Superficially, it feels like the crux of the problem is that "supporting the troops" has been subverted to mean not questioning civilian-driven military policy. This has given them carte-blanche lest anyone be accused of not supporting our boys.
(It's possible to be against a war (and the policies and politicians that set that course) while still honoring/supporting soldiers and their family.)
Except when a congressman from Ohio decides that they need more tanks so that he can keep his voters employed , despite the army saying they have plenty and don't know what to do with them. They have literally thousands of tanks sitting in storage in the desert, and they're rolling tanks straight off the production line into storage.
The army did not convince Congress that it did not need more tanks in 2011, so in 2013, Congress funded an additional tanks to be built at a cost of ~$270M.
Usually, the military provides requirement and the civilian administration provides the funds. How can the Congress order the Army to make more tanks when they don't need it? I am not an American, so probably I am missing the entire context here.
This at least sometimes happens in Europe too... defense procurement is big business and very political, and sometimes European militaries end up in programs (esp. multinational ones) they aren't that enthusiastic about. Another example is conscription. The Swedish military wanted conscription to be abolished for years before it actually happened, but until the civilian government decided to do so, in the meantime the military had to keep taking in and training conscripts they didn't actually want.
You see, the army is controlled by the president. The president may be from a different political party or even be following his own personal agenda. The army must strictly obey orders according to the chain of command, and the president is at the top.
If the president dislikes tanks, he can order the army to place tanks into storage and claim that the tanks are not wanted. Congress is left wondering if the people in the army are stating their true expert opinions or just following orders.
Here is a real case that leaked out:
So yes, the military being ordered to lie to congress is a real thing.
The A10 is an example of Congress imposing civilian priorities on the military. Despite its declining military utility, it's a popular plane, so Congress won't let the military sunset it. It has nothing to do with the president ordering the military to lie to Congress.
You're not even legally correct... while the president is the commander in chief, Congress has oversight of military spending under Article I, Section 8. An order to lie to Congress about spending would be an illegal order, and military personnel are not compelled to follow illegal orders.
The F22 looks to be a similar case. Here we don't have a crude effort getting leaked, but that doesn't mean the situation was any more legitimate. It very much seems that Obama was pushing to kill the F22 and the military marched to his orders.
1. demand is generated by the military
2. bid out contract
3. selected a bidder (bidders are defense contractors)
4. deliver contracted goods and also maintain inventory parts and tooling for sometimes up to 25 years
5. local economy becomes dependent on this manufacturing income, bidder lobbies their local congressperson directly or indirectly
6. congressperson does these wacky ass requisition appropriations
7. the factory keeps production at the same level and with same employment
8. military gets delivery for goods they never wanted so they go into storage, because what else are you supposed to do with these things? You can't resell them because it contains military secrets, you can't scrap them from both an optics level and the general military logic that having a spare is generally fine.
This happens even moreso when it is navy vessels that are much larger cost investments (submarines and destroyers) as just making one will take years potentially and there are legitimate concerns for stopping the means of production but it really just turns into a jobs/national pride story.
As an example, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy's new carrier, was ordered in 20089 and laid down in 2014, it was commissioned only last year, and is still undergoing sea trials and isn't operational (they also have no planes to fly off it). It's planned to be in service in 2020, 6 years after being laid down and 12 years after it was ordered.
I'm also not sure in the comparison between foreign governments and US defense contractors but US defense contractors generally only sell to the military markets (domestic or international) so it's not like their facilities are designed to be able to build ordinary commercial goods side by side with the military spec hardware.
They're literally making tanks and driving them straight into storage because the army doesn't have anything to use them for or anybody to drive them.
But you're right and I was wrong. The problem isn't only that politicians / civilians have usurped "supporting the troops" as a shield (as I said), but really any decisions (whether it be made by the military or civilians) cannot be criticized / questioned without a high risk of being labeled unpatriotic.
Good luck prying those out of the Navy's cold, dead hands. Just look how long it took to finally get rid of battleships.
You'd think that after the complete shitshow that was mc02 they would have started to see the light. But I think instead they're just burying their heads in the sand a bit farther.
