Another two-week gap, and this time, I’m writing it on Tuesday night so I don’t run out of time tomorrow.
- Navy to equip seven more ships with contrived-acronym laser system – ODIN.
- High-film-speed shots of a Shipwreck launch
- Bonhomme Richard burns – Fun fact: per our favorite naval affairs commentator CDR Salamander, the thing oft misquoted as ‘drywall’ in the press is actually ‘triwall’: heavy-duty three-layer corrugated cardboard product.
- French forces deploy to Lithuania – France: NATO’s MVP in Europe, 2010s-2020s? It’s certainly not Germany anymore.
- US rejects the nine-dash line – This is the kind of hawkish move that I don’t think we’d see under any sort of ordinary presidential administration.
- More on the above, in which Sec. Pompeo calls China a bully
- India likes the SIG 716i – Good for SIG; I suspect they’re going to have to pay out over the latest P320 safety oopsie.
- Big Army patents a new M4 heavy barrel design
- Large fire breaks out at Iranian shipyard – Perhaps they’re jealous of all the coverage the Bonhomme Richard fire is getting? Or maybe it’s the precursor to an alien attack.
- SoKor, having just bought some AEW&C planes, starts a search for new ones – Not wasting any time, certainly. They also just launched a communications satellite the other day, transport provided by SpaceX. (SpaceX refurbished the rocket in 51 days, minus a week or two for the barge to slowly putter back into its position out at sea, and stuck the landing again.)
- India, faced with provocation in the Himalayas from China, moves toward buying Sprut-SDs – China has a light tank. India discovered that its T-72s, T-72+s, and T-72+++s are not great in the mountains. India goes to World Armaments Mart-ski to play catch-up.
- India among the candidates for F-15EXports – Israel, too.
- PLAAF pilots speak English in the cockpit? – That’s what this video released by China seems to suggest.
- Golden Horde networked swarming munitions to begin USAF flight testing – Also, the Gray Wolf mini-cruise missile did some flight testing. ‘Golden Horde’ seems like a carefully-chosen name: a branch of a traditional anti-China baddie that never actually invaded China.
- Aping SoKor, RAF wants a better radar for the Eurofighter now that the Captor-E is available
- UK tech used in hybrid Bradley trials
- Big Army research lab develops smuzzle bressor – A muzzle brake/suppressor combo, which is impressive, given that the two things have widely divergent design requirements.
- Vietnam’s new AK-based service rifles look pretty cool
- Big Army wants to compete in the OMFV contest – Industry is, quoth Janes, “unnerved”. Frankly, I’m in favor of the armed services owning their designs, rather than farming them out to contractors.
Science and Technology
- A train sim that’s actually hard? – In a 2016 article (holy cow, has it been that long?), I perhaps snidely referred to games in the transport simulator genre as ‘podcast screensavers‘. I also slagged off Train Simulator and its fans as ridiculously easy and bad at games, respectively. So, when Flare Path chieftain Tim Stone said, “This train simulator is hard” (albeit in more words), my ears perked up. Not so much that I’ve bought the game yet, but nevertheless, it’s on my radar now.
- Can a Formula 1 car actually drive upside-down? – Unfortunately, building a test track for this in real life is still not feasible, so we have to settle for simulator runs.
Still busy here, hence the double delay in getting this done. Maybe when the project I’m working on at the office slows down? But then, I have several other ones lined up afterward, so maybe not. (I guess I’d rather be busy than the alternative.)
- China forced an oppressive state security law through Hong Kong’s government, laying the groundwork to fully tear down the two-systems… system.
- UK offers British citizenship to three million Hong Kongers eligible for British National Overseas passports – We’ll take the ones who like guns, if Britain doesn’t want them.
- I saw it said on Twitter that one distinction we in the West should be careful about is this: the sentiment in Hong Kong is more in favor of autonomy (as part of China) than it is about independence (from China). … for now, at any rate. The seed that became the United States was an argument over representation. Look where we are now.
