Since the long-form articles this week are both on the subject of a superhero roleplaying game, I’ve helpfully separated out the articles for today’s post which are thinly-disguised supervillain plots.
- South Korea’s doing a good job on the navy front – 32 destroyers and frigates either in service or under contract, more than half again as many as the Royal Navy.
- New details on Russia’s heavily-modified ‘special projects submarine’, which had to make an emergency surface because of a fire aboard – A secret special projects submarine very nearly made the cut for inclusion in the supervillain plots section. The new details in question are drawings published in that august Russian Ministry of Defense publication, Krasnaya Zvezda. It’s from The War Zone at The Drive, so it’s not just an in-depth article, it’s the latest in-depth article in a four-part series.
- An infographic on Singapore’s Hunter AFV – “If you know nothing about the Singapore Army’s Hunter AFV…” begins the caption, which described me perfectly.
- Five money-pit projects the USAF can do without – A Loren Thompson article, yes, but this one’s not just rah-rah stanning for the Air Force or the F-35.
- Fire Scout unmanned helo now operational – I’m still leery of drones, but at least this one is a helicopter.
- Did you know that the Navy hasn’t forgotten about patrol boats? – News to me, too. Fun fact: they nearly outgun a stock LCS, shipping a pair of 25mm autocannon, six manned M2s, a bunch of mounts for miniguns etc., and space reserved for Griffin missiles. Displacement? 72 tons.
- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries reveals plans for Japan’s next-generation submarine – To be developed starting no earlier than 2025, and aimed to enter service in 2031. Knowing the Japanese, I bet they’ll hit their schedule, too. The article contains some interesting analysis of the Mitsubishi presentation, along with a drawing from H. I. Sutton.
- A Wired bit on the Sikorsky S-97, with its pusher prop for cruising and contra-rotating rotors – I’m all for contra-rotating rotors.
- America is upgrading Ukrainian ports to fit American warships
- Iron Dome on a truck – I’ll take fifty.
- Book review: Land Warfare Since 1860: A History of Boots on the Ground – Looks interesting. Rather than a deep dive into all the wars which have happened since 1860, it appears to focus on the changes in land warfare since 1860, which makes more sense for a single-volume history.
- A very brief history of repurposed American warships – Including some oddball plans for future repurposing. Of course, they touch on what to do with the LCSes, but they also have a fun idea for the Nimitzes they retire when the Fords start coming online. I’m interested to hear what you think.
- USAF suggests that long-range nuclear-armed cruise missiles will stop wars – On the one hand, the 60s were pretty tense. On the other hand, nobody’s really gotten into a major, state-on-state shooting war since nukes became a thing. Apropos of nothing, the Air Force is designing the LRSO to fit the B-52, which is a great case of ancient design decisions shaping the modern day. Only 11,968 days until we get to celebrate the centennial of B-52s in flight, and from here in 2019 I have a hard time believing that there won’t be a flyover by B-52s in active service at that time.
Defense (Supervillain Plots)
Science and Technology
- The sinkhole that saved the Internet – A sinkhole, in this usage, is a server which sucks up traffic that would otherwise be bound for a worm’s command and control servers. In this case, the ransomware known as WannaCry had a killswitch—if it could reach a particular web address, it deactivated itself. A security researcher set up a server there, and prevented something like tens of millions of infections from going active.
- Einstein and symmetry: the man and the idea behind modern physics – A Quanta article, so have your coffee first and block off ten minutes to read it and half an hour to think between paragraphs.
- Raspberry Pi 4 has an incorrectly-wired USB-C port – Maybe it’s because I’m not a hardware engineer by trade, but if a datasheet gives me a reference circuit design, you can bet I’m going to copy it wholesale.
- China 2050: in the throes of demographic decline – The one- and two-child policies in China put its native population growth below the replacement rate. China’s closed nature and impossible language mean it doesn’t get very much immigration. In the middle of the 21st century, it could very well be looking at the same problems Japan is looking at today.
