March 24, 2013

When India Almost Invaded Mauritius

The island nation of Mauritius lies roughly 1,000 km east of Madagascar.

Australian Rory Medcalf has written in The Diplomat, March 19, 2013 :
"When India (Almost) Invaded Mauritius"
"When one thinks of nations that have projected substantial military force on faraway islands countries like the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union are likely to come to mind. Less common is for one to mention India.

But some fascinating new research about the planning for an aborted 1983 military intervention in Mauritius suggests that India is capable of thinking big about expeditionary operations, and that New Delhi will be far from a passive player in the contested Indian Ocean theatre.

Nobody yet knows how an increasingly powerful India will behave in the looming Indo-Pacific era. But it would be foolish to assume that its security and foreign policy instincts will always be opposed to power projection and intervention.

In fact, to India’s mixed record of foreign adventures, actual and contemplated – from Sri Lanka and East Pakistan, to Seychelles and the Maldives – must now be added the story of Operation Lal Dora.
According to the groundbreaking new research by Australian scholar David Brewster and former Indian Director of Naval Intelligence Ranjit Rai, Indira Gandhi’s government began serious planning for an armed intervention to prevent a feared coup to against India-friendly Anerood Jugnauth government in Mauritius.

In those Cold War days, Mauritius was torn by serious tensions along ideological and ethnic lines, and India had no doubts over whether this strategically-located Indian Ocean state was in its rightful sphere of interest.  Another consideration was the welfare of the Indian-majority population on the island.

According to Brewster and Rai’s intriguing paper, an army battalion was actually mobilized and moved from Hyderabad to Mumbai, though never embarked; inconveniently, the navy had not been told to expect them.

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s final decision not to deploy these forces was influenced by a fundamental clash of advice between the navy – which was reportedly in favor of the operation – and the army, which warned that India didn’t possess the necessary capabilities.

It is hard to imagine the Indian Navy being able to smoothly deploy a large army contingent all the way to Mauritius on what would essentially have been a task force of destroyers – it had no amphibious lift to speak of. But the intention was there and who can be certain that in its tradition of jugaad (improvisation) India would not have found a way?
What has changed since 1983?

More than ever, India is determined to define the Indian Ocean as its nautical backyard. There is little doubt that the Indian national interest and popular perceptions both demand that India strive to be the most powerful nation in these waters.

Today, it is potential Chinese influence— not American or Soviet— that preoccupies Indian strategic thinking.  India’s maritime security interests are now also entwined with a critical dependence on seaborne energy supplies. Moreover, the growing presence of Indian economic entities and Indian nationals in sometimes unstable foreign lands, combined with the influential Indian media’s outrage whenever an Indian national gets into strife overseas, means that pressures will only grow for the Indian government to deploy all the means at its disposal to protect Indian interests and honor abroad.

Gradually India is building a credible amphibious capability, as well as workable security partnerships with a widening range of nations. So next time an Indian leader just might get a response when he or she asks the military brass for options to protect interests beyond the subcontinent."

March 20, 2013

Rare view of CIA Analysts - Cheney Short-circuiting Iraq Intel Process

Above is Figure 3, Parliament of Canada Social Affairs Division's, Intelligence: Definitions, Concepts and Governance, 21 December 2009

The article provides a rare insider's view of when the intelligence process goes wrong. As the article indicates attempts to manipulate the intelligence process, to fit a pre-arranged political agenda, often leads to adverse outcomes - including Iraq's non-existent connections with al Qaida partly justifying the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Secrecy laws in most countries would prevent publication of material of the type appearing in this American article - particularly as its only a decade after the event.

While the article identifies a Republican political agenda in the push for war - the publication of the article owes much to the political agenda of Obama's Democrat Administration. Put simply the Obama Administration cleared the article for publication to further discredit Cheney, because he is still a vocal Republican critic of the Democrat's national security efforts.

