We Have All The Best Toys: laser-cannon edition

September 5, 2014
Science-fiction comes to life

Science-fiction comes to life

(Photo via Wired)

Okay, how cool is this?

Boeing is building a laser cannon for the U.S. Army, and the new weapon has now proved it will be as capable at sea as on land. The High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD)—basically a high-energy laser mounted on top of a big truck—was successfully used to blast some UAV drones and 60mm mortars out of the Florida sky earlier this year, Boeing announced Thursday.

This test was done in a windy and foggy environment, an essential step to proving the technology is useful for naval deployment. The HEL MD used a 10-kilowatt laser—a much less powerful version of what it will eventually fire—to “successfully engage” more than 150 targets at Eglin Air Force Base, a Department of Defense weapons testing facility on the Florida Panhandle. In other words, it disabled or destroyed them.

In simple terms, the laser makes an incredibly powerful, highly focused beam of light and aims it at a moving target. Light equals heat, and, after enough heat has been transferred, the target is compromised and crashes or blows up. The Army and Boeing (which landed a $36 million contract for the project) have been working on this for the better part of a decade, par for the course for a next-generation weapons platform.

It’s a preliminary test of course –I doubt the UAVs were taking any evasive action– but the fact that the laser was effective through fog was pretty danged amazing. I can recall engineer friends back in the 80s describing the problem of lasers diffusing through fog and clouds as being insurmountable. Now? Check it off.

Which reminds me, I wonder how many of the people who called Reagan an idiot for pushing missile defense feel like eating some crow these days? The Israelis have already shown the concept works tactically on the battlefield, we demonstrated proof-of-concept with the HEL MD on our own system, and repeated tests over the Pacific show that ballistic missile defense is not at all a “Star Wars” fantasy. Other than Israel’s “Iron Dome,” these systems aren’t usable in battle, yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

Like the musket ended the age of armor, energy weapons may well spell the end of the missile age.

The next phase, of course, it to mount laser cannons on giant war robots, thus making Japanese anime a reality.

PS: Video at the link.

PPS: A very good book related to this is Max Boot’s “War Made New,” which covers the evolution of warfare as competing developments in technology and the effects these developments had on strategy and tactics. This is potentially the latest example.

 


Good News! North Korea building missile-launching sub!

August 26, 2014
Hope and Change?

Happy to have a new toy

Because what aspiring nuclear-armed Dear Leader psychopathic God-Dictator doesn’t need his own ballistic-missile firing submarine?

U.S. intelligence agencies believe North Korea is building a submarine capable of launching ballistic missiles, potentially increasing the threat posed by the nuclear-armed rogue state.

A missile launch tube on a North Korean submarine was observed recently by U.S. intelligence agencies and is raising new concerns about the missile and nuclear threat from the communist regime in Pyongyang, according to two defense officials familiar with reports of the development.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jeffrey Pool declined to comment on the North Korean missile submarine program. “We do not comment on intelligence matters, but we do urge North Korea to become more transparent in their defense sector in order to reduce tensions in the region,” he said in a statement.

Details of the missile submarine remain closely held within the government.

There’s speculation about what type of submarine this is, but the most likely candidates are old Soviet Golf-class boomers (Pyongyang bought about 40 in the 1990s after the USSR’s collapse) or some type of Chinese sub. And they’re reported to already have a supply of submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), which were secretly bought from Russia and and some of which were converted to land use.

Either way, this is just cheery news for the regular targets of North Korea’s hysterical bluster, from South Korea to the United States. And not just verbal threats: North Korea probably used a sub to sink the South Korean cruiser Cheonan a few years ago. Adding a nuclear-tipped SLBM capability to their submarine fleet will only increase the headaches for defense planners in the nations around North Korea and in America. And, don’t forget: North Korea has s history of selling nuclear weapons tech to other hostile nations. Going into the submarine business would be a natural extension.

Good thing Obama is cutting funds for missile defense. smiley whew


The US and Israel are big meanies because they won’t share!

August 3, 2014
Perfect against tunneling jihadis!

We’re so selfish

That’s the gist of the complaint from Navi Pillay, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, who denounced Israel (and by extension the US) for civilian deaths in Gaza. The original article is behind Haaretz’s subscriber wall, so I’ll quote the Breitbart summary:

Navi Pillay told reporters following yet another “emergency” meeting of the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council that Israel was not doing enough to protect civilians. “There is a strong possibility,” said the known Israel critic, “that international law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes.”

