Well, readers, it’s been more than a month since the last one of these, for which you have my apologies.
October was a busy month for me: three USPSA matches, one of which yielded a trophy, and my birthday toward the end. Now that the summer’s winding down, I should be more able to do these regularly.
- Five B-21s are in final assembly – This story crossed the desk of the Sunday Papers editor on September 21. It has been so long that it’s conceivable they’re done now.
- Inside France’s loss of the Aussie submarine contract – The short version seems to be that the French were all, “We will need ze long cigarette breaks and ze padded budgets,” and the Aussies didn’t care for that attitude.
- Our best look yet at Rapid Dragon – The Drive points out that, while the system is cool, it’s likely that the US airlift fleet would be busy airlifting things during a peer conflict where ‘more missile trucks’ is a requirement. I suppose it might be that it’s easier to shanghai existing manufacturers into building airlift planes that can double as missile trucks than it would be to get them up to speed on bombers.
- Rolls-Royce to re-engine B-52s – Expected service life extended to 2050, which means we’re very likely to see the B-52’s 100th anniversary pass with airframes still in service, in 2055. Mark your calendars!
- USN takes delivery of the first Superbug Block IIIs – What’s in them? Hit this one to find out.
- Successful hypersonic missile test carried out – This is the US scramjet-powered hypersonic cruise missile, not the Chinese hypersonic glide vehicle strategic missile.
- British Army shows off future soldier concept – Still using a bullpup!
- The J-20A now has domestic engines – CNN calls it an upgrade, of which I am skeptical, but it’s certainly an upgrade in terms of defense industry independence.
- Know Your Ships: FFG(X) silhouette vs. FREMM – There are some quite substantial differences. Wasn’t the whole point of FFG(X) to buy off the rack?
- Jalopnik wonders why it’s so hard to buy a new USAF tanker – Because all American procurement is dysfunctional. Just ask anyone in the industry about their work at $DEFENSE_CONTRACTOR.
- Following LCS-2’s decommissioning on July 31, LCS-1 is under the axe after a mere 13 years on the job.
- Foreign Policy magazine pushes for a UN peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan – It could prevent civil war, says Foreign Policy, but it seems to me like the civil war is already over.
- How to hide from drones – A 36-minute video that I haven’t had the time to watch yet, but parvusimperator gives it the thumbs up.
- USS Connecticut hit something underwater
- Chinese reactions strongly suggest it was a Chinese submarine
- More hypersonic missile fun: Big Army now has its Dark Eagle system in hand – When did we start naming things with a comic book aesthetic?
- The first AC-130 solid state laser arrives for testing
- American forces have been deploying to Taiwan for at least a year
- The Marines have a vehicle whose armament is a pack of suicide drones
- Some models of OMFV entrants at AUSA
- Army, not content to play second fiddle to Marines, to receive General Dynamics Land Systems tracked vehicle with 50 suicide drones – Take that, Marines!
- Big Army also halts billion-dollar augmented reality goggle project
- German army adopts the ELCAN Specter as its new service optic – 1-4x, which is a good range of magnifications for the average guy on the ground.
- Anti-drone swarm striker Stryker competition heats up – Get it? Because one uses a microwave weapon, and the other two use lasers.
- Bell completes first Bahraini
CobraViper – Why did Bahrain go with the AH-1 instead of the AH-64? Performance might be one reason. The AH-1 is a substantially more maneuverable platform—it’s a ton or two lighter, and only down 180 shaft horsepower over the Apache.
- The Ukraine-Russia front line looks like something from the Great War
- Press release from Tim Ryan’s office suggests that funding secured for the Lima Joint Systems Manufacturing Center will be used to integrate an unmanned turret into the Abrams
- More details on that remote-control-machine-gun hit on the Iranian nuclear weapons chief
- The Marines bid farewell to the venerable M9
- A review of Operation Eagle Claw, from shortly after it happened – Parvusimperator says: “Is it news? No. Am I reading it? Yes.” Which made more sense before the Sunday Papers rebranding, but hey, we never claimed to be professionals here.
- Marine F-35s flying from Izumo – The fiction about it not being an aircraft carrier lasted even less long than I expected it to.
- Indian Su-30s to exercise with Japanese fighters later this year – Nice to see all of the countries around China starting to work together.
- Fancy flying at Australia’s Riverfire festival – C-17s between buildings!
- Harrier pilots use a meatball too – I should get back into DCS some, once my gaming computer is running again. (My 10-year-old RAM sure picked a bad time to crap out on me.)
- Army moves to field Iron Fist on Bradleys
- Ecuadorian Navy sailing ship catches narco speedboat – H. I. Sutton has a video explainer on the subject, linked in the article, but it’s impressive no matter how you slice it.
- China’s new maritime patrol ship looks like a cruise liner on the inside
- A nifty AUKUS map – Mainly because of the projection. It’s centered on Guam, so that all lines of azimuth from Guam are accurate. You get a good sense for the shape of the lines of communication between the AUKUS members, as well as the strategic shape of Pacific lines of communication.
