Shoot To Thrill, Way To Kill

One symbolic skeet shoot is a success.

Since 2005 we here have together been talking at great length about the inevitable procurement scissors crisis. So it begins. And as we’ve been talking for some time, this is only the cusp. The milporn national security bloggers (including the usual rah rahs like Arianna), etc. are reveling in their new playground of defense planning, budgets, defense-Statist-industrial planning and — GASP — congressional complicity.

That Should Do The Trick

Feh. People should have seen Ted Kennedy holding press conferences denouncing the MX missile in 1981-82, declaring Reagan was trying to start a nuclear war. And then later that same day in SASC closed sessions fight like hell for full MX funding because of some Route 128 industrial interests were involved with designing the MIRV buses (we think it was the buses). There’s your effing “Lion of Senate” for you. People malign John Tower alot, but when the Long Island contingent kept pushing for more A-10s back then than even Caspar Weinberger wanted (this was Cap the Shovel, not Cap the Knife from Nixon days), it was John Tower who in his felicitous phraseology ‘would put on his golf shoes and kick their ass until they gave in or stopped breathing.’ (Note: these are real events and personages, look them up in Wikipedia. They do predate Friendster, though).

So this F-22 thing? It’s actually very much ado about so little. Forget the wonks reveling in asymmetrical responses, platforms versus sensors, intelligent swarms, etc. That, too, is bullshit.

Living Still In A World Of Illusions, But With Better Speeches

Here’s the only thing that matters: the United States is a bankrupt imperial power. That’s it folks. We’re printing money we don’t have and have no prospects of ever earning or paying back. The entire Reagan-era platform generation would have needed replacement by today in any event. Even with usual MTBF (mean time between failure). That exponentially went out the window with the life cycles being churned up in combat. Desert effing combat to boot. We can’t afford to replace it. And service life extension plans (SLEP) while sometimes useful (consider the B-52) for the most part it is contractor talk for a less obvious annuity.

The one good thing we have going for us is it is easier (but only sometimes cheaper) to swap out and upgrade the electronic packages. Nonetheless, the platforms themselves have a finite lifespan. And we’ve got a whole bunch reaching the end. We can’t afford to replace the units 1-for-1, and the whole technology as force multiplier for fewer platforms cant has so many conceptual flaws that we have all discussed here before.

One of our favorite non-viable white elephants (out of legions) is in another service, the Army’s Future Combat System. All very HALO (the game). Unaffordable regardless. As a potentially amusing anecdote, we were at a by invitation only, off the record discussion with senior defense and DS&T types (technical) gathering early in the Warlord’s tenure. We didn’t belong there to be honest. Focus on decorum, bureaucratic feudal status and reverence for hierarchy. We are manifestly *not* that. And can fake it but only so long. Alot of technology issues covered that day from pico to global network/CONUS reach back level matters.

So the day goes along ok. Then a rep from Microsoft gets up. They invited MSFT to discuss their technology capabilities regarding a solution to help with distributed, networked, swarming ground forces. With linked, loitering real time over the horizon fire capabilities and agile logistics, etc. And so this MSFT guy drones on with a dreadful PowerPoint. What did Redmond think was the war winner? Why selling more Windows XP deployed across all networks. Heads are nodding. Notes being scribbled. The Stiftung thought we burned many a bridge that day literally exclaiming WTF? Probably the tape transcripts may have captured a muttered a ‘You have got to be fucking kidding me’, into a microphone too. Yes, we did raise the “L” word (Linux). We didn’t care at that point if we pissed the grandees off. These were some of the ‘best’ scientific defense minds in the nation according to their c.v.s and we witnessed them taking notes on MSFT stupidity all unfolding like a bad YouTube video. (All turned out OK as the Stiftung was invited back for another meeting to our surprise. We declined).

Although give the Army credit – they at least later ran away from Redmond. Still, just savor that potential multi-billion dollar XP war winner. All shadows and dust even with Linux. < /rant mode off>

The Audit Of History

America under Obama still pretends to be a global superpower and master of its own fate. We continue to write diplomatic cheques we can’t afford today, let after procurement collapse dictates a scale back in the not-too-distant future. Think we are being shrill? Witness Biden in Kiev saying he supports Ukraine in NATO. Where has the strategic debate about this really taken place. Especially after September 2008. Pretend economic collapse is not happening like Geithner and Summer lie to us every day. Is the United States really going to go to war over Kharkov? Able to go to war for Kharkov? Even Jay Leno on his smug ‘Jay Walking’ schtick wouldn’t know where Kharkov is. That is a more feckless guarantee than the British guarantee to Poland. And if Manstein couldn’t hold Kharkov, what makes any American think they ever could?

