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Diplomacy & Crisis News

How America Can Win the Coming Battery War

Foreign Affairs - Fri, 07/06/2024 - 06:00
Bipartisan consensus is key—but depends on U.S. control of supply chains.

Hamas Is Not the Issue

The National Interest - Fri, 07/06/2024 - 04:27

The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and other Palestinian territories is now more than a half-century old. The fading of memories with time has led to a lack of understanding of the roots and nature of the recent violence between Israel and Palestinians that now centers on the Gaza Strip.

Much rhetoric over the past eight months has tried to erase memories even more drastically by pretending that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict began on October 7, 2023—as if the Hamas attack on southern Israel on that day was a bolt from the blue that was motivated by nothing but some unexplained innate hatred of Israelis. One need not go far back in the history of the conflict for a perspective that undermines that description. For example, consider the period from September 2014 through September 2023, following the previous Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip and before the current carnage that began last October. During that period, according to United Nations statistics, 1,632 Palestinians were killed by Israelis—mostly by Israeli security forces and some by settlers in the West Bank. That is more than the approximately 1,200 fatalities, according to the Israeli government’s publicly announced estimate, who were victims of the Hamas attack in October. During the same 2014–2023 period, 155 Israelis died at the hands of Palestinians.

Go back much further in the conflict’s history, and one can see that understanding the nature and causes of Palestinian violence perpetrated against Israel is not only not a matter of parsing Hamas’s motivations; it mostly does not involve Hamas at all.

There is much to learn from that long and troubled history, including how early Zionists realized that their project necessarily involved the use of force against the people already living in Palestine. David Ben Gurion, the future prime minister of Israel, said in 1919, “There is a gulf, and nothing can fill that gulf…I do not know what Arab will agree that Palestine should belong to the Jews…We, as a nation, want this country to be ours, the Arabs, as a nation, want this country to be theirs.”

Then there were the bloody events of the 1940s, including massacres and mass displacement that are beyond the living memory of most of today’s Palestinians but were such a searing collective experience that the Nakba or “catastrophe” lives on as part of the Palestinian national consciousness. Terrorism that was then part of the larger conflict over Palestine was largely the work of groups led by two other future Israeli prime ministers: Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir

For many Americans today who are several decades old, initial awareness of international terrorism associated the phenomenon primarily with Palestinians. International terrorism became a headline item in the late 1960s and early 1970s to a much greater degree than it had been for many years before. Palestinian groups perpetrated several of the most spectacular, headline-grabbing attacks, such as multiple simultaneous hijackings of airliners and their subsequent destruction at a desert airstrip in 1970 and the murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

The timing of this surge in terrorism and the fact that Palestinians were leading perpetrators was no accident. The key precipitating event was the 1967 Six-Day War, initiated by Israel, resulting in the Israeli capture of Arab land in Palestine, Egypt, and Syria and marking the beginning of the decades-long Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. 

Palestinian groups conducting the terrorist attacks included, among others, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Sa’iqa, Fatah, and splinter groups such as Black September (which planned and executed the Munich massacre). The groups represented an assortment of ideologies and political orientations, united only by their common anger over the Israeli subjugation of their Palestinian brethren. Nonetheless, they were predominantly secular rather than Islamist (the founder and longtime leader of the PFLP, George Habash, was raised in the Greek Orthodox Church).

Hamas, which would not be founded until 1987, had no part in any of this.

A standard piece of advice to someone who complains about a long series of bad relations with other people is to look inward at what the complainer might be doing that is causing the recurring problem rather than to keep blaming others. The advice applies to countries as well as to individuals.

But Israel, with its long and violent relationships with Palestinians—now accompanied by bad relationships with international tribunals and much of the rest of the world—is not following that advice.

Its failure to do so is driving a continuation of the bloodshed and humanitarian disaster that the Gaza Strip has become during the past eight months. The Israeli government’s declared objective in continuing its assault on the Strip is to “destroy Hamas.” Taking Israeli leaders at their word, their determination to pursue this objective is the principal barrier to a cease-fire.

Even if Israeli decision-makers were totally indifferent to the suffering of Palestinians and cared only about the security and well-being of Israeli citizens, the objective of “destroying Hamas” is misguided on multiple levels.

Hamas is not a standing army whose destruction is to be counted in terms of eradicated battalions. It is a movement, an ideology, and a vehicle for expressing dissatisfaction with subjugation by Israel. It gained support among Palestinians who saw it as the most forthright group in standing up to Israel—especially in contrast to the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, which they see as little more than an auxiliary to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Israel’s conduct in Gaza has increased Hamas’s popularity among many Palestinians and, as such, can be expected to be a boon to recruitment.

Even more fundamentally—and as the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict shows—there is nothing special about Hamas that distinguishes it from all the other vehicles of resistance against subjugation by Israel. Hamas grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood. If there were no Israeli occupation, then it would function as the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, the same as the wings of the Brotherhood in Tunisia, Jordan, and Egypt (before Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s 2013 coup) have functioned—as peaceful competitors for political power in their respective nations. Hamas itself has functioned effectively as a peaceful competitor for power in its own nation when given the chance to do so.

Whatever one thinks of what Hamas has become today, it has become that not because of something in its genes that distinguishes it from other Palestinian entities. It has become that because of the conditions to which Israel has subjected the Palestinian nation. If Hamas were to vanish tomorrow, other groups would use violence as a means of resistance against Israeli occupation. The assortment of groups that were active in the 1960s and 1970s did so, and so will other groups, including ones yet to be formed, in the future as long as the occupation and its associated treatment of Palestinians continues.

The suffering that residents of the Gaza Strip have endured over the past eight months will take place in Palestinian consciousness alongside the Nakba of the 1940s and the Israeli conquests of 1967 to sustain Palestinian anger and motivate those future groups.

This tragic story will end not with the destruction of any one group but only with Palestinian self-determination and an end to occupation. 

Paul R. Pillar retired in 2005 from a twenty-eight-year career in the U.S. intelligence community, in which his last position was as the National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia. Earlier, he served in a variety of analytical and managerial positions, including as chief of analytic units at the CIA, covering portions of the Near East, the Persian Gulf, and South Asia. His most recent book is Beyond the Water’s Edge: How Partisanship Corrupts U.S. Foreign Policy. He is also a contributing editor for this publication.

Image: Muhammad Aamir Sumsum /

YF-118G: The Stealth Plane History Can't Ever Forget

The National Interest - Fri, 07/06/2024 - 02:16

Summary: The YF-118G "Bird of Prey" was a stealthy experimental aircraft developed by Boeing's Phantom Works in the early 1990s.

-It was designed to test radar evasion and low observability, paving the way for modern stealth fighters like the F-22 and F-35.

-The single-seat jet, which cost around $67 million, featured innovative design elements such as gull-shaped wings and the absence of a tail section.

-Although it flew only a few dozen times, the Bird of Prey influenced future aircraft designs and showcased rapid prototyping techniques.

YF-118G Bird of Prey: The Stealth Pioneer

The YF-118G was the stealthy, semi-secretive predecessor to the American-made F-22 and F-35 fighter jets. It set the stage for modern aircraft. Known as the “Bird of Prey,” the YF-118G only flew a few dozen times.

However, the Bird of Prey made significant contributions to the U.S. armed forces that are still deserving of recognition.

Specifically, the airframe proved that it was possible to implement radar evasion attributes and low observability thresholds in fighter planes. 

