News Briefs – September 17, 2018


Putin inspects war games billed as Russia’s biggest-ever

Russian President Vladimir Putin inspected a week-long military exercise in eastern Siberia that involves around 300,000 troops and is being billed as Russia’s biggest-ever.
Speaking at a firing range in the Chita region Sept. 13, Putin lauded the troops for their “high-level” performance and insisted the war games are not targeted at any other country.
Putin said Russia is a “peaceful nation” that “does not have any aggressive plans.”
The maneuvers span vast expanses of Siberia and the Far East, the Arctic and the Pacific Oceans. In addition to the troops, some 1,000 Russian aircraft are also involved.
Chinese troops have joined the Russians.
The Chinese media have described the People’s Liberation Army involvement in the drills as the country’s largest-ever dispatch of forces abroad for war games. AP

Kosovo government prepares draft law on creating a new army

Kosovo’s government has prepared three draft laws on transforming the country’s security forces into a regular army, though it is not clear whether it will get formal parliamentary approval.
Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj on Sept. 13 said that any step on army transformation “will be done in line with our strategic partners in NATO, especially the U.S.”
A year ago, President Hashim Thaci bowed to pressure from NATO and the U.S. and withdrew draft legislation that did not require approval from Kosovo’s ethnic minorities, as constitutional amendments do.
At that time, Kosovo’s ethnic Serbs and other minority groups said they wouldn’t back the change.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, which Serbia refuses to recognize. AP

Two Russia bombers off Alaska intercepted by U.S. fighter jets

The U.S. Air Force says two of its fighter jets have intercepted and monitored Russian bombers in international air space west of mainland Alaska.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command says in a statement that two F-22 Raptor fighter jets identified and intercepted two Russian TU-95 Bear bombers at 6 p.m. Alaska time on Sept. 11.
The bombers were accompanied by two Russian Su-35 Flanker fighter jets.
The Russian aircraft did not enter U.S. or Canadian air space.
NORAD commander Gen. Terrance O’Shaughnessy says radar, satellites and fighter jets are used to identify aircraft and determine appropriate responses. AP

Remotely-piloted Navy jet damaged in California accident

An unmanned Navy reconnaissance aircraft was damaged in a belly-landing at a Southern California base last week.
Navy officials tell the Ventura County Star a remotely piloted MQ-4C Triton was on a flight Sept. 12 when it experienced mechanical issues and was turned back to Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu.
The jet’s landing gear failed to deploy and it skidded down the runway on its belly.
Cmdr. Dave Hecht says the Triton sustained significant damage.
Base spokeswoman Theresa Miller says the Triton costs approximately $110 million.
The Northrop Grumman-built Triton is the Navy’s version of the Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawks, which have been operated for 20 years.
The Triton can fly intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions lasting more than 24 hours at altitudes above 10 miles (16 kilometers). AP

Lockheed Martin wins $7.2 billion Air Force satellite contract

The U.S. Air Force says it is awarding Lockheed Martin a $7.2 billion contract to build 22 next-generation Global Positioning System satellites.
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in a Sept. 14 statement the satellites, known as GPS 3 Follow-On, “will provide greater accuracy, and improved anti-jamming capabilities, making them more resilient.”
Chip Eschenfelder, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin Space, says the satellites will be built at the company’s Waterton campus in the Denver suburb of Littleton.
The Air Force says the first GPS IIIF satellite could be ready for launch in 2026.
Lockheed has been constructing 10 GPS III satellites for the Air Force under a previous contract. AP