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US Navy Admiral Questions Expensive Stealth Platforms 490

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

    "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.”"

  • 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 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...)

  • 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.

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

    by raehl ( 609729 ) <raehl311@yahoo.GAUSScom minus math_god> 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 LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @11:59PM (#40838103) Homepage Journal

    Actually not anymore. One of the reasons that the F-14 did so little in the Gulf Wars was that it lacked the modern radars that could do None Cooperative Target Identification. Modern radar can ID a target well past visual range. Your about 10 to 15 years out of date.

  • 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 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 Forbman ( 794277 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @02:38AM (#40839107)

    This is kind of a dead argument, really. It's been kicked around for...oh...the last 60 years or so. The US does it because it's been good economically for the US corporate interests, as well as the corporate interests of most of the countries we "police" for.

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @03:38AM (#40839479) Journal

    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 Alex Belits ( 437 ) * on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @03:40AM (#40839489) Homepage

    He put his capital at risk to start it up

    Risk does not inherently deserve a reward. Certainly not a reward that involves control of other people and fruits of their labor.

    All that being said, if you are a US citizen,

    Not only I am not an US citizen, I also happened to live half of my life in USSR and half in US, what makes me more qualified to comments on matters of Communists, Socialism and Capitalism than most of US population including all US politicians, all US journalists, all US "historians" and, of course, you.

    the first amendment does guarantee your right to have and espouse completely stupid opinion

    It's nice that you have mentioned that. First Amendment is basically the right to lie to the public with impunity, as your favorite propaganda outlet, Fox News, demonstrated multiple times. If anything, your response demonstrates that those lies were extremely efficient.

  • 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 myowntrueself ( 607117 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @05:43AM (#40840031)

    The thing that happened in Northern Ireland is a total different scenario than, let's say, between USA and China

    You folks in Northern Ireland basically eat the same food, listen to the same song, curse in the same language - the only difference between the pro-IRA and the anti-IRA folks is the religion

    Basically it's a Catholic vs Protestant conflict

    I remember reading about how the IRA went to Libya to get some support from Ghadaffi. At first he gave them help. Then someone from Protestant paramilitaries went to Libya, met Ghadaffi and explained how it wasn't a freedom struggle, it was sectarian and Ghadaffi withdrew his aide from the IRA.

  • by myowntrueself ( 607117 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @06:00AM (#40840119)

    Somehow there's a great incentive to solve things diplomatically when the alternative is Mutual Assured Destruction.

    Bertrand Russel, best known for his anti-nuclear stance (see CND), at first advocated a massive pre-emptive nuclear strike against the USSR; to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons.

    AFTER the USSR developed nuclear capability Russel completely changed his tune and went all anti-nuclear. This was purely based on game theory and logic, nothing to do with morality or anything cute like that, just cold reasoning. Before they have the nuke, BOMB the shit out of them. After they have the nuke, abolish nukes.

  • by risom ( 1400035 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @06:40AM (#40840287) Homepage

    And yes, trickle down did work until we regulated industry out of the US and people had to choose asking if you want fries with that as a career path.

    Nope, trickle down never actually worked. Have a look at the real wage development visualized in the diagram in the criticsm section of the wikipedia article [].

  • by mhajicek ( 1582795 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @09:12AM (#40841291)
    Every job "created" by public spending is a job destroyed by taxation. If you tax people enough to pay to create a job, you reduce their discretionary income, which reduces their spending, which reduces the public sector jobs their spending would support. To understand try imagining the extreme: what would happen if 75% of jobs were government jobs? The other 25% would be supporting them, which would be an impossible burden.
  • by Shotgun ( 30919 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @03:59PM (#40847371)

    Actually if you bother to read the article where the German pilots were surprised to find themselves on an equal footing in a dog fight

    The thing is, this is going to be true for any fighter jet since the F-16. That was the first plane, I believe, that was fly-by-wire and had sensors to limit the G forces on the pilot. The aerodynamic egineers can EASILY draw up an airframe that will kill any and all occupants. The limiting factor of maneuverability of modern military aircraft is human factors, and that is going to put the aircraft all all nations on a similar footing.

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan