Which, I know the basic type, but could actually use some help on the sub-type.
The F/A-18 family has been a pretty successful program for Naval Aviation, from it’s origins as an inexpensive lightweight fighter, to a replacement for legacy F-4 Phantom and A-7 Corsair II aircraft. It’s evolution into the much larger F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EF-18G Growler were surprisingly smooth programs.
But the program isn’t without its faults. For instance, the major weakness of the family has always been seen as its relatively low “fuel fraction,” that is, the percentage of the aircrafts weight devoted to fuel. A low fuel fraction leads to relatively short range. External tanks and aerial refueling mitigate this to some extent, but not without penalties in performance, payload, cost, and time.
The Super Hornets also have one other minor issue. A fair amount of attention was paid to reducing the radar cross section of the jet, without having to go full stealth. But when weapon separation tests were conducted on the prototype, it turned out that some loads were not leaving cleanly. The modified wing of the Super Hornet was doing things to airflow that no one had foreseen. Rather than have to redesign the entire wing, the fix turned out to be toeing out the external wing pylons by 4 degrees. Of course, this imposes a healthy bit of drag, both for the pylons themselves, and for any stores on them. It also pretty much shot to hell all the attention to reducing the radar cross section of the jet.
So, with the pylons off, the Super Hornet is pretty sprightly, and has fair low observable characteristics. But it doesn’t have any range, or any weapons.
Boeing is trying to work around that issue. In recent years, other “teen” series fighters, the F-15 and F-16, have used “conformal fuel tanks” fitted to the outside of the airframe to increase “internal” fuel, rather than having to carry drop tanks on pylons. With care, the design can have minimal impact on airframe drag or radar cross section. That goes a long ways toward tacking the range issue. But what about weapons? Boeing is also designing a semi-stealthy pod for the centerline that resembles a drop tank, but is instead a weapons pod.
Jason pointed out this article at The DEW Line showing a mock-up of the configuration that Boeing and the Navy will flight test this summer.
You can see the Conformal Fuel Tanks over the wing root, and the weapons pod on the centerline. Close observation will also show a sensor window under the nose, as opposed to the usual method of mounting a pod on one of the engine bays. Less drag, more stealth.
The concept is to give the Super Hornet fleet some limited ability for “first day of the war” stealth to penetrate enemy air space. My major concern is that the weapons pod right now is only configured (so far as we can tell) to carry four AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles, giving it a fair air-to-air capability. What it really needs is a capability to carry weapons to attack enemy surface to air defense systems. Some way of carrying anti-radiation missiles, or at a minimum, GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs is going to be critical. I suppose designing an alternative pod shouldn’t be too great an engineering challenge.
Boeing is smart enough to see that its rival Lockheed Martin is struggling to make the F-35C a reality, and is trying to offer a low cost, low risk alternative that will keep the carrier air wing viable through the first half of the 21st Century.
It’s a physical impossibility to hit a ballistic missile with another missile- akin to hitting a rifle bullet with another rifle bullet. That must be true, as critics of ballistic missile defense have been telling me that for 30 years.
One cannot think back to the last thing that the Obama Administration nor any of its appointed officials have said about Benghazi, the IRS scandal, or the illegal subpoena of Associated Press phone records that has had even a shred of truth.
About Benghazi, Hillary Clinton lied. She knew it was a terrorist attack when she talked about some internet video being the cause of a spontaneous demonstration that turned violent. Hillary also knew it was her State Department, and not intelligence entities, that changed the talking points into a pack of lies. Susan Rice lied by repeating those talking points when she knew they were untrue several days after the tragedy. Barack Obama lied when he claimed he had called the Benghazi attack “terrorism”. He very pointedly did no such thing, and apparently believes us lazy enough to not remember what he said, or stupid enough to make us think we didn’t understand his words.
The IRS scandal keeps growing, as well. Despite assurances at the time that no such targeting of political opponents took place, it was widespread. Not only that but even as the assurances were being given, high level White House and IRS officials knew that targeting was happening. The tale that it was a few “low-level employees in Cincinnati” was a deliberate fabrication. So when President Obama tells us he heard about it on the news like everyone else, he is either an imbecile, or he is lying. Since he considers himself smart enough to lecture us on Naval strategy during a debate, I will have to choose the latter.
Now, new revelations that the illegal, secret, unconstitutional subpoena of Associated Press phone records is much broader than we were first told. Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department has been nothing short of a criminal enterprise, with this episode yet another in a long list of violations of his oath, and of the law. (Fast and Furious, New Black Panthers) His Deputy Attorney General is also complicit. James Cole has been caught in a lie. The extent of the subpoenas is far greater than we were told. Another deliberate falsehood. Resignation is not sufficient. Eric Holder is a criminal and should be behind bars.
There has been nothing that can be believed that has come out from this Administration in this first few months of a second term. Worse, he has two people who are willing unconditionally to sell their honor and trumpet the deliberate falsehoods of this presidency. One is a spineless political sycophant. The other is Jay Carney.
The Obama apologists will cling to their ideas that this is either not important, or the result of some kind of media/right-wing persecution of their Dear Leader. That the IRS scandal, the subpoenas, and Benghazi weren’t stonewalled and obfuscated until Obama was safely re-elected. Those who assert such, and claim anyone criticizing Barack Obama (don’t be hatin’ on Brother Barack!) is either parroting Fox News or is somehow a racist are intellectually bankrupt, and seemingly incapable of serious discussion regarding the malevolence of this Administration and its statist command-economy secular socialism.
