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The National Interest online seeks to provide a space for vigorous debate and exchange not only among Americans but between U.S. and overseas interlocutors. This is the new home for informed analysis and frank but reasoned exchanges on foreign policy and international affairs.
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18 августа, 14:00

This Is Germany's Plan to Defend Against Russia's Deadly Missiles

Sebastien Roblin Security, Eurasia Eveything you need to know about MEADS. In August 2018 it was reported the German Ministry of Defense is reportedly negotiating with an international consortium formed by Lockheed Martin and MDBA on cost to acquire their Medium Extended Air Defense System, a mobile point-defense system designed to shoot down everything from ballistic missiles to fighters, cruise missiles, drones and helicopters. If a suitable deal can be reached—and the first attempt a few years ago foundered on cost-issues—then the program will require approval by the Bundeswehr. MEADS has a particularly tortured development history, originating as a s joint venture between the U.S., Germany and Italy intended to replace the Patriot missile. However, the U.S. Army simply didn’t want MEADS, so first the U.S. in 2009 and then Germany in 2011 pulled out of purchasing it—though Washington was cajoled into funding its development anyway. Thus the three countries spent $4 billion to nearly complete development of a weapon that was nobody was willing to purchase. However, in 2014 Russian forces invaded the Crimean Peninsula and Eastern Ukraine, and Berlin realized it could no longer allow its military to rust away from neglect. Since then Moscow has deployed nuclear-capable Iskander ballistic missiles to its enclave in Kaliningrad which could land a fast and deadly strike on Berlin traveling at six times the speed of sound. Germany considerably downsized its air defenses in the two decades following the end of the Cold War. Currently, the Luftwaffe operates a single Air Defense Missile Wing with three Groups armed with Patriot missile batteries all based in northern Germany and a fourth group equipped with Short-Range Air Defense systems to protect forward-deployed troops and bases from low-altitude attacks and even rocket or mortar fire. Read full article

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18 августа, 13:00

How To Go Submarine Hunting (and More) in the South China Sea

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Charlie Gao Security, Asia Planes like this are on the front lines. With things heating up in the South China Sea (SCS), much attention has been paid to the ships and submarines that could potentially square off against each other in the region. This ignores a key asset of most navies that is already on the “front lines” and shaping military interactions—Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA). Skillful use of these aircraft may determine how an engagement plays out, or it could prevent one from happening in the first place. MPA have been around almost as long as combat aircraft. Navies quickly realized the potential of aircraft when it came to patrolling the sea, as they could move far more quickly than boats and had the significant advantage of altitude. But modern MPA use advanced sensors to detect to see far more than what can be seen with the naked eye—Magnetic Anomaly Detectors (MADs) can detect underwater submarines, and radar systems are used to detect ships that might just be specks on the horizon. Infrared/thermographic cameras allow MPA to identify vessels even at night. MPA can also deploy sonobuoys, floating sensors that either detect noises or send out pings to find submarines. ELINT sensors can detect the radar emissions of enemy MPA or ships. All of these sensors means that MPA are incredibly useful in peacetime as well as wartime. One way they could deter potential escalation is through detecting potential violations of EEZ or civilian ships in contested waters ahead of time through the use of radar and infrared. Since modern MPA have all-weather detection capability, they can watch for fishing vessels day and night, and give a navy an advanced warning of such violations so they can be headed off before a more violent encounter up close. Read full article

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18 августа, 12:00

5 Most Deadly Naval Surface Ships on Planet Earth

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Kyle Mizokami Security, Global Governance What would you choose to wage war on the high seas? We have a few ideas. Great-power competition is back, and so are surface navies. As any student of history will tell you nationalist rivalries drive naval construction, going back to the days of the Greeks and the Persians. After a quarter century hiatus, shipyards are again building large destroyers and even cruiser-sized vessels. All of the world’s most powerful surface combatants operate in the latest rivalry between major powers, this time in the Asia-Pacific region. The five most powerful surface ships on the planet are means to an end, board-game pieces in the struggle between the dominant military powers of postwar Asia (the United States, Japan) and authoritarian states (Russia, China) challenging the status quo. Kirov-class missile cruiser: The largest surface combatants built by any power in the years after World War II, the Kirov class ships are often referred to as battlecruisers because of their sheer size and firepower. The four Kirovs are each 823 feet long—eighty percent of the length of a U.S. Navy supercarrier—with a beam of ninety-three feet. The ships displace 24,300 tons, and can make speeds of up to thirty-two knots due to the presence of a CONAS (Combined Nuclear and Steam) propulsion system that generates six hundred megawatts of power. Of the four original ships only two, Petr Velikiy and Admiral Nakhimov, are still in service. The ships were originally armed with twenty P-700 Granit (NATO code name: SS-N-19 Shipwreck) ramjet anti-ship missiles, each of which could carry a 1,500 pound high explosive or nuclear warhead. Fast and powerful, the Kirovs were positioned to hunt down and destroy American aircraft carriers carrying nuclear weapons that could threaten Moscow’s missile submarines sea and the Soviet homeland. Read full article