Establishing U.S. Air Superiority

 The Bird of Prey was developed in the early 1990s by Boeing’s Phantom Works. Functioning as the company’s advanced prototyping arm, the branch prioritized the development of sophisticated military products. The YF-118G was named after the Klingon spacecraft in the science fiction series Star Trek for its futuristic design and similar outward appearance. Alan Weichman was the engineer who led the Bird of Prey’s development. Weichman’s further work included Lockheed Martin’s Have Blue, F-117 Nighthawk, and Sea Shadow projects. 

Considering its sophisticated characteristics, the Bird of Prey single-seat jet was relatively inexpensive, costing approximately $67 million. Incorporation of off-the-rack components helped Weichman’s team produce the jet so cheaply. A single Pratt & Whitney JT15D-5C turbofan powered the jet, providing over 3,000 pounds of thrust, with a maximum speed of 300 miles per hour and a ceiling of 20,000 feet. The airframe’s novel design contributed to its stealthy exterior. The Bird of Prey had angular gull-shaped wings and was missing a tail section. The length of the airframe was comparable to the F-16. 

YF-118G - A Model Aircraft

 The Phantom Works team used a method of rapid prototyping that was unique at the time and also helped keep production costs low.

As described by Sandboxx, “rather than designing physical prototypes, subjecting them to testing, making changes, and fielding new prototypes for further testing, the Phantom Works team used computers to aid in their design work, simulating performance to the best of the era’s computing abilities.

As a result, they were able to produce prototype components that were far closer to the finished product than previous approaches would allow.” 

The Bird of Prey took its last official flight in 1999 and was declassified three years later. While the airframe had a short life, Boeing used its design for future aircraft. The X-32 Joint Strike Fighter prototypes and the X-45A Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle model incorporated some of the Bird of Prey’s attributes.

While Boeing declassified the jet’s design, as it had become industry-standard, some aspects of the Bird of Prey remain mysterious.

As leading U.S. defense companies continue to roll out stealthier, cutting-edge airframes, perhaps more of the Bird of Prey’s idiosyncrasies will be unveiled.

About the Author: Maya Carlin

Maya Carlin is an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel.

All images are Creative Commons. 

The Navy’s New Constellation-Class Frigate is a Total Disaster

The National Interest - Fri, 07/06/2024 - 02:09

Summary and Key Points: The U.S. Navy’s Constellation-class frigate project is facing a 40% cost overrun, attributed to incomplete ship designs and underestimations in adapting foreign designs.

-Initially aimed to be cost-effective, interoperability issues with European warships have arisen due to design changes.

-Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro blamed the Italian contractor and the Trump administration, but the Government Accountability Office (GAO) highlighted Navy's own rigid requirements as a significant factor. The actual cost of each Constellation-class frigate is now projected to be around $1.6 billion.

In classic Pentagon fashion, the bean counters and eggheads in the Navy “underestimated the price tag of [the Constellation-class frigate] by 40 percent.”

This, at a time when most Americans are struggling to pay for groceries and the US government’s debt interest payments are now outstripping its elephantine defense budget. 

Now, the Navy, which has been on a spending spree, has miscalculated the cost of its new frigate. Not by five or ten percent. But by 40 percent! If a private corporation miscalculated their budget for a project by 40 percent, people would have their careers ruined and it might actually take that company down.

But it’s just another rounding error for the Pentagon and defense industrial base that already receives far too much money and delivers far less than they promised! 

The U.S. Navy Just Wastes Our Money These Days

It appears that the Navy jumped the gun with their creation of the Constellation-class next-generation guided-missile frigate. 

According to USNI News, the Navy approved the design and development of the Constellationwith “incomplete elements of the ship design—including information gaps related to structural, piping, ventilation, and other systems—and underestimation of adapting a foreign design to meet Navy requirements.” These developments, in turn, has led to what the Navy is euphemistically referring to as “unplanned weight growth.” 

In other words, the new Constellation-class now has a big design, causing all sorts of complications for the boat as the Navy moves forward with its development. 

The problem redounds to the fact that the Navy has partnered with an Italian defense contractor, Fincantieri Marinette Marine, which is also responsible for the construction of several major European warships as well as building the Saudi multi-mission surface combatant to the Constellation-class and the US Navy’s disastrous Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). Despite having incomplete elements of the ship design, the Navy told Fincantieri to start cutting steel for the Constellation-class.

Of course, only after the steel was cut did the Navy realize that they had erred. The whole point of building the Constellation with an Italian shipbuilder was to increase interoperability with allied navies as well as to decrease the overall cost. Well, now that the Navy so badly miscalculated the design requirements for the boat in question, there goes the cost-effective bit (interesting how that’s always the first thing sacrificed in these projects, no?)

In the specific case of the Constellation-class, partnering with Fincantieri was meant to allow for an 85 percent interoperability with the Italian shipbuilder’s FREMM-class frigate that many European navies use. Because of all the design changes the Navy insisted upon, the Constellation-class now has only a 15 percent interoperability rating with the European warships. 

Politicians Point the Finger

With extreme egg on their face, the Biden Administration’s Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro actually tried to blame both the Italian shipbuilder and the Trump Administration. In an election year in which the forty-sixth president, Del Toro’s boss, is struggling, the last thing they need is to be blamed for their obvious lack of oversight on this project. But don’t fall for the rhetoric. This is a major mess up by the Biden Administration. 

What’s more, Fincantieri did nothing wrong. 

Every contractor for the Defense Department underbids and overpromises. This is a matter of “don’t hate the player, hate the game.” It’s just that Fincantieri is a foreign contractor so it’s an easy target for a Biden Administration that is desperate to deflect blame. 

The true price of the Constellation-class is going to be closer to $1.6 billion, 40 percent more than what was initially planned for. But for all the accusations made against Fincantieri and the Trump Administration, everyone knows that it was the Navy’s own onerous (and exclusionary) “511 functional design documents,” that even the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has recommended be seriously amended to better comport with cost-save measures in the long-run.

The Navy is to Blame Even More Than the Politicians Are

If there is any group other than the Biden Administration that should be blamed for allowing such a cluster-you-know-what, it is the Navy itself. Indeed, the GAO recommendations made to improve Navy acquisitions as well as to prevent this type of disaster from unfolding again were not political. They were bureaucratic. And, of course, the Navy is trying to deflect as much as the Biden Administration. 

Of the five major recommendations the GAO made to make the Navy’s 511 functional design requirementsless rigid, the Navy accepted four—begrudgingly— but balked about the fifth, which called for the Navy to update its testing practices. 

The bottom line is that the Defense Department is stuck in the past. The way that they purchase, design, and build equipment is not reflective anymore of the ever-changing realities of modern warfare. 

Nor are they mindful (or respectful) of the fact that they are handling billions of tax dollars, taken from the paychecks of hard-working Americans who are increasingly under economic strain. If the Navy believes they need the systems in question (they actually don’t), they should take care to manage the program better and keep costs down as much as possible. 

About the Author

Brandon J. Weichert, a National Interest national security analyst, is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, the Asia Times, and The-Pipeline. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower, Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life, and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy. His next book, A Disaster of Our Own Making: How the West Lost Ukraine, is due October 22 from Encounter Books. Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.

Europe’s Far Right Expects Big Wins in EU Parliamentary Elections

Foreign Policy - Fri, 07/06/2024 - 01:00
Carbon emission standards and rising immigration are the top two concerns fueling the right’s rise.

Ukraine War Ending: Putin Is Sick with Cancer and Passes Away?

