Politics' role in Unbuilt Projects.

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RyanC

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As a spin off of the "SPRINT ABM" thread HERE in order to prevent any more derailing (I have some photographs somewhere of proposed SPRINT IIs I'll post later this morning).

Here's some talk on the politics of systems development.

The B-1 in it's previous incarnations as AMSA -- Advanced Manned Strategic Aircraft -- was continually delayed by Robert McNamara -- if you go and read his briefings to the president on the DoD budget from when he was SecDef -- you see him constantly turning down requests by the USAF to enter the development-validation phase; and instead to continue with endless paper reports.

It wasn't for nothing that AMSA was said to stand for "America's Most Studied Aircraft" by wags.

It wasn't until McNamara was removed as SecDef that AMSA was allowed to go forward into the dem-val phase and move beyond very detailed sketches on paper.

I've managed to OCR the majority meat (except for the long detailed tables) of one of McNamara's recommendations:

Link to FY 1967-71 recommended forces

Basically, in that one, he turns down the USAF's request for 12 Squadrons of F-12B (216 aircraft), the introduction of SRAM for the B-52G/H, a request to start serious development work on AMSA to support a 1970s IOC, etc.

For the Army, he turned down their request to deploy Nike-X.

In another memorandum he wrote to Johnson on 22 September 1962; titled "Recommended FY68-72 Strategic Offensive and Defensive Forces", McNamara wrote:

With strategic warning we estimate that 32 UE F-12s or 48 UE stretched F-111As could achieve the same number kills before weapons release as the current force which has a 10 year cost of $3.0 billion. The 10 year systems cost for the 32 UE F-12 force have increased from the previously estimated $1.9 billion to $2.9 billion. Estimates for the F-111 force remain at $1.5 billion. The F-111 force therefore appears substantially more efficient than the F-12s against the currently projected threat. Supplementary calculations indicate that it is comparable in efficiency to the F-12 force against possible future threats.

The 48 UE F-111 force would operate from 4 main bases, 8 dispersal bases and 30 recovery/recycle bases. Sixteen combat support aircraft, that would be flushed with the interceptors, would carry missiles, ground support equipment, spares, and personnel to support the F-111 turn-around at the recycle bases. With 42 AWACS aircraft to provide airborne control, we could reduce the present ground environment, retaining only enough radars and BUIC centers for peacetime control.

The investment costs for this force include $676 million for the F-111 and $790 million for AWACS. Since the modernized force would ultimately have operating costs about $250 million per year lower than the present posture, the additional investment costs would be recouped by FY78.

Given the advantage of the F-111 interceptors--an aircraft already in long term production--and in the absence of a decision to deploy Nike-X, the decision to modernize our air defense structure can be deferred for one year.

The F-12 development program will be reoriented in FY 67 and FY 68 to include further design studies for the F-111 interceptor, cost studies, and adaptation of the Navy AWG-9 fire control system for ADC use, using the YF-12 as a test bed. The AWACS development program which supports both tactical and CONUS defense missions, will be continued as a high priority effort.


It's worth noting that the production contract for the first F-12Bs was $360 million for 93 production airframes at about $3.87 million each F-12B.

This is less Government Furnished Equipment that would have pushed up the cost to around $11.6 million.

These 93 F-12Bs would have equipped two fighter groups at about 36 assigned aircraft, one at Duluth AFB, and the other at Bangor AFB.

Despite the aircraft being approved by congress and funding actually allocated for it; McNamara impounded the funds through a legal sleight of hands and refused to allocate the money. As a bonus, he also ordered the production tooling being set up for the F-12B to be destroyed.

The law that allowed him to impound the funds and ignore congress has been changed; it can't be done now; but the SecDef can order tooling held by the DoD to be scrapped -- right now, there are about 350,000 items of production tooling in long term storage at AMARC.

Until recently, this included a complete F-84 production line; because a lot of NATO countries and allies flew F-84s well into the eighties, and there was thought to be a requirement for spares that could only be made using the tooling from that line.

What gets saved?

While a lot of general purpose tooling is owned by the aircraft manufacturer and can be recycled for use on other aircraft programs or just scrapped; the specialized tooling dedicated to a single aircraft type to produce very large subsections such as wings, tails etc; is very hard to build or replace.

This tooling is stored by the USAF at AMARC.

A friend recently did some research into production tooling for a story of his and asked around whether the tooling for the B-1 and B-2 had been saved. The answer he got was that this tooling is stored automatically and is only scrapped if a specific order was issued, like when IIRC Cheney ordered the F-14 line broken up in the mid-90s.
 

bobbymike

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Very interesting post. Just finished reading "A Fiery Peace in a Cold War" where is says LeMay wanted 8000 Minuteman missiles. That would have been hard for the Soviets to match. Have to order myself a used copy of "Politics and Force Levels" to learn more about McNamara's strategic offensive weapons decisions. It seems that the US could have out built the Soviets by a large measure but obviously stopped at a certain number with the full expectation the Soviets would catch up by the mid-70's as revealed in McNamara's own documents. Was this wise on his part or a dereliction of duty by the Secretary of Defense?
 

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bobbymike said:
I just finished reading "A Fiery Peace in a Cold War" about early ICBM development and it was all politics all the time, especially internal Air Force politics.

I just finished reading that as well.

It comes off pretty harsh on LeMay, and quite unfairly.

LeMay was a pretty smart cookie.