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18 августа, 11:00

Hitler's Super Weapons, Explained: Jets, Bombers, Rockets and Deadly Tanks

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Warfare History Network, Arnold Blumberg Security, Europe As World War II turned against Hitler, he became desperate to develop weapons that might turn the tide. Some of the technologically advanced systems proved to be devastating. During Germany’s early string of victories between 1939 and 1941, Hitler informed the members of the nation’s aerospace industry that he had decided to impose new restrictions on aircraft research and development. However, by 1942 the Führer and his Air Force High Command (Oberkommando der Luftwaffe) had recognized their mistake. With the increasing weakness in the fighter arm, Hitler saw that his old faithful aircraft like the Messerschmitt Me-109 were losing ground to the new Allied long-range fighters, such as the North American P-51 Mustang, used to escort U.S. and British bombers that were devastating Germany with little resistance. The Me-262 Hitler’s Jet Fighter The constant barrage of Allied bombing finally forced Hitler to invest in producing airplanes at the cutting edge of technology. These included bombers capable of carrying the war as far as America and beyond the Ural Mountains into Russia. To the German warlord, these new “wonder weapons” would mean the life or death of his Third Reich. What he wanted was a cheap, revolutionary aircraft of such advanced technology that it could be mass produced quickly and efficiently. One such aircraft pressed for by the designers was the jet fighter. The engines of the new jet types stemmed from work carried out before the war by Britain’s Sir Frank Whittle and Germany’s Hans-Joachim Pabst von Ohain. Both inventors created centrifugal and axial flow turbojets, which became the obvious step forward in aircraft design and the arrival of the operational jet aircraft. Read full article

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18 августа, 10:00

A 'Stealthy' F-15 ‘Silent Eagle’: Smart Idea or a Waste of Money?

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Sebastien Roblin Security, We breakdown the costs and benefits of an idea that is getting a lot of buzz. A recent article concerning Boeing’s pitch to the U.S. Air Force of a cheap, modestly upgraded F-15X fighter elicited lamentations from some commenters that the Air Force was not enticed by a more ambitious proposal for the F-15SE Silent Eagle—an F-15 with a reduced radar cross section. Reduced radar cross-sections (RCS) are a common feature in the cutting-edge o 4.5 generation fighters. Before reduced-RCS engineering was widely understood, manufacturers designed fighter like the F-15 or F-16 that had an RCS of around 3 to 5 m2 or greater. By comparison, the U.S. military’s newest fourth-generation fighter, the the FA-18E/F Super Hornet, might as well be called the Silent Hornet with an RCS ranging between .1 and 1 m2. The French Rafale has a 1m2 RCS, and the Swedish Gripen and Eurofighter Typhoon around half that at .5m2. Relatively small, RCS-optimized fighters also include the F-16C (1.2 m2) and Chinese J-10 (1.5 m2) Even Russia boasts that its longtime counterpart to the F-15, the Flanker, has been improved with an RCS between 1 to 3 m2 in the most advanced Su-35S model. Read full article

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18 августа, 05:41

Here’s A Special Glimpse At China’s Secretive J-20 Stealth Fighter

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Task and Purpose, Brad Howard Security, Asia We have the pictures. On August 1, China celebrated the founding of the People’s Liberation Army by allowing some high-resolution photos of the next-generation J-20 stealth fighter to leak, complete with a tasteful photoshopped-on patriotic dragon painting just below the canopy which just screams “Happy Birthday, PLA.” The new photos of the J-20 provide an up close and personal look at the fuselage of the new interceptor. But the photos also appear to show a sensor system that looks awfully similar to the Lockheed Martin Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) on the front of the F-35 Lighting II. There’s a reason for this: In 2007, Lockheed Martin dealt with something of a cyber Ocean’s 11 when Chinese hackers stole technical documents related to the development of the F-35. The details on the hack, eventually revealed in documents leaked by Edward Snowden, are just one example of Chinese attempts to steal foreign aviation technology; as recently as 2017, Chinese hackers went after Australian F-35 defense contractors, nabbing even more info on the cutting-edge fighter. Read full article

