U.S. Trump says he’s taken better care of Puerto Rico than anyone•Trump: ‘The Special Olympics will be funded’ WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Thursday defended his support of Puerto Rico in its rebuilding from hurricanes, but he doesn’t think officials in the U.S. territory are spending federal assistance wisely.”Puerto Rico has been taken better care of by Donald Trump than by any living human being,” Trump told reporters at the White House before leaving for Michigan.Puerto Ricans and their government officials have complained that the U.S. response remains slow, but Trump told reporters there is $91 billion going to Puerto Rico. He said that’s more than the amount earmarked for Florida and Texas hurricane recovery.It’s unclear how he’s arrived at that number. Many federal agencies are sending assistance money and differing amounts have been authorized, but not yet allocated.Trump said he thinks Puerto Ricans understand he’s sending them a lot, but he took aim at San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz. She has been an outspoken critic of Trump since Hurricane Maria hit the island in September 2017 as a Category 4 storm. Gov. Ricardo Rossello has been critical as well, accusing the administration of erecting roadblocks to the funding.”You do have a mayor of San Juan that frankly doesn’t know what she’s doing,” Trump said. „And the governor … they don’t know how to spend the money and they’re not spending it wisely.”Trump’s opposition to further disaster aid for Puerto Rico hardened Tuesday during a Capitol Hill meeting. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said Trump told Republicans at a closed-door luncheon that aid for Puerto Rico „is way out of proportion to what Texas and Florida and others have gotten.”Trump’s stance sets up a showdown with House Democrats, who insist that a $13 billion-to-$14 billion disaster aid package that’s a top priority for southern Republicans won’t advance in Congress without further aid for the island.
Puerto Rico’s governor warns Trump: ‘If the bully gets close, I’ll punch the bully in the mouth’David Knowles Editor•Puerto Rico governor warns Trump: ‘I’ll punch the bully in the mouth’ Yahoo News VideoScroll back up to restore default view.Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló is through playing nice with President Trump.After months of soft-pedaling his criticism of the president as Puerto Rico struggles to recover from Hurricane Maria in 2017, Rosselló voiced his frustration with the White House in a Thursday interview with CNN.”If the bully gets close, I’ll punch the bully in the mouth,” Rosselló said when asked about a tense meeting Wednesday between members of the Trump administration and Puerto Rican officials. „It would be a mistake to confuse courtesy with [lack of] courage.”President Trump meets with Fabiana Rosales, activist and wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, in Washington, D.C., on March 27. (Photo: AP/Susan Walsh)The Washington meeting — which was attended by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro and members of Rosselló’s government — was requested after reports that Trump was considering halting further disaster relief to the beleaguered U.S. territoryIn a Wednesday meeting with Senate Republicans, Trump said the amount of aid Puerto Rico had so far received “is way out of proportion to what Texas and Florida and others have gotten,” according to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who attended the meeting.Though it has already slashed benefits, Puerto Rico faces a $600 million shortfall to administer food stamps. So far the U.S. government has spent more than $6 billion on disaster relief to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which was blamed for killing more than 3,000 people. In June, Texas received $5 billion in federal aid for housing and infrastructure repairs stemming from Hurricane Harvey, which left 103 people dead.Rosselló, who avoided criticizing Trump in a 2018 interview with Yahoo News, lashed out at the president over his latest reported comments.”He treats us as second-class citizens, that’s for sure,” Rosselló told CNN. „And my consideration is I just want the opportunity to explain to him why the data and information he’s getting is wrong. I don’t think getting into a kicking and screaming match with the president does any good. I don’t think anyone can beat the president in a kicking and screaming match. What I am aiming to do is make sure reason prevails, that empathy prevails, that equality prevails and that we can have a discussion.”Trump, whose administration’s response to Maria was criticized as inadequate, has long been seen as reluctant to offer aid to Puerto Rico. In October the president again signaled his disapproval of giving aid that might be used to help alleviate the financial distress the island was experiencing even before Maria hit.Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrumpThe people of Puerto Rico are wonderful but the inept politicians are trying to use the massive and ridiculously high amounts of hurricane/disaster funding to pay off other obligations. The U.S. will NOT bail out long outstanding & unpaid obligations with hurricane relief money!