The article in Wired's Danger Room, March 18, 2013. Some key paragraphs of it reads:

"I Tried to Make the Intelligence Behind the Iraq War Less Bogus" by Nada Bakos

"Ten years ago this week, the U.S. invaded Iraq, citing intelligence that turned out to be bogus. I had to work on some of it — and I also had to work on keeping the really, really terrible versions of it out of our analysis.

Specifically, I was a CIA analyst working in the Counterterrorism Center in the overburdened days after 9/11. As analysts, we spend most of our time identifying burgeoning issues based on communications intercepts, reports from CIA case officers, imagery from satellites, accounts from other governments, and piecing together a story.

...[In November 2002] Vice President Cheney scheduled a meeting with our Branch to discuss our assessment of Iraq’s relationship with al-Qaida and 9/11. It was his second visit to the Branch; there always seemed to be more questions. The Branch Chief called us together for a practice session in a bland conference room a few days before their arrival. At this so-called “murderboard” session, we weren’t stripping down our analysis to find data we’d missed. We were practicing how to defend our perspective when questioned by the Vice President of the United States.

...We needed to poke holes in our analysis, to be sure we were right. If not, we could rest assured Cheney would. Already, Cheney’s Pentagon ally, Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith, had put together an alternative analysis faulting our own and asserting instead that “multiple areas of cooperation” existed between al-Qaida and Saddam. The ongoing questions and briefings became a labyrinth.

How far down a rabbit hole should we go in answering questions? Will it be misconstrued as an actual answer based on a made-up scenario? It was an unorthodox practice. But we were unused to a senior political figure being willing to dig down into the details of our analysis.

...On Sunday, March 16, 2003, I watched Cheney on “Meet The Press” contradict our assessment publicly. “We know that he [Saddam] has a long-standing relationship with various terrorist groups,” Cheney said, “including the al-Qaeda organization.” I was basically watching Cheney field-test arguments that we would have to anticipate — and rebut — at CIA. Except instead of asking us questions behind closed doors, Cheney was asserting to the public as fact something that we found to be anything but. I found myself yelling at the TV like I was contesting a ref’s blown call in a football game.

...After leaving the CIA, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on this sorry absurd role in intelligence history, and my bit role in it. No intelligence analyst should have to deal with policymakers delving into intelligence work. It sounds bureaucratic and boring, but the distinction matters: CIA doesn’t have a policy agenda, it seeks to inform those agendas. Politicians and appointees have ideas for shaping the world. Mingling the two is a recipe for self-delusion and, as we saw in Iraq, failure."

Whole Article

March 18, 2013

Anti Submarine Drone Ship (ACTUV)

Artist's rendering of the US Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vehicle (ACTUV)  under development. It will have a likely speed/range/3 month endurance most adapted to conventional (SSK) diesel-electric submarines. Even if such submarines have air independent propulsion (AIP) this won't defeat the capabilities of the ACTUV.

 Business Insider: Military & Defense March 12, 2013 reports

"The Navy Is Working On A Drone Ship To Track Submarines

...The new 'drone ship' is called the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vehicle (ACTUV), and once completed, it will be a totally autonomous, submarine spying platform.

With 43 countries fielding submarines, it's getting tougher for the Navy to track the estimated 600 of them.  That may change with the ACTUV program, led by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and Raytheon Corp. working to develop it.

Unlike a flying drone which requires a pilot to monitor and strike targets, the ACTUV doesn't require an operator.

"This is a brave new world we're embarking on," Ed Hoak, program manager for Raytheon told Business Insider. "How do you take something that has been operator intensive and take that operator out of the loop?"

That operator would be a Navy sonar technician, a sailor usually wearing headphones and monitoring a computer screen. Sonar techs were immortalized in the character of "Jonesy" in the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October, who called out enemy submarines as they approached.

"We're taking Jonesy out of the loop and going completely autonomous," said Hoak.

