WWRW falls on a Thursday this week. Yesterday was busy at work, then Avengers night at home, and today featured some dental work in the morning, so here we are, at last, with a somewhat lighter post than usual.
Science and Technology
- Hackers steal almost $41 million in Bitcoin from a crypto exchange – On the one hand, enormous virtual bank robberies! On the other hand, I have a hard time believing you’d find ready buyers for $40.7 million in Bitcoin on short notice, so it’s very much paper wealth.
- Could quantum mechanics explain the existence of space-time? – Interesting conjecture (that entanglement is what makes space-time space-time), but very little attempt to support that claim in a way the layman can understand. If I see a Quanta article on it, I’ll share that too.
- Saudi oil stations attacked by drones – First those oil tankers, now this. Iran? Definitely Iran.
- China launches a pair of Type 052Ds – What’s that, like one a week now?
- Plans for the Virginia Block VI – Special operations, unmanned systems.
- A silent mortar for Russia – Piston-launched for quiet operation with little muzzle flash or smoke. Nifty. 1.2km range. Not as nifty.
- Raytheon’s SPY-6 is a gallium nitride radar, with huge sensitivity gains over previous radars – They say 100 times more sensitive. Assuming that’s only counting received power, it’s still something like a four-fold increase in range.
Parvusimperator’s Open gun has indeed finally come in, so all we have to do is find a match which doesn’t fall on a holiday weekend.
The Continental loadout post from yesterday is a new Soapbox game, as you might have guessed from the achievements at the bottom. Mine should land tomorrow.
Headline Link: The Long Way Round
- The story of Pan-Am’s California Clipper – En route to New Zealand at the outbreak of the Second World War, one of Pan-Am’s twelve Boeing 314 flying boats found itself cut off from its South Pacific island-hopping route. Short on fuel, spare parts, and friendly bases, its intrepid crew had to make their way back to American shores the hard way.
Has this been turned into a movie? If not, why not? Who do I call about that?
- Cold launch is great until it isn’t
- Russia’s defense industry falls on hard times
- But Russia’s defense spending hasn’t fallen as far as it seems – The argument is that for a defense buyer like Russia, which buys from Russian manufacturers in rubles, purchasing power parity is a much better rubric than a conversion to US$. By that measure, Russia is still the third-largest defense spender in the world.
- Big Army wants a Chinook replacement – After many happy years of service, perhaps it’s time. Then again, the Chinook is the definition of Just Works.
- Will the J-20 be ready this year? – This guy says yes.
- The case for small airlift… – … ignores the existence of large helicopters.
- F-22s and F-35s having trouble meeting 80% readiness goals – Fancy planes always have that issue.
- Doing better than V-22s, anyway – Sorry about the paywalled article. I can’t read the whole thing either.
- Iron Dome knocks down some Palestinian rockets – It’s a pretty sensational system, Iron Dome.
- Zumwalts to get missile armament – On the one hand, hooray, they’re useful! On the other hand, I’m going to miss that classic twin-turret silhouette.
- LockMart concept art shows an F-35 carrying HAWCs – That’s a hypersonic cruise missile, if you aren’t up on the lingo (like I wasn’t until just now), whose acronym is straight from military science fiction.
- Other services expressing interest in the T-X – A modern trainer is on everyone’s shopping list, but only the Air Force had the clarity of purpose to buy one.
- But not in a sixth-generation joint fighter
- Navy watch stations apparently have built-in chatrooms? – As someone with a chatroom on his daily watch station, I have to say, it’s not great for focus.
- India’s artificial reef construction program continues – But really, they actually launched one of their Project 75 submarines.
- Chinese war plans still pay close attention to Taiwan – Not that I thought they’d stopped, but even so, it’s worth the reminder that the PLA sees capturing Taiwan as one of its major objectives.
- Speaking of which, here are some satellite photos of China’s Type 002 carrier in initial production – I love that we have commercial imaging satellites out there for the amateur spies and think tanks to play with.
- Pratt & Whitney’s F135 seems like a success story – You hear a lot about problems with F-35s, but very little about problems with their engines.
- The F-35 will probably never be cheap to fly – $35,000 an hour is the expected floor. I wonder what an F-15EX flight hour costs. … $27,000 an hour. Jane’s rates the Gripen at $4,700 per hour and the F-16 at about $7,000 per hour, as of 2012.
