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Flightline Friday: The Awesome A-7 April 13, 2018

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, Flightline Friday, fun, history, non squitur, silliness, technology.
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For nearly 40 years, my current house would have been very nearly directly under the flight path for Naval Air Station Dallas and the co-located Vought/LTV plant.  Thus, from 1955 to the early 90s, Vought F-8s and later A-7s would have been in the air most every day, flying over my home (OK, the home didn’t exist for most of that time, but you get the point).  Of course, by the time we moved into that house Navy Dallas was closed and Vought was out of the prime contractor business, no longer building whole airplanes, but that’s how it goes.

At any rate the A-7 was the result of a quickie project to build a replacement for the excellent Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, intending to greatly increase the range/payload capability of US Navy light attack assets.  The project was a hallmark of the US aerospace industry at that time, roughly showcasing an industry at its historic peak, resulting in a program that went from conception to flying hardware in just about 4 years.  Heck, they can’t even get half the specs for a bomb written in 4 years today, let alone those for a whole airplane.  Vought responded to the Navy’s request for a new Light Attack aircraft – the VAL competition – with a modified version of its epochal F-8 Crusader fighter, basically a shortened F-8 with a wing modified to carry heavy payloads.  Vought won that competition, and between December 1964 and early 1967 crafted the A-7A.  This aircraft represented a quantum leap not in speed, because it wasn’t very fast, but in accuracy.  The A-7 was the most accurate tactical bombing platform in US service until the introduction of the F-16 in 1978.  Especially in its Air Force A-7D variant and subsequent US Navy E model copy of the D, the A-7 set radically improved standards in terms of bombing accuracy and range/payload capability, being able to carry the same payload as the A-4 twice as far, or twice the payload the same distance.

Prior to the A-7s arrival in Southeast Asia, virtually every Air Force tactical mission “up north,” whether launched from Thailand or South Vietnam, required air-to-air refueling.  Even the long-legged F-105 required refueling after taking off with a heavy bomb load.  As the first video below indicates, however, the A-7 was able to fly almost all missions over North Vietnam, with a heavy payload of about 9000 pounds of ordinance, pylons, and ammo, without air-to-air refueling.  Now refueling was still pretty frequently done, but more to give the A-7 ridiculous loiter time up North – often over 2 hours – than because of basic necessity.  Navy A-7s, operating much closer to their targets, virtually never required refueling.

The A-7 got its impressive accuracy through a combination of some of the first digital computers, embedded and computerized navigation systems (INS, Doppler, and a very accurate attack radar), and newly developed software algorithms that determined, electronically, a continuously computed impact point (CCIP) means of bombing that was a radical advance for its time.  Later perfected to a much greater degree in the F-16 and F-18, the A-7’s CCIP system improved basic bomb-dropping accuracy by more than a factor of ten, from hundreds of yards down to about 20-30 yards, average mean miss distance.  The second video, an absolute gift of an upload of a film from the old British firm of Elliot, which built some of the very first Heads Up Displays ever made, subsequently installed in the A-7D and E.  Man how some like minded enthusiasts and I would have practically wept for joy to have seen truly excellent footage like this, showing exactly how complex, innovative systems were used tactically, 20 or 30 years ago.  Great stuff.

I’m out for the weekend.  Sorry for lack of posts, it was one of those weeks.  Long live the memory of the great Vought Aircraft and its many excellent products!  Built just about 5 miles from my home, they were in every respect Great Planes:

Now that the “multirole” is cheaper experiment has been tried and quite possibly proven a bad concept – especially when the roles are far too numerous and diverse – perhaps it’s time to return to some lower cost single mission types, for the vital roles like CAS and BAI?  That is to say, Air Force and Navy jocks, just because it doesn’t have an “F” in front of its name doesn’t mean it’s second rate!  Bomber pilots may make history, fighter pilots may make movies, but attack pilots make the boots on the ground very, very happy.

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Virginia Delegate Nick Freitas Gives Awesome Defense of Firearms Rights, Destroys Leftist Shibboleths March 9, 2018

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, firearms, General Catholic, Revolution, Society, technology, Victory.
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No real comment here, just one of the best speeches on the matter of “gun control” I’ve ever heard.  Virginia Delegate Nick Freitas effectively destroys all the Left’s main talking points to try to disarm the populace, and also gores a great number of their other sacred cows (like their attacks on the family, the correlation of fatherless young men and these kinds of insane attacks, etc).  It’s about as good a 7 minute speech on the topic as I’ve ever heard.  Enjoy and have a blessed weekend!

