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Russian Navy works on special surprise for the West

July 16, 2017 Leave a comment

Russia builds small missile ships of Karakurt project at the Zelenodolsk plant named after A.M. Gorky. The Russian Navy plans to receive 18 of such ships. The new ships are said to surpass their predecessors in their combat power and seaworthiness. They are believed to become the new formidable weapon to strengthen Russia’s maritime borders and enhance the presence of the Russian Federation in the Mediterranean Sea.

The ships are named “Karakurt” after a species of spiders from the genus of black widows, whose bite can be lethal to animals and humans. The new ships, 60 meters long and ten meters wide, can travel at 30 knots and remain in autonomous navigation up to 15 days.

In the future, Karakurt ships will comprise a powerful group of missile ships. Their production takes about a year and costs less than the assembly of destroyers and cruisers, and they are slightly inferior to the latter in their combat capabilities.

The work to build the new vessels is conducted as part of the nation’s efforts to upgrade its navy within the scope of the state armament program, which is to be implemented from 2018 to 2025.

Victor Murakhovsky, editor-in-chief of Arsenal of the Fatherland magazine, chairman of the Military-Industrial Commission of the Russian Federation, answered questions from Pravda.Ru correspondent.

“What is unique about these ships? Do they designate Russia’s priority in the navy?”

“Yes, they are small class ships with a displacement of less than a thousand tons. At the same time, they carry powerful missile high-precision weapons: the Caliber-NK systems, which can be loaded with long-range cruise missiles. We’ve seen the system in action in Syria. A Karakurt ship can also carry tactical anti-ship missiles and anti-submarine weapons. This is a universal complex, but with an emphasis put on capabilities of long-range impact. Plus the ship carries antiaircraft weapons for self-defense, as well as air attack weapons and artillery weapons. This ship is, of course, for the near maritime zone, that is, it is not intended for ocean voyage. It is being built on several shipyards at once, including in the Crimea.”

“I think that these are the ships, which chairman of the collegium of military industrial commissions Dmitry Rogozin called “muscular.” It is capable of striking targets at long distances both at sea and on the ground. New Russian corvettes and frigates will be equipped with state-of-the-art high precision weapons. They will model the capabilities of US aircraft carriers, but will be a lot more advantageous.”

 

Russia Warns It Could Take Reciprocal Steps If Its Real Estate in US Isn’t Returned

July 13, 2017 Leave a comment

(CNSNews.com) – The State Department on Tuesday played down Russian warnings of retaliation if the U.S. does not return two recreational compounds seized by the Obama administration late last year in response to alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election.

“I don’t mean to be cute in saying this, but we’re used to certain officials from the Russian government making a lot of comments,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a briefing when asked about the Russian remarks.

“So I’m not going to comment on any – or speculate on any specific Russian actions, any specific Russian threats,” she added. “It’s a hypothetical at this point.”

Earlier Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov raised the issue during a press appearance in Brussels.

Speaking through a translator, he said that Moscow was closely following the situation regarding the dachas, the two Russian-owned diplomatic compounds in New York and Maryland.

“We’re still hopeful that the U.S., as a proponent of the rule of law, will finally respect the international obligations,” Lavrov said.

“If this is not the case, if Washington decides not to solve this issue, we shall have to take counter actions,” he continued, citing rules of diplomacy and reciprocity.

Asked directly whether Russia would expel U.S. diplomats and seize U.S. diplomatic property in response, Lavrov declined to comment, referring the questioner back to his previous answer. A Russian newspaper earlier cited foreign ministry sources as saying Moscow may take those steps.

In late December the outgoing administration seized the two properties and declared 35 Russian diplomats persona non grata.

Retaliatory measures were anticipated at the time, but President Vladimir Putin chose to wait, saying that Russia would not join a “catfight” in response to the “unfriendly actions of the outgoing U.S. administration.”

Since then, however, Moscow has begun to express impatience. The State Department has announced that Undersecretary of State Tom Shannon will hold talks on “so-called irritants” in Washington next Monday with his Russian counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

Nauert said Wednesday that Shannon was “looking forward to sitting down with his counterpart, and we’ll see where it goes from there.”

The State Department spokeswoman also took a friendly dig at a Russian reporter who raised the issue of the dachas.

“I know you must be so excited to talk about that,” she said. “It’s summertime – you want your place back on the eastern shore of Maryland and in New York. It’s hot here in D.C.!”

“To be completely honest with you,” the reporter replied, “I don’t want to touch that at all, but I have to.”

Russia’s Supercarrier Is a Pipe Dream

July 10, 2017 Leave a comment

Russia has confirmed that it plans on building a new super aircraft carrier despite cuts in the defense budget.

“Yes, the Navy will build an aircraft carrier, for sure,” Vice Adm. Viktor Bursuk, the deputy commander-in-chief of Russia’s navy, said last month, according to Russian state media. “Different bureaus are hammering out an image of this ship,” he added.

The new aircraft carrier Bursuk was referring to is the so-called Project 23000E Shtorm. The proposed carrier will be powered by two RITM-200 nuclear engines and displace one hundred thousand tons. This is nearly twice the weight of Russia’s only existing aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, which is steam powered and currently being refitted and modernized. The Project 23000E Shtorm ship will also reportedly be able to carry ninety aircraft. Moscow’s current carrier only has about thirty planes on board.

Beyond displacing one hundred thousand tons, the Shtorm will also stretch 330 meters in length and forty meters wide. A crew of four thousand sailors will man the vessel, which is expected to feature MiG-29K fighter jets, a naval version of the T-50 and a slew of different helicopters. According to Global Security, the plan is for the ship to have “two ramps and two electromagnetic catapults to launch aircraft from its deck. To defend itself from aerial attacks, the aircraft carrier has air-defense missile and anti-torpedo defense systems.”

Although Russian officials claim that a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier has been under consideration since 2007, Russia’s Krylov State Research Center first announced Project 23000E Shtorm in 2015. The first reports indicated it would be a conventionally powered vessel. The price tag for the Shtorm carriers has been placed at about $9 billion, although other estimates are much higher. Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov has said that the contract for the ship will be signed around 2025 and the first vessel completed by 2030.

There are good reasons to doubt that Russia will actually build a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in the foreseeable future. For one thing, it is far from clear that Russia’s shipbuilding industry is up to the challenge. As IHS Jane’s noted shortly after the Shtorm carrier was announced in 2015, the new vessels “would be a quantum leap in capability and size over the Russian Navy’s single existing carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov.”

Complicating the problems for Moscow is the fact that the Soviet Union’s aircraft carriers were all produced in Ukraine. This fact already doomed an eighty-five-thousand-ton carrier called Ulyanovsk, which was being built at the time the Soviet Union collapsed. The other carrier under construction at that time was sold to China and later commissioned by the People’s Liberation Army Navy under the name Liaoning.

The new carrier would also feature new capabilities that even the Soviet Union never mastered when it had the Ukrainian shipbuilding yards under its control. Most notably, Soviet carriers never featured nuclear-powered propulsion systems. Russian defense-industry sources have told state media that they would gain expertise for this future carrier system by first building a nuclear-powered destroyer. “At first, the nuclear power unit for the future national aircraft carrier will be worked out on the Lider destroyer,” an unnamed shipbuilding-industry source told TASS in 2015. But the Lider destroyer program has encountered numerous delays and the first vessel is not slated to be completed until 2025 at the earliest, six years after it was initially expected. Construction on the destroyers is not scheduled to begin until 2019. The two electromagnetic catapults would also be a huge leap from the ski-ramp configurations used on previous Soviet and Russian carriers.

Another factor working against the supercarrier is that Russia is instituting substantial cuts to its military budget. Earlier this year, IHS Jane’s reported that Moscow was slashing its defense spending by 25 percent in 2017, the largest reduction since the early 1990s when the Russian Federation was in disarray. Although some experts disputed the budget cuts were actually this large, the reality is that Russia cannot sustain profligate military spending of recent years now that oil prices are so low.

When Moscow is forced to make tough choices on what military programs to trim, a supercarrier is likely to be near the top of the list. After all, Russia is traditionally a land power and there is just not a large need for it to maintain a carrier force. This is especially true when you factor in the excessive costs. Even back in 2015, well before the defense cuts were announced, one Moscow-based analyst was warning, “There is the problem that any attempt to build such a vessel would require an expansion of the shipyard capacity in Russia that would ‘break the bank’ [with regard to Russia’s military modernisation program].”

