Category Archives: Military Affairs

Navy Stealth Before the Zumwalt Class

Back on April 20th I posted on the christening of USS Zumwalt (HERE), the Navy’s new stealth vessel, noting that the design of these ships would enable them to get close in to shore for the purpose of off-loading SEAL teams or other special forces for missions inland.

In case you’re wondering how this objective is being addressed presently, an article from the military blog FoxTrot-Alpha may provide the answer.  An excerpt:

For about a decade there have been sightings of some very peculiar high-speed watercraft patrolling up and down the Columbia River between Portland and Vancouver.  It just so happens that these phantom vessels are some of the US Navy SEALs newest toys.

Like the Zumwalt, these boats apparently have the ability to take on water ballast so as to lower them deeper into the water, thereby reducing their radar signature.

For the full article, go HERE.  Note, however, that the 16,000-watt figure that the article specifies for the vessel’s powerplant is in error, as the AuraGen G8500XM VIPER is a compact, high-tech, generator only.  Since one horsepower equals approximately 740-watts, that would convert to only about 21 horsepower.  I could find no information on the actual powerplant, but since the article says that the boat is capable of 40-mph it is most likely a set of diesels that power both the gensets and the propulsion gear.

Hope fades for retention of Fort Bragg’s 440th Airlift Wing

The Fayetteville Observer is reporting, HERE, that Fort Bragg Brigadier General James Scanlan, commander of the 440th Airlift Wing operating out of Pope Field, has sent an e-mail out to the troops that does not offer encouragement for believing that the unit will survive past the end of this year.

The 440th flies the C-130 cargo aircraft, and provides about one quarter of all airlifts flown out of Fort Bragg.

DDG-1000, the US Navy’s new destroyer USS Zumwalt

On Monday, April 12th, the US Navy christened the first of the three planned Zumwalt-class destroyers.  The vessel will be delivered to the Navy later this year, and should enter the Pacific fleet in another two years.  Then, and only then, will the Navy learn whether this new hull design is a triumph or a disaster.USS_Zumwalt

The Zumwalt class destroyers are meant to supplement, not replace, the Arleigh-Burke class.  At present, there are plans to build only three, and the home port for all three will be San Diego.  These are special-purpose ships, designed to be stealthy, with the capability of operating in littoral (shallow, roughly 60′ or less) waters.  Their focus will be on getting in close to shore undetected in order to support special forces operations and to conduct bombardment of targets along the coastline, as well as the traditional destroyer function of attacking enemy shipping.  After becoming fully operational, they are expected to spend a lot of time patrolling the East and South China Seas, the contested zone between mainland China and Japan, in order to monitor the growth of the Chinese Navy and their territorial ambitions in the region.

The Zumwalt class is big.  At 610-feet, they are better than 100-feet longer than the current Arleigh-Burke class of destroyers, and about 50-feet longer than the older Spruance class.  They are even slightly larger than the Ticonderoga class of cruisers.  Although displacing 15,000 tons, the ship draws only 28-feet of water, two feet less than the Burke class.  And, despite it’s size, the crew will number only 142 officers and men, about half of what an Arleigh-Burke class destroyer needs.

The armaments of the Zumwalt and each of her two sister ships will eventually include two of the Navy’s 6″ Advanced Gun System, an electromagnetic rail gun that will fire rocket propelled warheads at 5,000-mph plus out to a range of over 60 miles, with a rate of fire of ten rounds per minute.  She will also be equipped with laser weapons.  A related feature incorporated into the Zumwalt class is the ability to take on water ballast, which can lower the ship deeper into the water in order to add vertical and lateral stability when the gun battery is being used.

Both of these weapons systems are still in the last stages of development and will not be installed for another two years or so.  When they become operational, however, they both will require a great deal of electricity.  On top of that, the Zumwalt class ships all employ electric propulsion.  To handle this mammoth electrical generation requirement, these vessels will be equipped with generators powered by two 40-megawatt gas turbines and two 78-megawatt gas turbines, which adds up to about 318,000-horsepower.  By comparison, the powerplants in the Arleigh-Burke class developed about 108,000-horsepower.  The combination of gas turbines driving electric motors is expected to produce a level of operational quietness that approaches that of modern nuclear submarines.  One of the measures that will be used to dissipate the heat from the gas turbines is “sleeting”, in which water is taken in from below the waterline and then pumped out onto the outer hull plates in a sort of continuously cascading “waterfall”, a technique made possible because of the tumblehome hull.

