Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

     Today is May 28, 2011, Memorial Day. Memorial Day for many Americans has become just another summer holiday like Labor Day to use as an excuse to barbecue and drink a few beers. However, for many other Americans Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for our forefathers, grandfathers, fathers and brothers who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend what we Americans hold dear. Today is a day to remember those who died to make America free from the British monarchy, the over 300,000 Federal soldiers who died to keep America one nation and the 416,000 American soldiers who died in World War Two defending the United States from the threats of the Japanese and the Nazis. As you read this take a moment and think about the Men and Women who have come before us and made the ultimate sacrifice to keep us free.

May God bless you and the USA.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The Next Generation Of Russian Submarines

     When the Cold War ended in 1991 all of the Russian Ministry of Defense's projects were either outright cancelled or delayed for several years because of a lack of funding. Now, 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has begun to replace some of it's Cold War-era military equipment, especially in the area of submarines. As of 2011 Russia has 3 new classes of submarines in the works or somewhat operational, these classes are the Yasen-class attack submarines (SSN), the Borei-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) and the Lada-class diesel-electric submarine (SSK).
     The Yasen-class submarines are nuclear powered with a max speed of 35+ knots submerged and max speed of 20 knots on the surface. The Yasen-class has length of 120 meters and a beam of 15 meters along with a draft of 8.4 to 10 meters and, a displacement of 5,800 to 9,500 tons on the surface and a displacement of 11,800 tons submerged. Yasen-class submarines are believed to be armed with 8 torpedo tubes used for torpedoes and mines along with 8 vertical launch tubes for SS-N-26 SLCMs (Submarine Launched Cruise Missile) and SS-N-27 SLCMs.
    The Borei-class SSBNs are the latest Russian SSBN and will carry 16 RSM-56 Bulava SLBMs on early ships and 20 Bulava SLBMs on the unofficial Borei II-class. The Borei-class has a length of 160 meters and a beam 13.5 meters along with a draft of 10 meters. The Borei-class has a displacement of 14,700 tons on the surface and a displacement of 24,000 tons submerged. The Borei-class is believed to have operational diving depth of 380 meters and a maximum diving depth of 450 meters. Borei-class submarines are reputed to have a submerged speed of around 29 knots and a surfaced speed of 15 knots. An interesting side note about the Borei-class submarines is that they are the first class of submarines in the Russian Navy to use pump-jet propulsion which has the advantage of reducing the sub's sonar signature.
     Last but, by no mean least is the latest in the long line of Russian diesel-electric submarines, the Lada-class SSKs. The Lada-class is improved version of the Improved Kilo-class submarines with improvements such as newer combat systems, lower displacement and possibly air independent propulsion . The Lada-class submarines have a length of 72 meters, a beam of 7 meters and a draft of 6.5 meters. The Lada-class has a displacement 2,700 long tons submerged and displacement of 1,765 tons on the surface (versus 3,500 and 2,300 tons for the Kilo-class). The operational diving depth of the Lada-class is around 250 meters and a max diving depth of 300 meters. The Lada-class is armed with 6 533mm torpedo tubes that can fire both standard torpedoes and P-700 SLCMs (see SS-N-26 above).
     With the ending of the Cold War approaching it's 20th anniversary much of the U.S.'s and Russia's equipment is beginning to age out and needs to be replaced (read Minuteman III ICBMs, Black Hawk and Huey helicopters, etc...). And as older equipment it will interesting to find out more and more details about how these new systems work. Also the top picture is not a photo of a new class of subs, it is a photo of an Akula-class sub.

Photo Credit: Department Of Defense,

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cool Commercial

     I was watching the Astros play the Diamondbacks (the Astros lost 4-2) today and I saw this funny commercial from BMW, take a look:


Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's The Weekend! 5/28/11

Since it's the weekend and I get two days off from writing, I give you this video I found on YouTube.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

