FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 16th and 17th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

I prefer my kale with a silent k in a pint frosted mug

 

Navy Likely To Offer Greater Pay For Aviators

In some previous editions of FOD I have mentioned the USAF is offering greater financial incentives to their pilots to stay on active duty.  Now Navy Times is reporting the Navy is struggling to retain experienced aviators and may need to offer aviation incentive pay and aviation bonuses to help remedy the problem, Vice Adm. Robert P. Burke told Congress in a written statement submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.  “We continue to face challenges within some historically retention-challenged communities, particularly among aviators in specific model/type/series platforms,” Burke said in his statement.  The communities at risk include strike fighter (VFA), electronic attack (VAQ) and helicopter mine countermeasure (HM) squadrons. Burke said these squadrons did not retain enough O-4 pilots to meet operational department head requirements.  The reserves are facing aviator shortages in the same communities, as well as in maritime patrol (VP) and fleet logistics (VR) squadrons.  Burke told Congress that aviation incentive pay and bonuses are the most effective incentives for retaining pilots, but the Navy is also considering non-monetary incentives like geographic stability for orders and training and educational opportunities.  Aviation readiness has been a persistent problem for the Navy. Last October, only one-third of the Navy’s Super Hornet fighter jets were fully mission-capable and ready to fight.  Last March, Burke spoke before Congress about the need to increase retention bonuses for O-4 fighter, electronic attack and mine countermeasure pilots, the same communities facing retention shortfalls today.  From experience aircraft availability and monthly flight time increase job satisfaction and that leads to increased pilot retention.

 

