US, UK, Australia team up on hypersonic weapons with eye on Russia and China

“The U.S., the U.K. and Australia will start joint work on hypersonic missile technology and electronic warfare capabilities under the umbrella of the AUKUS security pact.

The decision, announced Tuesday by the leaders of the three governments, is the latest move in an international race for hypersonic weapons, which can travel up to 10 times the speed of sound, making them much harder to detect.

It is also a further example of the deepening security partnership between the U.S., Britain and Australia, after their creation of AUKUS last September scuppered a mega submarine deal for France, souring relations between Washington and Paris. Developing hypersonic missiles represents a long-term aim for Canberra, which is seeking to step up the long-range strike capabilities of the Australian Defence Force.”

“In March, Russia said it had used a hypersonic missile to strike an ammunition warehouse in western Ukraine. Last year, China reportedly tested two hypersonic weapons, causing alarm at the Pentagon.

The U.S. successfully tested a hypersonic missile in mid-March but did not announce it for two weeks to avoid increasing tensions with Russia, according to media reports.”

The US needs a new approach to producing weapons. Just look at Ukraine.

“The war in Ukraine has offered vivid testimony of the effectiveness, and the high usage rate, of modern precision weapons. Ukraine has so far been fortunate to receive a massive supply of such munitions from the United States, Britain and other NATO states.

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has told Congress the West has delivered 60,000 antitank weapons and 25,000 anti-aircraft weapons to Kyiv. Weapons such as the Javelin anti-tank guided weapon and Stinger surface-to-air missile played an important role in halting Moscow’s initial offensive and forced the Russian leadership to scale back its expansive objectives. However, it has become increasingly apparent such weapons are neither cheap nor available in unlimited numbers. Indeed, the United States has reportedly provided Kyiv one-third of its overall stockpile of Javelins.

Unless things change, and soon, the United States may be far less fortunate in a future conflict. Put bluntly, although the United States and its allies have been able to resupply Ukraine, the United States cannot count on similar help should the roles be reversed. U.S. allies’ stocks of precision weapons are limited, and they may have an urgent need for these munitions in a future coalition conflict.

The United States will also need large numbers of longer-range weapons like the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range (JASSM-ER) and Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) that are not as widely available as the Javelin and Stinger are today. It is thus imperative for the United States and its allies to both increase their munitions capacity and adopt innovative approaches to munitions production.

The war in Ukraine is but the most recent reminder that 21st century warfare is munitions intensive.”

US delivers ‘Phoenix Ghost’ drone designed by US Air Force specifically for Ukrainian ‘needs’: DOD

The Chinese Threat No One Is Talking About — And How to Counter It

“a steady stream of official U.S. estimates suggests that within a decade, China will possess enough warships to dominate the Indian Ocean region if it chooses. The Office of Naval Intelligence estimated China would build 67 new major surface combatants and 12 new nuclear-powered submarines by 2030. The Pentagon’s most recent report on China’s military power raised those projections even further. Given that China already has formidable capabilities for defending itself in the east — and the heightened range and survivability of these new ships — it seems China plans to operate them far from its shores. The Pentagon also observes that China is developing the capabilities to conduct “offensive operations” deep in the Indian Ocean, presumably including naval blockades, bombardment of enemy targets, or even a combination assault by land and sea.”

“What exactly does China want in the Indian Ocean? In the near term, it wants to protect its Middle East oil supplies, the hundreds of thousands of Chinese migrant laborers working abroad and its overseas investments. Looking ahead, however, China has laid the groundwork to bring considerable military might to the Indian Ocean if it needs to.

With an unchecked fleet able to exercise control in the Indian Ocean — even if for legitimate purposes to protect trade and investments — China could intimidate states militarily and economically, just as it has done in the South China Sea for years, and more recently with Bangladesh, the Maldives and Indonesia. It could engage in unsafe conduct close to ships and planes, harass commercial or naval vessels, and enter other countries’ waters and airspace. Vulnerability to such coercion could compel smaller countries to side with China on issues like freedom of navigation and overflight, territorial disputes, trade negotiations, military agreements with the U.S. or its partners, human rights or relations with Taiwan.

