Senate The Weekly Discussion of Military Technology

Discussion in 'Community' started by Mr44, Nov 27, 2003.

  1. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
  2. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Backfires for China?

    I think the possibility has been raised in the past. Russia is typically very, very hesitant to sell strategic weapons-which the Backfire definitely is. Also, the Backfire hasn't seen significant development since the 1980s. Granted, bomber development for everybody besides the USA pretty much ceased at the end of the Cold War, but that's all the more reason not to buy Backfires.
  3. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    As the article itself alludes to, the only reason China would want the Backfire is to have some copies available to reverse-engineer their own version that could be massed produced in China. Eh, I don't know the actual military value of that beyond perception outside of China, but it's a move beyond the 1950's for Chinese air power. It's certainly a major step up from the Tu-16 (well, the Chinese licensed version)

    China has never really put too much stock into air power though. The PLAAF only has about 300,000 members, which is smaller than the US Air Force. Considering that the "People's Liberation Army" has some 2.5 million members, it's easy to see that the Chinese air force doesn't get a lot of focus from the Chinese government.
  4. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
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    Yeah, I don't think the buy will happen-Russia is picky about selling anything that could be used against itself, and its of dubious value to the Chinese.
  5. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Found this to be of interesting this morning on the blogosphere:

    How did we know?

    Personally I don't think an invasion will happen. An open-ROE air campaign like the one that was so successful in the 1990s in Yugoslavia is more likely-seeming to me, and already has a template for success from Libya.
  6. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    Yeah but the disintegrating Yugoslavia didn't have chemical weapons lying all around waiting to be picked up by rogue actors. If we want to secure Syria's chemical weapons sites, it would have to take ground troops wouldn't it?
  7. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
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    Not necessarily. There's actual military leadership in alot of the insurgent groups; I don't doubt that they're planning to cover down on chems.

    Plus we wouldn't just invade them just because; the UN doesn't work like that.
  8. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Found this to be of interest-the disaster-relief part of military operations doesn't get talked about much:

    Office of Naval Research leverage cell phones to track epidemics

    Fairly obvious premise, I'd think, but a useful one; not terribly familiar with epidemics but communication is obviously key to containment, I'd think.
  9. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
  10. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    Jun 29, 2000
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    It's not really different from China's typically confrontative foreign policy towards almost all of her neighbors-they've fought major wars with two (Russia and Vietnam) and continually behaved aggressively towards the others since the 1960s.
  11. Violent Violet Menace Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 11, 2004
    star 4
  12. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
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    Sorry, meant to reply earlier, but I'd maintain that terrorism shouldn't even rank in the top ten or even hundred threats. Look at it-even after a decade of planning, with the wealth of a Saudi oil family behind them, the best a terrorist organization could manage was killing a few thousand people and pretty much convincing the world that letting the US exterminate them by pretty much any means we liked was the best course of action.

    Cyber espionage and attacks are far more potentially damaging and dangerous, especially as the era of big military confrontations pretty much ended in 1945 to be replaced by economic competition-the increasing politicization of the technology economy (think Google/et al pretty much killing SOPA last year, plus Eric Schmidt's repeated public statements about China) are the biggest example of this. We used to tie national security to oil and manufacturing, and still do; we're entering the era of where technology and information services are going to eclipse those as national security concerns.
    Violent Violet Menace likes this.
  13. Violent Violet Menace Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 11, 2004
    star 4
    And even cyber attacks and espionage were deemed minuscule (in likelihood, not consequence) by these experts, so if terrorism is even below that, it's a very small threat.
  14. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
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    Yeah. The standard for most of the modern era (call it 1945 and on) was that terrorists=criminals, and that the best means to deal with them was through law enforcement (which approach worked very well in Europe during the Cold War with the various USSR-inspired terrorist groups there, and of course still works great with our own domestic terrorists); Al-Qaeda's James Bond villain plotting requires a more intense approach as their doctrine is "murder everybody", but it's telling that SOCOM, the CIA, and conventional military force applied asymmetrically proved to be far more effective against them than more traditional military means.
  15. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    Well September 11th also wasn't just any terrorist attack. I guess if you just look at the death toll (~6,000 and hasn't been repeated in a decade) it's probably not that bad, but the sight of airliners smacking into skyscrapers is horrifying to people in a way that "ordinary" terrorist attacks like truck bombs aren't so much.
  16. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
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    Sure, but I'm fairly certain that you'd agree that not starting two wars of dubious effectiveness (when the parallel covert program has had virtually all the major wins in the last decade) would be preferable to what actually happened?
  17. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    True, but I guess I'm just saying that the emotional factor of 9/11 probably contributed a lot to those wars taking place. FWIW, I personally didn't think invading Afghanistan was a great idea even back in '01.
    Last edited by Alpha-Red, Mar 18, 2013
  18. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
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    Oh, I agree-but it should not have. Particularly with the scummy trolls we had as VP and Secretary of Defense at the time.
  19. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Brushing some of the tumbleweeds out...

