A B-1B bomber involved in a failed ejection-seat incident has been retired to take on a new mission

Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber
B-1B Lancer “Spectre” is towed into the 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group’s Expeditionary Depot Maintenance Flight training facility at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, April 10, 2021.

  • The B-1B bomber “Spectre” retired to become an advanced maintenance trainer at Tinker Air Force Base.
  • The bomber was involved in a May 2018 incident in which a fire led to an ejection seat misfire, after which the crew had to make an emergency landing.
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The US Air Force disclosed a few days ago that, in early April, the B-1B Lancer 86-109/DY, nicknamed “Spectre,” has been retired at Tinker Air Force Base to become an advanced maintenance trainer.

The aircraft was towed to an Aircraft Battle Damage Repair training pad at the 76th Maintenance Group’s Expeditionary Depot Maintenance Flight on the south side of the base, where it joined a B-52 Stratofortress and a C-135 Stratolifter.

The same “Bone” (as the B-1 is nicknamed in the pilot community) was involved in a May 2018 in-flight emergency while it was returning to Dyess Air Force Base (Texas) after a routine training sortie.

Multiple fire warnings lighted in the cockpit as the engine number three caught fire and reportedly spread to another engine. All but one fire were extinguished and, following the emergency checklist’s procedures, the crew initiated the ejection sequence.

However, when the Offensive Systems Operator’s ejection seat failed to leave the plane successfully, the aircraft commander ordered the crew to immediately stop the escape procedure and diverted to Midland International Air and Space Port near Odessa, Texas, still on fire with a missing hatch, no cockpit pressurization and an armed ejection seat that could fire at any moment, performing a successful emergency landing without injury or further damage to the aircraft. The four crew members have been later awarded the Air Force’s Distinguished Flying Cross.

At the end of October 2018, the damaged B-1B was flown to Tinker AFB by an Air Force Reserve crew from the 10th Flight Test Squadron. The crew had to fly the “Bone” on just three engines without raising the landing gear and without sweeping the wings for the entirety of the flight.

At that time, the press release said that “Spectre” was to “undergo depot maintenance and upgrades at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, be quality tested by the 10th FLTS, and be returned to the Dyess AFB B-1B Lancer fleet upon completion.”

Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber
B-1B Lancer 86-109, known as “Spectre,” is towed down Patrol Road at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, April 10, 2021.

It seems however that there was a change of plans, as the aircraft was included in the 17 B-1Bs with the least amount of usable life that have been marked for early retirement to allow the Air Force to prioritize the health of the fleet.

These bombers had experienced significant structural fatigue, with cracks appearing in highly stressed structural components joining the wings to the fuselage, which would have required each $10 to $30 million for the repairs.

“The artisans of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex repaired the damaged nacelle, replaced the ejection system, and performed both the Integrated Battle Station modification and a full Programmed Depot Maintenance overhaul,” said Col. Greg Lowe, 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group commander. “Despite all of the work, the aircraft was selected for retirement, but it will be a welcome addition to the ABDR [Aircraft Battle Damage Repair] program.”

So, after 12,136 flying hours and almost three years after that in-flight emergency, “Spectre” left the flight line for the last time following its divestiture which saw the removal of its engines, certain avionics and other equipment not essential for its new mission.

According to the press release, for the aircraft to safely leave the flight line and travel to its new home, two temporary gravel ramps were constructed. A number of road signs, poles and a power line had to be temporarily removed to give the aircraft an unobstructed path.

The bomber’s wings were kept in their swept position to keep the aircraft’s footprint as narrow as possible, with two counterweights, each weighing 2,640 pounds, suspended from the forward section of the aircraft to preserve the balance as it was towed.

Following the 20 minute-long, half-mile trip, the wings “were manually brought forward one at a time using only a cordless drill, which took about 5 minutes per wing,” instead of the usual 10 seconds when done in flight.

Even if now retired, “Spectre” will still perform, within the Expeditionary Depot Maintenance Flight, an important mission that will be advantage of the entire B-1B fleet.

“This aircraft will be important to train for advanced repair techniques and as an engineering test aid for form, fit, and function of future modifications and structural repairs,” said Col. Lowe.

As mentioned in the press release, the Expeditionary Depot Maintenance flight is responsible for maintaining the Air Force’s sole source for ABDR rapid repair capabilities for the entire tanker and bomber fleets, which are tested and trained on its B-52 and C-135 maintenance trainers and, from now on, also on the B-1.

