28 February 2007
27 February 2007
21 February 1945. Bismarck Sea (CVE 95) is sunk by kamikaze attack off Iwo Jima. In the same action, USS Saratoga (CV-3) was removed from action for what would be the remainder of the war and USS Enterprise suffered significant damage.
April-May 1945. Kamikazes are extracting a heavy price during the invasion of Okinawa. On the 16th of April, a massed-wave of 350 kamikazes hit the fleet; 20 alone attacked the destroyer USS Laffey and the heavy carrier, Franklin was severely damaged – only by the heroic efforts of her crew was the Franklin able to remain afloat, but the ship would be out of action for a long time. On subsequent days Enterprise suffered more damage, along with Hancock, Bunker Hill, Intrepid and a number of picket destroyers. As the run-up to the invasion of the Japanese homelands approached, leaders in theater and back in Washington were growing increasingly concerned over the threat kamikazes were presenting and what it portended for DOWNFALL. On the West Coast, USS Ranger was preparing to embark an airwing with several innovations, including the first operational TBM-3Ws in order to provide an organic AEW capability.
As revolutionary as the TBM-3Ws were though, there were limitations to their capabilities. Chief amongst these was the fact that the -3W was not much more than an airborne radar antenna, relaying data back to the ship where targets were plotted and interceptors dispatched. Having that capability in an airborne platform would reduce time delays and reliance on what could be a problematic video link. In 1944, BuAer began examining candidates for this capability and narrowed the list down to three candidates – the B-24, C-54 and B-17. All were in production and available in sufficient numbers for use as a land-based platform.
Because the plan was to use the same configuration as the TBM-3W (to save development time), the B-24 was the first eliminated from consideration because of its high-mounted wing and low ground clearance. The C-54 was considered a strong possibility because of the space its fuselage offered as a cargo aircraft along with a faster cruise speed than the B-17, but with the projected area of operations being a combat zone, the battle proven B-17 was the platform of choice.
With two distinct branches – Cadillac I for the carrier-based AEW and Cadillac II for the shore-based variant, the Navy pressed ahead with the procurement of PB-1s (Navy designation for the B-17). Beginning with twenty license-built Douglas B-17s (1), originally planned for the Army Air Force, the PB-1s were sent to the Naval Aircraft Modification Unit, located at Johnsville, PA (2). There the conversion to the AEW variant would take place. The modifications began in late 1945 with the first operations in February 1946 (3). PB-1Ws were configured to one of two versions – a CIC version and a reconnaissance version. Both versions had an AN/APS-20 radar mounted in the sealed off bomb bay with the TBM-3Ws dome. The CIC version added installation of a CIC aft of the bomb bay that had three ground-stabilized radar consoles with 12 –inch displays, a vertical plotting and other status boards and communications and radio/navigation equipment (VHF/HF/LF comms, IFF, DF equipment, LORAN). The reconnaissance version was long-range replica of the TBM-3W with just two radar consoles. The cockpit saw a reconfigured instrument panel that provided dual sets of flight instruments and improved lighting. Early PB-1s also retained much of their original armament, though the top and chin turrets were disabled or removed. Provisions were made for carrying two x 300-gal drop tanks for ferry flights. The early PB-1Ws were left in a natural finish as it was thought this would help their range without the added weight of paint. As the aircraft went back through re-work they would be painted in the now-familiar dark-blue paint scheme.
A few airframes were modified to move the radar antenna to the top of the fuselage to evaluate using the airframe to blank out large clutter discretes in the vicinity of the aircraft: These clutter discretes were the result of the position of the radar antenna and large returns generated by either ground- or sea-return along the aircraft’s flight path. This is particularly important when adding moving target indicators (MTI). MTI or Airborne MTI (AMTI) cancels this clutter, enabling the detection of airborne moving targets. In the case of the Cadillac radar, this clutter was severe enough to obscure aircraft at ranges out to 30-50 nm. The Cadillac AMTI-system was described in a 1946 National Defense Research Committee technical paper as follows:
The Cadillac system was an S-band system that utilized a pulsed coherent Doppler principle for AMTI processing (ed: see diagram above). The transmitted r-f pulse form the magnetron beats with a stable local oscillator (STALO) and starts up the 30-mc coherent oscillator in a phase which depends upon the combination of the STALO and r-f phases. The returning echo beats with the STALO and produces an intermediate frequency (i-f) whose phase depends on the combination of the phases of STALO, r-f and phase due to the range of the target.