Navy’s Stealth Destroyers Getting A New Mission – Killing Ships

I’ve mentioned here a couple times the new Zumwalt-class destroyers needed a new munitions round to replace the Long Range Land Attack Projectile that was cancelled because of its completely ridicules cost per round.  Now Defense Times is reporting  the Navy has a new vision for what its enormous high-tech destroyers will do: Killing enemy warships at extended ranges.  The Navy is asking Congress to fund a conversion of its 600-foot stealth destroyers from primarily a land attack ship to an anti-surface, offensive strike platform, according to budget documents released Feb. 12.  The service’s 2019 budget request includes a request for $89.7 million to transform its Zumwalt-class destroyers by integrating Raytheon’s long-range SM-6 missile, which can dual hat as both an anti-air and anti-surface missile, as well as its Maritime Strike variant of the Tomahawk missile.  Converting DDG-1000 into a hunter-killer is a win for the surface warfare community’s years-long drive to beef up the force’s offensive capabilities. It also answers the bell for U.S. Pacific Command, which has been pushing for the Navy to add longer range weapons to offset the increasing threat from Chinese long-range missile technology.  The SM-6 is a versatile missile that the Navy has been excited about. In August, the Navy shot down a medium-range ballistic missile target with the SM-6, which uses a fragmenting explosion near its target as the kill mechanism. This is different from the SM-3 Block IIA in development that hits its target directly. It can also be used to hit surface targets at sea and on land from hundreds of miles away.  The Navy is planning to buy 625 of the SM-6 over the next five years.  For the Maritime Tomahawk, Raytheon is integrating a new seeker into its tried-and-true strike missile for long-range ship-on-ship engagements.  The decision to switch the requirements from a land-attack platform to an anti-surface platform came in November following a review of the requirements, according to the documents.  “After a comprehensive review of Zumwalt class requirements, Navy decided in November 2017 to refocus the primary mission of the Zumwalt Class Destroyers from Land Attack to Offensive Surface Strike,” the documents read. “The funding requested in [FY19] will facilitate this change in mission and add lethal, offensive fires against targets afloat and ashore.”  USNI News first reported in December that the Navy was eyeing converting the Zumwalt to a surface strike platform.  The lead ship in the class, Zumwalt, is currently getting an overhaul and combat systems installation in San Diego. The Michael Monsoor, the second in the class, completed acceptance trials this month.  Getting a surface strike platform in the Pacific fits snugly in with the distributed lethality concept that was championed by former Naval Surface Force Pacific commander Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden. Rowden argued that surface ships can and should be used in an offensive capacity, not just be relegated to the defense of the aircraft carrier.  By adding long-range systems to every kind of ship, Rowden argued, it forces potential adversaries to expend resources looking not just for destroyers and cruisers but also littoral combat ships and even amphibious ships that have not had a strike role in the past.  In testimony submitted Feb. 14 to the House Armed Services Committee, PACOM commander ADM Harry B. Harris Jr.USN said China’s advancing capabilities made investing in long-range systems for his theater is a must. All three of the Zumwalt-class destroyers will be based in the Pacific.  “I need increased lethality, specifically ships and aircraft equipped with faster and more survivable weapons systems,” Harris wrote. “Longer range offensive weapons on every platform are an imperative.”  The money requested in 2019 also funds a combat systems refresh, a datalink upgrade and some new signals intelligence collection equipment. It also goes after some cyber-security hardening and replacing components of the ship’s computing systems that are becoming obsolete. Funds will also be expended replacing displays for consoles that run the ship’s computing systems, known as the Common Display System . There are about 40 consoles that use the display per hull and 22 on the class’s shore trainer.  “The CDS variant on Zumwalt class are unique configuration based on a 10 year old design and should be aligned with ongoing modernization efforts in the Fleet.”  One thing the budget isn’t funding is a new round for the ship’s purpose-built Advanced Gun System. In late 2016, the service canceled its Long Range Land Attack Projectile, which cost about a million dollars per round, and has struggled to come up with a replacement round for the gun.  “The Advanced Gun Systems will remain on the ships, but in an inactive status for future use, when a gun round that can affordably meet the desired capability is developed and fielded,” the documents read.  In January, Zumwalt’s former commanding officer, Capt. James Kirk, said the Navy was in a holding pattern on the guns. While the service is keeping an eye on a couple key technologies that could fill in the gap left by LRLAP, “there is not a plan right now for a specific materiel solution for the replacement round,” Kirk told reporters at the Surface Navy Association symposium.  “We continue to monitor industry’s development and technical maturation. An example of that is the Hyper Velocity Projectile,” he said, referring to a high speed guided munition made by BAE Systems and originally developed for use in electromagnetic rail guns.  “We’re monitoring that technical maturation to see do we get there to get the kind of ranges and capabilities we want, that’s the right bang for the buck, cost to capability, for the Navy. We’re monitoring that, but we have not made a decision for that yet.”  The Navy got in its present pickle with the 155mm/62-caliber gun with automated magazine and handling system because the service cut the buy from 28 ships, to seven, and finally to three.  The AGS, the largest U.S. naval gun system since World War II, was developed specifically for the Zumwalt class, as was the LRLAP round it was intended to shoot. There was no backup plan so when the buy went from 28 to thee, the costs stayed static, driving the price of the rounds through the roof.  “We were going to buy thousands of these rounds,” said a Navy official familiar with the program told Defense News at the time. “But quantities of ships killed the affordable round.”

 

