[deutsch] Dipl.-Ing. Rolf Hilmes: Überflüssig oder unverzichtbar? Zur Zukunft des Kampfpanzers


A presentation (in German) of the German 'tank pope' Rolf Hilmes (the German equivalent of Ogorkiewicz in authorship).

Sorry, I had nothing really to blog about this week. I've been too busy with other things for weeks (the past three or four blog posts were pre-scheduled).



Some science stuff of interest


The haemoglobin alternative was found in those sea worms around 2003 or so, and it can be produced in powder form. The powder combined with sterile water (I suppose boiled water cooled down works fine) can be transfused as replacement for blood. This could have a noticeable impact especially on combat medics, and make enforcement of water discipline (water instead of other beverages carried in canteens & bladders) even more important than before. It's likely a much better blood substitute in emergencies than saline solution because it actually transports oxygen instead of merely averting a volume shock.

- - - - -

Microsatellites / Cubesats

Up to 500 commercial imagery satellites planned by in one service alone. The company "Planet" has already 285 satellites in space. 88 of 104 microsatellites launched by a single Indian PLSV rocket in early 2017 were from that company; 4 kg each.
Such satellites would matter a lot to warfare (a tiny quantity of commercial imagery satellites already proved valuable in the 1991 Iraq War), and it appears that anti-satellite munitions (=rockets) would not be a suitable approach against them.
Moreover, they appear to be affordable to almost any potentially warring government by the dozens at least.
A great power would either need blinding (not just dazzling) lasers or near-continuous radio data link jamming to defeat such a reconnaissance capability in space. Anti-satellite missiles that cost millions of Euros each are no appropriate countermeasure. The most affordable countermeasure might be to simply disable the operator's control capacity on the ground and hope that the adversary has no backup plan to counter this move.


The use of lasers for communication would of course make communications activity much safer for those on the ground, which might be a huge boon to clandestine agents (and assets), long range recon patrols and armoured recce guys.
The optical receiver would be highly susceptible to damage by hostile lasers, of course.

- - - - - 

Interesting. I suppose much of what seems to be loss aversion may furthermore be framed as  imperfect information (better information about potential losses than about potential gains).
Imperfect information and its consequences are very important in most fields, including economics, engineering (which works with much more rules of thumb, approximations and guesswork than would be comfortable to the end user) and military theory.
Math, most of physics and IT are largely unaffected by uncertainty and imperfect information, though even there it's often but a question of how close you look.

- - - - -

"[...]deradicalization activists argue that much of what the left thinks it knows about shutting down racist extremists is misplaced. When it comes to changing individuals, denunciation may counteract rather than hasten deradicalization. If that seems like surrender, consider that some researchers who study hate groups think we should view violent extremism not only as a problem of ideology, but also as a problem of addiction: a craving for group identity, adrenaline, and the psycho­logical kick of hatred. As with substance addiction, there may be no silver bullet for curing extremism, only a lifelong battle to leave such impulses behind."



Link dump September 2018

As usual, here are links and commentary on first Saturday of the month:

F-15X proposal
(I haven't found any definitive illustration of a F-15X.
This image is about the AMBER missile racks from 2015.)

Boeing pitched a new F-15 version to the U.S.A.F., presumably at a lower fly-away price than the F-35 and supposedly loaded with up to 22 air-to-air missiles as the most striking feature.

This looks like a design that takes a heavy strike fighter and adds a niche capability for air combat. This 'missile truck' approach fits well into a concept in which F-22's are up front on combat air patrol in an air war, and make use of farther to the rear F-15s as missile launchers. There aren't enough F-22s to maintain large numbers of them up front 24/7 (particularly not far from the air base, as in a pacific air war scenario) and they carry but eight missiles (only six AMRAAMs) each on an air superiority mission. Things such as towed decoys* ruin the probability of kill of such missiles, so the entire air superiority missile load of a F-22 may very well be worth less than one kill against sophisticated opponents.

There's a segregated hunter/killer approach with low observable F-22 up front detecting targets while trying to avoid detection and sending targeting data to farther behind F-15s that serve as killers (missile trucks). It's a tailored approach to compensate for the small quantity of missiles carried by F-22 (and F-35) inside and the small quantities of on-station F-22s. It might work because the missiles' no escape zones are much greater than the detection ranges against LO fighters. The F-15X would still be an all-round capable strike fighter in a 'let's beat up some poor small power again' scenario.
The high quantity of AMRAAMs carried may also allow for a routine launch of two or more missiles per target, in an effort to wear down the target's (towed) decoys and kinetic energy (the latter through its evasive manoeuvres) for a final, lethal missile approach.

This entire niche depends on the F-15X's ability to withstand the threat of long-range missiles itself. This and the likely quite high maintenance costs, obsolete looks (first flight 46 years ago) and unusually high RCS (apparently an order of magnitude bigger than of Typhoon or Rafale) of the F-15 will likely kill the proposal. It's also questionable how F-15Xs could help F-22s against LO fighters.

- - - - -

This means some extra weight, but maybe there are at least some real world uses for this weird-looking tech.

- - - - -

It's interesting to see them swarm the bull like bees swarm a hornet to overwhelm it in defence of the hive. I wonder if there's some hidden instinct left over from the prehistoric times. It may have been a random outcome, of course.

- - - - -

Oldie, but goodie. I wish I had this file when I wrote the warship article series. It didn't add anything noteworthy to my knowledge, but it would have been a very nice link to offer.

- - - - -

DIRCM (lasers that dazzle incoming infrared-guided missiles) have become really small. I think this size is OK for installation on the topside of combat aircraft.** The next generation of IR-guided missiles really needs to be able to deal with DIRCM (there are several countermeasures to lasers known).

- - - - -

So the Chinese copied the German Troika approach of naval minesweeping (more accurately; "minebreaking") as well. I didn't know that so far.

- - - - -

- - - - -

Quick mention (no link):
It's a blast from the 80's. Soft kill protection for airbases and such hasn't caught on as far as I know, but I suppose it should in light of conventional cruise missiles. This isn't the 80's when we thought an attack on an airbase would probably be done by a 20+ kt nuke on a ballistic rocket.
Isn't it weird that they had developed what it likely takes to defeat conventional cruise missiles in the 80's, but that kind of missiles really only became an issue to the West long after the Cold War?

related: smoke used to conceal targets from bombers in WW2
German smokescreen use at Wilhelmshaven in June 1943
- - - - -

I wonder what kind of people such implausible Fox News propaganda does address.


