Maybe I should start thinking of these as Tuesday What We’re Reading, so when I’m a day late I’m actually on time.
- A few years ago, HMS Vanguard needed a replacement reactor based on possible leakage concerns; evidently it isn’t a serious problem, because the other V-boats aren’t getting the swap
- Can’t keep a Mad Dog down
- Industry tests ‘unhackable’ network – Suspicion quote my own. I share this article mainly because it’s a terrible piece of technology reporting, confusing DDoS protection with unhackability, and part of the reason why government IT spending is so schizophrenic.
- Unedited headline alert: Europe’s Next-Gen Fighter is Stuck in the Bickering Phase – From the article, “We’re talking about a timeframe of 2040 to field a follow-on to the Rafale and Eurofighter.” So, in terms of relative age, it’ll be like fighting the Gulf War with late-model P-51s, or your modern Flanker variant of choice with a Tomcat (the A model, with the crappy engines).
- News in pictures: Israel blows up Hamas TV station – I believe Israel said, “Launch no rockets outside the typical 40km radius, or the gloves come off.” Guess what happened?
- Russian unintentionally-submarine dry dock could hasten the shrinkage of Russia’s navy – Not merely in terms of tonnage, but in terms of tons per ship. Really, though, Russia is a natural hegemon but not a natural world power, and a navy/defense apparatus which can control the Baltic and the Black Seas and keep the Americans from making surprising amphibious landings is all they really need. If ever you’re looking for a game to simulate the Russia Problem, Empire: Total War as Imperial Russia really drives home the problems. (Namely, that your territory is huge and hard to traverse.)
- NorK missile sites identified – The headline is a bit misleading. It’s not that we just discovered they’re operating 13 missile sites, it’s that we’ve now found at least 13 of the 20 or so we think they have.
- Bunker busters, new and improved, with adjustable parameters – Cooool.
- The Navy wants to overhaul its amphibious fleet – I guess having the largest and second-largest fleets of aircraft carriers in the world isn’t enough. Fitting out the San Antonios with weapons like a cruiser or destroyer would be fun, though.
- The Diplomat runs down the news from China’s Zhuhai air show – Including a picture of a J-20 with open weapons bay. What’s the Chinese for glasnost?
- Merkel and Macron call for an EU army for EU members to underfund – At least, that’s what I would expect based on the state of their national armed services.
- Chaff and flare manufacturers on shaky ground in the US – Not great, but at the same time, how hard is it to make chaff and flares?
- The cost of rust: $21 billion per year – And if you ask CDR Salamander, we should probably be spending more to keep our Navy rust-free.
Thursday Night Edition, because yesterday was a very busy day at work, and watching the Steelers beat up on the Panthers is only interesting for so long.
- Parvusimperator submits three videos on the S-tank, courtesy of The Chieftain’s Hatch.
Random Other Stuff
Yes, it’s the Wednesday What We’re Reading post, definitely posted today, which is Wednesday.
- Should Big Army buy tiltrotors for combat? – As a rotorhead, I’m not at all sure I would want to make the switch. Tiltrotors are compromise designs: landing vertically is useful for a transport plane, as is going fast, and they’re competing goals. An attack helicopter has much less need to fly at airplane-like speeds, and is more likely to want to sit in a hover for an extended time. Much better to stick with tradition for now.
- Did that Su-35 pilot actually spot an F-22? – RealClearDefense reports. (Random aside: Su is pronounced like ‘sous’, not ‘ess-you’. So also with Il and Ka.)
- More on how the Navy is too small to do convoy protection – And as much as I’m in favor of FFG(X) rather than the LCS program, a $700 million frigate isn’t going to solve the problem. ASW corvettes with a little 8-cell VLS, mark my words!
- Air Force mum on Tyndall AFB F-22s – If they aren’t saying anything, it’s bad news.
