Thursday, June 30, 2011

Varyag: Is It A Threat?

     With all the talk that China will use the Varyag to rule the western Pacific, I would like to explain why the Varyag will NOT be a SERIOUS threat to the U.S. military or the U.S.'s interests in the region.
     First, the Chinese navy has no experience with carrier operations, specifically: operating cat and trap systems, landing aircraft on a moving surface, replenishing large ships while underway, and launching, arming, fueling, and repairing aircraft in heavy seas. On top of that all these shortcomings are aggravated during combat operations, as all activities will have to be done faster, at the same time with an increased degree of precision. 
     Second, the Varyag is of the Admiral Kuznetsov-class, and has a relatively small air wing of 26 fixed-wing aircraft (J-15, New AEW&C aircraft), and 24 helicopters (Ka-27), for a grand total of 50 aircraft. 50 aircraft is decent number for a second-tier military (Britain, France, Spain, etc...), but in a drawn out war with the U.S., 50 aircraft (of which less than half are fighters) will be nothing. Against 5+ American supercarriers, each carrying 100 aircraft, 50+ of which are fighters (not including aircraft from Japan, Guam, South Korea, and possibly the Philippines), 20 +/- fighters will be nothing. 
     Third, China has no escorts for the Varyag. One of the most important things needed to operate an aircraft carrier is destroyers for ASW (anti-submarine warfare) and air defense. You also need submarines to make sure no enemy submarines get close enough to take a shot at the Varyag or any of the escorts. China has both of these types of ships, but either in limited quantity or of lousy quality or both (China's nuclear submarines make enough underwater noise to make a U2 concert sound quiet). China does have diesel electric Kilo-class subs that are extremely quiet, but are too slow to escort a carrier task force. China also is beginning to build Type 052C destroyers which have a greater air defense capability than previous classes, and will probably form the backbone of Chinese carrier task forces.
     Fourth, the Chinese will need a much better supply system to keep the Varyag at sea for extended periods of time. As of June 2011 the Chinese navy has a rather limited at-sea supply system, which is essential for operating an aircraft carrier(s). 
     While the Varyag is the only aircraft carrier the Chinese have, it will not pose a serious threat to the U.S.military. However, the Chinese military has expressed interest in building more carriers, but until the Chinese are able to field 3+ carriers with large air wings, the Varyag will not pose a serious threat.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Aircraft Carriers: The Newest Trend In Deterrence

     The photo above is a picture of the USS Texas, which is literally the last dreadnought, and a distant cousin of today's aircraft carriers.
     When the dreadnought era began with the launching of the HMS Dreadnought, a massive arms race began with countries all over the world racing to build dreadnoughts, to either deter other countries from attacking them or to intimidate surrounding countries. The same goes for aircraft carriers to some extent, if you don't have an aircraft carrier(s) you are at risk of having distant territories taken (Britain & the Falklands) or being bullied by another country.
     However, aircraft carriers today are not as all-powerful as they were through the late 1940s to the mid 1960s before modern anti-ship missiles like the AS-4 "Kitchen" came into service. New threats to aircraft carriers continue to arise, such as anti-ship ballistic missiles like the DF-21D and ever quieter submarines (a similar situation was the advent of naval aviation and the threat to battleships). To further aggravate the problem is that navies like the U.S. Navy build ever larger carriers like the Gerald R. Ford-class, which concentrates the Navy's air power in 11 or so locations that every country with a space program knows.
     I am not saying aircraft carriers are obsolete, far from it. I am saying carriers are an integral part of a country's national security, but instead of large size and limited quantity, they must be of small size (30,000 to 70,000 tons), and a larger quantity (12-20 for the U.S.). Aircraft carriers that would be examples of this would be the Queen Elizabeth-class and the USS America (LHA-6), both of which are relatively small compared to American super carriers (72,000 & 45,000 long tons compared to 100,000+ long ton Nimitz-class carriers).
     With aircraft carriers continuing to increase in size, and new threats constantly appearing, it will be in the next 25 years that the aircraft carrier really and truly comes of age as a new Cold War begins in the Pacific Ocean, and the aircraft carrier shows what it can really do.