- King Stallion now flying from ships
- The Drive with a lecture on the F-111 and how it drove the design of the Tomcat
- Looking back at the A-7, the first digital jet – Along with the Saab Viggen, of which I have previously written, the other of the very early digital attack jets, the Corsair is a really cool piece of history.
- The military we need vs. the military we have – This essay comes down in favor of ‘build for the asymmetric warfare we’re encountering now’. I take an alternate position: the purpose of a military is to break the militaries of peer powers. Armed forces built with that goal in mind are handicapped in asymmetric police action Forever Wars. Armed forces built for asymmetric police action Forever Wars are useless against peer powers. It seems to me to be the same strain of thinking that people criticize in publicly-traded companies—”We aren’t encountering this problem today, and won’t for the next few quarters, so why bother preparing for it?”
- Wave-gliding vessel in the Florida Keys is probably an unmanned spook listening device
- Turkey the latest to realize that building high-performance aircraft turbines is hard – It took Russia a long time to get it right. China is still working on it. Turkey, I expect, has a bumpy road ahead.
- Speaking of Turkey, the US Senate has drafted a plan in which we buy Ankara’s S-400s in exchange for re-admission to the F-35 program
- South Korea to buy more AWACS, SIGINT planes – $2 billion worth.
- Big Army to get more jamming/SIGINT jobbers – Built on a Stryker chassis—the M113 for the 21st century.
- Big Army selects some anti-drone systems
- Big Army buying Infantry Squad Vehicles from GM Defense – They seem to have taken their design cues from Halo. Today’s 19-year-olds grew up in a post-Halo-launch world, steeped in the culture of that game, so I guess it makes sense to buy a Warthog clone as a way to draw attention.
- Big Army’s Stryker cannon project is still on track, Stryker chief assures us – Ooh, there’s a SHORAD version coming too.
- The ENVG-B is pretty cool – Pretty much science fiction goggles. They have a HUD and a thermal imaging mode, they integrate with weapon optics, and they zoom.
- House Armed Services Committee wants to stop year-end spending sprees – Operations and Maintenance money must be earmarked for spending by October 1 each year, or else any remaining amount is lost. HASC says, “Why not let them carry over 50% year to year, like every other department?” Seems like a simple enough fix to me.
- There’s a procurement battle brewing in F-15EX engines – GE vs. Pratt & Whitney.
- Navy to mothball first four LCSes if Congress will allow it – Especially with the much-more-capable FFG(X) looking like it’s going to see the light of day. Over in the Rule the Waves 2 Let’s Play I do find myself keeping little ships well past their best-by dates, but that’s mainly to use them as anti-submarine escorts.
- The ASALM, a Cold War anti-SAM/anti-AEW&C nuclear missile tragically killed by penny-pinchers and the demise of the Soviet Union
- An essay on ‘cognitive electronic warfare’ – Whatever that means. Parvusimperator’s link, and he can explain it more, if he wants—I saw a clunky passive-voice construction in the excerpted thesis at the top of the page and closed the tab.
Is it time to officially move Wednesday What We’re Reading to Thursday? No, but you could be forgiven for thinking so.
- Last week, Australia saw a cyber-attack from an unnamed assailant – i.e., China, who they aren’t naming because they don’t want to make China angry.
- Post-fire photos of the French SSN Perle
- The Bundeswehr readiness report 2020 – In German, but parvusimperator says it isn’t good.
- Russia backs India in the India-China standoff – What a strange way 2020 has devised to bring us around to the plot of The Bear and the Dragon. I guess India is an important arms market for the Russians, and China is mainly known for knocking off Russian arms, so maybe it’s purely mercenary.
- Stealth destroyer, hypersonic missile? – So we’d have a bunch of refreshed 1980-vintage destroyers, new frigates to someone else’s design, useless frigate-sized patrol boats, and… three sci-fi destroyers with hypersonic missiles.
