Japanese, Korean Fighters Scrambled in Response to Joint Russia-China Bomber Patrol

Four Russian Tu-95MS bombers and two Chinese H-6 bombers conducted a joint patrol over the Sea of Japan Wednesday, prompting fighter scrambles by Korea and Japan in response. The joint patrol was the most recent one since May this year, which occurred the same day U.S. President Joe Biden met his Australian, Indian and Japanese […]

A Russian Tupolev Tu-95 Bear off Japan in May. Japanese MoD Photo

Four Russian Tu-95MS bombers and two Chinese H-6 bombers conducted a joint patrol over the Sea of Japan Wednesday, prompting fighter scrambles by Korea and Japan in response.

The joint patrol was the most recent one since May this year, which occurred the same day U.S. President Joe Biden met his Australian, Indian and Japanese counterparts in Tokyo, though both the Russian and Chinese defense ministries stated the flights in May were part of their annual military cooperation plan and not intended to be provocative.

On Wednesday morning, two Chinese H-6 bombers were confirmed to have flown from the East China Sea through the Tsushima Strait into the Sea of Japan before heading north, according to the Japanese MoD. Around the same time, two Russian aircraft flew south before turning back and heading north. Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) fighter aircraft scrambled in response, according to a statement from the MoD.

Path of the Joint Russian, Chinese bomber patrol on Nov. 30, 2022. Japanese MoD image.

According to Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, the Republic of Korea’s (ROK) Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said Wednesday a total of two Chinese H-6 bombers, four Russian Tu-95 bombers and two Russian Su-35 fighters entered the Korea Air Defence Identification Zone that day with the Chinese bombers entering twice on their own and once with the Russian aircraft. The JCS stated that Republic of Korea Air Force fighters scrambled in response, but the Russian and Chinese planes did not violate ROK airspace.

The JCS said that the two Chinese H-6 bombers entered the Korean ADIZ at 5:48 a.m. local time, in an area 78 miles north of Leo Islet, a submerged rock south of Jeju Island, and left at 6:13 a.m. Following this, the H-6s entered the ADIZ from an area northeast of the port city of Pohang at 6:44 a.m. before exiting at 7:07 a.m. The two Chinese bombers and the four Russian bombers and two Russian fighters then flew together into the ADIZ from an area 125 miles northeast of the ROK’s Ulleung Island at 12:18 p.m. before exiting at 12:36 p.m. Both Russia and China do not recognise the Korea ADIZ.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a Wednesday release that the air forces of Russi and China conducted a joint air patrol in the Asia-Pacific region, adding that an air group of Russian Tu-95MS bombers and Chinese H-6 bombers carried out air patrols over the waters of the Sea of Japan and East China Sea.

The Russian bombers were in the air for eight hours, and the combined air group was escorted by Russian Su-30SM and Su-35S fighters, according to the release. Foreign fighter aircraft flew escort on the air group on occasions on the flight route, although the MoD did not state which countries these fighters came from. The release also stated that for the first time in the course of joint air patrols, Russian aircraft landed at an airfield in the People’s Republic of China and Chinese aircraft at an airfield in the Russian Federation though it did not give the locations where this took place.

The Russian MoD also said the aircraft of both countries acted in full accordance with the provisions of international law and there were no violations of the airspace of third countries, according to the release. Upon completion of the joint air patrol, the aircraft involved returned to their home bases. The patrols were carried out as part of the military cooperation plan for this year and are not directed against third countries.

PLAN Ships Huanggang (577) and Taizhou (138). Japanese MoD Photo

China’s Ministry of National Defense issued a brief statement on Wednesday about the joint operation.

“According to the annual military cooperation plan between the Chinese and Russian militaries, on November 30, the air forces of the two countries organized a routine joint air strategic patrol over the Sea of ​​Japan, the East China Sea, and the western Pacific Ocean,” according to the statement.

Chinese ships have also sailed through the Tsushima Strait as well this week.

At 5 p.m. Monday, a People’s Liberation Army Navy frigate was sighted sailing northeast in an area 93 miles southwest of Tsushima with the image and hull number identifying the frigate as CNS Huanggang (577), according to a Tuesday JSO release.

A PLAN destroyer was sighted 9 a.m. Tuesday sailing northeast in an area 20km southeast of Tsushima. Image and hull number provided in the release identified the destroyer as CNS Taizhou (138).

Both Taizhou and Huanggang then sailed northeast through the Tsushima Strait into the Sea of Japan. The Japan Maritime Self Defense Force destroyer JS Setogiri (DD-156) and JMSDF P-1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 4 based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Honshu shadowed the PLAN ships, according to the release.

Pentagon: Chinese Navy to Expand to 400 Ships by 2025, Growth Focused on Surface Combatants

China is building more modern surface combatants and expanding its aircraft carrier and logistics force to grow its naval influence further from shore, according to the Pentagon’s annual report on Chinese military power. By 2025, the People’s Liberation Army Navy is expected to grow to 400 hulls, up from its fleet of 340, according to […]

People’s Liberation Army Navy aircraft carrier Shandong berths at a naval port in Sanya, China. PLAN Photo

China is building more modern surface combatants and expanding its aircraft carrier and logistics force to grow its naval influence further from shore, according to the Pentagon’s annual report on Chinese military power.