Border staff: Border Patrol struggling to hire, keep agentsBorder: Trump threatens to seal the border if Mexico doesn’t ‘immediately stop’ immigrantsBorder Patrol routinely apprehended more than 1 million people a year – peaking at 1.6 million in 2000 – throughout the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. In 2017, the agency apprehended just over 300,000. It 2018, it apprehended just under 400,000.On the other hand, border officials have reported an increase in migrant families. The Trump administration this week began releasing families from custodybecause processing centers can’t cope with the large increase.In the first five months of the fiscal year, agents in Yuma, Arizona, have apprehended 17,578 migrants traveling as a family. By contrast, in that same time period last year, they encountered 5,319 migrants. That’s a 330 percent increase.Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen hit that theme Friday.”We face a cascading crisis at our southern border,” Nielsen said in a statement. „The system is in freefall.”Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump….through their country and our Southern Border. Mexico has for many years made a fortune off of the U.S., far greater than Border Costs. If Mexico doesn’t immediately stop ALL illegal immigration coming into the United States throug our Southern Border, I will be CLOSING…..Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump….the Border, or large sections of the Border, next week. This would be so easy for Mexico to do, but they just take our money and “talk.” Besides, we lose so much money with them, especially when you add in drug trafficking etc.), that the Border closing would be a good thing!Trump has brought up his calls for tighter border security several times this week. Energized by a summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that found „no collusion” with Russia in the 2016 election, Trump has been relitigating longstanding fights this week over healthcare, immigration and even disaster aid to Puerto Rico.Previous examples of closing the border are rare.
President George W. Bush partially closed the southern border following the 9-11 attacks, requiring full inspections of every incoming pedestrian and vehicle that led to days-long waits. President Ronald Reagan temporarily closed ports of entry along the southern border in 1985 following the kidnapping and murder of a DEA agent in Mexico.
Contributing: The Arizona Republic
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump threatens to seal the border if Mexico doesn’t ‘immediately stop’ immigrants
Democrats favor former Vice President Joe Biden over his possible 2020 primary rivals in the latest Quinnipiac University National Poll.
The poll found 29 percent of Democrats and voters leaning Democratic would favor Biden if the Democratic primary were held today. Biden has not yet announced his candidacy but has hinted at a possible 2020 run.
Biden bested Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders by 10 percentage points. Here’s how the rest of the field fared:
- Biden: 29 percent
- Sanders: 19 percent
- Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke: 12 percent
- Sen. Kamala Harris: 8 percent
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren: 4 percent
- South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg: 4 percent
- Sen. Cory Booker: 2 percent
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar: 2 percent
The poll, which surveyed nearly 1,400 voters from March 21 to 25, also asked about President Donald Trump. More than half (56 percent) of Republicans and those who lean toward the GOP do not want to see someone run against him in a Republican primary. Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, who created an exploratory committee, is considering challenging the president.
However, more than half (53 percent) of overall voters say they will definitely not vote for Trump in 2020 — 30 percent say they definitely would vote for him.
Other takeaways from the poll:
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: 23 percent hold a favorable view of the freshman Democrat from New York while 36 percent view her unfavorably — 38 percent haven’t heard enough about the Green New Deal champion. A third (33 percent) say Ocasio-Cortez is good for the Democratic Party while 36 percent say she is bad for the party.
Popular vote vs. Electoral College: More than half (54 percent) support electing the president by popular vote rather than using the Electoral College. The popular vote is more favored by Democrats (82 percent for vs. 13 percent against) while Republicans stand oppose to it (71 percent to 25 percent). Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 by nearly 3 million votes to Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton.
Among Democrats and those leading Democratic, here’s what they had to say about candidates’ race, age and gender:
Age: 70 percent say age is not an important factor in how they’ll vote.
Race: 84 percent say race is not an important factor, includes 75 percent among black voters.
