Tag Archives: navy

Sharpening the Spear- The Carrier, the Joint Force, and High-End Conflict

New From The Hudson Institute’s Center For American SeapowerSharpening the Spear: The Carrier, the Joint Force, and High-End Conflict.

Spill and I had an interesting hour long conversation with the Center’s deputy director, and co-author of the report, Bryan McGrath, which, unfortunately for technical reasons we can’t podcast. With a little bit of luck, however, we’ll be able to have Bryan join us again soon to discuss the topic.

I’m going to shock you, dear reader, and admit that, like Bryan, I generally agree with President Obama, with regards to his policy toward China. I disagree on some specific issues, but not the general approach of emphasizing areas of cooperation, instead of those of divergence.

But as Bryan discussed with us, and as the report makes clear, there is a vast difference between not antagonizing China needlessly, and shutting down all discussion of the ramifications of a possible large scale conflict with China, and how that might best be fought.


Filed under China, navy, ships

It’s Over: Yogi Berra Dies at 90


Sad news on the sports legends front this morning.  Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra has passed away at age 90.  One of the greatest catchers of all time, Berra was a 15-time all-star in 19 seasons, a three-time American League MVP who was the heart and soul of some of the great Yankees teams of the 50s.  Lawrence Peter Berra was born on May 12th, 1925, in St Louis, MO.  He was a childhood friend and teammate of fellow catcher Joe Garagiola, who thought that the homely Berra looked strikingly like the Maharishi Yogi pictured in a newsreel story that played between movies during one Saturday Matinee.  And the most recognizable nickname in sport was born.

Short and stocky, five-foot seven and almost 190 pounds, his frame belied a grace and athleticism rare in a catcher.  His physical strength was legendary, as was his ability to avoid striking out.  In 1950, a year in which he hit 28 home runs and batted .322, Berra struck out only twelve times in 636 plate appearances, an astoundingly low figure.  (In comparison, one 2015 Red Sox hitter, Mike Napoli, struck out twelve times in a three game series on two separate occasions.)  Berra got his teams to the World Series a mind-boggling fourteen times in his 19 seasons, winning ten World Series rings.  After his playing career, Berra was a manager and coach for many years, finally retiring in the early 1990s.

Of course, Berra was known to many outside baseball as the author of an seemingly endless list of funny sayings, such as “it gets late early out there”, and “It ain’t over til it’s over”.  Once asked by Joe DiMaggio what time it was, Berra supposedly replied “Do ya mean right now?”  That persona belied a man of shrewd baseball knowledge, and on teams with DiMaggio, Mantle, Whitey Ford, Billy Martin, and Elston Howard, Berra was considered the most baseball savvy.  He was also a talented outfielder, playing left field when Howard began his catching career.

Like so many ballplayers of his generation, Yogi Berra served his country in World War II, a Gunner’s Mate in the US Navy who manned a rocket-firing landing craft off the Normandy beaches on D-Day.  Berra remained very proud of his Navy service, and spoke often of it in his later years.

Yogi was also, by all accounts, a genuine and kind gentleman.  He was known for treating everyone well, and for his humility and his humor.  His is a loss, he was one of the greats of our national pastime, and an American icon.



Will The Marines Deploy Aboard The British Carriers?

Well, Britain says they will.

LONDON — The U.S. Marine Corps will deploy its Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II strike fighters on combat sorties from Britain’s new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, a senior U.K. Royal Navy officer has confirmed.

Rear Adm. Keith Blount, who is responsible for delivering the two 65,000 ton ships, said that using Marine aircraft and pilots to bolster the U.K.’s nascent carrier strike capability would be a natural extension of coalition doctrine.

“We are forever operating with allies and within coalitions. It’s the way wars are fought”, the Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Aviation, Amphibious Capability and Carriers) and Rear Adm. Fleet Air Arm told an audience at the DSEI defence exhibition in London on Wednesday.

That’s not to say there are planned rotations of USMC F-35 squadrons deploying.

An artist's rendering of the future HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier. Royal Navy Image

At first blush, it makes some sense. The two Brit carriers are being designed with the F-35B in mind, and the British version is essentially identical to the US version. So interoperability shouldn’t be a major technical issue.

While Blount painted the co-operative arrangement in positive terms, it will disappoint critics who believe the U.K. government should provide the R.N. and Royal Air Force (RAF) with sufficient resources, in both aircraft and manpower, to regenerate the country’s carrier air wings independently.

Here’s the problem with assuming the Marines will deploy on British carriers. Just as the RN and RAF are likely to not have sufficient airframes available to operate from the carriers, so to will the Marines always be hard pressed to have sufficient numbers of jets available.

Operating a squadron from a particular ship involves far more than simply flying the jets aboard. The entire squadron, its maintainers, it admin types, and support staff have to move aboard, not to mention the spare parts and jigs and maintenance equipment. The linguistic and cultural differences between the US and the RN are sufficient to make that integration something of a challenge.