If the target remains at a fixed range, then the phase of the i-f bears a fixed relationship with respect to the COHO. When the i-f and the COHO are combined in the detector, the resulting video signal will be up or down, and its amplitude from pulse to pulse will be fixed. The phase, caused by moving targets will change from pulse to pulse, and the video will show amplitude modulation. For the airborne system the fixed targets are also moving and their motions can be cancelled out by introducing the proper phase shift in the starting phase of the COHO from pulse to pulse. This is accomplished in the computer box, where by an ingenuous system of high frequency carriers and single-sideband amplifiers and detectors, the COHO, at 30 mc, is mixed with an audio frequency fθ of from 0 to 3500 c to produce a new frequency equal to 30 mc ± fθ. A block diagram of the phase shifter portion of the computer box is provided below.
Altogether a fairly sophisticated system even by today's standards. The same core principles carry over to such noteworthy AEW platforms as the E-3 AWACS and E-2C Hawkeye although the techniques are quite a bit more complex givent he robust environments they operate within.
It was not enough, however, to merely develop the platform and hand it over to the fleet - training, tactics and procedures had to be developed and the system itself evaluated. In the post-war environment a fairly robust evaluation program was undertaken by the Navy's OPTEVFOR (Operational Test and Evaluation Force) to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the system and what applications it might best be used for. The gist of that report forms the basis for Part Two of the Cadillac II series.
to be continued______________________
(1) In actuality, the PB-1 designation was probably in error. Although the B-17 was originally a Boeing designed and built product, other manufacturers were producing the bomber by this point in the war, most notably Douglas and Lockheed-Vega. The PB-1 designation had already been used for a Boeing built Naval Aircraft Factory flying boat, built in 1925. If properly designated, it should have been P4D-1W for the 4th Douglas design, first variant patrol aircraft accepted for Navy service, equipped for AEW. (B-17 In Blue, Thompson, p.8)
(2) The NAMU was a part of Mustin NAF, on the grounds of the Philadelphia Naval Station.
(3) Recall that planning at the time, exclusive of success of the atomic bomb, was for the invasion of the southern Japanese homeland to begin in November 45 and to be followed by Coronet (the main plain) sometime in the spring of ’46, by which point the first of the PB-1Ws would be deployed for operations.
26 February 2007
(earlier report on Iran's space launcher acivity here)
25 February 2007
Scenario: Two-plane flight to NAS Brunswick for T-LAM shoot support.
(on squadron common)
"Al, don't yank my chain"
"No, really Scoop, you're missing a tail"
Back on deck with the plane pulled into the hangar, there was lots of head scratching as no one could remember something like this happening before. The rudder assembly was gone and the remaining stub of vertical stabilizer was almost gone too. Fortunately it later appeared that the missing rudder probably landed in either the Chesapeake Bay or one of the many wetlands that surrounded it.
23 February 2007
PV-1P Ventura - Note the Peleican's under the wings and the extended radome for the AN/APS-2 aft of the bomb bay.
Drop test of a Pelican from an SB2C Helldiver. Below: PB-1 with 2 x Pelicans abreast the bomb bay. Note the extended radome for the AN/APS-2 where the ball turret would normally have been. (ed: We'll be seeing more of the PB-1 series in a forthcoming issue of Flightdeck Friday in the very near future...)
SWOD Mk9/ASM-N-2 Bat
Building on the experience gained from the Pelican, the Navy, via the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) (2) sought to develop a standoff weapon that had a “fire and forget” feature to it. At the time, that meant an active radar seeker that was integrated with an airframe and warhead. Using a similar airframe as the Pelican and incorporating a 1000 lb bomb, the Bat (so-named because like its erstwhile mammalian cousin, this Bat would also home on signals bounced back from a target that it alone had generated) began operational tests in 1944 and in January 1945 it was declared operational and deployed in combat in the Pacific theater. The Bat was deployed on the much larger PB4Y-2 Privateer (the Navy’s long-range patrol bomber derived from the Consolidated B-24 Liberator) against Japanese shipping for the remainder of the war. Success was mixed at best – several Japanese ships, including a destroyer, were sunk off Borneo, but the radar worked all to well at picking up targets – and clutter from nearby islands, other ships, etc. It was easily mis-directed and thus subject to countermeasures. Attempts by the Navy after the war to improve the Bat (by this time redesignated the ASM-N-2, or Air-to-Surface Missile, Navy, 2) were unsuccessful and it was retired from the inventory.
Above: Contemporary cutaway view of the Bat. Below: Guidance section for the Bat's active radar seeker.
