Recently in Military Category

Great - I love this. From Associated Press:

Pentagon boss to NATO nations: Increase military spending
In an ultimatum to America's allies, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told fellow NATO members Wednesday to increase military spending by year's end or risk seeing the U.S. curtail its defense support — a stark threat given Europe's deep unease already over U.S.-Russian relations.

Echoing President Donald Trump's demands for NATO countries to assume greater self-defense responsibility, Mattis said Washington will "moderate its commitment" to the alliance if countries fail to fall in line. He didn't offer details, but the pressure is sure to be felt, particularly by governments in Europe's eastern reaches that feel threatened by Russian expansionism.

I love it! Europe is frittering its money away on social programs and letting us carry the weight on defense. Time to adjust to what it should be.

His work cut out for him - Trump

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One of President Trump's plans is to rebuild out military - here is an example of what he faces. From Defense News:

Grounded: Nearly two-thirds of US Navy’s strike fighters can’t fly
The U.S. Navy’s F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet strike fighters are the tip of the spear, embodying most of the fierce striking power of the aircraft carrier strike group. But nearly two-thirds of the fleet’s strike fighters can’t fly — grounded because they’re either undergoing maintenance or simply waiting for parts or their turn in line on the aviation depot backlog.

Overall, more than half the Navy’s aircraft are grounded, most because there isn’t enough money to fix them.

Additionally, there isn’t enough money to fix the fleet’s ships, and the backlog of ships needing work continues to grow. Overhauls — “availabilities” in Navy parlance — are being canceled or deferred, and when ships do come in they need longer to refit. Every carrier overall for at least three years has run long, and some submarines are out of service for prolonged periods, as much as four years or more. One submarine, the Boise, has lost its diving certification and can’t operate pending shipyard work.

One of the key reasons is the divisiveness in Congress:

Congress has failed for the ninth straight year to produce a budget before the Oct. 1 start of fiscal 2017, reverting to continuing resolutions that keep money flowing at prior year levels. CRs have numerous caveats, however, and many new projects or plans can’t be funded since they didn’t exist in the prior year. There is widespread agreement that CR funding creates havoc throughout the Pentagon and the industrial base that supports it — often substantially driving costs higher to recover from lengthy delays. Yet, like the proverbial weather that everyone talks about but no one can change, there seems to be little urgency in Congress to return to a more businesslike budget profile. 

Time for them to do this - they are required by law to pass an annual budget but this has been stymied at almost every level by petty partisan infighting. Time to get their shit together and get to work.

President Trump took a little side trip today - no, not a golf game, something much more important. From Associated Press:

TRUMP MAKES UNANNOUNCED TRIP TO HONOR FALLEN NAVY SEAL
Assuming the somber duties of commander in chief, President Donald Trump made an unannounced trip Wednesday to honor the returning remains of a U.S. Navy SEAL killed in a weekend raid in Yemen.

Chief Special Warfare Operator William "Ryan" Owens, a 36-year-old from Peoria, Illinois, was the first known U.S. combat casualty since Trump took office less than two weeks ago. More than half a dozen militant suspects were also killed in the raid on an al-Qaida compound and three other U.S. service members were wounded.

A bit more:

The president met with Owens' family during a two-hour visit to the base. The sailor's family had requested that Trump's visit and the return of Owens' remains be private.

Former President Barack Obama lifted a ban on media coverage of the casualty returns, though families may still request privacy.

That is leadership - President Trump is our Commander in Chief. This action indicates that he is fully aware of what that job entails.

This guy is insufferable

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From Breitbart:

President Obama Awards Himself Distinguished Public Service Medal
On Wednesday, President Obama added another prestigious medal to his Nobel Prize collection when he had Defense Secretary Ash Carter award him with the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.

Secretary Carter awarded his boss with the medal on January 4 during the Armed Forces Full Honor Farewell Review for the President held at Conmy Hall, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia.

Carter is good people - I would hate to think of what he has to go through dealing with Barry's petulance and narcissism.

Ashton Carter and James Mattis - both highly intellegent and both very good people. One of them is the right fit for the job as it plays out in today's political world. Here is 1,000 words:

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From the US Naval Institute News:

USS Zumwalt Sidelined in Panama Following New Engineering Casualty
USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) is pier side following an engineering casualty the ship suffered transiting the Panama Canal, U.S. Navy officials told USNI News on Monday.

The guided missile destroyer will undergo repairs at a former U.S. naval station until its fit to complete its journey to Naval Station San Diego, Calif., U.S. 3rd Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Ryan Perry told USNI News.

The ship was in the midst of a southbound transit through the canal when it suffered the casualty, Under orders from U.S. 3rd Fleet commander Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, Zumwalt is now stopped for repairs at the former U.S. Naval Station Rodman, he said.

The problem:

The ship lost propulsion in its port shaft during the transit and the crew saw water intrusion in two of the four bearings that connect to Zumwalt’s port and starboard Advanced Induction Motors (AIMs) to the drive shafts, a defense official told USNI News on Tuesday. The AIMs are the massive electrical motors that are driven by the ship’s gas turbines and in turn electrically power the ship’s systems and drive the shafts.