The Navy intends to be slow and cautious in bringing the Zumwalt into Tumblehomefront-line duty, partly because it is the first of a new class of ship, and partly because of it’s controversial hull design.  As can be seen in the photo above, the Zumwalt’s waterline to weatherdeck form is opposite of conventional ships.  It has a “tumblehome” stern, as well as what can be termed an overall tumblehome contour.  The difference is illustrated in the graphic at upper left.  While this design has been used before by the 19th century Russian and French navies, it was associated even then with instability problems.  Seven years ago, when news of the Zumwalt-class hull form first became public, the online Defense Industry Daily newspaper questioned it’s suitability, HERE, by writing this excerpt:

“At least eight current and former officers, naval engineers and architects and naval analysts interviewed for this article expressed concerns about the ship’s stability.  Ken Brower, a civilian naval architect with decades of naval experience was even more blunt: “It will capsize in a following sea at the wrong speed if a wave at an appropriate wavelength hits it at an appropriate angle”… “

“…Brower explained: “The trouble is that as a ship pitches and heaves at sea, if you have tumblehome instead of flare, you have no righting energy to make the ship come back up.  On the DDG 1000, with the waves coming at you from behind, when a ship pitches down, it can lose transverse stability as the stern comes out of the water – and basically roll over.”

So, triumph or disaster, only time will tell.

Today is the 72nd Anniversary of the Doolittle Raid

Way back in the previous millenium, when I was a mere babe in arms, “airmen of the US Army Air Forces, led by Lieutenant Colonel James H. (Jimmy) Doolittle, carried the Battle of the Pacific to the heart of the Japanese empire with a surprising and daring raid on military targets at Tokyo, Yokohama, Yokosuka, Nagoya, and Kobe.  This heroic attack against these major cities was the result of coordination between the Army Air Forces and the US Navy, which carried the sixteen North DoolittleRaidersAmerican B-25 medium bombers aboard the carrier USS Hornet to within take-off distance of the Japanese Islands.”

Most of the brave men that were involved in that long-ago operation are dead now, but they should be remembered along with the millions of others who served in that conflict.

For details on the entire operation, there is THIS article at the website for the National Museum of the US Air Force.  For still more, there is also THIS New York Times article, and the official Doolittle Raid website is HERE.

Admiral Jeremiah Denton is Dead at 89

Years ago I read “When Hell Was In Session”, retired Navy Admiral Jeremiah Denton’s account of his seven and a half year residency at the Hanoi Hilton and other prisons maintained by the North Vietnamese for captured American air crew members.  As a Navy Captain, he was often the ranking officer.  Aside from being one of the prisoners held longest by the North Vietnamese, Admiral Denton also achieved a measure of fame when he blinked his eyes during a propaganda interview to spell out, in Morse Code, the word “TORTURE”.

There are many remembrances of him in the media today, but THIS one actually contains video of the Admiral blinking the code.

Why Is Trouble Still Brewing In The South China Sea?

In another example of an American military leader tacitly acknowledging how the perception of American weakness is inviting foreign adventurism, the Chief of Naval Intelligence for the U.S. Pacific Fleet said this in recent weeks:

… the PLA [the Chinese “Peoples Liberation Army] has been given the new task to be able to conduct a short sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea following with what can only be expected [to be] a seizure of the Senkakus or even a southern Ryukyu [islands] …

And earlier this week, Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, the commander of U.N. and U.S. forces in South Korea, also questioned whether U.S. forces would be able to quickly counter a sudden large-scale offensive in the region, saying this before a Congressional hearing:

“I am concerned about the readiness of the follow-on forces in our theater … Given the indications and warnings and the nature of this theater and the threat that we face, I rely on rapid and ready forces to flow into the peninsula in crisis.”

