A spirited discussion on this topic has sprung up in the comments. My latest reply went long so here are a couple of random observations and opinions on the topic..
Russia is being a jackass in the Ukraine. However, their interest in Crimea and Sevastopol in particular is of vital importance to their nation. The Crimea is overwhelmingly ethnically Russian and Cossack so even if we were going by Wilsonian as opposed to Westphalian doctrine the ethnic self determination angle might give Russia a defensible position in that case.
We don't HAVE a doctrine at the moment , Wilsonian, Westphalian or even Carteresque, so that's irrelevant.
Which is one reason the parallels to 1930's Chekoslovakia cause concern.
Ukraine has grievances against Russia that are numerous and legitimate, including a large swath of their country that's uninhabitable for extended periods and mass graves filled by by Stalin with their brethren.
However, Ukraine is not a bunch of angels, with some very vocal members of their polity having anti-semitic and even neo-nazi ties. They have been using the Balkan conflict as a how-to manual rather than a cautionary tale. They are also pretty much a failed state.
We (the US) have, in the 20th century, normally supported self determination as a matter of national policy and a big chunk of eastern Ukraine is ethnically Russian.
Russia, like us, is fighting islamic extremists and would be a natural ally in this endeavor. In fact Russia has given a lot of assistance in that regard including overflight privileges to facilitate our fighting in Afganistan and providing intel on Chechen terrorists in the US which we ignored, thereby facilitating the Boston Bombing.
The plane shoot-down was a dreadful calamity, but the airline ignored warnings not to fly over a FRICKKING WAR ZONE where 3 transports had already been shot down. I don't think that Russia intentionally shot down an airliner. I cannot conceivably have gained them anything.
Is this patch of black earth which is a huge ethnic and political mess a place we want to really get involved in?
But there is a problem with that.
We guaranteed The Ukraine that we would protect their territorial integrity if they acquiesced to our demands that they give up their nukes. So we actually do have an obligation to do something. It is a matter of global interest that we encourage non-proliferation. this is not achieved if a country that gives up its nukes is dismembered by others that did not.
Like, you know, Libya, who we promised not to poke at if they gave up their nuclear program. A promise we honored until the president leveraged the fact that the UK and France wanted to pay less for oil to support Muslim Brotherhood affiliated revolutions. Now North Africa is awash in weapons, thousands of MANPADS are in the hands of terrorists and Boko Haram is spreading pain and woe with weapons they got from Quaddaffi's arsenals. OTOH the oil is not flowing near as much now.
So the "We gave our word" and "nonproliferation" carts have left the barn. The sort of brinksmanship necessary to protect Ukraine's integrity would be fraught with opportunities for catastrophic, 1914 style miscalculation and tragedy even if we had level-headed, grounded professionals running our foreign policy.
We don't have that. We have the crew that threw away an admittedly phyrric victory, in the process giving Mesopotamia to ISIS, set North Africa aflame, and has been making fools of themselves in the Levant.
Given that the Libyan fiasco has pissed away any non-proliferation mojo that might be preserved by an adventure in Ukrania, poking the bear* does not survive even the most cursory cost benefit analysis. The moral calculus is dubious at best.
The only realistic way to deal with the destabilizing and dangerous situation that is our shattered credibility is to wait two years and say "Sorry...he was a fluke. We're back now".
Even then, our policy in this squalid European mess probably ought to be to bolster our newest NATO allies and provide humanitarian aid.
Basically agreed. The Ukraine makes a crappy ally, giving us no additional security or benefits, but legitimizing Russian fears that the US is happy to push the supposedly-not-aimed-at-Russia-anymore NATO alliance right up to Russia's doorstep everywhere.
That said, Russia does plenty of other stuff to tick off the US. Backing Syria, for example, doesn't really give Russia any internal benefits, other than keeping the US and other Western nations occupied with the resulting mess.
So, we can't effectively stop Russia from doing dastardly things in its near abroad, we don't really want to associate ourselves with the people those things are being done to, and we've got other things to worry about with them. Can't we even manage a little quid pro quo? You know, troll hints that we'll happily sell the Ukranians a thousand MBTs at a discount, then say "you know, if you guys let Syria swing in the wind, we'll back off this one", kind of thing?
The alternative is to quit pretending that Russia is a friendly nation at all - at best an unfriendly rival, at worst still an enemy despite the fall of the Soviet Union. Treat 'em accordingly. Freeze them out of markets, disrupt their supply chains, isolate them politically, maybe even the sort of low-level sabotage that we used to get up to (good luck defending those pipelines, Putin...) Make it clear that pissing us off has a cost and that we're perfectly happy to go on screwing with them. If "well, we don't want to start World War 3" can be used to deter us from taking drastic action, surely it works in the other direction - and if the Soviet Union couldn't manage to win the Cold War, there's zero chance the Russians can pull it off on their own.
If we're not going to go that far, why piss them off at all?
Another basic unfairness that pisses me off is that we're perfectly willing to sell our best allies, Poles and Czhechs, while sticking our neck out for the useless bloody Ukrainians. It's as if all those Eastern Yrpians are one and the same for the sophisticated oafs in State Dept. and they can't tell them apart.
The basic issue there is that the basic mindset of the administration is that we don't have any enemies; any country that doesn't like us either has legitimate grievances caused by past imperialistic behavior (and thus can be appeased via good will and understanding). The security situation of the US is an artifact of past imperialistic actions and is thus shameful, yet also a basic fact of life which requires absolutely no effort to maintain and in fact draws money away from desperately needed social services for destitute women and children and toward corrupt white men in charge of defense industries.
Given that we don't have any enemies, nothing is an actual threat, and actually fighting is just an unjustified and barbaric use of our illegitimately-gained imperialistic power anyway, we don't actually have any use for allies. Unlike those who are opposed to us, who have legitimate grievances which we can appease, allies have interests in common with us and thus are fellow illegitimate imperialists, and also at fault for communism not taking over the world and even failing in Russia, where it would have worked except that we were too busy fighting it in order to preserve our own illegitimate imperial power. Furthermore, allies often have their own grievances which, while illegitimate, get in the way of us appeasing those who mistakenly think themselves our enemies except that they just haven't been fully appeased yet.