I recall reading about him being briefed on the FB-111A project when it was still embryonic. The program manager sent a pretty smart colonel to give LeMay a full briefing on the project , which was about an hour long.

LeMay simply sat through the briefing, just chomping on his cigar. And at the end he shifted around, took the cigar out and said.

"It's too small."

Which was really quite perceptive, and hit upon all the issues that the FB-111 program staff was hitting on -- it didn't have the room to stuff in enough fuel for enough range, enough bombload to be worth it; or the room for ECM to fight through soviet defenses.

In the end, it was just a replacement for the USAF medium bomber force (B-47/B-58/B-66/B-57), which were basically retired for a variety of reasons, most stemming from inadequate range and payload.

The B-58 for example, was a pretty good hot rod; it was probably much more technically advanced than the F-111, being able to sustain mach 2 cruise on afterburner for several hours; making high altitude penetration of a defended target workable.

It had the ECM and defensive firepower to fight it's way to the target with a dedicated defensive system officer and a 20mm tail gun (in fact, it got the 20mm Gatling before the B-52 did).

What it didn't have was the range or payload needed for a SAC bomber -- it just had the range and bombload to hit a single well defended target -- that was it -- due to the nature of the fuel/bomb pod system.

There were studies for advanced B-58 systems using fuselage stretches, and new multipurpose bomb pods incorporating rotary launchers; but they suffered from opposition in SAC, which wanted the money to go towards funding the B-70 instead, which would offer Mach 3 cruise all the way to the target, and would have the range and bombload to truly replace the B-52.

Likewise, LeMay was right about opposing systems like Atlas/Titan/Jupiter, etc; because they required very large and complex launch silos, and were too expensive to afford in any serious number.

The book also notes that when Minuteman became available; LeMay supported it quite well because it was significantly cheaper than the earlier liquid fuelled ICBMs, making a truly decisive deployment possible -- instead of talking about dozens of missiles, with the Minuteman, you could talk feasibly of hundreds or thousands.
 

RyanC

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bobbymike said:
Very interesting post. Just finished reading "A Fiery Peace in a Cold War" where is says LeMay wanted 8000 Minuteman missiles. That would have been hard for the Soviets to match.

Yes. The Soviets basically mortaged their non-military economic growth in the seventies to build up a force capable of at least parity with the US in terms of megatonnage.

I think the soviet plan was:

1970s: Build up force to deter/defeat US in missiles by skimping on consumer/non military spending

1980s: Entrench existing forces and shift spending to consumer/non military spending.

But Reagan short circuited that plan by announcing a buildup that the Soviets were forced to match.
 

RyanC

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bobbymike said:
It seems that the US could have out built the Soviets by a large measure but obviously stopped at a certain number with the full expectation the Soviets would catch up by the mid-70's as revealed in McNamara's own documents. Was this wise on his part or a dereliction of duty by the Secretary of Defense?

I'm firmly in the dereliction of duty camp. Just look at his mismanagement of Vietnam.

In the "Recommended FY 1964-FY 1968 Strategic Retaliatory Forces" memo, Strange says:

In my memorandum to you on this subject last year, I defined a "full first-strike capability" as a capability that "would be achieved if our forces were so large and so effective, in relation to those of the Soviet Union, that we would be able to attack and reduce Soviet retaliatory power to the point at which it could not cause severe damage to U.S. population and industry."

I indicated then and I reaffirm now my belief that the "full first-strike capability" — and I now include the Air Force's variant of it — should be rejected as a U S. policy objective.
 

RyanC

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There's also another reason LeMay was opposed to liquid fuelled ICBMs: Cost/Accuracy.

The early ICBMs were notoriously inaccurate and made up for this with very huge warheads. But even this got expensive.

In a 1959 memorandum on the B-70 Weapons System Link, CINCSAC Tommy Powers stated:

Another major requirement for manned penetrators lies in the fact that you cannot put eyeballs on a missile warhead. Only manned penetrators can bomb poorly located and ill-defined targets. A large percentage of the 1965 targets will be located in areas where we will need a better geodetic datum plane tie-in than we have today in order to utilize ICBM's against them with maximum effectiveness. A comparison of presently projected CEP/yields for our manned bombers and our missiles shows that, while missiles are ideally suited to many types of the softer targets, the manned bomber is a more effective and efficient vehicle for destroying hardened targets. For example, a VN-12 target, which is not particularly hard, with a radius of five (5) miles, would require twelve (12) Minute-man missiles or two (2) Class B gravity bombs to achieve a 90% probability of target destruction. (S)

I found this photograph in the Archives II Photographic floor which illustrates the cost of a single liquid fuelled ICBM silo. See attached photo. Now multiply that by what five missiles to achieve a 90% pK against a VN-12 target (I'm assuming bigger warhead on Titan means less missiles are needed than the Minuteman example.)
 

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bobbymike

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Do you have the link to the FY64 to FY68 Retaliatory Forces Memo or did I miss it somewhere above?
 

RyanC

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No, but I can upload it. I don't think I ever OCRed it fully.

EDIT: Actrually I did.

I just have so much stuff I keep losing track of what I have or have not done. :D

Link to 64-68
 

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Ryan - thanks for all the great info. Strategic offensive and defensive forces have always been of great interest to me. I remember as a kid looking at comparisons of SS-18s, 19's, 24s, and nominal drawings of "Soviet 5th generation ICBMs" and then to the US's Minuteman force and becoming quite alarmed.

