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Category: Robert Farley

And it’s an Interceptor!

[ 149 ] September 14, 2015 |

The LRS-B is going to be a disaster:

Its powerful radar, when combined with long-range missiles, could give the bomber another new role: interceptor, a role traditionally given to smaller, more maneuverable fighter jets.

Some have argued that the new bomber should be able to shoot down aircraft, something today’s bombers cannot do, in order to give its aircrew an extra layer of protection.

“This has not been a significant hindrance to U.S. air campaigns waged over the past two decades against opponents with limited air defense resources,” airpower analyst John Stillion wrote in a Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment report earlier this year. “Nevertheless, they would face significant operational limitations if called upon to attack targets guarded by a capable, competent enemy fighter fleet that lay beyond the effective combat radius of modern fighter aircraft.”

When you’ve decided that your sexy new bomber is going to be a spy plane, a battle manager, and wireless hotspot, and a fucking interceptor, you’ve pretty much settled on building 25 of an expected 100 plane buy.

Brought to you by the United States Air Force.



[ 21 ] September 11, 2015 |

Captured B-17 in Japanese markings. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

I have a couple short pieces out on the LRS-B (Long Range Strike Bomber).  First, some historical and regional context at the Diplomat:

The LRS-B is expected to make its central contribution in the Pacific, where it will serve as one of the focal points of the U.S. reconnaissance-strike complex. In a sense, the LRS-B is the first bomber in a very long time designed primarily to serve U.S. interests in the Pacific. But the 85-year history of modern strategic bombers in the Asia-Pacific has rarely worked out as aircraft designers intended. Here’s a look at how the demands of the region changed what the United States wanted to do with its bombers.

And at the National Interest, some thoughts on the most critical problem that the program faces:

The earliest discussion of the U.S. Air Force’s Long Range Strike Bomber, or LRS-B, revolved around one talking point: Price.  By relying on existing, proven technologies, with incremental, architectural innovation (the assembly of existing technologies in new ways), the U.S. defense industry could supply the Air Force with a next generation long-range bomber aircraft. And the price seemed, if not modest, certainly not extravagant. The LRS-B program promised eighty to 100 bombers at $550 million per plane, more expensive than the F-22 or F-35, but on the lower side of what you might expect for a replacement strategic bomber…

The lesson is straightforward: Cost overruns kill planes, much more effectively than enemy fighters or sophisticated SAM systems.

Unborn Battleships

[ 7 ] September 10, 2015 |
South Dakota class battleship;H63502k.jpg

“South Dakota class battleship;H63502k”  Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

As promised, a list of the top five aborted battleships of the twentieth century:

Battleships represented huge, long term investments of national treasure. The took a long time to design, and a long time to construct.  In the complex geopolitical and technological environment of the 20th century, battleships planned did not always become battleships built.  This article examines five powerful classes of battleships that never saw the sea.

Slow Clap

[ 102 ] September 9, 2015 |
Cheney Senior Staff 9-11 PEOC Cropped.jpg

Vice President Cheney with Senior Staff in the President’s Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) – Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Bill Kristol is America’s finest troll:

A Bone to Pick…

[ 39 ] September 9, 2015 |
Top forward view of gray aircraft with wings swept forward banking right. Underneath are strips of white clouds and uninhabited terrain.

“B1s”. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

I have a piece up at Lobelog on how sending Massive Ordnance Pentrators to Israel, along with the planes necessary to carry them, is just a bad idea:

Over the past week, the failure of the opponents of the Iran nuclear deal to kill it in Congress has become a foregone conclusion. With that in mind, advocates of war with Iran have adopted a new idea: giving Israel the means to attack Iran on its own, without US assistance. The thinking goes that the Israelis, unhindered by Obama’s fecklessness, will have the wherewithal to do what needs to be done. One of the first sightings of the idea came in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last year, when retired Air Force General David Deptula (along with Michael Makovsky) suggested improving Israel’s deterrent capability by transferring B-52s to the air force of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).


[ 73 ] September 9, 2015 |

Princess Elizabeth on board HMS Vanguard, 1947

Congratulations to Queen Elizabeth II on passing Victoria as the longest-reigning British monarch.

