Thursday, December 29, 2022

Interlude: Nik Kershaw - The Riddle

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Interlude: Wizzard - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday

Monday, December 19, 2022

Thailand: Royal Thai Navy ship sinks in storm

(Gulf of Thailand) On Sunday evening, the Royal Thai navy ship the corvette HTMS Sukhothai suffered a power failure , resulting in it taking on water, resulting in a list, which in turn resulted in the loss of the ship. Of the 106 crew on board, around 75 sailors were rescued with 31 still missing.

The Sukhothai a Ratanakosin-class corvette was ordered in 1984 from the Tacoma Boatbuilding Company, Tacoma, Washington and commissioned by the Thai Navy in 1987. Coming in at 960 tonnes it was equipped for anti-air , surface and anti-submarine operations.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Interlude: Cathy Dennis - Too Many Walls

Ukraine: Why the US is pondering to supply Kyiv with the Patriot Missile System

(Washington) So, a major story coming out of the US at the moment is that POTUS is on the cusp of signing off the supply of the Patriotmissile system to the Ukraine. A theatre level weapon which for the past 10 months Washington has refused to supply Kyiv. So, what has changed Washingtons mind?

Since Moscow started suffering reversals inside the Ukraine on the Battlefield:

  • Pushed out of the Kyiv Oblast
  • Pushed out of the Sumy and Chernihiv Oblast
  • Pushed out of Kharkiv Oblast
  • Pushed out of the East bank of the Kherson Oblast
  • Kicked out of Snake Island
  • The sinking of the Moskva
  • Disablement of Kerch bridge

Putin  has taken to using Cruise and Ballistic missiles to carry out long range missile attacks across the Ukraine (primarily on its infrastructure) in which to hurt the Ukrainian population which he knows is unable to fight back, there is also the added bonus of trying to force the liberal Europeans populations to demand their leaders to force a ceasefire in which to end this war, albeit in Moscow’s favour. Well Moscow’s supply of missiles (Cruise and Ballistic) have run low, resulting in Moscow going cap in hand to Iran regards supplying Moscow with Loitering munitions. 

Whilst initially effective, the Ukrainians (with supplied NATO anti-aircraft weaponry) have become adept at knocking these loitering munitions out of the sky such as the latest attack on the 14th Dec 2022 when all 13 such weapons (usually Shahed 136) aimed at Kyiv were taken out. 

Moscow realizing that the supply of western Anti-aircraft systems have started to make a difference, decided that importing Ballistic missiles from Iran such as the Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar missiles will allow them to bypass the supplied NATO missiles systems and continue to pound the Ukrainian civilian population into submission. Which is where the Patriot Missile system comes in, these past 7 years has seen the Iranians via their Houthi proxy launching Ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia which using the Patriot missile system has taken out over 300 Missiles. The very same missiles Moscow is looking to procure from Iran.

Naturally the Russians aren’t happy at the news that the US may supply a theatre wide defensive weapon to the Ukraine and have stated that the system would be a prime target. But then, everything inside the Ukraine has been a target for Moscow since Feb 2022.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

India: Big trouble in Little China

(Arunachal Pradesh)  Last Friday on the border between India and China, around 300 Chinese soldiers just happened to cross into the Indian side for whatever reason only the Chinese will know about, expecting to face very little opposition near the Indian town of Tawang in which carry out a landgrab which has become a trademark of China of late by pushing the boundry of China forward and the Indian one back few hundred feet.

Unfortunately for the Chinese, India having faced numerous such incursions by the Chinese and usually coming off worse had planned for another such an entry on mass into India and instead of the usual single military unit in the area actually had 3 and as has become par the course for Chinese , Indian confrontations in the Himalayas a physical violent confrontation took place, where as mentioned for once the Chinese came off worse.

The December 9th incident is the most serious encounter between the two sides in recent years in this sector, and the first one resulting in injuries since the Galwan clash, in which 20 soldiers on the Indian side and an unspecified number of Chinese troops lost their lives.

