At War: Rocket-Boosted but Going Nowhere Fast: The Navy’s Failed Munitions Programs
When the Navy retired its last aged battleship in 1992, it pledged to the Marine Corps that it would continue fulfilling one of the warships’ missions: naval gunfire support for troops ashore. More than a quarter of a century later, and after more than a billion dollars spent, the service’s intended replacements — rocket-assisted GPS-guided shells — have yet to materialize.
The effort has been marked by a string of technological disappointments. Rocket motors failed to ignite. Guidance fins wouldn’t pop out. Antennas couldn’t acquire satellite signals before shells smashed to the ground. In decades of testing, the Navy has been unable to build replacement weapons that reliably worked, much less at an affordable price. This research-and-development failure has resulted in 36 new warships with advanced deck guns, but not the specialized munitions they were designed to fire. The Navy intends to commission 13 more ships the same way and has no immediate plan or clear option for fulfilling its promise to the corps.
Officials at the Marine Corps’ Combat Development Command in Quantico, Va., where the service sets its weapons requirements, said the Navy’s current gunfire shortfalls pose a “significant risk” to amphibious attacks, which at one time required artillery that can reach an adversary’s shore from 40 nautical miles away to support invading forces. The Navy’s current deck guns can only fire as far as 13 nautical miles.
The Government Accountability Office has periodically raised questions about why the Navy has not fulfilled its commitment. A 2006 G.A.O. report pointed to the Navy and Marine Corps’ inability to agree on what their naval surface fire support requirements should be for more than a decade, and to the Navy setting unrealistically low cost estimates for its proposed rocket-assisted guided shells. Additionally, defense analysts point to the Navy’s prioritization and funding of newer technologies — notably precision-guided munitions from aircraft — over naval gunfire. “Priorities in one space can have a chain effect and drive up costs in another program,” making it untenable, said P.W. Singer, a strategist and senior fellow at the New America Foundation. “The Navy would say it takes naval gunfire seriously, and the Marines would say, ‘Not seriously enough,’ and the two will never agree.”
The effort to develop a modern replacement has had multiple phases, each an expensive disappointment. Battleships, huge armored ships from a bygone era, were once the Pentagon’s most capable gunfire support ship. They carried turrets with 16-inch-diameter guns that fired 2,000-pound shells as far as 21 nautical miles. In the 1990s, the Navy sought to replace all that bulk and hardware with lighter and more precise shells that could fire from comparatively diminutive five-inch-diameter deck guns on Ticonderoga-class cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. Those guns fired unguided shells that didn’t reach the distances the Marines required for supporting amphibious assaults. The Navy proposed a conceptual change: a gun firing rocket-boosted GPS-guided shells, dubbed Extended Range Guided Munitions, with warheads initially designed to carry and distribute cluster munitions as far as 50 miles away.
When the program started in 1996, the Navy’s contractor, Raytheon, was to deliver the new shells for ships by 2010. In anticipation, the Navy installed updated guns in 2001 that could fire both the older unguided rounds and the Extended Range Guided Munitions. But after 12 years of development and approximately $350 million spent, the contract failed to produce a reliable shell at an affordable cost — even after the Navy changed the warhead to a simpler high-explosive design. The service shut down the program in 2008. During the same period, the Navy was also experimenting with a similarly designed shell called the Ballistic Trajectory Extended Range Munition, made by Alliant Techsystems. After spending $70 million, the program was canceled in 2007.
As the development of new projectiles foundered, the Navy was simultaneously pursuing another concept: a ship with a gun of intermediate size that would fire rocket-boosted shells at targets on land. In the 1990s, it planned to build 32 new destroyers, at the cost of about $1 billion per ship, each armed with two 155-millimeter deck guns. These ships, named for Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, were designed for “land attack,” and their deck guns were to fire heavier shells at farther distances than their predecessors’ five-inch guns.
With the ships in production, the Navy then spent $700 million to have BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin develop the Long Range Land Attack Projectile for the Zumwalt deck gun. It also came to nothing. The Navy originally intended to build 32 Zumwalt-class destroyers — a number that dwindled over time. In 2016, the Navy cut the number of land-attack ships to just three. Sharply unfavorable economies of scale drove the purchase price for the shells above $1 million per shot, rivaling the cost of the Tomahawk cruise missile, which has a 1,000-mile range. The shells became too expensive to buy, and the ammunition program for the Zumwalt-class destroyers was soon canceled. In December 2017, the Navy announced that its “land-attack” ships were “surface-strike” ships that would engage other vessels at sea instead of targets ashore.
