Give Us Your Tired, Your Poor, Your......Nuclear Missiles
It appears that if Scotland goes all independent tomorrow they have declared that they will be a nuclear free zone. The UK's nuclear deterrent is mainly concentrated in their ballistic missile submarines...which are based in Scotland. Some accommodation can likely be made but this would give the Scots a huge leverage over the UK England's nukes.
The result of this is that the English, who weren't expecting this voter to go anywhere suddenly find themselves scrambling for options. Since the new base in England or Wales will take a decade to build, the plan they came up with last week is to homeport their nuclear submarines in the US in the interim. Assuming the Scots vote for independence and Congress does not balk at the proposal, I'm guessing the English boats would be in Kings Bay, Georgia, which is the only US Boomer base on the East Coast.
Couldn't they, you know... just keep the base? I mean, hell, we have a military base in Cuba, so we know it can be done.
In fact, that's a pretty good argument when it comes to getting Scotland to assume its share of the debt. "Oh, you don't want the debt? I'm afraid we'll be keeping the port and will continue basing our submarine fleet there..."
I'm bewildered by this myself. Someone in Whitehall seems to have dropped the ball.
I'm wondering if the Labour types that are running the show in Scotland are so hysterically anti-nuke that they are willing to take their third of the debt. Alternatively, there might have been some terms in the agreement on the vote that ties England's hands on the matter.
I'm guessing that the Scots actually voting to leave was just not taken seriously until as late as last week.
4...they have declared that they will be a nuclear free zone.
Is that declaration limited to nuclear weapons, or does it include nuclear power plants as well? (A quick check of Wikipedia shows that there are two nuclear power plants currently operating in Scotland, supplying half of their electricity; OTOH, public opinion in Scotland is strongly against nuclear power, and the Scottish Parliament voted against construction of any new nuclear power plants back in 2008.)
Posted by: Peter the Not-so-Great at Wed Sep 17 22:23:42 2014 (2eP1J)
With attitudes on display, Scotland is going to join PIIGS very quickly and become a true Greece of the North. Just was EU overlords in Brussels wanted.
The President must be so confused right now. The world keeps not working the way he expects it to.
Posted by: Ben at Mon Sep 15 10:08:41 2014 (DRaH+)
The first post about the new liquid ICBM at forums NK dates to 2007. Seems to be going slow and steady, pretty much regardless of Putin. Interestingly, NPOM and Khrunichev were thought as favourites back then, with GRC Makeyev being busy with SLBMs. Well, time waits for no-one. Frankly I was very surprised when NPOM managed to launch Strela! Still, while not entirely dead yet, they are functionally dead. So, Mak it is, then.
But... When We Started From Scratch We Did it in ThreeThis article discusses the state of america's aging nuclear arsenal and points out once again that the United States is no longer are making nuclear pits (the core of atomic weapons) and hasn't since 1989.
I think the article is sightly unfair to Bush (1) in that canceling the deployment of the new generation of weapons that were originally intended to come online in the early 90's was absolutely necessary to calm the Russians down after the collapse of the U.S.S.R.
In any event, there is this damning revelation at the end of the article...
In 1989 the executive branch shut down the nation's only facility to produce plutonium pits — the hearts of nuclear weapons — making us the only nuclear weapons state in the world unable to produce nuclear arms. Since then, executive branch fumbling and congressional denials have combined to prevent replacement of this absolutely essential production facility. If a decision were made today, it would still be 10 to 15 years before pit production could start.
Although the Manhattan Project started in 1939, it was only a fact finding and technology feasibility assessment project until it got seriously spun as a weapons project in early 1942. By late 1944 and early 1945 pit production was a reality and they started out going into a previously unknown field. Thus, one can reasonably assume, given 70 years of experience and the leaps and bounds technology has made since Trinity, that, the tripling of the time necessary to do what was done with 1940s technology in 2014 is due to institutional inertia and bureaucratic asshattery. Most of the Chinese dynasties ended due to the machinations of the eunuchs and other bureaucrats in administrative empire building at the expense of the state, rendering it vulnerable to new developments. The Mandarins in Washington are a Gordian Knot that we really need to cut.
Note that this is specifically talking about plutonium pits. Plutonium is necessary for most modern weapons especially if they are lightweight and compact. However, it is my understanding that Oralloy (a type of highly enriched uranium) can be used to make perfectly effective bombs but they are heavier and less safe to store in the confines of a submarine (due to their higher radioactivity) and in any event not using plutonium would require extensive testing of new bomb designs or the use of old ones ill suited to our current delivery methods.
There is a nuclear solution to the problem, the problem is in delivering the Polonium BB to Mr. Putin subcutaneously.
Posted by: Mauser at Wed Sep 3 06:19:07 2014 (TJ7ih)
This is just the sort of international crisis that "Dear Leader" can act decisively to resolve. I predict he will shortly announce further unilateral cuts of the US nuclear arsenal...
Posted by: Siergen at Wed Sep 3 09:14:52 2014 (Sn+fi)
This really should tell you everything about how crazy Ukrainian
government officials are and how willing the MSM is to accept every
And no, three was a specific lie by Ukr MinDef, not misunderstanding of what Steven charitably mentions. Newsweek even mentions "unofficial channels" that Peteley referred.
The funny thing, however, is, Putin is probably crazy enough to think that he could use tactical nukes in certain circumstances, like when Poroshenko makes good on this promises to retake Crimea. It's not making Peteley any less a liar.
That is a truly remarkable design flaw. It's one thing for a pistol with significant wear to occasionally double (a worn sear on a 1911 has surprised plenty of people), but with the safety on and no finger on the trigger?
Taurus has had their ups and downs in quality control, but this is the worst I've heard of. Unless it's the victim of amateur gunsmithing, this is cause for a major recall. Talk about failing the drop test.
This weapon, the Taurus 24/7, is the standard sidearm of the Police forces in Brazil., Apparently, the issue has been a real problem with those pistols all over the country. However, I've never heard anything about something like this with the pistols Taurus has exported here. It's likely a problem with a specific batch...but still....yikes.
Modern pistol designs have a block that prevents the firing pin from moving without the trigger being pulled. One YouTube commenter suggested very astutely that the block isn't working, and the firing pin spring may be gone or broken, that would allow you to shake the pin into striking the primer.
Posted by: Mauser at Tue Sep 2 16:44:18 2014 (TJ7ih)
The current models on the Taurus web site have a completely different trigger design; either they upgraded it for export to the US (drop test!) or the service model is an older design. Disturbingly, however, their manuals warn that the manual safety must be on to protect against accidental discharge during drops, which is not happy-making.
I don't buy the argument that it's just an unobstructed firing pin with a busted spring. He's not snapping his wrist hard enough; the firing pin has very little mass, and needs a real smack to hit the primer hard enough to detonate. He's shaking the hammer loose from the cocked position. Since it only fires once each time, it's not just a worn notch causing the hammer to drop on its own; one of the other parts isn't stable, and I'm betting it's the thumb safety's mechanism.
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.