Now for something happier – SpaceX Falcon Heavy successfully launches February 6, 2018

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, blogfoolery, Flightline Friday, fun, non squitur, Society, technology, Victory.
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I don’t know if you got to see the launch, but over 5 million pounds of thrust shook Launch pad 39A at Cape Canaveral for the first time in 45 years as SpaceX’s first Falcon Heavy rocket conducted an almost entirely successful test flight.  I say almost entirely, because at the time I am writing this, it is not known if the core booster successfully landed on the drone ship in the Atlantic (the side boosters did land).

Footage of the launch below.

The payload was Elon Musk’s 2008 Tesla roadster fitted with a manikin in an astronaut’s suit.  They are still livestreaming footage of that, dubbed “Starman:”

Both the Tesla roadster and the 2nd stage of the Falcon Heavy are en route to a solar orbit that will have them pass somewhere out around the orbit of Mars.

While this initial version of Falcon Heavy was significantly dialed back in terms of thrust and payload potential, given how SpaceX has constantly, incrementally increased the thrust and payload of its Falcon 9, I expect them to do the same with Falcon Heavy.  I wouldn’t doubt if a nearly 6 million pound thrust version may enter service at some point.

The launch coverage was thoroughly enjoyable to watch.  The immense joy of SpaceX employees in the background, shouting and whooping it up as the rocket successfully executed each step of the launch cycle, was contagious.

Congratulations to SpaceX.  I think BFR and Mars colonization are a bit too ambitious even for Elon Musk, but what they have accomplished so far they have every right to be extremely proud of.

USAF Hosting Largest Ever Red Flag Exercise, Featuring Massive GPS Blackout over Western US January 31, 2018

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Flightline Friday, fun, non squitur, silliness, Society, technology, Uncategorized.
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Now I know why I didn’t do a Flightline Friday for months – I knew once I got started on the subject, I wouldn’t be able to stop.  You’re witnessing the transformation of this formerly dumb Catholic blog to a smart military blog.

Actually, I’ve been just pounded at work this week and when I get a moment, I want to read something “light,” which has meant military. Because nothing says light like war and death.

Red Flag is the world’s premiere, largest, most complex, most realistic air warfare exercise.  Red Flags are typically held 4-6 times a  year, always at Nellis Air Force base adjacent to Las Vegas and the sprawling Nellis Test and Training Range.  Red Flag 18-1 is the first of the year, as the name implies, and is also the largest ever held.  Not only that, it is also one of the most secretive, highest-end threat environments ever presented at Red Flag, which is saying something, because many aircrew maintain that after experiencing the rigors of Red Flag, actual combat seems rather dull and uneventful.  Red Flag generally prepares aircrews for the highest end fight, against the most complex defenses and the most skilled adversaries.  This year is no exception, as, for the first time ever, USAF will be making use of GPS-jamming technologies so powerful that normal GPS reception over almost the entire western US will be affected for several hours a day while the exercises are ongoing:

The year’s first iteration of the USAF’s premier set of aerial war games, known commonly as Red Flag, is kicking off today at Nellis Air Force Base just outside of Las Vegas, but this exercise will be different than any in the past. Not only is it the largest of its kind in the exercise’s 42 year history, but the USAF is going to blackout GPS over the sprawling Nevada Test and Training Range to challenge aircrews and their weaponry under realistic fighting conditions. The tactic will spill over throughout the region, with warnings being posted stating inconsistent GPS service could be experienced by aircrews flying throughout the western United States.

The NBAA Command Center reports the U.S. military will begin training exercises on the Nevada Test and Training Range between 0400Z until 0700Z daily. Training maneuvers will impact vast portions of the Western U.S. including California, Nevada, Oregon, Wyoming, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Montana and New Mexico. FAA enroute ATC centers affected include Albuquerque (ZAB), Denver (ZDV), Los Angeles (ZLA), Salt Lake (ZLC), Oakland (ZOA) and Seattle (ZSE). Operations in R-2508 and R-2501 may also be impacted.

Arrivals and departures from airports within the Las Vegas area may be issued non-Rnav re-routes with the possibility of increased traffic disruption near LAS requiring airborne re-routes to the south and east of the affected area. Aircraft operating in Los Angeles (ZLA) center airspace may experience navigational disruption, including suspension of Descend-via and Climb-via procedures. Non-Rnav SIDs and STARs may be issued within ZLA airspace in the event of increased navigational disruption. Crews should expect the possibility of airborne mile-in-trail and departure mile-in-trail traffic management initiatives.