The Poles and Georgians, however, have got to be loving this. Scheunemann is probably faxing another invoice.

Obama for all his ‘new look’ (read new speeches) foreign policy is continuing so much of the Warlord’s ‘fundamental’ assumptions of American capabilities we are astounded. We as a Nation have a brief window in time and history to leverage the still lingering global memory and partial acceptance of the U.S. as a super power. In this short window, our diplomacy now should be focused on a ‘soft landing’ creating an international order conducive as possible to American values when the major actors in an anarchical system will not only be non-Western, but non-democratic. The F-22 a mosquito swat. Senior American ‘planners’ [cough] don’t get it. The U.S. as viable global hegemon — those days are like the 8 track tape.

History will damn this generation for many reasons. The most perceptive prospective judgment we believe will be never has history seen a ‘great power’ so ignorant of how it ever became a great power: economic and financial viability. And been so ignorant about tending to both. Yet then also determined to ignore the inescapable linkage between that viability and *sustainable* foreign and defense polices/force structures. It’s the frickin’ historical trifecta of stupid.

We can only imagine what catastrophic situation that looms. History’s remorseless truisms will slam down on American pretension no matter what memes we offer in defense. The headless chickens will run around on cable and blogs. We quote (out of context) the best movie review we read about the dreadful (we refused to go) Transformers calamity: “Weep for America.”


  1. Dr Leo Strauss says

    SU-35 ‘mystery’ purportedly cleared up. We’ll see. It’s as they note at the bottom not a particularly stealthy plane, but if you first remember the time you saw a Flanker do the Cobra you might be interested.

    The current “SU-35”, which has been definitively described by Sukhoi, appears to be something of a compromise between the upgrade and full redesign visions. Reader assistance and sources from Sukhoi and various media offer an outline of its key systems and characteristics:

    ”…(known as Su-35BM by some sources- ie. T-10BM to the original Su-27s internal T-10S designation). Differences and features largely speak for themselves in the video, but a short summary follows as related in various other sources follows:

    1 – N035 Irbis-E PESA Radar, a follow-on to the Bars-M.
    2 – No canards
    3 – Rear-looking self-defence radar in shorter tail sting
    4 – AL-37FU/ 117S thrust-vectoring turbofan engines rated at 142-147kN
    5 – Extended high-lift devices with large flaperon occuping the full trailing edge of the wing
    6 – L175M Khibiny-M electronic-warfare self-defence system
    7 – Reduced-area empennage
    8 – Larger Air Intakes
    9 – New and lighter systems, including quadruple digital fly-by-wire flight-control system.
    10- New man-machine interface with fully-glass cockpit with two large LCD screens and helmet mounted display.”

    Pictures and promotional materials show full 360 degree thrust vectoring capabilities for the engines, and the radar is also worthy of note. It couples an electronically-scanned array with a 2-step electro-hydraulic drive unit , which creates a maximum radar beam deflection angle of 120 degrees. The Irbis-E radar can reportedly detect and tracks up to 30 air targets, simultaneously engaging up to 8. It can also reportedly detect, choose and track up to 4 ground targets at a range of up to 400 km, but resolutions are unspecified.

    Sukhoi says that the fighter’s structures have been reinforced because of the increased takeoff and landing weight of the aircraft, and the front bearing has 2 wheels for the same reason.

    The SU-30 family has never been an especially stealthy aircraft, and its overall airframe design limits what one can accomplish in this area. Nevertheless, Sukhoi cites an unspecified amount of “reduced reflectance” for the SU-35 in the X-band, which is a popular choice for modern radars, and in the angle range of plus or minus 60 degrees.

  2. Anon says

    LOL… And they were worried about Bluetooth Whatever possessed them to use COTS to control jets ? All commercial stuff is very vulnerable to virus.

  3. Dr Leo Strauss says

    SRO, so true. USAF wants hot rods for Jedi Knights and never could wait to kill the A-10 since, well, its inception. At least the Marines have Harriers.

    The Army CIO is being clever if so. CHICOM hackers never expected it. But the Army also retains the XP downgrade rights.

  4. sro says

    I hear the F-35 is going to be a great CAS replacement for the A-10. John Tower would be so proud.

    As for the Army, they’re upgrading to Vista.

  5. Anon says

    Who could fill the vacuum left by US ? Seems everyone else is pretty financially exhausted or busy with their own internal problems… But doesn’t mean they won’t try. And then there’s the stateless forces like Al Qaeda, that might try to grow bigger. Will be some interesting couple of years for sure.

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