Questions President Trump should ask Kim Jong Un

During the five years I lived in Okinawa I became very familiar with diplomatic, informational, military and economic events on the Korean Peninsula. There are several questions I hope President Trump asks Kim Jong Un as they sit across the table.
 
1. I hope President Trump asks Kim Jong Un what ballistic missile and warhead technology has North Korea shared with Iran? The Iranian Ballistic Missile Test facility is an almost identical copy of the North Korean test facility at Musadan-Ri. North Korea had the technology and Iran had the money. President George W. Bush was correct in identifying the axis of evil in his 29 January 2002 State of the Union address and National Security Strategy and they called him nuts.
 
About a month before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, sometime in February if I remember right, the Spanish Navy accomplished a ship takedown of a North Korean merchant vessel we knew carried medium-range ballistic missile parts from North Korea. We watched the takedown via a US Navy UAV video in the Combined Air Operations Center where I was working. The operation was being projected on the 40-foot wall screen so all of us on the Operations Center floor watched it. The Spaniards asked to do the mission by the way and did an outstanding job. It took the Spanish Special Ops guys some time to find the missile parts, but they did. It was hidden in boxes marked to cover what was really in them. Imagine that. The parts were headed for Yemen. The Houthi Rebels in Yemen have been launching SCUD missiles into Saudi Arabia using missiles supplied by Iran, and possibly North Korea. 
 
2. I would ask what nuclear reactor technology has North Korea shared with the Iran Regime. Have they shared it with other countries? The Iranian reactor is south of the city of Bandar Bushehr on the Persian Gulf. North Korea had the technology and Iran had the money. Because of the Obama Administration, the Iranians now have a lot more money to buy missile and nuclear technology too.
 
3. What was North Korea’s involvement in the construction of the nuclear reactor in the Deir Ez Zor region of Syria? This is the reactor the Israeli Air Force destroyed on the night of 6-7 September 2007 during Operation Outside the Box. Eight IAF fighters (F-15Is and F-16Is) attacked the reactor. The Israeli Defense Force commander recently released targeting pod video of the raid, very unusual for the Israelis. Israeli Mossad and Special Operators confirmed the head of North Korea’s nuclear programs was at the Deir Ez Zor site. They have pictures of him standing around in his tracksuit.
Before and After photos of the Syrian nuclear reactor near Deir Ez Zor courtesy NPR

Kim Jong Un knows he has no military options available to him. The recent Operation Inherent Resolve coalition attacks on the Syrian chemical weapons facilities proved US long range weapons like the AGM-158 Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile or JASSM cannot be tracked or targeted by Russia’s most sophisticated surface-to-air missile system located at their base near Latakia Syria. The B-1s coming from their base in the east launched 19 JASSMs at one facility located on the outskirts of Damascus in the heart of the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile engagement footprint. All JASSM missiles made it to their targets.

Russian Pantsir (foreground) and S400 (background) at the Latakia Air Base via Russia DoD
Half of North Korea’s population is involved in their military industrial complex. They have one million men and women in their active duty military and another 20% in the reserves and Red Guards. Restructuring the North Korean economy if peace breaks out may cause it to collapse. It also may rattle South Korea’s because of their military industrial complex is pretty large and includes American defense contractors. If peace comes to the Korean Peninsula, those folks and their military efforts will not be required. We may be calling it catastrophic peace.
 
We know from the young Army officer who defected from North Korea last year across the DMZ had some real serious physical health issues. If he is indicative of their military population, the men and women who are given the best food and housing, what will be the condition of the rest of the population? The situation in North Korea may keep non-governmental organizations like Doctors without Borders busy for a decade. Five entire provinces in North Korea are without paved roads, running water, electricity, food, and common things we in the States have even in the poorest neighborhoods.
 
I’ve not seen one news outlet or group mentioning any of this… North Korea’s ties to the Iranian Regime and the conflict in the Middle East, and what the end state of peace on the Korean Peninsula really looks like.

About the author, Mark Hasara

Author of Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, Mark Hasara is a retired US Air Force pilot with 24 year in the KC-135 airborne tanker. He is a speaker and aviation industry consultant in campaign planning and cockpit architecture. Follow his weekly newsletter “On the Nations DIME”.