Those dates and the location perfectly correspond with Red Flag 18-1. The timeframe for the daily disruptions is also the same as the night launch and recovery period for Red Flag this time of year. Two major large force employment missions take place every day during the exercise, one during the light and one during the night, with each last roughly two to three hours.

This particular Red Flag includes players from the USAF, USMC, Australia and UK. [Those are the US’ top-tier allies and get access to the darkest and spookiest stuff.  Britain used to far and away be the most trusted in that respect, but more and more of late Australia is given the most favored nation status in access to highly classified capabilities and programs. Still, the two are easily the most trusted and given access to the most sensitive capabilities – and vice versa.  The militaries of the US, Britain, and Australia share as much, and are as integrated, as any in the world.] The very limited guest list of only America’s most trusted allies is indicative of a Red Flag exercise where high-end and sensitive capabilities will be put to the test. According to a press release from the USAF that was posted just hours ago, this seems to be an accurate assumption, with Colonel Michael Mathes, 414th Combat Training Squadron commander, stating:

“We’re trying a few new and different things with Red Flag 18-1… It’s the largest Red Flag ever with the largest number of participants, highlighting the balance of training efficiency with mission effectiveness… Red Flag 18-1 primarily is a strike package focused training venue that we integrate at a command and control level in support of joint task force operations… It’s a lot of words to say that we integrate every capability we can into strike operations that are flown out of Nellis Air Force Base.” [So Red Flag also often involves lower-tier allies, and even some nations that are only kinda sorta friendly, like India.  Adversaries are not invited. So, it’s not unusual for the Israeli Air Force to attend, or Colombia, S. Korea, and certainly other NATO nations.  But this one is reserved only for the closest allies, which says something special is going on]

If you read  yesterday’s single post, you know that the US presently has a significant vulnerability to anti-satellite weapons, which is another way to deny critical capabilities like GPS to US forces.  Powerful ground- or air-based jammers are another way to accomplish the same goal.  I’m glad, in a sense, to see USAF taking the threat seriously and training to fight in a GPS-degraded environment.  My brother-in-law who is apparently a genius at packaging ever-smaller and cheaper inertial navigation systems (INS) into aircraft, weapons, ships, and ground vehicles has his work cut out for him, but should stay busy for years.

A bit of a rah-rah video from USAF on this Red Flag 18-1.

Unfortunately, a Royal Australian Air Force Boeing EF-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft caught fire and was severely damaged during the exercises this week.  Apparently the crew were able to escape without injury, but the aircraft is likely a total write off.  It seems the starboard engine caught fire and burned through the empennage.

As to the threat, here’s a video the Navy released of Russian Su-27 Flankers – armed with live missiles – flying dangerously close to an EP-3E Aries II electronic surveillance aircraft over the international waters/airspace of theBlack Sea recently.  This kind of thing used to happen occasionally during the Cold War, but has been occurring regularly, several times a year, since tensions mounted with Russia over their intervention in the Ukraine/Crimea:

In some of those shots, that Flanker is single digit feet from the Aries.  Dangerous.  Lots of potential for bad things to happen with that kind of behavior.

Don’t Have a Freak Out – Russian, Chinese Anti-Satellite Technology Nothing New January 31, 2018

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Flightline Friday, history, It's all about the $$$, non squitur, silliness, Society, technology.
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This article from Hot Air is remarkably ignorant of history.  It does not mention, for instance, Program 437, which ran from 1962 until 1975, which involved launching a Thor missile from Johnson Atoll in the Pacific to down low earth orbit satellites and/or fractional orbit bombardment systems (FOBS) – a kind of nuclear warhead designed to behave like a satellite and thus attack by stealth, possibly from a surprising direction – like from the south.  This was an active US anti-satellite (ASAT) capability for over a decade.

