30 April 2007

Succesful AEGIS BMD Launch

Catching up from last week - Thursday another test of the AEGIS BMD system was successfully completed with the conclusion of FTM-11 off Hawaii. A test of the AEGIS BMD 3.6, it was a simultaneous shot against a representative SRBM target with a SM-3 Blk 1a with a simultaneous shot against a cruise missile threat (simulated by a BQM) with a SM-2. First video is FNN report from the shooter, USS LAKE ERIE to provide background context:

Here is video of the shoot itself:

Next Generation AEW rolled out: E-2D Advanced Hawkeye

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., April 30, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- The first Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, being built for the U.S. Navy by prime contractor Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC), made its first public appearance at rollout ceremonies here today. The E-2D was designed in New York and built in St. Augustine.

The aircraft unveiled today is the first of two test aircraft to be built under the nearly $2 billion system demonstration and development contract awarded in 2001 to Northrop Grumman. According to Mahr, the Navy plans to procure a total of 75 Advanced Hawkeye aircraft.

While the external appearance is similar to the E-2C, the systems and capabilities which the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye contains are completely redesigned. At the heart of the aircraft is the new radar, the APY-9, designed and built by Lockheed Martin Corporation. It can "see" smaller targets and more of them at greater ranges than the E-2C. The new rotodome, developed by L-3 Communications Randtron Antenna Systems, contains the critically important, continuous, 360-degree scanning capability, while adding an electronically scanned array. This system allows operators to focus the radar on selected areas of interest.

Hawkeye operators will have new radar system workstations, integrated satellite communications capabilities and other tools to better manage the battle space and provide warfighters with expanded situational awareness and information to complete their missions.

An additional new feature of the E-2D is the state-of-the-art glass cockpit that replaces prior-generation Hawkeye displays and avionics systems. One of the advantages is that pilots can also serve as weapon system operators.

The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye will provide Joint U.S. forces and coalition partners airborne battle management command and control from the sea, in both the over-land and over-water environments.

The Navy and Northrop Grumman team will begin flight testing this fall in St. Augustine with further testing at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md. Navy squadrons will be equipped with Advanced Hawkeyes as they are delivered beginning in 2011.
(Full release here)

Red Bulls: Of Replication, the B-29 and TU-4 Bull

One of the threads arising out of the F-22 "Raptor-ski" post was the practice of using foreign designs to advance indigenous efforts. All nations, at one time or another, have used this process. The US manned space program though Apollo, for example, is but an outgrowth of Werner von Braun's concepts and designs which in turn, were rooted in the V-2 project.

Perhaps, though, one of the more infamous examples was the development of the Soviet TU-4 Bull from the American Boeing B-29. In the process of duplication, the technology transfer to the Soviet heavy bomber industry was significant and when combined with a traditional evolutionary process, ultimately resulted in the highly successful TU-95 Bear series.

Until the Soviet Union declared war on Japan in the closing days of August, 1945 it maintained a state of neutrality towards combatants in that theater. During this period of neutrality, allied aircraft that diverted to the Soviet Union due to weather, mechanical or battle damage issues, were impounded and their crews eventually returned to their nations of origin, though not without attempted interrogation along the way. This practice began with the Doolittle B-25s that landed in Vladivostok in 1942 and in 1944, included three B-29's:
  • On July 29, 1944 Ramp Tramp, a B-29-5-BW serial number 42-6256 that was unable to return to its base after a raid in Manchuria (landed in Vladivostok);
  • On November 11, 1944 The General H.H. Arnold Special, serial number 42-6365, that was damaged during a raid against Omura on Kyushu was forced to divert to Vladivostok and;
  • On November 21, 1944 Ding How, serial number 42-6358, which also landed in Vladivostok.
The crews for these aircraft were eventually returned to the US (via Tehran) in January 1945, but Stalin, recognizing the possibility for jump-starting the technological capabilities of the Soviet heavy bomber industry, ordered exact duplicates made of the B-29s. Up to this point, the Soviet heavy bomber industry had provided mediocre products that were notable more for their size than any nascent operational capabilities. The only bomber of note, the ANT-40, could only be categorized as a medium bomber (similar to the A-20 Havoc) and was obsolete by 1941. And the Petlyakov Pe-8 fell woefully short in all areas as a heavy bomber. It was clear to Stalin that the US intended to exploit its advantgage in long-range heavy bombers post-war and the development of atomic weapons heightened the urgency on the Soviets' part to close that vulnerability.


Petlyakov Pe-8

A.N. Tupelov eventually took charge of the replication process and immediately confronted the enormous challenge that they faced. The B-29 represented the ultimate of technological refinement in the US aircraft industry - using lightweight metallic alloys (including magnesium alloys) and the latest in electronic capabilities for self defense and all weather bombing, the B-29 was a veritable lodestone of information - if it could be decoded. Under normal circumstances, this would be a many year effort, but with Stalin's interest and imperative, the project assumed the urgency of America's Manhattan Project, except with Stalin's well known propensity to brutally punish failure. To that end, when he demanded an exact copy, as close as was possible, an exact duplicate was generated. How exact? Here is one story (as related by Victor Suvarev (pen name for a critical post-war writer who had extensive experience with this effort):

"A little hole was found on the left wing of the [first] aircraft. No aerodynamics or durability expert had the slightest idead what the hell it was there for. There was no tube or wire attached to it, and there was no equivalent to it on the right wing. The opinion of a commission of experts was that the hole had been bored by a factory drill at the same time as the other holes for the rivets. So what to do? Most probably, the hole had been drilled by mistake, and later no one had bothered to fill it in as it was much too small. The chief designer was aked his opinion. 'Do the Amercans have it?' 'Yes.' 'So why the hell are you asking me? Weren't we ordered to make them identical! Alike as two peas?' So, for that reason, a very small hole indeed, made with the thinnest possible drill, appeared on the left wing of all Tu-4 strategic bombers...'"
and a better known variant regarding interior paint:

"The scroll tunnel connecting cockpit and rear parts of the bomber was half green and half white, because Boeing run out of one of the color when painting this particular specimen. On the copied aircraft, two thirds was painted chromate green, the aft portion left in white primer. 'Later, this ratio was included in all the instruction books on how to paint the interior of the bomber'."
Finally, this measure of the paranoia present in Stalinist Russia :

"'What kind of stars should be put on the mass-produced aircraft - white American stars of red Soviet ones? If you put white stars, you risked being shot as an enemy of the people. If you put red, first, it will not be a copy, and second maybe Stalin is planning to use the bombers against America, England or China, and therefore keep the American markings.' The question went all the way up to Stalin himself: Beria (NKVD chief, in charge of B-29 duplication project) 'told Stalin about the stars as if it were a funny story and that by the way in which Stalin laughed at the joke, Beria knew unerringly which stars should be used. The last problem was solved and mass-production started...'"
Of the three B-29's, the General H.H. Arnold Special was disassembled at the Central Aerodrome in Moscow. Ding How was grounded as a reference aircraft and Ramp Tramp remained flyable. Ramp Tramp's engines were replaced with ASh-73TK's to make the aircraft more maintainable and it remained in-service for nine years.