Eastern European allies are the worst, because their specific grievance is against communism, which is the worst of both worlds - their anti-communist attitude works directly against the idea that communism was a voluntary alignment which its peoples were happy with, and implies that other countries besides the US and its allies can be illegitimate imperialists instead of perfectly rational actors with legitimate historical grievances against Western imperialist offenses. Further, their embrace of Western capitalist values and forms of government and subsequent success can be taken as an implied endorsement of responsible and frugal government, and of capitalism as superior to communism, and is thus bad and shameful.
The Ukrainians don't have this issue because their government is hopelessly corrupt and a perfect example of why democratic and capitalist values are bad. But having them conquered by Russia is bad, because an expansionist Russia (despite having a historic grievance) makes our Eastern European neighbors nervous and they start demanding less appeasing and more concrete actions, which might put us in a position where appeasing the perfectly legitimate historical grievances of others would be politically difficult. Further, armed conquest of the Ukraine begs the question of why the Ukraine broke away in the first place, which goes to all sorts of places no liberal of good understanding wishes to pursue (especially as they relate to atrocities committed by the USSR and resolutely ignored by the left since). How much happier if the Ukrainians were to merely appease the Russians by simply ceding their entire territory, which would both appease the Russians and allow the spread of Putin's regime to additional area, further discrediting capitalism since everyone already knows how corrupt it is.
Furthermore, it's drawing political attention away from Israel, where the Palestinian tactic of using civilians to screen its rocket attacks will only work if people pay attention to the dead civilians that pile up after, and since the Palestinian cause is of course the world's Super Most Important Historical Legitimate Grievance, that's bad in and of itself. How can the evil Israelis, who of course have no legitimate historical grievance because they're allied with the West, possibly be pushed into the sea if nobody is paying attention to their atrocities while studiously ignoring the morality of firing unguided rockets vaguely in the direction of civilians due to your simmering legitimate historical grievance?
Avatar - basically, it's a case of "No worse friend, no better enemy."
The appalling thing is that what you say isn't an over-the-top parody of government incompetence; it's how the present administration (and a significant proportion of the Western world) seems to think.
100 Years Ago Today: The Beginning of The End
Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the heir apparent to the throne of Austria-Hungary. He had initially been third in line for the throne and as such had, in his early years, led a somewhat dilettante lifestyle. After a suicide and then typhoid fever placed him in the position of heir he frequently came to violent disagreements with his father(the Emperor Franz Joseph) over what he perceived as needed reforms. While Franz Ferdinand was a bit of an autocrat and a staunch royalist who wanted to consolidate executive power on the throne, he also wanted to establish a basically federal system granting considerable autonomy to the various regions. He also wanted to ensure all ethnicities had equal standing, which was very unpopular in some quarters, particularly the Hungarian half of the empire, which had its own legislature. In essence he wanted to extend in some ways the privileges the Hungarians enjoyed to all regions while simultaneously unifying the country on strictly national matters. Furthermore he wanted to organize a third ceremonial kingdom out of the slavic states with equal prestige as Austria and Hungary to drive home the idea that the Slavs were full citizens. Franz Ferdinand was also one of the few voices in government advocating that the Empire should cultivate good relations with its neighbors and in particular, not poke Serbia any further.
His wife Sophie was a commoner and was not permitted any royal courtesies by imperial decree (another reason there was grief between Archduke and Emperor). However she was accorded the courtesies and privileges due the wife of a general in the imperial army if he was engaged in official military business. Thus, when he went to Sarajevo to inspect a local garrison she accompanied him.
While there they made some goodwill appearances and visited the Sarajevo town hall....
Moments after that picture was taken both were assassinated by the leader of a local chapter of a Serbian secret society called the Black Hands...which despite his melodramatic title was an an angry young loser of a man who lived with his mother.
The assassination removed one of the last voices for conciliation with the Serbs and threw the Emperor into a grief stricken rage.
Russia stepped up to defend their Serbian allies which obliged Germany to step in and honor their treaty with Austria-Hungary, whereupon the Kaiser signed off on a unfortunate plan to preemptively take out France "quickly", lest they decided to open up a second front...which brought the British Empire into the fight. These and other decisions formed a cascade failure of strategic miscalculations amongst the governments of Europe cumulating in a disaster of unimaginable proportions from which the world has still not fully recovered.
The entrance of the Ottoman Empire into the fray and its subsequent collapse precipitated the mess we now call the Middle East. The toll the war took on Russia begat the Soviet Union, international communism and the hundred or more millions that died from that ideology in Russian, China and elsewhere. Germany, broken and humiliated by the conflict rose up under the leadership of a fiend to lash out once more against a world still reeling, not only from the loss of a generation of young men, but from the fact that this unspeakable, and stupid orgy of carnage broke the spirit of the west.
The progress that civilization has made in the last hundred years seems impressive, but it pales between the vast leap that took place between the end of one great war in 1814 and the events of 1914. From the cold war, to the middle east, we've spent the better part of a century putting out fires started or fanned by the First World War...and still they smolder.
We hardly think of this conflict today but its ramifications are still with us. Let us hope the lessons are as well, because while history, as they say, does not exactly repeat, it does rhyme.
The analogies at the link, while worrisome, can be taken too literally. There is of course, little significance to the century mark beyond superstition baed on numerology. If we were using hexadecimal this year it wouldn't even have that, but the artificial significance of a hundred years passing should be taken to reflect upon not only the carnage, but the miscalculations that led to it.
1...an angry young loser of a man who lived with his mother.
At the risk of sounding flippant, I'll point out that that one phrase neatly describes most of the members of the now-moribund Occupy movement.
