Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Training the Afghan Military...

U.S. Army Sgt. Anthony Hernandez teaches room-clearing tactics to Afghan National Security Force members on Forward Operating Base Ramrod, Afghanistan, Feb. 27, 2010. Hernandez is assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment.

You want to know what irony is?  In this photo you see that the Afghan soldier has what appears to be an M16A2.  The US Soldier has an M4.  If the Afghan goes rogue, switches sides...defects to the Taliban then his weapon will out range the Soldiers weapon.

Soldier Systems knows better than this!

Bullshit!  I'm calling bullshit on Soldier Systems latest post.

A Picture Says a Thousand Words - Part II

This one however, says a few more.
I am not sure of the circumstances behind this photo but the sentiment captured here is priceless. Protect yourself.
They posted a picture of a Marine, involved in combat and did not check into the circumstances of why he rushed to a fighting position to protect himself and his comrades!  From the caption and their statements they don't even know that the Marine survived the encounter.

You don't use a close call by any service member to push an agenda...even if its a worthwhile one. 

Operational Security????

I slammed our General's for broadcasting the assault on Marjah.  Seems like the Israeli Army has the same problem...this from Reuters...
03 Mar 2010 11:36:56 GMT
Source: Reuters
JERUSALEM, March 3 (Reuters) - The Israeli military called off a raid in Palestinian territory after a soldier posted details, including the time and place, on social networking website Facebook, Israel's Army Radio reported on Wednesday. The soldier -- since relieved of combat duty -- described in a status update how his unit planned a "clean-up" arrest raid in a West Bank area, the radio station said. Facebook friends then reported him to military authorities. The Israeli military spokesman's office had no immediate comment. Israel says raids in the West Bank are aimed at detaining militants suspected of planning attacks on Israelis. Palestinian officials say the incursions undermine efforts by the Western-backed Palestinian Authority to enforce law and order in the territory. (Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Louise Ireland)

USMC Procurement train wreck...

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  The procurement holiday that past Marine Corps leaders instituted on the Marines is about to bite us in the ass.  The F-35B, MV-22B, CH-53K, AH-1Z and UH-1Y all have to be purchased....and that's just on the aviation side.  If you start looking at the Ground Combat Element you see a similar number of big ticket items that need to be purchased.  The moral of this story?  Procurement has to be planned, if not then you reach a point of whole classes of equipment becoming obsolete at the same time.

But I digress.  This is via Ares....

The U.S. Marines are doing what they do best for the F35 -- securing a beach head and holding onto it.

They confirm that they are still planning to declare initial operational capability for the F-35 in 2012; there is no change to the earlier goal. This means the Marines will be the first service -- by at least two years -- to declare the aircraft ready for ops. And, they will be employing the most complex JSF design.

"Our IOC is still 2012 and [full operational capability] 2024.  Nothing has changed," says Maj. Carl Redding, Marine Corps spokesman.

Initial operational capability is declared when a service feels a weapon system is ready for deployment and to do its mission -- that means enough aircraft, spares and the right software (in the case of JSF) to go abroad and kill things.

Sticking to 2012 seems to be a high-risk goal. As it stands, there has been no vertical landing yet, and we are about two years out from the IOC goal. And, that is a critical milestone for the seafaring service. Aircraft deliveries for test jets are behind, and software testing is lagging. The big restructuring in the Fiscal 2011 budget is designed to curb the impact of these problems, but there is still a 13-month delay to the conclusion of flight testing.

Testers aren't likely to have a formal report until 2015 -- three years after USMC declares its IOC.

Meanwhile, USAF has slipped its IOC two years to late CY2015, and Navy officials are reassessing their plans for a 2014 IOC.
As a side note, I don't see this standing.  The Marine Corps attempted the same thing in the past.  Of course the circumstances were different but I'm referring to the AV-8A when it first entered USMC service.  It was initially flown only by experienced Marine Corps pilots with high flight hours or even attendance to test pilot school.  This lasted for two years before it was given to inexperienced pilots.  The results were a disaster.  The Harrier initially had a horrendous loss rate and was even known as a "nugget killer".  Lets hope history in a different form isn't repeated.

F-35 News...

Stephen Trimble over at the DewLine is becoming the go to source for F-35 news.  Besides posting some pretty impressive stories on the F-35 saga, he's scoured the internet and come up with this jewel from James Hasik.

