New Ship(s) ahoy !
The US Navy is budgeting $1.3 billion for 2020 to purchase its first FFG-X frigate. It wants 9 of them by 2024.
The ship will come with 32 Vertical Launch cells for either Standard Missile 2 Block II IC or Evolved SeaSparrow. A launched anti-submarine weapon is also planned. The new frigate will also come with datalink to share info with friendly surface vessels and aircraft. Finally, it will embark a mix of Seahawk helicopters and MQ-8C drones.
The FFG-X is also meant to have an electronice warfare suite, a variable depth sonar and an anti-submarine suite as well as space available for a potential future upgrade that would involve fitting a 150 KW laser.
New ships for the US Navy are badly needed as the US fleet is ageing rapidly. 6 Ticonderoga Class cruisers are on the navy’s short list for being scrapped. Those heavily armed vessels is what the Navy needs right now if it wants to be able to achieve its stated missions of deterring both the Russian and the Chinese navy.
The US Navy is also apparently ready to sign a contract for the purchase of an additional 10 Virginia class submarines.. The delivery date should be 2025… However, the Navy stated its wish for those boats last year and the budget was not released for it… There is no telling whether this purchase will be going ahead this year or be delayed again for another year.
Conflicting stories about US withdrawal in Syria.
While Trump first announced a US withdrawal from Syria, then subsequently announced a drawdown instead, it’s now being said that up to 1,000 US troops will remain in the country…
Meanwhile, Debka is telling a totally different story, writing about a US surge within Iraq and Syria to deter Iran from encroaching further and for a potential crackdown on Shia militias operating in both countries. Those militias have been at the forefront of the fight against ISIS but are now showing increased hostility against US troops in the region.
Go East !
1500 US soldiers belonging to the 1st armoured division have recently arrived in Germany. They are to link up to pre-positioned armour in the Netherlands before heading to Poland for joint manoeuvres with the Polish army. . See it as a mini-Reforger exercise organised to train troops to deploy as fast as possible from the US to NATO Eastern Flank.
Ready or not ?
America has a problem of readiness with its stealth jets.
The F-22 has had a 50% readiness level since 2005. The F-35 is doing barely better at 65% readiness levels.
Both platforms are complex and all their systems, from radars to paint, to avionics are extremely maintenance intensive. The F-35 is still a work in progress with 15 category 1 deficiencies and over 1,000 category 2 deficiencies left to be solved. Category 1 means “can cause pilot death, illness or loss of aircraft” while category 2 means “Can jeopardise successful outcome of a mission”.
As such, there are worries about the availability of such platforms should high tempo operations be needed long term (as in conflict against near peer or peer military). A lot of those valuable platforms would end up being grounded for maintenance and repairs very quickly, blunting their effect on the enemy and usefulness overall.
To help Taiwan or not ?
Washington is to respond within 120 days to a request issued by Taiwan for the purchase of American jets and tanks. The renegade Chinese island has actually applied for the purchase of 120 M1A2X main battle tanks, which is a slightly modified version of the current Abrams variant currently in production.
Taipei wants to upgrade its obsolete tank fleet, but any move by Washington toward helping Taiwan will only worsen relations with China.
Trump’s tweet about potentially recognising the annexed Golan Heights as Israeli raised a few eyebrows within the international community.
Accepting that a country can annex a territory for defence/strategic purpose could open the Pandora’s box and embolden other countries to do so… If one annexation is recognised and legitimised, then why would the rule not apply to all countries doing so “for their own strategic security” ?
Following the same logic, Russia could obtain legal ownership and sovereignty over Crimea, Sevastopol, Donbass, South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Transnistria. Turkey should rejoice as it could legally lay claim over Northern Cyprus and Northern Aleppo. Finally, Morocco could finally gain legal claim over the Western Sahara…
Island hop like it’s 1944 !
US Marines belonging to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Units have seized an island in the Pacific. More specifically, they have been training for what Marines were designed to do: Amphibious Assault. They have been conducting a mock small island assault with air support. The aim of that exercise was to refine the American “Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations” concept… Basically island hopping… Said concept might come in handy against China, at some point.
Honourable East India Company Mk2 ?
First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones, head of the Royal Navy has said it was totally possible for one of the upcoming RN Type 31 Frigate to be based in India, in the future. He was quoted as saying: “But whether it is actually physically based in India, or whether it is just spending a lot more time working with the Indian Navy, I think there is a rich opportunity there for forward-basing.”
The Royal Navy is determined to deter Chinese maritime expansion. As such, a forward base in India might come in handy.
Where is the money ?
Sir Philip Jones has also accused British MPs of Sea blindness and failing to understand how vital the Royal Navy is for the UK. He has also accused the UK Ministry of Defence of “airbrushing” the Royal Navy out of the picture, saying that the £7 billion black hole in its budget threatens operations, including British aircraft carrier operations.
Shake your tail feather !
It’s not all dark for Great Britain, though, as a $2 billion deal has just been inked to purchase 5 E-7 Wedgetail Early Warning Radar Aircraft to replace its current fleet of E-3 Sentry.
Money for the military ? Nein !
Germany’s new budget threatens the German’s own ministry of defence spending targets as well as NATO spending expectations… The German Defence Budget might be as low as 1.37% of GDP for 2020 and even drop to 1.25% the following year.
NATO recommends a Defence Budget that is equal or higher than 2% of GDP for its member states.
The German armed forces are badly underfunded, with scores of planes, ships and subs grounded due to lack of spare parts. The Bundeswehr is also facing problems recruiting personnel.