I swear I’m not trying to turn this into a monthly feature—there’s been a lot going on, and news items (that we read and share in our links channel) have been following a drought or flood pattern.
- The Glockblaster 3D, which I mentioned way back in… wow, February… is almost done. Expect a series of posts following the build later in the year.
- Above the fold: Australia ditches France, returns to the Anglosphere for its subs and Pacific security arrangements – The Aussies are going nuclear! It’s a miracle it took as long as it did, because…
- … it was too expensive, and can’t do enough – Ouch.
- The French, ever those masters of grace and forgiveness, recalled their ambassadors from the US and Australia – Not the UK, though, because, to lightly paraphrase an actual official explanation, the French expect perfidy from those English dogs, and don’t think it’s worth any stern measures.
- The new bloc is called Aukus, which is an awful name – At least it doesn’t include New Zealand. Aukusnz? Just doesn’t work. Looks like it should include Poland, with that cluster at the end.
- Boeing rolls out Qatari F-15s – The inspiration, evidently, for the F-15EX.
- Coaxial rotorheads rejoice: Ka-52M gets a contract from Russia – The Ka-50, I’ve always said, is a traditional attack helicopter with two crew, except the two crew are in different airframes. The Ka-52 is a lot less exotic, although there aren’t a lot of serious attack helos with side-by-side seating. Perhaps because the coaxial rotors impose a speed limit already, so optimizing for low drag is less important.
- System tests of Rapid Dragon under way – Turning every cargo plane into a potential missile truck is a nice little force multiplier. I wonder if shanghaied commercial cargo planes could do the job? I don’t know how many of them have tail ramps, though.
- Why the Afghan army fell so quickly before the Taliban – Written by an Afghan general.
- USAF experimenting with antiship JDAMs – Which is quite the trick, considering JDAMs are for hitting a specific coordinate, rather than a specific moving object. Seems like a seeker swap. Possibly some munition networking.
- Military jetpacks now heading to Southeast Asia – It’s actually a different jetpack than the one the Royal Navy tested a while back.
- Team Bullpup crushed: Tavor to be retired – It lasted about ten years.
- Taiwan’s new corvettes have better a better ASuW fit than most major surface combatants – They are creatures of their time and place, I’ll say that.
- SoKor tests sub-launched ballistic missiles – Launched from a diesel boomer. Does South Korea secretly have the bomb, I wonder? We’re not upset, if so; just play nice with Japan.
- Officially retired, F-117s now play stealth aggressor – The Drive reports.
- Losing Small Wars: a boots-on-the-ground officer type reflects on the increasing centralization of Big Army command
- Israel working on stealthy fuel tanks for its F-35s – Israel: world leader in range extension.
- Germany working on Type 212CD: a stealth submarine – It goes like this: passive sonar doesn’t work as well as it used to, because submarines are all so quiet. So, active sonar is on the way back. Active sonar can be defeated by shaping, just like radar. That leads to strangely angular boats.
Science and Technology
The Economy, Stupid
It looks like The Sunday Papers are here to stay.
Science and Technology
- Prepper, libertarian-ish guy, and Ars Technica founder (since departed) Jon Stokes is starting to get worried about COVID again, which is maybe a canary. He’s a fairly clear-eyed dude. We’ll keep you updated.
- Plastic barriers probably don’t help – Ventilation is the COVID-killer, which is why airplanes are quite safe despite what you’d think. Plastic barriers can interfere with ventilation.
Oh dear, it’s been quite a while, hasn’t it?
With the increasing business and attendant busy-ness at work, I’m considering making this week’s tongue-in-cheek change a permanent one. We picked Wednesday for the What We’re Reading back when we had a post from me on some Saturdays and a post from parvusimperator most Tuesdays and Thursdays. It made a lot more sense when Tuesday through Thursday was a solid block of content. Now that that condition no longer holds, I don’t know if I have much reason to carry on trying to carve 45 minutes out of my Wednesdays to whip this up, when Sunday is a whole lot more open.
- I did buy a new reloading press. It’s a Dillon XL750, and I quite like it.
- The revolver technique content I promised is delayed, because we had a pipe leak and the attendant plumbing and remediation work to contract out and do, respectively.