‘US Presence Matters’ Says Admiral on Carrier in the South China Sea 

I spend considerable effort pointing out the emerging battle for influence and control of communication and navigational freedom between China and the US now playing out in the South China Sea.  It’s not being covered in the mainstream media, but it is a growing struggle and a mission the US military will have to deal with over the next few years.  Well at least our military leaders are realizing the importance of being there, of maintaining freedom of navigation rights for the US as well as all countries is vitally important for the future.  Military Times is reporting with a deafening roar the fighter jets catapulted off the US aircraft carrier and soared above the disputed South China Sea, as its admiral vowed that the mighty ship’s presence was proof America still had regional clout.  “US presence matters,” Rear Admiral John Fuller (USNA ’87) told reporters on board the USS Carl Vinson. “I think it’s very clear that we are in the South China Sea. We are operating.” The Carl Vinson, one of the US Navy‘s longest-serving active carriers, is currently conducting what officials say is a routine mission through the hotly contested waters where years of island reclamation and military construction by Beijing has rattled regional nerves.  Following criticism that the Trump administration’s commitment to the Asian region has been distracted by North Korea, reporters were flown onto the ship Wednesday as it sailed through the sea.  In a rapid series of take-offs and landings, F-18 fighter jets roared off the deck, travelling from zero to 290 kilometers (180 miles) per hour in a dizzying two seconds.  Fuller, commander of the Carl Vinson Strike Group, said the thousand-foot-long ship’s presence was a way to reassure allies.  “The nations in the Pacific are maritime nations,” he said. “They value stability … That’s exactly what we are here for. This is a very visible and tangible presence. The United States is here again.”  But the location of the strike group — which includes a carrier air wing and a guided-missile cruiser — is also a very direct message to China, whether US officials admit it or not.  Its voyage comes just a month after the Pentagon’s national defense strategy labeled China a “strategic competitor” that bullies its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea.  Beijing claims most of the South China Sea — believed to hold vast oil and gas deposits and through which $5 trillion in trade passes annually — and has rapidly built reefs into artificial islands capable of hosting military planes.  The Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei also have claims in the sea.  Compared to the 11 active aircraft carriers in the US Navy, China currently boasts just one carrier. But the rising Asian superpower has made no secret of its desire to build up its naval forces and become much more regionally assertive.  Last month Beijing said it had dispatched a warship to drive away a US missile destroyer which had “violated” its sovereignty by sailing close to a shoal in the South China Sea.  Major naval nations like the US, Britain and Australia are determined not to let China dictate who can enter the strategic waters.  They have pushed “freedom of navigation” operations in which naval vessels sail close to Chinese-claimed militarized islets in the South China Sea.  “We will follow what international rule says and we will respect (it), even if there are disputes there,” Fuller said.  The nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson — the ship that took Osama Bin Laden’s body for burial at sea — began a regular deployment in the Western Pacific last month.  The carrier is home to 5,300 sailors, pilots, and other crew members as well as 72 aircraft.  Washington has announced plans for it to dock in Vietnam — a first for the communist nation which is rattled by China’s expansionism in the sea and has forged a growing alliance with its former foe the US.  Britain said on Tuesday it will sail its own warship from Australia through the South China Sea next month to assert freedom of navigation rights in support of the US approach.  But alliances are shifting.  The Philippines, a US treaty ally, was once the strongest critic of Beijing’s expansionism in the South China Sea, successfully winning a tribunal case in The Hague over their claims.  But it has changed course under President Rodrigo Duterte in a bid for billions of dollars worth of Chinese investment.  Duterte last week said it was not time to fight China over the row, adding the Philippines should “not meddle” with Washington and Beijing’s competition for superpower status.  In Wednesday’s trip, the USS Carl Vinson hosted top Duterte aides and key Philippine military officers.  Duterte’s communications secretary Martin Andanar described the carrier as “very impressive” and its equipment “massive”.  Asked if Manila welcomed US patrols in the disputed area, Andanar told reporters: “The United States has been a big brother of the Philippines, a military ally.”