Science and Technology
- Starship is still not understood – There’s going to be a massive economic revolution in space in the next decade or so, and NASA is still planning missions like it’s 1994. When you can chuck 100 tons into space for $10 million, suddenly optimizing ruthlessly for mass and building billion-dollar rovers doesn’t seem like such a good use of time.
- E3D, manufacturer of 3D printer accessories, plans to patent its future innovations – Because they can’t survive as a company when they have to compete with near-instant Chinese ripoffs of their products, and then also deal with supporting said ripoffs. The 3D printing community is howling, but honestly, I don’t hate their approach here. They say they won’t enforce their patents against hobbyists and academics, which is to my mind the most egregious part of the patent system.
- Just how big can solar flares get? – And just how likely are they to hammer Earth with a modern-day Carrington Event?
- Speaking of, there’s a geomagnetic storm coming today – If you’re at 50 degrees geomagnetic latitude or points north, you may be able to see auroras tonight. Unless you’re here with us in Pittsburgh, in which case you won’t, because it’s cloudy.
- The double-charm tetraquark: a new piece in the strong force puzzle – Sorry, it’s a little beyond me.
- Starlink satellites stand in for GPS – Satellites with published ephemeris data constantly transmitting accurate timestamps can be used for location? News at 11.
- The dumbest sorting algorithm ever – “The first reaction of someone seeing this algorithm might be ‘this cannot possibly be correct’.”
- Intel slipped up on trying to be both a cutting-edge fab and a chip designer, and now it’s throwing open the doors to its fabs and taking contract manufacturing jobs to survive – That’s a bit of a gloomy way of phrasing it, but broadly accurate.
- Are black holes actually dark energy stars? – Some physicists say yes! Dark energy stars are an interesting idea because they resolve some black hole-related paradoxes.
Finance and Economics
- There are legal obstacles to paying for zoo animals with currency, so zoos have developed an animal-based currency to work around the laws – One of the zoo curators likens it to countries dealing with one another in their own currencies—there are some animals that are ‘reserve currencies’, of a sort, but a lot of times, the exchange rate depends on the details of the trade and the institution with which you’re working.
- Is Evergrande finally going to collapse? – Story from 9/21. As of this writing, no, but it could still happen. I feel like Evergrande collapse stories are kind of like Three Gorges Dam collapse stories, in that they’re tired and predictable up until when they actually happen.
- Shortages: a late 2021 fact of life – We reloaders have been scrounging for a while now, though.
- Evergrande Part II: China asking state-backed firms to buy Evergrande assets – Well, ‘asking’.
- Coca-Cola loading supplies on chartered bulk freighters – Stevedores and longshoremen jumping with joy in the streets.
- China buying Australian coal despite import ban, owing to the power shortage in China
- Youtuber Economics Explained on China’s blackouts – I don’t know the guy’s political leanings, but his economics seem more conservative than the norm for the Youtube explainer set, so.
- Closing in on COVID’s origins – If it circulated in animals and jumped to humans, you’d expect to find it in animals. Except… “Chinese scientists searched for a host in early 2020, testing more than 80,000 animals from 209 species, including wild, domesticated and market animals. As the WHO investigation reported, not a single animal infected with SARS-CoV-2 was found.”
- Shipping pallets are the low-stakes version of container shortages – Well, partially shortages, and partially how there are competing pallet systems. There are the ‘whitewood’ ones you think of when you think of a shipping pallet, and then there are blue-painted ones that are rented by a central company rather than sold as part of the shipment.
- The Frankford Arsenal FX-10 is an extreme value choice in the world of progressive presses – 10 stations, expected street price of about $1100.
- At the intersection of guns and finance, JP Morgan is upset it’s blocked from underwriting Texas municipal bond sales because of its anti-gun stances – Well, too bad. Nobody is required to do business with you.
- MP7 and P90 vs. 1985-era Soviet body armor – Spoiler: neither the MP7 or the P90, even with armor-piercing ammunition, actually penetrate the Soviet armor.
- Crye Precision with a fascinating patent application: a PDW with a through-the-grip magazine, firing .300 Blackout – The rounds in the magazine have a substantial upward tilt to reduce the front-to-back size of the grip, and level out upon feeding by means of clever feed lip and follower geometry. A belt-holsterable .300 or 5.56 PDW would be pretty darned snazzy.
- I won Revolver division at the Virginia State USPSA championship, and got a nifty belt for my trouble.
- Why you’re Christian – Philosophically, as a citizen of a Western nation, even if you don’t hold to the religion itself.
- Smith and Wesson ditches Massachusetts – For its headquarters, at least. Some manufacturing will remain in MA. Not a lot of firearms companies left in the historically innovative Northeast. Ruger’s in New Hampshire, which barely even counts as the Northeast, given its commitment to freedom.
- Rule 1 of government: the Government (in the UK sense) does not control the government – This is known, to anyone who’s see the classic British comedy/documentary Yes, Minister.