Science and Technology
- A Chemical Hunger: why are people so fat these days? – A review of the evidence in favor of chemical contaminants being the cause. Particularly compelling: county-level maps of obesity are very similar to maps of watershed catchment area. A long read: it has at least eight parts at the time of writing.
- Should social media platforms be regulated like common carriers? – Eugene Volokh argues that some kind of common carrier-like regime may be correct. We have a fair bit of editorial independence here, because we’re not beholden to Big Tech, but there are plenty of ways we could still get shut down given a substantial enough pressure campaign.
- China seizes UK’s largest microchip manufacturer – Barely even hyperbole, that headline.
- China also cracks down on its equivalent to US big tech – Content warning: a pundit who is, in my experience, frequently wrong. That said, I think he’s right on this one: China isn’t hitting companies that make tangible things, just its domestic software industry. Which is dumb, given that a domestic software industry helps encourage the development of the software engineers you need to make tangible tech, but central planners never got high marks for making good decisions.
- Big earthquake in Alaska – Right next door to the Cascadia fault, where we should be expecting the next Big One.
Reloading press update: I’m looking now at a Dillon XL750, which seems to hit the right balance between price, size, and capability.
- Lots of stuff around the house.
- Parvusimperator remarks that he’s been engaged in planning the plan for a committee to lay out the vision for the forthcoming plan for architecting a future project. $GOVERNMENT_CONTRACTOR life!
- The Glockblaster 3D project I wrote about earlier in the year is nearly done. I need to write a progress update. I’ve been sharing more frequent, less formal updates at a semi-private forum for a collection of centrist and right-leaning tech enthusiasts. It’s a pleasant place, and if you find the tenor of the less politically neutral grab bag pieces agreeable rather than aggravating, you might like it there too.
Science and Technology
I’m thinking about getting a progressive press to make my USPSA reloading go a bit faster. Any recommendations? I’m thinking about waiting for that Frankford Arsenal FX-10 jobber to go on sale before I make a final decision.
Fishbreath’s Story of the Week
- Iran’s big AOR catches fire, sinks – They just commissioned another one, though.
- Big Army tips Oshkosh for Stryker 30mm cannon – Unmanned turret, with up to six brigades possible. A $942 million deal, if it goes all the way.
- Swap the barrel, and your 7.62 NATO gun can be a 6.8 TVCM one – Wonder if maybe we’re finally going to start seeing non-metallic cases take off? Wonder if they’re cheaper than brass for reloaders.
- Another bit on how McDonnell-Douglas’ culture ruined Boeing – It’s a little more complicated than that, but that’s why we put links to the full stories.
- Navy’s tanker drone makes history: refuels a manned aircraft for the first time
- The first B-21 bombers are in production and will soon be ready to test – Ground testing, in advance of flight testing. Also, “B-21 Raider” sounds very 1930s.
- Hyundai’s SoKor baby carrier isn’t so baby anymore – It’s basically HMS QE, but with Made In Republic of Korea stamped on the side. The Drive has more.
- Hyundai also pushing their IFV on Europe – Content warning: Norwegian.
- Drone fries other drones with microwaves
- Hawaii F-22s scramble on FAA request – But nobody’s saying why, and the FAA’s statement is hilariously vague. So I guess it’s aliens again.
- To distract you while we memory-hole the above story, here’s a photo of an F-22 wing tank storage facility – Or maybe it’s a set from a Bond flick. Hard to tell.
- Space Force moves at orbital speeds, builds and launches satellite in four months – That’s pretty good speed, especially as GPS
According to WordPress, I missed numbering one of these 113. The auto-post-numberer adds a ‘-2’ to duplicate names, so if I hadn’t renamed this one, it would have been 112-2-2.
Anyway, on to the news. Or, in some cases, the olds.
State-Sponsored Hijacking in Belarus
- MLOK SA80 – How modern of them!
- Amphibious MC-130J is a dumb way to make a seaplane – It’s a C-130 floatplane, and it looks as silly as it sounds.