On a more serious note, the parallels between then and now frighten me. If anything, things are worse now. Now, we have more nations bumbling around the world stage, acting just as foolishly and with just as much belligerency, and armed with weapons that make even the deadliest weapons of WWI look like toys. Also consider the various Islamist terror groups, who are playing a similar role to the Black Hands, except that (a) they have proven themselves to be more motivated, better organized, and much more brutal, and (b) they have (or have improvised) weapons that are far more devastating than the crude bombs and pocket pistols the Serbian radicals had, and may yet gain access to weapons that are even more destructive. (As a small aside, also consider that many Western nations, the United States included, have bred their own potential Black Hands; the above-mentioned Occupy movement, The Traitor Formerly Known As Bradley Manning, and recent British and Australian volunteers for international jihad are the bellwethers of this.)
Posted by: Peter the Not-so-Great at Sun Jun 29 00:50:19 2014 (2eP1J)
This is the first I've heard of the Archduke's policies. It sounds like if he had survived, things would be even better than we imagine things would be simply if the war hadn't happened.
Posted by: Mauser at Sun Jun 29 02:18:20 2014 (TJ7ih)
Nuclear weapons really did change everything. In World War 1, the main fear of countries was that they would delay mobilization, their enemies would mobilize, and they would lose the war before they could properly form up their levies; this is essentially what happened in the latter wars of the 1800s, where Prussia won several decisive encounters through superior organization. Alsace-Lorraine was obtained that way in the first place, right?
Nowadays, the need to have your civilians drafted and mobilized is next to nil, and the rewards to be run through a devastating first strike are quite a bit smaller. No civilian militia or freshly-drafted troops could stand against a professional Western army (and, to be blunt, none of the other professional Western armies dare stand against the US; even the Brits and the French would be little but speed bumps). On the other hand, having experienced WW1, the Western countries are very hesitant to be the first one to pull the trigger. Even Hitler didn't resort to invading countries outright, without a buildup of public opinion and well-crafted justifications. (Of course Pete would probably say "I can think of one example!" ;p)
The biggest issue regarding world peace is that there was previously a system where the powerful Western countries demanded that the leadership of other countries take responsibility for the actions of their countrymen, and happily decapitated those who did not; the idea that a country would be considered "sovereign" but not fully under control of all its territory was silly. Now we've got a series of countries who can claim sovereignty within their borders without actually having control of the population within those borders; the penalty for toleration of such shamelessness has not been fully paid.
That said, the REALLY scary parallel isn't with the start of WW1, but the US's chosen tactics in WW2. We have previously denounced entire areas of warfare, such as the bombardment of cities or the use of unrestricted submarine warfare, as barbaric and completely incompatible with the behavior of a modern society; yet, when pressed, we embraced those strategies thoroughly and to the massive detriment of our foes. Should the new asymmetrical strategy of the employment of non-governmental combatants prove to be a true threat to the US, we would likely embrace that strategy as well. And how well would we do, with our acceptance of military necessity, our widespread gun culture and gun ownership, our legions of youth trained from a young age in advanced squad tactics, and our vast wealth coupled with our technology advantages?
(Basically, were it not illegal, could I see the same folks who play Counterstrike or League every night piloting remote killing-drones through the streets of Medina for the glory and lols? Oh yes, oh yes indeed.)
It would also be handy in case of combat damage. For conventional warplanes, they erect crash barriers on the runway if they don't think they can land and stop normally. For Harriers, they have "landing stools"...
Posted by: Siergen at Fri Jun 27 17:59:39 2014 (8/vFI)
The stands are used for maintenance on the plane when it is required that the forward landing gear needs to not touch the deck.
There are similar mounts for replacing the other landing gear too.
It / they are just fancy jack stands.
Posted by: jon spencer at Fri Jun 27 20:24:23 2014 (JSYPT)
4Harriers only carry enough water to run in hover mode for 90 seconds...
Wait, what? Can you explain, Steven?
Posted by: Wonderduck at Sat Jun 28 00:49:10 2014 (DiS7r)
When they are hovering, there are gizmos that vector thrust from the engine straight down. But the engines don't produce enough thrust normally to hold the jet up. So they overdrive the engines by injecting water.
It's the same principle as water injection in WWII piston engine fighters. The water cools the air flow, which permits more air and more fuel to pass through the jet engine, producing more thrust. But they have to use a lot of water to get that effect, and they don't carry all that much because water is heavy.
It turns out that they carry enough for 90 seconds of hover. (And too bad for Arnold in True Lies.)
The maximum take-off thrust available from the Pegasus engine is limited, particularly at the higher ambient temperatures, by the turbine blade temperature. As this temperature cannot reliably be measured, the operating limits are determined by jet pipe temperature. To enable the engine speed and hence thrust to be increased for take-off, water is sprayed into the combustion chamber and turbine to keep the blade temperature down to an acceptable level.
Water for the injection system is contained in a tank located between the bifurcated section of the rear (hot) exhaust duct. The tank contains up to 500lb (227kg, 50 imperial gallons) of distilled water. Water flow rate for the required turbine temperature reduction is approximately 35gpm (imperial gallons per minute) for a maximum duration of approximately 90 seconds. The quantity of water carried is sufficient for and appropriate to the particular operational role of the aircraft.
I've seen Harriers hover at airshows for longer than 90 seconds, so I suspect that limitation is for when the aircraft is fully loaded with ordnance and fuel.
Posted by: Siergen at Sat Jun 28 09:57:30 2014 (8/vFI)
Did you actually time it? Subjective evaluations of duration of extraordinary and noteworthy events are notoriously imprecise and tend to be on the high side. (I think the principle was called "All eclipses last five minutes" because subjectively it seems that way even if totality was actually shorter than that.)
The numbers seem slightly off, given "A Pint's a Pound the whole world 'round." A Gallon of water is typically 8 lbs. (and a Gallon of Gasoline is typically around 6. Not sure about Diesel/Jet A).