Monday, December 12, 2022

US: Picks replacement for UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter

(Washington) On the 5th of December 2022, the US army announced the Bell Textron's V-280 Valor Tiltrotor as the winner of its Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRA) competition (which itself was part of the Future Vertical Lift program).

So what is the Future Vertical Lift program? During the latter part of the US military’s involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, The U.S. Department of Defence found that the U.S. Army's rotorcraft fleet was wearing out. Combat operations resulted in helicopters flying five times more often than during peacetime. For years, manufacturers have been remanufacturing and upgrading existing families of aircraft without creating original platforms. So the DoD came up with the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program where they would create a new rotorcraft family utilising new technologies, materials, and designs that are quicker, have longer ranges and higher payload capacities, more reliable, easier to maintain and operate, have lower operating costs, and can reduce logistical footprints. creating a family of systems to replace most Army helicopters. Currently that stands at five classes:

  • JMR-Light: Scout version to replace the OH-58 Kiowa.
  • JMR-Medium-Light.
  • JMR-Medium: Utility and attack versions to replace the UH-60 Black Hawk and AH-64 Apache aka Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft
  • JMR-Heavy: Cargo version to replace the CH-47 Chinook.
  • JMR-Ultra: New ultra-sized version for vertical lift aircraft with performance similar to fixed-wing tactical transport aircraft, such as the C-130J Super Hercules and the Airbus A400M Atlas.

So, the V-280 Valor, designed by the company which gave the world the original tilt rotor the V-22 Osprey which has been in service since 2007 with over 400 built. 

A somewhat troublesome aircraft which has seen 13 Hull losses resulting in 51 fatalities. So what Bell did was iron out all the issues which plagued the V-22. Coming up with a much more reliable aircraft the main visible differences been having the Propellers tilt and not the entire engine and large side doors rather than the rear ramp of the V-22, inside borrowing tech from the F35 program, sensors have been placed around the aircraft allowing the pilot to see around the outside of aircraft from the comfort of his helmet

As mentioned the V 280 will replace the Army's current fleet of UH-60 Black Hawks (around 2000). It will carry 12 soldiers at a speed of around 320 mph out to a range of around 900 miles and at a stroke outperform by a huge margin every other assault helicopter in use around the world. For example, China’s new assault helicopter the Harbin Z-20 which became operational in 2019 is based on the UH-60 Blackhawk, the aircraft the US is replacing with the V-280. A craft the US started operating in 1979.


More on the Valor can be found on this short video:

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Russian: Unveils T72B4 tank

(Russia) The mainstay of the Russian army is the T72 tank, which came into service in 1973, yes the Soviets did follow on with the T80 the T90 (basically a T72 with a new turret)  and the new T14 Armata. But  due to the vast number of T72s built , the loss of faith of the T80 after Chechnya the arrival of the T90 during a time of military cuts, and the very high cost of the T14, Moscow went down the path of upgrading the T72 in 2017 to the T72B3 standard.

On paper a most impressive armoured vehicle:

  • New engine,
  • new gunners’ sight, (fitted with thermal imager.)
  • new fire control system,
  • Improved autoloader,
  • New ballistic computer

Previous Kontakt-5 second-generation Explosive reactive armour replaced by newer Relikt explosive reactive armour (ERA) offering superior protection against shaped charges, tandem warheads, armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS) rounds, anti-tank guided missiles, as well as low-velocity and high-velocity missiles.

T72B3 pictures by Vitaly Kuzmin

Unfortunately for Moscow when they invaded the Ukraine in Feb 2022 they found out the hard way that what was written about their so called impressive T72B3 tanks wasn’t worth the paper it was written on, and that the T72B3 still contained the same flaws that has plagued each and every Russian tank since the T64. (which the T72,T80 and T90 are all derived from) specifically how the tanks all position the ammunition for the main gun around the autoloader in the centre of the tank. 

Which has a habit of detonating when the tank armour is penetrated resulting in the turret turning into a 12 ton frisbee.

So after suffering horrific losses in its T72B3 fleet these past 9 months, Moscow went back to the drawing board and appears to have tried to have put right the flaws which has seen it lose so many Tanks specifically the T72B3. Well the other day, they sent into the Ukraine around 200 T90M tanks and a similar number of the upgraded T72B4 tanks.

