Author Archives: xbradtc

About xbradtc

Kicking poon and taking names since March 2009

New Military Gear Doesn’t Have to Cost a Fortune — War is Boring — Medium

I didn’t ask to be put in charge of the BRITE project. In fact, given a choice I almost certainly would have declined. The odd little system looked distinctly underwhelming—and promised to be a blip on my radar, a forgettable job to be passed off to someone else as soon as possible.

Boy was I wrong. My work on the Broadcast-Request Imagery Technology Environment—a system for sending satellite imagery to troops on the ground—changed my thinking about how we develop military gear.

Bottom line, new weaponry doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t have to involve thousands of people and take years or decades to design.

via New Military Gear Doesn’t Have to Cost a Fortune — War is Boring — Medium.

The 80/20 rule. You can get 80% of the capability for 20% of the cost.

The classic example of a small focused team working on a well defined project with well defined capabilities is the A-12/SR-71 program run by Kelly Johnson in the Lockheed Skunk Works. It’s predecessor, the U-2, and the follow on project, the F-117 were all very successful, especially since they didn’t try to be all things to all people.

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You too can fire an SA-11 Buk!

Someone asked me how hard it is to learn to operate the SA-11 Buk system used to shoot down MH17.

Like most Soviet era weapons, it was designed to be operated by conscripted soldiers. Admittedly, Air Defense troops tended to be selected from the brighter conscripts, and the Soviet Army used officers to supervise tasks that western armies would use an NCO for. To operate the system well, as a part of an integrated air defense plan took training and experience and judgment. But to simply learn to shoot a missile was a good deal easier.

And if you’d like to learn how, there’s a simulator for it. You can also learn to operate various other Soviet era SAMs such as the SA-2 and the SA-5.

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Alaska Guardsman mauled by bear while on LandNav : This ain’t Hell, but you can see it from here

The Washington Times reports that an Alaska National Guardsman was mauled by a brown bear protecting her cubs while he was on a land navigation course on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson;

via Alaska Guardsman mauled by bear while on LandNav : This ain’t Hell, but you can see it from here.

Not The Duffel Blog. There’s critters out in the woods.

When we did land nav in Hawaii, we were issued 3 rounds of live ammo, just in case.

Jonn tells us the soldier is in stable condition and recovering.



US Says Donovian Militants Responsible For Shooting Down Malaysia Airliner


WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Barack Obama told reporters he has a “mountain of evidence” that proves militants from the Donovian People’s Army shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in the breakaway province of Gorgas, sources confirmed this morning.

The announcement came as a shock to most of the world, as many following the news after the civilian airliner was brought down initially believed it happened in eastern Ukraine, at the hands of pro-Russian separatists.

“We are deeply concerned by not only the Donovians’ lawlessness, but also their continued aggression toward their Atropian neighbors,” Obama said.

via US Says Donovian Militants Responsible For Shooting Down Malaysia Airliner.

The investigation has widened and NTSB officials are travelling to Louisiana.

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Delta Cancels All Israel Flights Over Missile Fear « CBS New York

The Federal Aviation Administration has notified all United States airlines that flights to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport are prohibited for the next 24 hours.

The move follows a rocket landing near the airport.

The FAA issued a NOTAM, or Notice to Airman, barring the flights just after noon on Tuesday.

“The notice was issued in response to a rocket strike which landed approximately one mile from Ben Gurion International Airport on the morning of July 22, 2014. The NOTAM applies only to U.S> operators, and has no authority over foreign airlines operating to or from the airport.”

“The FAA will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation. Updated instructions will be provided to U.S. airlines as soon as conditions permit,” the FAA said in a statement.

via Delta Cancels All Israel Flights Over Missile Fear « CBS New York.

No big surprise there. While Hamas has been tossing hundreds of homemade Qassam rockets over the border for years now, it takes a much bigger rocket to reach to Tel Aviv. These are military grade weapons smuggled in from Iran.

The rocket fire itself isn’t the only risk. There’s also the theoretical risk of Iron Dome rockets being launched to intercept an attack.

In fact, the likelihood of losing a plane to either is tiny, but civil aviation likes to reduce risks whenever possible. Especially in the wake of Malaysian Air 17.

We’ll see how long this flight restriction lasts. For now, it’s only 24 hours. Hamas, seeing this reaction, will likely continue to attempt to target the airport. Shutting down commerce is something of a victory for them.

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Fore Sale – Arezzo – Think Defence

The MoD is selling one of the RLC’s Ramped Landing Craft

via Fore Sale – Arezzo – Think Defence.

You guys need to hit the tip jar a little harder so I can get this and cruise around the San Juan Islands!