The National Interest - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 23:17

Summary: Persistent rumors about Russian President Vladimir Putin's health have circulated since the invasion of Ukraine, with speculations ranging from cancer to Parkinson's disease.

-Ukrainian officials, in particular, have been vocal about these rumors, suggesting that Putin's illness could potentially end the conflict. Despite frequent analyses of his public appearances, no verifiable evidence confirms these claims.

-The Kremlin denies any health issues, and CIA director William Burns has stated that Putin appears "entirely too healthy."

Is Putin Seriously Ill? Rumors and Realities

Persistent rumors have swirled around the health of Russian President Vladimir Putin since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began. Despite the Kremlin’s assurances, the 71-year-old’s physical status is the source of constant speculation. 

The Kremlin leader has been rumored to suffer ailments ranging from terminal cancer to Parkinson’s disease. News outlets and social media channels have dissected footage and videos of the Russian president, overanalyzing his movements, skin color, and other perceived abnormalities. 

Even if Putin were truly ill, the Kremlin would never divulge such sensitive information.

What Ukraine Has to Gain from Putin Health Rumors

Ukrainian officials have perhaps remained the most adamant over the last couple of years that the Russian leader suffers from a terminal illness. Clearly their hope is the Russian leader is ill and passes away -- and maybe ending the war in Ukraine. 

In early 2023, Kyiv military intelligence head Kyrylo Budanov insisted that Putin may not be long for this world. "He has been sick for a long time; I am sure he has cancer. I think he will die very quickly. I hope very soon," he told ABC News.

However, just like Moscow is prone to spread propaganda and misinformation, so is Ukraine in the context of this war. It is in Kyiv’s best interest to spread rumors and speculation that the Russian president is not fit to be in a leadership position.

Other Speculation on Putin 

Other Ukrainian officials have mirrored Budanov’s rhetoric about Putin’s possibly imminent death. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speculated a few weeks after his colleague’s ABC interview that he was not even sure Putin was still alive and making decisions for the country. Obviously, the Russian president has been seen alive many times since those remarks were publicized. 

Also last year, Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Anton Gerashchenko published footage of Putin during a visit to occupied Crimea. The Russian leader appears to be limping in the video, causing some to question whether he is indeed suffering from a serious health condition.

More recently, a former head of the UK’s M16 intelligence apparatus, Sir Richard Dearlove, claimed that Putin is likely suffering from something “fundamentally wrong” with his health. Dearlove went so far as to suggest Parkinson’s disease – a neurological ailment which can cause delusions. 

“Probably Parkinson’s which of course has different representations, different variations, different seriousness,” Dearlove said in February. “But if the man is paranoid, and I think the murder of Navalny might suggest a certain paranoia, that is one of the symptoms.”

Regardless of these rumors, zero verifiable evidence exists that confirms Putin is contending with any kind of serious or terminal illness. In fact, as CIA director Williams Burns put it last year in an interview with Newsweek, “As far as we can tell, he [Putin] is entirely too healthy.”

About the Author: Maya Carlin  

Maya Carlin, National Security Writer with The National Interest, is an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel. You can follow her on Twitter: @MayaCarlin

China Is Freaking Out: The F/A-XX 6th Generation Fighter Could Be Epic

The National Interest - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 22:59

Summary: The U.S. Navy's F/A-XX fighter program is set to replace the F/A-18 Block II Super Hornet and will serve as the “quarterback” for manned and unmanned aircraft.

-This future sixth-generation fighter will complement the F-35C Lightning II and UCLASS unmanned aircraft, addressing long-range operational needs and next-generation survivability.

-While detailed specifications remain classified, the F/A-XX will feature an open architecture for various payloads and sensors and will support autonomous operations.

-Despite its importance, the Navy has delayed the program to prioritize current readiness amidst heightened global tensions.

Navy's F/A-XX Fighter: The Future of Air Superiority

The U.S. Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance fighter program has earned plenty of coverage in recent months. But the Navy has a sixth-generation fighter program of its own. 

When the F/A-XX future fighter eventually enters service, it will operate as the Navy’s “quarterback” for manned and unmanned aircraft. The future fighter series is planned to replace the F/A-18 Block II Super Hornet. 

Unlike the Air Force, however, the Navy has opted to delay development of the F/A-XX in order to free up resources for current readiness needs.

What We Know About the F/A-XX Fighter Program

While exact specs and capabilities surrounding the F/A-XX remain highly classified, some information has been divulged to the public. A Navy spokesperson last year asserted that the service had “identified operational reach, capacity, long range kill chains, autonomy, and next generation survivability as key enablers in the Air Wing of the Future and supporting Family of System,” according to Breaking Defense.

The Navy first issued a formal request for gathering information and research on a sixth-generation platform over a decade ago. Since the F/A-18 Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler are nearing the end of production, introducing a next-generation jet series is essential to maintaining air superiority. 

The new aircraft will complement the existing F-35C Lightning II fighter and UCLASS unmanned aircraft and will be deployed to operate in anti-access/area denial environments. As tensions continue to ramp up between Washington and Beijing over the South China Sea, the new F/A-XX series will need long-range capabilities in order to traverse the huge swaths of ocean that define the Indo-Pacific region. 

Analysts agree that the Navy’s new fighter will be involved in uncrewed operations. The war in Ukraine has highlighted the important role these cheap and easily operable unmanned aerial vehicle systems can play in modern warfare. In fact, the Air Force’s upcoming NGAD platform will include “wingmen drones” to fly alongside crewed fighters. Perhaps most significantly, the Navy’s new fighter is expected to feature an open architecture design that will enable a range of payloads, weapons, and sensors to be interchanged.

While the F/A-XX will be critical for the Navy as Beijing and Moscow continue to work on their own sixth-generation programs, the service is currently prioritizing existing systems. 

Since Hamas’s October 7 attack against Israel, the Navy’s carriers and other ships have been deployed more frequently to the Middle East in order to contend with hostile actors in the region. The Navy has been busy in the Red Sea, shooting down barrages launched by Iran and its affiliates. China is also a threat to invade the island nation of Taiwan, forcing the U.S. Navy to always be on alert in the South Pacific. For now, the service’s decision to focus on current capabilities in light of these threats appears to be the right one.

About the Author: Maya Carlin 

Maya Carlin, National Security Writer with The National Interest, is an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel. You can follow her on Twitter: @MayaCarlin

Images are from Creative Commons or Shutterstock. 

The Strategic Wisdom Behind D-Day’s Success

The National Interest - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 22:28

Whether, when, and how to open a new combat theater or line of operations ranks among the most freighted decisions military commanders and their political overseers can ever make. Today, of course, marks the eightieth anniversary of D-Day, the Allied landings in German-occupied Normandy. There is no shortage of tales of valor and sorrow out there to commemorate the day, and I would not presume to add to them. Instead let’s revisit the June 6 assault on Fortress Europe through the prism of strategic theory. 

Strategic grandmaster Carl von Clausewitz beseeches military and political leaders to ask themselves three hard questions before vaulting forces into a new theater like World War II France. Clausewitz deliberately sets the bar high for such a decision. He regarded strategy as a process of setting and enforcing priorities, his logic being that no combatant society boasts enough diplomatic, economic and industrial, and military resources to accomplish all worthy goals it espies. A combatant that tries to achieve everything, everywhere, ends up achieving little, anywhere. It dilutes its strength among multiple commitments, leaving itself weaker than antagonists at every point of impact on the map or nautical chart. 