New Submarine Design From France Has Some Interesting Possibilities

French defense firm DCNS had a very interesting submarine design at last year's Euronaval show as Ares reports. This innovative submarine design is meant for anti-ship warfare rather than the more conventional mission of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) which is what most submarines are designed for.
     The SMX-25 is very large design for a diesel-electric submarine with a length of 360 and, a displacement of around 3200 tons on the surface with a displacement of around 6100 tons submerged (for more detailed specifications here is a link to DNCS's website for the SMX-25). The SMX-25 also has a range of about 8000 nautical miles at a speed of 14 to 20 knots, with a top speed of 38 knots which rivals many surface warships.
    However, what makes the SMX-25 extremly interesting is the fact that the SMX-25 has 16 vertical launch tubes just aft of the front of the sail. DCNS's website states that the vertical launch tubes can be used for anti-ship missiles, land strike missiles and surface-to- missiles. The last type of missiles, surface to-air missiles (SAMs) is what raises a multitude of possibilites. Most submarines carry several MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense Systems) like the FIM-92 Stinger or the SA-N-8 Gremlin. If you could put a real surface-to-air missile like a RIM-174 Standard ERAM missile, which is the U.S. Navy's medium range surface-to-air missile, it would be a literal bolt from the blue.
      The problem with that idea is that generally submarines don't carry the type of radar used in surface-to-air missile systems thus, it would be necessary to either setup a data link with a ground based radar system or install a new radar system in the submarine. The first option is probably the better of the two as installing a new longer range radar system brings a higher risk of anti-radiation missiles (ARMs). However, if the submarine is operating far out at sea, depending on the range of the ground based radar being used it would better either to set a datalink with a warship or simply take the risk of ARMs and install a new radar system. The radar sytem used in the submarine would have to relatively compact as submarines are not known for their spacious compartments, possible radars would be the AWG-9 used on the F-14 Tomcat or a modified version of the AN/SPY-3 which will be used on Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers, and Zumwalt-class destroyers.
     This concept explained is just an idea, the possibility of operating SAMs from a submarine is an very interesting idea, however submarines in use today do not anywhere near the capability to launch SAMs and would need extensive modifications to do so. This concept has enormous potential and needs to be seriously looked at by the U.S. Navy and Navies around the world.

Photo Credit: DCNS

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Face Only It's Mother Could Love, The A-10 Thunderbolt II

The A-10 is probably the ugliest airplane in skies today but, it is arguably the most dangerous aircraft ever built.
     The A-10 began life as a contender in the A-X program competing against the Northrop YA-9  for the job of being the Air Force's tank buster. The YA-10 first flew on May 10, 1972 and on January 18, 1973 was picked by the Air Force for production. Between 1973 and 1984 over 700 A-10s were built and, as of 2008 335 A-10s and OA-10s (The OA-10 is an A-10 used by forward air controllers, there is no difference between the two versions.) were still in service with the Air Force.
     One of the defining characteristics of the A-10 is the A-10's durability. The A-10 is capable of withstanding multiple hits by small to medium caliber weapons without crashing. The A-10's durability culminates in 1200lbs of titanium armor surrounding some flight control systems and the cockpit, the titanium is so strong that it can withstand hits by 23mm ammunition and some places 57mm hits. The photo below is a graphic example of the A-10's durability, that particular A-10 was damaged when flying over Baghdad in 2003.
       However, the thing that sets the A-10 apart from most ground attack aircraft is it's massive ordnance payload and cannon.The A-10 carries the one of the largest weapons mounted on an aircraft, the GAU-8 Avenger 30mm cannon, the GAU-8 fires a mixture of high explosive round and incendiary rounds and is the ultimate tank busting gun (as the video below shows). The A-10 also can carry up 16,000lbs of ordnance ranging from unguided rocket pods to AGM-65 Maverick missiles. The A-10 has even scored 2 air-to-air kills using it's cannon during the Gulf War, shooting down two Iraqi helicopters.
     The A-10 is not known for it's speed and range like it's more glamorous counterparts, the F-15, F-15E and F-16, with a max speed of around 440 MPH and a combat range of roughly 250 miles depending on the mission. The A-10 may not have a high max speed like the F-16 but, the A-10 has excellent low speed handling especially at low altitude. 
     While the A-10 might have been built in the 1970s for destroying Soviet tanks in Germany the A-10 continues to provide excellent close air support in Afghanistan and previously Iraq and, will continue to do so until 2028 when it will be replaced by the F-35, over 50 years after the A-10's first flight

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

F-35 Makes It's First Air Show Appearance

Last weekend the F-35 made it's first air show appearance take a look.

I hope they have a F-35 down here in Texas for the Wings Over Houston air show.

A Tale Of 10 Barrel Gatling Guns And Surface-to-Air Missiles

 The Chinese have a habit of copying things made in the West and they have done it again, recently China Air and Naval Power posted some photos of the Varyag showing a missile system that looks suspiciously like the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile which is used by the U.S. Navy. The above photo is of the Chinese version which is designated the HQ-10 or FL-3000, I am not sure which. The photo below is of the RIM-116.

Another interesting development on board the Varyag is the addition of a 10-barreled gatling gun which as Defense Tech reports is based of the Type 730 CIWS (Close In Weapon System). Since the new type of CIWS is probably developed from the Type 730 it probably is a 30mm weapon as was the Type 730, to put this weapon into perspective the American Phalanx CIWS  has a caliber of 20mm and 6 barrels along with a RPM (Rounds Per Minute)of 3,000 to 4,500, compared to the Type 730's RPM of 5,800.

Photo Credit: China Defense Blog, China Air and Naval Power,

Monday, May 23, 2011

Chinese General Says That “China never intends to challenge the U.S.”

