Japan’s demographics spell doom

Ups and downs: Working age population projection by Japan's National Institute of Population and Social Security ResearchJapan’s National Institute of Population and Social Security Research

International investor and entrepreneur Simon Black of Sovereign Man writes, Sept. 15, 2014:

One in eight Japanese is aged 75 or older. People over 65 will reach 33 million, the largest ever, roughly 25.9% of the population.

The thing about demographic trends is that they’re like a huge oil tanker—once they’re on their course it’s very hard to steer them around in another direction.

These are monumental, generational changes that are very hard and slow to reverse.

By today’s trend, Japan’s population will dwindle from 127 million today to around 100 million by 2050. It’s the worst possible demographic nightmare.

People stopped having as many babies decades ago. It was too damned expensive.

Then the big collapse came in the late 80s, and the economy has been dragging it heels ever since.

When prosperity is low, people consequently delay having children. They have fewer children. Or they don’t have them at all.

This has enormous long-term implications for the country and its fundamentals. Fewer people of working age means fewer jobs, less productivity, less consumption and less government tax revenue.

On the other hand, a bulging group of older people means more spending for medical care and pensions.

In the recently proposed budget for fiscal year 2015, the Japanese government earmarked 31.7 trillion yen for social security, welfare and health spending.

This is the largest item in the budget, consuming 31.2% of all planned government spending.

And it’s only getting larger.

It doesn’t help that Japan is essentially already bankrupt.

The second largest item in Japanese government’s budget is interest.

While social security, welfare and health spending has increased by 3% from the current budget, debt servicing is up by 11% and now amounts to 25.8 trillion yen, or an incredible 25% of Japan’s budget.

So just between pensions and interest, they’re spending 57.5 trillion yen. Last year they only collected 50 trillion in tax revenue.

So before they spend a single yen on anything else in government… anything at all… they’re already 7 trillion yen (about $70 billion) in the hole. They have to borrow the rest.

Bear in mind, this is coming at a time when interest rates for 10-year Japanese bonds are 0.5%, and even closer to zero on shorter notes.

If interest rates rise to just 1%, which is historically still very low, Japan will spend almost all of its tax revenue just to service the debt!

You can’t make this stuff up. It’s a screaming indicator that this system can’t possibly last.

Europe, the US and Japan, three of the biggest economies in the world, are all on a similar inevitable trend—they’re in debt up to their eyeballs, with absolutely no arithmetic possibility of ever getting out of the hole unscathed.

Japan is just worst of them all.

And history is so full of examples of what governments do when countries get into this position: as reality beckons, they become even more careless and destructive.

Meanwhile, researchers found that young Japanese not just shun the idea of marriage and having children, they increasingly are asexual. More than 25% of unmarried men and women in their late 30s have never had sex.

Add to all this the following doleful statistics from Wikipedia:

Suicide is the leading cause of death for Japanese under 30. In 2009, the number of suicides exceeded 30,000 for the twelfth straight year.


Reaction to Obama’s ISIL counterterrorism policy speech

On Sept. 10, 2014, thirteen days after admitting he had no strategy to deal with the Islamic Caliphate or State (IS, aka ISIL, aka ISIS), President Barack Obama finally unveiled his “counterterrorism” policy against the IS from the State Floor of the White House.

(For a summary and video of his speech, see “Obama announces U.S. ‘counterterrorism’ policy against ISIL“.)

Below is a sample of reaction to his speech. Note that my words are colored green.



writes in the Washington Post, Sept. 10, 2014:

[...] Although Obama promised a “steady, relentless effort” in a nationally televised address Wednesday night, he also said that “it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL,” using a common acronym for the Islamic State.

Such a mission was not the U.S. military’s preferred option. Responding to a White House request for options to confront the Islamic State, Gen. Lloyd Austin, the top commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, said that his best military advice was to send a modest contingent of American troops, principally Special Operations forces, to advise and assist Iraqi army units in fighting the militants, according to two U.S. military officials. The recommendation, conveyed to the White House by Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was cast aside in favor of options that did not involve U.S. ground forces in a front-line role, a step adamantly opposed by the White House. Instead, Obama had decided to send an additional 475 U.S. troops to assist Iraqi and ethnic Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment.

Recommitting ground combat forces to Iraq would have been highly controversial, and most likely would have been opposed by a substantial majority of Americans. But Austin’s predecessor, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, said the decision not to send ground troops poses serious risks to the mission.

Investigative Project on Terrorism writes, Sept. 11, 2014:

President Obama’s assertion Wednesday night that the Islamic State terrorist group “is not ‘Islamic'” is drawing derision from a number of quarters.

The claim, also made by Obama’s predecessors, is “preposterous,” Daniel Pipes wrote for the National Review Online. “To state the obvious: As non-Muslims and politicians, rather than Muslims and scholars, they are in no position to declare what is Islamic and what is not.”

Author Sam Harris, an atheist who challenges all religions, went further, dismissing Obama’s argument as a “scrim of pretense and delusion.”

“Which will come first, flying cars and vacations to Mars, or a simple acknowledgment that beliefs guide behavior and that certain religious ideas—jihad, martyrdom, blasphemy, apostasy—reliably lead to oppression and murder?” Harris wondered in an essay. “It may be true that no faith teaches people to massacre innocents exactly—but innocence, as the President surely knows, is in the eye of the beholder. Are apostates ‘innocent’? Blasphemers? Polytheists? Islam has the answer, and the answer is ‘no.'”

But Obama’s argument echoes statements made by Muslim American leaders during a news conference Wednesday morning. “All of this is against the foundation and teaching of Islam,” former Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) President Mohamed Magid told reporters. He also is a member of the president’s Homeland Security Advisory Council.

The Quran includes numerous passages encouraging violent jihad and inspiring hatred of non-believers, Harris notes. Robert Spencer offers specific examples here, and asks why the Islamic State has become such a magnet for wannabe jihadists if it was not seen as inherently Islamic.

But instead of acknowledging those verses and debating their modern application, the president used a nationally televised speech to act as if they do not exist. Harris blames “a large industry of obfuscation designed to protect Muslims from having to grapple with these truths.”

We saw that in action during Wednesday’s news conference at the National Press Club.

It’s a difficult sell, Pipes concludes, because of the clear theological statements and justifications Islamic State terrorists invoke for their brutality.

“Anyone with eyes and ears realizes that the Islamic State, like the Taliban and al-Qaeda before it, is 100 percent Islamic. And most Westerners, as indicated by detailed polling in Europe, do have eyes and ears. Over time, they are increasingly relying on common sense to conclude that the group is indeed profoundly Islamic.”