Above: Early radar mod to PB4Y Privateer for Bat OPS. Later models (see below) used a more conventional radome (seen here aft of the nosewheel and retracted )
Data for ASM-N-2:
Length: 3.63 m (11 ft 11 in)
Wingspan: 3.05 m (10 ft)
Weight: 850 kg (1880 lb)
Speed: 480 km/h (300 mph)
Ceiling (max. launch): 8000 m (5 miles)
Range: 32 km (20 miles)
Warhead: 450 kg (1000 lb) general-purpose bomb
Fairchild AUM-N-4/AQM-41 Petrel
The Petrel traces its lineage back to a family of standoff weapons that began development under the Kingfisher name in 1944. Building on the experience gained from the Pelican and Bat projects (the latter well underway at this point), the Navy’s Bureau of Ordnance sought a jet-powered, standoff torpedo for use against surface and subsurface targets. The design underwent many variations, but the final configuration began testing in 1951. The final configuration consisted of an Mk 21 torpedo as the core with an attached Fairchild J44 turbojet, aerodynamic nose cap and wings and tail made out of wood. The carrying aircraft was the P2V-6B variant of Lockheed’s venerable P2V Neptune. After launch it descended to an altitude of about 200 ft for the fly-in at Mach 0.5. Guidance was via semi-active radar homing until the Petrel was within about 2 nm of the target. At that point, the engine was stopped and the wing and tail shed, dropping the torpedo into the water at which point it began self-guiding. That was the theory – practice proved altogether more problematic, especially where a submerged sub was the target. With a prolonged development and spotty operational record, by 1959 the Petrel was withdrawn from active service and placed with the Reserves. After a brief stint where it was used as a drogue, the Petrel was finally withdrawn from the inventory altogether in the early 60’s.
Above and beow: Petrel as carried by P2V-6B Neptune.
Data for AUM-N-2 (AQM-41A):
Length: 7.31 m (24 ft)
Wingspan: 4.06 m (13 ft 2 in)
Diameter: 61 cm (24 in)
Weight: 1700 kg (3800 lb)
Speed: 600 km/h (325 kts)
Range: 32 km (20 miles)
Propulsion: Fairchild J44 turbojet; 4.4 kN (1000 lb)
Warhead: AUM-N-2: MK 21 homing torpedo; 900 kg (2000 lb)
These were but a few of what was a very robust precision weapons development program within both the Navy and Army Air Forces during WW2. So what happened you may ask? The technology was still immature, especially where target discrimination and clutter/ counter-measure rejection were concerned, and the development of nuclear weapons, especially the “smaller” nukes sized for delivery by ship- and shore-based tactical aircraft effectively sidelined concerted efforts on development of conventional PGMs. Efforts in this area, with the exception of air-to-air and surface-to-air guided weapons, would be placed on the back burner until the Vietnam War. But that's another story for another time...
Bat head: http://biomicro.sdstate.edu/pederses/asmbat.html
Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles - Appendix 1: Early Missiles and Drones: http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/app1/asm-n-2.html
(2) The National Bureau of Standards was established by Congress in 1901. Its name was changed to the National Institute of Standards and Technology in 1988 as part of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act. At the same time, Congress expanded NIST's mission by establishing the Advanced Technology Program and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Chartered by the U.S. Congress on March 3, 1901, it was the first physical science research laboratory of the federal government, established at about the same time as the nation’s first commercial laboratory. As part of this mission, NIST scientists and engineers continually refine the science of measurement, making possible the ultra precise engineering and manufacturing required for today’s most advanced technologies. They also are directly involved in standards development and testing done by the private sector and government agencies. NBS had a direct role in the development of the proximity fuze; work on nuclear fission, synthetic rubber and of course, the Bat.
22 February 2007
Well, 'twas only a matter of time -- UAV's are expanding in numbers, scope and capabilities (though the FAA isn't happy about one recent test) and now comes news of the surface equivalent:
The Interceptor unmanned surface vessel (USV) is developed under cooperation between AAI, and two U.S. - Marine Robotic Vessels International (MRVI) and Sea Robotics Company (SRC). Interceptor is designed for security and public service applications such as anti-piracy patrol, harbor security and oil rig surveillance. It began sea trials in September 2006. (more...)
21 February 2007
20 February 2007
OK, here’s where it gets interesting. The Russian pundits (yes, they have them too and yes, they have blogs) are fit to be tied. Many fail to see any validity between Putin’s challenge to the West (specifically America) in his Munich speech last week and the appointment of a novice to the position of Defense Minister. A quick sample of some of the comments – blogs and traditional press follows:
- Viktor Alksnis, a retired Colonel and Russian ultra-nationalist, remarked in his blog that Putin's declared itinerary for challenging the US as the sole world power "can only be based on the rebirth of Russian military might." This is impossible, Alksnis opined, under a "defense minister-furniture salesman," whose appointment "spits in the face of Russian military officers and generals, who believed in Putin and hoped that now the Russian military rebirth would begin".
- A young, former lieutenant who served in the Moscow-based ABM force noted that "The defense minister's post is now occupied by an incidental person, a get-rich-quick type from the 1990s, a furniture salesman, who found his way into power ... However, the military is not a furniture store, it is a world in itself, which needs to be learned from the inside." He added that as with the appointment of military novice Sergey Ivanov, "they spat on the military once again," because he could not imagine how Serdyukov could do anything positive for the armed forces.
