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Spy Sub Down: How a Secret Russian Nuclear Submarine Caught Fire

The National Interest - Sat, 06/07/2019 - 16:40

Mark Episkopos

Security,

What we know at the moment. 

A fire broke out on a Russian research submarine earlier this week, killing fourteen sailors in what is Russia’s worst submarine disaster since 2008.

Russian authorities have remained tight-lipped on the nature of the data being collected by the submarine and the circumstances of the fire. "On July 1, fourteen submariners - sailors died in Russian territorial waters as a result of inhaling combustion products aboard a research submersible vehicle designated for studying the seafloor and the bottom of the World Ocean in the interests of the Russian Navy after a fire broke out during bathymetric measurements," reads the Defense Ministry’s press release.

As of the time of writing, the Russian government and its official channels have abstained from naming the submarine in question; however, it is widely believed to be the Project 210-- also known as AS-12, with “AS” referring to “nuclear deepwater station”-- Losharik special missions submarine. Losharik is speculated to be a pillar of Russia’s deepwater intelligence gathering program, headed by the Main Directorate of Deep-Sea Research, or GUGI.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has since spoken on the matter, but only to express his condolences. Putin added that the submarine was an “extraordinary” vessel, manned by “a highly professional crew.” Seven of the fourteen sailors held the rank of captain and two were “heroes of the Russian Federation” (Russia’s highest honorary title), corroborating the speculation that Losharik occupied a high-level role within GUGI.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that the vessel was saved from sustaining irreversible damage “thanks to the self-sacrificing actions of its crew” and can be fully repaired in the near future. Russian news reports have focused on what they describe as the heroism of the 14 sailors, who allegedly sealed themselves off in a section of Losharik to prevent the fires from engulfing the entire submarine.

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Gut Check: A Good Guide to the Use of Military Force?

The National Interest - Sat, 06/07/2019 - 16:30

Paul Slovic, Amichai Cohen

Security, Middle East

Here's what American voters think.

As expected, the decision to support the strike felt much more difficult when one or more Americans had died.

Why did U.S. President Donald Trump recently call off a retaliatory strike against Iran?

The answer was proportionality: Trump said the American response to Iran’s downing of an American drone should be on a similar scale.

That decision, Trump said, came from his “gut.”

Because the drone was unmanned, Trump said it would be disproportionate for a U.S. strike to result in approximately 150 Iranian deaths, the estimated number of likely casualties.

The decision to call off the strike at the last minute may have been the right one. But years of research on valuing human lives, conducted by us and many others, make a compelling case that deciding what is proportional based on gut feelings is a profound mistake.

A decision-making process that relies on intuitive feelings, rather than careful deliberation, invites a host of biases that make bad decisions, and disproportional consequences, far more likely.

Valuing proportionality in conflict

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China Likely Tested Missiles That Can Kill Aircraft Carriers in the South China Sea

The National Interest - Sat, 06/07/2019 - 15:13

James Holmes

Security,

What does that mean for Asia? America's allies? How can Washington push back? 

Earlier this week China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force most likely tested a DF-21D or DF-26 anti-ship ballistic missile—sometimes know as "carrier-killers"—in the South China Sea. Details remain sketchy, as Chinese spokesmen have remained close-mouthed about the exercise. The test came on the heels of news last May that PLA weaponeers had installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef, and Mischief Reef, west of the Philippine Islands. Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Dave Eastburn told CNBC that this week’s missile test contradicted China’s “claim to want to bring peace to the region and obviously actions like this are coercive acts meant to intimidate other South China Sea claimants.”

Col. Eastburn has it half right. Beijing clearly wants to coerce others. But the test was entirely consistent with its claim to want to bring peace to the region. It does want peace; it simply wants to transform the nature of that peace, and force is a means to that end. If Chinese Communist Party prelates in Beijing get their way, they—not foreign governments or international institutions—will make the rules in the South China Sea. They will issue laws or policy decrees mandating or proscribing certain actions in regional seaways, and others will obey. Peace will prevail.