When my friends were yelling for a nuclear freeze I was supporting Reagan's strategic weapons build-up. I started asking questions like, "Why did the US not have a heavy/large ICBM like the SS-18" among many puzzling weapons decisions (dismantling ABM forces as another example). In almost every occasion it all goes back to McNamara and the decisions he made.
 

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RyanCrierie said:
As a spin off of the "SPRINT ABM" thread HERE in order to prevent any more derailing (I have some photographs somewhere of proposed SPRINT IIs I'll post later this morning).

SWEET! ;D
 

RyanC

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Also, the current Russian obsession with the US ABM system is because the Russian Missile Arsenal is about to shrink dramatically between 2010-2015.

During the Cold War, the Soviets designed their ICBMs as "wooden rounds" with 20 year shelf lives. Recently, the Russians have been doing a lot of refurbishment and a lot of test shots as part of an effort to re-rate their remaining ICBMs as having a 25-30 year shelf life.

However, that can only go so far for so long; and there just isn't the money to replace all the old Cold War stuff with modern road mobile Topol-Ms, and their SSBN force modernization scheme is proving to be a massively expensive money sink with failed test after failed test.

So they want to limit ABM in any way possible; and want nuclear arms cuts to extend the lifetime of their decaying nuclear arsenal
 

sferrin

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RyanCrierie said:
Also, the current Russian obsession with the US ABM system is because the Russian Missile Arsenal is about to shrink dramatically between 2010-2015.

During the Cold War, the Soviets designed their ICBMs as "wooden rounds" with 20 year shelf lives. Recently, the Russians have been doing a lot of refurbishment and a lot of test shots as part of an effort to re-rate their remaining ICBMs as having a 25-30 year shelf life.

However, that can only go so far for so long; and there just isn't the money to replace all the old Cold War stuff with modern road mobile Topol-Ms, and their SSBN force modernization scheme is proving to be a massively expensive money sink with failed test after failed test.

So they want to limit ABM in any way possible; and want nuclear arms cuts to extend the lifetime of their decaying nuclear arsenal

They're deploying new ICBMs (TOPOL-M) in silos as well and have started work on a new heavy SS-18 replacement. And the US? Well, we have none even planned and we're busy scrapping our large solid motor building capability. In ten years the scales will be changed so I'm not feeling too much sympathy for Russia's situation.
 

bobbymike

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sferrin - Yes, here you and I are again discussing the decay of the US nuclear weapons enterprise. There is an interesting video at the Center for Security Policy with Douglas Feith. He talks about negotiating with the Russians during the Bush Administration. The two things that really caught my attention was when he talked about the US as of this moment cannot really build a nuclear weapon from scratch anymore and then he talked about how the Russians want to destroy and dismantle launchers and warheads because they still have warm production lines and the US does not. I infer, quite worriedly from this, that their "breakout potential" could put the US in a real strategic hole if we disarm and proceed, as we are doing, by neglecting and through this neglect dismantling our weapons production capabilities.
 

RyanC

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They're deploying new ICBMs (TOPOL-M) in silos as well and have started work on a new heavy SS-18 replacement.

Right now, the SRF consists of 385 ICBMs, of which only 65 are actually Topol-Ms built after 1997; which means they're good to 2022+

The rest of the SRF is:

180~ Topol, introduced from 1985 onwards, the first ones will begin hitting service life limits from 2010 onwards.

72~ SS-19, introduced from 1979 onwards, they hit the 25 year mark in 2004.

68~ SS-18 Mod 5 (R-36M2) produced from 1988 onwards, which means they hit their service life mark in 2013+.

Right now, the Russians could only produce 7 to 11 Topol-Ms a year; which I suspect is not fast enough to replace the 320 missiles which are going to hit service lives now or in the next few years -- you could run them past their service lives, but then their reliability would become increasingly uncertain -- meaning you would have to double, triple, or quadruple target something to be sure of destroying it.

And the US? Well, we have none even planned and we're busy scrapping our large solid motor building capability.

Actually considering the GBI is a very large solid fuelled missile; I wouldn't say we're scrapping our military large SRM capability.

Anyway, it's not unlikely that by 2015-2020; the Russian arsenal will be only 100~ Topol-M in mobile launchers and silos (they apparently shut down production of the road mobile version); plus whatever is actually on patrol in the Soviet SSBN fleet, which at the moment isn't looking so hot -- Bulava was supposed to be a simple conversion of an existing Topol-M into a SLBM, yet it keeps blowing up or spiralling in circles.

So yeah, with only 100~ ICBMs in silos by 2015-2020; the Russians have every reason to fear our small 30-40 GBI deployment, since each GBI is capable of taking out an enemy post-boost vehicle before it can debuss it's warheads.
 

RyanC

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bobbymike said:
He talks about negotiating with the Russians during the Bush Administration. The two things that really caught my attention was when he talked about the US as of this moment cannot really build a nuclear weapon from scratch anymore and then he talked about how the Russians want to destroy and dismantle launchers and warheads because they still have warm production lines and the US does not.

Yes; we've lost a lot of nuclear weapons productive capability, since we essentially shut down our bomb line in what, 1989 or 1990? It's gotten to the point where we cannot produce special materials like aerogel that are required to refurbish the Trident warheads anymore.

IIRC didn't Obama kill the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW), which would have built an all new nuclear device for all of our strategic platforms to use?
 

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RyanCrierie said:
Yes; we've lost a lot of nuclear weapons productive capability, since we essentially shut down our bomb line in what, 1989 or 1990? It's gotten to the point where we cannot produce special materials like aerogel that are required to refurbish the Trident warheads anymore.