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Squadron Cars: The Amazingly Liveried Rides Of Air Combat Units

The modern requirements for a squadron vehicle are simple: it has to be gaudy, relatively expendable and a continuous work in progress. Most importantly it has to capture the culture and lore of the flying squadron it belongs to, no matter how outrageous.

via Squadron Cars: The Amazingly Liveried Rides Of Air Combat Units.

It was always fun seeing the Garudamobile around Oak Harbor.



Profile | Staff Sergeant Ryan Pitts | Medal of Honor Nominee | The United States Army

Profile | Staff Sergeant Ryan Pitts | Medal of Honor Nominee | The United States Army.

Staff Sergeant Ryan Pitts

hometown-Nashua, New Hampshire
enlistment date-January, 2003
military occupation (mos)-Forward Observer (13F)
unit-Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade
deployments-Operation Enduring Freedom VI & VIII, Afghanistan

Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts joined the Army in 2003, at the age of 17 under the delayed entry program. He attended basic training and advanced individual training at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.

Pitts then went to the U.S. Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Ga., before being assigned as a radio telephone operator for the 4th Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment and 173rd Airborne Brigade at Camp Ederle, Italy from 2004-2005. He remained headquartered at Camp Ederle as part of the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Abn. Bde. from 2006 to 2009.

While assigned to the 173rd, Pitts deployed twice to Afghanistan. His first deployment in 2005 lasted 12 months. His final deployment spanned 15 months beginning in 2007. Pitts departed the active-duty Army in 2009.

His civilian education includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business from the University of New Hampshire at Manchester. He currently resides in Nashua, New Hampshire where he is in business development for the computer software industry.

His military education includes the U.S. Army Airborne School, U.S. Army Pathfinder Course, and the Warrior Leader Course.

Staff Sergeant Pitt’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal w/ “V” Device, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal w/ “V” Device and three Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal with Bronze Clasp and two Loops, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Two Campaign Stars, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon with Numeral “4″, NATO Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Valorous Unit Award, Combat Action Badge, Pathfinder Badge and Parachutist Badge.

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The Right Way, The Wrong Way, The CGSC Way

Via Comrade Arthur

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Obama: focus in Gaza conflict must be on ceasefire | Reuters

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama repeated on Monday that Israel had the right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas militants but said he had serious concerns about the growing number of civilian casualties resulting from the conflict.

“We have serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives, and that is why it now has to be our focus and the focus of the international community to bring about a ceasefire that ends the fighting and that can stop the deaths of innocent civilians,” he told reporters at the White House.

via Obama: focus in Gaza conflict must be on ceasefire | Reuters.

Israel would do well to ignore President Obama (as so much of the rest of the world does).

A cease fire gains Israel nothing.

As usual, the only time calls for a cease fire arise are when Israel responds to attack.

And for those on the left that “genocide” and “war crimes,” where is your outrage against the Hamas war crimes?  For that matter, where are your protests against ISIS and the dozens of other Islamic terror groups that slaughter Muslims in numbers that make the casualties in Gaza look like a church picnic?

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Load HEAT- Ali Landry

As I sat here Sunday night munching on Doritos trying to choose this week’s entry, it struck me, the D0ritos girl- Ali Landry!

Ali Landry (1)Ali Landry (2)Ali Landry (3)Ali Landry (4)Ali Landry (6)Ali Landry (7)Ali Landry (8)Ali Landry (9)Ali Landry (10)Ali Landry (11)Ali Landry (12)FRITO-LAY NORTH AMERICA DORITOS GIRL ALI LANDRYAli Landry (14)


Filed under Load Heat

AIRSHOW-Carrier test with extra EA-18G jets went well -U.S. Navy | Reuters

The U.S. Navy said it was pleased with the results of a test that put three extra Boeing Co EA-18G electronic attack jets on the deck of an aircraft carrier in late May and early June, an exercise that could underpin future orders of the jets.

“The exercise went very well. We gained a deeper understanding of the incredible value of the EA-18G Growler and how to best employ its capability, and increased capacity, from the flight deck of our aircraft carrier,” said Commander Jeannie Groeneveld, spokeswoman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s naval air force.

Groeneveld said the Navy was still reviewing lessons learned from the exercise, which took place aboard the USS Carl Vinson off the coast of southern California. The test came at a time when Boeing is lobbying U.S. lawmakers to add orders for the planes and keep its St. Louis production line open past 2016.

via AIRSHOW-Carrier test with extra EA-18G jets went well -U.S. Navy | Reuters.

With the greatly increased numbers of effective radar guided surface to air missiles worldwide, bumping the size of EA-18G squadrons from five to eight aircraft would be a very good idea, especially given how few aircraft of all types are currently deployed on US carriers.

