Saturday, April 21, 2018

China Is Bringing Its Drone And Aircraft Carrier Programs Together

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This display at the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution (China's official military museum) in 2016 shows a nuclear-powered carrier with stealthy unmanned combat aerial vehicles. Oedo Soldier

Popular Science: China is building drone planes for its aircraft carriers

They're robotics wingmen for China's carrier pilots.

The Chinese military is bringing its drone and aircraft carrier programs together, pulling unmanned aerial systems onto carriers as robotic wingmen for pilots.

Shi Wen, the chief engineer of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC)'s attack drone family, told the Global Times that China is working on drones capable of flying from aircraft carriers. This program would be China's response to the U.S. Navy's UCLASS program, which proved drones' ability to take off and land from aircraft carriers, and the U.S. MQ-25 Stingray program, which will deploy refueling tanker drones to carriers in the coming years.

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WNU Editor:  The Chinese are dreaming big.

China Carries Out Aircraft Carrier Drills In The Pacific For The First Time As Taiwan Tensions Rise

Japan Times: In first, Chinese aircraft carrier performs drills in Pacific, Japanese Defense Ministry says

The Defense Ministry in Tokyo confirmed Saturday that for the first time China has conducted a drill in the Pacific with its sole operating aircraft carrier.

The ministry said it had detected several apparent fighter jets being launched from the Liaoning, which was sailing eastward with six other Chinese Navy vessels some 350 km (over 200 miles) south of Japan’s westernmost island of Yonaguni, in Okinawa Prefecture, on Friday morning.

On Saturday, the carrier and its escorts passed through the Miyako Strait between the islands of Miyako and Okinawa, venturing northwest toward the East China Sea.

The Chinese government had earlier notified vessels in the area of plans to conduct the drill, it said.

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WNU Editor: A lot of messages being sent around with these exercises.

More News On China Carrying Out Aircraft Carrier Drills In The Pacific For The First Time As Taiwan Tensions Rise

China carries out aircraft carrier drills in Pacific as Taiwan tensions rise -- AFP
China navy drills in Pacific as tension with Taiwan rises -- Reuters
China's aircraft carrier formation conducts exercises in West Pacific -- Xinhuanet
Live-fire drills shows PLA's amphibious capabilities: expert --
Taiwan monitors politically charged voyage of Chinese aircraft carrier -- Taiwan News
Taiwan Calls Chinese Military Drills a Threat to Region -- VOA/AP

Iran Vows That Its Nuclear Program Will Be Revived If President Trump Scraps Nuclear Deal

Daily Mail: Iran warns of 'expected and unexpected' moves if Trump pulls out of nuclear deal

* President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday Iran is 'fully prepared for actions' if the U.S. pulls out of the nuclear deal
* The U.S. and five other world powers agreed tot he deal with the goal of curbing Iran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions
* President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to leave the deal
* He warned the U.K., France and Germany in January he wouldn't waive sanctions come May 12 if they don't work to fix the deal's problems

Iran's atomic agency is ready with 'expected and unexpected' reactions if the United States pulls out of the multinational nuclear deal, president Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday.

'Our Atomic Energy Organization is fully prepared … for actions that they expect and actions they do not expect,' Rouhani said.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to leave the deal accorded by Iran, the U.S. and five other world powers with the goal of curbing Iran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions.

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More News On Iran Vowing That It's Nuclear Program Will Be Revived If President Trump Scraps The Nuclear Deal

Iran vows 'expected and unexpected' moves if U.S. exits nuclear deal -- Reuters
We are on guard like army to resume nuclear work if JCPOA nixed: Iran’s Salehi -- Tehran Times
Iran threatens to enrich uranium as Trump’s deadline looms -- Trend News Agency
Iran ready to resume nuclear program if US leaves deal -- Mehr News Agency
Iran to swiftly revive nuclear program if Trump scraps landmark deal – foreign minister -- RT

Commentaries And Analysis On North Korea's Announcement That They Have Suspended Their Missile And Nuclear Tests

Abraham Denmark, The Hill: Hope and skepticism as America readies summit with North Korea

CIA director Mike Pompeo’s reported secret visit to Pyongyang has raised expectations that President Trump and Kim Jong Un may actually meet in the coming months. While a summit between the two sitting leaders of the United States and North Korea would be historically unprecedented, many of the issues they will be discussing are actually well-worn territory. This has created a remarkable situation in which hope for a summit has bloomed, while there remains deep skepticism that any agreement they reach will actually resolve this decades-old crisis.