- Clash between Turkey and Egypt possible in Libya? – How very Ottoman of Turkey to be inserting itself into North African affairs.
- Shipyard capacity: it’s not just the raw numbers – If you’re not an Asian power and you’re at war with China, your shipyards are probably out of its reach. If you’re China at war with anyone in the Pacific, your shipyards are in play.
- Big Army’s new thermal sights
- AK-203 delayed
Science and Technology
- A long article on static code analysis, and the difficulties therein – Most of them are difficulties in customer interactions rather than difficulties in the actual process.
- A 3D-printed camera – Not a 3D-printed camera body, an entire camera, lenses included, made with 3D printing. I find that much more impressive than 3D-printed guns, which are pretty impressive in their own right.
- How did The Mandalorian film on location in so many cool-looking places? – They didn’t, or at least not the way you’re thinking. No green screens—they built their scenery in Unreal Engine, and filmed in front of an array of enormous LED screens.
- Broke: Earth is special. Woke: Earth is an average planet circling an average start. Bespoke: Earth is special again – I’m relatively strongly in the Rare Earth camp. I don’t find the anthropic principle to be a very compelling counterargument—sure, we wouldn’t be able to observe a universe if it wasn’t compatible with life, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be unusual that, out of all of the possible values for all the possible cosmological parameters out there, we happen to have a set that’s compatible with us.
I’ve gotten stuck a day late, it seems.
- The first match of the year is in the books – Here’s the video with commentary, if you miss the podcast, and here’s one without.
- France just test-fired a new SLBM
- Indian and Chinese soldiers fight with rocks and sticks – I don’t think it’s quite what Einstein meant when he said that thing about the weapons used in the fourth world war. Fascinating nevertheless. “We can’t use guns, because it’ll start a bigger war, but we still have to fight,” is an interesting tactical position. Odds on a bigger China-India spat in, say, the next five years?
- Canada to upgrade its CF-18s with AIM-9X, new radars – That guy with the private air force must be devastated to see that a good source of jets is not yet on the table.
- Stryker cannon competition still healthy, Army boss says – Two of the six companies contracted to provide 30mm remote control turrets are confirmed to have dropped out. To be fair, the design contract spots you a Stryker and a 30mm cannon, but makes you provide the turret and all the control electronics, and unless you think you’ve got a good shot at winning, the $150,000 figure for the initial design contract seems a little skimpy.
- Surprising nobody, Chinese shipyards could probably outpace American ones in replacing warship losses – In the Chinese column: a lot of indigenous shipyard capacity not currently being used for warships. In the Allies-For-Democracy column: three of the five largest civilian shipbuilders in the world. (South Korea: 1st. Japan: 3rd. Philippines: 4th.) We might also secure ‘Nam, in 5th, depending on the nature of a hypothetical war with China. Back in the Chinese column: all of those shipyards are in easy strike range of the mainland.
- Cato: how dependent is the US on foreign supply chains, anyway? – They answer three questions: what percentage of US GDP comes from foreign trade? (A low one, relative to the world at large—only Cuba and Sudan get a lower percentage of GDP from trade.) What percentage of US manufacturing inputs are sourced from foreign suppliers? (9% from China alone, but they don’t say which 9%, exactly, or what kind of inputs we’re talking about.) What percentage of US exports depend on foreign inputs? (9.5%.) Not as dire as I might have thought.
Science and Technology
How is it already the end of early June? April and May just sort of vanished, after March lasted eleven thousand years.
Science and Technology
Relatively quiet week again. That is, in terms of stories we have to share, not in terms of world affairs.
Apologies for the delay on this week’s what we’re reading, and on the Rule the Waves Let’s Play. I had a death in the family recently, and although it wasn’t a very surprising one, it’s nevertheless occupied a lot of my time.
I should be back to regularly-scheduled posting going forward.