Large amounts of electricity next to salt water is a recipie for problems. The previous problem came last September: Next-Generation Destroyer Zumwalt Sidelined for Repairs After Engineering Casualty

My two favorites? SR-71 Blackbird and A-10 Warthog. Both at the acme of their intended design goals.

The F-35 fighter has been an amazing waste of money and it is unfortunately draining resources that need to go to other airplanes. They were looking at shutting down the A-10 - phasing it out of service. Fortunately - from Popular Mechanics:

U.S. Air Force Fires Up the A-10 Depot Line to Keep Warthogs Flying 'Indefinitely'
On paper, the Air Force plans to start mothballing the A-10 in 2018, with the last Warthogs sent to the boneyard by 2021. But last month Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said that the retirement of the A-10 would likely have to be delayed further as the military continues to rely on the low-and-slow attack plane for close-air support (CAS) missions flown against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. Even more telling, the Air Force Material Command (AFMC) is bringing the depot line for A-10 maintenance and repair back up to full capacity, according to Aviation Week.

The Hawg isn't going anywhere.

"They have re-geared up, we've turned on the depot line, we're building it back up in capacity and supply chain," AFMC chief Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski recently told Aviation Week. "Our command, anyway, is approaching this as another airplane that we are sustaining indefinitely."

Fun times ahead - a two-fer

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First - a long and well written article by John R. Schindler at The Observer:

Putin’s Activation of ‘Iskander-M’ Ballistic Missile Is a Message to Obama
It’s long been obvious that Vladimir Putin and his inner circle view Barack Obama with utter contempt. To the hard men in Moscow, who got their schooling in the KGB, our diffident, wordy Ivy League lawyer president is a weakling—almost a caricature of everything they despise about the postmodern West.

Here the Kremlin mirrors most Russians, who find Obama a puzzling and contemptible man. This is nothing new. I’ve heard remarkable put-downs of our commander-in-chief for years, going back to 2008, even from the mouths of highly educated Russians. Their comments are invariably earthy, insulting, and nowhere near politically correct.

It’s therefore no surprise that Russians view Obama with contempt—and so does their leader. As our president winds up his second term and prepares to move out of the White House, the Kremlin simply isn’t bothering to hide that contempt any longer, even in high-level diplomacy, where a modicum of tact is expected.

Take Syria, the foreign policy nightmare that hangs darkly over Obama’s legacy. The pathetic attempts of John Kerry, Obama’s sad-sack secretary of state, to assert America’s role in that sordid conflict have been rudely rebuffed by Moscow. The Kremlin has made it indelibly clear that it has no interest in further parley with Washington about Syria: We won, you lost, get over it.

And the missile?

Today’s biggest news, however, comes from Estonian reports that the Russian military is sending Iskander-M missiles to Kaliningrad on a civilian freighter. It’s expected to dock in Kaliningrad today with its alarming cargo.

The Iskander-M system, called SS-26 by NATO, is the replacement of the Scud missile of American Gulf War memory. It has a range of 300 miles and can carry either a conventional or a nuclear warhead. An Iskander-M based in Kaliningrad can strike targets deep in Poland and across the whole Baltic region. Make no mistake, this is primarily an offensive weapons system.

There’s a reason that the Kremlin promised to not ship this missile system to Kaliningrad back in 2009, in exchange for President Obama’s scuppering of missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic. Activating an Iskander-M unit in Kaliningrad, west of the Baltic republics, is rightly seen as destabilizing by NATO’s whole eastern flank which, despite security promises by the White House, remains vulnerable to Russian attack. For Warsaw and several other NATO capitals, this move resembles a Baltic version of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Talk about a poke in the eye with a sharp stick - as a member of NATO, we are bound by the treaty to defend fellow members including Poland and the Czech Republic. Our Secretary of State at the time - Hillary Clinton - made the deal to not deploy the shield if the Russians would not deploy their missiles. No accountability, no leverage. Her tenure started with a big reset that was more an overload of her diplomatic skills. Couldn't even get that one word correct.

It is worth your time to read the entire article above - John Schindler is a security expert and former National Security Agency analyst and counterintelligence officer. A specialist in espionage and terrorism, he’s also been a Navy officer and a War College professor. He’s published four books.

Second - our response from Sputnik News:

Pentagon Hyping Test of Two Fake Nuke Bombs in Nevada Desert
With the United States’ Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBMs) arsenal aging, the US Air Force has pushed the Pentagon to fund nuclear modernization programs.

To that end, the Air Force conducted successful tests with two B61 nuclear bombs. Neither carried a live warhead.

"The primary objective of flight testing is to obtain reliability, accuracy, and performance data under operational representative conditions," reads a statement released by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

We are rattling sabers, they are moving ordnance into place.