IIRC didn't Obama kill the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW), which would have built an all new nuclear device for all of our strategic platforms to use?

Well, I guess it's a good thing that the Russians are gonna take out Apophis... cuz at this rate, by 2036 the US will be an unarmed third rate backwater. The unwillingness to build the best weapons to defend yourself with is one step away from being unwilling to wield said weapons, and that's only one step away from pacifism.

NOTE: This ain't politics, it's just facts. Great nations that go backwards either disappear or turn into some other great nation's bitch. See: Egypt, Greece, Rome, India, China, etc.
 

sferrin

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RyanCrierie said:
They're deploying new ICBMs (TOPOL-M) in silos as well and have started work on a new heavy SS-18 replacement.

Right now, the SRF consists of 385 ICBMs, of which only 65 are actually Topol-Ms built after 1997; which means they're good to 2022+

The rest of the SRF is:

180~ Topol, introduced from 1985 onwards, the first ones will begin hitting service life limits from 2010 onwards.

72~ SS-19, introduced from 1979 onwards, they hit the 25 year mark in 2004.

68~ SS-18 Mod 5 (R-36M2) produced from 1988 onwards, which means they hit their service life mark in 2013+.

Right now, the Russians could only produce 7 to 11 Topol-Ms a year; which I suspect is not fast enough to replace the 320 missiles which are going to hit service lives now or in the next few years -- you could run them past their service lives, but then their reliability would become increasingly uncertain -- meaning you would have to double, triple, or quadruple target something to be sure of destroying it.

And the US? Well, we have none even planned and we're busy scrapping our large solid motor building capability.

Actually considering the GBI is a very large solid fuelled missile; I wouldn't say we're scrapping our military large SRM capability.

GBI production was cut and it's only Midgetman-sized anyway. ATK got rid of those who were working KEI and is about to get rid of (or have done so) the SRB people.
 

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GBI production cut and KEI cancellation can be laid on the feet of the Obama administration.

As for SRB production, aren't those people switching over to the Ares I and V stack SRBs? Or has the Obama administration deadlined those too?
 

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RyanCrierie said:
As for SRB production, aren't those people switching over to the Ares I and V stack SRBs? Or has the Obama administration deadlined those too?

The Ares I at least can be safely assumed to be doomed. Ares V... maybe, maybe not. But the entertaining thing is that the Ares V booster was sold as being realtively safe and simple, due to being a straightforward derivative of the Shuttle RSRM. But amusingly, the Shuttle program is slated to end this year, and the layoffs are in process and more forthcoming for those who work on the RSRM. So five years from now when NASA decides to really get going on the Ares V, ATK is going to have to hire a whole bunch of people to do jobs that they are currently laying people off for. It's unlikely that a whole lot of the new people will be the same as the old people. Thus experience will fly right out the window. Even better, a lot of the current subcontractors will dry up and blow away due to lack of business. Adn how will you get *that* capability back?
 

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While I enjoy the exploration of historic technology for strategic weapon systems it is also kind of depressing to read about all these incredible systems that are just basically aerospace/engineering fading memories today. When you combine that with the neglect I mentioned earlier it really becomes unacceptable. That's why General Kevin Chilton should be our next Sec Def after the 2012 election with new leadership in Washington :eek:
 

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Orionblamblam said:
RyanCrierie said:
Yes; we've lost a lot of nuclear weapons productive capability, since we essentially shut down our bomb line in what, 1989 or 1990? It's gotten to the point where we cannot produce special materials like aerogel that are required to refurbish the Trident warheads anymore.

IIRC didn't Obama kill the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW), which would have built an all new nuclear device for all of our strategic platforms to use?

Well, I guess it's a good thing that the Russians are gonna take out Apophis... cuz at this rate, by 2036 the US will be an unarmed third rate backwater. The unwillingness to build the best weapons to defend yourself with is one step away from being unwilling to wield said weapons, and that's only one step away from pacifism.

NOTE: This ain't politics, it's just facts. Great nations that go backwards either disappear or turn into some other great nation's bitch. See: Egypt, Greece, Rome, India, China, etc.

So, saying that Egypt, Greece, Rome, India and China are another nation's bitch isn't political? :D ;)

Anyway, I seriously doubt that maximising weapons potential is the only way a nation can go "forward". There are other ways of using economic potential to wield influence and contribute to the historic benefit of humanity.

There is also a fundamental limitation to weaponisation, in that it has to be used in expansionist wars if it is going to be financially useful. Of course, one can use the threat of one's army (or simply selling weapons to a regime's opponents) to bully other nations into going along with one's own policies - but this tends to lead to resentment in the long run. This limited usefulness of weapons is especially true of nuclear weapons, which for political and precedent setting, not to mention humanitarian *can't* be feasibly used at all.

As you're writing from an American perspective: I think anyone can say that America still is a large enough, sea-bounded country that no one will start a conventional war or invade. The only real threat in the next century is a civil war.

On the nuclear front the U.S. has plenty of nuclear capable allies such as the U.K. and France that would retaliate very quickly against a nuclear attack on the United States. Even without Europe, Canada has enough nuclear reactors that we could build a sizeable number of tactical warheads in the space of six-nine months and I'm sure some of our pilots would be willing to fly suicide missions against the aggressor (even if the U.S. airforce couldn't provide proper escort for a two way trip). We were major contributors to the Manhattan project after-all.

