The U.S. Navy quietly test-fired 20 supersonic projectiles originally intended for the service's futuristic electromagnetic railgun from the conventional deck guns during an international military exercise at sea last summer, according to a new report from the U.S. Naval Institute, signaling a potentially significant boost in the Navy's surface warfare capabilities amid challenges from competitors like China.
Unnamed Navy officials told USNI News that the USS Dewey fired off 20 of the next-generation hypervelocity projectile — a supersonic shell capable of striking targets up to 100 nautical miles away at speeds approaching Mach 6. Originally developed as ammunition for the Office of Naval Research's vaunted electromagnetic railgun system, the Dewey used its Mk 45 five-inch deck guns during the 2018 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise to test out the speedy new round.
U.S. defense officials had previously announced its intent to test-fire the HVP shells developed for ONR by BAE Systems in January 2018, the report signals a major step forward for a critical news capability for the U.S. surface fleet.
Slide 7 from Navy briefing entitled "Electromagnetic Railgun," NDIA Joint Armaments Forum, Exhibition & Technology Demonstration, May 14, 2014Congressional Research Service
In 2016, officials in the Pentagon's Strategic Capabilities Office began shifting Big Navy's directed energy priorities towards simply proliferating the HVP to conventional powder weapons like the Army's 155mm howitzer rather than relying on the increasingly expensive and complicated railgun system.
Indeed, BAE's contract with ONR and SCO states the intended applications of the HVP to "the Navy 5-Inch; Navy, Marine Corps, and Army 155-mm systems; and future electromagnetic (EM) railguns."
But rather than see action as an offensive weapon, it's more likely those Mk 45-fired HVPs will largely help supplement existing missile defense capabilities for surface vessels, if only for cost purposes. As USNI News noted, the standard Evolved Seasparrow Missile or Rolling Airframe Missile cost several million dollars apiece. By contrast, the Navy's PEO Integrated Warfare Systems office put the cost of an HVP around $85,000, as HVP program manager Vincent Sabio stated in January 2017.
"We need to be able to address (all) types of threats: subsonic, supersonic; sea-skimming, land-hugging; coming in from above and dropping down on top of us," Sabio said at the time. "There are many different trajectories that we need to be able to deal with that we… cannot deal with effectively today."
Slide 5 from Navy briefing entitled "Electromagnetic Railgun," NDIA Joint Armaments Forum, Exhibition & Technology Demonstration, May 14, 2014Congressional Research Service
The need to deal with supersonic threats may be here sooner than expected, especially from the so-called "great power competition" that the Pentagon sees as the greatest threat to U.S. national security: In December, photos appeared to show the China's electromagentic railgun — and, presumably, its own arsenal of supersonic HVPs — ready to rule the high seas.
Up to 1,000 U.S. troops could remain in Syria — more than twice as many as originally announced, according to the Wall Street Journal.
President Donald Trump initially announced in December that he would withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, but U.S. officials said in February that several hundred troops are expected to remain in Syria to create a "safe zone" along the border with Turkey and to man the al-Tanf garrison, which is located along a supply rote that would allow Iran to supply its proxies in Syria.
On Sunday, Dion Nissenbaum and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported that the U.S. military is considering leaving as many as 1,000 troops in Syria to prevent Turkey from attacking the United States' Kurdish allies. So far, the United States and Turkey have failed to agree on how to secure the proposed safe zone.
U.S. Army Sgt. James R. Moore of Portland, Ore., a logitstics NCO with the 642nd Regional Support Group, shoots at the Fort Pickett rifle range as part of the Mortuary Affairs Exercise Aug. 15, 2018. (U.S. Army/Sgt. 1st Class Gary A. Witte, 642nd Regional Support Group)
White supremacists take part in a march the night before the 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville, VA. (Associated Press photo)
Seven U.S. service members have reportedly been identified as members of Identity Evropa, a white nationalist group founded by a Marine veteran and tied to the 2017 Charlottesville rally, according to leaked online chat logs examined by HuffPost.
Smoke rises from the last besieged neighborhood in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria March 17, 2019 (Reuters)
BAGHOUZ, Syria (Reuters) - Falling bombs raised smoke over Islamic State's last enclave in east Syria on Sunday, obscuring the huddle of vehicles and makeshift shelters to which the group's self-declared "caliphate" has been reduced.