Where do the months go?
Merry Christmas from your Soapbox hosts.
- Chinese hypersonic glide vehicle itself fired a missile over the Pacific – Financial Times story; use the Paywall Eliminator Firefox plugin.
- Sick burn from CDR Salamander – In response to “SOCOM commander says Taliban aren’t counterterrorism partners in Afghanistan.
- Ukraine’s defense intelligence chief thinks Russia is planning an invasion by January – Time’s running out on that one, but ‘the Christmas Day attack’ has a good ring to it. Good thing the tough-on-Russia adults are running things— No, I can’t keep a straight face.
- Italy thinks the next-gen European combat aircraft programs are going to merge – Two in a row that make me laugh! It would be smart, but I don’t think Europe would actually do it.
- Sal: look at our intellectual priorities, and look at our problems – It’s not a good look.
- Photos of Russian tanks with improvised anti-top-attack armor – It’s quite the look, let me tell you. Perhaps inspired by the recent Azerbaijan-Armenia spat?
- Mahan’s Yardstick – It’s 3500nm circles centered on Guam and Pearl.
- Israel buys the Gucci option, the CH-53K – Parvusimperator didn’t expect them to buy the expensive one.
- Tracking Russian force buildups near Ukraine – Open-source satellite imagery and analysis is wild.
- France Gets One Back: UAE to buy Rafale F4 – That’s the Gripen-E of Rafales.
- Brazil’s nuclear-powered sub project making progress – Luchtburg scrambles to respond.
- Finland picks the F-35 – And here’s why.
- Saudi Arabia running out of Patriot missiles in its conflict with the Houthis – A problem I expect to be a major factor in any future shooting war. I’ve posted about the lack of VLS reloading tools in the Pacific already; this is that problem but with consumables instead of equipment.
- Biden Administration officials have suggested that the U.S. will press Ukraine to formally cede a measure of autonomy within its eastern Donbas region – Uh-huh.
- General Atomics’ rough-field drone struts its stuff – It is not, as the name might suggest, a nuclear-powered drone.
- India tests air-launched BrahMos missile – “Gee, I wonder what ships those are targeted at,” parvusimperator says. I add, “India’s an awfully big, awfully unsinkable aircraft carrier on China’s SLoC to Africa.”
- MQ-25 naval unmanned tanker hits the deck – Trials begin aboard George H.W. Bush.
- Stratolaunch, owners of the world’s largest aircraft, to design and build hypersonic defense test articles – I’m glad we’re doing something with the largest aircraft in the world.
- Australia ditching its locally-built NH90s to be replaced by Black Hawks and variants – This follows Australia’s relatively recent ditching of its Eucoptre Tigres for Apaches.
- Dilapidated, sinking Marine AAVs still look less rusty than US Navy warships – Also, the AAV is getting retired. Sadly. I love the capacity.
- We wrote about a laser installed on USS Portland a while ago – Now it’s in testing!
- How US military planners are supposed to view the world – Given the choice between this and, “Those are people attacking us or our allies; we should fight them,” I think I prefer the latter.
- The taxonomy of narco-subs – H.I. Sutton does not consider the fact that we haven’t caught any of the true submersibles, or the related snorkel ships, evidence of absence. His take is that we know they can build such things, and the fact that we don’t catch any suggests they are building such things.
- Rapid Dragon hits a target
Coronavirus and Related Economic Disruptions
Christmas Gift Ideas
Well, readers, it’s been more than a month since the last one of these, for which you have my apologies.
October was a busy month for me: three USPSA matches, one of which yielded a trophy, and my birthday toward the end. Now that the summer’s winding down, I should be more able to do these regularly.
- Five B-21s are in final assembly – This story crossed the desk of the Sunday Papers editor on September 21. It has been so long that it’s conceivable they’re done now.
- Inside France’s loss of the Aussie submarine contract – The short version seems to be that the French were all, “We will need ze long cigarette breaks and ze padded budgets,” and the Aussies didn’t care for that attitude.
- Our best look yet at Rapid Dragon – The Drive points out that, while the system is cool, it’s likely that the US airlift fleet would be busy airlifting things during a peer conflict where ‘more missile trucks’ is a requirement. I suppose it might be that it’s easier to shanghai existing manufacturers into building airlift planes that can double as missile trucks than it would be to get them up to speed on bombers.
- Rolls-Royce to re-engine B-52s – Expected service life extended to 2050, which means we’re very likely to see the B-52’s 100th anniversary pass with airframes still in service, in 2055. Mark your calendars!
- USN takes delivery of the first Superbug Block IIIs – What’s in them? Hit this one to find out.
- Successful hypersonic missile test carried out – This is the US scramjet-powered hypersonic cruise missile, not the Chinese hypersonic glide vehicle strategic missile.
- British Army shows off future soldier concept – Still using a bullpup!
- The J-20A now has domestic engines – CNN calls it an upgrade, of which I am skeptical, but it’s certainly an upgrade in terms of defense industry independence.
- Know Your Ships: FFG(X) silhouette vs. FREMM – There are some quite substantial differences. Wasn’t the whole point of FFG(X) to buy off the rack?
- Jalopnik wonders why it’s so hard to buy a new USAF tanker – Because all American procurement is dysfunctional. Just ask anyone in the industry about their work at $DEFENSE_CONTRACTOR.