QED.

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Will Legal Restrictions Prevent Mark Esper from Being Secretary of Defense?

The National Interest - Sat, 06/07/2019 - 14:51

Task and Purpose

Politics, Americas

It is more complicated than you think.

It's unclear what happens if we hit the 210-day deadline with no confirmed secretary, and without a nomination sent to the Senate, but the timeline is getting tighter by the day.

It's a good thing we're not racing headlong into a war with Iran or some other equally daunting geopolitical catastrophe, because the task of actually filling the Pentagon's top job is starting to look like an increasingly messy task.

After Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan withdrew from consideration for permanent secretary, President Donald Trump tapped Army Secretary Mark Esper to take over as his second Acting Secretary of Defense in five months.

But unfortunately for both Trump and Esper, a federal law from 1998 puts a number of legal hurdles in their way.

As Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas who focuses on national security and constitutional law, among other things, pointed out on Friday, the period we've gone without a Senate-confirmed defense secretary is three times as long the previous record.

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Whose Idea Was It to Send 1000 Troops to the Middle East?

The National Interest - Sat, 06/07/2019 - 14:46

Task and Purpose

Politics, Middle East

Confusion at the Pentagon.

The latest deployment comes little more than three weeks after the Defense Department dispatched about 900 additional troops to the U.S. Central Command region and extended about 600 service members already there.

The Pentagon is sending nearly 1,000 more troops to the Middle East as part of an escalating crisis with Iran that defense officials are struggling to explain.

While the U.S. government has publicly blamed Iran for recent attacks on merchant vessels in the Gulf of Oman, not a single U.S. official has provided a shred of proof linking Iran to the explosive devices found on the merchant ships.

At an off-camera briefing on Monday, Navy officials acknowledged that nothing in imagery released by the Pentagon shows Iranian Revolutionary Guards planting limpet mines on ships in the Gulf of Oman.

U.S. Central Command has identified a boat from which men detached one of those mines as belonging to Iran, but they were unable to say how that was determined. The boat has no distinctive markings and is flying no flag in pictures released by the Pentagon.

Yet Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced late on Monday that he is sending roughly 1,000 more troops to the Middle East "for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats."

"The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region," Shanahan said in a statement.

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Ultimate Weapon? Sanctions on Iran's Supreme Leader Really a Game Changer?

The National Interest - Sat, 06/07/2019 - 14:45

Stratfor Worldview

Economics, Middle East

We find out.

Despite the limited reach of the United States to directly affect some areas of the Iranian economy with sanctions, it does have room to add effective secondary sanctions.

The United States, reacting to the shooting down of a U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle last week, launched two sanctions-related salvos against Iran on June 24. It layered sanctions on top of those already targeting commanders in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which are unlikely to have more than a limited effect on the Iranian economy. The second set of sanctions, targeting Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his appointees, could bite much deeper than typical sanctions issued by the United States by hampering Iran's engagement with the world and damaging its economy.

An Executive Order Lays the Groundwork

An executive order signed by U.S. President Donald Trump freezes all property subject to U.S. jurisdiction that is held by Iran's supreme leader or the supreme leader's office. In addition, the order allows the U.S. Treasury Department to similarly sanction any person or entity the supreme leader, or his office, appoints, such as a state official or the head of an entity such as a company leader. The order also extends that connection a step further, allowing sanctions to be placed on any appointment made by an appointee of the supreme leader, as well. It also threatens sanctions against anyone who provides support for people or entities sanctioned under those designations.

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Cat and Mouse: A U.S. Destroyer Shadowed a Russian Warship in the Caribbean

The National Interest - Sat, 06/07/2019 - 14:00

Task and Purpose

Security, Americas

The great game continues.

The U.S. military said recently that it is monitoring the Russian ship's activities.

One of Russia's most advanced warships is sailing around in the Caribbean, but it's not alone: the U.S. Navy has dispatched a destroyer to keep a close eye on it.