So, I really don't see what you're concerned about?
 

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Avimimus said:
So, saying that Egypt, Greece, Rome, India and China are another nation's bitch isn't political? :D ;)

No, it's not. No more than saying "the dodo bird is extinct." The Egyptians were conquered by the Greeks, and then the Romans, and their culture turned into a tourist trap. The Greeks were taken over by the Romans... and turned into a tourist trap. The Indians were conquered by the British... and turned into a tourist trap. The Chinese were not exactly conquered, but they were... turned into a tourist trap.

Anyway, I seriously doubt that maximising weapons potential is the only way a nation can go "forward". There are other ways of using economic potential to wield influence and contribute to the historic benefit of humanity.

A nation unwilling to defend itself will not last long.

This limited usefulness of weapons is especially true of nuclear weapons, which for political and precedent setting, not to mention humanitarian *can't* be feasibly used at all.

The precedent for the use of nukes has already been set. And precedent for the *humanitarian* use of nukes has also been set.

Comes down to this: what is more "humanitarian:" to kill your enemy, or let them destroy you and your civilization? If you are a pacifist, the answer is obviously "B." But that's why pacifists are held in such low ethical esteem.

As you're writing from an American perspective: I think anyone can say that America still is a large enough, sea-bounded country that no one will start a conventional war or invade.

So they start unconventional wars. Invasion is easy, as both the current US (current population: up to 10% illegal alien "invaders") and Europe can attest.

The only real threat in the next century is a civil war.

That is a serious concern.

On the nuclear front the U.S. has plenty of nuclear capable allies such as the U.K. and France that would retaliate very quickly against a nuclear attack on the United States.

Really? If, say, in 2035 the Tsar of the Greater Russian Empire launched an all-out nuclear attack on the US, and achieved pretty much complete victory, at the same time telling the world "anybody else who retaliates will be smeared off the map," is it really reasonable to assume that *anyone* would be suicidal enough to launch a pointless retaliatory strike? And of course by 2035, France could well be part of the new Caliphate.

Or think of it the other way: had the whackjobs been right, and Cheney worked himself in as President-For-Life, and turned the US into a fascists totalitarian state, and in 2020 the US decides to nuclearly wipe out all the major cities in the Islamic middle east, and leveled the same "retaliate and we nuke you too" threat... apart from those nations actually initially attacked, who would respond?

Hell, back in 1939, years before nukes, Germany invaded Poland... and the world - including Britain and France - pretty much just sat there. People like to talk big about how heoric they or their nation would be. But when the feces hits the fan, and the Bad Guy turns out to be *really* bad, most people are content to just sit back and hope for the best.

Even without Europe, Canada has enough nuclear reactors that we could build a sizeable number of tactical warheads in the space of six-nine months...

The US outsrips Canada in nuclear weapons potential by a wide margin, and I seriously doubt *we* could crank out a series of all-new, reliable weapons in that timeframe. But of course, a major nuclear attack would be a process requiring at most a few *hours,* not months.

So, I really don't see what you're concerned about?

A capability lost is very difficult to recover. Especially when that capability has been continuously eroded over *decades.* How many universities that used to have perfectly fine nuclear engineering courses now have none? This is not only a practical problem of logistics, it is also a problem of cultural decay.
 

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Orionblamblam - great response. I was formulating mine but was having trouble with what level of scorn and derision to include in my post because what Avimimus wrote was four paragraphs of "wrong".

I will just add a couple of things. 1) There is no way on God's green earth you could weaponize reactor byproduct from Canadian nuclear reactors in years let alone months, especially following nuclear attacks on the US. Also if Canada said no would it be OK to invade Canada to take over the reactors? In fact having some plutonium without the development and production infrastructure is useless. Orionbalmblam's China example is particularly apt. prior to the Renaissance China built the largest most impressive naval vessels on the planet dwarfing potential rivals including the ships Europe was building at the time. Then the Emperor said "no more". They lost the ability to build ships and in one generation were colonized. The US could lose vital production let alone intellectual capacity in less time than this.

2) The US did not get much help from allies in the so-called "just war" of Afghanistan, but we are supposed to believe they would risk Paris or London for New York! Another example was the Bosnia conflict. This campaign, in Europe's backyard required the US to supply almost all of the airlift and tanker support. NATO is a military basketcase absolutely unable to project "meaningful" force over large geographic distances for any extended period of time.

3) The fact that nuclear weapons have not been used since WWII does not mean they are weapons that cannot deter or be used in critical situations. It is like the police officer who retires without ever using his sidearm (happens a lot) and someone saying "Gee police obviously don't need their weapons anymore."

There are many people (not necessarily talking about Avimimus cause I don't know him/her) who believe or assume the world would be exactly the same without the US being the Arsenal of Democracy. I can stay with a lot of confidence based on historical precedents that without the US there would be chaos, until such time as we were enslaved by a conqueror.
 

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Orionblamblam said:
RyanCrierie said:
As for SRB production, aren't those people switching over to the Ares I and V stack SRBs? Or has the Obama administration deadlined those too?

The Ares I at least can be safely assumed to be doomed. Ares V... maybe, maybe not. But the entertaining thing is that the Ares V booster was sold as being realtively safe and simple, due to being a straightforward derivative of the Shuttle RSRM. But amusingly, the Shuttle program is slated to end this year, and the layoffs are in process and more forthcoming for those who work on the RSRM. So five years from now when NASA decides to really get going on the Ares V, ATK is going to have to hire a whole bunch of people to do jobs that they are currently laying people off for. It's unlikely that a whole lot of the new people will be the same as the old people. Thus experience will fly right out the window. Even better, a lot of the current subcontractors will dry up and blow away due to lack of business. Adn how will you get *that* capability back?

