Senate The Weekly Discussion of Military Technology

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

  1. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    So, more indirect consequences of the Russian-Ukraine situation....

    But this weekend, the US Air Force is deploying a detachment of F-15C Eagles to Keflavik International Airport in Iceland. The US F-15's are reliving a squadron of Royal Norwegian F-16 Falcons because the Norwegian budget has been expended. The overall mission remains a NATO sponsored training one that has a "real world contingency...." (ie they can go bomb things if needed) Along with Norway and the US, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, and Portugal have contributed different capabilities to the mission. The UK's RAF was going to participate in the past, but some sort of official banking dispute arose between Iceland and the UK and the UK cancelled their participation. I didn't even know that the UK and Iceland had a spat between them.
  2. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    So, last week, the F-35 series of "joint strike fighters" has passed 3 important milestones in testing and development pertaining to software, combat capability, and carrier recovery. Flying out of Edwards Air Force Base in California, an F-35A flew a 1.9 hour mission with the first-ever load of Block 3i hardware and software. (Block 3i is the next generation fighter software) Then, an F-35B demonstrated its air-to-air capability when it launched two AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles. Finally, an F-35C performed arrested landings at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. This was to demonstrate this version's ability to operate in the harsh maritime environment of a carrier deck.

    In a related note to the above, the Australian Ministry of Defence is looking at increasing its purchase of F-35's, and adding the STOVL (short take-off and vertical landing) version for the Royal Australian Navy. The purchase has not been finalized, but the Air Force has also increased its purchase of the conventional version as well. With this increase, Australia will almost exclusively use the F-35.

    And another result of fallout from the Ukrainian crisis, Slovakia is looking to replace all of its former Soviet-era assault rifles with ones that are compatible with NATO forces, turning away from Russia. The Slovakian military wants to equip all of its troops with a rifle chambered in NATO caliber which is produced in the Czech Republic, the CZ 805. Slovakia joined the EU and NATO back in 2004.
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  3. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    So, there is news from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Lockheed Martin. The first 2 F-35 fighters for the RAAF were completed 5 days ago. RAAF Air Marshal Geoff Brown attended the ceremony at the production facility in Texas. Australia has purchased 72 of the fighters, and may bump the order up to 100 if it orders some of the STOVL versions of the fighter to equip its "mini-carrier" amphibious ships that are still be procured. (The Australian Navy may decide to just use helicopters, but if STOVL F-35's are purchased, it will be the first time in 30+ years that the Navy has fixed wing carrier operations)

    What is interesting is that the first batch of RAAF F-35's are staying in the USand are being flown from Texas to Arizona. Australia has a contingent of pilots who are permanently assigned to Luke AFB in Arizona, and those F-35's will remain there for training. Australia won't have any F-35's actually fly to Australia until 2018.

    So far, customers for the F-35 are:
    US/UK-primary, top tier
    Italy, Netherlands-Tier 2
    Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Turkey-Tier 3
    Israel- "special cooperative participant."
    Singapore, Japan, and South Korea have signed intent to purchase-possibly less expensive "export" versions depending on overall price.
  4. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    @Mr44, my understanding is that the F35 is essentially an expensive, silly, and potentially disastrous mistake - thanks largely tot he Marines insisting on VTOL. Thoughts?
  5. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Well, it depends on what you mean. Development has been expensive, but I think that's the exponential result of pioneering "generation 5" technology and beyond. The F-35 is the first fighter program where all participants share in the same procurement and maintenance system. So theoretically, an F-35 from the Netherlands that is on a training mission in the US and needs a part repaired, will use the part, but then the inventory won't be sent to the Netherlands, it will simply be diverted to the depot in the US that fixed the jet. So, if the development program is 30% over-budget, but long term maintenance costs are reduced 45%, there's still a benefit. At least this concept applies to the "tier" participants. I bet that those customers who simply purchase fighters (like Japan) will just get the fighters, not the integration.