- US military depots are in bad shape – Some are undermanned or underfunded. Some are just poorly designed.
Science and Technology
Abusing Web Services
Spring has definitively sprung here. Coming soon is the first USPSA match report of the season from me. Parvusimperator might join in on the reports a little later into the summer when his Open gun finally comes in, but at the very least we’ll be shooting matches at the same time again.
- VT Halter Marine to build a new Coast Guard icebreaker – The first of six, three medium and three heavy. The picture in the article shows a gratifyingly large vessel, just what the doctor ordered for an era of enhanced Arctic competition.
- Remember that MiG-31 crash from a while back? Friendly fire – Red-on-red, I suppose you’d call it, given the Russian propensity to use red to mean ‘friendly’.
- Sen. James Inhofe recommends another review of the King Stallion program – The first of several items this week which don’t make LockMart look great.
- Seen on Twitter: you can fit two Type 23s side-by-side inside Queen Elizabeth‘s hangar – Obviously not from the keel to the tallest mast, but the footprint works out. There’s even a bit of room fore and aft. For the record, the twin superstructures still look weird.
- The first-ever video filmed in a B-2 cockpit in flight – Snazzy.
- China’s navy is big enough to control its coastal waters now
- Venezuela: a test of the Monroe Doctrine – Teddy Roosevelt would have invaded by now.
- F-35A makes combat debut, conducting an airstrike on an IS tunnel complex
- More photos, courtesy of The Aviationist – Also, they’re running the radar reflectors there.
- An F-35B does its first full air show demo – See also: radar reflectors.
- Stryker’s semi-automatic anti-drone targeting system – It’s a sensor fusion system which combines radar returns and camera data to identify drones and blow ’em up. Still man-in-the-loop, though, so we aren’t quite to Skynet.
- Mike Pence agrees with our comments section: no early retirement for Truman – And so the drama comes to a close.
- USAF no longer bombing Afghan drug labs with F-22s – Overmatch!
Science and Technology
- SpaceX lowers planned orbits on some of its high-altitude Starlink constellation – The FCC (which apparently has jurisdiction here) was unsure about SpaceX’s debris mitigation plans for the bits of its constellation planned to orbit at about 1,000km. So, SpaceX moved some of those satellites down to about 500km, where the orbital lifespan for a dead satellite is on the order of a decade rather than a century. For the record, the currently-approved constellation is 2,800 satellites at about 1,000km, 1,600 satellites at 500km, and 7,500 satellites at 340km. Launches are supposed to start this year.
- Facebook uses just-in-time compilation of C++ to use it like a super-fast scripting language – That’s certainly one way to handle scripting languages being too slow.
- Netflix, on the other hand, is a Python shop – Presumably because Python is the language of machine learning.
- Flash memory manufacturers to cut production in the face of a glut – Put another way, buy that big SSD you were looking for now.
- The French government had a homemade encrypted messaging service, which was found to be vulnerable to impersonation attacks – If your name doesn’t start with ‘B’ and end with ‘ruce Schneier’, you probably aren’t qualified to roll your own encryption system.
- Continued pushback on the Air Force’s maddening two-operator-only five-year launch contract – As I said last time I linked to a story on this subject, it’s catastrophically stupid to prebuy five years of launches at a time when the space launch industry is in the middle of being upended and turned in a dramatically cheaper direction.
- Testing of 30mm Strykers went well, so Big Army is going to upgun them all
- LockMart having trouble keeping up with F-35 spares demands – That’s not a great sign. The F-35 fleet is tiny compared to the size it will eventually be.
- The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit lays out some of its plans for moving to USS America – They’ve been playing around with the Lightning Carrier concept on Wasp, too, but their usual fit-out is ten Ospreys, six F-35s, and four CH-53s, plus the LCACs in the well deck. Given that America does not have a well deck, they throw in two more Ospreys. (It’s nice to have extras, too, because the Osprey is the only thing aboard that can bring an F-35 engine with it.)
- B-2 pilots looking forward to the T-X – B-2 pilots spend a significant minority of their flight time in T-38s working on stick and rudder skills, because the B-2 is a) too expensive for very much practice flying and b) notably deficient in rudders.
As you might have noticed, we’re taking Holy Week a bit easier than usual—parvusimperator is traveling for Easter; I’m in the church choir, have had spring yard work to do, and am preparing for the first USPSA match of the season on Saturday.
