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)
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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).

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"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.

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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

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"Godzilla on World Tour"

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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.

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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.



  1. Any opinion on this,

    "Donald Trump Dreams of a Tri-Polar Planet" from Warisboring.com

    There is the useful idiot and/or the happy accident justification. Also doesn't account for the obvious effect that however you move away from a unipolar world, you end up in a multi polar one.

    Draws some interesting questions. Strategies are being cooked up. Near, mid and far term. If the insurgent powers succeed in their antiestablishmentarianism they will have to offer a constructive plan to foreign and domestic populations. Remove the US as a forward based global power, EU falls apart, what is Russia if not measured in the context provided by those two blocks? This leads, as the article says, to the 1984 forever war. Is that what is being intended? Is that the future they are happy with, or are they engaging in utopian thinking?

    A new golden age. Russia resurgent, expansionist and united.

    As you say, the near term prospects aren't attractive for a autocratic state that derives pride from its military strength. There is no appetite for bottom up reform. So the populations quality of life is not going to increase. Will they stay happy driving their UAZs up and down red square when they know the world is laughing at their weakness (in terms of their super ego, the big other, eternal observer etc...) Asymmetry, yes. But then we don't get to see our huge column of tanks or our supermechabattleship.

    Trump is a twerp. Gorka, Pompeo, Bolton the same.

    Martin Sellner, isnt. Banon, isnt. The online global organisation of disaffected white/want to be white and anti black/muslim/social liberalism isnt. Weaponised autism has proven to be useful to some. Lots of useful idiots, /pol/, T_D, youtube, Reconquista Germanica.

    There might be space left, by the phase change phase in global order, for ideology to take the reigns for a while. Again.

    I twist myself into knots when I try to construct a line of argument on this rubbish.

    So you're in favour of medium helicopters now? I though they were a waste of money. “Waste of money”, you said.(sarcasm)

    1. The helicopter thing was about air defences, not about the platforms.

    2. If "tree top level" is an effective tactic for AEW its also effective for CASEVAC and FEBA resupply.

      If youve given that, havent you essentially agreed with the current status quo on utility helos in modern combat?

    3. Jamming helps against AEW, treetop altitude flight helps against low level and ground level radars.

      There's a huge difference between an EW helicopter doing a 10 km sprint at treetop altitude once in a while and hundreds of transport helicopters flying around. The latter provokes a massacre.

  2. Instead of a Ski Jump - would an extended length nose landing gear not provide the equivalent capability?

    eg - Royal Navy F4K Phantom

    1. It's completely different. The lengthened front leg provides a positive angle of attack that helps if the elevators aren't good at lifting the nose at low speed. This applies especially with conventional layouts (rather than canard layouts) where the elevators have to generate downforce instead of lift to raise the nose.

      A ski jump converts part of the forward momentum into upward momentum. The aircraft has a positive climb rate at take-off. This means it doesn't need to have enough speed and thrust to maintain altitude at take-off. It may actually be too slow and "drop", but this "drop" doesn't overcome the positive climb rate and whatever altitude the aircraft gained from it early on.

      A ski jump thus allows an aircraft to take off with an insufficient speed for normal take-off, while the raised front leg merely helps with getting the nose up (to add some more lift by positive AOA).

    2. I'll rephrase that:

      A ski jump generates upward motion and thus over time some altitude.. This gives the aircraft additional time to accelerate to the speed where it can fly, not just drop. The upward motion and the initial drop (inability to maintain altitude by speed) counteract each other.

  3. I have a thought experiment.
    What if Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine left their defense alliances and formed a modern variant of Intermarium.

    This defense alliance would be a pure, defense alliance with the main directive to separate Germany and Russia, and uphold peace.
    A deal would be struck with Russia, offering 1-3 warm water ports in Estonia, Ukraine, Kaliningrad or Norway. These would be a sort of "international port", in which Russia would be allowed to safely export and import their goods out of Europe (Through the Danish strait or North sea). Warships outside of the alliance would not be allowed to travel though Intermarium waters.