All three of the failed projectile programs had similar design features and shared a fundamental conceptual problem. “When you try to make a rocket-boosted projectile that can steer itself to a target, you basically have built a guided missile,” said Tony DiGiulian, a retired engineer who has studied all these weapons and runs NavWeaps, a website on the subject of naval weapons and technology. One problem with gun-fired guided shells, he said, was that, when fired, sensitive electronics inside the projectile were exposed to exponentially more stress than if they were launched in a traditional missile. Protecting those electronics, DiGiulian said, added to the shells’ cost. “So why not just build missiles in the first place?” he said. “That’s what you’ll end up with anyway.”
Navy officials said they are evaluating a new shell, called the “hypervelocity projectile,” that is lighter and narrower and could potentially be fired from the upgraded five-inch guns at targets 40 miles away. The program is experimental and in its early stages, and it is unlikely to produce a viable weapon soon. With a gap in fire support now running beyond a quarter of a century, the Marine Corps said it “encourages continued study” of yet another idea: installing vertically launched missiles on San Antonio-class amphibious ships, a type of ship much larger than a cruiser or destroyer that is meant to launch Marines ashore in landing craft and helicopters and is not typically outfitted with offensive weaponry itself. The Marine Corps did not specify which kinds of missiles could be used for that role.
The Navy was even less forthcoming with details about what might come next. In a written statement, Rear Adm. Ronald Boxall, who leads the Navy’s surface warfare division, said the service continues “to monitor developing technologies and adapt to changing requirements, from gun-based systems and advanced projectiles to land attack missiles. We take this partnership seriously and are committed to providing the Marines with the naval fire support they need to fight and win.”
The Navy fired its last major naval gunfire missions during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, when the battleships U.S.S. Missouri and U.S.S. Wisconsin blasted more than 1,100 rounds at a variety of targets in the campaign to drive Iraq’s military out of Kuwait. In what appears to be the sole fire mission ashore since then, the U.S.S. Chafee, a destroyer, shot its single five-inch gun at Somalia in 2007 to support Special Operations forces, according to a speech by Adm. Harry Harris, who commanded the United States Pacific Command until he retired earlier this year.
Beyond that mission, little has changed since the Government Accountability Office examined the state of naval gunfire in 1997 and reported that “the Navy admits that it currently has no credible surface fire capabilities to support forced entry from the sea.”
John Ismay is a staff writer who covers armed conflict for The New York Times Magazine. He is based in Washington.
December 06, 2018
Sources: New York Times
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net that's evaporating, possibly holding clues into the discovery of rocky "super-Earths."</p><p>Researchers at the University of Geneva Switzerland found the exoplanet GJ 3470b, which showed signs of losing hydrogen in its atmosphere, causing it to shrink.</p><p>The study is part of exploration into "hot Neptunes," planets that are the size of Neptune, sit very close to their star, and have atmospheres as hot at 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit, says NASA.</p><p>Finding a "hot Neptune" is rare because they sit so close to their star and tend to evaporate more quickly. In the case of GJ 3470b, scientists classify it as a "warmer" Neptune because it sits farther away from its star. </p><p>The exoplanet discovered by astronauts is losing its atmosphere at a rate 100 times faster than a previous "warmer" Neptune planet discovered a few years before, according to a study published Thursday in the journal "Astronomy & Astrophysics."</p><p>The planet sits 3.7 million miles from its star. For comparison, Earth is 92.9 million miles from the sun.</p><p>"This is the first time that a planet has been observed to lose its atmosphere so quickly that it can impact its evolution," said lead author Vincent Bourrier, a researcher in the Astronomy Department of the Faculty of Science at the University of Geneva, in a statement.</p><p>Researchers say these "hot Neptune" planets shrink in size and morph into "Super Earths," versions of our planet that are massive and more rocky. Just last month, a Super Earth was found orbiting a nearby star.</p>
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grocery delivery company announced.</p><p>The move comes a little over a year after Amazon acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. Amazon has its own delivery service called AmazonFresh.</p><p>Whole Foods and Instacart began working together in 2014. Two years later, they signed a deal for Instacart to become the chain's exclusive delivery carrier.</p><p>Instacart currently employs 1,415 couriers, which it calls "in-store shoppers," across 76 Whole Foods locations.</p><p>About 75 percent of the employees will be transferred to other locations, Instacart Founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta said in a statement. However, the remaining 25 percent — about 350 — will be laid off and will receive three-month separation packages as well as tenure-based compensation.</p><p>Instacart will begin winding down its operations at Whole Foods on Feb. 10 and exit the marketplace in the succeeding months, the company said.</p><p>"For our in-store Whole Foods shoppers who are personally impacted by this news, we’re deeply committed to being transparent about what this means for you and plan to share any updates with you as they become available," Mehta said.</p>