The last time the US Navy built a battleship was in 1941. It was decommissioned in 1958 - the last of its kind. If you take World War II as the proof that carriers had eclipsed battleships, that doesn't seem like long at all.
The battleships were recomissioned in the '80s by Reagan as a bizarre act of cold war willy-waving. And once you've paid the money to get them working and put some missiles on them, you might as well keep using them until they fall apart.
WW2 was definitely un-ignorable proof that battleships were done. Imo though, given the essentially complete lack of actual success wrought by battleships in ww1, someone should have seen the light in the interwar period.
I guess I shouldn't be too harsh, at least we aren't building much else new that's bigger than a destroyer (except carriers).
And the Royal Navy had "through-deck cruisers" that were actually (tiny) aircraft carriers, so that they could get them built under a government which wanted to keep defence spending under control:
There's no surer way to get a tinpot dictatorship to start dancing to your fiddle than to park a carrier battle group outside their territorial waters.
As Bill Clinton said:
> When word of a crisis breaks out in Washington, it's no accident that the first question that comes to everyone's lips is 'Where's the nearest carrier?'
Most of the time, a submarine or destroyer with Tomahawk cruise missiles will get the job done. But parking a nuclear submarine off the coast doesn't have the same diplomatic effect.
See, for example, MC02.
Yes and no. The Atlantic Conveyor, a makeshift helicopter carrier, was sunk, taking the UK’s Chinooks with it, leading to the famous “yomp” across the island. But you are right that both of the Harrier carriers were OK.
The Argentinians deployed two submarines. The Royal Navy caught the WWII surplus Santa Fe. The more up to date San Luis evaded the RN and it's attacks were only foiled by poor maintenance of it's weapon systems.
The British submarines drove the Argentinian surface ships (including their carrier) into port.
The RN of the time was as good as any at anti-submarine warfare and had quite modern air defences. I think the Falklands war showed how effective air-launched missiles and submarines were (are).
I’m not saying you’re wrong - to the contrary, since you are a former pilot I’m actually quite interested in your opinion.
Unmanned missile trucks are drones that carry missiles that can be guided by other platforms. After the drone launches its missiles, who cares if it blows up. Trying to make drones defensible like expensive fighters is just as stupid as the JSF. Some stealth and defense is good, but expendable and cheap is more important.
Carriers are too vulnerable to missiles. Missiles are the future. You can’t defeat something going mach 6 that pulls 25 g’s in the end game. 'The Future of War' does a great job describing the evolution of weapons platforms and how aging ones are depicted by ever increasing costs on defensive measures which are then defeated by new, cheaper weapons.  Carriers and fighter jets are becoming the modern battleships which is a bit ironic.
And if so, are we there yet, technologically speaking? I.e., not just peacetime autonomy but actually dealing with a combat situation -- possibly with friendlies in the skies -- completely autonomously? My impression the last time I talked with a uniform about this was that the answer is still no.
You can "defeat something going mach 6 that pulls 25 g’s in the end game", not that this exists. The easy answer is directed energy, such as lasers. Also, simply forcing it to maneuver at 25 g will quickly put an end to flying at mach 6. Each turn costs energy, and bypassing the laws of physics is not an option.
Not to mention that for UK and Europe, pork-barrel politics means those engines can only be serviced by one country that is increasingly distancing itself from the rest of NATO. All F35s can be trivially rendered useless by denying them access to the single maintenance facility for their engine.
The autocorrect feature (on your mobile phone, I presume) made my day: I love the idea of an unmanned mussel truck.
We have 2 problems which I think are compounding each other:
1. The classic problem of defense: Fighting the Last War
2. An extremely strong defense industry lobby.
It's a situation that could have been far more easily handled in the late 90's, but is now being "handled" by attempting to reduce the training latency (not viable and quite unwise, IMO, but happening regardless) and by reducing the staff billets demanding fighter pilot backgrounds.
Technology will indeed replace (and has been) much of the need to put a highly trained human on the bleeding edge. That doesn't obviate the current significant under-staffing.