And even Program 437 was preceded by another American ASAT system, Program 505, which used a Nike Zeus anti-ballistic missile missile to also target low earth orbit satellites and FOBS.  505 was phased out because Thor could reach much higher altitudes than Zeus, up to 800 miles above earth – really out of LEO territory and into medium orbits.  Both were armed with nuclear warheads to make sure they killed what they targeted, though they were accurate enough (at least Zeus was) to get skin-to-skin hits even way back in the very early 60s.  Satellites and ICBM reentry vehicles behave in extremely similar ways, if you have a capability against one, you have a capability against the other.  And right now, the US missile defense system is neither the world’s most advanced nor it’s most comprehensive.  Apparently, many other nations have concluded that shooting down targets on entirely predictable ballistic paths is not impossible.  Because it’s not, and we’ve been doing it for nearly 60 years, though the current Ground Based Mid-Course Defense system is kind of a kludge and has been starved of vital infrastructure for years (like enough radars to discriminate targets).

The thing is, all of our major world adversaries have had a similar capability for decades.  Pretty much, if you have the ability to orbit a satellite, you have the ability to shoot them down, at least the ones in LEO. Simply calculate the orbit of the target satellite, and launch your own to coincide with at some determined time, and blammo, no more satellite. The Soviets had a massive ASAT program from the 60s on, and deployed a number of ASAT systems, up to an including a 1 megawatt laser battle station prototype, which, thank God, failed to achieve orbit when it’s booster turned the wrong direction and fired it back into the atmosphere (that was in 1987, when the same Soviets were screaming to all the world, and had eager acolytes in the Western press doing same, that orbital laser battle stations were an impossibility.  They were actually way ahead of us at the time, and in some ways, still are).

Anyhoo, some statist media were trying to work up a panic today, eagerly parroting what their patrons in the Deep State wanted them to say, proclaiming that Oh My God, the bad guys are threatening us again!  It’s all much ado about nothing (or very little, and very old, news), but it does point up that, indeed, at present, the US has no viable, operational ASAT system, not because we don’t have the ability, or can’t afford it, but by deliberate act of policy. Any number of systems have been proposed, and a good number have reached the hardware stage, but demonrats in Congress (or the executive branch) have always managed to scuttle them, since we signed a stupid treaty in 1967 that pretends to ban warfare in outer space.*  Good luck with that:

China and Russia are developing anti-satellite missiles and other weapons and will soon be capable of damaging or destroying all U.S. satellites in low-earth orbit, according to the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.

The Joint Staff intelligence directorate, known as J-2, issued the warning in a recent report on the growing threat of anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons from those states, according to officials familiar with the assessment.

The report concludes that “China and Russia will be capable of severely disrupting or destroying U.S. satellites in low-earth orbit” in the next several years, said the officials.

The capability to attack low-earth orbit satellites could be in place by 2020, the officials said.

Notice the subtle manipulation – there is a big threat, but it’s not quite real, yet.  We’re safe for now.  But you better pour billions into our pet project, or we’ll be doomed, doomed!

There actually is a real threat out there, but I think it has much more to do with how the US defense establishment has allowed its operations to evolve into this desire for an ultimate control, God’s eye view of the battlespace, requiring massive recon and even more massive data transfer capabilities.  Because the “gods” don’t want to be anywhere near an actual battlefield, which tend to be in hot, nasty, dusty, and sticky places.  They want to sit in their air conditioned cocoon in DC and call all the shots.  The only, or easiest, way to get worldwide recon and transmission of data is via satellite.  Thus, the US military is now incredibly, incredibly dependent on constant and massive satellite presence, a very very delicate system and one with a thousand and one dire vulnerabilities and single points of failure. Thus the screaming about the threat.  25 years ago, satellites were very nice to have an in some limited ways even vital, but the Gulf War could have been fought with a serious reduction in our satellite capabilities without a great deal of impact at the operational level.  Nowadays, literally everything runs via satellite, from the Predator footage that allows Obama to sit in the Oval Office and watch a terrorist get Hellfired in Yemen, to all the JDAMs/JSOWs/JASSMs and other “joint” bombs and missiles that now make up the overwhelming majority of the ordinance dropped by tactical aircraft, which, similarly, navigate via satellite.  There is still some sanity, many of these bombs and certainly the aircraft have embedded INS and other systems to back up and replace the GPS if need be, but a) those are just that, back ups, and not used much anymore, and b) the entire concept of operations, training, budgets, etc., are focused around constant availability of very expensive, very few, and very vulnerable satellites.  This actually is a very major concern for the US, because satellites are extremely difficult to harden, and they are very easy to find (there are ways around this, satellites do contain maneuvering fuel, but not very much, and a few orbit changes to avoid a threat will use that up very quickly.  Plus, moving them around causes them to not be where you need them to be when you need them – at least some of the less numerous kinds. Probably most of you would be shocked to know how FEW recon “spy” satellites the US has in orbit – even adding in the radar and other non-visual types, it isn’t even 10, and may be as few as 4 or 5).