This does not bode well - Iran

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From the US Naval Institute:

Video: Destroyer USS Nitze Harassed by Iranian Patrol Boats
The following is Aug. 23, 2016 video of guided missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG-94) harassed by four Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) patrol boats.

The destroyer was in the vicinity of the Strait of Hormuz when four Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy high-speed patrol boats came at the ship without responding to hails or warning flares fired from Nitze, according to a video of the incident provided to USNI News.

The Nitze was operating in international waters. Time for another round of golf.

Cool new technology - Leidos Corp.

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Autonomous unmanned anti-submarine chaser. From Leidos:

LEIDOS PARTICIPATES IN CHRISTENING OF DARPA'S INNOVATIVE, HIGHLY AUTONOMOUS PROTOTYPE UNMANNED VESSEL
Roger Krone, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Leidos, a national security, health and infrastructure solutions company, joined senior officials from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) and the Department of Defense today to christen the prototype vehicle from DARPA's Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program. Leidos led the team that designed and built the vessel, named Sea Hunter, which embodies the program's goals to develop a highly autonomous unmanned vessel capable of operating over thousands of kilometers on the open seas for months at a time under only sparse remote supervisory control.

"ACTUV could enable future capabilities that would greatly extend our customers' ability to cost-effectively monitor the maritime environment while keeping our servicemen and women safe," Krone said. "This event showcases exciting advances in autonomous technology, and highlights our open architecture approach and extensive testing that has made ACTUV a reality."

Leveraging decades of naval architecture experience, Leidos began construction of Sea Hunter in 2014. With its modular trimaran design, the vessel is designed for enhanced stability in all kinds of weather. It incorporates a diverse sensor suite, including sonar, electro-optical, and short- and long-range radars. Through at-sea testing on a surrogate vessel, Leidos has proved ACTUV's autonomy suite capable of operating the ship in compliance with maritime laws and conventions for safe navigation—including International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, or COLREGS.

They are not posting high-resolution images for some strange reason :) but what we can see looks pretty spiffy: I would not mind spending an afternoon poking through its insides...

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Our military readiness - missles

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Not so much - from the Los Angeles Times:

U.S. missile defense system is 'simply unable to protect the public,' report says
The system designed to defend American cities and towns against a nuclear attack by North Korea is “simply unable to protect the U.S. public” and will remain ineffective unless Congress exerts rigorous oversight, according to a new report.

The report, to be released Thursday by the Union of Concerned Scientists, recommends that the Obama administration halt the expansion of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, known as GMD, until its technical problems have been solved.

“The story of this system is a cautionary tale about how the lack of appropriate oversight of a politically charged missile defense program has led to a system in tatters,” said the report, written by three physicists with expertise in missile defense.

“Despite more than a decade of development and a bill of $40 billion, the GMD system is simply unable to protect the U.S. public,’’ the authors wrote.

The testing process is rigged to produce favorable results:

The report notes that in “heavily scripted” flight tests that are “set up for success,” GMD interceptors have often failed to hit mock enemy warheads. In the seven most recent tests, interceptors destroyed their targets just three times, the report says -- a finding consistent with conclusions of the Pentagon’s operational test and evaluation office.

Personnel conducting the tests know the speed, location and trajectory of the target ahead of time, as well as when it will be launched – information they would not have in a real attack.

Emphasis mine and they still failed four out of seven times. The worse thing is that they will not just launch a missile from North Korea and try to nuke a West coast city. If they wanted to cripple us, all they would have to do is get a container ship within a hundred miles or so of the coast and fire their missile straight up. No time for defense and the goal would be an EMP, not an explosion. A nuke detonating at 300 miles altitude would kill the power grid over much of the continental United States - each substation would need new equipment and it would be six months minimum to get electrical power restored.

A great article on our Air Force tactics and equipment from Vietnam, through Desert Storm to present. It excoriates the Air Forces decision to put all of their eggs into one - as yet delivered - basket. From War on the Rocks.

Here are two paragraphs:

What really happened was that the Air Force dismantled a wildly successful “Electronic Combat triad,” consisting of the EF-111A, the F-4G, and the EC-130. The EF-111A Raven was an unarmed conversion of the F-111 fighter-bomber capable of jamming air defense radars. The F-4G Wild Weasel was the last of the Air Force Phantom conversions, intended to hunt down and kill radar-directed missile batteries and guns. And the EC-130 Compass Call was a powerful communications jammer. Not a single aircraft was lost to a radar threat in the Gulf War while an armed F-4G Wild Weasel or an EF-111 Raven was on station. F-4Gs alone fired a thousand anti-radiation missiles and took down over 250 radars, a hit rate unequaled before or since.