Gender: 84 percent say gender is not an important factor, includes 83 percent among women.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joe Biden leads Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke, Kamala Harris in latest Quinnipiac poll
Donald Trump has demanded that Russia “get out” of Venezuela after 100 of its troops landed to help embattled president Nicolás Maduro, escalating a war of words between Washington and Moscow.
The US president’s rebuke was delivered while he held White House talks with the wife of Juan Guaidó, the Venezuelan opposition politician who has declared himself interim president.
America, along with many European and South American nations, supports Mr Guaidó’s claim to the presidency while Russia and China are backing Mr Maduro.
The political crisis escalated on Saturday when two Russian air force planes touched down outside Caracas carrying nearly 100 Russian troops. Cyber experts were reportedly among the „special forces” sent from Moscow.
Experts believe Russia is attempting to protect its investments, having given Venezuela billions of dollars of loans in the past and taken part in joint ventures in the country’s oil industry.
„Russia has to get out,” Mr Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, seated alongside Mr Guaidó’s wife Fabiana Rosales.
Earlier Mr Trump had told her: “We are with Venezuela, we are with your husband, as you know, and we are with the people that he represents, which is a big, big majority of the country.
“What’s happening there should not happen and be allowed to happen anywhere. So we are with you 100 per cent, okay? Please give my regards. It will all work out.”
Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, hit back on Twitter, sending a message which included the slogans “HandsOffVenezuela” and “YankeeGoHome”.
“It’s not up to US to decide actions and fate of other countries, Mr Polyanskiy wrote, citing Mr Trump’s comments on Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s only up to the people of Venezuela and its only legitimate president Nicolas Maduro. We have bilateral relations and agreements with this country which we will honour.”
The exchanges were the latest in an increasingly hostile back-and-forth between the US and Russian administrations over the situation in Venezuela.
The population is malnourished and facing both hyperinflation and political repression. Mr Maduro has refused to let aid packages enter the country.
The latest crisis was triggered in January when Mr Guaidó, head of the National Assembly, unexpectedly declared himself interim president, claiming Mr Maduro’s election was illegitimate.
On Tuesday, Mr Pompeo used a telephone call with Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, to warn that America would not “will not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions in Venezuela”.
Mr Lavrov in turn told Mr Pompeo that “Washington’s attempts to organize a coup d’état in Venezuela and threats against its legitimate government” violated UN rules, according to the Russian foreign ministry.
Mr Bolton also issued his own message, tweeting:
The legitimate Interim President, Juan Guaido asks for humanitarian aid to support those in need. Maduro asks for Cuban and Russian goons to suppress the people of Venezuela. The military ranks are seeing Maduro’s corruption, violence, and lack of support within Venezuela.
Mr Guaidó used a speech on Wednesday to call for supporters to protest against a nationwide blackout, the second major power outage this month that is dragging into its third day.
Mr Pompeo on Wednesday estimated that rebuilding Venezuela’s economy could cost between $6 billion to $12 billion, warning that it would take years to complete.
Ms Rosales, a 26-year-old journalist and opposition activist, told Mr Trump that her husband Mr Guaidó was attacked on Tuesday, though she did not provide details.
„I fear for my husband’s life,” she said. She was accompanied by the wife and sister of Roberto Marrero, Mr Guaidó’s chief of staff, who was arrested and detained last week.
Moscow-based Ukrainian programmer Ruslan Burma — not his real name – said he would follow the poll in spirit as having to return home to cast a ballot would be too expensive
Moscow (AFP) – Moscow-based Ukrainian programmer Ruslan Burma wants to cast his ballot for the country’s president in nail-biting polls on Sunday, but he will not be able to vote.
Citing security reasons, Kiev has refused to open polling stations at five diplomatic missions in Russia, where more than 2.5 million Ukrainian nationals live.
Ukrainians go to the polls Sunday for the first round of voting.
Comedian and political novice Volodomyr Zelensky is leading in opinion polls, trailed by President Petro Poroshenko and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Burma, who did not give his real name for fear of repercussions, said leaving Russia to vote would be too expensive for him.
„I will be home in spirit this Sunday,” the 33-year-old, who has lived in Moscow since 2013, told AFP. „I will watch anxiously as they count the votes.”
