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Kicking poon and taking names since March 2009

The Hackers Who Recovered NASA’s Lost Lunar Photos | Raw File | WIRED

Earthrise over the Moon as seen by Lunar Orbiter 1 on August 24, 1966.

Sitting incongruously among the hangars and laboratories of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley is the squat facade of an old McDonald’s. You won’t get a burger there, though–its cash registers and soft-serve machines have given way to old tape drives and modern computers run by a rogue team of hacker engineers who’ve rechristened the place McMoon’s. These self-described techno-archaeologists have been on a mission to recover and digitize forgotten photos taken in the ‘60s by a quintet of scuttled lunar satellites.

The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project has since 2007 brought some 2,000 pictures back from 1,500 analog data tapes. They contain the first high-resolution photographs ever taken from behind the lunar horizon, including the first photo of an earthrise (first slide above). Thanks to the technical savvy and DIY engineering of the team at LOIRP, it’s being seen at a higher resolution than was ever previously possible.

“We’re reaching back to a capability that existed but couldn’t be touched back when it was created,” says Keith Cowing, co-lead and founding member at LOIRP. “It’s like having a DVD in 1966, you can’t play it. We had resolution of the earth of about a kilometer [per pixel]. This is an image taken a quarter of a fucking million miles away in 1966. The Beatles were warming up to play Shea Stadium at the moment it was being taken.”

via The Hackers Who Recovered NASA’s Lost Lunar Photos | Raw File | WIRED.

This is a pretty interesting story on reverse engineering. And just learning the technique the original lunar recon missions used is pretty impressive.

A couple years after this picture above, the “definitive” earthrise picture would be taken by astronaut Bill Anders aboard Apollo 8, the first lunar orbit mission.  Anders, Jim Lovell, and Frank Borman all took pictures of the beautiful appearance of the earth rising above the lunar horizon.

And that’s where I come in. Shortly after Frank Borman left NASA, he took the reins of Eastern Airlines as President. To better prepare himself for the job, he attended the Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program.  The Navy happened to send my dad to the same HBS-AMP course as Borman, and they both studied together, and socialized quite a bit.

And Borman, as a token of his esteem, gave our family autographed, framed copies of the famous picture, one for my folks, and one for each of us children.

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this day in crime history: april 23, 1985


Not everything during the Reagan administration went right.

Originally posted on Nobody Move!:


On this date in 1985, one of the most heinous corporate crimes in history was committed: the introduction of New Coke. Coke drinkers were not amused. They gathered up their torches and pitchforks and laid siege to Coca Cola headquarters in Atlanta. OK, not literally, but I have no doubt the thought crossed the minds of millions of Coke drinkers. It was a dark time in history. I’ll always remember it as the time Bill Cosby lied to me.

After 79 days of hiding under their desks, Coca Cola executives relented and did the only sensible thing: they brought back the original recipe, now dubbed Coke Classic. The new formulation was kept on as Coke II, targeted, no doubt at people who wanted a Pepsi-ish drink, but preferred drinking it from a red can for some reason.

Further reading:

Coke Lore – The Real Story of New Coke


View original 7 more words



Liaoning At Sea

The Chinese have slavishly copied the US Navy’s techniques and procedures as they learn to operate tactical jets from their first carrier, the Liaoning. Apparently, the also realize the critical importance of releasing “hooah” vids.


Spill thought this was pretty cheesy. I thought it was pretty good, though obviously not “homemade” the way most US vids are.


Filed under navy

The Brigade Cavalry Squadron

Long ago, in the mists of time, back before the Army reorganized around the Brigade Combat Team concept, the Army was organized primarily around the Division as the primary tactical unit of deployment and employment. Each division had 9 or 10 maneuver battalions (either Infantry or Armor) organized into three Brigades.

Each Infantry or Armor battalion had a Scout Platoon, designed to provide reconnaissance, or what today would be called RSTA, for Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition.

The Division also had a Cavalry Squadron, essentially an RSTA battalion, with two ground troops and two aviation troops.

Most of the Army division was organized along a fairly triangular scheme, with headquarters at each level controlling three maneuver units, and appropriate supporting elements. One glaring omission in this bygone era was the gap between battalion and division. The Brigades had no organic RSTA assets. You would expect to see a company/troop sized RSTA element at the Brigade level. Instead, there was none. The Division Commander might task his Cav squadron to focus support to one or two of the three Brigades, but usually he needed it to focus on his own RSTA priorities.

So when the Army reorganized and shifted the focus from the Division to the Brigade Combat Team (BCT), one thing they did was assign a very robust RSTA capability. Each maneuver battalion would keep its organic Scout Platoon, and the BCT would have an entire RSTA squadron (or battalion sized element, if you will).

Unfortunately, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan called for increasing the numbers of BCTs in the Army. And while there was some increase in the allowed end-strength of the Army, it wasn’t nearly enough to provide the manpower for all the new BCTs.

So the Army cheated. It would stand up new BCTs, each with, among other things, their own RSTA battalion (which carried the unit designations of various historical Cavalry Squadrons). But instead of each BCT having three regular maneuver battalions, they would only have two. So the prime maneuver combat power of the BCT was reduced by a third. What wasn’t reduced was the missions these BCTs were required to perform. And so, as Tripp Callaway tells us in his article, the Cavalry RSTAs in Iraq and Afghanistan were often pressed into duty as a third maneuver battalion.

This meant that, in effect, most RSTAs were usually utilized as miniature infantry battalions and were thus given corresponding direct combat and COIN tasks to perform, rather than the traditional reconnaissance and flank security tasks they were designed to accomplish.

In the COIN warfare of the War on Terror, that was an acceptable choice.

But should the Army find itself in battle with a more conventional foe, it is imperative that the RSTA should be used in its designed, traditional role.

The Army has a relatively small number of BCTs. And those BCTs are actually fairly fragile, though they have a great deal of combat power. The trick is finding exactly where and when to apply that power, and denying any enemy the opportunity to apply his combat power against us. Finding the enemy, his order of battle, his dispositions and his intentions  while denying the enemy information about our forces and dispositions is the traditional Cavalry mission.

But what about UAVs, you ask? As Callaway notes, in any conflict against a more conventional foe, UAVs will be vulnerable, both to direct measures like Air Defense, and to jamming or cyber attacks such as network intrusions. And for true, persistent Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, there’s no substituting the man on the ground. UAVs complement, not replace, a traditional approach to ISR.

As Callaway makes the central thesis of his piece, the use of RSTA units as conventional units has meant that their traditional Cavalry skills have atrophied. Just as bad, the “end user” of their product has also forgotten how to ask for or use their “product.”

Our austere budget environment has lead to a drawdown of the number of BCTs the Army will have. But it is not all darkness. One effect of the drawdown is that the remaining BCTs will receive a third maneuver battalion. This will (hopefully) free up the RSTA to return to their traditional role.

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Some Pushback on that Lind article… and some agreement too.

URR posted about an article by William Lind. Lots of people immediately panned the article (and by my lights, rightly so), mostly about the intellectual incuriosity of junior officers.

CDR Salamander, of course, took a poke at the article. But he also gives credit where due on some parts of Lind’s piece. For my money, the biggest structural problem in the officer corps is the stupendously bloated staff sizes. Your mileage may vary.

As with so many posts at CDR Sal’s, the real fun is in the comments. That’s your reading assignment for today.


Filed under navy

The Maces made a video you have to see to believe…

It IS a good video.

Stolen from Bill, who posted it over at The Lexicans.


Filed under navy, planes

F-100 Versus MiG-17: The Air Battle Nobody Told You About | Defense Media Network

One of the great fighters of the Cold War and the Vietnam conflict was the North American F-100 Super Sabre, from the same planemaker who gave us Mitchells, Mustangs, and Sabres. When new, the “Hun” flew faster, higher, and farther than its predecessors. It set speed records. It flew more individual sorties in Vietnam than any other fighter. It guarded against Soviet attack in times of tension. In fact, the F-100 Super Sabre did almost everything a modern fighter could do – except shoot down an enemy aircraft.

Incredibly, despite its decades on the cutting edge of combat aviation, the F-100 was never credited with an air-to-air victory. Since the high priests of the fighter profession regard a “kill” as sacred on the altar of their religion, the Super Sabre’s other achievements can never compensate for the fact that it was never a MiG killer.

via F-100 Versus MiG-17: The Air Battle Nobody Told You About | Defense Media Network.

Or was it?



Monday Links

Looks like submariners may actually join the rest of the human race and switch to a 24 hour day.


Russia has a long way to go to rebuild their forces, but progress is being made. Their operations in Georgia, and even more so in Ukraine, are far, far more competently executed than their disastrous operations in Chechnya in the 1990s.