- Ekho Moskvy radio, often critical of the government, reported comments from nationalist pundit Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, who said that the military "was spat on ... and is now in mourning," adding that they should be thankful that Putin appointed a human as defense minister and "not his Labrador."
18 February 2007
"...I didn't ask for a win..."
"That's what I love about this sport — it's hard," Martin said. "It's what's driven me for over 30 years. That's what I love about it and that's why I'm here. I had the choice of whether or not I wanted to race the Daytona 500. I wanted a chance. I wanted a shot at it, and these guys gave me a shot."Almost Mark...almost. Heck of a race you ran and consumate class in the post race interviews. Mark Martin is a double entry in the dictionary -- under "class" and "racer"
17 February 2007
“In connection with this I would like to recall that in the 1980s the
“It is obvious that in these conditions we must think about ensuring our own security”
With that statement, given in the context of the speech last week that criticized the US for unilateral action it would appear that Russia is preparing to unilaterally disengage from the INF (Intermediate Nuclear Forces) treaty. Several commentators and analysts began to focus on this potential action late in the week, some with undiluted condemnation of the Bush Administration and dark warnings of a new Cold War.
To be sure, these pages do not and will not give a clean pass to
The INF Treaty was a signatory event – the first nuclear arms treaty that not only prohibited an entire class of weapon, but established the kind of intrusive inspection régime that was later instituted for the START accords. Nuclear configured intermediate range forces, especially missiles, were a major part of the heating up of the Cold War in the 1980’s. By the mid-1970’s, the Soviets had begun replacing older silo-based SS-4 and -5 IRBM/MRBMs with the road-mobile SS-20. The SS-20 was a substantial leap in capability and represented a significant increase in the threat posed by Soviet forces and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact against
Arrayed against the improved Soviet intermediate forces (they were also deploying the Backfire and SS-21) were a mixture of NATO MRBM’s and SLBM’s (to include the Pershing I and Polaris/Poseidon) and dual-use aircraft (F-111, F-4, A-6, Buccaneer, etc.). The bulk of these forces were US or had US dual-key control (as was the case with Pershing I’s under West German control). Lacking a definitive system (or systems) to directly counter the SS-20 deployment, the first step attempted to redress this imbalance was the consideration of deploying the Enhanced Radiation Weapon, aka the Neutron Bomb. However, in one of the most egregious decisions by President Carter and his administration, the
On 12 Nov 79, after a two-year study, NATO ministers unanimously adopted a "dual track" strategy to counter Soviet SS-20 deployments. One track called for arms control negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union to reduce INF forces to the lowest possible level; the second track called for deployment in Western Europe, beginning in December 1983, of 464 single-warhead U.S. ground-launched cruise (GLCM) missiles and 108 Pershing II ballistic missiles. With strong leadership in place in
Today’s Ballistic Missile Environment and INF
In the intervening 16 years since the last US and Soviet intermediate range missile was destroyed, the world has seen a literal explosion in the development and/or deployment of medium- and intermediate range missiles by nations that were not party to the INF treaty. Chief among these nations are (or were)
So we come to the speech, presented to a gathering of ministers of defense at a conference on security in
Be that as it may, as soon as the
“Because the regime is voluntary and the decision to export is the sole responsibility of each member, the MTCR has no penalties for transfers of controlled items. However,
U.S.law mandates that Washingtonsanction entities-individuals, companies, or governments (whether they are MTCR members or not)-exporting MTCR-controlled items to certain countries identified as proliferators or potential threats to security. Sanctions may also be levied if the U.S. judges the transfer contrary to the MTCR. Typically, United States Washingtonprohibits the charged entity from signing contracts, receiving aid, or buying arms from the government for a period of two years. Sometimes the penalties can be imposed for longer lengths of time or extended to commercial imports and exports as well.” U.S.
Yes, well one can see how if
If that weren’t enough, another deadline lurks in the near future – the expiration of START I in 2009.
16 February 2007
The concept of seaplane fighters was neither new nor novel – several examples had been put to desultory effect during WW2 and even combining floats with jets (like the British SR.A.1) still failed to overcome the shortcomings of the type. The problem lay in a combination of weight and drag – ruthless enemies where fighters are concerned as both weighed mightily against maneuverability and speed. Drag usually factored large because of either the fixed floats (configured in either a single centerline with smaller wing floats or twin floats) or the effects of a flying boat hull (see the previous FF account of the P6M SeaMariner).
By the early 1950s though, there was thought that retractable skis, called hydroskis, would solve the drag problem and more powerful, afterburning engines allay, if not overcome the weight issue. The advent of jet engines removed the issue of propeller location/clearance that had plagued previous hydroski designs – unlike a float plane, a hydroski plane rests on its hull until sufficient speed is built up to raise it on the skis. Of note, the use of hydroskis was not scalable. In other words, as aircraft size and weight grew hydroskis were not an option; therefore they remained viable only with small airframes.