Trying to do it all courts extreme peril. 

For the sage of Prussia, then, it’s best to decide what matters most and husband manpower and firepower to obtain it. As a corollary the leadership should abjure secondary endeavors except on a not-to-interfere basis with attaining the primary goal. It makes no sense to forfeit what matters most for the sake of something that matters less. That’s why he fashioned what I’ve taken to calling his “Three Rs” to guide decisionmaking vis-à-vis new theaters or efforts. 

Namely reward, resources, and risk. 

Again, Clausewitz counsels military magnates to concentrate on one big thing rather than trying to do it all. Striking repeatedly and relentlessly at whatever lends cohesion to the foe’s army, government, or society blazes the surest route to triumph at arms. Still, he does grudgingly allow that extraordinary circumstances could warrant extraordinary measures. Siphoning resources from the main theater could be worthwhile, he concedes, “when secondary operations look exceptionally rewarding. But we must repeat that only decisive superiority can justify diverting strength without risking too much in the principal theater” (his emphasis). 

So there’s your trusty Clausewitzian guide to thinking through weighty decisions such as whether to mount an amphibious invasion of France. The more abundant the resources, the lower the risk—and the easier it is to give the order setting in motion a promising new enterprise. 

In that strategic sense Allied leaders’ decision to proceed with Operation Overlord was easy in mid-1944. After all, American industry had fully geared up by then and was turning out mountains of war matériel—easing the military poverty Clausewitz saw in his own lifetime. Material plenty allowed the Allies to open the new theater at the same time fighting raged in Italy, and at the same time U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine forces were lumbering across the Pacific toward imperial Japan. Indeed, U.S. forces staged amphibious landings on the island of Saipan—an operation of magnitude comparable to D-Day—within days after the landings in Normandy. 

In short, not just decisive but crushing superiority of resources opens up new operational and strategic vistas. It lets political and military leaders ordain new ventures without running undue risk in likewise important theaters. Despite his qualms about frittering away resources, Clausewitz would have to approve of the decision to invade Normandy eighty years ago today. 

And he would arch an eyebrow in wonderment at how the mighty U.S. defense industry has fallen since. 

About the Author: Dr. James Holmes, U.S. Naval War College 

Dr. James Holmes is J. C. Wylie Chair of Maritime Strategy at the Naval War College and a Nonresident Fellow at the University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs. The views voiced here are his alone. 

All images are Creative Commons. 

Hunter Biden Might Be In Trouble

The National Interest - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 22:19

Summary and Key Points: Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, could face decades in prison if convicted on felony gun charges. This trial, occurring shortly after former President Donald Trump’s conviction in New York, has garnered significant attention.

-Hunter Biden’s charges include lying about his drug use on a federal form when purchasing a handgun and possessing a firearm while addicted to drugs.

-The case is seen by some as politically motivated. If convicted, Biden faces serious legal consequences, and President Biden has stated he will not pardon his son.

-The trial’s outcome may hinge heavily on the evidence presented.

Hunter Biden’s Historic Gun Charges Trial Begins Amid Political Tensions

The deeply troubled son of President Joe Biden could face decades in prison if convicted on felony gun charges in the now historic trial.

This week, Hunter Biden became the first child of a sitting president to go to trial – and it comes just days after former President Donald Trump was convicted of a felony in New York for falsifying business records related to a hush-money payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

The case involving the younger Biden is being as closely watched by observers as Trump's trial, especially as many Republicans have suggested there is a two-tier justice system that wrongly convicted the former president. However, the cases aren't the least bit similar – with the exception that neither man has any prior convictions. For that reason, in both cases, it could result in a lesser sentence. Trump faces up to four years for his low-level felony conviction and is scheduled to be sentenced in July.

Hunter Biden's situation is more serious. The first two charges in the three-count federal indictment are tied to the purchase of a handgun that the president's son made, including lying on a form that is submitted to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); and affirming that he was legally allowed to buy the weapon.

The president's son responded to the questions about whether he was an "unlawful user of, or addicted to" any illegal drugs by checking "no." At the time, Biden was addicted to crack cocaine, which according to his own admission, he was used quite often.

The third count relates to the possession of the handgun, as it is against federal law to possess a firearm while abusing drugs.

Biden only had the weapon for 11 days, before his paramour – who was his late older brother's widow – threw the gun in a dumpster over concerns for his mental health. That trash receptacle was reported to be near a school, and it was later found by someone who was collecting cans, and then turned over to the police.

"Guns present a danger if they get in the wrong hands, and that’s the impetus behind these laws," Nabeel Kibria, a Washington, DC-based defense attorney who has handled hundreds of gun cases, told CNN. "The evidence seems pretty stacked against Hunter … but who determines who is an addict? What are the bright-line rules that must be followed?"

Hunter Biden Trial: Is It a Witch Hunt or Politically Motivated?

Many Democratic lawmakers have remained quiet on the issue, but supporters of the president on social media have largely called the case to be politically motivated, and an attempt to hurt President Biden's reelection chances this November.

The gun charges were originally to be dismissed as part of a plea deal made last year, but after that fell apart, prosecutors moved forward to prosecute Hunter Biden for his illegal purchase and possession of the firearm. Legal experts have been divided on whether the charges are warranted, while Hunter Biden's legal team has tried to suggest he made an error while filling out the form.

It will first be up to the jury to decide whether the president's son is guilty of any three or all of the charges. If he is found guilty, District Judge Maryellen Noreika, who is presiding over the case, will ultimately determine his fate and whether he is sent to prison.

As the case is being held in Delaware, the home state of the Biden family, the president's son may have a more friendly juror perhaps than former President Trump had in his Manhattan courtroom. However, Noreika was appointed by Trump.

In other words, this may truly be a case where the evidence will be more crucial than ever.

Finally, the White House has been quite vocal that it would not pardon Hunter Biden if convicted – as President Biden does have the power to issue such a pardon or to commute the sentence. Experts have suggested with such a close election, the president may be forced to see Hunter head to prison – at least until after Election Day.

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. You can email the author:

All images are from Shutterstock. 

A New Cold War Needs Its Own Rules

Foreign Policy - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 22:16
Conflict with China is inevitable—but controllable.

Tensions Flare Between North and South Korea

Foreign Policy - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 22:12
It started with dung-filled balloons and spiraled from there.

Joe Biden Should Worry: Russia Vows to Arm Enemies of America

The National Interest - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 22:06

Summary and Key Points: During the Cold War, the U.S. and its allies supported anti-communist nations, while the Soviet Union backed pro-communist regimes. This dynamic continues today, with the West aiding Ukraine, prompting Russia to threaten reciprocal military support to anti-Western nations.

-At the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev hinted at supplying weapons to regions hostile to Western interests.

-Despite these threats, Russia's capacity to provide such aid is hampered by sanctions and its own military needs, making these statements likely more saber-rattling than serious threats.

Russia Threatens to Arm Anti-Western Nations in Response to Ukraine Aid

During the Cold War, the United States and its Western allies provided weapons and support to anti-communist nations, while the Soviet Union and her satellite states provided similar support to foster the spread of communism. Beginning with 1947's Truman Doctrine, Washington vowed to "provide political, military and economic assistance to all democratic nations under threat from external or internal authoritarian forces."

Today the West continues similar support to nations such as Ukraine, a fact that has received condemnation from Moscow, which now has vowed to provide its own military aid to nations and regimes that aren't so friendly to NATO, the U.S. and its allies.