Note from StMA: For those, like Obama, who insist that ISIL/ISIS/IS is not Islamic and that Islam is a “religion of peace,” here are just three sobering quotes from the Quran:

Sura 9:29– Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

Sura 9:5– “Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”

Sura 8:12: “When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.”

Also, a London-based imam, Anjem Choudary, defended acts of terror, including the beheading of foreign journalists, as consistent with the teachings of the Koran. Choudary told Russia Today that “terrorizing the enemy is in fact part of Islam” and cited a passage of the Koran that calls for Muslims to use “steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah.” “So terrorizing the enemy is in fact part of Islam,” Choudary said. “I mean this is something that we must embrace and understand as far as the jurisprudence of Islam is concerned.”


David Brooks writes in The New York Times, Sept. 11, 2014, comparing Obama to Moses (!):

Moses, famously, tried to get out of it. When God called on him to lead the Israelites, Moses threw up a flurry of reasons he was the wrong man for the job: I’m a nobody; I don’t speak well; I’m not brave.

But the job was thrust upon him. Though he displayed some of the traits you’d expect from a guy who would rather be back shepherding (passivity, whining), he became a great leader. He became the ultimate model for reluctant leadership. [...]

President Obama is the most recent. He recently gave a speech on the need to move away from military force. He has tried to pivot away from the Middle East. He tried desperately to avoid the Syrian civil war. [...]

Obama is compelled as a matter of responsibility to override his inclinations. He’s obligated to use force, to propel himself back into the Middle East, to work with rotten partners like the dysfunctional Iraqi Army and the two-faced leaders of Qatar. He’s compelled to provide functional assistance to the rancid Syrian regime by attacking its enemies. [...]


Note from StMA: Obama “tried desperately to avoid the Syrian civil war”? What is David Brooks smoking? Please see Pulitzer-award journalist says Obama admin made up intelligence for war on Syria.


A. James Gregor writes for the Consortium of Defense Analysts, Sept. 12, 2014:

The President’s address was perhaps the most presidential of all his public speeches to date. The delivery was good and the sentiments inspiring. The difficulty lies in the elements of the strategy. To work, all the parts must function impeccably in mutual support. Unhappily that is not likely to happen.

(1) Every analyst recognizes that attacks from the air may degrade (to a certain extent) the enemy, but not destroy him.

(2) For that, ground forces will be necessary–and the President apparently has no clear idea how or from where they might be forthcoming. He has precluded U.S. troops. NATO will not supply such forces (both Britain and Germany have indicated their reluctance to participate–and Turkey has publicly refused any direct involvement). The Arab states do not have ground forces equal to the tasks of such a complicated asymmetrical conflict. To suggest that such a force might be equipped and trained (in Saudi Arabia?) taxes credulity. The U.S. spent about a decade (and multiple billions) attempting to train an Iraqi army for just such a conflict–which proceeded to immediately disintegrate with the first challenge. Still less plausible is the suggestion that the “Syrian opposition” might serve in such a capacity. There is no evidence that the anti-Assad opposition would serve as a “partner force on the ground.” against an Islamic insurgency. Assad has some credible forces at his disposal, but unless Washington is prepared to enter into some kind of political accommodation with him (rather than his opposition), it is very unlikely we will find any “partners” in Syria.

In effect, there is no “broad coalition” anywhere ready to support the “new” strategy–and given the limitations the President has imposed on the nation’s armed forces, it appears that we have been committed to a long, uncertain, and costly conflict in the Middle East with no visible outcome.

Sheila Liaugminas writes for MercatorNet, Sept. 12, 2014:

Democrats are crossing the aisle again, this time as they voice strong support for attacking Islamic State, though the overwhelming majority of lawmakers from both parties oppose the idea of sending in any U.S. ground troops…

Obama flatly said [...] he has the authority to do this. Period.

This reflects Obama’s contempt for all matters constitutional. [...] this blank “I have the power” talk telegraphs contempt for the intelligence of the American people [...]

Isn’t it time we had a president who says aloud the obvious fact that when you massacre a bunch of Christians, you’re making it that much more likely that the American public will demand that the U.S. attack you? Right now, this would be a useful thing for certain terror organizations in Africa to hear…

But that circles back to the question at the beginning, do we, or does the administration, know the enemy? [...]

If we are to defeat the violent Islamist radicals who are today threatening the world, we must shine the brightest of spotlights on this malignant idea at the heart of their ideology. And we must counter it, not just with the force of arms, but with a compelling defense of the anti-totalitarian idea of morally ordered freedom. [...]

The rise of this extremist ideology to prominence coincided with a deep crisis of faith that engulfed Europe after the carnage of World War I nearly a century ago. In response to this crisis, totalitarianism – initially in communist and fascist forms – rose to fill the void. Its vision amounted to the state’s replacing God as central to all things, while anointing certain people and their movements as humanity’s new leaders, deserving the ultimate powers once reserved for the deity.

[...] The same totalitarian impulse that drove Nazism and communism has hijacked religion as its latest vehicle, creating radical Islamism.

From ISIL to Iran’s mullahs, and from al-Qaeda to the Taliban, these new totalitarians pose similar threats to freedom, dignity, and peace. Displaying characteristic contempt for the rule of law and the crucial distinction between combatants and noncombatants in the conduct of war, they have deliberately targeted civilians and resorted to mass murder, precisely as the Nazis and Communists did. [...]

In this struggle, Muslims have a duty to their faith and to humanity to stand resolutely against Islam’s hijacking by people driven by the same diabolical impulse that unleashed the likes of Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot on the world. They must rip away its religious mask and reveal its idolatrous soul before the world.

The religious ideology of this group must be understood to be addressed. But the president keeps sidestepping the Islamic factor in this battle of civilizations.

In a televised address on how to address the Islamic State this evening, President Barack Obama declared the organization variously known as ISIS or ISIL to be “not Islamic.”

In making this preposterous claim, Obama joins his two immediate predecessors in pronouncing on what is not Islamic. Bill Clinton called the Taliban treatment of women and children “a terrible perversion of Islam.” George W. Bush deemed that 9/11 and other acts of violence against innocents “violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith.”

None of the three has any basis for such assertions. [...]

The president and his spokesmen claim to not be at war with the extremists who declared war on the US. [...]

On its face, it seems like the administration is sending mixed signals. The president made a rather clear case for a long campaign aimed at rolling back the nascent Islamic State in Iraq and eventually confronting them in their Syrian stronghold. Sources have suggested that this is a mission which will likely outlast the Obama presidency. So why pull punches today?

