U.S. Air Force finds additional deficiency in Boeing’s aerial fuel system


March 31, 2020 / 9:31 AM / Updated a day ago

(Reuters) – The U.S. Air Force announced on Monday an additional deficiency in the KC-46 Pegasus aerial fuel system built by Boeing (BA.N), classifying it at the Category I level, meaning it is a major technical issue that may endanger the aircrew and aircraft.

Boeing is contractually obligated to remedy the deficiency at no additional cost to the government, the Air Force said in a statement.

The Service’s KC-46 Program Office first identified excessive fuel leaks in July of 2019 after an air refueling test,” the Air Force said, adding it is working with Boeing to determine the root cause of the issue and take corrective action.

It is the latest problem for Boeing, which has been struggling to get its 737 MAX aircraft flying again following two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler

Source: Reuters “U.S. Air Force finds additional deficiency in Boeing’s aerial fuel system”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Huawei wants to get Google services back on its phones, says CEO


Abdullah March 30, 2020

It seems that Huawei is changing its strategy toward the US Ban and the relation with Google, previously there was talk about how nice the in-house AppGallery is and confirming that they will rely on Huawei mobile services even if the ban is lifted. Well, now the Chinese manufacturer now plans to continue working with Google again.

Huawei wants to get Google services back on its phones, says CEO

In an interview with Wired, the head of the private customer division, Richard Yu, spoke about Huawei’s future plans. According to Yu, they hope that they can start working with Google again – despite their own AppGallery, they are open to it. This is also in the interest of Google and other US companies and developers, which have made a lot of money thanks to Huawei. They would like Huawei devices to use the Play Store again.

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With regard to the AppGallery, the Huawei manager admits that there are developments but there still has gaps. It would take a year or two to enhance what it offer. They also had to struggle with restrictions in the smart home sector, which is why they are currently adhering to their own open standard (HiLink) and have not joined the smart home alliance of Apple, Amazon, Google and Zigbee. In addition, they think their own standard is superior.

Relatively interesting: Yu was asked how long smartphone cameras would be at the forefront of the innovation. The Huawei manager estimates that this could continue for a year or two. This advancement of camera development in the mobile segment swallows up enormous amounts and also drives up material costs. Yu believes that longer runtimes, larger screens and eye protection are becoming increasingly important.

Read Also: Hacker steals the GPU code of Xbox Series X and asks $100 million for it

When asked about foldables and a possible drop in prices, Yu says he estimates that foldable prices will reach the same level as the flagship phones in a year and a half. Huawei is currently not making a profit even with the high selling prices of the Mate Xs.

Source: gizchina.com “Huawei wants to get Google services back on its phones, says CEO”

Note: This is gizchina.com’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


U.S. spies find coronavirus spread in China, North Korea, Russia hard to chart


Mark Hosenball, Jonathan Landay

March 31, 2020 / 5:14 AM / Updated an hour ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As U.S. spy agencies seek to assemble a precise picture of the world’s coronavirus outbreaks, they are finding serious gaps in their ability to assess the situation in China, Russia and North Korea, according to five U.S. government sources familiar with the intelligence reporting.

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (blue) infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (red), also known as novel coronavirus, isolated from a patient sample. Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH/Handout via REUTERS

The agencies also have limited insight into the full impact of the pandemic in Iran, although information on infections and deaths among the ruling class and public is becoming more available on official and social media, two sources said.

The four countries are known by U.S. spy agencies as “hard targets” because of the heavy state controls on information and the difficulty, even in normal times, of collecting intelligence from within their closed leadership circles.

An accurate assessment of those countries’ outbreaks would aid U.S. and international efforts to limit the human and economic tolls from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, experts say.

The agencies are not just looking for accurate numbers, but also for any signs of the political ramifications of how the crisis is being handled.

We want to have as close an accurate, real-time understanding of where the global hotspots are and where they are evolving,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, an expert at the Center for Global Development thinktank, who led the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance from 2013 to 2017, including the U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak. “The world is not going to get rid of this thing until we get rid of it everywhere.”

U.S. intelligence agencies first began reporting on the coronavirus in January and provided early warnings to lawmakers on the outbreak in China, where it originated in the city of Wuhan late last year, said the sources, who asked not to be named in order to speak freely about intelligence matters.

The pandemic has grown to nearly 740,000 cases in some 200 countries and territories, Reuters figures show, with the United States now reporting the most cases at more than 152,000.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, declined to comment.

NOT ONE CASE

North Korea claims to have not had a single case even though it borders China, but has asked international aid agencies for supplies like masks and testing kits.

One U.S. source said, “we don’t know” anything about the scale of the problem in the hermetic country.

It’s a nuclear-armed country where things that could destabilize the government would be of great interest to the United States,” said Konyndyk, who also led the U.S. response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Russian authorities are considering a nationwide lockdown after recording the biggest one-day rise in coronavirus cases for the sixth day in a row, for a total of 1,836 cases and nine deaths.