*: Such as Lobushka towed decoy, more details on this kind of countermeasures are here if you can read it (or use an online translation service). A towed decoy can be considered to be a lure, but towed between missile and target it can also trigger the missile fuse at a safe distance (even if the missile is locked on the aircraft).
**: Such an installation could still defeat threats coming from below; simply roll the aircraft. The advantage of topside is that the field of view would not be obstructed by external payloads, the laser might be used as emitter for laser-based SATCOM and the topside is a less troublesome regarding the RCS of LO aircraft.


German politics (2018)

German politics appear to keep shifting, albeit slowly. The old extreme form of stability of the Kohl era is gone, nowadays parties can lose giant chunks of their base in a few years, or multiply their votes for no apparent reason.

Here's my summary of the current situation:

Still the biggest party, and apparently the only one that still maintains the "Volkspartei" reputation; trying to represent (almost) everyone, in principle electable for all population groups (though the "C" as "Christlich"/"Christian" is a bit of a deterrent to non-Christian people of faith). They are still allied with the CSU and thus present only in the 15 states where there's no CSU.
The CDU is facing three fundamental issues:
1) An entire generation of politicians who want to get rid of the career glass ceiling that's the Merkel establishment.
2) Voters who slowly notice that the CDU didn't solve a single problem since the early 90's.*
3) The CDU is not seeking to trigger, magnify and exploit fears among the electorate due to the "Volkspartei" approach, or at least not much. Their half-assed exploitations of the organised crime, terrorist, salafist, Reichsbürger (anarchists), Identitäre (neonazis) and paedophiles bogeymen is peanuts compared to the staple of fearmongering, scaremongering and hatemongering that conservatives exploit in many other Western countries. This leaves opportunities to other right wing parties.
In regard to military affairs it's noteworthy that soem CDU politicians haven't really gone past the end of the conscription. That topic was brought up again, but I don't think it will go anywhere. Keep in mind it was brought up during the low news summertime.

Bavarians, the Texans of Germany. The CSU is present in but one of 16 states, and though quite competent at governing it (some corruption in the CSU is completely understandable given that they governed Bavaria for 60 years without any other government ever cleaning up).
They share issue #1 with the internal opponents of Merkel, do not share issue #2 with the CDU (I don't like many of their policies, but they do occasionally solve or even prevent problems) and they understood issue #3. The CSU has a history of loudmouth and aggressive behaviour anyway, so exploitation of fearfulness is second nature to them.

These supposed social democrats are rather Blairites and as far as I can tell nobody seems to consider them to be champions of the poor and lower middle class any more. The entire party's existence appears to be due to inertia, and it's withering away rapidly. The left wing of the party deserted in disgust of Schröder's policies long ago (mostly to LINKE and greens, I think), and the remnants have hardly anything to offer to anyone. Regardless of who you are; you can find a party that represents you better than the SPD. I suppose that almost all of the remaining SPD voters vote for the SPD out of habit or because they know some particularly convincing SPD politician.

The greens have a reputation as a party of academics rather than as an environmental protection party nowadays.
They keep shooting themselves in the foot by means of their reflexive siding with minorities and thus with what's in English widely called "social justice warriors". There's hardly ever any underdog or minority that the German greens do not side with, which doesn't exactly sound like smart politics. They could probably be a 30...40% party nation-wide if they hadn't this "pro-minority" reflex. They're still doing quite fine, as they don't have many no-go issues for voters save for the reflexive siding with minorities. In fact, they are en route to become the biggest party in some particularly wealthy areas and appear to become the second-largest party in some more states. Their minority focus may actually fade as and if they grow into a "Volkspartei".

They are liberals in the literal sense (not "liberals" = social democrats, as in the U.S.), and this party of liberals is extremely close to "business", not at all close to "employees" or even "unemployed people". They could have joined the governing coalition, but bailed out of the coalition talks for still not really publicly understood reasons. The FDP is notable for its extreme volatility. Anything ranging from not passing the 5% threshold and thus not entering the Bundestag up to 20% of the Bundestag seats appears possible with the FDP.
Politically they do little but providing stalwart defenders of civil rights and rule of law for the ministers of justice offices and helping the wealthy and rich.
Corruption may be at work in the background; the party has some extreme finance issues and some of their pro-business policies such as the infamous VAT tax break for hotels were fishy.

They're dead. They didn't get their internal party workings right and eventually failed for good in elections.

The one relevant left wing party. They're in governing coalitions in some Eastern states, but at the federal level they haven't been in power ever and thus bathe comfortably in ideological purity, which makes them quite insufferable to most people regardless of how well they point out actual problems of workers, retirees and unemployed people. The orthodoxy wing appears to be winning against internal efforts to steer towards 'realpolitik'. I suppose they won't become part of a governing coalition at the federal level unless they would be needed to keep neonazis from power (which won't happen). Last but not least, their majority loves to side with minorities.

Founded as a party with a weird predominance of economics professors that rebelled against the common European currency and CDU inactivity, they suffered two waves of hostile takeovers first by the far right and then by the even farther right. Nowadays they're still maintaining a minimal deniability regarding their neonazi party nature, but that may break away any time. Ever since the takeovers they went all-in on fearmongering and exploitation of fears, but most of them are stupid enough to be true believers. Those are no cynical politicians who exploit fears of dumb people to gain power and then redistribute income from the middle class to the rich.
They have the stable roughly 4-6% neonazis-in-Germany base plus a fluctuating and not really predictable base of protest voters. Anything ranging from 4-20% of the vote seems possible for them, and 6-16% is probably what one should expect in the next elections.
The AfD could easily collapse from infighting or if some other party succeeds at attracting the protest voters (the Realpolitik wing of the far left tries such a thing). Fearmongering is always possible, so actually solving any issues that the AfD fearmongers about is rather not going to make it go away. Nor should any sensible person expect a fearmongering-based party to actually solve any problems; to solve actual problems would debase the party (which discourages the not-so-true believers), and all-too often the fearmongering isn't about real problems anyway.

Polls about how many votes the parties would get if there were federal elections next Sunday:
The next federal elections will be no later than 2021, but the elections in the states could in the meantime change the 2nd chamber of the parliament (the Bundesrat), which has powers in regard to legislation that burdens the states.

