April 27, 2008
With regards to a general war, the USN NEEDS anti-submarine and and anti mine forces.Such missions and peacetime showing the flag missions, also require a fair number of ships.
One of the most effective ASW aside from a hunter killer submarine is the helicopter, which is a good minesweeping tool as well.
Escorts to carry helicopters such as the Perrys' are being decommissioned faster than they are replaced and the Littoral Combat Ship is far too expensive to buy in bulk.
The LCS is in some ways too big for close inshore operations, and it is too small to act as a mother ship for a large number of manned and unmanned vehicles. Both versions use experimental hulls that push computer design capacities to the limit, with possibly unfortunate results and are weight sensitive in regards to their design speed....which seems inexplicably high.
First a bit of review...
The US and UK determined in the '50s and '60s that helicopters were disruptive to more conventional flight operations, I assume that this is still the case. I also assume STOVL aircraft with their takeoff runs are only marginally less affected by this. The original UK solution, if I understand it, was to put the helicopter assets on an escorting light carrier (dubbed a cruiser). These designs had varying degrees of armament but most IIRC had through decks as this maximizes helicopter landing spots for surge operations. As it was, the CVA01 was canceled and the only aviation asset that could be salvaged was the cruiser which was saved in part by its designation. To maximize its aviation capability and save money in an ever shrinking budget, most of the multipurpose capability aside from commando carrying was sacrificed. This was HMS Invincible.
The USNs answer to the same issue was to have scads of escorts operating one or two helicopters so that a carrier (or a convoy) would be accompanied by 15-20 helicopters robustly dispersed in ones and twos amongst the escorts. This made sense when we could afford ~10 escorts per CV or convoy,but on a ton for ton and likely expense basis the helicopter cruiser might be more economical.
Steel is cheap in comparison to the electronics system of a warship. The size of a vessel does not dictate its affordability, systems do.
So...what should we build? What should it have?
This vessel needs an air defence capability beyond that offered by RAM, but it does not need an air defence system in the same class as an all-up Aegis system. Something like NTU firing fire and forget missiles (such as the mooted ESSM with the AMRAAM seeker) would give it a decent defence capability. The commercial, very austere, Aegis system like that used on the Norweigian Aegis Frigates might be a good way to leverage existing training and spares.
If a through deck is not utilized then JDS Haruna or the Danish Absalon would be close to what we're looking for. Note that Absalon costs between one half to one third what the LCS does without its canceled weapons kits.
This brings up the question regards weather or not to use a through deck. This would give the following nontrivial advantages :
3-4 extra spots to get helicopters in the air quickly for mass rescue, troop landing or whatever.
Even airflow over the deck, uninterrupted by a centerline superstructure. This is important as it affects landing safety far more than is appreciated and while not nearly as crucial for helicopters as fixed wing planes it is still a concern.
The ability to land amidships at the point of minimum pitching allows helicopter operations in far worse weather than a stern landing pad.
Small fixed wing UAV's can use it like an old fashioned carrier, and possibly even small coin airplanes in a pinch if the government ever deigns to buy them for close air support.
On the debit side, a flight deck is...well.. a flight deck, and to uninformed or malevolent congresscritters looking to knick money for their idiotic Ponzi schemes it is a "carrier" and there will be a temptation to use it as a replacement for a CV which it certainly is not.
That concern aside, the versatility of the through deck is pretty compelling. It just needs to be made clear that this is not really a carrier, but a general purpose vessel.
One further thing that should be considered would be utterly without merit on an actual carrier. On a general purpose ship an effective gun is generally desirable.
Guns are fairly economical in both expense and volume. Ideally, for littoral warfare, fire support guns should be on a small inshore vessel, a monitor of sorts, like the UK and Italians used in WW1, but this is unlikely to be afforded.Its also possible that "netfires" from small craft perhaps even drones will replace tube artillery for fire support, but I doubt it.
So stick a 127-155mm gun on our escort. Assuming its main gun is fairly economical like the UKs' 155mm project and not a gold plated tube to shoot money out of (like our AGS) the gun should be an economical fit. There are issues with blast and interference with other ship functions, but helicopter ops can be kept well away from the gun during firing.
A carrier with a gun is certainly anachronistic but...again...this is not a carrier. It's a gunboat with helicopters...an aviso perhaps.