In 1950, Convair had embarked on a design study that yielded a series of swept wing, shallow, blended hull, jet-powered seaplanes, one of which was a fighter design (the Skate). While Convair was working on developing a good hydronamic shape, the NACA (predecessor to NASA) was working in the opposite direction – take a good aircraft and adapt it to seaborne operations through the use of hydroskis. .
Parallel to Convair’s studies, BuAer (predecessor to NAVAIR) was investigating the feasibility of long-range strike and fighter aircraft that could be sea-based, complimenting the carrier-based aircraft by expanding the basing options and building on several decades of experience in operating sea-based patrol aircraft. This dovetailed with Convair’s ongoing development efforts through a formal Operational Requirements issuance (OR) on 30 Nov 1949 (OR CA 05501A). The OR called for an advanced seaplane fighter capable of operating from forward bases in all weather conditions. Convair would continue refining the Skate, but also investigate the use of hydroskis. As research results showed increasing promise in the use of hydroskis, the Navy revised its performance requirements upward.
Over in another part of Convair, a radical aircraft was taking shape for the Air Force. Based on the XF-92A, the YF-102 was taking shape – a delta wing, afterburner fighter designed for the interceptor mission. Using the lessons learned from the XF-92 and YF-102 development, the Y2-2 began to emerge as a twin-engine, delta wing fighter that would rely on a 2-hydroski arrangement. On 19 Jan 1951, BuAer issued a Letter of Intent for Contract (51-527) for two Y2-2 airframes for R&D purposes necessary for a seaplane-class of fighters. Westinghouse J-46-WE-2 engines (2) would provide the thrust. The pressurized cockpit used two panes of class that formed a sharp-V, similar to the YF-102. For the prototypes only, there would be no additional canopy – production model aircraft would have a more conventional arrangement.
Designated the XF2Y-1 Sea Dart (BuNo 137634), the first prototype was launched into
Once in the air, the Sea Dart experienced the same problems so many other jets of that period encountered – engines that underperformed and top speeds that fell well short of the design mark. In the case of the Sea Dart, optimistic engineers had predicted Mach 1.5 in level flight (the OR specified M1.25) – yet it only reached Mach .99. Engine inlet problems with airflow induced by the location of the ducts atop the fuselage aggravated the already poor performing J46’s and unknown to Convair’s engineers at the time; the Sea Dart was suffering from the same aerodynamic issues that would plague the YF-102. Eventually, Convair solved the problem for the YF-102 by implementing an area-rule fuselage and that, along with a more powerful single engine, was planned for a follow-on production model.
Today there are four remaining examples with the original XF2Y-1 being held by the Smithsonian for future restoration and others in
Length: 52 ft 7 in (16 m)
Wingspan: 33 ft 8 in (10.3 m)
Height: 16 ft 2 in (4.9 m)
Wing area: 568 ft² (53 m²)
Empty weight: 12,625 lb (5,730 kg)
Loaded weight: 16,500 lb (7,480 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 21,500 lb (9,750 kg)
Powerplant: 2× Westinghouse J46-WE-2 turbojets, 12,000 lbf (53 kN) each
Maximum speed: 695 mph (604 knots, 1,120 km/h)
Range: 513 mi (446 nm, 826 km)
Service ceiling: 54,800 ft (16,700 m)
Rate of climb: 17,100 ft/min (86.7 m/s)
Wing loading: 29.0 lb/ft² (142 kg/m²)
Guns: 4× 20 mm (0.787 in) cannon
Rockets: Unguided rockets
SourcesPioneers & Prototypes: Convair F2Y Sea Dart. International Air Power Review. Vol 12
Gunston, Bill. Fighters of the Fifties.
15 February 2007
“Each player starts with the 6 weird things about you. People who get tagged should write something of their own and state the rules clearly. In the end, you should choose 6 people to be tagged, and list their names. Leave a comment that says you are tagged in their comments, and tell them to read your blog.”
First thought was:
1. I was (am) a space nerd – to the extent that while growing up not only could I name every manned mission through Apollo, I could recall crew names, mission objectives and launchers. How bad was it? How many 7th graders do you know who could have told you in 1967 what the fuel was for the Titan II missile used to loft the Gemini astronauts, or had his cast signed by Pete Conrad (who remarked at the time he had signed a lot of things, but no casts until now). Oh, and for the record, the Titan fuel is a hypergolic mix of A-50 Aerozine (50/50 mix of hydrazine and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH)) and dinitrogen tetroxide (the oxidizer) – just thought you’d like to know.
2. I was an inveterate model builder and reached critical mass where all my shelves as well as my ceiling were populated with a collection of 1/72 and 1/48 scale aircraft that would put any museum to shame (were they of the full-size variety). Alas, my modeling is somewhat more restrained these days and lies mainly in collecting out of production Topping/Precise models.