There's no sensible coalition in sight that would address real issues with real, competent reforms. I suppose that Germany is going to enter the 2020's on autopilot.


S O,

*: This is but a slight exaggeration.
A top CDU politician, Schäuble, recently said in an interview: "Wenn die jungen Leute sich nicht wehren gegen uns Alte, dann geht es schief. Wir Alte können bei jedem Problem gut erklären, warum eine Lösung im Prinzip nicht möglich ist." (Something goes wrong if the young people don't push back against us old ones. We old [politicians] can explain for every problem why a solution isn't possible in principle.")
THIS is the problem with the CDU conservatives in power in Germany: They don't think that problems can be solved, thus they don't try to solve any problems. Why don't they think that problems can be solved? Well, many problems could be solved by accepting some other, smaller problem to pop up. That would be an improvement (just as buying food solves the hunger problem, but costs money), and it's also a change. Those people are real conservatives; they abhor change. Thus they cannot solve problems whenever this requires change.
Again; German CDU conservatives are real conservatives; they don't want change. Just stay the course. They're not like American conservatives who want radical change towards some unworkable 1920's gilded age-like fantasyland.


War as a continuation of policy? (II)

The first part showed that CvC did not cover all political motivations for waging war; war isn't always about making others yield to your demands.

I suppose he wasn't able to fully describe the core of the nature of war because he looked at it from the wrong angle.

CvC looked at what could be achieved through warfare.

He should have been aware that only a small minority of those princes who waged war in his era and earlier eras actually achieved much or anything by waging war.

War is worse than a zero sum game; it first reducing the cake, and then presumably changes who gets how large a share of it. That's because warfare is destructive, not constructive.

You don't win it by competing about who can build something quicker or drive down illiteracy or child mortality rates the quickest. Instead, it's about destroying, killing, maiming and taking away.
It should be deeply unintuitive to think of it in a 'who achieved what' framework.

Instead, let's look at the true nature to describe and understand what war really is.

War is the absence of peace. This sounds trivial, but it isn't.

Humans are a social species. We're not loners who only meet up for mating as many other species do. The burdens of late pregnancy and of the long upringing of children to the point where they are self-reliant (producing more than consuming) are so heavy that humans need to stick together to afford them, and accordingly need to be able to coexist in proximity to each other (in a social group).

Nature has prepared us well for life in small clans, and such small groups have an easy time maintaining good enough relations to other insular clans for evolutionarily advantageous interbreeding. Evolution did also prepare us to fight other groups / clans to gain or protect access to essential resources (and sometimes also fight for breeding opportunities as described in the legend of the Sabian women, for example).

Evolution did not optimise us for life in megacities, and the understanding of a nation of millions to billions of people as the own community is overburdening many human minds as well. They think of smaller groups as their own community (or focus on the looks of people), and refuse to feel kinship to more or less arbitrarily defined "others" even in their own "nation". This refusal to accept fellow nationals as kin undermines the illusion of a nation, and thus the effective working of that illusion. It's truly unpatriotic, as true patriotism is all about bolstering the notion of national community and kinship.

- - - - -

It's culture that allows us to nevertheless function as larger communities, even as nations - without too many destructive conflicts with each other. Culture even allows us to maintain peace with other groups (clans / nations); the highest level of culture is probably international law.

War is essentially a slip from this peaceful coexistence. It's a slip that allows us -in narrowly defined ways- to cease being social and instead start killing and generally display destructive behaviour. It's a relaxation of cultural norms that enable us to live in a community (of nations). This release can be fun especially to men, who once in a while plainly enjoy to destroy things (even blow them up) - just as a 3-year-old prefers destroying toy block towers over building them.*

War - the absence of peace - is a temporary and partial relaxation of the cultural taboo of killing and destruction (of what's not yours).

This relaxation of cultural taboos doesn't necessarily have a real objective.

It may happen because those in positions of extraordinary power did let their guard down and did simply not maintain the taboo. The German government of 1914-1918 could not point out what exactly Germany was fighting a bloody war for, for example. There was no approved, much less communicated, list of objectives or demands against the Western Entente powers. Demands were made up for the Russian government only when the Russian forces began to fail. War had happened because peace wasn't protected. The cultural taboo of killing and destroying was not maintained.

There are wars in which openly communicated and/or secret lists of demands existed, but they're merely one subset of all wars. The demands were not necessarily the reason for or cause of war.

War is first and foremost a temporary and partial relaxation of the cultural taboo of killing and destruction. Warfare goes on until all sides re-established this taboo (or escaped** or were eliminated), not necessarily until at least one side yields to demands of at least one other side.

The whole 'war as continuation of policy with different means' way of thinking frames war as an activity pursued to achieve something. Achievement is the exception; net achievement (actually "winning" as "gaining") is extremely difficult because of the destructive rather than productive / constructive nature of warfare. The framing doesn't properly describe war.
I claim with great confidence that less than half of all powers participating in all of mankind's wars have actually achieved more than lost. To think of warfare in the framework of achievement is about as much a folly as to think about betting in a state lottery in the framework of winning.

The "achievement" framework is deceiving, leading to a misunderstanding of the nature of war. It's not even a satisfactory description of the mere political purpose of war.


**: This applies to nomadic people and those who migrated (such as the Goths) to evade an enemy. 


War as a continuation of policy? (I)


"At the decisive battle of Fleurus on 26 June 1794 the Austrians even began by launching a series of assaults which, after a very hard-fought day, held the French to at least a draw. However, the Austrian commander then consulted his secret political orders and realized that he had no need to fight at all. Tired of the game, he retreated without being forces to do so. (It transpired that the core Austrian war aim was to allow the French to capture Belgium so that the Austrians - through the arcane workings of 18th-century diplomatic logic - would be awarded Bavaria as compensation. Oddly, in the event they weren't.)"
"French Napoleonic Infantry Tactics 1792-1815", by Paddy Griffith

This is a curious episode.
On the one hand it supports von Clausewitz' conclusion that war(fare) is the extension of policy. On the other hand it adds to the cases that do not align with his conclusion that the aim in warfare is to disarm the political opponent in order to force him to yield to your demands.