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WNU Editor: I am one of the hopeful ones.

Commentaries And Analysis On North Korea's Announcement That They Have Suspended Their Missile And Nuclear Tests

North Korea Is Not De-Nuclearizing -- Adam Mount and Ankit Panda, The Atlantic
Will Kim Jong-un Trade His Nuclear Arsenal to Rebuild Economy? -- New York Times
Don’t Be Confused: Kim Jong Un’s Nuclear Concessions Were a Show of Strength by North Korea -- Ankit Panda, Daily Beast
Why has Kim Jong-un halted North Korean tests now? -- BBC
Experts warn North Korea's promise to end atomic missile tests may be a smokescreen for a 'nuclear blitz' -- William Lother, Daily Mail
Kim Jong Un's announcement falls short of dismantling nuclear weapons -- Nikkei Asian Review
North Korea’s pledge to halt nukes holds new promise — and peril -- Bryan Bender, Politico
North Korea is setting the mood for a summit with Trump. And that is progress. -- Washington Post
The U.S.-North Korea summit will be historic. But this isn't Nixon going to China -- Eli Lake, Bloomberg
North Korea spent most of last year perfecting its missile arsenal and it's not clear Kim Jong Un is ready to give that up -- Amanda Macias, CNBC
Has Kim Jong-un finally grown up? -- Jonathan Fenby, Spectator
Inside North Korea, all they will say about Trump is 'he's crazy' -- Emma Graham-Harrison, The Guardian
Kim Jong Un tests Trump with latest nuke offer -- Eric Talmadge, USA Today/Associated Press
White House privately skeptical of North Korea's plans to freeze nuclear testing -- Washington Post

Reaction To North Korea's Announcement That They Are Suspending All Missile And Nuclear Tests

BBC: North Korea missile and nuclear test halt hailed

North Korea's announcement that it is halting nuclear and missile tests has received a broad international welcome.

Leader Kim Jong-un said further tests were not needed, as the North had demonstrated it had nuclear weapons.

Donald Trump described the move as "good news" for the world, and South Korea said it was meaningful progress.

The EU said it was "positive", but called for complete denuclearisation. North Korea is preparing for historic summits with South Korea and the US.

Early on Saturday Kim Jong-un said: "From 21 April, North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles."

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More News On Reaction To North Korea's Announcement That They Are Suspending All Missile And Nuclear Tests

North Korea missile and nuclear test suspension hailed by global leaders -- ABC News Online
World leaders applaud North Korea's nuclear and missile test suspension -- International Business Times
North Korea's nuke tests suspension draws mixed reaction -- UPI
Empty promises? N.Korea watchers greet Kim move with skepticism -- AFP
Trump praises North Korea's 'progress' as expert warns against optimism -- The Guardian
Trump Hails ‘Big Progress’ as Kim Vows to Extend Freeze on Tests -- Bloomberg
South Koreans sceptical of N Korea's nuclear promises, want proof -- The Asian Age
China welcomes North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s promise to freeze nuclear tests -- SCMP
Japan's Abe Welcomes NKorea Pledge; Defense Chief Vows Pressure -- Newsmax
EU welcomes North Korean move on nuclear tests, urges denuclearisation -- Reuters
EU says North Korean move should lead to nuclear disarmament --
‘US will say they saved the world’ while peaceful Russian approach on N. Korea won – Moscow -- RT

North Korea To Suspend Nuclear And Missile Tests. Will Shut Down Atomic Test Site (Updated)

Yonhap News Asia: N.K. decides to suspend nuclear, missile tests, shut down atomic test site

SEOUL, April 21 (Yonhap) -- North Korea will suspend nuclear and missile tests and shut down its atomic test site, its state media said Saturday, in a surprise announcement that could give momentum to its upcoming summits with South Korea and the United States.

The announcement came amid a diplomatic push to denuclearize North Korea, the main agenda for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's planned meetings with his counterparts from the South and the U.S.

"We will discontinue nuclear test and inter-continental ballistic rocket test-fire from April 21," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, citing the outcome of a key meeting of the ruling party held Friday.

