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Another consequence of very high flight to maintenance ratios in aircraft – vulnerability to disasters

Posted by altandmain on October 15, 2018

This article discusses how flight to maintenance ratios can leave air forces exposed to the unexpected, including natural disasters.

A high flight to maintenance ratio is one of the big issues in fighter aircraft that are complex. It is often an issue that does not go acknowledged during the procurement stage of military spending, but has immense consequences. Lower is better in this case, because it means less maintenance is needed per hour of flight.

Flight to maintenance ratio, roughly means that for every hour of flight, how many man maintenance hours does one need on average to keep the aircraft operational? A high flight to maintenance ratio means that more man hours are needed for every hour of flight.

The B2 stealth bomber, for example has the worst flight to maintenance ratio, and as a result seldom flies.

Hurricanes and other losses

Recently, a hurricane struck the United States. What occurred is that the hurricane, Hurricane Michael, took a sudden turn that was not expected and changed course towards the Florida Panhandle, where Tyndall Air Base is located. Tyndall Air Force Base is a major US Air Force base, where many F-22 stealth fighters are stationed.

There were 55 F-22 aircraft stationed there, but only 33 were moved out and the status of the remaining 22 are not known. It would seem that some were destroyed by the hurricane.

It is likely based on the comments that the USAF could simply not evacuate them quickly enough.

Air Force officials have not disclosed the whereabouts of the remaining 22 planes, other than to say that a number of aircraft were left at the base because of maintenance or safety reasons.

An Air Force spokeswoman, Maj. Malinda Singleton, would not confirm that any of the aircraft left behind were F-22s.

But photos and video from the wreckage of the base showed the distinctive contours of the F-22’s squared tail fins and angled vertical stabilizers amid a jumble of rubble in the base’s largest building, Hangar 5. Another photo shows the distinctive jet in a smaller hangar that had its doors and a wall ripped off by wind.

All of the hangars at the base were damaged, Major Singleton said Friday. “We anticipate the aircraft parked inside may be damaged as well,” she said, “but we won’t know the extent until our crews can safely enter those hangars and make an assessment.”

It is likely based on the comments that the USAF could simply not evacuate them quickly enough. The extent of the damage, if you read the full article, is not yet known, but appears to be extremely extensive.

The reason why aircraft like the F-22 are going to be affected by this is because stealth aircraft have a set of unique characteristics that make them vulnerable:

  1. A very high flight to maintenance ratio means that they simply cannot take off quickly enough. They are down for maintenance when they need to move most urgently.
  2. There are fewer of them (since there are less than 200 F-22s due to the costs to manufacture them and because the program was terminated early), so any losses will be a larger percentage of total fleet losses.
  3. Where they can evacuate to is limited. Stealth aircraft like the F-22 or B2 need special climate controlled hangars and have a lengthy supply chain.
  4. The sheer complexity means that there will be unexpected downtown of these aircraft. From the article below:

The high-tech F-22 is notoriously finicky and not always flight-worthy. An Air Force report this year found that on average, only about 49 percent of F-22s were mission ready at any given time — the lowest rate of any fighter in the Air Force. The total value of the 22 fighters that may remain at Tyndall is about $7.5 billion.

This is inherently exposed in not just a war against a competent enemy, but also in peacetime against natural disasters.

A brutal reality of this world is that disasters that occur suddenly will happen. Whether they be hurricane/typhoons, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, or any other disaster, a smaller fleet with a high flight to maintenance ratio means that the entire fleet of aircraft is far more vulnerable to being caught by surprise by these events.

The F-35 would also be affected

The F-35 JSF is significant in that it will be replacing the majority of aircraft in not just the USAF fleet, but also several NATO allies.

The F-35 also suffers from a high flight to maintenance ratio.

Four years into their operational career, F-35 fighters are expected to require between 41.75 and 50.1 maintenance man-hours (MMH) per flight hours, or about three times as many as most fighter aircraft currently operated by Western air forces.

Considering both the F-35 and F-22 are in this situation, this will leave the fleets of Western air forces far more vulnerable, not just to enemies in a war, but also to natural disasters and other unexpected events.

What would be the solution?

The solution is to procure cheaper aircraft (so that more aircraft can be procured and losses would be a small percentage of the fleet). These aircraft would be more widely dispersed, so that they are harder to destroy, either by an enemy, or in this case by a natural disaster.

Picard’s FLX proposals are a good step forward to protecting the Western air forces against losses like this one.

The existing aircraft would be retired. This is not without historical precedent. The F-14 was retired in part due to its unfavorable flight to maintenance ratio.