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US Navy SEALs are training to fight on land and water in a ‘strategic location’ near Russia

Navy Special Warfare Hungary Danube Budapest
Hungarian special operations forces and Naval Special Warfare operators test Special Operations Craft-Riverine (SOC-R) capabilities in the Danube River in Budapest, May 5, 2021.

  • During the first half of May, US and European special operators teamed up for an exercise across Eastern Europe.
  • The drills were meant to test how conventional and special-operations units would work together in a major conflict.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In early May, the US Special Operations Europe (SOCEUR) conducted its largest annual exercise in conjunction with a smaller one, training with special-operations units from several NATO member and partner countries.

Trojan Footprint 21 and Black Swan 21 are especially pertinent as tensions with Russia in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea are still simmering.

SOCEUR planned both exercises to happen at the same time to simulate a full-blown conflict with Russia ranging from the Baltic states and Scandinavia south to Ukraine and the Black Sea region.

Army Romania Ukraine Special Forces Green Beret
Romanian, Ukrainian, and US Army Green Berets conduct close-quarters-battle training during Trojan Footprint 21 in Romania, May 6, 2021.

US Navy SEALs, Navy Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen (SWCCs), Green Berets, and Air Commandos were joined in the exercise by special operators from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Georgia, Hungary, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Spain, Ukraine, and the UK.

The realistic exercises took place in Romania and across Eastern Europe.

Besides testing the interoperability of different national special-operations units in skill-sets such as close-air support, close-quarters battler, and visit, board, search, and seizure, the two exercises, particularly Trojan Footprint, focused on how conventional and special-operations units would work together in a major conflict with Russia.

Integration between conventional and special-operations troops is essential in a near-peer conflict environment.

Navy SEALs vs. Russia

Navy special operations Croatia Hungary Adriatic
Naval special-operations forces from Croatia, Hungary, and the US conduct maritime training in the Adriatic Sea during the Black Swan 21, May 8, 2021.

In a potential conflict with Russia, Naval Special Warfare units would be extremely valuable for several reasons.

Since the annexation of the peninsula, the Russian military has bolstered its presence in the region, making it a seemingly impenetrable fortress guarding Moscow’s southern flank both from land and air.

In addition to potent radar systems that can track surface vessels hundreds of miles out, Russia has deployed several batteries of the formidable S-400 anti-aircraft system – the same one that caused Turkey to be kicked out of the F-35 program – to Crimea.

Indeed, Moscow has turned the peninsula into a prime example of the anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) concept, which aims to defeat US air and naval supremacy by threatening ships and aircraft with missiles and other weapons and thus preventing them from getting within range.

Air Force MC-130J special operations Albania
A US Air Force MC-130J during low-level flight training over the mountains of Albania, May 4, 2021.

Crimea, however, would be an ideal environment for Naval Special Warfare operations.

SEAL Teams can conduct over-the-beach raids and ambushes, maritime and land special reconnaissance, and underwater special operations, such as placing sensors on the ocean or limpet mines on enemy vessels.

Russian radar installations and A2/AD batteries and command-and-control systems would be a logical target for SEAL platoons.

But SEALs aren’t the only Naval Special Warfare element that could play an important role in a potential conflict with Russia.

An unknown gem

Croatia, Hungary, and the US Navy special operations Adriatic Sea
Naval Special Operations Forces from Croatia, Hungary, and the US conduct maritime training in the Adriatic Sea during the Black Swan 21, May 7, 2021.

Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen (SWCC) are one of the smallest special-operations in the US Special Operations Command.

With less than 1,000 commandos – out of about 70,000 special operators in the entire US military – Special Boat Teams specialize in maritime direct-action, special reconnaissance, and infiltration/exfiltration of other special-operations units.

“SWCCs are a perfect fit for a near-peer contingency. We’re such a small community people tend to underestimate our capabilities. But we bring so much to the table. We’re more than the ‘boat guys’ who transport SEALs on target. We can conduct operations unilaterally in both an open-sea and riverine environment,” an active-duty SWCC operator, who was granted anonymity to speak about the unit’s role, told Insider.

There are three Special Boat Teams, two focusing on blue-water, or ocean/sea, operations and one on brown-water, or riverine, operations.

