[ Ed. note – Looks like the neocons are making steady progress toward sparking that “splendid little war” they’ve been trying to get started for a while now. The following is a collection of news stories that have appeared over the past few days. ]
The Israeli Air Force is participating in an extensive international exercise in Greece alongside pilots from America, Greece, Italy and the UAE, according to reports.
The drills are designed to help pilots “deal” with Russian-made defense systems, including the S-300, which is currently operational in Syria and Iran.
The exercises will run from March 27 to April 6, and are taking place in Greece. According to Sputnik, Greece acquired a S-300 system from Russia in the late 1990s and is the only member of NATO which has the system in service.
Although similar drills have been held before, they take on special significance considering the heightened tensions between Israel and Syria:
Israel has acquired technical data about the S-300 system, which is capable of hitting aerial targets at a distance of 150 kilometers, and an altitude of up to 27,000 meters.
The maneuvers were aimed at testing out different tactics against the S-300, in simulated attacks against ground targets protected by S-300 batteries.
Russia Develops Hypersonic 4,600 mph Zircon Missile
The race to develop an unstoppable and unbeatable weapon capable of defeating all the military defense systems in the world is getting much too close for comfort.
According to multiple reports, Russia is expected to begin production soon of its 3M22 Zircon, a hypersonic missile that will travel 4,600 miles per hour — five times the speed of sound — and will have a range of 250 miles. That’s just three minutes and 15 seconds from launch to impact.
Guided hypersonic missiles will be more accurate than traditional ballistic missiles and could conceivably be armed with nuclear warheads, according to the geopolitical analysis firm Stratfor.
And they’re coming, whether we like it or not. And they’ll be on our doorstep sooner, not later.
“State tests of Zircon are scheduled for completion in 2017 … and the missile’s serial production is planned to be launched next year,” the Russian news agency TASS reported last year, quoting sources. And last month, Russia’s Interfax news agency cited a source familiar with the Zircon project who said the 5-ton missile is likely to be tested for the first time this spring — earlier than the projected date of 2018 — “from a sea-based platform.”
The International Business Times (IBT) reported that the U.S. Navy is concerned the missile could be fitted to a Russian warship.
Hypersonic speed is the stuff of science fiction. As explained in IBT:
“The missile employs revolutionary scramjet technology to reach its hypersonic speeds whereby propulsion is created by forcing air from the atmosphere into its combustor where it mixes with on-board fuel – rather than carry both fuel and oxidizer like traditional rockets. This makes it lighter, and therefore much faster.
“It uses no fans, rotating turbines or moving parts – just an inlet where air is compressed and a combustor where the air is mixed with fuel. Fewer moving parts also means less chance of mechanical failure.
“The Zircon … would be capable of destroying the world’s most advanced warships and aircraft carriers in one strike and could be put into action by 2020.”
The Zircon will have a radar target seeker and an optical-electronic complex that can trace and detect targets, also at hypersonic speed, according to the Strategic Culture Foundation.
“It will greatly reduce the reaction time that [Western military units] have to deploy their own defenses and counter-measures,” Tim Ripley, who covers defense issues for Jane’s Defence Weekly, told the German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
He said the Zircon could render Western anti-aircraft defenses “obsolete,” and he warned that Russia appears far ahead of the U.S. in development.
“In the public domain, the West seems to be quite a long way behind,” Ripley said. “But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some black, super-secret project run by the U.S.’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.”
In fact, the U.S. may not be behind at all. According to Stratfor, U.S. Maj. Gen. Thomas Masiello announced in late February that the Air Force plans to have operational prototypes of its own hypersonic missile ready for testing by 2020.
And Stratfor forecasts that the U.S. and China will likely have the first operational long-range hypersonic missiles in their arsenals by 2025, years ahead of Russia.
Germany Recruits Russian-Speaking Actors to Take Part in US Army Training
Germany is looking for performers that will take part in US military exercises as atmosphere players. The candidates must have a “good knowledge of Russian” and be able to portray farmers or store owners.
The description of the vacancy “Russian-speaking role players for NATO exercises” was published on the official portal of Germany’s capital, berlin.de.
“We are looking for performers to take part in role games during US military exercises,” the website said.
The starting date is April 26. All participants must have good knowledge of Russian, English and German. It would be “A great advantage” if they also know Polish or Czech, the advertisement said.