By 2025, the People’s Liberation Army Navy is expected to grow to 400 hulls, up from its fleet of 340, according to the Pentagon’s annual China military report estimates released on Tuesday.

“The PLAN is an increasingly modern and flexible force that has focused on replacing its previous generations of platforms that had limited capabilities in favor of larger, modern multi-role combatants,” reads the report.
“As of 2021, the PLAN is largely composed of modern multi-role platforms featuring advanced anti-ship, anti-air, and anti-submarine weapons and sensors.”

The report, which sums up Chinese military developments in 2021, pegs the growth to the PLAN adding more major surface combatants. The ship total dipped last year from 355 due to a transfer of more than 20 older corvettes to the China Coast Guard.

“At the close of 2021, the PLAN was building an aircraft carrier, a new batch of guided-missile destroyers (DDG), and a new batch of guided missile frigates (FFG),” reads the report.

The bulk of the surface expansion is contained in two programs, the 7,500-ton Luyang III guided-missile Type-52D destroyers and the larger 13,000-ton Type-55 Renhai-class guided-missile cruisers, according to the report.

Renhai-class cruiser

The Luyang III destroyers are built around a dual-band active electronically scanned array (AESA) air search radar and a 64-cell vertical launch system for multiple missiles similar to the Mk-41 VLS on U.S. surface ships.

The Renhais are much larger with a similar radar and 112 cell VLS cells “and can carry a large load out of weapons including [anti-ship cruise missiles], surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), torpedoes, and anti-submarine weapons along with likely [land-attack cruise missiles] and anti-ship ballistic missiles when those become operational,” according to the report.

As of May, the Chinese have five of the Renhai-class cruisers in commission, according to the South China Morning Post.

The newer classes of ships, with a variety of anti-surface and anti-air missiles, allow the PLAN better protection as its task groups venture farther from the protective umbrella of its shore-based air defense systems and mimic the basic construct of the American Aegis Combat System.

The emphasis on the platforms are anti-surface weapons, according to the report.
“The PLAN recognizes that long-range ASCMs require a robust, over-the-horizon (OTH) targeting capability to realize their full potential. To fill this capability gap, the PLA is investing in joint reconnaissance, surveillance, command, control, and communications systems at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels to provide high-fidelity targeting information to surface and subsurface launch platforms,” reads the report.

The PLAN is developing new submarines more slowly than it’s developing surface ships, “as it works to mature its force, integrate new technologies, and expand its shipyards,” reads the report.
“The PLAN currently operates six nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), six nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSN), and 44 diesel-powered/air-independent powered attack submarines (SS/SSP). The PLAN will likely maintain between 65 and 70 submarines through the 2020s, replacing older units with more capable units on a near one-to-one basis.”

The Pentagon speculated in the report that China is developing a nuclear guided-missile submarine that would field both anti-surface and land-attack cruise missiles, a new addition this year.

Type-093A Shang-class attack submarine

“By the mid-2020s, China will likely build the SHANG class (Type 093B) guided-missile nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSGN). This new SHANG class variant will enhance the PLAN’s anti-surface warfare capability and could provide a clandestine land-attack option if equipped with land-attack cruise missiles,” reads the report.

In terms of amphibious ships, the report highlighted not only the rapid development of the Yushen-class of big-deck amphibious warships, but also the increased use of civilian roll-on/roll-off car carriers that can go into service for military operations.

“This flexibility decreases the requirement to build additional PLAN amphibious ships to successfully assault Taiwan. This operational flexibility also provides operational and logistics units within the [PLAN Marine Corps] the training and proficiency to move between military and civilian vessels not just in a Taiwan scenario, but in any maritime environment where civilian transport vessels are available to the PLANMC and PLAN amphibious ships are not,” reads the report.

In late August, the PLAN held a major amphibious drill using civilian ferries to launch landing craft from sea, USNI News reported.

The PLAN has two operational aircraft carriers, Liaoning and Shandong, based on the Soviet Kuzenetzov, a short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR). Both carriers have been active in the Western Pacific. A third carrier, Fujian, will feature a catapult launch and arrested landing and is expected to be operational by 2024.

“This design will enable it to support additional fighter aircraft, fixed-wing early warning aircraft, and more rapid flight operations and thus extend the reach and effectiveness of its carrier-based strike aircraft,” reads the report.

The PLAN continues to refine its carrier aircraft – primarily the Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark, which is an unlicensed copy of the Russian Sukhoi Su-33 fighter.

A People’s Liberation Army Navy J-15 carrier fighter takes off from Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning (16) during a December 2021 deployment. PLAN Photo

“In addition to the standard J-15 fighter that currently operates from PLAN carriers, there is a catapult-capable J-15 variant in development,” reads the report.
“The aircraft is currently testing from land-based steam and electromagnetic catapults. A third J-15 variant, the J-15D, is a two-seat aircraft equipped with wingtip electronic support measures/electronic intelligence gathering pods as well as several conformal antennas. The aircraft is intended to fill a dedicated electronic attack role. China is also developing a carrier capable variant of the fifth-generation J-31 fighter.”

All told, the report concludes that the PLAN is working toward deploying an operational carrier battle group in the next several years beyond the first island chain that doesn’t need the shore-based defenses of the rest of the PLA.