    One idea would be to have Russia and NATO protect Intermarium, if either party invaded Intermarium, the other part would intervene.

    1. I thought about something like this in the context of Stalin's note on German reunification in the early 50's. It was likely not serious, but a reunification in the 50's could have turned Germany into a buffer state, and the optimal military to minimise the probability of aggression would have been very unconventional.

    2. The idea comes from Russian and German geopolitics.

      Peter the great wanted a port for Russia to trade with the rest of Europe. This is the entire reason St. Petersburg was founded.

      However, the port freezes over in the winter. Therefore, Russia needed to head down the coast of the Baltic sea, where warm water ports are available. This happens to be Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia. Because of Russia's poor road infrastructure, the shortest and best location would be in Riga, in Estonia.

      After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia lost the Baltic states, but managed to hold onto Kaliningrad.
      During the cold war, and in modern times. Russia faces the issue of the Danish strait. It is a huge choke point for the Russian navy and trade, followed by Skagerrak, the North Sea, the sea between Great Britain and Iceland and the English Channel. This effectively traps the Russian maritime in the Baltic sea. Which the US capitalizes with NATO. The easiest option for Russia would be to seize control of northern Norway, specifically Narvik. This would probably also include Finland and north Sweden. Iceland would pose a issue, limiting the navy to north Atlantic waters, so seizing Iceland would be a objecting, later evolving to take Great Britain. In general Russia would need to control the whole Scandinavian peninsula, Iceland, the Baltic states, Denmark and probably Scotland. Alternatively, the melting polar caps would provide Russia with a northern route, limiting it to Northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland.

      Russia's plan is Crimea, the other warm water port in the black sea. They lost the port after the collapse of the Soviet Union, so of course they annexed Crimea. This port sadly, is just as bad as the Baltic port. Having to pass the Turkish strait, the Greek islands, Sicily, Sardinia and Gibraltar. Effectively trapping them in the black sea. Alternatively, you could use the Suez channel. This route is blocked by Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Somalia. All US allies or similar. And even when they are out, what are they going to do? Travel across the globe? Not sure if the ships would have enough fuel for that. For Russia to acquire a safe route here would basically mean to conquer Europe, which is a pipe dream.

      Russia does have a eastern port. But it is encapsulated by Japan, and you must travel across Siberia to reach it, which is unacceptable.

      When it comes to home defense. Russia wants to secure her core, Moscow. The problem is that Russia's core is in the European plain, providing zero defense. So, Russia expanded massively to provide defense. To the north to provide a large buffer of wasteland in the north east Scandinavian peninsula. Russia annexed Finland from Sweden, but later lost it during the collapse of the Soviet Union. After the great northern war Sweden learned how dangerous Russia is, and prefers keeping Finland as a buffer state, instead of wanting to incorporate it. If Finland goes, Sweden is next. Sweden knows this, and that is why they have close defense cooperation, and guarantees each other, and promising if one part enters NATO the other will too.

    3. To the east Russia expanded to the point it had a huge buffer, with a large wasteland which would kill and invasion plan from Asian rivals. Mongolia also serves as a buffer state with china.

      To the south east, Russia expanded into the "stan" countries, which contains large mountain regions. The mountains provide a good geographic defense, and the lack of powerful countries also helps too.

      To the south, Russia expanded to the black sea and Caspian mountains. This crated a large geographical barrier. Russia today controls a few buffers states in this region.

      To the south west, Russia meets the Carpathian Mountains, providing a good geographical barrier.

      The large issue comes to the west. Here the European plain continues all the way from Moscow to the Spanish-French border. Obviously, Russia could not just expand to it hit a geographical barrier here. Therefore, they needed buffer states. The Soviet Union effectively accomplished this by conquering Poland and eastern Germany.