Thus, ZUMA, which some of you may have heard of, was probably not actually a failed mission, but is almost certainly a prototype (or not so prototype) stealth satellite design.  That’s one way to avoid being targeted – many amateur astronomers, radio hobbyists, etc, are able to track all publicly acknowledged satellites by their transmissions (even if they cannot decode them), literally see them in orbit, etc.  It is known there have been some stealth satellites that were not visible to the ground and used transmission technologies that most ordinary enthusiasts could not ID and track.  Several of these have been orbited over the years.  ZUMA appears to be another one, but unusually large and with an unusual cover story.

*- While the Us has no acknowledged, purpose-built ASAT system at present, as recently as 10 years ago, the US very publicly shot down a satellite in LEO using an ABM missile (a Navy Standard 3 missile, our best ICBM defense weapon at this point).  If a nation has an operational ABM system, it most certainly has at least some measure of an ASAT capability. I’m sure Obama scratched any further development of that capability, even at the classified level, but perhaps Trump will turn it back on.

In the past, I’d have said that was a good thing.  Not so sure anymore.

Sorry I do have a lot of good Catholic stuff to get to but had little time today.  I’m really running late now, have a blessed evening.

Sorry for the atrocious pic – who would take it from between some fuzzy covers, and why? But it’s the only one that shows what we could have had, and almost had – a layered missile defense system covering almost the entire US with nearly 1000 interceptors (more could have been added later) with numerous, very capable and very hardened, targeting radars. Not sure why New Orleans and El Paso were left uncovered – Miami, too, apparently. This system wasn’t really good against SLBMs but with additional radars and interceptor sites, easily could have been. Yes it was expensive but at present we have almost no defense, and for some of the country, none at all, against a ballistic missile attack, nuclear or otherwise.
These are coverage areas of the proposed – and somewhat built – Sentinel ABM system, which later was called Safeguard under Nixon, and then cancelled by the commie Congress of the mid-70s that came in the national temper tantrum in the wake of Watergate, which was an absolute nothing burger compared to what the corrupt federal government is up to today, and has been since at least Jan 20 2009, when Obama turned it into the paramilitary enforcement branch of the demonrat party.

Flightline Friday: SpaceX Static Fires the Mighty Falcon Heavy January 26, 2018

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Flightline Friday, fun, non squitur, silliness, technology.
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I haven’t done a Flightline Friday in ages.  Well, some important recent aerospace news – SpaceX, finally, after years of delays, appears about set to launch the Falcon Heavy rocket sometime in the next few weeks. The full stack was static fired for the first time on Wednesday – and they did it at Launch Complex 39A, from which all but one Saturn V launches took place.

The Falcon Heavy is not as powerful as the Saturn V, but it is in the same league.  It produces over 5 million pounds of thrust, to the Saturn V’s 7.7+ million (on Apollo 15).  The Space Shuttle stack made just over 7 million pounds, but most of that was from solid rockets, which are boring, and the Space Shuttle doesn’t fly anymore, so there.

Falcon Heavy, with 27 Merlin engines, will be able to loft about 70 tons into low earth orbit, and nearly 30 tons to geosynchronous orbit.  It also has very substantial capacities for escape velocity – about 25 tons to the Moon and 19 tons to Mars.  Those are the capacities with full expendability – no returning and landing any of the stages.  With reuse, the capacities are substantially reduced, especially to GTO and escape velocity.  Generally, the Falcon Heavy has capacities almost exactly half those of the Saturn V – one handicap is that SpaceX continues to use a relatively low energy upper stage powered by hydrocarbons, whereas Saturn V upper stages were cryogenic and powered by liquid hydrogen.   They also had way more thrust, especially the spectacular S-II stage.

Anyhoo, even though the test was very short, shock waves in the flame trenches of Launch Complex 39 like this have not been seen in over 45 years:

I cannot wait for one of these to launch from Boca Chica.  I will so be in South Padre, if SpaceX ever gets moving on their south Texas launch site.  Apparently the sand there is unusually unstable and they’ve had to do a lot more soil prep than they planned.  The bedrock is much deeper than thought, too – which, guys, the Rio Grande has been running through 1000+ miles of desert for thousands of years, that’s a lot of sand to dump into the Gulf, but whatever.  They say they are going to finally get started in earnest this year.  We’ll see.