Posted by: Mauser at Sun Jun 29 02:21:08 2014 (TJ7ih)
A pint of water weighs a pound and a quarter. :p
Except in the US, Liberia, and February.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Sun Jun 29 05:24:52 2014 (PiXy!)
Pixy, we can't help that the Imperial standards were diddled by Parliamentary souses determined to squeeze four extra fluid ounces into their beer measures, can we? The old measures continued as they ever were, here in the rebelled provinces.
Posted by: Mitch H. at Mon Jun 30 16:36:29 2014 (jwKxK)
According to The Blaze, a previous attempt to land on a stack of mattresses did not end quite well, after which the stool was constructed.
The tiny Mk 4 reentry vehicle containing the tinier W-76 warhead weighs only 368 pounds allowing up to 14 to be carried on a Trident missile, though treaty restrictions limit them to considerably less than that. The joint U.S./UK W-76 is the most common warhead in the American and British nuclear stockpiles and one of the two oldest in the US arsenal. Rather than replacing these elderly warheads, the rather questionable decision has been made to refurbish them. This is the warhead that caused the stir some years ago when it was belatedly discovered that the U.S. had lost the knowledge of how to produce a crucial component of the bomb.
While 368 pounds is a bit too heavy for a backpack or suitcase nuke, the impressively small size of this terrible weapon, along with its comparatively moderate weight, mean that a weapon comparable to this (far from state of the art) device could fit into any number of vehicles, steamer trunks or porta-johns.
Fortunately nothing could get past our border security, so rest easy and enjoy the summer!
We are now Able to Announce an Increase From 340 to 50
It's that new math!
No we're not talking about the chocolate ration. We're talking about the B-61 nuclear bomb. This is a fearsome weapon having a yield that can be varied between the equivalent of 300 tons and 340 kilotons of TNT.
Having first been tested in 1966, the B-61 one of the only two atomic bombs the US possesses and is, by a wide margin, the oldest atomic weapon in the U.S. arsenal. As such these weapons are in need of refurbishment or replacement. The current administration scrapped plans for the reliable replacement warhead on the grounds that developing a new weapon was not in the spirit of nuclear disarmament. However, the aged B-61 (the design of which actually began in 1960) was becoming a concern for reliability (and safety) reasons so something had to be done.
The result was the B-61-12, an program to refurbish and upgrade the bombs. This has caused some consternation on the left as the addition of a GPS guidance package to the bomb, which gives it an accuracy equivalent to the most modern 'smart' conventional warheads is considered by many to be adding a new capability and a possible treaty violation. Given that the "new capability" is simply a greatly increased probability of hitting its target this does not seem to be a particularly meritorious argument.
However, as part of the upgrade, the maximum yield of the weapons is being reduced to 50 kilotons, a tad over one seventh the current value.
Now 50 kilotons is a terrifying thing. For perspective, see what a 21 kiloton blast detonated 90 feet below the surface of the water can do.
For scale, that black stain on the lower right of the cauliflower of death is BB33, USS Arkansas...the only US battleship to fly.
Still, you're reducing the yield to a tad over one seventh of it's current yield. The rationale may be that the weapon's accuracy would allow in some situations a lower yield setting to be used, thus reducing the blast area to obliterate a target and, in the unfortunate scenario where a ground burst is necessary, reducing fallout significantly. That is all well and good, but...
...except in a few very specific, oddball scenarios, if we are forced to use these terrible weapons, collateral damage damage is not going to be a concern.
Nukes are for deterrence.
That means that if we, God forbid, have to use these dreadful devices, we're going to come at whoever pushed us that far like the bastard children of an affair between Andrew Jackson, William T. Sherman and Curtis Lemay. The reason to have these weapons is the implication that we will UTTERLY DESTROY any country that attacked us with nukes or comparable weapons. To that end reducing the yield does not seem wise. It removes an option for greater power if needed and in doing so increases the likelihood that some blinkered individual will conclude that they can "take the hit" and absorb our retaliatory strike.
On the face of it, that's crazy, but if one (for instance) has expressed the opinion that Mao was a man to be admired and that the 'Great Leap Forward' and Cultural Revelation' were noble endeavors...then one might be the sort of psychopath who sees China's billion or so people as "spares". The rather large reduction in yield per bomb might well reinforce that dubious notion.
Now there may be a technical reason for the reduced yield. If the guidance package displaces, say, a tritium tank and 50KT is all they can manage then the increased accuracy is probably a good trade off. But unnecessarily reducing the yield of our weapons so dramatically, when we are already substantially reducing the numbers of our weapons seems imprudent at best.
So...one might wonder "What about the other nukes?"
Well, here's what's left.
B-61: Has already been mentioned. The most common nuclear bomb in the arsenal and second most common nuke in the US Inventory. Also used (with US controlled activation keys) by Germany, Italy and Turkey.
B-83: Designed 20 years after the B-61 it is a very advanced free-fall atomic bomb and has every available safety feature. It is also variable yield 20KT to 1.2 MEGAtons. (1200 kilotons) . By far the most powerful weapon remaining in the arsenal after the scrapping of the B-53s in 2011 . The last US atomic weapon fully tested to full yield. It is neither a reliability nor a safety concern. About 650 were manufactured most of which are still in storage.
W-76: a US/UK SLBM warhead with a yield of 100KT. By far the most common warhead in the US arsenal. Publicly available documents indicate that there have always been some concerns regards this aging weapons reliability. It is currently the subject of a refurbishment program which made the alarming discovery that the technique for making an important component of this weapon had been lost. Reportedly a work around has been developed after 9 years of intense research..It is hoped to have these 30+year old warheads refurbished by 2018. Though doubts about the basic design's reliability may remain.
W-78: The surviving Minuteman 3 missiles were designed to carry three of these 300 KT weapons apiece. There are concerns about its safety and age thus it is being rapidly phased out in favor of 1 W-87 for every 3 W-78s.
