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US Navy Admiral Questions Expensive Stealth Platforms 490

Posted by Soulskill
from the doesn't-see-them-being-useful dept.
Trepidity writes "United States Navy Admiral and Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert stirred a controversy by questioning much of the thinking underlying current U.S. defense technology. He argues that stealth technology is unlikely to retain its usefulness much into the future, and so focus should switch towards standoff weapons. In addition, he criticizes the focus on expensive all-in-one platforms such as the F-35 fighter, arguing for a payload-centric, flexible approach he compares to trucks rather than luxury cars."
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US Navy Admiral Questions Expensive Stealth Platforms

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @10:15PM (#40837267)
    We spend entirely too much money on our military. We are so far ahead of the next country in terms of dollars spent it's not even close. We keep bases all around the world, protecting everybody, so that they don't have to spend their own money on a military and instead can spend it domestically. It needs to end. It's no longer 1955.
    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @10:23PM (#40837311)
      Exactly. We need diplomacy, not bombs. We need to stop trying to be the world's "policeman", stop propping up dictators, stop propping up the rebels to take down the dictators we earlier propped up, and slash military spending. Consider Switzerland, for example.
      • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @11:41PM (#40837929) Journal

        We need diplomacy, not bombs.

         
        In an ideal world, diplomacy should lead the way
         
        Unfortunately we do not live in an ideal world
         
        In this world we live in, talking softly while carrying a big stick is still the most practical way of doing things
         

        • by couchslug (175151) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:11AM (#40838583)

          Bankrupting yourself building inappropriate sticks isn't "playing it safe", it's pork.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          You guys already have a stick that's as big as everyone else's combined. How big do you really need it to be?

        • by oursland (1898514)

          talking softly while carrying a big stick

          That means being diplomatic while having a nuclear arsenal at the ready. No reason to develop a huge offensive force if no one will fuck with you because you'll retaliate by turning their piece of the Earth unlivable.

          Unfortunately, people like you seem to think this is free license to tell people what to think and do (not talking softly) and beating them into submission should they disobey (using the big stick).

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by AmiMoJo (196126)

          Not really. Look at Northern Ireland. The relative size of our military compared to the IRA was irrelevant, and ultimately it was negotiation that resolved the situation.

          Having a big and powerful military is not only ineffective against many smaller forces, it also increases the level of tension and drives other countries to arming themselves with WMDs. North Korea wouldn't need nukes if it wasn't at war with the US. Iran wouldn't want them if they were not in a cold war with the US and Israel, with the thr

          • by chrb (1083577)

            Not really. Look at Northern Ireland. The relative size of our military compared to the IRA was irrelevant, and ultimately it was negotiation that resolved the situation.

            Disputes between neighbouring populations, like Northern Ireland, can only be ultimately solved by either a) diplomacy and a meeting of minds in the center, or b) genocide. You could say the same about Palestinian territories, Afghanistan etc. However, it's worth keeping in mind that the small size of the IRA is one of the reasons that the conflict could be contained - the IRA killed around 700 British military personnel over the course of several decades. That is a manageable number for the British milita

      • by john82 (68332)

        Really? What has diplomacy EVER solved?

        Does it seem to you that a jacka** such as Assad is going to pay any attention to "Stop, or we'll say stop again!"? Show me one instance where it's made ANY difference.

        • Really? What has diplomacy EVER solved?

          Does it seem to you that a jacka** such as Assad is going to pay any attention to "Stop, or we'll say stop again!"? Show me one instance where it's made ANY difference.

          Not sure guns and bombs *really* solve problems either.

          Yeah, WWII got rid of the Nazis and the Japanese warlords, but it set us up the Cold War and lots of regional crises.

        • by Taco Cowboy (5327)

          Does it seem to you that a jacka** such as Assad is going to pay any attention to "Stop, or we'll say stop again!"? Show me one instance where it's made ANY difference

           
          In the case of Syria, It's rather like "Nice cat, nice nice little cat, please stop playing with those goddamn rodents"
           
          And no, I won't use the "P" word :P
           

        • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @03:39AM (#40839485) Journal

          Really? What has diplomacy EVER solved?

          Not getting nuked during Cold War was a fairly nice achievement, if you ask me.

          • by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @06:50AM (#40840325) Homepage

            Really? What has diplomacy EVER solved?