Just as a reminder, this is the Administration that wants to control dispensing of our medical care. That believes that it is a government responsibility to care for our children. That believes a secret star chamber of “informed government officials” determining the grounds for assassinating Americans without criminal charges, a trial by a jury of one’s peers, or conviction in court constitutes “due process” and is a legitimate power of government. This is the Administration that wants us to surrender our firearms, our last redress against the tyranny of government, and tells us it is for our safety and protection.
And a President that tells a commencement class not to listen to voices that tell them that tyranny is around every corner. Small wonder.
Did I mention Fast and Furious, above? Well, seems DoJ was going great guns, pun intended, to discredit the one who blew the whistle on Holder’s criminal activity:
The former U.S. Attorney for Arizona could be disbarred, after an investigation found he lied to the Justice Department about his role in trying to discredit the federal whistle-blower who exposed the botched gun-running scheme known as Fast and Furious.
An Office of Inspector General report showed that Dennis Burke — the former chief of staff for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano appointed as U.S. Attorney for Arizona by President Obama in September 2009 — lied when asked if he leaked sensitive documents to the press meant to undermine the credibility of ATF whistle-blower John Dodson.
“The report brings into question, yet again, the treatment that whistle-blowers receive from this administration,” Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said Monday. “Instead of examining the allegations that came forward, the Justice Department almost immediately began to attack the credibility and good name of a dedicated federal agent upset with what he was ordered to do.”
I don’t agree with Chuck Grassley. There is no question whatever of the treatment that whistle-blowers receive from this Administration. They get the Chicago treatment.
It’s the weekly gun thread over at Ace of Spades, written by our buddy Andy. And the Scary Gun of the Week is an early Assault Rifle, the Springfield M1903A3.
We have a long affinity for, and association with the ‘03A3.
In the fall of 1982, as we began our sophomore year, as a member of the high school NJROTC, we tried out for, and were accepted onto, the Armed Drill Team.
The Armed Drill Team would compete against other JROTC teams in the area in three phases of competition- In Ranks Inspection, Regulation Drill, and Exhibition Drill. Obviously, the “armed” part meant that the members of the team had to be under arms, and for that, the US Navy had provided our unit with a selection of M1903A3 rifles. But for various reasons, the Navy wasn’t keen on giving out actual honest to goodness weapons (mostly a matter of secure storage). So the weapons had their barrels plugged, and their bolt actions welded shut. Further, the wood stocks had been replaced by a plastic stock, which was much more resistant to breaking when we inevitably dropped the piece.
At about 9.5 pounds, the ‘03A3 was a pretty hefty piece, but it was also wonderfully balance, and for drill, just about perfect. It may have been surpassed as a weapon of war, but to this day it is still the preferred piece for ceremonial units such as the Army Drill Team, and for color guards both in and out of the service.
It was also quite capable of inflicting some significant trauma. Esli was there when I lost my two front teeth to one. And Esli and Jay were both present when I had one thunk me right on the crown of my skull and leave me dazed and confused. And goodness knows all the times I picked up minor cuts and bruises from one.
Just about the day after graduation, I memory dumped all the nomenclature and other information about the ‘03 (I had to memorize all the M16A1 stuff in its place!).
But when I found myself in college, and again on an armed drill team, I had to relearn all that stuff. And at the college level, the weapons were not demilitarized, but actual functioning weapons. That meant finding secure storage for them. We ended up storing them at the campus police office.
There are quite a few Springfields in civilian hands, and are popular rifles. Very well made, they have a great reputation for reliability and accuracy. And the .30-06 cartridge rightly holds a place as one of the greatest rounds in history.
I’ve been too lazy to get to part 4 of the YC-15 series this week. I’m having motivational issues.
First up Russian Live Leak has an interesting perspective on the Aviation Museum at Monino.
Here’s a sample of what you’ll see:
It’s interesting to see the size difference between the different aircraft.
Next up, a link of World War 2 Russian aircraft. They appear to be taken during the time period.
I’m pretty sure that’s an Ilyushin DB-3.
There has been a lot of interesting books to come out about the Red Air Force after the Soviet World War 2 archives were opened up. Don’t tell anyone that I’m supposed to finish a book review for that…
Casey asked a good question in the Trident ripple launch post.
Never thought about it until I watched the clip, but exactly how does a boomer launch a missile? Is it first pushed out with compressed air, and then the engine ignites? Or is the engine ignited in the silo?
There are two ways to get a silo stored missile out of the silo (though in the case of subs, they’re called tubes, not silos), hot launch and cold launch.
Hot launch means the missiles own rocket motor is fired in the silo to move the missile out. The US has used hot launch for the majority of its ICBMs. Typically, the rocket exhaust enters a plenum chamber, and then the slightly cooler and lower pressure exhaust vents back up along the gap between the missile and the silo walls.
But a hot launch on a sub just won’t work. First, there’s no room for a plenum chamber. Second, if for some reason, the missile didn’t leave the tube, the rocket exhaust would very quickly melt through the steel of the tube, then the hull. And pretty soon, your sub would be a catastrophic loss.
So subs pretty much must use a cold launch. At the bottom of each missile tube is a large gas generator. This gas generator is like the industrial version of diet Coke and Mentos. A chemical reaction generates a large slug of highly pressurized gas almost instantly, much as a gas generator deploys the airbags in your car. This slug of gas pops the missile not only out of the tube, but also completely out of the water. Subs fire their missiles from periscope depth, which is about 32 feet. The missile gets about one missile length (44 feet) in the air before its rocket motor fires. And a D5 weighs about 65 tons. So it takes a fair amount of pressure to squirt on out of the tube. That’s a lot of diet Coke and Mentos.
Subs use high pressure air to launch from their torpedo tubes, as it takes a fair bit less pressure to simply push a torpedo out of the tube.
