Saturday, 5 May 2012

The Falklands War - Argentine Veterans

May 6th - On This Date - RN Submarine Service

1913 E1 Submarine HMS E1 completed
1941 Sea Nymph Submarine HMS Sea Nymph laid down
1940 HMS Snapper HMS Snapper attackes the German armed merchant cruiser Schiff 21/Widder with 2 torpedoes east of Denmark. However the torpedoes miss their target.
1940 HMS Sealion HMS Sealion attacks the German merchant Moltkefels with 3 torpedoes about 19 nautical miles south-west of Vaderob. However the torpedoes miss their target.
1941 HMS Taku HMS Taku torpedoes and sinks the Italian merchant Cagliari in the Tyrrhenian Sea about 20 nautical miles north-north-west of Stromboli Island, Italy.
1941 HMS Truant HMS Truant torpedoes sinks the Italian passenger/cargo ship Bengasi about 3 nautical miles south-east off the Cavoli lighthouse, Sardinia, Italy.
1941 HMS Ursula HMS Ursula attacks the German transport ships Brook and Tilly L.M. Russoff Tripoli, Libya but the ships escape.
1943 HMS Safari HMS Safari torpedoes and sinks the Italian auxiliary minesweeper R 106/Onda off Asinara Island, Italy.
1943 Unrivalled HMS Unrivalled attacks the Italian sailing vessel Albina with a torpedo off Cape Vaticano, Calabria, Italy. The torpedo misses.

May 5th - On This Date - RN Submarine Service

1909 C22 Submarine HMS C22 completed
1909 C23 Submarine HMS C23 completed
1909 C24 Submarine HMS C24 completed
1915 V1 Submarine HMS V1 completed
1917 P512 Submarine HMS P512 laid down
1928 Odin Submarine HMS Odin launched
1930 Poseidon Submarine HMS Poseidon completed
1938 Maidstone Depot Ship HMS Maidstone completed
1939 Triad Submarine HMS Triad launched
1939 Truant Submarine HMS Truant launched
1943 Sea Devil Submarine HMS Sea Devil laid down
1955 Minnow Submarine HMS Minnow launched
1962 Ocelot Submarine HMS Ocelot launched
1938 HMS Maidstone Submarine depot ship HMS Maidstone commissioned
1943 HMS Tactician HMS Tactician sinks the Italian auxiliary patrol vessel V17/Pia with gunfire about 10 nautical miles west of Grosseto, Italy.
1944 Unswerving HMS Unswerving sinks three sailing vessels with gunfire in the Gulf of Nauplia, Greece.
1945 HMS Scythian HMS Scythian sinks a small Japanese vessel with gunfire in the Strait of Malacca.
1945 HMS Statesman HMS Statesman sinks two Japanese sailing vessels with gunfire in the Strait of Malacca.

Margaret Thatcher - Falklands War, Week One

Yet as March drew to a close with the incident still unresolved we became increasingly concerned. On Sunday evening, 28th March, I rang Peter Carrington from Chequers to express my anxiety at the situation. He assured me that he had already made a first approach to Al Haig , the US Secretary of State, asking him to bring pressure to bear. The following morning Peter and I met at RAF Northolt on our way to the European Council at Brussels, and discussed what further steps we should take. We agreed to send a nuclear-powered submarine to reinforce HMS Endurance and to make preparations to send a second submarine. I was not too displeased when the following day news of the decision leaked. The submarine would take two weeks to get to the South Atlantic, but it could begin to influence events straight away. My instinct was that the time had come to show the Argentines that we meant business.

In the late afternoon of Tuesday 30th March I returned from Brussels. By that time Peter Carrington had already left on an official visit to Israel; his absence was unfortunate. The Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence had been working to prepare up to date assessments and review the diplomatic and military options. The following day - Wednesday 31st March - I made my statement to the House reporting on the Brussels Summit, but my mind was focused on what the Argentinians were intending and on what our response should be. The advice we received from intelligence was that the Argentinian Government were exploring our reactions, but that they had not contrived the landing on South Georgia and that any escalation they might make would stop short of full-scale invasion. However, we knew that they were unpredictable and unstable, and that a dictatorship might not behave in ways we would consider rational. By now I was deeply uneasy. Yet still I do not think that any of us expected an immediate invasion of the Falklands themselves.

I shall not forget that Wednesday evening. I was working in my room at the House of Commons when I was told that John Nott wanted an immediate meeting to discuss the Falklands. I called people together. In Peter Carrington's absence Humphrey Atkins and Richard Luce attended from the Foreign Office, with FCO and MOD officials. (The Chief of Defence Staff [Sir Terence Lewin ] was also away, in New Zealand). John was alarmed. He had just received intelligence that the Argentinian Fleet, already at sea, looked as if they were going to invade the Islands on Friday 2nd April. There was no ground to question the intelligence. John gave the MOD's view that the Falklands could not be retaken once they were seized. This was terrible, and totally unacceptable. I could not believe it: these were our people, our islands. I said instantly: "if they are invaded, we have got to get them back".

At this dark moment comedy intervened. The Chief of the Naval Staff, Sir Henry Leach was in civilian dress, and on his way to the meeting had been detained by the police in the Central Lobby of the House of Commons. He had to be rescued by a whip. When he finally arrived, I asked him what we could do. He was quiet, calm and confident: "I can put together a Task Force of destroyers, frigates, landing craft, support vessels. It will be led by the aircraft carriers HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible. It can be ready to leave in forty- eight hours". He believed such a force could retake the islands. All he needed was my authority to begin to assemble it. I gave it him, and he left immediately to set the work in hand. We reserved for Cabinet the decision as to whether and when the Task Force should sail.

Before this, I had been outraged and determined. Now my outrage and determination were matched by a sense of relief and confidence. Henry Leach had shown me that if it came to a fight the courage and professionalism of Britain's armed forces would win through. It was my job as Prime Minister to see that they got the political support they needed. But first we had to do everything possible to prevent the appalling tragedy, if it was still humanly possible to do so.