- Also on the shopping list, a high-speed VTOL plane
- Elbit strikes back on its BMS security
- I heard you like drones, so I put drones in your drones – Along with self-defense options from General Atomics, an article on how to keep drones relevant in a peer-on-peer conflict. By which The Drive seems to mean a conflict between peers with developed anti-drone capabilities, given how effective they were in the Armenia-Azerbaijan dustup.
- AReS is a strike HARM – I think? It’s not super-clear. Anyway, it launches from a shipping container, and might have more stages than the ‘one’ of the HARM.
- Beijing knows exactly what it’s saying when it rebuffs Washington’s request for high-level military talks – You might need paywall eliminator for this one.
- LockMart goes woke – At least in its executive training.
- Ronald Reagan, forward-deployed in Japan, will make a patrol to the Middle East to cover the Afghanistan withdrawal – Somehow, that feels like a bad idea to me, like the kind of bad idea people put in the history books under ‘reasons the war started’.
Science and Technology
Another two-week gap, but happily, I don’t think we have very much breaking news to turn into yesterday’s news.
- For some reason, my 3D printer is still having a devil of a time with miniatures (after having worked perfectly previously). Maybe it’s the nozzle. I plan to switch it back to a larger nozzle, with which to print some more Little Wars bits and bobs, before I eventually go back to miniatures.
- If you’ve been following the video half of my content production, you will have noticed the revolver reliability problems. I think I’m finally almost done with that. We’ll see sometime next week, most likely, when Bowen sends me the Ruger double-action revolver bushing tool I ordered.
A bit late on the draw this week: work has been ridiculously busy, as has been the pattern lately.
I did at least fix the occasional ‘your IP address has been blocked’ message you might have been seeing: that page was getting cached as the homepage when spammers visited. It’s not fixed in the sense that the anti-spam plugin and the homepage play nice, but I turned off the anti-spam plugin and cleared the cache, so it looks solved from your perspective, non-logged-in readers.
- NSM box launchers on unmanned trucks: the future of Marine aviation – The second part is maybe unwarranted snark, but they have been talking about giving up the baby carriers just at the point when baby carriers get useful with F-35s, haven’t they?
- Private aggressor aircraft provider Top Aces, not satisfied with having the coolest job in the world, now have the coolest Skyhawks – AESA, IRST… I wonder if you can stick AMRAAMs on?
- Oh, they also own 29 F-16s – I repeat: coolest job in the world.
- The technical alignment chart – These keep getting more niche… and I am on board.
- FNH builds a new lightweight machine gun – The “EVOLYS”. Just rolls off the tongue. It has some neat features, though, which I won’t spoil.
- Belgian farmer moves rock, expands Belgium – The former border dated back to the Treaty of Kortrijk (1820). “We should be able to avoid a new border war,” said the mayor of the neighboring French village, displaying an alarming lack of certainty. If the farmer doesn’t return the stone, the case goes to the Belgian foreign ministry, which would then summon a Franco-Belgian border commission inactive since 1930. European history is hilarious sometimes.
Sport, Motor, Formula
China, Coronavirus, and Other Related Topics
- Here at the Soapbox, we like to demonstrate our editorial independence by honking off the Chinese government at every opportunity.
- The Chinese property market looks to me like some kind of scheme, perhaps one shaped like a three-dimensional triangular solid – Deposits from new buyers are being used to finish old construction, claims a guy on Twitter.
- Brazil rejects the Russian vaccine, which contains a replicating cold virus – Oops. Well, my Made in
Russia Soviet Union pocket watch stopped working in pretty short order, and also, I spent enough time in Russia to develop an appreciation for all the nuance of на ремонт, so I can’t claim I’m totally surprised that something made in Russia would be of less than the best quality.
- It only took a year, but we finally figured out how COVID spreads! – Respiratory droplets. Shame that the lesson (avoid large groups in poorly-ventilated spaces) is now almost irrelevant, thanks to the widespread availability (in the US, at least) of vaccines.
- The lab leak hypothesis: increasingly likely – Not to say it was engineered, but any sober or even slightly tipsy examination of the evidence has to allow the possibility.
- Contractor with the PA health department leaks PII for 72,000 people – I don’t think I’m one of them, at least.
Twilight of the West
Again with the Skypirates! developer log in place of a what-we’re-reading last week, since the news folder was looking a bit light.
Not so this week!
