The US Navy’s fleet of Aegis cruisers and destroyers are set to gain new ship-killing missiles, with US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announcing modifications to the Raytheon Stand SM-6 during an address to sailors at Naval Base San Diego on 3 February. In addition to its powerful air and missile defence capabilities, Carter has announced that the weapon will have an anti-surface mode, allowing it to attack and destroy targets more than 200 nautical miles away. You can read initial analysis of these modifications from Dave Majumdar at The National Interest and Thomas Gibbons-Neff over at The Washington Post.
The Indonesian Navy’s multipurpose hospital ship KRI Dr Soeharso (990) has completed its first ever international mission, returning from Timor-Leste on 4 February. In a sign of Indonesia’s growing interest in establishing a greater maritime presence in the region, the ship was deployed on a week-long mission to provide a range of medical services including cataract removal and dental services.
In the wake of the recent US Navy Freedom of Navigation Operation in the Paracel Islands, The Diplomat’s Ankit Panda and Prashanth Parameswaran have released their latest podcast discussing new developments in the South China Sea.
In a speech previewing the Pentagon’s 2017 budget proposal, Ash Carter announced that so-called ‘arsenal planes’ will accompany stealth fighters into combat, boosting firepower by carrying munitions. Carter described the arsenal plane as a ‘very large airborne magazine’, with the most likely candidate being the B-52. This article from War is Boring provides an overview of the concept, and assesses that the US is motivated by developments of Russian and Chinese capabilities, which Carter highlighted as two driving forces behind the 2017 budget.
The Pentagon’s top weapons tester has criticised aspects of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program in a new report. The Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, Michael Gilmore, raised questions about the program’s ability to meet its already delayed production schedule, which will have implications for Australia as a JSF client. This article from The Australian delves into the some of the problems that further delays might cause for the Royal Australian Air Force, one of which is that the F/A-18 Hornets would remain in operation beyond their life expectancy, which has sizable financial and strategic implications for the Australian Defence Force.
As we all know by now, ads at the Super Bowl are almost as entertaining as the game itself. This year, Northrop Grumman previewed its new sixth-generation fighters in a spot during Super Bowl 50. Take a look here. It isn’t Northrop Grumman’s first rodeo: they have an impressive collection of commercial ads which feature on US television.
NATO officials met recently to discuss a planned increase in the deployment of troops to Poland and the Baltic States, which is expected to be approved in Brussels next week. The move coincided with an announcement by the US Department of Defence that it will be quadrupling funding in order to expand its military presence in Europe, and will be asking congress for US$3.4 billion from the 2017 budget for its European Reassurance Initiative to maintain forces to assist NATO in the future. The expansion of US and NATO military strength in Russia’s neighbouring states is predicated on containing the Kremlin’s activities in lieu of the conflict in the Ukraine and its occupation of Crimea.
Russia has responded to the move by reiterating its concerns that an increase in NATO and US coalition forces on its western boarders destabilises regional and global security, and that it’ll take action to ensure its national security. This has been reinforced by Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov, who said on Friday that Russia wouldn’t renew significant arms control agreements in response to perceived ‘anti-Russian’ activities by NATO and the US.