The U.S. military is a socialist paradise. Imagine a testing ground where every signature liberal program of the past century has been applied, from racial integration to single-payer health care—then add personal honor, strict hierarchy, and more guns. Like all socialist paradises, the military has been responsible for its share of bloodshed, but it has developed one of the only working models of collective living and social welfare that this country has ever known.

Of course, the military also costs money to operate. Further, membership is voluntary, unlike the subjects of a socialist society at large.




Load HEAT- Grace Potter

Long legs and rock and roll. What’s not to like about Grace Potter and the Nocturnals?

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Filed under Load Heat

He is risen!

He is risen, indeed.

Happy Easter.



First Flight of the Intruder

Spill was kind enough to remind me that today marks the anniversary of the first flight of the Grumman A2F-1 Intruder, more popularly known by its post-1962 designation, the A-6.

Given that our dad was flying in an A-6A the very day we were born, we’ve always had a strong affinity for the Intruder.

And as someone not overly blessed in the looks department, we’ve also liked that the Intruder may have been ugly, but it got the job done.

To borrow a pic from Tailspin Tommy

And of course, there’s plenty of videos of the old gal.


Filed under planes


Back before the introduction of the ATACMS missile system launched from the MLRS and HIMARS, the Army had the MGM-52 Lance missile system to deliver nuclear and conventional long range fires at Corps and Army level.




The Doolittle Raid

On this day in 1942, sixteen B-25 Mitchell bombers, designed solely for land based operations, lifted from the deck of the USS Hornet, and began the long flight to Tokyo.

The  surprise attack on the Japanese capitol shocked the Japanese, and gave an immense boost to American morale. Prior to the news of the daring raid, virtually everywhere the American public looked, doom and despair were to be found. It seemed the US might lose the war. The public was still steeled to fight on, but needed a sign that their faith in the war effort was well placed.

Of the 80 airmen who launched, three were killed, three more were executed by the Japanese, five were held as prisoners by Japan. Only four airmen still live today.

Huzzah for one of the boldest operations ever undertaken. Let their spirit continue to inspire today’s warriors.



The Return of the Flying Dorito? Or “What the heck was that over Texas?

Planespotters in Texas and now Kansas have recently been seeing some very unusual looking aircraft overhead. The shape of these high flying mystery jets is similar too, but NOT the same as, the B-2 Spirit bomber, better known as the Stealth Bomber.

These sightings have, of course, cranked up the rumors and theories.

Today we have new pics that are the clearest yet.

A mysterious flying object was snapped flying over Wichita, Kansas by Jeff Templin. It resembles a similar unidentified aircraft streaking across the skies of Texas last month

The triangular shape certainly calls to mind one of the biggest procurement failures of the latter half of the 20th Century, the Navy’s failed A-12 Avenger II program.

The A-12, planned successor to the fabled A-6 Intruder attack aircraft, was eventually cancelled before the first was ever built due to staggering cost overruns and the massive weight gain of the design.

But you can see from the picture above, the triangular shape of the mystery jet is certainly very, very similar to the A-12.

Who knows if the jet over Texas is manned or a drone, or what?

What say you?


Filed under Air Force, navy, planes

Compare and Contrast





We’re doomed.



Ugh. Busy Day

More here.



Accountability and the Rule of Law

There’s a reason so many of us distrust the government.

Ace has a long, very good post on the numerous ways the Obama administration has moved the goalposts on a wide range of domestic policy metrics.

Of course, the Administration’s main salutatory innovations in economic and policy matters has been to change the method by which we measure the economy and impacts of specific policies.

We used to figure out a President’s job creation number from, get this, subtracting jobs lost from jobs created, resulting in (whether positive or negative) net jobs created.

But Obama found that Old School Approach to not be accurate enough. He created a new category — Jobs Saved.

And when “Jobs Saved” turned out to not be plentiful in and of themselves, he created a new category– “Jobs Funded.” He asked employers to note when even a single dollar of government stimulus money had gone to an an employee, whether or not that employee was ever in danger of being laid off. If a single dollar of money went to that employee, then the job was considered “funded” by the government.

But that still wasn’t enough — the Department of Energy created a new metric for measuring the economic impact of stimulus spending. People who politically supported boondoggle spending on, say, Solyndra, would be credited as having been “positively impacted” by the spending.

