The U.S. military's growing fleet of F-35 stealth fighters will fall short of the 80 percent readiness goal that former Defense Secretary James Mattis instituted before quitting in protest of President Donald Trump's foreign policy in January 2019.

Former Secretary of the Army Mark Esper, who is Trump's nominee to replace Mattis, in mid-July 2019 told a Senate committee the roughly 300-strong fleet of F-35s belonging to the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps "is not expected" to meet Mattis's readiness goal.

Esper blamed the F-35's canopy, or "transparency."

"Transparency supply shortages continue to be the main obstacle to achieving this," Esper told the committee. "We are seeking additional sources to fix unserviceable canopies."

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(U.S. Navy/Chief Boatswain's Mate Nelson Doromal Jr)

In January 2016 two U.S. Navy river patrol boats accidentally strayed into Iranian waters near Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf. Iranian militia forces captured both Riverine Command Boats and the 10 American sailors aboard them.

After a day of intensive diplomacy, Iran released the boats and their crews. The incident was embarrassing to the Navy and its new river patrol force. Three years later, the riverine squadrons have new Mark VI boats and a new philosophy, as David Larter explained in July 2019 in an in-depth story for Defense News.

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(Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Department of Energy)

The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in mid-June 2019 briefly published the Pentagon's official doctrine on the use of nuclear weapons. The joint chiefs quickly pulled the document — Joint Publication 3-72, Nuclear Operations — from the public website.

"The document presents an unclassified, mostly familiar overview of nuclear strategy, force structure, planning, targeting, command and control and operations," commented Steven Aftergood, an analyst with the Federation of American Scientists.

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Chinese leaders have laid out a plan for deploying the world's best-armed forces no later than 2049. If the United States is to prevent China from becoming the world's leading military power, it needs a plan of its own.

That's the sobering warning in a new report for the Center for a New American Security by former deputy defense secretary Robert Work and co-author Greg Grant.

Chinese leaders' resolve hardened in 1991 as they watched the U.S.-led coalition pummel Iraqi forces with seemingly ceaseless barrages of precision-guided munitions.

"A key lesson China took from the 1991 Desert Storm campaign was to strike hard and fast during war's earliest stages, as initiative once lost would be all but impossible to regain against an opponent capable of 24-hour, all-weather guided-munitions bombardment," Work and Grant wrote.

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The Army is planning to test jam-resistant GPS systems in Europe as a potential step toward countering Russian electronic warfare.

The Army's 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Germany should get the new jam-resistant GPS by the end of 2019, Breaking Defense reported.

The moves come after several efforts by Russia to disrupt GPS in Europe.

"Scrambled GPS signals were first detected during NATO's large-scale Trident Juncture exercises in Norway at the end of October [2018]," Defense News reported.

"Norway's defense intelligence agency said it tracked the source of the signal-jamming to a Russian military base on the nearby, heavily fortified Kola Peninsula. Finland's military intelligence said Norway's analysis mirrors its own investigations and evaluations."

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The Air Force is preparing Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada to host an aggressor squadron flying F-35 stealth fighters.

The Air Force in May 2019 announced it would re-establish a defunct squadron that flew F-15s to simulate the enemy force in realistic war games. The service in 2014 shuttered the 65th Aggressor Squadron as a cost-saving measure.

The 65th Aggressor Squadron in its new form would operate nine early-model F-35A stealth fighters that the Air Force considers unsuitable for combat. The "red air" F-35s would help the Air Force to copy the tactics of Russian and Chinese squadrons respectively flying Su-57 and J-20 stealth fighters."

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