Science and Technology
Race and Culture
I feel like we’re not closing in on WWRW #100 nearly as quickly as we used to be. Maybe it’s quarantine time dilation.
- This Week I Learned: what ‘gain-of-function research’ means in an infectious-diseases context – It means manipulating pathogens in labs to explore how they might be better at infecting humans. Oh, and the Wuhan Institute of Virology was doing gain-of-function research. Oh, and the (US) National Institute for Allergy and Infections Diseases provided grants.
- COVID and social consequences: a Twitter thread – I wade into the cesspool that is Twitter in the interests of fishing out something interesting from the oozing dreck so that you don’t have to!
- On the same note as the item above, I once read something that mathed out the frequency of major wars on US soil, and found it was somewhat less than the average lifetime, or at least that the 95% confidence interval included less than the average lifetime. I didn’t have enough time today to run it down.
- University of Pittsburgh Medical Center researcher, on the verge of making significant coronavirus discoveries, murdered by associate – The researcher’s name? Bing Liu. The murderer? Hao Gu.
- Pittsburgh reporting says it was a dispute over an ‘intimate partner’ – I don’t want to sound too conspiracy-minded, but… Mr. Liu was a Chinese national. Mr. Gu was a naturalized US citizen who works for Eaton, exactly the kind of place you’d want to have a spy. The police aren’t talking about the alleged relationship. Have I been too deep into the spy dramas, or is that all more than a little suspicious?
- Lurker Navaronegun, a.k.a. Patrick Mullen, is the designer behind upcoming Vietnam wargame A Hot Dry Season – Here’s a written interview, here’s a video intro, and if you have further questions, you can probably ping him in the Discord server. One-mile hexes, company-size units. I was going to try a prerelease version on Vassal with parvusimperator, but we might have missed the window for that. Oops.
- If you have something big you’re working on, readers, let us know! If it’s of interest to us, we’ll plug it for you. We don’t get a ton of traffic, but hey, any press is good press.
- FREMM WINNS – Back in 2018, I laid odds on the various FFG(X) contenders (albeit with a bit of sign confusion). I’ve always been fond of FREMM, but I didn’t think it had a chance.
- Royal Navy working on a fix for the Type 45 powerplant problems – Integrated electric propulsion is super-cool in theory, but seems a little less trustworthy in practice. Which is odd, because we had turbo-electric ships in the early 20th century. I guess adding diesel generators is Hard™?
- Photos of the P-8A’s top-secret radar pod – Along with some discussion of its known capabilities.
- USSOC might be buying some Bronco IIs – No relation to Bronco I, beyond general shape and low-and-slow light-attack mentality.
- US to pull F-35s and spy planes of various types from Britain over Huawei’s involvement in Britain’s 5G networks? – Good move, if true.
- French buy a German rifle, Germans buy a French 20mm cannon – Dogs and cats hanging out!
- American mercs involved in Bay of Pigs 2: This Time It’s Venezuela – No word on whether the US government had any involvement.
- Another story where the contract life didn’t end well – Fun to think about, but man, for the risks, the pay’s pretty awful.
- This year’s Flare Path community Combat Mission game is a hoot – Try this (fictional movie synopsis) on for size, if I don’t turn it into a Nathaniel Cannon story over at Many Words Main first: “This year’s challenge conscripts Combat Mission: Fortress Italy and is inspired by the final fifteen minutes of classic Seventies war movie Colonel Croesus (aka The Montaretto Millionaires aka The Tiger Under the Mountain). We join the story on the night following the double-cross. The ragtag band of Allied treasure hunters, deserters, and lotus eaters led by Colonel ‘Croesus’ Cresswell (Robert Duvall) is poised for action outside the ‘abandoned’ Italian sub pen where Hauptmann Otto Steiner’s (Wolf Kahler) equally disreputable Kampfgruppe of chancers is busy loading the stolen bullion onto a waiting U-boat. Unless Croesus acts quickly, the Germans will escape with the loot!”
Science and Technology