December 4, 2023

Navy Wants 100 Drone Ships in Middle East Waters

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The Navy wants 100 unmanned ships monitoring Middle East waters by next year, reports USNI. “We’ve established a goal to have 100 unmanned surface vessels available for patrol in waters around the Arabian Peninsula by the end of the summer of 2023… with a majority of the systems coming from our international and regional partners,” US 5th Fleet commander VADM Brad Cooper said during an address at the US Coast Guard Academy. For the last year, US Central Command has been the test bed for an experimental force of long-endurance unmanned systems at sea married with artificial intelligence tools on shore to look for military threats or illegal activity.

80 years after launching the first drone from an aircraft carrier, the US Navy is planning to fill its flattops with them, reports Military Times. Service officials  aim for drones to compose 60% of their carrier air wings, a sizable increase from the 40% goal cited in the past. Leading the way on that effort is Boeing’s MQ-25 Stingray, and unmanned aerial refueling drone that Navy officials say could eventually take on new roles, such as intelligence-gathering.

Six robotics firms have pledged not to weaponized their robots.  Military Times says their open letter, released last week, seeks to ease public concerns, spelling out numerous terrifying uses of weaponized robots, and pledging not to weaponize their expanding the arsenals of artificial intelligence. The letter further cautions that their products should never be used for hostile purposes.

Dozens of lawmakers push Pentagon to move forward with adaptive engines, reports Military Times. Nearly 50 members of Congress have urged DEFSEC Lloyd J. Austin III to fund a new phase of development for advanced fighter engines in the fiscal 2024 budget. A letter specifically requests that the DoD “fund adaptive propulsion engineering and manufacturing development in the FY24 budget submission and deliver adaptive technology to the services as quickly as possible.”





A relocated military telescope is ready to scan the skies to hunt spacecraft, asteroids, and comets, reports Military Times. The US Space Force’s Space Surveillance Telescope is operational in Australia, providing a new perspective on the sky to look for foreign spacecraft, space debris, and astronomical objects of interest. The telescope — which saw first light in 2011 and underwent years of testing — is now ready for work in the southern hemisphere, where it will join the global Space Surveillance Network for the United States and its allies, Space Force officials said in a Sept. 30 statement.

Astronaut Andy Bresnik said he had to wear pads around his waist, knees and crotch so his body wouldn’t flop around in his spacesuit. Photo courtesy of NASA

Next-generation spacesuits are on the drawing board for NASA’s moon mission, reports UPI. Nicole Mann, spacecraft commander of NASA’s SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavor, arrived at the International Space Station last week wearing a spacesuit designed decades ago for male test pilots. The suit, originally develop for Space Shuttle missions that started in 1981, has been upgraded through the years, but has far outlasted its original 15-year design. All that will change when astronauts aboard Artemis III sport the next generation of spacesuits.

Here is the counter-drone kit the US is sending Ukraine, reports Defense One. The weapon is a compact combination of three systems in current use by the US Army: a jammer, an infrared camera, and a rocket launcher. L3Harris Technologies showed off the system, called VAMPIRE, at the Association of the US Army’s annual meeting in Washington.

Graham Bonham-Carter, a British businessman, has  been arrested for sanctions violations, reports UPI. Bohman-Carter, 62, was arrested for conspiring to violate US sanctions against Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. The US Dept. of Justice charged him with one count of conspiring to evade US sanctions, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act; one count of violating the IEEPA; and one count of wire fraud. Each of the charges carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

The USS Rushmore has a roach problem, reports Navy Times. The sailors and embarked Marines aboard the amphibious dock landing ship Rushmore have been dealing with a cockroach outbreak for much of 2022, and Navy officials are warning that it could be some time before the pernicious pests are fully eliminated from the ship. Rushmore sailors who told Navy Times of the outbreak requested anonymity for fear of reprisal from the higher-ups.

When LTGEN Kevin Iiams, commander of Marine Corps Training and Education Command, read a the draft of a U of Pittsburgh report on boot camp gender integration in spring 2021 he was incensed at the details of Marine drill instructors’ crude sexual remarks, reports Marine Times. He made back-to-back trips to Marine Corps Recruit Depots Parris Island, SC and San Diego and says he has found improvement. However, it’s not clear when the Marine Corps will make final decisions about the study’s full list of recommendations.

The Army set a record low for accidental deaths in fiscal 2022, reports Army Times. In total, the Army lost 82 soldiers to fatal mishaps, a 22% decrease from the preceding year when 105 soldiers were lost, according to Army safety data just released.

Army leaders say they won’t have the manpower to cover the same distance in a large-scale combat against Russia or China as in Afghanistan or Iraq, reports Army Times. “We got to be able to do more killing with smaller formations than we do now,” said GEN James Rainey, head of Army Futures Command. As the US Army prepares for dispersed warfare with high casualties, the fighting in Ukraine shows the value of two things that the service hasn’t been doing at scale since World War II, reconstitution and long-range, large-unit dispersion.

Air Force praises new pilot training but struggles to hire civilian instructors, reports Air Force Times. Service officials contend that “Undergraduate Pilot Training 2.5,” a software-heavy, self-paced version of the course, is producing better-prepared pilots faster than before. The number of active duty instructor pilots is “close to where we’d like it in most locations,” at 80% of positions staffed or higher,”  LTGEN Brian Robinson,  head of Air Education and Training Command. But the service needs civilians to run its flight simulators. Those jobs are about 60% filled, he said.

A Marine recruit died at Camp Pendleton, reports Task & Purpose. A Marine recruit died while conducting training at Camp Pendleton, CA, last month.PFC Javier Pong collapsed while training and was pronounced dead at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton. Pong was in the eighth week of the training cycle.

An earthquake struck central Maryland Tuesday night, dozens reported the shaking, reports The magnitude 2.0 event just outside of Sykesville, MD in Carroll County occurred at 11:49 pm,, nearly 24 hours after another earthquake hit south near Richmond, VA.

A $43 million contract has been awarded to rebuilding disappearing Chesapeake Bay islands, reports Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Riding high off the success of Poplar Island’s long-term restoration using dredged channel sediment, the Army Corps of Engineers has received a $43.1 million contract to restore two more disappearing Bay islands. The funds (made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) will go toward restoring part of the Mid-Bay, particularly James Island and Barren Island near western Dorchester County, MD.


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