Josh Earnest made the administration’s thinking clear during his press briefing on Thursday in which he went to tortured lengths to insist that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and al-Qaeda were synonymous. Why? Well, claiming these two groups are the same would mean that the administration does not have to approach Congress for a new resolution authorizing use military force. [...] Instead, the White House can point to the 2001 authorization targeting al-Qaeda, even though the White House had previously argued that the resolution was dated and should be repealed. [...]

[But] the White House’s insistence that the present campaign is merely a continuation of George W. Bush’s War on Terror is unlikely to quiet the increasingly loud voices in Congress demanding a vote on a new authorization.Okay, well, even if we’re playing legal games with the word “war” and are trying to avoid the politics of getting the people’s representatives to sanction military action abroad, at least there is a plan for victory, right?

“What does victory look like here?” Earnest was asked on Thursday. “What does destroy mean?”

“I didn’t bring my Webster’s dictionary,” Earnest replied.

Michael Goodwin writes in The New York Post, Sept. 14, 2014:

The rising clamor over the beheading of two Americans, and rapidly sinking polls, forced President Obama to reassure the nation last week he had a plan to deal with the Islamic State. [...] most military analysts believe the expanded airstrikes will not be a sufficient match for the size and weaponry of the terrorist army.

They miss the point. The disjointed speech wasn’t really about terrorism and launching a new war. It was about saving Obama’s presidency.

He is sinking fast and could soon pass the point of no return. In fact, it may already be too late to save the SS Obama.

The whole second term has been a string of disasters, with the toxic brew of his Obamacare lies, middling economic growth and violent global breakdown casting doubt on the president’s stewardship. Six years into his tenure, nothing is going as promised.

Earlier on, he could have trotted out his teleprompters and turned public opinion his way, or at least stopped the damage. But the magic of his rhetoric is long gone, and not just because the public has tuned him out.

They’ve tuned him out because they’ve made up their minds about him. They no longer trust him and don’t think he’s a good leader.

Most ominously, they feel less safe now than they did when he took office. Americans know the war on terror isn’t over, no matter what their president claims.

Those findings turned up in a tsunami of recent polls that amount to a public vote of no confidence. They shook up the White House so much that the plan to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants was put on hold to try to protect Democratic candidates from voter wrath in November.

That was a necessary tactical retreat, but it doesn’t change the ­basic calculation. The president’s problem is that he has been wrong about virtually every major issue.

His worldview, his politics, his prejudices, his habits — they’ve been a mismatch for the country and its needs. He has been a dud even in the one area where he seemed a lock to make things better, racial relations. Only 10 percent believe race relations have improved under him, while 35 percent said they are worse, according to a New York Times survey. The remainder said there wasn’t much change either way.

That’s shocking — but not surprising. Barack Obama was not ready to be president, and still isn’t. It is a fantasy to believe he’ll master the art in his final two years.

The lasting image will be his yukking it up on the golf course minutes after giving a perfunctory speech on the beheading of James Foley. It revealed him as hollow, both to America and the world, and there is no way to un-see the emptiness.

That means, I fear, we are on the cusp of tragedy. It is reasonable to assume the worst-case scenarios about national security are growing increasingly likely to occur.

Obama’s fecklessness is so unique that our adversaries and enemies surely realize they will never face a weaker president. They must assume the next commander in chief will take a more muscular approach to America’s interests and be more determined to forge alliances than the estranged man who occupies the Oval Office now.

So Vladimir Putin, Iran, China, Islamic State, al Qaeda and any other number of despots and terrorists know they have two years to make their moves and advance their interests, and that resistance will be token, if there is any at all.

Throw in the fact that Europe largely has scrapped its military might to pay for its welfare states, and the entire West is a diminished, confused opponent, ripe for the taking. Redrawn maps and expanded spheres of influence could last for generations.

Of course, there is a possibility that America could rally around the president in a crisis, and there would be many voices demanding just that. But a national consensus requires a president who is able to tap into a reservoir of good will and have his leadership trusted.

That’s not the president we have.

After a Decade Of Spewage, Notorious F-35 Nay-sayers Are Still Dissembling

Pierre Sprey’s screeds are notorious among aviation and intelligence professionals.  Usually he leaves a twisted wreck of disassociated facts and opinions in his wake that is almost too daunting a task to attempt to substantively address, due to the amount of correction typically needed.  Here is a fine example of a reasoned treatment of parts of one of his latest diatribes, written by Tyler Rogoway on or about 20 Jun 14, in response to an interview by Pierre Sprey on Canadian TV back around 19Mar14 regarding the F-35.

— Displacedjim

Pierre Sprey’s Anti-F-35 Diatribe Is Half Brilliant And Half Bullshit

Tyler Rogoway

A video is making its way around the net right now that featuring an interview with F-16 co-designer and king of the 1970’s era “Fighter Mafia,” Pierre Sprey. In it he slams the F-35 in almost every way possible. Sadly, about half of what he says is totally relevant, the other half is totally bullshit.

I am not fond of the F-35 program. I don’t hate the aircraft itself, in fact I hate no airplane, and I do not hate the jet’s manufacturer Lockheed Martin either, but I do hate the asinine philosophy behind the whole Joint Strike Fighter initiative in the first place. That said, the F-35 “question” is not a simple one, especially at this point in its seemingly never-ending development process.

The point of this article is to go through some of the largely superficial things Mr. Sprey says in regards to the F-35, not in an effort to support the F-35 program, but to at least continue in my quest to clear away the gallons of bullshit that persistently block a clear vision into what has become the most expensive weapons acquisition in the history of mankind. 

Mr. Sprey’s opinions on the F-22, F-35 and many other weapons platforms that came before them have been passed around for years, if not decades within the aerospace and defense community. There is no doubt about it, Mr. Sprey is a controversial figure, and I do enjoy listening to him largely for entertainment purposes. I do agree with some of what he says, at least at face value, but he quickly loses credibility because by and large he is like a used car salesman, he only shows you what he wants you to see.

With this prologue in mind, below are the points in the video that I find very misleading in what is an already overtly broad, light on facts, and highly anecdotal interview.

1:10- The F-15 Is Loaded Up With A Bunch Of Junk… A Bunch Of Electronic Stuff That Has No Relevance To Combat

The F-15 is the most successful modern air-to-air fighter in existence and it has remained relevant and in production longer than the F-16 has. Sprey’s idea that the F-15 Eagle is a big turkey stuffed with frivolous things like a “big radar” and two engines is laughable. The Eagle’s massive radar aperture allows for it to detect, and in some cases to engage enemy fighters well before they can detect and engage the Eagle. This is a very big deal when it comes winning in beyond visual range air-to-air combat, and with the recent upgrade to the APG-63V3 AESA radar the F-15 packs the most powerful and capable fighter radar in operational service anywhere on the globe.