“Candidates will play the role of civilians in conflict zones. This will help to create a real training scenario for servicemen and their optimal preparation for foreign missions,” the description said.
The exercises will be held continuously, including on weekends, in the Hohenfels training grounds between Nuremberg and Regensburg. There about ten villages will be built with 30 houses each.
“Performers will play small roles such as livestock keepers, shopkeepers or the head of the village in Afghanistan, who is constantly negotiating with the US military and takes part in the mediation.”
The job is pays 88.4 to 120 euros per day of work.
In an interview with Sputnik Germany, Tobias Pflüger, deputy chairman of the Left Party and peace activist, said that this announcement is connected with the intensification of the Western military activities along the Russian border.
“This means no good,” the politician said in an interview with Sputnik. “If the military exercises of the US Army contain scenarios involving war with Russia, from the point of view of world politics this is a disaster,” he stated.
Canadian Troops to ‘Fine Tune’ Military Skills for Missions in Ukraine, Latvia
The Canadian Army starts war games on Monday to “fine-tune their soldiering skills” of its troops for foreign missions in such countries as Iraq, Ukraine and Latvia.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Canadian Armed Forces will launch military exercises dubbed Rugged Bear on Monday as part of their training for missions in Latvia, Iraq and Ukraine, country’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
“Starting tomorrow, 3 000 Canadian Army soldiers from 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group from Petawawa, Ontario will fine-tune their soldiering skills during Exercise RUGGED BEAR at the Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre in Wainwright, Alberta,” the statement read.
The soldiers are set to be trained to a combat team standard, consisting of “a company of mechanized infantry soldiers in light armoured vehicles accompanied by a squadron of tanks and other enablers such as engineers or artillery.”
“The purpose of Exercise RUGGED BEAR is for the Canadian Army to certify that these soldiers, under the banner of Task Force Tomahawk, have achieved the necessary Battle Task Standard (BTS). Achieving this BTS is a critical prerequisite for Exercise MAPLE RESOLVE 17: an intensive training opportunity which will be conducted in May, also in Wainwright, as part of the unit’s Road to High Readiness,” the statement said.
The drills are expected to run till May 4.
Peshkov: Russia-US Relations ‘Maybe Even Worse’ Than Cold War
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s right-hand man said in an interview today on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that current relations between Russia and the United States are “maybe even worse” than the Cold War.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos that the allegations of Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election are “fake news” and “slander.”
“It has no evidence at all,” he said of the claims.
Peskov pointed to then-President Barack Obama’s sanctions against Russia in late December in response to the alleged election interference as one reason for relations between the two countries being “maybe even worse” than during the Cold War.
On Dec. 29, Obama announced in a statement “a number of actions in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyberoperations aimed at the U.S. election.”
The actions included the expulsion of 35 Russians identified by the U.S. as Moscow intelligence operatives and sanctions against five Russian entities and four individuals for alleged cyberassaults on Democratic party operatives and political organizations during the presidential campaign.
Obama also announced the shutdown of two massive Russian recreational compounds in Maryland and New York, which U.S. officials said were used for intelligence purposes.
“Is it friendly? I’m afraid no,” Peskov said of the actions. “It’s not friendly. It’s not legal in terms of international law. So, of course, it was a very significant damage for our bilateral relations organized as a farewell parting by the then-administration in Washington.”
Although Peskov flatly denied any Russian interference in the election, he acknowledged that Russians generally saw Trump’s candidacy for president more favorably than that of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, because of the real estate mogul’s remarks during the campaign about the possibility of improving relations with Moscow.
“The reason is very simple,” Peskov said on “GMA.” “It’s not about preferring someone. It’s about whose ideas are more close to you and whose ideas are more welcome in Russian public opinion.”
The Kremlin spokesman said that however bad relations are now between Russia and the U.S., they could improve.
“I think if two presidents meet each other, if they exchange views and if they decide that they want to reestablish a dialogue, then there will be a chance for our bilateral relations to get better,” he said.
U.S. intelligence agencies released a declassified report in January concluding that Putin ordered a campaign to influence the 2016 election in favor of Trump.
“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency,” the report reads, referring to the Russian government’s “longstanding desire to undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order.”
“We further assess Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump,” the report continued, saying Putin nursed a “grudge” against Clinton “for comments he almost certainly saw as disparaging.”