“The next time the Syrians use their air defense systems against our planes we will destroy them without the slightest hesitation,” Lieberman said on Israeli public radio.

Israeli fighter jets hit several targets in Syria on Friday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying the strikes targeted weapons bound for the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

Syria’s military claimed it downed one of the Israeli planes and hit another as they were carrying out the predawn strikes near the famed desert city of Palmyra that it recaptured from jihadists this month.

Jordanians inspect the remains of a Syrian missile and an Israeli Arrow interceptor that fell in Jordan on March 17, 2017 (Jordanian government/Petra)

The IDF denied that any of its planes were hit. The Syrian government has made similar claims in the past.



CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — After a number of postponements, and a technical glitch at T-minus 4 minutes, United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Delta IV Medium+ (5,4) rocket finally got off the ground with the Department of Defense’s ninth Wideband Global SATCOM satellite (WGS-9). The after twilight launch took place at 8:18 p.m. EDT March 18 (00:18 GMT March 19), 2017, from Space Launch Complex 37.

The weather for the launch of the Delta IV Medium+ (5,4) configuration Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) was all but perfect. The only concerns Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron had was the potential of cumulus clouds; however, those never materialized.

Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, 45th Space Wing commander and mission Launch Decision Authority, said that this was the fourth major launch operation on the Eastern Range and the second successful launch in just two-and-a-half days, culminating many long hours of hard work by the entire mission team.

“Thanks to the amazing commitment, focus on the mission, and teamwork the men and women of the 45th Space Wing share with our mission partners at SMC and ULA, we successfully launched the next satellite in the WGS constellation,” he said. “This mission demonstrates the Air Force’s commitment to deliver secure and reliable satellite communications around the globe to U.S. forces and our allies. It also once again showcases why the 45th Space Wing is the ‘World’s Premiere Gateway to Space.’”

The launch was postponed several times for various reasons including, on March 4, when the liftoff date for WGS-9 was changed to March 14 after the ULA team discovered an issue with the Delta IV first stage booster during standard prelaunch inspections. Later, on M


So much for the Russian threat: Putin slashes defense spending while Trump plans massive buildup

Despite Western paranoia, Russia’s defense budget is about one-tenth of America’s — with huge cutbacks ahead

Russia, led by supervillain Vladimir Putin, intent on the domination and destruction of the Western world, has just slashed its defense budget — and no one really noticed.

Figures from the Russian Federal Treasury show that the defense budget has been cut by 25.5 percent for 2017, falling from 3.8 trillion rubles to 2.8 trillion rubles. IHS Jane’s, one of the most authoritative sources on defense news, said the move represents “the largest cut to military expenditure in the country since the early 1990s.”

Let’s put this in context before we move on: The cuts come after significant military budget increases in recent years (averaging about 19.8 percent a year since 2011) as Putin sought to revamp the Russian military and replace a massive chunk of Soviet-era hardware by 2020.

There’s also some quibbling going on over the figures used by Jane’s. Some experts believe the cut is more like 7 percent when the impact of debt repayment to defense industry firms is taken into account.

Either way, the Russian defense budget is being cut — and not insignificantly — at a time when we’re being told Moscow is a grave threat to peace-loving people everywhere. There are a number of reasons for the cuts, the most obvious being that the Russian economy has been put under pressure due to Western sanctions and reduced oil and gas prices. So no, the cuts don’t come from the goodness of Putin’s heart — but it’s clear that he doesn’t see Russia as being on course for major military conflict with the West in the immediate future.



South Africa wants to sell missiles to Iran

South Africa has applied to the United Nations Security Council to sell missiles worth R1.5 billion to Iran.

The Rapport newspaper reported that this will be the biggest deal yet for Denel’s Umkhonto surface-to-air missile system.

The Umkhonto vertical launch surface-to-air missile was developed for the SA Navy’s Meko A200 class frigates, and has been in service since 2001.

The missile is high-velocity and infrared homing, providing defence against attacks from missiles and aircraft.

Although it is a surface-to-air missile, it is also capable of taking out stationary surface targets.

The Umkhonto was designed with a 23kg warhead for high-kill probability, unlike other missile systems in its class.

This news follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding in December 2016 between Iran and South Africa to boost defence and military cooperation.


France will cooperate with Russia for preparing Syrian peace talks in Geneva

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:18 A.M.) – Russian and French Foreign Ministers Sergei Lavrov and Jean-Marc Ayrault have agreed to cooperate in preparing the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday according to TASS.

“The ministers have agreed that Russian and French representatives will be cooperating to prepare and hold a next round of intra-Syrian talks, due to begin in Geneva on March 23, 2017,” the ministry said in a statement.

Although Lavrov expressed his satisfaction with negotiations in Astana, he did highlight that some militant groups refusing to negotiator only hampered a peaceful solution.


Leonardo CEO Moretti out, replaced by Italian banking exec

March 18, 2017 (Photo Credit: Dino Panato/Getty Images)
The Italian government on Saturday named a veteran Italian banker, Alessandro Profumo, to run state controlled defense group Leonardo, replacing CEO Mauro Moretti who had finished his three year mandate.

Genoa-born Profumo, 60, took the helm at Italian banking giant Unicredit in 1998, steering it to international growth through acquisitions and oversaw a leap in staff numbers from 15,000 to over 162,000 in over 20 countries before leaving in 2010.

Despite his business credentials, the appointment of a financial manager with no defense experience provoked rumors in Italy on Saturday that the government had handpicked Profumo to handle the sell off of the firm, but a government spokesman told Defense News the reports were “totally false.”

“Profumo has international experience and a global culture and Leonardo needs to be international,” said the spokesman, who declined to be named. “With Profumo we will reinforce the international business development of Leonardo.”