The Twelve Demands on Iran for a New Deal

I’ve stated here on these pages before the real threat in the Middle East is not Russia or Syria. The real threat to peace in the Middle East is Iran, and the forces they have deployed and employed throughout the region. Russia and Syria are just facilitators to Iranian mischief in the region. President Trump had good reasons to call off the Iran Nuclear Deal analyzing the facts of what was going on. I don’t know how you get the money back paid to them by the previous administration.

In a recent speech given at the Heritage Foundation, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined twelve demands Iran must meet for the US to consider another deal. These twelve demands are stiff and far reaching.

Here is the list of demands SecState Pompeo oultined in his speech:

  1. Declare to the International Atomic Energy Agency or IAEA a full account of the military dimensions for Iran’s nuclear program, and permanently abandon all work on the program.
  2. Stop uranium enrichment and pursuit of plutonium reprocessing. This includes closing down their heavy water reactors at Bandar Bushehr.
  3. Provide the IAEA with access to all sites throughout the country.
  4. End proliferation of ballistic missiles and halt further launching or development of all nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.
  5. Immediately release all U.S. citizens, and citizens of our partners and allies.
  6. Must end support to Middle East terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organizations.
  7. Respects the sovereignty of the Iraqi Government and disarm all Shia Militias currently fighting inside Iraq.
  8. End support to Houthi militias by finding a peaceful solution to Shia settlements in Yemen.
  9. Withdraws all military forces under the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) or Quids Forces, Commanded by Major General Qasem Soliemani fighting throughout Syria.
  10. End support for the Taliban and other terrorist organizations in Afghanistan, and cease support to senior Al Qaida leaders hiding throughout Afghanistan.
  11. Stop support to all Quids Forces terror and militant organizations worldwide.
  12. Cease all threatening behavior against Iran’s neighbors and US allies in the region. This includes all ballistic missile testing and launches, threats to all international shipping through the Arabian Gulf,  and cyber warfare attacks on countries throughout the region. 

Until Iran can meet these demands, the US will impose very harsh sanctions on the Iranian regime and specific people associated with their leadership. There are not many options open to the international community. The Israeli Defense Force recently sent their Air Force into Syria and destroyed a big portion of the Iranian military infrastructure located there. The IDF twitter page showed Israeli Air Force weapons destroying a fifth generation Surface-to-Air Missile system on a runway at T4 airbase. 

The Iranians would love to see the US get involved in this fight because it would bring their Russian allies to the battlefront. Putin’s Russian Air Force has very capable aircraft and SAMs operating from Khmeimim Air Base south of Latakia Syria. Google Earth has very good imagery of this forward operations location if you want to take a look.

Meanwhile, the US waits for a response from Iran on our demands.  

About the author, Mark Hasara

Author of Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, Mark Hasara is a retired US Air Force pilot with 24 year in the KC-135 airborne tanker. He is a speaker and aviation industry consultant in campaign planning and cockpit architecture. Follow his weekly newsletter “On the Nations DIME”.

Israeli Air Force F-35I Adir first Middle East combat missions

On March 21, the Israeli Defense Force commander confirmed what everyone already knew: on the night of 5-6 September 2007 eight Israeli Air Force fighter planes destroyed the nuclear reactor near Deir ez Zor Syria. The reactor was soon to be fueled, creating a potential hazard to Israeli security. The Syrian reactor, built with North Korean technology and Iranian funding, was destroyed by four F-16I Sufas and four F-15I Ra’am fighter jets. The IDF statement included video taken by targeting pods during the raid. The IDF Commander bluntly stated if Israel’s security were to be threatened, they’re willing to do it again.

The actual briefing notes of the Operation Outside the Box strike force commander

Many have speculated if and when the IAF would employ their new Lockheed Martin F-35 Adir stealth fighters in the Middle East. We wait no longer to find out. During a recent Senior Commander’s symposium in Israel, the IDF Commander Major General Amikam Norkim said to the audience, “We performed the F-35’s first ever operational strike. The IAF is a pioneer and a world leader in operating air power,” he stated. The picture he had on the screen behind him showed an F-35I flying over Beirut Lebanon, which the General would not release to the public. General Norkin did state the Adir or “Mighty One” did not participate in the retaliatory airstrikes against Iranian targets a few weeks ago. 