To perform the replication, everything, right down to bolts and fasteners, had to be converted from English to metric units. Some immediate problems were addressed, the chief one being the thickness of the aluminum skin. The B-29's was 1/16th inch which r
equired an impractical 1.5875 millimeter thickness in order to be an exact duplicate, therefore a skin of varying thickness between .8 and 1.8 millimeters was used instead.

Disassembly of the General H. Hap Arnold.

Period cutaway of the Tu-4.

However, as closely as everything else was copied, the bugs were copied as well, to include problems with the engines and props that US crews experienced (including an unfortuante tendancy to catch fire and for the electric prop governor to runaway) and other probelms with the landing gear. Crews complained about visibility and distortion problems from the extensive glazing in the nose and the centralized self defense system also proved especially problematic.

The first public display of the TU-4 was Aviation Day, 3 August 1947 when 3 were flown in addition to the TU-70 airliner variant. By 1949 the bugs were pretty well worked out and eventually production of 850 units completed. In toto, 0ver 900 factories and research bureaus were part of the effort, all coordinated with a radio-linked production tracking process instittued by Tupelov. The production processes and technology unlocked combined with indigenous industry effrots (e.g., engines) began a process of evolutionary change that led directly to the TU-95 Bear and in part, the Tu-6 Badger (see illustration below).

From Soviet Military Aircraft Design and Procurement - 2nd Edition. (General Dynamics)



In addition to serving in Soviet Long Range Aviation forces, the TU-4 was also put in service with China in both bomber and AEW variant form:

China's AEW variant (developmental).

TU-70 Production.

As mentioned and like the Stratocruiser in the US, the TU-4 was also converted to a 70 passenger airliner. The impact of the TU-4 went far beyond its actual capabilties, forcing the USAF into development of a wide-ranging early warning and interceptor system.

Ramp Tramp
, like her sister B-29s in USAF markings, served as an airborne launch platform for the Soviet Union's rocket powered supersonic research aircraft, the Samolet 346. This was the product of a German experimental project called DFS 346. The Soviets reportedly captured the DFS 346 in 1945 and built the Samolet 346 using German scientists and a German test pilot. Reportedly, Ramp Tramp was eventually scrapped sometime in the early 1990's.


  • Soviet Military Aircraft Design and Procurement, 2nd edition. General Dynamics (Ft Worth division), 1983.

27 April 2007

F-22 Raptor-ski?

Revealed at the Russian engine manufacturer's site (NPO Saturn) is this image of Sukhoi's 5th generation fighter, the T-50. More here.

Kinda has a familiar look, eh? (h/t DEW Line)

Reflections: The Resurrection of BuNo 160992 (Conclusion)

Part I

Part II

Part III
Standing up and stretching after what had seemed an eternity on this C-141 flight, the LTJG was finding aches and sore points that he had previous not known.
As he stepped off the plane onto the bright tarmac, the colors of Norfolk in mid-spring bloom came crashing in upon him. Having left for Iceland almost two months ago, the predominant colors in his life had been grey, white and black… the grey of the (it seemed) omnipresent drizzling overcast at Keflavik, the black of cinder dust and granules which showed up at the most inopportune times and the white of the snowfalls and occasional whiteouts when the Bluetails first arrived in Keflavik.

A busy two months it had been as well – beginning with alert launches not long after their arrival on a flight of Bears headed for Cuba and the pair they relieved on their way back to their bases on the Kola (‘Heh,’ he thought, ‘Cuba to Kola in mid-winter, they had to be loving life at the moment…’). His QA Senior Chief had barely stepped off the plane when he had an accident that broke his ankle and required a medevac back to the states for some serious orthopedic surgery. That was the bad news; the good news was his LPO had stepped up admirably into the position as acting CPO and was going gangbusters. His AE QAR though, that was an eval he was not looking forward to writing. At least with his QASCPO back here in Norfolk though, there was some serious QA oversight which could be devoted to 160992’s work.

Ah yes, the “science project” as his JO “buds” back in Kef were wont to pull his chain about. Delivered to the squadron on the eve of an unplanned deployment to Iceland, 160992 was indeed the sorriest looking E-2 anyone had laid eyes on. Damaged in an encounter between a turning prop and chock cart, it had been patched but left to be picked over for spare parts for several months, until it attained SPINTAC status. At that point the RAG had said “no mas” and the Wing, ever helpful, had dropped it on the Bluetails. A maintenance det had been left behind to work the reconstruction and eventually word came from Norfolk it was ready for flight. He had been tabbed early on as the “stunt mole” (Post Maintenance Check Flight NFO) and sent back with the Safety Officer (SO, slated to move up as the next MO in a month) to do the PMCFs and ferry it up to Iceland. Joining them would be a stash from the Wing, an O-4 post department head type who had just been selected for command and O-5.

Blinking at the bright sun and riot of greens, pinks, reds and whites that made up the Norfolk spring, he joined up with the SO and his wife in the baggage claim – they were going to give him a lift back to the “ranch” in Va Beach. First things first though, and that was a stop by the squadron to see the project.

