11 Russian Warships Leave Syrian Port To Conduct Exercises
by Tyler Durden
Wed, 04/11/2018 – 13:05
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Update: The Russian warships leaving port has been reported as a drill, as InterFax reports:
Russian Navy ships, starting from April 11, will conduct exercises near the coast of Syria, follow from the international notification for aviation personnel (NOTAM) and navigational warning for seafarers.
The reports contain the coordinates of the closed area, as well as the conduct of training shooting there.
The training area, located in the international waters of the Mediterranean, is adjacent to the sea border of Syria. It will be closed on 11-12, 17-19 and 25-26 April from 10 to 18 Moscow time.
Currently, as part of the permanent operational connection of the Russian Navy in the Mediterranean Sea, there are about 15 warships and vessels providing the Black Sea Fleet, including the carriers of the Caliber cruise missiles Frigates Admiral Grigorovich and Admiral Essen, as well as submarines that repeatedly struck at the targets of terrorists in Syria.
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US equity markets are re-surging following headlines that satellite images show eleven Russian battleships leaving a port in Syria. It appears the market has interpreted this as potentially reducing the immediate fears of a proxy war becoming a world war, though some would argue it is the opposite as ships cannot fight at port and are potentially moving into a more strategic position.
A snapshot of the port of Tartus, shows the Russian warships at anchor before, according to ISI:
And after: a single Russian submarine remains at Tartus.
More details from Fox News:
Additionally, a Russian lawmaker has confirmed that Moscow is in direct contact with US military staff for Syria.
This sent Nasdaq above yesterday’s highs as the machines ran stops.
And the Ruble has reversed all its losses for the day and is now higher..
Trump Will Make Decision On Syria Strike Tonight: BBG
Update (3:20 pm ET): Apparently, Trump’s meeting with Mattis and Dunford has been a productive one.
Bloomberg reports that Trump will decide tonight whether to strike Syria – but the timing of the execution (or abstention) is undetermined.
Minutes after Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford arrived at the White House to meet with President Trump, Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Jacobs reported that, despite Trump’s belligerent tweets from earlier in the day, his administration is still weighing options for military action in Syria, and no military strikes are expected to be announced on Wednesday.
The delay should not come as a surprise considering only today the US deployed the USS Truman carrier strike group and 7 warships for Syria; the crossing of the Atlantic will take at least a couple of weeks, and earlier today the Pentagon said that the ship will reach its target in “mid-May.”
The news follows a Fox News report, citing satellite images, showing 11 Russian battleships leaving a port in Syria. That report sent equities higher, though it was later reported that their departure was part of a Russian military drills, according to local Russian media.
Earlier in the day, Mattis said the US was “still assessing” whether the Syrian government was behind the deadly chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town near Damascus. It also follows reports that Russia is blaming the US-funded “White Helmets” group for staging the chemical attack.
Ironically, as the US hesitates, UK Prime Minister Theresa May – still angry over embarrassing disclosures that it jumped to conclusions when blaming Russia for the nerve-agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter – has also decided “to act” on Syria, even without the approval of Parliament, according to the BBC.
Earlier this week, the UN Security Council was blocked by Russia from authorizing an investigation into who was responsible for the Syrian gas attack.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has signaled restraint, saying Wednesday that he hopes cooler heads will prevail before the tensions between Russia and the West escalate into a full-blown military conflict, which some have called simply “World War III.”
For his part, Trump again blamed Special Counsel Bob Mueller and the Democrats for the deterioration in US-Russia relations in a tweet this morning, just minutes after warning Putin that “nice and new and smart” missiles will be fired at “gas killing animal” Assad.
More concrete news about the US’s plans for retaliation will likely surface after Trump’s meeting with Mattis and Dunford ends later this afternoon. At least one US warship is anchored in the water off Syria, and is loaded with 60 tomahawk missiles should the order come down.
Finally, keep in mind this is Trump, where mood swings are not optional, and why a few hours from now there may well be a mushroom cloud in the middle east.
US P-8 Poseidon “Submarine Killer” Flying Off Syria Coast
A highly sophisticated US Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol plane, also known as a “submarine killer” was observed by the Strategic Sentinel flying south of Cyprus, having likely departed from Naval Air Station Sigonella in Italy, and headed eastward toward Syria on Tuesday.
The flight comes at a time when not a single commercial plane can be observed over Syria, as per the guidance of Europe’s Air traffic control which last night warned that airstrikes on Syria are imminent.