- The oyster poachers of Connemara – Shared because I quite liked Connemara on my trip to Ireland, and because ‘oyster’ and ‘poaching’ would not have been my first guess in either case if you gave me one word and asked me to guess the other.
A little patriotic overture to start the post seems fitting.
- Reports of Chinese and Russian AAM development prompted the US to start work on the AIM-260, the next-gen long-range air-to-air missile for the US military
- Will Big Kuz get a second lease on life or die a slow death? – Given that the rebuilding plan starts with, ‘drydock Big Kuz in 2020, provided the shipyard has built a big enough drydock by then’, I suspect it’s going to be a slow death.
- ASW AI: a growth industry – I believe it. AI isn’t good at all that many things, ultimately, but interpreting sonar data is exactly the kind of thing it’s great at.
- USS Montgomery (a Little Crappy Ship) deploys for the first time in 19 months – As CDR Salamander noted on Twitter, the only reason you keep something like that secret is some degree of doubt that it’s going to make it all the way across the Pacific.
- Proceedings on hypersonic weapons: differing approaches taken by the world’s militaries – I should get a Proceedings subscription one of these years.
- Do hypersonic weapons mean the end of the line for the Mk 41? – They’re apt to be bigger, which means we might need bigger VLS cells.
- American diplomats are not ready for war – For a number of reasons; I won’t steal the article’s thunder. I will note the parallels with early 20th century diplomacy, which I’m developing a familiarity with thanks to Castles of Steel. Nobody wanted to deal with the British, because Parliament and public opinion were too fickle.
- Machine translation is getting good enough to put (most) military linguists out of a job – High-priority, high-accuracy translations are still done by humans, but there are cases (given in the article) where someone who doesn’t speak language X can still provide useful intelligence from communications in language X with the help of a machine translator.
- Rates of STDs going up in American servicemen and women – Soldiers gonna soldier.
- China’s military not only copying Western forces in hardware, but also in force structure and buzzwords – If we produce enough meaningless jargon we don’t actually follow, maybe we can make China, more respectful of authority than we are, collapse on its own, like giving a paradox to a killer robot.
- What are American obligations in the Strait of Hormuz? And what are some of the scenarios which might play out of Iran tries to close it? – The Atlantic is usually good when they aren’t writing about American politics.
- Ten reasons to keep your aircraft carriers – Loren Thompson warning, but he’s not wrong. Even if carriers are vulnerable in a great power shooting war, they’re much too useful in every other situation to get rid of.
- ITEP engines not fully baked, and the downselect came too early, this guy argues
- Some Armata dimensions/weights are now declassified
- French vehicle availability rates, courtesy of the French legislature
- Surprising nobody, Italy’s new Trieste is getting a ski jump ramp – Smart money says it’ll end up with the same angle as the new QE.
- An unusual exercise: an American destroyer supports a joint French-Japanese carrier task force
- Pratt & Whitney is perennially late on delivering F-35 engines
Defense: Czech IFV Requirements
A Very Special Section – Since it requires some translation, which Parvusimperator provided. (I assume he found it somewhere, since unless he’s holding out on me, he doesn’t speak Czech.)
- Number of vehicles: 210
- Crew: 3 + 6 soldiers + 2 specialists
- 7 variants: IFV, command, recon, engineering, ambulance, artillery recon, recovery
- Lifetime 30 years (min. 10 000 km to general rebuild)
- Programmable ammo for the 30 mm canon
- Coaxial MG 7.62 mm
- ATGM (2 in container, 1 in the vehicle)
- Smoke grenade launchers covering 360°
- Sights with min. 4000/3500 m range day/night
- Ballistic protection (base vehicle min. K2 + addon min. K5) i.e. STANAG 4569 II/V
- Protection against IED (jammer)
- Surveillance systems: day CCD camera, night IR camera, laser rangefinder
- Top speed on the road 65 km/h, in terrain 40 km/h
- Range min. 500 km
- Intercom + VKV/UKV radios voice/data (GPS, TACSAT and cypher connection)
Science and Technology
- BitTorrent usage increases as streaming sites fragment – Thinking face emoji. Not that I would ever publicly advocate stealing intellectual property, but I confess my Netflix subscription is looking less and less compelling, and that there are now a number of things I would watch that I can’t get there.
