Archive for missiles go boom

Mission Creep

Posted in ADA, army life, politcs, tech pron, War On Terror with tags , , , , , , , on 9, June 2012 by chockblock

Mission creep is the expansion of a project or mission beyond its original goals, often after initial successes.[1] Mission creep is usually considered undesirable due to the dangerous path of each success breeding more ambitious attempts, only stopping when a final, often catastrophic, failure occurs.
— Wikipeida

“The U.S. Army doesn’t want it, but the Department of Defense is saying: Yes, you do. The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) would be scuttled if Army commanders had their way, saying the missile defense program is too costly to develop, with a price tag of $19 billion. However, Pentagon officials and others in the Obama administration want MEADS, which is being developed in partnership with Germany and Italy, because killing the program could upset relations with the two European allies.”
Army vs. Lockheed Martin in Battle to Cancel Missile Defense System

Future Combat Systems (FCS) was the United States Army’s principal modernization program from 2003 to early 2009.[1] Formally launched in 2003, FCS was envisioned to create new brigades equipped with new manned and unmanned vehicles linked by an unprecedented fast and flexible battlefield network. In April and May 2009, Pentagon and Army officials announced that the FCS vehicle-development effort would be cancelled. The rest of the FCS effort would be swept into a new, pan-Army program called the Army Brigade Combat Team Modernization Program.[2]”
— Wikipeida

“January 11, 2011: The U.S. Army has finally, after over a decade of development, and no orders, cancelled its SLAMRAAM antiaircraft missile system. The U.S. defense budget is being cut, and those items lower on the “must have” list are being eliminated. Some $3 billion has been spent on SLAMRAAM so far, and it would cost another $12 billion to put it into production.”
SLAMRAAM Dies From Loneliness

“But the replacement program for the OH-58 was supposed to be the ARH-70, and it should have been generally a low risk program. Take the existing Bell 407 airframe, itself an evolution of the Bell 206 that gave us the Kiowa, and add sensors and weapons. Easy peasy. How that program fell to pieces is beyond me. I’m not an engineer or an aviator. I know there are always challenges, but the collapse of that program was a big surprise to me.”

Brad On why the Army is still flying Vietnam War-era choppers.

“found it surprising as well. From what I could determine the downfall of the program was the bane of so many programs in the military these days, refusing to freeze the specs. They allow a continuing larding of the program and change orders are expensive. Successful acquisition programs freeze the design and build more capability into the follow on models. The Army didn’t force a freeze, so costs ran away from them, and instead of getting a good first effort, they got nothing instead. Great, huh?”

Quartermaster nails it.

When defense contracts go beyond paper specs and RFP’s we’re talking about real money. And jobs. And promotions for those involved in the program. THAAD and the F-22 have parts made in almost all the 50 states. Military bases employ thousands all around the country. Of course Big Army and Congress also think about the men and women who’ll be fighting and fixing these systems. Of course.

The problem is that, like the Navy, Big Army wants cool and shiny. New computers? Sure why not. New radios and a new network? Okay. MEADS had three radars as opposed to the Patriot systems one. A maintenance headache that became a nightmare since the new radars have new parts. Add to the fact that our Warrant Officers and Soldiers under them would all have to be retrained. Adding to the costs of trying to field a new system.

The FCS tried too much at once. New network, new computers and sensors, new weapons AND new vehicles all under one roof. Almost all were canceled. After Iraq, the 50 ton FCS vehicles were dumped for the 70+ ton monsters. IED’s are a threat, but the infantry would ride in a vehicle with a weight approaching Hitler’s Maus. The only Ground the “Ground Combat Vehicle” may end up fighting on is a reinforced concrete runway.

SLAMRAAM died because the Army has to pay for the the FCS GCV and other shooty projects. Short range air defense? Who needs it with the Air Force and it’s F-22’s and F-35’s running the skies. Um..wait a minute…

We need reform, but most of the “reform” the pundits have in mind is to cancel everything. The left wants to stick it’s fingers in it’s ears and pretend that our ships and air craft don’t age. That our enemies are getting smarter and more deadly. The deficit hawks on the right only care about defense cuts when they threaten jobs in their districts. Otherwise they’ll cut and cut in the name of “savings.”

