Air Force Research Laboratory Working on Microwave Weapon to Counter North Korean Ballistic Missiles

Here is the latest silver bullet people are thinking may solve the North Korean ballistic missile problem:

Mary Lou Robinson of the Air Force Research Laboratory explains the CHAMP missile. NBC News

The U.S. has microwave weapons that proponents believe could stop North Korea from launching missiles by frying their electronics.

The weapons were discussed at an August White House meeting related to North Korea, according to two U.S. officials with direct knowledge.

The microwave weapons, known as CHAMPs, are fitted into an air-launched cruise missile and delivered from B-52 bombers. With a range of 700 miles, they can fly into enemy airspace at low altitude and emit sharp pulses of microwave energy to disable electronic systems.

“These high-powered microwave signals are very effective at disrupting and possibly disabling electronic circuits,” said Mary Lou Robinson, who heads development of the weapons at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Albuquerque, in an exclusive interview with NBC News.  [NBC News]

You can read more at the link, but I recommend everyone not get excited and think a magic solution to stopping North Korea’s ballistic missiles has been found.

Pentagon Says It Has No Plans to Move US Military Dependents Out of South Korea

In response to Senator Lindsey Graham’s recent comment that the Pentagon should consider moving military dependents out of Korea, the Defense Department says they have no plans to do so:

The United States currently has no plan to move military dependents out of South Korea despite rising tensions with North Korea, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea to deter North Korean aggression after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

Commenting on North Korea’s latest launch of a long-range missile last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) argued Sunday that the U.S. should stop sending military dependents to South Korea and transfer those that are already there.

“The Department of Defense currently has no intent to initiate departures for military dependents, whether on a voluntary or mandatory basis, and no intent to modify the policy authorizing military dependents to accompany military members being stationed in South Korea,” Lt. Col. Chris Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, said in emailed remarks to Yonhap.  [Yonhap]

You can read the rest at the link.

Executive Order Allows Defense Department to Recall Retirees to Active Duty

If you are retired military and especially a pilot and you thought you were through with taking mandatory transgender training, SHARP training, cyber security training, etc. think again:

The Air Force says it doesn’t plan on using new flexibility under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump to address a pilot shortage by recalling retired pilots.

Ann Stefanek, the chief of Air Force media operations, said Sunday the added power provided by Trump is appreciated but the Air Force does not “currently intend to recall retired pilots.”

Trump last Friday signed the order to address what the Pentagon says is a serious pilot shortage.

A Pentagon spokesman says the Air Force is currently short about 1,500 pilots, and had indicated that the Secretary of Defense would allow the Secretary of the Air Force to recall up to 1,000 retired pilots for up to three years.  [Stars & Stripes]

The executive order also allows the military to call up other officers from other military branches off of retirement as well.  Just like in past conflicts I only see this happening if a conflict with North Korea appear imminent.

 

US Strategic Assets To Participate In Joint Exercise with ROK Forces This Week

There is going to be a lot of firepower in the Korea area of operations this week so it will be interesting to see what North Korea’s reaction to this will be:

This photo, provided by the U.S. military Oct. 13, 2017, shows the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN-727) arriving at the southern port of Busan in South Korea. (Yonhap)

The United States is poised to show off its military might this week through joint drills and a defense exhibition in South Korea, deploying an aircraft carrier, nuclear-powered submarine, stealth fighters and other strategic assets.

The show of force comes amid growing tensions on the peninsula, with North Korea expected to engage in additional provocations in protest against the South Korea-U.S. military drills  (…..)

The allies’ militaries are set to hold a joint exercise in the East and West Seas from Monday to Friday, during which the U.S. will deploy its nuclear-powered carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76).

It is one of America’s key power projection means of countering military threats in a volatile region.

The 333-meter-long, 100,000-ton Nimitz-class flattop is stationed in Yokosuka, Japan, as part of the Seventh Fleet in charge of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The Reagan has a deck the size of three football fields, with some 70 aircraft on board, ranging from fighter jets to helicopters.

During the maritime drills, the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, the airborne battle management aircraft, is expected to be deployed. It is capable of monitoring North Korea’s ground force movements and coastal artillery.

The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN-727) has already arrived at the southern port of Busan as part of a regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific, military officials said.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

President Trump Reportedly Has 9 Different Military Options to Strike North Korea

If this report is true the US President has plenty of different options to choose from if military force becomes the only way to deal with North Korea’s nuclear and ICBM programs:

US defence chiefs have drawn up nine options for military action against Kim Jong-un’s North Korea to destroy its nuclear weapons threat, the Evening Standard has been told.