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More News On North Korea To Suspend Nuclear And Missile Tests

Kim Jong-un justifies US-NK summit to his people, sends message to US -- Korea Herald
N. Korea, setting stage for talks, halts nuclear, ICBM tests -- AP
North Korea says will stop nuclear tests, scrap test site -- Reuters
North Korea says it will stop nuclear tests and abolish test site; Donald Trump tweets his praise -- ABC News Online
North Korea halts nuclear and missile tests ahead of planned Trump summit -- The Guardian
North Korea's Kim Jong Un announces nuclear program, missile tests freeze -- DW
North Korea announces freeze on nuclear, missile tests -- UPI
North Korea to stop nuclear tests and missile launches: state media -- The Hill
'Mission complete': Kim Jong-un says no need for further nuclear & missile tests -- RT

Why Was Half The B-2 Fleet Flying With Multiple KC-10 Tankers Over Minnepolis Thursday Evening?

As many as 10 B-2s may have gathered for an exercise over Minneapolis on April 19. (Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht/U.S. Air National Guard)

Defense News: Half the B-2 fleet was flying above Minneapolis, and here’s why

WASHINGTON — Strange reports of up to 10 B-2 stealth bombers flying above Minneapolis started circulating on social media Thursday evening.

Tail spotters posted numerous photos on Facebook, not only of B-2s but of KC-10 tankers in the area. Meanwhile, aviation geeks on Twitter began debating what could have prompted perhaps half the inventory of the U.S. Air Force’s most advanced bomber to begin coalescing around a major U.S. city.

Was it an exercise, or something more sinister? Were the B-2s moving in preparation of further airstrikes on Syria? Were they about to send a message to Iran? Was a nuclear strike of some sort imminent?

On Friday afternoon, the Air Force finally released an answer.

“Our bombers routinely participate in scheduled air training exercises designed to enhance interoperability,” Carla Pampe, a spokeswoman for Air Force Global Strike Command, wrote in the statement. “These training opportunities develop and improve ready air forces.”

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WNU Editor: That must have been quite a sight to see.

Chine Moves To Regulate Its Internet Even More

Reuters: China's Xi says internet control key to stability

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China must strengthen its grip on the internet to ensure broader social and economic goals are met, state news agency Xinhua reported on Saturday citing comments from President Xi Jinping, underlining a hardening attitude towards online content.

Under Xi's rule China has increasingly tightened its grip on the internet, concerned about losing influence and control over a younger generation who are driving a diverse and vibrant online culture from livestreaming to blogs.

"Without web security there's no national security, there's no economic and social stability, and it's difficult to ensure the interests of the broader masses," Xinhua cited Xi as saying.

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WNU Editor:  This effort will not succeed. The young are always hungry for information .... limiting this hunger is not going to lead to stability. I saw this attempt to control the message in China in the late 1980s, and it led to the Tienanmen protests and massacre in 1989 .... and that was before the internet and social media.

Are The US And China Headed For War Over Taiwan?

Chinese President Xi. Xinhua

Wang Xiangwei, SCMP: Are the US and China headed for war over Taiwan?

As Beijing and Washington position themselves for a trade war, Trump should beware playing the Taiwan card – or he may find his actions lead to a real war.

Are the Chinese mainland and Taiwan headed down an inevitable path to war – one that is likely to see the United States join the fray?

This slow-burning question came to the fore again last week when the mainland launched live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday amid fiery rhetoric from Chinese state media. On Thursday morning, Chinese state media started to post online videos of helicopters and warships firing at targets at sea but Taiwan dismissed the exercises as “routine”.

This came after President Xi Jinping had presided over a massive naval parade off Hainan island a week earlier, one that involved 48 warships including China’s sole operating aircraft carrier and more than 10,000 servicemen – the largest such exercise since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949.

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WNU Editor: The Chinese are in for the long game. Starting a war over Taiwan is not on the top of their list right now.

The Taliban Control The Military Situation In Afghanistan's Helmand Province

Long War Journal: In Helmand, Taliban Dominates Security Situation

Since US forces withdrew of the bulk of its “surge” forces in 2014 and turned over security to Afghanistan’s military and police, the security situation has rapidly deteriorated in Helmand province, according to information compiled by FDD’s Long War Journal. That data is confirmed by Resolute Support (RS), which provided the district level assessments to the Special Investigator General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

The Taliban currently controls seven of Helmand’s 13 districts (Baghran, Dishu, Kajaki, Musa Qala, Naw Zad, Reg or Khanshin, and Sangin). The other six districts (Nad Ali, Lashkar Gah, Nahri Sarraj, Nawa-I- Barak Zayi, Washer, and Garmser) there are contested.

LWJ and RS/SIGAR concur on the assessments of the seven Taliban controlled districts. Baghran, a remote district in northern Helmand, has remained under Taliban control since the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 after al Qaeda’s attack on Sept. 11, 2001. The other six districts have been hotly contested since the vast majority of US forces left Helmand in 2014.