Other examples where this conclusion isn't confirmed are wars of extinction (such as many of the Indian Wars in North America or the hunt for anyone loosely affiliated with AQ) and a couple wars that happened for no other reason than revenge or payback for insult. It's also very much possible that the Franco-German war of 1870/1871 was at least initially about unifying Germany (minus Austria; "kleindeutsche Lösung") rather than the eventually huge French reparations.

The question of the objective of warfare is one of the weakest spots in Carl von Clausewitz' theoretical work.*


*: Let's ignore his brain-melting terrible grammar and non-existing prosaic qualities here.
He would never be this popular if the people actually read his works at length. I'll happily read "the art of war" for the 10th or "Principles of War" for the 5th time, but certainly never read my "Vom Kriege" edition a second time from front to back! I heard it's going to be translated to yet another language from the German original, and I pity the translator.


Link dump August 2018

I saw some bloggers scaremongering about China's "expansion" by military basing etc.. I had to think of these:

(the use of the NATO symbol isn't quite accurate, of course)

(a few locations are inaccurate, but the overall picture is valid)
- - - - -

- - - - -

The government of Israel has been accused of having Apartheid policies that discriminate against Arabs in Israel, and its response was to make exactly that -an Israeli version of Apartheid- official policy.

There was the nice idea of clash of civilisations and victory of Western liberalism in the 90's. Sadly, it was utterly incorrect. The "West" is now littered with non-Western countries that substantially deviate from Western values:
  • Hungary (approaching "controlled democracy"),
  • Israel (Apartheid light, routine disregard of international norms),
  • Poland (undermined judiciary branch),
  • Turkey (de facto "controlled democracy" by now, close to theocracy),
  • United States (torture is considered debatable, capital punishment, partially turned away from enlightenment and science, government favours zero-sum games over cooperation, head of government and state openly favours dictators, routine disregard of international norms, racist politics, federal government demagoguery against the press).
Two of them are in the EU and three of them are in NATO, undermining these organisations' claims and pretensions of being champions of Western values.

Additionally, one should pay attention to the future trajectories of the two important countries UK (disengaging from cooperation, xenophobic campaigns) and Japan (still has capital punishment, intensifying nationalism/jingoism). Furthermore, Italy could turn for the worse at any time considering its media concentration, nationalist to fascist political parties, unsolved organised crime issues and economic & fiscal instability.
France deserves mention for its drift towards state of emergency-ish legislation. (This is a quite widepread issue, though. Germany still has laws in effect that were meant to counter the RAF in the 70's. Such anti-terror and anti-organised crime laws should always have a limited duration, and should not be extended without an intense public debate).

- - - - -

"Russia admits defeat on its 'stealth' F-35 killer by canceling mass production of the Su-57 fighter jet"
Alex Lockie, Business Insider

The issues regarding the Su-57's (lack of radar) stealth - especially the lack of s-ducts - were discussed in public. The Su-57's radar cross section is probably in between the Rafale and Chinese LO jets. It would be a huge development if Russia gives up competing in combat aircraft technology for the 2020's and 2030's. Their current arsenal isn't superior to the European arsenal and is projected to fall behind (further). To give up on competitiveness in such a critical field as air combat would be a strong signal that Russia is no conventional threat to NATO in the 2020's, and Western efforts to introduce the next combat aircraft generation in the 2030's may actually be on time.
Then again, maybe they simply give up on symmetric competition and expect more from a dissimilar air war force consisting of area air defences, surface-to-surface missiles and drones?


I suppose they either understood that the economic realities are keeping them from healthy great power status (=a success of sanctions?) or they follow indeed a very unconventional route.

- - - - -

I hope it's OK I quote them at this length:
"Prior to and during the NATO summit, there was much hand-wringing over member states’ military spending as a share of GDP. Each member is expected to increase its spending to 2% of GDP by 2024, but Trump seems to think that this already should have been done. And at the summit last week, he suddenly called for a new target of 4% of GDP—which is more than even the United States spends. (...) But this attitude changed in 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and launched secretive military incursions into Eastern Ukraine. (...) More fundamentally, Trump’s complaint that the US is shouldering an unfair share of the burden for NATO’s collective defence is dubious. While the US military budget equals roughly 72% of combined defence spending by all NATO member states, roughly three-quarters of US military spending is directed towards regions other than Europe. Around half of the US defence budget is spent on maintaining a presence in the Pacific, and another quarter is spent on operations in the Middle East, strategic nuclear command and control, and other areas.
Moreover, although the US has increased its defence outlays in Europe substantially over the past few years, it is worth remembering that most US forces and facilities there are actually focused on the geostrategic arc from India to South Africa. With facilities such as Ramstein (...), the US has long used Europe as a staging ground (...). And the early-warning and surveillance facilities that the US maintains (...) are there to defend the continental US, not Europe.
The fact is that total European defence spending is (...) roughly twice what Russia spends on defence (...). The critical importance of US command, control and intelligence forces in Europe (...) should at least be put into perspective. Although the US Army recently rotated heavy brigades through Europe for military exercises, its permanently stationed troops are equipped only for limited interventions."
"The end of NATO?", Carl Bildt, The Strategist (ASPI)

A fascinating description of the astonishing quality that side looking airborne radars had in mapping and moving target indicator modes during the 1960's already. I'm not sure what they were used for (maybe monitoring the Ho Chi Minh trail), but such technology was extremely handy for reconnaissance of hostile road marches in the often very cloudy Central European weather. The RF-4s had a less capable SLAR since the 1960's (they were probably meant for Central Europe) while the normal reconnaissance aircraft such as Mirage III 'R' series had little more to offer than Mk.1 eyeballs, radio and photochemical cameras.
Regrettably, my knowledge of 1950's to 1970's aerial reconnaissance technology still isn't exactly a strong point of mine. I'm not aware of any good literature on the subject

- - - - -

"Godzilla on World Tour"

- - - - -

It's the "Short Airfield for Tactical Support" (SATS). I never understood why this approach (or a ski jump + arresting gear combo) wasn't used a lot during the Cold War when everyone was (correctly) fearing that one's airbases would be destroyed in the event of war. Ski jumps reduce the take-off runway length requirement by half. Land catapults reduce the need to less than 600 m and arresting gears reduce the landing runway length requirement to less than the take-off requirement (and rejected landing would be helped much by a ski jump).

A ski jump for airfields is no particularly heavy or demanding design and I suppose it would take but two 15 ton 8x8 vehicles to recover, transport and install such a ski jump.