Sure, Solyndra cost the country money in exchange for no jobs, but think about all those people “positively impacted” by the spending! They felt good about spending money on a cronyist boondoggle; and you just can’t put a price on making progressives’ erogenous zones throb with the excitement of spending other people’s money.

Of course, when we on the right criticized the movement of oversight of the Census Bureau to the White House, we were scorned as paranoids.

While the Obama administration is the most egregious example of government unworthy of trust, it certainly isn’t the only one. The very core of conservative political philosophy is the understanding that all government, at every level, and of any party or ideology, will attempt to increase its power and ultimately abuse that power. That definitionally means a decrease in liberty and freedom of the polity. As a conservative, I don’t distrust the government because it is leftist. I trust it because it is far too powerful, and far too big.

And of course, with size and power, accountability goes out the window. A great quip from Ace:

And in each case, the changes in accounting methodology prevent the whole point of accounting — accountability.

Theoretically, local government is more responsive to the public. Unfortunately, they’re also far more likely to be involved in your day to day life. And it rarely works out that those institutions have your best interest at heart. They have their own interests first and foremost.

Let’s take the example of a Pennsylvania student being bullied in school. His complaints were ignored by the school. And so, he decided to provide irrefutable proof, and recorded an encounter with his tormentors. When his mother presented the school with conclusive evidence that the school was not taking steps to ensure the safety and well-being of her son, the school did the only rational thing. They called in the police and threatened the poor victim with felony wiretapping charges. Really-

A Pennsylvania teen, who claimed to have been bullied constantly (and ignored by school administration), made an audio recording of his tormentors using a school-supplied iPad. He brought this to the school’s attention, which duly responded by calling the cops… to have him arrested for violating Pennsylvania’s wiretapping law. (h/t to Techdirt reader btr1701)

And so, here we have another example of why people do not, and should not, trust power in the hands of government. You and I and every normal person knows this is a miscarriage of justice (in the end, the boy plead to misdemeanor disorderly conduct).

When I said the school did the only rational thing, I wasn’t kidding. From the point of view of the school, concerned more with the well-being of the school than the student, calling the police was a very rational act. Faced with evidence that, in our litigious society, would show the school was negligent, they neutered that threat by turning the victim of the school’s inaction into a criminal. For the police, it was entirely rational. Under the laws of Pennsylvania, there was more than sufficient probable cause to charge him with wiretapping. And for the prosecution, why not? Felony wiretapping would be a lot of work to prosecute, but a plea bargain for disorderly conduct is bread and butter.

But you and I, I hope, see that while these actions were legal, and well within the bounds of the law, they were by no means just or moral.

And there will be no accountability. None. Oh, the family might sue, and even win. But that’s not accountability. That’s taking money from taxpayers and transferring it to the victim.

Will the principal be fired? Will the school administrators who actually drafted the school’s policy on discipline lose their jobs? Of course not. Will the police officer, who tossed common sense out the window in favor of persecution in the name of prosecution, face consequences? Of course not. Will the prosecutors face consequences? The judge who didn’t have the sense to throw out the case?

Not. One. Damn. Bit. Of. Accountability.

That is why people lose respect for the law. The vast, overwhelming majority of Americans want to respect the rule of law. But they also want the rule of law to respect them.

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The New York Times or The Duffel Blog- Which is more credible?

First, the New York Times published a sloppy, vile smear on vets today. Because the Anti-Semite nutjob who killed three people at Jewish locations in Kansas City was once a soldier, of course the NYT had to spill gallons of ink to warn its readers that every veteran is a ticking timebomb.

Of course, the NYT forgets to mention that Frazier Glenn Miller, the accused, was forced out of the Army for his extremist views. Further, he has been out of the Army far longer than he was ever in it.

More than one outlet has called out the Times for its shameful smear against vets.

Paul Rieckhoff, director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, was outraged by Belew’s piece, which he called “sensational, slanderous and incredibly offensive to veterans.”

“Both the title — ‘Veterans and White Supremacy’ — and an accompanying graphic joining service members with KKK members are shameful,” Rieckhoff said in a statement to Military Times on Wednesday. “And the piece relies on weak research and sweeping generalizations about veterans. Especially coming right after so much irresponsible journalism that surrounded the [April 2] Fort Hood shooting, this is stunning and sad to see.

“How could the New York Times publish such a hurtful piece?” Rieckhoff said. “Veterans deserve answers from the Times — and an apology. After more than a decade of sacrifice, no veteran should have to open the newspaper and read an op-ed linking them to hate groups. In contrast to this op-ed, we should focus on telling the story of veterans doing amazing, inspiring work across the country and addressing the real challenges veterans face, including high rates of suicide and unemployment.”