- Following LCS-2’s decommissioning on July 31, LCS-1 is under the axe after a mere 13 years on the job.
- Foreign Policy magazine pushes for a UN peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan – It could prevent civil war, says Foreign Policy, but it seems to me like the civil war is already over.
- How to hide from drones – A 36-minute video that I haven’t had the time to watch yet, but parvusimperator gives it the thumbs up.
- USS Connecticut hit something underwater
- Chinese reactions strongly suggest it was a Chinese submarine
- More hypersonic missile fun: Big Army now has its Dark Eagle system in hand – When did we start naming things with a comic book aesthetic?
- The first AC-130 solid state laser arrives for testing
- American forces have been deploying to Taiwan for at least a year
- The Marines have a vehicle whose armament is a pack of suicide drones
- Some models of OMFV entrants at AUSA
- Army, not content to play second fiddle to Marines, to receive General Dynamics Land Systems tracked vehicle with 50 suicide drones – Take that, Marines!
- Big Army also halts billion-dollar augmented reality goggle project
- German army adopts the ELCAN Specter as its new service optic – 1-4x, which is a good range of magnifications for the average guy on the ground.
- Anti-drone swarm striker Stryker competition heats up – Get it? Because one uses a microwave weapon, and the other two use lasers.
- Bell completes first Bahraini
Cobra Viper – Why did Bahrain go with the AH-1 instead of the AH-64? Performance might be one reason. The AH-1 is a substantially more maneuverable platform—it’s a ton or two lighter, and only down 180 shaft horsepower over the Apache.
- The Ukraine-Russia front line looks like something from the Great War
- Press release from Tim Ryan’s office suggests that funding secured for the Lima Joint Systems Manufacturing Center will be used to integrate an unmanned turret into the Abrams
Science and Technology
- Starship is still not understood – There’s going to be a massive economic revolution in space in the next decade or so, and NASA is still planning missions like it’s 1994. When you can chuck 100 tons into space for $10 million, suddenly optimizing ruthlessly for mass and building billion-dollar rovers doesn’t seem like such a good use of time.
- E3D, manufacturer of 3D printer accessories, plans to patent its future innovations – Because they can’t survive as a company when they have to compete with near-instant Chinese ripoffs of their products, and then also deal with supporting said ripoffs. The 3D printing community is howling, but honestly, I don’t hate their approach here. They say they won’t enforce their patents against hobbyists and academics, which is to my mind the most egregious part of the patent system.
- Just how big can solar flares get? – And just how likely are they to hammer Earth with a modern-day Carrington Event?
- Speaking of, there’s a geomagnetic storm coming today – If you’re at 50 degrees geomagnetic latitude or points north, you may be able to see auroras tonight. Unless you’re here with us in Pittsburgh, in which case you won’t, because it’s cloudy.
- The double-charm tetraquark: a new piece in the strong force puzzle – Sorry, it’s a little beyond me.
- Starlink satellites stand in for GPS – Satellites with published ephemeris data constantly transmitting accurate timestamps can be used for location? News at 11.
- The dumbest sorting algorithm ever – “The first reaction of someone seeing this algorithm might be ‘this cannot possibly be correct’.”
- Intel slipped up on trying to be both a cutting-edge fab and a chip designer, and now it’s throwing open the doors to its fabs and taking contract manufacturing jobs to survive – That’s a bit of a gloomy way of phrasing it, but broadly accurate.
- Are black holes actually dark energy stars? – Some physicists say yes! Dark energy stars are an interesting idea because they resolve some black hole-related paradoxes.
Finance and Economics
- There are legal obstacles to paying for zoo animals with currency, so zoos have developed an animal-based currency to work around the laws – One of the zoo curators likens it to countries dealing with one another in their own currencies—there are some animals that are ‘reserve currencies’, of a sort, but a lot of times, the exchange rate depends on the details of the trade and the institution with which you’re working.
- Is Evergrande finally going to collapse? – Story from 9/21. As of this writing, no, but it could still happen. I feel like Evergrande collapse stories are kind of like Three Gorges Dam collapse stories, in that they’re tired and predictable up until when they actually happen.
- Shortages: a late 2021 fact of life – We reloaders have been scrounging for a while now, though.
- Evergrande Part II: China asking state-backed firms to buy Evergrande assets – Well, ‘asking’.
- Coca-Cola loading supplies on chartered bulk freighters – Stevedores and longshoremen jumping with joy in the streets.
- China buying Australian coal despite import ban, owing to the power shortage in China
- Youtuber Economics Explained on China’s blackouts – I don’t know the guy’s political leanings, but his economics seem more conservative than the norm for the Youtube explainer set, so.
- Closing in on COVID’s origins – If it circulated in animals and jumped to humans, you’d expect to find it in animals. Except… “Chinese scientists searched for a host in early 2020, testing more than 80,000 animals from 209 species, including wild, domesticated and market animals. As the WHO investigation reported, not a single animal infected with SARS-CoV-2 was found.”
- Shipping pallets are the low-stakes version of container shortages – Well, partially shortages, and partially how there are competing pallet systems. There are the ‘whitewood’ ones you think of when you think of a shipping pallet, and then there are blue-painted ones that are rented by a central company rather than sold as part of the shipment.
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