Knowing the full extent of Russia’s coronavirus spread could be critical as it shares borders with 14 other countries and is a hub of trade and travel.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo alluded last week to the dearth of accurate information on Russia and Iran, and accused China of a disinformation campaign, which Beijing denies.

China, which has reported more than 81,000 cases and more than 3,300 deaths, says no new cases are originating at home. It remains wary of travelers returning from abroad.

The U.S. view of the Chinese claim of no new domestic cases is that “some of it may be true,” according to one source. U.S. agencies remain skeptical that the Chinese have the virus under control, the source said.

Konyndyk said while Beijing concealed the severity of the initial outbreak, it does not appear to be doctoring numbers now, however.

China “seems to be the most successful country in terms of taking very large-scale growth and rapidly extinguishing it,” he said. “If their case numbers are real, it’s really important to understand their approach and adapt it.”

Editing by Mary Milliken and Sonya Hepinstall

Source: Reuters “U.S. spies find coronavirus spread in China, North Korea, Russia hard to chart”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


The U.S. Navy’s New Attack Submarine: The Most ‘Stealth’ Sub Ever?


We have an idea of what is to come.

by Kris Osborn June 3, 2019

The technical elements of undersea command and control, quite naturally, are being engineered with a mind to an expected increased use of underwater drones. The Navy is now moving quickly with efforts to build an entire new fleet of UUVs able to destroy mines, conduct lower risk forward surveillance, deliver supplies or even fire weapons with a “human-in-the-loop.” Capt. Pete Small, the Program Manager for Unmanned Maritime Systems, addressed this phenomenon at Sea Air Space and said the service’s now in development Orca XLUUV – Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle – is being configured to fire torpedoes.

The Navy has begun work on a new generation of attack submarines with never-before-seen weapons, quieting technology, undersea attack drones, sonar and communications networking… to emerge at some point over the next 10 years or more.

The U.S. Navy’s New Attack Submarine: The Most ‘Stealth’ Sub Ever

Will it be the stealthiest, most lethal attack submarine ever to exist? That ….is the Navy plan.

Plans for the new boats, referred to as a new fleet of Block VI Virginia Class-Attack Attack-class submarines, include launching long-range precision strikes, delivering Special Operations Forces on secret high-risk attack missions, conducting ISR missions, networking with platforms and — perhaps of greatest significance – operating undetected in high-threat waters.

Block VI will start in 2024. We are currently in the phase of looking at concepts and capabilities and determining their feasibility. Next year we will go through the decision points in terms of requirements of what we want to have in that block,” Capt. Christopher Hanson, Program Manager, Virginia Class Submarines, said at the Navy League’s 2019 Sea Air Space Symposium.

Speaking at a Naval Sea Systems Command location, Hanson specified that the new submarines will incorporate a specific emphasis upon Special Operations Forces (SOF), new weapons’ interfaces and payloads for undersea drones, Unmanned Undersea Vessels.

As part of the Block VI development, the Navy is now conducting a “SOF Optimization” Analysis of Alternatives to, among other things, find ways to engineer an attack submarine well suited for clandestine undersea SOF missions. These can include targeted attack operations, forward intelligence gathering or high-risk surveillance missions, among other things.

Hanson was clear to point out that it is not possible, at the moment, to know everything that a new submarine might include 10 years into the future. With this in mind, the service wants to architect the boats, with established standards and interfaces, so that they can easily integrate new weapons, undersea drones or networking technologies as they emerge.

Capability comes in two ways. One is the inherent design and how we build the submarine and the other piece is how we design the submarine with interface requirements for future payloads…that maybe right now are only in the power-point stage…. that can be accommodated in the future?” Hanson added.

This conceptual framework, focused on engineering “upgradeable” platforms, was anticipated in earliest days of the Virginia-class program more than 15 years ago. A 2005 Naval War College Review essay cites Virginia-class submarines as a platform benefiting from a modular, or “open architecture” approach. Since its inception, the Virginia-class was built with a mind to prepare for future upgrades, as evidenced in the essay.

One example referenced in the essay is a modernization effort called the Acoustic Rapid COTS Insertion (ARCI) program which, among other things, pushed “toward modularity for the Virginia-class, the SSGN and subsequent classes,” the essay states. The success of the ARCI program has continued for more than a decade since its beginning; the program’s success was cited in a 2015 DOT&E report. The DOT&E report recommend that the program begin to emphasize countermine missions, due to its track record of successful upgrades.

From a technical or engineering perspective, modularity means building a boat with a software and hardware foundation able to adjust as needed. For instance, while attack submarines currently fire Torpedoes and Tomahawks, it is entirely feasible, if not likely, that new submarine-launched weapons will exist 10 years from now. This kind of scenario is exactly what Hanson seemed to be getting at.