The runway length required for take-off with a ski jump is furthermore quite similar to the runway length required for landing with thrust reversers AFAIK. Thrust reversers appear to have fallen out of fashion just like variable geometry wings, though. Nowadays you want a thrust vectoring nozzle or a stealthy nozzle, not a thrust reversing nozzle on a combat aircraft.

- - - - -

The Americans had similar EW helicopters much later (among the EH-60 versions), but their approach to standoff jamming appears to be mostly reliant on fixed wing aviation. This makes sense if you want to support strike packages far away from friendly terrain (the Russians also had standoff jamming fixed wing aircraft), while EW helicopters make a lot of sense if you think continentally.
Such helicopters can start their engines, fly for a couple km distance at treetop altitude, climb to operating altitude 30...60 seconds, jam for a few minutes, descend to treetop altitude, return, land, stop the rotors and are mostly safe from air threats unless some airborne radar tracked them. That would typically be some hostile AEW, but those could be jammed by ground-based jammers. So in the end a sufficiently sophisticated combined arms effort could actually keep such helicopters quite survivable and they in turn could keep some strike fighters alive while they knock out radar-dependent air defences.

Some more about the Mi-8 ELINT versions: http://www.16va.be/4.5_les_mi-8_part6_eng.html

About AEW jammers: example here en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krasukha_(electronic_warfare_system) IIRC the claimed footprint (area protected against radar observation) is about 50 km radius for Russian anti-AWACS and anti-J-STARS jammers.



The early FRG Luftwaffe

I read a book about the history of the (West) German air force in 1950-1970 recently. The corresponding military history book about the army in 1950-1970 was very interesting. I can summarise this Luftwaffe 1950-1970 history book for you:

Nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, *breathing* nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes.
And then some considerations about organisational issues and such, but seemingly mostly about nukes.

Seriously; the two main themes of the Luftwaffe in those early years were the "strike" role  (nuking targets especially in Eastern Europe, primarily using F-104s) and stopping about 95% of all red strike bombers (presumably mostly with Nike Hercules and HAWK missiles, since even F-104G would rarely intercept in time) before they destroyed our strike assets on the ground.
Both were utterly stupid, nonsensical ideas for a long list of reasons each */**.

A single hardware argument sufficed as a knockout argument against both roles at once; ballistic missiles reached their targets with a nuclear warhead at all relevant ranges, and were impossible to intercept under wartime conditions. They were furthermore practically impossible to destroy prior to their launch except with strategic surprise, and aircraft on airbases would have suffered from such an attack even more.

The F-104s, HAWK and Nike Hercules batteries constituted almost the entire combat power of the Luftwaffe by the late 60's, so almost the entire Luftwaffe followed an idiotic design.

This isn't really about hindsight; the basics about ballistic missiles were understood early on. The mistakes made were utterly ordinary and plausible ones:
A Luftwaffe dominated by pilots was able to understand the capabilities of ballistic missiles, but not willing to yield to the conclusions. Second, they were fascinated by the destructive power of nuclear warheads and simply had not thought the whole World War Three thing through.***

The book mentions  that the young new pilots weren't too much irritated when an exercise demanded them to nuke an airfield right next to an East German town. The more mature senior officers may have expected more scruple from them, but they themselves failed to have enough scruple and to think rationally about nuclear warfare at their level. The understanding of nuclear war appears to have remained patchy instead of being clear and calling for clear, sweeping consequences.

In other words: The early FRG Luftwaffe did not serve the people, it was full of shit. We were really lucky that we got through the Cold War alive with such dumb Cold Warriors. I don't even blame these officers; I blame those who allowed such men to be in such positions. More mature men with more analytical minds were needed. The ones who ran the early FRG Luftwaffe were former nazi air force generals and former nazi ace fighter pilots; neither did a good job.

The more history I learn about the Cold War the more I get convinced that the reason for why the Warsaw Pact never attacked wasn't our deterrence, but that the pseudocommunists were not all that motivated to conquer Western Europe to begin with.


*: Strike was nonsense: It was all-or-nothing deterrence, and its employment in actual war would have led to the destruction of the German nation. Ballistic missiles were more reliable means. Ballistic missiles were not dependent on long runways. BMs could be dispersed for survivability in times of crisis or war. BMs were single purpose (de facto nuke only), so they didn't suffer from attrition in a conventional role until used for nuclear strike (quite a concern with the Starfighters). Many nuclear strike targets (and most tactical nuclear strike targets) were on German soil, those missions would have been perverse.
**: Radars of the time didn't reliably detect strike bombers below 1,000 ft, so intercept was nonsense. Strike bombers at Mach 2 and at very high altitude were almost impossible to intercept with the required reliability. Surface-to-air area defence missiles (Nike Hercules, HAWK) were considered the mainstay of bomber interception, but they were easily saturated, due to their de facto or complete static setup easily targeted (similar to what happened to Egyptian SA-6 late in the Yom Kippur War), and the missiles were initially useless below 1,000 ft especially in the hilly Southern Germany. Missile stocks would have been expended in less than an hour of intense defence. Starfighters had a radar, but it wasn't very good and indeed useless against low-flying aircraft at night. There were SAM belt gaps in the north at sea. The SAM systems could be defeated by jamming. Nike Hercules wasn't really effective without using a fallout-producing 2 kt or bigger nuke of its own against incoming bombers. HAWK didn't reach up high enough; all combat aircraft were able to overfly its engagement zone.
The nonsense was clearly to hope for an almost impenetrable shield that would protect the strike assets till they take off to their strike missions. All that SAM belt effort was thus meant to partially compensate for the wrong choice of strike platform; BMs would not have needed that kind of protection. The way to go was to think about air superiority; exchange ratios should have been at the centre instead of '% of strike bombers stopped on their first sortie'.
***: They weren't exactly intellectuals and seemed to have overemphasised the protection of Germany from being a conventional battlefield, at the expense of risking it would become an uninhabitable nuclear battlefield.


Russia's moderate wars

None of the originally envisaged texts is ready for primetime, so let's ponder a bit about something that's more important anyway:

Russia employs a completely different idea of warfare than the West does.

Western wars have had maximalist objectives ever since the neocons couldn't stop whining about a supposedly "incomplete" job on Iraq in 1991. The objectives were maximalist ever since, and the missions kept being renewed or replaced.