W-80: 150 KT This is the warhead on the Air-Force's cruise missiles. It was also used on the nuclear version of the Navy's Tomahawk, which has since been retired.
W-87: 300 KT Originally built for the Peacekeeper missile which could cary 10 apiece, the treaty mandated retirement of those 50 missiles freed up about 500 of these and they are being distributed amongst the 450 surviving Minuteman 3 missiles. This cuts the number of ICBM warheads by a third but improves safety and reliability of the warheads. There was an upgrade proposal to raise its yield to 475KT but this does not seem to have been done.
W-88: Thought to be very similar in design to the W-87, this 475KT warhead is the preferred warhead for the Trident 2 SLBM which can cary 14 of them, but is limited by treaty to 8. This is considered to be the most advanced US nuclear warhead. Was to replace all of the smaller W-76 warheads but production was shut down at only 400 after the EPA/FBI raid on the Rocky Flats production facility in 1989. Although it was intended to restart production in the early 90s it was not resumed...in the US.
This is Sure to Calm Things Down
While everyone was looking at Ukraine, the Chinese siezed a Japanese merchant ship on Monday. MV Baosteel Emotion was imponded as per orders from a Chinese court that declared the bulk carrier a war reparation. It was released yesterday only after the company paid about 28 million in fines.
This one issue seems to be resolved, but the precedent has the potential to open a huge can of worms in the future. Given the ammount of Japanese investment in China, if they start calling in reparations from a war 70 years ago it's going to be a huge mess.
It may not be entirely coincidental that the Chinese real estate bubble has shown signs of popping over the last few weeks, though the opacity of the the Chinese market makes it hard to be sure exactly what is going on. Thr large Japanese holdings in China are probably seen as a ready supply of cash, from a particularly hated creditor.
Far less likely, but still within the realm of possibility is the potential for rthe US backing of Chiang Kai Shek to result in unwelcopme surprises for American companies.
"[We] concluded that the PLA has been given the new task to be able to
conduct a short sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China
Sea following with what can only be expected a seizure of the Senkakus
or even a southern Ryukyu [islands] — as some of their academics say.”
At this point, I'd settle for our media to just get better at monotasking, so long as the task was simply doing their job. I can't remember the last time I saw or read a reporter actually reporting the factual news. If we ever get a provider in that market, they'll be able to laugh all the way to the bank.
I'd make another comment about Foggy Bottom getting better at multitasking instead, but Smart Diplomacy! ("Jaime Retief, please pick up the Red Courtesy Phone...") has wiped out any hope I had in ever getting that bit of change.
Posted by: Ranger Rick at Sun Mar 2 23:58:37 2014 (XTV7r)
I’ll add here another comparison: For the cost of one Littoral Combat
ship with two helicopters we could deploy 14 Sentinel class patrol craft
with increased firepower within the displacement capabilities of the
The Sentinel's are fine vessels, with great seakeeping for their size and enough range to cross the Pacific (via Hawaii). They are actually a Dutch design purchased because of its very good performance in several Navies & Coast Guards. However, it's unclear what increased firepower can realistically be added to the Sentinel design. Remember, it's not just displacement that is important, space is a big factor in guided
missile systems and in the sensors, fire control and C4i systems needed to make any armament useful.
Still, being conservative, lets assume that any up-gunning consisted of replacing the Bushmaster Cannon with the 'bolt on' SEA RAM missile system (which has its own fire control on the mount) and squeezing in two Penguin antiship missiles between the cutters copious ventilators. I choose these two systems because they are both designed to have low impact and be mounted on austere or even civilian vessels, both are in US service and they are fairly cheap. The LCS has 21 point defense anti-air missiles (RAM) and no antiship missiles except for some antitank missiles that have a shorter range than the ships single Bofors gun. Bu contrast the postulated 14 Coast guard cutters, for the same price would have have 154 of the same type of point defense missiles and 28 over the horizon ship killing missiles. That's 133 more SAMs and 28 more SSMs and they'd be (at least) 14 times as hard to sink (perhaps harder, as the Coast Guard cutters are made of steel as opposed to aluminum).
All this really tells us is that comparing anything against the Navy's littoral combat ship is setting the bar rather low.
However 14 vessels would take at least 14 hits to put out of action and so might deny any enemy unfettered use of an area of water longer. Also 14 hulls can be in 14 places at once, which can be important in peace as well as war. Showing the flag, for instance, requires the flag actually be present.
On the debit side, while it's true that 14 cutters could cover a similar
area to the LCS's helicopters, they'd be somewhat less flexible and, of
course they'd not have anything like the huge cargo bay. It might be
advisable to apply the concept to a somewhat larger, but still austere
vessel. The Italian Commandante class Corvettes, are austere offshore patrol vessels that come in at 58 million (US) apiece which compares favorably to the Sentinel's 47 million dollar price tag.
The closeness in price between a 400 ton and a 1500 ton vessel may cause some alarm, but it is a good reminder that steel, as opposed to a weapon system or sensor array, is cheap. A bigger hull costs only a little more.
The Coast Guard needed a vessel that could go really close inshore, have a crew of under 30, have a low enough freeboard to pull people out of the water from the main deck, sip fuel, be based at existing small boat stations and have a draft of less than 10 feet. As such the 400 ton cutters are good fit for their needs...the operating costs are much lower (fuel, crew ect) are far smaller than the larger ship....(acquisition costs are only part of a budget).
However, 1100 more tons of steel buys a lot better seakeepng, a helicopter and vastly more internal space with all the associated advantages... at the cost of some increased operating costs due to a much larger crew and greater fuel consumption. 12 can be bought for the cost of a single 700 million LCS, though how much 12 would cost to run in comparison to an LCS is unclear though the LCS is notoriously expensive in fuel and repair costs. 12 of these ships bring 12 helicopters to the table as opposed to the LCS's 2 and the Comandante class has a hard point for 4 or 8 antiship missiles. There is also a provision in the design for a slightly stretched version with 8VLS cells and 32 ESSM missiles...