This leaves us with something akin to the Japanese Osumi or this off the shelf design from HDW. Osumi has one disadvantage, she cannot land helicopters amidships due to blade clearance issues, but is otherwise very interesting. She has 2 and potential for 3 landing spots, a big hangar and a well deck that can accomodate 2 LCACs, yet at 8,900 tons she is smaller than a DDG 51 and far cheaper than an LCS.
This ship was reportedly based on the smaller Italian San Giorgio, which boasts a 76mm gun, a well deck and an LST style bow ramp(!?)
A large fairly austere hull is inherently versatile. Troop carrying, the ability to act as mothership or tender for small craft like the CB90's or perhaps FACs, or loaned Coast Guard patrol boats looking for pesky pirates are all possibilities. ISO containers for disaster relief or just greatly expanded medical facilities would greatly facilitate the sort of "soft power" operations that are so important in "peacetime". In a hot war provision for a big VDS fish and ASW helicopters would give the sort of ASW capability that everybody except the Japanese seems to be either ignoring or selling to Chile.
Regardless of configuration, such a project would need absolutely ruthless oversight to keep people from adding whistles and bells and pricing it out of reach.
With every shipbuilding project going through the roof what references do we have for how cheap should it realistically be?
Well, at the high end, note that the above linked HDW design (which, is by far the largest of the three linked) is 15,000 tons, which is less than 4 times the size of a USN FFG 7. This vessel only needs one AAW system (though more modern obviously).
Aviation maintenance facilities carry a certain price tag associated with them but if built at least partially to commercial specs such a vessel could be fairly cheap. Additionally, 4 FFG7s already require 8 helicopters, so, given the fact that larger ships are more economical per ton, it is not unreasonable to assume that costs might be within the ballpark of 3-5 FFG7's...or 1- 1.5 LCS's... for a far more versatile ship that could act as an escort carrier in a major war. That is for the big one, though given the need for a fire control system and weapons the costs do not scale down linearly with size.
Nevertheless, this could be an economical and versatile solution indeed.
An earlier post on related matters is here.
* image of UK escort cruiser proposal is from Richard Beedal's superb Navy Matters site, which is about the best place on the web for info regards the UK Royal Navy.
April 26, 2008
Now is time to show your support for Ben Stein by going out and purchasing a DVD of Rejected.
The film is brilliant.
It has even inspired snow sculptors....
I think he is right.
He also found another bit of wisdom which I discovered by the way of Chizumatic.....
Read the whole thing.
Here are 4 actual fortune cookie fortunes I've received over the last few months.
Be careful! Straight trees often have crooked roots!
Sure, you have duties, but what about your duties to yourself.
Failure is not final. Just make sure you don't die because of it.
They'll definitely remember all your efforts.
April 23, 2008
Despite the harrowing entry, the capsule somehow did not incinerate on reentry (w00t!) but landed hundreds of miles off course with no working radios and had a very rough landing.
Fortunately, all three crewmembers, American Peggy Whitson, Korean Yi So-yeon, and Russian Yuri Malenchenko were safe.
But then there is this... (HT Rand Simberg)
The Russians chastised the crew for not radioing...(I refer you to the 'melted off antennas' bit) and....as a precaution to ensure that this sort of thing never happens again...
" "You know in Russia, there are certain bad omens about this sort of thing, but thank God that everything worked out successfully,'' he said. "Of course in the future, we will work somehow to ensure that the number of women will not surpass'the number of men. "
So the problems have been identified as Peggy Whitson, who was the first female commander of the ISS and currently has the American record for number of cumulative hours in space and Yi So-yeon who is the first Korean in Space.
Oh good....I was worried they'd waste money on something silly like the attitude control system or GPS...but that was no doubt my cynical nature talking.
An accurate representation of what female astronauts reentering the atmosphere do not look like.
April 22, 2008
I would hate to get expelled.
However, with that in mind,something has come up that requires comment.
Fortunately Pixy is doing a fine job of it, as is Matoko San.
I have not seen the film so I have little to add except to say that ID is pernicuiously, malignantly wrong. It is not merely stupid and wrong, it is corrosively antiscience.
Yes the evangelical atheists are vile and obnoxious and bigoted...how did the producers decide to get that point across? By making jerkwads like Dawkins look good.
Congratulations...you've cunningly picked an issue (I'm talking about IDiocy of course) where they are unequivocally right....BEULLLER!!!???
The filmakers allegedly make a point about left leaning influence of grants and political correctness.
Congratulations ein Stein....you've attached yourself to an issue where you are utterly wrong.
This film plays to the worst stereotypes that the left spreads about the right, empowers the condescending jackasses like Obama and Dawkins and it is immorally anti-science.