"Tomcat v2" and "unmanned missile trucks" are mutually compatible assertions, considering that standoff use of AN/AWG-9 + Phoenix to cover the outer air defense zone is what the F-14 was all about. A networked mix of active & passive sensor platforms and missile carriers is Tomcat v2 !
We have a maginot line floating at sea.
Does the USA really have any threats that aren't just the USA being on the offense?
It would be a folly to dismiss it.
China isn't a real threat in the regards you're claiming they are. For 99% of all the scenarios of combat the US is likely to see, carriers make ideal sense. You're saying the 1% scenario, a world war 3 scenario, is a good reason to not have any carriers because they can be sunk. That makes zero sense in the present and for the next two decades. If a lot of carriers get sunk by China in a non-defensive attack, we're at a point of going to nuclear war, hundreds of millions will die. None of the weapons China has will matter then either.
The sole scenario worth considering seriously, in naval conflict, is China-Taiwan. There's realistically nothing the US can do to stop China if it decides to invade and take the island. It doesn't matter what tech the US has.
If all they're good for anyway is bombing 3rd world countries into submission, hey, just buy a mothballed supertanker, pave it over and load it up with cheap turboprop planes carrying bombs. Equally good for bombing people armed with AK-47's and RPG's, and you'd save billions! :)
And the defensive capability is ultimately the same as a $$$ supercarrier, if the buck in any case stops with "if you touch these, we'll answer with nukes".
What parts of a modern aircraft carrier do you think are redundant? They still need to operate far away from bases and friendly ports (after all, that's the point of a carrier), so they still need nuclear power and to carry fuel for their own escorts. They still need all the radar/radio/command-and-control functions. They still need to be able to maintain their air wing, so they still need hangers, elevators, all of that. (I guess you're arguing for loading a carrier with rugged bush planes and assuming that you could reduce maintenance requirements by doing that, maybe getting to the point of just parking the planes on deck? It's an interesting idea but existing bush planes are generally designed to operate in savannah/desert. I don't know how possible it is to build a plane that can stand up to saltwater spray).
As I am understanding it the US is buying such a palne in the Light Attack/Armed Reconnaissance program: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_Attack/Armed_Reconnaissa...
Many other countries also use planes like the Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano to fight insurgents and other that do not have any anti aircraft capabilities.
Personally, having F14-like drones would probably be much better at keeping opponents airpower down/out than JSF or F18s, but that's my silly civilian opinion.
The _that's_ I was referring to was in the the preceding comment, which referred to aircraft carriers as a Maginot line floating at sea.
Seems to me that they have worked out how to manufacture certain parts themselves, or are getting them on the black market somehow.
For all the F-14s many faults, at least it proved to be a serviceable aircraft that proved itself in an actual dogfight situation. Our own RAAF is slated to receive F-35s soon, but I recall last year during an airshow to display their capabilities to the local crowds, the aircraft could not return to their home base to land and had to be diverted to an alternate due to... light rain.
Fair enough the aircraft were not certified for flight into inclement weather yet, but it strikes me (pun intended) that the new generation of aircraft are far more sensitive to issues like these than the older generation aircraft that could be flown while held together with sticky tape and chewing gum.
In this case, then F-35 squadron had done the flyover at the actual airshow in clear weather and were returning to their temporary airbase several hundred miles away. They could not land back there due to the light rain over the base and had to be diverted to a dry base elsewhere.
Interesting that nowhere in this article are the capabilities of the F-35 STOVL variant discussed, a weapon that the Navy is paying $100M+ for. That they are skipping that discussion and jumping into why they need NGAD is just disgusting.
Oh well, the Pentagon is just a giant building that buys weapons. Always looking for the next piece of kit to blow cash on.
And just while I'm on this tirade...there are almost no use cases where you need an airplane that goes faster than Mach 2. At that speed you are outside the envelope where you can fire a missile. If you are trying to design a fighter aircraft as an interceptor, you are doing it wrong...
The 14 had range and speed, but using those abilities was very difficult. Midair refueling is headache on a carrier. The faster and further the 14s had to go, the more tanker aircraft had to be launched. They were great for fleet defense, sticking close to home, but were ill suited for escorting bombers on long ground attack missions. So as cold war battles on the high seas were replaced by pocket ground wars, the 14 lacked purpose.