When contracts are fixed, cutting the number of widgets built skyrockets the price. In the 80’s the Dod let the contracts write in the costs of items. Nowadays we have “single source”, “no bid” and fixed price contracts coupled with design specs that waste more money than they save.

We can do better. We need to do better.

Mighty Mites: Zumwalt, “high tech” and China

Posted in guns, tech pron, Uncategorized, War On Terror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 9, June 2012 by chockblock

Zumwalt reshaped the Navy’s effort to replace large numbers of aging World War II-era vessels, a plan called “High-Low.” Instituted over the resistance of Admiral Hyman Rickover and others, High-Low sought to balance the purchase of high-end, nuclear-powered vessels with low-end, cheaper ones —- such as the Sea Control Ship — that could be bought in greater numbers. Rickover, the Father of the Nuclear Navy, preferred buying a few major ships to buying many ordinary ones. Zumwalt proposed four kinds of warships to fit the plan; in the end, only the Pegasus class of missile patrol boats and the Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG 7) class of guided missile frigates became reality, and only six out of the planned 100+ Pegasus class hydrofoils were built. But the Perrys stood as the most populous class of U.S. warships since World War II until the advent of the Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) destroyers.”


USS Oliver Hazard Perry

USS Oliver Hazard Perry

Brad wrote about the Houbei missile boats. Small, fast, with stealth tech and anti-ship missile launchers.
At 36 knots, its just 12 knots shy of the Pegasus’s 48. But that’s still fast for a patrol ship. And it’s cheap.

Houbei class missile boat

Fear my l33t missile skillz!

Admiral Zumwalt wanted to expand the Navy as the USSR was building up. The Sea Control Ship was a mini-carrier, with VTOL aircraft. That fighter was supposed to be the XFV-12but the Navy had to settle for the British designed AV-8 when Rockwell couldn’t deliver.

Artist conception

Between the SCS, the Perry class frigates and the hydrofoils, Zumwalt wanted to expand the Navy quickly. He didn’t see the ships as a replacement for the big ships but as a way to meet the Reds. Those three ships could hold the line until the big carriers and cruisers could be brought to bear. They’d protect the carriers and add firepower to the cruisers. The SCS would chase the subs away from the strike groups as its aircraft added to the big carrier’s wing. The Pegasus and Perry’s would missile spam the Soviets. With all their powers combined, the Soviet Navy would wilt under Navy firepower.

Pegasus-class hydrofoils

Pegasus-class hydrofoils

It was called the “High-Low” mix. For every big ship, dozens of smaller ships could be bought along side it.

The Soviets had their Kiev class. It was a mini-carrier and a missile cruiser in one. They liked’em so much that they went full carrier.  One sailed, the Cold War ended before the second one could be built. Guess where the second carrier is? (Hint: CHINA!)

In the end the “Nuclear Navy” won out. Like the “Sea Shadow“, most of the ship Zumwalt wanted had fewer crew. Less people for officers to boss around. Rickover wanted his subs and the carrier skippers wanted their big decks. The Pegasus class was limited to a few ships, all withdrawn after 1993. The SCS was seen as an outright threat to the big carriers and the Marines had the “Gator Navy” so the SCS never left the drawing board when Zumwalt retired. The Perry class served for many years. However they are limited, worn out and the navy wants to withdraw them from service. Their replacement is the Littoral Combat ship.


Next War-itis cast in steel

How did the Navy honor Zumwalt? Two of the most expensive and trouble plagued ship building programs in American history.