nished Google on Friday for disclosing the identity of a man charged with killing a female British backpacker, highlighting the tension that arises when local courts order the suppression of information that can be easily found online.</p><p>Google executives from the United States and Britain are set to travel to New Zealand to meet with Andrew Little, the justice minister, on Tuesday. Mr. Little is demanding that the company change its algorithms to ensure that material published outside New Zealand that violates local court suppression orders is not visible in the country.</p><p>The man’s name has been suppressed in New Zealand under a legal provision often invoked by defendants in the country that is meant to guarantee fair trials, and it was not released by local reporters.</p><p>But several British media outlets published it, and on Thursday Google included the man’s name in the subject line of an email sent to people in New Zealand who subscribe to a service that local topics that trending online.</p><p>“When we receive valid court orders, including suppression orders, we review and respond appropriately,” the statement said, adding that Google respected New Zealand’s laws.</p><p>Mr. Little, the justice minister, said he took “with a grain of salt” the suggestion that Google did not know, or would expect to be told, about suppression orders in the case.</p><p>“They’re going to have to change their algorithm, because it’s not right that they think they can get away with undermining fair trial rights,” he said.</p><p>Lokman Tsui, a professor at the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and a former Google employee, said it was a “scary standard” to say Google “should have known” about a suppression order in New Zealand.</p><p>“If that applies, that means they would have to actively monitor every court case going on in the world, looking for names and pre-emptively taking them down,” he said.</p><p>Mr. Little said he also planned to contact British publications that published the man’s name, adding that they could only have gotten it from reporters in New Zealand who found it in court filings in Auckland.</p><p>“I don’t have any legal pressure to put on them,” he said, adding that he did have “moral pressure, which I will be applying as hard and as fast as I can.”</p><p>“I don’t accept their arrogance and their conceit in saying that it’s nothing to do with them and New Zealand’s laws are New Zealand’s laws,” he added.</p><p>It was not clear whether the email about trending topics that breached the suppression order originated at the company’s operations in New Zealand or in another country, and whether it fell within New Zealand’s legal jurisdiction.</p><p>A spokesman, Taj Meadows, did not address where the email originated, but said it had been received by fewere than a few hundred people.</p><p>Mr. Little rejected the idea that the internet’s existence had rendered name suppression orders irrelevant.</p><p>He said he planned to ask the Google executives whether there was a problem with the company’s algorithms that allowed suppressed information to be distributed widely, and, if so, whether Google would take action to fix it.</p><p>If not, Mr. Little said he would consider a campaign that “might take years” to persuade other countries to agree to a treaty stating “that orders issued in one country can be enforced in another.”</p><p>“That way, publishers and republishers like Google don’t have the excuse that they’re not responsible, the law can’t be enforced, and they don’t even have to worry about it,” he said.</p><p>Professor Tsui, the former Google employee, said such an approach was not feasible.</p><p>“That solution would cause so many other problems that we really wouldn’t want to go there,” he said.</p>
d the spectacle was eye-opening. It underscored, to me, how Silicon Valley and Washington exist in their bubbles without really understanding each other. Lawmakers seemed like out-of-touch old people with little grasp of how technology works and where the real risks lie. Mr. Pichai came across as evasive and unwilling to acknowledge the legitimate concerns about Google’s business practices.</p><p>At holiday parties and informal discussions in Washington, the conversation often turned to big tech and privacy. There seemed to be a growing wariness among lawmakers, regulators and aides about data collection and the unrelenting push by companies to gather more information about us.</p><p>While many expressed concern about the bigness of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple, there wasn’t a consensus on how to deal with them. A federal privacy law with real teeth seemed uncertain, and not many folks expected antitrust regulation even in the face of European action.</p><p>All the while, tech companies continue to sell the message that they are job creators and engines of economic growth.