The Cyberpunk Future
- Prospectus on Próspera – Astral Codex Ten’s Scott Alexander on a particular instance of the charter city movement, where a private company receives limited grant from the government of Honduras to compete with the government of Honduras. The typically clear-eyed Alexander says, “If you were a completely ordinary Honduran, making $1,300 a year, having a medium lifetime risk of being murdered, with the government occasionally taking your land and killing you if you complained – would you want the option of moving to Próspera? With its civil rights, property rights, strong security, good education, and higher salaries? I have these things right now in America and they’re great.”
Have you tried turning it OMFV and on again?
- Everyone’s favorite IFV program, after a brief cancellation, is back in the news
- BAE’s entry – Parvusimperator notes: looks like an Elbit UT30 Mk. 2 turret on an AMPV hull, which is a turretless Bradley hull with some mine resistance and layout changes.
- Oshkosh is partnering with Hanwha, to (probably) enter the AS21 or something similar
- Rheitheon/Raynmetall are back too, along with GenDynLandSys (the only entrant last time)
- There are some small business entrants, as well: MettleOps and Point Blank Enterprises – Since phase 1 is basically just concept art, you don’t need much to get a foot in the door. Both of the wee tiny entrants seem to plan to work with bigger manufacturing partners if their entries get the nod for further development.
Science and Technology
The last two updates were 109 and 110, fun numbers if you’re a Messerschmitt fan.
Last week’s Skypirates! developer log was a calculated choice, to give us time to build up a list of interesting stories for you.
- The Germans are installing Trophy APS on Leopard 2A7A1s – That’s quite a model number, isn’t it? Anyway, it seems to me that it barely matters, in light of the recent chart we shared calling Germany a NATO freeloader.
- Israel receives new Oron ISR plane – Looks a bit awkward, as do many of its competitors in the genre, but good aerial surveillance is the substrate of modern warfare.
- A Burke and a Zumwalt under construction at Bath Iron Works – The missus and I, on our delightful vacation to Maine a few years ago, saw Bath Iron Works from the front—we were on the right side of the picture, from one of the two docks upstream of the little headland.
- Battle Order with a video on Japan’s Rapid Deployment Forces – The fiction that Japan’s military is purely for self defense grows thinner by the moment. Coming soon, the Japan Ground Self Defense Force Rapid Overseas Expeditionary Response Team, or something similarly silly.
- The Diehl Defense IRIS-T-SLS Mk III SHORADS – A pretty cool system behind an alphabet soup of acronyms.
- Big Army to replace TOW – But not with Spike, because it wasn’t invented here.
- ‘Accident’ at Iran’s Natanz atomic site – What do you think? 500lb Joint Direct Accident Munition, Small Diameter Accident, ground-deployed satchel accident?
- Improved plate carriers in a constrained fiscal environment
Science and Technology
- Supreme Court punts on API copyrightability claims, declares Google’s use of Java in Android fair use
- Anomalies at the Large Hadron Collider and Fermilab point toward the Standard Model being incomplete](https://www.quantamagazine.org/muon-g-2-experiment-at-fermilab-finds-hint-of-new-particles-20210407/) – Different anomalies: the LHC is seeing unusual decay in b-mesons, while Fermilab is looking into the magnetic moment of muons. Complicating the latter story, a new calculation of the expected value matches the observed value more closely than the presently-accepted value.
- A real-time map of Evil Genius Elon Musk’s satellite network – Spoiler: he has a lot of them up there.
- Ford studying prechamber ignition for gasoline engines – Deep into The Secret Horsepower Race, I find stories like this extra-fascinating.
- Build your own wire EDM machine! – It only takes some custom-machined parts and a €2995 arc generator.
- Citibank loses $500 million on a misclick – UI design is important. We might have shared this already, but it’s a good one.
- Mathematician disproves the unit conjecture – Parvusimperator, former math grad student, said it was interesting.
- A Chinese invasion of Taiwan would wreck the global economy for years – Because even if TSMC’s fabs survive undamaged, and even if TSMC retains its employees, and even if China can immediately get a state-owned TSMC back into operation, it’s still a dead company walking, because its supply chain is deeply dependent upon Western technology and equipment.