In a military conflict, a Chinese Indian Ocean fleet would be even more threatening. It could disrupt trade flows in the Indian Ocean for the U.S. or its allies or impede American military access. China could also attack U.S. or allied forces swinging from the Mediterranean, or Middle East, or Diego Garcia, to the Pacific.

Part of the reason the Indian Ocean hasn’t received as much attention as it should is that many U.S. defense experts assume or hope they can rely on India to automatically be a “counterweight” to China in this region. For over two decades, Washington has been enamored with the idea that India, at one point exceeding 8 percent economic growth annually, would become a military powerhouse that could “frustrate China’s hegemonic ambitions.” The U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy released in February counts on India to be “a net security provider,” just as previous administrations officially banked on the Indian Navy taking a “leading role in maintaining Indian Ocean security.” Some former Trump administration officials even want to formalize a Japan-style alliance.

But India’s ability to play this role is in serious doubt.”

The Ukraine war shows the limits of US power

“When the Cold War ended in the ’90s, the United States possessed unrivaled economic and military power. Scholar Francis Fukuyama claimed the “End of History” and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright asserted the centrality of American exceptionalism in her coinage, “the indispensable nation.”

Some argue that that unipolar moment was overstated. “Look, the Americans suffered from hubris after the end of the Soviet Union,” said Joseph Nye, a Harvard professor who has written widely about American power. “The unipolar moment, I think, was always illusory.”

At the end of the Cold War, the US did continue to hold itself out as the guarantor of security. “The United States appointed itself as responsible for peace, security, and democracy in Europe,” Stephen Wertheim, a historian of US foreign policy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told me. In response to ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, the United States, through NATO, took military action against Serbia. The intervention was relatively limited, and the outcome of it was a successful projection of US might.

But that unilateral moment, real or imagined, was short-lived.

The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, were not what challenged that global supremacy, argues Wertheim. Rather, it was the 20 disastrous years of overreach in America’s response. The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan exposed the limits of US power.”

An expert on the dismal state of nuclear treaties

“When the [second] Bush administration came in, they actually used the withdrawal provision to get the country out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that had been in place since 1972. That limited what kind of missile defenses both sides could deploy. [The administration] didn’t want to see any limits at all anymore. And ironically, to this day, we have not deployed defenses that are substantially in excess of those limits. In fact, I think with very slight modifications to the treaty — deployment locations, things like that — we could still be inside it. But the point was more to get rid of the treaties, in my view, than it was to actually deploy a working defense.”

Ukraine’s army is using a nimble ‘game-changing’ drone called The Punisher that has completed scores of successful missions against the Russians, say reports

“The electric drones have a 7.5-foot wingspan and can fly for hours at 1,300ft and need only the coordinates of their target so they can carry out their mission automatically, Bulatsev said.

A smaller reconnaissance drone called Spectre flies alongside to identify targets before the Punisher strikes.

After the fighting started in eastern Ukraine in 2014, a group of veterans launched the drone-making company, UA-Dynamics, according to an Haaretz report, last month.

“Three-quarters of the company’s employees are veterans with experience in special operations deep in enemy territory,” Maxim Subbotin, a marketing expert and an unofficial spokesman for UA-Dynamics, told the newspaper.

Bulatsev said that the main targets were stationary, including fuel and ammunition storage, electronic and counter-electronic warfare stations, and anti-air systems.

Different units in the Ukrainian military are using the drones, but the number of how many and the locations where the Punisher drones are being deployed is classified, Bulatsev said.

Bulatsev previously told The Sun that stealthy Punisher drones had been “causing havoc behind pro-Russian lines on Donbas for years because the enemy has no idea what has hit them.”

He told the outlet that the drone is relatively small and light and is undetectable to radars.

“What’s more, it can drop three bombs at a time or hit three separate targets then return to base to be reloaded and sent back into battle within minutes,” Bulatsev told The Sun.”