- Have $400,000 and want a fun toy? Here’s a working jetpack – Parvusimperator and I, although neither of us has $400,000 to drop on a toy, agreed that we could do better. His pick: a 1980 Learjet 35A. A bit over budget, but comfortable and useful. I decided to go another direction: a 1980 MiG-21UM, for a mere $139,000. I figure I can use the remaining $261,000 to make it flightworthy and maybe buy a spare engine or two. In either case, be it fancy business jet or supersonic manned missile, I suspect we would have more fun than we would with the jetpack.
- NERVA back in the news – If I learned anything from Kerbal Space Program, it’s that nuclear propulsion is worth rushing for immediately, because skipping the oxidizer makes your delta-v budgeting easy.
- Identifying people by laser-fingerprinting their heartbeats – We live in the future. Granted that this is a Pentagon project, but it does suggest to me that the Cyberpunk Future is here already. Maybe, though, we need a new term for it—kind of inherent in the Cyberpunk Future is the idea that heavy industrial conglomerates will run the world, when it turns out to be big data conglomerates instead. Ideas?
- Cloudflare had a little outage yesterday, bringing down about 10 percent of the Internet – Not Many Words, though! Any outages you might have seen here came from a bug in the Xen guest networking driver, which caused intermittent kernel panics when conducting certain network operations, like attempting to update the Xen guest networking driver. (Fixed now, though. That’s why I keep a bunch of old kernels installed, after all.)
- Microsoft shutting down its e-book store, refunding everything customers spent – That’s nice of them, at least. Have e-books you want to own rather than rent? Well, you have options.
- Image-recognition neural networks work mostly on texture rather than shape – There’s a classic illustration of how a multi-level neural network works: the first layer takes pixels and recognizes edges, the second layer composes edges and recognizes shapes, the third layer composes shapes and recognizes objects. If you take the article at face value, this is now wrong.
- Sonic black holes exist, and emit sonic Hawking radiation
A little choral patriotic music to wrap up the post seems fitting.
It’s all Fishbreath all the time this week—I’m covering Thursday’s post, too.
In contrast with the competition shooting flavor of this week’s long-form posts, we have a delightfully defense-directed What We’re Reading.
As I wrap up writing all the summaries below, I would like to point out that I finished just in time for the 10:13 deadline.
- Everything you need to know about the Chinese military if you don’t read Chinese – For those of us who do not read the world’s most perversely difficult language, Proceedings links to two reports on the development, strategy, and technology of the Chinese military, from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the DIA. Lots of meat on them. Highly recommended.
- Chinese carrier numbers increment differently – Carrier 001, CV-16, stays the same. Carrier 001A, now Carrier 002 or CV-17, goes up one. Carrier 002 is now 003/CV-18, the first catapult-equipped carrier. Carrier 003 is now 004 or 00X, and is either a second catapult-equipped carrier or China’s first nuclear carrier. There’s more at the link.
- Carrier 001 sails near Guam and through the Taiwan Strait
- Fixing the Overseas Contingency Operations fund – OCO spending doesn’t count against the Budget Control Act spending caps, so only 40% of the money in the OCO fund is for actual overseas operations, and the rest is a slush fund.
- Raytheon’s StormBreaker completes test drop program – Tri-mode seeker with datalink. I wonder if they’ll make a knives version, like that Hellfire we pointed out a few entries ago.
- USS Billings smacks into a bulk freighter in Montreal – Its commissioning is still scheduled for August 3, so there can’t be that much damage.
- British F-35s fly their first operational missions – Joining some Typhoons over Syria. Baker Zebra.
- Amphetamine use was widespread on both sides in the Second World War
- Navy railgun project test fires at White Sands, could be tested at sea this year
- 40% of Marine Ospreys are not mission-capable – From a historical/analytical perspective, it’s a shame that the US has never before been in a stance of high military spending but low imminent risk of war. Would readiness have been so bad with, say, 1935 technology and a similar geopolitical position?