Photo Credit: Daniel Schwen

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

You To Can Rename Al-Qaida

     When Osama Bin Laden was nailed about a month ago, he was working on a new name for Al-Qaida, as the Danger Room reports.
     The best Osama had come up with so far was "Monotheism and Jihad Group", it's pretty obvious that Osama needed a advertising advisor. So, to help fix this problem the Danger Room is holding a contest to find a new name for Al-Qaida, some of the most popular names right now are "League Of Extraordinary Beards", 

"Kandahar Ardent Brotherhood Of Orthodox Muslims" (KABOOM), "Dr. Bin Laden's 100% Natural Good Time Terror Band Solution", "Bad News Beards", SEAL bait, "These Aren't The Beards Your Looking For", etc. 

     So, if you think you have the new name for Al-Qaida hop on over to the Danger Room and enter your suggestion.

Note: This is just a joke, and vote for the name Muslims & Guns.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Congressman Releases TV Ad Showing Chinese Invasion

     Republican congressional nominee Mark Amodei released this ad, stating he will vote against raising the debt limit and protect America's independence from China.
     This guy has guts.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Varyag To Begin Sea Trials July 1st

     Defense News reports that the Chinese carrier Varyag will sail for sea trials on July 1st, but will not be officially launched until October 2012.
     With the increasing tensions in and around the Spratly Islands, the Varyag would be a powerful bargaining  tool, especially with countries like the Phillipines or Indonesia who have small and/or aging navies. However, Vietnam and Malaysia both have relatively large and new navies that if used with skill, could pose a threat to any Chinese forays into the Spratley Islands.
     With the Varyag close to sailing it will be interesting to see how other Asian countries react to the Varyag in the South China Sea.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

6 Terrorists VS. A Predator Drone

     Get a load of this encounter between 6 terrorists vs. a Predator drone.

5 out of 6, not bad.

Video Credit: LowellGuy 

Monday, June 20, 2011

New Photos Show Varyag's Starboard Side

     New photos of the Varyag's starboard side have just emerged, showing the aircraft elevator and the starboard side of the island.

Looks like there might be another 10 barrel gatling gun in the photo.

Photo Credit: Alert 5

It's Official: Russia Buys Two French Mistral-class Amphibious Assault Ships

     On Friday Russia signed a deal worth 1.6 billion dollars, for 2 Mistral-class amphibious assault ships, as Defense Tech reports. The deal also reportedly includes initial logistics, training and technology transfer. 
     The deal for 2 Mistrals has been in the works for about a year, and only now has it been completed. The deal was held up for some time over objections from former Soviet states like Estonia, Latvia, Georgia over the growing Russian military, and the threat the Mistrals would pose to them.
     The Mistral-class was developed to increase the amphibious capabilities of the French Navy and allow the French to perform raids, withdrawals and amphibious assaults. The Mistral-class can carry up to 900 troops for a short time, and between 60 and 70 vehicles. The Mistral-class can handle up to 16 medium helicopters (NH-90, Tiger) or up to 35 light helicopters, which could be stored in the hanger or on deck. The Mistral-class has a displacement of 21,300 tons with a full load, and a displacement of 16,500 tons when empty. 
     With Russia rebuilding it's military, it will be interesting to see how the former Soviet states and the world will react to this purchase.     

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Airliner Photos That Look Photo Shopped But Are Real

     Recently, photos have emerged showing airliners coming into land, less than 150 feet above tourists on the beach.
     The photos were taken at Maho Beach which is situated just before runway 10 which is part of the Princess Juliana International Airport on the Dutch side of Saint Martin . Airplanes on approach to runway 10 have to approach at minimal altitude due to the runway's short length (2,180 meters), as the photos below show.

Photo Credit: Yahoo and Wikipedia

Saturday, June 18, 2011

It's The Weekend! 6/18/11

     Since it's the weekend, I give you this clip from the movie Clear And Present Danger.
I did not make this or record this.

