Defense Issues

Defense news and analysis

Saab Gripen vortices

Posted by picard578 on July 19, 2014


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CDI: Still more F-35 growth to come

Posted by picard578 on July 12, 2014

This week some Pentagon officials morphed into street cleaners as the Defense Department’s F-35 “Joint Strike Fighter” left yet another load of unpleasantness on the street for all to see. It came in the form of major new revelations from Jason Sherman at with an article titled “DOD Warns Congress JSF Costs Could Skyrocket To $388 Billion.” The new, higher cost estimate intensified the sticker shock for the already unaffordable F-35. The word went out from the “E” ring of the Pentagon; reporters and others—including myself—were told it was all “shaky math,” “garbage,” “totally wrong.”

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Posted by picard578 on July 5, 2014

Definition and history

Beth Hagenauer from Dryden has defined supercruise as an ability to fly supersonically without using afterburner; USAF Flight Test Center at Edward Air Force Base defines supersonic speeds as being above Mach 1, without regard for transonic region (which is different for all aircraft – F-16s transonic region is from Mach 0,9 to Mach 1,1, and Gripen’s is even narrower). According to this definition, list of supercruisers is quite long. English Electric Lightning prototype exceeded Mach 1 on dry thrust on August 11, 1954, and could achieve Mach 1,22 without reheat. Term “supercruise” was actually first applied to the Lightning. Mirage IIIO with Avon engine was able to reach Mach 1,3 in 1962. F-104 Starflighter was capable of maintaining Mach 1,1 in level flight in military power, and in fact could maintain it for 15 minutes. A clean F-16 (that is, no external stores except two missiles at wingtip stations) can cruise at Mach 1,1. With 6 missiles, Gripen C can cruise at Mach 1,1, Gripen E at Mach 1,3, Rafale C at Mach 1,4, Typhoon at Mach 1,5. F-22 with 8 missiles can cruise at Mach 1,7. Tornado F3 is also capable of supercruise. As it can be seen, supercruise is nothing new or special. That being said, many of these aircraft are not entirely supersonic in that regime – F-16s transonic region ends at Mach 1,15.

But just the ability to fly at supersonic speed without afterburner is not enough if it does not give an operational advantage. Two to one advantage in cruise (or maximum) speed is of no use if it only lasts for half a minute. Read the rest of this entry »

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CDI: Rebels Within The US Federal System

Posted by picard578 on June 28, 2014

Emanuel Pastreich

January 10, 2006

Casually observing the mainstream media in the United States gives one the impression that conservatives support the administration of George W. Bush and the Republicans in Congress. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the most strident and damning attacks on the “neo-conservatives” come not from “liberals,” but rather from conservatives themselves. Moreover, although many Americans foolishly buy into the argument that they should be afraid of “government,” in reality, those in government have provided the strongest resistance to corruption and corporate manipulation.

An excellent example of the rebellion against the present rule of money and privilege in America is Winslow Wheeler. Like the Democratic senator John Murtha, who recently called for U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq unconditionally, Wheeler is an insider with strong ties to the military and the institutional culture that has dominated the U.S. for the last 40 years who decided things have gone too far and has taken a stand. He has written at length about the corruption in the military procurement system, which is so deep that it poses a serious security threat. Read the rest of this entry »

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CDI: Putting Lipstick on the F-35

Posted by picard578 on June 14, 2014

(Source: Center for Defense Information; published May 4, 2009)

by Pierre M. Sprey and Winslow T. Wheeler

On April 6, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced a number of decisions on major weapons programmes in the Pentagon’s next budget.

Hyperventilating, the New York Times termed the decisions a “sweeping overhaul” of the Pentagon. Indeed, Gates’ decision to cut off F-22 fighter production at 187 fighters is an essential step in any real reform plan.

However, his complementary decision to rely on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to modernise US Air Force (USAF) undoes everything constructive that he accomplished – more so than he might ever imagine.

Quite justifiably, Gates said the decision to stop F-22 production was not even a “close call”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Light CAS fighter proposal revised

Posted by picard578 on May 31, 2014


While I have proposed a CAS fighter aircraft and ideal composition of NATO air forces, neither of these proposals is very realistic. Western air forces, especially US ones (USAF, US Navy and USMC), tend to hate any simple, effective designs – especially if said designs are meant to support the ground troops. To this end, USAF and US Army have signed a Key West agreement, preventing the US Army from having fixed-wing aircraft heavier than 10.000 lbs.

While USAF says that precision munitions allow fast jets to carry out CAS, that is utterly in contradiction to battlefield realities. Infantry combat typically happens at ranges of less then 100 meters, and never at ranges above 500 meters; “danger close” limits (minimum distance one can employ a weapon at) are 500 meters for 500 lb bomb, 350 meters for 250 lb bomb and 50 meters for gun. But fast jets are too fast to use gun effectively, and even precision munitions loose precision with increasing speed and altitude. Helicopters meanwhile are at danger from small-arms fire – during the Gulf War, after 30 Apache helicopters were shot up (out of 33), they never flew in front of the ground troops again. Soviets lost hundreds of heavily-armed and heavily-armored Mi-24 helicopters during the Afghan war. Read the rest of this entry »

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NATO navies proposal

Posted by picard578 on May 24, 2014

Current state


Ship costs



Nimitz: 6,93 billion USD

Ford: 9 billion USD

Wasp: 750 million USD Read the rest of this entry »

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Aircraft carrier proposal revised

Posted by picard578 on May 17, 2014


Large carriers are a foolhardy venture. US Admiral Hyman Rickover, when asked about how long the US carriers would survive in a confrontation with the Soviet Union, replied “About two days”. Carriers, in naval warfare, are little more than targets for submariners’ target practice. Instead, main use of aircraft carriers is to support the amphibious landings with their aircraft, and defend the surface assets from airborne attack by enemy land-based aircraft. Read the rest of this entry »

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NATO air forces proposal revised

Posted by picard578 on May 10, 2014

Current state

As of fall of 2013, NATO member states were Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States.

Air forces were as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

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Air superiority fighter proposal 5

Posted by picard578 on May 3, 2014



Fighter will have to be stealthy and highly maneverable to surprise and outmaneuver the enemy, as well as to improve survivability against the missile fire. This requires small size, supercruise ability, good aerodynamic design, low wing loading and high thrust-to-weight ratio. Aircraft that uses the radar first will be quickly detected and targeted by passive sensors; as such, only minor RCS reduction measures are necessary, and no active sensors will be carried.

Stealth and sensor fusion are required to achive the advantage in an OODA loop, getting off first shot and possibly achieving a kill with little in way of reprisal. If that fails, breaking the enemy’s OODA loop by being impossible to predict is essential. Supercruise ability helps in both, as it shrinks enemy’s response time after the supercruiser is detected, reduces effectiveness of opponent’s weapons while increasing effectiveness of supercruiser’s weapons, allows the supercruiser to achieve surprise while preventing the enemy from surprising him, and to dictate terms of engagement.

Maneuverability is important in air combat for two reasons: to get the enemy inside one’s own engagement envelope, and to avoid getting hit. It should be understood that the maximum envelope is not the same as the useful envelope Read the rest of this entry »

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