 

 

Most Bold and Daring Act of the Age

When Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated in March of 1801, he inherited troubled relations with the Barbary states — the Ottoman Regencies of Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, along with independent Morocco. The United States had treaties with all four, but tension was high and rising.  American representatives in the region wanted an American naval presence. They regularly, if less eloquently, echoed the 1793 view of their colleague in Lisbon: “When we can appear in the Ports of the various Powers, or on the Coast, of Barbary, with Ships of such force as to convince those nations that We are able to protect our trade, and to compel them if necessary to keep faith with Us, then, and not before, We may probably secure a large share of the Medit trade, which would largely and speedily compensate the U. S. for the Cost of a maritime force amply sufficient to keep all those Pirates in Awe, and also make it their interest to keep faith.”  Commodore Edward Preble  (left) assumed command of the U.S. Mediterranean Squadron in 1803. By October of that year Preble had begun a blockade of Tripoli harbor during the First Barbary War (1801–1805). The first significant action of the blockade came on 31 October 1803 when USS Philadelphia cruised off Tripoli gave chase and fired upon a pirate ship.  Philadelphia ran aground on an uncharted reef two miles off Tripoli Harbor. The captain, William Bainbridge, tried to refloat her, first laying the sails aback, and casting off three bow anchors and shifting the guns aft. But a strong wind and rising waves drove her further aground. Next they jettisoned many of her cannons, barrels of water, and other heavy articles overboard in order to make her lighter, but this too failed. They then sawed off the foremast in one last desperate attempt to lighten her. All of these attempts failed and Bainbridge, in order not to resupply the pirates, ordered holes drilled in the ship’s bottom, gunpowder dampened, sails set afire and all other weapons thrown overboard before surrendering. Her officers and men were made slaves of the Pasha (or Bashaw).   Philadelphia was eventually refloated by her captors and converted to a gun battery within the Tripoli harbor, as they attempted to make her serve as a fighting ship once more.  Thus she was too great a prize to be allowed to remain in the hands of the Tripolitans, so a decision was made to recapture or destroy her. The U.S. had captured the Tripolitan ketch Mastico, renamed her Intrepid, and re-rigged the ship with short masts and triangular sails to look like a local ship. On February 16, 1804, under the cover of night and in the guise of a ship in distress that had lost all anchors in a storm and needed a place to tie up, Intrepid was sailed by a volunteer assaulting party of officers and men under Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, Jr. (right) next to Philadelphia. The assault party boarded Philadelphia, and after making sure that she was not seaworthy, burned the ship where she lay in Tripoli Harbor. Lord Horatio Nelson, known as a man of action and bravery, is said to have called this “the most bold and daring act of the Age.”   Even Pope Pius VII stated, “The United States, though in their infancy, have done more to humble the anti-Christian barbarians on the African coast than all the European states had done.  Her anchor was returned to the United States on April 7, 1871, when the Bashaw presented it to the captain of the visiting Guerriere.

 

 

 

 

 

Some Other Events From February 16:

1923 Archaeologist opens tomb of King Tut

1997 Jeff Gordon becomes youngest Daytona winner

1945 Bataan recaptured

 

Remember The Maine

Remember the Maine!  A massive explosion of unknown origin sinks the battleship USS Maine (ACR-1) in  Havana Harbor, (photo is of Maine arriving in Havana Harbor) killing 260 of the fewer than 400 American crew members aboard.  One of the first American battleships, the Maine weighed more than 6,000 tons and was built at a cost of more than $2 million. Sent to protect U.S. interests during the Cuban revolt against Spain, she exploded suddenly, without warning, and sank quickly, killing nearly three quarters of her crew. The cause and responsibility for her sinking remained unclear after a board of inquiry investigated. Nevertheless, popular opinion in the U.S., fanned by inflammatory articles printed in the “yellow press” by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, blamed Spain. The phrase, “Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain”, became a rallying cry for action, which came with the Spanish–American War later that year. While the sinking of Maine was not a direct cause for action, it served as a catalyst, accelerating the approach to a diplomatic impasse between the U.S. and Spain.  Admiral Hyman G. Rickover became intrigued with the disaster and began a private investigation, in 1974. Using information from the two official inquiries, newspapers, personal papers and information on the construction and ammunition of Maine, it was concluded that the explosion was not caused by a mine. Instead, spontaneous combustion of coal dust in the bunker, next to magazine, was speculated to be the most likely cause. Rickover published a book about this investigation, How the Battleship Maine Was Destroyed, in 1976.  The Maine‘s foremast resides at the U.S. Naval Academy.