That’s to say nothing about the fact that virtually any US Air Force air campaign will also require support from the Navy’s Electronic Attack community.

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Articles: Ten Reasons Why I Am No Longer a Leftist

How far left was I? So far left my beloved uncle was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party in a Communist country. When I returned to his Slovak village to buy him a mass card, the priest refused to sell me one. So far left that a self-identified terrorist proposed marriage to me. So far left I was a two-time Peace Corps volunteer and I have a degree from UC Berkeley. So far left that my Teamster mother used to tell anyone who would listen that she voted for Gus Hall, Communist Party chairman, for president. I wore a button saying “Eat the Rich.” To me it wasn’t a metaphor.

I voted Republican in the last presidential election.

Below are the top ten reasons I am no longer a leftist. This is not a rigorous comparison of theories. This list is idiosyncratic, impressionistic, and intuitive. It’s an accounting of the milestones on my herky-jerky journey.

via Articles: Ten Reasons Why I Am No Longer a Leftist.

Great piece for your Sunday afternoon reading.



RIP James Garner

Legendary actor James Garner has passed at the age of 86.

This Ain’t Hell reminds us that Garner was an infantryman, twice wounded in combat.



“Houston, Tranquility Base here…”

On this day in 1969, those words spoken by Neil Armstrong traveled across some quarter million miles of space to the headsets of the Mission Control Team, and the televisions of a significant portion of humanity, signaling that the Apollo 11 Lunar Module had landed upon the surface of the moon.


To this day, the Apollo program remains, 45 years later, a stunning achievement, an effort unparalleled in terms of planning, construction, development and manufacturing. 

NASA has a fine collection of materials on the history of the Apollo program, both technical and for the layman. I’m currently reading this fine overview of the program.

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The Royal Navy in the early 1990s

This is about an hour and a half long, but it’s a pretty wide ranging look at the Royal Navy when it still had jets and carriers. It also takes a look at the Netherlands Navy. The sub portions are particularly interesting.

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Only One US Citizen aboard MH17

We linked to a source yesterday claiming as many as 23 US citizens were killed in the shoot down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17.

We searched repeatedly for confirmation of that number, but no other sources were forthcoming. As of this morning, it appears only one American was killed, Quinn Lucas Schansman, who held dual US and Dutch citizenship.

That in no way minimizes the enormity of the crime. But I felt obligated to update you since my previous post was inaccurate.

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Martial Law!

First, it’s “martial law.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people worried about Marshall Law in the internets. What? James Arness is gonna lock you up?

The keen political observer above has been making the rounds at Facebook.

One of the major advantages of the Army buying the Stryker ICV was that it could simply be driven to and from training areas, avoiding the cost and hassle of using flatbeds or trains.



The Navy’s Smallest Carrier

The Nimitz class supercarriers are pretty big, at 1,092 feet and 103,000 tons. The Essex class carriers were a good deal smaller, at 820 feet and roughly 27,000 tons when built. Escort carriers were even smaller. The Casablanca class were even smaller, at 512 feet and 7,800 tons.

But the smallest carrier in the Navy was probably the Baylander, at 131 feet and 160 tons.

In the mid-1980s, at the Reagan defense buildup grew the fleet, a major part of the growth was in helicopters for surface combatants such as destroyers, frigates and cruisers.

Take a look at that tiny flight deck on the USS Knox above. Learning to fly a helicopter is one thing. Learning to land on a ship is another. Fixed wing Naval Aviators’s training culminated with their landing aboard the Navy’s training carrier, the USS Lexington. The problem was, the Navy didn’t always have a frigate or destroyer handy for rotary winged aviators to practice landing on.

It occurred to the Navy that you didn’t need much of a ship to practice landing helicopters on. And so, they converted a harbor utility craft by adding a landing platform and having it cruise off Pensacola as needed to allow fledgling birdmen practice at landing aboard. Designated IX-514, she was often called the HLT, or Helicopter Landing Trainer.

Put into service in 1986, the HLT served for more than 20 years qualifying Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard aviators, in addition to pilots from numerous civilian and foreign agencies.

Recently the Baylander (it cruised around Pensacola Bay and landed helicopters-what else would it be named?) was sold to The Trenk Family Foundation, and it is currently on display at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The ship’s history before its conversion to the HLT was pretty interesting as well.