 

Flightline err Tuesday: Showing the Flag in the Sea of Japan November 14, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Flightline Friday, foolishness, fun, non squitur, silliness, Society, technology.
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Every year, the RIMPAC exercise will feature some impressive shows of force, with as many as three US carriers, many US and allied escorts, and an occasional allied carrier or similar “capital” ship.

But RIMPAC is generally staged around Guam.  Last week, however, the following was recorded in the western Sea of Japan or East China Sea off the coast of North Korea:

That is USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), and USS Nimitz (CVN-68), along with what I believe is the Japanese JMSDF Izumo helicopter carrier.  There are a dozen odd escorts.

But the frankly cool part is looking down on the flyover by B-1Bs and Super Hornets.  That’s not a sight one sees everyday, a top-down aerial view of not only a large naval formation but also manned bombers and fighters.

Now the view from the carriers:

View from inside the Nimitz pilot house during the obvious PR event:

Amazingly, the USN managed not to have a collision in spite of all these ships being in such close proximity.  Top. Men.

Not sure how wise such a demonstration is in such close proximity to hostile shores.  That’s about $70 billion worth of hardware.

Since the USN only has 9 carriers, and typically two are in either refit (like USS George Washington right now, in refit for 2 years) or otherwise unavailable for every one deployed carrier, that’s basically the entire US carrier force right there.  I think there is one more in the Persian Gulf right now (Vinson?).  It is possible at times to take a force of 9 and have 5 deployed, but that’s about it, and only some of the time.  More than likely, only 3 are available on a day to day basis.

So the Brits with two Queen Elizabeth class ships basically have zero carriers, at least as a sort of worst case your enemy picks the day to start the war kind of scenario.

Anyhoo.   Love to see those Bones flying over the carriers, but the operational art the old SAC had……….I’m not sure it exists anymore:

I Don’t Lose a Wink of Sleep over North Korea September 25, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in asshatery, foolishness, It's all about the $$$, rank stupidity, self-serving, silliness, Society, technology.
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Several people have asked me what I think of North Korea and all these threats emanating from Kim Jong Un.  What I think is………don’t fund their weapons development, otherwise, just totally ignore them and encourage every possible economic sanction.  They are a one trick pony.  All they have is threats.  If they ever act on those threats, their one trump card is gone and they are utterly destroyed.  So, it is best to just ignore them.

But we, the US, have paid for their atomic weapons and ballistic missile development efforts. In 1994 Kim Il Sung precipitated a fake “crisis” over a nuclear weapons program that resulted in a total cave from Billy Boy Clinton and North Korea receiving several billion dollars in US aid, upon the false promise that the Norks would stop their nuclear weapons development program.  Lo and behold, 12 years later North Korea explodes a low tech, low yield fission implosion device (similar to Little Boy of Hiroshima), and Bush ’43 rewards them with more US aid for another totally empty promise. Several billion dollars later and the Norks have at least IRBMs and now, it seems, a thermonuclear device.  Now they are out of development funds, I surmise, again, and so are rattling their sabers to complete their weapon miniaturization and RV development efforts (with massive aid from Iran, who Obama showered with tens of billions of dollars in unfrozen Iranian assets all for a totally empty promise that they won’t further develop the nukes they already surely have) and so are looking for another 5 or 8 or 10 billion US dollars to help them complete their fully operational nuclear deterrent force, which we have, in all likelihood, already funded to its present state of completion.

What they are already doing is ALL they can do.  They have one play and one play alone: the crazy man saber rattle bluff.  The last 3 US presidents have fallen for it.  Don’t let Trump be the fourth, and, thank God, I don’t think he will.

Look, North Korea can inflict grievous harm on the US with either an EMP -which I doubt they have the capability to execute, it’s much trickier than it’s made out to be – or with a strike on any US targets within their missile range (which is quite unclear at present). But US strategic nuclear forces were designed to ride out an attack 100s of times more massive than anything the NorKs can do and hit back with enough force to effectively decapitate and devastate another superpower, let alone a broken peasant state with entirely centralized command and control.  And the NorKs know this.  They attack, they die.

Sure they can engage in various levels of malfeasance short of nuclear warfare that may deserve varying levels of responses, but the one response you don’t do is to give into their shakedown tactics yet again.  If they stage another commando raid on the South, as they have done many times in the past, you respond in kind or let the RoK do so (people forget, Korea, Republic of, has an extremely capable and highly motivated military).  Let the RoK and/or Japan start staging “accidental” penetrations of North Korean airspace by armed tactical aircraft.  There are myriad things to do, short of all out war.

