 30
  • Plans in place for 26 Block 30, 15 Block 15, for a total of 54
French Navy Night-flying
  1. Super Etendard Modernise (SEM)
  2. Sfim CN2H-AA NVG
  3. 100 hours of unaided flying (w/o NVG)
  4. limited field of vision
  5. lack of depth of field perception
  6. Democles laser designation/targeting pod
  7. tactical air navigation (TACAN)
  8. accuracy of 0.1nm (0.2km)
  9. block 2 (20,000 to 30,000 feet) sanctuary 2 - 22,000 feet
US Navy
  1. MH-60S transport
  2. also with armed helicopter capability MH-60S (AH)
  3. AAS-44C infra-red sensor, and 8 Hellfire missiles, plus window mount 7.62mm & 12.7mm machine guns
  4. MH-60R ASW
Export Flankers
  1. SU-30MKI Flanker-H of India
April 2007
Constant Peg (once classified aggressor programme to evaluate Russian fighter jets), 4477th Test Squadron, Red Eagles

May 2007
SU-24 Fencer
  1. Su-24M Fencer-D
  2. further upgrade by Gefest & T in 2000
  3. 50-150m height, 1,100km/h, can toss bombs at a distance of 10km from target, with CEP of 10-15m
  4. Su-24M2
  5. prolonged ultra-low altitude of 30-50m
  6. short periods, 10-30m
  7. fairly demanding in terms of handling characteristics
  8. Orion-A radar, 2 bands, centimetric (B-band) and millimetric (A-band)
  9. A-band, higher resolution, shorter range
  10. combat debut in 1984, Afghanistan
  11. used in Chechnya also

Blood debts and exotic others

Kings of War
(Another old post affected by the "curse" of the draft mode)
We are all human beings. We feel the same when certain bad things are done to us. I liked the Shylock quote; I studied the Merchant of Venice during Literature in Secondary School...

US Marines in Afghanistan, Part Deuce

2 short videos of the 24th MEU in Afghanistan...
(By the way, this was one of the many posts stuck in draft mode in my blogger account)
Video 1
Video 2

On a related note, opswarfare is reading One Bullet Away by Nathaniel Fick. One good lesson learned from the book is the so called "Five Bullets".
  1. mission statement
  2. challenge and password
  3. rules of engagement
  4. lost Marine plan
  5. escape and recovery plan
This is a good checklist for use in training, to help facilitate when actual ops occur.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Medium Altitude Data Link

The AW&ST article that opswarfare was referring to, on the MADL, which could enable the F-22 to "talk" to other aircraft in the future.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Seersucker surprise

The DEW Line
Great story on the Seersucker missile episode; I didn't know about that incident. Cruise missiles are often used as first strike assets, targeting key installations. With the proliferation of cruise missiles (especially from alternative sources, e.g. India's Brahmos), I suppose it was a matter of time before someone came up with a countermeasure...

UK hails success of ASTOR's Afghan debut

Flight International
3rd air-force related post in a row... Anyway, the above article shows what the ASTOR can do.
The Raytheon Systems-developed aircraft used their dual-mode radars to capture more than 107h of ground moving target indication (GMTI) data and almost 150 detailed synthetic aperture radar images, says Kemsley. The latter included surveying routes and compounds of interest, while the GMTI mode was used to collect information such as "pattern of life" intelligence.

Friday, 13 February 2009

US, UK deploy manned unmanned aircraft to save bandwidth

The Register
The headline is a bit misleading (there has been no deployment of a plane flying without pilots, but with human operators in the back of the aircraft), but the article does bring out a good point on the problems with bandwidth overload.

It's also discussed in the editorial to the Feb 09 issue (last few pages) on DTI.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

F-22 Design Shows More Than Expected


New performance info released on the premium fighter jet on the planet, the F-22; a selection below.
Ranges of the new lines of AESA radars are classified. But they are estimated at about 90 mi. for the smallest (aimed at the F-16 radar-upgrade market). The F/A-18E/F and F-35 (with radar ranges of 100 mi.) are followed by the F-22 (110-115-mi.). The largest is carried by the upgraded F-15Cs and Es (125 mi.). By comparison, the range for a mechanically scanned, F-15C radar is 56 mi. according to Russian air force intelligence. U.S. aerospace officials agree that an AESA radar "at least doubles" the range over standard military radars.

When coupled with the electronic techniques generator in an aircraft, the radar can project jamming, false targets and other false information into enemy sensors. Ranges for electronic attack equal the AESA radar plus that of the enemy radar. That could allow electronic attack at ranges of 150 mi. or more. The ability to pick out small targets at a long distance also lets AESA-equipped aircraft find and attack cruise missiles, stealth aircraft and small UAVs.