 

“Billy the Kid” Takes First American Gold Medal in Downhill

I haven’t commented on the Olympics in FOD, but generally I’d like to see more of the other events (well maybe not curling).  But looking back a bit, William Dean “Bill” Johnson (March 30, 1960 – January 21, 2016) was an American World Cup alpine ski racer. He was the first American male to win an Olympic gold medal in alpine skiing, winning the downhill at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. He was the first racer (of either gender) from outside the Alps to win an Olympic downhill.  He moved with his family to Boise, Idaho, when he was seven. He learned to ski at Bogus Basin in the late 1960s.  After a run-in with the law at age 17, the juvenile defendant was given the choice between six months in jail or attending the Mission Ridge ski academy in central Washington State, and he chose the latter.  In 1984 at age 23, Johnson challenged the long-established European domination of downhill ski racing. Even some of his teammates considered the 23-year-old Mr. Johnson a brash upstart, as he reveled in his image as the bad boy of skiing. He was called “Billy the Kid.”  “Basically, any downhill skier is a daredevil, and I’m no exception,” he said before the Winter Games in the former Yugoslavia. “I like to drive cars faster than 100 [miles per hour]. I like to go over bumps in my car and get airborne. I like to drink. I chase girls full time, but I only drink part time.”  A month later at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia (now Bosnia), he had promising downhill training runs on a course that favored his gliding style. He boldly predicted his Olympic victory, evoking comparisons to Joe Namath and Muhammad Ali, and irking his European competitors.  His gold medal win at Bjelašnica in a time of 1:45.59 edged out silver medalist Peter Müller of Switzerland by 0.27 seconds. True to form, when asked in the post-race press conference what his victory meant to him, he exclaimed, “Millions, man, we’re talkin’ millions!”  His career faded abruptly after the Olympics and his attempted comeback ended abruptly on March 22, 2001, when Johnson crashed during a training run prior to the downhill race of the 2001 U.S. Alpine Championships, held at The Big Mountain near WhitefishMontana.  He sustained serious injury to the left side of his brain, nearly bit off his tongue, and was comatose for three weeks.  He required continual care thereafter and passed fifteen years later at age 55.

 

The Beach Boy’s Good Vibrations

From the very beginning, brothers BrianDennis, and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and their friend Al Jardine distinguished themselves by their vocal harmonies and early surf songsThey are one of the most influential acts of the rock erathe Beach Boys.  Emerging at the vanguard of the “California Sound“, they performed original material that reflected a southern California youth culture of surfing, cars, and romance. I once heard it said, the Beach Boys were so famous because they never ventured into greater depth than a beautiful girl, a fast car or the perfect wave.  And in the 60’s, what more did you need?  After 1964, they abandoned the surfing aesthetic for more personal lyrics and multi-layered sounds. In 1966, the Pet Sounds album and “Good Vibrations” single vaulted the group to the top level of rock innovators and established the band as symbols of the nascent counterculture eraBrian Wilson rolled tape on take one of “Good Vibrations” on February 17, 1966. Six months, four studios and $50,000 later, he finally completed his three-minute-and-thirty-nine-second symphony, pieced together from more than 90 hours of tape recorded during literally hundreds of sessions.

 

YF-104 First Flight

The first YF-104A flew on 17 February 1956, and with the other 16 trial aircraft, were soon carrying out aircraft and equipment evaluation and tests. Modifications were made to the aircraft including airframe strengthening and adding a ventral fin. Problems were encountered with the J-79 afterburner; further delays were caused by the need to add AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. Test pilot Herman Richard (“Fish”) Salmon made the first flight of the Lockheed YF-104A service test prototype, Air Force serial number 55-2955 (Lockheed serial number 183-1001) on February 17, 1956. This airplane, the first of seventeen pre-production YF-104As, incorporated many improvements over the XF-104 prototype, the most visible being a longer fuselage.  The two photos below show the fuselage differences.

