Rep. Chung Mong-joon, longtime South Korean lawmaker and high-profile member of the ruling party, is speaking about the need for South Korea to either demand the return of American tactical nuclear weapons or develop its own. Why? To force China to take the North Korean situation seriously and keep its dog off the furniture. The reasoning is that only China still has the power to make North Korea listen to reason. The tactical nukes were removed as part of a de-nuclearisation agreement for the peninsula, which North Korea has clearly violated.
The US Navy will deploy a solid-state laser weapon aboard USS Ponce in 2014, the first time a viable laser weapon will have been operationally deployed.
In an unaccustomed display of competence, the US Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship program is testing Thales’ excellent Sonar 2087 towed array for the ASW mission package, slated for operational capability in the 2016-2018 bracket. The Thales sonar has an outstanding reputation, and is reportedly able to operate effectively even at the high speeds of which LCS boats are capable. This would be an alternative to drawing on the production line for the MFTA towed array slated to replace the rest of the US Navy’s existing arrays.
US Navy CNO Admiral Greenert is trying to raise awareness of hacking and electromagnetic spectrum vulnerability in US forces. As I’ve written, this angle plays a major part in China’s strategy for dealing with carrier strike groups should they ever face them in combat.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has called on the US and China to build “strategic trust” during a speech in Washington, while continuing Singapore’s tradition of asking for increased US presence in the region. The problem is that from a Chinese viewpoint, those positions are in conflict. Building international trust requires creativity, and while inviting China to next year’s RIMPAC exercise was certainly creative, it was the exception in a relationship that both sides seem to be putting less and less effort into.
The US military has published its crowning joint doctrine document, covering military doctrine for all services. Creatively titled Joint Publication 1, it’s probably nothing to get excited about, especially if its lower-tier predecessors, Air-Sea Battle and the jargon-based Joint Operational Access Concept, are anything to go by.
The US Navy is also contemplating major procurement changes. The plan had been to design a Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyer to take the new AMDR radar. Unfortunately, the design seems not to have enough room to do that economically, and so the current Flight IIA may continue in production until a new design, possibly a cruiser successor, can be fielded. Also, the planned order of 52 Littoral Combat Ships may be cut to 24, with a single mission package including urgently-needed minesweeping equipment and possibly a vertical launch system for missiles. It seems that the Navy has decided it can’t afford $650 million ships that do nothing.