In the far corner of the old seaplane hangar he found a solitary E-2 parked – all the other squadrons were on workups or deployed in one form or another – and yet the object that presented itself was about as far from the pigeon encrusted, engineless, gutted hulk that had been dragged over to the squadron spaces back in January. The guys had indeed been busy and 015 had cleaned up incredibly well. Stepping into maintenance control they were greeted by his QA SCPO who indicated they were ready for the first functional checkflight in the AM. Contacting the guest pilot, they all agreed to a 0800 brief and 0930 go for a profile A (basic checkout of flight controls and engine auto feather – the heavy duty checklists would follow if this was successful). Making a mental note, the JG planned to arrive a good hour earlier to do a thorough read on the (very thick) ADB (Aircraft Discrepancy Book) – the compilation of the ills and faults of the aircraft. This would be the kind of situation that either went exceptionally well or would be the source of much harrumphing on the part of Grampaw Pettibone in some future issue of Naval Aviation News, and he wanted to ensure the deck was stacked in favor of the former.

The next day dawned bright and clear – perfect flying weather and especially so for the PMCF. While the pilots were over at base ops getting weather and filing, he paged through each of the gripes in the book, back to front as was his custom to see things in chronological order. Again he had received a lot of grief from his fellow JOs, because after all, “you only need to check the last 5 gripes.” Problem was if you did that, you stood to lose awareness on any developing trends and if there was one skill an E-2C NFO needed to acquire, it was having a good handle on the complex systems under his charge and how to trouble shoot them quickly, effecting rapid repairs if possible.

Man-up was uneventful, save for a much longer than normal pre-flight by all involved (as the sole NFO, he was responsible for three pre-flights that would normally be conducted by the CICO, RO/FT and ACO individually. The aircraft had been low- and high-powered several times to ensure there were no leaks and start/shutdown would be normal, but it still sent a thrill down his spine as first one, then the second engines were fired up and the aircraft began to come to life. Deep inside, part of him was disappointed that none of the doubters back in January were on hand today to see 015 retake the skies.

Taxi, take-off and climb-out to station (the Hummer Track – a piece of airspace that paralleled the NC coastline along the Outer Banks and used for training purposes by E-2 squadrons) were normal as he kept one eye on the vapor cycle (equipment cooling system) and another outside the aircraft looking for – what? Leaks? A panel not quite secure? It wasn’t like he could see more than 15% of the airframe anyway…the radar and rest of the system would have to wait until a future flight when the airframe and engines had been judged to be “OK”

Midway through this revere, Ray (the guest pilot) came up on the ICS in his deep Carolinian drawl “CICO, Flight – hey Will, take a look at the starboard nacelle and let me know if you see anything…”

“Umm, roger flight, looking, but I’m not sure…”

He never had the chance to complete the sentence when all of a sudden a huge area of brown liquid suddenly appeared and began spreading rearward.

“Flight, CICO, lots of oil on the nacelle – gees, looks like someone turned a fire hose on it…”

“Got it – thanks, we’re shutting down the starboard engine and RTB”

“Norfolk Approach, AG 015 declaring an emergency. We are single engine and returning to NAS Norfolk, requesting the short field gear.”

While the pilots coordinated the return to Norfolk, he jumped on the radios in back to get the maintenance crew to meet them

“Speedy base – Bluetail 015’s returning to base, single engine. Right engine has a massive oil leak – please pass to my maintenance control.” (Speedy base – Speed Demon base – was Wing 12)

Back on deck (*sigh* ‘another field trap – counting all the ones up in Kef I ought to be close to field centurion, or so it seemed’ he thought) and a slow taxi back to the squadron spaces, the once clean nacelle now a definite shade of brown thanks to the oil. The left engine was barely shut down and the prop stopped before the power plants guys were all over the starboard nacelle – work stand in place, panels coming off. Everyone obviously was thinking the same thing – a fitting had failed or a hose had come off – nothing else could account for the sudden appearance of so much oil in such a short period of time.

After about 30 minutes, most of it spent cleaning excess oil from inside the nacelle, the power plants rep came into maintenance control.

“Senior, I can’t find anything wrong on that engine – we’ve cleaned it up real good, checked all the fittings and lines and everything is solid – no indication of where the leak came from.”

“OK, finish it up and we’ll run some low and high-power checks this afternoon and try again tomorrow – sound OK sir?” he asked the SO.

“Sure thing senior – I’ll stay and do the turns with you all.”

The next day was a carbon copy of the previous and brief, pre-flight and man-up all pretty much mirrored yesterday’s, save for extra attention paid to the starboard engine and nacelle. The mechs had run multiple low and high power turns the previous evening and the inside nacelle remained dry as a bone.

Climbing out to station, the LTJG was peering at the starboard nacelle, as if daring it to repeat yesterday’s faux pas. Just as the transfer to Norfolk departure was being made – there, it couldn’t be, but there it was – a thin ribbon of brown oil started to spread from one of the nacelle vents and just as he started to call the front, they beat him to it.

“CICO, Flight…”

“Flight, CICO. I’ve got the beginning of what looks like a small leak from the starboard engine…”

…at which point the firehouse came on again and the nacelle rapidly turned light brown. Again.

“Got it”

Norfolk approach, Navy Alfa Golf 015 declaring an emergency…” ‘Déjà vu all over again’ thought the disheartened CICO. Norfolk, of course, was less than amused.

“Alfa Golf 015, weren’t you guys the same ones yesterday who had the same problem?”

The rebuke settled like the big fat elephant it was on the shoulders of the crew. After a suitably pregnant pause, the front end replied with a “Roger” to which the controller replied that he hoped we’d get it fixed for sure before coming out again.

“Roger Norfolk, we *are* working it” replied the SO replied in a tone that clearly carried a “don’t screw with me now” quality.

Back on deck and with the panels removed, the aircrew and mechs clustered around the offending engine as others began wiping off the excess oil.

“Boss, we’ve got a problem” the QACPO was saying “Don’t have any spare engines over at AIMD – they’ve all gone out to the fleet and the backlog that are AWP (awaiting parts) is such that one won’t be ready for issue for a month.”

That bit of bad news settled like a rock in a pond on the assembled party. As the mechs reviewed the steps they had taken earlier in checking sources, the Allison tech rep, a wizened elf whose knowledge of the T-54 was already the stuff of legends, stopped them when they mentioned checking the gaskets.