Happily, there’s been a lot going on in the world, so we have a longer-than-usual WWRW (unless I miss my guess, the longest ever, in fact) to tide you over until we return to our usual pace.
- China releases pictures of a sailless submarine – Which buys you one or two knots of speed in exchange for a whole host of technical problems. This one’s about 150 meters long by 15 across the beam, which is small for anything beyond a technical demonstrator, but proportioned the same as e.g. the Virginias.
- Anti-jamming GPS antennas: how do they work? – A cogent explanation fit for laymen such as myself.
- XM913 50mm cannon test firing – Nifty.
- F-35C readiness rising – Clearly, my joke from last week about how the Marines would whip the project into shape is coming true.
- Speaking of F-35s, the ALIS maintenance/logistics system just doesn’t work – The story says something along the lines of, “Alice won’t be a popular name for children of Air Force technicians.”
- Letters of censure for Fitzgerald‘s officers, but no criminal charges – So, a big old torpedo going off under the keel of career aspirations, but no jail time.
- The Navy’s past decisions on holding off on building Columbias leaves no margin for error – At present, we build two Virginias per year. The ramp-up plan is for four Virginias and one Columbia per year, which (since shipbuilders estimate a Columbia is twice as much work as a Virginia) represents a request to triple submarine-building output. That’s fraught with risk.
- Book review review: The Hundred-Year Marathon – The book lays out a theory that China has a long-term plan to build itself up to a global hegemon. I don’t think this is all that controversial. The controversial parts, per the reviewer, are that 1) the book suggests that China’s long-term plan can be discerned by diving deep into Chinese history and legend, and 2) that it’s written like a Dan Brown thriller, with the author searching hidden archives for ‘secrets’ which turn out to be readily available in translated-to-English form in university libraries across the country. 2) is a valid critique. I’m not so sure about 1)—one or two thousand years ago, China already was a global superpower, for its definition of global at the time, and was dealing with similar problems to a modern superpower, and the ancient Chinese outlook on life is nearer the modern Chinese outlook than, say, the Roman and European outlooks. Chinese folklore from the Han dynasty bears more directly on modern Chinese problems than either Caesar’s Commentaries or Arthurian legend does on, say, England.
- Counterpoint to an article from last week: the USAF should not buy F-15EX – My counterarguments: 1) 22 AMRAAMs. 2) The most important form of stealth in the mid-21st century is going to be EW, not shaping, because it’s only a matter of time before someone works out the math for getting targeting-quality information out of a few long-wave radars working in concert. The fact that the F-35 is stealth-shaped and the F-15EX is not will matter less than the relative qualities of their EW fits.
- On that note, the USAF is refocusing on EW
- “Snipers are a bloody nuisance” – An ex-Commando of the British Army discusses spotting snipers.
- The Hellfire-replacing (and Maverick- and TOW-replacing) Joint Air-to-Ground Missile is coming soon – They made it to LRIP last year. Now they’re aiming to acquire 3,000 missiles in 2020 and 1,500 in 2021. Parvusimperator wrote about the predecessor project, the AGM-169. JAGM is the same project, just delivered over a longer period of time for annual-cost reasons and renumbered to fool the Congressional committees.
- UK recycles Greatest Hits Names, dubs next-gen fighter ‘Tempest’ – The actual story is that the project is attracting some potential partners.
- Cutting nuclear deterrence funding: unwise, and not a big savings in the first place
- Camo netting: a new spin on a classic technology – Namely, modern camo netting should not block vision alone, but also thermal and RF emissions.
- If USAF retires B-1s, give them to the Navy – A supersonic bomber with room for 24 LRASMs? Yes. Yes, I think that will do nicely. Parvusimperator says you could fit more if it weren’t for “some dumbass treaty”, too. Also, he’s written on LRASM before, too.
- A nifty picture of the M270 integrated crane
- The V-280 Valor tiltrotor (i.e., the next Blackhawk) hits a few milestones – 300 knots in flight, 200 hours of rotors-turning testing, 100 hours of flight testing.
- More on the Lightning Carrier concept – It doesn’t rhyme, but it’s still a cooler name than ‘Harrier carrer’.