Special operations forces helicopter repel Hungary
Austrian, Croatian, Hungarian, Slovakian, Slovenian, and US special-operations forces during exercise Black Swan 21 in Szolnok, Hungary, May 12, 2021.

They operate several special-operations platforms, including the Combatant Craft Assault (CCA), Combatant Craft Medium (CCM), Combatant Craft Heavy (CCH), which are all geared toward littoral and open-sea operations, and the Special Operations Craft-Riverine (SOC-R), which is essentially a gun platform designed for riverine operations.

“But perhaps our greatest asset is our stealth and firepower. Done correctly, the enemy would never know we were there, or they would be too dead to care,” the SWCC operator added.

Besides clandestinely transporting SEALs to Russian installations in Crimea, SWCCs can be very effective in rivers with the SOC-R. Riverine operations offer some great advantages, namely, speed, firepower, and stealth.

During Black Swan 21, SWCCs honed their riverine skills on the Danube River, Europe’s second-largest, which flows from Germany to the Black Sea and passes through 10 countries.

US special-operations units do have some real-world experience on riverine environments and riverine operations.

Naval Special Warfare SWCC Hungary Danube
Hungarian special-operations forces and Naval Special Warfare operators conduct infiltration and exfiltration training with Special Operations Craft-Riverine (SOC-R) in the Danube River during Black Swan, May 5, 2021.

During counterinsurgency operations in Iraq, Navy SEALs and Rangers sometimes used rivers to their advantage when the improvised explosive device (IED) threat made roads too dangerous.

In a number of operations, SWCCs transported a SEAL or Ranger ground force close to a target by river, where insurgents wouldn’t be waiting for them, to great success as the insurgents were caught unawares.

In the 2012 movie “Act of Valor,” which was sponsored by Naval Special Warfare Command and starred active-duty SEAL and SWCC operators, showcased the utility and advantages of riverine operations during a fictional hostage-rescue scenario.

In the movie, SWCCs clandestinely insert a SEAL squad that rescues the hostage from the terrorist base – located very conveniently right next to a river – and extracts them under fire.

Despite its fictional aspects, the movie shows how riverine special-operations capability can be used to strike very deep behind enemy lines, where an enemy wouldn’t expect it and thus would be less prepared.

Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.

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A Space Force Commander was fired after comments made on conservative podcasts about diversity and Marxism

space force flag
President Donald Trump stands as Chief of Space Operations at US Space Force Gen. John Raymond, second from left, and Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, second from right, hold the United States Space Force flag as it is presented in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, May 15, 2020, in Washington. Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett stands far left.

  • A commander in the US Space Force was fired for comments made during podcast appearances.
  • Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier was promoting his self-published book that claims Marxist ideologies are spreading in the US military.
  • A DOD spokesperson told CNN he was fired “due to loss of trust and confidence in his ability to lead.”
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A commander in the US Space Force was removed from his position following comments he made on podcasts promoting his new book that claims that Marxist ideologies are spreading in the US military.

Lt Col. Matthew Lohmeier was a commander of a unit responsible for detecting ballistic missile launches, according to a report from Military.com.

During a May appearance on the “Information Operation” podcast, Lohmeier claimed leftist ideologies were spreading throughout US society, including in the media, in universities, in the federal government, and in the branches of the US military.

In an appearance on another podcast, the Steve Gruber show, Lohmeier said: “Since taking command as a commander about 10 months ago, I saw what I consider fundamentally incompatible and competing narratives of what America was, is and should be,” according to CNN.

“That wasn’t just prolific in social media, or throughout the country during this past year, but it was spreading throughout the United States military,” he added. “And I had recognized those narratives as being Marxist in nature.”

According to CNN, when asked for an example, Lohmeier mentioned The New York Times’ 1619 project, which critically examines the legacy of slavery in the US. The project has drawn anger from Republicans who have fought to ensure it isn’t taught in schools.

He also said practices like mandatory diversity and inclusion training, which Republicans have also rejected, create divisiveness in the US, according to Military.com.

Lohmeier was promoting his self-published book “Irresistible Revolution: Marxism’s Goal of Conquest & the Unmaking of the American Military.”

The Department of Defense did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment, but an official confirmed to both CNN and Military.com that Lohmeier had been removed from his post.

“Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, Space Operations Command commander, relieved Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier of command of the 11th Space Warning Squadron, Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, May 14, due to loss of trust and confidence in his ability to lead,” a Defense Department official told CNN.

“This decision was based on public comments made by Lt. Col. Lohmeier in a recent podcast. Lt. Gen. Whiting has initiated a Command Directed Investigation (CDI) on whether these comments constituted prohibited partisan political activity,” the spokesperson told the outlet.

As Military.com reported, the nature of Lohmeier’s new temporary assignment is not clear.

“I was apprised of the option to have my book reviewed at the Pentagon’s prepublication and security review prior to release, but was also informed that it was not required,” Lohmeier told Military.com.

He said he never intended to “engage in partisan politics”

“I have written a book about a particular political ideology (Marxism) in the hope that our Defense Department might return to being politically non-partisan in the future as it has honorably done throughout history,” he told he outlet.

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Why the US Navy’s attempt to build a ‘stealth warship’ didn’t work out

Navy Sea Shadow stealth ship
The Navy test craft Sea Shadow in the “Sea and Air Parade” during Fleet Week San Diego, October 1, 2005.

  • Developed in secrecy in the 1970s and 1980s, the Sea Shadow was meant to be a “stealth ship.”
  • But the ship faced a number of issues and never made it beyond the testing phase.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A key plot element of the 1997 James Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies” involved media baron Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) using a stealth ship to destroy a Royal Navy frigate to almost start World War III.

While it seems like extreme lengths to go to gain broadcasting rights in China, one part of the story wasn’t a work of fiction. The US Navy actually did build an experimental stealth ship that resembles the fictional super villain’s vessel.

However, while the fictional Sea Dolphin II was supposed to be massive – large enough that a Bond-style fight sequence could take place within the hull involving dozens of henchmen – the real world Sea Shadow (IX-529) was just 165 feet long and had a crew of just four.

Enter Sea Shadow

Navy Sea Shadow stealth ship
The wheelhouse of the Sea Shadow.

Development of the real-world version began in 1978 when the Lockheed Martin “Skunk Works” sought to extend stealth capabilities to submarines, yet it wasn’t until 1993 that the low signature warship was made public.

The program drew inspiration from the F-117 stealth aircraft. According to Lockheed Martin, “The initial design consisted of a cigar-shaped hull that was shielded by an outer wall of flat, angular surfaces.”

It was found that those angular surfaces could actually bounce sonar signals away and also muffle the engine sounds and the internal noises of crewmen inside the vessel. The Skunk Works team subsequently ran numerous acoustical tests in special sound-measuring facilities and obtained dramatic improvements.

However, the Department of Defense (DoD) actually didn’t show interest in this type of investigation until Ben Rich, the head of the Skunk Works office, adapted the idea for use with surface ships.

Navy Sea Shadow stealth ship
Sea Shadow gets underway at dusk in San Francisco, March 18, 1999.

That led to a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract to apply stealth concepts and materials to surface vessels and to test the effects of seawater on radar-absorbing materials.

The Sea Shadow was developed in great secrecy – and while it may have been a “stealth ship” it wasn’t in fact invisible to the naked eye.

In fact, with its unique Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull (SWATH) design, which gave it a catamaran-type shape, it would be hard to miss. It was thus assembled out of sight within a submersible barge in Redwood City, California.

Unlike the fictional Sea Dolphin II, which was worthy of a Bond villain’s super weapon, the Sea Shadow wasn’t actually that large. But it also only required a crew of four that consisted of a commander, helmsman, navigator and engineer.

Testing issues

Navy Sea Shadow stealth ship
Sea Shadow prepares to moor alongside the Embarcadero waterfront park, in San Diego, California, October 2, 2004.

Its first trials in 1981 could be described as underwhelming. The ship’s wake was unexpectedly huge and thus detectable with sonar and from the air. The problem was discovered to be from the motor propellers, which had been installed backwards.

After addressing the issue, the project moved forward and the vessel was completed in 1984. It subsequently underwent night trials in 1985 and 1986, but the Sea Shadow never advanced beyond the testing phase.

Some of what was learned in the testing were applied to other naval technology include submarine periscopes, while the lessons learned also were applied to new Navy warships, notably the DDG 1000 Zumwalt-class.