An IAF 140th "Golden Eagle" squadron F-135I taxis out for a mission at Navatim Air Base

General Norkim said the F-35I has been used twice in combat over Lebanon and Syria in his remarks to the world’s Air Fore commanders. 

There have been reports the F-35Is have flown all the way to Iran, circling over the Bandar Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant on the Persian Gulf coast, and possibly to the nuclear research facility at Natanz. Those two flights would put the F-35 at its maximum range without refueling so many speculated this was propaganda by a Kuwaiti news source.

Google Earth image with the Above Top Secret air defense overlay of the Natanz Nuclear Facility

Arab countries are just as afraid of what Iran will do if they procure nuclear weapons as Israel. If the Arab world grants overfly rights to an air refueled Israeli strike package, there are no places in Iran where the F-35I could not go and drop satellite or laser guided bombs on their nuclear program’s facilities.

About the author, Mark Hasara

Author of Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, Mark Hasara is a retired US Air Force pilot with 24 year in the KC-135 airborne tanker. He is a speaker and aviation industry consultant in campaign planning and cockpit architecture. Follow his weekly newsletter “On the Nations DIME”.

Top Ten Campaign Promises President Trump Delivered.

President Trump is marching right down his campaign promise list, checking items off in a hurry. Here are the top ten campaign promises the President has delivered on, making real policy changes and illustrating the effects those changes had on the population.

10. Imposing a 10% repatriation tax on money held oversees to bring back jobs in America.  This article and this one outline some of the biggest companies bringing money back to the states and what they plan to do with the money.  Sixteen companies repatriated over a trillion dollars back to the US. That is trillion… with a T.   

9. Withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). These two articles discuss the pros and cons of withdrawing from the TPP. Withdrawing from TPP was one of Trump’s biggest campaign promises.

8. Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords caused some of the loudest backlashes against the Trump Administration by environmentalists. This article discusses why leaving the Paris Accords was good for America and the taxpayers.

7. Bringing North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un to the table and reining in his nuclear plans. I was stationed at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Japan. We constantly worried about North Korean missiles reaching the base. Several Presidents have dealt with the Kim Regime. President Trump’s Administration got Kim to the table.

6. Stopped the government’s over-regulation to jump-start the economy. Trump ran on the promise he would repeal the ridiculous regulations reining in the economy. And economist agree deregulation is working.

5. Reversing Obama-Era executive orders has slashed some of the ridiculous executive orders signed into law, causing miles of red tape to be cut, increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the government’s role in the economy.

 

President Trump meeting with European Union leaders.

4. The President displayed great leadership by pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, a bad policy for the US. Iran is the real enemy in the Middle East peace process. The singular piece of evidence in my mind remains the nuclear power plant near Deir ez Zor Syria, built with the help of North Korean scientist and funded with Iranian money. Fortunately, the Israeli Air Force destroyed the power plant nicknamed “The Cube” in September 2007 during Operation Outside the Box. Iran’s forces have killed and injured US servicemen and women in the Middle East and remain a threat in Syria.

3. Tax cuts to middle-class Americans have had a huge effect on take home pay. This article from The Balance lays out what the tax cut plan includes. People do vote with their money.

2. The change in strategy to defeat the forces of Islamic State of Iraqi and Syria or ISIS by the Trump Administration and SecDef James Mattis has decimated the group. SecDef Mattis loosening the rules of engagement, and airpower dropped tens of thousands of bombs on ISIS targets. The ISIS capital of Raqqa fell in mere months.

1. Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem has been a promise of several Presidents. The Trump Administration actually moved it. What effect will the move have on our relationship with Israel and the Middle East peace process? This article from the Jerusalem Post captures some of those issues.

Over the next two and a half years you should expect this list to grow

About the author, Mark Hasara

Author of Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, Mark Hasara is a retired US Air Force pilot with 24 year in the KC-135 airborne tanker. He is a speaker and aviation industry consultant in campaign planning and cockpit architecture. Follow his weekly newsletter “On the Nations DIME”.