Regardless of its size, F-15’s high thrust-to-weight ratio allows for it to compete with lighter fighters in the within-visual-range fight. This is especially true when tailored tactics are employed by the Eagle’s pilots that exploit the big jet’s (about the size of a tennis court) unique attributes when opposing fighters that were designed for high-g sustained turns in the lateral plane at lower altitudes, or low-speed high-alpha maneuvers. Additionally, the F-15’s large size allows it to stay in the fight long after an F-16 or F/A-18 has hit bingo fuel state and returned to base. The F-15 also commonly carries double the payload of air-to-air missiles and ammunition than any light or medium weight fighter in US inventory.

Then there is the undeniable combat record of the Eagle, yet Mr. Sprey seems to think that the F-15 is a loser even after four decades of incredible success, not to mention the fact that it has never been bested in air-to-air combat and retains a kill ratio of 105.5 to 0. This denial of clear historical reality is a startling indication that Mr. Sprey may be living in the 1970s when it comes to air-combat doctrine, or maybe he simply does not want to admit that his stripped down, all super-maneuverable light-weight visual fighters or nothing initiative was not the right path for America’s air combat forces after all.

The fact is that the F-16, the same aircraft that Mr. Sprey is said to have had such a great input into during its genesis, has gained thousands of pounds in avionics, targeting pods, fuel tanks and other “frivolous junk” continuously since its introduction into service and some see this as a testament to how inaccurate his light-weight fighter prophesies of the 1970s were.

Mr. Sprey’s views are questionable considering that the F-15 remains more deadly than ever even after forty years of continuous service in the USAF, not to mention that its even more complicated and heavy brother, the F-15E Strike Eagle, is the most all-around useful machine that the USAF has in its inventory. Additionally, the F-15 Strike Eagle derivatives are still thought of as one of the top-of-the-line fighter aircraft available on the world market today.

Bottom-line, the idea that Mr. Sprey still thinks the F-15 is a dog when every metric and battle has proven him otherwise is more indicative of a character flaw than an argumentative one.

2:00- ‘As Soon As You Go To Design A Multi-Mission Airplane You’re Sunk’

Once again, what decade is this man living in? Wildly successful fighter aircraft are capable of both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, including his own baby, the F-16 Viper, along with the Hornet Series and what became the F-15 Strike Eagle, just to name some American examples. Even the F-14 Tomcat ended up being as good of an attack aircraft as it was an interceptor even though it was never originally designed to do the precision bombing mission. Also, some of Europe’s best fighter aircraft were purpose built to be multi-role aircraft, and they also retain incredible speed and maneuverability for the air-to-air role. Specifically, the Dassault Rafale and the Swedish Gripen come to mind.

Sure, having key purpose-built aircraft like the A-10 for the uniquely challenging job of precision close air support, or stealthy aircraft such as the F-117 for deep strike missions makes great sense, but for the vast majority of missions an air force will face a multi-role fighter gets the job done just fine. Also, having robust multi-mission capabilities designed into a single aircraft is certainly highly relevant on today’s economically cash-strapped battlefield, especially for smaller air arms who cannot afford an A-10 or a dedicated low-observable strike aircraft.

So justifying saving the A-10 from a premature retirement is one thing, but trying to straight-face tell the world that multi-role fighter aircraft are crap is denying the historical successes of these aircraft. Also, the advent of smart munitions has enabled even purpose-built air-to-air fighters to become unbelievably good attack aircraft. And smart munitions, especially the GPS guided variety, has really made this debate irrelevant in the first place as often successful strikes are about the capability of the munition being employed, not the weapons platform that it is being deployed from.

Like most things air combat related, the question of an all purpose-built or all multi-role force is not that simple, or even relevant for that matter. These decisions depend on many factors, one of which is the volatility and unique challenges of each mission set, and another is what types of successful aircraft has an air arm already invested into to satisfy said mission. So just because the US, with its large standing army and commitments abroad should keep its A-10s flying for a nominal cost, it does not mean another nation needs to develop a similar attack aircraft at great cost. Instead, their dollars maybe better used investing in greater numbers of multi-role fighters.

Decades of highly successful multi-role fighter aircraft operations, of which many different designs have been put into service, have proven Mr. Sprey’s statements against multi-role fighter aircraft wrong. We can indeed field excellent fighter aircraft that have both air-to-ground and air-to-air combat in mind, not to mention many other missions, especially considering the advancements of precision air-to-ground munitions and modular sensor systems.

All that being said, we should have drawn the line at including virtually every mission and capability into a single airframe, and especially that of the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) requirement that has horribly dogged the other two, and more numerous versions of the Joint Strike Fighter’s overall design, those being the F-35A and F-35C. Without this damning requirement, the F-35 would probably have been the best fighter ever built, not just in its avionics and sensor fusion abilities, but also in its raw kinematic performance. [Absolutely right on target! -- Displacedjim] Still, Sprey’s statement that all multi-role fighter designs are dead end is overly dramatic and borders on totally ridiculous.

3:10- ‘The Marines Have This Mindless Passion Now, Recently, For Vertical Takeoff Airplanes’

Is Pierre Sprey really Doc Brown who traded in his Delorean for a time traveling F-16 that runs on banana peels and flux capacitors?

FACT: The USMC introduced the AV-8A Harrier in 1971 and it has been a mainstay of their air arm ever since.

Much of the Marine’s combined arms combat doctrine is built around a STOVL capable fixed-wing attack platform. So the Marine’s STOVL requirement is not something that is going to go away anytime soon, nor should it, regardless of the F-35 debate.

3:55- ‘The Airplane Is Astonishingly Unmaneuverable… In Dog-fighting It’s Hopeless. You Can Guarantee That A 1950’s design MiG-21 Or French Mirage Would Hopelessly Whip The F-35″

Really Mr. Sprey, the F-35 is “astonishingly unmaneuverable?” Some metrics are available regarding the F-35’s raw performance and by and large most everyone agrees that the F-35 is as maneuverable as an F-16 with a comparable stores load-out, and in many ways the F-35A actually exceeds the F-16’s nimbleness under real world operational circumstances. Most sources, including the test pilot corps flying the F-35 to the extremes of its envelope today, say that the aircraft most closely matches the F/A-18 Hornet in performance, which is no slouch. 