The decision to incorporate the Super Hornet and decommission the F-14 is mainly due to high amount of maintenance required to keep the Tomcats operational. On average, an F-14 requires nearly 50 maintenance hours for every flight hour, while the Super Hornet requires five to 10 maintenance hours for every flight hour.

Not only does a more complex aircraft mean fewer aircraft due to the expensive unit costs, but it also means fewer sorties per aircraft because they will be down for maintenance. This is on top of the greater vulnerability to natural disasters.

A historical perspective

Natural disasters, in the history of war, have played a key role in swinging the outcomes of many wars in the past. It would be extremely inadvisable to think that modern armies are immune to the effects of unexpected natural disasters and other weather events.

Furthermore, if we consider the effects of a natural disaster on these aircraft, what could the effects of a surprise attack be from a competent enemy? With so few aircraft concentrated in a handful of bases, and with such a high flight to maintenance ratio, the losses could be quite bad indeed. These aircraft would be in known locations on the ground. Forget for a moment about being radar stealthy in the air and worry about being exposed on the ground. Prudence would demand that we reduce our vulnerability to such events.

In a way, the OODA loop is much slower with these aircraft. Since it takes so long to maintain each aircraft, the ability for an air for with a large percentage of its total aircraft with high flight to maintenance ratios to react to a changing battlefield. It would take more time for example, for intelligence to be relayed and then a sortie generated in response to that intelligence. There are fewer aircraft, concentrated in a handful of locations, and they need more time before going to a sortie to prepare.

Clearly the solution is to procure more aircraft that are less complex, cheaper, and easier to maintain. This will not only mean fewer losses due to unexpected events, but also a much faster OODA loop.

This is an extremely costly lesson to learn, but fortunately one that was learned in peacetime and not in a war.

On a final note, I wish the best of luck to everyone affected by Hurricane Michael.

 

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Sci-fi battleship design

Posted by Picard578 on September 26, 2018

Just something from military sci-fi I am currently working on.

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The Byzantine warships and their tactics

Posted by Picard578 on September 20, 2018

Weapons and Warfare

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Reconstruction of an early 10th-century Byzantine bireme dromon by John H. Pryor, based on references in the Tactica of Emperor Leo VI the Wise. Notice the lateen sails, the full deck, the fore- and mid-castles, and the Greek fire siphon in the prow. The above-water spur is evident in the bow, while the captain’s tent and the two steering oars are located at stern.

The typical high-seas elite warship of the empire in the period was the dromon (from the Greek dromeas, meaning `the runner’). This was a two-masted fully decked bireme with two banks of oars, one rowed from below the deck and one from above it. There were twenty-five oarsmen on each side of each deck, thus raising the total number of oarsmen to a hundred, all fully seated. The marines and the officers of the ship numbered around fifty men, while the ousia, the standard complement of…

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Surprise and deception in war (Carl von Clausewitz expanded)

Posted by Picard578 on September 17, 2018

This is an expansion of Chapters 9 (Surprise) and 10 (Deception) of Clausewitz’s Book 3 of “On War”.


3.9. Surprise

Surprise is a key factor in war, for without it there is little possibility of achieving superiority at the key point. Other than being a tool for superiority, it is also useful by itself due to its psychological impact. Successful surprise causes confusion and breakdown of the opponent’s command and psychological structures. Surprise itself can be tactical, operational, strategic, political or even grand strategic, but regardless of the level it is based on two key factors: speed and secrecy. Both require great energy and serious character. While in theory surprise makes it easy to achieve decisive successes, in practice there are always factors such as friction and chance which may reduce its impact. Read the rest of this entry »

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On Friction In War – Carl von Clausewitz Expanded

Posted by Picard578 on September 9, 2018

Here I took observations of Carl von Clausewitz on friction (just reading through his book “On War”), and expanded on them.


War is simple, but the simplest thing is hardest. Various acters and factors in war produce other acters and factors, and also with their interaction produce friction. There are many things that cannot be predicted; things that should not happen but do; things that should have happened but did not. While each circumstance by itself may be too small to even consider, together they add up. Each level of authority adds another layer of friction, and confusion and dangers of war only increase probability of it happening. Most effects of friction cannot be predicted; effects of weather, disease, confusion, mechanical failures; they all cause friction of some kind. Organization itself causes friction: differing doctrines and culture can cause friction when operating with allies. Because of these various types of friction, any undertaking in war is like moving in a fog or a deep mud. Further, each war is full of individual characteristics and events which change its nature; one of primary qualities of a general is recognizing that friction. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Spanish Army of the Thirty Years’ War

Posted by Picard578 on September 3, 2018

Art of Warre

Modern impression of a tercio by artist Cabrera Peña. Source: magazine Desperta Ferro!