Trawling along on the ocean surface, the drone ship will receive instructions to go to a certain waypoint and loiter.-

At a total program cost of $61 million, the ACTUV will be outfitted with an active and passive sonar system that has search, detection, and passive threat filtering capabilities. The advanced system allows the craft to send active "pings" for potential threats — which would reveal its position, or stay passive and listen while maintaining stealth.

Artist's rendering of an ACTUV tracking what looks like a Kilo-Lada style submarine.
 "When there's some sort of intelligence or something of interest, it will autonomously move, all by itself, obeying all the rules of the road for the ocean," Hoak told Business Insider. Basically, the ship will follow norms of ocean tavel and be advanced enough not to crash into other surface ships.

Then, once it picks up the "suspicious contact," it will monitor and report back. "It will trail and actively track that submarine for up to 3 months," Hoak said.

The push for an autonomous drone in the ocean is a step toward a leaner Navy, that's meant to complement the existing fleet.

"If you can put a reasonably low-cost sensing vehicle and put it in harms way for a fraction of the cost [of a typical Navy ship], that's a good tradeoff," Hoak told Business Insider. "Thats the type of technology we have going on here."

The Navy caught a Russian submarine off the eastern seaboard in Oct. 2012, certainly bolstering arguments in favor of anti-submarine technology. Sam Kephart, a drone critic who worked in the high-end security business for 17 years, is not so sure.

There are a number of factors that he believes need to be addressed — such as how a ship can autonomously comply with many different maritime laws, how they steer safely away from other sea traffic, and perhaps most important: how does it distinguish between friend and foe?

"Overall, I think the seaborne-drone program has merit, however, we have an American public that's not being told the truth about the nature and scope of the military risk relative to global submarine proliferation," Kephart told Business Insider.

For now at least, the drones will only be used for surveillance with no plans for having them armed, although Hoak believes eventually they could have a variety of other uses, like mine detection. "We are certainly interested in exploring other payloads on this vehicle," he said.

The deadline for the sonar system delivery from Raytheon is due in a year and a half, with full program demonstration expected in the "next couple of years," according to Hoak."


Tender style milestone details "... A suite of sensors "capable of tracking quiet, modern diesel electric submarines" will be implemented into the completely unmanned vessel...It is hoped that the unmanned nature of the vessel will open up new technologies in terms of stability and sea keeping."

The ACTUV would, of course, be one platform in a network centric grouping of other ACTUVs as well as satellite, aircraft, land intercept, "SOSUS style", surface ship and friendly submarine platforms.

Link with the following on this "gentleseas" website

LIDAR an anti-submarine warfare sensor, January 16, 2014,

The DASH Program anti-submarine sensors - TRAPS & SHARK, April 8, 2013, , and


March 15, 2013

F/A-18 sharing advanced situation awareness technology with F-35

The electronic attack E/A-18G "Growler" derivative of the Super Hornet - carrying its electronic warfare pods.

A major selling point for the F-35 was advanced, multi-aircraft, situational awareness computer technology. It appears that developmental delays in the F-35 mean that such advanced technology is increasingly being incorporated into the US Navy's current strike fighters (the F/A-18E/F Super Hornets) and also the electronic attack E/A-18G "Growler" derivative of the Super Hornet.

This represents a disincentive for the US military and other foreign customers to buy the troubled F-35 which is much more expensive than the Super Hornet.

DefenseTech March 14, 2013 reports:

"Navy Wants More GD Super Computers

The U.S. Navy has awarded a $19.3 million contract to General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems to produce Type-3 advanced mission computers for the F/A-18E/F and E/A-18G Super Hornet aircraft.

These special computers act as the nerve center of the Super Hornet, providing situational awareness and combat systems control to the flight crew, GD officials maintain. General Dynamics has delivered F/A-18 advanced mission computers since 2002.

They’re ruggedized, highly-reliable systems that can process high-speed data flows from the latest sensor technologies, GD officials maintain. The system performs general purpose, input/output, video, voice and graphics processing, and it is designed to operate in the extreme environmental conditions of today’s high-performance fighter aircraft.