The Admiral Gorshkov, the first of a new class of Russian frigates built for power projection, arrived in Havana, Cuba on Monday accompanied by the multipurpose logistics vessel Elbrus, the sea tanker Kama, and the rescue tug Nikolai Chiker, the Associated Press reported.

(This first appeared in late June.)

The Russian warship made headlines earlier this year when Russia reported that it was arming the vessel with a new weapon — the electro-optic Filin 5P-42 — that emits an oscillating beam of high-intensity light designed to cause temporary blindness, disorientation, and even nausea.

The U.S. military said Wednesday that it is monitoring the Russian ship's activities.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham was operating roughly 50 miles north of Havana as of Tuesday morning, USNI News reported, citing ship tracking data. The Navy told the outlet that it was monitoring the situation.

Admiral Gorshkov entered the Caribbean Sea via the Panama Canal on June 18. The ship departed its homeport of Severomorsk in February and has since traveled over 28,000 nautical miles, making stops in China, Djibouti, Sri Lanka, Colombia, and now Cuba.

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Did This Congressman Admit His Unit Killed Civilians in Iraq?

The National Interest - Sat, 06/07/2019 - 13:00

Task and Purpose

Politics, Americas

In his own words.

"So how do you judge me?" He responded. "I was an artillery officer and we fired hundreds of rounds into Fallujah, killed probably hundreds of civilians, if not scores, if not hundreds of civilians. Probably killed women and children if there were any left in the city when we invaded. So do I get judged too?"

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) is at it again. And by "it," I mean willingly offering up information about questionable stuff he did while he served as a Marine.

In an interview for Barstool Sports' Zero Blog Thirty podcast, Hunter was asked about his support of Navy SEAL Chief Edward "Eddie" Gallagher, who has been accused of war crimes including stabbing a captured ISIS fighter to death.

Hunter responded that he "frankly [doesn't] care" if the ISIS fighter was killed, and that "even if everything the prosecutors say is true in this case, then Eddie Gallagher should still be given a break, I think."

"I just feel like it's such a slippery slope, and it goes against our honor so egregiously if that is the case," one of the hosts, also a former Marine, said to Hunter.

"So how do you judge me?" He responded. "I was an artillery officer and we fired hundreds of rounds into Fallujah, killed probably hundreds of civilians, if not scores, if not hundreds of civilians. Probably killed women and children if there were any left in the city when we invaded. So do I get judged too?"

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Falklands War: The Time British and Argentine Aircraft Carriers Nearly Fought to the Death

The National Interest - Sat, 06/07/2019 - 12:00

Sebastien Roblin

Security,

It would have been catastrophic.

All that stood in the way of potentially the most destructive air/sea-battle since World War II—and the only to occur between aircraft carriers—was a stiff breeze. Or rather, the lack of one.

On the afternoon of May 1, 1982, crewmen on the deck of the Argentine carrier Veinticinco de Mayo (“May 25”) scrambled to load six A-4Q Skyhawk attack planes with four Mark 82 bombs each.

The subsonic jets were to be the tip of the spear of Argentine Navy Task Force 79 as it attacked a British Royal Navy fleet roughly 140 miles away, including the carriers Hermes and Invincible, eight escorting destroyers and fifteen frigates.

The opposing fleets were facing off over the sparsely-populated Falkland Islands, known as the Malvinas in Argentina. A month earlier, Argentine troops had seized the disputed archipelago. Now the British warships were covering amphibious forces moving to take the islands back.

Few of the half-dozen Argentine aviators expected to survive the attack, dubbed “Banzai Night” after the famous Japanese battle cry. In the book A Carrier at Risk by Mariano Sciaroni, the Skyhawk squadron’s leader Rodolfo Castro Fox reveals the grim calculations behind the planned attack:

By using the table of probabilities, considering the capabilities of British anti-aircraft defences, of our six initial aircraft, four would get into position to drop their bombs and only two would make it back.

