We’ve been having some clouds, which is nice in that it keeps the heat down to below 110F, and gives us lovely sunsets. The only drawback is we can’t see the Bethlehem star tonight.
Author Archives: xbradtc
Police in northern Germany have seized a World War Two tank which was being kept in a pensioner’s cellar.
The Panther tank was removed from the 78-year-old’s house in the town of Heikendorf, along with a variety of other military equipment, including a torpedo and an anti-aircraft gun, Der Tagesspiegel website reports. It wasn’t an easy job to get it all out – the army had to be called in with modern-day tanks to haul the Panther from its cellar. It took about 20 soldiers almost nine hours to extract the tank – which was without its tracks – and push it onto a low-loader, the report says. As the surreal scene unfolded, local residents gathered at the end of the driveway to watch.
Prosecutors in the nearby city of Kiel are investigating whether the man’s military collection violates Germany’s War Weapons Control Act. But his lawyer says the weapons are no longer functional, therefore shouldn’t be restricted.
Damn busybodies always sticking their noses into other people’s business.
Look, if it took 9 hours to get it out of there, it probably wasn’t causing the neighbors too much trouble.
Craig asked me what I thought about the current brouhaha over the Confederate Battle Flag flying over Charleston, and whether it should be taken down.
I am, thanks be to God, a Virginian by birth. And I am the child of parents from the Deep South. In spite of being mostly raised out west, I am, and always will be, a Southerner.
I have, in the past, had memorabilia with the iconic Confederate flag. As one of Craig’s commenters noted on Craig’s post on the issue, it used to be, to most of us, the flag simply represented that something was Southern. But like so much else in our culture today, it has become politicized. And I am not the most empathetic person in the world, but I can see where many Americans see the flag as still symbolizing slavery and oppression. So, I’m not displeased that Governor Haley of South Carolina has asked the state legislature to debate whether that particular flag should be taken down.
Like Craig, my flag is the flag of the United States of America. I feel pride every time I see it, and I see it often.
But we’ve entered a period of fundamental unseriousness in our country. The current furor over the Confederate flag is in fact, a reaction to the shooting of black Christians by a deeply disturbed young man, which had no reference whatsoever to the Confederate flag. Nothing at all. And yet, a sudden moral panic thrust a decidedly tertiary issue to the forefront of the national consciousness.
We see now people rushing to hide any evidence that the Confederate flag ever existed. National Parks removing the flag from Fort Sumter; TV Land pulling the Dukes of Hazzard from their lineup because the General Lee had the flag emblazoned on its roof; Amazon pulling products from their site.
Those knee jerk reactions to a tiny number of screeching voices are one thing. But the smug superiority of so many who pronounce that their instantaneous adoption of the position that the battle flag must be banished irks me. Those who take a position that is, at its heart, not terribly important at all, and then claim that it gives them some superiority over any and all that do not immediately proclaim their like-mindedness is simply a tactic to shout down any rational discussion. It is an assault on our usual national tradition of reasoned debate on the issues of the day.
And while I hold no great fondness for the Confederate flag, I deeply despise being told by moral scolds that I may not fly it under peril of being deemed a racist, especially by people who have no idea what prejudices and biases I may or may not have in my heart.
The interwebs and Facebook exploded this week with the latest revelation that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is a dog that can’t dogfight.
David Axe’s post has set off a firestorm of criticism over the inability of the F-35 to outperform the 40 year old F-16. Everyone who has access to the internet is up in arms over this horrible failure.
But here’s the thing. The JSF is not really a fighter. Or rather, the emphasis is on strike, more than on fighter. It’s a bomb truck. It does also have a robust air to air capability, but that role is somewhat secondary to its ability to attack ground targets.
The F-16 was conceived during the last years of the Vietnam war, and designed immediately following it. COL John Boyd’s Energy/Maneuverability Theory had a very large impact on its configuration. The ability of outmaneuver potential Soviet threat aircraft was the paramount concern of the design. And the aircraft had to be able to outmaneuver because of the limitations of the armament of the day. To wit, the plane John Boyd and the Fighter Mafia wanted was to be dirt simple, with only the most crude radar for cueing weapons, and armed only with a pair of AIM-9P Sidewinder short range missiles, and the M61 Vulcan 20mm cannon.
The other jet fighter the Air Force was buying at that time, the F-15 Eagle, took a completely different approach, with the biggest radar they could stuff into a fighter sized jet, and a whopping 8 air to air missiles, four of the big AIM-7 Sparrows (the primary armament) and four Sidewinders, as well as a gun. The Eagle also was built with the E/M theory very much in mind, but primarily saw itself as a beyond visual range fighter, picking off Soviet MiG-21s and MiG-23s before they could even return fire.