Friday, June 17, 2011

New Photos Show Construction Equipment Being Removed From The Varyag

     The guys over at China Defense Blog spotted these photos showing construction equipment being removed from the Varyag (Shi Lang).
     With the Chinese finally acknowledging the existence of the Varyag and removing construction equipment from the flight deck, it looks like the Varyag is getting ready to sail. 

Photo Credit: China Defense Blog

Planes.....The Movie

     Stephen Trimble over at The DEW Line spotted this trailer for a Disney spin off of the "Cars" franchise. The movie is supposed to have something to do with carrier aviation, take a look.
     Trimble says quote, "Like all good art, the trailer shown below inspires many questions, such as: Is that really a V-tailed EA-6B in the background? Why do you need a catapult to launch an AirTractor? How can a B-2 zip around like that without compromising its structural integrity? And, perhaps most disturbingly of all, why am I questioning the contextual purity of a cartoon?
     Well, to answer Trimble's questions, 1) No, it's an F/A-18G Growler. 2) You need a catapult to launch an AirTractor, because 680 & 1/2 horsepower isn't going to get you off a carrier deck. 3) It's Disney and it's a cartoon. 4) You are questioning the contextual purity of a cartoon because you are an adult.
     Planes is supposed to be a straight to DVD movie and will not go through theaters, but I think NetFlix will be getting a lot of requests for it in 2013.

Why The Libyan Rebels Can't Win The War

     With all the talk about the Libyan rebels beginning to win the civil war, I would like to explain why the rebels can't win the war.
     First, the rebels have no real chain of command, strategic or tactical. One of the most important things needed to win a war is a chain of command and a leader who can win. There is a so-called commander in chief (CINC) named Abdul Fatah Younis, but there is no real command structure above company sized units if any.
     Secondly, most of the rebels have little or no military training or discipline which is essential to have an effective military force. A military unit without training or discipline is at a serious disadvantage as evidenced by the numerous British victories during the American Revolution prior to to the stay at Valley Forge. Due to the fact that most of the rebels are former civilians they obviously would not have any military training.
     Thirdly, the rebels have an extremely disorganized distribution of weaponry. It has been reported that the rebels have had to use 100 year old Lee-Enfield and Mosin-Nagant  bolt-action rifles, not only those, but World War II-era Mauser K98 and Carcano bolt-action rifles. On top of this those weapons only scratch the surface of what the rebels are using, and the list goes on.
     Fourth, the rebels have no heavy weapons like tanks, armored personnel carriers or artillery. The rebels are reported to have a few T-55 main battle tanks (MBTs), but have not used them en masse. The rebels are also reported to have small amounts of Type 63 and other types of rocket artillery, but no real artillery. But until the rebels can deploy armored vehicles and true artillery in sufficient numbers to support their infantry, their ability to fight Gaddafi's military is severely impaired.
     The reasons I have just listed above are vital to the rebels winning the war, and until they can fix these problems their chances of beating Gaddafi are slim at best.

Photo Credit: Voice Of America

Thursday, June 16, 2011

China Has 2 J-20s

     Bill Sweetman over at Ares reports that photos have emerged showing 2  J-20s.
     When the J-20 appeared earlier this year there was some discussion why it had on one day black exhaust nozzles, and the next day it had silver exhaust nozzles, as the photos below show. 

Black nozzles.

Silver nozzles.

Black nozzles + Silver nozzles = 2 J-20s

Photo Credit: Aviation Week

Taiwan Buys 30 AH-64D Apaches

     Flightglobal reports that a U.S. Army official has announced that Taiwan will purchase 30 AH-64D Block III Apache  attack helicopters.
     With China rapidly expanding it's Air Force and Navy, Taiwan in the last few months has been calling on the U.S. to release the promised F-16 C/Ds. However, this is a new development in the Taiwan vs. People's Republic of China, with Taiwan buying state of the art attack helicopters. One possibility why Taiwan is doing this, is that it is a response to the new Chinese Z-10 which is reported to have gone operational. Another possible reason the Taiwanese purchased the Apache is to deter any Chinese landings on the island, as just 4 or 5 Apaches can really hurt, especially against landing craft and amphibious armored vehicles.
     However, in reality these new arrivals will not have much affect on any Chinese plans to take over Taiwan by force, because the first thing the Chinese would do is achieve aerial superiority. Even if the Apaches get off the ground and to the front line, they would be shot down quickly by either Chinese aircraft or surface-to-air missiles, like the HQ-10 which is the Chinese version of the S-300.
     With Taiwan receiving the first of the new Apaches sometime next year, it will be interesting to see how Beijing reacts to this news.