Another Moscow-based Ukrainian, Yevgen Lozitsky, said he would not be able to vote because of a business trip.
The 37-year-old bow tie-sporting senior executive said he wished there was an online voting system that would allow Ukrainians to vote from anywhere in the world.
„I want to take part in these elections, I want to have a say in shaping my country’s fate,” he told AFP.
Lozitsky said five Russia-based Ukrainian friends were planning to leave Russia to vote.
He himself plans to vote next month if Poroshenko — whom he supports — makes it to a second-round run-off.
„Under him, Ukraine pivoted towards Europe,” Lozitsky said.
He and Burma said that preventing eligible voters from taking part was not fair but they declined to blame the Ukrainian authorities.
– ‘Symbolic decision’ –
Kiev says it was forced to close polling stations in Russia to ensure the safety of nationals and prevent arch-foe Russia from interfering in the election.
Ties between Kiev and Moscow have been wrecked since a 2014 popular uprising in Kiev ousted a Kremlin-backed regime and Russia retaliated by annexing Crimea and supporting a separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine.
The conflict has so far claimed some 13,000 lives.
„It’s impossible to ensure an election process on the territory of the aggressor country,” said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, referring to Russia.
The Ukrainian government says its nationals are free to vote in embassies in neighbouring Finland, Georgia or Kazakhstan.
Ukrainian nationals, who spoke to AFP outside the country’s embassy in Moscow, scoffed at Kiev’s explanations, however.
„It is safe here, just like in Ukraine — only there’s a war in the east there,” said Denys Lukyanov, a 27-year-old Ukrainian.
Lykyanov said he was applying for Russian citizenship and did not plan to vote.
Some including Burma suggested the move was aimed at preventing pro-Russian voters from taking part in the election.
Klimkin insisted the closure of polling stations would not affect the result, saying just 1,100 Ukrainians voted in Russia during 2014 presidential polls.
„The decision to close down the polling stations is more symbolic in nature,” said Kiev-based political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko.
Many Ukrainians living in Russia come from war-torn eastern Ukraine or annexed Crimea, he said.
Ukrainians who have lived in Russia for a long time do not usually vote in Kiev polls, he added.
– ‘I must vote’ –
Of the roughly six million people living in Crimea and separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine, most will probably not take part either.
They need to cross into Kiev-controlled territory at least twice to register and vote, an expensive and time-consuming procedure for some.
Many will not be eligible to vote after renouncing Ukrainian citizenship.
But some Crimean Tatars — a Muslim community that largely rejected Moscow’s annexation of the peninsula — are determined to exercise their right to vote.
„I am a citizen of Ukraine and must vote for its future president,” 75-year-old Nariman Abduramanov, who lives outside Crimea’s largest city Simferopol, told AFP.
Edem Dudakov, a 59-year-old resident of the town of Bakhchisaray, said he had already registered to vote.
„I will vote for Poroshenko even though I am not crazy about his economic policies,” he added.
Ahead of the poll Russia’s FSB security service raided the homes of Crimean Tatars and detained at least 20 people suspected of belonging to a banned Islamist group.
Crimean Tatar politician Nariman Jelyal said the arrests would not stop those who wanted to vote in the Ukrainian election.
„They are committed people who’ve decided to perform their civic duties despite everything,” he said.
Moscow (AFP) – Russia said Thursday its troops will stay in Venezuela „for as long as needed” and urged the United States not to worry about Moscow’s ties with a traditional ally.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aide spoke after US President Donald Trump demanded that Russia remove its military from the crisis-stricken country.
President Nicolas Maduro is presiding over economic chaos, with the oil-rich country unable to provide basic medical and food supplies to much of the population.
„We don’t think that third countries should worry about our bilateral ties,” said Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
„We are not interfering in Venezuela’s domestic affairs in any way and we expect third countries to follow our example and allow Venezuelans to decide their fate themselves,” he told reporters.
Peskov said no one told the United States how to conduct its foreign policy and Moscow expected the same treatment and „mutual respect”.
He said that Russia was sending military equipment and experts to Venezuela under existing contracts.