Can't speak for out of state but in Utah ATK has a reputation (at least from the dozen or so people I know who have worked there) for being $hit to work for. Lay you off at the drop of a hat, and couldn't care less about performance. I'd put money on it that most won't be stupid enough to go back and can already predict the "unforseen" cost increases due to inexperience and subsequent death spiral of cost increases and budget cuts. Assuming it even gets that far.
 

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bobbymike said:
While I enjoy the exploration of historic technology for strategic weapon systems it is also kind of depressing to read about all these incredible systems that are just basically aerospace/engineering fading memories today. When you combine that with the neglect I mentioned earlier it really becomes unacceptable. That's why General Kevin Chilton should be our next Sec Def after the 2012 election with new leadership in Washington :eek:

One of the reasons cited for cancelling KEI was "techical problems with the motor". I imagine they think cancelling the program will help them solve those problems eh? As if it could be more difficult that figuring out Sprint, Spartan, and HiBex motors (that they had to invent from SCRATCH without prior experience. At least KEI could have built on Sprint experience.)
 

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And just in time for this post. From January's Air Force Magazine by Rebecca Grant (an aerospace and airpower expert)

The US's Dwindling Airpower Arsenal (makes for a scary and disturbing read) - http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2010/January%202010/0110airpower.aspx

Write your Congressman and Senator and support "One Trillion for National defense".
 

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bobbymike said:
And just in time for this post. From January's Air Force Magazine by Rebecca Grant (an aerospace and airpower expert)

The US's Dwindling Airpower Arsenal (makes for a scary and disturbing read) - http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2010/January%202010/0110airpower.aspx

Write your Congressman and Senator and support "One Trillion for National defense".

The thing that is particularly galling is Bambi and his cronies are perfectly willing to squander hundreds of billions on "shovel ready jobs" whatever the hell that's suppose to mean (and nevermind the rampant fraud going on there) but they'll kill tens of thousands of high tech jobs that ACTUALLY PRODUCE SOMETHING with smiles on their faces (F-22 for example) in some cynical bid to buy more votes. It's disgusting and damn near criminal. They don't care WHAT they do to this country as long as they stay in power. As for someone's comment on a revolution well, the population certainly has the firepower.
 

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bobbymike said:
Orionblamblam - great response. I was formulating mine but was having trouble with what level of scorn and derision to include in my post ...

What you see of my post is about half of what it originally was... before I removed the "politics" and tried to dial it back to Just Facts. "I'm meeting you halfway, you dirty hippies!"

The fact that nuclear weapons have not been used since WWII does not mean they are weapons that cannot deter or be used in critical situations.

IMO, in a century historians will argue over whether the vast growth in government, or the lack of nuking Tora Bora, was Bush's greatest failure as President.

So long as humans are humans, and there are governments and cultures that are just plain bad, there will be a need for countries to defend themselves. And one of the best forms of defense is to make the enemy believe, nay, *know* that if they mess with you, you will erase them and/or what they hold most dear from existence. Nuke are the best weapon for that sort of thing for modern, western, non-insane countries.
1) Nukes are fast, clean, and leave little lingering danger.
2) Chemical weapons are slow and require a vast infrastructure to deliver compared to nukes.
3) Bio-weapons are cheap and easy to deliver, but the after-effects are wholly unpredictable.
4) Massed armies are vastly expensive, and if you actually give a damn about human life - not only your own but also the enemies - sendign armies agaisnt the enemy is a bad way to preserve lives.
5) Conventional airpower is hideously expensive. The amount of firepower that would have been needed to level the Tora Bora mountains would have been ridiculous.

We are in an era when "conventional war" may be fading away. The world we're in now, and the war the US is in now, is one where perception is everything. And the perception of weakness will get your people killed. After the US bailed from Somalia, bin Laden, who was there at the time, decided that the US was a "paper tiger" and could be taken down by killing its civilians. A perception of strength is required... not so much for us, but for our enemies. They need to understand that to attack the US with terrorist nuke will bring a nuclear reprisal that will make the planet ring like a bell. If they understand that, then they might hold off on nuking New York. If they believe that they are immune, then that will increase the chances of New York getting nuked... and will increase the chances of (pick an Islamic city or three) getting nuked in response.

Read Kratman's "Caliphate" for a dark but readable take on what could happen in such an eventuality.

And this sort of "political debate" does lead to choosing this or that path in actual weapons design. The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB), for instance, almost certainly would not have been developed had there not been a perceived need for a weapon designed to scare the pants off of Saddam & Company.
 

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sferrin said:
bobbymike said:
And just in time for this post. From January's Air Force Magazine by Rebecca Grant (an aerospace and airpower expert)

The US's Dwindling Airpower Arsenal (makes for a scary and disturbing read) - http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2010/January%202010/0110airpower.aspx

Write your Congressman and Senator and support "One Trillion for National defense".

The thing that is particularly galling is Bambi and his cronies are perfectly willing to squander hundreds of billions on "shovel ready jobs" whatever the hell that's suppose to mean (and nevermind the rampant fraud going on there) but they'll kill tens of thousands of high tech jobs that ACTUALLY PRODUCE SOMETHING with smiles on their faces (F-22 for example) in some cynical bid to buy more votes. It's disgusting and damn near criminal. They don't care WHAT they do to this country as long as they stay in power. As for someone's comment on a revolution well, the population certainly has the firepower.