The problem is, E/M theory isn’t applicable to just airplanes. Turns out, it applies pretty well to air to air missiles also. And whereas a manned airplane can’t really go much above 9G without harming the meatware, missiles have no problem pulling 60G or more. Building agility (high G capability) into an airplane involves tradeoffs. The structure has to weigh more or it will crack sooner, and conversely, intense efforts at weight reduction have to be implemented, as weight factors strongly into the equation. Having reached an effective plateau of about 9Gs, it simply makes more sense to concentrate on enhancing the maneuverability of the weapon, not the airplane.
Furthermore, it should be noted, there’s quite a few people pushing back against Axe’s sensationalistic piece. Far from being the true test that shows once and for all the F-35 is a POS, it was in fact, a first look, aimed at finding out not so much how well the F-35 performed against the F-16, but rather at what parts of the flight control software could be improved to give the F-35 more maneuverability, particularly at high Angles of Attack (AoA). It appears the F-35 used in the test, AF-2 the second build “A” model for the Air Force, was also using flight control software that restricted certain portions of the envelope. And my sources also tell me the test took place during a time when there were restrictions on the engine performance. While the pilot might have no restrictions on throttle movement, the Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) was programmed in a manner that would restrict some of the output.
“…The operational maneuver tests were conducted to see “how it would look like against an F-16 in the airspace,” says Col. Rod “Trash” Cregier, F-35 program director. “It was an early look at any control laws that may need to be tweaked to enable it to fly better in future. You can definitely tweak it—that’s the option.”
Emphasis mine. The F-35 has already demonstrated a 9 G capability. It’s cleared through a flight envelope up to 50,000 feet, and a speed of Mach 1. 6. It was a deliberate decision to accept a considerably lower top speed than the Mach 2.0 of the F-16, particularly since most air to air engagements take place in the transonic regime, from about Mach 0.8 to maybe Mach 1.1.
Incidentally, the F/A-18 Hornet is really a 7.5G fighter, and yet fought the way it was intended to be fought, it has an excellent reputation against the US Navy’s Aggressor F-16s.
UK Defense Journal points out that in other exercises more representative of real operations than a canned BFM scenario, the F-35 has performed quite well against the F-16.
Over the last few years there have been occasions where a flight of F-35s have engaged a flight of F-16s in simulated combat scenarios, the F-35s reportedly won each of those encounters because of its sensors and low visibility.
C.W. Lemoine, who has flown both the F/A-18 and the F-16, points out a few reasons why the Axe article is, in his words, garbage.
There are a great number of valid reasons to criticize the F-35 program, from its very inception envisioning one jet operating as a vertical jump jet, a carrier jet, and a conventional runway jet. The costs associated with the avionics and computer programming have been astonishing. The deliberate spread of subcontracts across every possible Congressional district as a defense against cancellation is another issue worthy of debate.
But taking one small canned scenario, one intended not to see if the F-35 could out fight the F-16, but rather explore the flight envelope, and proclaiming that it invalidates the entire development program, is the type of sensationalistic clickbait reporting that does little to inform the public on the actual state of the program.
*Pierre Sprey is a statistician and a music producer. He also still contends to this day that the F-15 is a failure, in spite of a combat record of something like 105-0 in air to air combat. Take his words with that thought in mind.
Retail logistics for the Army is a challenge. Moving commodities such as fuel and ammunition from the US to overseas locations is pretty much like any other industry. Rail, highway, ships, and occasionally cargo aircraft. It takes planning and attention to detail, but it’s essentially the same as civilian shipping. It’s the transfer of those commodities to the actual units on the front lines that is a challenge. In some theaters of operations, there are existing networks of improved roads that ease this challenge. In other potential theaters, not so much. And one of the Army’s great strengths since World War II has been its off-road mobility. It’s relatively easy to make tanks and armored personnel carriers off road mobile. But the trucks that must be used to support them are something of a different matter.
And so, the Army was always looking for ways to improve the mobility of its cargo trucks. One interesting approach was to use the basic structure of 1950s era earth moving equipment as the basis for a cargo or fuel tanker capable of operating in quite rugged terrain. As an experiment, a competition was held between several similar vehicles, and a handful of what came to be known as the M520 GOER family were bought, and used in Vietnam. After Vietnam began to wind down, about 1300 more were built in the early 1970s.
Pretty nifty, huh?
The problem was, while it had very good off road capability, it had attrocious on road capability, with a very low maximum speed, an unsprung suspension that was brutally jolting, and some unsavory driving characteristics.
The Army also came to realize that most of the time, it only needed decent, not excellent, off road capability. The GOER was replaced in service by the much more conventional Oshkosh HEMTT (Hemmit) 10 ton 8×8 tactical truck.
On Tuesday, police released video of the altercation between officers and a man outside a restaurant in Palestine.
On Sunday, May 31, police shot and killed 47-year-old James D. Bushey. He was suspected of stealing beer from a store and hiding in a nearby restaurant. Bushey was shot by police after he pointed a weapon at an officer.
Don’t bring a BB gun to a gunfight.