            Not getting nuked during Cold War was a fairly nice achievement, if you ask me.

            I'd bet most /. nowadays weren't even around when the Berlin Wall fell, let alone know any important events that preceded it. For them, the start of recorded history began with the rise of the Kardashians or something like that. It's similar to the idiots who say "war has never solved anything", but can't remember how Hitler was defeated. Illiterate pukes who aim to explain everything complex with simple slogans.

      • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp.Gmail@com> on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:35AM (#40838733) Homepage Journal

        Exactly. We need diplomacy, not bombs.

        This is stupid beyond words. We HAVE diplomacy, and always try diplomacy first, Democrat or Republican in office. Further, this kind of thinking completely ignores the fact that the US has intractable enemies that won't be swayed from their national interests by any amount of diplomacy. Russia is always going to see the US as an adversary. China is always going to see the US as an adversary. Various Middle Eastern and Asian countries are the same. No amount of diplomacy is going to stop Russia and China from blocking UN support for freedom movements in countries with rulers they support. No amount of diplomacy is going to stop Putin's Russia from trying to reassert supremacy over their former satellites in East Europe. No amount of diplomacy is going to stop China from trying to claim all of the islands, oil fields, and shipping lanes in the South China Sea.

        Get your head out of the sand. Everyone here... myself included... agrees that we need a smaller military. But "diplomacy not bombs" is hippy-ish stupidity. Try diplomacy first. If that doesn't work, then you'd damn well better have the bombs.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@@@world3...net> on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @05:48AM (#40840049) Homepage

          his is stupid beyond words. We HAVE diplomacy, and always try diplomacy first, Democrat or Republican in office.

          One of the main criticisms of the Iraq invasion is that you didn't give weapons inspectors time to do their work (and surprise surprise it turned out their failure to find any weapons was because there were not any), and did not exhaust diplomatic options. Not only did you fail to properly negotiate with Iraq, you failed to properly negotiate with the UN and started the war on dubious legal ground.

          Further, this kind of thinking completely ignores the fact that the US has intractable enemies that won't be swayed from their national interests by any amount of diplomacy.

          We used to think that about the IRA, but when we finally stopped fighting them and actually sat down and worked it out the situation was resolved. Afghanistan looks like it will be the same, with peace ultimately depending on a negotiated resolution with the Taliban.

          Russia is always going to see the US as an adversary. China is always going to see the US as an adversary.

          If the US were not trying to Team America World Police I think you would find their attitudes towards you quickly soften. Saying "never" is almost stupid beyond words when you look at how many countries have reconciled. How about Britain and the US? Or Japan and South Korea? France and Germany?

          • by gtall (79522) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @06:23AM (#40840215)

            Revisionism isn't helpful. In Iraq, the U.S. removed a dictator who prevented the majority Shi'ites from living in a democracy. They may not have one yet but at least now they have a chance. And Saddam was another war waiting to happen, the only reason it didn't from he or his sons is because the U.S. spent 10 years and a lot of money making sure he couldn't rearm enough to start one. When it became clear, he or his sons were going to be a perpetual threat, the U.S. took him out.

            The IRA was only brought to the bargaining table after it was rammed into their thick heads they couldn't win. That took a lot head-bashing to get them to that point. And if they had succeeded, they'd have started in on Ireland because the IRA was a bunch of socialists on a mission to unify the island under their direct control.

            Britain and the U.S. fought it out, then reconciled, Japan and S. Korea are not reconciled, they simply have decided not to fight it out...yet. Japan recently claimed some islands that S. Korea thinks are theirs, and S.Korea halted progress on a defense pact over the issue. France and Germany only reconciled after Germany was defeated and France had nothing left with which to continue the fight. The U.S. made them reconcile by liberating France and defeating Germany.

            Putin's Russia will never reconcile with the West simply because he wants to create another Stalinist state, but one he thinks can be run efficiently. The whole problem with the U.S. and Russia over Syria is because if the West succeeds in forcing the government there out, then Putin is worried he'll look like the petty dictator he really is and the West might attempt to force him out as well. His methods for keeping power are not all that dissimilar to Assad's and he'll be calling out the military should there ever be a popular groundswell of opposition to him. You can take the man out of the KGB but you cannot take the KGB out of the man.