Finally, in 1993, the public was given a view of the experimental stealth ship – and it likely inspired the Bond filmmakers. The US Navy offered Sea Shadow for sale in 2006, but apparently garnered little interest, not even from a would-be supervillain.

One issue with the sale was that the buyer couldn’t sail the ship and could only scrap it. Why it wasn’t offered to a museum or other institution isn’t clear, but likely it was an issue of the technology on board. Sea Shadow was finally sold for scrap in 2012 … or at least that is what a potential villain would have you believe.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including “A Gallery of Military Headdress,” which is available on Amazon.com.

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Israel moving towards ceasefire with Hamas in Gaza now that several military objectives have been met, reports say

Israeli tank fires a howitzer
Israeli soldiers fire a 155mm self-propelled howitzer towards the Gaza Strip from their position along the border with the Palestinian enclave on May 16, 2021

  • Ceasefire talks mediated by Egypt could start today, senior Israeli officials told the local news outlet, Walla.
  • Israel says several military goals have been achieved.
  • International pressure and the worsening humanitarian situation have contributed to this development, Walla reported.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Israel will start moving towards a ceasefire now that several military objectives have been achieved against Hamas, according to a report by Israeli media outlet Walla.

Ceasefire talks could begin as soon as today (Sunday) and mediated by Egypt, Walla reported.

Military officials believe that the airstrikes on Gaza have been successful in reaching specific military goals, the unnamed Israeli sources told the media outlet. The Israeli government is reluctant to progress towards a ground invasion, the officials added.

Israel’s willingness to discuss a ceasefire in Gaza is partly driven by increasing international pressure, encouraged by President Joe Biden, and a deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories, Walla reported.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, will conduct a situation assessment with defense minister Benny Gantz, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, and top security officials later today, the media outlet said.

The IDF has conducted hundreds of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip since Monday, including on a media building housing the Associated Press and Al Jazeera offices.

The Israeli military has said that it is targeting terrorist targets. Gaza’s top Hamas leader, Yahiyeh Sinwar, was killed in an airstrike in the town of Khan Yonis, CBS News reported.

But the airstrikes have resulted in civilian casualties. The deadliest single attack yet took place on Sunday when airstrikes flattened three buildings and killed at least 26 people, CBS News said.

Palestinian officials say at least 181 people have been killed since the conflict began on Monday, including 83 women and children, The Financial Times reported.

Israel has reported 10 dead, including two children, as a result of a barrage of rockets on the country.

International pressure has steadily increased on Israel to put an end to the violence, with “Free Palestine” protests taking place across the world.

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China has proved it can build warships. It faces another challenge if it wants to catch up with the US.

Liaoning China Aircraft Carrier
The Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, sails into Hong Kong for port call, July 7, 2017.

  • As the People’s Liberation Army Navy expands its fleet, maintaining the right numbers of ships is a vital consideration strategically and to control cost.
  • Beijing plans further aircraft carrier strike groups, so it needs numbers of aircraft carriers and submarines to keep pace with those of surface warships.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As China plans to add more mini-aircraft carriers and assemble at least six carrier strike groups by 2035, it faces the vital task of maintaining the right number of each type of ship.

The Chinese navy has undergone considerable expansion, with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) estimating that it will receive nearly 100 new ships by 2030 to give it a total of about 425 battle-force ships.

Part of the motivation is to catch up with the United States, which has 11 aircraft carriers, outnumbering China by nine, and more than a dozen amphibious assault ships to support its global strategy.

But a military source and observers said Beijing’s strategy would be not just a matter of the number of ships, but ensuring the fleet combinations were well balanced, to avoid bearing a hugely costly fleet.

Type 075 (rendering)
A rendering of China’s Type 075 amphibious assault ship.

China has commissioned its first Type 075 amphibious assault ship, which sources said would be used as a mini-aircraft carrier.

Previous reports said new naval vessels would include four next-generation aircraft carriers, an unspecified number of next-generation nuclear-powered attack and strategic submarines, as well as the amphibious assault ships and upgraded Type 076 platforms with electromagnetic catapults for fixed-wing aircraft operations – making them more like aircraft carriers.

That is in addition to the six aircraft carrier strike groups by 2035, raising concerns over whether China will adopt a global strategy like that of the US and even the former Soviet Union, which during the Cold War planned to build more than 200 nuclear submarines to counter the US’ aircraft carriers.