Our only hope now lay with the Americans - friends and allies, and people to whom Galtieri, if he was still behaving rationally, should listen. At the meeting we drafted and sent an urgent message to President Reagan asking him to press Galtieri to draw back from the brink. This the President immediately agreed to do.

At 9.30 on Thursday morning, 1st April, I held a Cabinet, earlier than usual so that a meeting of the Overseas and Defence Committee of the Cabinet (OD) could follow it before lunch. The latest assessment was that an Argentinian assault could be expected about midday our time on Friday. We thought that President Reagan might yet succeed. However, Galtieri refused altogether at first to take the President's call. He deigned to speak to the President only when it was too late to stop the invasion. I was told of this outcome in the early hours of Friday morning and I knew then that our last hope had now gone.

But how seriously did the Argentinians take American warnings anyway? On the evening of Friday 2nd April as the invasion was proceeding, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Mrs Kirkpatrick , was attending a gala dinner given by the Argentinian Ambassador in her honour. As [Sir Nicholas Henderson ] our Ambassador later asked her: how would Americans have felt if he had dined at the Iranian Embassy the night that the American hostages were seized in Tehran? Unfortunately the attitudes of Mrs Kirkpatrick and some other members of the US Administration were at this point of considerable importance.

At 9.45 on Friday morning Cabinet met again. I reported that an Argentinian invasion was now imminent. We would meet later in the day to consider once more the question of sending a Task Force - though to my mind the issue by this stage was not so much whether we should act, but how.

Communications with the Falklands were often interrupted due to atmospheric conditions. On Friday morning the Governor of the Falklands - Rex Hunt - sent a message telling us that the invasion had begun, but it never got through. (Indeed, the first contact I had with him after the invasion was when he reached Montevideo in Uruguay, where the Argentinians flew him and a number of other senior people, on Saturday morning). It was, in fact, the captain of a British Antarctic Survey vessel who intercepted a local Falkland Island ham radio broadcast and passed on the news to the Foreign Office. My private secretary brought me final confirmation while I was at an official lunch.

By now discussion was taking place all over Whitehall about every aspect of the campaign, including the application of economic and other sanctions against Argentina. Feverish military preparations were under way. The army was preparing its contribution. A naval Task Force was being formed, partly from ships currently at Gibraltar and partly from those in British ports. [Queen Elizabeth II ] The Queen had already made it clear that Prince Andrew , who was serving with HMS Invincible, would be joining the Task Force: his grandfather, King George VI , had fought at the Battle of Jutland and then as now there could be no question of a member of the royal family being treated differently from other servicemen.

Cabinet met for the second time that day at 7.30 in the evening when the decision was made to send the Task Force. What concerned us most at this point was the time it would take to arrive in the Falklands. We believed, rightly, that the Argentinians would pile in men and material to make it as difficult as possible for us to dislodge them. And all the time the weather in the South Atlantic would be worsening as the bitter winds and violent storms of the southern winter approached.

More immediate and more manageable was the problem of how to deal with public opinion at home in the intervening period. Support for the despatch of the Task Force was likely to be strong, but would it fall away as time went on? In fact, we need not have worried too much about that. Ships were constantly being chartered and negotiations - above all Al Haig's shuttle diplomacy - continued. Our policy was one which people understood and endorsed. Public interest and commitment remained strong throughout.

One particular aspect of this problem, though, does rate a mention. We decided to allow defence correspondents on the ships who reported back during the long journey. Some of them behaved more professionally than others. There were several incidents of the BBC reporting particularly sensitive military matters in ways which put our forces at risk. I was also very unhappy at the attempted "even-handedness" of some of the comment, and the chilling use of the third-person - talk of "the British" and "the Argentinians" on our news programmes.

It was also on Friday 2nd April that I received advice from the Foreign Office which summed up the flexibility of principle characteristic of that Department. I was presented with the dangers of a backlash against the British expatriates in Argentina, problems about getting support in the UN Security Council, the lack of reliance we could place on the European Community or the United States, the risk of the Soviets becoming involved, the disadvantage of being looked at as a colonial power. All the considerations were fair enough. But when you are at war you cannot allow the difficulties to dominate your thinking: you have to set out with an iron will to overcome them. And anyway what was the alternative? That a common or garden dictator should rule over the Queen's subjects and prevail by fraud and violence? Not while I was Prime Minister.

While military preparations were in train the focus now turned to public debate in the United Nations Security Council. At the beginning of April we had one short-term and several long-term diplomatic objectives. In the short term we needed to win our case against Argentina in the UN Security Council and to secure a resolution denouncing their aggression and demanding withdrawal. On the basis of such a resolution we would find it far easier to win the support of other nations for practical measures to pressurise Argentina. But in the longer term we knew that we had to try to keep our affairs out of the UN as much as possible. With the Cold War still under way, and given the anti-colonialist attitude of many nations at the UN, there was a real danger that the Security Council might attempt to force unsatisfactory terms upon us. If necessary we could veto such a resolution, but to do so would diminish international support for our position. This remained a vital consideration throughout the crisis. The second long-term goal was to ensure maximum support from our allies, principally the US, but also members of the EC, the Commonwealth and other important Western nations. This was a task undertaken at Head of Government level, but an enormous burden fell on the FCO and vast numbers of telegrams crossed my desk during those weeks. No country was ever better served than Britain by our two key diplomats at this time: Sir Anthony Parsons , Britain's UN Ambassador and Sir Nicholas (Nico) Henderson, our Ambassador in Washington, both possessed precisely those qualities of intelligence, toughness, style and eloquence that the situation required.