According to a report from Russian state media outlet Tass, this week at a meeting with the heads of international news agencies at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged that the Kremlin was considering how to respond to the Western aid provided to Ukraine. That could include supplying "similar weapons" to regions where "painful strikes" could be carried out on Western targets.

Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev – who previously served as president of Russia – echoed Putin's comments.

"This marks quite a significant change in our foreign policy," explained Medvedev. "This is what the Yankees and their drooling European dogs think: we have the right to send any weapons to Ukraine but no country can help Russia.

"Now let the US and its allies feel the direct impact of the use of Russian weapons by third parties," Medvedev added. "This could be anyone who considers Yankeeland as their enemy, regardless of their political beliefs or international recognition."

Specific nations weren't named, but the Russian Security Council deputy chairman went on to suggest that if a nation is an "enemy" of the United States, "then they are our friends," and would possibly be provided weapons and other military aid.

"And let the use of Russian weapons in the so far unidentified 'regions' be as devastating as possible for their and our adversaries. Let 'the sensitive facilities of countries providing weapons to Ukraine' burn in hellfire, along with those who operate them," Medvedev said. "As for us, we will rejoice in the successful strikes involving our weapons against our common enemies."

Empty Promise Or Serious Threat?

Even as Moscow has seen its position among the international community deteriorate since it launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russia continues to maintain support with nations around the world including China, Belarus, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Myanmar, Eritrea, Pakistan and Kazakhstan.

What aid Russia can actually send remains an issue, as international sanctions have resulted in it struggling to produce military hardware for its own needs. In addition, some former clients – notably India – have been slowly turning away from Moscow.

Moreover, while the Kremlin is directly involved in a conflict in Ukraine, the West is largely not engaged in any full-blown fighting. Though Medvedev could be seen to suggest that various nations could strike at U.S. interests, it would be foolish to believe Tehran, Havana, or Pyongyang would follow through even with prodding. Such a regime would be unlikely to survive for long.

Thus, Putin's and Medvedev's words should be seen as mere saber rattling, while their blades are simply old and rusty.

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. You can email the author:

Image Credit: Shutterstock. 

Turkey is Set to be a Tank Powerhouse with Altay Main Battle Tank

The National Interest - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 21:43

Summary and Main Points: Turkey, which maintains one of Europe’s largest tank fleets, is set to modernize its armored force with the Altay main battle tank (MBT).

-The Turkish Defence Industry Agency (SSB) announced that serial production of the Altay will begin earlier than expected, with the first tanks entering service in 2024.

-The Altay, based on South Korea’s K2 Black Panther, features a domestically designed powerpack system and advanced protection systems.

-Equipped with a Rheinmetall 120mm L/55 smoothbore gun, the Altay is designed to meet Turkey’s self-sufficiency goals in arms production.

-Turkey is also exploring export opportunities for the Altay MBT.

Turkey’s Altay Tank: Modernizing Europe’s Largest Tank Fleet

NATO member nation Turkey maintains one of Europe’s largest fleets of tanks. According to figures from Global Firepower, the Turk Kara Kuvvelleri (Turkish Land Forces) maintains an arsenal of 2,622 tanks—but many are older models, dating back to the Cold War. Efforts to modernize its armored force have picked up.

The Turkish Defence Industry Agency (SSB) announced on May 29 that serial production will begin on its Altay main battle tank (MBT), a year earlier than originally expected.

“We are moving to serial production of the Altay tank,” SSB president Haluk Görgün told public broadcaster TRT Haber, per Janes. “There are countries that want to work with us on this internationally, and we are continuing our negotiations with them.”

The Turkish military received its first two prototype Altay MBTs from BMC Defense for testing in April 2023 and is now on track to enter service with the Turk Kara Kuvvelleri sometime next year.

Honoring a Hero of Turkey

The indigenously developed and produced Turkish MBT was named to honor General Fahrettin Altay—whose surname meaning red horse or colt was given to him by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic. Altay served in the Gallipoli and Palestine campaigns during World War I and was a cavalry commander during the Turkish War of Independence.

The Altay MBT is based on South Korea’s K2 Black Panther but was further designed and developed to meet the needs of the Turk Kara Kuvvelleri. It is equipped with a domestically designed powerpack system. Ankara sought to create the powerpack—which encompasses both the engine and transmission system—and other subsystems to reduce the reliance on foreign technology, but to further strengthen Turkey’s self-sufficiency in arms production, Defense and Security Monitor reported.

Its main armament is a Rheinmetall 120mm L/55 smoothbore gun, while second weapons included a 12.7mm (.50 caliber) commander’s machine gun and a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun. It is reported to be able to carry forty 120mm rounds of various types for the main gun.

The Altay is also outfitted with a number of advanced protection systems that help the survivability of the crew, including advanced armor with CRBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear) protection, and a C3I (command, control, communications, and intelligence) system, as well as a fire-extinguishing and explosion suppression system. In addition to a laser warning system and battlefield target identification system, the Altay is further equipped with the Aselsan’s Örümcek 360-degree situational awareness platform that was BMC Defense first unveiled in March 2023.

The Turkish MBT will be operated by a crew of four that includes a commander, driver, gunner, and loader. The tank is on the heavier side, weighing about 71 tons. However, it is capable of reaching a maximum speed of 70 km/h (43 mph), with an operational range of 500 km (310 miles).

While designed to meet the needs of Turk Kara Kuvvelleri, Ankara will explore export options for the Altay.

“We are very strong as a country in the ground vehicle industry,” added Görgün. “We have several companies that export abroad. All their products have advantages that can compete with their global counterparts.”

About the Author: Peter Suciu 

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. You can email the author:

Main image is of Altay tank. Others are of K2 Black Panther that helped inspire the Altay tank. Image Credit: Shutterstock. 

Supercavitating Torpedoes: Russia and Iran Have Them (The Navy Doesn’t)

The National Interest - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 21:36

Summary: Supercavitating torpedoes, which use a cavitation bubble to reduce drag and achieve high speeds, are operated by Russia, Iran, Germany, and not the U.S.

These torpedoes have a distinctive nose to create the bubble and often use rocket propulsion to maintain high speeds. Russia's VA-111 Shkval, in service since 1977, is a prime example, reaching speeds up to 290 mph. Iran's Hoot, believed to be reverse-engineered from the VA-111, can reach 220 mph but has a limited range of six miles.

Despite their speed, supercavitating torpedoes have a shorter operational range compared to conventional torpedoes like the U.S. Mark-48.

Two of America’s primary foes, Russia and Iran, possess a supercavitating torpedo.

As the name suggests, a supercavitating torpedo uses supercavitation to move through the water at higher velocities than conventional torpedoes. Supercavitation is the use of a cavitation bubble to reduce drag. 

Supercavitating Torpedoes, Explained

The bubble forms at the nose of the object – in this case, a torpedo – and extends past the aft end of the object. It prevents contact between the sides of the object and the liquid medium through which it passes. The separation that the bubble creates between the object (torpedo) and the liquid (ocean water) significantly reduces skin friction drag, allowing the object to achieve higher speeds. 

Supercavitating objects typically feature a distinctive nose, with a sharp-edged perimeter designed to produce the bubble. The nose is often articulated and shaped like a flat disk or cone. The body of the supercavitating object is typically slender – all the better to be enveloped in a cavitation bubble.

If the bubble created is not long enough to encompass the entire object, high-pressure gas can be injected near the object’s nose to extend the bubble. 