And also from earlier this week, Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Command, weighed in:

… the reality is, is that to get Marines around effectively, they require all types of lift.  They require the big amphibious ships, but they also require connectors (meaning landing craft and other amphibious vehicles).  The lift is the enabler that makes that happen, so we wouldn’t be able to [successfully carry out a contested amphibious assault without additional resources] …”

So, why so much concern over what may be brewing in a region surrounding an oceanic basin half a world away?  The answer can be summarized into three basic points of contention, illustrated by this first map of the area, below.  The three points of contention overlap, but can be thought of as first, the maritime claims, meaning the national claims to fishing rights for a body of water; second, the national claims over resources on or beneath the sea-bed, primarily petroleum and natural gas deposits, and; third, rights of navigation.  In today’s world, the claims to fishing rights and sea-bed rights are most often combined under the term Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which typically extends out to 200 nautical miles (nm) from a national coastline.  In this map, I have used the map scale to superimpose two red arrows that approximate the extent of the 200nm limit, and a red line across the arrow tips to approximate the outer terminus of the zone.

SouthChinaSea_MapAt this point it may be useful to note that the word “boundary” (as in international boundary) refers to a point behind which a nation has complete sovereignty, and such “coastal waters” boundaries extend out to three miles from a shoreline.  Points that go beyond the boundary are referred to as “limits” in order to avoid confusion.  The EEZ terminus is a zonal limit, as is the Territorial Sea (out to 12nm) and the Contiguous Zone (out to 24nm).  A nation may not restrict the international rights of navigation beyond it’s Territorial zone.  Also, a nation generally cannot exceed the other limits noted above except by treaty.

SouthChinaSea_MaritimeClaimsThe most important line on the second map (above) is the red line, as it encompasses the maritime and resource claims of the Peoples Republic of China (China, or PRC), and increasingly, claims to exclusive rights of navigation as well.  Most authorities (and reasonable people) would agree with the posture of the United States on these claims, which is that they are outrageously over-reaching, and a serious threat to peace in the region if and when they are enforced by the Chinese military.

And there have been numerous examples in recent months of such enforcement measures, from Chinese gunboats harassing fishing vessels from Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines, to Chinese announcements that commercial airliner overflights would require advance permission, to intimidating behavior aimed at U.S. Navy vessels transiting the passage, to renewed territorial claims on islands claimed by Japan and other nations.  Considering that the South China Sea is the second most busy sea lane on the planet, China’s attempts at limiting the rights of navigation there are especially troubling.

All of this combined seems to strongly indicate that China is itching for an armed confrontation in the area.  However, their ambitions are not directed at the United States, but primarily toward Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines.  In years past, these ambitions have been held in check by the determination of every American president since World War I to preserve, and enforce if necessary, international rights in this critical region.

So, forgive a little metaphor mixing when I ask, does President Obama “walk softly and carry a big stick”?  Or does he just “talk the talk”?  By now, I think Vladimir Putin has clearly figured out the answer to that question, as have the Iranian mullahs, and maybe the Chinese leadership as well.  And, if the Chinese do seize the Senkakus and/or the Ryukyus, and if they are allowed to get away with it, how long before they decide that the time is ripe for a takeover of Taiwan, and then a move on the Japanese home islands?

USS Gerald Ford (CVN-78) Shaking Out in Newport News

During most of my three-year U.S. Army hitch in the early sixties I was stationed at Fort Story, which is sited on the Virginia coast at Cape Henry, and which marks the southern boundary of the entrance to Chesapeake Bay.  Fort Story was a small base that headquartered the Army’s amphibious operations on the east coast.  From our second-story office window at the base HQ I could look out the window, and occasionally I would grab the office binoculars when I spotted the nuclear powered aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN-65) passing through the offshore channel.  Although officially classified, the scuttlebutt at the time was that the actual top speed of the Enterprise was about fifty miles per hour, and I remember idly wondering once how far the 95,000-ton carrier would penetrate the shoreline if her skipper were to run her onto the beach at full speed.

The Enterprise is now being decommissioned at the Huntington-Ingalls shipbuilding facility in Newport News, Virginia on the James River, along the northern circumference of the giant Hampton Roads anchorage.  This facility was once known as the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company, and was the shipyard for which my uncle was a welder in World War 2.  The Enterprise sits near it’s replacement, the nuclear powered carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78).

The Gerald Ford is the first of a new class of American carriers, designed to replace the Nimitz-class.  She is bigger than any previous American aircraft carrier, with a length of 1,106 feet and a displacement of 112,000 tons.  Among the many other improvements to her design, she will be the first U.S. carrier to use the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), which employs an electrically-powered sled to hurl planes into the air rather than a steam catapult.  The sailors assigned to the Enterprise used to say that her steam catapult could throw a Volkswagen Beatle a mile off her bow.  I don’t know how true that was, but the EMALS rig is supposed to be considerably more powerful than the steam catapults.