The Naval War College Review essay, interestingly, aligns with Hanson’s comment about the need to engineer for future technologies to permit quick integration of new systems. The essay describes it as “yet-unenvisioned equipment to be installed to counter unimagined threats, and an insistence that core enabling characteristics such as stealth never be compromised.” (From”The Submarine as a Case Study in Transformation: Implications for Future Investment,” James H. Patton Jr, 2005)

With this essay in mind, there is substantial precedent for of this kind of modular approach, looking at the multi-year trajectory of Virginia-class development; each Block has incorporated several impactful new technologies not yet present when the previous boats were built. For example, unlike Blocks I and II, Virginia-class Block III boats significantly increase firepower with the introduction of what’s called Virginia Payload Tubes adding new missile tubes able to fire 6 Tomahawks each. Block III also includes a new Large Aperture Bow “horseshoe-shaped” sonar, which switches from an “air-backed’ spherical sonar to a “water-backed” array, making it easier to maintain pressure, according to a 2014 report in “NavSource Online.”

The LAB sonar, which is both more precise and longer range than its predecessor, also advances the curve in that it introduces both a passive and “active” sonar system. Passive systems are used to essential track or “listen” for acoustic pings to identify enemy movements. This can help conceal a submarines position by not emitting a signal, yet can lack the specificity of an “active” sonar system which sends an acoustic “ping” forward. The submarine’s technology then analyzes the return signal to deliver a “rendering” of an enemy object to include its contours, speed and distance. In concept, sonar works similar to radar except that it sends acoustic signals instead of electronic ones.

When it comes to tailoring submarines for SOF missions, it would not be surprising if elements of Block IIIs “Lock Out Trunk” were built-upon or expanded for Block VI; the Lock Out Trunk introduces a new specialized area which fills up with water for departure, enabling SOF forces to more easily and quietly exit the submarine while remaining submerged.

BLOCK VI Technologies

So….. given that both future threats and future technologies are not yet known, as Hanson indicated, what might Block VI look like?

While particular technical details are often unavailable given the secret nature of these kinds of platforms, over the years senior Navy weapons developers have talked to Warrior about some of the key areas of modernization focus; these include new coating materials to make the submarines stealthier, new antennas for longer-range, more accurate undersea surveillance missions and new “quieting” engine propulsion technology, among other things.

All of these technologies, in fact, already exist in the USS South Dakota attack submarine — the most advanced submarine ever to be delivered to the Navy. The new boat, which is now operational, began as a prototype, test-bed platform to evolve these new technologies. What all of these USS South Dakota innovations amount to is that, Hanson said, they are informing current conceptual discussions now underway regarding Block VI.

Also, according to Congressional testimony in 2016, cited in a report from SeaPower magazine, former PEO Submarines Rear Adm. Michael E. Jabaley Jr., the USS South Dakota includes a DARPA-engineered Hybrid Propulsor “which brings new acoustic advantages.”

Yet another area of innovation quite likely to lay a foundation for Block VI includes Block IIIs “Fly-by-Wire” navigational controls; instead of using mechanically operated hydraulic controls, the Fly-by-Wire system uses a joystick, digital moving maps and various adaptations of computer automation to navigate the boat. This means that computer systems can control the depth and speed of the submarine, while a human remains in a command and control role. It seems almost self-evident, given rapid advances in AI and computer automation, that Block VI will include a new generation of these kinds of technologies.

The technical elements of undersea command and control, quite naturally, are being engineered with a mind to an expected increased use of underwater drones. The Navy is now moving quickly with efforts to build an entire new fleet of UUVs able to destroy mines, conduct lower risk forward surveillance, deliver supplies or even fire weapons with a “human-in-the-loop.” Capt. Pete Small, the Program Manager for Unmanned Maritime Systems, addressed this phenomenon at Sea Air Space and said the service’s now in development Orca XLUUV – Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle – is being configured to fire torpedoes.

From essentially a “lone wolf ” a decade ago, the submarine is now nearly universally accepted as a key node within network-centric warfare, the purveyor of “undersea dominance,” and an essential element of Sea Power 21 (a previously articulated Navy attack vision emphasizing information dominance),” the 2005 Naval War College Review essay writes.

Finally, the now underway Block V Virginia-class boats, known for its fire-power enhancing Virginia Payload Modules (VPM), are also contributing to Block V conversations. VPM, which increases the boats’ firepower from 12 to 40 Tomahawk missiles, changes the attack envelope.

Block 5 has some additional equipment we are developing, which will be added to the USS South Dakota. Our expectation is that that equipment is going to continue on into Block VI,” Hanson said.

Most of all, it seems apparent, plans for Block VI want to both remain flexible and explore a wide range of options.

We have a CONOPS *Concept of Operations” ground that brings in operators of other vehicles on a periodic basis so we can show them what we are looking at,” Hanson said.