Read the story, its well worth it.  But here is a highlight....
Of course, the F-35C—the tailhook shipboard version—could be very helpful, but that aircraft is said to have significant structural problems at this late stage in the game. Still, as the Royal Navy and the US Marines know, there is more than one way to send fighter aircraft to sea. It may be useful for Lockheed’s opponents to concede the value of the F-35B as a short takeoff, vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft. If crassly, it’s the one variant that directly offends neither the American (Boeing) nor European (Saab, Dassault, EADS) branches of any anti-Lockheed coalition. Indeed, as an Anglo-Italian-American airplane, it provides plenty of work to BAE Systems and Alenia. Encouraging the DoD and the MoD to pour their money into that corner could lessen enthusiasm for the F-35A, which is the least essential airplane for the Americans, and the only one that anyone outside those three countries wants.
Like I said read the rest to get the context, but this program is in trouble.

Its in trouble because the managers lied, the JSF office didn't exercise oversight and there was no sense of urgency.  I hope this withholding of 600 million dollars is just a start.

Danish C90's...


Danish Army Sends CV90 Vehicles to Afghanistan

03 March 2010The Danish Army has, for the first time, deployed a fleet of ten BAE Systems Hägglunds CV9035 infantry fighting vehicles to Afghanistan.
The deployed vehicles feature several upgrades, including BAE Systems L-ROD bar armour, Barracuda camouflage, and software modifications to the vehicle's computer system to enhance battlefield readiness.
In addition, extra power supply for the electronic counter measures system and an additional IR camera for the driver covering the rear of the vehicle were also included in the upgrades.
The vehicles received major upgrades after their arrival in Camp Bastion, Helmand province, in mid February.
An armoured infantry company of the ninth Danish battlegroup will operate the new fleet of CV9035s to serve with the International Security Assistance Force.
The vehicles will operate alongside tracked M113G3 and wheeled Piranha IIIH armoured personnel carriers, and a platoon of Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks.
In 2008, Denmark received 45 CV9035s and the army has a requirement for an additional 45 vehicles.
This has got to be the most anticipated deployment of any vehicle to Afghanistan that I can recall.  Not even the arrival of Canadian Leopard Tanks caused as big a splash across the blogosphere as the CV90.

I think its well founded though...the CV90 is really the prototype (in my mind) of the future of armor.  Its a hybrid infantry fighting vehicle/infantry support vehicle/fire support vehicle that will rule the future.

I like it.

Army moving to cover the 'fighter gap'


Raytheon Awarded $18 M for SLAMRAAM Long-Lead Purchases

(Tewksbury, Mass., March 2, 2010) -- Raytheon Company's (NYSE: RTN) Surface Launched Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (SLAMRAAM) program has received approval from the U.S. Army for long-lead purchases, not to exceed $18 million, leading to low rate initial production.

This approval is significant as it underscores the Army's confidence in the system and the capability it brings to the warfighter. This funding will accelerate the manufacturing schedule for key command and control components subsequent to the U.S. Army Milestone C decision planned for next year.

"SLAMRAAM represents an important step forward in the defense of our troops on the battlefield as well as our nation and allies," said Karen Kalil-Brown, vice president for Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems' National & Theater Security Programs. "SLAMRAAM will field the first command and control air defense system supporting the Army's vision of 'system of systems.'"

SLAMRAAM is a tailorable, state-of-the-art air defense system that can defeat current and emerging cruise missile threats, unmanned aerial systems and a wide range of air breathing threats. It provides the warfighter with a system of highly mobile battlefield elements networked and geographically distributed to provide integrated fire control capability against airborne threats.
It seems that the US Army is voting with its check book.  The idea that in an age of super fighters in the US arsenal, that the Army is investing in a big ticket item like this is telling.  With certain moves by the Air Force, most notably to move toward having half of its force be composed of UAVs is certain to make any combatant commander nervous when it comes to facing a peer threat.  Air Defense Artillery might be coming back into fashion.

Stilleto...oldie but goodie...

Futurist and UAVs...

Elgatoso gave me this link to a Popular Mechanics article.  Its rather straight forward and gives the company line from the USAF.  My problem with the Air Force's line of thinking is that they assume a superiority in unmanned air vehicles with little acknowledgment of the issues.
1.  Loss rate is astronomical
2.  Lack of responsiveness with current models
3.  Lack of payload
4.  Muddled mission set
5.  Provides no visibility on weapons advancement

Loss Rate
The loss rate for UAVs should cause concern for Air Force planners.  UAVs aren't cheap and the latest models are approaching the costs of manned aircraft.  Loss of high performance UAVs can no longer be ignored.  They contain sensitive electronics that we don't want falling into the hands of the enemy, and the idea that we're losing 50% of them on take-off and landing has to be troubling.