I've got morons on my team.
April 20, 2008
Oh and Mr. Cavett, you were indeed aptly named.
April 19, 2008
Shi Lang was the Chinese Admiral who captured Taiwan.
More Chicom CV rumors here.
Varyag was purchased unfinished with the stated intention of turning it into a floating hotel/casino/ entertainment center....but 'somehow' ended up at a naval base painted in P.L.A.N. Grey with naval technicians swarming over her.
* I can't find a primary source on this.But this thread and the Wikipedia entry list Janes AtWFS 2008.
April 12, 2008
47 years ago a human being first entered Earth orbit.
In 8 years the human race went from one low furtive orbit to landing on another celestial body. The difference between the low orbits of Vostok and Mercury and what was required to get to the moon was vast. The difference in energy between getting to the Moon and getting to Mars, Ceres, or any of the other worlds this side of Jupiter is actually quite small. The solar system was open planets and moons beckoned and the future seemed to have arrived!
Now, 47 years after one man wen where no one had ever gone before we have, instead of SIX FLAGS ON THE MOON...six flags...on the moon. surrounded by the footprints of the only twelve to walk on its surface.
47 years later we do send several people a year into space. They are confined to low earth orbit just as Gagarin was. there are plans to return, but it is pointed out that it will take more than a decade more to do what was done in 8 years from scratch 39 years ago.
In 1968, Hollywood imagined the year 2001 to be one of casual space travel with huge moon cities, massive Space stations and the ability to send people as far afield as Jupiter. Given the rate of progress to that point this was seen as utterly reasonable. And yet....
The reason often given is that we have too many problems here.
That was the reason given by the bureaucrats of the Ming Dynasty when they decommissioned Zheng Hu's treasure fleet which had massively stimulated trade commerce and cultural exchange. The results of that unenlightened decision were rather unfortunate for the nation whose bureaucrats made it but it consolidated their power in the short span of their petty, venal lives so they no doubt thought it was a wise move.
A rather more eloquent set of refutations for this sad attempt at an argument can be found here.
With that in mind, tonight we reject these visionless Mandarins as people all over the world celebrate the first instance of a human leaving out atmosphere and entering orbit.
As an added bonus, he future has been long in coming, but its finally getting here.
April 11, 2008
April is one of the big premiere months for anime TV shows (January, July,
and October are the other 3). and this year is a doozy! Over 30 anime
shows begin this month. The first few fansubs are trickling out, and, as
expected, the harem shows are first. Still, I'll try to give some brief
reviews of first episodes as I watch them.
Browsing the "calendar" section over at anidb.net, I find the following:
8 sequel/returning shows: Yu-Gi-Oh 5D's; Kyou Kara Maou! 3rd series;
3XHolic Kei; Blue Dragon: The Seven Dragons of the Sky; Da Capo II Second Season; Code Geass Lelouch of the Rebellion R2; Neo Angelique Abyss; and Hidamari Sketch x 365.
4 shows for children/families: Net Ghost Pipopa (Pokemon-esque); Onegai My Melody Kirara (Hello Kitty-esque); Uchi no 3 Shimai (family comedy); Chi's Sweet Home (something about a kitten); plus two more from the sequel list
(Yu-Gi-Oh and Blue Dragon). This sort of answers Ken's question to me from a couple of months ago regarding whether the little kids have any cartoons to watch over there. Surely there must be some other kids' shows on thatstarted earlier. A quick glance at AniDB's "schedule" section shows me that, yes the little kids are alright: They've got plenty of shows that
don't involve panty shots, improbable cleavage and bloody carnage. It
seems they're still watching Chibi Maruko-chan, Doraemon, Pokemon, GeGeGe no Kitaro, Sgt. Frog, Crayon Shin-chan, and Pretty Cure plus shows about
cute little ninja, or talking food or something. they got it covered.
2 shoujou school romances: Itazura no Kiss and Special A.
7 scifi war/adventure shows: Allison to Lillia (orphanage pals hunt for
treasure while a war rages around them; Real Drive (more VR hijinks from
Masamune Shirow); Crystal Blaze (near(?) future private eye); Library Wars
(hi, Barb!); Blassreiter (mecha vs. demons); Kaiba (can something be retro
and avant garde at the same time?); and Macross Frontier, of course.