“Last year we hit a major milestone with the delivery of the 1,500th advanced mission computer to the U.S. Navy in support of the Super Hornet program,” said Lou Von Thaer, president of General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems. “Our long-standing commitment to outfitting this world-class aircraft with our open architecture has provided the Navy with the ability to cost-effectively address obsolescence, increase flexibility and strengthen performance capabilities.”

Here is the orginal General Dynamics press release .

March 11, 2013

Is the "black" RATTLRS missile an F-35 sales sweetener?

Artist's mockup of an F-35 firing a jet powered supersonic missile Revolutionary Approach To Time Critical Long Range Strike (RATTLRS)
It may well be that an operational missile derivative (now a "black" the US term for secret project) of the RATTLRS concept has been rolled into the sale of F-35 as a sweetener to encourage buyers for the problematic-underdeveloped F-35. Such a missile may be the secret weapon the F-35 sales team and USAF officers have been hinting at in the Australian press. 
The reference in the Australian press was in an Australia's ABC TV Four Corners "Reach for the sky" on February 18, 2013 :

"[civilian presenter] ANDREW FOWLER: And it's even got a weapon that's a closely guarded secret.

LT. GENERAL CHRIS BOGDAN, EXECUTIVE OFFICER, F-35 JOINT PROGRAM OFFICE: Those are the crown jewels of the program and that's what makes the F-35 special.

ANDREW FOWLER: So asserting that to the public, it's really saying 'trust us'?"

RATTLRS Derivative More Likely Lockheed Martin's Secret Weapon

The US-UK Revolutionary Approach To Time Critical Long Range Strike (RATTLRS) appears to have gone "black" as it likely enters its practical-operational phase.

After some reconsideration - my February 28, 2013 post F-35 being sold with promise of a hypersonic missile? may be incorrect - as a hypersonic (Mach 5+) missile seems to involve too may technical problems to be used as a weapon in the next two decades. Hypersonic speed in the atmosphere:

- generates tremendous heat which within minutes melts available missile skin materials;
- heat adversely effects electronics;
-  and the large heat signature is unstealthy (showing up on infrared and other sensors while drawing in heat seeking SAMs or air to air missiles).

There are also range problems. The force needed to penetrate (or push aside) atmosphere at hypersonic velocity severely limits range. Two or more powerplants used to make hypersonic velocity possible involve prohibitive weigh increases which also limit range. The only way around these problems seems to be a weapon in the vacuum or "ether" of space - a role already performed by multistage ballistic missiles.

All this suggests high supersonic flight (up to Mach 4) is more appropriate for longer range, some stealth, while generating less material damaging heat. Also RATTLRS testing indicates turbo jets are capable of Mach speeds just below hypersonic.

Meanwhile it is unlikely that other missile developments mentioned in  F-35 being sold with promise of a hypersonic missile? are the "silver bullet" boosting F-35 sales. The West is unlikely to have built a missile similar to the BrahMos due to its rocket and ramjet's range limitations (officially around 300 kilometres). It is unknown to what extent the JASSM may have adopted RATTLRS technology (such as the jet engine) or whether JASSM may have in fact merged with RATTLRS.

In recognition of hypersonic heat and range problems the RATTLRS project has adopted an evolutionary approach - high supersonic speed (between Mach 3 and 4) using a single turbo-jet engine for simplicity and weight saving.


Popular Mechanics says about the RATTLRS YJ102R turbine engine "might be the most powerful turbojet on the planet—at least by weight. It’s barely bigger than two breadboxes."