Can the F-16 outperform the F-35A flying totally clean? Most likely, but how many times has an F-16 gone into battle in this configuration? In the last 30 years, never, which makes the while conversation irrelevant and Mr. Sprey’s comments highly inaccurate. Usually the Viper is laden with bombs, missiles, electronic warfare pods, and most importantly, external fuel tanks. Under such conditions the F-35 with same weapons load would skewer a Viper because the F-35 can carry its payload internally.

None of this really matters anyway as the F-35’s helmet mounted sight, sensor fusion and especially its Distributed Aperture System, when paired with the AIM-9X block II, will make drawn out hard maneuvering dogfights largely a thing of the past. [Mehhh, or at least that's what we hope will happen, and that will likely often be true. -- Displacedjim] Even today, with helmet mounted sights such as the Joint Helmet Mounted Cuing System (JHMCS) paired with high-off-bore-sight short ranged air-to-air missiles such as the AIM-9X, ASRAAM, IRIS-T and Python 4, not to mention the grand daddy of them all, Russia’s AA-11 Archer, combat after “the merge” has changed. Advanced avionics and highly maneuverable missiles have become as important, if not more important, than an aircraft’s pure maneuverability, and pilot training is still more important than all of these technological factors combined. Still, in an age when all you have do really do is see your opponent in your forward hemisphere in order to kill them, building super hot fighters, or even fighters at all, is suspect.

Finally, Mr. Spey’s talk of wing-loading as if it were the only factor that dictates an aircraft’s maneuverability is a great simplification of aerodynamics, propulsion and flight control systems, but I will save you the long technical spiel here. The F-35 does have higher wing loading than many other fighter aircraft, but the story is so much more complicated than just that, and Mr. Sprey’s lack of disclosing this reality is an issue.

5:30- ‘It’s A Terrible Bomber… You can put two big bombs inside this thing, which is a ridiculous payload”

I don’t think many people are looking at the F-35 and saying, boy that is one shitty attack aircraft! The fact that it can hold a pair of 2,000lb class weapons and a pair of AIM-120 AMRAAMs internally is one of the F-35A & C models best attributes, along with its unbelievably capable avionics suite and sensor fusion.

Once again, I think Mr. Sprey is living in a totally different era, as a pair of 2,000lb class guided air-to-ground weapons means potentially two massive targets destroyed with close to 100% accuracy, day, night, cloudy or clear.

It is not 1968 anymore, an era where we had to send the better part of an entire Carrier Air Wing after a single strategic target, such as a bridge, in order to hopefully score a direct gravity bomb hit. Guided munitions mean that even a relatively small attack aircraft can obliterate multiple strategic targets on a single mission with great certainty. A pair of 2,000lb class bombs, the heaviest general purpose bombs in the USAF’s inventory which includes the BLU-109 penetrator, is a highly relevant payload for a tactical strike aircraft and was the same as the purpose-built and legendary F-117 Nighthawk.

Although 2,000lb bombs can take down an entire multi-story buildings, smaller munitions that pack a serious punch are the future, and the F-35 can carry many more than two inside of its weapons bays. Even the GBU-39/53 Small Diemeter Bomb has a penetrator version that can take out hardened aircraft shelters and other well armored structures. The F-35 can carry eight of these internally, potentially 12 in the future, which means that it can hit that many targets with great accuracy on a single sortie, all from close to 50 miles away from its target.

The SDB is by no means the only small munition that the F-35 could benefit from, and many others that are even smaller are in the works. By mixing SDBs, JDAMs and even smaller micro-munitions, just a small force of the F-35s, can theoretically take down an entire airfield. Such a scenario was described in my recent piece 7 Things The Marines Have To Do To Make The F-35B’s Worth The Huge Cost:

Loading a dozen or so small GPS guided munitions onto a limited force of F-35Bs, and programming each munition individually with a target located around an enemy airfield, could potentially allow for wholesale destruction of the entire airfield on one single pass by that small force.

The F-35Bs, loaded with their targeting information before the mission is launched, would automatically release each small bomb or missile in a specified order as the jet passes over the target area, allowing for the aircraft’s weapons bay doors to be opened the minimal amount of time possible. So instead of say two, or even four targets being destroyed per aircraft assigned to the mission, with small scale air-to-ground weapons a dozen or more may be struck by each aircraft. In other words, no longer do you need to prioritize just the most pressing “primary” targets for an attack, and then send multiple waves of aircraft to hit each individual aircraft or armored personnel carrier scattered around the target area. Instead, a relatively small force of stealthy aircraft can not only hit the base’s runways and hardened structures with heavier munitions, but every other thing of military value sitting around the field could be destroyed efficiently as well.

When combined with cruise missile attacks on known surface-to-air missile sites surrounding the hypothetical enemy airfield, just a half-dozen or so F-35Bs could not only crater the airbase’s runway, but also take out 16 hardened structures, and 32 small structures, aircraft or vehicles, all on a single sneak attack run (2X F-35B with 2X 1000lb penetrating JDAMs each, 2X F-35B with 8 SDB each, 2X F-35B with 16 small guided munitions each). Not only could those six aircraft provide that much destruction over a single strategic target, but they could also escort themselves in and out of the target area as well as they would still retain a pair of AIM-120 AMRAAMs each.

You simply do not need a massive bomb load like we once did when dumb gravity bombs were our primary form of aerial destruction, and as munitions continue to shrink and the amount of targets that a single F-35 can hit on a single sortie will be outstanding. Even the F-35’s SDB carrying capabilities is already enticing, as is the F-22’s. Also, the F-35 can carry many more thousands of pounds of munitions and fuel tanks if it does so like Mr. Sprey’s F-16 does, and just slings them under its wings, so there is really no value to Mr. Sprey’s “ridiculous payload” argument at all.

6:05- “Stealth Is A Scam, It Simply Doesn’t Work”

Where do I start with this one? Apparently Mr. Sprey tuned out the last 25 years of air combat activities including Desert Storm, Allied Force, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Neptune Spear and Operation Odyssey Dawn, or he just chose not to accept the fact low-observable aircraft performed brilliantly during all those operations and most likely many more that we do not know about.

During Operation Allied Force, a single F-117 was lost due to multiple circumstances, yet this single and uniquely isolated event is in no way some sort of perfect invalidation of low observable technologies. The fact that Sprey would use this example almost singularly for his argument against stealth capabilities is troubling as it is either a sign of a lack of understanding of the technology and its history or it is clear evidence that he is willing to dumb down a very complex issue in order to act as if his views are undebatable and everyone who believes otherwise is silly or a is a scam artist.