- Brigade Combat Teams are modern legions – That is, smallish, modular units which contain near enough to everything they need to fight. The author goes on to suggest rebranding BCTs as Legions, which is a bit too whatever-you-call-it to Rome as weebs are to Japan for my tastes. (Ed.: Although Chris Bradshaw makes a compelling counterargument in the comments.)
- Navy to buy sufficient numbers of JPALS sets to equip every carrier, including the ‘they aren’t carriers, really’ amphibious assault ships – F-35 pilots will never have to hit a hard carrier landing again! The computers will do it for them, unless they’re damaged, broken, or out of service for other reasons.
- What does it profit a man to gain military partners in the Gulf by spending tons of money and lose the will to knock in heads himself, World Police style? – Not profit, so much, but it does buy you the modern Gulf, where your partners are mostly squabbling with their local enemies, oil tankers are hitting Iranian mines with suspicious regularity, and the US Navy is stuck escorting ships through the Gulf anyway.
- Blessed Be Thy Nuclear Weapons – The Russian Orthodox Church weighs heavily on the minds of the nuclear arm of Russia’s military, but then, the Russian Orthodox Church also weighs heavily on the minds of all traditionally-minded Russians. It’s easy to forget for English-speakers, because the Anglicans are a bunch of spineless wimps nowadays and the other major English-speaking power takes a dim view of state religions, but having a church more or less unified with the state is an extremely powerful tool for the man in charge of both.
Science and Technology
- Smartphone use causes bone spurs – Point of order: I’m almost sure I have those same bone spurs, but from reading books instead of using a smartphone.
- How to factory-reset your GE smart lightbulbs: a 3-minute play in two acts – Smart homes are not, and I refuse to have any smart home technology until I can run it on a server in my basement with no outside Internet connection.
- Ubuntu to ditch 32-bit architecture, libraries – Steam, thereafter, to ditch Ubuntu. The only 32-bit things on my work laptop are, I grant you, Steam, wine, and a bunch of libraries used by Steam and wine, so it isn’t that bad for modern Linux users who don’t play games.
- Remember QuadrigaCX, the Canadian cryptocurrency exchange whose funds all mysteriously vanished and whose CEO died in India? – Yeah, he totally stole all the money by using fake accounts with fake real-world assets, and the last transaction he made was six days before his ‘death’. Watch for his wife to mysteriously disappear in the next year or two, and for a pair of people who look suspiciously like them to live out the remainder of their days on some sun-soaked tropical beach paradise.
- The Raspberry Pi 4 launches, and the launch site runs on a cluster of Raspberry Pi 4s – Could be a big savings over the Many Words VPS, but a) the Pi cluster didn’t actually run the database, the most demanding and difficult part of the whole endeavor, and b) I don’t think I know anyone who would be willing to colocate a stack of Raspberry Pis.
- The USAF launch services agreement isn’t fair to SpaceX, says this guy – But he also says that the USAF should just spend some money on SpaceX on the side, rather than delaying the LSA awards. That’s reasonable, but even as someone who’s low-key rooting for Blue Origin over SpaceX, I think it’s also reasonable to ask that the LSA should probably go to a company which actually hits the requirements today (i.e., non-Russian engines, proven reliability). Rockets are hard, and realistically, Blue Origin and ULA-with-Blue-Origin-engines will have some teething issues to work out.
Here we are at the leading edge of the summer doldrums. Parvusimperator’s low on things to write about, and I’m in at-home productivity mode. So it goes. Happily, there’s a ton going on in the world, so we do have links for you. Lots of links.
- Oil tankers attacked (?) in the Gulf of Oman – This correspondent’s guess is naval mines which slipped their moorings.
- The BBC reports that it might have been limpet mines – Like it was in May.
- In earlier reporting, the WSJ said torpedoes – Maybe they just meant ‘torpedo’ in the old sense of ‘mine’.