Kris Osborn is a Senior Fellow at The Lexington Institute. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Source: National Interest “The U.S. Navy’s New Attack Submarine: The Most ‘Stealth’ Sub Ever?”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


Enough Nuclear: All of the Reasons the U.S. Navy Needs Diesel Submarines


They’re cheap, defensible, and punch above their weight in the right setting—what’s not to love?

by James Holmes September 14, 2019

For the past five years or so these pixels have been arguing—nay, clamoring—for the U.S. Navy to build or buy a contingent of diesel attack submarines (SSKs) to fill out its undersea inventory. If anything the logic for going conventional is more compelling now than ever. It offers a way to add new hulls with dispatch, at manageable cost, and without imposing extra burdens on the few shipbuilders that specialize in naval nuclear propulsion. Best of all, a diesel contingent is an ideal implement for executing U.S. strategy in what the Pentagon terms its “priority theater,” bar none: the Indo-Pacific.

According to the Naval Sea Systems Command’s Report to Congress on the Long-Range Plan for Maintenance and Modernization of Naval Vessels for Fiscal Year 2020, the “Navy the Nation Needs” would number 355 vessels in all, up from 290 today. That tally includes a fleet of 66 nuclear-powered attack boats (SSNs). Today, according to the Naval Vessel Register, the figure stands at 50. The NVR lists 68 subs, but 18 of those are Ohio-class ballistic-missile or cruise-missile boats, not SSNs built for undersea knife fights.

Fifty is the number for now, but there’s downward pressure on that total. Los Angeles-class SSNs constructed to face the Soviet Navy are easing into retirement as they wear out, while shipyards are scrambling to introduce Virginia-class SSNs into service fast enough to replace them and, if all goes as planned, get ahead of the pace of retirements en route to that 66-boat force. Navy leaders fear builders may not keep up. In fact, some projections show the SSN count dropping into the low 40s by the late 2020s. Compounding the numbers challenge: the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs), which anchor the nation’s nuclear deterrent, are nearing the end of their service life at the same time as the Los Angeles class. Navy magnates have named replacing the Ohios with new-build Columbia-class SSBNs their top priority.

Submarine construction priorities, in other words, pit two critical naval functions against each other—awarding nuclear deterrence precedence over command of the sea among the panoply of missions. That’s a reasonable call. Deterrence is a matter of national survival. SSBNs supply the invulnerable second-strike capability that has formed the beating heart of deterrence since the inception of the atomic age. But that strategic choice entails fearful opportunity costs. Wresting sea command from rivals such as China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy or the Russian Navy is an inescapable prerequisite for strategic success in the Indo-Pacific. Without free use of Western Pacific seaways in particular, Washington’s chances of facing down challengers and upholding solemn commitments to allies appear bleak.

After all, forces that can’t reach the field of combat accomplish little. U.S. maritime strategy could be hollowed out if industry cannot keep up with the demand and the attack-boat fleet gets too lean to carry out its battle duty. Nuclear deterrence might hold fast, yet policymakers in Washington would have few options short of using doomsday weaponry if the U.S. Navy couldn’t count on using the maritime thoroughfare to rush reinforcements and supplies to scenes of action. Obstructing access would open up new strategic vistas for the Beijings and Moscows of the world. Few would believe the White House if it vowed to use nukes to, say, turn back aggression against the Senkaku Islands. No one risks Armageddon for the sake of unpopulated islets. Knowing U.S. leaders had no conventional recourse. Xi Jinping might roll the iron dice—and give the order. The same logic might apply for other hotspots along the Western Pacific rim—Taiwan, the South China Sea, you name it.

So what seems like a mundane tradeoff between ship types and budget lines turns out to be a tradeoff with fateful import for U.S. foreign policy. Pick one horn of the dilemma and the other gores you. To escape the dilemma let’s procure low-cost platforms in bulk to add mass and firepower to the fleet. Many more manufacturers work with conventional than nuclear propulsion plants, diversifying the number of potential suppliers. And it appears—using the Japanese Soryu-class diesel attack boat, acclaimed the finest sub of its type in the world, as the standard—that the navy could outfit itself with four or five conventional subs for the price of a Virginia. Or to avoid fratricide among submarine acquisitions, you could buy a Soryu equivalent for roughly the cost of a littoral combat ship that brings far less value to U.S. maritime strategy.

At this point the nuclear mafia within the silent service—the dominant faction among submariners, it must be said—will produce statistics beyond counting to prove that nuclear-powered craft are superior to their conventional brethren. And they will be right—by every measure except what matters. Namely, winning. The SSK is the right tool for the job provided it’s deployed at the right place on the map in the right manner to achieve maximum effect. Its true purpose: sea denial, meaning hampering foes’ freedom of movement through selected waterways.

aaaCombining submarines with marine geography amplifies their efficacy at sea denial. Array diesel boats along, say, Asia’s first island chain in concert with unmanned combat vehicles, sea mines, surface patrol craft, warplanes, and missile-armed ground troops and you’ve erected a formidable barrier to passage between the China seas and Western Pacific. That’s a barrier that Beijing will think twice about flouting. You don’t need an SSN to stand picket duty, and in fact using it thus amounts to overkill. Nuclear attack boats have sea-control missions to perform on the open ocean. Used imaginatively, inexpensive diesel subs can reinforce conventional deterrence and free up precious SSNs for more important things, all without busting the shipbuilding budget. That’s the reciprocal of producing über-pricey SSBNs to reinforce nuclear deterrence. How’s that for cosmic balance?