Russia’s weekend deployment of troops and equipment to bolster Maduro has ratcheted up already high international tensions over Venezuela where the Trump administration is pushing for regime change.
The Russian foreign ministry insisted earlier Thursday the presence of its troops there did not pose a threat to anyone.
„They are involved in the implementation of agreements in the sphere of military and technical cooperation,” said ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, adding they would remain in the country „for as long as needed”.
„Russia is not changing the balance of power in the region, Russia is not threatening anyone unlike citizens in Washington whom I have just quoted,” she told reporters.
She was referring to Trump’s comments that „Russia has to get out” of Venezuela as well as to statements by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Washington does not plan to negotiate with Maduro and wants to end Russia and Cuba’s influence on Caracas.
– ‘Coup’ accusation –
The United States and more than 50 other countries recognise Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president while Russia, along with China, backs Maduro.
„Neither Russia nor Venezuela are provinces of the United States,” Zakharova said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused Washington of trying to „organise a coup d’etat” in the oil-producing nation.
Venezuela’s military attache in Moscow also said Thursday that Russian troops were in the country under an agreement on military and technical cooperation and not to carry out a military operation.
A Russian air force Antonov-124 cargo plane and a smaller Ilyushin Il-62 landed at the main airport outside Caracas on Saturday and off-loaded around 100 troops and tonnes of equipment.
„As for the presence of Russian specialists, we are talking about cooperation, military and technical cooperation,” the attache, Jose Rafael Torrealba Perez, was quoted as saying in comments translated by RIA Novosti state news agency.
„We are absolutely not talking about Russia’s military presence to carry out military operations,” he added.
Venezuela’s Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez is expected to visit Moscow in April, the attache said.
On Tuesday, Zakharova declared that Russia was „developing cooperation with Venezuela in strict accordance with the constitution of that country and with full respect for its legal norms”.
„The presence of Russian specialists on Venezuelan territory is regulated by an agreement between the Russian and Venezuelan governments on military and technical cooperation that was signed in May, 2001,” she said.
In 2011, Russia gave Venezuela a $4 billion loan to buy Russian armaments.
FILE PHOTO: A finished Ford Focus is seen at a Ford Sollers, U.S. carmaker Ford’s joint venture with Russian partners, factory in Vsevolozhsk
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co’s Russian joint venture Ford Sollers will close two assembly plants and an engine factory in Russia, exiting the country’s passenger vehicle market, resulting in charges of about $450 million to $500 million.
The move is part of a restructuring that will see Russia’s Sollers assume control of the venture, which is currently led by the U.S. automaker, the companies said in a statement on Wednesday.
Industry sources told Reuters this month that Ford was considering closing Russian plants as it was reviewing operations in unprofitable regions.
The No. 2 U.S. carmaker said the closures would lead to „significant” job losses, along with the closure of assembly plants in Naberezhnye Chelny and St. Petersburg, and an engine plant in Elabuga. The restructuring follows similar actions in South America and Europe as Ford works to return to profitability in money-losing markets.
Ford also has been negotiating to expand a commercial vehicle and pickup truck alliance with Germany’s Volkswagen AG, with investors focused on potential partnerships around the development of electric and self-driving vehicles. Those talks also include working together regionally, including possible plant consolidation. A Ford spokeswoman said the talks are continuing.
A restructured Ford Sollers will focus on commercial vehicles, while passenger vehicle production will cease by the end of June, the companies said.
„The new Ford Sollers structure supports Ford’s global redesign strategy to expand our leadership in commercial vehicles and to grow the business in Europe in those market segments that offer better returns on invested capital,” Steven Armstrong, president of Ford of Europe, said in the statement.
Ford was the first international carmaker to launch vehicle assembly in Russia, opening a plant in St Petersburg in 2002. In 2011, it set up a joint venture with Sollers in which Ford and Sollers each hold a 50 percent stake, but Ford has controlled the business since buying up preferred shares. Under the new structure, Sollers will take a 51 percent controlling interest.
Sales of new cars in Russia are expected to rise 3.6 percent this year, marking a slowdown from last year, according to an estimate from the Association of European Businesses lobby group.