“Lawmakers and others have questioned whether the Zumwalt class costs too much and whether it provides the capabilities the U.S. military needs. In 2005 the Congressional Budget Office estimated the acquisition cost of a DD(X) at $3.8–4.0bn in 2007 dollars, $1.1bn more than the Navy’s estimate.[52]

Specific issues have been raised about the design:”

4.1 Ballistic missile/air defense capability
4.2 Missile capacity
4.3 Naval fire support role
4.4 Structural problems
4.5 Tumblehome design stability

Zumwalt Class Destroyers, #Controversy

“On 23 August 2010, The US Navy announced a delay in awarding the contract for 10 ships until sometime near the end of the year.[58] A meeting of the Defense Acquisition Board scheduled for 29 October 2010 has been delayed and The Navy has indicated that no decision on the contract can be made until this meeting is held.[26]

The GAO found that deploying the first two ships will delay the overall program because these two ships were not available for testing and development so changes may have to be made in the second pair of ships during their construction instead of being planned for before construction started.[59] The U.S. Navy responded that “Early deployment brought LCS operational issues to the forefront much sooner than under the original schedule, some of which would not have been learnt until two years on.””
Littoral combat ship

In other words, a massive “fuck you” to the man who cared so much about the US Navy. Two large costly ships that may not be able to fight, one of the ship classes even has his name.

I bet Wired Magazine and the New York Times still think it's a casino.

Ex-Varyag under two.

China hasn’t been standing still. Most of their Cold War era ships were scrapped or are now floating theme parks. They are studying the carrier they bought cheap and have large missile to take ours out.

Between that carrier (and it’s follow on), the DF-21 missile and that fast missile boat, the waters around China could get nasty real quick. With the small Houbei zipping around, the PLA can harass Taiwan and put a dent in our operations. Their carriers are nowhere near the size, firepower or punch of one 90,000 ton US carrier. They don’t need to be. With the newer missiles, cruisers, frigates and destroyers, they can get protection. With the Houbei’s they can add that to their sting. With the DF-21 hitting our carriers (and its sister missiles hitting our airfields in the pacific), GAME OVER.

Sound familiar?

It’s a damn shame that the Navy Brass is hung up on the NEXT BING THING[tm].  The LCS doesn’t have a single mission module that works right. But the modules are it’s firepower, with out them it’s just got a wimpy deck gun. The Zumwalt class has delay after delay. Of the planned 32, only 3 will be built. T-H-R-E-E. The both LCS versions been shown underway covered in rust.

China, like Russia, sells to who ever has the money. That some of the potential buyers for the fast missile boats and new frigates hate our guts is a bonus. It’s sad The Navy just might have it’s head handed to it by a high-low mix. The same idea they spurned so long ago.

4) Small ships can only damage a well-equipped Navy if many of them attack at once. A number of explosive-laden suicide craft in a tight waterway such as the Straight of Hormuz could be remarkably effective

5 Reasons the U.S. Navy’s Scared (and What They’re Doing About It)

Basic Training at Fort Bliss circa 1985

Posted in army life, army training, HOOAH!, Uncategorized, War On Terror with tags , , , , , , , , , on 7, June 2012 by chockblock

Back in the day, Fort Bliss was a basic training post. Many soldiers did their basic “up on the mountain” known as Logan Heights. Today that complex is all housing. Basic ended in 1990, AIT went to Fort Sill in 2009.

But back in the day, the Sun City was the start of many an army career:

Can’t get to the choppa…

Posted in tech pron, War On Terror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 20, April 2012 by chockblock

So it seems that the Air Force is trying to replace it’s old UH-1 Huey’s.

USAF Still Deciding What it Wants in New Choppers
By John Reed Tuesday, April 5th, 2011 12:04 pm
Posted in Air, Policy

Air Force officials are still making up their minds as to whether the service will move to buy an existing chopper or a new one to replace the service’s ageing UH-1N Huey utility helicopters and HH-60 Pave Hawk combat search and rescue choppers.

The Air Force has a problem with picking new aircraft. The plan to replace their KC-135 was such a goat rope it sent an official to prison. They killed the C-27J program the Army wanted.

And now the sordid tale of the UH-1 replacement. Hueys are associated with the Vietnam war. The distinctive “wap-wap” of the rotors, “Fortunate Son” playing in the background…

The Chair Force uses the choppers to help secure the vast fields of ICBM’s and ferry VIPs around DC. Being made in America back when men wore hats to work, the Beatles were playing concerts and Detroit still made cars (and not shitty rappers), the UH-1’s are long in the tooth. So a plan was hatched to get some UH-60’s from the Army. The Blackhawk was made to replace the Vietnam war era chopper and the taxpayer already paid for it.

