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Postwar Aircraft Projects / Re: Boeing JAST / JSF / X-32 projects
« Last post by Robert on Today at 06:11:32 am »
Does anyone know what the manufacturer's construction numbers were for the two X-32 prototypes? Also, were they assigned military serial numbers or did they have civil registrations? I keep seem to find any information.
Military / Re: USMC concepts and programs
« Last post by fredymac on Today at 05:08:24 am »
I couldn't find a thread containing the Marine Corps Amphibious Combat Vehicle which replaces their AAV.  Moderators can move this post if it fits better elsewhere.

BAE Systems team wins U.S. Marine Corps’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle competition

The ACV is based on an existing design from Iveco.
Continuing the exploration of 'self-published on Amazon' technothrillers

R.E. McDermott, Deadly Coast, 2012

United States

USS Carney (DDG-64)
Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer
Real ship, details as in service.

USS Bunker Hill (CD-82)
Ticonderoga Class Cruiser
Real ship, details as in service.


Admiral Vinogradov
Udaloy (Pr.1155) Class Destroyer
Real ship, details as in service.


MT Marie Floyd
Armed Merchant Cruiser (Privateer)
Converted Oil Tanker
Modifications include the conversion of one cargo tank into a cell for captured pirates and the addition of a concealed control position, from which all ship functions can be handled in a former aft ballast tank.
Armament: Small arms & rocket propelled grenades
MT Pacific Endurance
Armed Merchant Cruiser (Privateer)
Converted Oil Tanker
Modifications/armament identical to MT Marie Floyd

Note: Both ships are owned by Phoenix Shipping Ltd. and are operating under Letters of Marque and Reprisal (E.g. Privateers) issued by the Liberian Government under newly passed legislation. The combat portion of the crew is made up of mercenaries, either American (ex-USMC) or Russian (ex-Spetznaz). The mode of operation is to sail slowly in regions pirates are present inviting attack. When the pirates board, they are lured into the superstructure, ambushed and captured. Armament is a mixture of American & Russian weapons including M-4 Carbines, Dragunov sniper rifles &  Kalashnikov's (The last is not specified in novel but likely.) along with unspecified types of rocket propelled grenades.


Somali Pirates

Kyung Yang No. 173
Armed Trawler
Armament: Small arms & rocket propelled grenades
Note: Captured from her Korean (Republic of) crew and used as a mothership for the smaller vessels the pirates use to attack freighters.

Plot summary: As Somali piracy reaches crisis proportions, one ship owner resorts to a desperate scheme only to find that the attacks cover something much more dangerous.

Note: This is actually a better book than the James Rollins novel I covered two posts back, the authors plot is simple, straightforward and enlivened with a gleeful cynicism, just how the heroes get their hands on Liberian Letters of Marque and Reprisal made me laugh, that does not get in the way of providing a good set of thrills. The authors afterward is also a good example of how these things should be written, with a clear explanation of the history that inspired him and how he altered that history in the service of his plotline.
The Bar / Re: A bit of robot fun
« Last post by Michel Van on Today at 03:31:17 am »
I see already the Headlines

IBM AI debater, crash and burn as it try argue with John Cleese

The Bar / Re: A bit of robot fun
« Last post by fredymac on Today at 03:07:07 am »
AI debater from IBM.

I want to see it go up against a real pro.

Military / Re: Nuclear Weapons NEWS ONLY
« Last post by fredymac on Today at 02:53:58 am »
The US also practices for nuclear first strikes. You just don't hear about it.

Here is your chance to educate us.  First party records from relevant US commands would be best.
Military / Re: Surface Ships Need More Offensive Punch, Outlook
« Last post by fredymac on Today at 02:50:12 am »

Serving on ships is harder than you imagine... Even carriers for that matter. That is unless you're fortunate enough to have outdoor duties or at least a window.

Life on a dedicated ABM ship relegated to patrolling tiny little swaths of sea would be worse than what I hear missile silo duty is like. Having only one mission... One small patrol area... Service on that ship would be torture.

Once SM3 Block 2 phases in those “tiny” patrol areas will open up.  If a dedicated ABM patrol ship is built, even bigger missile could be accommodated allowing the ship to move along most of the predicted trajectory ground tracks.

Being cooped up in cramped settings is a good description of 50 years of SSBN duty.  No window and no idea where you are for extended periods and yet they have managed somehow.
The Bar / Re: The US Space Force
« Last post by fredymac on Today at 02:41:49 am »
It's noteworthy, and the lack of greater preparation or consensus-building ahead of time may have long-lasting effects on how, when, or if a "Space Force" happens during his term in office.

As I noted, there is no consensus when a bureaucracy is protecting its institutional interests.  A political consensus in the current political era is foredoomed.  Or rather, consensus is when individual politicians know the voters are watching and force them to vote against their party.  As usual, this will hinge on the RINO vote and how far they are willing to drop any remaining pretense on who they are.

This is so not going to happen.

Clearly your logic and reasoning leave little room to argue against.
Military / Re: US Prompt Global Strike Capability
« Last post by sferrin on Today at 02:41:42 am »

Even before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s saber rattling this year about high-speed weapons, the U.S. was laying plans to sharpen its focus on hypersonic weapons, motivated mainly by China’s ambitious research and weapons tests. The Trump Pentagon wants to put this new focus in place in the 2019 budget.

Chinese researchers have been publishing technical papers at a blistering pace about their fundamental research into hypersonic flight, loosely defined as maneuvering in the atmosphere at speeds above 6,000 kph. Flying faster than Mach 5 could be a handy way to travel, but for the leaders in this field — China, Russia and the U.S. — the emphasis has shifted to weapons. At least some of China’s research appears to be headed in that direction, based on references to missiles in the published papers, although my inquiries to the Chinese Embassy’s press office about the purpose of this research went unreturned. The Pentagon reported to Congress earlier this year that China has conducted 20 times as many hypersonic flight tests as the U.S. The most noteworthy recent test was in November, when China flew a new hypersonic missile, the DF-17, capable of flying 1,800 to 2,500 kilometers, as first reported by The Diplomat website.