“Wait a minute” he said “let me see the historical paperwork on this engine”

Off to maintenance control they went and a few hours later the verdict was read. It seems this engine had gone right from production in the late 1960’s into a canister for storage. Due to the shortage of re-worked engines, it was pulled from long term storage, given a quick once-over and refresh by AIMD and passed to VAW-121 for 015. And therein lay the problem. In the intervening years, the metal gasket that was part of the accessories drive housing was replaced with a rubber one when oil pressures were stepped up. At sea level, there would be no apparent leakage demonstrated on low or high power turns, but airborne, and especially in a climb, the metal gasket would shrink enough to pass almost all the accessory gear oil, coating the engine and making location of the leak problematic at best and darn near impossible at worst. The good news was the replacement gasket could be installed at the squadron level, spares were on hand and it was a relatively quick fix that would be followed by a quick turn on deck for a leak check. Some quick calculation (and, the CICO suspected, some blood sacrifices) showed that they could get the first PMCF out later that day and still be on track for finishing the flights before heading back to Keflavik.

Indeed, later that afternoon, 015 was airborne again, and even with a different shift at Norfolk departure, it was clear there had been a pass down as the controller passed his instructions with a “hope you have the problem fixed this time” closeout. Good thing ICS transmissions couldn’t be heard over the radio, he thought to himself, as he listened to the pilot’s not so sotto voce rejoinder…

The rest of the week went pretty much without further excitement – some radar problems that were fixed airborne by reseating certain cables and boxes, a balky autopilot (nothing new in the E-2) and after a 5 hour mission profile on Friday, 015 was cleared for return to Iceland. From the tone of the CO on the other end of the phone, it wouldn’t be a moment too soon either as things were picking up. The spring thaw was bringing about not only a retching whiff of odor from the fish head plant up wind from the airfield, but also in flight ops from the Soviets. Winter was over and the Bears were coming out of hibernation…


Indeed, spring and Bears were in the air. Returning to Iceland via a still frozen route through Newfoundland and Greenland, 015 arrived in Iceland in time for one of the largest Soviet exercises witnessed. Palm Sunday, 1981 and almost every variety of Bear was out sniffing around the island – the usual Delta’s and Foxtrots were present but there was also a couple of Bravo/Charlies with their AS-3 payload semi-recessed in the lower fuselage, a Juliet (ESM/ECM variant) and even an Alfa, the original iron-bomber variant. Having an extra E-2 on hand (normal compliment was 4) provided increased flexibility and coverage. The guys over at the 57th FIS were equally busy as it seemed there was an F-4 or two perpetually in the pattern – landing or launching on a scramble. Eight hours later it was over and 015 had acquitted itself admirably – reflecting the dedication, hard work and yes, blood, sweat and tears of a small group of maintenance men back in Norfolk. Being first-hand witness to the fruit of their efforts convinced the young NFO that he wanted the opportunity to work with and lead this extraordinary group of sailors. As the years passed, he chose first division and then ultimate department head positions in aviation maintenance as his “ground” job. It wasn’t always rosy and to be sure, there were many a late night and long weekend spent working on the birds when the rest of the squadron was home or on liberty – but he couldn’t think of any other job to hold than that which kept him with the troop - his troops.

Over the years, there would be many other Hawkeyes to be flown – some notable, many less so. BuNo 160992 would eventually transfer from VAW-121 back to RVAW-120 from whence it arrived (special care was taken to ensure it virtually gleamed when it was given back), and thence to other squadrons. Curiously, it and the Scribe did not cross paths again (unlike 159107) and eventually, both were put out to pasture – him to retirement and 160992 to a dusty, final existence at the MASDC boneyard.

24 April 2007

Wednesday's Child & Flight Sched

A couple of notes for the next few days -- YHS will be taking a temporary (overnight) residence at Bethesda for surgery...and since it would be unseemly to try and post on recuperative medicine there will be a slight mod to the normal flight sched for Thursday and Friday while going EMCON ALPHA through the weekend. Thursday will consist of a roll-up of the latest re. Russia, INF and siting of missile defense elements in Europe; and instead of Flightdeck Friday, the conclusion to the series on 160992 will be posted. Monday we should be back up to speed.

Reflections: The Resurrection of BuNo 160992 (Part 3)

Part I

Part II

And 015? Well, a small crew was already making steady progress at assessing her state that evening. When he left Saturday, he was surprised to see the MODEX already painted on her nose, squadron seal and Battle ‘E’, Safety ‘S’ and AEW Excellence awards applied and the beginnings of the sunburst on the tail. A long worktable was setup along one side with piles of documentation on one end and parts at the other. An intermittent stream of personnel were entering and leaving, accompanied by muffled shouts and the occasional, well, actually frequent curse. The resurrection of 160992 was well and truly underway.

“017, 126. Angels 37 heading 175. Flight of 2, speed 430 knots”

One month in to the deployment to Keflavik and things were busy. Second alert launch of the day for what has turned out to be a flight of Bear D’s headed for Cuba through the Iceland-UK slot.

“016, 92 miles”

When the lead element of the Bluetails arrived things were pretty quiet – it was almost a week before an alert launched. Time was put to good use though in turnover with the off going E-2B Reserve squadrons and getting to know the Air Force fighters they’d be working with over the next few months. The 57th FIS (Fighter Interceptor Squadron) aka the “Black Knights” flew F-4Es and had been stationed in Iceland since October 1954. Working together stated off as a wary dance between the two squadrons – the fighters because the new E-2 squadron was an unknown entity who would have significant impact on their success and, if it came down to it, their survival over the hostile waters of the wintertime North Atlantic. The E-2 squadron, well, because they were fighters and from the junior Service with all its associated baggage. As time and FAM flights and practice intercepts passed, the wariness was quickly replaced as both discovered certain universal constants and enjoyed the shared spirit of confronting the elements and a common foe on one of the frontlines of the Cold War.

Said hospitality was extended even to the point that members of each squadron were welcomed with equal enthusiasm in the other’s BOQ bar.

“Bluetail, Lead has Judy”

“Roger, Texaco airborne and proceeding to station”

You could almost hear the sigh of relief over the radio. Even with tanks, the F-4s were not like the F-14’s the Bluetails had in CVW-7. Fuel, while always a point of concern, was doubly so for the thirstier Phantom. Just the previous week the Bluetails had saved an RAF Phantom’s bacon by getting him hooked into a KC-135 in an extremis situation when the RAF tanker’s package went bad. Word was the reward was inbound on the AEW Shackletons that were conducting their monthly visit next week…

The CICO watched as his nugget ACO monitored the remaining part of the intercept and visual ID. As he did so, his thoughts turned back to Norfolk where he was headed week after next. Seems like the skeleton crew left behind to work 160992 (AG 015) was making faster progress than expected and would need a check crew to fly her and bring her back up to Keflavik. As QAO he was tagged to be the PMCF NFO and the Safety Officer as one of the pilots. The other was a stash O-5 over at Wing Twelve who was waiting to join his next squadron as XO.