Our surface ships with the Mk41 Vertical Launch System use hot launch. That’s feasible because the rocket motors are much, much less energetic than a Trident missile. Each 8-cell section of a Mk41 shares a common plenum chamber and vents about the sides of the section. Several Russian surface ship missile systems use cold launch. One big reason why our surface ships use hot launch is because of the risk of a rocket motor not firing. Popping a 4ooo missile that consists mostly of rocket propellant and high explosives up into the air, only to have it fall back down on the deck would tend to give Safety Officers indigestion.
Hardly surprising. The IAF has a long history of strikes against high value targets in neighboring countries. And even some countries way the heck and gone away.
The Navy is the focus of the article, but they’re hardly the only sinners here.
As far as I can tell, the LA Fire Department’s S-70 Firehawks are the only civil registered Sikorsky Hawk type helicopters in the US.
Almost time for the Kentucky Derby. Guess who is a favorite among veterans?
We poked fun at the Navy’s pink helicopters yesterday, but here’s a pic of one using a Bambi Bucket to help fight the wildfires ravaging Ventura County.
We’ve seen a lot of press about Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea and western Pacific. But they’re also being a tad un-neighborly toward India.
If this was a Pakistani incursion, India would be shooting already.
Have some Sox:
And have a great weekend!
Seems it might become policy for the US Military. Unless you are Muslim. Which is fine, provided you can somehow refrain from blowing up your CO with a grenade, or shooting four dozen comrades while yelling “ALLAHU AKBAR!” And even if you do, we can conjure terms like “pre-traumatic stress” and speculate about discrimination being the cause if not the justification for such acts.
Those who believe this will end up as a “common-sense” regulation against those forcing their religion, unwelcome, upon comrades and juniors must have missed the DoD genuflecting (pun intended) to Islam, Global Warming, Diversity, Gun Control, Feminism, LGBT, and the various other “religions” that General and Flag Officers spend an inordinate amount of time proselytizing as a matter of command influence.
Could one imagine the Defense Department having ANY dealings with someone who declared sharing the Koran with fellow Muslims to be “spiritual rape” and those who do so are “enemies” of the Constitution?
The reason, perhaps, that this grates so is that it is another in a long line under this Administration, with these GOFOs, of political pandering to the far-Left, anti-Christian, anti-cleric secular progressives. With no end in sight.
But don’t worry, Marty Dempsey and your band of bended-knee political servants. Jesus loves you.
Some of the rest of us can’t stand the sight of you.
Navy Lieutenant Alan Wood, Communications Officer aboard LST 779, the man who provided the second and larger Iwo Jima flag raised by the patrol of 28th Marines in the war’s most iconic image, has passed away at 90.
Semper Fidelis, Lieutenant Wood. You may report into the growing formation of heroes mustering on the fantail above.
“I think that in many ways a line’s been crossed when we see tens of thousands of innocent people killed by a regime, but the use of chemical weapons and the danger that is poses to the international community, to neighbors of Syria, the potential of chemical weapons to get into the hands of terrorists, all of those things add increased urgency to what is already a significant security problem and humanitarian problem in the region,” Obama told reporters.
So the hundreds of thousands of innocent people being killed by a regime, the use of chemical weapons, the potential for chemical weapons to get in the hands of terrorists, ARE considerations for military intervention? Could we say as a counter, perhaps, that Bashar al-Assad poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors…and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history?
Yes, indeed we could. I am not advocating for or against intervention in Syria, though I would be curious to know whom we believe we would ally with, and whom against, and just what we could accomplish given the active opposition of Putin’s Russia (not least because of the possibility of Russian fingerprints on Syria’s chemical stockpile, and on a chemical stockpile of Iraqi origin).
It seems that President Obama’s “student union view” of the world and how it works has once again collided head-on with reality. The “game-changer” bandied about so often of late has already happened. The world, our allies, and our adversaries, will see what comes next. Will we see the Obama who condemned his predecessor for Iraq? Or the Obama whose tough talk regarding Syria is a virtual echo of that predecessor? Has he the statesmanship and foreign policy acumen to act decisively and effectively? Considering the string of diplomatic failures punctuated by the Benghazi catastrophe and the ineffectual confrontation with the DPRK, I am not terribly hopeful.
The events of this video occurred in 1999-2000. I remember the story then, but I did not know the most amazing part of the story. That the Butaritari people of that island had buried the Marine dead, had given them a warriors’ burial, is astounding and incredibly moving.
The August 1942 Makin Raid by Carlson’s 2nd Raider Bn killed a large number of Japanese on the island, but the raid was not really a success. as no prisoners were taken, and no Japanese forces diverted from the Solomons to the Gilberts. Nonetheless, the Butaritari people honored the sacrifice of those Marines, and protected their slain comrades from the hated Japanese until they were liberated in November of 1943.
(Among those on the Makin Raid was 2nd Lt Oscar Peatross, who would win a Navy Cross there. I had the honor of meeting him when I was stationed at Parris Island in the early 90s.)
Don’t be surprised to get dust in your eye while watching the video. Nineteen brave young Marines, honored by the people they died to free, and again by those they died to keep free. Semper Fidelis.
H/T to Dennis
In the very darkest days of the Second World War, when England stood alone, and suffered alone, Prime Minister Winston Churchill replaced his friend General Edmund Ironside, veteran of two wars, as Chief of the Imperial General Staff with General Sir John Dill. Churchill told Dill:
“We cannot afford to confine Army appointments to persons who have excited no hostile comments in their careers… This is a time to try men of force and vision, and not to be exclusively confined to those who are judged to be thoroughly safe by conventional standards.”