...but at that point you're getting into a AAA fire control systems, with the attendant risk of escalating prices to the point of missing the raison' detre' of the exercise.
Still, if the cost could be kept to the point that 6-10 could be bought and operated for the cost of an LCS then this vessel could be a vast quantitative and qualitative improvement over LCS.
Additionally, we've mentioned before that the French have a very interesting smaller (800 ton) vessel with similar features, but no costs were available.
Such vessels are no replacement for the big Destroyers, with their sensors and ability to shoot down aircraft missiles and satellites as well as strike targets a thousand miles away, but they could be an interesting force multiplier for a reasonable price. This is going to become a very important consideration in the coming years. when our older hulls start wearing out...just as the depth of our financial crisis becomes fully felt
The Gregorian calender does not have any predictive qualities beyond such matters as when a leap day will be inserted. The parallels between today and 1914 while real, are far from exact and have been developing for years.They do not gain special effectiveness by this grim centennial.
…it’s not comforting to ponder that Chinese who believe in traditional
five elements fortunetelling are of the opinion that Yang years of the
Wood Horse are associated with war — and "fast victories.” It is a year
to stick to one’s principles — which in this version means not
negotiating and running over other people.
Pitiful...but enough dwelling on the ancient past. Such images are from a less enlightened world, nearly a century removed from us. We have our problems today but we live in an age of unimaginable interconnectedness. There are certainly jihadist movements, ethnocentric conflicts, and civil strife but a war between great powers is unthinkable due to interconnectedness and interdependency.
In other news, via Instapundit...this happened yesterday at Davos.
Do read the whole thing,
The Chinese professional
acknowledged that if China asserted control over the disputed islands by
attacking Japan, America would have to stand with Japan. And he
acknowledged that China did not want to provoke America.
But then he said that many in China
believe that China can accomplish its goals — smacking down Japan,
demonstrating its military superiority in the region, and establishing
full control over the symbolic islands — with a surgical invasion.
In other words, by sending troops onto the islands and planting the flag.
Note this addendum....
Just interviewed Shinzo Abe @ Davos He said China and Japan now are in a "similar situation" to UK and Germany before 1914.
Via NBF. It looks like a company called Advanced Tactics has developed a flying, off road capable van. It looks utterly impractical, but note that unlike earlier attempts at this sort of thing, the AT Transformer is actually van/truck sized with the rotors retracted and takes off vertically. Thus, it is at least in theory much more practical than the roadable airplanes that crop up from time to time.
I don't know if it would be robust enough for battlefield use, particularly in a world full of IEDs, It looks like it ought to be inherently fragile since it has to be light enough to fly. Still, mobility and versatility do trump protection in some situations, and while this is unlikely to do flying or driving very well, the ability to do both may well have some niche utility, I could see this thing possibly being useful in a civilian capacity Alaska or Canada.
Ignoring the road feature, this vehicles landing footprint and stowed size are tiny compared to most naval helicopters, (the SH 60 Seahawk is 40'x10feet...folded) so this may have some maritime potential giving very small ships the ability to operate a utility helicopter with a useful load.
More importantly....14 years into the 21st century...we finally have a flying car.
Nuking the people who owe you money and buy your stuff is a poor business model (as wise people have pointed out) but if it looks like said people (the US) is never going to pay you back and are going completely broke it becomes less so...especially if the perceived deadbeat is the only thing standing in the way of regional hegemony.
Furthermore, if one thinks Mao was a swell guy and his attitude towards human life is laudable, then the huge population of China and the individual low yields of most of the warheads in the US arsenal might make it appear that China could "take the hit" of a US retaliatory strike.
In the long run...which is how China looks at things... they might even be right.
This still seems unlikely. No one "wins" a nuclear exchange.
However, stupider decisions have been made. The decisions that led to World War One all seemed like good ideas at the time. It's also important to remember that other societies and values systems can produce decisionary calculus with regard to acceptable trade offs is likely far different from ours.
On an equally upbeat and somewhat related note: There is an interesting report here on dealing with a low yield nuclear blast (about 1/2 a Fat Man) in a nuclear terrorist attack.
Re: Rutland, Vermont, I'm pretty sure that they're threatening US politicians' hometowns and/or properties. For example, trying to show Chicago as threatened. Typical thug crap. I dunno, maybe they're threatening Ron Paul, but I suppose they could be threatening Valerie Jarrett's second cousin's boyfriend (for all I know).
To be fair, I wouldn't want to be subtle with Obama and his crew because they might not get it.
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Sat Nov 2 22:49:41 2013 (cvXSV)
Usually, when North Korea does this crap, it means that the harvest was no good, so they want to keep their own people occupied and foreigners away from being able to observe. I wonder if China had an agricultural shortfall this year?
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Sat Nov 2 22:51:25 2013 (cvXSV)
Not that I actually know anything about this stuff, so don't believe me. These are just suspicious guesses and paranoid ideas.
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Sat Nov 2 22:53:08 2013 (cvXSV)
The 2013 Chinese rice crop wasn't so great, thanks to the heat wave this summer; and there's been a fair amount of publicity about Chinese rice from Southern China being mostly full of cadmium from industrial pollution. Other regions have a lot of arsenic and other heavy metal pollutants. A big report on China's pollution problem was done, and then the state decided it was so bad that it had to be classified; and even People's Daily was enraged about it.
There's also been a huge wave of killer hornet sting deaths, and that Tiananmen Square Muslim thing, and possibly Chinese people being reminded/finding out about Tank Man because of the new Square incident.
Mandate of Heaven, anybody? Or at least, the regime deciding a distraction is needed from the internal problems?
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Sat Nov 2 23:03:14 2013 (cvXSV)
Well, they've been buying a lot of rice from Thailand in recent years. But I don't think Thai rice can feed China.