Rocket propulsion is often used to sustain the high speeds needed to achieve supercavitation. Various methods can be used to maneuver a supercavitating object, including: differential thrust from multiple nozzles; vectoring rocket thrust through a gimbaling single nozzle; a tilted object nose; gas injected asymmetrically near the object’s nose to distort the bubble’s geometry; and drag fins that can project through the bubble into the surrounding liquid. 

Reverse-Engineered Supercavitation

The Soviets started experimenting with supercavitating torpedoes in the 1960s. Russia's current flagship model is the VA-111 Shkval, which has been in service since 1977. The VA-111 is launched from a 533mm torpedo tube and relies on a solid-fuel rocket to achieve cavitation speeds.

A combined-cycle gas turbine in the nose creates the gas bubble. Once the VA-111 has achieved the requisite speed, an underwater ramjet, fueled by hydroreactive metals that use seawater, helps keep the torpedo humming at speeds of 230 miles per hour. Some reports suggest the VA-111 is even capable of reaching 290mph, and that the Russians may be working to develop a model capable of exceeding 350mph. The VA-111 uses four fins to change direction.

Russia jealously guards its supercavitating technology. In 2000, a U.S. citizen named Edmond Pope was convicted of espionage related to information he gathered about the VA-111. Pope, a former U.S. naval officer turned businessman, was said to be spying on behalf of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency. He was sentenced to 20 years, but after being held for 253 days, Pope was pardoned on humanitarian grounds by newly elected Russian President Vladimir Putin: The U.S. government claimed that Pope had a rare form of bone cancer. Pope has always maintained his innocence.

Iran operates a supercavitating torpedo, too, the Hoot (which is Persian for Whale). Most industry experts agree that Iran reverse-engineered the VA-111 to create the Hoot, which has been in service since 2006. Apparently, the torpedo can reach speeds of 220mph, but it only has a six-mile operational range. Iran claims to have successfully test-fired their supercavitating torpedo from a surface ship in the Strait of Hormuz.

Despite their advanced speeds, supercavitating torpedoes are limited in range to under 10 miles. Conventional torpedoes, like the American Mark-48, can travel 24 miles. 

About the Author

Harrison Kass is a prolific defense writer with over 1,000 published articles. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.

Image Credit: U.S. Navy or Creative Commons. 

Beast Mode: The F-35 Has a Secret Weapon Russia Can't Match

The National Interest - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 21:28

Summary and Key Points: The F-35, a fifth-generation stealth fighter, is typically lauded for its advanced features and precision capabilities.

-However, the F-35 also boasts impressive versatility through its "Beast Mode" configuration, where it shifts from stealth operations to carrying a substantial payload of 22,000 pounds of ordnance on internal and external hardpoints.

-This mode allows the F-35 to deliver significant firepower after establishing air superiority, enhancing its multi-role functionality.

-This adaptability justifies the hefty $1.7 trillion program cost by enabling the F-35 to serve effectively in various phases of conflict, including prolonged engagements.

The F-35 is typically perceived as a graceful and refined fighter, created with advanced features emphasizing concealment and surgical precision. The common perception is grounded in truth; indeed, the F-35 is a fifth-generation stealth fighter, built to house software that enhances network connectivity and data sharing. But the common perception discredits the F-35 for its versatility – and for its ability to “roll up its sleeves.”

Remember, the F-35 is a multi-role fighter, and when prompted, can be reconfigured as a straightforward, knuckle-dragging, bomb-carrier. The reconfiguration is known as “Beast Mode.”

All Out Flight 

Designed with stealth technology, the F-35 is adept at entering contested airspace, avoiding detection, and engaging enemy targets – all before air superiority is established. Really, the F-35 is designed expressly to initially establish air superiority. And because the F-35 is designed to be stealthy, concessions were made with respect to weapons payloads. To enhance its stealth characteristics, the F-35 uses an internal weapons bay, rather than external hard points that drastically increase an aircraft’s radar cross-section. While the internal weapons bay makes for a stealthier airframe, the storage space, inside the fuselage, is limited. 

F-35 Stealth or Carry: Enter Beast Mode 

In stealth mode, when the F-35 carries weapons internally, the jet can handle just 5,700 pounds of ordinance. That breaks down to either four AIM 120 AMRAAM missiles (for air-to-air missions), or alternatively – for hybrid missions – two AMRAAMs paired with two GBU-31 JDAM bombs. That’s not very much firepower – but the concession is worthwhile to gain stealth benefits. 

However, once air superiority is established, once an enemy loses its anti-air systems such as air defense missiles and guns, sensors, interceptor aircraft, stealth mode becomes less relevant. And when stealth loses its relevance, the F-35 can enter “Beast Mode,” and use its external hard points to maximize its firepower.

In Beast Mode, the F-35 can handle four times more ordinance than when operating in stealth mode. Using the external hardpoints plus the internal weapons bay, the F-35 can carry 22,000 pounds of ordinance. That breaks down to 14 AMRAAMs and two AIM-3x Sidewinder missiles for air-to-air missiles.

Or, for hybrid missions, the jet can be outfitted with two AMRAAMs, two Sidewinders, and six JDAM 2,000-pound bombs. Indeed, the boost in firepower is significant – although, in Beast Mode, the F-35’s operational range is cut in half – to just 1,400 kilometers. 

Something may feel counterintuitive about using the F-35, a fifth-generation jet/supercomputer, as a simple bomb truck – a role that clunkier, Cold War-era aircraft, like the F-16 or B-52, are entirely equipped to handle. Yet, when you consider that the F-35 program cost taxpayers 1.7 trillion dollars, the notion of using the jet just to secure air superiority in the opening salvo of a conflict becomes offensive. 

If you’re going to spend that type of money on an airframe, you’d better milk it for all it’s worth – a sentiment that the Beast Mode configuration embodies. And for the U.S., which has a tendency to invade countries with rudimentary air defense systems – and then stick around for multi-decade occupations – the F-35 needs to be able to do more than just sneak around and wipe out air defense systems in the first few days of conflict. 

About the Author

Harrison Kass is a prolific defense writer with over 1,000 articles published. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon, and New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. Follow him on Twitter @harrison_kass.

All images are Creative Commons. 

The Navy's Iowa-Class Battleships are the Best Battleships Ever

The National Interest - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 21:23

Summary and Key Points: The Iowa-class battleships, launched during WWII, are iconic symbols of U.S. naval power. Four ships—USS Iowa, USS New Jersey, USS Missouri, and USS Wisconsin—served in major conflicts from WWII to the Gulf War.

-Armed with nine 16-inch guns and renowned for their speed and firepower, these battleships were critical in various naval operations.

-The USS Missouri famously hosted Japan's surrender in 1945.

-All four ships are now museum exhibits, with USS Iowa located in Los Angeles Harbor, offering a glimpse into their storied past.

Exploring the Storied History of the Iowa-Class Battleships

Here's a fact you will appreciate:  I've actually toured the USS Iowa (BB-61) on multiple occasions.

The Battleship USS Iowa Museum in Los Angeles Harbor/San Pedro has been open to the public since 2012, and it is a tour I highly recommend.

My personal friend Andrew Silber, now-retired former proprietor of the delightful Whale & Ale British Pub and Restaurant in San Pedro—a superb choice of venue for vittles and refreshments after you finish your ship tour—was one of the key local community leaders responsible for helping to bring the Iowa Museum to the Harbor.