Also, from Commentary Magazine:

Here is Belew’s shoddy logic. Step A: “Vietnam veterans forged the first links between Klansmen and Nazis since World War II. They were central in leading Klan and neo-Nazi groups past the anti-civil rights backlash of the 1960s and toward paramilitary violence.” Step B: “It would be irresponsible to overlook the high rates of combat trauma among the 2.4 million Americans who have served in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the full impact of which has not yet materialized.” Implication: Many Iraq and Afghanistan vets are about to become violent white supremacists.

This doesn’t add up, to put it mildly, as even Belew (or her editors) seem to recognize because they put so many qualifiers into her argument. For example, she admits that “the number of Vietnam veterans in that [white supremacist] movement was small — a tiny proportion of those who served.” She also adds: “A vast majority of veterans are neither violent nor mentally ill. When they turn violent, they often harm themselves, by committing suicide.” But those qualifiers easily get loss amid the gist of the article, which clearly implies that the U.S. armed forces are a breeding ground for violent extremists.

So, are there racists in the services? Sure. The services are a reflection of the society they serve. And somehow, we as a society have not figured out how to fundamentally change the human condition.

Probably the best pushback came from Crispin Burke at Medium. It’s short, go read it all.

But those people in the services who harbor racism and hatred have to keep word and deed in line with the stated values of the services. Or get kicked out. Just like Frazier Glenn Miller got kicked out. And I guarantee you, the services are even less tolerant of racism now than they were 35 years ago.

As noted in the article, the NYT finds it remarkably easy to stereotype veterans in a way it simply could not do with any other group. Did Belew and the Times look at last night’s horrific murder of five people in Calgary and conclude (with just as much evidence) that belonging to a college community makes one a mass murderer?

Shame on the NYT. But then, they are and have been shameless.

Sorta related/Little too close to the bone-

Yesterday’s link to The Duffel Blog article on registering vets as dangerous nutjobs was, I thought, pretty funny. But apparently, some folks have impaired satire skills. TAH brings us news that a political blog, one that apparently leans conservative, bought the TDB post hook, line and sinker, and sent its readers after Rep. Jim Moran.

I’m about as rabidly right wing Republican as you can get, but even I find it embarrassing that the gullible sight STILL has the story posted. No link for stupid people. You can find them on your own.

As a consequence of this “outrage” Rep. Moran’s office has apparently been flooded with calls and emails excoriating him for this plan to register vets. Of course, the first Rep. Moran ever heard of such a thing was from the misguided blowback. Moran is one of the more loathsome members of Congress, and a dim bulb to boot, but this is actually one offense he’s not guilty of.

Have a kitteh:



Antonov 225

Just to give you and idea how big the largest plane in the world is, the AN-225 is 275 feet long, and has a max takeoff weight of almost one and a half million pounds.

That’s almost half the weight, and dang near as long, as a World War II Buckley class destroyer escort.



Norwegian military’s ship killing missile blows up a frigate – YouTube

Norwegian military’s ship killing missile blows up a frigate – YouTube.

I haven’t posted any ‘splody for Roamy in a while.



Thank You!

One of you, dear readers, hit the tip jar over there on the right —>

All donations are, of course, gratefully accepted. I won’t say the funds go to any great purpose, other than supporting my lifestyle, or maybe buying coffee mugs for the co-authors.

Also, a reminder that I’m an Amazon affiliate. If you use the link in the right sidebar to start your shopping experience, I get a nice little bit of advertising revenue, AT NO COST TO YOU.

Every little bit helps, and it sure helps boost the ego that readers think this blog is worth not just their time, but even their money. So, again, thank you.



Harvest Hawk Herc

We’ve mentioned the Marine Corps program to “bolt on” a ground attack capability to some of its fleet of KC-130J Hercules. And lo and behold, here’s some video of one doing a live fire exercise.

My eyes are getting pretty old. Can one of you sharp eyed spotters identify the chase plane? I think it’s a T-6 Texan II, but I’m just not sure.


Filed under marines

Bundy vs. BLM: A Visceral Reaction | National Review Online

One can be a supporter of the rule of law and still recoil in anger and disgust from the militarized display of force by the federal government toward Clive Bundy.