Photo Credit: U.S. Navy

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Two New Videos Showing Libyan Rebels Weapons Plant & Rocket Truck

     Thanks to Defense Tech for finding these videos. First off is a news video showing a rebel weapons plant in a converted schoolyard.
     Next up is a video showing the rebels firing what looks like a UB-32 rocket pod from the back of a truck.

Video Credit: Defense tech and two unidentified photographers.

Apache Video

Thanks to Weasel Zippers for finding this video.

Video Credit: Weasel Zippers

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Libyan Rebels Use APC Turret On Pickup Truck

     That's right folks, the Libyan Rebels have done it again by welding a BMP-1 turret to the back of a pickup truck, as the video below shows.
     I have not really covered the war in Libya very much as the only reason to do so is because our president overstepped his powers, but thats politics. However, what is I do like to cover is they way the Libyans on both sides can improvise as I have written about before, but it is the Rebels that can really improvise as the photo below shows.
     To get back to the video above the photo the Rebells welded a BMP-1 turret to a pickup truck, the turret in question is armed with a 73mm 2A28 Grom soomthbore semiautomatic gun. The Grom fires a RPG-like projectile that can penetrate up to 11in of armor or with newer versions up to 16in, and has a battlefield range of 500 meters. However, as the men operating the turret in video show, they are not trained professionals and probably won't hit much except air. 
     Moving on to the photo, the rocket pod in question is a UB-16 rocket pod that fires S-5 series unguided rockets. S-5 rockets weigh about 5kg depending on warhead and fuse and have a range of 3 to 4 kilometers and are about 1.4 meters long. 
     With the war in Libya dragging on it will be interesting to see how both sides continue to make improvise weapon systems that defey standard logic.

Photo Credit: Department Of Defense, and 2 unidentified photographers

Monday, June 13, 2011

Photos From Inside the Suisun Bay Mothball Fleet

     Defense Tech had a interesting story a couple days ago about a group of photographers who sneaked inside the mothball fleet in Suisun Bay, California.
     The U.S. Navy has 6 reserve fleets scattered around the country, these fleets include early Los Angeles-class nuclear submarines to 1950s-era destroyers to the USS Iowa. In recent years there have been reductions in the size of mothball fleets around the country and in the next 20 years they will be almost gone. Thats why a small group of photographers over a two year period sneaked aboard the mothball fleet in Suisun Bay and photographed the ships there before the ships are scraped. Take a look of some more of his photos below:

Photo Credit: Scott Haefner

Saturday, June 11, 2011

It's the Weekend! 6/11/11

Since it's the weekend I give you this hilarious video from Star Wars.
I did not make this.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

China Admits What The West Already Knew: Yes, We Are Building An Aircraft Carrier

Well, its official, Defense News reports that General Chen Bingde (whom I have discussed before) admitted the existence of the Varyag (now known as the Shi Lang) along with the fact that they are overhauling it.
     Personally, I am surprised that China has not admitted the existence of the Varyag prior to yesterday as almost every defense enthusiast knows of the Varyag's existence and overhaul. I have written quite a bit about the Varyag (I can't bring myself to call it the Shi Lang), covering everything from the Varyag's weapon systems to the J-15.
     With the Chinese finally admitting that the Varyag exists, it's interesting to see that the Chinese military is similar to the Soviet military in that they both are and were extremely secretive.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Iranian IL-76 Crash Video

     Stephen Trimble over at The DEW Line spotted this video showing an Iranian IL-76 AWACS going into a death spiral after colliding with a F-5E Tiger II.