- It isn’t just the Air Force who took hits from Michael – The Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter contract is held entirely by Eastern Shipbuilding Co., of Panama City, Florida. Which is a shame, too, because the first unit was only going to cost $110 million, per the contract. Slap a VLS in (or even some box launchers!), bolt some torpedo launchers to the deck, and install a towed array and some sonobuoy launchers, and suddenly you have an inshore patrol craft and convoy escort for I-can’t-imagine-more-than-$200-million each.
- Singaporean defense blog Senang Diri visits the Kaga – “[Kaga visits Singapore] without bombing it first,” parvusimperator remarks. Featuring pictures of the hangar deck, in addition to some good commentary.
- Everything we know about China’s H-20 stealth bomber – To sum up: not much.
- Navy to build new SSN(X), rather than just improving the Virginias like underwater Arleigh Burkes – All the commentary you need is in the link text.
- More on NATO plans to brush up on ASW
- Marine snipers lose to Coast Guard at the 2018 International Sniper Competition – Every man an automatic rifleman! Long-range combat is for wimps?
- Belgium picks the F-35 over the Eurofighter – Planning now to retire its F-16s, is Belgium. Sad for the Vipers, but another they-must-know-something-we-don’t win for the F-35. Then again, with the UK buying F-35s for its carriers and France snootily building its own fighters, maybe Belgium doesn’t want to tie its air defense to das Luftwaffische Wunderkampfjet.
- Two articles on the loss of the Komsomolets
- The US Army’s 2018 Weapons System Handbook
- Ever wondered what a Humvee sees when you drop it from a plane?
In local news, it’s your correspondent’s birthday this weekend.
- The Drive: AUSA 2018 roundup
- Red Storm Rising: the Marines practice beach landings in Iceland
- Related: Navy to Military Sealift Command: we don’t have enough to escort you
- Time to get rid of ICBMs? – A surpassingly stupid take, in my opinion. The author argues that having a bunch of ICBMs in the US means that any nuclear exchange is going to involve a bunch of bombs landing on the continental US. What the author fails to recognize is that any exchange which involves striking at the US missile force is probably a pretty all-out nuclear war anyway. Even if I don’t much like big cities, it’s inarguably better that any nuclear foe has to spend a few hundred warheads bombing the snot out of Nowhere, Montana than on, say, having them to hit metro Los Angeles.
- 80% of F-35s return to flight – Apparently, it was a fuel tube of some kind. I think the real story is that 20% of F-35s have a part sufficiently faulty as to ground them.
- France thinking EMALS for its next carrier – The way I see it, there are only two countries on the planet which currently operate real aircraft carriers, the definition of ‘real’ being ‘CATOBAR’. Good on France for staying in the club.
- Relatedly, footage of the first shipboard rolling vertical landing on Britain’s fake carrier – I think it’s an obvious good idea, if you’re not going to use catapults and arresting gear like a proper carrier ought. A few months ago, I did a similar landing in DCS using the Harrier.
- In USNI Proceedings, someone argues that seagoing landing craft are obsolete – I’m not sure how I feel about this one. It seems to gloss over an awful lot of helicopter vulnerability, to say nothing of the difficulty in landing, say, a tank via helicopter.
- India discovers that aircraft carriers are hard
- Early feedback on the F-35C is good – Having flown the DCS Hornet for a little while now, one thing I notice about the F-35C is how much less rugged its landing gear looks. I wonder how the F-35’s relatively straight, non-gigantic-trailing-arm gear will hold up in the long run. Also, I’ve heard rumors about issues with nosewheel strut bouncing on catapult launches and unexpectedly rapid tailhook wear. The article doesn’t address those directly, but hopefully they’re sorted out.
- Some MiG-29K cockpit video from a Russian pilot – In the comments, he says that they’ve phased out the R-27 for BVR air-to-air combat in favor of the R-77 and derivatives, which is interesting news if true.
Hurricane Michael and Tyndall AFB
- China deploys a submarine on anti-piracy patrols in the Indian Ocean – Submarines, of course, are an excellent fit for the anti-piracy role, which requires high visibility as a deterrent, as well as naval guns or autocannon to drive off pirate vessels too small to hit with a missile or torpedo.