3. My first flight was at age 2 in a Cessna 170. The bit, as they say, was set from that point on. Soloed before I had my learner’s permit – kind of odd having to be driven to the airport by your parents so you could launch on a cross country that would last the better part of a day and stretch over three states…
4. While today’s CGI-dominated sci-fi movies are fun, my favorites run in the 50’s and 60’s (original War of the Worlds, Fantastic Planet, When Worlds Collide, and of course topping the list, 2001). There are several other movies from the same time period I enjoy far more than today’s, including Twelve O’clock High, Seven Days in May, Dr. Strangelove, Casablanca, To Kill A Mockingbird, etc. TV programs included Twelve O’clock High, Combat, The FBI, The Invaders, … hmm, I sense a pattern…
5. Books. We have books. Lots of books. A mover’s nightmare of books (moving up here from Tidewater 5 years ago, the movers were pretty upbeat about the load out – until they reached the library…). Recently have started downsizing anticipating smaller quarters when the scriblets move on - one local public library has a foreign policy section to die for now…
6. Computers – became immersed in the first micro-computer wave while at Monterey in the early 80’s. A heady time it was with Apple II’s (and the occasional Lisa – but only the nuke guys could afford it w/their bonus), TRS-80s, Kaypro's, Osborne's, Heathkits, Epson's, and homebrews. 300 bd dial up modems, several flavors of DOS in use and programs to match and copywrites? *cough*… Today the Scribe household is residence to no less than 5 laptops, a couple of desktop/fileservers and of course, all networked together, with the occasional Apple when yon furry-headed eldest son comes a calling.
Now the rules say to tag 6 others and being as how I’m the FNG (relatively speaking) and naturally got tagged late, most of the others I’d thought about have either already been so tagged or we risk visions of things best left unvisualized with others - hello Skippy-san ;)
14 February 2007
Alas, the budgetary axe eventually fell on both the Steeljaws ('96) and Wing 12 ('05) so it would appear that would be the last time GE will fly on a Hawkeye...
P.S. Hey Boom -- SH is taken by VMFAT-101...
13 February 2007
MANPADs vs Helos
Lots of concern/interest in countering the MANPAD (MAN Portable Air Defense) missiles in the wake of increased helo loses these past couple of weeks. While the CH-46 loss that has gained so much coverage appears to have been mechanical in nature (Update: DoD confirmed on 14 Feb that the CH-46 was in fact, shot down and did not crash due to mechanical failure), open press reporting speculates others have succumbed to a variety of weapons up to and including MANPADs. Most likely what we are seeing are newer missile variants starting to appear in theater. Small arms and RPG fire, while potentially lethal in certain restricted confines, are less likely to be the source in a more open scenario, and doubly so when considering armored attack helos like the Apache.
Yeah, pretty nasty stuff, and all the more reason to hold helo folks who are working/flying down in the weeds in greater esteem.
What would be the insurgent’s CONOPS in stepping up the campaign against helos? Couple of points – recall the morale boost it gave the Afghans to have something they could effectively employ against the Soviet’s Hind helos (aka “Devil’s Chariot”). It forced the Soviets to change their operating procedures and flight heights. A similar effect in the ongoing battle for Baghdad and other urban areas would force (in the insurgent’s eyes) the US to operate its helos in a more circumspective manner and thereby give back the urban roof top environs to the insurgents. Of course that is a pretty simplistic CONOPS and ignores other variables such as persistent ISR from UAVs operating above MANPAD ceilings, deployment of more effective countermeasures and changes in tactics and employment. Bottom-line – while we haven’t seen the last of these losses, my money is still on our helos and their crews prevailing.
Oh, and for reference, the defenses being currently explored for civilian airliner defense are only up to base-Stinger level – technology that is 20+years old…
North Korean Nuclear Agreement?
The United States and four other nations reached a tentative agreement to provide North Korea with roughly $400 million in fuel oil and aid, in return for the North’s starting to disable its nuclear facilities and allowing nuclear inspectors back into the country, according to American officials who have reviewed the proposed text. While the accord sets a 60-day deadline for North Korea to accomplish those first steps toward disarmament, it leaves until an undefined moment in the future — and to another negotiation — the actual removal of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and the fuel that it has manufactured to produce them. Bush administration officials said they believed that the other nations participating in the talks … would consent to the tentative agreement as soon as Tuesday. … In essence, if the North agrees to the deal, a country that only four months ago conducted its first nuclear test will have traded away its ability to produce new nuclear fuel in return for immediate energy and other aid. It would still hold on to, for now, an arsenal that American intelligence officials believe contains more than a half-dozen nuclear weapons or the fuel that is their essential ingredient. The accord also leaves unaddressed the fate of a second and still-unacknowledged nuclear weapons program that the United States accused North Korea of buying from the Pakistani nuclear engineer Abdul Qadeer Khan in the late 1990s … Negotiations had appeared near collapse on Sunday over North Korea’s demands for huge shipments of fuel oil and electricity. … (source: New York Times, February 13, 2007)
No More Chinese ASAT Tests?