For much more information on the Ford, check out THIS article from Popular Mechanics magazine, and THIS entry on WikiPedia.

WTH — A New Long-Range Stealth Bomber?

On the heels of announcements that the A-10 Thunderbolt-II Warthog may be phased out soon due to budget constraints, the USAF is also placing a high priority on getting a new long-range stealth bomber.  The project is being characterized as a key modernization priority, but at a time when the nation is footing the bill for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the KC-46A aerial refueling tanker, along with retiring what many think of as the best close air support aircraft since the prop jobs of the WW2 era, why don’t we just build more B-2 Spirit bombers instead of launching a project to produce 90 or so entirely new planes?

The Air Force now has twenty B-2 bombers in operation, and it has announced that the plane is to be a part of the US arsenal through 2058.  What possible new features can be built into a new bomber that aren’t already a part of the B-2 design, or added to it?

From the WikiPedia page for the B-2 Spirit:

The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, also known as the Stealth Bomber, is an American strategic bomber, featuring low observable stealth technology designed for penetrating dense anti-aircraft defenses; it is able to deploy both conventional and nuclear weapons.  The bomber has a crew of two and can drop up to eighty 500 lb (230 kg)-class JDAM GPS-guided bombs, or sixteen 2,400 lb (1,100 kg) B83 nuclear bombs.  The B-2 is the only aircraft that can carry large air-to-surface standoff weapons in a stealth configuration.

and

The B-2 is capable of all-altitude attack missions up to 50,000 feet (15,000 m), with a range of more than 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km) unrefuelled and over 10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km) with one refueling.  Though originally designed primarily as a nuclear bomber, it was first used in combat to drop conventional bombs …

and

A number of upgrade packages have been applied to the B-2.  In July 2008, the B-2’s onboard computing architecture was extensively redesigned, it now incorporates a new integrated processing unit (IPU) that communicates with systems throughout the aircraft via a newly installed fibre optic network; a new version of the operational flight program software was also developed, with legacy code converted from the JOVIAL programming language used beforehand to standard C.  Updates were also made to the weapon control systems to enable strikes upon non-static targets, such as moving ground vehicles.

On 12/29/2008, Air Force officials awarded a $468 million contract to Northrop Grumman to modernize the B-2 fleet’s radars.  <snip>  In 2010, it was made public that the Air Force Research Laboratory had developed a new material to be used on the part of the wing trailing edge subject to engine exhaust, replacing existing material that quickly degraded.

In 2013 the USAF contracted for the Defensive Management System Modernization program to replace the antenna system and other electronics to increase the B-2’s frequency awareness.

When sequestration is putting so much pressure on the funding for all the military, this initiative does not seem prudent to me, and the Air Force should be pressed to explain why it would not be more cost effective to produce more B-2s.  For more, check out THIS article at Defense News.

The Improved GBU-57: Can It Go 90-Meters Deep?

James Dunnigan at Strategy Page reports on the recent confirmation by the US military of rumors that America’s heaviest Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) has been improved.  Successful tests of the weapon in 2013 were apparently against an accurate replica of the main Iranian nuclear weapons development facility at Fordo, which is said to have sections that go as deep as 90-meters.  Moreover, according to Dunnigan’s article:

The GBU-57 contains 2.4 tons of explosives and costs $3.5 million each.  In the last few years several B-2 bombers have been equipped to carry these weapons (two bombs per B-2).  This was apparently meant to send a message to Iran and North Korea.  There were no known targets for such a weapon anywhere else, but there are plenty of such targets in Iran and North Korea.  Moreover, even if there were deep bunkers in Somalia or Afghanistan you don’t need a stealth bomber to deliver an MOP.  The enemy in those countries have no way of detecting a high flying B-52, much less a stealthy B-2.  But Iran and North Korea do have radars, and a B-2 could slip past those radars and take out the air defense system command bunkers, or any other targets buried deep.

The 6.2 meter (20.5 foot) long MOP has a thick steel cap, which was originally designed to penetrate up to 7.9-61 meters (26-200 feet) of concrete (depending on degree of hardness) or up to 61 meters of rocky earth before exploding.  This was the original spec, which is now supposed to be improved.

Now if we only had a Commander-In-Chief who was willing to use this firecracker.

The F-35: Six Versions for the Marine Corps?