- Close-up shots do suggest a mine hit
- CDR Salamander: it’s fun to follow, but it’s not our problem, either
- The IAF (Indian) wants to buy IAF (Israeli) missiles – Pakistani F-16s with AIM-120-C5s outranged the Indian Flankers with R-77s, which Indian sources claim can’t really engage targets at more than 80km. India wants to replace the Vympel missile with the extended-range Derby.
- H und K is in financial trouble – Because they hate you, and you suck.
- In pictures: a bomb bird on a bomb bird – You’ll just have to click it to find out what it is.
- Small earthquake near the China/NoKor border – … turns out to be caused by the Jilin Longye Blasting Company in China, rather than by the North Korean bombs everyone suspected. At least, that’s the official story.
- Iran will shortly breach its uranium stockpile limits
- Pentagon seeks laser-armed space drones – In response to questions about militarizing space, the Pentagon claims they’re laser-armed space drones for science. (This is not actually what they claim.)
- Big Army slows its roll on ground robots, buys 9,000 small drones – Aerial reconnaissance at the squad level is a compelling buy.
- Dreadnought v. Columbia: boomers of the future
- Big Army’s future tank: picture a factory stamping upgrades on an Abrams chassis forever
- The Navy launches one of the most awkwardly-named ships of all time: USS Minneapolis-St. Paul – Comment with your votes for more awkward names.
- Boeing line workers just can’t stop leaving tools, cigarette butts, lunches, etc. in KC-46 airframes – “Didn’t you have ten wrenches when you clocked in?” “Beats me.”
- Everything old is new again, naval strategy edition – In which it is argued that the fleet should be concentrated, Mahan-style, in the Pacific. The only problem is that I think it would require some cleverness with advanced basing and perhaps corvettes/motherships of some kind.
- Northrop and Raytheon are working on a 3D-printed hypersonic scramjet cruise missile – I just got 21st Century Defense Story Bingo.
Hong Kong Protests
Science and Technology
It’s rare that I get the What We’re Reading story filed prior to our traditional 10:13 a.m. Eastern post publication time, but today, I’ve been more diligent than usual.
- HMAS Perth stuck in drydock for want of a crew – For whatever reason, a software industry friend of mine in Australia is now also a certified general hand for near-shore vessels. Maybe time for a career change?
- Via Kilo Sierra, proceedings of the Robotics Capabilities Conference – Feel free to drop interesting articles in Discord or in comments throughout the week, and we’ll consider them for inclusion here.
- How the Navy plans to break Big E – The plan is that there aren’t really any solid plans yet. Also, the cost to break Big E alone is going to be about the cost of fielding a carrier group for a year.
- Taiwan to get tanks, Javelins, TOWs, &c., but no Vipers yet
- Those are the wrong weapons, though – With all the ink spilled about China’s A2/AD capabilities making it a headache to operate near Taiwan, maybe Taiwan should invest in A2/AD capabilities to make it a headache to operate near Taiwan the other direction.
- The Navy’s chance to return to Subic Bay – Given the difficulties in reloading VLS systems at sea (namely, we don’t have a way to do so right now), a good port close to China seems like it should be a gimme.
- In photos: the near-collision between USS Chancellorsville and Admiral Vinogradov
- Analysis of the Future Helicopter Engine competitors and selection
- Is cyber where radar was in 1942? – Yes, in the sense that nobody really understands it. No, in the sense that ‘radar’ actually described a specific technology, whereas ‘cyber’ is a meaningless buzzword.
- Understanding the F-15X purchase – I’m still for it, if only on the grounds that it behooves us to have two aircraft manufacturers with active fighter production lines. Also, jamming will be more important than stealth in the middle of the 21st century. You heard it here first.
Science and Technology
- PC games: the original creators of Star Control, Paul Reiche and Fred Ford, reached an amicable settlement with the current owner of the Star Control trademark, Brad Wardell of Stardock, by having a friendly phone call – The settlement also involves exchanges of honey (from Wardell’s beehives) and mead (from Reiche’s homebrewery), proving that end runs around lawyers are always worthwhile. I pity whoever, at the law firms involved, had to go tell everyone that the long, drawn-out IP case with billing expected to go on for years is suddenly resolved because the clients talked it out.