            Islam will never reconcile with the West either either. The West believes in democracy where power comes from the people. Islam believes that power comes from Allah. You can see it starting to reassert it's political basis in Turkey. Erdogan cannot stop himself from attempting the slow Islamization of Turkey's political landscape. Give it another 10 years and there won't be any democracy left in Turkey.

            China is busy expanding into anything they think they can grab. There's no accommodating them unless by that you mean acquiescing to whatever their demands are this year. A single party system has no bounds stopping it from becoming a major headache.

            • by AmiMoJo (196126)

              Revisionism isn't helpful. In Iraq, the U.S. removed a dictator who prevented the majority Shi'ites from living in a democracy. They may not have one yet but at least now they have a chance. And Saddam was another war waiting to happen, the only reason it didn't from he or his sons is because the U.S. spent 10 years and a lot of money making sure he couldn't rearm enough to start one. When it became clear, he or his sons were going to be a perpetual threat, the U.S. took him out.

              Revisionism? I think you will find that we went in solely on the premise of WMD. Democracy and freedom were not the issues. Even if they were then arguably an invasion was not the best way to go about addressing them.

              When it became clear, he or his sons were going to be a perpetual threat, the U.S. took him out.

              America! FUCK YEAH!

              You really do think you are the world police, don't you?

      • by catmistake (814204) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:58AM (#40838855) Journal

        We need software, not bombs.

        FTFY

        make install, not war

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @10:27PM (#40837345)

      Awkward moment when even the military is calling out excessive military spending

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Only a fool would believe that the US is the World's 'policeman' and the notion of 'protecting' everyone is a bad joke. All of that crap is for sheeple consumption in the US. The US is the latest EMPIRE and is protecting ITS interests. Anyone that wants to do anything outside these 'interests' has their country trashed and/or government removed either directly or indirectly via CIA sponsored proxies. This is not sustainable and will now stretch the empire to its breaking point especially as the US economy n

      • by bigtrike (904535)

        So you're saying we're going to be overrun by barbarians from the north?

    • than the combined total of the seventeen nations next in defense spending. I can recommend David Wessel's book Red Ink as an excellent, informative read on US budgetary matters. The stat I led this post with comes from his book. Also, I suggest listening to Teri Gross's interview with Wessel today. You can find it here: http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=13&prgDate=07-31-2012 [npr.org]

      • than the combined total of the seventeen nations next in defense spending.

        Holy Shit! If a mere eighteen nations form an alliance against us, we're toast!

    • We spend entirely too much money on our military. We are so far ahead of the next country in terms of dollars spent it's not even close. We keep bases all around the world, protecting everybody, so that they don't have to spend their own money on a military and instead can spend it domestically. It needs to end. It's no longer 1955.

      I agree, and a *radical* reduction.

      However, IMO we need to go about it slowly to keep from submitting the economy to any more shocks. Defense spending has had 60+ years to become deeply embedded in our economy, and cutting it out is going to hurt.

      The (also badly needed) troop reduction is also going to put a lot of people in need of a job.

    • by Zemran (3101) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @12:52AM (#40838497) Homepage Journal

      It is not the amount but the effectiveness of it. A few years back I was working with air traffic controllers, installing systems that could bring together all the data and recreate and replay an event from all the data, voice, radar etc. Anyway, I was talking to the ATC guys on a small European island and one of them told me about a time when a plane came into his airspace without showing tags that let them know automatically who it is. He demanded to know who it was and the pilot was surprised because even the pilot thought that his stealth plane could not be seen. It turned out that the stealth bomber is only invisible to modern radar and on this island with older larger, dishes they could see the plane as clearly as any other plane. That is old radar like most of our enemies have... The ATC guy explained the technology to me and how to create a system that would see any stealth plane created using current technology (i.e. a range of different bandwidth/size radar dishes).

      Trillions of $$$ and it is useless... but we the public are sold on the idea that this technology is unbeatable.

  • by pipedwho (1174327) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @10:16PM (#40837271)

    'interfere with the military industrial complex gravy train'.

  • How about... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @10:17PM (#40837277)
    How about trying to maintain a foreign policy that encourages peace and free trade? I'm sure that will keep us much safer and will cost us less. But instead we spend our billions on arms and look for conflicts to use them in...
    • Re:How about... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Decker-Mage (782424) <jack_of_shadows@yahoo.com> on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @11:01PM (#40837617)

      This didn't deserve an off-topic. The primary mission of the United States Navy is to preserve freedom on the seas. That was the number one item on the back of my Liberty Card (for the short period of time I actually had one). We are dependent on that free trade for our national survival especially in time of war and this is true of many of our alliance and trading partners. Anything that threatens that mission threatens the nation, and in actuality the Constitution if you trace it back.