Shane McGlaun has a new piece up on Daily Tech about the progress of the F-35 Lightening II Joint Strike Fighter program.  In an interesting passage from the full article, HERE, Army Lieutenant General Christopher Bogdan, the officer in charge of the F-35 program at the Pentagon, said:

“I don’t see any scenario where we are walking back away from this program.  We’re going to buy a lot of these airplanes.”  The 2015 fiscal request from the DOD asks for funds to buy two Navy versions of the F-35, six Marine versions, and 26 Air Force versions.

In a related story, Defense News is reporting HERE that F-18 Hornet purchases by the US Navy are over, with no new orders to Boeing from them or from any foreign governments.

US Naval Institute says China training for War with Japan

I have previously written several posts on China’s increasing aggressiveness in trying to exert dominance over the South China Sea.  In THIS short article, Sam LaGrone of the US Naval Institute explains how the recent Chinese military training exercise focus has expanded from invading Taiwan to also include the capture of the Shenkaku Islands, a disputed area that is controlled and claimed by Japan.  The article also includes a good map of the disputed area. 

Marine Corps Times controversy: Are the Marines being further politicized?

The Marine Corps Times publication, like its sisters the Army Times and Air Force Times, are independent newspapers that are owned and published by media conglomerate Gannett.  There are other publications that focus on the Marines, on their employment and careers, on the working conditions of Marine service men and women, and on the issues affecting their families as well, but the sales of the Marine Corps Times outstrips them all.

The publication also dabbles in investigative journalism, and over the course of the last year or so they have run a number of articles about the inquiries underway into the activities of General Jim Amos, the current Marine Corps Commandant.  This seems to have rubbed the General the wrong way, and the Times published THIS ARTICLE yesterday questioning whether General Amos is retaliating.  An excerpt:

Marine Corps leaders have ordered the independent Marine Corps Times newspaper removed from its prominent newsstand location at base exchange stores worldwide and placed instead in areas away from checkout lines, where it is harder to find and fewer copies are available.

The move raises troubling questions about motive and closely follows a directive prohibiting commanders from using budget funds to buy Marine Corps Times and a number of other publications.

[snip]

Spokesmen for the commandant’s office would not answer questions about whether Amos or his staff were aware of or involved in the decision to relocate the newspaper, but a source with knowledge of the new directive said it was approved with the commandant’s knowledge.

“It is no secret [in the Pentagon] that the commandant does not like Marine Corps Times,” the source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

And then there is a related story, HERE, concerning North Carolina Representative Walter Jones:

Frustration is building at Marine Corps headquarters over a congressman’s aggressive support for a whistle-blower who has accused the commandant’s office of abusing its authority.

Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican and member of the House Armed Services Committee, has taken an active interest in allegations the commandant, Gen. Jim Amos, took extraordinary measures to ensure Marines were punished for a video showing four scout snipers urinating on dead insurgents in Afghanistan.  Those claims, made last year by Marine attorney Maj. James Weirick, have landed at the Information Security Oversight Office, the federal agency responsible for policy and oversight of the government’s security classification system.

So Medics Can Stop Carrying Tampons Soon?

From a new article in Popular Science:

When a soldier is shot on the battlefield, the emergency treatment can seem as brutal as the injury itself.  A medic must pack gauze directly into the wound cavity, sometimes as deep as 5 inches into the body, to stop bleeding from an artery.  It’s an agonizing process that doesn’t always work–if bleeding hasn’t stopped after three minutes of applying direct pressure, the medic must pull out all the gauze and start over again.  It’s so painful, “you take the guy’s gun away first,” says former U.S. Army Special Operations medic John Steinbaugh.

Even with this emergency treatment, many soldiers still bleed to death; hemorrhage is a leading cause of death on the battlefield.  “Gauze bandages just don’t work for anything serious,” says Steinbaugh, who tended to injured soldiers during more than a dozen deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.  When Steinbaugh retired in April 2012 after a head injury, he joined an Oregon-based startup called RevMedx, a small group of veterans, scientists, and engineers who were working on a better way to stop bleeding.

Read the rest HERE.

Today is the First Anniversary of the Death of Chris Kyle

One year ago, retired Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle died in Texas at the hands of Eddie Routh, a man whom he had befriended and was attempting to help.  Last April, author Michael Mooney wrote THIS excellent article about the exceptional life and tragic death of the man who deployed four times to Iraq, who afterwards wrote the book American Sniper, and who is credited with a kill shot on the battlefield of 2100 yards.  Kyle was a warrior and an outstanding individual, and we should lament his passing.