“The PLAN’s ability to perform missions beyond the First Island Chain is modest but growing as it gains more experience operating in distant waters and acquires larger and more advanced platforms,” reads the report.

2022 Pentagon Report on Chinese Military Development

The following is the Nov. 29, 2022, Pentagon’s report to Congress, Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China. From the report The 2022 National Security Strategy identifies the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the only competitor with the intent and, increasingly, the capacity to reshape the international order. The Department of […]

The following is the Nov. 29, 2022, Pentagon’s report to Congress, Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China.

From the report

The 2022 National Security Strategy identifies the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the only competitor with the intent and, increasingly, the capacity to reshape the international order. The Department of Defense (DoD) annual report on military and security developments involving the PRC charts the current course of the PRC’s national, economic, and military strategy and offers Congress insight on the tenets of Beijing’s ambitions and intentions. The PRC’s strategy entails a determined effort to amass and harness all elements of its national power to place the PRC in a “leading position” in an enduring competition between systems. As expressed in the 2022 National Defense Strategy, the PRC presents the most consequential and systemic challenge to U.S. national security and the free and open international system.

In this decisive decade, it is important to understand the contours of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) way of war, survey its current activities and capabilities, and assess its future military modernization goals. In 2021, the PRC increasingly turned to the PLA as an instrument of statecraft as it adopted more coercive and aggressive actions in the Indo-Pacific region. Having purportedly achieved its 2020 modernization goal, the PLA now sets its sights to 2027 with a goal to accelerate the integrated development of mechanization, informatization, and intelligentization of the PRC’s armed forces. If realized, this 2027 objective could give the PLA capabilities to be a more credible military tool for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to wield as it pursues Taiwan unification.

In addition to the development of the PLA’s conventional capabilities, the PRC has continued to accelerate the modernization, diversification, and expansion of its nuclear forces. The PRC has stated its ambition to strengthen its “strategic deterrent,” while being reluctant to discuss the PLA’s developing nuclear, space, and cyberspace capabilities, negatively impacting global strategic stability—an area of increasing global concern.

As the PRC seeks to achieve “national rejuvenation” by its centenary in 2049, this report highlights Beijing’s ambition to reform the prevailing international rules-based system. This objective requires an external environment supportive of the PRC’s strategic goals defined under the concept of a “community of common destiny,” led by Xi Jinping’s initiatives such as the Global Security Initiative and the Global Development Initiative.

This report illustrates how the CCP increasingly turns to the PLA in support of its global ambitions, and the importance of meeting the pacing challenge presented by the PRC’s increasingly capable military.

Report Scope: This report covers security and military developments involving the PRC until the end of 2021.

Download the document here.

Japan Considering Buying Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles as ‘Counterstrike’ Capability, Say Reports

The Japanese government is considering buying Tomahawk long-range cruise missiles from the United States to establish a “counterstrike” capability to deter enemy missile attacks, according to domestic press reports. The Japanese Self-Defense Forces could deploy Tomahawks faster than its own domestically produced long-range cruise missiles, according to public broadcaster NHK. The Japanese Ministry of Defense […]

USS Monterey (CG 61) fires a Tomahawk land attack missile April 13, 2018 against land targets in Syria. US Navy Photo

The Japanese government is considering buying Tomahawk long-range cruise missiles from the United States to establish a “counterstrike” capability to deter enemy missile attacks, according to domestic press reports.
The Japanese Self-Defense Forces could deploy Tomahawks faster than its own domestically produced long-range cruise missiles, according to public broadcaster NHK.

The Japanese Ministry of Defense is currently in the process of extending the range of the domestically made Type 12 surface-to-ship missiles deployed by the Ground Self-Defense Force, from the current 125 miles to a maximum range of 750 miles. However, the enhanced Type 12 SSM will not be ready until 2026 — too late to respond to the expanded threats from China and North Korea. The MoD is considering deploying Tomahawks from the land, sea and air as well as considering submarines as a launch platform, according to the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun.

At present, it is unclear which variant of the Tomahawk cruise missile the Japanese government may introduce: Block IV, which is currently in operation by the U.S. Navy and others, or the Block V, which was delivered in 2021.

Although the Type 12 SSM will have its range extended, its original purpose is to attack ships. The introduction of the Tomahawk, a mainly land-attack cruise missile, would allow Japanese forces to attack enemy bases and other targets overseas, which could be controversial given Japan’s self-defense military policies. The Japanese government is currently planning to revise its National Security Strategy, National Defense Program Guidelines and Mid-Term Defense Program by the end of 2022. The introduction of long-range cruise missiles, including Tomahawk, is expected to be specifically described in these documents.

Buying Tomahawks is linked to the cancellation of Japan’s domestic Aegis Ashore BMD program in 2020. Originally, Japan’s stance was to respond to the threat of ballistic missiles from North Korea with its own domestic ballistic missile defense interceptors. The cancelation of the program pushed Japan to look to other means of deterrence.

However, then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe questioned the interception model during a press conference on Aug. 28, 2020.

“We will examine whether we can truly protect the lives of the people only by improving interception capabilities,” Abe said.

This statement is believed to indicate his willingness to pursue the possession of some kind of offensive capability. In response to the significant progress in the technological level of North Korea’s ballistic missile development, the Japanese government has been studying ways to enhance deterrence. The Tomahawk would give the Japanese government a counterstrike capability against enemy missile attacks.