As the Vietnam War heated up in 1967, the Naval Support Activity Da Nang needed more lighterage to unload the vast sums of materiel arriving in Vietnam. And because the road network in Vietnam was poor and dangerous, the Navy need some coastal freighter capability to move cargoes from Da Nang to smaller facilities along the coast. The Navy’s LCU class utility landing craft were a bit small for the job, and further, most of them were already dedicated to the amphibious shipping fleet. So the Navy went shopping for an off-the-shelf design, and fortuitously found just what it was looking for up in Alaska. Designed to service oil pipeline construction, the Skilak class from the Pacific Coast Engineering Company fit the bill to a “T.”  The Navy quickly bought a dozen as the YFU-71 class (YFU is code for Harbor Utility Craft).  From around 1968 to the end of the war, they operated in  support of operations in Vietnam.  An Army Heavy Boat Company operated 6 of them after 1970, while one was transferred to Cambodia in 1970.

YFU-78 was sunk with heavy casualties from a Viet Cong rocket attack while loaded with ammunition.

At the end of the war, the remaining 10 ships evacuated to Guam, where most of them served until the mid-1980s before being sold off or transferred to other government agencies.

Here’s the Baylander in her days as YFU-79.

At least one or two of the class are still in service.

Helicopter operations aboard IX-514 in 2008.


Filed under navy

Israel puts a stopper in a tunnel

13 Hamas terrorists attempted to infiltrate Israel last night via a tunnel. As soon as they entered the tunnel, Israel blew it up.



SA-11/17 Buk Missile System

By now you’ve seen speculation that the Malaysian Airlines flight in Ukraine was brought down by a “Buk” missile system. The NATO code name for this system is either SA-11 GADFLY or SA-17 GRIZZLY for the follow-on variant. The Russian (and Ukraine) name for the system is “Buk.”


Both Russia and Ukraine operate the Buk. And the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine claim to have captured some.

File:Buk-M1-2 air defence system in 2010.jpg

A Buk battery consists of a command post vehicle, a surveillance radar vehicle, several  launcher vehicles, and vehicles carrying reloads. But the SA-11/17 can be fired and guided solely from its launcher vehicle, without integrating with the command post and surveillance radar.

The system is highly mobile, and intended to provide air defense for army formations in the field, though Ukraine does also use it as a portion of their fixed national air defense network protecting its cities and critical infrastructure.


Filed under ukraine

Bergdahl Lawyers Up

Via This Ain’t Hell, according to a report in the Christian Science Monitor, Bowe Bergdahl has engaged the services of Eugene Fidell to represent him during the investigation surrounding the circumstances of his capture.

Mr. Fidell has been a full-time lecturer at Yale for the past five years, and he served in the US Coast Guard. He is the co-founder of the National Institute of Military Justice and heads the committee on military justice for the International Society for Military Law and the Law of War.

While investigators have not yet spoken with Bergdahl, that is expected to happen “sometime in the near future,” says Wayne Hall, a spokesman for the Army.

Mr. Fidell is apparently taking the case pro bono.

While I personally believe that Bergdahl intended to desert his post, he is, like every other American, entitled to due process, and competent representation. One strongly suspects Mr. Fidell will give Bergdahl the same advice every competent attorney stresses to their client- don’t speak.

I’d like to see Bergdahl nuked for his crimes, but it’s more important to my mind that the military follow the rule of law that it exists to protect, preserve and defend.


Filed under army

IDF starts Gaza ground invasion | JPost | Israel News

IDF ground forces began to move into the Gaza Strip on Thursday evening, the prime minister’s office confirmed.

The purpose of the operation was to destroy the Gazan terror tunnels leading to Israel, according to a statement released by the prime minister’s office.

“Israel is committed to act to protect its citizens. The operation will continue until its goals are reached: To bring quiet to the citizens of Israel for a long period of time, and to seriously harm Hamas and other terrorist organizations’ infrastructure in the Gaza Strip,” the statement read.

via IDF starts Gaza ground invasion | JPost | Israel News.

Well, it’s not a big surprise. The only question recently has been when, not if.

And now the question becomes, how long before the US pressures Israel to stop.



American Citizens Aboard MH17?

Reuters is reporting that the Interior Ministry (presumably the Ukrainian one) is saying there were 23 American citizens aboard MH17.


We’ll have to see.

Another tweet that I can’t quite seem to find right now, speculated that MH17 might be the Archduke Ferdinand of airplanes.



How Soon Until the Left Blames Israel?

As our friend DKE notes on Facebook, the Russian proxies in Ukraine (seriously, their military commander is a Russian, they’re not even hiding that) have killed more innocent civilians in one fell swoop than Israel has in weeks of retaliatory raids in Gaza. Israel has been accused of genocide and war crimes, ad nauseum. Will the same folks be able to muster similar outrage against Russia?

With one missile, the Russians have killed more people than the Israelis have in the last two weeks.
All, by the way, civilians.
Yeah, I’ll wait for the leftist outrage.

Update. That didn’t take long