     I wonder where Iran gets it's spare parts to keep their F-4 Phantoms in the air, because the U.S. has an arms embargo with Iran, same goes for the tanker version of the Boeing 707-3J9C the video was taken from.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

French Artist Desecrates Omaha Beach

Get a load of the photo above folks, some moron in France has taken it upon himself to create sculptures to commemorate the landing at Omaha Beach. Sunday evening The Blaze reported that an artist by the name of Rachid Khimoune created 1,000 sculptures of sea turtles with Nazi, Soviet and American combat helments on their back to commemorate D-Day and to promote world peace.
     Now, I several problems with this little display, 1. it was the Americans who liberated Omaha Beach NOT the Soviets, at the time they were still trying to get back to pre-war borders. 2. We were fighting the Nazis and trying to kill them and vice versa. 3. If this dummy wants world peace why doesn't he do something about it and join the military? 
     The reason I am so offended  by this and every other American should by as well, is that over 3,000 American soldier gave their lives at Omaha Beach and many more throughout western Europe so that the French, Belgian, Dutch and Jewish peoples could be free from the Nazis. Omaha Beach is sacred ground because of the men who gave their lives to liberate Europe and to desecrate the Beach in this way is extremly disrespectful to the men who made the ultimate sacrifice at that place.

Photo Credit: The Blaze

The Air Force Wants a Robo-Pallet For Loading Transports

File:US Navy 050106-N-9214D-114 Marines assigned to the Combat Cargo division aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), load pallets of bottled water into a Marine CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter.jpg
The Danger Room reports that since it takes so much energy to move, strack and organize standard cargo pallets the Air Force is looking into building a robotic cargo pallet that moves itself.
     The cargo pallets the Air Force uses today are basically the ones dad or your uncle pushed on and off transports during the Vietnam War. The designation for the Air Force's pallet of choice is the 463L Master Pallet or HCU-6/E, developed in the late 1950s by the Douglas Aircraft Company and a company now known as AAR Corporation. The HCU-6/E is 88 inches wide, 108 inches long , 2-1/4 inches high and can carry 10,000lbs of cargo. The HCU-6/E is constructed with a balsa wood core wrapped in a thin aluminum skin and, has 22 hooks surrounding the edge to use in tying the pallet down, each hook is rated at 7,500 lbs. Here is an illustration of the HCU-6/E's interior and surface:

     As I said in a previous post the Pentagon has a disease called "expensiveprogramitis" the disease of and fear of future expensive programs so, if the 'robo-pallet" does what most programs do and skyrockets in cost I think it is a safe bet that the "robo-pallet" will be canceled.

Photo Credit: U.S. Navy, Federal Government

Monday, June 6, 2011

67 Years Since D-Day

Today is June 6, 2011, it has been 67 years since the US Army in conjunction with the British and Canadians stormed Normandy and began the long trek to Berlin. To all the men and women who served in the U.S. armed forces in WWII, thanks.

Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard

Next Generation Of American Fast Attack Submarines

     For those of you who have read my previous post about new Russian submarine classes you might remember that few if any new Russian subs have reached service yet, but that is not the case for the newest American fast attack submarine class. The Virginia-class is the latest fast attack sub class in the U.S. Navy, with improved stealth and armament over the older Los Angeles-class submarines. 
     Virginia-class submarines have a displacement of 7,800 tons submerged but, I could not find the displacement when on the surface. Virginia-class subs have a length of 115 meters and a beam of 10 meters, along with a draught of 9.75 meters. Virginia-class subs have a top speed of 32 knots submerged and a top speed of 25 knots on the surface but, there are reports of Los Angeles-class subs going up to 33 knots. Thus, it would seem likely that Virginia-class subs have a much greater speed than the Navy admits. Virginia-class submarines have an operational depth of around 250m but, the max diving depth is classified.
     Virginia-class submarines are equipped with 12 VLS tubes (Vertical Launching System) capable of firing BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles. Virginia-class subs also have 4 533mm torpedo tubes that launch both the Mark 48 torpedo along with the new Submarine Launched Mobile Mine (SLMM) when it becomes available. While on the subject of the Virginia-class's armament, a couple of months ago Defense Tech reported that Electric Boat pitched the idea of building stretched Virginia-class subs equipped with 194 Tomahawk cruise missile for only $500 million more or a 20 percent higher cost (Virginias already cost around 2.5 billion dollars each) as a temporary replacement for the Ohio-class SSBNs during the 2020s.
     The picture above is a graph showing the decrease in noise produced by Soviet, Russian and American submarines from 1960 to around 2008 or 2009. The graph show how American subs have always been quieter than their Soviet or Russian counterparts but, in recent years the graph shows how the difference in noise produced has gotten smaller and smaller with the Severodvinsk-class (Yasen-class) almost as quiet as the Virgina-class (SSN-774). On top of this there have been incidents where Virginia-class submarine's hull coating falls off the side of the sub. Hull coatings are materials that dampen internal sounds and to some degree absorb active sonar pulses thus, if the hull coatings fall off the sub's sonar signature increases, making it easier to detect.
     While the Virginia-class has some drawbacks such as it's high cost and lousy hull coatings, it is also the best class of submarines in the sea today easily surpassing the British Astute-class and Russian Yasen-class in all aspects, with the possible exception of noise produced. As the U.S. faces an ever strengthening China and Russia these subs will prove that it was money well spent.