You might want to avoid the jobs comparison. At levels of spending similar to what the state of California has asked for in federal aid for its high speed rail system, the Raptor (your example) created something like 40,000 jobs. Meanwhile, once completed, the CAHSR system is expected to produce half a million permanent jobs with another 160,000 jobs involved in its construction. If you're looking at getting out of a recession and cutting unemployment, the defense industry is the best place to make any cuts needed and absolutely the worst place to invest money.
 

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Rosdivan said:
You might want to avoid the jobs comparison. At levels of spending similar to what the state of California has asked for in federal aid for its high speed rail system, the Raptor (your example) created something like 40,000 jobs. Meanwhile, once completed, the CAHSR system is expected to produce half a million permanent jobs with another 160,000 jobs involved in its construction. If you're looking at getting out of a recession and cutting unemployment, the defense industry is the best place to make any cuts needed and absolutely the worst place to invest money.

Unlikely. The best places to cut would be those government expenses that are huge, and produce no useful goods, infrastructure or meaningful employment. Look to welfare, healthcare and the penal system.

Defense is very inefficient. But welfare, for example, is essentially *zero* efficiency when it comes to useful spending.
 

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Orionblamblam said:
Rosdivan said:
You might want to avoid the jobs comparison. At levels of spending similar to what the state of California has asked for in federal aid for its high speed rail system, the Raptor (your example) created something like 40,000 jobs. Meanwhile, once completed, the CAHSR system is expected to produce half a million permanent jobs with another 160,000 jobs involved in its construction. If you're looking at getting out of a recession and cutting unemployment, the defense industry is the best place to make any cuts needed and absolutely the worst place to invest money.

Unlikely. The best places to cut would be those government expenses that are huge, and produce no useful goods, infrastructure or meaningful employment. Look to welfare, healthcare and the penal system.

Defense is very inefficient. But welfare, for example, is essentially *zero* efficiency when it comes to useful spending.

The penal system would be a lovely thing to cut, but won't get any traction from the "tough on crime" right-wing. Cutting Social Security, Medicaid/Medicare, etc. is entirely feasible in a world where no one is elderly, disabled, or otherwise living on a limited income. Quite frankly, all those are examples of things that, while not necessarily a direct economic benefit (penal system produces an indirect economic benefit however), are valuable and necessary instruments of government.
 

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Rosdivan said:
sferrin said:
bobbymike said:
And just in time for this post. From January's Air Force Magazine by Rebecca Grant (an aerospace and airpower expert)

The US's Dwindling Airpower Arsenal (makes for a scary and disturbing read) - http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2010/January%202010/0110airpower.aspx

Write your Congressman and Senator and support "One Trillion for National defense".

The thing that is particularly galling is Bambi and his cronies are perfectly willing to squander hundreds of billions on "shovel ready jobs" whatever the hell that's suppose to mean (and nevermind the rampant fraud going on there) but they'll kill tens of thousands of high tech jobs that ACTUALLY PRODUCE SOMETHING with smiles on their faces (F-22 for example) in some cynical bid to buy more votes. It's disgusting and damn near criminal. They don't care WHAT they do to this country as long as they stay in power. As for someone's comment on a revolution well, the population certainly has the firepower.

You might want to avoid the jobs comparison. At levels of spending similar to what the state of California has asked for in federal aid for its high speed rail system, the Raptor (your example) created something like 40,000 jobs. Meanwhile, once completed, the CAHSR system is expected to produce half a million permanent jobs with another 160,000 jobs involved in its construction. If you're looking at getting out of a recession and cutting unemployment, the defense industry is the best place to make any cuts needed and absolutely the worst place to invest money.

Great, just what we need, another government subsidized money pit. ::)
 

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Rosdivan said:
Orionblamblam said:
Rosdivan said:
You might want to avoid the jobs comparison. At levels of spending similar to what the state of California has asked for in federal aid for its high speed rail system, the Raptor (your example) created something like 40,000 jobs. Meanwhile, once completed, the CAHSR system is expected to produce half a million permanent jobs with another 160,000 jobs involved in its construction. If you're looking at getting out of a recession and cutting unemployment, the defense industry is the best place to make any cuts needed and absolutely the worst place to invest money.

Unlikely. The best places to cut would be those government expenses that are huge, and produce no useful goods, infrastructure or meaningful employment. Look to welfare, healthcare and the penal system.

Defense is very inefficient. But welfare, for example, is essentially *zero* efficiency when it comes to useful spending.

The penal system would be a lovely thing to cut, but won't get any traction from the "tough on crime" right-wing. Cutting Social Security, Medicaid/Medicare, etc. is entirely feasible in a world where no one is elderly, disabled, or otherwise living on a limited income. Quite frankly, all those are examples of things that, while not necessarily a direct economic benefit (penal system produces an indirect economic benefit however), are valuable and necessary instruments of government.

How is encouraging sloth valuable? It's not as those people are EARNING those welfare handouts. And Social Security is a pathetic joke, one could get a much better return investing it even WITH the ups and downs of the market. The penal system could actually MAKE money if they ran it right and actually made it so people DIDN'T want to go there no matter what. The problem is it's not a deterrent and needs to be made one, but the left would rather hug the criminal and punish the victim than actually do what is required to fix the problem.
 