Now, acquiring SSKs—preferably of a proven design in order to hold down risk and expense—charts an expedient path to strategic effectiveness. Should dollars and cents permit, however, fleet designers ought to experiment with more ambitious improvements to submersible technology and tactics. In a remarkable Naval War College Review article penned not long after the Cold War, Israeli naval officer Yedida Ya’ari lauds the submarine as a platform for littoral warfare. In fact, he implores navies to make better use of it along embattled coastlines.

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The author points to the hazards near-shore battle holds for surface fleets along with subs’ relative immunity to those hazards. Littoral zones are cramped, dangerous places for surface warships. Complex terrain, short distances, and breakneck-speed hostile weaponry compress decision times for crews—tempting them to launch weapons in self-defense at the first hint of trouble. Littoral operations give new poignancy to the old saw he who hesitates is lost. In 1987, USS Stark suffered two Exocet missile strikes and 37 dead in the Persian Gulf when its crew failed to act. A year later USS Vincennes downed an Iranian Airbus over the Gulf when its skipper ordered missiles launched at short notice on incomplete targeting data. But there’s a curious cultural inversion. If surface sailors are on a hair trigger in confined quarters, submariners are trained to hide at the merest hint of detection. Roving sub-hunting aircraft are the usual culprits. The impulse to concealment handicaps subs’ combat effectiveness.

Admiral Ya’ari believes submariners can temper their defensive reflexes and bolster their efficacy by exploring new technology—anti-air technology in particular. Certainly the menace has not receded from littoral operations since the 1990s—just the reverse. Open-ocean combat, an arena ruled by nuclear-powered attack boats, poses fewer problems. Distances are longer, geography causes few problems, and shore-based weaponry is a tangential factor at most. Accordingly, to extrapolate from Ya’ari’s brief, outfitting SSKs destined for the littorals with newfangled technology should take precedence over equipping their nuclear-powered kin. These are the platforms that will stand into coastal waters to smite enemy surface, subsurface, and aerial traffic. Subs enjoy a kind of “bidimensional maneuverability” that permits them to evade the worst threats while landing heavy hits. SSKs are best suited to exploit that vertical maneuverability in sea-denial missions.

They’re cheap, defensible, and punch above their weight in the right setting—what’s not to love?

James Holmes is J. C. Wylie Chair of Maritime Strategy at the U.S. Naval War College. The views voiced here are his alone.

Source: National Interest “Enough Nuclear: All of the Reasons the U.S. Navy Needs Diesel Submarines”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


China To Lift Travel Restrictions—From April 8 Residents In Wuhan Will Be Allowed To Travel Again


James Asquith Contributor Mar 27, 2020, 03:51am EDT

Residents in China have been subject to strict restrictions on movement for several weeks, and for nearly two months in the Hubei province. Wuhan was the epicentre of the COVID-19 virus outbreak and was locked down entirely, with barriers that prevented movement in the city now being dismantled.

In Asia, several countries were quick to restrict movement for anyone holding a Hubei province passport, to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

Since February 1, Singapore and Hong Kong prevented the arrivals of passengers from Hubei province. Only last week Singapore reported the first two deaths from COVID-19, despite having confirmed cases nearly two months ago. Similarly, Hong Kong has reported just 8 deaths from the virus despite bordering mainland China.

Both Singapore and Hong Kong went against advice issued from the World Health Organization on February 3 that stated there would be no need for disruptive travel restrictions. They have fared relatively well in containing the outbreak of the pandemic by introducing specific travel restrictions to the hardest-hit area of Hubei.

However, with the last of the temporary Coronavirus hospitals now closed in Wuhan, and the majority of stores reopening, travel restrictions on residents are also set to be lifted on April 8.

Restrictions on movement in Hubei have already been lifted this week, as long as residents have a clean bill of health signed off and confirmed.

Other countries around the world have introduced strict lockdowns and restrictions on movement in a bid to curb the spread of the virus. Nearly half of the U.S. is subjected to movement restrictions, and many countries in Europe are closed for new arrivals

Elsewhere, South Korea, which was also hard-hit by the spread of COVID-19, has brought the spread of the virus under control, reporting its lowest number of cases since February 29.

A second wave of the virus has been a concern, mostly through imported arrivals, and this week China and South Korea have seen new cases reported. However, travel restrictions on internal movement are still on track to be eased.

Wuhan is home to 11 million people and residents will still need a “Green Code” in order to travel. This health classification rates residents using color codes using the AliPay app, and has been criticised by some.

The lockdown in Wuhan began on January 23 and was the largest restriction on travel movements in history, until other lockdowns that came into force around the world trumped that number. In Italy, Lombardy placed 17 million residents into lockdown, and in recent days India has put its 1.3 billion residents into lockdown as well.

In Europe, countries are still pushing to control the spread to the virus but the numbers of deaths in Italy has declined in recent days, which is being met with cautious optimism that areas of Europe may be at the peak of the virus outbreak, similarly to where China was a month ago.