The Blaze reports that General Chen Bingde who is roughly equivalent to the to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in Washington to help increase cooperation between the U.S. and Communist Chinese militaries. While in Washington he gave a 45 -minute speech at the National Defense University to play down fears of Chinese intentions, during the speech Gen. Bingde stated “China never intends to challenge the U.S.".
     Allow me to show you that what Mr. Bingde said is a bald faced lie. As I have discussed previously China is overhauling the former Soviet carrier Varyag and there is a very good possibility that the Varyag will be ready for sea trials by the end of this year. Now, aircraft carriers are not defensive weapons, they are designed to take the fight to the enemy from 350+ miles away. Now why would a nation that borders mostly nations that have lousy armed forces (with the exception of India and Russia) need an aircraft carrier? Surely China doesn't need an aircraft carrier to bully Vietnam, Myanmar, Japan, or the Philippines? No, most of these countries have nil in the way of a blue water navy, the only country in the Pacific that is a threat to the Chinese is the U.S. The U.S. has the largest Air Force, Navy and best Army in the world and is the only military in the Pacific that can defeat the Chinese military.
     The only reason why the Chinese would build a stealth fighter that possibly has the capability to sink aircraft carriers would be to threaten American aircraft carriers. Honestly, I believe the Chinese are scared of American aircraft carriers, why else would they develop a ballistic missile specifically for sinking aircraft carriers?
      The only thing holding China back from domination the Pacific Ocean is the U.S. military and the Chinese know it. China's massive military buildup in the last 10 years is meant for one purpose, to challenge the U.S. on the high seas and in the air and defeat the U.S. in war. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's The Weekend: 5/21/11

Since it's the weekend and I get two days off from writing, I give you this funny video I found on YouTube.
That garbageman just summed up politics.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Newest Trend In Terrorism: IEDs On Inflatable Boats

That's right folks, terrorists have finally conquered their fear of water and, are going higher-than-before tech with their IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices). The Danger Room along with Ares reported that Gadhafi loyalists sent two RHIBs towards NATO forces early Monday morning, one of which was filled explosives.
       The way the story goes is that early Monday morning Allied warships around the port of Misrata saw two RHIBs heading in and, moved to investigate, at that point on of the inflatables turned around went for home. When the NATO warships came up to the inflatable boat, a bomb team found about a ton of high explosives along a couple of human mannequins.
     With NATO and the Rebels putting an ever increasing squeeze on Gadhafi it will be interesting to see what tactics Gadhafi uses to hold on to power.  

Photo Credit: U.S. Navy


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Next Generation of U.S. Aircraft Carriers

The above photo is a picture of the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) the lead ship of the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. The Nimitz-class carriers have formed the core of the U.S. Navy since mid-1975 and will continue to do so for the next 10-20 years. At the same time the early Nimitz-class ships are beginning to age out and will need replacing in the near future. The Navy began on the Nimitz-class replacements several years ago and, the lead ships of the Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers are due to be commissioned in 2014.
     The Gerald R. Ford-class has a number of improvements over previous classes of aircraft carriers, for example the Gerald-R. Ford-class will be equipped with the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System  (here is a video of a test) which is basically electric currents generating a magnetic field to propel the catapult forward to launch the aircraft. Another improvement the Gerald R. Ford-class has is the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow  surface-to-air missile system which is the successor to the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow which has equipped U.S. Navy ships since the mid-1970s.
       However, there is not much difference in aircraft capacity and capability between the Nimitz-class and the Gerald R. Ford-class as both are and will able to handle the F/A-18E/F Super HornetE-2D Advanced Hawkeye, F-35C Lightning II and the C-2 Greyhound. Both the Nimitz and Gerald R. Ford-classes both carry around 90 fixed wing aircraft and helicopters most of the time.
    I have written before on the subject of the Gerald R. Ford-class in "All Our Eggs In One Basket"
where I discussed the fact that while the Gerald R. Ford-class ships are being built the Navy is at the same time going to be trying to build it's SSBN-X-class of submarines. When you are trying to build two VERY expensive classes of ships (9 billion for the carriers and 6-7 billion for the subs) at the same time when you need both there are 3 choices. 1. don't build any of the ships, 2. increase the shipbuilding budget, 3. build one of the subs or carriers at a time and modify the older ships to work until the hard times are over. Personally, I prefer option #2 and just increase the shipbuilding budget but, the U.S. will be in so much debt at that point that it will not be possible. Option #1 is not viable because you will always need a nuclear deterrent and aircraft carriers thus, that leaves only one option left. The only real way to get the Navy through the coming shipbuilding crunch is to somehow overhaul  the Ohio-class SSBNs which will need replacing at the time and, the 2 or 3 newest Nimitz-class class carriers and, pray that a Democratic administration does not get elected between 2025 and 2045.  