Of the sixteen bombs that we would release, there would be a probability of impact of 25 percent, in other words, four bombs of 500 pounds. This could neutralize the carrier and the loss of four aircraft would be acceptable.

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Firepower 5: The 5 Best 9mm Guns on the Planet

The National Interest - Sat, 06/07/2019 - 11:00

Gun News Daily

Security,

Tell us what you think.

Alternatively, if you want to keep your handle length short, check into double stack magazines if your pistol will accept one. Double stack magazines are great for packing in more ammo, but all those extra bullets require more room so this type of magazine does come at the expense of a wider profile.

Concealed carry guns have been growing in popularity in the last few years, and more people now than ever before have their concealed carry licenses. That means that gunmakers are having to keep up with the demand and in the area of compact .9mm pistols.

Anytime there is such a large demand or surge in popularity, it usually also tends to lead to some really cool innovations. When talking about firearms, those innovations can come in the form of upgrades and size reduction to some of the classic full-size models you have come to love over time. If you are an avid gun enthusiast or just have a favorite make and model of pistol, you should have no problem finding a compact version that you enjoy just as much. Maybe even more.

If you still need a little help though, we have rounded up a few of our favorites for you to browse through to help you narrow down your choices.

1. WALTHER PPQ M2 (BEST VALUE)

The Walther PPQ M2 is a semi-automatic 9mm with a compact frame. It is almost the exact same build as the original PPQ, with the only real difference being that the PPQ M2 incorporates a thumb release push-button for the magazine release. It holds a total of 15 rounds of 9mm caliber Luger ammo.

This pistol is only slightly larger than a Glock 19 and has a total length of 12 inches. And weight is also a non-issue with the PPQ M2, weighing in at only 3.5 pounds.

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The Air Force's T-6 Texan II Is Getting a New Paint Job

The National Interest - Sat, 06/07/2019 - 11:00

Gabriele Barison

Technology, Americas

A great honor.

With a strong legacy to uphold, the 37th FTS continues its mission to create pilots and will use this newly painted T-6 to reach the next generation of aviators, giving them the opportunity to connect with their heritage and build the future.

The 14th Flying Training Wing (FTW) unveiled its first of six heritage flag ship aircraft during a ceremony at the fire department on May 30, 2019 on Columbus Air Force Base (AFB), Mississippi.

Members of the 37th Flying Training Squadron were able to see their freshly painted T-6 Texan II which represents the squadron’s patch, a Bengal tiger mother with a cub in her mouth. The T-6 is primarily yellow and its black stripes represent their lineage and heritage at Columbus.

“This is about having pride in our unit and across the base as a whole,” said Lt. Col. William Free, 37th FTS commander. “Now that the plane is finished up and painted it will be an opportunity for people to come together to honor and celebrate the great traditions that we have at Columbus AFB and the squadrons that are represented.”

As explained by Airman 1st Class Jake Jacobsen, 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs , in the article New T-6 paint scheme unveiled, first of 6 CAFB aircraft to receive new look, future generations of student pilots at Columbus AFB will have the opportunity fly specially designed flag ship planes. The new paint schemes will reflect the heritage of that aircraft’s squadron. The squadrons are responsible for designing the aircraft’s new look.

“People take great pride in these planes so when all six planes are done they will be the showcase of flying operations on our base representing the history of our squadrons and the heritage that we bring,” said Col. Derek Stuart, 14th Operations Group commander.

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51 Years Ago, a Navy Nuclear Submarine Sank (And We Don't Know Why)

The National Interest - Sat, 06/07/2019 - 10:00

Warfare History Network

Security,

What brought her down?

