Risking Beijing’s ire, Vietnam begins dredging on South China Sea reef

Reuters – Vietnam has begun dredging work on a disputed reef in the South China Sea, satellite imagery shows, the latest move by the Communist state to bolster its claims in the strategic waterway. Activity visible on Ladd Reef in the Spratly Islands could anger Hanoi’s main South China Sea rival, Beijing, which claims sovereignty over the group and most of the resource-rich sea.

Tern Tailsitter Drone: Pilot Not Included

Breaking Defense – One of the oddest military drones aborning reinvents a stillborn technology from 1951. It turns out the unmanned aircraft revolution is resurrecting configurations that were tried more than a half century ago but proved impractical with a human pilot inside. A case in point: Northrop Grumman’s new Tern, a drone designed to do everything armed MQ-1 Predators or MQ-9 Reapers can, but to do it flying from small ships or rugged scraps of land – i.e., no runway needed.

Maritime Hybrid Warfare Is Coming

Proceedings – Much has been written about the emergence of “hybrid warfare” in a variety of global scenarios, notably in the Russian invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. To date, this largely has been confined to land warfare, in terms of both actual practice and theoretical discussion. That is about to change, and we will see the emergence of maritime hybrid warfare over the coming decades, perhaps sooner. Now is the time for the U.S. Navy to begin thinking about these scenarios and how to counter them, both for our own forces and on behalf of allies, partners, and friends in the global maritime coalition.

How the Falklands War (Thanks to a Stealthy Submarine) Could Have Gone Very Differently

National Interest – The brief but bloody naval war that occurred in 1982 over the Falkland Islands, known as the Malvinas in Argentina, is typically viewed as a triumph of British naval power. A Royal Navy task force managed to beat off heavy air attacks to take back the South Atlantic archipelago from Argentine troops. For most of the war, a lone Argentine diesel submarine, the San Luis, opposed the Royal Navy at sea. Not only did the San Luis return home unscratched by the more than two hundred antisubmarine munitions fired by British warships and helicopter, but it twice ambushed antisubmarine frigates. Had the weapons functioned as intended, the British victory might have been bought at a much higher cost.

Vietnam Taking Long-Term Hard Line Toward China on Maritime Claims

VOA – Vietnam is lengthening a military runway on a tiny islet to help hold off a larger, more aggressive China for control in Asia’s widest-reaching sovereignty dispute as other claimants keep quiet or seek negotiations. The government in Hanoi is extending the runway on one of the Spratly Islands, a disputed archipelago in the South China Sea, from 762 to 1,005 meters and building new hangars, according to the U.S. think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies. The longer runway would allow easier access for the air force’s maritime surveillance aircraft, it said. Historic use of the sea, strong national pride and a history of deadly conflicts are motivating Vietnam to fortify more than two dozen islands in the chain.

Marines Say Future High-End Pacific Fight Will Require Larger Force; CSBA Agrees In Preview To Future Fleet Architecture

USNI News – The Marine Corps in recent years has grappled with how to remain a “fight-tonight” force without enough ships to take Marines where they need to go – but a Navy effort to redesign its future fleet and an incoming administration dedicated to growing the Navy may bode well for solving this long-standing problem.

Status of Brazil’s Ambitious PROSUB Program

CIMSEC – In spite of Brazil’s political crisis, the Brazilian Navy has continued with its ambitious project of domestically constructing a new fleet of submarines, including a nuclear-powered platform. The first Scorpène-class submarine is expected to be launched in 2018, an important development though a couple of years behind schedule. However, the question remains: does Brazil require today, or will it require in the foreseeable future, an advanced submarine fleet?

These maps show how Russia has Europe spooked

Washington Post – The Kremlin has brushed off Western concerns about its deployment of cutting-edge missile systems in its Kaliningrad enclave, saying that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was the one disrupting the strategic balance with its plans to put antimissile defenses on Russia’s borders. But the Russian arsenal on the Baltic, some of which has been tested in Syria, is potentially a game-changer.

China’s Maritime Militia a Growing Concern

Defense News – Near the top of US Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Scott Swift’s concerns is China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), and close behind is the country’s burgeoning Coast Guard. But a third government-controlled seagoing force, the little-known and somewhat mysterious maritime militia, is drawing increased attention.

Dangerous Waters: the Situation in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait

CIMSEC – On 25 October 2016, the Spanish-flagged merchant tanker Galicia Spirit came under fire when a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) was fired at it from a small speedboat that had interdicted the vessel. The tanker was then attacked with small arms fire. The merchant vessel escaped catastrophic damage, and was able to continue its journey onward. However, only two days later, the liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker Melati Satu was attacked in the same area, also with RPGs. The Tuvalu-flagged Melati Satu’s crew sent out a distress call, were rescued by a Saudi Arabian naval vessel, and were subsequently escorted to safety. Both ships had been traversing the Bab el-Mandeb strait between south-western Yemen and north-eastern Djibouti. This small waterway must be negotiated to access or egress the Egyptian-controlled Suez Canal, which sits at the northern end of the Red Sea.

Analyst shows why Russian ‘Death fleet’ is so smoky

Ukraine TV – Russian aircraft carrier ‘Admiral Kuznetsov’ battle group is easily identified from space due to its smoke trace. ‘Landsat 8′ satellite captured the Russian Navy carrier battle group in the Mediterranean on photo, Military Aviation News website ‘Alert 5’ informs. On the picture taken on November 8 the carrier’s smoke plume was visible from space. Ukrainian military analyst and blogger Olexandr Kovalenko explained the reason of this effect.