In the wake of the firestorm of protest over last month’s test comes this item:
12 February 2007
Have a couple of irons in the fire -- hopefully at least one will be out later this week. Space/missile roll-up tomorrow/Wednesday. In the meantime, a couple of Hawkeye clips for your viewing pleasure...
From the '06 show at Oceana (look close, you'll see some 'vapes). This Hawkeye has the new props -- while there is a significant improvement in performance and maintainability, it just doesn't sound like the mighty war hummer of yore...
09 February 2007
Venezuela Strengthens Territorial Defense
Source: O Estado de Sao Paulo 05 Feb 07
[Report by Roberto Godoy: "Venezuela Expands Its Military Power."]
By 2012 the Venezuelan Navy will have the biggest and most powerful fleet of conventional submarines in Latin America. There will be 11 vessels, nine of them high-technology models and the other two modernized. Investment in the program is estimated at $3 billion. According to Navy Commander Admiral Armando Laguna, "they will all have the capability of operating in stealth mode for at least two months without receiving supplies from the outside during that period." In an official Navy communique, Laguna says that "as part of its aspiration to have fourth-generation submarines, the command has received offers from Germany, France, and Russia."
The Venezuelan Government is engaged in a vast reequipment program for its Armed Forces. The past 10 days have seen the announcement of three important undertakings involving the Russian Tor-M1 antiaircraft missile at $290 million, the modernization of from 12 to 16 American F-5 fighters by Iran, which will receive $70 million for the job, and the purchase of nine submarines. The result is military spending of $3.37 billion negotiated for the long term in one go.
The Hugo Chavez administration's main partner in the undertaking is the Russian Government. So far about $3.4 billion has been spent to acquire 24 Sukhoi-30 fighters, about 35 helicopters, and 100,000 Kalashnikov AK-47 rifles. A special line of credit for financing military equipment was released by President Vladimir Putin two years ago. The submarines that Venezuela is interested in will have a displacement in the neighborhood of 1,750 metric tons and will incorporate sound-reducing technologies. The Navy is considering three possibilities: the German IKL-214 -- the same model as that chosen by Brazil for expanding its fleet to six units -- the French Scorpene, similar to the vessels of that class acquired by Chile, and the Russian Amur, the favorite in the negotiations. The export version fires four light cruise missiles with a range of 300 km and up to 10 tactical or antiaircraft missiles. It also carries 18 533-mm heavy torpedoes and a crew of 35. The hull is covered by a synthetic mantle to confuse underwater detection sonar signals.
In an official communique, Admiral Laguna emphasizes that "the objective is to possess diesel-electric submarines ensuring the defense of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which is larger than the country's continental territory." Venezuela extends its limits based on its ocean island territory. As a result, the EEZ line defended by Caracas overlaps the maritime limits of Guyana, France, Holland, the United States, and the Antilles. The Navy employs two German IKL-209's that are over 30 years old. Both are being modernized at Dianca D&A, the local shipyard.
The Venezuelan Air Force has selected its main weapon for the impressive Su-30's. The first two aircraft out of a total of 24 were delivered in July of last year. The supersonic fighter jets will carry the most modern version of the Russian R-77 Adder missile. It has a range of 100 km and an ideal radius of 80 km. The missile weighs 175 kg. During the same speech in which he announced the choice of the R-77, Minister of Defense Raul Baduel revealed that the arrangement to be adopted in the modernization of the 12 American CF-5A fighters by Iran had not been decided. The Iranian aircraft industry has developed a project virtually resulting in a new supersonic jet based on the structure of the F-5 and characterized by a double tail assembly. Even the name -- Sae'gheh (Lightning) -- is new. The Venezuelan CF-5A's were produced in Canada under license during the 1970's. Little is known about the Sae'gheh. Besides the two rudders, which considerably increase maneuverability and agility, a new nose was created to hold the improved N019-ME radar, which can cover 80 km in surveillance mode and 40 km for detecting 10 targets. The fighter carries 5.5 metric tons of external loads: missiles, smart bombs, and extra fuel tanks.
First item -- problems continue apace for the sublaunched variant of the Topol-M, the Bulava ("Mace"). Prior to this latest test (failure) there had been a number of statements in what passes for the open press in Russia indicating anything less than a successful shot would see "management changes."