- Books: Barnes and Noble purchased by Waterstones – Buried lede: even with their Nook miscue and all the difficulties faced by traditional retailers, Barnes and Noble has been reliably profitable over the last few years.
- Music: in 2008, when Universal caught fire, almost 200,000 masters burned
- PC games: the official John Wick video game is an innovative take – If you asked me to write a brief for a John Wick game, I would have maybe sent back a Max Payne clone, or if I were having a creative day, a Superhot clone. A top-down, paused-real-time strategy game like Frozen Synapse would not have crossed my mind.
A new heading! It was originally ‘Finance’, but then I realized that every finance-related story I had was also commodities-related in one way or another.
Lots of headings today.
It’s almost but not quite the anniversary of D-Day, and is precisely the anniversary of my marriage.
Between that, travel, finishing Britain’s Future Navy (depressing) and starting Massie’s Dreadnought (exciting), it’s a short one this week.
- LockMart withdraws the Freedom-class from FFG(X) – Good. Let the other defense contractors have a go. Parvusimperator and I still think the F105 is the best choice, but also not the most likely (I think). Probably time for a re-handicapping, now that the field has narrowed.
- CDR Salamander writes at USNI blog about the FFG(X) voluntary downselect and the perishable nature of industrial capacity – Put another way: don’t go the way of the Dutch.
- Reintroducing theater-range missiles in a post-INF world – It’s a brave new world.
- In pictures: the best Harrier on a merely average carrier – Spain’s Juan Carlos I, to be exact. The Harriers are the American Plus model, the only extant variant with a radar and AIM-120 capability, which makes them almost real fighters.
- Congress upset over the Ford class’s inability to deploy with F-35s – Because Congress imposed cost caps on the first two Fords, there’s been an awful lot of ‘fit for but not with’ going on. For instance, one of them is deploying with two of eleven weapons elevators operational.
- USAF has a solid lead in number of operational F-35s – 400 F-35s of all types have been delivered, and they’ve also now passed 200,000 flight hours.
- USAF also thinking about laser missile defense
- Superconductor degaussing system to be installed on some Navy vessels – I really, really want to know what kind of superconductor we’re talking about here, but the story does not relate. It does, however, suggest that the weight savings are substantial: 10 to 100 tons, depending on the size of the hull.
- Corvette carriers: a littoral combat strategy – Missile boats are awesome, but short-legged. So, build a ship to fuel them and shepherd them to wherever you want them to be. Britain’s Future Navy had a similar idea, although built to merchant standards rather than military, and for minesweepers/pirate hunters/subchasers/etc. with a logistics support/helicopter carrier mothership.
- For missile boats, the Skjald-class is a good buy; for patrol craft, why not buy the German Gepard design? – Well, because it’s retired? On the other hand, an updated, NSM-equipped design would be pretty cool, and a Gepard (at 437 tons) outguns an LCS by several times already. Both?.
- Wouldn’t you know it, the Navy already planned to do a missile ~boat~ hydrofoil with a logistics support ship! – Also, the support ship was to be a repurposed LST, which is a cool class of ship.
- Big Army wants to modernize its ammunition plants… – Most of which date to the 1940s.
- USAF has 62 Lancers, of which often only ‘single digits’ are mission-ready at any given time – Not great. B-21 isn’t here yet, guys!
Science and Technology
- Another open-source project switches to a license which excludes resellers – An interesting problem. The norm in the software industry used to be this: if you develop an open-source project, you have dibs on selling that project as a service. The Big Three cloud providers (Amazon, Microsoft, and Google) broke that norm, reselling open-source-projects-as-a-service. The open source projects have now fired back with a new breed of open-source licenses that permit users to do everything but that.
WWRW falls on a Thursday again, because I was working from home yesterday, and that always throws off my groove.
