August 21, 2019

USS Mesa Verde, V-22 Ospreys Ordered to Gulf

CV-22 Osprey

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SecDef Chuck Hagel ordered the USS Mesa Verde to the Persian Gulf to join a US aircraft carrier strike group, which provides “additional options to protect American citizens and interests in Iraq, should [President Obama] chose to use them,” a Pentagon spokesman said, according to The Christian Science Monitor. With Islamist militants threatening Baghdad, the Mesa Verde provides quick-reaction forces and a complement of Bell Boeing V-22 Ospreys, which excel at evacuation operations because of their ability to land and takeoff vertically.

China’s growing ambitions dominate the formulation of military strategies for the US Navy, reports DefenseNews. Although the latest international crisis may be the Islamist offensive in Iraq, “The rise of China as a challenger is the most significant strategic challenge for the US,” historian Hal Brands told an audience Tuesday at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. Academic Aaron Friedberg added, “We need to develop a credible military strategy for countering China. Our ability to come to the aid of our allies depends on having a plausible strategy in which our friends and allies believe.”

The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin announced that a fix has been designed that should prevent more bulkhead cracks on the Marine Corps version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. On-the-ground stress testing was suspended last September after inspections found cracks in three of six bulkheads on a plane used for such tests. The stress testing may resume as soon as September 30.

DoD furloughs last summer damaged the morale not only of the civilians who were sent home without pay, but members of the military, officials at three Defense sites told Government Accountability Office auditors, according to Government Executive. In addition to a 20 percent reduction in weekly pay for six weeks, the furloughs created rifts within the DoD civilian workforce because some employees received exceptions and others did not, and the decisions were not always consistent across the services.

The Navy and Northrop Grumman demonstrated a new multimode maritime surveillance radar on the MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter that will dramatically enhance long-range imaging and search capabilities for Navy commanders, reports GlobeNewswire.  Integrating this new radar system with the current electro-optical infrared payload will provide the Fire Scout with essential operational capabilities in all tactical environments and will improve how it addresses threats in real-world scenarios.

The Navy announced last week that the retired aircraft carrier USS Constellation will take its final cruise this summer to Texas for dismantling, according to the Navy Times. The “Connie” is the third of the Navy’s conventionally powered aircraft carriers to head for the scrapyard this year. The Forrestal and Saratoga also were sold to ship-breaking companies.

Unmanned aircraft manufacturers and universities are increasingly joining forces on efforts to train pilots and develop new technologies as commercial demand for drones grows, reports National Defense. Northrop Grumman and the University of North Dakota  announced a cooperative agreement in which the school will use SandShark unmanned aerial systems for training and research. Northrop will provide the university with two aircraft and a ground station under the three-year agreement.

A Center for Strategic and International Studies report released Tuesday concludes that the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) contracting budget didn’t suffer much under government spending reductions last year, reports The Washington Post. The study tracked the major trends in contract spending by the agency from 2004 and determined that DHS contract obligations declined by 3 percent between 2012 and 2013. In comparison, the DoD experienced a 16 percent decline in contract obligations over the same period. The smaller drop was a result of the department’s planning for sequestration and the fact that it had already faced steep cuts in 2011.

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