    And generally, I think VTOL is a waste for what you get, and too vulnerable. But it's important to note that the F-35 isn't operated as VTOL like the old Harrier, it's STOVL, which is "short take off," not vertical. (although I think technically, it could be VTOL in an emergency) That requirement was pushed by the US Marines, but it was also a requirement set forth by the RAF/Royal Navy and Italy (top tier and tier 2 participants) because both countries don't have traditional carriers anymore, and they operate from mini-carriers. Countries like the UK or Italy have to have the B version because they have no other capability. For them, it's still less expensive to put extra money into a common platform than re-invest much more to restart traditional naval aviation. That's why the B version was built in the first place. The US Marines want the B version from the aspect of service rivalry, I don't want to say as a luxury, but.....really there is no direct need.With the VTOL version, I think it's almost a chicken vs egg situation. If I'm not mistaken, the UK pushed for the VTOL version from the beginning, the US Marines said "yeah, that's cool, we want to keep being different among the US services, so we want them too." And Italy probably doesn't even need carrier aviation at all. Ironically, I believe that the UK has reduced its order of the B, while the Marines has increased it. (The US Navy uses the C version, because the US still has "long deck" carriers and doesn't even need the B version)

    The B version is the most expensive version and has contributed to a lot of the cost overrun, but I think the commonality will win out in the long run, assuming the cost is worth nations like Italy even keeping carrier based aviation, even if in name only.
  6. Sarge Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 1998
    star 4
    Remember the F-111, McNamara's wonderplane that would do everything? It was supposed to be a carrier capable air superiority fighter bomber. But in the end, the only role it was any good for was deep interdiction. It looks to me like the Pentagon needs to review its own history when it comes to one-size-fits-all warplanes.
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  7. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    To be fair though, the F-111 wasn't really a "commonality" platform like the F-35 is. Of course, the Navy also changed the requirements half-way through the design period, which no branch of service ever does... ;) The Navy and Air Force wanted a straight interceptor, but then the Navy almost immediately wanted to add dog fighting capabilities. In the Navy, the tests of the F-111 directly lead to the F-14 Tomcat, which was the best example in the world of its role for decades. The "swing-wing" set-up, the engines, Phoenix long range air-to-air missiles and the radar prototyped for the F-111 were all fitted onto the F-14. As you mentioned, the USAF and the RAAF both used the F-111 effectively in the role it was designed for as well. In fact, I think the RAAF used the F-111 up until a couple of years ago.

    Now compare the F-4 Phantom, which was a prior example of an extremely successful commonality platform that the Navy and the Air Force both used in the same fighter-bomber role. You'd probably know the specific differences between Air Force and Navy F-4's, but from what I understand, the F-4 didn't need very many changes to go from Navy and Air Force service. It was pretty hardy. Of course, the F-4 didn't have the added wrinkle of also having to have a third STOVL version like the F-35 does. But the F-4 Phantom may be the only modern fighter besides the upcoming F-35 that was used by all three services at the same time. The F-35 is certainly closer in spirit to the F-4 than the F-111.
    Last edited by Mr44, Jul 29, 2014
  8. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    I have a good report on the F35, Mr44, but basically a conclusion is the F35 is a bit of a dud. I'll post it up for you when I can dig it up.
  9. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    So, two related topics this time.

    Last week, Russia laid the keels of three new nuclear submarines. One is a new ballistic missile submarine. The other 2 are attack subs. The Russian Navy seemed to increase the speed of deploying new submarines after a lull in production. And perhaps most importantly, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin hinted at the reason why with a thinly veiled threat against the West: "We know that the presence of nuclear capabilities cool the ardour of any aggressor, anywhere in the world." "Laying down keels" is the first step in ship production, so these are still years away from being completed.

    On a related note, the government of Japan has initiated diplomatic concerns with France, over France's deal to sell 2 French helicopter landing ships to Russia. Japan is concerned over what it describes as Russia's recent military buildup in the Asia-Pacific region. The Japanese Defense Ministry has seen Russia stepping up military operations and training in the region. This is interesting as it represents a rare, but continuing step of increasing Japanese self determination in the region.

    Still more consequences of the situation in the Ukraine?
  10. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    So, this week's announcement is a huge problem out of Australia.