These costs go beyond simply building the ship, as a large number of other ships are needed to defend and supply the carrier while it is operating. This would further deplete Russia’s already limited naval capacity. As Franz-Stefan Gady noted, “The Russian Navy also lacks escort ships and support vessels for a carrier strike group not to mention carrier-based long-range strike and electronic warfare aircraft.”

And it is unclear exactly which missions such a large supercarrier would be needed for. Moscow’s need to project power is much more restricted than Washington’s, and its limited funds would probably be better used building long-range aircraft and missiles to perform the missions dictated by Russia’s national interest. Altogether, the prospect of a Russian supercarrier seems like a pipe dream.

Zachary Keck is the former managing editor of the National Interest. You can find him on Twitter: @ZacharyKeck.

Image: PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 4, 2015) The guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), front, leads the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) in a show of force transit off the coast of San Clemente Island near Southern California.​ Flickr / U.S. Navy

‘It’s an honor to be with you’ Trump tells Putin as they meet for TWO HOURS – and officials hail a deal for a cease-fire in part of Syria as meeting ends

July 7, 2017 1 comment

President Donald Trump‘s face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin stretched on for more than two hours – and was quickly followed by news the U.S. and Russia had reached an agreement on a cease fire in Syria.

The closely-watched meeting had only been scheduled to run for 30 minutes. Instead, it ran for two hours and sixteen minutes.

The cease fire is to take effect Sunday at noon in Damascus, the Associated Press reported, without adding further details. Israel and Jordan were reported to be part of the agreement. The agreement had been in the works for months.

The sign of possible progress in Syria – where Russia is the primary backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – came more than two hours after Trump said it was ‘an honor’ to meet Putin.

The deal, confirmed by three U.S. officials, is distinct from a plan for “de-escalation zones” that were part of a Russia-brokered deal that did not include the U.S.

Putin told Russian state media that cybercrime was among the topics discussed.  Others topics included Ukraine and countering terrorism, Putin said.

Putin told the president he was ‘delighted’ to meet for the first time. And with that, the dance was on.

The two leaders of nations that once squared off in Cold War iciness sat down in a neutral setting Friday, representing their nations at the G20 in Hamburg, Germany.

The men’s first high-stakes handshake had happened hours earlier in a backstage moment captured by a German government photographer.

With the drama all but gone, Trump and Putin sat before cameras in advance of a meeting that was expected to last more than a half-hour.

Accompanying each man was the smallest of entourages: for Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and a translator, and for Putin, his foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, and a translator.

On the agenda, according to White House officials, was everything from the Ukraine to NATO arms buildups.

But administration insiders wouldn’t say if the president planned to upbraid his Moscow counterpart for meddling in the election that brought him to power.

And Trump ignored reporters’ questions about whether he would raise the uncomfortable but geopolitically crucial topic.

Democrats have criticized Trump for taking office under a cloud of controversy, saying the Kremlin installed him in the White House through a series of computer hacking exploits aimed at weakening Hillary Clinton and raising doubts about U.S. election integrity.

Republicans have largely insisted Trump won the Oval Office because Clinton was a weak candidate who ignored the lessons of U.S. electoral history.

As history yields to future, Trump and Putin will inevitably have to get a practical feel for each other, at a time when most of the world imagines them as yin and yang – opposite, but deeply familiar.

One administration official said Friday that Trump ‘would be happy to listen a bit, before making demands, since the two men really don’t know each other.’

A second official said the president would go into the meeting with a ‘mental checklist’ of things to discuss, but that the short window of time meant they would likely have ‘only enough space to establish a working relationship.’

Trump said repeatedly during his campaign that it would be ‘a good thing’ for the United States if Washington and Moscow had a relationship based on more than mutual distrust.

On Friday he told journalists: ‘We’ve had some very, very good talks.’

Through a translator, Putin said phone calls to the White House ‘are never enough, definitely.’

‘I’m delighted to be able to meet you personally – and I hope that as you have said our meetings will yield positive results.’