Residents in Wuhan are able to now travel within the city. Shops have reopened and cautious optimism remains that normality will be resumed in the near future.

Source: Forbes “China To Lift Travel Restrictions—From April 8 Residents In Wuhan Will Be Allowed To Travel Again”

Note: This is Forbes’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Russia Is Betting That America’s F-35 Is Too Complex To Be Useful


It is looking like a bad bet.

by Michael Peck March 27, 2020

Key point: Still, it’s hard to argue with Drozdenko’s observations that war and technology are not the same.

Surprise! America’s F-35 stealth fighter is too complicated and expensive, claims a Russian military expert interviewed by Russian media.

Hard to believe, isn’t it? Yet while the Sputnik News interview might be dismissed as tendentious at best and propaganda at worst, it perfectly illustrates how Russia and the West view weapons technology.

“The F-35 is a very complex system and, as such, it has lots of holes, bugs and other things, and it is very difficult to debug it,” Dmitry Drozdenko told Sputnik News. “Like other problems, all this is because it is an excessively high-tech aircraft.”

Sound familiar? Russia would have made the same argument in 1943, when hordes of uncomplicated T-34 tanks faced formidable but heavily engineered and expensive German Tiger and Panther tanks. Or the American M-16 versus the AK-47, or the F-4 Phantom versus the MiG-21.

Americans are horrified when their soldiers don’t receive the most cutting-edge equipment. Russia is willing to sacrifice sophistication for simplicity.

Drozdenko also declared to Sputnik News that “unlike us, the Americans rely too much on stealth. However, radar technology is developing fast and invisibility is no longer a sure-fire guarantor of air supremacy.”

Dogfights haven’t gone anywhere,” he added. “They will fire from a distance the first day, but a couple of days later, we’ll be flying like we always did before.”

Note the words “flying like we always did before.” As far back as the 1950s, the U.S. thought the future of air combat would be aircraft engaging each other with missiles at long range (which proved a fallacy in the skies over North Vietnam). The whole concept of the stealth F-35 and F-22 is that they can blast a MiG out of the sky without the MiG knowing it’s there. But to Russia, the good ol’ days of close-range aerial knife fights aren’t over.

Drozdenko does make a point about the F-35 that would have many Americans nodding in agreement. “The Americans tolerate this plane because it’s a very big and expensive business with contracts running into trillions of dollars. While they keep making the F-35s, the Americans are modernizing their fourth-generation-plus F-18s and F-15s trying to bring them up to par with Russia’s Su-35,” he noted.

What’s important here isn’t the mudslinging about who has better weapons, or the merits and demerits of the F-35. As Drozdenko points out, technological advances like stealth are transitory.

It’s the rival conceptions of military technology, and by extension how to wage war. These are concepts rooted in history and circumstances. America’s wars over the last century have all been fought overseas, where the U.S. could tap its industrial and technological resources to field expeditionary forces plentifully supplied with advanced equipment. For Russia, the last century was marked by two immense invasions by the Germans, as well as huge land battles against the Japanese, the Poles and even other Russians during the Russian Civil War. Conflicts fought on underdeveloped, rugged or frozen battlefields are harsh on equipment.

Of course, these images are partly stereotypes. Russia is indeed capable of making advanced weapons such as hypersonic missiles. And while simplicity is a virtue, it has its drawbacks, such as Russian jet engines that wear out too quickly. American weapons may be costlier and fancier than they need to be, but they can be quite effective if used by nations that know to operate and maintain them, as the Israelis have demonstrated time and again.

Still, it’s hard to argue with Drozdenko’s observations that war and technology are not the same. “Imagine a BMW and a Russian Niva on a bumpy road somewhere deep in Russia,” Drozdenko says. “Which of the two will wear out? Technology is technology, but war is war.”

Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook. This first appeared in August 2018.

Source: National Interest “Russia Is Betting That America’s F-35 Is Too Complex To Be Useful”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


Huawei flagship phone goes Google-free


Agence France-Presse

Paris, France / Fri, March 27, 2020 / 06:01 am

Huawei drove into its post-Google era Thursday with a flagship smartphone that uses none of the Android maker’s apps now that the Chinese group has been blacklisted by US authorities.

The new P40 might not be the first Google-free phone launched by Huawei, it is the first top-line phone meant to seduce early adopters and show off its technological prowess.

The United States has expressed concern that Huawei mobile phone network equipment could contain security loopholes that allow China to spy on global communications traffic, and while the company has denied the accusation, it has been effectively barred from working with US companies.

For smartphones, that means Huawei has had to forgo Google’s Android operating system and the plethora of apps available to run on it.

Huawei, which was the world’s second largest smartphone-maker last year behind Samsung with a 17 percent market share, now faces the challenge of creating an alternative that is sufficiently attractive to lure both app developers and consumers.

According to the presentation broadcast on YouTube, the P40 smartphones sold in France, Germany, and Italy will use a European search engine called Qwant instead of Google.