At the UN Tony Parsons, on the eve of the invasion, was busy outmanoeuvring the Argentinians. [ Javier Perez de Cuellar ] The UN Secretary General had called on both sides to exercise restraint: we responded positively, but the Argentinians remained silent. On Saturday 3rd April, Tony Parsons managed a diplomatic triumph in persuading the Security Council to pass what became Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 502, demanding an immediate and unconditional withdrawal by the Argentinians from the Falklands. It had not been easy. The debate was bitter and complex. We knew that the old anti-colonialist bias of the UN would incline some Security Council members against us, were it not for the fact that there had been a flagrant act of aggression by the Argentinians. I was particularly grateful to President Mitterrand , who with the leaders of the Old Commonwealth, was among the staunchest of our friends and who telephoned me personally to pledge support on Saturday. (I was to have many disputes with President Mitterrand in later years, but I never forgot the debt we owed him for his personal support on this occasion and throughout the Falklands crisis). France used her influence in the UN to swing others in our favour. I myself made a last minute telephone call to King Hussein of Jordan, who also came down on our side. He is an old friend of Britain. I told him our difficulty; I did not have to go into lengthy explanations to persuade him to cast Jordan's vote on our side. He began the conversation by asking simply: "what can I do for you Prime Minister?" In the end we were delighted to have the votes we needed for the Resolution and to avoid a veto from the Soviet Union. But we knew that this was a fragile achievement, and we had no illusions as to who would be left to remove the aggressor when all the talking was done: it would be us.

The debate in the House of Commons that Saturday is another very powerful memory.

I opened the debate. It was the most difficult I ever had to face. The House was rightly angry that British territory had been invaded and occupied, and many Members were inclined to blame the Government for its alleged failure to foresee and forestall what had happened. My first task was to defend us against the charge of unpreparedness.

Far more difficult was my second task: convincing MPs that we would respond to Argentina's aggression forcefully and effectively.

I gave an explanation of what had happened and made very clear what we intended to do. I said:

    I must tell the House that the Falkland Islands and their dependencies remain British territory. No aggression and no invasion can alter that simple fact. It is the Government's objective to see that the islands are freed from occupation and are returned to British administration at the earliest possible moment.

    The people of the Falklands Islands, like the people of the United Kingdom, are an island race. ... They are few in number, but they have the right to live in peace, to choose their own way of life and to determine their own allegiance. Their way of life is British: their allegiance is to the Crown. It is the wish of the British people and the duty of Her Majesty's Government to do everything that we can to uphold that right. That will be our hope and our endeavour and, I believe, the resolve of every Member of the House.

My announcement that the Task Force was ready and about to sail was greeted with growls of approval. But I knew that not everybody was cheering the same thing. Some saw the Task Force as a purely diplomatic armada that would get the Argentinians back to the negotiating table. They never intended that it should actually fight. I needed their support for as long as possible, for we needed to demonstrate a united national will both to the enemy and to our allies. But I felt in my bones that the Argentinians would never withdraw without a fight and anything less than withdrawal was unacceptable to the country, and certainly to me.

Others shared my view that the Task Force would have to be used, but doubted the Government's will and stamina to do so. Enoch Powell expressed this sentiment most dramatically when he looked directly across the Chamber at me and declared sepulchrally:

    The Prime Minister, shortly after she came into office, received a soubriquet as the ‘Iron Lady’. It arose in the context of remarks which she made about defence against the Soviet Union and its allies; but there was no reason to suppose that the Right Hon. Lady did not welcome and, indeed, take pride in that description. In the next week or two this House, the nation and the Right Hon. Lady herself will learn of what metal she is made.

Falklands War - Week 6- Falkland Area Operations 3rd-9th May 1982

Midnight on Sunday 2nd as patrol vessel "Alferez Sobral" searched for the crew of the downed Canberra  to the north of the Falklands, she was detected by a No.826 Sea King. Fired on, the helicopter called for help and from a range of eight miles, "Coventry's" Lynx fired two of the new Sea Skua missiles, followed shortly by two more from "Glasgow's" Lynx. Badly damaged and with eight crew dead, the "Sobral" was escorted into Puerto Deseado two days later, but the Canberra's crew was never found. Later in the day one of two MB-339A's of CANA 1 Esc returning to Stanley from a patrol to the south east, crashed in bad weather near the airfield killing the pilot, and that night, a PNA Skyvan at the airfield was badly damaged in another bombardment by "Glamorgan", "Alacrity" and "Arrow". Then early on Tuesday morning, the same Vulcan as before attacked the runway in "Black Buck 2".

With the Argentine Navy's return to port, the British Task Force established control of the surrounding seas, but it would be weeks before air supremacy was achieved. As a foretaste of events, the first ships and aircraft were lost in combat on Tuesday 4th. Most of the TF.79 ships were returning to port by Tuesday and "25 de Mayo" disembarked her aircraft. Although submarine "San Luis" stayed out a few more days, the rest of the Navy kept well clear of the British nuclear subs. However to the south of the Falklands a number of ships joined in the search for "Belgrano's" survivors with most of them returning on Wednesday. Then to confirm control of the seas, Britain extended the TEZ on Friday and warned Argentina that any warships or military aircraft found more than 12 miles from their coast were liable to attack.