Having said all that, let’s look at the history of this iconic battleship class:

The Berth, er, Birth, of the Battleships

The Iowa-class battleships trace their origins back to 1939 and 1940, i.e. before the bombing of Pearl Harbor crippled the U.S. Navy’s older pre-existing battleship fleet. Designed to meet the “escalator clause” of the Second London Naval Treaty via their 16-inch main guns and 45,000-long-ton standard displacement – though they actually ended up slightly overweight at 47,825 long tons – they were intended to intercept fast capital ships such as the Imperial Japanese Navy’s (IJN) Kongō class whilst also being capable of serving in a traditional battle line alongside slower battleships and act as its "fast wing.”  A total of four such vessels were built:  Iowa, New Jersey, Missouri (“The Mighty Mo”), and Wisconsin.

These big beasts carried nine of those aforementioned 16-inch guns – divvied amongst two turrets, fore and one aft – which could lob a 2,700-pound (1,225 kg) shell over a distance of 23.4 nautical miles (43.3 km). They are 860 feet (262.13 m) long at the waterline and 887 feet 3 inches (270.43 m) long overall with a beam of 108 feet 2 inches (32.97 m), and a Class A armor belt 12.1 inches (307 mm) thick.

Iowa-Class - As a Quick Aside

Interestingly enough, the Iowas never got to test their mettle against Japanese battleships or battlecruisers. The reason: only two WWII battleship-to-battleship engagements pitting the USN against the IJN involved other battleship classes: (1) the USS Washington BB-56), a North Carolina-class battleship which sank the Kirishima during the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on 15 November 1942; and (2) the Surigao Stait phase of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, when Rear Admiral Jesse Oldendorf “crossed the T” of Vice Admiral Shōji Nishimura’s fleet, resulting in the sinking of the latter admiral’s battleships Fusō and Yamashiro – though the Fusō was sunk by destroyer torpedoes before the American BBs could get in their licks.

It was also an act of sweet revenge for Pearl Harbor, as out of the six U.S. battleships that participated—West Virginia, Maryland, Mississippi, Tennessee, California, and Pennsylvania—all except Mississippi had been sunk or damaged at Pearl and subsequently repaired or rebuilt, which goes to prove the old saying the payback is a … battleship (yeah, that’s it). 

To this day, many seapower buffs love to hypothesize who would win in a “what-if” battle between the Iowas and the IJN’s biggest gun (as in 18-inchers) Yamato and Musashi

A Piece of the Action…and Hosting a Sweet Surrender

Nonetheless, the Iowa-class behemoths still saw more than their fair share of combat action, from the Pacific Theater of WWII to Korea to Vietnam to Lebanon to Iraq. The overwhelming majority of these involved provided naval gunfire support (NGFS) against enemy shore batteries and installations (including on the main Japanese home island of Honshū), although the USS Iowa herself did have the satisfaction of engaging in at least one surface ship-to-ship battle, sinking the light cruiser Katoriwith a loss of all hands, 315 officers and enlisted sailors – off of the island of Truk on 17 February 1944.  

Arguably the biggest claim to fame for any Iowa-class warship was the Missouri’s hosting of the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on 02 September 1945, thus enabling the Iowa class to get the proverbial last laugh against Hideki Tojo. 

The Iowas’ last hurrah—indeed the last combat action for any battleship class—occurred during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, when the Wisconsin and Missouri combined to fire 1,078 16-inch shells at Iraqi targets. A somewhat amusing additional accomplishment during this same conflict occurred when some of Saddam Hussein’s troops surrendered to the Mighty Mo’s Pioneer UAV during the initial shelling on 24 February 1991, as it spotted targets for the mighty battlewagons—history’s first recorded surrender to a drone on a battlefield.

Iowa-Class - Where Are They Now?

Iowa, New Jersey, Missouri, and Wisconsin were decommissioned for the final time in 1990, 1991 1992, and 1991 respectively. All have since been converted to museum ship status; besides the Iowa museum already mentioned at the beginning of this article, New Jersey is berthed in Camden, NJ (appropriately enough), Missouri at Pearl Harbor, and Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA. The latter three are definitely bucket list items of mine.

About the Author

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon). He has also been published in The Daily Torch and The Journal of Intelligence and Cyber Security.

Image Credit: Creative Commons. 

Germany Is Going All-in With the Eurofighter Typhoon

The National Interest - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 21:15

Summary and Key Points: Germany is set to bolster its air force by purchasing 20 additional Eurofighter Typhoons from Airbus, as announced by Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

-This acquisition, valued at approximately 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion), enhances Germany's defense capabilities and ensures Airbus's production lines remain active through 2032.

-The Luftwaffe currently operates 138 Eurofighters, which serve as a key component of its combat fleet. In addition, Germany will receive 35 Lockheed Martin F-35A fighters starting in 2027.

-Germany is also collaborating with France and Spain on the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), a sixth-generation fighter project expected to be operational by the early 2040s.

Germany Expands Air Force with 20 More Eurofighter Typhoons

The Eurofighter Typhoon has taken Europe by storm, and on Wednesday, German chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that the Luftwaffe will purchase an additional twenty Eurofighters from maker Airbus. Berlin has greatly increased its defense spending as a result of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Scholz has been committed to maintaining and expanding Germany’s arms production capacity, a point he made in a speech at the opening of the ILA air show outside of Berlin.

“That is why we will order 20 more Eurofighters before the end of this legislative session—in addition to the 38 aircraft currently in the pipeline,” the German leader remarked, according to a report from Reuters.

The price tag for the additional Eurofighter Typhoons has been put at around 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion), and in addition to helping enhance Germany’s military capabilities, the acquisition will ensure that Airbus will be able to keep its production lines running through 2032, extending it by at least two years—and that is without additional outside orders.

The German Luftwaffe operates 138 Eurofighters. The single-seat, all-weather multirole combat aircraft serves as the backbone of its combat aircraft fleet and can be used in both air defense and ground attack roles.

“They are a core element in ensuring the future contribution of the Air Force to the required armed forces capability profile and to the associated Alliance commitments,” explains the German Bundeswehr website. “Thanks to its ability to conduct network-enabled operations, the Eurofighter can be used in close cooperation both with German air, land and naval forces and those of military Alliance partners.”

F-35s Also Coming

In addition to the Eurofighter order, the German Luftwaffe is also on track to receive a total of thirty-five Lockheed Martin F-35As—the conventional takeoff and landing variant of the Joint Strike Fighter—with the first of those aircraft now scheduled to arrive in 2027.

It was reported last month that production of the German F-35s will occur at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas, factory instead of the Final Assembly Check Out facility in Cameri, Italy.

Looking Beyond the Eurofighter and F-35

Even as Berlin is going all-in with the Eurofighter Typhoon and F-35 Lightning II, Germany is already working with France and Spain on the Future Combat Air System (FCAS)—believed to be a manned or at least optionally-manned sixth-generation fighter and supporting unmanned aerial systems.

Details about the FCAS remain sparse, but the current timeline doesn’t call for the new fighter to enter service until at least the early 2040s. The program has faced a number of setbacks, including infighting among the countries involved. That fact helps explain why Germany is now adopting additional Eurofighters with advanced features, while France remains committed to the updated Dassault Rafale.

About the Author: Peter Suciu 

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. You can email the author:

All images are Creative Commons and Shutterstock. 

China Will Freak: The Navy Is Going All in on HALO Hypersonic Missiles

The National Interest - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 18:37

Summary: The U.S. Navy is advancing its capabilities by developing hypersonic anti-ship cruise missiles through the Hypersonic Air-Launched Offensive Anti-Surface (HALO) program.