Huawei is progressively eliminating Google software from its phones after having shipped its first Google-free model last year, but it has not given a date when it expects to complete the switch.

The P40 will be available from April 7 at a price ranging from 799 to 1,399 euros (US$880-1,540), depending on the specifications.

Source: The Jakarta Post “Huawei flagship phone goes Google-free”

Note: This is The Jakarta Post’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Dozens clash on Hubei border after China lifts coronavirus quarantine


Videos of the incident that circulated online showed a chaotic scene as citizens from Hubei stood on police cars and overturned vehicles.

Published Mar 28, 2020, 4:20 pm SGT

HUBEI (BLOOMBERG) – Dozens of people clashed on the Hubei border after the Chinese government lifted a two-month quarantine on the epicentre of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, highlighting the challenges of undoing the unprecedented measures taken to contain the disease.

The conflict began on Friday (March 27) morning on a bridge connecting Hubei and neighbouring Jiangxi province as policemen from both sides argued over how to verify if people were allowed to enter Jiangxi, according to local media reports.

Videos of the incident that circulated online showed a chaotic scene as citizens from Hubei joined the fracas, standing on police cars and overturning vehicles. One clip showed the Hubei residents demanding an apology from the Jiangxi police for setting up a checkpoint on the border.

Ma Yanzhou, the highest-ranking Communist Party official in the Hubei county involved, was seen shouting at the crowd with a megaphone in an attempt to calm people. Order resumed on the bridge at about 5 pm on Friday, according to Beijing News.

The two counties on either side of the clash issued a joint statement on Saturday, saying checkpoints between them would be removed and no special documentation would be needed to cross.

The heightened tensions underscore the pent-up frustrations of people released from lockdowns and the discrimination they may face re-integrating into communities. Hubei residents endured weeks of being cut off from the rest of China before the quarantine was lifted on Wednesday, while many outside the province still fear people who are arriving from there could bring the highly contagious pathogen with them.

On Saturday, state-run People’s Daily posted a commentary on its app admonishing those involved in the clash, saying that placing restrictions on or singling out Hubei natives “hurt their feelings.”

“We should show good rapport with Hubei people when they are returning to work,” the article said. “The reason is simple – they are our compatriots.”

Hubei reported that new infections dropped to zero on March 19, a dramatic plunge from the height of an epidemic that’s infected more than 80,000 Chinese and killed over 3,200. But with the virus accelerating its spread globally and local media reporting that unrecorded cases are being discovered daily in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, China is struggling to balance the risk of a second wave of infections with easing restrictions so that its economy can get back on track.

From Jan 23, China locked down Wuhan and its surrounding areas, effectively restricting the movements of 60 million people. The measures stopped air and rail travel and restricted those who could leave by car, while harsher measures banned large gatherings and sought to keep residents in their homes.

Some critics saw the quarantine as a heavy-handed approach following earlier failures to act quickly enough to stem the spread. As the virus spread globally, other countries including Italy, the Philippines and India have begun nationwide lockdowns.

Though Hubei’s quarantine may have averted hundreds of thousands of cases, according to the World Health Organisation, it put coronavirus patients in the province at a much higher mortality rate than other regions. Hospitals were overwhelmed by patients and suffered a dearth of supplies, forcing them to turn away people with other critical illnesses.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who claimed personal responsibility for the decision to lock down Hubei, urged officials to help the province get back to normal quickly during a visit to Wuhan earlier this month.

Hubei last week started allowing some residents in lower-risk areas to leave the province for work. Wuhan was excluded from the relaxed rules. People have to get a “green code” certification proving they are in good health in order to leave, though specific requirements for traveling domestically are still unclear.

Source: The Strait Times “Dozens clash on Hubei border after China lifts coronavirus quarantine”

Note: This is The Strait Times’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


The Navy Wants 32 More Nuclear Attack Submarines (But Will It Happen?)


Does Washington have the cash? 

by Kris Osborn

April 22, 2019

For Block V construction, the Navy is planning to insert a new 84-foot long section designed to house additional missile capability. “Virginia Payload Modules.” The Virginia Payload Modules, to come in future years, will increase the Tomahawk missile firepower of the submarines from 12 missiles up to 40.

Destroying enemy surface ships and submarines, “spying” close to enemy shores, bringing massive firepower to strategic areas and launching deadly undersea drones are all missions the Navy hopes to see more of in the future — as the service plans to add as many as 32 attack submarines in just the next 15 years.

The National Interest video

(This first appeared last month.)

Overall, the addition of attack submarines represents the largest overall platform increase within the Navy’s ambitious plan to grow the fleet to 355 ships.

Battle force inventory reaches 301 in 2020 and 355 in 2034,” Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Chambers, told Warrior Maven.

New Navy submarines are hosting an array of breakthrough technologies designed to carve a path into future maritime war; these include more firepower such as Tomahawk missiles and torpedoes, added electrical power for emerging systems such as drones and AI-enabled sensors, navigation and ship defenses.