We weren't satisfied by Yugoslavia toning down its measures against UCK rebels in Kosovo; we had to rip Kosovo out of Yugoslavia, and then kept it occupied it. Kosovo is occupied to this day, by about 4,000 NATO-led troops even though there's no real risk of Serbia trying to invade and annex Kosovo.

It wasn't enough to defeat the government that gave sanctuary to the terrorist who had motivated and supported the mostly Saudi 9/11 terrorists. Ordinarily, wars where you have an issue with a government and its actions end when you have destroyed the former and ended the latter. No, in the case of Afghanistan we had to launch a 17+ year occupation, install an utterly corrupt new government and pretend that not only the actual terrorist group, but also the political faction that once had given it sanctuary would have to go extinct. Except next door in Pakistan, of course. There they could dwell for eternity, which of course eliminated the prospect of it ever going extinct. The de facto mission wasn't only maximalist, but also obviously impossible to accomplish. A recipe for a never-ending involvement in a distant civil war.

It wasn't enough that Iraq had lost most of its conventional military power in 1991-1996 and had its NBC programs disassembled, with frequent and intrusive inspections. It just had to be destroyed as a government. And then be occupied for 13 years.

Daesh? Had to be destroyed. It wasn't enough to simply tip the scales towards their destruction - they had to be destroyed (in Syria, where the real deal sat), and several cities with them. Of course, the Western troops weren't withdrawn from Syria because the West is really crappy at getting stuff wrapped up, ever.

- - - - -

Let's compare Russian warfare: They, too, have their neverending missions (Abkhazia, South Ossetia), but their objectives aren't that maximalist (except in the Crimea).

They didn't rip Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia - even in the moment of total Georgian defeat in 2008 Putin didn't move his troops into Tiflis, forcing the Georgian government to cede those territories into independence.

Crimea was invaded and annexed, alright - but Donbass was but invaded, not annexed. And the war in Donbass was fought with some restraint by Russia. Russia could have used its air force for air/ground attacks - it didn't. Russia could have gone for Kiev and taken it, and dictate a peace treaty - it didn't. Russia could have gone all-in with its conventional forces in the area - instead, it rotates its forces in and out. The Neocons would have annexed not only Crimea, but also Donbass by now - and they would have installed some puppet in Kiev, maybe even helped it to maintain power with an occupation force of 100,000+, calling on CIS governments for auxiliary forces.

Russia's involvement in Syria appears to tip the scales in Assad's favour, but it's far from all that Russia could do. Russia did not send a single brigade of ground forces, and it could muster much more ground attack aircraft. It didn't even only bring much artillery to the fight.

- - - - -

Russia certainly has less resources and much greater security challenges at home than the U.S. or even NATO as a whole, but the pattern of limited objectives doesn't seem to be explained by resources alone. This is most evident in Georgia (though that episode may have been unintended as a whole).

There's no extremist or maximalist faction comparable to the Neocons steering Russian foreign policy. The whole pattern rather looks like typical great power games, with a certain emphasis on the own periphery. That emphasis is often interpreted as Putin intending to re-create the Soviet Union (or Russian Empire). I have written such an interpretation before myself, and it makes a lot of sense from the partisan view of NATO and EU; better safe than sorry regarding the Baltic members.

Yet we might actually see a Russia that's -at least under Putin- not maximalist or extremist in regard to war as we in the West have become used to be under the influence of American extremism since 2001. It may be all about playing great power games instead, which opens the door for entirely different dissuasion efforts to succeed.

One example is that we could threaten a set back in one of their great power games (such as helping Georgia to push out Russians from Abkhazia and South Ossetia) as countermeasure to some new Russian aggression elsewhere. This would be considerably less promising if imperial restoration was really the end goal, for then it might escalate the conflict into a stupid Russian attempt to gain everything desired in one war.




Modern electric heavyweight torpedoes

There are a couple things that modern electric heavyweight torpedoes can do that other torpedo types cannot do, or not nearly as well. Western navies usually don't have a mix of heavyweight torpedo types; they use either one or another design, and but two designs when they transition from an older generation to a new type. This may be far from ideal, as I will show by pointing out the potential versatility of modern electric heavyweight torpedoes.

First, a description:
A modern heavyweight torpedo with electric propulsion has or can have
  • a giant battery capacity relative to other torpedo categories (depends on torpedo length),
  • an electric motor capable of accelerating the torpedo to higher speed than any ship, but not as high speed as some other torpedo engines,
  • a fibre-optic cable that connects the torpedo with the launch platform (submarine) with a high data transmission rate (two way),
  • a passive/active sonar (including the ability to sense active sonars and incoming hard kill torpedoes),
  • wakehoming terminal approach mode with the necessary sensor,
  • a fuse that detonates the torpedo below the target ship and
  • processing capacity to identify ships by their acoustic profiles and choose promising target approaches including retargeting after falling for a decoy without fusing.
an example of a modern electric torpedo;
other examples are the Indian Varunastra and the Italian Black Shark

There's little published info on how exactly modern torpedoes would be employed other than most simple patterns, so I'll simply write about some ways that could be done with this combination of attributes.
  1. short distance sprint attack (guided or unguided)
  2. normal wide-guided torpedo attack; medium speed cruise on intercept course, user chooses target based on torpedo's sonar data and torpedo initiates terminal attack sprint
  3. long range self-deployment to mission area, sinks to ground, becomes mine (long life due to large battery capacity), engages detected target in very short range sprint
  4. entire salvo of torpedoes deploys at slow speed to a location in front of a predictable convoy (or into a narrow strait), uses just enough propulsion to avoid sinking too low, torpedoes act as mobile mines and initiate engagement when convoy comes close enough
  5. multiple torpedoes launched at slow or medium speed, sonars and accurate navigation enable a accurate-enough triangulation of acoustic signatures even though the submarine's sonar couldn't determine the range to the target in passive mode on its own (at least not quickly and reliably).
  6. torpedo used as mobile decoy, mimicking submarine behaviour and to some degree its acoustic signature. It could reproduce picked-up active sonar waves if its own sonar can cover the same frequency band. The fake contact could even be behind the torpedo as long as there's but one active sonar looking for it (and the torpedo's echo is too small to be picked up).
  7. hard kill defence against incoming torpedo (that's inefficient with a heavyweight torpedo, but feasible)
  8. torpedo launched in one direction, possibly left there for a while (as the sub rests at sea bottom as well) and finally tasked to simulate a threat from its axis in order to lure targets into the sub's no-escape kill zone as part of their evasive action
  9. HWT as mobile and spaced active decoy, mimicking active sonar signals (if its own sonar can cover that frequency band) and thus faking a moving submarine

The important advantages of the electric HWT are in its endurance. This is visible in the mobile mine applications, including the torpedo salvo-in-ambush scenario (#4) and the self-deploying mobile mine scenario (#3).
A navy that limits itself to a torpedo such as Mk48ADCAP or Spearfish misses out on many of the above-listed scenarios in favour of a higher sprint speed.

