U.S. Navy SEAL commandos deployed to the Horn of Africa have refined hostage rescue to a lethal art. But their recent success in retrieving kidnapped Westerners comes at a cost. Every rescue forces Somali criminals and terrorists to change their own tactics. The result is an arms race of sorts as SEALs and kidnappers try to stay ahead of the other. Aid workers, journalists and ship’s crews — the usual targets of Somali ransom plots — are caught in the middle.
Archived posts from category ‘Warships International Fleet Review’
The NATO-led aerial armada that struck Libyan targets beginning March 20 was notable for what it lacked. Though some American naval jets flew from land bases, the air strikes on forces loyal to repressive Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi were not supported by a large-deck U.S. Navy aircraft carrier. All of the Navy’s 11 large flattops were on deployment to other conflict zones or in maintenance.
In August, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates vowed to trim at least $100 billion over five years from the U.S. military’s overhead costs. The goal, Gates proclaimed, was to devote a greater proportion of the Pentagon’s steadily flattening budget to fighting forces and new weapons.
It was the morning of Oct. 28 off the coast of Somalia when a single skiff — a small, traditionally wooden fishing boat often used by pirates – approached the Liberian-flagged tanker MV Hellespont Protector, sailing inside the so-called Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor, a patrol zone for pirate-fighting warships.
The U.K. Ministry of Defense’s announcement in October that it would drop the vertical-landing F-35B fighter in favor of a much smaller number of cheaper, conventional F-35Cs clearly vexed the only two other firm, current customers for the stealthy F-35B. With a planned total of 138 F-35Bs, the Royal Navy accounted for nearly a third of projected production of the sophisticated successor to the legendary Harrier jump jet. The U.S. Marines intend to buy 420 copies to equip 22 combat squadrons; the Italian navy wants 22 examples for their Cavour light carrier. Slashing 30 percent of the planned F-35Bs will raise the unit cost for an airplane that is already over budget, behind schedule and plagued by design flaws.
On July 22, U.S. shipbuilder Austal laid the keel for the U.S. Army’s Spearhead, the first of a 10-ship class of high-speed catamaran transports that will be jointly operated by the Army and the U.S. Navy. The $160-million, 100-meter Spearhead will be the most sophisticated ship with a shared, Army-Navy pedigree — but it’s not the first. The Army operates many of the same classes of coastal vessels as the Navy, including small and large landing craft and wheeled amphibious tractors. There’s one important type of Army vessel the Navy doesn’t possess.
Warships International Fleet Review: Japan Leadership Crisis Underscores Importance of Big Ships
A domestic political crisis in Japan in May and June nearly shattered the U.S. military’s delicate basing infrastructure in the Pacific — and underscored the enduring need for a robust U.S. Nay aircraft carrier and assault-ship force. The controversy in Japan over the U.S. Marine Corps air station in the town of Futenma came at time when U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was publicly questioning the Navy’s plans to maintain 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and 10 large-deck assault ships through at least 2040.
Warships International Fleet Review: To Counter Chinese Attack Boats, Navy Must Think Small
The new Chinese Fast Attack Craft took the world by surprise. In 2004, Western naval observers spotted an unusual, catamaran warship in Qiuxin Shipyard in Shanghai. Over the next six years, as many as 40 identical vessels emerged from Chinese yards. The FACs, dubbed the Type 022 or Houbei class, began participating in People’s Liberation Army Navy training events.