Science and Technology
- Amazon contractors listen to Alexa conversations – Feeling real good about my lack of smart home technology right about now. Until I can run my smart home entirely on a server in my basement under my direct control, we’ll get up and turn lights on and off with switches, like cavemen.
- Wifi’s new WPA3 standard is… already badly insecure – Oops. Maybe if they’d developed the standard out in the open, like security researchers suggested…
- Intelsat 29e exploded? – It’s a geostationary communication satellite, which looks to have flared up on telescope views, then shed a bunch of debris. Also, evidently there’s a company out there which points telescopes at objects in geostationary orbit. Also also, the comments mention a Russian accusation of an American satellite which roams geostationary orbit, photographing things there. Not necessarily implausible—such a thing would be easy to build, and a cell phone camera at 1km has better resolving power than a 10-meter telescope peering from ground level to geostationary orbit, so it would have its uses, too.
- SpaceX sticks the Falcon Heavy landing, but loses a booster to the sea – The barges have grabbers which can snag the booster by the ‘octaweb’, the bit of framework which holds all the engine nozzles in their appropriate places, but the Falcon Heavy center core has a different octaweb, so the grabbers can’t get a good grip. The barge encountered 10-foot swells on the way back home, and the center core went over the side.
- More people streaming movies rather than buying physical copies – See my above Luddite-hood on smart homes for my opinion on this practice; see parvusimperator’s DVD stack for his.
- The future is here, and it’s a cyberpunk dystopia – Satellite-based advertising is on its way, courtesy a Russian company and PepsiCo.
- Pepsi clarifies: we’re only testing the technology, by running an orbital ad once – Pardon me for not jumping for joy. The only good thing about this is that it’s a Russian space company, and they never deliver on their promises.
- Declassified U-2 photographs are helping archaeologists find canals, roads, and other features hard to spot from the ground – In terms of count per unit area, there wasn’t a lot of military interest to find in Central Asia, but evidently there’s at least something of historical interest.
- Don’t call it PlayStation 5 yet, but Sony releases details on their next console – The spec list may look like an ordinary gaming computer, but remember that one of the huge advantages with console hardware is the integrated memory architecture—there’s no conception of separate graphics memory like there is on your average computer, so you don’t have to worry about getting something from system memory to video memory like you do on a PC. (That’s why bus width is so important on computers and not really mentioned for consoles; it isn’t really a concept worth bringing up for the latter.)
- Google Fiber’s divorce from Louisville is complete – In other words, don’t trust Google with your stuff in the long term, because they don’t care enough about marginal products to bother keeping them around. I read a good article on that subject this week, but didn’t stick it in our WWRW chat, so I can’t link it here.
- OpenAI’s Dota 2 bot beats human players, but shows the weaknesses of machine learning – See the section titled, ‘A rudimentary Chinese room’.
- Stratolaunch takes flight – We have a new record-holder for ‘largest wingspan on an airplane’! I would even go so far as to say that it’s not useless, either, which is a bit of a spicy take. There are two main arguments against the flying-booster-launcher: 1) it doesn’t save you much fuel; 2) reusable rockets make it moot. In re 1), the bit which takes the most fuel is precisely getting off the ground and to altitude, because your rocket is the heaviest and you’re moving through the densest atmosphere. Skipping the densest atmosphere lets you design your first-stage nozzles for more nearly vacuum conditions, which means your first stage can burn effectively for longer. In re 2), reusable rockets still require a lot of launch infrastructure, whereas a plane-launched rocket can dodge weather and get you on track for nearly any orbital direction or inclination with minimal steering losses.
- A security researcher drops three 0-days against… WordPress plugins… – Just a minute. … Okay, we’re good. … drops three 0-days against WordPress plugins to protest “the moderators of the WordPress Support Forum’s continued inappropriate behavior.” Grudge-based webserver-pwning! What a world we live in.
- Baseball twitter is usually good for a few laughs
- Baseball should end service time manipulation – Unfortunately, doing so would require both the players and the teams to sacrifice something for the benefit of Baseball As A Whole, which is not the typical aim in CBA negotiations.