Rolls-Royce announced on January 12, 2009 that it had successfully completed an initial test of its advanced, high-specific thrust YJ102R engine at the Indianapolis, Indiana facility. This test is the first of a series to be performed by LibertyWorks (Rolls-Royce North American Technologies Inc) , the company's research unit, and is designed to validate critical performance criteria under its High Speed Turbine Engine Demonstration (HiSTED) contract with the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).
Janes provides details of the requirement and thinking behind super-hyper sonic missile systems.
"The US has been examining a range of very high-speed strike weapon concepts for a number of years. These weapons, both sea- and air-launched, have been drawn up for use against mobile and/or time-critical targets, along with hardened and buried targets. In all cases the weapons rely on the kinetic effects of a ramjet powerplant to attain the velocities needed to be effective against such target sets...The optimum penetration effect of a weapon in this class would be between 30 and 55 metres." discusses performance requirements for RATTLRS including the jet turbine alone:

- boosting speed to Mach 3 to 4
- a range of up to 1,000 km
- can be air-launched by the F/A-18 E/F (Super Hornet), F-22 and F-35 (JSF)
- maximum missile weight of 1,800 lbs with a 500 lbs payload/warhead


Project Going "Black"

Increasing the likelihood that the F-35 builder Lockheed Martin has combined the sale with an operational RATTLRS missile development is: :

 "On 01 February 2005 the Office of Naval Research awarded Lockheed Martin a phase two contract N00014-04-D-0068-0003 for $157,443,201 including options...Lockheed Martin is teamed with Allison Advanced Development Company [acquired by Rolls-Royce] to develop technologies that will provide an advanced Mach 4+ integrated propulsion system in an operationally traceable airframe. The YJ102R developmental engine...As of May 2009 plans called for completing the RATTLRS flight test program by the end of 2009. [as of early 2010 this flight seems not to have happened]"


March 8, 2013

Israel's Hermes 900 Drone - Predator Clone?


 Israel's Hermes 900 drone appears to be an authorised Predator clone. Not only is its appearance almost identical to the Predator (though Hermes has an upturned Predator B/Reaper style tail) but its weight, speed and other characteristics are. It is extraordinary that  Israel's Elbit arms company is permitted to sell the Hermes to foreign customers - presumably in competition with the US built Predator.

The similarities reflect the close political ties between the US and Israel and close collaboration between their military-industrial complexes.
Israel's Elbit arms company, the Hermes 900's builder declares :
"Hermes® 900 is our next generation multi-role MALE UAS. It features over-the-horizon, persistent multi-mission, multi-payload capabilities with class leading payload carrying capacity of 350 kgs. It is capable of performing missions for area dominance, persistent intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR). Hermes® 900 also can perform ground support and maritime patrol missions, and offers the capability for integrated multi-platform, multi-sensor operation. Based on the heritage of over 300,000 operational flight hours of the Hermes® 450 UAS, the Hermes® 900 employs identical building blocks using a larger air vehicle with nearly double the performance. Hermes® 900 incorporates flexible cutting edge multi- payload configurations employing standard and long-range EO/IR/Laser, SAR/GMTI & MPR, COMINT/DF, COMINT GSM, CoMMJAM, ELINT, EW, hyperspectral systems, large area scanning systems, wide area persistent surveillance and other payloads.

Mission management is performed in a highly autonomous manner via the Hermes® ground control system (GCS) designed to control combined Hermes® 900 and Hermes® 450 missions. Hermes® 900 can perform two concurrent missions from the same GCS using two ground data terminals (GDTs).
Hermes® 900 is the most recent MALE UAS procured by the IDF as well as by multiple international customers."

Hermes Specifications include:
Length: 8.3 m 
Wingspan: 15 m
Gross weight: 1,100 kg 
Maximum speed: 220 km/h

Meanwhile Predator specs include:

Length: 8.22 m 
Wingspan: 14.3 to 16.8 m 
Gross weight: 1,020 kg
Maximum speed: 217 km/h 

March 1, 2013

Dido 4 hits from Girl Who Got Away

Dido (short for her real name, Dido Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O'Malley Armstrong) is probably my favorite female soloist.

Here are perhaps the best four songs from her new album Girl Who Got Away. Looks well worth buying - not from me though as I am but a simple blogger.

Dido starts singing 48 seconds in.