- The Diplomat on China’s surface ASW setup… and their ASW aviation
- On the topic of aviation, Japan wants more F-35As to counter China – This goes to one of parvusimperator’s favorite thought experiments: if the F-35 program was in as dire shape as is reported in public sources, why would places like Israel and Japan with an existential dependence on good fighters be so eager to buy them, and to buy more of them? Also, it has a current F-35A price of $140 million, although it isn’t clear exactly what that includes.
- Japan is also buying more E-2Ds – When the war with China comes, I’m sure it’ll be nice to have familiar AEW&C assets handy.
- Watch this newsreel about Caligula’s pleasure barges! – And read the whole Twitter thread, while you’re at it.
- Bloomberg’s Big Hack story: is there anything there? – At present, the answer remains, “Unclear.”
- A DC Democrat asks: does Trump have a strategy? – He seems to settle on this answer: “Whether or not he does, it seems to be working.”
- The Russian Orthodox Church splits with Constantinople – Enormous ecclesiastical news, this. The magnitude is similar to the Reformation, or indeed the Schism of 1054 which created the Orthodox-Catholic divide in the first place. The Russian patriarchate is the biggest Orthodox church, but junior to the Constantinople patriarchate (to simply things a bit). Constantinople granted the Ukrainian Orthodox Church autocephaly, which pulls Ukraine (at least officially) out of the Russian Orthodox orbit. State propaganda organ Russia Today, in the article above, says that this is terrible and that Ukraine is properly Russian Orthodox territory, hence the split.
A long one this week, courtesy primarily of the Association of the United States Army and the plans to replace the Bradley.
- Japan’s ‘helicopter carrying destroyers’ could be used to carry F_35s? – What? Perish the thought! That’s absolutely impossible, and definitely not something we’ve predicted multiple times.
- F-35-cued HIMARS rocket shot – Now that is cool.
- Shot: the French are causing problems with the Australian sub program – The country which took its ball, kicked sand in the Eurofighter’s face, then went home and built its own fighter is hard to work with? C’est pas vrai!
- Chaser: Japan’s latest Soryu-class has lithium-ion batteries – Are you paying attention, Australia?
- Boomer: RealClearDefense asks whether Australia develop a nuclear deterrent – Yes, but only because we like Australia, is our answer.
- Russia preparing an undersea Atlantic battlespace – Western institutions may have forgotten how far ahead they were during the Cold War, but the Russians haven’t forgotten how far they had to catch up.
- New hovercraft to enter service – Bougainville, third in the America-class, has a well deck, conveniently.
- MiG-31 ASAT? – Maybe, but I suspect Russia, like presumably the US and China, is focusing more on having its satellite-killing capabilities already in orbit. Sidebar: in a war where satellite-killing is a thing, SpaceX (or more generally reusable boosters) could be a decisive strategic advantage.
Technology and Other
Slim pickings this week, in part because I did not do my usual defense news trawl every morning. My bad.
- I’m still plowing through Volume 1 of Foote, having now made it past Grant’s victory at Shiloh, the entirely unsuccessful Confederate attempts to march through the desert Southwest to California, and the capture of New Orleans. It’s worth remarking how the story of the Civil War is the Confederacy winning slightly in one place and losing badly in four other places.
- Capitalist markets in North Korea – My opinion on the currently-ruling Mr. Kim is that his secret desire is to be remembered as a liberalizer who brought North Korea out of darkness and into the modern age, owing to his evidently-long childhood in the West, but that his ability to do so is limited by the North Korean power structure. Not to say our man Jong-un is anything but a brutal dictator even by the standards of brutal dictators, which is what the preponderance of the evidence suggests, but brutal dictators who liberalize tend to be treated decently by the world, whereas the rest of the North Korean government would pretty much all end up on trial for crimes against humanity.
- From the gee-who’d-have-thunk file, a novelist who wrote about how to murder your husband has been charged with murdering her husband.