- Sports leagues embrace gambling – It’s fan engagement! Pennsylvania is one of the states which legalized sports betting; the local sports talk hosts have lately been singing the praises of the sports book at the local casino. A showdown between the gambling operators and the leagues is brewing; the NBA, MLB, and the PGA Tour want a percentage fee on every bet placed on their games—initially, they said 1%; lately, they’ve said 0.25%. Of course, illegal sports gambling was recently estimated as a $150 billion industry, so…
- Restaurants are too loud – As it turns out, the modern industrial-chic style absorbs zero sound, which is unpleasant. There’s a sushi joint near my mother’s house that has some sort of magical sound-dampening technology—every seat can be full, and yet it’s never loud enough to disrupt conversation at your table, and it’s one of the most pleasant dining experiences in the area.
We’ve been doing this for half a year now (slightly more, given that we took a Christmas break; 26 entries in total).
- Civilian on Rafale fly-along ends up getting the ejection seat experience – “Merde, I cannot take zis guy any longair…”
- Some information on the Navy’s shipyard modernization plans
- Putin’s security detail routinely spoofs GPS – Joke’s on them; INS- and laser-guided munitions still work just fine.
- USAF accelerating B-21 buys – I’ll believe it when I see it. “Let’s build a bunch of B-2s, but cheaper!” seems to be the rallying cry here, and I’m not sure how that’s going to work. Anyway, we’ll get them delivered just in time for Russia to announce some kind of synthetic aperture longwave radar that renders shape-based stealth obsolete.
- Sea Stallion-K deficiencies are fixable, say Marines – parvusimperator observes that almost every deficiency is technically fixable. The two big ones called out in the article are exhaust gas ingestion, which is not great for helicopters, and not having enough airframes to do testing, which doesn’t bode well for future availability.
- A little more on the Sea Stallion-K program – And also on the reductions in readiness the extant Sea Stallions are working through.
- USAF working on a gender-neutral physical assessment – There’s no way to do that which doesn’t either let in wimpy men or exclude fit women, but I suspect 1) they’ll err in the former direction, and 2) nobody will notice, because most Air Force jobs aren’t especially physically demanding.
- Congress should fund another National Security Cutter – As we discussed in the comments a week or two ago, there’s nothing wrong with the idea of a cheap hull you can pack a bunch of technology into later. The Legend class is a good candidate, as is the other modern Coast Guard cutter project, whose name escapes me right now. Medium something or another.
- Virginia procurement plans change – Rather than buying 9 of the next 10 with the extra Tomahawk VLS section, we’re buying 8 of the next 11 that way. It’s funny that we ended up with the same pattern as the 688s: “Ooh, land attack missiles are great; let’s add more.”
- Lake City ammo plant prepares to make 6.8 – parvusimperator observed over coffee that this is most likely just calling up Union Lead Castings Co. and Consolidated Swage Products LLC to make sure they have the right stuff on hand or in stock.
- Having whipped the F-35B into shape, the Marines shift focus to the F-35C – “Commander Smith, Captain Johnson, this is Sergeant Sledge. He’s in charge of the program now.”
- F-16 service life extension program details – Structural repairs to get airframe expected lifespans from the current 8,000 hours to 12,000, along with packing the F-35’s radar in. The Viper flies on.
- Is this the end for Big Kuz? – After his drydock sank, Russia doesn’t have much in the way of repair options. They’re openly discussing scrapping him, which is new.
- The Columbias may cost more than expected – Cost inflation? On a boomer project? Perish the thought!
- More on Textron’s cased-telescoped ammunition – It’s basically a sales brochure, but cool to see nevertheless. Is that the 6.8 that the ammo plant is gearing up for? In thirty years, will all the cool kids be building the civilian version of the 6.8 cased-telescoped rifle?
- The USMC’s aviation plans – The SHORAD section is nifty. They’ve got a Leonardo/MOOG Stinger/gun system on a JLTV, and they’re buying Iron Dome. Evidently the Marines get all the best toys. Except the cased-telescoped squad machine gun, that is.
- Dutch F-16 hits itself with cannon fire during training exercise – Oops. The article notes this kind of thing has happened before.
- One of Japan’s F-35As has crashed
- Teach the controversy: don’t retire Truman, mothball her! – The author references Ian Toll’s excellent Six Frigates in support of reviving the ‘laid up in ordinary’ status, to include building a new laid-up-in-ordinary drydock for Truman. Easier said than done, I say, especially since (as a nuclear-powered vessel) Truman‘s skeleton crew requirements are probably larger than, say, Constellation‘s were.
