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.