Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year & Thanks

Since everyone likes to celebrate the incoming New Year with explosions, I thought it might be appropriate to recognize the largest nuclear event in human history. The Tsar Bomba, at 57 megatons, a real city buster.

Have a good 2013, be safe, and God bless.

Update: I held off on this till today to make sure everything was counted. In all of 2012 General Quarters! got 17105 pageviews from all over the world, 8 comments , and was posted on 139 times. I'd thank all those who read General Quarters! for a great year. Here's to a better 2013! Thanks again!

2012 In Review: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

     It seems like just yesterday I was writing 2011 In Review, but here we are on the cusp of a new year. Thus, it's time we look back at The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
     The Good: The Navy's P-8 program made good progress, the F-35C made it's first cat shot, and the UCAS-N was put aboard the Truman for shipboard tests, and CVN-80 will be named the Enterprise. In the Air Force, the  F-35A made good progress, and their new bunker buster became operational. The Philippines began arming up finally by purchasing 12 KF-50s, and 2 Italian frigates (not much but a start). Iran's nuclear program came under cyber attack, and at one point the program's computers began blasting "Thunderstruck" (gotta love those Jews). Israel destroyed Hamas in Gaza by killing their brass and destroying their stocks of rockets. Israel was also rumored to be monitoring Iran's nuclear program by inserting spec ops people via "Jedi Rides".
     The Bad: Iran made a lot of progress with their nuclear program, and is a helluva lot closer to building a nuke than 12 months ago. China unveiled the J-31, and more recently the Y-20. China also put the Varyag to sea for several more sea trials, and launched the lead ships of the Type 056 corvettes and the Type 052D DDG. Russia is reported to have sold China the Su-35 (again), 4 Lada-class SSKs, and is rumored to be shipping SS-26s to Syria. Syria continues to fall apart with Assad now using his Scuds and rumored to have begun using chemical weapons. Hamas and other terrorists are now rumored to have MANPADS in their possession from Libya.
     The Ugly: Harry Waxman, 'nuff said.
     This just scratches the surface of 2012, a lot more did happen, some good, a lot bad. 2013 looks to be a lot worse with sequestration, China throwing it's weight around in Asia, the mideast getting even more grouchy than usual, and a truck load of crap about to hit the fan here at home. Get ready for a rough ride, and may God have mercy on us.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Do We Have a Mothball Fleet?

     ComNavOps over at Navy Matters had a rather interesting post the other day discussing the state of U.S. mothball fleets. CNO pointed out that in a protracted war with China we would not be able to replace our losses. I've lived near the Suisun Bay fleet, and I can tell you from passing by the fleet we have no major warships laid up there. Currently, the only warship in any U.S. mothball is the USS Nassau, a LHA. Read the post here and ponder.

Russia Sells China 4 Lada-class SSKs

After selling 48 advanced Su-35 fighters to China, Russia will sell four Lada class submarines to the PLA under the direct order of President Vladimir Putin, according to Moscow-based newspaper Kommersant on Dec. 20.
The Lada class is an improved version of the Kilo class diesel-electric submarine, equipped with an advanced combat system and running much more quietly than its predecessor. Suggesting that the total price of the four submarines will be US$2 billion, Kommersant said that the contract will be signed by 2015. This means that the PLA Navy would operate the submarines earlier than India and Venezuela. A spokesperson for Rosoboronexport, Russia's major weapon exporter, confirmed the report on Dec. 23.
Source within the Russian military said Moscow will not only sell the four submarines to China but also transfer their technology. Equipped with air-independent propulsion, the Lada class is able to operate beneath the surface for a longer period of time than other similar subs. Since it is quieter, it may also prove a perfect option for the PLA Navy to counter US carrier strike groups.... (Emphasis is mine)
A couple interesting things jump out at me. 

1. China got the Su-35? There have been more rumors about a purchase lately, but nothing truly confirmed, but disturbing if true. 

2. Putin ordered this? I know Russia is hard-up for hard cash, but why would the Russkies sell 4 top notch SSKs to a potential enemy?

3. Transfer of technology. Biggest part of the story, assuming the story is accurate. China is still behind the U.S. in terms of quieting tech for subs, and those could be a big jump in quieting their current SSKs, and maybe future SSNs. To date PRC SSNs have been infamous for the amount of noise they generate (they are comparable to '50s Soviet SSNs), making them easy for U.S. sub hunters to track. 