</p><p>■ An argument often made against antitrust action is that the technology industry is dynamic, and that today’s dominant predator can become tomorrow’s prey. Nokia once dominated mobile phones but lost its standing to Samsung and Apple in the smartphone era.</p><p>■ It’s rare for a bail hearing to make international news, but this was no ordinary arrest.</p><p>Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the tech behemoth Huawei and a daughter of the company’s founder, was arrested Dec. 1 at the airport in Vancouver, British Columbia, for extradition to the United States.</p><p>The American and Canadian authorities claim Ms. Meng circumvented trade sanctions against Iran, using a Huawei subsidiary. The arrest of a prominent executive at one of China’s biggest tech companies, with close ties to the government, complicates the Trump administration’s negotiations to end a trade war with China.</p>
land over ways to limit global warming, the industries and machines powering our modern world keep spewing their pollution into the air and water.</p><p> The fossil fuels extracted from beneath the earth's crust — coal, oil and gas — are transformed into the carbon dioxide that is now heating the earth faster than scientists had expected even a few years ago.</p><p> The devastating wildfires, droughts, floods and hurricanes of recent months and years are intensifying the urgency of the two-week conference in Katowice, which is due to end Friday.</p><p> But not far from the conference center, plumes of smoke rise from Europe's largest lignite, or brown coal, power plant, in the central Polish town of Belchatow. Of the 50 most polluted cities in the European Union, 36 are in Poland.</p><p> Elsewhere, from the U.S. to Japan and China, the coal plants, oil refineries and other installations needed to power factories and heat homes are playing their role in a warming earth.</p><p> The negotiators at the international talks are also discussing financial support to poor countries, which are bearing the brunt of drought and flooding, which translate often into agricultural disaster and famine and are a factor behind greater migration.</p><p> The challenge of reducing emissions is made more difficult by the growing demand in the developing world for fuel as people there also seek to achieve the benefits and comforts of the industrialized world.</p><p> In Africa and Asia, which have become dumping grounds for the rich world's waste, it is now common to see poor people scavenging for scraps of paper and other recyclable materials at garbage dumps, competing sometimes with crows or storks.</p><p> Fumes from cars are also playing their role in poisoning the air in many cities, from Jakarta and Katmandu to Moscow to Brussels.</p><p> Environmentalists in Katowice are warning that time is running out to prevent ecological disaster, a message also being taken up by artists.</p><p> In London, 24 large blocks of glacial ice from the waters surrounding Greenland have been placed in front of the Tate Modern and six at other city locations. Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson hopes his installation, called "Ice Watch" and launched Tuesday to coincide with the climate conference in Katowice, will impact people emotionally and inspire urgent public action.</p><p> The installation will be on show until the ice melts.</p>
:</p><p> German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said Friday that "if we let entire stretches of this planet become uninhabitable then it will trigger gigantic costs."</p><p> Trump said in an interview Thursday with Fox News that if he had remained in the Paris accord "we would be paying trillions of dollars, trillions of dollars for nothing, and I wouldn't do that."</p><p> The Paris accord requires countries to reduce their emissions, something scientists say will involve a wholesale shift in their economies. Rich countries have also committed themselves to providing financial support to poor nations to tackle global warming.</p><p> Negotiators at the U.N. climate meeting in Poland are gathering to discuss the first comprehensive draft agreement to emerge after almost two weeks of talks.</p><p> Ministers and senior officials from almost 200 countries were due to hold further meetings Friday before convening in plenary in the afternoon to address remaining differences.</p><p> Among the key pitfalls to emerge overnight was the question of how to establish a functioning international market in carbon credits and whether some countries should get money for damage already caused by climate change.</p><p> The meeting is meant to finalize the rulebook for the 2015 Paris climate agreement, provide assurances to poor nations on financial support for tackling global warming, and send a message that countries are committed to stepping up their efforts in the coming years.</p>
thering to discuss the first comprehensive draft agreement to emerge after almost two weeks of talks.</p><p> Ministers and senior officials from almost 200 countries were due to hold further meetings Friday before convening in plenary in the afternoon to address remaining differences.</p><p> The meeting is meant to finalize the rulebook for the 2015 Paris climate agreement, provide assurances to poor nations on financial support for tackling global warming, and send a message that countries are committed to stepping up their efforts in the coming years.</p>