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18 августа, 05:39

Why the Navy Doesn’t Need New Battleships

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Justin Mohn Security, We have our generation’s battleships in nuclear aircraft carriers. They are majestic, imposing, ocean-going and potentially fading into obsolescence as missiles threaten to outrange and outpunch their organic fighter complement. The future is not bigger ships with more armor. Recent discussions of how to answer current naval challenges in the Pacific would do the old U.S. Navy “Gun Club” proud. The last few years have seen calls to bring the Iowa-class fast battleships out of retirement (again) and refit them for a new age, or for building a new class of battleship entirely to force its way into A2/AD environments being created by the People’s Liberation Army Navy in the Pacific. On the surface, these arguments have some merit. At present, the U.S. Navy is struggling to find real estate for new systems and more firepower on its Block-III Arleigh Burke-class workhorses, even as China prepares to launch a formidable modern class more cruiser than destroyer. Battleships were built to gun carriers intended to give and take punishment in brutal, broadside slugging matches against peer or near-peer competitors. As pro-battleship advocates have noted, some venerable World War II battleships took significant punishment to sink. Read full article

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18 августа, 05:34

Here's How France and Germany Could Have a Joint Bomb

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Maximilian Terhalle Security, Europe Such a force is necessary to deter Moscow in the face of uncertainty from Washington. Strategic thinkers and planners have the goal of securing the enduring existence of Europe’s freedom so that, as a former German head of state, Joachim Gauck, vehemently reminded his people, “others, with very different worldviews, cannot lay hands on our way of life, indeed, on our very freedom.” This is precisely why anticipatory planning in today’s strategic environment is essential and, in turn, raises the following question: how will the Europeans effectively guarantee the ultimate protection of their vital interests in the future when the foundations of the strategic status quo are changing so drastically? In particular, for Germany’s strategic assessment of the international environment, it is absolutely crucial to understand which position the United States adopts in regard to core questions of world order and global military security. The repeated and public questioning of America’s commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s article 5 by Donald Trump has more than ever before shaken its allies’ belief in NATO’s credibility and the United States’ global security guarantees. Russia lost its “strategic depth” in 1991 when the Warsaw Pact dissolved. But Putin, as he has made clear time and again, will not accept this outcome as history’s final verdict. A more-than-ever ambitious China views (and presents) itself as Asia’s hegemon, increasingly unwilling to budge and bend to America’s power and possibly sleepwalking into a classic war of power transition in the South China Sea. Overall, the international status quo, which the United States has critically shaped in the last three decades and which has guaranteed Germany’s external security, is undergoing fundamental changes. It is unclear where they will leave Germany. Read full article

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18 августа, 05:33

The West's Greatest Challenge Lies in Washington, Not Moscow

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Jackson Janes, Peter S. Rashish Security, Europe If the West is united, it has nothing to fear from Putin. It has been a month now since Donald Trump’s indulgence in Helsinki of Vladimir Putin’s “extremely strong” denial of Russian involvement in hacking the 2016 U.S. election. With this move, the Presidential foot was placed at least on, if not quite over, a key red line. Before this point, no U.S. head of state had ever publicly appeared to take the side of a foreign leader over his own intelligence services on such a crucial matter of national security—Russian asymmetric warfare to disrupt the performance of American democratic institutions. Looking back with four weeks in hindsight, the reaction in Washington to this Presidential misstep seems to have been uncharacteristically unified and clear. While the poor treatment of allies at both the G7 and North Atlantic Treaty Organization summits was disconcerting, to say the least, now the liberal international order that has been so painstakingly cultivated over seventy years of Democratic and Republican administrations alike was really in danger. It is one thing to show frustration with allies; it is another to tolerate lies from a major adversary like Russia. Even if President Trump's intention was not to empower his Russian counterpart, Americans and Europeans alike were right to see his conduct in Helsinki as something out of the ordinary. But does that mean it is the U.S.-Russian relationship under Trump and Putin that poses the most danger to the rules-based international order and its single most crucial pillar—the transatlantic relationship between the United States and Europe? After all, previous U.S. Presidents have aroused fears in Europe before that the United States would go over the heads of allies and deal one-on-one with the leadership in Moscow. During the period of détente under the Nixon and Ford Administrations, there was concern about a potential U.S.-Soviet "condominium," and similar worries arose later when President Reagan met with Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik in 1986. Read full article

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17 августа, 23:06

Top Gun Denied: Why the F-22 vs. F-35 'Dogfight' in Norway Is Not What You Think

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Dave Majumdar Security, Professional air forces do not engage in the sort of chest thumping bravado one might see in movies such as Top Gun, rather the entire affair is about building professional competence. That includes developing aircrew skills, practicing and refining tactics, techniques and procedures among other things. A pair of stealthy fifth-generation U.S. Air Force Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor air superiority fighters squared off against a pair of Royal Norwegian Air Force Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighters during a one-day training exercise over Norway on August 15. There are very few details available about the exercise, but some inferences can be made about the type of training the two sides undertook. The Norwegians, for their part, were impressed by the Raptor’s fearsome air-to-air prowess. “The F-22 is a very formidable opponent,” Norwegian Air Force Major Morten Hanche, who piloted one of the Norwegian F-35s, told Reuters’ Andrea Shalal. The Norwegians told Shalal that practicing with the American F-22s provided the stealthy new jets with training opportunities that would not normally be available, since the F-35s are usually able to surprise and “overpower” conventional non-stealthy aircraft. Unsurprisingly, as a professional air force, the Norwegians refused to discuss which side “won” during the training exercises. Generally, such discussions are held in confidence during a debrief after a sortie between the participants. Read full article

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17 августа, 22:07

Russia's Backfire Bomber Is Back (And Ready to Wage a Nuclear War or Kill Aircraft Carriers)

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Task and Purpose, Brad Howard Security, Europe The marque TU-22M3 ‘Backfire’ bomber that was comparatively a cheaper, shorter-range version of the United States’ B-1B Lancer, is finally rolling off the lot with the ‘M3M’ designation upgrades it needs to fight well into the 21st century. Despite its occasional flashes of inspiration when it comes to military tech, Russia is still touting the same Cold War-era bomber fleet that threatened naval carrier task forces with the specter of cruise missile destruction throughout the 1980s. But now, the marque TU-22M3 ‘Backfire’ bomber that was comparatively a cheaper, shorter-range version of the United States’ B-1B Lancer, is finally rolling off the lot with the ‘M3M’ designation upgrades it needs to fight well into the 21st century. - TU-22M3M Backfire, already capable of flying at over 45,000 feet and up to Mach 1.4 with a range of 3,000 miles, is getting its legacy communication, weapons, and navigation systems upgraded to match the TU-160M2 Backfire. The upgraded nav system will be primed to use the Russian version of GPS, Glonass, which eliminates dependence on American satellites for both navigation and guided weapons. - The Tu-22M3M is now capable of launching carrier killing Kh-32 cruise missiles from over 1000 km (or 620 miles) away, a major increase over its previous range of just 600 km with the Kh-22. - The most significant weapons upgrade is also its scariest: The bomber is also now capable of carrying Kh-15 airborne ballistic missiles, enabling it to function as a nuclear strategic bomber, adding one more arrow to the Russian nuclear quiver. Read full article

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17 августа, 21:46

Are Larry Kudlow and Donald Trump Secret Free Traders?

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Curt Mills Politics, Americas A close examination reveals a plan to lower tariffs everywhere except, perhaps, China. Personnel has been the story of this presidency. A candidate who ran an unorthodox campaign based on “America First” became a president whose White House was largely staffed by conventional Republicans and national-security hawks. There was no Trumpist think tank, and hardline populists, like Stephen K. Bannon, starved of such a resource, focused on trying to win early policy fights, such as the travel ban, rather than filling out senior staffing roles. A former senior defense official who has been floated for high-level positions in the White House before, including national-security advisor, told me when he first met Jeff Sessions, who some consider the intellectual godfather of Trump’s movement, the future Attorney General asked, “Where have you been?” A case in point in this contradiction is Larry Kudlow, the president’s economic point man. Kudlow’s ascension to that role—but most importantly, into Donald Trump’s inner circle—is emblematic of several factors that help tell the story of this administration. Kudlow took over the job earlier this year after Gary Cohn, the former Goldman deputy, resigned essentially in protest over the administration’s plan to go ahead with tariffs. But, paradoxically, Trump replaced Cohn with Kudlow, an evangelist for open markets. As late as March, Kudlow, along with Reagan economist Art Laffer and Steve Moore of the Heritage Foundation, with whom Kudlow has long partnered, were writing in CNBC: “Mr. President, tariffs are really tax hikes.” Read full article