But a military source told the South China Morning Post that China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) would not follow those templates, and was simply assessing which numbers of surface ships and nuclear submarines would suffice to defend national interests at home and overseas.

“China now has enough conventional surface warships, like the cruisers, destroyers, frigates and corvettes, but the numbers of [nuclear-powered] aircraft carriers and submarines need to be increased,” the source, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said.

A Chinese Type 055 destroyer
A Chinese Type 055 destroyer.

Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Tong said the task of building a well-balanced fleet was the toughest for all the big powers.

He said one of the reasons for the collapse of the former Soviet Union was its costly nuclear submarine strategy.

“It’s impossible for the PLAN to copy the US navy’s aircraft carrier strategy, too. The US has several huge naval bases in the Indo-Pacific region, including the Guam base, Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, and the 7th fleet’s headquarters in Japan’s Yokosuka, enabling it to form several containment arcs to contain a rising China,” Wong said, referring to the so-called island chain strategies that targeted the communist alliance led by the former Soviet Union in Asia during the Cold War.

“Unlike other surface warships, both aircraft carriers and nuclear-powered submarines need specific and dedicated ports for logistic support and maintenance when sailing farther from home waters, but so far China just built its first and only military outpost, in Djibouti [on the Horn of Africa].”

Wong said Beijing had been planning to set up overseas military outposts in Myanmar, Pakistan and other Beijing-friendly African countries since the mid-1990s when China became a net oil importer, but progress was limited almost two decades later.

“Besides ‘China threat’ theory, the Chinese foreign ministry’s Wolf Warrior diplomatic policy should also be blamed, causing many countries to remain suspicious about the ambitions behind Beijing’s naval expansion,” he said.

chinese submarine
Chinese sailors salute on a submarine during a joint Chinese-Russian naval exercise in the Yellow Sea, April 26, 2012.

In an effort to become a real blue-water navy, Beijing adjusted its military policy in 2015, placing more stress on active offshore water defence and open-seas protection.

“In the foreseeable future, both active offshore defence and far-seas protection would carry similar strategic weight in importance, ” Collin Koh, a maritime security analyst with Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said. “This is surely enabled by growing the PLAN’s blue-water capabilities, not least a more robust aircraft carrier capacity.”

In current peacetime, Koh said, the PLAN might be able to secure continued access to facilities in Beijing-friendly Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, or even Iran, as well as some other Middle East and East African countries via economic investments, but that would be unsustainable in wartime.

The PLAN has two active conventional aircraft carriers, the Liaoning and the Shandong. A third, with electromagnetic catapults, is expected to be launched this year.

The most likely contingency for the PLA would be a war over Taiwan, given that Beijing sees the self-ruled island as a breakaway province to be returned by force if necessary. All the giant platforms and the expected near-dozen amphibious assault ships would be expected to take part in any potential conflict over Taiwan.

“We can see both Liaoning and Shandong ships are used as training and ship-borne weapon systems testing platforms, indicating they are still operating like the Soviet aircraft cruisers during World War II,” said Lu Li-shih, a former instructor at the Taiwanese Naval Academy in Kaohsiung.

“The PLAN’s aircraft carriers can’t compete with the offensive USS Nimitz-class aircraft platforms … of course, Beijing’s future defence policy will be clear when the mainland discloses details of the third next-generation carrier.”

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Israeli airstrike destroys Gaza media building housing the offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera reports on the destruction of the Al-Jalaa tower in Gaza
Al Jazeera reports on the destruction of the Al-Jalaa tower in Gaza City.

  • Al-Jalaa tower housed the offices of several international media organizations.
  • Those in the office building were not given time to evacuate their equipment, according to Al Jazeera.
  • It was flattened by an Israeli airstrike about an hour after a warning was issued, the Associated Press reported.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Al-Jalaa tower, home to the offices of several international news organizations, has been destroyed by an Israeli airstrike, the Associated Press reported.

The Gaza tower housed the offices of the Associated Press, Al Jazeera, and local media outlets, according to DW News.

Israeli forces warned those in the building about an hour before the attack that the army would target the high-rise building, according to the AP.

Those in the office were not given time to evacuate their equipment from the building, Al Jazeera producer Linah Alsaafin said.

“We ran down the stairs from the 11th floor and now looking at the building from afar, praying Israeli army would eventually retract,” the AP’s correspondent in Gaza, Fares Akram, wrote shortly after the warning was issued.