On the bright side, they don't have to live off of just rice these days. China grows a buttload of corn now, for example; even if the drought brought that down somewhat, they planted record amounts of corn this year so they must have gotten something.And they've got a fair amount of money saved up that they can spend on food imports.
(I have a very bad memory of eating authentic Chinese creamed corn at a Chinese-student-patronized Chinese restaurant while visiting Ann Arbor. They had added some kind of weird flavor to it, like plum, and my stomach was Not Expecting It. I can eat just about anything new, but apparently I want familiar-looking things to taste like what I'm expecting. OTOH, I did get some awesome books at the Dawn Treader bookstore that day, so perhaps weird creamed corn is sent to try us.)
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Sun Nov 3 00:09:06 2013 (cvXSV)
China's buying up scads of land in Africa to feed themselves with. It's causing....issues.
I'm sure they're also miffed about the Zumwalt, though. The Chinese love them their navy, they've been happily assuming that the US is going to let them play with no opposition but the JSDF, and now we've brought out a newer, cooler, stealthier ship that's eminently suited to playing with the Chinese.
So there's that. I mean, that new JSDF ship made the Chinese throw a hissy, all by itself.
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Sun Nov 3 13:40:53 2013 (cvXSV)
Interesting that Annapolis and Norfolk are on that list, but not Chicago or Houston or Atlanta (I will neglect to mention Detroit on the grounds that dropping a nuke might be considered an improvement!)
Definitely a list compiled by a navy without consulting other departments...
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Mon Nov 4 21:52:19 2013 (cvXSV)
Obviously the Chinese think that Dayton's harmless now that NCR has moved out.
Posted by: J Greely at Mon Nov 4 22:34:24 2013 (fpXGN)
Maybe we need a movie where the buried codebreaking machines turn into mecha and lurch through the nighttime streets, terrifying the students at UD (except the ones too drunk to notice). Because that would totally happen if this were anime Japan.
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Mon Nov 4 22:43:17 2013 (cvXSV)
There are two spots for the Portland area, and I'm not sure what the eastern one is targeting. The airport, maybe? (There's an Air National Guard unit based there, but that seems pretty small potatoes for a nuke target.)
It looks like it's shooting at Gresham, but there isn't anything in Gresham.
I would assume that all of the 50 largest metro areas would be targeted, which is why Portland is on the list. The metro area is very spread out, and maybe the second nuke is just to catch areas outside the flash zone of the first one. But in that case, there ought to be a third one, aimed at Hillsboro to get Beaverton and Forest Grove.
I wonder if they're trying to take out I-405? The leftmost bomb is aimed at downtown Portland and it would bag a big stretch of I-5, but I-405 veers off well to the east and bypasses Portland entirely. If they're trying to partition the Interstate Highway System (a possibility) they'd need to hit I-405 as well.
I'd like to point out that in the old Soviet attack .gif, Duckford is a listed target... we're the triangle at the top of Illinois.
Posted by: Wonderduck at Tue Nov 5 21:41:04 2013 (GE6XS)
The scary thing about these types of documents is that it makes you realize that these people, who have nuclear weapons and are responsible for their use, have very little idea what the hell they are doing.
Actually, that's an interesting question of military history. I wonder if we've done any analyses of our own Cold War-era strike targeting priority lists versus the historical presence or absence of strategic targets? I mean, we're making fun of the Chinese here sorta, but did we actually do a better job?
October 28, 2013, the U.S. Navy official websiteRuiZhuMu Woerpubliclylatestsuperlaunchingmissile destroyerUSSDDG1000whole processphotos.CompareUnfortunately, theshipinto the waterdid not organizeanyceremonybecause ofthe impact offiscal tighteningsubject.
In other words, this milestone slipped under the radar due to the vessels inherent stealthiness and the fact that there was no launch ceremony for a first in class warship....but mostly the latter.
Dude...they had launch ceremonies for sub chasers in WW2. This was just a gesture of contempt.
As to the ship itself there are a lot of criticisms floating around about the design, ranging from its
tumblehome hull form (which doesn't have as much reserve buoyancy as the
flared hulls of the navies current destroyers). There is also concern about the superstructure, which despite being an advanced carbon and epoxy reinforced assembly is still...balsa wood.
Although classified as a destroyer the vessel is as big as a Baltimore class heavy cruiser, and seems optimized for shore bombardment. This makes it more of a monitor than anything, meaning it's really a replacement for the battleships. While the vessel doesn't have an armor belt per se its shell plating is 20mm thick and it is reportedly quite strongly built. The propulsion system is an advanced gas turbo-electric system that produces much more available electrical power for the electronics system. This will also make the ship quite quiet. The strange, 19th century looking hullform is designed for maximum stealth.
The ship carries 80 missile tubes as opposed to the 96 of the current destroyers, but these are the Mk 57 launchers which are much larger and can handle bigger future missiles. The ship also has two 155mm (6.1 inch) guns which fire shells weighing 200-225 pounds depending on type. This is as heavy as most 8 inch shells. It can lob guided rounds 100 nautical miles and the 200 pound unguided shells 24 nautical miles. DDG 100 has extensive helicopter facilities aft and a large flex-deck with aft launching for small boats.
The criticisms notwithstanding, this ship and her two sisters are experimental vessels testing out a great many new ideas and weapons systems...the stealthy hull form and composite superstructure need to be tested in real world conditions and if they work out will represent major advances. Additionally this particular program represents one of the vanishingly few DOD programs that is on time and under budget. Given that everything about this ship is experimental except the anchor chains, blankets and urinals, that is no small accomplishment.
I remember reading somewhere that the armor on WWII battleships is so thick that the typical anti-ship missile can't penetrate it. i.e in Exocet vs Iowa, Iowa wins.
In other defense news, a bit of kludging together hardware has produced something very interesting. The army had a whole bunch of rocket motors from some kind of weapons system they can't use any more (I think it was some kind of cluster munition) but it would have been a waste to get rid of them. So Boeing won the contract to figure out a way to stick the rocket to the back of a Small Diameter Bomb, AND also hook the SDB to a winged JDAM system. The result, a field-launchable bomb, no fighter-jet required.