Among the UN’s long bill of particulars against the beleaguered Jewish state comes the almost unbelievable accusation that Israel’s refusal to share its Iron Dome ballistic missile defense shield with the “governing authority” of Gaza – i.e. Hamas, the terror group created to pursue the extermination of the Jewish state and now waging a terrorist war against it – constitutes a war crime against the civilians of Gaza.

The UN chairwoman criticized the U.S. for helping fund Israel’s Iron Dome system which has saved countless Israeli and Palestinian lives. “No such protection has been provided to Gazans against the shelling,” she said.

Oh, poor little Hamas. They start a war with Israel, firing thousands of rockets with the potential to kill thousands –especially if they had hit that nuclear reactor at Dimona!– and they dig tunnels for offensive operations against civilians, and then when they fight back to destroy those tunnels and successfully defend their people from those rockets, the leftists in the transnational bureaucracy (1) whine that Israel, the nation that got attacked in the first place, has an unfair advantage.

You cannot make this crap up.

Claudia Rosett take Ms. Pillay’s idea about “sharing the weapon-wealth” to its logical, farcical conclusion:

It also seems unfair to limit such sharing to terrorist organizations. The UN is, after all, an institution devoted to upholding and treating equally the rights of all sovereign states. Why not save South Korea from its unfair military edge over North Korea, by demanding that Seoul turn over to Pyongyang enough advanced military technology to even the balance? For the sake of world peace, the U.S. could deliver to China any military secrets China hasn’t stolen already; likewise, give Russia its fair share. And it almost goes without saying that the U.S. and other world powers should stop dickering with Iran over its nuclear program, and just give Tehran the bomb.

Actually, once this redistribution really gets underway, there are quite a number of UN member states, plus an array of terrorist groups, around the globe, which could more safely threaten or attack the world’s developed democracies if only advanced military technology were to be included in the UN roster of aid entitlements. Though, the myriad transfers and accompanying funding could become complex. Maybe it would be more efficient to simply require that all developed democracies turn over all advanced military technology to the UN, along with the requisite cash, to be redistributed to terrorist groups and rogue states as UN human rights officials deem proportionately appropriate. One more step toward the UN dream of a more equitable world.

Fair is fair, after all. To paraphrase President Obama, “At some point, you have enough weapons.”

PS: My philosophy of dealing with dangerous neighboring countries is simple — “We want to live in peace with you. We are happy to buy your stuff and sell you our stuff, something good for us all. But, if you insist on trying to kill my people, I will bring the Wrath of God down on you. That is how I will share my country’s military technology.”

PPS: And if you want an idea of how seriously High Commissioner Pillay’s UN Human Rights Council takes the idea of human rights for all, consider that China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, and Saudi Arabia are all members.

Footnote:
(1) Is there a more useless class of people in the world? I’m hard pressed to think of one.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#KYsen: Allison Grimes, national security sooper-genius

July 30, 2014
Perfect against tunneling jihadis!

Perfect against tunneling jihadis!

Federal senators deal with issues of national and international importance, including matters of war and peace, and overall national security. You would think, then, that someone wishing to ascend to the Senate would at least know the basics about a game-changing weapon wielded by one of our key allies, who happens to be in a shooting war.

That is, until you meet Kentucky Democrat Allison Lundergan Grimes:

As foreign policy inches its way into a debate that has largely focused on the economy, Grimes was asked about congressional efforts to aid Israel’s missile defense system, known as the Iron Dome.

“Obviously, Israel is one of our strongest allies in the Middle East, and she has the right to defend herself,” Grimes said. “But the loss of life, especially the innocent civilians in Gaza, is a tragedy. The Iron Dome has been a big reason why Israel has been able to withstand the terrorists that have tried to tunnel their way in.

Iron Dome — as normal, intelligent folks such as you, Dear Readers, can probably tell without needing the above highlighting — is a missile-defense system. It is designed to shoot down things flying through the air: incoming tactical rockets with only minutes or seconds to spare, and it does an amazingly good job at it. One thing it does not do is stop things tunneling under the ground, jihadis or even gophers.