- - - - -

BTW, I still suppose that submarines could be well-served with a SSG approach; a dozen vertical launch silos for modern anti-ship missiles could enable a submarine to quickly engage distant audible contacts without reliable range estimate and without needing to replace torpedoes in the torpedo tubes (which would be a problem in a surprise contact with a hostile submarine). The launch could be from such long distances and the missiles could fly such a pre-programmed path that the attack wouldn't give the location of the sub away.

That in turn begs the question why one should go to such lengths (submarine operation, sub-launched anti-ship missiles) at all, since land-based air power is really good at deploying anti-ship missiles as well.

The answer is in my opinion that submarines are still platforms that make the most sense for underdog navies and navies that insist on attacking where their surface fleet and air power cannot routinely go. Submarines can go on missions even when and where hostile forces dominate the sky and the surface.
I see but one real justification for non-SSBN submarines in European service; the employment as aggressors in training of ASW units. The ship-killing and reconnaissance functions could be accomplished by much more versatile air power.



P.S.: I know there are hordes of SSN fans who read too many biased books, but I'm not going to convince any of those people about how unnecessary and redundant SSNs are anyway.


Link drop and comments July 2018

This link drop and commentary is much bigger than usual, don't get used to it! ;-)

- - - - -
"According to a growing number of scientific studies, the kind of man who stockpiles weapons or applies for a concealed-carry license meets a very specific profile.
These are men who are anxious about their ability to protect their families, insecure about their place in the job market, and beset by racial fears. They tend to be less educated. For the most part, they don’t appear to be religious—and, suggests one study, faith seems to reduce their attachment to guns. In fact, stockpiling guns seems to be a symptom of a much deeper crisis in meaning and purpose in their lives. Taken together, these studies describe a population that is struggling to find a new story—one in which they are once again the heroes."

By Jeremy Adam Smith on March 14, 2018

I like the "heroes" angle in the article (it mentioned lots of correlations as well) as an explanation, for it explains how much at heart the issue seems to be for many people. I would like to add a specific observation of mine about conspiracy theorists:
Conspiracy theorists are in my opinion people who lack the intelligence or inquisitiveness to acquire a real information advantage relative to peers. They compensate this by making up or adopting conspiracy theories. Once a believer, they feel that they know something that the peers lack the intelligence or inquisitiveness to know or understand. Every rejection only reinforces their belief in their superior information status, for the others just 'don't get it'. And then many of them go on making up derogatory terms about 'those who don't get it', to feel even more superior.

I think this is quite similar to the "hero" angle of the article, for conspiracy theorists do create this narrative in which they are better and more responsible than the peers want to acknowledge, just as the gun nuts who discuss whether a 45cal has good-enough stopping power against a home invader or if it needs a 12 gauge pump action.
In their own narrative, they are the better people. Reality must not apply.

- - - - -

(no comment)

- - - - -


Let's take the list of the authors and check after the 16th what gifts the self-proclaimed master negotiator handed over - and what he got for it (if anything).

- - - - -

"The Washington Post's Fact-Checker blog has been keeping a strict count of President Donald Trump's many misstatements, untruths and outright lies. And, over the weekend at a rally in Michigan, Trump hit a(nother) milestone: He topped 3,000 untrue or misleading statements in 466 days in office.
That means that, on average, Trump says 6.5 things that aren't true a day. Every. Single. Day. (Trump is actually picking up the pace when it comes to not telling the truth; he has averaged nine untruths or misleading statements a day over the past two months, according to the Post's count.)
The problem with Trump's penchant for prevarication is that it's hard to contextualize it. We've never had a president with such a casual relationship to the truth. We have no count of how many lies Barack Obama or George W. Bush told per day because, well, they weren't as committed to saying and then repeating falsehoods as Trump quite clearly is."

Frankly, this makes meaningful big topic diplomacy with the U.S. almost entirely impossible. Nothing he says can be trusted to have any meaning, and he even lies to the face of foreign heads of government  when he ought to know that they know better. He's moronic enough to even admit it (though maybe that was an even more moronic lie). The foreign policy influence of the U.S. is now likely lower than at any time in the past 120 years. Even threats of aggression have a 'throw a coin' quality now.
He's a moron, and the U.S. is a security liability now, not an ally. The U.S. military spending does not matter, at least not as benefit to the allies-by-treaty of the U.S..

 - - - - -

related: Qatar has apparently understood how useless it is to host a U.S. military base. I called those who trust in U.S. military presence as security guarantee "fools" long ago already.

 - - - - -

 for those who can read German:
I made such an observation in 2009.

- - - - -

I remember a Western much more ambitious project/proposal (from years ago) for an aerial sniper drone, including a semi-auto sniper rifle. It was fixed wing instead of multicopter, IIRC.

Small kamikaze drones with ~50 mm HEDP just ring more practical to me. They could target vulnerable surface*angle combinations of MBTs, penetrate all other IFVs and devastate individual infantrymen. Active protection systems and roof-mounted machineguns would be saturated by a swarm of such drones unless there's a suitable counter-drone hardware mounted at high readiness. Infantry would probably protect itself in bivouac and in buildings with the use of Dyneema nets, which might lead to a net-cutting counter-countermeasure (akin to barrage balloon-countering bomber in WW2) and so on.

- - - - -


It's competing with established the central tire inflation system + run flat tire approach. RWT seems much heavier, likely limited in speed, has much more (moving!) parts and thus more opportunities to fail and higher maintenance requirements.
I suppose a non-pneumatic tire with a narrow contact surface for roads and a wider one that comes into play on soft soils is the way to go, especially if the elastomer has additives for reduced flammability and the sides are walled off to keep mud out.