Photo Credit: U.S. Navy, Office Of Naval Intelligence

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Boeing Is Still Sore About JSF Loss 15 Years Later

     Thats right folks, Boeing is still sore about losing the JSF contest to the Lockheed Martin 15 years ago and is calling Lockheed on the F-35's rising costs as Ares reports.
     Boeing has recently been getting more and more vocal about the fact that the F-35 continues to rise in cost and continues to be delayed. Boeing's main focus appears to be on the F-35C which is the naval variant of the F-35 as it continues to push for the for either the cancellation of the F-35C or increased purchases of the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, I am not sure which. Boeing's most recent accusations against the F-35 hinge on the F-35C's costs, as Boeing says that Super Hornets would be cheaper than the F-35C.
     As the F-35 program continues to be delayed and rise in cost it it will be interesting to see how Lockheed Martin handles increasing dissent about the F-35, especially with Boeing entering the fight.   

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

High/Low Mix For U.S. Carriers

     In today's U.S. Navy there is only two kinds of aircraft carrier, helicopter carriers and supercarriers. Supercarriers that are operated by the U.S. Navy are extremely expense, generally costing around 4.5 billion dollars each, because of that the Navy cannot afford to build a great deal of carriers. Especially since the future Gerald R. Ford-class are going to cost around 9 billion dollars each. The problem is further aggravated by the fact that U.S. Navy carriers are in high demand around the world (Japan, Libya, etc...).
       The solution I propose is to use a high/low mix for aircraft carriers. A high/low mix is a combination of a more complicated, costly or larger piece of equipment operating in tandem with a less complicated, costly and smaller piece of equipment, examples of this are the F-15/F-16 mix or the future F-22/F-35 mix. Since supercarriers cost so much why not replace 5 of the 11 in use to day with 10 or 12 medium carriers about the size of the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers. Queen Elizabeth-class carriers have a tonnage of around 72,000 tons, an air wing of 40 aircraft and a top speed of 25+ knots. The cost of the Queen Elizabeth-class has risen due to the decision to convert the carriers from STOVL to CATOBAR and is estimated to top 6.2 billion pounds ($10.2 billion dollars). I am not proposing to purchase carriers from the U.K. but, simply to build a class of carriers about that size.
      This class would have a displacement of 60,000 to 70,000 tons and an air wing of 50-60 aircraft, a mix of F-35Cs, 4-6 E-2D Hawkeyes and a dozen or so helicopters. The main focus of this class would be simply sea control, with a limited ASW mission, basically a modern CVL.             
     The advantages of this idea is that more carriers would be available at a cheaper cost compared to the supercarriers already is use today. Another advantage is that this proposed class of carriers doesn't necessarily have to be nuclear powered and thus does not need special facilities for refueling like standard nuclear powered carriers. 
     This proposal is just an idea but, it holds the solution to the increasing demand for U.S. carriers around the world.
Photo Credit: U.S. Navy