But for the leadership in our Armed Forces to embrace such sentiment.
So, after Congress shut down the Navy’s plan to lease and operate four A-29B Super Tucanos in Afghanistan, it looks like the Navy has decided to try another tack.
Several OV-10 Broncos are still operational outside the DoD. Now comes word that the Navy has snagged one that NASA has been using and is apparently going to retrofit it to a combat capable role.
I’m stealing some info from a forum for veterans of VAL-4, the Navy squadron that operated the Bronco in Vietnam.
[redacted by XBrad] had the privilege of attending the first public showing of the updated OV-10G+ being operated by the Nay’s RCU-1, as a “Black Pony.” They are preparing a second airplane for light attack, battle field management and communications roles or as the unit calls it; “Find-Fix-Finish.” The airplanes are flown by Navy pilots with Marne WSO’s in the back seat. The ground crews include both Navy and Air Force personnel. This is not a Boeing project, it is a Navy program. The attached pictures and video were taken at NAS PAX river on March 22nd.
If all goes well, this airplane will be joined by a second one. Both airplanes came from NASA and pervious to that were used by the State Department as spray airplanes. Before that, they belonged to the Marine Corps. If everything works out right, both airplanes will be here in Fort Worth for BroncoFest May 3 to 5, 2013.
At present this project is proof of concept and is only funded through October. After that is anybody’s guess.
You will notice there are no sponsons on the airplane. Those will be added soon. The normal configuration for the missions will be centerline and with external fuel and four seven shot pods for laser guided 2,75″ rockets.
Funded through October means to the end of the current fiscal year. We’ll see what the FY14 budget has. I presume the impetus for this is coming from the special operations side of the house more than the NavAir side, and the fact that is as far along as it is says SPECWAR finds it pretty important. It wouldn’t suprise me a bit if they got money for next year, and maybe even another couple aircraft. There’s still quite a few Broncos out at the Boneyard.
And while they’ll eventually add the sponsons, I wouldn’t be surprised if they just forego installing the M60D guns in them. Mostly they’ll want the sponsons for holding the rocket pods.
As a long time fan of the OV-10, I’m as giddy as a schoolgirl. Why the heck didn’t we do this a decade ago?
Over on the Front Porch, the ever-thoughtful Commander Salamander has some very good thoughts on an initiative by which commanders and General/Flag Officers would be subject to evaluation above and beyond what should be the considered judgment of their reporting seniors and reviewing officers. Salamander calls it “Outsourcing Leadership”, and so it is. He makes good arguments as to why such a thing should be anathema to anyone who considers him/herself worthy of high command.
While I agree with everything Sal says, I do believe very strongly that the implications are far more destructive than he points out. What this new “review” is setting the conditions for is nothing less than an evaluation of Officers in the US Armed Forces for their political and social reliability. We have had a long tradition of political non-alignment among especially our senior commanders, but also among Officers, commissioned and non-commissioned, which has largely protected us from the scourge of a military that is a social force that has its say in national politics. No Kurt Schleicher or Francisco Franco here. Our military leaders who have held office have been retired from the Armed Forces before doing so. Any test of political and social reliability was in the obverse, in that propriety was maintained by refraining from expressing personal opinions or political views in uniform, especially as a part of official duties of office.
The landscape changed dramatically in 2009, when CJCS Admiral Mike Mullen indulged in telling Congress and the American people, unsolicited, his personally-held views on repeal of DADT and open service for homosexuals in America’s military. At the time I warned of the damage of that unprofessional, arrogant, and selfish act. Soon, Mullen informed our service men and women that, unless they held the same personal beliefs he did, they were not fit to serve, and should “vote with their feet”. We were on our way down the well-greased slope.
This Administration, many of whose principles have openly and loudly expressed their disdain for our military (Hillary Clinton conspicuously among them), has spared no effort to co-opt military leadership into conforming to a political stance. Even when Stanley McChrystal was justifiably relieved, he blithely informed the American public that he had indeed personally voted for Obama, and such a revelation garnered scant attention. One has to imagine that, had he mentioned he had voted for John McCain, the howls of the Administration and its complicit “free press” would have been deafening. Rightly. But because McChrystal voted “correctly”, not a peep of of objection was heard.
The push to allow Commanding Generals to order confiscation of lawfully-owned firearms from service members in private residences has far less to do with any kind of prevention, and much more to do with General Officers falling in behind a gun control agenda that anyone in DoD is willing to admit. Violation of due process and Constitutional liberties of those who defend our freedom is scant cost for active advocating of a Leftist crusade.
In the midst of escalation of rhetoric and sabre-rattling of a nuclear North Korea and a China bullying our allies over two sets of disputed islands, the Commander of the Seventh Fleet informs us that he believes the biggest security threat in his assigned Area of Operations is…. global warming. Someone in Locklear’s position who says something so patently absurd and politically pandering should be relieved forthwith as someone who lacks the judgment and/or integrity to lead. If he doesn’t believe his own words, he is disingenuous and untrustworthy. If he does, he is an imbecile. In either event, he does not belong where he is. But, of course, he remains. He toes the line of political agenda.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a political appointee, volunteers the US Navy to be a beta-tester of biofuels, at enormous expense, not least of which is the up-front cost of the fuel itself, but as yet undetermined is the cost of the damage that the corrosion and water will do to extremely expensive systems in ships and aircraft in the medium-long term. While Mabus doesn’t wear a uniform, I would speculate that nobody who does raised a single objection to SECNAV in any way, or told him how inappropriate such measures were, that it amounted to incestuous political pandering at the expense of readiness and warfighting. Not one.
When outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta fired his parting political broadside and removed the exclusion of putting women in combat arms units (the issue is NOT women in combat, and anyone honestly evaluating the situation knows that), there were loud promises from every corner that standards would not be lowered. Until CJCS General Dempsey quickly said that the would be, to accommodate making women successfully pass the training requirements.
To anyone who watches what is said and not said, all these occurrences are signposts that point in the direction of travel. This “review process” is another waypoint on that journey of the destruction of the fiber of our Armed Forces and its leadership. That same CJCS, General Marty Dempsey, is now mandating that the review program will include inspections.
The inspections will not be punitive, but will provide a “periodic opportunity for general officers and flag officers to understand whether, from an institutional perspective, we think they are inside or outside the white lines,” he said. In addition, new programs will be instituted to ensure that a commander’s staff, and a spouse, are fully aware of military regulations.
This is the Marty Dempsey who violated his oath to our Constitution on two occasions, actively criticizing the legal free expression of private citizens in direct violation of that Constitution he is sworn to support and defend against all enemies. In the Benghazi incident, Dempsey’s admonitions amounted to a deliberate falsehood, a lie, to perpetuate the lies told us by our State Department (and Hillary Clinton) that the attack on the embassy was a spontaneous one stemming from a demonstration regarding an online anti-Muslim video, when both he and SecState knew good and well their words were false. He readily and easily forfeited his integrity for his bosses. Are we now expected to believe that those “white lines” reflect the traditional role of the non-political military officer? The traditional tenets of leadership, technical and tactical proficiency, integrity, judgment, courage, decisiveness, and the others, will be pre-empted and eventually superceded by assurance of political reliability and the “correct” beliefs regarding social and political issues, and a willingness to set aside one’s honor at the behest of military and political seniors.
Why ever would we expect any different? Men (and women) in uniform who behave as political sycophants should not be trusted to lead. Certainly, Martin Dempsey has proven on several occasions not to be worthy of my trust, nor yours. Except to use these new standards of performance as a tool to remake the senior officers of our military in his image, that of a pliant servant of political masters, whose oath to the Constitution is a mere gesture. Those who conform to that mold will not be worthy of our trust, either. When the choice is between obedience to our Constitution or obedience to political bosses, why, it won’t be a choice at all.
Alles klar, Herr Kommisar?
I’ll have to go back after finishing today’s taskings, and read this in detail and give it some thought. I’m not convinced that a small craft approach is what we need in the Western Pacific, but I have long believed that such an approach would be fruitful in certain waters, specifically the Persian Gulf, and possibly off the Horn of Africa. And of course, the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas.
You are a tactical commander tasked with a mission to seek out and destroy one of the enemy’s premier capital ships in his home waters. You have two potential striking forces at your disposal: a world class surface combatant of your own with a 99% probability of mission success (Ps = 0.99) or a squadron of eight independently operating, missile carrying small combatants – each with a chance of successfully completing the mission no better than a coin flip (Ps = 0.5). Do you go with the almost sure thing and choose to send in your large combatant? As it turns out, the squadron of small combatants has an even higher overall Ps. But let’s assume now that you’ve advanced to operational commander. You might have more concerns than just overall Ps. What are the defensive and logistical requirements for each option? How much fleet investment am I risking with each option? What will it cost to replace the asset(s) if it is lost? What capability does the striking force have after successful enemy action (i.e. resilience)? An analysis of these factors, intentionally designed to disadvantage the small combatants, actually comes out overwhelmingly in their favor over the large combatant. The results verify what naval strategists and tacticians have long known: for certain offensive missions, an independently operating group of even marginally capable platforms can outperform a single large combatant at lower cost and less risk to the mission.
Put on your thinking caps, and let me hear your thoughts. You groundpounders might think of it in terms of armor versus light infantry in open versus close terrain.
At least, not when it comes to active duty troop levels.
One of my frustrations when frequenting Milblogs with a naval or air centric theme is that in tough budget times, the authors and commentariat are quick to offer up ground forces on the budget alter. “Oh, put the bulk of ground forces in the reserves!”
Well, here’s the thing. In the almost seven decades since the end of World War II, we’ve found ourselves time and again involved in manpower intensive ground combat.
Recently, retired Admiral Gary Roughead and defense analyst Kori Schake published a paper from the Brookings institution recommending that, in effect, all the looming budget cuts in DoD should come from the Army, and that the Navy and Air Force should see their funding levels maintained.
First, thanks guys, for validating the suspicion many of us harbored that AirSea Battle wasn’t a doctrine, but political maneuvering to preserve Navy/Air Force budgets. One can hardly fault a former Chief of Naval Operations for being a tad proprietary when it comes to his service’s budget.*
But to wave your hands and pronounce that henceforth, wars will be high technology affairs with little or no need for manpower intensive operations is to ignore not just the last seven decades of history, but all of history.
It would be nice if the United States could simply opt out of all messy conflicts, but it cannot. Global connectivity means that conflict in any part of the world has cascading effects. These are most intense in neighboring states or regions as combatants, refugees, money, disorder, crime, and weapons flow back and forth, but in most cases will spread even further. The recent conflict in Libya shows this contagion effect, when there is no sustainable security following the defeat of an enemy regime. In the future, major conflicts anywhere will affect the global and American economies, increasing commodity prices, disrupting the supply of goods and services, and creating uncertainty. U.S. economic growth will depend, in part, on whether the global economy is generally stable or conflict-ridden. This will make it difficult or impossible for the United States to totally avoid major conflicts (although it does not mean the U.S. will intervene militarily in every major conflict). The profusion of global diasporas will also make it politically difficult to ignore major crises or conflicts.