Lockheed XF-104 (S/N 53-7786, the first XF-104) on Rogers Dry Lake, Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The XF-104 is easily distinguished by the lack of inlet shock cones and the short fuselage. (U.S. Air Force photo)

On 28 February 1956, YF-104A 55-2955 became the first aircraft to reach Mach 2 in level flight.  The YF-104A was later converted to the production standard and redesignated F-104A.  One of the Century Series of fighter aircraft, it was operated by the air forces of more than a dozen nations from 1958 to 2004. Its design team was led by Kelly Johnson, who contributed to the development of the Lockheed P-38 LightningLockheed U-2Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird and other Lockheed aircraft.  A total of 2,578 F-104s was produced by Lockheed and under license by various foreign manufacturers.

(Right) Lockheed test pilots Anthony W. (“Tony”) LeVier, on the left, and Herman R. (“Fish”) Salmon, circa 1957. An F-104 Starfighter is in the background. (Jet Pilot Overseas)

 

 

 

Some Events From February 17:

1904 Madame Butterfly premieres

1972 Beetle overtakes Model T as world’s best-selling car

1947 Voice of America begins broadcasts to Russia

1801 Deadlock over presidential election ends

 

 

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 26 through 28, 2017

Friends of FOD

It’s been reported some of you are not receiving the notification message announcing there is FOD to pick up.  If that’s the case, try deleting your history and your cookies.  I’m told if you receive recurring messages on a company computer in particular, it deletes my message or sends it to junk mail.  You may find in there as well.

 

China Launches New Aircraft Carrier

As mentioned in the last edition of FOD, China was ready and has now launched their first domestically designed and built aircraft carrier on Wednesday, April 26th   The launch came three days after the 68th anniversary of the Peoples’ Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) at a shipyard in the port of Dalian, in the northeastern Liaoning province.  It’s conventionally powered with steam catapults and a 12° ski jump take-off ramp and four arresting gear wires.  The Type 001A carrier has not yet been named.  Maybe there’s a mail-in contest for the name, like the Pandas. Their next carrier, the Type 002, is expected to launch in 2021.  Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., USN, the Commander, United States Pacific Command (USPACOM), who testified before Congress on April 27th, believes China intends to challenge free access to the South China Sea. “In my opinion China is clearly militarizing the South China Sea,” Harris told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February 2016. “You’d have to believe in a flat earth to believe otherwise.”  “China is creating a great wall of sand, with dredges and bulldozers, over the course of months,” Harris told the audience at a conference in Australia. “When one looks at China’s pattern of provocative actions towards smaller claimant states — the lack of clarity on its sweeping nine-dash line claim that is inconsistent with international law and the deep asymmetry between China’s capabilities and those of its smaller neighbors — well, it’s no surprise that the scope and pace of building man-made islands raise serious questions about Chinese intentions.” ADM Harris is a 1978 graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. Harris is the U.S. Navy’s current “Old Goat” – the longest-serving Naval Academy graduate on active duty. He is also the Navy’s current “Gray Owl” – the Naval Flight Officer on active duty who has held this designation the longest period. Harris took command of USPACOM on May 27, 2015.  “We are obliged to defend South Korea by a treaty,” Adm. Harry Harris, head of U.S. Pacific Command, told lawmakers just today April 27, 2017. “They have a very strong and capable military, as we do. But if we’re going to defend them or if we’re going to fight with them on the peninsula then we have to be able to integrate with their military, we have to be able to work with their military, we have to understand their military and vice versa.” China believes the exercises destabilize the situation with North Korea and that if the U.S. curtailed them the Kim Jong-Un regime might agree to deescalate. But Harris said the exercises should continue so the U.S. can fulfill its treaty obligations.

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