Friday, January 19, 2018

Stealth Saga #71

Sixth Generation Fighters:

Long range, hyperspectral sensors are key to defeating A2AD strategies.


Saab is joining to help develop the AESA radar for the KFX.


Russia claims it will start the PAK-DA prototype Real Soon Now.


China has stated the J-20 has participated in combat exercises for the first time.

B-2 Spirit:

3 B-2s have deployed to Guam.

A B-2 overflew the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl.

Take a look at this B-2 wing flutter video and see what it means.


The short term funding proposals might delay the B-21 program.


Lockheed won a sustainment contract for the F-22 worth $7 billion.


How the F-35 got its name.

A USAF F-16 pilot will fly with the USMC in its F-35Bs.

The USMC is planning on deploying the F-35B to CENTCOM for its 'first taste of combat' in 2018.

The USS Wasp is acting as a mini carrier in Asia.

The US Navy is integrating the F-35 into its sensor networks for its surface fleet.

Lockheed might be advertising a capability for the F-35 that may not exist.

A helicopter filmed three F-35s at the Fiesta Bowl game.

Italy has started flying its F-35B in its naval colors.

Germany may want to buy a small number of F-35 to be NATO compliant even if it does buy mostly Eurofighters.

South Korea and Japan want F-35Bs for their jeep carrier amphibs (and for remote island runways).  There is a proposal to convert the JS Izumo into a fixed wing carrier circulating in the Japanese MOD.  To start with, the Japanese want to be able to fuel USMC F-35Bs from the JS Izumo.  China is not pleased by this.

South Korea wants to buy additional (20+) F-35s.

Turkey is inviting bids to customize its F-35s.

SpaceX Commercial Human Spaceflight Missions Slip

Crucial flight tests for NASA’s two commercial crew vehicles are slipping ever closer to 2019. The space agency released the following updated schedules for Boeing’s CST-100 and SpaceX’s Dragon 2 vehicles today:

Targeted Test Flight Dates

Boeing Orbital Flight Test (uncrewed): August 2018
Boeing Crew Flight Test (crewed): November 2018
SpaceX Demonstration Mission 1 (uncrewed): August 2018
SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2 (crewed): December 2018

Boeing’s schedule has not changed from the previous update. SpaceX’s demonstration flights have slipped from April and August to August and December, respectively. No reasons have been given for the slips.


A lot of risk remains.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

China has Begun Building its Third Aircraft Carrier

China started building its third aircraft carrier, with a hi-tech launch system, at a Shanghai shipyard last year, according to sources close to the People’s Liberation Army.

One of the sources said Shanghai Jiangnan Shipyard Group was given the go-ahead to begin work on the vessel after military leaders met in Beijing following the annual sessions of China’s legislature and top political advisory body in March.

“But the shipyard is still working on the carrier’s hull, which is expected to take about two years,” the source said. “Building the new carrier will be more complicated and challenging than the other two ships.”

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Russia Tested the SARMAT ICBM

Sources in the military or defense industry tell Russian press that the first ejection test of the Sarmat missile did take place in Plesetsk. Normally, MK is not the most reliable source, but this time the information appears to be correct - sources on the other side also say that the test did happen.

The MK report leaves the impression that the test took place in the last few days of this year, but the test apparently took place in early December. Which is interesting - a few days ago Rogozin had a chance to comment on the progress of the Sarmat program and he refused to say anything. In any event, the program is clearly behind the schedule and my take is that the chances of Sarmat being deployed in 2020 are extremely slim.

One detail in the MK report caught eye of a few observers - the missile reportedly flew "several tens of kilometers" before landing "within the test site." This is a bit too far for an ejection test. It's quite possible that the reporter mixed up meters and kilometers. Or the launch involved a limited test of the first stage engines. A mix-up seems a safer bet, but a test of the engines is possible as well.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

China's Second Aircraft Carrier (Shandong) to Start Sea Trials

China's second aircraft carrier might conduct its first sea trials in February, military analysts said after Taiwan media reported that China's first aircraft carrier the Liaoning sailed near the island on Friday.

China launched its second aircraft carrier in April 2017 after the Liaoning, a refitted Soviet Union-made carrier that went into commission in 2012.

China's second aircraft carrier is the country's first domestically made carrier.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Russia is Expanding its Naval Base in Syria

A plan to expand the Russian naval facility at the Syrian port of Tartus has been formally approved in Moscow.

On 29 December Russian President Vladimir Putin formally signed into law a plan that was agreed by Moscow and Damascus on 18 January 2017. This followed ratification of the agreement by the Duma on 21 December and the Federal Council on 26 December.

The Kremlin released a document saying the agreement covered the expansion of the territory of the Russian Navy’s logistics centre at Tartus, saying Syria is transferring land and water areas, as well as real estate, in the port.

The agreement also covers visits by naval vessels to all Syrian ports and territorial waters and the status of Russian personnel in the country.

It is valid for 49 years, at the end of which it will automatically be renewed for 25-year periods.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

China is Banning Bitcoin Miners

As China’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies broadens to bitcoin miners, some of the industry’s biggest players are shifting operations overseas.

Bitmain, which runs China’s two largest bitcoin-mining collectives, is setting up regional headquarters in Singapore and now has mining operations in the U.S. and Canada, Wu Jihan, the company’s co-founder, said in an interview. BTC.Top, the third-biggest mining pool, is opening a facility in Canada and ViaBTC, ranked No. 4, has operations in Iceland and America, their founders said.

The moves underscore how China’s once-dominant role in the world of cryptocurrencies is shrinking as policy makers clamp down.