The first meeting was less choreographed and far less anticipated.

The German government captured the ordinarily hidden first handshakes and back-slaps by mounting a video camera on top of an official photographer’s camera.

Trump was seen shaking Putin’s hand, while using his left hand to pat the underside of Putin’s arm.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, facing them from the other side of a cocktail table, leaned obliviously while the two men appear to chuckle at a private joke.

The surprising gesture was more familiar than anything else shown on the 40-second video clip, which was first published on Facebook.

When Putin greeted UK Prime Minister Theresa May, for instance, the handshake is formal, curt and respectful – with the leaders bowing to each other slightly.

But when Trump came up to the same table to see Putin, the how-do-you-do is more congenial – the stuff of fishing buddies or bowling teammates.

In a later clip, Trump was shown extending his left arm to pat Putin’s back while he smiles broadly.

Until Thursday, the two men had reportedly never met. Trump is trying to establish a rapport with Putin, one White House aide said Friday, in the hope that the two men can reach a detente and avoid a new Cold War.

But the US president’s critics warn that Putin, a former KGB spymaster, is a master of manipulation who can meet every Trump volley with an overhand smash.

The footage was shot during the leaders’ ‘retreat’ – an informal gathering before the more consequential meetings that form the basis of G20 policy discussions.

How the U.S. Air Force Is Planning to Use the F-35 to Fight China’s J-20 and Russia’s PAK-FA

The idea with having an advanced threat library  is to enable F-35 pilots to see and destroy enemies in the air, well in advance of a potential dogfight scenario.

This can be explained in terms of a well-known Air Force strategic concept pioneered years ago by air theorist and pilot Col. John Boyd, referred to as the “OODA Loop,” — for observe, orient, decide and act. The concept is to complete this process quickly and make fast decisions while in an air-to-air dogfight — in order to get inside the enemy’s decision cycle, properly anticipate, and destroy an enemy before they can destroy you.

The Air Force is accelerating development of a special, high-tech, on-board threat library for the F-35 designed to precisely identify enemy aircraft operating in different high-risk areas around the globe – such as a Chinese J-20 stealth fighter or Russian T-50 PAK FA 5th Gen fighter, service leaders said.

Described as the brains of the airplane, the “mission data files” are extensive on-board data systems compiling information on geography, air space and potential threats in areas where the F-35 might be expected to perform combat operations, Air Force officials explained.

“Mission data files are the key that unlocks the F-35,” Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, Director of the F-35 Integration Office said.

Consisting of hardware and software, the mission data files are essentially a database of known threats and friendly aircraft in specific parts of the world. The files are being worked on at a reprogramming laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Air Force officials said. The mission data files are designed to work with the aircraft’s Radar Warning Receiver engineered to find and identify approaching enemy threats and incoming hostile fire.

Pleus said the service is working vigorously to speed up development and integration of new software engineered to widen the threat envelope of the mission data files to enable the now operational F-35 to better identify specific enemy threats.

While progress at the Eglin laboratory has been steady, the integration of the mission data files for the F-35 have experienced some delays, prompting the current effort to quicken the pace so that the operational aircraft has the most extensive threat library possible. The first increments of the technology will be integrated for training F-35s, Pleus explained.

“If there is nothing in the library, the F-35 will not know exactly what the threat will be,” he said.

The mission data packages are loaded with a wide range of information to include commercial airliner information and specifics on Russian and Chinese fighter jets. For example, the mission data system would enable a pilot to quickly identify a Russian MiG-29 if it were detected by the F-35’s sensors.

The mission data files are being engineered to adjust to new threat and intelligence information as it emerges.

Overall, the Air Force is developing 12 different mission data files for 12 different geographic areas, Air Force officials said.

OODA Loop

The idea with having an advanced threat library  is to enable F-35 pilots to see and destroy enemies in the air, well in advance of a potential dogfight scenario.

This can be explained in terms of a well-known Air Force strategic concept pioneered years ago by air theorist and pilot Col. John Boyd, referred to as the “OODA Loop,” — for observe, orient, decide and act. The concept is to complete this process quickly and make fast decisions while in an air-to-air dogfight — in order to get inside the enemy’s decision cycle, properly anticipate, and destroy an enemy before they can destroy you.