The 14s weapon system, the phoenix, would not be acceptable today. It was meant for downing incoming waves of bombers over open ocean, where the enemy is clearly identifiable. It wouldn't work well in a mixed environment such as over Syria. So the 14 would need a new missile/radar to compliment its speed/range.
Speaking of crazy refueling, does anything beat the Vulcan raid during the Falklands war? 13(!) tankers supporting one bomber going from Ascension to Port Stanley and back. Not only tankers refueling the bomber, but tankers refueling tankers etc.
Here's a documentary about the raid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBJ99bIhAVk
All this massive effort, and in the end one single bomb out of 12(24?) managed to actually hit the runway.
They're absolutely brilliant against barbarians, though.
As those kinds of subs are available to more and more countries you can't always "park" a carrier group without risk.
And the carrier group's use of active sonar is limited (whales). And the actions of the protecting sub(s) are classified. And we still havent mentioned the rise of anti-torpedo/missile technologies. ... the real outcomes never makes it into the public domain.
Then I went blind and decided if I couldn't fly a jet, then meh, I'd do something different.
Interesting proposition, but I don't know how effective BVR air to air missiles would have been?
I thought that was one of the issues, and would still be an issue today wouldn't it?
That's a fantasy that might exist 30 years from now; one which nobody possesses today at a US-threatening level. Only China is close, and if it comes to sinking ships then we're at WW3. Currently China is entirely trapped inside of their borders and or very close proximity to those borders. There isn't a single country other than the US with global force projection, in which they can push their logistics, support, weapons and supply outside of their borders for an extended period of time or at a far distance.
How are cheap Chinese drones going to help, when everything in your country looks like Syria and you have no runways or infrastructure including electricity? You're entirely stuck within your own borders, while the US bombs your vital infrastructure from outside of it. When enough damage is done, it proceeds to traditional bombing runs.
There are only two adversaries to the US that that doesn't apply to: China and Russia, due to their scale.
Absolutely nothing changes until other nations achieve sustainable projection external of their own borders. Otherwise, everything inside of those borders becomes a captive target. The cost of projecting outside of your borders, is extremely high. More likely, only Russia and China will continue to possess that ability among traditional US foes.
If they really want to cripple the US then a large scale cyber attack would be orders of magnitude cheaper and far more effective than any military one.
As for the air force, drones will take them out, and any land forces then won't have mobility or logistical support in Asia or the Pacific.
The air force and navy as currently constituted are just corporate welfare programs.
It seems to me adventured is fully acknowledging that if China wants a shooting war, they can take out US Pacific carrier groups, after which Beijing and Shanghai will be smoking craters, and we’ll find out if US anti-missile defense is any good (I tend to think it’s snake oil, but I’d really rather avoid testing that).
The goal of having a military is to encourage diplomatic ends. The US has many diplomatic goals that don’t involve combat on the Chinese mainland.
It’s also not clear to me that in a shooting war scenario it’s a bad plan to have some manned fighters, assuming basically all EM channels for controlling drones will be jammed.
> the best unclassified study we have suggests that if eight small drones attack an Aegis-equipped destroyer - which has various AA missiles as well as Phalanx - it would get about five of them. However, this is crucially dependent on the exact speed, size and stealthiness of the drones involved
CIWS need to find a way to scale. Maybe a grid?
The Zumwalt DDG discarded CIWS in favour of missiles.
How do you control your military when communication and GPS satellites are feeding you incorrect information?
Perhaps you mean the F-35? There are two carrier based variants - the F-35B and F-35C. The B is a STOVL and the C is designed for takeoff and landing on carriers. Both variants are still in testing, and I believe the C is closer to operational than the B at this point.
It was probably the most interesting job I ever had.
We programmed in CMS-2 and AN/UYK assembly language
Assuming you are allowed to, could you share some more info?
How did you program AIM missiles for following heat signatures, was it a case of reading bits from the IR sensor?
Did missiles logic have exceptions e.g. FuelRanOutException, IRSensorUnresponsive?
Two words: TOP GUN.