Videos of the airstrike show that the building was flattened almost immediately.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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Astonishing footage filmed by a plane passenger shows Hamas rockets being intercepted mid-air by Israel’s Iron Dome

iron dome missile interceptor
Israel’s Iron Dome intercepts rockets fired from Gaza in a clip recording on board an El Flight on May 13.

  • A passenger on board an El Al flight captured Israel’s missile-defense system in action.
  • The clip shows rockets, fired from Gaza, being intercepted mid-air.
  • Over 2000 rockets have been fired from Gaza towards Israel since Monday, the IDF said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A passenger on board a flight from Brussels to Tel Aviv captured Israel’s advanced missile-defense system intercepting rockets on early Thursday morning, a viral video shows.

The passenger filmed the Iron Dome in action from his window seat on El Al flight LY332, aviation website Simple Flying reported.

The El Al flight was diverted due to the rocket fire, entering a holding pattern above Nablus in the occupied West Bank, before safely landing in Ramon Airport near Eilat, Simple Flying said.

In the astonishing clip, the Iron Dome can be seen firing interceptors at incoming missiles above Tel Aviv. Each flash of light represents a successful interception.

The Israeli missile-defense system has blocked some 90% of rockets fired by Hamas, Insider’s Mia Jankowicz reported on Thursday.

The Iron Dome’s algorithm has recently been adapted to counter Hamas’ attempts to overwhelm the system with a barrage of rockets, experts told The Economist.

Some 2000 rockets have been fired from Gaza towards Israel, the Israel Defense Forces said on Saturday morning.

In response, Israeli fighter jets have hit targets in central Gaza. Palestinian fatalities from strikes on Gaza stand at more than 132, including 30 children, The Guardian reported. About 950 people have been injured, the paper added.

Eight people have died in Israel due to the rocket offensive, The Guardian said.

The region is facing its worst violence since the 50-day war in 2014, Insider reported.

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Israel accused of tricking major news outlets into reporting a fake Gaza invasion to lure Hamas fighters into tunnels that were targeted for massive airstrikes

Fire billow from Israeli air strikes in Gaza City, Gaza.
Fire billowed from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Gaza, on Tuesday.

  • Early Friday, it was widely, incorrectly reported that Israeli ground forces had advanced into Gaza.
  • Some observers blame the confusion on a military ploy to lure militants into the tunnels under Gaza.
  • More than 150 Israeli jets went on to intensely bombard the tunnel system, known as “the metro.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Reports in the international media that Israel had entered Gaza to battle militants are being viewed by some as the result of a ploy to lure the fighters into defensive positions that made them targets for Israeli airpower.

On Thursday, news that Israel Defense Forces troops were massing at Israel’s border with Gaza was widely reported. Then, early Friday in Israel, an IDF statement prompted news outlets to widely report that an invasion had begun. However, it gradually became evident that an attack did take place but did not involve Israeli troops entering Gaza.

Nir Dvori, a military reporter for N12, one of Israel’s leading news networks, described the original IDF statement as disinformation meant to prompt Gaza’s fighters to enter the tunnel system, known by the IDF as “the metro,” to prepare for street battles in the enclave.

“The IDF makes Hamas think that a ground operation is beginning, which causes the organization to bring in all its fighters, including the Nahba, the special force of Hamas, to go down into the tunnels and prepare for combat,” Dvori wrote.

“Then for 35 minutes, 160 planes hover over Gaza and drop 450 bombs, which are over 80 tons of explosives, on the entire Gaza ‘metro.'”

In London, Michael Stephens, a Middle East specialist at the Royal United Services Institute, echoed that conclusion. He told BBC Radio 4’s World at One news segment that it was “a very smart tactic to make Hamas move into the tunnels and get all their preparation ready so that the Israeli military could target them.”

The move marks a major escalation amid this week’s violence between Israel and Palestinian militants. The region is facing its worst violence since the 50-day war in 2014. The Israeli military has bombarded Gaza with airstrikes, and Hamas – the group that controls Gaza – and other militant groups have fired more than a thousand rockets toward Israel.

The Israeli media has noted the possibility of a disinformation strategy in the Friday-morning attack, with The Jerusalem Post publishing an article with the headline “Did IDF deception lead to massive aerial assault on Hamas’s ‘Metro’?” and the Israeli newspaper Haaretz publishing another titled “Israeli Army tells foreign media it has ground forces in Gaza – then apologizes for misleading them.”