By late Tuesday morning (4th) the CVBG was 70 miles to the south east of Stanley. Aware of the Exocet threat, frigates "Brilliant" and "Broadsword" with their point defence Sea Wolf stayed in close to the carriers. Near them was a screen of three RFA's, further out a second one of "Glamorgan" and three more frigates, and then twenty miles ahead, the three type 42's including "Sheffield" with their high altitude Sea Darts. Finally towards the Falklands, Sea Harriers of No.801 flew CAP and at this time investigated a number of possible air contacts. efore then a CANA Neptune had picked up the ships by radar and two Super Etendards of 2 Esc took off from Rio Grande each armed with an Exocet AM.39. Refuelled by a Grupo 1 Hercules, they flew in at low altitude, popped-up for a radar check and released the missiles from 20 to 30 miles. One of the Exocet may just have missed "Yarmouth", but the other slammed with hardly any warning into "Sheffield" soon after 11.00 am. Hitting amidships, the warhead did not explode, but the impact and unused fuel started uncontrollable fires. Badly damaged and with little power, frigate "Arrow" soon came alongside to assist and "Yarmouth" stood by. Captain Salt's crew fought gallantly to save their ship, but with 20 men dead, the order to abandon was given that afternoon. With the wounded already on board "Hermes", "Arrow" took off most of the 260 survivors and "Sheffield" drifted for four days until "Yarmouth" was ordered to pull her clear of the TEZ. Taken in tow by Sunday, "SHEFFIELD" finally sank next day not too many miles from where she was hit. The survivors later returned to Ascension on tanker "British Esk".
Shortly after "Sheffield" was hit, three No.800 Sea Harriers from "Hermes" attacked Goose Green airstrip with CBU's and retard bombs. Little damage was done, but one aircraft was hit by Skyguard-directed 35mm Oerlikon fire and crashed killing the pilot . With the threat from Exocet, the carriers now moved further away from Stanley, and there was little activity over the next few days, but that did not prevent further losses. On Thursday morning (6th), two No.801 Sea Harriers on CAP were sent to check a radar contact and just disappeared without trace after presumably colliding in the poor visibility . With the carriers down to 17 Harriers, their next action took place Sunday morning (9th) when two No.800 aircraft left "Hermes" to bomb Stanley. Stopped by cloud cover, they detected intelligence trawler "Narwal" on the way back and were given permission to attack by control ship "Coventry". Strafing failed to stop her and the high-altitude fuzed bombs were dropped, one of which hit without exploding. With the trawler at a standstill, Nos.820 and 846 Sea Kings flew an SBS party some 150 miles to capture her, but before arriving, two more No.800 Sea Harriers attacked and further damaged "NARWAL" with cannon fire. The SBS boarding went ahead, but next day she sank in tow with one crewman dead.

Returning to Saturday evening, and with the Task Force back on the offensive, frigate "Alacrity" bombarded the Stanley area as "Brilliant" and her Lynx entered the north end of Falkland Sound to intercept any supply ships. Meanwhile "Coventry" and "Broadsword" had moved closer to Stanley with the unenviable job of tempting out Argentine aircraft. Late Sunday morning, "Coventry" fired three Sea Darts at distant aircraft, including a Hercules on a supply run to Stanley, and apparently missed. However around this time, two Grupo 4 Skyhawks were lost. They may have been hit by the Sea Darts or alternatively crashed in low visibility on their way to attack the two ships. Whatever the case, one of them was later found on South Jason Island. Then in the afternoon, as an Army Puma headed out over Choiseul Sound to search for "Narwal", another Sea Dart fired at extreme range brought her down with the loss of all on board.


Second Advanced EHF Military Communications Satellite Built By Lockheed Martin Launched Successfully for the U.S. Air Force

The second Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-2) military communication satellite, built by a Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] team for the U.S. Air Force, was successfully launched today from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket.

AEHF builds on the success of the Lockheed Martin-built Milstar constellation currently on-orbit by providing vastly improved global, survivable, highly secure, protected communications for warfighters operating on ground, sea and air platforms.  AEHF will also serve international partners including Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

A single AEHF satellite provides greater total capacity than the entire five-satellite Milstar constellation.  Individual user data rates will be increased five-fold, permitting transmission of tactical military communications, such as real-time video, battlefield maps and targeting data. In addition to its tactical mission, AEHF also provides the critical survivable, protected, and endurable communications links to national leaders including presidential conferencing in all levels of conflict.

“AEHF is integral to our national security space architecture, providing significantly improved protected communications capabilities for both tactical and strategic users,” said Kevin Bilger, Lockheed Martin's vice president and general manager of Global Communications Systems.  “Our team is focused on performing a timely and efficient satellite checkout to deliver mission success for our customer.”

The AEHF team includes the U.S. Air Force Military Satellite Communications Systems Directorate at the Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Sunnyvale, Calif., is the AEHF prime contractor, space and ground segments provider as well as system integrator, with Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, Redondo Beach, Calif., as the payload provider.

Lockheed Martin is currently under contract to provide four AEHF satellites and the Mission Control Segment.  The program has begun advanced procurement of long-lead components for the fifth and sixth AEHF satellites.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 123,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation's net sales for 2011 were $46.5 billion.

UK military shows off missiles to protect Olympics

On a muddy field on the outskirts of London, Britain’s military showed off a weapon Thursday it hopes it never has to use.

The Rapier surface-to-air missile system has the power to take down a Boeing 747 full of passengers to protect a stadium full of 80,000 Olympic spectators in a terrorism nightmare scenario.

The British military insists the missiles — with a range of up to 8,000 meters (5 miles) — would be deployed only as a last line of defense. Experts say the likelihood that they will be fired is slim to none.

Downing an aircraft would still cause debris to rain from the sky, high casualties and fires.

“When you launch a Rapier missile and shoot down an aircraft, it’s not like the whole thing vanishes. It’s 100 tons of metal, scraps, and other stuff that is coming down,” said Jan Wind, a retired Dutch Navy captain who is director of the Hague-based Wiser Consultancy.

“If a Rapier is used, the damage could be just about the same as the intentions of the terrorist — only on another spot. The goal of the terrorists will be met in a certain sense,” Wind said.

It’s rare for the British military to publicize the location of its weapons, but the military says it hopes that any potential attacks will be deterred by showing the missile strength and other defense assets such as Typhoon fighter jets.

Ground-to-air missiles have been a fixture of Olympic games and large VIP events in the post-9/11 world, but London’s missiles have sparked outrage among residents of an apartment block who learned that the Rapiers might be stationed on their roof.

Locals say the missiles are creating a climate of fear — which security experts say is exactly the point.

“The British army and air force don’t do all this to really shoot down a terrorist aircraft, they do it to display their determination to do so, which will hopefully prevent the terrorists from attacking,” Wind said. “If you know that there are 500 policeman outside the jewelry store, you will not go there and try to rob the store.”