      I would be negligent not to also point out that warfare in the modern era (1800+) has been characterized by conflicts that start between major trading partners so preserving our strength for this mission may be helpful in preventing future conflicts. Frankly, those of us in uniform really do not want to see combat despite what those not in uniform may think. Getting shot at, and possibly killed, isn't on our list of high-points of a career in the military. I come from a long line of naval service on both sides of the family. Mom and Dad served in the Navy as well. I think I can speak for all of us on point about how we would like our careers to end. My career was hazardous enough without help from outside actors.

      So if spending a few billion here and there to prevent a war is possible, ....

    • by Guppy06 (410832)

      How about trying to maintain a foreign policy that encourages peace and free trade?

      That's exactly what we have, you just forgot the "or else" part.

    • by raehl (609729)

      How about trying to maintain a foreign policy that encourages peace and free trade?

      That stops working the second someone else decides to have a foreign policy based on military power.

      You can't demand peace and free trade if the other guy has a gun and you don't.

    • Re:How about... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Viceice (462967) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @11:56PM (#40838069)

      It's hard to do without a real Army. Just look at what China is doing in the South China Sea.

      Just last week China said it was going to unilaterally have its military garrison a group of disputed oil rich islands off the coast of Vietnam and as much as the other countries want to protest, they can't do jack shit about it because not only do they want to be good trading partners with China, they cannot afford a shooting war with China.

      So yeah, keeping the peace also means being able to put up a fight if one breaks out.

  • by AlienIntelligence (1184493) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @10:21PM (#40837293)

    http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/07/f-22-germans/ [wired.com]

    "In mid-June, 150 German airmen and eight twin-engine, non-stealthy Typhoons arrived at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska for an American-led Red Flag exercise involving more than 100 aircraft from Germany, the U.S. Air Force and Army, NATO, Japan, Australia and Poland. Eight times during the two-week war game, individual German Typhoons flew against single F-22s in basic fighter maneuvers meant to simulate a close-range dogfight.

    The results were a surprise to the Germans and presumably the Americans, too. “We were evenly matched,” Maj. Marc Gruene told Combat Aircraft’s Jamie Hunter. The key, Gruene said, is to get as close as possible to the F-22 and stay there. “They didn’t expect us to turn so aggressively.”"

    • by Jimme Blue (1683902) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @10:28PM (#40837349)

      http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/07/f-22-germans/ [wired.com]

      "...individual German Typhoons flew against single F-22s in basic fighter maneuvers meant to simulate a close-range dogfight.

      The results were a surprise to the Germans and presumably the Americans, too. “We were evenly matched,” Maj. Marc Gruene told Combat Aircraft’s Jamie Hunter. The key, Gruene said, is to get as close as possible to the F-22 and stay there. “They didn’t expect us to turn so aggressively.”"

      I don't doubt this report. However, my understanding is that the point of F-22 is to conduct its engagements at long-range and avoid these close-range knife fights. If the threat gets to dog-fighting range, the F-22s have screwed up and lost their greatest advantages.

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        Meanwhile, in the real world, beyond-visual-range fighting tends to be rare because rules of engagement generally require that you can be certain you're shooting at a bad guy.

      • by srmalloy (263556) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @10:59PM (#40837589) Homepage

        I don't doubt this report. However, my understanding is that the point of F-22 is to conduct its engagements at long-range and avoid these close-range knife fights. If the threat gets to dog-fighting range, the F-22s have screwed up and lost their greatest advantages.

        That was the point of the F-14 Tomcat, too -- an airframe designed around carrying the AIM-54 Phoenix long-range missile to engage and destroy incoming Soviet bombers at ranges that would force them to launch their anti-ship missiles before acquiring good targeting information; while the swing-wing gave it an increased flexibility in maneuver, it was still a large, relatively unmaneuverable fighter. You will note that, despite upgrades like the Super Tomcat, the F-14 has been phased out, replaced by the much smaller F-18 and variants, plus the increasingly late and over-budget F-35C.

        • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp.Gmail@com> on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @02:04AM (#40838893) Homepage Journal

          That was the point of the F-14 Tomcat, too -- an airframe designed around carrying the AIM-54 Phoenix long-range missile to engage and destroy incoming Soviet bombers at ranges that would force them to launch their anti-ship missiles before acquiring good targeting information; while the swing-wing gave it an increased flexibility in maneuver, it was still a large, relatively unmaneuverable fighter. You will note that, despite upgrades like the Super Tomcat, the F-14 has been phased out, replaced by the much smaller F-18 and variants, plus the increasingly late and over-budget F-35C.

          Uh, the Tomcat had a tighter turn radius than anything but the F-16 and F-18... and it was pretty close. The swing wings gave it miraculous maneuverability. The problem that the Tom did have in performance wasn't maneuverability or even it's large size, but rotten engines that were underpowered and finicky. The Tomcat drivers I knew used to joke that "If it says Pratt & Whitney on the engines, it'd better say Martin Baker on the seat" (for those that don't get the reference, Martin Baker makes ejection seats for military planes).

          Please note that the Tomcat served longer in frontline service than any fighter in the history of the U.S. Navy. Over 30 years. Not even the Phantom served that long in fleet squadrons. The reason the Navy retired the Tomcat had nothing to do with performance and everything to do with cost. It was expensive as hell to maintain and fly. Even with the much-better GE F110 engines in the D model, the Navy simply couldn't afford to keep it anymore. Pilots that had flown both the Tomcat and the Hornet will tell you that in fleet air defense, they'll take the F-14 all day long, thank you. Ask any pilot familiar with both platforms and they'll tell you that, performance-wise, the Navy traded down. The Super Hornet won the day because of cost, cost to buy and cost to fly. It has much fewer maintenance requirements. Economics is the sole reason the Tomcat is no longer with the fleet.

          • by Forbman (794277)

            Yes, I do remember reading an article (Air & Space?) around the time the last F14 was leaving service, that the F14 required 10 hours of maintenance for every 1 hour for the F18E/F or something like that.

    • by thesandbender (911391) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @10:49PM (#40837531)
      The F-22 is ultimately meant to protect our AWACS planes. If the AWACS are taking out, the USAF loses their view of the airspace and controlling it becomes much more difficult. The F-22 are meant to loiter a distance away from the AWACS and take their targeting instructions from them. The enemy aircraft get popped and if it's done right the F-22 are still hidden.

      If they know its going to be a true dog fight, they're going to send in the F-15s which have proven time and again that it can hold it's own (b/c despite their size, they were designed to be close in knife fighters). The F-15's won't always maintain this superiority and newer Mig's and Sukohi's have closed much or all of the gap... but it's still one of the best out their.

      Anyway, using a ground based analogy... the F-22 is meant to a sniper, supporting the F-15's and F/A-18's are the grunts who will be doing the close in work.
  • Cui bono? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jaymzter (452402) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @10:30PM (#40837371) Homepage

    Think about the source folks. I'm an ex-Navy man so it pains me to say, but to me it seems obvious what's going on here. Ask yourself, does it benefit the Navy or Marines if we standardize on a subset of airframes? Who do you think would be the major driver of those designs? It's going to be the Air Force, and the needs of the fleet are going to come second to theirs.

    Next, the Admiral himself brings up aircraft carriers, a platform not known for its stealthiness. In fact, pretty much any Navy ship designed for stealth is going to be smaller and have a small crew as well. He's defending his turf and his budget, which in a sense is very much his job as CNO. Or at least that's my take.

    Go Navy, Beat Army! ;-)

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      I believe you'll find that the F-35's design is largely driven by the Navy and Marine requirements, since pretty much the same airframe has to operate from land, traditional carriers and VTOL from small carriers.

      • by amiga3D (567632)

        I find it hard to believe the Navy really wants a single engine fighter. Surely even the Squids are not that stupid. In fact, with the experience of the F-16 lawn dart I would think the military would have dropped the idea of a single engine fighter for good. Of course, from the manufacturers standpoint it's a nice feature. Plenty of replacement orders for all the ones that drop out of the sky.

    • Re:Cui bono? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ColdWetDog (752185) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @11:01PM (#40837615) Homepage

      If you had actually read the article, you would have noticed a few interesting things:

      1. Although Stealth was indeed part of his thesis, it was only one of a number of subjects he touched on. He mainly was describing the current Navy attempts at creating Stealth vessels - attempts that have been very expensive and pretty much useless. He points out that anti stealth technology is advancing faster (and cheaper) than stealth construction techniques and it's tactical advantages tend to be rather modest. Basically, Stealth isn't and should not be the be all and end all of military research.