The journey had not been an easy one – many a phone call and message was exchanged between the forward deployed squadron and the Wing over parts and needed assistance. Continuing a trend established in the late 70’s, spares and money for operations were meager and cannibalization was the rule of the day. In 015’s case, it meant that there would be no crypto boxes or PDS until her arrival in Iceland, at which time they would be swapped in from the plane the squadron was turning over to the FRS. Well, PDS and crypto wasn’t need for the flight up anyway…

The reminder of the flight up sent needles of ice through his back and neck. Growing up in Nebraska he had seen bitterly cold Midwestern winters – but nothing matched the lethal iciness of Greenland in mid-winter. The flight up had been relatively uneventful, if somewhat anxiety laden at times. RON at Goose Bay and a refueling stop at Sondrestrøm culminated in a field arrested landing at Keflavik because of crosswinds. The only other time he had taken a field arrestment was coming back from a PMCF with an engine out and leaking combined hydraulic system. Little did they know that field traps would become a regular feature of flight ops in Kef.

Goose Bay was grey, overcast, windswept and bitterly cold - ice and snow as far as the eye could see. The RON was anything but restful as futile attempts to keep warm in the transient BOQ led to sleeping in flight gear, curled up in a ball. But Sondrestrøm – Sondrestrøm was the sort of place that forever set the memory bit. Situated at the head of a fjord, it was not unlike the Bluie Two-West of Gann’s Fate is the Hunter, although modern navaids removed some of the risk faced by WW2 bombers using ancient DF gear. The runway sloped gently uphill, and in the dazzle of the featureless white snow, proved a challenging sight for a visual approach. The surrounding mountains could also extract a price from the less than aware aviator in fog or snow. Serving almost as a talisman to the challenges inherent to flying into this Arctic outpost (it was situated above the Arctic Circle) was a C-118, displaced slightly to the right of the centerline and looking like it was correcting … except it was embedded in the ground having landed short of the runway threshold. Still intact and gleaming polished aluminum after all these years, it looked like it happened only yesterday.

The subzero cold encountered when they exited the aircraft was a vicious one, immediately penetrating the layers of protective clothing they wore. Smart advice from the XO was to bring all flight gear into the ops shack, otherwise it would get cold-soaked and be impossible to wear (consider the prospect of wearing an ice bucket on your head for the next hour+…). A quick (relatively speaking) turn around, to include servicing the props, and they were off, over the Greenland ice pack and 5 hours later inbound to Iceland.


“Garden-spot of the North Atlantic, where behind every tree…ha,” he thought, “some bachelor’s paradise this.” And it wasn’t just the single guys grousing. Coming hard on the heels of having spent 347 days underway the previous year, the married folks were also pretty tee’d off with having to deploy again so soon. It didn’t help that the other Navy squadron up here, a VP outfit, seemed to have a regular rotation of their wives passing through. One JO almost decked a VP department head when he bragged about having completed enough time on “deployment” to garner a Sea Service ribbon. A couple of his JO buds grabbed him and spirited him out of the club before things got rough. He himself was in rolling hack (along with the Personnel Officer) for their extra-curricular activity the other night. Coming back from the club, with freshly fallen snow around the two of them, they decided the CO who had been something of a grouch of late, needed to cool off and much to the horror of the MO who was with them, pitched a couple of snowballs through the CO’s BOQ window. Oh, no glass was broken. Rather, like the final scene in Star Wars both snowballs sailed unmolested through the narrow opening, knocking over a jug of water on him as he lay in the rack.

All would’ve been perfect though if the Pers O had just executed an EMCON recovery. Instead, yukking it up in his characteristic laugh, he’d beat feet back to his room – and the two had individual visits the next day – the Pers O from the XO and him, the MO. While a good prank was appreciated, the fact was something had to be done, and punishment duly applied. Banned from the O-club bar for the next month (and the BOQ bars too). Smiling to himself, he allowed as how the time he was in hack allowed time for planning a little revenge on their VP buds (who continued getting under their and the fighter guys’ skins). Working in the dark of night he and a couple of other Bluetail and 57th folks “borrowed” a number of stop signs and other traffic signs from around the base, hiding them for a day until it became clear there was a major stir on base, at which point they mysteriously reappeared. In the back of the VP alert truck…

Back on deck he was met by the XO on the way to Maintenance Control. “Wilbur” he said “’Bout time to get you out of town” he said. “We received word that 015 is ready for the PMCFs and you and the Safety Officer are going back tomorrow to Norfolk.”

“Got it XO – anything else”

“Yeah, it’d be a good idea not to go around the VP guy’s place tonight – they’re all upset about something” he said with a grin that widened to a smile…

To be continued…

P.S. Taken on the return leg back to Norfolk, post deployment (Apr 81) - 015 is behind 014.

23 April 2007

Boris Yeltsin: 1931-2007

Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin passed away today as the result of an undisclosed cause. He was 76.

Remember this?

...but there was also this:

A portrait cast in tragic contradictions, Boris Yeltsin was the first popularly elected president in Russia's history, garnering 57% of the vote in 1992. That followed a signatory confrontation in October 1991 when he led a populist revolt against the August 1991 coup led by an 8-man tribunal that sought to arrest Mikhail Gorbachev and assert the primacy of the Communist party in the wake of Gorbachev's attempts at reform. Standing on a tank positioned outside the Parliament building, Yeltsin called on Russians in general, and those in the military in particular, to defy the orders of the communist conspirators. The coup failed and the Communist party was later outlawed and the Soviet Empire dissolved.

However, in his drive to institute econimic reforms and privitization of industry within Russia, he caused economic chaos that led directly to the rise of kleptocratic oligarchs served by a resurgent Russian mob and spurred deep resentment within the Russian military as they saw themselves inceasingly marinalized at home and outstripped in capabilities abroad. Championed in the West as a "protector of democracy," he undertook military operations against Chechen separatists (before they became infiltrated by Islamists) and used the military under "Special Powers" adopted in 1993 to disband the Supreme Soviet and by October, literally blasted his opponents out of the parliamentary building.