Britain’s defense ministry said Thursday it has not decided where it will ultimately station the missile batteries.

Besides the main Olympic stadium in east London, a number of large venues will host soccer matches during the London Olympics, including the 90,000-seat Wembley, the Millennium Stadium in Wales and Old Trafford in Manchester — both with around 75,000 seats.

While many defense officials believe “there’s no such thing as too much security,” the likelihood of an aircraft being used as a weapon is low, said Charles Pena, a defense expert at the Oakland, California-based Independent Institute.

“Given the other measures that are already put in place, you really probably don’t need the missiles, but nobody wants to be the person who made the decision not to deploy and then have something bad happen,” Pena said.

Residents who are protesting the missile deployments need to understand the deterrent effect and also possibility of a worst-case scenario, said Bryan McGrath, an independent defense consultant based in Washington, D.C.

“The people of London should consider this a prudent measure that represents the last act in what would have to be a horrific chain of events,” he said.

It would ultimately mean that all other strands of air defense had failed — from prior intelligence and aviation security measures to the fact an aircraft had entered restricted airspace.

At that point, there is no good solution, and a decision would be needed quickly whether to fire Rapier or Starstreak missiles that travel two times or three times the speed of sound.

Britain’s military has stressed that the decision to launch missiles from Rapier would need to come from the highest levels of government.

“You’re making a decision on how many people are going to die at that point,” McGrath said. “These are terrible things to have to consider.”

On Thursday, servicemen milled around the Rapier System, with its eight missiles swiveling around in demonstration as central London loomed in the distance.

The Rapier, which can engage two targets simultaneously, is designed to hit large fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, drones and cruise missiles. It’s also valuable for its advanced radar systems.

Also on display was the much-smaller, shoulder-launched Starstreak High Velocity Missile system, which targets smaller craft such as low-flying planes and helicopters.

British military officials promised that their goal is to “fade into the background” after the security exercises are done.

“We want the focus to be on Usain Bolt, not what we’re doing here,” said Air Vice Marshal Stuart Atha.

Israel gets fourth Dolphin-class submarine from Germany

Foreign reports claim German vessels provide Israel with 'second strike' capability in case of nuclear attack'; IDF official: Submarine has a 'range for everything.'

Israel received a fourth Dolphin submarine from Germany on Thursday. The new sub, called "Tanin," will be put into operation in 2013.

According to a senior Israel Navy officer, the "submarine has a range for everything," adding that it needs to refuel and charge its batteries only once in a long while.

"This submarine can stay underwater for longer," he added, saying it had both"visible and invisible" abilities and was meant to operate in the Mediterranean.

In a ceremony in Germany attended by senior members of Israel's Defense Ministry and the IDF, including the Defense Ministry director general Udi Shani, Israel Navy commander Ram Rotberg and German authorities. The officials inaugurated the new ship by s a bottle of champagne on it.

The Navy plans to conduct exercises with the submarine, before putting it into operation around mid-2013.

Israel is preparing to receive a fifth and sixth submarine from the Germans in the near future.

Israel's Navy has had to contend with a serious rise in challenges on multiple fronts in recent years.

"The challenges today are much wider, and the submarines are one import aspect of this," said the officer. "The Middle East has changed – including Egypt and Syria, and Lebanon is the same Lebanon – and we must be able to operate in several arenas and on several fronts at the same time."

According to foreign sources, the German submarines are equipped to carry Israel-made cruise missiles with a range of 1,500 kilometers and the ability to carry nuclear warheads.

The same reports claim that the submarines are meant to give Israel "second-strike" abilities in case of a nuclear attack.

Iran Mine Threat Scares Navy; CNO Scrambles To Fix Decades Of Neglect

Iran's threat to strangle oil tanker traffic through the Straits of Hormuz has the Navy scrambling to redress its decades-old neglect of mine warfare. Admirals from the Chief of Naval Operations on down have publicly admitted the service is not where it needs to be.

"What I find amazing is the amount of interest that's being afforded mine warfare by the senior navy leadership," said Scott Truver, a naval analyst and author. "It's all due to the Iranian threat to close -- if indeed it is possible to close -- the Hormuz Straits."

When asked point-blank whether he was "comfortable" with the Navy's mine-clearing capabilities, the Chief of Naval Operations said bluntly, "No." But, Adm. Jonathan Greenert went on in remarks at the Navy League's Sea-Air-Space symposium last month, "I feel much better than I did six months ago. We've moved about a billion dollars total" from various accounts to weaponry for shallow-water warfare in places like the Gulf, and "a lot of that was in mine warfare," Greenert said. "But we have more work to do," he went on. "It's not just the near term issue."

The Navy's long-term solution is a high-tech concept centered around the controversial Littoral Combat Ship, which will serve as a fast, albeit vulnerable, mothership for mine-hunting helicopters and a host of unmanned vehicles. That's definitely more attractive than the traditional approach of sending minesweeping ships, divers, and even trained dolphins straight into the minefield. But the much-delayed mine-countermeasures module for the LCS is still in development, with extensive testing about LCS-2, the Independence, scheduled for this summer. Until it's operational, the Navy's counter-mine capacity remains distinctly limited.

"We've been doing mine countermeasures since 1917 and we still can't get that package ready for production," lamented naval historian and analyst Norman Polmar. For now, "14 minesweepers and two squadrons of helicopters are our nation's entire mine countermeasures capability."

In March, Adm. Greenert made a very public point of ordering more mine-hunting helicopters and ships to the Gulf, noting that the deployment would double the number of Avenger-class minesweepers operating out of Bahrain from four to eight. What he didn't emphasize was that's more than half the nation's entire minesweeper force, leaving just two ships for training in the States and four in Japan to keep an eye on China's estimated arsenal of 100,000 naval mines.

At the moment, moreover, the reinforcements for the Gulf are still en route -- not under their own power but hauled aboard heavy-lift ships, since the small minesweepers aren't well-suited to cross oceans on their own. The Navy continues to upgrade the 1980s-vintage minesweepers, recently improving their sonar for example. Overall, however, the Avengers are slow, vulnerable, and increasingly difficult to maintain.