Foreign correspondents and reporters had received a WhatsApp message at 12:17 a.m. that seemed to inform them that Israeli ground troops were in Gaza. But then, two hours later, the IDF started to disassemble the message.

Felicity Schwartz, a Wall Street Journal correspondent covering Israel and the Palestinian territories, wrote:

Steve Hendrix, The Washington Post’s Jerusalem bureau chief, added:

The IDF has blamed the confusion on a translation error, but Dvori was among those skeptical of that account, describing it as “not a mistake, but a planned ploy whose role is to help eliminate Hamas.”

Dvori noted that Israeli security officials had previously threatened that the tunnel system used by militants in Gaza would one day become their “mass cemeteries.”

A frustrated Daniel Estrin, NPR.’s correspondent in Jerusalem, expressed frustration, told the New York Times:
“If they used us, it’s unacceptable. And if not, then what’s the story – and why is the Israeli media widely reporting that we were duped?”

Insider has approached the Israeli Embassy in London for comment.

Palestinians flee Israeli bombing in Gaza, May 14, 2021.
Palestinians riding a donkey-drawn cart while fleeing their homes during Israeli air and artillery strikes in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday.

Instead of the ground invasion, Israel relentlessly bombarded targets in northern Gaza from the air and with artillery, forcing families to flee, some still dressed in their celebratory outfits to mark Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

At least 122 Palestinians have been killed this week by Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, including 31 children, according to local health officials. The attacks have come in response to rockets indiscriminately fired by militants with Hamas, which controls the Palestinian territory, which is home to more than two million people.

Israel has reported seven people have died, including a 6-year-old boy and a soldier.

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The Marines actually sank a moving ship when they test-fired a Navy missile from a truck for the first time

Naval Strike Missile
The Naval Strike Missile is operational on land and at sea.

  • Last month, the Marine Corps announced the first test of a system that launches Naval Strike Missiles from a modified vehicle.
  • This month, the Corps’ top officer said that groundbreaking test actually sank a ship sailing off the coast of California.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Marine Corps took out a moving ship by firing a Navy missile at it from the back of an unmanned vehicle on land – a new weapon the service’s top general says will make “an adversary think twice.”

Commandant Gen. David Berger revealed new details about a groundbreaking test announced last month in which Marines in California used a deadly new system to take out a threat at sea.

Known as NMESIS, the Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System can launch naval strike missiles from the back of a modified Joint Light Tactical Vehicle to destroy targets.

Berger said the Marines testing the system were able to sink a ship on the move near California. The Marine Corps’ top priority in the 2022 budget, he added, will be ground-based anti-ship missiles.

“A very successful test,” the commandant said Thursday during the annual McAleese defense conference. “… That’s conventional deterrence because that’s a capability that makes an adversary think twice.”

The Marine Corps is undergoing massive reform after two decades of ground warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan. Berger’s Force Design 2030 plans call for the service to ditch heavy legacy equipment, such as tanks, to prepare for lighter, naval-based missions. The plan is largely centered around threats Chinese forces pose to the US military.

Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System
The Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System can launch Naval Strike Missiles from a modified Joint Light Tactical Vehicle at land or sea targets.

Emanuel “Manny” Pacheco, a spokesman for Marine Corps Systems Command, said the missile flew an attack path “that exceeded 90 nautical miles before impacting the target.”

He declined to provide details on additional tests, but said others have been successful.

“The Marine Corps is investing in technologies and capabilities to modernize the Corps and ensure we maintain our competitive edge,” Pacheco added.

Berger said Thursday that Marines will have to support the Navy not only with anti-surface missions to take out enemy ships, but submarines too. The Marine Corps will need to step up to help control straits and other maritime avenues the US and its partners and allies need open, he added.

“Littoral warfare is where you expect the Marine Corps to come on strong, and that’s where we’re headed,” he said.

Tanks and short-range towed artillery pieces aren’t a good fit for Marines to meet future threats. Instead, Berger said, they’ll need long-range fires and light amphibious warships.

“We are reorienting from a ground, sustained land-forces mode – which we’ve had to do for the nation for the past 20 years – into a naval expeditionary maritime mode,” he said.

– Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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