-Contracts have been awarded to Raytheon and Lockheed Martin to create these missiles, which could be launched from surface ships, submarines, and potentially even land.

-The HALO missile is expected to surpass current options like the Harpoon and Tomahawk in speed, range, and effectiveness, providing a significant boost in naval strike capability.

-This initiative aims to enhance the Navy’s readiness for potential conflicts in the Indo-Pacific and counter advances by Russia and China in hypersonic technology.

U.S. Navy’s New HALO Program to Develop Hypersonic Anti-Ship Missiles

The U.S. Navy is advancing its capabilities by developing hypersonic anti-ship cruise missiles through the Hypersonic Air-Launched Offensive Anti-Surface (HALO) program.

Contracts have been awarded to Raytheon and Lockheed Martin to create these missiles, which could be launched from surface ships, submarines, and potentially even land.

The HALO missile is expected to surpass current options like the Harpoon and Tomahawk in speed, range, and effectiveness, providing a significant boost in naval strike capability.

This initiative aims to enhance the Navy’s readiness for potential conflicts in the Indo-Pacific and counter advances by Russia and China in hypersonic technology.

The U.S. Navy is developing hypersonic anti-ship cruise missiles that could be deployed from surface ships, submarines, and jets. “This would give Navy surface and subsurface fleets an entirely new category of naval strike capability,” The War Zone reported.

The U.S. is working to catch up with Russia and China, who already have working hypersonic missiles, and to prepare for the possibility of a naval-based conflict in the Indo-Pacific.

Ship-Launched Anti-Ship Missiles

The Navy initiative in question is known as the Hypersonic Air-Launched Offensive Anti-Surface program, or HALO. Contracts were awarded to Raytheon and Lockheed Martin in early 2023. The firms will compete to see who can create a better product.

Program specifics are a well-guarded secret, although the common understanding is that ramjet or scramjet engines will propel the new missiles. The Navy’s fiscal year 2025 budget request hinted at further details about the HALO program:

“HALO will be a carrier-suitable, higher-speed, longer-range, air-launched weapon system providing superior Anti Surface Warfare capabilities…HALO will address advanced threats from engagement distances that allow the Navy to operate in,  and control, contested battle space in littoral waters and Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) environments.”

The Navy may be offering an overly rosy projection of what the HALO missile can accomplish. But without question, a hypersonic anti-ship missile would be a considerable asset once added to the Navy’s inventory, offering an upgrade over the existing Harpoon munition.

The Harpoon is a dedicated anti-ship missile capable of operating within a range of 75 miles. Tomahawk cruise missiles, which have a 1,000-mile range, can also be used for anti-ship purposes when needed. But the HALO program should substantially augment the Navy’ anti-ship missile capabilities.

In addition to the HALO, the Navy is also working on the Naval Strike Missile (NSM), a stealth option with a 100-mile range to be outfitted on the Littoral Combat Ship; and the multi-purpose SM-6, with a maximum range of about 230 miles. 

Of the Navy’s existing anti-ship missiles, the Harpoon is preferred. But HALO will expand the Navy’s strike options.

“HALO would therefore give Navy ships and submarines a new way to strike at an opponent’s ships rapidly, even at extended ranges,” The War Zone reported. “The weapon’s hypersonic speed would also present complications for shipboard defenses and just generally reduce the time enemy forces have to react.”

Air, Land, and Sea

If the HALO project can be configured to fire from surface and subsurface vessels, perhaps it can also be adapted to fire from land. The U.S. Army and Marine Corps would probably be interested in a land-based HALO option. The Marine Corps already uses land-based Tomahawks and NSMs, while the Army and Navy use Tomahawks and SM-6s.

The Air Force, meanwhile, is working to develop its own hypersonic cruise missile. Its Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile will “hold fixed, high value, time-sensitive targets at risk.”

About the Author: Harrison Kass 

Harrison Kass is a defense and national security writer with over 1,000 total pieces on issues involving global affairs. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.

Image Credit: The main image is from RTX. All other images are from the U.S. Navy. 

The U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet Fighter Will Pack More 'Sting'

The National Interest - Thu, 06/06/2024 - 17:54

Summary: The U.S. Navy's VX-9 "Vampires" squadron is responsible for testing new weapons and systems before they are deployed on Navy aircraft.

-Recently, an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet from VX-9 was spotted carrying a RIM-176 Standard Extended Range Active Missile (SM-6), raising speculation about new capabilities.

-The SM-6, which has a range of up to 250 nautical miles, was originally designed for anti-air and anti-ship missions.

-If integrated with Super Hornets, it could significantly extend the strike range of U.S. carrier groups, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.

-This development suggests the Navy is exploring advanced warfare capabilities for its aircraft.

Navy’s VX-9 'Vampires' Testing New SM-6 Missile on F/A-18 Super Hornets

The aviators of the United States Navy's Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Nine (VX-9) "Vampires" could be described as the sea service's platform testers. Before most new systems make their way to the Navy's aircraft, they're put through various rigors with the pilots and ground crews of VX-9.

According to the U.S. Navy, the squadron "conducts operational test and evaluation of all air-to-ground weapons, air-to-air weapons, sensors, electronic warfare systems and mission software upgrades to aircraft and weapon systems. More than 350 VX-9 Vampires maintain and fly a diverse fleet of approximately 20 aircraft used in the demanding and dynamic role of operational flight test, supporting both Navy and Marine Corps tactical aviation."

In other words, they'll be the ones who will determine whether certain weapons and other systems will be employed by U.S. Navy warbirds when it isn't just a test!

Among the aircraft currently operated by VX-9 is the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, and one of those warbirds was spotted in April carrying a RIM-176 Standard Extended Range Active Missile (ERAM) – also known as the Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) – near Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake. Photos of the Super Hornet carrying the SM-6 were shared by photographer @StinkJet via a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

As Defence Blog reported, the sighting has raised questions about the potential new capabilities of the F/A-18 Super Hornet, as the SM-6 was originally developed by Raytheon as an extended range anti-air warfare (ER-AAW) platform that can be employed against fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, drones and as an anti-ship cruise missile. It has been integrated with the U.S. Navy's Aegis Combat System.

It is estimated that on the low end, the SM-6 has a range of 130 nautical miles (240 km), while higher estimates such it could reach a target from a distance of up to 250 nautical miles (463 km). An air-launched variant would be certainly welcome for carrier strike groups (CSGs) operating in the Indo-Pacific, where China has sought to introduce weapons that would force carriers to operate much further out.

According to Naval News, the SM-6 employs an X-band receiver that provides guidance – meaning it would work with an F/A-18E/F AN/APG-79 or F-35C AN/APG-81 AESA radars is possible. It further suggested that a forward-based F-35C – the carrier-based variant of the Joint Strike Fighter – could be employed to guide the SM-6 to target after it is launched by a Super Hornet from a safe distance, as the F/A-18E/F already can communicate fire control data via the Naval Integrated Fire Control–Counter Air (NIFC-CA) datalink system.

That is still just a matter of speculation.

Moreover, this is not the first time that photos have circulated online showing the F/A Super Hornet possibly putting the SM-6 through the motions. Another image made the rounds in 2021, and it would seem that the U.S. Navy seems very interested in extending how far its Super Hornets could sting.

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. You can email the author:

Image Credit: Creative Commons and Shutterstock. 

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