None of that mattered. Lured by the false promise of stealth aircraft, the F-4G and EF-111A were retired with no replacements. The EC-130 Compass Call fleet was downsized. The Wild Weasel school was closed and the decades of hard-won combat experience stored in the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) community scattered to the wind. The Air Force placed all its chips on the Joint Strike Fighter and held tight to a vanishing mirage, even as the F-35’s costs spiraled and its initial operating capability date stretched further into the future. Worse yet, the Russian and Chinese systems designed to beat the F-35 have been fielded already, before the F-35 fully enters service. The Air Force has not only lost the capability to penetrate well-defended airspace with strike aircraft — with the loss of its electronic warfare expertise, it has lost the capability to know that it has lost the capability to penetrate well-defended airspace. If the United States is to continue to rely on airpower as a credible contributor to national defense, we will have to re-learn how to open a path for strike aircraft using tried and true methods.

Lockheed is making an obscene amount of money and nobody in Congress has the stones to hold their feet to the fire. (here, here and here)

Great A-10 Warthog story

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Readers will know that I am a big fan of the A-10 Warthog airplane - here is a video that helps to explain why:

From this article at Business Insider:

Watch one of the baddest A-10 pilots ever land after being hit by a missile
US Air Force Maj. Gen. Paul T. “PJ” Johnson is right up there with the best pilots to have ever flown the A-10.

While serving as a captain during Operation Desert Storm, he was decorated with the Air Force Cross for leading the rescue mission of a downed Navy F-14 Tomcat pilot deep behind enemy lines.

And the story:

A few days later, Johnson’s skills were on full display when he was hit by an enemy missile while trying to take out a radar site.

The explosion left a gaping hole on his right wing, which disabled one of the hydraulic systems. Still, he managed to fly back to safety.

This video shows how Johnson pulled through his “high pucker factor” experience, which he credits to a “wing and a prayer.”

The A-10 is one brilliantly designed airplane - everything just works.

It was an E-2 Hawkeye

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Twin engine with a smaller version of the AWACS radome on the top of the fuselage. More info here: E-2C Hawkeye

They are a Navy plane so probably Naval Air Station at Whidbey Island. A very cool airplane. I was living in Seattle while the original AWACS were being built and would see them parked by the runway at the Boeing factory - advancing technology makes everything smaller, better, and more geektastic.

Almost impossible to excerpt - just go here and read. Bring a bowl of popcorn and a few cold ones - this is funnier than s*it...

From Awesome Shit my Drill Sergeant Said:

OVERPROTECTIVE “NEW ARMY MOM” RUINS SON’S MILITARY LIFE AFTER COMPLAINING TO THE WRONG PEOPLE
So our friends over at 5Bravo have a history of posting hilarious exchanges between their page admins and people that message the page who are usually made and offended about one thing or another. While always good for a laugh or six, this one takes the cake for one of the greatest things I have ever seen on the internet. Be sure to visit the link and give their page a like.

Apparently her son is one of the only ones who doesn’t have a Combat Patch, and in true helicopter, “everyone gets a trophy”, new age touchy feely crap parenting approach she feels this isn’t fair because he will “feel left out”. She is determined to go all the way to the top to give someone a piece of her mind so her poor little baby doesn’t get his feelings hurt. She definitely picked the wrong people to get snippy with, and her precious son will be the one to pay the price.

This will definitely be an awkward Thanksgiving family dinner this year. Read on, and spread the word.

And Part Two can be found here.

Multiple drink alert...

From the always excellent gCaptain:

Ship Photos of the Day – USS Conestoga Found!
NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) and the U.S. Navy announced on Wednesday the discovery of the wreck of USS Conestoga in the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary in California, solving one of the greatest maritime mysteries ever in U.S. Navy history.

The Conestoga and its 56 crew vanished without a trace after sailing from San Francisco Bay on March 25, 1921 on a voyage to Tutuila, American Samoa via Pearl Harbor, but when the ship never arrived many questions over where, when, and how the ship went down were left unanswered.

The shipwreck was actually first documented in 2009, but it took investigators two years and a second survey in October 2015 to confirm the wreck as the Conestoga.

More at the National Marine Sanctuaries website. God rest their souls.

This happened about three years ago - Israeli F-15 loses one wing.

Interesting development - North Korea

From CNN:

First on CNN: U.S. says North Korean submarine missing
The North Korean regime lost contact with one of its submarines earlier this week, three U.S. officials familiar with the latest information told CNN.

The U.S. military had been observing the submarine operate off North Korea's east coast when the vessel stopped, and U.S. spy satellites, aircraft and ships have been secretly watching for days as the North Korean navy searched for the missing sub.

The U.S. is unsure if the missing vessel is adrift under the sea or whether it has sunk, the officials said, but believes it suffered some type of failure during an exercise.

Tensions have heightened on the Korean peninsula following a fourth North Korean nuclear test and joint U.S.-South Korean military drills.

Just wonderful. As if they cannot get any crazier. I really feel sorry for their citizens - it will be amazing when the regime falls and they are allowed to find out that the rest of the world is not as evil as it is now portrayed.

Interesting times - China and WWIII

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Things are starting to get a bit spooky. From War Is Boring:

The Pentagon Readies Backup Island in Case of Chinese Missile Onslaught
The United States can no longer count on its Pacific air bases to be safe from missile attack during a war with China. On the contrary, a 2015 paper from the influential RAND Corporation noted that in the worst case scenario, “larger and accurate attacks sustained over time against a less hardened posture could be devastating, causing large losses of aircraft and prolonged airfield closures.”

Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, due to its relative proximity, would be hardest hit. To up the stakes, China in September 2015 publicly revealed its DF-26 ballistic missile, which can strike Andersen Air Force Base in Guam — nearly 3,000 miles away — from the Chinese mainland. Andersen and Kadena are among the U.S. military’s largest and most important overseas bases.

Enter Tinian. The lush, small island near Guam is emerging as one of the Air Force’s backup landing bases. On Feb. 10, the flying branch announced that it selected Tinian as a divert airfield “in the event access to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, or other western Pacific locations is limited or denied.”

In the Pentagon’s 2017 budget request, it asked for $9 million to buy 17.5 acres of land “in support of divert activities and exercise intiatives,” the Saipan Tribune reported. In peacetime, the expanded Tinian airfield will host “up to 12 tanker aircraft and associated support personnel for divert operations,” according to the Air Force.

If the name rings a bell, this is the airstrip where both the Enola Gay and Bockscar took off for their final bombing runs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Heh - punk'd Iranian media

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Russia Today has a two-minute video of a team of crack Hezbollah snipers from Lebanon taking out a nest of six ISIS thugs. This video was shown on the Iranian State Television channel as well as its website and other Iranian media outlets.

Slight problem. There is a long-range sniping scenario in the Medal of Honor video game that looks identical.

The Russia Today link has both videos so you can see for yourself. Someone just got punk'd by a stupid video game!

Japan said that if the path of the missle crossed Japanese territory that they would shoot it down. It did. They didn't

From Reuters/Yahoo:

Japan did not try to shoot down North Korean rocket: NHK
Japan did not take action to shoot down a rocket launched by North Korea on Sunday, though it flew over Japan's southern Okinawa prefecture, public broadcaster NHK said.

North Korea launched the long-range rocket carrying what it has said is a satellite, South Korea's defense ministry said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that the launch of the "missile" was unacceptable.

I am sure we will find out more in the weeks to follow.

Some good news - the A-10 Warthog

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From Defense News:

USAF Vice Chief: ISIS, Russia Prompted Reconsideration of A-10 Retirement
The spread of the Islamic State group and a resurgent Russia have prompted the US Air Force to reconsider immediate plans to retire the A-10 Warthog, according to a top service official.

In an exclusive television interview on the Jan. 24 broadcast of Defense News with Vago Muradian, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said when the service decided to begin sunsetting the A-10, the global threat environment looked very different. The A-10’s retirement plan — unveiled in the fiscal year 2015 budget request — was developed before the rise of IS and before Russia’s aggressive moves in Eastern Europe, he said.

A bit more:

The service had hoped to decommission the A-10 fleet in part to move maintenance crews over to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, planned to replace all of the Air Force’s fighter planes. But capacity, especially in the face of increased demand in the Middle East, is a concern for the Air Force right now, Carlisle said.

Good news - the F-35 was designed by a committee and seriously under-performs its competition. It should be axed.

Here is a video of the A-10 firing its Gatling gun at a Nevada test range.

Like the SR-71 Blackbird, the A-10 is an example of form following function - a gorgeous aircraft.

A heads up

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Some good news - the A-10 Warthog

Gets an extension. An old airplane but one of the best for what it does. From Ars Technica:

License renewed? Air Force says it needs A-10 a bit longer, thanks
Last week, the joint commander in charge of operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria reported that Syrian Arab Coalition fighters had beaten back the group, taking the town of Al-Hawl and 250 square kilometers of territory around it in an offensive supported from the air by US Air Force A-10s and AC-130s flying from a Turkish air base. Now, the Air Force is apparently reconsidering the timeline it has set for retiring the A-10, as the demand for the venerable assault plane's close air support capabilities rises yet again.

According to a Defense One report, US Air Combat Command chief General Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle said at a Defense Writer's Group breakfast this morning that the Air Force "would probably move the retirement slightly to the right" because of the greater demands being placed on the Air Force's operational capacity in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. "Eventually we will have to get there, we will have to retire airplanes," Carlisle added, "but I think moving it to the right and starting it a bit later and maybe keeping the airplane around a little bit longer is something that’s being considered based on things as they are today and that we see them in the future."

The Air Force has pushed Congress to retire the A-10 over the past two years as budget sequestration strained the service's ability to continue to pay for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. Air Force leaders said they need to free maintenance crews to train on servicing and supporting the F-35 as well.

The F-35 is a piece of flying junk. Classic case of an airplane built by committee. The Warthog does one thing very very well - close air support. Why they shut down production in 1984 is beyond me.

A pittance of time

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In rembrence of those who served.

From Terry's website:

On November 11, 1999 Terry Kelly was in a drug store in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. At 10:55 AM an announcement came over the store’s PA asking customers who would still be on the premises at 11:00 AM to give two minutes of silence in respect to the veterans who have sacrificed so much for us.