Science and Technology
- Arizona Cardinals: revolutionizing the draft? – Taking a page from baseball’s book, the Cardinals seem to be of the opinion that players on rookie contracts are better than expensive players at the same position, which seems sensible. They’re stockpiling draft picks and aiming to take some players in high-impact positions even if they don’t need them, on the theory that they’re either trade bait or the next man up when the current guy hits free agency.
- Baseball records: Chris Davis sets the new mark for most consecutive at-bats without a hit – He’s up to 49 right now. His last hit was September 14, 2018; he’s only walked four times this year. And they say the record book is closed!
Your correspondent has been whammied with a cold for the past week, so this roundup does not contain all the interesting stuff we’ve read in the past seven days.
Science and Technology
- Casino industry remains cutthroat – Also, ethical hacking is a hard sell to the targets.
- Cruise ship loses engine power off the Norwegian coast – I would consider the helicopter evacuation a free bonus, myself.
- India’s satellite shootdown poses a potential threat to the ISS – In which India learns that, when you add energy to an object in orbit, it goes higher. I wouldn’t expect the debris to stay in orbit very long, given that it’s still dipping down into the low-orbit, high-drag region of space, though.
- Fungal disease is wiping out amphibians across the world – 501 species in serious decline, 90 entirely extinct. If it were mammals and the proportions were the same, the 500-species count would represent ‘everything with hooves and everything with flippers’.
- Flooding in the Mississippi basin to drive beef prices higher – Buy and freeze now for the summer hamburger season.
- More on the QuadrigaCX coin exchange story – Which remains one of my favorite cyberpunk future stories of 2019.
- GPS week counters reset to 0 this week – GPS satellites use a 10-bit field to count weeks, so every 1024 weeks, the counter loops back around to 0. Happily, it’s not a Y2K-style problem, because it’s in the spec, and the last loop happened right around 2000, when counter overflows were on everyone’s mind.
One of the AAF’s intentions was to be a football minor league—a place for players not quite up to NFL snuff to grow and perhaps become useful to an NFL team. This included NFL practice squad players and down-the-liners on active rosters—get your third-string QB some playing time, the sales pitch went, so maybe he’ll develop further! This had two flaws. First, the NFL Players’ Association was never big on the idea for player safety reasons. Why risk injury playing for a minor league? Second, the AAF was never going to survive solely on the name recognition of NFL third-stringers. They had to make a watchable, entertaining on-field product.
They succeeded at the latter goal. AAF football was recognizably football, and in the last few weeks was good enough to be enjoyable on its own. The 4th-and-12 onside conversion and the must-go-for-2 rules injected some extra offensive fun into the game. So, why did it fail?
First: investor Tom Dundon, who swept in at the last rumor of financial trouble swirling around the AAF, seems not to understand that nobody is going to pay any more to watch Danny Etling (Tom Brady’s understudy’s understudy) throw passes than they will to watch Garrett Gilbert (the Orlando Apollos’ QB) do the same. Failure to reach an immediate agreement with the NFLPA isn’t financial doom.
Second: the AAF was too expensive for what it was. Minor league baseball is cheap, and so also should be minor league football. If you can’t take the family to a game and buy everyone hot dogs for, say, $50, you’re not going to get the random, “Eh, why not, it’s a good way to spend an afternoon” traffic you need to drive attendance for a minor-league sport.
I didn’t do week 8 picks on account of being sick, but my week 7 picks went 1-3, for a lifetime AAF pick’em record of 12-12. I’m no worse than a coin toss!
The calendar says spring is here, but beautiful Western Pennsylvania is still in winter trim. Ten degrees colder this March than last.
Short roundup this week.
Many Words New Releases
- Trump’s visit to the Lima plant
- On the Navy’s routine purchase of defective ships – ‘Defective’ is the article’s word, not mine, but makes me wonder: given a war following a long period of peacetime defense budget, would I rather have 50 hulls that work perfectly, or 100 hulls we can pack full of new equipment? I think it’s the latter—it seems to me that shipyard room is likely to be the bottleneck for the US.
- Trump backs NATO, OECD membership for Brazil – I’m opposed to neither, except that it’s a further debasement of the name ‘North Atlantic Treaty Organization’. It’s easy for me to forget how huge Brazil is, too.
- Japan’s carriers are defensive weapons – … argues USNI Proceedings, on the grounds that sea control is defense for an island nation.