    4. So, in summary, Russia would need to conquer much of eastern and northern Europe. This is obviously a huge loss to the rest of Europe.
      For Germany, it obviously has the same issue with the European plain. If you look at Hitler’s plans, he effectively wanted to annex all the land in the European plain between Germany, and the current Russian border. This would create a large buffer state in case of invasion. An alternative take would be the alternative reality of Kaiserreich (if Germany won WWI). If you search for its map, it shows what Germany wanted if they won WWI. It is eerily similar to the current would map, with a few obvious changes. Finland is larger, this is because during the Winter war, the Soviet Union annexed pieces of Finland, causing the local Finns to flee. The Baltic states are united, except Lithuania. Poland is also a lot smaller, this is because Germany retains her territories, and she did not lose Konigsberg to Russia. Also, a new nation near the Caspian mountains. Of course, all the nations between Germany and Russia are puppets.
      As you can see, if you study the maps of the Soviet Union, Russian Empire, Germany, Germany(Kaiserreich) and Germany (Greater Reich) you can see a bit of overlap.
      An alternative would be an independent buffer state. The first effective buffer state being the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth. It worked effectively as a buffer state between Russia and Europe, until it was eventually eaten by Germany, Austria and Russia. Modern Poland realized this and therefore wanted to form Intermarium. In practice a stronger Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth. It would probably be strong enough to hold its own against Russia or Germany, but it would not fulfill Russia’s geopolitical mission of securing a warm water port. It would also probably want its own free maritime access, which would make Scandinavia a contested area between Russia, Intermarium, Germany and Great Britain. Adding Scandinavia to Intermarium would solve some of the issues, but Russia’s issue still stands. Also, such a country would be impossible, and most likely try its own great power games.
      Which is why I would propose a Intermarium Defense Alliance. If any member is attacked, all the other members are forced to defend that country. No foreign military force would be allowed on their soil. The only exception would be in the case that Russia invades a member state, in which NATO/Germany would be allowed to intervene, and vice versa. The alliance would defensive in nature, meaning zero help for other members imperialist adventures. The members would be all of Scandinavia, Iceland, Finland, Baltics, Belarus and all members of Visegrad group. This should in theory provide enough military might. The members would also be forced to leave any other military alliance. Meaning that they cannot overlap with NATO or the EU. To allow Russia warm water ports, Kaliningrad could be made into a free trade city, with Crimea and some part of Northern Norway. International roads would be laid up between these trade zones and Russia. Russian ships would also be guaranteed passage out to the Atlantic Ocean, same goes for all other ships.
      How would this affect politics?
      First off, Russia would be in a safe position, allowing them to deescalate. Germany would also now be in a safe position, allowing its politicians to shut up about wasting too much money on defense. Eastern Europe and Scandinavia would feel safe, which would allow them to cut ties with the US, greatly diminishing its power in the region. When it comes to Germany, it may give them influence depending of circumstances. Greater regional cooperation could be accomplished.

    5. You overemphasize the importance of the navy for the Russians, and kind of neglect the existence of Murmansk and icebreakers.

      Ever since the 70's they were rather focused on having their SSBN 'bastions' protected from NATO surface ASW and MPAs.

      The whole buffer thing is an exaggeration as well. It's an idiotic idea for a country to ensure its own safety by "buffers", for this inevitably provokes conflict. It's as idiotic as to spend almost half of all global military spending and still feel insecure.
      International security is best when it works for all parties, and second-best when it works for many parties. Single party extremist concepts only lead to needless conflict and waste of resources.

      "Russia annexed Finland from Sweden, but later lost it during the collapse of the Soviet Union."

      Not quite.

    6. Russia has already turned most of its maritime logistics away from the Baltic states and through Ust-Luga instead. The need for Baltic ports is largely non-existent now. There would literally be no problems for Russian logistics if they managed to keep healthy relations with the rest of Europe. I'm sure everybody would be willing to cooperate if Russia didn't act in a threatening way. Really, any logistical problem that Russia supposedly has is its own doing.
      There would be no problems with Nord Stream 2 either (well, besides environmental concerns that is) if Russia wasn't using gas as a political tool against other states.

  4. Thanks for the input. And yes, not all foreign policies are the best. I was simply referring to the ones used by recent superpowers.

    And about Finland, a oversimplification.