History has yet to render a final verdict on Yeltsin and his role in moving Russia towards a more open, democratic society. Indeed, recent trends seem to indicate a retrenchment by the forces of central authority. How far the penduluum swings remains to be seen. Nevertheless, for all his flaws and failings, Yeltsin had a demonstrable, permanent effect on Russia and her people. The beneficial effects of that impact, remain to be determined.


21 April 2007

Blue Angels crash @ MCAS Beaufort

Lord, guard and guide the men who fly
Through the great spaces in the sky,
Be with them always in the air,
In dark'ning storms or sunlight fair.
O, Hear us when we lift our prayer,
For those in peril in the air.

(Update 22 Apr):
More details at Tailhook Daily Briefing, also you need to head over to Lex's place for his take on the loss of an exceptional aviator...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A jet fighter flown by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels demonstration team crashed on Saturday in South Carolina and a number of houses were on fire, CNN said.

Witness Scott Houston told CNN in a telephone interview that he saw six Blue Angels jets flying low behind a grove of trees at the end of an airshow in Beaufort, South Carolina and only five emerged.

A cloud of smoke was seen rising from the area.


Updated: 14 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - A jet fighter flown by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels demonstration team crashed Saturday during an airshow in South Carolina and a number of houses were on fire, according to media reports.

Witness Scott Houston told CNN in a telephone interview that he saw six Blue Angels jets flying low behind a grove of trees at the end of an airshow in Beaufort, S.C., and only five emerged.

A cloud of smoke was seen rising from the area.

According to the Beaufort Gazette, police reports indicated that the jet clipped power lines and went down about 30 minutes into the unit's show at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

A coroner was called to the scene and authorities were told the pilot had been killed in the crash, according to the paper. However, a local hospital had not been made aware of any injuries or fatalities, according to NBC News.

A Navy official told NBC News there was an incident at the show, but did not say if anyone was injured.

India Joins Arms Sanctions on Iran and North Korea

Quite a backlog of geopolitical news to sort through while YHS was gone this week including a ton on Russia, missile defense, INF and more. Here is a quick one re. India and support for arms sanctions vs. Iran and North Korea...(from New Dehli Zee News Television, 19 Apr)

India has prohibited trade in all arms and related products with Iran and North Korea in compliance with the UN Security Council's resolution to stop import and export of items which may contribute to strengthening of their nuclear programmes.

The ban, notified in the annual supplement of the Foreign Trade Policy today [19 Apr], comes ahead of the May one visit of North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Hyong Jun for three-days to discuss strengthening of bilateral relations.

The government has prohibited direct and indirect export and import of materials, goods and technology which could contribute North Korea's nuclear-related, ballistic missile related or other weapons of mass destruction related programmes.

It has also prohibited direct or indirect export and import of all items, materials, goods and technology which could contribute to Iran's enrichment related, reprocessing or heavy water related activities or to development of its nuclear weapons delivery systems.

The meeting between North Korean minister and his Indian counterpart would be the first high level contact between the two countries since the latter conducted nuclear tests last October. The last foreign office consultations were held in Pyongyang in June 2005.

North Korean nuclear issue may also come up for discussion during the meeting in the backdrop of the atomic tests conducted by the communist country on October 9, 2006.

Reflections: The Jacket

Solo travel has a way of providing time – time for reflection, time for review, time for introspection. Prolonged layovers in particular, provide that time (ed - and a lot of it, if this recent trip is to be judged). It was while cooling his heels in another (not so) antiseptic terminal somewhere along his journey back home from yet another interminable conference that your ‘umble scribe was struck with an idea – a notion of you will.

We all remember high school English in general and composition in particular. Of the reading and forced penning of short stories and essays for which most of us wailed pitiably (at least we thought we were deserving of said pity) that we had no idea what to write and couldn’t we just forgo this exercise in aggravation – PLEASE?? Yet, when reading the various posts in the ‘sphere, it occurs to this scribe – what are they but short stories? Some auto-biographical, others descriptive, still more neo-journalist, but all short stories. Occasionally, they wrap into a larger thematic novel (see Lex) but for the most part, the subject, voice and viewpoint change with each posting. So why is it so many of us today, find time, nay, carve out time to fulfill an urge so sorely lacking in our (mis)spent youth? Ego, an urge to share, the human drive to communicate with fellow creatures, all that has bearing and impetus here. For YHS, it is a desire to share a thought, the bright glint of some idea – to bring the (alleged) chaos of his thoughts to some crafted form via his hands and like a potter or other artisan, to share his work with others in the hope it brings them some brief joy and amusement. Submitted herewith then, his offering today:

The Jacket

For as long as he could remember, it was always “the jacket.” To look upon it, it wasn’t particularly distinguished or remarkable, if the observer did not know of aviation, and especially its subset, naval aviation that is. For you see, the jacket was that article of clothing that linked the wearer to the heritage of those who came before. Crafted of goatskin leather, mouton fur and fitted with knit cuffs and waistband, it was the epitome of a functionally driven design. Essentially unchanged from when it first appeared in the 1930s, the jacket had, in possession and form, seen conflict from the Pacific to the Arctic – from sun-dappled Mediterranean shores to hostile skies over Korea.

To be sure, replacements had been tried and in some respects found lacking. An abortive try at cost-saving by crafting the main material out of Naugahyde ™ in the late 70’s had led to the current wearer (and writer) seeking a more authentic (and, as it turned out, durable) article when a pretender was issued to him in Pensacola. When he came by one, a few years later, it traveled with him to the far corners of the Earth, ashore and afloat. Boat Officer in Portsmouth, England. A freezing flightline in Norfolk. An airshow at Halifax. The bridge of an aircraft carrier at sea. Even all the way to the office of the CNO, it was his mute witness. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he eschewed the practice of re-covering its exterior with the various squadron and “been there” patches others had a bent towards. Indeed, sometime later when senior leadership finally gave the OK for wear some place else besides the flightline, but with the stipulation it conform to a set configuration like that inflicted by the junior air service on its aviators, he pointedly continued to refuse to add the patches. The lone exception to this self-imposed rule was the embossed leather nametag bearing his wings, name and rank or position over his left breast. Elegant simplicity, he thought. In retirement it continued to serve, especially on those late fall or early spring days with a chill in the air when he felt a need to go driving – with the top down, of course…