Cue outrage by industry and professional government spending gadflys.

Industry wants to sell new aircraft. Budget watches were angry about the spending shenanigans (no-bid contracts) of the Bush Administration.

“Buying the UH-60 comes with a fixed, known cost, and can be done now. But buying any other aircraft, or even just running a competition, even if the Blackhawk wins, introduces both delays into the program, and price uncertainties. Further, does anyone think that if there was an open competition for the CVLSP, the Air Force wouldn’t succumb to the temptation to load the requirements up with goodies that should really be in the “nice, but not needed” category?

Xbradtc, showing more common sense than many in on Capital Hill
(except Gen. Norton Schwartz )

The bad economy almost forced the USAF to take the Marines hand-me downs. Thus they inherit choppers at the end of their life cycle that need major work, to replace choppers at the end of their life cycle that need major work. Instead there will be a competition :

“For [the Huey replacement], we’re anticipating a summer 2011 draft request for proposal release and the final RFP early fall,” said Maj. Gen. Randal D. Fullhart, a top service aircraft-buyer. “We’re proceeding toward an initial operating capability for common vertical lift support platform program in 2015.”
AF lays out helo-buying strategy, By Philip Ewing

Let’s see how that worked out for the Army:

“The Army, however, is still the Army. There’s a danger it could just go from one extreme to another and become so gun shy about new programs that it forces itself to take baby steps when it could make strides, but won’t for fear of stumbling again. And at very least, as you’ve read here, all this testing and evaluation isn’t free. Service officials have to take care that the NIE and the rest of the new evaluation infrastructure doesn’t get so expensive that the Army risks the progress it has been hoping for.“–
The Army’s new golden age of testing,By Philip Ewing

Clearly, if you want a successful program, keep Philip Ewing and XbradTC the hell away from your office…

Seriously, this is wrong on so many levels. A simple program becomes mired in proposals and PowerPoint slides. Requirements creep and seep until we can’t afford it. Hell the proposed Ground Combat Vehicle is now at 70+ tons and it’s a troop carrier!

Something needs to be done before the DoD gets 80’s era spending in a 70’s economy. We can’t afford boondoggles and cuts. Someone has to take charge, ’cause the current leadership aint..

Syria, the center cannot hold

Posted in politcs, rankers, War On Terror with tags , , , , , , on 5, February 2012 by chockblock

Seems that Iran’s puppet Syria is about to fall apart.

In his first full-length newspaper interview, General Mustafa al-Sheikh, who has taken refuge in Turkey, gave an apocalyptic insider’s view of the state of the regime – despite its attempt to reassert control this weekend.

He said only a third of the army was at combat readiness due to defections or absenteeism, while remaining troops were demoralised, most of its Sunni officers had fled, been arrested, or sidelined, and its equipment was degraded.
Syria’s most senior defector: Assad’s army is close to collapse , By Richard Spencer,

The problem is that unstable countries drag down the rest of the region. An “army” stripped of leadership and state controls becomes an armed mob. Terrorists and extremist find recruits from those on both sides who feel they’ve got nothing to lose. Syria HAS WMD’s and Scud missiles. Who’s watching them? And who the frak is watching Iran? Not Russia or China.

Figures that Bush hands the world an “Arab Spring” and the left turns it into a very cold winter.


Posted in politcs, rankers, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 3, October 2011 by chockblock

I have that “waiting for a bunch of shoes to drop” feeling about the current world situation. It’s not going to be nice. It’s not going to be over quickly. It’s like the summer of 1914, but I keep wondering “Where is the Sarajevo? Who will be the Archduke?”. What we now call World War I didn’t just happen without a long run-up, but still few predicted it. This is financial, at least in part, but then again, that was at the root of the beginnings of such conflagrations as the French and Russian Revolutions, whose aftershocks are still with us. So, where will it start this time, and when?

Bill Rudersdorf, as qouted by Instapundit

Well, here are some tasty links as you stock up on canned goods and firearms:

  1. Out Of The “Hard Landing” Pan And Into The “Crash” Fire – Are Things About To Get Even Worse For China?:
  3. Obama must serve something to the assembled hungry masses, and this infected red meat is the best he’s got. : Althouse
  4. DRONE KILLS: More on the legality of the Al-Awlaki killing.
  5. “Roseanne Barr Says Wealthy Bankers Should Be Sent to Re-Education Camps or Be Beheaded “,”Roseanne Barr Pines for Madame Guillotine and Re-education camps.” well that worked so well for the French and their revolution (Ace of Spades)
  6. Economist: the yuan will be the world’s main reserve currency within ten years. and Instapundit asks how that hopey changey stuff worked out for ya.
  7. Washington Post editor goes hunting up at ‘Redskinsrock.’” (Althouse), I like the “hypocrisy” tag. (Instapundit)
  8. Reverend Wright is off limits, but a painted-over rock is page 1 at WaPo“(legalinsurrection)
  9. Friday Fast & Furious Document Dump” (Ace of Spades)


Posted in politcs, rankers, Uncategorized, War On Terror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 26, September 2011 by chockblock

Bill Clinton was accused of having a “cruise missile” foreign policy. Instead of sending ground forces after Bin Laden, he had the Air Force and Navy hit his compounds in Sudan and Afghanistan from afar. Many suspected that it was to get Monica off the front page of the New York Times. That worked out so well for America.

After 9/11, the Bush Administration began arming Predator drones. The left howled in protest at first. With the change of adminstraions, it seems more drones are going to be used in SWA:

The CIA is building what The Washington Post described yesterday as a “constellation” of bases in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.

Yet as a senior U.S. intelligence official who is skeptical of the strategy often reminds me, Washington’s over-reliance on drones in Pakistan’s tribal areas is a major tactical weakness. The drones, he says, are “efficient in killing leaders based in those areas, but not sufficient in dismantling al-Qaeda.”

— “US building a ‘constellation’ of drone bases“, By Bill Roggio, Long War Journal

The problem with drones, missiles and bombs is the assumption that it’s a magic bullet. In the 1970’s, the CIA’s chickens came home to roost. Investigations into the black ops and HUMINT of the Cold War showed that the CIA did many questionable things. So the focus in the 80’s and 90’s was into satellites and ELINT (and computer models). Because devices and paper models don’t bleed, don’t complain and don’t talk to the press, the CIA let thie human intelligence networks rot.

Then came Bin Laden.

After the “enhanced” interrogations, the black sites and the renditions, Al-Qaeda came apart. The drone strikes helped a great deal. But where did the information come from? What about the Northern Alliance?

The “drones” are an excellent tactic to keep al Qaeda and allied groups off balance, but their use is not a substitute for denying terrorists from physically holding ground. Despite eight years of Predator strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas, the Taliban remain firmly in control of the region.
J.E. Dyer of Hot Air pulls the money quote.

Information is only as good as the source. During the Vietnam war, the Air Force was tasked to find the NVA’s key infrastructure. After many recon flights and ELINT missions, they told the White House that North Vietnam didn’t have any. After LBJ yelled at them, they came up with a list of rail yards, bridges and such. That’s right, he send multi-million dollar aircraft to bomb boats and rail cars that cost at most a few thousand dollars. Instead of breaking the NVA or sending a message, the bombing instead undid his presidency.

If we target key terrorist leaders, that’s one thing. But the temptation is to view stand off weapons as substitutes for boots on the ground. Many terrorist groups are little more than a few armed thugs in caves or huts. Many hide with civilian populations just to cause collateral damage when we hit them. Dead women and children are gonna happen, that’s how terrorists ‘fight’. Mao said a guerrilla is a “fish swimming in a peasant sea.” Guess what happens when you fish with dynamite?

Special Forces, spies and yes, ground troops will always be there. The time will come when some “terrorist” group is revealed to be the pawns of a large army. One with SAM’s that shoot down our drones and crush the Special Forces sent to stop them. The NVA had lots of technical help and even outright assistance from the USSR. Bin Laden had (and his network still has) many financial donors from the Middle East and even the developed world. It takes a complete and total effort from all of the government and the nations involved. Fight to win. Messages are best sent by a diplomatic bag.

We need to remember this before we send in the drones.