Photo Credit: U.S. Navy

Monday, May 16, 2011

China vs. Taiwan Update

Since the Nationalist forces pulled out of mainland China in 1949 the Communist and Nationalist China's have been at each others throats. In the last 15 years this not so friendly rivalry has been intensifying, I have covered some of China's recent actions as seen in "Chengdu J-20: Carrier Killer?", "DF-21D: Is It a Threat?" and "Chinese Naval Aviation Update" with all the coverage going to the "People's" (read communist) Republic of China, I have yet to cover any of the Republic of China's (Taiwan) recent moves.
     In the past few months Taiwan's president Ma Ying-Jeou has urged the U.S. to allow Taiwan to purchase more F-16C/D Block 50/52 Falcons and to allow upgrades to Taiwan's existing F-16A/B Block 20 fleet. President Ma says that these purchases would allow Taiwan to negotiate with the PRC on an equal footing. One of the reasons used to explain the delay in this purchase is that the PRC would retaliate economically if we did so (they hold 1+ trillion dollars of our dept courtesy of the politicians in D.C.). At the same time the Taiwanese have built a homegrown fighter that looks like a cross between an F/A-18 and an F-16.
     Moving on to the world of air defense, the Taiwanese held a drill back in January to test the effectiveness of their I-Hawk surface-to-air missile systems but, 5 out of 19 missiles missed (roughly 25%). Because so many missiles were off target there is speculation that the test will score Taiwan some new American-made surface-to-air missiles, like more MIM-104 Patriot batteries, maybe some MEADS units if and/or when the U.S. reenters the program.
     China in the last 10 years has been rapidly expanding it's navy from a coastal defense fleet to a true blue water navy capable of competing with the U.S. and other countries on the high seas. To answer this threat Taiwan recently fielded the Hsiung Feng III or Brave Wind anti-ship missile on it's warships and, possibly on mobile land launchers as well. The Hsiung Feng III is reported to have a range of 300km, enough to reach mainland China and, a warhead which is rumored to be in the 225kg range. On top of this Taiwan has said that it plans to build a "stealth" warship that will be armed with 8 Hsiung Feng III missiles and 8 Hsiung Feng II missiles. On top of this Taiwan in the last 6 months has added at least 2 frigates and 10 new missile boats to it's naval forces.
     Last, but by no means least is the news that Taiwan has developed an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Beijing. Taiwan has not said if the IRBM is nuclear capable though it probably is not nuclear capable and more likely is meant as a deterrent to show the PRC that Taiwan can hurt them. 
     With the ROC (Taiwan) and the PRC (mainland China) both rapidly building up their military's it is almost inevitable that in the next 20 years there will be a clash between the two nations. When this war begins it is almost certain the U.S. will pulled into the war and will at some point lose an aircraft carrier and multiple surface ships. In the present situation there is no real solution that will appease both sides, in this situation there is only one path to take if you wish to remain free, deterrence. Taiwan has up to this point denied having any nuclear, biological or chemical weapons while the PRC has all of these weapons in large quantities and the necessary delivery systems for these weapons. Taiwan must either engage in a massive build up of it's conventional forces or begin a clandestine nuclear weapons program similar to the early Israeli nuclear program. Whatever the ROC does it must do quickly because the U.S. is moving farther and farther away from Taiwan and more and more towards the PRC and will soon not support Taiwan as we have in previous decades.   

Photo Credit: CIA

Saturday, May 14, 2011

It's The Weekend! 5/14/11

Since it's the weekend and I get two days off from writing I give you this funny video.

I want one!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Royal Navy Commissions Another Type 45

Defense Talk reports that the Royal Navy recently commissioned it's third Type 45 Air Defense Destroyer named the Diamond  in Portsmouth. 
     The Type 45 destroyers are designed to replace the Type 42 guided missile destroyers that were built during the 70s and 80s. The Type 45-class is expected to have a production run of 6 ships of which Daring and Dauntless are active, Diamond and Dragon are undergoing trials and Defender and Duncan are being built. The Type 45 is armed with a SYLVER vertical surface to air missile launcher armed with Aster series missiles, Stingray helicopter launched torpedoes and a 4.5" main gun on the bow. The performance figures for a Type 45 are actually pretty good: max speed: 27 knots, cruising speed: 18 knots, range: 7000 nautical miles at 18 knots.
     As the 6 Type 45s are supposed to replace the 14 Type 42s, it will be interesting to see how the Type 45 fares in naval combat with fewer numbers than in previous decades.

Photo Credit: Brian Burnell

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Osama Bin Laden Is Dead!!!!!!!

He is finally dead! The Danger Room reports that Osama  was nailed in northern Pakistan near Islamabad by a group of U.S. special ops people. Bravo Zulu to whoever was involved.