As evidenced by the Navy’s most recent 30-Year Shipbuilding Plan, the Navy budget seeks to implement a new plan to build three Virginia-class attack submarines some years moving forward. This is, among other things, intended to address an anticipated future attack submarine deficit expected in the coming decade. For quite some time, Combatant Commanders have expressed serious concern that the availability of attack submarines continues to be dangerously lower than that is needed. Navy leadership has been working with Congress to rev-up production.

The previous status quo had been for the Navy to drop from building two Virginia-Class boats per year to one in the early 2020s when construction of the new Columbia-Class nuclear armed submarines begins. The service then moved to a plan to build two Virginia-class submarines and one Columbia-class submarine concurrently, according to findings from a previous Navy assessment.

The new Navy plan is to jump up to three Virginia-class per year when Columbia-class production hits a lull in “off years,” senior service leaders have told Congress.

There are many reasons why attack submarines are increasingly in demand; undersea vehicles are often able to conduct reconnaissance missions closer to targets than large-draft surface ships can. Forward positioning enables them to be “stealthier” in coastal areas, inlets or islands. As part of this, they can also move substantial firepower, in the form of Tomahawk missiles, closer to inland targets.

Not only is the Navy adding substantial firepower to its fleet of attack submarines, but the service is further emphasizing enhanced “spy” like intelligence, surveillance reconnaissance missions. By leveraging an ability to operate closer to enemy shorelines and threat areas than most surface ships, attack submarines can quietly patrol shallow waters near enemy coastline – scanning for enemy submarines, surface ships and coastal threats.

Improved undersea navigation and detection technology, using new sonar, increased computer automation and artificial intelligence, enable quieter, faster movements in littoral waters where enemy mines, small boats and other threatening assets often operate.

Virginia-Class submarines are engineered with a “Fly-by-Wire” capability which allows the ship to quietly linger in shallow waters without having to surface or have each small move controlled by a human operator.

With “Fly-by-Wire” technology, a human operator will order depth and speed, allowing software to direct the movement of the planes and rudder to maintain course and depth, Navy program managers have told Warrior Maven. The ships can be driven primarily through software code and electronics, thus freeing up time and energy for an operator who does not need to manually control each small maneuver.

The most important feature for maneuvering in littoral waters is the fly-by-wire control system, whereby computers in the control center electronically adjust the submarine’s control surfaces, a significant improvement from the hydraulic systems used in the Los Angeles-class,” a 2016 Stanford University “The Future of Nuclear Submarines” paper by Alexander Yachanin writes.

This technology, using upgradable software and fast-growing AI applications, widens the mission envelope for the attack submarines by vastly expanding their ISR potential. Using real-time analytics and an instant ability to draw upon an organize vast data-bases of information and sensor input, computer algorithms can now perform a range of procedural functions historically performed by humans. This can increase speed of maneuverability and an attack submarine’s ability to quickly shift course, change speed or alter depth positioning when faced with attacks.

A closer-in or littoral undersea advantage, Navy strategy documents explain, can increase “ashore attack” mission potential along with ISR-empowered anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare operations.

The US Navy’s published “Commander’s Intent for the United States Submarine Force,” published last year, writes – “We are uniquely capable of, and often best employed in, stealthy, clandestine and independent operations……. we exploit the advantages of undersea concealment which allow us to: , Conduct undetected operations such as strategic deterrent patrols, intelligence collection, Special Operations Forces support, non-provocative transits, and repositioning.”

The Navy is implementing elements of this strategy with its recently launched USS South Dakota, a Block III Virginia-Class attack submarine engineered with a host of new, unprecedented undersea technologies, Navy officials said.

Many of these innovations, which have been underway and tested as prototypes for many years, are now operational as the USS South Dakota enters service; service technology developers have, in a general way, said the advances in undersea technologies built, integrated, tested and now operational on the South Dakota include quieting technologies for the engine room to make the submarine harder to detect, a new large vertical array and additional “quieting” coating materials for the hull, Navy officials have told Warrior Maven.

The Block III Virginia-Class submarines also have what’s called a Large Aperture Bow conformal array sonar system – designed to listen for an acoustic ping, analyze the return signal, and provide the location and possible contours of enemy ships, submarines and other threats.

The Block III Virginia-Class submarines also have what’s called a Large Aperture Bow conformal array sonar system – designed to send out an acoustic ping, analyze the return signal, and provide the location and possible contours of enemy ships, submarines and other threats.

For Block V construction, the Navy is planning to insert a new 84-foot long section designed to house additional missile capability. “Virginia Payload Modules.” The Virginia Payload Modules, to come in future years, will increase the Tomahawk missile firepower of the submarines from 12 missiles up to 40.

The VPM submarines will have an additional (approximately 84 feet) section with four additional Virginia Payload Tubes, each capable of carrying seven Tomahawk cruise missiles, for a ship total of 40 Tomahawks.

Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has a Masters in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Source: National Interest “The Navy Wants 32 More Nuclear Attack Submarines (But Will It Happen?)”

Note: This is National Interests article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the articles views.