By contrast, the LCS is brand new, much faster, and at least as survivable as the Avengers. The Navy rates both ships' resistance to battle damage as "level one," compared to the more resilient level two for the similar-sized Perry-class frigates and level three for the much larger Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyers. The LCS also has an anti-missile system and other self-defense capabilities the Avengers lack to keep from being hit. Moreover, the whole LCS concept of sending out unmanned submersibles and helicopters -- the Avenger cannot do either -- is meant to keep it further from danger in the first place. While the Pentagon's own independent Director of Operational Testing & Evaluation has questioned the LCS's ability to survive in a "combat environment," even LCS skeptic Polmar admits it's an improvement over the geriatric Avenger.

In the strategic big picture, however, the most important difference is that whereas the Navy has just 14 Avengers, it has committed to buying 55 Littoral Combat Ships. Not all 55 will be minesweepers: The LCS concept is "modular," with each ship capable of being quickly re-outfitted to deal with either mines, submarines, or swarms of fast attack boats (all three are part of the Iranian arsenal, incidentally). The Navy plans to buy 24 mine-countermeasures modules, almost double the number of Avengers.

The devil is in the modules, however. Only the small-boat-fighting module has actually been deployed on a real-world operation, without its full complement of weapons. Work on the anti-submarine module was "reset" after the Navy changed its concept to better exploit LCS's speed; delivery is not expected until 2016. Then there's the mine countermeasures module, with two prototypes in testing and formal assessment by the Director of Operational Testing & Evaluation scheduled for 2014.

"The key piece for us is we now have the software that works," said the Navy's program manager for LCS modules, Capt. John Ailes, in a briefing at last month's Sea-Air-Space convention. With the underlying software in place, he said, the Navy can keep plugging new capabilities into the module as they become available in a continuous cycle of upgrades. In May, for example, the Navy announced it was adding the "KnifeFish," an unmanned submersible specifically designed to look for mines that are buried on the sea floor instead of floating, a task right now that can only be accomplished by trained dolphins and divers.

In the longer term, Navy officials talk about having unmanned mini-subs that can "porpoise," briefly surfacing to transmit data back to the LCS for analysis before returning to their underwater hunt. With current technology, however, sailors with winches have to physically haul the drones back aboard to download the data. So at the moment, said Capt. Ailes, "the biggest challenge we have is launch and recovery" of the main unmanned mine-hunting submersible, the Remote Multi-Mission Vehicle (RMMV). "We can safely pick it up, we can safely put it down," said Ailes "[but] we want to make it routine."

Another mundane obstacle to the high-tech approach is that the LCS's MH-60 Sea Hawk helicopter is simply a lot smaller than the MH-53E Sea Dragon that makes up the Navy's existing -- and highly regarded -- airborne mine-hunting squadrons, which operate off big-deck amphibious warfare ships and carriers. Equipment optimized for the MH-53 needs to be resized for the MH-60, with inevitable losses in capability. Nevertheless, given that the LCS-based MH-60s will supplement the existing MH-53 units rather than replace them, the Navy's mine-clearing capacity will still increase overall.

The nascent LCS fleet will face a complex juggling act learning how to use all these new mine-hunting capabilities and its anti-small-boat module and the sub-hunting system, whenever that is operational. In theory, a specialist mine warfare ship would be ideal. In practice, it's only the multi-role potential of the LCS that convinced the Navy to buy them in numbers, and it's only in numbers that a ship can create critical institutional mass.

Historically, mine warfare has been a marginal activity, conducted by a few sailors in a few ships far from the Navy's power centers, aircraft carriers, submarines, and amphibious warfare ships. The fleet has occasionally had mine-warfare panics in the past -- in 1950 after North Korean mines laid by wooden sailing junks kept Douglas MacArthur's invasion force out of Wonsan; in 1991 after Iraqi mines damaged the ships Tripoli and Princeton -- but the effort has always quickly flagged. "There was a lot of money thrown into mine warfare for three or four years and then attention turned elsewhere," said Truver. "That's my concern: That mine warfare's going to be getting money but then, as priorities change, it's going to be a backwater."

The Philippines needs 48 fighter jets, 6 mini submarines - report

The Philippines needs up to four squadrons (48) of upgraded Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets, more well-armed frigates and corvette-size, fast to surface combatant vessels and minesweepers and four to six mini submarines, possibly obtained from Russia, to build a credible defense force in the face of China’s increasing belligerence in the South China Sea, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) said.

This level of capability would far exceed current Philippine planning and finances and it would be in Washington’s interest to make it easier for Manila to acquire excess US fighters, frigates and other weapons system and encourage other countries such as Japan and South Korea to help modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), it said in an article “Defending the Philippines: Military modernization and the challenges ahead.”

The CNAS article on Thursday written by Richard Fisher said the AFP’s modernization program was estimated to cost about $1 billion over the course of President Aquino’s six-year term – an amount that pales in comparison to China’s 2012 official military budget of more than $100 billion.

A high-level Philippine delegation led by Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin was in Washington this week for discussions on each other’s needs to ensure freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. 

A Hamilton-class frigate, now the flagship of the Philippine Navy, was turned over by the US last year and a second one is forthcoming. A third frigate is being sought.

The article lauded Aquino’s determination to build up his country’s military forces and said he has spent more than $395 million on AFP modernization since coming into office, compared with $51 million annually in the previous 15 years.

It said he is seeking to purchase a small number of F-16s supported by six to 12 Surface Attack Aircraft (SAA)/Lead-In Fighter Training (LIFT) aircraft such as the subsonic Italian Aermacchi T-346 or the supersonic Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) T/A-50, both of which could be modified to perform secondary combat missions.

A considerable investment in training, logistical support and basing will have to precede the aircrafts’ service entry, estimated to be in 2016, the article said.