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WNU Editor: The Taliban do not need to have safe havens in Pakistan (though it helps) .... they already have them in Afghanistan.

Is A Permanent U.S. Aircraft Carrier Strike Group To Be Deployed To Europe To Keep A Check On Russia?

The aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman and its strike group conduct a composite training unit exercise. (MC2 Scott Swofford/U.S. Navy)

Defense News: US weighs keeping carrier strike group in Europe as a check on Russia

WASHINGTON ―In a break with recent history, the U.S. military is weighing whether to withhold the Truman Carrier Strike Group from deploying to the Middle East, opting instead to keep the carrier in the Mediterranean and the European theater.

Three defense officials with knowledge of the deliberations said the move would be a response to Russian activities in the region and aligns with the new National Defense Strategy that calls on the military to be less operationally predictable.

No decision has been made yet, but the move is “under discussion,” according to one defense official, who spoke on background to discuss internal deliberations.

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WNU Editor: The Middle East and Asia is where the U.S. Navy should be focused on .... but a deployment of a carrier strike group will be a clear signal not only to Russia, but to every country that borders the Mediterranean.

Protests Grow In South Africa Over Corruption And Failing Services

The Guardian/AFP: South Africa riots force president to leave Commonwealth summit

Cyril Ramaphosa travels to North West province where police have fired rubber bullets during protests over alleged corruption and failing services.

South African police have fired rubber bullets at protesters as violent riots forced President Cyril Ramaphosa to cut short his attendance at the Commonwealth leaders’ summit in London.

Shops were looted, roads were blocked and vehicles set alight in North West province on Friday in unrest over alleged government corruption and poor public services. At least 23 people were arrested and one man was reported to have died in sporadic violence that erupted this week in Mahikeng, the provincial capital.

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More News On the Growing Unrest In South Africa

South Africa's Ramaphosa flies in to try and quell northern protests -- Reuters
S. Africa leader curtails Britain trip over unrest at home -- AFP
South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa seeks to quell violent regional protests -- DW
Big Protests in South Africa Force Ramaphosa to End London Visit -- New York Times
Is a South African renaissance in the making? -- News24

Will U.S. Forces In Syria Confront Iran In Syria

A US military convoy is seen on the main road in Raqqa, Syria July 31, 2017.. (photo credit: REUTERS/RODI SAID)

Al Jazeera: Will the US confront Iran's forces in Syria?

US officials have stated that they want to challenge Iranian influence in Syria, but how likely is a confrontation?

Tensions between Iran and the United States over Syria are at the highest they have been since the country's civil war started in 2011.

While Tehran and Washington have repeatedly voiced indignation about the other's presence in Syria, they have not reached the point of a military confrontation so far.

While the US has targeted fighters loyal to President Bashar al-Assad who have threatened its Kurdish allies and airbases, it has not directly attacked Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps officers, who command both pro-Assad militias and are embedded with Syrian military units.

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WNU editor: There has already been skirmishes between U.S. forces and Iranian-backed militias in Syria .... but a direct conflict between U.S. - Iranian forces (if it occurs) will definitely spread to Iraq and elsewhere. Unfortunately .... Iran's supporters have already made it clear that they want revenge for last weeks missile strikes .... Iranian-Backed Militias Set Sights on US Forces (Foreign Policy), and I am sure they are making these threats because they have been given the green-light from Tehran.

Why Syria's Air Defenses Failed To Intercept A Single Incoming U.S.-Allied Missile During Last Week's Strike

The Damascus sky lights up with surface-to-air missile fire. Photograph: Hassan Ammar/AP

USA Today: 105 to 0: Why Syria's air defenses failed to intercept a single incoming missile

WASHINGTON — Syria’s once well-regarded air defense system completely failed to defend against the U.S.-led strike on the country's chemical weapons facilities last week, highlighting how far the regime's military has declined, according to the Pentagon and military analysts.

The Syrians fired 40 interceptor missiles, but most of them didn’t even get off the ground until allied missiles had already hit their targets, Pentagon officials said. The interceptor missiles appeared to lack guidance systems.

“Nearly every one was launched after the last of our missiles hit their targets,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.

The failure highlights how ineffective Syria’s military has become and the degree to which it now depends on Russia and Iran, its principal sponsors, for security, said Christopher Kozak, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War.

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WNU Editor: Seven years of continuous war would deplete any military in the world. My guess is that even though the Syrians may have air defenses, they are either undermanned and/or the personnel are not adequately trained.