The US has routinely practiced “cross decking” with just about everyone who has a carrier, allowing them to trap aboard our ships, and either trapping or doing touch-and-goes on theirs. But that’s a far cry from actually deploying aboard.

To the best of my recollection, the US hasn’t actually deployed a squadron from a foreign ship.

On the other hand, the British ships have a bar and serve beer, so I’m sure there will be extensive and enthusiastic support from at least some elements of Marine Air to give it a shot.


Filed under marines, navy

The David Taylor Model Basin

You’re probably somewhat familiar with the concept of a wind tunnel being used to refine the design of an airplane. Did you know that ships have long been designed using a model basin? What’s that? Simply a very large, long pool in which scale models of the hulls are tested. The hydrodynamics of a given hull design can be tested and refined. One the the most famous model basins is the US Navy’s David W. Taylor Basin, located in Carderock, MD. Built in 1939, it replaced an earlier basin built there by David Taylor. The DTMB still serves the US Navy to this day.

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Filed under navy, ships

Shadowhawks Growlers underway 2011.

The Shadowhawks of VAQ-141 made one of the first deployments of the EA-18G Growler as it began to replace the aging EA-6B Prowler as the fleet’s prime Electronic Attack platform.


Yes, that was a Tornado aerial refueling in afterburner. Heavily laden attack jets usually operate at a fairly low altitude (think the mid 20s) and keeping up with a tanker like a KC-10 at 30 or 35k takes afterburner.

Oh, and that little MRAD light? And then an explosion down below? Yes, they’re linked. But I’m not gonna say how.

We’re on the road this weekend, so posting is probably going to be pretty thin.

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The Bring the HEAT Podcast

Join Spill and me with out special guest Matt Hipple, President of the Center for International Maritime Security. We’re talking about Chinese Maritime Strategy, Distributed Lethality, and social media in the military. You can listen to us on Youtube, or via the mp3 player below, or download at the archive link below.


Continue reading


Filed under China

Navy in the news.

First up, earlier in the week, during an exericise, the USS Sullivans launched an SM-2 missile from her Mk41 Vertical Launch system. Almost immediately after clearing the launcher, the missile exploded.

A Raytheon SM-2 Block IIIA guided missile explodes over USS The Sullivans during a training exercise on July 18, 2015. US Navy Photo obtained by USNI News


Given that the missile had no warhead, it’s virtually a certainty that the solid rocket motor failed, and rather spectacularly at that! I’ve never heard of a similar failure of an SM-2. It could be simply due to aging, or a manufacturing defect. One suspects the Navy is going to take a close look at  a lot of other SM-2 Block III missiles.

I have, on the other hand, seen a Royal Navy Sea Dart fail rather spectacularly on launch.


The US Navy is constructing a massive simulation capability at NAS Fallon, home of Naval Strike & Air Warfare Center. But more than being a collection of 80 simulators, it will also be integrating cruiser Combat Information Center sims, and integrating with genuine aircraft conducting real flights.

The Navy has begun to build a next generation training center that will pair up to 80 fighter, reconnaissance aircraft and ship simulators with live fliers in a massive environment that blends the real world with the virtual.

Navy director of air warfare Rear Adm. Mike Manazir told USNI News on July 16 that the Navy is working towards opening an Air Defense Strike Group Facility at Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada in January 2016 and upgrading it to an Integrated Training Facility by 2020, which would represent a fundamental leap forward in live, virtual and constructive (LVC) training.

Today, the Navy can conduct live-constructive training, in which a live pilot up in the air reacts to computer-generated scenarios, and virtual-constructive training, in which a person in a simulator reacts to computer-generated scenarios. But connecting a pilot in the air with a pilot in a simulator to operate in the same constructive environment – a full LVC event – is a real technical challenge.

The big benefit is that you can construct very large scale scenarios, and tailor them to any location in the world. That is, it will give a more genuine representation of actual operations that current scenarios.


Not exactly a Navy only story, but Lockheed is looking at ways to use sensors and datalinks to increase real time targeting capability.

A high-flying Lockheed Martin U-2 spy plane has enabled a mission control station to dynamically re-target a simulated Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), using data passed from an F-22 Raptor over the deserts of Southern California in a recent flight trial.

During the tests, targeting data was passed from the F-22 to a ground station via an L-3 Communications modem on the U-2, says Scott Winstead, Lockheed Martin’s head of strategic development for the U-2 programme. This allowed the ground station to re-target the LRASM surrogate, essentially a cruise missile mission systems flown on a business jet.

In addition, the U-2 was able to translate and pass data between the F-22 and a Boeing F-18 Hornet during the series of flights, which took place in June. The tests were designed to evaluate new US Air Force open mission system (OMS) standards using a Skunk Works product called Enterprise OMS.

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