Now, Metz and Lovelace are not unbiased, either. They work for the Army War College at the Strategic Studies Institute. But they’re quite right that in spite of all our efforts to avoid messy operations on the ground, we seem to always end up there.
I’ll grant that one reason we tend to fight land wars is that in recent history, our naval power has been so overwhelming as to effectively preclude a naval war. And I do fully support the nation keeping a strong, forward naval presence throughout those areas of the world that hold our strategic interest. But the Navy has done poorly at managing the relatively strong support it has received. That’s not to say the Army has done much better, but before the Navy and the Air Force raid the Army’s budget, maybe they ought to consider which branch has born the brunt of the nation’s fighting for the past 70 years.
*We’d be a lot more sympathetic if his term as CNO hadn’t been such a goatrope in terms of shipbuilding.
Fifty years ago today, the nuclear fast attack submarine USS Thresher SSN-593 sank 220 miles east of Boston, MA. Thresher was commissioned in April, 1961, the first in a new class of “second generation” SSNs, far quieter and more capable than her predecessors. On 10 April 1963, Thresher was operating with Submarine Rescue Ship USS Skylark (ASR-20), undergoing post-refit dive trials. Just after 0900, Skylark received a garbled transmission indicating a problem aboard Thresher, that she had a positive angle and was attempting to blow ballast. What we know now is that the attempt was unsuccessful, and Thresher continued to descend. Reaching crush depth, the submarine imploded. All hands, 108 of ship’s company and 21 civilian contractors were lost.
What was pieced together in the extensive Navy investigation determined that the tragic chain of events almost certainly started with a brazed salt-water piping joint giving way, spraying and shorting out a reactor control panel, causing a “scram”, a reactor shutdown. Nuclear submarines, unlike their diesel counterparts, drive themselves to the surface or submerged using power and angle of attack, “flying” in the water, as it were. Without propulsion, Thresher could not drive herself to the surface. Thresher attempted to blow ballast, but ice forming in the pipes of the main ballast tanks thwarted the attempts. At 0917, Skylark received another garbled transmission with the recognizable phrase “exceeding test depth”. One minute later, Skylark picked up the distinctive acoustic signature of an imploding hull. One hundred twenty-nine souls died instantly. Thresher’s wreckage lies in 8,400 feet of water, 220 miles east of Boston.
When we talk about (or for some of us, recollect) the Cold War and the effort and sacrifice this country made to keep the world from a malignant totalitarianism every bit as great as the one defeated in 1945, we should remember the men of Thresher. God rest their souls. Remember them today, especially, and the lives given so we could have ours. As one widow said in a Boston Globe interview, “It seems just like yesterday to me.”
The People’s Republic of China is once again disseminating its ever-predictable rhetoric to make it seem as if this time, for sure, they are “losing patience with North Korea”. Just as predictably, current and former State Department officials in this Administration are gobbling it up hopefully and eagerly. From the Telegraph:
There are clear signs that China is losing patience with North Korea, America’s former top diplomat in Asia has said.
“There is a subtle shift in Chinese foreign policy. Over the short to medium term, that has the potential to affect the calculus in north east Asia,” Mr Campbell said at a forum at John Hopkins university.
“You have seen it at the United Nations (Security Council). We have seen it in our private discussions and you see it in statements in Beijing,” he added.
No, you haven’t. You have HEARD it. What we have SEEN is a People’s Republic of China that backs the DPRK unequivocally. If they did not, the DPRK and Kim Jong Un, like his father and grandfather before him, would stand down from their provocations post-haste. But, we continue to hear how “this time China is warning North Korea”. We heard it with the starting of the nuclear program. And again with the nuclear tests. Each one of them. We heard such with the testing of theater ballistic missiles. And with the sinking of a ROK Navy frigate. And the unprovoked artillery attack against ROK soldiers and civilians.
But there was no real warning. And often, quite the opposite. The warning has been issued instead to the South and to the United States about “restraint” and the need for “stability”. Yet, the naively hopeful straw-grasping continues.
Earlier, Mr Campbell told the Wall Street Journal that China “cannot be happy” and that he expected a tougher line to emerge from Beijing.
Au contraire. The PRC is ecstatic watching US attempts to garner both deterrent force and potential combat power from a shrinking pool of assets as the self-inflicted slashing of America’s military narrows options and limits US presence in the region. But State is not the only entity hopelessly out of touch with China, her relationship with the DPRK, and her intentions to displace the US and dominate the region.
However, Daniel Pinkston, a North Korea expert at the International Crisis Group, said Beijing was “fed up” at the distractions being created by Pyongyang while it tries to focus its energies on other problems. “They need to address issues in the South China Sea, they have a corruption campaign going on at home, North Korea is giving them a headache,” said Mr Pinkston.
It would seem Mr. Pinkston doesn’t quite understand whose headache the situation has become. But China does. As does Iran. And every other of America’s adversaries. And our allies, too.
The notion that China disapproves of the actions of the DPRK to the point of “changing the calculus” in the region, or simply tolerates the North because it is “the devil you know” is absurdly naive. Reflective, unfortunately, of an arrogant, clumsy, and amateurish US State Department, whose lack of acumen and and diplomatic skill is paraded yet again across the world stage. The PRC is keenly aware of the value of an unpredictable and well-armed North Korea as a constant thorn in the side of the US, especially as the PLAN grows and the USN shrinks.
If we want to know what China’s role is, do not watch what they say, especially not what is intended for our consumption. Watch what they do. And don’t do.
Acta non verba.
Normally, I like to make fun of Marines. And I like to make fun of
Artillerymen. I especially like making fun of Marine Artillerymen.