      2. Most of the article described the long lead times of military gear (especially naval vessels) and the short half like of various military technologies (like Stealth). He posits that making modular systems that can be re purposed easily for whatever tends the be the threat de jour.

      Of course, he spends a lot of time talking about non modular ships like the Enterprise (the CVN-65, not NCC-1701) and how they've been modified for different jobs over the years without being expressly modular, but the idea is there.

    • Re:Cui bono? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by RicktheBrick (588466) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @12:14AM (#40838231)
      I joined the Navy in 1974. My first ship was the USS Virginia (CGN-38). Almost everything to me was a joke. My training in combat was almost nothing. I was a fire control man(FC). At first I was a FTM but that was dropped and FC was my designation. I was expected to maintain and operate the combat MK-74 weapon system. The computer did not have a hard drive and the program was loaded by using a tape system. Nobody really expected that the ship was going to be used in combat even though the ship was an expensive ship since it was nuclear powered. If I could get the weapon system to pass a daily test, I was good. It would throw some fake targets at the ship and if the radar detected them and generated a solution and if the launcher would load up a fake missile and point it, I could fire it and the test would be successful. Never at any point was there any training on what to do if we were really attacked by a real enemy. It was just like my duty to be on the quarterdeck. I was given a 45 and 10 rounds of ammunition. Of course the ammunition was never in the 45 as it was never fired on anyone. Once a year we would be taken to a firing range where we would be told to fire on a target. It did not matter how close we got to the target since they always told us the Navy could not afford to train us to fire accurately and besides if they failed us it would make us happy since it would mean that they could not assign us to the quarterdeck watch. Everything was a joke since several times, I would be assigned to walk on a deck with a shotgun but was never given training on when to shoot it. Or how to defend myself if there was an attack. I really do not know what would have happened if some pirate would have tried to board us on the fan tail. There would have been a watch there but he would have been unarmed and the only weapon would have been on the bridge. It would have been in the custody of someone with no training along with some officers with again no combat training. The armory would have been locked up at night and the key would probably be with a gunners mate who would have to get there unarmed to pass weapons to again other sailors with no training on how to use them. I did this on three other ships and my total experience was that it was a very big joke as I at no time felt I was defending this country from any enemy as I was given no training.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @10:41PM (#40837459)

    During WWII, they cranked planes out by the 1,000's if not 10's of 1,000's. Nowadays, the number of high performance jets is measured in the hundreds. If there were to be a conflict, due to the complexity of today's aircraft, there is no way to crank out new aircraft by the 1,000's or hundreds or even tens. There may certainly be a need for a much simpler aircraft that can be easily mass produced in significant quantities.

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @11:03PM (#40837637) Homepage

      During WWII, they cranked planes out by the 1,000's if not 10's of 1,000's. Nowadays, the number of high performance jets is measured in the hundreds. If there were to be a conflict, due to the complexity of today's aircraft, there is no way to crank out new aircraft by the 1,000's or hundreds or even tens. There may certainly be a need for a much simpler aircraft that can be easily mass produced in significant quantities.

      Those are called drones (and cruise missiles which really are a form of drone). The idea is that meatbags don't get to see the action up close. That's for the video gear.

    • During WWII, they cranked planes out by the 1,000's if not 10's of 1,000's. Nowadays, the number of high performance jets is measured in the hundreds. If there were to be a conflict, due to the complexity of today's aircraft, there is no way to crank out new aircraft by the 1,000's or hundreds or even tens. There may certainly be a need for a much simpler aircraft that can be easily mass produced in significant quantities.

      Same with tanks. If there's a WWIII and it doesn't go nuke, things will get interesting after a few weeks.

      • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @03:56AM (#40839571) Journal

        Tanks are not particularly interesting these days. Keep in mind that originally they were designed to support infantry, but a modern tank is primarily a machine designed to take out other tanks. What's worse is that many other things on the battlefield are also quite capable of taking out a tank, and a lot of those things are orders of magnitude cheaper (like RPG-21, or even Javelin). Most armies fielding tanks these days really use them just like mobile artillery (which makes sense when you're fighting enemies with no armor), but they are vastly overengineered and overcomplicated for that role. Israelis seem to have a right idea with where Merkava is evolving - more and more armor, more and more focus on infantry support esp. in urban scenarios, which also makes it less suitable for tank vs tank combat.