Overall, an extremely worrying development, as China is building up her SSK fleet at a dizzying rate, and could easily raise hell with her massive numbers of subs. Not mention U.S. sub hunting skills have been on the decline since the collapse of the USSR, and sequestration isn't helping things either. Time to get on the ball, buy more P-8s and develop a new class of DDs for sub hunting (think Spraunce-class). 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Take On The Assault Weapons Ban & The 2nd Amendment

     On December 14 an mentally ill Adam Lanza attacked Sandy Hook Elementary school, incurring 27 KIAs and 2 WIAs. Of those 27 KIAs, 20 were between 6 and 7 years old. Less than 24 hours the Media and gun control advocates were dancing in the blood of the massacred innocents. I've kept silent on this issue because I thought it was pointless to add to the discussion, because of the demonization of gun owners, and that fact that it was extremely inappropriate time to discuss gun control. However, if the media and liberals wish to play dirty, then so be it, these are my thoughts. 
     1. Assault weapons/hi-cap magazine bans are pointless. Sen. Diane Feinstein has promised to introduce a new assault weapons ban (see outline here), and Dems in the House are promising to introduce a bill banning hi-cap magazines. However, I can tell you a murderer does not need an AR-15, AK, AUG, or any other semi-atuo with a +10 round mag to slaughter people or raise seven different kinds of hell. In fact, the same day as Sandy Hook a man stabbed 23 at a school in China, I would bet had he taken his time he could have killed at least of those he stabbed, but thankfully he didn't. Another thing these assault weapons bans forget is that the guns they ignore, (revolvers, bolt-action rifles, M1 Garands, and any pistols with a >10 round mag capacity) are just as dangerous in the right hands as a AR-15 or Glock 17. A skilled marksman with a Mossberg ATR, Remington Model 700, Savage Axis or any other hunting rifle, can wreak havoc from a concealed position on large groups of people. Take for example Charles Whitman in Austin, TX in '66. Basically, assault weapon/high-cap mag bans do little to stop slaughters of innocents, and are little more than feel-good solutions. Just to get a fell for what Feinstein's new bill would affect, here are what qualified  a weapon as an assault weapon under the Clinton ban.
    2. The true purpose of the 2nd amendment is to inhibit the government from becoming tyrannical. Personally, I've had arguments with people claiming that the 2nd Amendment only gives the military the right to bear, I've seen the media claim that the 2nd Amendment only protects hunting, and I've heard people claim that the Framers didn't see semi-auto rifles coming (that's actually a highly debatable point), and wouldn't want the people to have access to them to prevent crime. Bullshit, all of it. Rifles and pistols are the great equalizers, prior to their development kings and/or the government could do anything they wished to the people, and the people couldn't do a thing. However, now that We The People are armed, and trained in the use of those arms, the government can no longer prohibit practicing religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, or any other right documented in the Bill of Rights. The Framers wanted the people to be just as well armed as the military, so that The People would be able to put the government back in it's place, namely, subservient to the people, instead of vice versa. To lose that right to keep and bear arms, of all types and looks, would be to make The People servants to the government and give the government a leg up on The People in a situation where the government must subdue the people. To quote Mao Zedong, "All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The Communist Party [The State] must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party [State].". That is in essence why the government wants in enact gun control, and is also why we must never surrender our guns under any conditions.
    Finally, all I have to say about a new assault weapons ban is that it won't work, this is a waste of time. It would be better to just repeal the NFA of 1934 and throw out the idea of gun control because it doesn't work. In the end, in the event of new gun control laws, all I have to say is, I will not comply.

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Friday, December 28, 2012

China Buys The Tu-22M Production Line

From International Aviation News:

China has already imported 6 such bombers as the bombers are much better than China’s own H-6 bombers in bigger load and larger range.
The Tu-22MB Tupolev Backfire is a supersonic, swing-wing, long-range strategic and maritime surprise strike bomber.
According to Chinese military expert Ma Dingsheng, the swing-wing of Tu-22MBenables it to conduct surprise stealth maritime attack. It can first adjust its wings in a position that enables it to fly at super-low attitude without being detected by enemy radar. When it comes near its target, it changes its wing position to enable it to clime up quickly to conduct sudden attack.
However, Ma said that for production of the bombers, China still needs quite a few parts that it cannot produce especially the engines. It is said that there is a contract to supply the parts for the production of 36 such bombers.
China has to develop its own ability to produce the parts, especially the engines. Otherwise, if Russia refuses to provide more parts, China will be unable to produce more and even have difficulty in maintenance of the bombers.
Source: China Times
This has been in the rumor mill since the late '90s (see Fatal Terrain by Dale Brown), but this is the first I've seen that this might actually happen. However, until we see a Tu-22M in PLAAF markings, take this with a grain of salt.