- USAF’s unfunded priorities list includes more F-35As, KC-46s – You can never have too many tankers.
- Pentagon indicates that the F-15EX purchase stems from a desire to keep two fighter manufacturers in business – You heard it here first.
- Redesigning ship bridges for better collision avoidance – Also possibly helpful: restoring a sense of pride, manning ships well enough to permit on-the-job training…
- Saab makes a maritime patrol aircraft? – Based on the Bombardier Global 6000.
- The enduring case for American naval power – Because almost everything interesting in the world is at least one ocean away.
- A modular tank name for M1A2 SEP v4 – Who’s in charge of naming tank variants nowadays, and where can I write to complain to him?
- Refuel the Truman—it’s the law – As regular reader Chris Bradshaw pointed out a few weeks ago.
Science and Technology
- Stadia: Google’s game-streaming service – Game streaming is a fool’s errand for latency reasons. If it’s noticeable from my computer to my TV with Steam streaming, how is it going to work from the greater Internet?
- Nvidia develops AI tool which turns MS Paint-style sketches into photorealistic landscapes – I’m waiting for the public release.
- Apple insults buyers of the refreshed iMac with a 5400rpm spinny platter disk – That’s just hilariously bad.
- A pilot riding along in the jump seat saved the Lion Air 737 Max which crashed on the subsequent flight – I’m reserving judgment until I can read an accident report for myself, because I can’t render it without knowing whether the 737’s trim wheels were spinning when MCAS was engaging incorrectly. If so, there’s a checklist for that, as the ridealong pilot seems to have realized.
- Blue Origin spokesperson writes an op-ed on the Air Force’s latest launch purchase plans – A big block buy last time around ended up getting smacked down in court, because SpaceX came in and undercut all the traditional providers the Air Force went with. This time, they’re offering a 60-40 split for launches between now and the mid-2020s, which seems like dubious stewardship of public resources (again), given how much the launch landscape is likely to change between now and 2025.
- Buried in a report about a new Bitcoin ETF, a gem on Bitcoin itself – Most of the volume reported by Bitcoin exchanges is fake, or with the most charitable interpretation possible, misleading.
Early post today, because I have lots to do and can’t afford the typical leisurely lunch. Late-breaking news will break next week instead.
- The Chinese dragon is a hydra – On China and state-sponsored espionage.
- F-22 rapid reaction force, able to deploy anywhere in the world in 24 hours? – Fishbreath’s verdict: silly idea. Four F-22s won’t do anything against a peer threat, and are overkill against a non-peer threat. Four Strike Eagles or modern F-16s would be a better idea.
- More on the Navy’s carrier-building strategy
- Big Army running into recruiting shortfalls – Maybe that’s one of the reasons behind the push for autoloaders lately? If you can automate some thousands of loaders out of a job, suddenly you can do more fighting with fewer men.
- Singapore’s F-35 plans detailed – One of the big issues is interoperability, of which there is currently very little between a) F-35s and b) the aircraft operated by Singapore’s likely allies. Still, I wish them all the best, especially given the option they have to operate F-35s off of an aviation ship. (It may be the problem child of the bunch, but the F-35B represents the largest paradigm shift in defense affairs—if the US likes you, getting an aircraft carrier with a capable, modern air wing into service is the easiest it’s ever been.)
- Deploy or Get Out burns the Army’s candle at the other end – That said, though, I agree in full with the underlying idea that most of a country’s military should be deployable.
- The Bradley and How It Got That Way – Parvusimperator has been reading this book, and said it should be mentioned. Not only is it packed with good information, it’s also not a doorstopper and hence easily digested.
- Russia claims military superiority in the Arctic – I’m not as sure as some that the trend of reduced Arctic sea ice is a permanent thing, and evidently, neither is Russia—their plans include more icebreakers. That’s burying the lede a bit, however. The real headline is that Russian now claims sovereign rights over the entire Northern Sea Route.
- A science fiction reading list for strategists – This article is about short stories, but includes a link to a novel reading list. I would put forward one of my own stories for consideration, but as yet, none of the ones I’ve published have been very strategy-heavy.
- American diplomacy helped stave off a shooting war between India and Pakistan – Reuters’ reporters surely gritting their teeth having to report that.
- Germany finds building, equipping Pumas is taking longer than planned – Germany? Readiness problems?
