The CSS Blog Network

Why the Next Fighter Will Be Manned, and the One after That

An F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. Image: skeeze/Pixabay

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 5 August, 2015.

Sometimes a technology is so awe-inspiring that the imagination runs away with it — often far, far away from reality. Robots are like that. A lot of big and ultimately unfulfilled promises were made in robotics early on, based on preliminary successes.

– Daniel H. Wilson

The F-35 should be, and almost certainly will be, the last manned strike fighter aircraft the Department of the Navy will ever buy or fly.

– Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy » More

The Privatization of Space: When Things Go Wrong

SpaceX-rocket taking off. Image: SpaceX-Imagery/pixabay

A few weeks ago, Space X’s Falcon 9 rocket carrying an unmanned Dragon capsule destined for the International Space Station (ISS) exploded. The explosion was likely caused by a failed strut. In October of last year, Orbital Sciences had a rocket destined for the ISS explode for unrelated reasons, just after they were awarded a $1.9 billion contract with NASA. In the wake of these incidents, it may be time to assess the implications of private sector involvement in state-sponsored space programs. » More

Why Don’t Defense Contractors Do Cyber?

Cyber security – why are America’s big contractors departing the field? Image: Ivan David Gomez Arce/Flickr

This article was originally published by the Atlantic Council on 1 August, 2015.

Going on eight years now, Raytheon has been mounting a strategic campaign in cyber security. This past April, the company spent $1.7 billion on Austin-based Websense, the 13th cyber business it has purchased since October 2007 (Defense Mergers & Acquisitions Daily, 20 April 2015). In Forbes, defense industry booster Loren Thompson called the transaction “bold”—the value roughly matched that of the 12 preceding deals. That pattern suggests that Raytheon has been learning along the way how to build a successful business. More recent evidence was Raytheon’s selection this month as a finalist in DARPA’s Cyber Grand Challenge, in which some of the top teams in the US have been working to create self-healing code. As Byron Callan of Capital Alpha Partners wrote, that alone “suggests it’s doing something right,” whatever misgivings investors and their analysts may have had about Raytheon’s long-running strategy. » More

What’s Eating Turkey? Ankara and the Islamic State

Protesters expressing their solidarity with the victims of the Suruc terror attack. Image: Voice Of America/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 30 July, 2015.

On July 20, Turkey suffered one of its deadliest suicide bombing attacks in recent memory, which claimed more than 30 lives. While the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has not yet claimed responsibility, all signs point toward them as the culprits. The location, timing, and the identity of the victims were just too specific to think otherwise.

The setting of this grisly attack was the town of Suruc, the pathway to the Syrian town of Kobane, where ISIL lost a long and bloody battle to the YPG (People’s Protection Units), which enjoyed American air support. The timing was also distinctive. The suicide attack took place the day after Syrian Kurds and their sympathizers in Turkey celebrated the third anniversary of the “Rojava [Western Kurdistan] Revolution” of 2012,when the PYD (Democratic Unity Party) formally declared its intention to govern and defend Kurdish-populated areas in Syria in the wake of the withdrawal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces from these enclaves. » More

The Trouble with Japan’s New Security Bills

Flag Emblem on a Japanese Military Uniform. Image: Koalorka/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the East Asia Forum on 3 August, 2015.

The debate over Japan’s new security bills, which seek to overhaul post-war defence policies, has shifted to the upper house and the streets, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe presses on to secure their passage into legislation. On 16 July the lower house passed the package of bills in a vote that was boycotted by opposition parties as tens of thousands protested outside the Diet.

Abe has extended the parliamentary sitting by three months to secure the outcome before he faces re-election to the presidency of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and therefore the prime ministership. He rammed the bills through the lower house in the knowledge that, even should the House of Councillors reject them, ultimate passage of the bills would be secured after a 60 day reconsideration and re-passage with a two-thirds majority through the House of Representatives. So, with enactment of the unpopular proposals almost guaranteed even if all of the opposition parties band together to block them in the upper house, why is the Abe government in trouble over the issue? » More

Page 3 of 5