For as long as she could remember, it was always “the jacket.” Even the kids all knew that when he called for “the jacket,” this and no other was to be brought to him. Her first sight of him, as a LTJG had been when he was wearing the jacket. Tall, handsome and mysterious but with a mischievous glint in his eyes, she was drawn to him like no other, in spite of herself. Five months of correspondence between them while he was on deployment had built a certain image in her mind, and now standing here in front of her, words were brought to flesh. And she was secretly pleased. As the years passed and their bond grew fast, on those occasions when he was gone and the jacket left behind, she would take it out of the closet and curl up on the sofa and remember him. The smoothness of the worn leather, the softness of the fur collar – all with the faint trace of him, kept her company while he was gone. Her pillow of remembrance – it provided a kind of reassurance as well for his return, for, as she was wont to joke him on occasion, she couldn’t imagine him without the jacket and vice versa, and surely, he would (and always did) return. To her embrace and yes, his beloved jacket…


20 April 2007

Required Reading - 20 Apr 07 List

Today, without delay, you need to read these articles. Why? Beyond being the quality writing that these blogs are noted for, the indicated articles provide compelling reads for the issues that face us today.

  • Take this one for example. Fullbore Friday is always a great trip down the halls of naval history and usually revolves around a story of overcoming the odds and succeeding - heroically. Today's issue is replete with that heroism from unlikely quarters in the face of a truly evil enemy. Go now, read and take to heart the lesson learned.

  • Those who know YHS know that he does not suffer fools gladly. In fact, YHS believes there is a special circle in h*ll reserved for the deliberately, criminally stupid. There is one special subset though for whom he reserves the full weight of his fury - the so-called 9/11 "truthers." Fair warning - cross his path spewing your malformed idiocy and you will be verbally eviscerated. Bill, one of the most cogent writers (and proof that quality does not always equate with volume) has a masterful follow-on post to his "Seeing the Unseen" post from November last wherein he takes on some of the more notable conspiracy theories. We look forward to his commentary re. global warming...

18 April 2007

Flightdeck Friday - Early Edition: The Doolittle Raid

Sixty-five years ago

Guts, determination, innovation - courage were defined
(and well before Joint was "cool")

Conceived in the dark aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the raid had its genesis in the idea of CAPT Frank Lowe, USN who predicted that Army twin-engine bombers could be launched form a carrier under the right conditions. Planned by Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, USA and executed by 16 modified B-25B's of the 34th BS, 17th BG flying from the deck of the USS Hornet (CV 8) - 650 nm from Tokyo, history was made and an enemy left shocked. The raid took place after only two months of planning and special training with 16 all volunteer crews. More on the raid itself here, here and here.

North American B-25B Mitchell

The B-25 stemmed from an Army Air Corps competition that was won by Martin with their B-26 design. The contest was a novel one in that the Army would order the winning design straight into production, by-passing the prototype phase. Despite having garnered almost double North American's score, Martin was adamant that they were not going to be able to produce the B-26 in the numbers the Army Air Corps wanted - so they awarded North American with the remainder of the contract. The B-26 was fast, rugged and could carry a significant bomb load - outstripping he B-25 in each category. It's airframe was designed and constructed such that the ability to take punishment was legendary and second only to the B-17. Yet because of its high wing loading, the B-26 was also notable for its fast landing speeds and long takeoff requirements. The B-25, on the other hand, reached production sooner, also demonstrated a capable bomb carriage capability and, for the purposes of this mission, had take-off requirements that suited it for the carrier.

Still, when all was said and done, these were (relatively speaking) big aricraft on a small flight deck. Carriers wouldn't see the likes of this until after the war with the advent of the specially modified P2Vs for the nuclear mission - and then those were limited to the much larger decks of the Midway-class carrier.

Armament: Six .50-cal. machine guns; 3,000 lbs. of bombs
Engine: Two Wright R-2600s of 1,700 hp each
Maximum speed: 328 mph
Cruising speed: 233 mph
Range: 2,500 miles (with auxiliary tanks)
Ceiling: 21,200 ft.
Span: 67 ft. 6 in.
Length: 53 ft.
Height: 16 ft. 9 in.
Weight: 29,300 lbs. maximum
Cost: $109,670 (1943)

Post Script:

Some few years ago (OK, 23 years) I was standing in line at a bank in the main building of the Naval Postgrad School in Monterey, quite engrossed in some transaction I had to make. Standing in front of me was a elderly gentleman who also was quietly waiting his turn at the busy counter. As he approached, the teller exclaimed with considerable joy and surprise "Why General Doolittle! What a pleasure to see you sir - we see so little of you lately it seems!" Needless to say, I jerked my head up so fast I swear I'd broke my neck. Still, it's not every day you got to meet a living legend and a very gracious and humble one at that...

15 April 2007

EMCON Charlie

Back out to the front range of the Rockies this week and again, most of it to be spent in a windowless building for a major conference. Ergo - limited posting this week. Flightdeck Friday will be a bit different and in preparation for that, would like for all to think about what they would like to see for Flightdeck Friday posts down the road...

Thinking Blogger Award

Through the 2996 list this blog has been nominated for a "Thinking Blogger Award." As part of the acceptance we are to nominate up to five other blogs for the award.

Having been at this for about a year now (the old blog kicked off in Apr '06 and the new version, if I can abstain from hosing up my WordPress install, again, will air in time for Battle of Midway remembrances...) there are waaay more than 5 I can ID right off the bat. That said, the 5 I nominate are the 5 I've been reading the longest and daily challenge me in terms of quality of writing, breadth of view, civil approach to topics and commentators (save the occasional troll) and most importantly, depth of thought. These are the folks that set the bar on a recurring basis and whom YHS gladly nominates for a Thinking Blogger Award:

Envelopes (sorry, no checks) are inbound...

MV-22 Osprey Deployment - Update

Bit of a surprise as most folks had expected a "safe" initial deployment in support of HOA ops:

Osprey Aircraft to Make Combat Debut in Iraq

By John J. Kruze
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 13, 2007 - A Marine aircraft with dual personalities -- part airplane, part helicopter -- will soon buzz and hover above Iraq's deserts, providing assault and medical support.

Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway announced at the Pentagon this morning that the MV-22 Osprey aircraft will make its combat debut in Iraq this September, when Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263, with 10 Ospreys and 171 personnel, deploys to Al Asad Air Base.

"This deployment directly supports our Corps' number one priority, the Marines and sailors in contact at the tip of the spear," Conway said. "This is a great day for our Corps and for my aviation folks in particular."

The Corps' tiltrotor MV-22 alternates between fixed- and rotary-wing capabilities, a unique attribute that gives U.S. fighting forces the versatility of a helicopter, with the 300 mph speed and increased altitude of an airplane, reducing the threat from small-arms fire.

"It goes twice as fast, three times as far, it's more survivable by six or seven times (than) the aircraft it replaces," Marine Lt. Gen. John Castellaw, deputy commandant for aviation, told reporters at the Pentagon. The MV-22, which can travel up to 900 miles before refueling, is set to phase out the CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter introduced in the 1960s.

In 2000, the Osprey came under controversy when an MV-22 crashed, killing 23 Marines.

Castellaw said the accident resulted from rapid descent in "helicopter mode," a risky tactic not normally used by pilots. Newer models are equipped with warning systems to help prevent a similar situation, he said.

In conjunction with the commandant's announcement today, media members were invited to Landing Zone Seven at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., to observe the aircraft up close. Later, 20 press members would climb aboard for a jaunt above the clouds in what Marines call a "familiarization ride."

Around 1 p.m., two Ospreys roared overhead, sending dust and blades of grass into the faces of reporters and photographers. During a downwind turn, the Ospreys' prop-rotors pivoted perpendicular to the ground and into helicopter mode.

The crafts hovered over their landing spots, floating smoothly on a vertical descent until their wheels met grassy terrain. Lt. Col Paul Rock, the commanding officer of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263, hopped out of one MV-22 and approached the bouquet of microphones poised on a makeshift podium.

"The mission is medium-lift assault support," Rock said. "We carry combat troops, supplies and equipment across the spectrum of expeditionary operations.

"It's not an F-18 Hornet or an 88 Harrier," he said. "We're not looking to put bombs on people's heads, we're going to put the most lethal thing the Marine Corps has -- the individual rifleman -- on the deck."

Rock told reporters the Corps has a three-phase, 18-month logistical program in place to train pilots and aircrews on the new craft. The first of the six-month phases includes "qualifications training flights," followed by a half-year of "maturation training."

During the final pre-deployment phase, Marine aviators undergo Operation Desert Talon training in Yuma, Ariz. -- a location selected for its desert climate and conditions, Rock said.

As the outdoor briefing closed, the 85-foot rotors soon reappeared over the tree line. Eager press members pulled rudimentary white helmets, appropriately called "cranials," and their attached headphones into place.

Inside the Osprey, chests harnesses held reporters and photographers fast against the fuselage making tangible the low-frequency hum of the spinning propellers. From the rear hatch, which remained open during the flight, a network of exposed wires ran along the ceiling toward the cockpit like nerve bundles.

Without warning, the MV-22 separated from the ground. A mid-range humming seeped under the headphones and signaled the craft's metamorphosis from helicopter to airplane mode. For roughly the next 20 minutes, press members on board climbed, descended, yawed, pitched and rolled in the Osprey like paint in a mixer.

In moments of sheer beauty, the second Osprey fell back and appeared through the rear hatch, gliding along in parallel formation and eliciting composer Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries," as in the famed UH-1 Huey scene from the film "Apocalypse Now."

As a testament to the Osprey's sheer power, one photographer onboard was compelled to use a complimentary airsick bag. Another passenger, a news correspondent, wore a yellow hue on her face that was absent before the flight.

At the edge of the landing zone, Sgt. Courtney Joseph, an MV-22 aircrew member and mechanic, watched the disoriented press members deplane -- rather de-helicopter -- the Ospreys. "The quickest way to turn anyone into a believer is to ride on it," she said.

13 April 2007

Nuclear Strike: Nightmare at 17th & H Streets

You're in government or the private sector and charged with consequence management planning - how do you set up your assumptions and what kind of scenarios and guidelines are there for you to use? Fortunately, there is a set of 15 "standardized" scenarios, running the gamut of an outbreak of "hoof and mouth" disease up to the nuclear terrorist attack using a simplified gun-device & stolen HEU, concealed in a delivery truck - something like this:

Net effects run like this: Denoted at ground level in Washington, D.C., a 10 KT bomb would kill as many as 204,600 people, including many government officials, and would injure or sicken 90,800. Another 24,580 victims would die of radiation-related cancer in ensuing years. Radioactive debris would contaminate a 3,000-square-mile area, requiring years-long cleanup.

Those scenarios are located here, BTW.

Despite the publishing of the planning scenarios, repeated warnings from the Administration and $300B in Homeland Security spending, experts are warning that the US is still unprepared for this scenario (and as pointed out in other fora - if we are unprepared for the most important scenario, what's that say about preparedness for the other 14?). In an article written for the McClatchy Newspapers by Greg Gordon of the Washington Bureau, these experts point out several shortcomings in preparedness:

  • The government has yet to launch an educational program, akin to the Cold War-era civil defense campaign promoting fallout shelters, to teach Americans how to shield themselves from radiation, especially from the fallout plume, which could deposit deadly particles up to 100 miles from ground zero.
  • Analysts estimate that as many as 300,000 emergency workers would be needed after a nuclear attack, but predict that the radiation would scare many of them away from the disaster site.
  • Hospital emergency rooms wouldn't be able to handle the surge of people who were irradiated or the many more who feared they were.
  • Medical teams would have to improvise to treat what could be tens of thousands of burn victims because most cities have only one or two available burn-unit beds. Cham Dallas, director of the University of Georgia's Center for Mass Destruction Defense, called the predicament "the worst link in our health care wall."
  • Several drugs are in development and one is especially promising, but the government hasn't acquired any significant new medicine to counteract radiation's devastating effects on victims' blood-forming bone marrow.

Run the numbers again -- 300,000 National Guard, military reservists, first responders and other civil emergency workers would be needed to assist the expected 1.5 Million refugees...it staggers the mind to consider the possibility, doesn't it? And that is just one 10KT bomb. Read the rest of the article here.
(h/t: ArmsControlWonk)