- - - - -

I totally get that Taiwan wants conventional AIP submarines (they're the underdog and submarines are the only major naval units that would be survivable and or might escape to friendly ports in the event of a PRC attack), but it's a very weird choice for Australia. Even SSNs could hardly do much for Australia's deterrence and defence unless they were armed with nuclear-tipped missiles. The Australian submarine cost estimates were terribly high from the start, cost growth should easily kill off the whole program if it was about deterrence & defence, not shipyard subsidising.

- - - - -

Does anyone else wonder what fighter (combat) aircraft the Chinese are planning for their carriers?
The J-20 is extremely large, and almost certainly uneconomically large if not dimensionally unsuitable for the naval fighter job. The Chinese clearly appreciate having at least some low RF observable fighters, so it's plausible that they would want a naval LO fighter on their carriers in the 2020's. Their domestic alternative (J-10 series) is not LO.
It might be that the FC-31 (rumoured J-31) is the naval strike fighter option, or there's yet another project that the public doesn't know about (but then it's unlikely to yield operational carrier air wings until the late 2020's).
Whatever the Chinese are cooking up, it might end up in the hands of users in the European periphery or at the very least Pakistan.

- - - - -


I disagree; in my opinion the current (Western?) command system is a result of poor incentives, poor disincentives, lacking oversight and poor self-discipline. The complexity that the author seems to identify as driver for the growth of command staffs could be addressed by the subsidiarity principle (this is similar to mission command in spirit, but more general). 

- - - - -

I looked at the crime stats a while ago and considered writing about it. The supposed crime wave post-2015 is non-existent.

Some excerpts
Homicides in 2015-2017: Lower than in 2009, slightly above 2014. Really high figures for '93-'97 instead.

Rape-murder: 8...13 in 2015-2017, compare that with 26 in 2011 and more than 20 in every year 2000-2006 (33 in 1999!). 2016 and 2017 were two of the three years with the least rape-murders since the reunification!

Then there's a category 'felonies against sexual self-determination' - rape, sexual harassment.
Minimal increase 2015-2016, bigger increase 2016-2017. That is, back to what was normal in 1997-2008. One has to keep in mind that this includes false allegations (rape-murder on the other hand should have about zero false allegations).

Another statistic is quite interesting, and shows why there was a jump from 2016 to 2017; change of laws and thus statistic. "Vergewaltigung und sexuelle Nötigung §§ 177 Abs. 2, 3 und 4, 178 StGB" was stagnant 2005-2016 (in the 7,022...8,133 range up and down), but for 2017 the statistic instead shows "Vergewaltigung und sexuelle Nötigung/Übergriffe §§ 177 Abs. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 und 9, 178 StGB" and boom! figure is up to 11,282 in 2017 from 7,919 in 2016. So that's mostly due to the enlarged definition.

One statistic is weird; rape by groups. It's up from 254 in 2015 to 524 in 2016. Now I suppose xenophobes and islamophobes cheer that finally one real world statistic validates their beliefs, but the same statistic went back to normal in 2017; 258 (without change of definition). The 2016 figure may be a typo.

You wouldn't get the idea that something drastic happened in 2015 by looking at German crime stats. Instead, you'd get convinced that crime was MUCH worse during the 90's, and also worse during the 2000's than during the 2010's so far.

That doesn't matter to the 'real world must not apply' faction, which prefers its own made-up stats a.k.a. fantasyland over reality.They even 'justify' their fantasy by claiming that the official statistics are rigged and they themselves know the real ones, even though they have zero statistics-gathering capability of their own.

- - - - -

"114 candidates in Mexico's upcoming elections have been murdered, so far"

 - - - - -

"An ambassador’s primary function is to serve as a go-between, German politicians and diplomats say—to explain and relay messages between the two countries.
Grenell, however, clearly views his role as a much more active one. Multiple sources from across Germany’s political, diplomatic and policy corps who have met him or been present for his meetings with high-level German officials say Grenell has made it clear he doesn’t want to be a messenger. Instead, these sources say, he sees himself as a “player” who has a role in influencing policy decisions—and a portfolio extending beyond just Germany to Europe more broadly. In return, Berlin sees Grenell first and foremost as someone who is here to sell Trump and Trumpism on this side of the Atlantic.
“He does not understand what the role of an ambassador should be,” says Nils Schmid, foreign policy spokesman for the center-left Social Democrats in parliament. “An ambassador is a bridge-builder who explains how American politics works, how the American government works, and at the same time explains to America how Germany sees things.” But Grenell, Schmid says, has “defined his role for himself, and it is not the traditional role of an ambassador. … He will work as a propagandist.”"

Chancellor Merkel and foreign minister Maas deserve to be ridiculed as weaklings if that Moron doesn't get kicked out soon. The current immigration debate is the perfect opportunity to kick him out. The wannabe fascists are going to count any change of course on immigration as their victory anyway, so inflict on them a defeat in parallel!

 - - - - -

I got 11/13 right (guessed a few, though), was a little too pessimistic on #5 and #9, though I still doubt #5. I suppose it's a translation issue and they probably didn't ask for school time, but education time. It was evident from the first question that their German translation isn't perfect.

Feel free to do the test before you watch this kinda weird dude's video.

- - - - - - 


- - - - -


- - - - -

The really good news about this is that once it's clear (if ever) that POTUS is a puppet we will know that this was an amazing natural experiment. The military of the United States was next to irrelevant to European Security and nothing terrible happened yet, not even a finishing campaign in the non-allied Ukraine.
This should kill (for rational, thoughtful people) the nonsensical myth that the U.S. subsidises Europe's security in the post Cold War world.
Remember that the non-American NATO partners outnumber the Russian military almost 2:1 in personnel and have two nuclear powers either of which is capable of killing 20% of Russians in 30 minutes!
- - - - -
I intend to write about infantry doctrines for specific scenarios (especially the Baltic countries) soon. Feel free to give me hints about existing publications and doctrinal ideas that might be of interest for this. So far I took inspirations from Raumverteidigung, Jagdkampf, LRDG - but it doesn't quite satisfy, specifically for wintertime.

- - - - -

Now you may call me "anti-American" if you want, but that's no derogatory term where I live any more, and an argumentum ad hominem is little short of a surrender on the issues.