Labor Day Battleship Thoughts…

[ 42 ] September 7, 2015 |
Japanese surrender signatories arrive aboard the USS MISSOURI in Tokyo Bay to participate in surrender ceremonies HD-SN-99-03021.jpg

“Japanese surrender signatories arrive aboard the USS MISSOURI in Tokyo Bay to participate in surrender ceremonies HD-SN-99-03021”  Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

I think Loomis should write a long piece on the shipyard labor and the construction of the American battleship fleet.  I’ll bet that the signing of the Washington Naval Treaty, which cancelled ten battleships and battlecruisers, was a pretty significant Day in Labor History.  I’ll have another piece on unborn battleships up at the National Interest in a couple of days.  Until then, some thoughts on USS Missouri:

Why did the Japanese surrender at the end of the Second World War take place on USS Missouri, a battleship that had served for less than a year in the Pacific War?




Saturday Linkage

[ 32 ] September 5, 2015 |

As we watch young men of great promise tear their ACLs in the first quarter of the first game of the season…


[ 12 ] September 3, 2015 |
Battleship Study - BB65 - Scheme 4 - (1940 Studies).jpg

“Battleship Study – BB65 – Scheme 4 – (1940 Studies)” by Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

My latest at the National Interest continues what amounts to the book tour for The Battleship Book:

In the early 1940s, the U.S. Navy still expected to need huge, first rate battleships to fight the best that Japan and Germany had to offer. The North Carolina, South Dakota, and Iowa class battleships all involved design compromises. The Montanas, the last battleships designed by the U.S. Navy (USN), would not.

Incidentally, the listed January release date for the Battleship Book on Amazon is not correct; we remain on schedule for a late September release.

Let’s Get Government Out of the Business of Enforcing Government Laws

[ 79 ] September 2, 2015 |

There is nothing in this world that says “small government” more than the idea that local government officials should be able to enforce law based on whim and personal preference:

“There never should have been any limitations on people of the same sex having contracts, but I do object to the state putting its imprimatur to the specialness of marriage on something that’s different from what most people have defined as marriage for most of history,” he explained. “So one way is just getting the state out completely and I think that’s what we’re headed towards, actually. Whether or not people who still work for the state can do it without the legislature changing it is something I’m going to leave up to the courts exactly how to do it.” Paul has previously said that he is “not a legal authority on that.”

Paul’s unrealistic plan to remove marriage from the laws has been part of a strategy on his part to avoid affirming marriage for same-sex couples without actively working against marriage equality. For example, back in 2013, he said that even if states continued issuing marriage contracts, if the debate on same-sex marriage continued for another couple decades, he hoped opponents might “still win back the hearts and minds of people.”

Paul’s support for Davis’ refusal to comply with the law seems consistent with his hope that supporters of marriage equality might still be convinced to change their minds. “I think people who do stand up and are making a stand to say that they believe in something,” he said, “is an important part of the American way.”

The idea that government should get out of marriage is unrealistic, but hardly irrational. The idea that selective enforcement of law based on whim somehow follows from this idea is just weird. It becomes less weird, I suppose, in context of Rand’s need to push past 1% in GOP Presidential primary polling.

The Strategy of Engagement

[ 11 ] September 2, 2015 |
Changhe Z-10.jpg

“Changhe Z-10” by Shimin Gu – Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Commons.

Some uncharacteristic Big Thoughts in my latest at the Diplomat:

After 1989, the United States no longer saw an increase in Chinese economic and military power as a useful end in and of itself. Rather, Washington preferred to believe that Chinese economic growth (supported by trade and investment from the United States) would inevitably produce regime liberalization, and potentially the collapse of the CCP. At the very least, integration into the liberal international economic order would “tame” China, and make it a positive contributor within that system.

Whether this amounted to a China “strategy,” or merely a way to rationalize the preferences of American firms which wanted access to China’s markets and labor pools, the engagement of China brought much heavier trade, investment, and integration between the U.S. and Chinese economies. The United States eschewed the tools that states often use to keep potential competitors down, preferring to believe in the possibility of positive sum outcomes.


Monuments to What?

[ 102 ] August 31, 2015 |

H60566Mixed feelings…

The dull reverberations of the underwater explosions are clearly audible from the surface. The scavengers have returned, laying home-made charges to break up the hulls of two of the most celebrated British warships of the age, sunk in December 1941 and the last resting places of more than 830 Royal Navy sailors.

No-one would countenance such desecration on land. But the wrecks of the HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales, just a few miles off the coast of Malaysia, are now being stripped bare for their scrap metal. Recognised war graves, they are disappearing, with the damage intensifying in recent months, according to those who know the wrecks and try their best to preserve them.

It’s obviously unfortunate that the wrecks are being taken apart. At the same time, it’s hard for me to accord too much blame to Malaysian scrap dealers for taking apart a couple of ships that were destroyed when one imperial master fought another imperial master. They are monuments for the British, and possibly for the Japanese, but not for the people of the region.

And of course, HMS Prince of Wales is featured here…

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