Did The U.S. Government Try To Develop "Psycho-Electric" Weapons

Popular Mechanics: Government Accidentally Releases Documents on "Psycho-Electric" Weapons

They were mistakenly sent to a journalist.

The government has all kinds of secrets, but only a true conspiracy theorist might suspect that "psycho-electric weapons" are one of them. So it's odd that MuckRock, a news organization that specializes in filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with state and federal government bodies, received mysterious documents about mind control, seemingly by accident.

Journalist Curtis Waltman was writing to the Washington State Fusion Center (WSFC), a joint operation between Washington State law enforcement and the federal government to request information about Antifa and white supremacist groups. He got responses to the questions he asked, but also a file titled “EM effects on human” Inside, where documents like this:

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WNU Editor: This is creepy stuff .... and you have to wonder where this research ended up.

Japan Wants Lockheed To Build A F-22/F-35 Hybrid

Reuters: Exclusive: Lockheed Martin to propose stealthy hybrid of F-22 and F-35 for Japan - sources

TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp plans to offer Japan a stealth fighter design based on its export-banned F-22 Raptor and advanced F-35 Lightning II aircraft, two sources said.

Lockheed has discussed the idea with Japanese defense ministry officials and will make a formal proposal in response to a Japanese request for information (RFI) after it receives permission from the U.S. government to offer the sensitive military technology, said the sources, who have direct knowledge of the proposal.

The decision on whether to release parts of the highly classified aircraft designs and software to help Japan stay ahead of Chinese advances will test President Donald Trump’s promise to overhaul his country’s arms export policy.

The proposed aircraft “would combine the F-22 and F-35 and could be superior to both of them,” said one of the sources.

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WNU editor: Not going to happen .... Lockheed Martin Wants to Merge an F-22 and F-35 Into 1 Fighter for Japan. It Won't Happen. (Dave Majumdar, The National Interest)

More News On Japan Wanting Lockheed To Build A F-22/F-35 Hybrid

Japan Wants Lockheed Martin to Make an F-22/F-35 Hybrid -- Popular Mechanics
Lockheed Martin to offer F-22/ F-35 hybrid for Japan: report -- The Hill
Lockheed to offer ‘superior’ F-22, F-35 hybrid jet to Japan as air rivalry heats up -- Asia Times
Lockheed Should Restart the Raptor Line If Japan Wants An F-22-F-35 Hybrid -- The Drive
Japan Asks Lockheed Martin to Craft Hybrid F-35 and F-22 Aircraft -- Sputnik
Lockheed Martin to offer Japan stealth fighter jet ‘superior to F-35’ -- RT

Here Are The Fighter Jets The U.S. Air Force Has In Service

An F-22 Raptor from the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 199th Fighter Squadron over the Pacific Ocean, March 27, 2012.US Air Force Photo

Business Insider: These are all the fighter jets in the US Air Force

The Air Force has a different kind of plane for every task, but its fighter jets are often its most visible aircraft, carrying out a variety of missions over any kind of terrain.

The first F-15 arrived in the early 1970s, and the highly advanced (though technically troubled) F-35 came online in the past few years. In that period, the Air Force's fighters have operated all over the world, adapting to new challenges in order to dominate the battlefield and control the skies.

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WNU Editor: The U.S. Air Force is indeed impressive.

A Legacy Of The Second World War Ccn Still Be Seen On The Environment In Norway

The Germans release a colossal smoke screen in an effort to hide their battleship Tirpitz, moored in Kaa Fjord, Norway, as it's attacked by a Lancaster on Sept. 15, 1944. (Credit: No. 5 Group RAF/IWM)

FOX News: How a bizarre Nazi military machine left a lasting mark on the environment

VIENNA —The Tirpitz was the Nazis' most imposing warship and the largest battleship ever built by a European navy. It should have been an easy target for bombers, but this massive vessel could hide in plain sight.

Hitler's navy used a toxic artificial fog to conceal the ship when it was stationed in a Norwegian fjord. And, according to new research, this ephemeral smoke left a lasting mark on some of the living witnesses of World War II: the trees.

"The effects of one military engagement during World War II are still evident in the forests of Norway, 70 years later," said Claudia Hartl, a tree-ring researcher at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. [Images: Missing Nazi Diary Resurfaces]

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WNU Editor: Here is another legacy (and one that still has a huge impact) of the Second World War .... Defusing bombs – is there a safer way? (DW).