Terry was impressed with the store’s leadership role in adopting the Legion’s “two minutes of silence” initiative. He felt that the store’s contribution of educating the public to the importance of remembering was commendable.

When eleven o’clock arrived on that day, an announcement was again made asking for the “two minutes of silence” to commence. All customers, with the exception of a man who was accompanied by his young child, showed their respect.

Terry’s anger towards the father for trying to engage the store’s clerk in conversation and for setting a bad example for his child was channeled into a beautiful piece of work called, “A Pittance of Time”. Terry later recorded “A Pittance of Time” and included it on his full-length music CD, “The Power of the Dream”.

Military news from Iceland

Iceland was once a major US and then NATO airbase as it was a convenient refueling and maintenance stop between North America and Europe. Now, with the Bear buzzing around, Iceland is looking at returning to this activity.

From Defense News:

Resurgent Russia Drawing Northern Nations Closer
Russian aircraft and ships are on the move again, flying and sailing provocative missions that challenge the security and territorial boundaries of many nations — none more so than in northern Europe.

Several northern nations, prompted by those concerns, are meeting in Oslo on Tuesday, joined by the US, to discuss mutual security and cooperation. US Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, on a seven-day trip to the region, will be joined by his counterparts from founding NATO members Denmark, Iceland and Norway, along with traditionally neutral Finland and Sweden.

“NATO is faced with three problems,” Work explained Sept. 6 while en route to Iceland. “Two are directly related to a resurgent Russia,” he said, referring to Russia’s actions in Crimea and the Ukraine and to heightened activity around Europe. “And in the south of Europe they’re faced with a terrorist problem and a migrant problem — the result of situations in the Middle East.

“I’m focusing on the northern problem.”

Iceland, Work said, has become increasingly concerned with the Russian activity.

“The Russians have long done transit flights where they pass close by Iceland,” Work said, “but they’ve recently made several circumnavigation flights” — flying completely around the island nation. As a result, “Iceland is interested in increasing military cooperation.”

Good. Up until a short while ago, Russia was funded by oil and gas sales and now that prices are tanking, they have to find other sources of income. Taking over neighboring nations is one. Ordnance sales are another.

Glad to see that everyone is stepping up to the plate to discourage this.

The Bowe Bergdahl case gets interesting

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Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl's case is coming to trial - from Yahoo/Associated Press:

Military selects rarely used charge for Bergdahl case
Military prosecutors have reached into a section of military law seldom used since World War II in the politically fraught case against Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier held prisoner for years by the Taliban after leaving his post in Afghanistan.

Observers wondered for months if Bergdahl would be charged with desertion after the deal brokered by the U.S. to bring him home. He was — but he was also charged with misbehavior before the enemy, a much rarer offense that carries a stiffer potential penalty in this case.

Good! More:

Bergdahl could face a life sentence if convicted of the charge, which accuses him of endangering fellow soldiers when he "left without authority; and wrongfully caused search and recovery operations."

And throw away the key - people died looking for him.

First formed as the Revenue Cutter Service on August 4th, 1790 - the US Government merged five agencies to form the Coast Guard in 1915.

Lulu served with them - she was originally from California and they stationed her on Hawaii. She remained there for most of the time until her moving to Bellingham in 2010.

Memory lane - the Maisy Battery

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I had initially posted about the Maisy Battery on January 7, 2008. It is the German gun emplacement overlooking Omaha Beach, the site of the D-Day invasion. Because it was built in secret, it had become forgotten for 60 years until someone found a reference to it on a crinkled map which fell out of an old pair of US serviceman's trousers at a military memorabilia fair in Stockport.

On my 2008 post, I noted that the website was just a stub - now it is fleshed out nicely and looks fascinating.

Check out the Maisy Battery - some fascinating history there...

From Yahoo News / Agence France Presse:

US aerospace command moving comms gear back to Cold War bunker
The US military command that scans North America's skies for enemy missiles and aircraft plans to move its communications gear to a Cold War-era mountain bunker, officers said.

The shift to the Cheyenne Mountain base in Colorado is designed to safeguard the command's sensitive sensors and servers from a potential electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, military officers said.

The Pentagon last week announced a $700 million contract with Raytheon Corporation to oversee the work for North American Aerospace Command (NORAD) and US Northern Command.

Admiral William Gortney, head of NORAD and Northern Command, said that "because of the very nature of the way that Cheyenne Mountain's built, it's EMP-hardened."

A bit more:

The Cheyenne mountain bunker is a half-acre cavern carved into a mountain in the 1960s that was designed to withstand a Soviet nuclear attack. From inside the massive complex, airmen were poised to send warnings that could trigger the launch of nuclear missiles.

But in 2006, officials decided to move the headquarters of NORAD and US Northern Command from Cheyenne to Petersen Air Force base in Colorado Springs.