Defense Technology International (DTI) recently changed their Flash solution to view their magazine online. Just today, I was googling a keyword on an ARES blog article (on Medium Altitude Data Link) and found that Aviation Week & Space Technology (AW&ST) was on Zinio too. Jane's Defence Weekly was the other publication available, with certain restrictions of course. I wonder if I'll find more...

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Ross Kemp: Return to Afghanistan: Episode 2

"...sort of an unofficial truce not to fight during the hottest hours." (Ross Kemp commenting on a short lull in fighting while taking a break at a compound)
Even in warfare, there are remnants of humanity...

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The forgotten conflict?

Sri Lanka: parties must grant safe passage to stranded patients and medical staff
A quick check via opswarfare's favorite military websites showed no mention of the intensifying civil war in Sri Lanka. There are lots of coverage in the mainstream news media, and also by human rights or humanitarian (e.g. ICRC above) groups, just not the military angle.

In contrast, the recent Gaza conflict was well-covered in military circles.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Enforcement of the Geneva Conventions

Most countries in the world (194 at the last count) are suppose to abide by it, but few actually do. So I was intrigued to find out if the Geneva Conventions have a monitoring mechanism and/or enforcement measures.

Turns out there is a International Fact-Finding Commission provided for under the Conventions, read more here.

A pity that the website (www.ihffc.org) is currently down...

Friday, 30 January 2009

Everything you ever wanted to know about Project Liberty

The DEW Line

Comprehensive info of the MC-12 Liberty in the slides provided. (Click above link to see the PDF link)

The development of low-cost, manned surveillance aircraft due to Urgent Operational Requirements (UOR), may have a spillover effect in enabling developing countries to obtain this type of capability in the future.

Sales of first tier UAV models are likely to continue to be restricted to close allies; smart defence companies can exploit this newly created market by offering simple solutions for counter-insurgency or perhaps even policing operations.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

PC-21 flight test: fast learner

Flight International
A very detailed account of the characteristics of the PC-21 trainer aircraft, which is incidentally operated by RSAF.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Monday, 5 January 2009

War in Gaza - The ground offensive

Israel started its ground offensive over the weekend. opswarfare has been monitoring the news and offers a few quick comments on how the war may develop.

  • The first attack was launched at night. As mentioned in a previous post, the IDF will possibly exploit their technological advantage in night-vision, by choosing to conduct major combat operations at night
  • Many news media have shown photos and videos of White Phosphorus airburst rounds, most likely because of its dramatic looks. This is a good sign that the IDF is using smoke to reduce the defender's advantage in urban warfare. Smoke allow IDF troops to move from building to building without being easily targetted by snipers in buildings
  • Photos and videos of Self-Propelled Howitzers (SPH) probably mean the usage of SPH as a cheap (plus safe and reliable) way to deliver smoke munitions
  • Most of the armoured vehicles shown were uparmoured armoured personnel carriers (APC) (as compared to Merkava Main Battle Tanks (MBT). opswarfare presumes that the IDF realises the limited use of MBTs in urban combat,
  • The first Israeli casualty 22 year old also provides insights into IDF operations. Staff Sergeant Dvir Emmanueloff, 22, was from a Golani combat engineers unit. This is classic Western/Israeli doctrine, with full-time combat soldier leading the front assault, with to provide time for reservists to prepare. Also, combat engineers are often first into battle to clear obstacles.
  • During the first day of ground operations, unconfirmed news quickly spread of a IDF soldier being captured. This turned out to be untrue. However, it is likely that Hamas will adopt kidnapping tactics to try to get the upper hand
  • Several news stories have mentioned that many IDF troops were injured by sniper fire. This is classic urban warfare defensive tactics, and Hamas will use this to the max. Hunter-killer teams (rifle sniper and anti-tank operator), first popularised in the Chechnya war, is a possible counter to IDF armour convoys. Chechen rebels inflicted heavy casualties by shooting at the commanders in open hatch, and/or disabling the first and last tanks in a convoy (and then slowly finishing off the tanks in the middle).
  • Several Israeli news sites are keeping tallies of Hamas rocket fire into Israel, almost using it like a barometer. Hamas will possibly exploit this by concentrating its resources on firing rockets, instead of directly engaging IDF troops.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

UK steps up helicopter training exercises

Flight International
An informative article with lots of tidbits on training and operations. An example below
Desert operations are particularly harsh on the Merlin (below), which must have its Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca RTM 322 engines inspected by boroscope after every 30 landings. An engine change can be performed in the field within 2-3h, if necessary.