In 2011, the Philippine Navy (PN) restored a program to acquire two multi-role vessels in the form of 5,000-to-10,000-ton Landing Platform Deck (LPD) ships capable of supporting Marine amphibious operations supplying outposts in the Spratly Islands or conducting disaster relief operations.

The PN is also looking for a land-based anti-ship cruise missile like a version of the US Boeing AMG-84 Harpoon which has a range of 120 kms and could also be used by frigates and F-16s, said Fisher, a senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, in his article.

“Finally, the PN would like to acquire a submarine by 2020, which would become its most ambitious and expensive program to date,” the article said.

Given the economic and political stakes in ensuring that all East Asian countries maintain unimpeded access to the sea lanes near the Philippines, both those nations and the United States now share a real interest in the success of the AFP modernization.

The timing is also fortuitous, the article said, because “the United States now has a pragmatic partner in President Aquino who has proved his intention to invest in national defense and is willing to rise above nationalist resentments from the bases era.”

The Philippines booted the Americans from Clark Air Base and Subic Bay in 1992.

Suspect arrested in Navy veterans fundraising scam

A fugitive on the run for more than two years has been arrested on accusations that he ran a scam that collected $100 million in donations from people in dozens of states who believed they were helping U.S. Navy veterans, Ohio's attorney general and the U.S. Marshals Service announced Tuesday.

The man, who uses the false identify of Bobby Thompson, was indicted in Ohio in 2010 on theft, money laundering and other charges related to the Florida-based charity. He disappeared in June 2010. Little, if any, of the money collected by the charity was used to benefit veterans, authorities have said.

Authorities acting on a tip tracked Thompson to a bar in Portland, Ore., on Monday night, followed him home and made the arrest, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said. He had multiple fake ID cards from Canada and a backpack containing cash, DeWine said.

Thompson refused to speak to investigators, authorities said.

At a hearing Tuesday, U.S. District Judge John Acosta of Portland ordered Thompson to be returned to Ohio. Thompson, who limped into the courtroom, spoke frequently with his public defender during an hour-long hearing to establish he was the man authorities were looking for.

DeWine said authorities hope to have the man returned within 10 days to Ohio, where he will be tried in state court in Cleveland. The alleged fraud, which DeWine called "despicable," spanned 41 states, including up to $2 million in Ohio.

People who contributed gave small amounts, ranging from $5 to $50, DeWine said. "The bulk of this was not huge contributions," he said. "But these were patriotic Americans who gave money believing that that money was going to help Navy veterans."

Authorities still don't know the man's real name, but investigators uncovered information earlier this year that led them to believe he may have lived recently in New Mexico.

Ohio investigators also tracked Thompson through Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington and West Virginia.

Elliott said Thompson fled New England the day after an episode about his case aired on "America's Most Wanted" in March 2011.

The arrest closes a search dating back several years and involving a Tampa, Fla.-based charity known as the U.S. Navy Veterans Association.

The charity's former legal counsel said she long accepted Thompson's explanations for irregularities in the group's financial records, but ultimately changed her mind after flying to Tampa two years ago where Blanca Contreras, another agency official, denied her access to many records. Thompson was gone by then, Helen Mac Murray said.

"He was a very brilliant man," said Mac Murray, of New Albany in suburban Columbus. "He had an answer for any questions that popped up about any kind of irregularity."

Mac Murray said she took her concerns to the attorneys general of Ohio and Florida and the FBI in 2010 and has been cooperating ever since. She says she is not a suspect of the investigation. Cleveland-based U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott confirmed her cooperation.

Mac Murray said she last saw Thompson at a board meeting in New York City in June 2010. She doesn't know what Thompson was doing in Oregon, although he had frequently mentioned contacts he had there and in New Mexico. She also doesn't know who he really is or what is name is.

"He lied to all of us," she said.

Contreras of Tampa, Fla., was sentenced to five years in prison last year for her role in the scam. Contreras had pleaded guilty to theft, money laundering and other charges related to allegations she handled nearly $475,000 in Ohio donations for the charity.

Former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray had also investigated Thompson and had worked with the Hamilton County prosecutor's office on an arrest warrant issued from Cincinnati, where in 2003 the man set up a UPS mailbox to collect donations for the association.

Authorities say the real Thompson, a Choctaw who worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, wasn't connected to the association and had his identity, including his Social Security number and date of birth, stolen.

The association made a few sporadic contributions that benefited veterans, but public records show the man behind it contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to political candidates around the country, Cordray said in 2010. Authorities didn't know the motives for those contributions, he said.

Cordray's office froze the association's bank accounts and drop boxes and ordered it to stop operations in Ohio.

US Navy does not have money to pay for F/A-XX aircraft programme

 "If you do not have stealth by the year 2022 to 2025 you will be irrelevant"

An interesting investigation has revealed some details about the future US Navy F/A-XX programme which aims to replace the multi-role fighter aircraft F/A-18 Hornet and its latest version F/A-18 Super Hornet.

The programme goal is to replace the entire US Navy cutting edge fleet with a 5th or even a 6th generation aircraft by 2030.

The US Navy has already issued a request for information (RFI), effectively starting the search for that successor.

But many doubts have been raised that the current US Navy's economic situation will not have sufficient funds for the programme in the fiscal year 2014 budget. Moreover, many controversies are related to the F-35C programme (the aircraft carrier version of the Lockheed Martin 5th generation fighter). In fact, it is to be noted that America never planned to buy this version, focusing only on the "A" and "B".

The US Navy explained that the F-35C would replace the earlier Boeing F/A-18A Hornets, but it does not have enough power and enough payload to replace the Super Hornet. This consideration also sparked some sharp comments.

"There is no expectation of additional funds for this effort. It is also in direct competition with the next generation bomber for the USAF and follow-on UAS platforms" the American DoD said.