I want to know where they are going to put WOPR

Good news regarding bad trash

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Excellent news from The Washington Post:

Bowe Bergdahl, once-missing U.S. soldier, charged with desertion
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier who was recovered in Afghanistan last spring after five years in captivity, has been charged with desertion and misbehaving before the enemy, Army officials said Wednesday, setting the stage for emotionally charged court proceedings in coming months.

Eugene Fidell, Bergdahl’s attorney, told The Washington Post that his client was handed a charge sheet Wednesday. Army officials said in a statement that Bergdahl has been charged with desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty and misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit or place. His case has been referred to an Article 32 preliminary hearing, which is frequently compared to a grand jury proceeding in civilian court.

A bit more - the possible punishments:

Under the misbehavior-before-the-enemy charge, Bergdahl faces a maximum punishment of confinement for life, a dishonorable discharge, a reduction to private and total forfeiture of pay and allowances since the time of his disappearance, Army officials said. The desertion charge carries a maximum punishment of five years in prison, a dishonorable discharge, a reduction to private and a total forfeiture of pay and allowances.

Desertion has historically been punishable by death, but the Army will not pursue that in Bergdahl’s case. That’s hardly a surprise: No soldier has been executed for desertion since Pvt. Eddie Slovik, who was killed by firing squad in January 1945 for abandoning his unit in France the previous year.

Not mentioned in the Post article is that we lost several of our own when people from his base went out looking for him when he was first found to be missing. This is also the asshole that National Security Advisor Susan Rice said: "served the United States with honor and distinction." Glad that this is being handled in a military court rather than a civil one. Throw away the key...

From Space News:

20-year-old Military Weather Satellite Apparently Exploded in Orbit
A 20-year-old military weather satellite apparently exploded in orbit Feb. 3 following what the U.S. Air Force described as a sudden temperature spike.

The “catastrophic event” produced 43 pieces of space debris, according to Air Force Space Command, which disclosed the loss of the satellite Feb. 27 in response to questions from SpaceNews.

More at the site - the satellite had reached its end of life and was not really contributing any usable data.

What better target for someone to say: Look what we can do and aren't you glad we hit an old military satellite instead of a shiny new one...

Happy 100th Birthday - US Coast Guard

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Lulu served and was one of the first few women who did. From the Coast Guard Compass:

Celebrating Coast Guard history: 100th anniversary of the “Act to create the U.S. Coast Guard”
One hundred years ago today, from his office in the Treasury Building in Washington, D.C., Captain-Commandant Ellsworth P. Bertholf, head of the now-former U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, or USRCS, ordered his Chief Clerk to send telegrams or radio messages to all offices, stations and cutters around the country announcing the official news of the creation of the U.S. Coast Guard. Thanks in large part to the efforts of Bertholf and his counterpart at the U.S. Life-Saving Service, Sumner Kimball, and with the support of leadership at the Treasury Department and friends in Congress, from all sides of the political spectrum, newspaper editors, and elsewhere, Bertholf had just managed to fend off efforts to abolish both services or dismember each and parcel out their duties to other agencies by proposing the novel idea of combining both into one agency, thereby gaining efficiencies sought by the Executive Branch, members of Congress, and the public.

Portrait of Captain-Commandant Ellsworth Betholf. U.S. Coast Guard image.

Portrait of Captain-Commandant Ellsworth Betholf. U.S. Coast Guard image.

As previously noted, the change was announced through General Order No. 1.

The personnel of the USRCS, though, viewed this merger as little more than a change in the name of the service. Bertholf wrote:

“Coast Guard is the logical name for the old Revenue Cutter Service as well as the new combination, and it is a logical and direct successor of the old ‘revenue cutter service;’ so that we may fairly claim not to have lost our history even if the particular name which we temporarily bore has been changed. The vessels will always be known as cutters and the name ‘cutter’ still remains to indicate the floating activities of the Coast Guard and since it is simply a continuation of the old service in that respect, we may still fairly claim to have been born in 1790.”

Happy Birthday and many many more - a very good service and one that does the United States proud! 

During the Fukushima quake and tsunami, we were constantly reassured that although there was a radiation leak from the reactor, the actual level of radiation was minimal and there was no cause for concern. Being exposed was equivalent to taking a long aircraft flight.

We just had dinner with a young man - a friend of Lulu's niece - who was serving on the USS Essex and now has about seven years of life left.

A few months after the incident, other newer stories vied for our collective attention and the concerns of Fukushima fell by the wayside. Looking back at the reporting, we find that the radiation stories are now starting  to come out and there is, in fact, a class-action lawsuit against TEPCO for misinforming the US Navy and other first responders.

From 2011 - a week after the quake - from CNN:

Navy says radiation releases pose challenging environment
The ongoing radioactivity releases from damaged nuclear reactors in Japan after last week's historic earthquake are creating "one of the most challenging humanitarian operations ever conducted," according to Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet in Japan.

Davis said Tuesday that for the second time, U.S. helicopter crews have been exposed to elevated, albeit low, levels of radiation during flights near Japan's nuclear reactors. In addition, the Navy is moving three incoming ships to a new location because of "radiological and navigation hazards" at their intended destination on the eastern coast of Honshu, according to Davis.