Russia Faces Problems With Bulava Missile
Russia’s new submarine-launched Bulava missile has failed in its last three test flights, raising questions about the weapon’s development, United Press International reported Friday (Global Security Newswire, 5 Feb 2007)
The Bulava is based on the Topol-M ICBM. It received sufficient funding and had three successful tests. The missile then failed three times in a row during testing, most recently on Dec. 24. “These three test failures, and only three successes, are worrisome. So the test program has been temporarily suspended,” according to analyst James Dunnigan. Russian Federal Space Agency chief Anatoly Perminov told the Kommersant newspaper that 12 to 14 tests would be needed before the Bulava could be deployed.
“Given that Bulava blasts off two or three times a year, Russia’s armed forces will hardly get it sooner than two or three years,” according to Kommersant. “So, three failures of Bulava in a row may easily disrupt the country’s program of nuclear rearmament.”
Plans to deploy the missile on the submarine Yury Dolgoruky this year are unlikely to reach fruition, UPI reported. Two special commissions have been organized to investigate the December test failure. One will study the incident itself, while the other looks for the person who leaked news of the failure to the media, Kommersant reported.
The troubles with the Bulava exist in comparison to the reliability of the silo-based Topol-M. That might indicate that the problem lies in engineering the submarine launch tube for the missile, or that unforeseen problems arose while the missile was being adapted for submarine launches (Martin Sieff, United Press International/Spacewar.com, Feb. 2).
Next up -- India continues her path between the US and Russia; purchasing another 40 Su-30s while pursuing procurement of a new multi-role combat aircraft which has seen intense competiton between the US (F/A-18 E/F & F-16), Europe (Rafael & Grippen) and Russia (MiG-29:
And of course, how could the week not be complete but for the announcement by the Iranians of another wargame exercise, this time testing anti-ship and their newly acquired S-300 missiles
India Air Force To Get 40 Sukhoi-30 Jets, Hercules Tankers, Choppers From Russia
CNN-IBN (Internet Version-WWW) in English 08 Feb 07 - New Delhi -- The Indian
Air Force [IAF] is all set to acquire more wings and ground force.
Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi said on Thursday that the IAF will acquire 40 Sukhoi-30 jet aircraft, six Hercules tankers and a large number of helicopters. Tyagi said the all the procurements will be ordered from Russia and will be finalised by March 2007. The jets will be in addition to 130 Sukhois already ordered.
On Wednesday, Defence Minister A K Antony also announced that India will also buy 126 multi-role fighter jets worth over $5 billion.
"The procedure (for acquiring the jets) is almost in the final stages. I can assure you that a decision will be taken very quickly," Antony said after inaugurating the sixth Aero India show in Bangalore.
Companies vying to bag the lucrative contract are France's Dassault (Rafale), Russia's RAC-MiG (MiG-29M2), Sweden's Saab (JAS-39 Gripen) and Lockheed Martin (F-16) and Boeing (F-18) of the US, some of which participated in the flight displays also. On the development of a fifth generation jet for the IAF, Antony said India would jointly produce the aircraft with Russia's fighter plane manufacturer, Sukhoi. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and DRDO [Defense Research and Development Organization] would also be involved in the process, he added.
Antony also informed that a proposal for an aerospace command has been sent by the IAF but no decision has been taken on the issue. "It has to be a tri-service command. Discussions are going on but there are several issues. I cannot give a time limit," Antony said.
On the light combat aircraft (LCA) project, Antony said that it has not been put on the backburner. "The LCA is very much on track. Initially there were some problems, but it is on the right track now. There is no question of abandoning it," he informed. The next five years of the 11th Plan period would see India procuring defence equipment worth $8 to $10 billion. "For that, procedures are already taking shape," he said.
Earlier, inaugurating the air show, Antony said India was fully committed to maintaining peace and stability with its neighbours. "In the global context, we wish to achieve this objective through effective diplomacy backed by credible military deterrence."
The country has initiated several confidence-building measures with its neighbours including Pakistan and China.
"But we cannot remain complacent and there is a need for eternal vigil. We have to modernise our armed forces backed by a strong deterrent to prevent a war," Antony said.
Iran To Conduct Missile War Games
Tehran Fars News Agency in English 0830 GMT 07 Feb 07
TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Iran plans to stage missile war games during a two-day period beginning Wednesday. The war games will be carried out in southern waters of the country in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman.
The military exercises to be carried out by the air and naval forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are aimed at testing the IRGC's missile capability, an IRGC statement said. The maneuvers will include placement, launch and tracking operations.
The statement also mentioned that the maneuvers have been designed to retest the achievements gained during earlier war games of the country codenamed 'Great Prophet 1 and 2'. The war games to be staged by the IRGC air force has been named as 'Ra'd' (thunder) and the one by IRGC naval forces has been called as 'Sa'eqeh' (lightening), the statement concluded.
ed: YHS has video of the cruise missile launch - may be the w/end before it can be added though...he's working it ;)