Someone should explain these tricky technical details to Ms. Grimes.

Grimes is hoping to defeat Mitch McConnell and capture his seat for the Democrats, and it’s a tight race. While McConnell hasn’t been one of my favorite senators, he also doesn’t give me the gas that he gives many of my fellow Righties. Regardless of one’s opinion of him, though, I think we can agree that it’s important that his seat be kept in Republican hands, for the Republic.

Even against a defense wiz like Allison Lundergan Grimes.

via Jim Geraghty

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Why Germany Refuses to Play a Bigger Role in NATO

June 22, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Hint: It’s not just that Russia has Germany by the gas pipe. After two World Wars and a conscious decision to rebuild Germany to be less threatening, we got what we asked for.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

One of the stranger aspects of the slow-motion crisis over Ukraine caused by Russian provocations and aggression is the uneven response from NATO members. While Alliance states located closer to Russia, which experienced Moscow’s occupation during the Cold War, generally have taken the threat of aggressive Kremlin moves seriously – Poland and Estonia especially – the reaction of some NATO members has been lackluster. In particular, responses in Germany to the Ukraine crisis have been tepid, to use charitable language, and excessive sympathy for Moscow’s actions and attitudes is so commonplace that Germans have a word – Russlandversteher – for it.

Why Germany displays such misplaced sympathy for Russia, despite Kremlin misconduct in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, is a complex issue that is rooted deeply in German history, and cannot be divorced from the broader tendency to anti-Americanism that has become vocal in recent years. That said, Germany’s unwillingness to do…

View original 1,849 more words


D-day: storming the castle

June 6, 2014

(Note: This is a re-posting and slight editing of a post I put up every D-Day.)

Seventy years ago today, American, British, Canadian, French, and Polish soldiers charged the gates of Hell — and won:

Black Five put up an excellent roundup of D-Day posts from many blogs a few years ago. It’s still worth reviewing. And have a look at this entry for a photo essay on D-Day.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson reflects on D-Day at 70:

Seventy years ago this June 6, the Americans, British, and Canadians stormed the beaches of Normandy in the largest amphibious invasion of Europe since the Persian king Xerxes invaded Greece in 480 b.c.

About 160,000 troops landed on five Normandy beaches and linked up with airborne troops in a masterly display of planning and courage. Within a month, almost a million Allied troops had landed in France and were heading eastward toward the German border. Within eleven months the war with Germany was over.

(…)

D-Day ushered in the end of the Third Reich. It was the most brilliantly conducted invasion in military history, and probably no one but a unique generation of British, Canadians, and Americans could have pulled it off.

Read the rest. While giving the Russians their due, he puts their contribution in perspective.

RELATED: The Daily Mail tells the story of one Medal of Honor winner who still wonders how he survived Normandy.

UPDATE: In today’s newsletter, Real Clear Politics quotes the prayer FDR read when announcing the invasion to the nation:

“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity,” the president said while the outcome of the battle was still in doubt.

“They will need Thy blessings,” FDR continued. “Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph…”

Imagine a president saying something like that nowadays; the Left would have a fit.

But, forget them. Today’s a day to remember genuine heroes and thank Divine Providence we had such men on our side.

UPDATE 06/06/2013: This is a real president commemorating D-Day:

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The VA Health Scandal Is about Government Incompetence, not Inadequate Funding

June 1, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Frightened of what the VA scandal foreshadows for life under Obamacare, the Left has fallen back on their standard policy prescription: More money! (Cries of “racism!” are next on the list, I think…)

Originally posted on International Liberty:

I’ve never been susceptible to the claim that you solve problems with taxpayer money.

Indeed, this amusing poster is a pretty good summary of my views on the effectiveness of government spending.

But what about the horrific stories about veterans dying because of secret waiting lists and bureaucratic skullduggery at the Veterans Administration?

I want to take care of former soldiers who need treatment because of their service, and national defense is one of the few legitimate functions of the federal government. So is this one of the rare cases where a budget needs to increase? That’s certainly the mentality in some quarters on Capitol Hill.

Here are some excerpts from Byron York’s column in the Washington Examiner.

Sanders and his fellow Democrats want to give the VA billions more. …What is striking about Sanders’ bill is not just its price tag but how irrelevant it is to the…

View original 803 more words


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