The Navy Board of Inquiry’s final report suggested several possible reasons for the loss, but nearly all involved equipment failure, not the explosion of a weapon. That was where the matter ended, at least for the next 25 years. The families of the dead crew were left in limbo as to what had really happened.​

Even in the age of ultra-sophisticated nuclear submarines, with their advanced computers, sonar, navigation, and communication systems, the hard truth is inescapable: the sea is the most hostile environment on Earth. It is totally unforgiving of human error or overconfidence. The pressures below 2,000 feet can crush a submarine like an aluminum can in seconds. For reasons that even now are a closely guarded secret, that happened in late May 1968 when the nuclear attack submarine USS Scorpion (SSN-589) sank in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean as she was returning from a long deployment. Ninety-nine officers and men were on board the Scorpion.

The Scorpion was third in the revolutionary new Skipjack class of nuclear fast-attack subs. She was commissioned at the Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton, Connecticut, on July 29, 1960. The rapidly changing Cold War arena demanded that each one of the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarines be on continual service for the purpose of locating and tracking Soviet attack and missile submarines.  But time and constant service took their toll. The Navy was pushing the Scorpion to its limits; as a result, systems began to break down. There were serious oil leaks in the machinery, and sea water seeped in from the propeller shaft seal. Her depth was restricted to 300 feet, well above the 900-foot test depth. In 1967 she experienced vibration so severe it seemed that the entire boat was literally corkscrewing through the water. The cause was never determined. The crew had taken to calling their boat the “Scrapiron.”

By 1968 it was obvious to the Navy’s Bureau of Ships that the submarine was badly in need of major overhaul. Yet the demands of the Cold War made it necessary to send Scorpion and her officers and crew on one more deployment to the Mediterranean Sea to participate in joint NATO operations. She would, however, sail with one less man. Electrician’s Mate Dan Rogers, who refused to go on the cruise, flatly stated to Lt. Cmdr. Francis Slattery that every man on Scorpion was in danger.

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Sorry Marines, The Coast Guard Has Better Sniper Teams

The National Interest - Sat, 06/07/2019 - 09:00

Task and Purpose

Security,

We have the data.

The Coast Guard team, which is part of the service's Special Missions Training Detachment, came in 9th (They were 3rd place in 2017). The Marine Corps team, which was from the Scout Sniper Instructor School in Quantico, Virginia, came in 10th (the Corps team in 2017 got 7th place).

Marine snipers are considered among the most elite hunters of men in the U.S. military with Hollywood movies and countless books dedicated to them, and yet, for the past two years, they have been beaten in competition by the freakin' Coast Guard.

Over the past week, the 2018 International Sniper Competition has played out at Fort Benning, Georgia, with 30 teams going head-to-head from U.S. and international militaries, as well as local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.

This article by Paul Szoldra originally appeared at Task & Purpose. Follow Task & Purpose on Twitter. This article first appeared in 2018.

(This article originally appeared last month.)

And for the second year in row, snipers from the Army's 75th Ranger Regiment came out on top, while the Corps' finest got rocked by the service branch most would derisively label "puddle pirates."

Well, who's laughing now?

The best team — 75th Ranger Staff Sgts. Brandon Kelley and Jonathan Roque — was chosen after all competitors went through "a gauntlet of rigorous physical, mental and endurance events that test the range of sniper skills that include, but are not limited to, long range marksmanship, observation, reconnaissance and reporting abilities, and abilities to move with stealth and concealment," according to the competition website.

Second place went to the Colorado Army National Guard, while Sweden's 17th Wing Air Force Rangers came in third.

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The P320: Sig Sauer's Answer to the Glock's Gun Dominance

The National Interest - Sat, 06/07/2019 - 08:00

Gun News Daily

Security,

Is it enough?

The huge difference between the Sig P320 and the Glock 19, though, is the modularity of the Sig. “Modularity” is one of those words that is in vogue at the moment, and for the majority of manufacturers and guns it seems to mean almost nothing, being just a fancy word to sell more pistols.

One of the most common questions we get asked here at GND is whether you should buy a Glock 19 or a Sig P320. Both are great guns, of course, as proven by their loyal followings, but there seems to be no real consensus on which is the best.