They escalate to different levels of intensity and could be pre-emptive or retaliatory, and could be ordered by Donald Trump in response to an attack on the US Pacific naval base on Guam or American allies such as Japan or South Korea.

However, all of them risk triggering a devastating response by Pyongyang against South Korea, using conventional weapons. At least one senior Whitehall figure is concerned that there may be a shift in Washington towards military action.  [Evening Standard]

You can read more at the link.

B-1 Bombers and Fighter Escorts Fly Across NLL in International Waters in the Sea of Japan

Here is the latest show force executed by the United States this weekend in response to North Korea’s threats:

In this photo made available by the Department of Defense, a U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer, deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, prepares to take off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam to the Korean Peninsula on Saturday. [YONHAP]

The Pentagon flew its Air Force B-1B Lancer strategic bombers Saturday east of North Korea, near the demilitarized zone, demonstrating U.S. President Donald Trump’s resolve.

The U.S. Department of Defense announced later that day that the bombers flew from Guam, escorted by F-15C Eagle fighters from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, to international airspace over waters east of North Korea.

“This is the farthest north of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) any U.S. fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea’s coast in the 21st century,” said Pentagon Spokesperson Dana White, “underscoring the seriousness with which we take reckless behavior.”

The B-1B, dubbed “the swan of death,” is considered one of three main strategic bombers of the U.S. Air Force, alongside the B-52 and B-2 bombers. It is able to deliver a heavier payload than the B-52 and B-2 bombers, and is also quicker than the other two, capable of reaching the Korean Peninsula from Guam in two hours.

“This mission is a demonstration of U.S. resolve and a clear message that the President has many military options to defeat any threat,” White said, underscoring the “grave threat” that the North’s weapons program poses to the Asia-Pacific region and the international community.

She continued, “We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the U.S. homeland and our allies.”  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

US Secretary of Defense Says There Are Military Options Against North Korea that Don’t Put Seoul at Risk

Of course the United States has military options that do not threaten Seoul.  In fact one was just executed with the recent B-1 show of force bombing exercise in South Korea.  The real question is if there are military options to remove North Korea’s ICBM and nuclear facilities without endangering Seoul:

The United States has military options for North Korea that do not put Seoul at grave risk, Washington’s top defense official said Monday.

The remark by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis marks a departure from the popular argument that there is no viable military option that would not leave thousands of South Koreans and U.S. service members dead.

“Yes, there are,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon when asked whether there were military options that would not seriously endanger Seoul. “But I will not go into details.”

Mattis said he discussed with South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo the issue of reintroducing tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea to counter North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile threats. But he declined to say whether the option is under consideration.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Why the US and Japan Do Not Shoot Down North Korea’s Ballistic Missiles

The article is bias with some inaccurate information from someone who is anti-missile defense, however it repeats something I have said before that the US and Japan cannot shoot down North Korea’s missiles unless you know where they are going.  This is because the Aegis system the US and Japan has do not shoot down missiles on the boost phase which is what a missile traveling over Japan is at.  These ships defend the territory of Japan if the missile was to come down on it in the terminal phase of flight.  It is the same for the THAAD system, unless the missile is coming down on South Korea or on Guam in its terminal phase the THAAD systems in each of those locations cannot shoot down North Korea’s missiles:

Joe Cirincione

The number one reason we don’t shoot down North Korea’s missiles is that we cannot.

Officials like to reassure their publics about our defense to these missiles. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga toldhis nation after last week’s test, “We didn’t intercept it because no damage to Japanese territory was expected.”

That is half true. The missile did not pose a serious threat. It flewover the Japanese island of Hokkaido, landing 3700 km (2300 miles) from its launch point near North Korea’s capital of Pyongyang.

The key word here is “over.” Like way over. Like 770 kilometers (475 miles) over Japan at the apogee of its flight path. Neither Japan nor the United States could have intercepted the missile. None of the theater ballistic missile defense weapons in existence can reach that high. It is hundreds of kilometers too high for the Aegis interceptors deployed on Navy ships off Japan. Even higher for the THAAD systems in South Korea and Guam. Way too high for the Patriot systems in Japan, which engage largely within the atmosphere.

All of these are basically designed to hit a missile in the post-mid-course or terminal phase, when it is on its way down, coming more or less straight at the defending system. Patriot is meant to protect relatively small areas such as ports or air bases; THAADdefends a larger area; the advanced Aegis system theoretically could defend thousands of square kilometers.  [Defense One]

You can read more at the link.