One helluva chopper pilot!

This post title may sound familiar to some.  I have linked to this one-minute video twice previously, once in a post on the Crystal Coast Tea Party’s Facebook page, and again on my vanity website, so I will apologize in advance to those who may have seen it before.  However, I think it displays exceptional helicopter piloting ability, and well worth a look for those who have not seen it.

The video shows a large double-rotor Chinook helicopter being used in the mountains of Afghanistan to extract a team of Special Forces soldiers back in 2008 or so.  The terrain was mountainous, and the extraction site so steep, that the pilot actually backed the hovering helicopter up to a crop cultivation step at the end of a valley, where the crew dropped the rear ramp onto the step long enough to load the team while the pilot maintained the hover.  You gotta see it to believe it.

The XS1 Computerized Sniper Rifle — When You Only Get One Shot

You got your Smart cars, your smart pet doors, your smart bombs, your smart phones, why not a smart rifle?  From a new article up on Strategy Page, HERE, this excerpt:

The U.S. Army recently bought six XS1 computerized rifles.  These usually go for up to $27,000 each and are expensive because they are sensor equipped and computerized to the extent that over 70 percent of first time users can hit a target over 900 meters distant with the first shot.  For a professional sniper, first shot success averages about 25 percent and 70 percent on the second shot.  Second shots are not always possible as the target tends to duck after the first one.

The XS1 with the bipod, loaded and with the scope, weighs 9.25 kg (20.4 pounds).  It is bolt action with a five round magazine and fires the .338 Lapua Magnum.

For sale to civilians, too, if any of them had twenty-seven grand to put into a hunting rifle.

The M29/M69 Davy Crockett: Pocket Rocket With A Wallop

And now, for something completely different, the two-minute video below.  Deployed during the early sixties when I was an Army grunt, the M29 was a three-man tripod-mounted recoilless rifle that fired a version of the 50-pound W54 atomic warhead, a 76-lb shell with an 18-ton (NOT kiloton) yield against battlefield targets a mere three miles away.  It was not precisely accurate, and thus was considered to be primarily an anti-personnal and anti-tank weapon since it’s detonation would provide a lethal radiation dose to every enemy soldier within a radius of 500-feet, and have a high fatality rate for enemy soldiers up to one-quarter mile away.  Although it was true that the firing crew could be in jeopardy if the wind was blowing the wrong way, it was deployed in areas that might find it essential as a “weapon of last resort”, such as if and when Soviet tanks suddenly came pouring through the Fulda Gap.

Inside A WW2-Vintage German Submarine

On June 4, 1944, two days before the allied landings in France on D-Day and well into her twelth patrol, the German submarine U-505 was captured by a US Navy anti-submarine task force in the area of the western Atlantic that lies just south of the Canary Islands.  The capture of the sub itself was a great coup, made even greater by the fact that it was captured with a functional Enigma machine on board.

From the boat’s Wikipedia entry:

All but one of U-505’s crew were rescued by the Navy task group.  The submarine was towed to Bermuda in secret and her crew was interned at a US prisoner of war camp where they were denied access to International Red Cross visits.  The Navy classified the capture as top secret and prevented its discovery by the Germans.

The sub is now a museum ship in Chicago, and THIS video, from the Travel Channel and less than three minutes in length, gives a brief tour of the boat’s interior.

Details Behind The Dismissal Of Major Gen. Michael Carey

There have been a number of reports in recent months about what is perceived to be the Obama Administration’s excessive culling of military leaders who do not adhere to Obama’s world view, but there seems to be at least one instance, that of Air Force Major General Michael Carey, in which the dismissal was justified.

In late July of 2013, General Carey was interviewed by Popular Mechanics magazine.  From their current piece:

At the time, Carey was Commander of the 20th Air Force, which controls America’s land-based nuclear missiles. He was in town to meet with members of NASDAQ, where we would ring the opening bell in September, and a visit to PopMech happened to fit his schedule. Carey toured the office, checked out our view of Central Park, and sat for an interview about intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests for a feature coming up in our March 2014 magazine.