    The US Navy has started mounting laser weapons onto ships. (officially called "directed energy pulse weapons.") The first one, a shorter range, anti-ship laser is being installed on the USS Ponce, which itself is an amphibious landing platform ship. Installation and final testing will take about a year, and the laser will be deployed next summer for real world missions. Currently, the laser is rated for slow flying objects and missiles, as well as the type of fast attack boats that are favored by Iran. The beam is described as acting like a blowtorch to any target material. And while this initial version isn't rated for faster moving missiles, future versions will be. it's also interesting that the first one is being mounted on an amphibious support ship, as the laser also has a "stun" setting, which fires a less than lethal discomfort beam.

    The other interesting thing is that the laser costs about 1 dollar to fire, as opposed to having to store millions of dollars worth of physical ammo:

    [IMG]
  20. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    So, while not actually related to military tech per se, but which nicely piggybacks off of laser weaponry, another proposal is being looked at which could drastically reduce the time it takes to travel across space. (in this case, the example is Mars.)

    Currently, travelling to Mars takes about 4 years and cost billions of dollars. While not a new idea, NASA's Innovative Advanced Concept program just awarded a grant for an improved fusion drive, which has the potential to cut the trips to Mars down to 30 days. Basically, this fusion drive revolves around magnetic field-encased plasma, using lithium or aluminum rings as the catalyst for reaction. Each part of the reaction has been successfully completed, and the final test is expected within a couple of months.The key is the weight savings, as a single "sand grain" delivers as much energy as a gallon of weighty rocket fuel.

    The vehicle itself is of a conventional design, with the crew quarters and cargo areas in the front of the craft, which are pushed forward by the drive in the rear. Ultimately, if solar panels become efficient enough, then self-contained solar energy would be used to get things going

    https://www.signup4.net/Public/ap.aspx?EID=20131132E
  21. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    I hope it gets built, although I'm sure the !!!nuklar!!! boogeyman will raise its head.

    I hadn't thought about the potential economy of laser weapons...they'd just run off ship power, I think?
  22. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Yeah, as for the laser, it runs on the ship's own power. The Ponce is still an oil-fueled ship. But imagine a nuclear-based warship armed with a battery of laser weapons. It would have unlimited "ammo," never have to be reloaded, and achieve instant results. And the weight savings could be put to better use or simply downsize the entire ship. Could you have aircraft like AWACS but with polished mirrors that could redirect a laser beam to beyond line of sight or "bounce" it over terrain features? In that case, it would duplicate the capabilities of cruise missiles, but without the high cost or chance to be shot down. What are the physics behind that? Would a laser that has enough energy to burn through a steel and concrete building simply burn through a mirror as well? Or is it possible to reflect an energy beam sci-fi style?

    For the spacecraft, I think the nuclear boogeyman knee jerk reaction is on NASA's mind, as the article mentioned a couple of times that the fusion propulsion is much more controlled that any bomb. How long is a micro-second in practical terms? The actual reaction only lasts for a couple of micro-seconds for each sand grain of fuel, which is repeated once a minute to push the spacecraft.
  23. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    Laser weapons are still pretty dependent on there being clear weather conditions, aren't they? If there's too much mist or fog it could just diffuse away the beam's energy.
  24. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
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    Well, we've been here before, on nuclear-powered spacecraft...Cassini had plutonium on-board, remember? People freaked over that because "it might explode!!" :p
  25. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Yeah, it is concern, but it doesn't seem to be an "either/or" proposition. Generally, the effect of weather on a laser beam is called blooming. (which means that the rain or fog is dispersing the energy of the weapon before it gets to the target) This is based on relatively low powered, constant reflection lasers such as target designators. With weapons-grade lasers, it seems like there has to be a pretty good amount of rain or fog to make this happen, so a simple shower or a basic foggy day wouldn't really matter to a ship mounted laser weapon. What would matter is a heavy rain or dense fog. The US Navy briefed that an effective laser counter-measure might be to use protective smoke generators at a target. I suppose the basic reality is that everything has a counter. Radar has radar jamming, and so on.... BUT.... the Navy also already has a counter to the counter-measure. Based on the report, so some of the actual science is beyond me, the DEPW uses an extremely short pulse that is generated and reaches the target before the rain, fog, smoke can "bloom" the beam. It's not like the laser is a constant focused death ray, but more like a quick beam that dumps its energy into a target like a microwave oven on steroids.

    Also, I'm just guessing here, but I'd imagine that the laser's power might overcome a lot of the effects of this as well. I'm sure this was cataloged during testing, so the Navy would know that it takes X amount of output to destroy such a target, so the laser probably has wiggle room in case some of the beam is dispersed. That's a benefit of laser weaponry compared to a bomb or bullet, it that the strength of the beam can be decreased or increased as needed. As an example, the old 747-mounted COIL laser of the "Star Wars" program produced a beam with contained hundreds of kilowatts of power. If you only need 10 kilowatts to destroy a target, then literally 90% of the beam itself could be dispersed by rain or fog or smoke, and you would still have enough power to achieve a kill.

    Another interesting factor is that the beam itself can't be turned off once it's fired. It keeps going until it is dispersed or it dumps its energy into a target. So you have to either 1)have an extremely accurate targeting system so you don't miss, or 2) you have to be aware of what is behind the target. Because you don't want to fire a laser at one target and miss, and then have the beam keep going and take out a communications satellite in Earth orbit.
    Last edited by Mr44, Apr 12, 2013