But if I pick on URR too much, he pouts and doesn’t post much. Which means, I would have to, and what’s the point of having co-authors, but to pick up my slack?
And Roamy, bless her, likes some splodey/shooty. It’s not like I pay them for content, so once in a while, I have to be nice to URR and Roamy. Here, I’mma kill two birds with one stone.
The Marines will never have anything approaching the numbers of guns Army artillery has. Yes, in Iraq and Afghanistan, the need for tube artillery has been fairly sparse. But in a near-peer conflict, a war of maneuver, artillery will be as key as it always has been. One of the linchpins of a strategy of maneuver is denying that very maneuver to your enemy. And artillery fire is a key component of that. The old definition of maneuver was “fire and movement” and artillery provides the “fire” while infantry/armor provides the movement.
It’s not so much that the Marines are dim and not smart enough to buy a lot of artillery. They are. But they face two important constraints on the amount of artillery they can field. First, all their artillery pretty much has to be air transportable by helicopter. And given the very limited number of CH-53E’s available, if at all possible, they want systems that can be lifted by the smaller, more numerous MV-22B. Second, the Marines are an amphibious force, which means they have to travel on the amphibious shipping provided to them by the Navy. As big as those ships are, there aren’t a lot of them, and further, there is a fixed, finite space available for equipment. Finding a balance between tanks, artillery, amphibious assault vehicles, logistical trucks, Humvees and all the other stuff a Marine Expeditionary Unit needs to take along is one of the headaches Marine planners face on a regular basis. So finding an artillery system that uses less space, and weighs less and, in a perfect world, takes a smaller crew, is a key priority. So the Marines are buying the EFSS 120mm mortar system, in lieu of the traditional 105mm gun howitzer.
In the Army, all mortars, even the 120mm, are Infantry weapons, organic to Infantry and Armor/Cav organizations. But for the Marines, if you’re going to use a mortar as your primary direct support system, having the artillery man it makes sense.
Those of us in this somewhat focused community of MilBlog writers and readers are often asked by people who haven’t any exposure to MilBlogs, “Why do you do it? You put in a lot of time and work. What’s the point?”
It’s a fair question. Thinking of ideas, and putting together a cogent discussion starter, or historical summary, takes more time than people think. Knowing that, and being somewhat of an analysis geek (which may turn out to be a very good thing soon), I have my list of half a dozen daily reads, at least. This’n here. Salamander’s Front Porch. Ray’s Information Dissemination. OP-FOR, The Castle, and a number of other places make the list, blended with traditional news sources domestic and foreign, plus policy and analysis outfits.
Why? Well, my gracious host here gives me an outlet for expression. Like anyone with a fair-sized ego, I believe just a little bit that everyone is entitled to my opinion. But there is also the great opportunity for feedback. To hear from a mostly very educated crowd, their opinions and takes on events and occurrences domestically and in foreign affairs. But it extends into culture, literary works, certainly history, and other aspects that spark discussion.
But one of the most valuable reasons to read and write in the Military Blogosphere is to hear from people who are truly experts in their fields, who possess great wisdom, are extensively experienced, and are considered and well-spoken people. I do miss terribly reading the thoughts and musings of Lex, which was a morning staple and often provided several day-long trains of thought. And this is true of not just Bloggers, but commenters. Byron, the ugly old shipfitter, could wax authoritative about steel, and aluminum, and hull flex, and do it in a way that, perhaps over beer, I am sure I could listen intently to for hours. Grandpa Bluewater’s urbane sophistication and eloquent dissertation always is worth the consideration, whether one agrees or not. And there are others who add insight and humor, and are enjoyable to read.
Another such commenter is Steeljaw Scribe, shepherd of a superb blog of his own. I did something the last two days that I rarely do, which is to go back and re-read a comment he made in Salamander’s post of the IG investigation of Admiral Gaouette. His explanation of the dynamics of the bridge of a CVN, and the personalities and cultures that must blend and not clash if the mission is to be accomplished.
The bridge of a CVN is a unique environment that brings together two communities that normally opt to keep their distances from one another – SWOs and Aviators. That the three senior officers that regularly spend time up there (CO, XO and Navigator) are also aviators can at times, exacerbate that standoffish environment. This clash of cultures evolves from one group that is brought up in a dynamic environment and is used to rapidly changing events, making intuitive decisions and being cognizant that their butt and that of the x-number of NFOs or aircrew with them will suffer the consequences of those decisions. SWOs that typically (and note I said *typically* – there are always exceptions) come to the carrier do not come from the CRUDES environment, but from amphibs and auxiliaries and tend to be methodical if somewhat conservative and deliberative in their decision-making and watchstanding. At least that was my experience as a CVN nav. My challenge was working across that divide – to show the aviators (from watchstanders up to the XO who would go on to his first deep draft after this tour) on the one hand, how a series of events can unfold where little things not readily apparent to the eyeball can bite you (case history of the Eisenhower hitting the Spanish freighter at anchor in Hampton Roads being one of my teaching points). The flip side of that was getting the SWOs to be more anticipatory (e.g., looking to the next 2x cycles for managing sea space for downwind repositioning) as well as coming to grips with the immediacy of fixed wing operations at sea.
I know of no other vehicle by which an audience can learn, and share the insights of men and women with such experience. It is the gaining of understanding, at the end of the day, that makes all this effort worthwhile. Brad’s rules here do not include “write only what I agree with” or “water it down so it couldn’t possibly offend”. He trusts us to understand and abide by propriety, and we seem to, as do the commenters, on the whole. And that is appreciated.
So in the end, despite the trolls, and my own alarming tendency to follow links and wind up pissing away two hours looking at cool stuff, reading and writing is worth the effort. Even if the pay isn’t great.