„The Russian passenger vehicle market has been under significant pressure in recent years, with recovery slower than expected and a shift to lower priced passenger vehicle segments,” Ford said, adding that resulted in underused plants.
Ford said it expects pretax special item charges of $450 million to $500 million, most of which will be recorded this year and are part of the previously announced $11 billion charge that Ford said it would take to globally restructure its business.
(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov in Moscow and Ben Klayman in Detroit; Writing by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Mark Potter and Paul Simao)
Islamabad (AFP) – Pakistan Thursday said it had found no links between militants swept up in a recent dragnet and a suicide attack in Indian-administered Kashmir last month that brought the nuclear-armed rivals to the brink of war.
The announcement by Pakistan’s foreign office comes after India provided Pakistani officials with a list of 90 suspected militants and 22 locations of alleged training camps.
„While 54 detained individuals are being investigated, no details linking them to Pulwama have been found so far,” the foreign office said, referring to the area where the attack occurred in Kashmir in February.
„Similarly, the 22 pin locations shared by India have been examined. No such camps exist.”
The statement said Pakistan was „willing to allow visits, on request, to these locations”.
Tensions between old foes India and Pakistan soared after the suicide bombing, which killed 40 Indian security personnel and was later claimed by the Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).
Pakistan, long accused by India of using militant proxies in Kashmir, has denied it was involved in the attack.
Earlier this month Islamabad launched an apparent crackdown as it came under pressure to demonstrate its sincerity about eliminating militancy, rounding up alleged militants and shuttering mosques and clinics linked to banned groups.
But the crackdown is reminiscent of previous efforts which later saw militants released without charge, and Pakistan has yet to convince the international community that their latest thrust is sincere.
The US also appeared to increase pressure on Islamabad this week, circulating a draft resolution to the UN Security Council that would blacklist Masood Azhar, the Pakistan-based leader of JeM, as a terrorist.
Pakistan’s ally China earlier this month blocked a request to blacklist Azhar, and the move by Washington sets up a potential clash with Beijing.
It comes as tensions between Indian and Pakistan were ratcheted-up again this week after Delhi announced it had destroyed a low-orbiting satellite in a missile test Wednesday.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the anti-satellite missile test was peaceful and not designed to create „an atmosphere of war”.
But analysts said it would not go unnoticed in China and Pakistan, and could be interpreted as a show of Delhi’s advancing military capabilities.
All in the plan to get to a 355 ship navy.
The U.S. Navy Wants 32 More Nuclear Attack Submarines in the Next 15 Years
Destroying enemy surface ships and submarines, “spying” close to enemy shores, bringing massive firepower to strategic areas and launching deadly undersea drones are all missions the Navy hopes to see more of in the future — as the service plans to add as many as 32 attack submarines in just the next 15 years.
Overall, the addition of attack submarines represents the largest overall platform increase within the Navy’s ambitious plan to grow the fleet to 355 ships.
“Battle force inventory reaches 301 in 2020 and 355 in 2034,” Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Chambers, told Warrior Maven.
New Navy submarines are hosting an array of breakthrough technologies designed to carve a path into future maritime war; these include more firepower such as Tomahawk missiles and torpedoes, added electrical power for emerging systems such as drones and AI-enabled sensors, navigation and ship defenses.
As evidenced by the Navy’s most recent 30-Year Shipbuilding Plan, the Navy budget seeks to implement a new plan to build three Virginia-class attack submarines some years moving forward. This is, among other things, intended to address an anticipated future attack submarine deficit expected in the coming decade. For quite some time, Combatant Commanders have expressed serious concern that the availability of attack submarines continues to be dangerously lower than what is needed. Navy leadership has been working with Congress to rev-up production.
The previous status quo had been for the Navy to drop from building two Virginia-Class boats per year to one in the early 2020s when construction of the new Columbia-Class nuclear armed submarines begins. The service then moved to a plan to build two Virginia-class submarines and one Columbia-class submarine concurrently, according to findings from a previous Navy assessment.
The new Navy plan is to jump up to three Virginia-class per year when Columbia-class production hits a lull in “off years,” senior service leaders have told Congress.