Just as in an incident on Sunday, the crew members were stripped of contaminated clothing, scrubbed down with soap and water and tested. In all cases, they no longer tested positive for radiation exposure.

Nothing to worry about - move along folks...

From the December 2013 London Daily Mail:

51 U.S. sailors now claim they were poisoned by nuclear meltdown at Fukushima
The number of U.S. sailors who claim to have been poisoned by radiation while serving during the 2011 tsunami in Japan - resulting in cases of leukemia, thyroid and testicular cancers, chronic bronchitis and brain tumors - has jumped to 51, as the group continue to fight the company they say didn't report the contamination when it happened.

The U.S. Navy members who were allegedly infected - who served aboard the USS Ronald Reagan and its sister ship the USS Essex - started to develop strange symptoms and sicknesses in the months following their mission near the Fukushima nuclear power plant, such as lumps, night sweats and dramatic weight-loss.

Now the majority of the group who worked in the rescue effort have been diagnosed with an assortment of diseases, after their ships' desalination systems pulled in contaminated seawater that was used for drinking, cooking and bathing.

Their drinking water was radioactive - desalination will get rid of salts but only so much.

From  the January 2014 Stars and Stripes:

Congress wants answers on health impacts of Japan disaster relief
Congress has instructed the Defense Department to launch an inquiry into potential health impacts on Navy first-responders from Japan’s March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.

The request, made in the explanatory statement from the House that accompanied the fiscal 2014 budget bill that passed Congress this month, comes as a growing number of sailors and Marines have joined a lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Co.

While the instruction is not law, Defense Department officials said that they were taking the request seriously.

And finally:

About 50 sick sailors and Marines have accused TEPCO of lying about the risk of exposure, luring American forces closer to the affected areas and lulling others at bases across Japan into disregarding safety measures. These individuals claim to be suffering from exposure-related ailments such as unexplained cancers, excessive bleeding, thyroid issues and ailments including loss of muscle power, migraines and vision problems.

The suit was filed in federal court in San Diego in December 2012 seeking damages and funds to cover medical expenses. The original eight complainants were on the USS Ronald Reagan, but the suit has since expanded to include those who served aboard the USS Essex and USS Germantown as well as attached Marines.

TEPCO needs to be held to the fire and they need to pay for what they did. This will not save the life of the man I had dinner with tonight but it will serve to remind others of their responsibilities. I am reminded of that line in Candide (Battle of Minorca):

Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres.
In this country, it is wise to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others. 

Call me old school but someone needs to hang for this...

Five Finger Death Punch

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Heard this on the radio today - pretty powerful stuff:

An oldie but a goodie

From 2006 - still just as relevant today:

 

 

Photograph of the year

Updating some 1970's technology

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The Tomahawk cruise missile was first flown in the 1970's nad it is getting quite the technology refresh. From Popular Mechanics:

The Tomahawk Missile Gets Smarter—and Deadlier
In late July, Congress actually agreed on something: House and Senate committees announced plans to add $82 million for Tomahawk cruise missile production in 2015. The venerable cruise missile is coming back, and coming back smarter and stronger.

 The technology in question:

To hunt prey on the move, the Tomahawk needed new eyes—what experts call an electronic support measure, or ESM. This basically means the missile will get an antenna that picks up the target's electromagnetic signature, such as radar and radio emissions. The missile can identify a target by the electromagnetic signature the target emits, such as the radio waves coming from a radar. When the missile gets close, a radiofrequency seeker switches on; it can also automatically and more confidently identify a target by its emissions. And there will be a two-way satellite link that enables controllers to redirect the missile while it's flying. Donelson says all of these systems will be demonstrated in early 2015.

The missile also needed new teeth. The Pentagon developed the Joint Multi-Effects Warhead System (JMEWS), a shaped charge that will enable the Tomahawk to expand its current target set by using leftover fuel to destroy large building complexes (the fuel burns after the warhead penetrates the target). The new warhead can be tailored to detonate against different kinds of targets—even while the missile is in flight.

 Plans are to keep her flying until 2040.  Godspeed little missle - keep us out of harms way.

Activities to our South

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Lots of Military and Guard radio traffic since 6:00PM or so. South of Seattle.

Could be a training exercise but you never know...

Heh - training

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The whole series is fun.

February 2017

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Environment and Climate
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the Air Vent
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Watts Up With That?


Science and Medicine
Derek Lowe
Junk Science
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Luboš Motl
Medgadget
New Scientist
Next Big Future
PhysOrg.com
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Geek Stuff
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FAIL Blog
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NO WAI! WTF?¿?¿
Awkward Family Photos
Cake Wrecks
Not Always Right
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You Drive What?


Business and Economics
The Austrian Economists
Carpe Diem
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Photography and Art
Digital Photography Review
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PetaPixel
photo.net
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Gone but not Forgotten...
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democrats give conservatives indigestion
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shining full plate and a good broadsword
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