H/T to Solomon over at SNAFU! for spotting this.
Photo Credit: Air Power Australia

Y-20 : China's New Heavy Lift Transport

Rumors have been floating around lately about a new Chinese transport about the size of the A400M with associated grainy pics. However, yesterday it became official as the DoD confirmed that China is developing a new transport known as the Y-20. This is a major development, as the Y-20 the largest aircraft China has built to date indigenously. A few questions that come to mind, 1) are what engines are being used, as China has historically had problems with local designed and built engines, 2) How will this affect the airmobile and paratroop elements of the PLA, 3) Will China produce a tanker version of the Y-20 like the Russians did with the IL-76, amongst others. Interesting times as the Y-20 is third new aircraft unveiled by China in just two years, the other being the J-20 and F-60. Can't wait to see what 2013 brings with new ChiComm developments and tensions in the Spratleys and Senkakus.

Here are a few photos of the Y-20 and a couple CGI pics.

Photo Credit: SNAFU!, China Defense Blog

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Happy 2013! War in the Spratleys

From Strategy Page:

     The Chinese announcement that it would begin enforcing new rules, starting January 1st, that will have Chinese naval patrols escorting, or expelling, foreign ships from most of the South China Sea has mobilized a lot of resistance. This should not be surprising as the new rules include offshore areas of the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, and Vietnam that international law does not recognize as Chinese. India and the United States have both announced that they will not obey and that Indian and American warships expect to move unmolested through the South China Sea in 2013.

     China had issued new passports (since last May) which had the new map of China showing the South China Sea as Chinese territory and part of India as part of China. This was ignored until the recent announcement that the Chinese navy would threaten or harass foreign ships in parts of the South China Sea claimed by China. The Philippines and Vietnam have refused to recognize this passport. India is stamping visas for Chinese with the Indian version of the map. Filipinos are also angry at how China has reneged on its agreement to withdraw its warships from Scarborough Shoal (which, according to international law, is Filipino). Both countries agreed to withdraw their warships from the shoal but three Chinese ships remain. The Chinese keep offering excuses of why the ships are still there and the ships show no sign of leaving.

     Not good, the South China Sea has been a powder keg for years, and China continues to piss off her neighbors. In the last few years we've seen a U.S. naval research harassed by Chinese fishermen, ChiComm frigates patrolling Scarborough Shoal, the ChiComms questioning a Indian naval vessel why she was in the South China Sea, amongst other provocative actions. Now we have China showing part of India as China, this isn't new, there have been territorial disputes between China and India since the '60s over parts of the Himalayas, but this is going to ruffle some serious feathers in New Delhi. With Sparky in office and no one in south Asia capable of beating China in a shooting war, this is going to be heck of a ride. A big chunk of Japan and South Korea's oil passes through the area, not to mention the fishing done by Vietnam, Taiwan, and the Philippines in the area. Come 1/1/13 it's going to be interesting to see what happens, because if the U.S. does not come to the aid of our allies in the area, it will show the world the U.S. doesn't have the balls to stand up to her adversaries.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Whiskey. Tango. Hotel.

     This just out of Michigan where the Legislature just passed a right to work law (yes, Michigan). Regardless of your view of right to work laws, this should make your blood boil.

    So...union members are now on par with WWII vets who went through hell and back again for this country? Real fracking classy. Hat tip to Weasel Zippers for spotting this bit.

71 Years Ago Today

Today, at 0755 Pearl Harbor was attacked by the naval air force of Japan, killing 2402 American personnel and wounding 1247. The next day America entered WWII. Think about our mobilization efforts after Pearl Harbor, and ponder, could we do it agin?

September 2, 1945 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

CVN-80 To Be Named Enterprise

     From the DoD

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced today via video message at the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) inactivation ceremony that the third Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier will be named Enterprise. 
            Mabus selected this name to honor USS Enterprise (CVN 65), the Navy’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which was inactivated today in Norfolk, Va. Commissioned in 1961, CVN 65 served for more than five decades. It participated in the blockade of the Cuban Missile Crisis, launched strike operations in Vietnam, and conducted combat missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. 
            “The USS Enterprise was the first of its kind, and for 51 years its name has been synonymous with boldness, readiness and an adventurous spirit,” said Mabus. “Rarely has our fleet been without a ship bearing the name.  I chose to maintain this tradition not solely because of the legacy it invokes, but because the remarkable work of the name Enterprise is not done.” 
            The future USS Enterprise, designated CVN 80, will be the ninth ship to bear the name.  

Mabus did real good on this one, now he needs to name the rest of the Ford-class: Hornet, Wasp, Ranger, San Jacinto, Lexington, and Yorktown

Photo Credit: US Navy