[ snip ]

But just months later, Carey was disgraced. In October the Air Force fired him. Officials offered no details, saying only that the dismissal involved personal conduct.

Now, however, Popular Mechanics has a piece up, HERE, in which they give the gory details.

Trouble Continues To Build In The South China Sea

A few days ago I posted on the confrontational situation that is building in the South China Sea.  To recap the essence of that post:

In November, China unilaterally declared an air defense zone covering islands controlled by Japan but claimed by Beijing, creating apprehensions in Japan and elsewhere that the aggressive posture on the part of the Panda could result at some point in an unplanned military encounter.  The several small uninhabited islands, known to the west as the Senkaku group, lie just to the northeast of Taiwan (formerly known as Formosa) in the southern portion of the East China Sea.

Last week, the US Air Force flew two B-52 heavy bombers through the area, serving notice to the Chinese that their claim of exclusivity was repudiated.  Now the British newspaper MailOnline is reporting that the US Navy is sending P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft to strengthen America’s ability to hunt submarines and other vessels in seas close to China.

Now, Bill Gertz of the Washington Free Beacon is reporting that:

A Chinese naval vessel tried to force a U.S. guided missile warship to stop in international waters recently, causing a tense military standoff in the latest case of Chinese maritime harassment, according to defense officials.

The guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens, which recently took part in disaster relief operations in the Philippines, was confronted by Chinese warships in the South China Sea near Beijing’s new aircraft carrier Liaoning, according to officials familiar with the incident.

[snip]

… the run-in began after a Chinese navy vessel sent a hailing warning and ordered the Cowpens to stop. The cruiser continued on its course and refused the order because it was operating in international waters.

Then a Chinese tank landing ship sailed in front of the Cowpens and stopped, forcing the Cowpens to abruptly change course in what the officials said was a dangerous maneuver.

Foreign military adventurism climbs markedly anytime the President of the United States is viewed, particularly by our adversaries, as weak, inexperienced, and indecisive.  Such tendencies are exacerbated when the President is seen to be beset by domestic problems that he cannot resolve.  I am old enough to remember such instances, the Cuban Missile Crisis (Kennedy) being one example and the Iranian Embassy Hostage Crisis (Carter) being another.

President Obama is another example of a Commander-In-Chief that is widely viewed as an incompetent pushover.  The Chinese certainly see him that way, and that is exactly what is going on in the South China Sea.

The United States is both a maritime nation and a commerce-dependent nation, and in that connection, virtually all our presidents going back to Thomas Jefferson have understood that it is vital to the interests of the free world in general, and to our national interests in particular, to take all necessary measures to maintain the freedom of navigation in every sea and ocean around the globe.

When Muammar Khadafy declared the Gulf Of Sidra to be sovereign Libyan territory, and in August 1981 sent up MiG-25 Foxbat fighter jets to enforce his edict against the incursion into that area by the carrier USS Nimitz, President Ronald Reagan’s unequivocal response was to authorize their F-14 Tomcats to shoot down two of the Libyan planes.  Khadafy never again tried to enforce a claim over the Gulf Of Sidra by force of arms.

President Obama must take up this banner as well.  This situation is, in my view, largely of his doing, and now he must be resolute in disabusing the Chinese of their notion of turning the South China Sea into their sovereign territory.

For further reading on this subject, and on the history of defending the international right of navigation, Bill Schanefelt and Gary Crowder have up an interesting and informative article at the online American Thinker, HERE.

More on Karzai and the Afghanistan SOF Treaty

The associated press is reporting today that:

Karzai says the U.S. is “absolutely” acting like a colonial power in its attempts to force him to sign the bilateral security agreement by the end of this year.  The paper quoted him as saying: “The threats they are making, `We won’t pay salaries, we’ll drive you into a civil war.’  These are threats.”

Ya think?

President Obama had no interest in a slow wind-down in Iraq, which would have preserved the gains made by the GWB administration, so he used the pretext of Iraqi resistance to the US position on a new Status Of Forces (SOF) agreement as an excuse for bugging out.  However, he does want a slow wind-down in Afghanistan, so he is pressuring Karzai to accept essentially the same provisions.  And, to help protect the US forces that will be there for years, I hope he continues the pressure until we get an acceptable treaty.

And Speaking Of The X-47B, Check Out This Puppy!