The F-35 is designed with long-range sensors and data fusion technologies such that, as a fifth-generation aircraft, it can complete the OODA Loop much more quickly than potential adversaries, F-35 advocates claim.

This first appeared in Scout Warrior here

Russia: Chemical Weapons Propaganda Campaign ‘Completely Shameless’

Russia has slammed the United States for launching a shameless and crude propaganda campaign against Syria’s government for alleged use of chemical weapons.

According to Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, claims that President Assad has used chemical weapons against his own people and intends to do so again in the future is completely baseless and ‘fake.’

“As we warned a few days ago, a media propaganda campaign on the ‘use of chemical weapons by Damascus’ has begun,” Zakharova wrote on Facebook.

[Ron Paul: Syrian Gas Attack Was False Flag]

Rt.com reports: Zakharova’s post was accompanied by a screenshot from a video being shared on social media allegedly showing a hospital in eastern Ghouta. The speaker in the video claims the people he is filming have been affected by “chlorine gas used by the regime.”

“There will be more of such videos, and they will be of different quality – either low-grade, like this one or of Hollywood level. There will be many fakes, the planned campaign is a massive one,” the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

On Saturday, a Syrian rebel group accused government forces of using chlorine gas against its fighters east of Damascus.

A Reuters report cited a militant group called Failaq al-Rahman which alleged that more than 30 people had “suffered suffocation as a result of the attack in Ain Tarma in the eastern Ghouta region.”

[George Soros Behind Chemical Weapons Attack In Syria]

The Syrian army command denied the allegations in a statement run by state media saying that the army “has not used any chemical weapons in the past, and will not use them at any time.”

Syria also dismissed a report from the UN’s Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on a chemical incident in the town of Idlib in April as one-sided, lacking evidence, and aimed at encouraging terrorists, as they are being defeated in many parts of Syria.

An OPCW report therefore “comes up with a fabricated and contrived narrative that has no credibility and cannot be accepted in any manner, because it is removed from logic and is concocted by a twisted imagination that only thinks about weaving conspiracies,” the Syrian Foreign Ministry’s Saturday statement said, as cited by Syria’s state SANA news agency.

Russian OPCW representative Alexander Shulgin has said the report is based on “questionable evidence.”

“The conclusions of this report are based on questionable data provided primarily by all kinds of the Syrian armed opposition groups and NGOs, including the infamous White Helmets,” he told RT.

The report’s fact-finding team did not visit the site of the alleged chemical attack near Idlib and relied only on evidence provided by “various NGOs” present at the scene and accounts from eyewitnesses, as well as medical specialists who treated the victims in “one of the neighboring countries.”

The report, which has been seen by RT, asserts that “the team was unable to implement a complete chain of custody, by the team, for samples from source.”

Alaa Ebrahim, a Syrian journalist, told RT on Sunday that alleging that the Syrian government has carried out chemical weapons attacks has become a common tactic employed by terrorists and rebel groups.

“Chemical weapons attack is a serious crime, and crimes should be investigated thoroughly – not just countless circumstantial evidences as it was in previous incidents,” he said.

“There have been allegations, intelligence, but we have no credible proof or evidence of what really happened,” Ebrahim explained, adding that the Syrian military is beating the militants in many parts of the country, and it would make no sense for it to use prohibited weapons, as it would play into the hands of the rebels.

Russia pushes back tests for Sarmat ballistic missile

Pravda.Ru

Russia’s Defence Ministry has pushed back the date to test state-of-the-art RS-28 Sarmat ballistic missile to conduct additional equipment debugging works.

The test of the Sarmat missile is to take place the fourth quarter of 2017, with initial tests to be carried out in 2016.

In March of this year, the tests of the missile were also postponed in connection with the work to set up the launching system at Plesetsk cosmodrome. The tests were scheduled for April, but the missile required further development.

In June, the systems of the missile were not ready for tests either. Developers plan to first conduct a cycle of tests on stands.

In the future, the Sarmat missile will replace the Voevoda missile. Initially, it was planned that the liquid-fuel missile RS-28 Sarmat will be adopted into service in 2019-2020. The missile is to become the carrier of hypersonic blocks to break through any existing missile defence systems.

 

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