Emerson Gardner, a former deputy director of the Pentagon's Office of Cost assessment and Program Evaluation, said the "It's not going to happen. There's not going to be any money there. The total cost of a new F/A-XX programme is estimated to be more than $40 billion and yield a maximum of 150 aircraft". In addition, according to Gardner, the absence of a stealth fighter would be dangerous for the US Navy. "That's very dangerous for the carrier because it makes the carrier irrelevant. They are not going to have first-day capability. I'm absolutely convinced that if you do not have stealth by the year 2022 to 2025 you will be irrelevant".

Russia Offers Pyramid Radar For European Missile Defense

Russia could offer use of its massive Don-2NP radar system near Moscow as part of an agreement with NATO on a European missile defense plan to counter medium and long-range missiles, Russia's Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said on Friday.

"If we get an agreement with NATO and the U.S., then the Don-2 could be part of the potential system which could be used against potential medium and long-range missile threats," Antonov said during a visit to the facility at Sofrino in Moscow along with participants of an international conference on missile defense. He, however, said there was no talks in this regard currently.

"We are talking about demonstrating in practice, in reality, the elements of our aerospace defense, which we have today in Russia and how we are ready for cooperation. This station is a working part of the air defense chain defending our country," he was quoted by the Russian state media as saying.

The Don-2 radar, known to U.S. arms control negotiators in the 1980s as the 'pyramid' and to NATO as 'Pill Box,' was put into operation around 1989, and was the centerpiece of the former USSR's anti-missile defense system. The 100-meter square and 45-meter high phased radar with 360 degree coverage could detect small objects in space, and was linked to interceptor missiles.

Antonov said Russia was pleased with the results of the ongoing missile defense conference in Moscow. "We are pleased with the results. We assembled here quite a lot experts from a broad background, from NATO, OSCE, the CIS, academics. We had interesting and useful discussions."

Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said Russia would not allow creation of a missile defense system which could upset the strategic balance. "Missile defense is an illusion - no matter how much money you invest in it. We will never permit creation of a system which breaks the strategic balance," he said on Friday during a visit to Russian missile maker NPO Mashinostroyenie near Moscow.

Boeing Wins $55M Contract for Support from Royal Australian Air Force

Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare announced that Boeing has been awarded a $55 million Electronic Warfare support contract for the Royal Australian Air Force fleet of Wedgetail aircraft.

“Our Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft will play an important role in providing Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capability for the Australian Defence Force,” Mr Clare said.
The support arrangements for our fleet of AEW&C aircraft include software development, testing and repair of the Wedgetail’s advanced Electronic Warfare systems.

This contract is expected to provide employment for 27 engineers and logistic specialists in South Australia.

“It is important that this support work is done here in Australia. It will reduce the often lengthy overseas repair times, increase aircraft availability and reduce overall costs.” “The contract will also ensure critical engineering and Electronic Warfare systems design knowledge is retained within Australia for the ongoing support of the fleet of Wedgetails,” Mr Clare said.

More doubts cast on European missile defense plan

The National Academy of Sciences is casting more doubt on whether the Obama administration's European-based missile defense shield can protect the United States and recommends scrapping key parts of the system.

The academy's assessment could complicate White House efforts to persuade Congress to fund the still-developing program. Though the academy says the plans would protect Europe effectively, some lawmakers already are asking why the U.S., at a time of tight budgets, should spend billions of dollars on a system that provides limited homeland defense.

The conclusions from the academy, which advises the government on science and technology, are contained in a letter to lawmakers obtained by The Associated Press.

The academy's letter bolsters two earlier reports by Defense Department advisers and congressional investigators that said the European system faced significant delays, cost overruns and technology problems.

The letter is dated April 30 and addressed to the chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, and the panel's top Democrat, California Rep. Loretta Sanchez. It is based on unclassified parts of a broad academy report on U.S. missile defense capabilities not yet released.

Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency, said he was unaware of the academy's report and declined to comment.

Republicans, who have been questioning President Barack Obama's national security credentials ahead of the November elections, are likely to seize on the letter to bolster their argument that the European plans were poorly thought through and designed to appease Russia.

The defense shield is one of Obama's top military programs. Soon after he took office in 2009, he revamped a Bush administration missile defense plan that had been a chief source of tension with Russia. The Russian government believed the program is aimed at its missiles, while the U.S. said the system was designed to counter any Iranian missile threat.

While Russia initially welcomed the Obama administration's changes, it since has ramped up its criticism. On Thursday, Russia's top military officer went so far as to threaten pre-emptive military action on missile defense facilities in Eastern Europe if the U.S. goes ahead with its plans.

Obama's plan calls for slower interceptors than the earlier plan that could address Iran's medium-range missiles. The interceptors would be upgraded gradually over four phases, culminating in 2020 with newer versions, still in development, that the administration says will protect Europe and the United States. The early phases call for using Aegis radars on ships and a more powerful radar based in Turkey. Later phases call for moving Aegis radars to Romania and Poland.

The academy says the proposed system could effectively defend Europe and U.S. troops based there against short- and medium-range missiles from Iran if the system uses an interceptor that is fast enough. But it dismisses the administration's claims that the system eventually will offer protection to the United States as well. It says the system is "at best less than optimal for homeland defense."

It recommends eliminating the last phase of the Obama plan because it says the interceptors planned for that phase will not be fast enough to take down intercontinental missiles launched from Iran. It says the Bush administration plan would have faced the same problem.

It also recommends abandoning a satellite tracking system now in development that the administration has argued could solve weaknesses in the system's radars. A report by the Defense Science Board, a Pentagon advisory group, argued that the radars planned for the shield were too weak to track missiles effectively. The administration has denied that and said its satellite system would bolster the missile shield's capabilities.

But in blunt language, the academy rejects that claim, saying the satellites would be too far away from the threat to provide useful data. It also says the system would cost up to three times the administration's estimates.

According to a congressional aide who has seen the academy's study, it estimates the satellite system would cost $27.7 billion. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly.

The report recommends "terminating all effort" on the satellite project.