The disproportionate nature of the government’s reaction to Bundy suggests this has less to do with delinquent grazing fees than it does with the selective assertion of raw governmental power — sending a message not just to Bundy or a disfavored group, but to America as a whole. The same federal government that deploys Bureau of Land Management shooters tricked out like SEAL Team 6 directs Border Patrol agents to flee from aggressive illegal immigrants. The same federal government that would fire and prosecute federal agents who physically restrain border-crossers sends agents to tase and sic German shepherds on ordinary Americans exercising First Amendment rights.

One can acknowledge that the government has the right — in fact, the responsibility — to enforce the law, yet object that this administration habitually enforces the law in a capricious, arbitrary, and discriminatory manner. They imperiously go after a Bundy while excusing scores of miscreants whose get-out-of-jail-free card is membership in a politically-correct class. They regularly waive legal requirements out of sheer political expediency. They fail to defend duly enacted statutes with which they, the enlightened, disagree.

via Bundy vs. BLM: A Visceral Reaction | National Review Online.




UPDATE: Hue City crew doused major fire at sea | Navy Times |

The crew of the cruiser Hue City fought and defeated a major fire in one of the main engineering spaces Monday evening without suffering any injuries, according to a new report obtained by Navy Times.

The fire broke out at just after 6:20 p.m. local time while the Hue City was steaming about 200 nautical miles northeast of Bermuda, according to the initial incident report sent by the ship.

It started in the No. 1 gas turbine generator, located in main engine room one, and the crew reacted by going to general quarters, this message said, in what appears to be among the most serious shipboard fires in a few years.

While much remains unclear about what happened on board, the report makes clear that the fire wasn’t finally declared “out” until more than an hour and a half after it started.

via UPDATE: Hue City crew doused major fire at sea | Navy Times |

Prayers for the crew. There’s nothing scarier to sailors than fire at sea.

And it’s a certainty that if they had to break out the hose teams, she’s going to need some time in the yards before she’s ready to sail again.



Hellfire Longbow for LCS

Sam LaGrone notes that the Navy has ditched the idea of equipping the troubled LCS family of ships with the Griffin short range missile, and will instead arm them with the millimeter-wavelength radar guided version of the popular AGM-114 Hellfire missile.

The Navy has traded Raytheon’s Griffin IIB missile for Lockheed Martin’s Longbow Hellfire AGM-114L for the surface-to-surface missile for early increments and testing for the surface warfare (SuW) mission package for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the outgoing program manager for LCS Mission Modules (PMS 420), Rear Adm. John Ailes told reporters on Wednesday.

The choice between the missiles — roughly equivalent in size, range (about five miles) and warhead size — came in part from the ability of the Army’s Longbow to take targeting information from Saab’s Sea Giraffe radar and use its onboard millimeter wave seeker to find a target. The Griffin uses a semi-active laser seeker that requires the ship’s crew to ‘paint’ a target with a laser, limiting the number of missiles that can engage targets at once.

“We have these 10,000 [Longbow] missiles, there’s no cost risk at all, it’s vertically launchable and you can shoot lots of them at same time and you don’t have to do that thing where you keep the laser on it,” Ailes said.
“That’s why we’re excited about Longbow Hellfire.”

The Navy plans to test the missile aboard a LCS — likely USS Freedom (LCS-1) — next year. In 2013, the Navy tested the Longbow at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. against simulated small boat targets successfully.

Griffin is a pretty handy missile, but its selection never made any sense. First, it’s a semi-active laser homing weapon. That means you can only simultaneously attack as many targets as you have laser designators. The MMR Hellfire, on the other hand, is fire and forget.* For dealing with a swarming boat attack, that means as soon as you’ve assigned the missile to its target, you can launch and start targeting another. This, of course, greatly decreases the engagement cycle time.

I will admit, I had no idea anyone had looked at a vertical launch capability for the Hellfire, but according to our old friend Chuckles, the Navy tested it out on a 65’ patrol boat.


*The Hellfire missiles you have seen in videos from Iraq and Afghanistan are semi-active laser guided variants. There are a couple reasons for this. First, Laser Hellfire is good enough in the relatively benign air defense environment in Afghanistan and Iraq. Also, in a COIN environment, Rules of Engagement generally call favor a weapon under positive control in place of a fire and forget weapon. Finally, especially in the high/hot conditions in Afghanistan, removing the fire control radar from the Apaches means a big weight savings, and increased helicopter performance.

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