In some ways, the story of the Sig P320 is a strange one. When it was released, nobody really paid it any attention. It was just another 9mm handgun, much like the dozens of similar pistols that are released each year.

However, then the US Army decided to buy a load of these weapons for use by troops. This instantly thrust the gun into the limelight – what had the Army seen in the weapon that made it better than the good old Glock 19?

This was a good question, not least because the Glock 19 had ruled the roost for many years. The Austrian legend had built up an enviable reputation as a do-everything gun, small enough to conceal and yet large, powerful and accurate enough to see action as a full-sized service weapon.

The Sig P320 has to be really good to even stand a chance of being a replacement for the Glock 19, right?

Right. But the truth is that both of these weapons are actually pretty similar. The Sig P320 is also just about concealable, and also large and accurate enough to be a “do everything” pistol.

But which is better? Well, I suppose it depends on what you are after. No review like this can ever recommend a pistol for everyone, because shooting is all about the feel of a gun in your hand, and not the boring old specifications of your weapon. Still, I’ll have shot at drawing out the differences between these two weapons.

Think about like this. The Glock 19 is basically the Honda Civic of handguns. It will run forever, shoot everything you give it, it never needs maintenance, and has a huge ammunition capacity. The P320 also has all that, but makes a few tweaks that might – might – make it more suitable for you.

Let’s take a look at both in more detail.

THE SIG SAUER P320

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Aerial Face-off: Russia's Su-57 vs. America's F-15C Eagle (Who Wins?)

The National Interest - Sat, 06/07/2019 - 07:00

Dave Majumdar

Security,

Who wins?

Close in at the merge, if the Su-57s survive the initial AMRAAM volley, the surviving F-15Cs would be at somewhat of disadvantage against the extraordinarily maneuverable Russian fighters. However, the F-15C community has a lot of practice flying against the extremely maneuverable F-22s, and while they are disadvantaged, Eagle pilots do win dogfights against the Raptor on some occasions. Moreover, with the addition of the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System and the Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder, the F-15C has excellent high off boresight capability—the ability for the pilot to shoot in the direction his head is pointed—as does the Su-57, which more often than not results in a mutual kill as numerous training exercises have shown.

The venerable Boeing F-15C Eagle has long been hailed as the world’s greatest air superiority fighter given its lopsided combat record of 104 kills to zero losses, however, the aging jet is likely near the end of its operational life. Nonetheless, it remains a potent fighter even as it likely heads toward retirement.

(This first appeared last year.)

The U.S. Air Force is deferring planned upgrades to the Eagle—such as the addition of new electronic warfare systems—until it decides if it wants to keep the increasingly aged airframe. Indeed, as the Air Force has discovered, the F-15C will need an extensive airframe overhaul and structural modifications to remain in service past the mid-2020s. In all likelihood, given that the Congress has refused to allow the service to retire the A-10 Warthog, the Air Force will have little choice but to divest itself of the F-15C to free up funding for more pressing projects. The F-15E Strike Eagle interdictor aircraft, though, will remain in service indefinitely.

Recommended: The World’s Most Secretive Nuclear Weapons Program.

Recommended: The Fatal Flaw That Could Take Down an F-22 or F-35.

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Aerial Assassin: Why No Helicopter Can Compare with the Ah-64 Apache

The National Interest - Sat, 06/07/2019 - 06:00

Sebastien Roblin

Security,

Unparalleled.

The Apache continues to evolve in the twenty-first century.

Early in the morning of January 17, 1991, eight sleek helicopters bristling with missiles swooped low over the sands of the An Nafud desert in as they soared towards the border separating Saudi Arabia from Iraq.

At 2:30 a.m., the choppers fanned out and set to work in teams of two. Rocket motors flashed as Hellfire missiles streaked towards two Iraqi radars powerful enough to potentially pick up the faint signature of a stealth plane.