The US has flown FAR more hypersonic flights than China... By a GREAT deal.

Not in recent history. 
The Bar / Re: The US Space Force
« Last post by NeilChapman on Today at 02:37:29 am »
Where is the requirement for a "pre-planned rollout coordinated with DOD approval".  Especially if the DOD track record on this issue is best defined as stonewalling.

Institutionally, the Air Force will never agree to separating space activities to an independent service.  The Army and Navy will not appreciate having a new competitor for defense dollars. 

Civilian control over the military manifests itself in large measure with decisions opposed by the individual services.  Formation of a unified Department Of Defense did not come about because the Navy and Army liked the idea of surrendering their individual department level status.

The question is whether space has become so important that it can substantially determine the security of the country.  The fact that DARPA and not the Air Force is actively trying to develop means to safeguard and replenish space assets highlights the priority conflict that is forcing this issue.
Nowhere I my post did I claim there was a requirement for anything he had ordered. Everything he's done so far is within his powers to do, no doubt about it, and short of the powers reserved to Congress that would actually make a new service branch happen, he can order all the study and planning he likes. I was pushing back on the notion that posters here or "the media" are overreacting to the suddenness of this announcement, and the suggestion that it was a long-planned rollout with a well-planned push behind it. It's noteworthy, and the lack of greater preparation or consensus-building ahead of time may have long-lasting effects on how, when, or if a "Space Force" happens during his term in office. And even if he had gone about it completely differently, like perhaps a Truman-like Recommendation directly to Congress, that would be worthing noting and discussing as well.

The speech is President Trump's version of Truman's letter.  Additionally, I don't believe the Army and Navy were too keen to be subordinate to the Secretary of Defense back in '47 and '49 either. 

The concern (by Mattis) to a US Space Force seemed to be related more to additional overhead and the integration of "space support services" between the existing branches.  Basically dollars and bureaucracy, not enough of one and too much of the other.

But this is an interesting moment.  A Department that can be created from scratch in 2018/19, in the era of the defense department audit and Rapid Capabilities Office under the direction of Mattis is a unique opportunity.  There can be efficiencies, controls and management processes defined that are radically different than those used in the Army and Navy - very old bureaucracies. 

And there are good reasons to make this decision now.

From ius gentium through canon law by way of de Vitoria (a Dominican by the way) to Grotius' Mare Liberum, the concept of the 'Freedom of the Seas' is a principle most recently defined by the UNCLOS.  This 20th century agreement took 2000 years to promulgate.  The US has signed but not ratified the agreement but she does recognize this as customary international law. This agreement is an important factor in the movement of ~$20 trillion in world trade.  Even though the principle has coalesced over many centuries and is almost universally accepted we still have countries that are arbitrarily claiming 'historic rights' to waters for which they have no historic rights.  So we know that nations must be vigilant in defending basic principles.  These same principles will be contemplated when deciding how to manage space. 

Today, the space economy accounts for ~$350 billion in goods and services of which only ~$5.5 billion is for launch services (transport services). This is a fraction of the ~$20 trillion (~$850B in transport services) in world trade and only accounts for 'basic infrastructure.'  But recall that at the turn of the 19th century exports and imports across nations was below 10% of global production.  Today that figure is higher than 50%.  What changed?  Inter-european integration in the 19th century and technological advances such as commercial aviation, productivity improvements and communications in the 20th.

How is that similar to where we are today?

Through quality control, supply chain management and, ultimately, additional cost advantages through reusability, SpaceX has completely disrupted the space launch business.  The result being overwhelming US commercial space lift market share, increasing from 0 in 2011 to ~55% last year.  SpaceX launch cadence will increase in 2018, Rocket Lab will being commercial launches in 2018 and Virgin Orbit will attempt their first launch this year.  Space transport services over the next five years will be completely transformed with multiple new systems in place for human transport, heavy, medium and light cargo lift.

Plummeting costs create opportunities that weren't considered viable just 5 years ago. This is analogous to the technology advancements that reduced transaction costs for trade after World War II.  There is every reason to believe that integration and technological advances will result in exponential growth in world trade based in space over the next 50 years. 

It is imperative for the United States to look ahead to the security requirements of commerce in space.  It need look no further than 1945 and the fundamental changes that took place at the end of World War II.  For over 70 years the United States has defended the freedom of the sea - the transport of world trade.  There are myriad examples of the benefits provided by US leadership and security.  I'll provide one.  While world population has increased from less than 2.5 billion in 1945 to over 7 billion today, US security, food production and increased world trade has reduced the number of people living in extreme poverty from ~1.8 billion in 1945 to less than 700 million today.

There are two large economies today.  One, while not perfect, is based on democracy, justice, and equity, whose declaration to the world at its inception included an understanding of the intrinsic dignity of the human being stating all "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..."  The other is based on Marxism and Leninism, with socialism as the foundation of the law with the ultimate goal of social order and control.  An ideology responsible for ~100 million deaths over the last 100 years.

As we move forward into a new world trade dynamic that includes space we recognize this opportunity was created by the last 70 years of 'rules based order.'  But the status quo norms are being tested.  There is a question whether the rules are changing; if we are returning to a previous age of great power politics.  If that is the case, then the result, as we know from previous centuries, is 'the rules are set by he who rules.'

If you want to influence the rules in space, then one must be prepared to provide security in space.  The only question is who do you want to influence the rules?

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