The concept of stealth and its closely associated and evolutionary operational doctrine is not just about an aircraft’s shape or what its surfaces are coated with, it is about building a detailed picture of the enemy’s electronic order of battle, then using that information, along with many other types of intelligence, to craft a mission plan and flight path that makes the aircraft as unsusceptible to enemy detection as possible.

Even with an aircraft that has a very low radar cross-section and a fantastic mission plan that is tailored to its particular low-observable strengths and the enemy’s air defense weaknesses, it does not mean that the aircraft will be inherently invisible to enemy radar and other sensors. What it does mean is that the stealth aircraft may only be detectable at much shorter ranges and from a limited number of angles, and just because the jet may be detected momentarily by the enemy, that does not mean that it can be successfully engaged.

So although stealth aircraft are not invisible, they can work far closer to many enemy sensor sites and anti-aircraft emplacements than traditional non-stealthy aircraft can. Thus allowing them to exploit areas where the enemy’s sensor systems have enough reduced detection range that their “threat rings” do not overlap, which could allow the stealthy aircraft in question to safely fly though these gaps. This is precisely why building a very clear and up-to-date picture of the enemy’s electronic order of battle is very important for successful stealth operations.

Modern and highly sensitive electronic support measures (ESM) and radar warning homing and warning receivers (RHWR), such as the ALR-94 on the F-22 Raptor, can actually build this electronic threat picture in real time for aircrews to utilize. This allows for better survivability against “pop up” threats, such as mobile SAM sites and fighter aircraft, as well as allowing mission plans and routes of travel to be safely changed in flight as needed.

The ALR-94, for instance, is so sensitive that it has a much longer range than the jet’s incredibly advanced APG-77 AESA radar system, and it conducts its surveillance passively, by just listening. This allows the Raptor to fight emissions silent and almost totally undetectable, only using its powerful radar for short, hard to detect bursts as needed. Remember, you don’t have to even use your radar to detect a flight of incoming SU-27s if your ESM/RHWR has already detected and triangulated their radar emissions first, and provided a target quality track of their flight so that a missile launch is doable without even turning on the radar.

A powerful on-board ESM/RHWR also allows stealthy jets to become incredible destruction of enemy air defenses (DEAD) aircraft, as their sensitive radar sniffing avionics can produce coordinates for which they can lob Small Diameter Bombs or even a JDAM at. Those coordinates could be a SAM site or maybe a integrated air defense system microwave data-exchange tower. Once again, it can do all this while remaining almost totally undetectable, or at very least unengageable.

Beyond a stealth aircraft’s design, the intelligence gathering that supports it, as well as detailed mission and route planning, stealth greatly benefits, or even requires other support features to exploit its unique attributes even further. These namely being electronic attack, jamming and even hacking of an enemy’s air defense system. When paired with stealth technology, these tactics make the enemy’s already reduced detection capabilities even more pronounced, allowing for stealth aircraft to interdict deeper into enemy territory with a much higher probability of completing their missions unmolested.

When it comes to airframe design, yes, Mr. Sprey has a point about long wave length radar systems being able to detect stealthy fighters that were originally designed to primarily defeat the popular X-band used by many aerial and ground-based tactical radar systems. Large flying wing designs, which do not have small appendages such as fore tail surfaces, are much better suited for broad-band stealth than traditional fighter format low observable aircraft such as the F-35. Unmanned air combat systems of the future will surely also leverage tailless design concepts, along with the Air Force’s next stealth bomber, so that they can better penetrate areas where multiple bandwidths of radar are being used by the enemy.

I have argued that America does not need another stealth fighter at all as we already have the F-22, and the F-35 should have been a manned or unmanned wide-band stealth flying wing design with persistence at the price of decreased maneuverability. If this were to have happened there would not have been an F-35 at all, but I digress, the point is that Mr. Sprey acts like stealth is a failed air combat concept and it certainly is not, both in the present sense and historical sense.

So really, stealth is not just an aircraft’s design it is a concept of air warfare that depends on a cocktail of integrated and scalable capabilities to make it work. Although enemy radars have gotten better at detecting some stealth aircraft, so has this “cocktail” of stealth’s enabling capabilities, and a stealthy airframe remains a main component of this cocktail. With continued investment into evolving and refining this so called cocktail, we will ensure our access to our enemy’s airspace so that we can dismantle their command and control capabilities and air defense network quickly if need be. At which time Pierre Sprey’s F-16s can operate over enemy territory without being blasted out of the sky by an S400 SAM.

So no Mr. Sprey, the F-35 may not be the right aircraft for America, but stealth is not a scam, and people who watched your video interview should be told that, as those powerful words sure came out of your mouth with an immense sense of certainty.

Brilliance Coated In Bullshit?

Pierre Sprey provides and interesting perspective on combat aircraft procurement, and his thoughts on the A-10 and other highly specialized platforms remain relevant on a case-by-case basis. Even many of his views on the F-35 I agree with, including its airframe being handicapped by the STOVL requirement and the absurd costs involved with the jet that obliterates a true high-low capability mix. Yet his inflexible, almost laser like obsession with stripped down, single role light fighters is where his arguments all comes apart.

It is also clear that his decades old arguments have not aged well as the technologies and aircraft configurations he so easily disregards have proven to be fantastic investments for America and our allies. Even his very own F-16 has happily grown into an almost unrecognizable medium-weight multi-role fighter compared to the one he envisioned so many years ago.

Sure, the F-35 may not be a good investment for America, and many would argue that the whole concept bit off way more than its manufacturer, or the US Government for that matter, could chew. But many of Mr. Sprey’s views are built around very generous and convenient assumptions that just don’t hold up. In the end he is an aerospace and defense extremist, and a colorful one at that, but he needs a new bag of tricks to woo over a well informed crowd as the decades old ones he keeps using just aren’t believable or even historically accurate anymore.

Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer that maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com

Obama announces U.S. “counterterrorism” policy against ISIL

Note: The acronyms ISIL, ISIS, and IS all refer to the same entity.

  • ISIL = Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Levant today consists of the island of Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and part of southern Turkey)
  • ISIS = Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (the word Sham means Levant)
  • IS = Islamic State

Yesterday, September 10, 2014, 13 days after he admitted he did not have a strategy on dealing with the IS, President Barack Obama finally spelled out the U.S. policy toward ISIL.

The following is from the White House website. I added the image and map.



President Obama: “We Will Degrade and Ultimately Destroy ISIL”

In an address from the State Floor of the White House, President Obama spoke to the nation tonight about ISIL — and our comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group.