    • by srmalloy (263556)

      During WWII, they cranked planes out by the 1,000's if not 10's of 1,000's.

      Just for some perspective, Russia built more than 40,000 Il-2 Sturmovik ground-attack aircraft during WWII; Germany built almost 30,000 Bf 109 fighters; the US produced more than 15,000 each of the P-51 Mustang and P-47 Thunderbolt, and more than 12,000 each of the F6F Hellcat and F4U Corsair. From 1939 through 1945, the various combatants produced more than 750,000 military aircraft of all types. Just like the combat records of the Luftwaffe pilots who were kept in battle year after year, we're never going

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @10:46PM (#40837507) Homepage

    And his logic is hard to fault. He pointed to the B-52 as an example of a flexible weapons platform that had a wide variety of uses that didn't require stealth technology compared to the limited usefulness of the F-117.

    Solid, reliable and flexible is more important than stealth, which was designed for a war we're likely never going to fight.

    • by Cosgrach (1737088)

      I have to agree. More rugged, flexible platforms without all the techno crap (less shit to go wrong) really seems the way to go. They are less expensive to build and maintain. The A10 and C130s are excellent examples of aviation engineering at its finest. Modern 'stealthy' jets may still have a role to play, but it's the simple designs the will win the day.

    • In 1900, the very small British Army was armed, equipped and trained to put down Wogs........no one ever thought that within less than 15 years they'd be fighting out of trenches in France.

  • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @10:56PM (#40837573)

    People have been arguing over the best value in military equipment for standing armies for the better part of 2 centuries, this isn't anything new.

    And no one is right. General purpose versatile weapons that are useful against relatively weak powers if the next war you fight is against a relatively weak power, but you can't anticipate which one, where specialized equipment is useful against a specific target when you know who you're fighting.

    If you could predict the future and know what enemy you'd have to fight next, and what weapons you'd want for that war then sure, you could reasonably guess what platforms you want, or what payloads you want. His view is that the US can innovate on those things separately fast enough to adapt to any new threat, he might be right of course, but probably for relatively low involvement conflicts he's wrong, and knowing the future mix is tough.

    The specific criticism of stealth isn't anything new. By the time you ever have to fight anyone important they'll probably be able to see stealth aircraft so you're not getting much, on the other hand if you have to go into Syria by the end of the month stealth could payoff. Transferring research to longer range weapons (standoff weapons in his parlance) isn't an inherently bad idea, but of course the longer a munition has to travel the easier it is to disrupt or intercept so you could spend a lot of research dollars on something that will just fail to deliver. Electromagnetically launched weapons probably have a place, but that's only one piece of a large puzzle.

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @11:17PM (#40837739)

      If you could predict the future and know what enemy you'd have to fight next

      Really, every conflict and war that the US has entered in since World War II has been a completely voluntary war. The US can (and does) choose the wars it wants to fight. Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Panama, Kosovo, etc. There hasn't been a war in the last 50 years that the US has -had- to fight, everything has been carefully chosen.

      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        That doesn't mean you have enough time to devise an all new set of military equipment for the wars you feel the need to get involved in though. Joining the korean war in 1955 would have been as useful as trying to invade vietnam in 1980.

        US entry in the war may be voluntary, but the timing is somewhat constrained. The rwandan genocide took 100 days roughly, at that point the US 'entering the war' would have been too late anyway so there was no point, and that's the problem, if there's something you are obl

      • That's true, but.... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by raehl (609729) <raehl311 AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @11:58PM (#40838089) Homepage

        Ever since Vietnam, we've only chosen the wars we thought we could easily win.

        The consequence is that if you don't have the military hardware to fight a war, then you can't use the threat of war against whatever opponent you're not willing to choose a war against.

        Put another way, there's a reason we'll regime change Libya but have no balls when it comes to Iran's nukes.