Minutes after the radars had been reduced to rubble, Nighthawk stealth jets soared through the twenty-mile-wide radar gap, headed for Baghdad. But the Army’s Apache attack helicopter aviators they had struck first to “kick down the door” for the Nighthawks.

Nearly three decades later, the Apache’s status as the world’s premier attack helicopter remains largely unchallenged, and the type continues to see extensive action in the Middle East and in demand in countries as diverse as the UK, Egypt, India and Taiwan. The $35 million armored attack helicopter, which can pack as many as sixteen tank-busting missiles under its stub wings, remains supreme.

The Apache’s origins date back to the United States withdrawal from the Vietnam War, as the Army turned its attention back to the huge mechanized armies of the Warsaw Pact. Helicopter gunships had proven highly useful in Vietnam for delivering precise strikes and loitering air support—but relatively lightly-armed Viet Cong had shot down hundreds of them. The Red Army mustered heavier anti-aircraft defenses and huge tank armies that would not be phased by miniguns and anti-personnel rockets.

Seeking a helicopter fit to tackle Soviet tank division, the Army ultimately had to choose between the Bell YAH-63, which resembled a stretched-out Cobra, and the McDonnell-Douglas YAH-64. Disliking the former’s tricycle landing gear and two-shaft rotor, the Army selected the YAH-64 in 1976. Per custom (and even regulation), permission was obtained from Apache elders to name the helicopter after the Native American tribe.

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Can Heckler & Koch VP9 Gun Stand Up to the Mighty Glock 19?

The National Interest - Sat, 06/07/2019 - 03:17

Gun News Daily

Security,

Here's what we know.

If there’s any pistol that comes anywhere close to the PPQ’s trigger, it’s the VP9. Many shooters report that that the VP9 has a shorter take up than the PPQ but a slightly less crisp break. Still, the VP9’s trigger, out of the box, is widely regarded as being superior to the Glock or Smith & Wesson M&P’s trigger, which is something you may expect out of high quality German engineering.

If there’s anything you need to know about the company Heckler & Koch, it’s that they are pretty much synonymous with quality firearms that are in service with military, law enforcement units, and civilians all over the world.

And if you know anything about Heckler & Koch, then you should have heard about the HK VP9 9mm pistol, which was first released to the general market in 2014.

Today, the HK VP9 competes with other handguns such as the CZ P10C, Glock 19, and the Walther PPQ. So yes, it is ‘just another striker fired 9mm pistol’ on the market.

But nonetheless, in many ways the HK VP9 is a very unique offering, and we’ll cover the reasons why in this review.

History of the HK VP9

Contrary to what many people think, the VP9 is not HK’s first striker fired pistol. That title would belong to the HK VP70, which truly was the first factory produced polymer framed, striker fired pistol, beating out the Glock 17 by around a dozen years.

The VP9 was also very far from being the pistol that gave HK a name for themselves. Before, Heckler & Koch had been arming law enforcement units and militaries and security forces all over the world with guns such as the HK MP5 and UMP submachine guns, HK416 rifle, the P7 pistol, the USP and USP Compact, P2000, the HK45, and the P30.

In fact, in many regards, the VP9 is simply a further development of the P30, with the primary difference being that the P30 is hammer fired whereas the VP9 is striker fired.

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After Losing Istanbul, Erdogan's Grip on Turkey Will Never Be the Same

The National Interest - Sat, 06/07/2019 - 03:12

Mohammed Ayoob

Security, Middle East

Erdogan’s days may not be numbered already but his grip on power will never be the same again.