“In order to protect the lives and livelihood of our citizens, we will examine all options, including a so-called enemy base strike capability, in a realistic manner without ruling out any options,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told the Diet on Dec. 6.
“We will fundamentally strengthen our defense capabilities with an accelerated pace.”

Tomahawk Block IV has a longer range than its predecessors (well in excess of 1,000 miles), can be directed at a new target in mid-flight, and can also beam back images of the battlefield to its launch platform. The Royal Navy is the only foreign user of the missile to date.

According to Raytheon, U.S. and allied militaries have flight-tested the GPS-enabled Tomahawk 550 times and used it in combat more than 2,300 times. Its most recent use came in 2018, when U.S. Navy warships and submarines launched 66 Tomahawk missiles at Syrian chemical weapon facilities.

All Tomahawk Block IVs are being upgraded to Block V with longer range and dynamic targeting with the capability to hit vessels at sea (maritime strike role). Raytheon is recertifying and modernizing the missile, extending its service life by 15 years.

A version of this post originally appeared on Naval News. It’s been republished here with permission.

USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker: Nov. 28, 2022

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Nov. 28, 2022, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship. Ships Underway Total Battle […]

USNI News Graphic

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Nov. 28, 2022, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.

Ships Underway

Total Battle Force Deployed Underway
292
(USS 236, USNS 56)
100
(USS 65, USNS 35)
 43
(41 Deployed, 2 Local)

Ships Deployed by Fleet

2nd Fleet 3rd Fleet 4th Fleet 5th Fleet 6th Fleet 7th Fleet Total
4 2 2 13 21 58 100

In the Philippine Sea

Capt. Daryle Cardone, commanding officer of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), speaks with sailors prior to Thanksgiving dinner on the mess decks, in the Philippine Sea, Nov. 24, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is underway in the Philippine Sea.

Carrier Strike Group 5

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), prepares to come alongside the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler, USNS Rappahannock (T-AO-204), prior to a fueling-at-sea in the Philippine Sea on Nov. 23, 2022. US Navy Photo

Aircraft carrier

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), homeported in Yokosuka, Japan.

Carrier Air Wing 5

An MH-60S Knight Hawk, attached to the ‘Golden Falcons’ of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12, takes off from the flight deck of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), in the Philippine Sea on Nov. 23, 2022. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, based at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, is embarked aboard Ronald Reagan and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Royal Maces” of VFA-27 – Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) – from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.
  • The “Diamondbacks” of VFA-102 from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Eagles” of VFA-115 from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Dambusters” of VFA-195 from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Shadowhawks” of VAQ-141 – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Tiger Tails” of VAW-125 – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Providers” of VRC-30 – Detachment 5 – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Golden Falcons” of HSC-12 – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan.
  • The “Saberhawks” of HSM-77 – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Facility Atsugi.

Cruisers

Sailors enjoy a Thanksgiving feast in the mess decks aboard Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) in the Philippine Sea, Nov. 24, 2022. US Navy Photo

USS Chancellorsville (CG-62), homeported in Yokosuka, Japan.

Destroyer Squadron 15

Lt. Darren Paraiso, from San Diego, monitors surface contacts from the combat information center aboard Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG-69) while operating in the Philippine Sea, Nov. 16, 2022. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 15 is based in Yokosuka, Japan, and is embarked on the carrier. Destroyers from Destroyer Squadron 15 are also assigned to the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group.

  • USS Milius (DDG-69), homeported in Yokosuka.

In Sasebo, Japan

Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Stacie Booth, from Portland, assigned to the forward-deployed amphibious assault carrier USS America (LHA-6), serves egg nog during a Thanksgiving meal in the ship’s galley in Sasebo, Japan, Nov. 23, 2022. US Navy Photo

USS America (LHA-6) remains in its homeport in Sasebo, Japan.

In the Pacific Ocean

Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical) 2nd Class Chad Waugh, left, and Engineman 2nd Class Lea Fernandez search for a shipboard casualty during a general quarters drill aboard amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8), Nov. 17, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) embarked has chopped into U.S. 7th Fleet. Amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8), the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, left Naval Base San Diego on Nov. 9 for a deployment to the Indo-Pacific region. The ARG includes Makin Island and amphibious transport docks USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26) and USS Anchorage (LPD-23). The three ships made a port call to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii last week.

The MEU includes the aviation combat element with the “Flying Leathernecks” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 122 flying F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters and the “Ugly Angels” of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 362 (Reinforced) flying MV-22B Ospreys; the logistics combat element made up of Combat Logistics Battalion 13; and the ground combat element with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines.

In the Eastern Pacific

Sailors remove chocks and chains from an MH-60S Knight Hawk helicopter assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23 on the flight deck aboard amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli (LHA-7) Nov. 26, 2022. US Navy Photo

Amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) is in the Mid-Pacific, transiting home to San Diego, Calif. Tripoli departed Naval Station San Diego for an independent deployment to the Western Pacific on May 2.

In the Mediterranean Sea

Sailors assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) search for foreign objects debris (FOD) on the flight deck during a replenishment-at-sea with the supply-class fast combat support ship USNS Arctic (T-AOE-8) on Nov. 27, 2022. US Navy Photo

The George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group is underway in the Mediterranean Sea.

Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG 2) is operating in the Mediterranean Sea. U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Scott Sciretta, who assumed command of the group on July 1, is embarked aboard Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Forrest Sherman (DDG-98) as SNMG 2’s flagship.

Carrier Strike Group 10

Culinary Specialist Seaman Ixshel Mendez, from Aurora, Colorado, assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), decorates a cake for a Thanksgiving meal, Nov. 24, 2022. US Navy Photo

Carrier

USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Carrier Air Wing 7

An F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 143, flies above the Ionian Sea with Italian AV-8B Harrier II aircraft, Nov. 23, 2022. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, based on Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., is embarked on Bush and includes:

  • The “Pukin’ Dogs” of VFA-143 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F/A-18Es from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Jolly Rogers” of VFA-103 – F/A-18F – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Sidewinders” of VFA-86 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Knighthawks” of VFA-136 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Patriots” of VAQ-140 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Bluetails” of VAW-121 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Rawhides” of VRC-40 – Detachment – C-2A – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Nightdippers” of HSC-5 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Grandmasters” of HSM-46 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

Cruiser

Fire Controlman Martin Cabello, assigned to the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55), lowers himself into the water during a search and rescue drill, Nov. 24, 2022. US Navy Photo

USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

Destroyer Squadron 26

Damage Controlman 1st Class Bryan Maccuish, assigned USS Truxtun (DDG-103), provides training to sailors during a chemical, biological, and radiological damage control drill on Nov. 16, 2022. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 26 is based in Norfolk and is embarked on the carrier. The following ships deployed with the strike group.

  • USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119), homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
  • USS Truxtun (DDG-103), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Farragut (DDG-99), homeported at Naval Station Mayport.
  • USS Nitze (DDG-94), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.

In Norfolk, Va.

The crew of USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) man the rails as the ship returns to Naval Station Norfolk, Nov. 26, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (CSG) has returned to Norfolk. USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) left Naval Station Norfolk, Va., on Oct. 4, 2022, and exercised with allies and partners to operate and shake down ahead of next year’s regular deployment.

Carrier Strike Group 12


Carrier

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

Carrier Air Wing 8

Sailors assigned to the first-in-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN-78) air department observe flight operations during Carrier Airwing (CVW) Eight’s fly off following the ship’s inaugural deployment, Nov. 25, 2022. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 squadrons and detachments have returned to their homefields:

  • The “Golden Warriors” of VFA-87 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F/A-18Es – Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Ragin’ Bulls” of VFA-37 – F/A-18E – Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Black Lions” of VFA-213 – F/A-18F – Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Tomcatters” of VFA-31 – F/A-18E – Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Gray Wolves” of VAQ-142 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Bear Aces” of VAW-124 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Rawhides” of VRC-40 – Detachment – C-2A – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Tridents” of HSC-9 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Spartans” of HSM-70 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

Cruiser

Seaman Alexa Gonzalez plays a boatswain’s pipe over an internal communications system to announce the start of sea and anchor detail on the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG-60) as the ship returns to home port at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., after being underway as part of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, Nov. 25, 2022. US Navy Photo

USS Normandy (CG-60) returned to homeport at Naval Station Norfolk.

Destroyer Squadron 26

A sailor assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul (DDG-74) throws line to the pier upon returning to Naval Station Norfolk, Va., after completing a deployment in the Atlantic Ocean with the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group on Nov. 26, 2022. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 26 returned to Norfolk. The following ships returned to their homeports:

  • USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116), homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
  • USS Ramage (DDG-61), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS McFaul (DDG-74), homeported at Naval Station Mayport.
  • USCGC Hamilton (WMSL 753) homeported in North Charleston, S.C.

In addition to these major formations, not shown are others serving in submarines, individual surface ships, aircraft squadrons, SEALs, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces, Seabees, Coast Guard cutters, EOD Mobile Units and more serving throughout the globe.

VIDEO: USS Gerald R. Ford Back in Norfolk After Two Months in the Atlantic

First-in-class USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is back at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., after a 53-day operational period in the Atlantic, U.S. 2nd Fleet announced on Saturday. Ford arrived in Norfolk after returning from a port visit to the U.K. last week and exercises with allied nations throughout the North Atlantic. “The flagship set sail […]

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) returns to Naval Station Norfolk after two months in the the Atlantic Ocean with the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG), Nov. 26, 2022. US Navy Photo

First-in-class USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is back at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., after a 53-day operational period in the Atlantic, U.S. 2nd Fleet announced on Saturday.

Ford arrived in Norfolk after returning from a port visit to the U.K. last week and exercises with allied nations throughout the North Atlantic.

“The flagship set sail from Norfolk, Virginia, Oct. 4, and traveled more than 9,275 nautical miles,” reads a statement from U.S. 2nd Fleet.
“During the scheduled deployment, Ford operated with eight allies and partners, Canada, Denmark, Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden, to strengthen interoperability, while conducting a range of maritime operations and exercises.”

Major events for the strike group included port visits to Halifax, Canada, on Oct. 28 and Portsmouth, U.K., on Nov. 14. Ford and its escorts also participated in the extensive Silent Wolverine exercise with ships from Canada, Denmark, Germany, Spain, France and the Netherlands.