RQ180_StealthDroneThe drone that spied on bin Laden and on Iran’s nukes was just the start. Meet its bigger, higher-flying, stealthier cousin, the Northrop Grumman RQ-180. It’s probably been flying for a few years now, but you weren’t supposed to know that; the existence of this secret project, based out of Area 51, was revealed Friday by Aviation Week magazine.

The existence of the RQ-180 has been long rumored. Cryptic public statements by U.S. Air Force officials indicated a secret high-altitude reconnaissance drone, and Northrop officials …    MORE HERE.

Can UAV’s Have The Right Stuff?

GlobalHawkTiffany Kaiser, the Science reporter for the DailyTech blog, recently interviewed retired Israeli Major General Eitan Eliyahu on the likelihood that the world’s major air forces will continue the shift toward unmanned drones:

“We pilots are the decision makers … and the claim to fame of fighter pilots are dogfights.  So in the future, part of the process of replacing jet fighters with UAVs will be the ability to start dogfights between drones,” said Eliyahu.

According to Eliyahu, air forces are largely trading-in expensive fixed-wing and rotary aircraft, which will save on life-cycle and training costs.  However, he believes UAVs cannot deter enemies well enough yet.

“UAVs will not contribute enough deterrence to prevent war,” said Eliyahu.  “When the F-35 is operational in Israel, it will have a dramatic effect on deterring our enemies.  So even if we have hundreds of UAVs, it won’t impact the balance of power as much as a single squadron of F-35s.”

He added that UAVs are also more susceptible to cyber attacks because they run on networked control.

Right, don’t think we will see a UAV winning the Navy’s Top Gun competition anytime soon.  Bet they’re working on it, ‘though.

Karzai Family Values

Austin Bay and the guys at StrategyPage have up an interesting and informative article about happenings in Afghanistan, with topics ranging from the state of the current negotiations over the Status Of Forces treaty to various other regional events.  The article takes five minutes or so to read.  A couple of tidbits:

The U.S. has finally negotiated terms for keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan once all other NATO forces have left after 2014. Some Afghan politicians played hardball with the Americans on this, refusing to agree to continue American immunity from the corrupt Afghan justice system after 2014. The U.S. told the Afghans that if they don’t get a Status of Forces (immunity) agreement by the end of 2014 then the U.S. will withdraw all their forces and most of their aid money. This finally got most Afghan leaders to agree …

and

Now the Karzai clan faces a crises because Hamid Karzai cannot run for president again. The constitution forbids it and the U.S. has made it clear that trying to use bribes and coercion to change the constitution will not be tolerated. So Hamid Karzai has to make plans for life after dominating the government for a decade …

The entire PIECE is available at the StrategyPage site.

Navy X-47B: Is China Catching Up?

X47B_TrapThe U.S. Navy’s X-47B UCAV (unmanned combat air vehicle) successfully carried out more tests aboard an aircraft carrier during November. In this case both existing X-47Bs were used. This comes after an X-47B made two out of three carrier landings for the first time on July 10th.  The November tests further stressed …

The full article, from StrategyPage, is HERE.

American Sub-Hunter Aircraft Sent To East China Sea

President Obama does something right, for a change.

In November, China unilaterally declared an air defense zone covering islands controlled by Japan but claimed by Beijing, creating apprehensions in Japan and elsewhere that the aggressive posture on the part of the Panda could result at some point in an unplanned military encounter.  The several small uninhabited islands, known to the west as the Senkaku group, lie just to the northeast of Taiwan (formerly known as Formosa) in the southern portion of the East China Sea.

Last week, the US Air Force flew two B-52 heavy bombers through the area, serving notice to the Chinese that their claim of exclusivity was repudiated.  Now the British newspaper MailOnline is reporting that the US Navy is sending P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft to strengthen America’s ability to hunt submarines and other vessels in seas close to China.

For those with an interest in this subject, the FULL ARTICLE includes the best map I have seen of the islands and where they are positioned in the disputed area.

Afghanistan Withdrawal Terms

Afghanistan on Friday rebuffed a US demand to sign a highly anticipated security pact as soon as possible, insisting the document must wait until after next year’s presidential election.

Washington warned Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) as soon as possible, with senior officials hinting that delaying beyond the end of this year could mean no post-2014 US troop presence.  Karzai had said the pact currently under consideration by a loya jirga, a meeting of tribal chieftains, could only be signed “when our elections are conducted, correctly and with dignity”.

Full article here