9 contemporary action shows: Kurenai; Zettai Karen Children (trio of
powerful ten-year-old epsers work for government agency; maybe should be
in the kids' section); Soul Eater (shinigami school action; so last year);
Nabari no Ou (ninja action); Vampire Knight (shoujou vampire romance with guns); Monochrome Factor (Perfectly Ordinary Japanese Teenager chosen to fight shadow demons); Himitsu: the Revelation; Golgo 13 (...); Daughter of 20-Faces (teen girl is daughter of master criminal; based on an Edogawa Rampo character).
2 period action shows; Mugen no Juunin (ronin cursed with immortality
can't die until he slays 1000 evil men); Amatsuki (modern teen trapped in
What's left? A few magic girlfriend/harem show love comedies: To-Love-Ru
(alien princess); Kanokon (fox-girl); and Wagaya no Oinara-sama (another
fox-girl; are they this year's shinigami?). Kyouran Kazoku Nikki might fit
here, too. Need more info. Jonjou Romantica is a shounen ai series. Moving
along now... Druaga no To: the Aegis of Uruk is a fantasy adventure/comedy
(not sure about the comedy part; art looks serious; hoping for the best).
Which brings us finally to: Kamen no Maid Guy. Yep, Kamen no Maid Guy. A Perfectly Ordinary Japanese Teenager discovers she's going to inherit a
fortune when she turns 18. In the meantime, she's been assigned a pair of
bodyguard/maids (and I quote): "Fubuki, a young and beautiful maid, and
Kogarashi, a big burly maid guy with a mask." So there you have it.
Plus: Lupin III: Green Vs. Red TV special. Good times.
Any thoughts, sirs and ladies?
OK Kamen No Maid Guy is just.....is that not a butler? No! He's in a maid outfit....WTF? I...I....ahem.
I've seen Macross Frontiers' pilot episode and it was remarkably good, indeed better than it should have been. Though there was little more than set-up it certainly has potential to be more than mechaphelia (and it provides ample doses of that). The characters introduced thus far are interesting and a couple were quite likable. The original Macross, despite its near dystopic setting, and the brutal intervention of combats random scythe, always had a surprisingly optimistic feel to it. This story, set on a massive interstellar colony ship has many of the same elements of the first on a grander scale. I look forward to this. It appears that it may be a high budget flagship show that marketing didn't focus group to death.
Looking at the OPs a few things stand out. Onegai My Melody Kirara has a duck in the opening credits and the action show Crystal Blaze has a girl in a duck suit in it. That is important to some people.
Crystal Blaze looks like it could be really interesting if it isn't obtuse, pretentious and boring.... but there is no way of determining that except by watching it. Kurenai; Zettai Karen Children looks really cute and might be enjoyable. It certainly has potential anyway. Druaga no To: the Aegis of Uruk is described as a comedy but looks to be an utterly straight D&D campaign...this could be quite good if it is simply deadpan, but again there is little to go on but hope.
The one that appeals to me actually is, oddly enough, Soul Eater, yes it is very last year, yes they are throwing in every trope they can including a naked (were?)catgirl, but the opening credits look delightfully manic and it appears that they are having fun with this silly show. I'm going to watch this one sometime this summer.
Lots of stuff....very little of it for me, but I imagine that a 38 year old single male American is not the target audience for these shows.
For those who are understandably offended by this utterly uncharacteristic display of base, prurient, pandering we offer as compensation this bit of thoughtful commentary for the other demographic.
Remarkable editing there.... ( shudders)
Touching Yuri dialog was found on the interweb years ago. Pic is a capture from Kashimashi which I am very unlikely to ever watch.
Trek Vid is via a friend who does not wish to be named on a wingnut blog.
April 10, 2008
...an Elephant painting.
Eugene Volokh has a gobsmackingly horrific quote from a member of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
"Freedom of Speech Is an American Concept, So I Don't Give It Any Value"
Check out the link for context...it really doesn't help, as she goes on to say that freedom of speech is not a Canadian value.....ummmm....
For those not up to speed on this pernicious panel of pompous pinheads, click here.
The arcane obtuse and unfathomable machinations that led to the current subprime lending debacle....Completely explained.
April 07, 2008
Because some people did not listen, I've moved the horror below the fold for your protection. Please, do not look below the fold.....
April 06, 2008
I have just noticed that some posts are appearing in categories in which they do not belong. (Chun Li's birthday is not actually rocket science).
For anyone offended by the appearance of an anime review in a collection of science posts or a right wing political rant in the alternate energy category, rest assured Brickmuppet Blog is working to correct the issue ASAP.
We regret any offense or bruised sensibilities this may have caused.
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