Monday, October 23, 2017

In Other Cold War News...

Hide and Seek is back. US Navy surface units in the Mediterranean were caught unaware last May when a new Russian sub launched a salvo of cruise missiles at targets in Syria.  The USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier and its battle group had no clue the Russian boat was in the vicinity until those missiles started flying.

For weeks the Bush, it's surface fleet, helicopters and P-8 anti-submarine aircraft tried to track the Krasnodar and repeatedly it eluded its trackers.

The Krasnodar is wrapped in echo-absorbing skin to evade sonar; its propulsion system is mounted on noise-cutting dampers; rechargeable batteries drive it in near silence, leaving little for sub hunters to hear. “The Black Hole,” U.S. allies call it.

The problem isn't so much tracking the sub down, it's having no idea that it's around until it reveals its presence. What that means is that it could have just as easily attacked and sunk the American carrier as stealthily as it did getting into position to launch a volley of cruise missiles.

The US Navy got a taste of this in the South China Sea some time ago when a Chinese sub popped up behind a carrier inside the battle group formation. It too was in a perfect kill shot position.

The U.S. Navy, which for years trained its sub-hunting teams through naval exercises and computer simulations, is again tracking Russian submarines in the Baltic, North Atlantic and Mediterranean seas. The challenge extends beyond Russia, which has sold subs to China, India and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, in a return to the Dr. Strangelove era, the US Air Force is reported to be planning to put America's venerable B-52 bomber force back on 24-hour nuclear alert. That was stopped in 1991.


Anonymous said...

It seems to me, and I have zero proof of this, it's just an opinion, that the US military couldn't organize its way out of a wet paper bag. The defence industries just see the US military as an endless source of funds to keep their companies rolling along, grunting like pigs at the trough. Whether a particular weapons system actually works as advertised, pftt!, who cares? And how about those undocumented cost overruns, which the General Accounting Office is bothered about - apparently the military types cannot bother themselves with mundane things like filling in even the most basic of expense chits, and makes up nonsense instead when pressed.

How long should it have taken for the plug-ugly F-35 to be developed? A decade perhaps? Well, we're well on the way to two such. But at least every expensive piece is double gold-plated and will look swell hanging from the ceiling in the Smithsonian as a museum piece. Or squatting above the wing of a B36 at the Dayton Air Force museum. Those interceptor missiles that are supposed to shoot down incoming are less reliable at their job than Musk's Space-X first stages are at landing back down on a bobbing raft in the Atlantic. But hey, one out of three ain't bad in a staged test with perfect conditions and no confusion, you know, like an actual attack, when Americans tend to run around like chickens with their heads cut off. I've seen that behaviour first hand. They can't even figure out who assassinated Kennedy for sure.

So the Russkies have got a real stealthy sub. Good Lord, say it ain't so, Momma! And that S-400 anti-aircraft system that even Turkey and India are buying. What are the odds it actually works, d'ya think?

As America bestrides the world including taking over Africa and having a fit when four dozy soldiers are wasted by people in Niger with a serious commitment, no matter how abhorrent to us they are, we get a new ambassador to Canada, the wife of some coal magnate. Climate change? You must be kidding. EPA scientists not allowed to share data at scientific conferences? Shades of the genius of Mean Stevie harper.

I tend to the opinion of Decarie, that rich people regard themselves as the pinnacle of human brain development and intellect, and thus mere scientists are moronic compared to their towering bigitude. Kevin O'Leary levels of self-aggrandizing ego.

I don't trust Russia or China either, been saying that for years. Totalitarianism has its debits, ahem, like allowing people to be themselves. However, when Russia, with the economic power of only Spain for crissakes, can develop weapon systems that actually work, while US stuff is over-engineered junk, well Houston, we have a problem. And now Boeing has ads on our TV telling us how wonderful they've been for Canada - the usual PR b*llshit job, and Morneau who doesn't have the street smarts of a corner-store owner is trying to ensure the real rich get richer by letting diabetics croak and fouling up simple tax reforms, while only one volunteer can be found to work up north to take ice-temp readings this winter, we don't have much to crow about ourselves. And then we have the rictus-faced Scheer powered by the alt-right ready to take over and make things even worse. Great, ain't it?


Trailblazer said...