“Through integrated and combined operations such as live and inert ordnance expenditure by Carrier Air Wing 8, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and air defense, we set the stage for operating with Ford-class technologies in a deployed environment,” said Ford commander Capt. Paul Lanzilotta in the Saturday release.
”We completed more than 1,250 sorties, expended 78.3 tons of ordnance, and completed 13 underway replenishments.”

Ford took aboard a partial air wing composed of every type of aircraft used on an aircraft carrier. At any given point during the deployment, the carrier had up to 60 aircraft embarked — about 80 percent of a full air wing. Ford also took on more than 1,200 tons of ammunition as part of the underway.

Additionally, the strike group deployed with guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG-60) and guided-missile destroyers USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116), USS Ramage (DDG-61), USS McFaul (DDG-74 with Destroyer Squadron 26. In addition, the strike group deployed with the Coast Guard cutter USCGC Hamilton (WMSL-753).

The time at sea was an opportunity to prove systems that were introduced on Ford designed to increase the sortie generation rate of the aircraft carrier. The carrier features the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) are both new systems with software elements that have required extensive testing over the last few years. Also, the Advanced Weapons Elevators (AWE), which has delayed Ford’s ability to deploy are fully operational and were tested extensively.

Now back in Norfolk, Ford and its crew will now prepare for a longer deployment planned for next year, defense officials have told USNI News.

“This deployment laid a strong foundation for the strike group, created momentum to carry us forward for future operations, and has prepared us to answer our nation’s call when needed,”
said Carrier Strike Group 12 commander Rear Adm. Greg Huffman said in the Saturday statement.

Carrier Strike Group 12

Carrier
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

Carrier Air Wing 8

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, based on Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., embarked on Ford and includes nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Golden Warriors” of VFA-87 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F/A-18Es from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Ragin’ Bulls” of VFA-37 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Black Lions” of VFA-213 – F/A-18F – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Tomcatters” of VFA-31 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Gray Wolves” of VAQ-142 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Bear Aces” of VAW-124 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Rawhides” of VRC-40 – Detachment – C-2A – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Tridents” of HSC-9 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Spartans” of HSM-70 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

Cruiser
USS Normandy (CG-60), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.

Destroyer Squadron 26
USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116), homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.

  • USS Ramage (DDG-61), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS McFaul (DDG-74), homeported at Naval Station Mayport.
  • USCGC Hamilton (WMSL 753) homeported in North Charleston, S.C.

 

 

Defense Primer: Ballistic Missile Defense

The following is the Nov. 23, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Defense Primer: Ballistic Missile Defense. From the report The United States has been developing and deploying ballistic missile defenses (BMD) to defend against enemy missiles continuously since the late 1940s. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the United States deployed a limited nuclear-tipped […]

The following is the Nov. 23, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Defense Primer: Ballistic Missile Defense.

From the report

The United States has been developing and deploying ballistic missile defenses (BMD) to defend against enemy missiles continuously since the late 1940s. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the United States deployed a limited nuclear-tipped BMD system to protect a portion of its U.S. land-based nuclear ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) force in order to preserve a strategic deterrent against a Soviet nuclear attack on the Homeland. That system became active in 1975 but shut down in 1976 because of concerns over cost and effectiveness. In the FY1975 budget, the Army began funding research into hit-to-kill or kinetic energy interceptors as an alternative—the type of interceptor technology that dominates U.S. BMD systems today.

In 1983, President Reagan announced an enhanced effort for BMD. Since the start of the Reagan initiative in 1985, BMD has been a key national security interest in Congress, which has appropriated well over $200 billion for a broad range of BMD research and development programs and deployment of BMD systems here and abroad.

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is charged with the mission to develop, test, and field an integrated, layered, BMD system (BMDS) to defend the United States, U.S. deployed forces, and U.S. allies and partners against ballistic missiles of all ranges and in all phases of flight. The FY2023 budget request is $24.7 billion for missile defense, $9.6 billion of which is for MDA.

Ballistic Missile Threats

After an initial powered phase of flight, a ballistic missile leaves the atmosphere and follows an unpowered trajectory or flight path before reentering the atmosphere toward a predetermined target. Ballistic missiles have an effective range from a few hundred kilometers (km) to more than 10,000 km. Short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) range from 300-1,000 km and are generally considered for tactical military use. Medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) have a range from 1,000-5,500 km, although most are armed with conventional warheads and range less than 3,500 km. ICBMs range further than 5,500 km and are generally considered as strategic deterrent forces.

Most of the world’s ballistic missiles belong to the United States and its allies and partners; however, China and, in particular, Russia also have significant numbers of ICBMs. Russia continues to possess intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles (3,500-5,500 km), which led to the U.S. withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The 2022 Missile Defense Review additionally identifies ballistic missile threats from North Korea and Iran.

North Korea likely has an arsenal of hundreds of SRBMs that can reach all of South Korea and perhaps dozens of MRBMs (whose reliability at this point remains uncertain), capable of reaching Japan and U.S. bases in the region. North Korea has flight-tested two types of road-mobile ICBMs that have the range to strike the U.S. homeland. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has assessed that “North Korea’s continued development of ICBMs, IRBMs, and [submarine-launched ballistic missiles] demonstrates its intention to bolster its nuclear delivery capability.”