- Big Army is still interested in the Puma, though!
- New Air Force One will be expensive
- US Navy looking to retire the Ticonderogas – On the one hand, we lose a bunch of good ship names. On the other hand, I see no real reason to keep them around longer than planned, given that we’re still making Burkes, and Burkes are plenty capable.
- While some European countries struggle to scrape together a handful of Eurofighters, most of the USAF inventory is trending toward 80% readiness
Sub-Defense: F-35 vs. F-15(E)X
Science and Technology
- Restarting a national power grid is hard – If Factorio has taught me one thing… Speaking of, I think I’ll probably have a Factorio/Satisfactory review to post in the next week or two.
- World record short landing: 9 feet, 6 inches
- MySpace loses 12 years of music and video – Yes, it’s still around. No, people didn’t really notice. (The data loss happened some months ago, and it only hit the news now.) Yes, all data is similarly at risk.
- Related news: the Internet Archive is scrambling to preserve public Google+ data – A college friend of mine runs a Saturday afternoon teatime, planned as a Google+ event, which has run into trouble owing to the pending Google+ shutdown. This is perhaps the first real-world effect of that event.
- Cross-file under History: R/V Petrel finds the USS Wasp – I love that Paul Allen’s billionaire gig was finding old warship wrecks. It would be easy to make a crack about uselessness vis-a-vis, say, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and space, but the modern world pays too little mind to history, and I will instead say that it’s refreshing that Mr. Allen dedicated a good bit of his fortune to shining a spotlight on it.
- Is Huawei a security threat? – It looks to me like four of the seven experts interviewed by the Verge say yes.
- SpaceX may begin testing the Starship this week – That’s simple up-and-down hop tests like Blue Origin has been doing, not orbital testing. (Quite a bit of work to do before orbit is in the picture.) Also, anonymous sources report that the next Falcon Heavy launch could be as early as April 7th.
- Toyota’s Takaoka #2 factory is pretty nifty – Rather than bolt all the robots and whatnot down, they instead put everything on movable platforms, so they can expand and contract the line’s capacity almost at will and without dramatically changing the cost per car.
Sub-S&T: 737MAX MCAS
- Hudson files for bankruptcy – Chapter 7, too. They plan to liquidate everything and pack it in. Doing my part for journalism, I used some of my free PACER credit to nab the relevant filings. Their list of creditors is not particularly pretty. They claim to have $50,000 in assets and between $10 million and $50 million in liabilities. On the plus side, apparently you can buy H9s for cheap as part of the liquidation sale, if that’s the sort of thing that interests you.
I just realized last weekend’s post was dated March 27th, because I changed the month but forgot to change the day. Rest assured that, if we were to guess at news from the future, we would try a little harder than two or three weeks out.
Apologies for the lateness of the post. It’s Mrs. Breath’s birthday today.
- A human interest story to start off – The chief of staff of the Air Force was shot down over Serbia. He recently met with the pararescueman who got him out.
- It’s approximately the beginning of a month, so there’s a new issue of Defence Technology Review for your perusal – It’s one of parvusimperator’s regular reads, so it’s worth putting here. Also, there’s a great deal of potential humor in a notional Defence Technology Revue.
- An old story, but a good one: China’s plans to sell Pakistan an aircraft carrier and integrate militarily – Given Pakistan’s F-16s and AMRAAMs, that would make it a fascinating case of a nation buying from two great powers at once.
- More on that Truman early-retirement scheme
- Taiwan mulls F-16V purchase – If, like me, you hadn’t heard ‘F-16V’ before, here’s the LockMart store page.
- Germany concerned with readiness of submarines and aircraft – You don’t say!
- On the Zumwalts, ASW, and defeating hypersonic cruise missiles – The article suggests using the Zumwalts as linebackers to the Burkes’ safeties, given that (the article claims) their green-water ASW is better than the Burkes’. I see two problems with this: 1. The submarines just attack the Zumwalts then; 2. The Zumwalts are so expensive and there are so few of them that it seems silly to send them in-shore like that.
- The Drive’s The War Zone gets angry about the MiG-21/F-16 reportage – Mr. Rogoway writes up just about everything we know and what we can reasonably conclude.
- From The Drive’s related pages, some cool aggressor F-5 pictures – Aggressors get the best paint jobs.
(Mad) Science and Technology