So let them keep flapping their gums and staging whatever missile flights they can, but don’t let it bother you any more than any test flight of a Russian or Chinese ICBM, which occurs almost monthly, as well, and to no great fanfare.  Communicate in no uncertain terms that THIS administration will not be shaken down by a bully, and this will all quickly pass.  In the meantime finally get serious about continental missile defense and start deploying far more X-band tracking radars and GMD interceptors.  The fact that we still only have about 40 interceptors deployed, enough to have a 99% assurance of taking out 10 RVs, after 10 years in service is criminal negligence.

Unfortunately Trump’s only response will probably some angry tweets with no actual policy follow-up.  Even this is forgivable if he just won’t cave into this shakedown racket.

Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System deployment to cover CONUS could emulate proposed Sentinel system of late 1960s. Relocate West coast sites 500 miles to the east just for spite – say, northern Idaho, central NV, and AZ-CA border. Add a site to the MS-TN-AL border triangle.

Approximate defended area for a single Sentinel site. GMD sites can actually defend a much wider area as they have higher-performing missiles. Nevertheless when it comes to strategic defense overlap is GOOD.

Today’s strategic interceptors are designed to work on a shoot-shoot watch shoot-shoot basis.  That is, each inbound gets 4 interceptors nominally assigned.  Since RVs will be coming in along a generally restricted corridor missiles can be reassigned to new targets as targets are destroyed.  Unfortunately the current command and control infrastructure is only set up to handle one off or very limited attacks.  To provide continental coverage and deal with much more massive raids the C2 infrastructure would have to be significantly beefed up if not totally redesigned from the ground up.

Of course the Russians and Chinese would lose their minds if we pursued this objective but defense is inherently moral while relying on threatening the deaths of tens of millions of innocents in retaliation is inherently immoral.  That is to say, money spent pursuing missile defense is an objective good, while that spent on offensive retaliatory systems is much more morally problematic.  You cannot uninvent nuclear weapons or wish them away.  They are, in fact, proliferating far more rapidly now than at any time since their invention, along with the means to deliver them.

And yes of course there are other means of delivery but do we send men into combat without body armor because the other side has guns?  Of course not.  There are defenses against the other means of delivery AND there are huge problems with things like “sticking a nuke on a container ship” and sailing it into Los Angeles harbor.  How does the bad guy know the ship will wind up in Los Angeles, and not, say, the harbor of one of his friends? Or his own? The fact that people make frequent recourse to these rhetorical red herrings when arguing against missile defense – THE primary means of delivering nuclear weapons today and for the foreseeable future – says to me that they know missile defense is extremely effective, but they, for reasons known only to God, deny to see their own nation defended from this threat.

At any rate I’ll get to the stuff you really care about next, God willing.

850 ton Active Electronically Scanned Array Sea Based X-Band Radar. Reputed to be able to track a baseball off the coast of San Francisco while floating in the Chesapeake Sound, a distance of over 2900 miles.

Flightline Friday Extra: More Than Everything You Could Possibly Want to Know about APR-25/6 September 25, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, Flightline Friday, foolishness, fun, history, non squitur, silliness, Society, technology.
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Early in the Vietnam War, partly due to amazingly poor planning, but even more due to unbelievably onerous targeting restrictions, US tactical aircraft started racking up heavy losses to North Vietnamese Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs).  The SAM in question was the SA-2, which had been known about half a decade at that point, the SA-2 having played a role in the shoot down of Francis Gary Powers’ U-2 in 1960.

Since the rules of engagement imposed by the Johnson-McNamara Administration forbade attacks on SAM sites under construction, or even possibly under construction, for fear of “accidentally” killing any Soviet “advisors” present and thus potentially escalating the war, US airmen had to wait until positive proof that a SAM site was operational before they could attack it.  The only positive proof accepted was their being attacked by that very SAM site.  Obviously this gave enormous initiative to the enemy, and made attacking SAM sites when they were most vulnerable impossible.

Defensive measures were needed, and needed quickly.  But how to defend against a radar guided flying robot whose only purpose in life was the kill you?  Fortunately, the problem was well understood. Indeed, specialist aircraft like intelligence gathering types had been equipped with limited numbers of what were then called radar homing and warning receivers (RHAW) for years.  SAC’s big bombers also carried radar warning and electronic countermeasures (ECM) gear of varying degrees of effectiveness, but much of this was far too large and heavy to fit into a tactical aircraft.

