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.
At least it’s on Wednesday today!
- Parvusimperator is up to volume two of Shelby Foote’s three-volume Civil War set, which means I’m now on Volume 1. Foote’s narrative is, so far, excellent and comprehensive.
- Revisiting the Russo-Georgian War
- A fuller account of the Russo-Georgian War
- Russian performance in the Syrian War – notable for its brief treatment of Russian precision munitions, which aren’t so much precision munitions, generally, as precision attack systems in the aircraft delivering them. Per War on the Rocks above, this has changed somewhat, with greater numbers of actual guided weapons now in Russian stocks.
- Boeing wins the MQ-25 contract – good job, Boeing. You’ve had a bit of a tough go of it with contracts lately, but between the KC-46 and the MQ-25, you’re now the acknowledged leader in air-to-air refueling worldwide. Also, way to go, Navy, for finally realizing that a dedicated tanker is important. It remains to be seen whether a drone tanker is a good idea, but buddy refueling definitely has its limits. Speaking of…
- Navy F-35C and F/A-18F involved in air-to-air refueling accident – oops. Apparently, the F-35 managed to ingest the end of the drogue. No details on the actual extent of the damage, but the Navy said it’s a Class A Mishap, which means damage exceeded $2 million. Now we’ll get to see how good the LockMart repair manuals are.
Football Is Pretty Much Here, So Educate Yourself
- Via parvusimperator, a long list of American Football 101 articles from Bleacher Report. Buckle up.
- Your hometown Pittsburgh Steelers may have scored with current backup and last year’s draft pick Josh Dobbs. I don’t know if I believe that.
Are we the kind of people to publish an article on Thursday, backdate it to Wednesday, and still call it ‘Wednesday What We’re Reading’? Evidently, yes. Also, I was on vacation over the weekend and only got back on Tuesday, so it’s going to be a little lighter than last time.
- On my trip, I read Blind Man’s Bluff, subtitled The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage, which is very much worth a read. As a sim-submariner, I thought from the introduction that it was going to be a bit of a lightweight puff piece, but it quickly got better.
- Parvusimperator is working his way through Shelby Foote’s three-volume Civil War set.
Football Fast Approaches
As red-blooded Americans, we’re big NFL fans, so there’ll be some content of that flavor for the next six or seven months.
Since most of our daily interaction here at metaphorical Soapbox World Headquarters is sending articles back and forth in the Many Words Press metaphorically-corporate Google Chat, sharing a list of articles seemed to us like a nice, low-effort way to add another day per week with a post without having to do any real work.
- Private censorship is still bad, writes the civil liberties director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, stealing an idea for an article I’ve wanted to write for a while.
- Beta releases of RPJ, the house tabletop roleplaying game system of Many Words Press, are now available. Currently available: the core rules document, along with Police Cops, the hard-charging police drama RPG.