This is the 32nd one of these. Yay, powers of two!
- Turkey says it’ll manufacture the S-500 locally – I must be behind on my air defense reading, because I can’t even tell you what an S-500 is. (Carlo Kopp can, though.) Also, Russia promises to sell Turkey Su-57s if the F-35 deal falls through. Growing up with teen-series fighters as I did, the two preceding paragraphs scan like something out of Next Sunday A.D. sci-fi.
- Pentagon threatens to withhold half of the $728 million LockMart requested for F-35 spare parts – Not out of spite, but rather because the Pentagon wants technical data so they can buy spares from other, more reliable suppliers.
- Upgrading the Chinook is the correct answer to the heavy-lift helicopter program – Approved.
- Speaking of, Boeing is going to flight-test the Chinook with the engines from the CH-53K – (Thanks to Kilo Sierra for the link.) Remember, in terms of lifting power, helos are pretty much universally power-bound, so add more oomph and you can add more collective before the engine governors stop you.
- Humvee vs. JLTV – Fun fact: I got in trouble at the Pittsburgh Auto Show for taking a picture of the JLTV dashboard.
- Still using Russian or Chinese weapons? The US will pay you to ditch them and buy American
- Young people are unqualified for everything – Including military careers. Apparently, a mere 29% of American youngsters hit the requirements, which amount to 1) don’t be obese 2) don’t have a criminal record and 3) finish high school. I find those numbers a little hard to believe, which is usually a good indication that they’re misleading or wrong somehow, but I’m already a day late with this and don’t have time to chase it down.
- Some call sign controversy brewing at VFA-106 in Virginia – A number of black aviators were given insulting call signs with some racial overtones, maybe? On the one hand, cool call signs are an invention of the film industry. They’re all insulting if you know the story behind them. On the other hand, the fact that the white pilots in VFA-106 talked about their black compatriots in a WhatsApp group called ‘Pure Bloods’ does rather speak to motive, doesn’t it?
- Airships for the military – Oh hey, the same article someone writes literally every five years, and nothing ever comes of it. I really like airships. Over at Many Words Main, I frequently write what amounts to airship fan fiction. I still don’t think they’re very much good for most modern uses. We have airplanes and helicopters now. The only thing a rigid airship buys you is fuel economy.
- Terrain-following radar for MC-130J special ops transports – Terrain-following radars are cool. There isn’t one in DCS yet to play with, though, so I can’t tell you just how cool.
- A report to Congress on airborne EW programs – Parvusimperator’s link. I haven’t read it, but I surmise that it’s mostly going to be, “We have airborne EW programs. No, Senator, that’s classified.”
- Remembering the attack on the USS Stark – Be sure to click through to the JAG investigation at the bottom of the article.
- FN’s going to unveil its MK 48 6.5mm machine gun at SOFIC 2019 – Which is currently ongoing. Perhaps some news for next week?
- Shipbuilders study adding more punch to LCS – Hmm. I wonder why? It was so well-equipped! An interesting, non-sarcastic point is that phase 2 might involve a Mk-41 8-pack, or newly-developed single Mk-41 cells spread around the ship (i.e., wherever they can cram one in).
- Laser weapons and rail guns and gun-launched guided projectiles, oh my – Another Congressional report, so don’t expect too much.
- Two presentations, one on the 2018 national defense strategy and the other a report from NSWC Corona on munitions – I think I’ve probably said it before, but a good way to win bar bets is to ask people where in the US the Navy’s largest facility is located. It’s NSWC Crane, in south central Indiana, notably far from oceans, or indeed large bodies of water at all.
- Rule the Waves 2 is out – Rule the Waves, the 1900-1925 naval arms race/tactical battle simulator, is a Soapbox favorite. Does the sequel, which expands the scope to 1955 and adds aircraft carriers, stack up? The short answer is yes, and I’m very much enjoying trying some oddball ideas in my Japan game. The long answer is you’ll have to wait until I get through a game or two and can write a full review.
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.
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