Fortunately, a small company in northern California, Applied Technologies, Inc, later part of Litton, now part of Northrop Grumman, came rushing to the rescue, in late 1965, with their “Vector IV” product.  Consisting of 4 roughly equally spaced radio frequency receivers and some very basic analog processing equipment, Vector IV entered service as the AN/APR-25/6.  This equipment was first fitted to specialist “Wild Weasel” SAM hunter aircraft, and later, to almost every tactical aircraft in theater – certainly, every one that went up North.  It was fairly effective, but became much more so when coupled with the North American “SEE SAMS” (clever) system, which added capability to discriminate targeting and launch radar signals from regular radar tracking signals.

The equipment worked pretty well, and losses were reduced.  The seesaw battle of the electronic wizards on both defense and offense continues to this day, but, generally speaking, since the APR-25/6, the US has held the upper hand (we think/hope – we haven’t been seriously tested in 25 years).

The video below is an actual training film for USAF aircrew in APR-25/6 operation and tactics.  It gets way down into the nitty gritty, discussing import of length and intensity of strobe, billboard notifications and their meaning, and the varying sounds the equipment picks up when illuminated by various kinds of search, tracking, and fire control radars (a radar is like any other radio frequency device, and thus its signals can be interpreted as a sound).  Techniques used to spoof APR-25/6 are also discussed.  Very interesting if you are a slavishly devoted geek like me, all others will probably find it mind-numbingly boring.

I post this mostly to keep a record of this highly esoteric material since this video was posted once before but pulled because someone asserted the data therein was still classified.  Of course, it is not.

A picture of what modern radar warning receiver (today’s term) displays looks like.  Gone is the analog signal intensity reading and guessing, replaced by digitally processed symbology indicating the type of threat, distance and bearing, with priority ranking, etc:

 

Flightline Friday: Early Vietnam Helo Operations September 22, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Flightline Friday, fun, history, non squitur, silliness, Society, technology.
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This is a really excellent video find from December 1963, featuring very tired old Piasecki H-21 “Shawnee” (aka the Flying Banana) and brand new (if more than a bit underpowered) Hueys of the UH-1A and UH-1B models.

There is some excellent footage of very rare early Huey attack model setups, including fixed forward firing M1919 .30 cal machine guns of WWII vintage mounted on the landing skids, and the first attempts at mounting rockets on the Huey design.  The UH-1B came from the factory with the XM-6 armament subsystem, which included dual M-60 machine guns on each side of the aircraft in trainable mounts.  This was a vast improvement over the fixed machine guns of the UH-1A.  Also discussed is the original US Army air assault unit in South Vietnam, the Utility Tactical Transport Company.  At this time, Hueys were used entirely as attack birds or for medevac.  The stretched UH-1D capable of carrying 9-11 troops would not enter service in Vietnam until the 1st Air Cav arrived in numbers in mid-1965.

The UH-1A was always badly underpowered*, with an armament load of fixed gun and dual 8-shot rocket stacks, they could barely manage 80-85 mph, which allowed even the lumbering H-21s to “race” ahead of them.  This problem was solved by the UH-1B, which had a more powerful engine, allowing the Hueys much better speed to escort the Shawnees, but the problem repeated itself once the UH-1D and UH-1H entered service.  The slicks were again much faster than their escorts, weighted down with heavy loads of weapons and ammo in very draggy mounts.  This problem was initially solved by late B model and then Charlie model Hueys being equipped with still more powerful engines, but was ultimately dealt with by the introduction of the AH-1 Cobra in late 1967.

There is also demonstration of early tactics among both the troop carrying and the attack helos.  It is rather amusing to watch discussion of basic tactics which were described as being so effective the VC had no response to them – well, you could say, they figured out plenty of responses as the war went along.  The very simple tactics described in this video would be replaced by ever more sophisticated ones as the war went along, but the ever-resourceful Vietnamese were almost always a match for Yankee ingenuity, finding their own responses to evolving American methods.

There is a great deal of rare footage in this video, covering a critical phase of the War in Southeast Asia as combat became more and more Americanized – just as certain elements of the US military establishment desperately wanted:

 

*- UH-1A had a little more than half the horsepower of the later H, E, L, and M models.