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Rosdivan said:
The penal system would be a lovely thing to cut, but won't get any traction from the "tough on crime" right-wing.

And what makes you think the "tough on gaining government power" left-wing would ever give up on such a fabulous system?

Cutting Social Security, Medicaid/Medicare, etc. is entirely feasible in a world where no one is elderly, disabled, or otherwise living on a limited income. Quite frankly, all those are examples of things that, while not necessarily a direct economic benefit (penal system produces an indirect economic benefit however), are valuable and necessary instruments of government.

And gasoline is a valuable and necessary "instrument of my car," as it were. But if someone came along and filled the passenger compartment with gas and threw a match at it, I'd be just a bit annoyed. Some things that are nice to have in small quantities are nightmares in large. Government is one of those things.

This is the US fedguv budget. Note that the DoD is not the most expensive line item, not second, not even third: it's fourth.
chart2010.gif


The Social Security Ponzi scam is something that would be better off fully privatized. And healthcare is something that, when I gain full dictatorial power (why do you think there are so many cats on my farm???), will be removed from the hands of the lawyers, the insurance companies *and* the government. You break a leg? You go to the doc, he fixes you... and then he bills you. no insurance, no Mediscam, no trial lawyers. It's a perfectly wonderful system for every other need in life; no reason why this should be any different.

If you *don't* pay your bill, you get strapped to an and-of-service-life Sprint missile and get used for acceleration testing. Just to bring it back onto topic.
 

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sferrin said:
The penal system could actually MAKE money if they ran it right and actually made it so people DIDN'T want to go there no matter what. The problem is ...

... that it is too big. We throw people into prison for smoking plants that grow naturally in their back yards, fer Loki's sake. If the "War on Drugs" was declared over, we could empty out the prisons. Far too many people in prison are either harmless goofballs who just want to slowly destroy themselves, or entepreneurs. If we could harness the capitalist spirit we're currently locking up, and tax the drugs we're currently banning, we could fix the economy in a matter of months.

If we had harnessed the energy and intellect and potential tax dollars that we're currently locking away, we could by now have moved our prisons for the *real* criminals off-world.
 

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And of course the most important thing - Provide for the Common Defense is actually in the Constitution and let's face it the US, or any country needs a collective national security strategy to deter aggression. What people don't need collectively is to be told to save for their retirement or go to the doctor and pay the bill and if you don't save or take care of yourself well I guess Darwin will sort those issues out over time ;)

Please don't bring up "promote the general welfare" as an excuse for big government because James Madison, ya know the "Father of the Constitution" said promote the general welfare was within the context of the enumerated powers already outlined in the Constitution not today's belief "the federal government can do anything it wants"

All these programs can readily and constitutionally be provided by the states. So you could have the choice among the fifty states. You could live in a low tax state and save for your own retirement and medical needs or a high tax state and have them taken care of. When the federal government does it there is no place to hide.

And just a note about economic efficiencies and government. At least the defense sector employs educated high technology engineers and scientists but most importantly spins off trillions in technology to the private sector.
 

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Orionblamblam said:
sferrin said:
The penal system could actually MAKE money if they ran it right and actually made it so people DIDN'T want to go there no matter what. The problem is ...

... that it is too big. We throw people into prison for smoking plants that grow naturally in their back yards, fer Loki's sake. If the "War on Drugs" was declared over, we could empty out the prisons. Far too many people in prison are either harmless goofballs who just want to slowly destroy themselves, or entepreneurs. If we could harness the capitalist spirit we're currently locking up, and tax the drugs we're currently banning, we could fix the economy in a matter of months.

If we had harnessed the energy and intellect and potential tax dollars that we're currently locking away, we could by now have moved our prisons for the *real* criminals off-world.

I could be persuaded on legalizing drugs and then HEAVILY taxing them (and then using those who still try to sell the illegal variety for involuntary organ donation and medical experimentation. I wouldn't mind it if they were used to replace expensive ballistic geletin for bullet testing either.) The problem is it's never the criminal's fault so we end up supporting his or her's worthless a$$. 5 million illegal fruit pickers? Deport them and use the guys behind bars. There is such a thing as "tough love" and this country needs it in a BAD way.
 

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sferrin said:
I could be persuaded on legalizing drugs and then HEAVILY taxing them

Tax 'em as you tax booze and smokes.

After coming to Utah, I realized that I liked Utah's approach to hard booze: the State Liquor Store. All the charm of the DMV. But just do the same thing with pot, coke, heroin, whatever. Have State Drug Stores. This way, you get a couple things:
1) Taxation
2) Quality control (no more cutting it with rat poison)
3) Low prices (junkies can only do just so much anyway, and the cheaper it is, the less likely they are to clobber granny over the head for her purse)
4) Neuters drug cartels and gangs
5) Better products, produced by actual farmers


(and then using those who still try to sell the illegal variety for involuntary organ donation and medical experimentation.

Thing is... if you do it right, then the legal stuff would almost *have* to be substantially cheaper - not to mention safer and better - than whatever illegal stuff is still around. So who'd buy?


EDIT:
BAH! Yer suckin' me in! Enough off-topic politics from me. I'll end with this, then bail:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hhJ_49leBw
 

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Orionblamblam said:
EDIT:
BAH! Yer suckin' me in! Enough off-topic politics from me. I'll end with this, then bail:

Was waiting for ED-209 to show up. ;)
 

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Please put down your weapon. You have 20 seconds to comply....
 
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