The President reiterated that as Commander-in-Chief, his “highest priority is the security of the American people,” and noted that we have “consistently taken the fight to terrorists” that threaten the United States:

We took out Osama bin Laden and much of al Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  We’ve targeted al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, and recently eliminated the top commander of its affiliate in Somalia.  We’ve done so while bringing more than 140,000 American troops home from Iraq, and drawing down our forces in Afghanistan, where our combat mission will end later this year.  Thanks to our military and counterterrorism professionals, America is safer.

“Still,” he said, “we continue to face a terrorist threat.”

We can’t erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm.  That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today.  And that’s why we must remain vigilant as threats emerge.  At this moment, the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain.  And one of those groups is ISIL — which calls itself the “Islamic State.”

ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) was formerly al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, and has since gained territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border by taking advantage of sectarian strife and the Syrian civil war. Although ISIL calls itself the “Islamic State,” the President emphasized that the terrorist group is neither Islamic nor a state.

ISIS territory“ISIL is not ‘Islamic.’ No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim,” President Obama said. “And ISIL is certainly not a state. … It is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates.”

Adding that ISIL’s sole vision is the slaughter of anyone and everyone who stands in its way, the President detailed the threat that ISIL poses to Iraq, Syria, and the broader Middle East. And “if left unchecked,” he said, “these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region.”

In a region that has known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique in their brutality.  They execute captured prisoners.  They kill children.  They enslave, rape, and force women into marriage.  They threatened a religious minority with genocide.  And in acts of barbarism, they took the lives of two American journalists — Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff.

So ISIL poses a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, and the broader Middle East — including American citizens, personnel and facilities.  If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region, including to the United States.  While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies.  Our Intelligence Community believes that thousands of foreigners -– including Europeans and some Americans –- have joined them in Syria and Iraq.  Trained and battle-hardened, these fighters could try to return to their home countries and carry out deadly attacks.

Noting the concern that many Americans have about these threats, he made clear that the U.S. is “meeting them with strength and resolve.”

The four parts of the U.S. strategy

In his address, the President outlined the four key parts of the United States’ strategy to defeat ISIL:

1. A systematic campaign of airstrikes against ISIL

Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we’re hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense.  Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are.  That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq.  This is a core principle of my presidency:  If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.

2. Increased support to forces fighting ISIL on the ground

In June, I deployed several hundred American servicemembers to Iraq to assess how we can best support Iraqi security forces.  Now that those teams have completed their work –- and Iraq has formed a government –- we will send an additional 475 servicemembers to Iraq.  As I have said before, these American forces will not have a combat mission –- we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq.  But they are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment.  We’ll also support Iraq’s efforts to stand up National Guard Units to help Sunni communities secure their own freedom from ISIL’s control.

Across the border, in Syria, we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition.  Tonight, I call on Congress again to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters.  In the fight against ISIL, we cannot rely on an Assad regime that terrorizes its own people — a regime that will never regain the legitimacy it has lost.  Instead, we must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL, while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve Syria’s crisis once and for all.

3. Drawing on our substantial counterterrorism capabilities to prevent ISIL attacks

Working with our partners, we will redouble our efforts to cut off its funding; improve our intelligence; strengthen our defenses; counter its warped ideology; and stem the flow of foreign fighters into and out of the Middle East.  And in two weeks, I will chair a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to further mobilize the international community around this effort.

4. Providing humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians displaced by ISIL

This includes Sunni and Shia Muslims who are at grave risk, as well as tens of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities.  We cannot allow these communities to be driven from their ancient homelands.

“This is our strategy,” the President said, adding that the United States has a “broad coalition of partners” joining us in this effort:

Already, allies are flying planes with us over Iraq; sending arms and assistance to Iraqi security forces and the Syrian opposition; sharing intelligence; and providing billions of dollars in humanitarian aid.  Secretary Kerry was in Iraq today meeting with the new government and supporting their efforts to promote unity.  And in the coming days he will travel across the Middle East and Europe to enlist more partners in this fight, especially Arab nations who can help mobilize Sunni communities in Iraq and Syria, to drive these terrorists from their lands.  This is American leadership at its best:  We stand with people who fight for their own freedom, and we rally other nations on behalf of our common security and common humanity.

President Obama also noted the bipartisan support for this strategy here in the United States, and welcomed congressional support for the strategy “in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.”

“Different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan”

The President made clear that eradicating ISIL won’t happen overnight, but he also detailed how this effort isn’t the same as our previous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan:

Now, it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL.  And any time we take military action, there are risks involved — especially to the servicemen and women who carry out these missions.  But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.  This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground.  This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.  And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year:  to use force against anyone who threatens America’s core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order.

America’s responsibility to lead

President Obama called American leadership the “one constant in an uncertain world.” From fighting terrorism, to rallying the world against Russian aggression, to helping to stop the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, the U.S. continues to play a critical leading role across the globe:

It is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists.  It is America that has rallied the world against Russian aggression, and in support of the Ukrainian peoples’ right to determine their own destiny.  It is America — our scientists, our doctors, our know-how — that can help contain and cure the outbreak of Ebola.  It is America that helped remove and destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons so that they can’t pose a threat to the Syrian people or the world again.  And it is America that is helping Muslim communities around the world not just in the fight against terrorism, but in the fight for opportunity, and tolerance, and a more hopeful future.

When we helped prevent the massacre of civilians trapped on a distant mountain, here’s what one of them said:  “We owe our American friends our lives.  Our children will always remember that there was someone who felt our struggle and made a long journey to protect innocent people.”

That is the difference we make in the world.  And our own safety, our own security, depends upon our willingness to do what it takes to defend this nation and uphold the values that we stand for –- timeless ideals that will endure long after those who offer only hate and destruction have been vanquished from the Earth.

May God bless our troops, and may God bless the United States of America.

Read the President’s full address here.

See also:

China stakes claim to South China Sea by building islands in the Spratlys

South China SeaThe South China Sea, believed to hold large deposits of oil and natural gas, is contested by the governments of countries surrounding the Sea, as well as by China.

Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Malaysia all control islands in the South China Sea. But China claims almost the entire South China Sea, rejecting rival claims from Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

South China Sea - China's claimIn 2012, China declared the region a “core national interest,” and it has been increasingly aggressive in asserting control over it, deploying an aircraft carrier in 2013, and moving an enormous oil rig into the area earlier this year.

Now, China is building its own islands, including a suspected air base, by dredging millions of tons of rock and sand and piling it on top of submerged reefs in the Spratlys.

Below is a BBC news video on some of China’s construction sites projects on five different reefs, including one that appears to be a concrete runway long enough to accommodate fighter jets.

