June 28, 2014
June 27, 2014
June 22, 2014
June 04, 2014
April 26, 2014
March 02, 2014
China has driven Filipino fishermen out of the waters around Scarborough Shoals with watercannon, declared two new national holidays dedicated to hate'n on Japan, is well along in the construction of two more aircraft carriers, and has a total of four in the pipeline. Additionally, they have put out video purporting to show that their new DF-41 road mobile ICBM is operational. All of this comes on the heels of this...
"[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.”
Seriously...what could go wrong here?
February 06, 2014
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 hull design.
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
February 04, 2014
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.
However, Suburban Banshee takes a moment to remind us that ours is not the only calendar...and that her name is apt.
…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.
In fact China doesn't see any parallels to the first world war...they see things in terms of the second.
January 26, 2014
Then a few miscalculations sent things rather out of control...
This picture of the town of Reims, France gives some idea of the wretchedness that engulfed the world.
This color photo of Verdun in mid 1916 also serves to remind us of the mistakes made so long ago.
...as does this photo of a little Belgian girl...
Via the Daily Mail.
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.
January 12, 2014
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.
November 06, 2013
November 02, 2013
It seems that they just, out of the blue, felt the need to remind us that their small fleet of ballistic missile submarines can wreak all sorts of nuclear devastation on US cities.
This is not news...so why bring it up?
China state media also included this fallout map which doesn't seem to make a lot of sense.
Also: Why are they wasting a nuke on Rutland Vermont?
The Blaze suggests that this might be welcome news, indicating a loosening on secrecy and censorship, but this flies in the face of recent trends which have been even farther in the other direction.
We mentioned back in August that FAS had gotten wind of China doing a lot of nuclear attack simulations and had been putting together their own.
Hot on the heels of this helpful reminder...Today we had China announce that they intend to "silence" the Dali Lama. This is part of a larger internal crackdown fully in keeping with the disturbingly Maoist tendencies of Xi Jinpang.
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.
October 30, 2013
This didn't get a lot of coverage here but the Chinese are sure interested.
As per giggle translate of the Mandarin:
October 28, 2013, the U.S. Navy official website Rui Zhu Mu Woer publicly latest super launching missile destroyer USS DDG1000 whole process photos. Compare Unfortunately, the ship into the water did not organize any ceremony because of the impact of fiscal tightening subject.
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.
May the wind be at her back.
September 04, 2013
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.
August 28, 2013
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