Download the document here.

Defense Primer: Naval Forces

The following is the Nov. 15, 2022, Congressional Research Service, Defense Primer: Naval Forces. From the report “Naval Forces” Refers to Both the Navy and Marine Corps Although the term naval forces is often used to refer specifically to Navy forces, it more properly refers to both Navy and Marine Corps forces, because both the […]

The following is the Nov. 15, 2022, Congressional Research Service, Defense Primer: Naval Forces.

From the report

“Naval Forces” Refers to Both the Navy and Marine Corps

Although the term naval forces is often used to refer specifically to Navy forces, it more properly refers to both Navy and Marine Corps forces, because both the Navy and Marine Corps are naval services. For further discussion, see CRS In Focus IF10484, Defense Primer: Department of the Navy, by Ronald O’Rourke. For a discussion of the Marine Corps that focuses on its organization as a ground-combat force, see CRS In Focus IF10571, Defense Primer: Organization of U.S. Ground Forces, by Barbara Salazar Torreon and Andrew Feickert.

U.S. Strategy and Naval Forces

U.S. naval forces give the United States the ability to convert the world’s oceans—a global commons that covers more than two-thirds of the planet’s surface—into a medium of maneuver and operations for projecting U.S. power ashore and otherwise defending U.S. interests around the world. The ability to use the world’s oceans in this manner—and to deny other countries the use of the world’s oceans for taking actions against U.S. interests—constitutes an immense asymmetric advantage for the United States.

As discussed elsewhere (see CRS In Focus IF10485, Defense Primer: Geography, Strategy, and U.S. Force Design, by Ronald O’Rourke), the size and composition of U.S. naval forces reflect the position of the United States as a Western Hemisphere power with a goal of preventing the emergence of regional hegemons (and otherwise defending and promoting U.S. interests) in Eurasia. As a result, the U.S. Navy includes significant numbers of aircraft carriers, nuclear-powered attack submarines, large surface combatants, large amphibious ships, and underway replenishment ships.

Navy Ship Types

The Navy’s ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) are dedicated to performing a singular mission of strategic nuclear deterrence. The Navy’s other ships, which are sometimes referred to as the Navy’s general-purpose ships, are generally multimission ships capable of performing a variety of missions other than strategic nuclear deterrence. The principal types of general-purpose ships in the Navy include attack submarines (SSNs); aircraft carriers (CVNs); large surface combatants, meaning cruisers (CGs) and destroyers (DDGs); small surface combatants, meaning frigates (FFGs), Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs), mine warfare (MIW) ships, and patrol craft (PCs); amphibious ships, whose primary function is to transport Marines and their equipment and supplies to distant operating areas and support Marine ship-to-shore movements and Marine operations ashore; combat logistics force (CLF) ships, which perform underway replenishment (UNREP) operations, meaning the at-sea resupply of combat ships; and other support ships of various types.

The Navy’s aircraft carriers embark multimission carrier air wings (CVWs) consisting of 60+ aircraft—mostly fixed-wing aircraft, plus a few helicopters. Each CVW typically includes 40 or more strike fighters that are capable of air-to-ground (strike) and air-to-air (fighter) combat operations.

Size of the Navy

The total number of ships in the Navy is a one-dimensional metric that leaves out many other important factors bearing on the Navy’s size and capabilities. Even so, observers often cite the total number of ships in the U.S. Navy as a convenient way of summarizing the Navy’s size and capabilities.

The quoted number of ships in the Navy reflects the battle force ships counting method, which is a set of rules for which ships count (or do not count) toward the quoted number of ships in the Navy. The battle force ships counting method was established in the early 1980s and has been modified by subsequent legislation. Essentially, it includes ships that are readily deployable overseas, and which contribute to the Navy’s overseas combat capability. The Naval History and Heritage Command maintains a database on numbers of ships in the Navy from 1886 to the present. (It is available here: https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/us-ship-force-levels.html.) Since this database extends back to 1886, it uses a different counting method that is more suitable for working with older historical data. This alternate counting method, however, produces, for the 1980s onwards, figures for the total size of the Navy that are different than the figures produced by the battle force ships counting method. For this reason, using figures from the NHHC database to quote the current size of the Navy can cause confusion.

Download the document here.

Canada, France Should Join AUKUS Style Tech Agreement with U.S., Senator Says

A senior Republican senator suggested Washington craft a military technology agreement with Canada and France to strengthen alliances with the U.S. and to deter Russia and China. Sen. James Risch, (R-Idaho) — ranking member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee — said at the Halifax International Security Forum that Canada and France should be part of […]

Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigate St. Johns leaving Portsmouth, U.K. Ralph Edwards photo used with permission

A senior Republican senator suggested Washington craft a military technology agreement with Canada and France to strengthen alliances with the U.S. and to deter Russia and China.

Sen. James Risch, (R-Idaho) — ranking member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee — said at the Halifax International Security Forum that Canada and France should be part of an agreement similar to the one the U.S. established with the U.K. and Australia.

The technology sharing agreement between the countries includes U.K. and U.S. assistance to help Australia build and operate its first nuclear-powered attack submarines.