A recent flight path history shows the Poseidon engaged in heavy shore “sniffing” designed to uncover whether any Russian subs are hiding near Syria.
There is a decent chance you have already flown on one of the U.S. Navy’s key new aircraft—or rather, the 737 airliner it is based on. The P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol plane may not be as sexy as an F-35 stealth fighter, but in some ways it is far closer to the forefront of international flashpoints in the Pacific Ocean. Maritime patrol planes are essential for tracking the movement of ships and especially submarines across vast oceanic waters—and potentially sinking them in the event of hostilities.
Hunting submarines from the air, however, is an airpower-intensive job that requires numerous airframes spending thousands of flight hours flying long-distance patrol patterns over the ocean. Since 1962, the U.S. Navy has operated the P-3 Orion patrol plane, based on the four-engine L-88 Electra airliner. The turboprop-powered aircraft could spend a dozen hours flying low over the ocean to drop sonar buoys, scan the water for metallic hulls of submarines with its Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) and potentially launch torpedoes. After fifty-five years of able service, however, the P-3s have accumulated thousands of service hours and their hulls are growing fatigued.
In 2004 the U.S. Navy selected the jet-powered Boeing P-8 Poseidon to succeed the aging P-3. Development proceeded relatively smoothly, in part due to the use of a preexisting airframe and the decision to phase in the P-8’s advanced systems in a series of increments rather than delivering them all at once. This led the P-8 unit costs to actually come in under budget, at $150 million per aircraft.
The P-8 is based on the 737-800ERX short-to-medium-range airliner. It typically has a flight crew of three and boosts stronger power generators for its onboard electronics. The Poseidon reportedly offers a much smoother ride than the Orion, thanks to its broader-swept wings and flight computers. Orion crews were often nauseated by the strong turbulence their low-altitude flight operations required.
The Poseidon’s primary payload is its diverse array of sensors. These include an APY-10 multi-mode synthetic aperture radar, which not only can track the position of ships over hundreds of miles away, but possesses a high-resolution mode which can spot submarine periscopes poking above the waves and even identify different classes of ships. An MX-20 electro-optical/infrared turret provides a shorter-range search option, while an ALQ-240 Electronic Support Measure (ESM) derived from a system onboard the EA-18G Growler functions as an electromagnetic sensor, particularly useful in tracking the positions of radar emitters.
A recent addition is the Advanced Airborne Sensor, a dual-sided AESA radar that can offer 360-degree scanning on targets on land or coastal areas, and which has potential applications as a jamming or even cyberwarfare platform.
A number of key systems on the P-8 are designed to track submerged submarines. A rotary launcher system in the rear of the P-8 can dispense sonar buoys into the water. A recent upgrade allows P-8s to employ new Multistatic Active Coherent buoys that generate multiple sonar pulses over time, allowing for greater endurance and search range. The P-8 also has its own acoustic sensor, and even a new hydrocarbon sensor that can “sniff” for fuel vapor from submarines.
However, the P-8 lacks the tail-mounted MAD sensor of the P-3 Orion, useful for detecting the metallic hulls of submarines while flying at low altitude. Various reasons have been offered for its removal: the MAD weighed too much at 3,500 pounds, it did not fit with the high-altitude search profile of the P-8, or the new sensors on the P-8 rendered it unnecessary. However, the U.S. Navy is reportedly developing a variant of the an air launched drone, called the High-Altitude Unmanned Targeting Air System, which can carry a MAD sensor and transmit its findings back up to the P-8.
Five operator stations on the port side of the plane carry multifunction displays that can be configured to display whatever sensors and controls are most useful under the circumstances. The P-8’s computers are designed to fuse the data into a single coherent picture for the operators—and can then “push” that data to friendly ships and airplanes. This is a capability the U.S. Air Force has been struggling to integrate into its new E-3G radar planes. The P-3 is also designed to be especially compatible with Navy RQ-4N drones.
In the event of hostilities, the Poseidon can carry five missiles, depth charges or torpedoes in a rotary launcher in the rear hull, and six more on underwing racks. While the P-3 had to fly low to deploy its torpedoes, the P-8 can use a special High Altitude Air Launch Accessory to transform its Mark 54 324-millimeter lightweight torpedoes into GPS-guided glide bombs that can be dropped from altitudes as high as thirty thousand feet. These shed their wings upon hitting the water and hone in on targets using onboard sonar. Poseidons can also carry Harpoon AGM-184H/K antiship missiles with a range of 150 miles.