13-14 April air attacks on Syria’s Chemical Weapons facilities

Many have asked me over the recent weeks about the logistics involved during the airstrikes on the chemical weapons facilities in Syria. Until recently, I had never heard of CIGeography and their incredible artwork. David Cenciotti’s The Aviationist and Tyler Rogoway’s The War Zone at the The Drive are two of my favorite websites to spend time and they turned me onto CIGeography. To answer the question about what it takes to strike targets in Syria, I thought I would use CIGeography’s graphics to show you the participants in the 13-14 April attacks on Syria’s chemical weapons infrastructure.

Graphics showing the air breathing participants of the 13-14 April airstrikes courtesy of CIGeography

F-15C Eagles burn 8000 pounds an hour at tactical speeds. The F-16CM consumes about 3200 pounds per hour. Now you can understand the need for a large air refueling fleet across the Mediterranean Ocean to keep all of these fighters full of gas.

This graph also shows the number of air launched missiles such as Lockheed’s Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile used for the first time in combat on the Science and Research facility near Damascus.

The video below shows the two B-1 bombers armed with AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSM) leaving their base in Southwest Asia. 

The second CIGeography graphic below shows the surface ships and submarine involved in the attack.  US warships fired sixty Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles from The Med at Syrian targets.

Graphic illustrating the number of surface ships used in the attack courtesy of CIGeography

It is getting harder and harder to hide military operations from flight aware and aircraft spotter websites. The long train of KC-135 and KC-10 tankers throughout the night were being flight followed on several awareness websites. The first picture shows the tanker train across the Mediterranean Ocean, flowing from and to their bases.

Tankers crossing the Mediterranean Ocean on the night of 13-14 April courtesy of The Aviationist.

The second picture shows the RC-135 Rivet Joint electronic intelligence aircraft circling off the coast of Port Said Egypt. 

RC-135 Rivet Joint FIXX74 during the 13-14 April air attacks courtesy Aircraft Spots twitter page

The Israeli Air Force attacked fifty Iranian targets in Syria on the night of 9 May.  Targets included Russian supplied SA-22 Panstir air defense vehicles shown in a spectacular IAI Delilah missile strike.

In the coming weeks there may be more air attacks on Iranian and Syrian targets by Operation Inherent Resolve coalition and IAF aircraft. Standby for another update when that happens. 

About the author, Mark Hasara

Author of Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, Mark Hasara is a retired US Air Force pilot with 24 year in the KC-135 airborne tanker. He is a speaker and aviation industry consultant in campaign planning and cockpit architecture. Follow his weekly newsletter “On the Nations DIME”.

Very historic events in Jerusalem

Today marks a very historic event in Jerusalem. This event is also a promise kept. President Donald Trump has moved the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Jerusalem has always been the capital of Israel and now the US Embassy has opened there.

Dignitaries from all over the world attended this ceremony, marking the beginning of stronger relations between the US and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in his remarks. 

Prime Minister Netanyahu delivers his remarks. Photo courtesy of Haaretz

The event will also be remembered for the Gaza Riots along the Israeli/Gaza border. Images of the Rioters along the fence hurling stones and burning tires filled the news. Estimates say up to sixty Gazans were killed. Condemnation of Israel came swiftly in the United Nations, but efforts to pass a Security Council Resolution was stopped by the US.

Israeli snipers watch the border as Gazans carry a wounded commrade. Photo by Timesof Israel

The real threat to peace in the Middle East remains Iran. Hamas received funding from Iran for the riots along the border. Iranian arms supplied through Syria reach Hamas terrorists fighting to break through the border fence. Here is a good article on where the money may be going.

How much of the billions of dollars the Obama Administration gave to Iran is funding these riots and protests along Israel’s border? Many are now asking that question. That would be a fascinating line of examination on the House and Senate floors. 

About the author, Mark Hasara

Author of Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, Mark Hasara is a retired US Air Force pilot with 24 year in the KC-135 airborne tanker. He is a speaker and aviation industry consultant in campaign planning and cockpit architecture. Follow his weekly newsletter “On the Nations DIME”.