The “administration had a really, really good idea” in signing the technology sharing agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and United States [AUKUS], Risch said, but he would criticize the administration for not consulting the Senate before moving ahead on AUKUS. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, (D-N.H.) part of the bipartisan delegation to the forum, nodded in agreement.

In response to the question over Canadian concerns about the secrecy surrounding the agreement, Risch said, “if you think the Canadians are unhappy, you ought to talk to the French.”

Risch referred to Australia’s cancellation of a more than $66 billion contract with the French to build conventionally powered submarines to replace the Royal Australian Navy’s aging Collins-class diesel attack boats.

Following the announcement of the AUKUS agreement in September 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Ottawa wouldn’t change Canada’s security and intelligence relationship with the three allies through the “Five Eyes” program. New Zealand is also part of the Five Eyes group.

Risch added the AUKUS agreement would not affect Canada’s ability to defend its interests in the Indo-Pacific. Canada has not officially expressed an interest in building and operating nuclear-powered submarines.

But like other allies and partners, Canada was kept in the dark about the agreement itself and the extent of its terms.

Shaheen said at the forum AUKUS was “another opportunity for us to engage our partners in the Indo-Pacific,” but added the United States will continue to explore similar security arrangements with other allies. Neither she nor Risch said any new agreement should include nuclear-powered attack submarines.

This spring, following Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine, the U.K., U.S. and Australia, announced they would be working more closely on hypersonic weapons engine development, electronic warfare and cyber technology.

The French design of the Attack-class submarine that was canceled by Australia last week. Naval Group image

In this announcement and the one in the fall, China was never mentioned as the underlying reason for the agreement.

Since the announcement on closer cooperation on advanced technologies in the spring, pressure has grown in Canada for a similar arrangement with close allies. The Trudeau government is undertaking a new defense review in light of Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine and China’s growing global ambitions.

Rep. Michael McCaul, (R-Texas), who is expected to chair the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the new Congress, said, “I think the Five Eyes is a good model” for expanded technology sharing among allies like Canada, France, Japan and the Republic of Korea. At a later session of the forum, he added technology is how the U.S. will win in competition with China. He emphasized artificial intelligence, 5G telecommunications and semiconductor production.

At the press conference, Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.) said to the Canadians in attendance “rest assured that everyone knows that our partnership and what we work on together in terms of our shared defense industrial base is well-known among partners and allies and is recognized by us in the United States as well.”

U.S. CENTCOM Reveals New Details on Iranian Drone Attack on Tanker

An analysis of debris left over from a drone attack on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman confirm the drone was Iranian, according to a Tuesday U.S. Central Command statement. On Nov. 15, a Shahed 136 explosive-tipped drone flew into the aft section of the merchant oil tanker M/T Pacific Zircon punching a […]

Graphic identifying specific debris fragments collected by a U.S. Navy explosive ordnance disposal team aboard M/T Pacific Zircon, Nov. 16. The graphic shows how the collected fragments indicate the unmanned aerial vehicle that attacked the commercial tanker was an Iranian-made Shahed-136. US Navy graphic

An analysis of debris left over from a drone attack on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman confirm the drone was Iranian, according to a Tuesday U.S. Central Command statement.

On Nov. 15, a Shahed 136 explosive-tipped drone flew into the aft section of the merchant oil tanker M/T Pacific Zircon punching a hole through the hull, “while subsequently penetrating and damaging internal compartments. The UAV’s explosive impact also damaged a shipboard boiler, potable water tank and life raft,” reads the statement.

The next day, the U.S. Navy sent two explosive ordnance technicians aboard the Liberian-flagged tanker to assess the damage to the ship and analyze the debris.

“During a two-hour survey and evidence collection process, the technicians also obtained explosive residue samples for lab testing,” reads the statement from CENTCOM.
“U.S. 5th Fleet transported the gathered evidence to a lab at its Bahrain headquarters where technicians confirmed Iran’s connection to the attack. The aerial drone that hit the commercial tanker was identified as a Shahed-136 UAV, fitting a historical pattern of Iran’s increasing use of a lethal capability directly or through its proxies across the Middle East.”

Graphic illustration and images captured by a U.S. Navy explosive ordnance disposal team aboard M/T Pacific Zircon, Nov. 16, showing the location where an Iranian-made unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) penetrated M/T Pacific Zircon’s outer hull during an attack Nov. 15. The one-way UAV attack tore a 30-inch-wide hole in the outer hull on the starboard side of the ship’s stern, just below the main deck. US Navy graphic

CENTCOM released images that tied debris discovered aboard Pacific Zircon from the strike — including a satellite navigation guidance antenna, hatches and stabilizer that match the Shahed-136 design.

The release stopped short of saying the drone had originated in Iran. The Shahed 136 design has been used by the Houthi rebels in Yemen and tied to a fatal attack last year on the tanker Mercer Street on July 30, which killed two crewmembers, USNI News reported at the time.

Last week, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters, “we are confident that Iran likely conducted this attack using a UAV, a lethal capability it is increasingly employing directly and via its proxies throughout the Middle East.”

Israeli officials told CNN the attack was intended to disrupt the World Cup soccer tournament in Qatar.

“It’s not an attack against Israel,” the official told CNN. “It’s the same thing they usually do in the Gulf, trying to disrupt stability and mainly influence World Cup events.”

Iran is also exporting the delta-winged drones to Russia for use in the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.