On May 26th, the US African Command (AFRICOM) released a statement claiming that Russia deployed military fighter jets to Libya in order to assist Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s forces in the fight against the Government of National Accord (GNA) and Turkey.
These, of course, relate to the so-called “Wagner” group.
“Russia is clearly trying to tip the scales in its favor in Libya. Just like I saw them doing in Syria, they are expanding their military footprint in Africa using government-supported mercenary groups like Wagner,” said U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command. “For too long, Russia has denied the full extent of its involvement in the ongoing Libyan conflict. Well, there is no denying it now. We watched as Russia flew fourth generation jet fighters to Libya — every step of the way. Neither the LNA nor private military companies can arm, operate and sustain these fighters without state support — support they are getting from Russia.”
AFRICOM further says that Russia’s actions have prolonged the conflict in Libya, and that was Moscow’s initial objective, either way.
“The world heard Mr. Haftar declare he was about to unleash a new air campaign.
On May 13th, Greece accused Turkey of seizing border territory, and allegedly attempted land-leveling activities along the Evros River.
The Turkish Foreign ministry said it would not allow “fait accompli,” meaning that whatever has happened is already in the past, and there is no way to change it, but simply accept it.
“In spite of our warnings and proposals of cooperation, Greece initiated land-leveling activities on May 13, 2020, and violated our contractual land border. This violation was immediately intercepted by our relevant authorities through the necessary measures,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Ankara has informed Greece that the riverbed “has significantly changed due to natural and artificial reasons” since 1926 when the border was established and that technical coordination was needed for a solution.
The Turkish ministry added that the dispute could be resolved through talks between the two countries’ technical delegations.
According to the statement, the Turkish side offered Athens such a meeting.
“We will by no means allow any fait accompli on our borders,” the ministry warned.
On May 20th, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said there was a “dispute” with Ankara, saying, “The riverbed has changed.”
On May 14th, the US Navy seized a drug vessel carrying 1.5 tons of cocaine.
The “low-profile vessel” was captured by the USS Pinckney guided-missile destroyer, with an embarked U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachment team.
The drug vessel was initially spotted by a US Navy maritime patrol aircraft, assigned to the “Tridents” of Patrol Squadron 26.
The Pinckney, with embarked helicopters assigned to the “Wolf Pack” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 75 and the embarked Coast Guard team moved into position to intercept the vessel.
Click to see full-size image
They recovered 70 bales of cocaine worth more than $28 million in wholesale value.
“This was truly a team effort,” Navy Cmdr. Andrew Roy, USS Pinckney’s commanding officer, said. “The air support we received was first class. We were able to safely and successfully conduct this operation due to the outstanding professionalism of the Navy-Coast Guard team.”
On April 1st, U.S. Southern Command began enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to disrupt the flow of drugs in support of Presidential National Security Objectives.
Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security cooperated in the effort to combat transnational organized
Model of project 11780 Priboy-class universal landing ship. Click to see full-size image
The Ministry of Defense signed a contract with the Zaliv Shipyard in Kerch, Crimea for the construction of the first two Russian universal landing ships for a total amount of about 100 billion rubles ($1.4 billion).
This was reported by TASS, citing an unnamed source in the military-industrial complex.
“The contract has been signed, its total cost is about 100 billion rubles. The laying of the ships should take place in the coming weeks,” the source said.
TASS attempted to confirm the information, but it hasn’t been able to do so.
The press service of the Zaliv shipyard told TASS that the company was technically ready to build helicopter carriers in the interests of the Russian Navy, but noted that they did not have information about the deal and the timing of laying the ships.
As TASS sources in the shipbuilding industry reported earlier, the displacement of ships of a new class for the Russian fleet will be 25,000 tons, with a maximum length of about 220 meters.
One Russian universal landing ship will carry more than 20 heavy helicopters on board, will have a docking chamber
It is unclear what either of the aircraft transported, but it is likely more equipment and/or troops to assist in the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) recent impetus, owed greatly to the Turkish Armed Forces and militants deployed from Syria.
Meanwhile, the fighting for Bani Walid and Tarhuna hasn’t began yet, as Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s forces appear to be pushing back and holding their positions, after almost entirely retreating from the frontline in Tripoli to secure their vital positions in both cities.
In Bani Walid, a Russian Pantsir-S1 was photographed, active and defending from enemy aircraft.