There are many reasons why attack submarines are increasingly in demand; undersea vehicles are often able to conduct reconnaissance missions closer to targets than large-draft surface ships can. Forward positioning enables them to be “stealthier” in coastal areas, inlets or islands. As part of this, they can also move substantial firepower, in the form of Tomahawk missiles, closer to inland targets.
Not only is the Navy adding substantial firepower to its fleet of attack submarines, but the service is further emphasizing enhanced “spy” like intelligence, surveillance reconnaissance missions. By leveraging an ability to operate closer to enemy shorelines and threat areas than most surface ships, attack submarines can quietly patrol shallow waters near enemy coastline – scanning for enemy submarines, surface ships and coastal threats.
Improved undersea navigation and detection technology, using new sonar, increased computer automation and artificial intelligence, enable quieter, faster movements in littoral waters where enemy mines, small boats and other threatening assets often operate.
Virginia-Class submarines are engineered with a “Fly-by-Wire” capability which allows the ship to quietly linger in shallow waters without having to surface or have each small move controlled by a human operator.
With “Fly-by-Wire” technology, a human operator will order depth and speed, allowing software to direct the movement of the planes and rudder to maintain course and depth, Navy program managers have told Warrior Maven. The ships can be driven primarily through software code and electronics, thus freeing up time and energy for an operator who does not need to manually control each small maneuver.
“The most important feature for maneuvering in littoral waters is the fly-by-wire control system, whereby computers in the control center electronically adjust the submarine’s control surfaces, a significant improvement from the hydraulic systems used in the Los Angeles-class,” a 2016 Stanford University “The Future of Nuclear Submarines” paper by Alexander Yachanin writes.
This technology, using upgradable software and fast-growing AI applications, widens the mission envelope for the attack submarines by vastly expanding their ISR potential. Using real-time analytics and an instant ability to draw upon an organize vast data-bases of information and sensor input, computer algorithms can now perform a range of procedural functions historically performed by humans. This can increase speed of maneuverability and an attack submarine’s ability to quickly shift course, change speed or alter depth positioning when faced with attacks.
A closer-in or littoral undersea advantage, Navy strategy documents explain, can increase “ashore attack” mission potential along with ISR-empowered anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare operations.
The US Navy’s published “Commander’s Intent for the United States Submarine Force,” published last year, writes – “We are uniquely capable of, and often best employed in, stealthy, clandestine and independent operations……. we exploit the advantages of undersea concealment which allow us to: , Conduct undetected operations such as strategic deterrent patrols, intelligence collection, Special Operations Forces support, non-provocative transits, and repositioning.”
The Navy is implementing elements of this strategy with its recently launched USS South Dakota, a Block III Virginia-Class attack submarine engineered with a host of new, unprecedented undersea technologies, Navy officials said.
Many of these innovations, which have been underway and tested as prototypes for many years, are now operational as the USS South Dakota enters service; service technology developers have, in a general way, said the advances in undersea technologies built, integrated, tested and now operational on the South Dakota include quieting technologies for the engine room to make the submarine harder to detect, a new large vertical array and additional „quieting” coating materials for the hull, Navy officials have told Warrior Maven.
The Block III Virginia-Class submarines also have what’s called a Large Aperture Bow conformal array sonar system – designed to listen for an acoustic ping, analyze the return signal, and provide the location and possible contours of enemy ships, submarines and other threats.
The Block III Virginia-Class submarines also have what’s called a Large Aperture Bow conformal array sonar system – designed to send out an acoustic ping, analyze the return signal, and provide the location and possible contours of enemy ships, submarines and other threats.
For Block V construction, the Navy is planning to insert a new 84-foot long section designed to house additional missile capability. “Virginia Payload Modules.” The Virginia Payload Modules, to come in future years, will increase the Tomahawk missile firepower of the submarines from 12 missiles up to 40.
The VPM submarines will have an additional (approximately 84 feet) section with four additional Virginia Payload Tubes, each capable of carrying seven Tomahawk cruise missiles, for a ship total of 40 Tomahawks.
Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has a Masters in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.
This first appeared in Warrior Maven here.