(To be fair, Moscow was in the process of fitting a new universal turret for its T72 and T80 tank fleets which is very similar to the Turret fitted to the T90M. no doubt the cost was the main factor why they hadn’t done so, but the horrendous losses they have suffered in the Ukraine , appears to have kicked them into action, but saying that the pictures of the tanks moving into the Ukraine by train , shows the tanks using the older turrets )

 So its early days but it appears that the Tanks have received an armour upgrade , getting rid of the cage armour at the rear of the engine housing and turret and replacing it with ERA, they also appear to have added ERA on the top of the turret, as I mentioned , its early days and with the Russians keeping stum on what they have done, it will require one to be captured by the Ukraine for the full facts to come out.

US: Looking at providing Ukraine with the Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb

(Washington) The supply of NATO weapons to Kyiv whilst relatively small compared to the total number of weapons actually in use by the Ukraine made a huge impact against the Russian war machine which helped slow down , halt and reverse the Russian thrust at Kyiv at the beginning of the war. (Looking at the US supplied Javelin, The British/Swedish NLAW) by no means do I belittle the Ukrainian fighting capability, but the effectiveness of NATO supplied Anti-tank weapons surprised not only the Russians, but everybody else. We see similar with the supply of anti-aircraft missiles , which have not only helped keep the Russian air force grounded over the Ukraine (That said, the Ukraine’s initial holdings of the S300, BUK, TOR and 2K22 Tunguska played a much bigger part) but have played a huge part in mitigating the use of cruise missiles, and loitering munitions that Moscow has been launching at mass at the Ukrainian civilian infrastructure (Granted a load are still getting through, but the fact remains a lot are getting taken out)

(A German supplied Gepard taking out a Russian missile/Drone) 

And then we have the poster boy for NATO supplied weapons the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System better known as HIMARS. 

People wax lyrical about the vehicle yes HIMARS is a vehicle and not a Missile as people presume, actually it’s a lightweight wheeled iteration of the tracked M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System, a system still in use and which carries twice the number of missiles (12 as opposed to 6) that its younger sibling can and of which the Ukraine has received at least 10

Funny enough, Russia sports hundreds of Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, (MLRS) and has done for a lot longer than the west, but where the M270 (and the M142) differ is by fitting GPS systems onto their missiles turning them into precision guided munitions which as we have seen have been used to deadly effect inside the Ukraine. Moscow whilst having the capability to do similar, has not only been slow to do so, but only has a few systems in use. The only issue for the Ukraine is the relatively short range of the missiles (around 57 miles) saying that, the strike on the Wagner R and R base in the city of Melitopol killing between 100 to 200 Russian soldiers’ hints at the use of the ER GMLRS missile which has a range of 92 miles. 

As mentioned the missiles in use by both the M270 MLRS and the M142 HIMARS, have proven to be most effective . Kyiv would like to get its hand on the MGM-140 ATACMS missile which both systems can launch, and that has a range of 186 miles and a warhead twice the size of the normal ones. If supplied, this would be a huge game changer for the Ukraine, but the US has been reticent in supplying the Ukraine, because they fear that if launched at targets inside Russia, Moscow would up the ante with Putin doing something really stupid. 

 As a compromise , the US is looking at handing over the Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB). Launched exactly like a normal MLRS missile after a set distance the missile opens up and releases a Small diameter bomb, (SDB) 

which is basically a 250lb bomb fitted with wings and a GPS system. Usually carried by planes, the SBD has proven to be a very accurate , lethal and a cost effective weapon ($40K as opposed to $100K for a normal MLRS missile) The GLSDB has a range of around 93 miles , is accurate to 1 metre, has the ability fly a programme course which would allow it to fly around missile defence systems, to track and hit moving targets and hit targets on the reverse side of slopes . 

If the go ahead is given, the Ukraine will receive a real game changer, one that would punish the Russians inside the Ukraine no end.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Interlude: Sheryl Crow - All I Wanna Do

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Interlude: Shanice - I Love Your Smile