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BLACKWATER USA | DAILY BRIEF


China

  • Pres. Trump reportedly changed course and said he would allow TikTok to continue operating in the U.S.—under the conditions that Microsoft acquires it by Sep. 15th and the U.S. government gets a cut of the sale price “because we’re making it possible for this deal to happen.” (The U.S. government has no authority to snag a stake in private deals.)

  • Several Chinese journalists in the U.S. have visas that are expiring soon, and China is threatening to retaliate if the U.S. declines to extend them. The U.S. limited visas for Chinese journalists to 90 days on May 11th, and even though they were supposed to be extendable, none have yet been approved for extension.

  • China nominated a candidate for a judgeship in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, which a U.S. Assistant Secretary of State said is “like hiring an arsonist to help run the Fire Department” (given China’s blatant disregard for those laws in the South China Sea).

Afghanistan

  • Updated reports say hundreds of prisoners—rather than dozens—escaped during Islamic State’s attack on a prison in Jalalabad, and the worst assessments revised the death toll upward to 39.

  • A spooky assessment from the Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan warned that 50 to 70% of police positions in some Afghan provinces are “ghost soldiers” that collect paychecks in the names of individuals who don’t actually exist.

  • Pres. Trump estimated that the U.S. troop count in Afghanistan could be down to 4,000 or 5,000 by the U.S. election in November. There are currently just over 8,000.

  • SecState Pompeo held a video conference with Taliban deputy leader Mullah Baradar in which they called the continued release of Taliban prisoners “important” to the peace process and agreed the Eid ceasefire was a good thing.

U.S.

  • Remember last month’s Twitter breach that hacked celebrity accounts to ask for Bitcoin donations? It was the work of a 17-year-old hacker profiled in today’s NYT.

  • Raytheon and Israeli defense company Rafael announced a new partnership to produce Iron Dome missiles in the U.S., for sale to the U.S. military and foreign allies. The two companies have long worked together on Israel’s Iron Dome system; this new JV brings that work to the U.S. A DefenseNews article pasted below has more.

Libya

  • Libya’s western army said Russian-made cargo planes flew at least seven new shipments of weapons and ammo to Sirte, Jufra, and Benghazi on Saturday, ahead of a looming showdown between the two sides in Sirte.

Middle East

  • Israeli planes struck Syrian military targets in retaliation for what Israel said was an attempt to plant bombs in the Golan Heights over the weekend.

North Korea

  • According to a new UN report, North Korea has “probably developed miniaturized nuclear devices to fit into the warheads of its ballistic missiles” over the course of its last six nuclear tests.

Venezuela

  • There appears to have been an oil spill near Morrocoy National Park off the coast of Venezuela—probably from a ship’s fuel tank. An anonymous source at PDVSA said the company was going to help with the cleanup, but Venezuela is staying quiet about what exactly happened.

  • Venezuelan oil exports were just under 400,000 bpd in July, which is about the same rate as in June (and far less than usual due to sanctions).

Sahel

  • Boko Haram attacked a camp for displaced persons near Diffa, Niger during an Eid festival on Sunday, and kidnapped “many people”—mostly women and children, by some reports.

Other News

  • Former Spanish king Juan Carlos left Spain amidst corruption and tax evasion allegations, and is said to be hiding out in the Dominican Republic.

  • Three marooned sailors were picked up on uninhabited Pikelot Island in Micronesia, after search flights spotted a giant “SOS” sign they’d made in the sand.

  • Lebanon’s foreign minister quit in frustration at a lack of political will to impose reforms that could bring the economy out of a tailspin. An advisor to Pres. Aoun was appointed in his place.

Raytheon and Rafael to build Iron Dome in US (Defense News)

American firm Raytheon Technologies and Israeli-based Rafael Advanced Defense Systems have formed a joint venture to build the Iron Dome missile defense system in the United States, the companies announced Aug. 3.

Under the name Raytheon Rafael Area Protection Systems, the partnership is being set up to build a first-ever Iron Dome “all-up-round” facility stateside. The facility will build Iron Dome systems, the Tamir interceptor and launcher, and the SkyHunter missile (the U.S. version of Tamir), according to a Rafael-issued statement.

Tamir and SkyHunter are capable of intercepting cruise missiles, unmanned aircraft, rockets, artillery, mortars and other threats.

The partnership expects to finalize a site location before the end of the year, the statement said.

“This will be the first Iron Dome all-up-round facility outside of Israel, and it will help the U.S. Department of Defense and allies across the globe obtain the system for defense of their service members and critical infrastructure,” Sam Deneke, vice president of Raytheon Missiles & Defense’s land warfare and air defense business.

Rafael and Raytheon have had a long partnership developing and manufacturing Iron Dome. The system is widely fielded in Israel and, according to Rafael, is “the world’s most-used system with more than 2,500 operational intercepts and a success rate exceeding 90 percent.”

The U.S. Army has chosen Iron Dome as an interim capability to counter cruise missiles while it continues to develop a future Indirect Fires Protection Capability, or IFPC, to counter those threats as well as enemy drones, rockets, artillery and mortars. Congress mandated the service buy two batteries to cover urgent cruise missile defense gaps, and another set of two if the Army didn’t come up with a way forward for its enduring IFPC.

While the Army has said it will not buy all-up Iron Dome systems as part of the IFPC program, officials developing the capability are looking at the possibility of incorporating parts of Iron Dome in the final solution.

The Army plans to field Iron Dome by the end of the year, but it will still take time to train troops on the system before deployment. Some lawmakers are urging the Army to rapidly deploy the systems to the Middle East, arguing U.S. and coalition forces there need the protection from Iran and its proxies.

In and analysis conducted by the Army, it was concluded the Iron Dome launcher and the Tamir interceptor’s performances are “highly reliant” on their own battle management systems and multimission radars. The analysis also determined that the launcher and interceptor would be a viable option for an enduring IFPC solution as long as it worked on the Army’s future Integrated Air-and-Missile Defense Battle Command System, or IBCS, which is under development, according to a report sent to Congress earlier this year.

But Gen. Mike Murray, the head of Army Futures Command, which is in charge of the service’s modernization efforts, testified before the House Armed Services Committee earlier this year that the Army has struggled to integrate Iron Dome into its IBCS system, mostly because the Israeli government has refused to provide critical source code needed for the integration.

The Tamir interceptor’s performance data proves its effectiveness when used within the Iron Dome system, but since data is lacking, it’s uncertain how well it would perform when linked through IBCS to the Sentinel radar, which is used to alert air defense weapons of threats, the report noted.

The service will conduct a shoot-off of best available options for integration into an enduring IFPC solution in the third quarter of fiscal 2021.

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