USA weaponry is 20% product 80% propaganda and backhanders.
B52's on nuclear alert!
FFS, the war will be over before they reach their target.
B52' are for bombing brown people, with no defences, with very large amounts of conventional iron bombs.
Time to let the US air force do what it does best!
Fly over sports stadiums whilst they sing the star spangled banner..


The Mound of Sound said...

BM, the F-35 will have been in development and testing for about 20 years before the final tests are complete. The 35's intended adversaries have put that time to good use. They've pilfered a lot of the American technology and have developed stealth designs of their own.

American inevitably dismiss the Russian and Chinese stealth fighters as inferior to their own but they never recognize that stealth used in a defensive mode is quite different than what is required for offensive operations. I've never seen that addressed in any American literature.

The defensive fighter has its entire airforce in support including all of its conventional fighters, all of its ground-based radars and sensors, all of its surface to air batteries, nearby bases for replenishment and so on. An attacker has to mass along with its support aircraft, tankers, AWACs, etc near the forward edge giving away its presence and the imminence of attack. It then has to penetrate highly defended airspace, make its way to the target, attack, and attempt to get out even as its tanker force is held at bay if not simply shot down.

Bad as it is for the F-22 it's far worse for the F-35 which has frontal aspect only stealth. It's far more readily detectable from any other aspect, particularly the rear with its huge heat signature. And - it lacks supercruise - meaning that long-range Russian and Chinese fighters can easily run it down on its way out in search of a tanker. In a tail chase and forced to rely on afterburner, the F-35 can't go far before it's out of juice.

The Americans are quite wisely now looking for an F-35 successor, one that retains the JSF's electronic wizardry but fixes its many shortcomings. The F-35 was a 5th generation warplane but it was Gen 5 Beta.

The Mound of Sound said...

Yes, TB, it's hard to imagine the B-52 playing any strategic role until the adversary's air defences and missile silos and subs have been neutralized.

Trailblazer said...

The article seems too much like click bait to be real.
On the lighter side; perhaps they need old pilots to fly old aircraft?

I tire of click bait news reporting.
No double checks no common sense.
We are all suckered in more than we will admit!


subunit said...

The Krasnodar is a Kilo (80s), and all of the mentioned technology is 60s and 70s era Soviet gear. Kilos are indeed quiet boats, but there's nothing new about this. It's possible that American ASW proficiency has declined of late, but I kind of suspect that the surface fleet was never quite as good at that job as they let on.

What is perhaps more interesting on this front is the low-key revelations that have trickled out about just how orthogonal the development of submarine tracking technology was between the US and Soviet programs. Norman Polmar's recent books have included some interesting information which explains the peculiar shape of later Russian designs (Alfas etc), as well as some strange leading-surface sensor fairings- apparently the Russians had got reasonably good at wake homing using scattered light spectroscopy of the water column in front of their subs to follow American boats. The Americans to this day refuse to acknowledge that wake homing is possible/effective and put all their efforts into acoustic work (hence the problems with tracking littoral diesels, perhaps). It's not clear what the broader implication of this is, but it may be the case that the Russians have far greater visibility on the American sub fleet than vice versa.

The Mound of Sound said...

I'm not sure you're right about the 80s vintage, Kilo business, sub. The Russian literature does not describe this boat as a Kilo but a new class and, given that it seems to have been launched in 2015, it would be surprising if the Russians would waste scarce money on obsolete technology.

subunit said...

Krasnodar is a project 636- improved Kilo class, which is to say the 80s boat lengthened a little and equipped with modern sensors and machinery. The acoustic technologies mentioned in the article are common cold war-era stuff- "echo absorbing skin" = anechoic tiles (widespread Soviet use in the 70s), "noise cutting dampers" = mechanical isolation of machinery from the hull using rubber pads (widespread Soviet use 60s), etc. Improved Kilos are a bit quieter than the 80s vintage but there's nothing really special about them- they've been in service with China, Vietnam, Algeria since the 90s and the Americans have 20 years of experience tracking them- which isn't to say that Sonarman Joe Blow on your average FFG is any good at it, but there's been no real change here. The fact that the Russian yards are building an old diesel design to do relatively short-ranged littoral work is, if anything, a reason for a global sea power like the US to be relieved about Russian naval ambitions.