Lack of responsiveness
If they're not in the area, then they're slow as syrup.  The Predator has a top speed just a bit faster than a helicopter...its loiter ability is impressive but if they're acting as a combat vehicle that must displace and get to where the action is then seconds become minutes and minutes become hours.  They're just too slow right now.

Lack of payload
Ground forces would rather call in an artillery strike now.  The targeting is as good, the response immediate and the amount of fire dependent only on the targets available.  The same can't be said for a predator that carries two 500lb bombs and maybe some hellfires.

Muddled mission sets
This goes back to the light weapons fit.  Is it a recon or attack platform.  The idea that both missions can be suitable merged in any kind of combat other than COIN is silly.  The second combat becomes more intense is the second that UAVs become less relevant.  As a recon platform YES!  As a combat vehicle...not so much.

No visibility on weapons advancement
The next wave of weapons advancement will be the use of AESA radars in an offensive fashion.  US UAVs have yet to face a force that is actively trying to knock them out of the sky.  When we face a foe that is able to fry the electronics of the airplane without tell-tale weapons blasts then we will first be confused and label them as operator error or perhaps even link losses....until we get good evidence that they're being knocked out of the sky electronically.

In short UAVs are vulnerable against an enemy with an air force.  To place half of our airpower in drones is a mistake.  I hope we reverse this before its too late.

2010 provided a couple of links that are worth reading.  It seems that someone is already trying to solve a few of the problems that I outlined above.

EC725 Cougar....

I have been marveling at the long life of the EC225/725 helicopters.  They're as old as Moses and look to continue in service for a long time to come.  Why.  Well the issues with the NH-90 come to mind but those will be corrected (it will be expensive but it'll be done) why.

It has to be because it just a good, solid design.  Like the CH-47 or the AH-1, it has passed the test of time, its a known commodity and it does its job well.  The latest version, the EC725 is in use by French Commando's as an insertion helicopter and they also use it as their CSAR platform.  Good Stuff...via Wikipedia...

EC-725 Cougar                                                                    

Marine Aviation in Marjah...

Via DVIDS...
Video by Lance Cpl. Nicholas Neighbors
Package about Marine Aviation supporting Marines on the ground in Afghanistan during Operation Moshtarak. Produced by Lance Cpl. Nicholas Neighbors. RCS2010.

Units Involved:
• Marine Meduim Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (US)
• Marine Aircraft Group 40 (US)
• Marine Attack Squadron 231 (US)
• Lt. Col. William Depue (US), Executive Officer, Marine Meduim Tiltrotor Squadron 263
• Capt. Brian Gerschutz (US), Harrier Pilot, Marine Attack Squadron 231
• Lt. Col. Thomas Gore (US), Future Plans Officer, Marine Aircraft Group 40

Australia and the NH-90...

And for the NH-90 the bad news keep coming...9msnnews...

Aussie military defends new helicopters

The Australian Defence Force says the new transport helicopters it is buying have excellent potential despite a German report outlining a range of defects.
A defence spokesman said Australia was seeking an English translation of the German Army trial report on its NH-90 helicopters.
He said all matters of operational effectiveness and airworthiness were taken seriously and the German report would be reviewed in detail.
"Australia is working with other nations and industry to address any issues arising as the NH-90 is introduced into service," he said.
"The aircraft, which has excellent potential, is relatively early in its developmental cycle. It is essential that any issues are identified and appropriately rectified so that the full combat potential of the aircraft can be realised."
Australia is acquiring 46 of these helicopters to replace Army Black Hawk and Iroquois helicopters and Navy Sea Kings through a deal worth $3.3 billion.
In Australian service, the NH-90 will be known as the MRH-90 for multi-role helicopter.
This is a European design, manufactured by NH Industries, a joint venture of Eurocopter, Agusta and Fokker. Of the Australian helicopters, four were manufactured in Europe with the rest to be assembled in Brisbane by Eurocopter subsidiary Australian Aerospace.
The German military is the largest single customer, buying 152.
But a 103-page internal military report, leaked to German daily newspaper Bild last week, pointed to many shortcomings and even recommended using alternative aircraft in operational scenarios.
The problems include limited clearance so that soldiers have trouble getting in and out, a rear ramp too weak to support fully equipped soldiers, seats unable to accommodate soldiers weighing more than 110 kilograms and limited interior space, which means there's no room for a door gunner.
For additional reading on the NH-90's issues (and the originators of the story) check on this article from Spiegel Online