    Australia's AUD8.5 billion Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) project, the country's largest current defence programme, is in "deep, deep trouble", according to Defence Minister David Johnston. Johnston called the programme "a disgraceful mess. The AWD will be one or two years late if we are lucky and several hundred millions over budget. People are not wanting to be frank about how bad this project is." The AWD was going to be Australia's newest multi-role destroyer that would have the main role of defending ships of the Australia Navy, but also take on the role of ground support. The first ship in the class is being named The Hobart.

    Ironically, the problem seemed to develop out of a process which was designed to save money. Instead of traditional shipbuilding, the AWD is assembled out of pre-fabricated "blocks" of material.The company selected to manufacture the blocks was NQEA Australia, which is actually an older, established shipbuilder based in the city of Cairns. However, almost immediately, NQEA was unable to meet the scope of the project (probably why they turned in such a low bid) and a new company had to take over. The problem is that variances in the prefab blocks meant that the blocks didn't fit together as they should have, and what was supposed to have been a cost cutting measure is ending up to be much more expensive.

    The ship is actually a decent design if the problems can be worked out. One of the interesting features is that the ship may be equipped with the same radar processors as the US Aegis system, so an Australian ship would be able to integrate itself into a US Naval group.
  11. Sarge Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 1998
    star 4
  12. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9

    I'm going to blame Labor for that mess. Mostly because they never, ever get the Defence Department's thinking.
  13. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    So, pictures have emerged from Syria which show Syrian government Russian T-72 tanks fitted with metal skeleton frames used to defeat the RPG-7's used by the rebels operating in Syria. The frames themselves aren't hi-tech, they're just metal slats which are welded to the hulls of the tanks. The slats prematurely detonate the warheads of the RPG's, and are used by other countries. However, it means that the rebels will need more capable anti-tank systems in order to engage Syrian government forces, and it remains to be seen if any country will provide this assistance.

    Unrelated to the above, Singapore has been quietly increasing its fleet of US supplied F-15 fighter jets. Back in 2005, Singapore first purchased 12 F-15's. By 2007, Singapore purchased 12 more, bringing its total to 24. This year, Singapore started purchasing another batch of 16 fighters, which will bring its total to 40. As a result, the Singapore military has achieved a level of military capability well above its neighbors in the Southeast Asia region. (geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia-which includes countries like Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Indonesia among others)
  14. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    The only reasons I can see for it largely are in case the Spratleys turn hot. Air strikes on Malacca strait pirates seems implausible, as does any deterrent against Malaysia (the only nation really in SRBM or arty range).
  15. Sarge Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 1998
    star 4
    What model F-15s do they have in Singapore? Unless they're buying Strike Eagles, they won't be good platforms for strikes on pirates.
  16. MarcusP2 Games and Community Reaper

    Manager
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    Jul 10, 2004
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    They're buying F-15SG, which are Strike Eagle variants.
  17. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
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    Malacca Straits piracy is at record low levels in recent years, but when pirate infrastructure is generally fairly low key the use of strike fighters to combat it seems overkill unless you want to sink ships pirates have captured. Which seems ridiculous.
  18. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Singapore does have a robust dispute with Malaysia over fresh water rights, and although it's gotten serious at times, no armed hostilities have broken out so far. Water rights....the upcoming source of future conflicts everywhere.

    But yeah, I agree that the Spratley Islands would be a good bet as well. A coalition against China would be an interesting conflict. Aren't there pretty decent estimates of natural gas in the Spratey Island area which needs to be explored and confirmed?
  19. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    And oil, yes.

    Malaysia's defence force isn't really geared for force projection, and Singapore's got Israel's iron dome. I don't think the F15-SGs are for Malaysia.
  20. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    I would agree, except for a large part of the weapons packages for the F-15's are air to ground missile and bomb kits, so Singapore definitely seems to be preparing to bring some steel to someone if need be.
  21. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
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    Nobody in the region has comparative air power though, so yeah - wouldn't it make sense tactically to support ground forces with airstrike capable fighters?
  22. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
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    absolutely. Singapore has a strong land force as well, although it still relies overly on conscripts.
  23. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
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    It's not unique in that regard; Taiwan does too. But in Singapore's case, it's because of it's tight ties with Israel more than anything else.
  24. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

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    Oct 28, 2001
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  25. Rogue_Follower Manager Emeritus

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    Nov 12, 2003
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