Everyone pretty much knows of the fire aboard USS Forrestal.
And most know of the fire aboard USS Enterprise.
And lots even know of the fire aboard USS Oriskany.
Carriers are tough ships. But they’re also virtual playgrounds for fire. Lots of fuel, explosives, and other flammable materiel in a warren of compartments. You’re thinking to yourself, well, they’re made of steel, how hard can it be to put out a fire? Virtually everything aboard a ship besides the steel will burn, given enough heat and oxygen. Furniture, bedding, clothing, paint, mattresses, paper, wire conduits, insulation, everything.
And fighting a fire shipboard is awful. The same compartmentalization that keeps a ship afloat with flooding means that smoke and heat have no place to escape. Thousands of tons of water have to be used to not just knock down flames, but thoroughly drench and cool anything that might flash back to flame. Getting cut off from a viable escape route is very easy, and running out of air can happen almost instantaneously.
One small error aboard Constellation lead to a fire that killed 50 shipyard workers.
Thanks to gCaptain. You might wanna click that link to learn the tale of the USNS Harlan Sanders.
Today is the 68th anniversary of L-Day, known as “Love Day” to the half a million Allied soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines whose mission was the conquest of the island of Okinawa. An armada of 1,300 ships included 40 CVs, CVLs, and CVEs, and close to 400 amphibious vessels carrying 187,000 troops, thousands of trucks, artillery tubes, mortars, tanks, amtraks, and many thousands of tons of ammunition and all classes of supply to sustain the landing force of the XXIV Corps and the Marine III Amphibious Corps in the fighting ashore.
The Japanese, to the surprise and immense relief of the invasion force, barely contested the beaches. Almost every unit came ashore without opposition, as the first night saw more than 60,000 ashore. The Japanese 32nd Army’s 100,000 defenders and the locally recruited militia of Okinawan men would instead meet their American enemy inland, in expertly-prepared and defended positions on key terrain. But all of that, the massive kikusui of the kamikaze aircraft, the drenching rains that turned the island into a reprise of the horrors of the Western Front in the Great War, the savage fighting for Naha and the Shuri line, the Half-Moon, Sugar Loaf, the sacrifice of the Yamato battle squadron in Operation Ten-Gō, the massed suicides of civilians, was yet to come. On this day, casualties were negligible, and a lodgment established. The question became not if, but when, Okinawa would fall.
Nothing says “ready for combat in the service of our nation” like an Earth Day message in which our Sea Services “leadership” admonishes us to believe in the pseudo-science of Al Gore and the radical Left environmentalists. Behold ALNAV 018/13:
3. DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY LEADERSHIP IS KEENLY AWARE OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES AHEAD. CLIMATE CHANGE IS LEADING TO RISING SEA LEVELS AND LESS PREDICTABLE WEATHER PATTERNS IN THE AREAS WHERE WE TRAIN AND OPERATE. THE RAPID MELTING OF THE ARCTIC ICE CAP IS DRIVING NEW NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGIES AND PRESSING GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS. WE WILL CONTINUE ANALYZING THESE TRENDS AND WORKING TO ENSURE OUR FORCES ARE CAPABLE OF MEETING MISSION REQUIREMENTS. ONLY THROUGH A COLLECTIVE EFFORT CAN MILITARY AND OUR NATION PREPARE FOR THE CHANGES THAT MAY COME. WE MUST RECOGNIZE THAT OUR LOCAL ACTIONS CAN IMPACT THE SEVERITY OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGES AND WILL DETERMINE OUR FUTURE READINESS.
But wait, there’s more.
4. FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY IS ON EVERYONE’S MIND THIS YEAR. LUCKILY, THE EASIEST AND MOST
EFFECTIVE EARTH DAY PROGRAMS CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED AT LITTLE OR NO EXPENSE. PICKING UP TRASH AT A LOCAL PARK, CLEARING DEBRIS FROM A BEACH, OR VOLUNTEERING WITH A LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECT CAN ALL BE DONE ON A SHOESTRING BUDGET. BRING YOUR COWORKERS, FRIENDS, SHIPMATES, AND FELLOW MARINES AND INCREASE YOUR IMPACT EXPONENTIALLY AT NO EXTRA COST.
“Fiscal responsibility”? Oh please. Does that include not sending messages out that are blatant political indoctrination about “climate change” and how it has more of an impact on readiness than neglecting maintenance of our Navy’s warships, or cutting back on the training and education of our Sailors to perform their missions? So that we might instead have ad nauseum lectures and training about sexual assault, human trafficking, breathalyzers, cultural sensitivity, and all politically-sensitive things non-warfighting, and idiotic messages that waste everyone’s time like the above example? What really riles. however, is the last line of the message text.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE THIS YEAR.
We have a Navy and Marine Corps with tens of thousands of combat veterans from OIF and OEF. Many have been decorated for heroism in action against the enemy. Thousands have lost comrades and shipmates (not frigging CO-WORKERS, jackwagon!). Yet, we have a man who never served a single day in uniform directing us to make a difference. As if he would know what that really means. Despicable. Absolutely unconscionable.
I have a much more fiscally responsible suggestion. How about the Department of the Navy eliminate the position of “Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Environment)”. How about SECNAV Ray Mabus show Donald Schregardus and his $200,000+ salary to the door, along with everyone assigned to his likely considerable staff, and use the money instead to maintain and train a Navy for war? Just a thought. And if Ray Mabus isn’t capable of that, he needs to follow Schregardus off the taxpayer dole, post-haste. Perhaps we then can get someone who can provide a modicum of leadership worthy of our Navy and our nation. That’d be a switch.