Posted by: Mauser at Thu Oct 31 07:42:54 2013 (TJ7ih)
Apropos of nothing...nothing at all, I feel the sudden urge to leave this here.
RFS Moskva is the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet. This class was intended as a mass produced compliment to the much larger and more expensive Kirov class ships. In the end the production run was cut short due to the fall of the U.S.S.R.
Moskva is one of only three ships of her type in Russian service. Next to RFS Peter the Great, these 3 ships are the most powerful surface combatants in the Russian navy, sporting 16 supersonic antiship cruise missiles with thousand pound warheads. This means that this very visible, expensive and powerful unit is a politically significant asset. Sending her to command the Eastern Mediterranean squadron in Tartus is not done lightly and is a signal of considerable national resolve.
Russia has two interests in Syria. The naval base in Tartus is one of their last overseas bases and is exceedingly important to them strategically. Furthermore the Al-Qaeda affiliated rebels are closely allied with the extremists who have been killing Russian civilians throughout the Caucuses in great numbers. If Syria's nerve gas and other weapons fall into rebel hands those materials can be expected to be killing Russian citizens in short order.
So the Russians have some quite compelling reasons to be there.
So...a bunch of US and Russian Navy ships in close proxmity and at cross puropses, with the Americas firing missiles over the Russians; Former Senator Fred Thompson has thoughts on that scenario....
UPDATE: Pete Zatciev points out in the comments that Russia has abandoned the Tartus Base. In my defense the Wikipedia page says the Russians are denying this....(and they may well be) but it does look like the base was largely abandoned back in June and the Russian Federation navy is just patrolling outside it.
If you're talking about this particular ship, she is a bit old and doesnt have the ABM and AAA capabilities of our destroyers. However, it is in some ways more powerful. The 16 humongous SSMs are designed to take a carrier out. The 130mm gun is one of the most powerful naval rifles in service today with good shore bombardment and even anti missile capability. The ship has a respectable antiaircraft capability. A carrier is more versatile to be sure and has vastly more firepower, but this is still a a potentially useful ship and it can be risked where the Russian carrier can't.
I understand Moskva has been fitted with extensive flagship facilities. A flagship may not seem important in an age of satellite communications
but they have proved their utility to the USN which is why we still have
a few old slow amphibious command ships as flagships.
Finally, because this is a big prestige unit, sending her to Syria sends powerful political signals.
If your asking about big non carrier ships in general, then I think there is a place for them, something needs to escort the carriers and a bigger ship can carry more missiles. Since the 1970s the USN has periodically tried to get big surface combatants to carry big radars and lots of missiles. Ships can be detached from a carrier task force for independent duty and a surface action group can carry surface to surface missiles into areas a carrier might not be available for. Nowadays there is also ABM patrol, with a ship on station to defend against ballistic missiles.
So yeah I think the idea of a cruiser or at least a large surface combatant is still viable. A navy needs several types complementing each other.
Yes, carriers are very capable. They're also extremely expensive. USS George HW Bush (CVN-77) cost $6.2 billion just to build, not counting the cost of her air wing (which is probably at least another billion).
You'd think we could build missile cruisers for less than that, but the planned "Zumwalt" class is supposed to come in at $7 billion each. Amazing, isn't it? These days it seems like the Navy has joined the Air Force in building everything out of platinum.
Part of the problem is class inflation. The Ticonderogas were (IIRC) the last ship class that the US Navy called "Cruisers" and they came in at 9800 tons.
The last group of Arleigh Burke "destroyers" were 10,800 tons. A modern American "frigate" comes in at a size which, in WWII, would be considered a "light cruiser". (The Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates are 4200 tons.)
I don't think the US Navy has anything any more which would meet the WWII definition of a "destroyer", let alone the smaller "destroyer escort". Pretty much, the only armed ships the US owns like that belong to the Coasties.
Part of the reason, I think, is the AEGIS system. The amount of equipment required, and in particular the size of the antennas, imposes a minimum size on the ship. And an escort ship for a carrier that doesn't have AEGIS (or something like it) is pretty useless. What I don't understand is why those ships get called "destroyers" instead of "cruisers".
Man, that thing's a Navy Cross just waitin' to happen.
Scary thought: a WWII Destroyer outguns any ship in the current US fleet.
Posted by: Wonderduck at Wed Sep 4 23:01:15 2013 (ifb6Y)
It's a nice thought, but it isn't true. A WWII destroyer usually had 8-12 guns depending on model, but they only fired once every 10-15 seconds. A modern 3-inch gun mount can fire 80 rounds a minute.
I was thinking that a ship like that is going to be vulnerable to guided torpedoes, while her offensive weaponry is going to have trouble penetrating ABM defences. BTW, AFAIK Moskva isn't going to visit Tartus, which was wholly abandoned recently (in a surprise move Russians relocated all the base personnel to Cyprus, where they berth and service the so-called "BDK" ships, which shuttle to supply Assad). So Tartus now is a former base, like Kamran. And I don't see anyone expecting Russia go to war with Laos or Cambodia over Kamran.
The P-1000 is a supersonic low altitude missile so it gives a very brief window in which to intercept it. Given that it's supposed to be fired in salvos its quite possible one or more might get through. Wikepedia says Russian tactics involve firing about 8 per carrier targeted.
I had not heard anything about Tartus being abandoned. I hadn't heard that and keep hearing about it...but you're right.
Thanks for pointing that out Pete. I shall dine upon the flesh of the Crow bird this evening.
Make no mistake, they still support Assad, and not just in UN. Someone high up merely decided not to receive Tomahawks while at the base, and thought it were much less likely for U.S. to bomb Cyprus. They roll one BDK at a time into a Syrian port, roll containers and pallets off it quickly, bolt back out to sea.