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From the monthly archives:

July 2011

Hope you’re all having a great and long Independence Day weekend. Get outside, have fun, watch fireworks and do something cool like ride a real boat as opposed to this unmanned one created by Britain’s now-privately run version of DARPA known as QinetiQ.

The above video shows QinetiQ North America’s Blackfish unmanned surface vehicle originally designed to identify underwater divers who may threaten a ship, harbor or naval facility using sonar. The company is now pitching the boats as semi-autonoumous harbor surveilance tools. In theory, you would have one or several Blackfish running pre-programmed routes around a harbor a short-based sensor operator when they spot something unusual.

QinetiQ NA’s Rob Knochenhauer says the boats would be useful in peacetime missions like scouting out hazardous areas after a natural disaster like the waters around the nuclear plants damaged during this spring’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Just a little cyber security update. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano just spoke to a theme we here at DT have been talking about for weeks; the need for an organized, global response to the growing cyber threat.

Via eWeekeurope:

“Most countries don’t even have a legal framework that really governs cyber. It is such a new phenomenon in that regard so the legal systems – both domestic and international – have not kept pace with the technological advances we have seen,” Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano was quoted as saying by Reuters.

“And that is just the plain fact of it. We need to accelerate that in response,” she added.

Her warning comes amid a rising tide of cyber attacks against soveriegn nations and governments, as well as strategically important companies and organisations. This includes recent attacks that have hit the the International Monetary Fund, theCentral Intelligence Agency (CIA) and companies such as Citigroup and Lockheed Martin.

Napolitano also warned that many countries need to accelerate their security procedures as well as their ability to co-operate.

“I would have to say that we are still at the nascent stage. There is no comprehensive international framework,” for approaching the issue, she told reporters. She also added that the situation was no better in the European Union.

“We are all scrambling but we are scrambling with some of the best minds in the world and we are confident that from a technological point of view we are going to get to a satisfactory resolution of some of these difficult problems,” she is quoted as saying. “Right now there needs to be some sort of international legal framework to address those and that does not yet exist.”

Here’s more coverage on this topic by DT:

http://​defensetech​.org/​2​0​1​1​/​0​6​/​0​7​/​n​a​t​o​-​m​u​s​t​-​i​n​c​r​e​a​s​e​-​e​f​f​o​r​ts/

http://defensetech.org/2011/05/20/president-obama%E2%80%99s-cyber-security-plan/

http://​defensetech​.org/​2​0​1​1​/​0​5​/​3​1​/​c​y​b​e​r​-​a​t​t​a​c​k​s​-​c​a​n​-​b​e​-​v​i​e​w​e​d​-​a​s​-​a​n​-​a​c​t​-​o​f​-​w​ar/

 

Editor of sister site Kit Up!, Christian Lowe forwarded me this quote he got from the commander of all Marine forces on the East Coast, Lt. Gen. Dennis Hejlik during a press briefing in Washington yesterday. Basically, Marine Special Operations Command, the amphibious service’s special ops corpus that’s set to expand in the coming years, may someday have its own air element.

When you look at MARSOC today … the Commandant of the Marine Corps has embraced MARSOC and that’s a term we use: “we’re going to embrace MARSOC” — they will be plussed up we’re still looking at that with the fisrig (Force Structure Review Group) but right now it’s right around 1,000. Someday I personally and professionally think that someday they will have air assets like a MagTaf. I firmly believe that. That will take some time just because of the cost and the war we’re in right now. But that’s where I see them going.

Apparently, the three-star didn’t elaborate on when a MARSOC air element would be stood up, how big it will be and what types of aircraft and missions it will perform for the Corps’ special operators.

If you look at the current USMC aviation inventory, it’s already pretty well suited to support a special ops cadre: It’s got MV-22 Osprey tiltrotors which are very similar to Air Force Special Operations Command’s CV-22 troop haulers. The Corps also has its new UH-1Ys that could be used as a light version of the MH-60L Direct Action Penetrators flown by the Army’s 119 Special Operations Aviation Regiment. Heck, the Marines even have KC-130 Hercules tankers capable of air-to-air refueling rotary-wing birds; including the Ospreys.  Some of those Herks have even been armed under the Harvest Hawk program, making them light-versions of AFSOC’s legendary AC-130 gunships.

I’e got to say, it will be interesting to see if the Corps tried to purchase a dedicated fixed-wing assault plane similar to the Embraer Super Tucano that supports Navy SEALs via the Imminent Fury program.

Now, standing up a special ops aviation unit will take years of training and may pull badly needed aviation assets away from the rest of the Corps; something that may meet resistance during a time of reduced budgets. Some may even insist that the Corps rely on its existing aviation elements or use the assets of AFSOC and other SOCOM entities. We’ll see what happens.

 

In case ya’ll didn’t see this earlier, it’s a snapshot of China’s new carrier jet trainer dubbed the JT-9 that China Defense Blog spotted on the PLA Daily website. Yup, building this trainer is a serious step toward qualifying pilots to fly off China’s soon-to-be complete aircraft carrier Shi Lang. The PLAN intends to use that ship to figure out how to operate an aircraft carrier — one of the world’s most complex and powerful weapon systems — successfully.

Here’s a great broken English translation of what the little jet is designed to do from the Chinese site:

“This type of fighter trainer will be mainly used by the pilots of the ship-based fighters to conduct simulated take-off and landing training on carrier deck.”

These simulated take-offs and landings are probably being done at several mock-ups of the Shi Lang’s flight deck — complete with arrestor cables and a ski jump ramp — reported to exist in China. Once pilots learn the basics of flying off a carrier, they’ll likely move on to the J-15 — an upgraded Chinese version of Russia’s Sukhoi Su-33 naval fighter.