  • by sydbarrett74 (74307) <{sydbarrett74} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @11:09PM (#40837679)
    ...who want to shove this stuff down the armed forces' throats. The generals and admirals themselves say they don't want the kit, but the lobbyists and aerospace companies insist on making their billions or even trillions of dollars; and the members of Congress want their kickbacks and 'campaign contributions'.
  • by kilodelta (843627) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @11:17PM (#40837735) Homepage
    Ike Eisenhower is spinning in his grave. He warned us about the Military/Industrial Complex - of course he waited until he was leaving office to do so. But he did warn us. And what did we do, nothing. Of course it is in the interests of the arms industry to keep one upping, that guarantees a continual profit scheme for shareholders.
  • by Sasayaki (1096761) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @11:30PM (#40837837)

    I'm not sure why this big push towards "the One True Airframe" exists in current aircraft design philosophy.

    I'm a big fan of cheap, specialized airframes which are given one specific goal and then features are "added on". For example, take one of my favourite aircraft, the A-10 Warthog.

    It's one-sentence goal is: "Easily destroy any armoured vehicle that the US could conceivably encounter within the next 50 years."

    Which it does. Additional features it has:

    - Extremely tough and rugged.
    - Very long duration, able to loiter and provide cover for extended durations.
    - Cheap in construction and simple to maintain.
    - Minimally capable in missile-based air-air combat (it's not a dogfighter but it's not helpless either, like an AC-130 is).
    - The A-10's cannon is effective against infantry (duh), buildings, helicopters and small naval assets.
    - Able to deliver complex munitions (cluster bombs, air dropped mines, dumb bombs, smart missiles, etc).
    - Able to function in electronic warfare/forward command roles.
    - Fast enough to get to combat locations fairly quickly (subsonic, but still jet powered and fast compared to things like the AC-130 Spectre).

    All of which is good, but are all of these things are secondary to its primary goal; blow the absolute piss and shit out of anything with treads or wheels. If it can't do that, the rest is fairly much window dressing.

    The A-10's a perfect example how we should build combat aircraft. An air-supremacy fighter should be built with the goal of "Destroy any fighter aircraft the US could encounter within X years" and all other considerations secondary. A bomber's mission should be "Carry the maximum amount of ordnance to any location the US could want to bomb within X years", a spy plane's (mostly replaced by sats these days) should be "Take photographs of any location in the entire world without being detected or destroyed", etc.

    Another way to look at it is: "A soldier should carry a knife for eating, a sword for dueling, a dagger for murdering, a claymore for horses, a razor for shaving, a bowie for skinning, a throwing knife for throwing."

    Why are we trying to make The One True Edged Weapon, which if such a thing were built would be too sharp for eating, too short for dueling, too long for murdering, too short for horses, too dangerous for shaving, too awkward for skinning and too heavy to throw? (and cost $27,000,000...)

    • by Loki_1929 (550940)

      I completely agree with you here, and that's really the design philosophy behind the F-22. Without upgrades, it'd destroy any fighter on any drawing board anywhere in the world today. Realistically, that means anything being flown in production in the next 20+ years. With upgrades, it'll do that for a lot longer. It doesn't need to hit ships and tanks and SAM sites; it need only clear the skies of enemy aircraft. If it does that, then it's done its job and we own the sky.

      Owning the sky doesn't guarantee vic

  • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @12:24AM (#40838315) Homepage Journal
    Where have I heard all this before? Oh right, 30-35 years ago when pretty much everyone was saying the exact same thing about the F-14. Everyone except the taxpayers, that is. We all know it's dumb to buy this stuff, but when they ask us to pay for it, we can't vote for the people who open our wallets, fast enough. Spend more money please, and I'll vote for you.
  • by catmistake (814204) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @12:26AM (#40838329) Journal
    Stealth technology certainly did something advantageous in that instance... we effectively landed at least two helicopters right next to a major military installation in the middle of Pakistan without anyone but Osama and his immediate neighbors realizing it until it was all over. I know I wasn't the only one quite impressed with that implementation of stealth technology. Honestly, I'm still having trouble believing it's possible... but it happened.
    • by gweihir (88907)

      Yes, right. And crashing one in the process. I call that a major fail.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by catmistake (814204)

        As they hovered above the target, however, the first helicopter experienced a hazardous airflow condition known as a vortex ring state. This was aggravated by higher than expected air temperature ("a so-called 'hot and high' environment") and the high compound walls, which stopped the rotor downwash from diffusing. The helicopter's tail grazed one of the compound's walls, damaging its tail rotor, and the helicopter rolled onto its side. The pilot quickly buried the aircraft's nose to keep it from tipping ov

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