See also:


China develops new technology for supersonic submarine

Imagine a submarine that can travel from Shanghai to San Francisco in less than two hours.

That’s what Chinese scientists are working on.

Supersonic subStephen Chen reports for Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, Aug. 24, 2014, that a team of scientists at the Complex Flow and Heat Transfer Lab of the Harbin Institute of Technology in China have developed a new technology that will make it easier for a submarine or torpedo to travel at extremely high speeds underwater by creating the complicated air “bubble” required for rapid underwater travel.

Li Fengchen, professor of fluid machinery and engineering, said his team “are very excited by its potential.”

Water produces more friction, or drag, on an object than air, which means conventional submarines cannot travel as fast as an aircraft.

Soviet experimental torpedoHowever, during the cold war, the Soviet military developed a technology called supercavitation, which involves enveloping a submerged vessel inside an air bubble to avoid problems caused by water drag.

A Soviet supercavitation torpedo called Shakval was able to reach a speed of 370km/h (230 mph) or more – much faster than any other conventional torpedoes.

In theory, a supercavitating vessel could reach the speed of sound underwater, or about 5,800km/h (3,604 mph), which would reduce the journey time for a transatlantic underwater cruise to less than an hour, and for a transpacific journey to about 100 minutes, according to a report by California Institute of Technology in 2001.

However, supercavitation technology has faced two major problems:

  1. The submerged vessel must be launched at high speeds, approaching 100km/h (62 mph), to generate and maintain the air bubble.
  2. It is extremely difficult – if not impossible – to steer the vessel using conventional mechanisms, such as a rudder, which are inside the bubble without any direct contact with water.

As a result, supercavitation’s application has been limited to unmanned vessels, such as torpedoes, but nearly all of these torpedoes were fired in a straight line because they had limited ability to turn.

Li said the team of Chinese scientists had found an innovative means of addressing both problems:

  1. Once in the water, the team’s supercavitation vessel would constantly “shower” a special liquid membrane on its own surface. Although this membrane would be worn off by water, in the meantime it could significantly reduce the water drag on the vessel at low speed.
  2. After its speed had reached 75km/h (46.6 mph) or more the vessel would enter the supercavitation state. The man-made liquid membrane on the vessel surface could help with steering because, with precise control, different levels of friction could be created on different parts of the vessel.

Li said, “Our method is different from any other approach, such as vector propulsion (or thrust created by an engine). By combining liquid-membrane technology with supercavitation, we can significantly reduce the launch challenges and make cruising control easier.”

However, many problems still needed to be solved before supersonic submarine travel became feasible. Besides the control issue, Li said a powerful underwater rocket engine still had to be developed to give the vessel a longer range. The effective range of the Russian supercavitation torpedoes, for example, was only between 11 km (6.8 mi) and 15 km (9.3 mi).

Li said the supercavitation technology was not limited only to military use. In future, it could benefit civilian underwater transport, or water sports such as swimming: “If a swimsuit can create and hold many tiny bubbles in water, it can significantly reduce the water drag; swimming in water could be as effortless as flying in the sky.”

Besides Russia, countries such as Germany, Iran and the United States have been developing vessels or weapons using supercavitation technology.

Despite many scientists worldwide working on similar projects, the latest progress at the Harbin Institute of Technology remains unclear because they are regarded as military secrets.

Professor Wang Guoyu, the head of the Fluid Mechanics Laboratory at Beijing Institute of Technology and a member of the water armament committee of the China Society of Naval Architect and Marine Engineers, is leading another state-funded research project on supercavitation. He said even he had been kept in the dark about recent supercavitation developments in China because “The primary drive still comes from the military, so most research projects are shrouded in secrecy.”

H/t Yahoo News

See also:


73% of U.S. voters worried about Obama’s lack of strategy for ISIS

This is a follow-up on my post of Aug. 29, 2014, “Obama admin turns to Twitter crowdsourcing for foreign policy.”

Islamic State

On Aug. 28 in a press conference at the White House, Barack Obama admitted  he doesn’t have a plan or strategy for defeating the Islamic State (IS) militants, formerly called ISIS or ISIL, and backed away from imminent military action.

Americans are notorious for their inattention to politics, a phenomenon that’s been noted by political scientists for decades, which has engendered the expression “low-information voters.”

Surprisingly, a new poll finds that Americans — specifically those who say they are likely to vote — are paying attention to the menacing ISIS/ISIL Muslim militants who, two months ago, declared the installation of an Islamic State (IS) or Caliphate. As many as 79% of voters say they have been following recent news reports about the fighting in Iraq and Syria, with 45% who have been following Very Closely.

New LevantThe very name of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) or ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) speaks to their territorial ambitions of creating a caliphate over a wide swath of land in the Middle East. The word “Sham” means Levant; Levant today consists of the island of Cyprus, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and part of southern Turkey. (See “ISIS: the savage jihadists laying waste to Iraq”.)


The new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of likely U.S. voters finds that Americans are worried about the ISIS or IS jihadists and about their president not having a strategy for dealing with the IS. Here are the survey’s findings (to see survey questions wording, click here):

1. On whether they consider ISIS to be a serious threat to America:

  • 67% say yes; 13% say no; 20% are not sure.
  • There’s a decided partisan difference. Democrats are much less concerned than either Republicans or Independents. 52% of Democrats, 82% of Republicans, and 70% of voters not affiliated with either major party consider ISIS a serious threat to the United States.

2.On whether they are concerned that the U.S. does not have a strategy for dealing with ISIS:

  • 73% are concerned, including 47% who are “very concerned.”
  • 25% are not concerned, including only 4% who are “not at all concerned.”
  • Democrats are much less concerned about Obama’s lack of a strategy for dealing with the Islamic State.

3. On whether the U.S. should send troops to Iraq to defeat ISIS, more Americans still are opposed but their numbers are rapidly decreasing:

  • 30% said yes, up from 12% last December. 
  • 41% are opposed to sending U.S. troops back to Iraq, a dramatic decline from 71% in December and 58% of a month ago.
  • A sizable 29% are undecided.

4. On how they rate the Obama administration’s response to ISIS:

  • 42% say Obama has done a poor job; only 29% give a rating of good or excellent.
  • There’s a divide in perception between regular Americans and the elite:
    • 64% of the Political Class think the administration has done a good or excellent job responding to the threat from ISIS.
    • 53% of Mainstream voters rate the administration’s performance in this area as poor.

5. On what the U.S. should do about ISIS’s beheading of U.S. journalist james foley:

6. On U.S. military involvement abroad:

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on August 30-31, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.