It was some years ago that Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan coined the saying “Those who win Istanbul, win Turkey.” It was based among other things on his own political trajectory. Erdogan rose to national prominence with his election in the mid-1990s as the candidate of the then Islamist party, Refaah, as mayor of Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul. His statement must have come to haunt him on June 23 when Ekrem Imamoglu, the opposition CHP nominee, defeated his candidate for the mayor of Istanbul, Binali Yildirim, decisively. What has added insult to Erdogan’s injury is the fact that Imamoglu garnered over 54 percent of the votes thus increasing his vote share by 6 percent compared to the March 31 result when he had barely managed to defeat former Prime Minister Yildirim with a very thin margin of fifteen thousand votes. The High Election Council under pressure from Erdogan and his party, the AKP, annulled the March 31 election results on flimsy technical grounds, a blatant tactic to deny the opposition control of Istanbul and its vast resources. It is clear that many of the ruling party supporters who were disgusted with these tactics switched their votes to Imamoglu this time, thus punishing Erdogan and his party for their subterfuge.

If one accepts the fact that the Istanbul verdict is a bellwether for what could happen in the rest of the country when national elections are held then it is good news for the opposition. The Istanbul verdict is very important because nearly one-fifth of the Turkish population lives in Istanbul and the city produces over thirty percent of Turkey’s GDP. Moreover, Istanbul is not alone in sending the signal that large segments of the population are disenchanted with Erdogan and the AKP. The second and third largest cities in the country, Ankara and Izmir, also elected opposition candidates as mayors in the March 31 local elections as did several other large urban concentrations. It is the Anatolian heartland with its conservative and religious orientation that has so far stood by the AKP.

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Is the United States Ready for a Tech War?

The National Interest - Sat, 06/07/2019 - 03:12

Daniel Gerstein

Security, Americas

The Trump administration should develop technology priorities, and technologies considered vital to U.S. economic and national security should receive investments to stimulate advances and promote American leadership.

A global “technology war” that will likely shape U.S. economic and national security well into the twenty-first century is emerging. Many technologies have become the focus of this war, with winners and losers are already beginning to emerge. At this point, the United States finds itself at a distinct disadvantage.

Ironically, the seeds of this emerging conflict were inadvertently sown by the United States. The world has seen the impact of technology—how it has led to the buildup of significant wealth and overwhelming military capacity with global reach. With approximately one-quarter of the global gross domestic product and military spending that exceeds the spending of the next seven nations combined, the United States became what some have labelled the world’s “hyperpower.” And others want in, which has meant growing competition and now an emerging tech war.

Today, important technology development changes are underway that could dramatically affect world order. The continued shift in global research and development spending highlights how far U.S. dominance has eroded. In 1960, when considering federal, industry and academia, the United States accounted for 69 percent of the global R&D. By 2016, the United States accounted for only 28 percent of the global R&D. With such a shift, it is no wonder that U.S. technology leadership and superiority can no longer be assured.

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Europe is Getting An American Anti-Missile System That Might Not Work

The National Interest - Sat, 06/07/2019 - 00:30

Michael Peck

Security,

Can it be fixed?

America’s missile defense umbrella is supposed to protect Europe from Iranian (and perhaps Russian) ballistic missiles.

But vital tests haven’t been performed, and there are delays in building missile defense sites in Poland. All of which means that the anti-missile shield over Europe may be leaky.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency has conducted only seven out of eleven planned tests in 2018, or just 64 percent, according to a Government Accountability Office study. At the same time, problems with contractors have delayed construction of an anti-missile system in Poland by eighteen months.

Begun by the Obama administration, the U.S. missile defense effort in Europe—the European Phased Adaptive Approach—has three parts. Phase I, completed in 2012, comprises a missile defense radar in Turkey and command center in Germany, supporting U.S. Navy ships equipped with the naval version of the Aegis missile defense system. Phase II was completed in 2016, when an Aegis Ashore site in Romania became operational. The delay has been in phase III, in which an Aegis Ashore site in Poland was supposed to be ready.

The Aegis Ashore sites in Romania and Poland are land-based versions of the naval Aegis, each consisting of a powerful SPY-1 radar and twenty-four SM-3 interceptor rockets. Aegis Ashore is aimed at stopping short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Iran has built an arsenal of ballistic missiles, including intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) that could—in theory—be armed with nuclear warheads if Iran develops them.

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