In mainstream media, a narrative is being pushed forward, claiming that the fight Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar is so losing, that even the mythical Russian PMC – Wagner is pulling out its 1,200 mercenaries out of Libya.
The Russian fighters allied to the LNA retreated with their heavy equipment from the capital to the airport of Bani Walid, a town some 150km (93 miles) southeast of Tripoli, said Salem Alaywan, Bani Walid’s mayor.
He told Reuters news agency the Russians were then flown out of western Libya to Jufra, a remote central district and LNA stronghold.
“They [the Russians] were flown in three military planes to Jufra, and their military vehicles were driven there,” he said.
There continues to be no evidence whatsoever of their presence, or their supposed departure from Libya, as there’s not a single photograph or video to substantiate any of the claims.
On April 6th, the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) said that it had delivered the Air Force’s first high-energy laser for use against drones on a battlefield, alongside other systems.
AFRL has set up the laser weapon system overseas for a 12-month field assessment.
The Air Force Strategic Development Planning & Experimentation (SDPE) Office located at Wright-Patt is leading the project, AFRL said in a statement.
According to Michael Jirjis, the SDPE Base defense experimentation director, the next 12 months will allow AFRL to “shape how the Air Force wants to move forward with both high energy lasers and high power microwaves against small drones.”
“The intent of these systems are to be operationally used by the combatant commanders for the duration of the 12 months,” he said.
Field assessments began in January 2018 when the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Stephen Wilson, asked the Air Force to experiment with directed energy systems as an effort to “transition game-changing capability to the warfighter,” AFRL said.
“THOR is a directed energy game-changer,” said Dr. Kelly Hammett, AFRL’s directed energy director. “Drones are becoming more and more pervasive and can be used as weapons intended to cause harm to our military bases at long standoff ranges. We built the THOR weapon system as a deterrent against these type threats. THOR with its counter electronic technology can take down swarms of drones in rapid fire. This capability will be an amazing asset to our warfighters and the nation’s defense.”
The Air Force will be evaluating five systems including the Raytheon High Energy Laser (HELWS), Raytheon High Power Microwave (PHASER), and the AFRL Tactical High Power Operational Responder (THOR) drone killer. Which two other systems will be tested remains unclear.
Raytheon’s PHASER. Click to see full-size image
Raytheon’s HELWS. Click to see full-size image
Raytheon’s HELWS. Click to see full-size image
It is possible that the Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) Program would also field a prototype, as it successfully carried out a test that shot down multiple air launched missiles in flight back in April 2019.
The grounded SHiELD system. Click to see full-size image
The system, however, wasn’t mounted on an aircraft, but rather on the ground when it was tested.
The THOR was unveiled back in March, and it provided a live demonstration to reporters.
The $15 million system disabled the unmanned aerial vehicle in a flash, sending it spiraling to the ground the moment the electromagnetic ray hit it.
Had more drones been flying within THOR’s expansive scope, they also would have dropped in an instant, THOR program manager Amber Anderson said.
“It operates like a flashlight,” Anderson said after the demonstration. “It spreads out when the operator hits the button, and anything within that cone will be taken down. It engages in the blink of an eye.”
“It’s built to negate swarms of drones,” Anderson said. “We want to drop many of them at one time without a single leaker getting through.”
The AFRL built the machine on an expedited, 18-month timeline to get it into war fighters’ hands as fast as possible, given the increasing military threat from drones, said Kelly Hammett, head of AFRL’s Directed Energy Directorate in Albuquerque.
“If the Air Force or Army decide to procure it, that would be big for Albuquerque,” Hammett said. “It would establish a manufacturing and production base right here, representing hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more.”
The program costs $15 million, and each unit supposedly would cost around $10 million.
It’s designed for rapid deployment wherever needed, with the microwave antennae and foundation stored in a shipping container transported on a flatbed truck. The equipment is stored in parts for easy, snap-together assembly in just three hours.
“It takes two people to set it up and three to tear it down.” Anderson said. “You can take it to the field, rapidly set it up and it’s ready to fire. It’s designed as a turnkey system.”
A handheld remote control rotates the antennas in all directions as needed, providing 360-degree defense against drones. The firing mechanism and overall system control are operated from a laptop.
The THOR’s operation could briefly be seen in the following video:
In rather aged videos, Raytheon’s systems can also be seen: