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Buterverse

[ 2 ] September 4, 2014 |

Last week I did an interview on airpower and stuff with the Buter. Check it out.

Like Toyota, Only with Submarines

[ 11 ] September 4, 2014 |

Some thoughts at the Diplomat on Japan’s entry into the diesel sub market:

Germany, France, and Russia have long dominated the existing market for diesel-electric submarines. The German Type 209 submarine serves in over a dozen navies, with more than 60 boats currently in service. While the design stems from the 1960s, the newest boats entered service in the last decade. Germany’s successor, the Type 214, is scheduled for export to Greece and South Korea, but has suffered some setbacks. France has exported the Scorpene-class to Malaysia, Brazil, and India, and Russia continues to export its Kilo-class subs and Improved Kilos to a handful of countries, at least until Russian industry can work through the problems with the Lada-class.

The Japanese Soryus are extremely competitive with these boats. At 4,200 tons submerged, the Soryu-class is considerably larger than either the Type 214, Scorpene, or Improved Kilo, and can carry a much heavier weapons load. This size also makes them quieter and longer-ranged than the other boats on the market. At current price expectations of around $500 million, the Soryus are not wildly more expensive than the other boats.

Scratch Two Flattops

[ 33 ] September 3, 2014 |

Classe-Mistral-Vladivostok-2014.JPG

Classe-Mistral-Vladivostok-2014” by QuoiqueOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

France has halted the delivery of RFS Vladivostok, first of two Mistral class amphibious assault ships:

The French government can not go ahead with the planned delivery of a first of two Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia, the president’s office said in a statement on Wednesday, citing Moscow’s recent actions in eastern Ukraine.

“The president of the Republic has concluded that despite the prospect of ceasefire, which has yet to be confirmed and put in place, the conditions under which France could authorise the delivery of the first helicopter carrier are not in place,” President Francois Hollande’s office said.

Plenty of wiggle room there, perhaps intended to force Putin to abide by the cease-fire.  No indication as of yet regarding what would happen to the ships if they don’t get sold to Russia.

Airpower!

[ 17 ] September 2, 2014 |

I have a piece up at Real Clear Defense discussing the latest Air Force white paper:

Alex Ward of the Atlantic Council thinks the world of the Air Force’s new strategic white paper, A Call to the Future, suggesting that the document is the best of its kind. Contra Ward, I think that the white paper concentrates so much on the future that it ignores the present problems that will inevitably structure how the organization moves forward.

Addressed to “Airmen and Airpower Advocates,” America’s Air Force: A Call to the Future sounds a lot of familiar notes. It hypes the concept of “strategic agility,” a worthy contribution, but ends up defining the service’s contribution in reactive terms. A Call to the Future tackles procurement failures and speaks to the need for partnerships, but fails to contribute seriously to the most gripping procurement problem the Air Force currently faces – the F-35 – or to provide a framework for thinking about the failure of airpower partnerships in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Also, the legendary Bill Sweetman on Grounded (squee!):

It’s unlikely that the U.S. Air Force will be abolished in anyone’s lifetime, whatever University of Kentucky professor Robert Farley, author of Grounded—The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force, may think.

A few commentators have already raised the obvious issues: that the USAF already provides essential enablers to the Army and Navy, rather than being obsessed with bombers and independent airpower; that neither the Army nor the Navy would be well suited to take over things like space launch and operations, or airlift; and that not much money would actually be saved without eliminating entire missions.

But Farley’s book makes a bigger argument: that the case for an independent air force is based on the false assertion that airpower can win wars on its own. In doing so, the book exemplifies a toxic, and irrational skepticism toward airpower, and only airpower, which pervades some military thinking.

More on this one later.

Everything Becomes Crystal Clear…

[ 114 ] September 1, 2014 |

Now, at this late hour, we finally come to understand:

Thirty-six hours after the Obama administration banned importation of the classic brand of AK-47 assault rifles as part of sanctions against Russia, a Maryland dealer specializing in the weapon took stock of its inventory.

There was nothing left.

Laboring almost nonstop, workers at Atlantic Firearms in Bishopville, a Worcester County community on the Eastern Shore, had shipped hundreds of Russian-made AK-47s — an assault rifle prized by both consumers and despots — as buyers wiped out gun dealers’ inventories around the country. The frenzy was brought on, in part, by a suspicion among some gun owners that the Russia-Ukraine conflict was a backdoor excuse to ban guns many Democrats don’t like. Some customers bought eight to 10 rifles for nearly $1,000 each or more, stockpiling them as investments.

Did Putin and Obama meet secretly at the G-20 in September 2013, arranging a plan by which Putin could carve up Ukraine and Obama could carve up our Second Amendment rights? It would be irresponsible not to speculate!

Sunday Links

[ 105 ] August 31, 2014 |

Some links for your reading pleasure…

 

Assertive Status Quo?

[ 11 ] August 29, 2014 |

My latest at the Diplomat suggests caution in interpretation of China’s assertive behavior:

We can agree on certain things. Chinese pilots are not going rogue; there is a logic behind these intercepts, and it’s worthwhile to expose Chinese provocations. All of this tells us less about China’s long-range aims than we might think, however.

Sometimes it’s hard to see whether a state is pro-status quo or revisionist.  Russia appears only recently to have determined, after 15 years of struggle, that it simply cannot live within the international order created and maintained by the United States. For a very long time Imperial Japan sought to understand its own foreign policy as part of the broader colonial project that the European powers had created, before rejecting even that as insufficient. On the converse, in the Cold War the United States determined, eventually, that Soviet Russia was basically an ornery status quo power, different in character from either Imperial Japan or Nazi Germany.

Invasion

[ 48 ] August 27, 2014 |

So this is happening:

The mayor of the town on the Sea of Azov confirmed rebels had entered, as jubilant rebel supporters shared photos of advancing tanks on social media.

Ukrainian forces said they were still in “total control” of the town.

The rebels have been trying for weeks to break out of a near-encirclement further north in Donetsk.

Russia denies it is covertly supporting them on the ground.

Here’s Dmitri Gorenburg:

I should be clear that I don’t think Russia is currently planning a full takeover of any part of eastern Ukraine. The goal remains what it has been for months now: to ensure that Ukraine remains unstable and weak. For now, in order to accomplish this goal, Russia needs to make sure the separatists are not defeated and remain a viable force. Both the escalation in assistance and the opening of the new front are a response to the losses that the separatists had suffered in recent weeks.

In the long run, the only acceptable end to the conflict for Russia is one that would either freeze the current situation in place with separatists in control of significant territory in eastern Ukraine (the Transnistria variant) or the removal of the pro-Western Ukrainian government and its replacement by a pro-Russian one. Participants in peace talks have to understand that this is essentially a red line for Moscow. Putin will not allow the restoration of control over eastern Ukraine by the current Ukrainian government by peaceful means and is clearly willing to directly involve Russian forces in military action to ensure that it doesn’t happen through a Ukrainian military victory.

As I argued some time ago, it was extremely unlikely that this conflict could end with a string of Ukrainian military victories. The pressure on Moscow to escalate, along with its likely dominance at higher levels of escalation, meant that Ukrainian gains were almost certainly going to spur a Russian reaction. At the same time, it was tough for the Kiev government to restrain itself, given its weak domestic position. Relenting while the Ukrainian military apparently held the upper hand would have opened a wide flank to the government’s nationalist critics.

At this point, however, Russia appears to be dealing the Ukrainian military a serious blow. Although this hurts, it also gives Kiev a way out; the Ukrainians cannot beat Russia, and no one thinks NATO intervention is plausible. The issue for Kiev now becomes to achieve a cease-fire before the Russians get to far. The question now is how strongly Russia and it proxies will play their hands. My bet is relative restraint (no march on Kiev), ensuring that the disputed provinces remain in Moscow’s orbit.

See also this excellent piece on Germany’s view of the crisis.

And We’ll See How it Feels, Goin’ Mobile…

[ 16 ] August 26, 2014 |

All,

Our mobile site should be active once again, and should also represent a significant improvement on the previous site. Let me know in comments if there are any problems.

Best,

Management

Fulcrum!

[ 13 ] August 26, 2014 |

Because everyone needs some hot Fulcrum on Typhoon action on their Tuesday morning:

Via Foxtrot Alpha.

ESPN Blows It

[ 10 ] August 25, 2014 |

Screenshot 2014-08-25 13.47.51If Marcus Mariota makes a dime off this, then my enjoyment of college football will be ended forever.

Oregon is selling 25 different jerseys, counting colors and sizes, of No. 8, quarterback Marcus Mariota…

The NCAA and its schools have long contended that numbers don’t necessarily correspond to current players, but common sense, as proven by all the cases above, suggests otherwise.

I think it’s grossly irresponsible for ESPN to imply that the popularity of the number “8″ with fans of Oregon football has anything whatsoever to do with Marcus Mariota. In fact, had Darren Rovell managed even the faintest degree of due diligence on this matter, he would have come to understand the deep connection that many in Eugene have to “The Sideways Infinite.” It’s not my job to explain things to ESPN, but let’s just say that a lot of drugs are involved.

Burn!

[ 87 ] August 24, 2014 |

It’s the 200th anniversary of the burning of Washington! Tea Party types must feel very conflicted…

…And shit like this is why the British Empire fell.


You do not EVER apologize for burning down somebody’s capitol. Ever.

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