During the sixteenth and the first half of the seventeenth centuries Spain was the dominant continental power of Europe. Its main strategic assets were (1) its American, Italian and Flandrian possessions, (2) the family ties and alliances of its Habsburg rulers, and (3) its military establishment. As a wargamer I will concern myself only with the infantry, cavalry, dragoons and ordnance.

1. The infantry

Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, engraving 1513

The core of the Spanish army was the infantry, and the core of the infantry were the shock troops called tercios. The tercio developed around 1530 out of an earlier batlefield formation, the coronelía, a 6000-strong unit of pikemen and harquebusiers with some halberdiers and sword-and-buckler men thrown in. The coronelía had been the answer to the double threat which Spain had encountered in the Italian wars: the Swiss Gewalthaufen (pike blocs) and the French heavy cavalry…

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Byzantine military doctrine in modern practice

Posted by Picard578 on August 17, 2018

While I originally wrote this for sci-fi setting I am working on, general principles are usable in modern world as well.


OVERVIEW

Laigin culture sees war as a necessary evil – but as the saying goes, “if you have to do something, you have no excuse for not doing it to the best of your ability”, and the Empire is constantly at war, surrounded by enemies. Typically there are two or three wars going on at the same time, even if most of those are minor, and difference between war and peace is merely a matter of planet’s location within the Empire. This has caused tensions between parallel condemnation of war in theory and rather militaristic ideology and structure in practice, which is resolved by the doctrine of “just war”. At its basic, this doctrine dictates that wars of conquest are unjust, while wars of defense or reconquest of lost territories are just wars and thus require no further justification. Warfare permeates all aspects of society, from culture to education, with civil defense being a mandatory class subject even from the primary school. War is waged for defense or to recover the lost territories – territories not willingly given away are always considered to belong to the Empire “by right”, regardless of the actual situation on the terrain, or how much time had passed since the loss. Defence of the state is the ultimate goal, on all levels and in all aspects of the policy. Therefore, there is no concept of “holy war” – defensive war is automatically just by virtue of defending the state and its people. But while no sin is incurred by participating in a just war, war is not religious but rather civic obligation, and cannot be used for absolution of sins. War is only waged for purpose of defending the state or its interests abroad, such as its allies. If goals can be achieved without fighting a war, they are achieved so and casualties are minimized where possible; but military is always kept prepared for war. Overall approach can be summed up as “do everything possible to raise, equip and train the best possible army and navy, and then do everything possible to use them as little as possible”. Prepare for war to avoid war.

The main aim in war is to win without having to fight a decisive battle, especially since the Empire is at best at equal footing with its enemies, and more often disadvantaged in terms of numbers and resources. Decisive battle is avoided because even in victory it may cause an unacceptable loss of resources, and in loss it is typically catastrophic. Victory is achieved through combination of delaying tactics and exploitation of enemy weaknesses, landscape and diplomacy. Generally, aim is not to destroy the enemy, but to reach a state of equilibrium – for a destroyed opponent leaves a power vacuum which will be filled by another power, or by lawless elements, whereas a weakened opponent can be negotiated with. Today’s enemy may be tomorrow’s ally, and large number of weaker enemies is better than smaller number of powerful enemies, as they can be played off against each other. Enemies are transient; only the Empire lasts forever. Hence, warfare is typically defensive, especially since enemies tend to be diverse and numerous. Hit and run raids are preferred approach, but pitched battles can and will be fought as well if no other recourse is practical. Scouting is crucial, and is typically done by light ships. Initiative is pursued, leading to typically agressive posture. Enemies will be mislead with false information, and allies sought that can attack the enemy from a different direction. Most useful allies are those closest to the enemy, as they know how to fight the enemy best. Internal conflicts may be decided by duel by champion, typically a sword fight, in order to avoid the possibility of devastating civil wars. COIN is avoided, and proxies liberally used.

Deception is likewise used, and is separated into concealment/camouflage, imitation/mimicry, simulation, disinformation and feints. The goal is to mislead the enemy with regards to Laigin political / grand-strategic, strategic, operational and tactical objectives and approaches. Surprise is the basis of military approach on all levels.

This approach is especially advantageous because each enemy is systematically studied, and local forces are trained to respond to enemy’s specific approach to war. Knowledge about enemies – their history, culture, politics etc. – is also incorporated into strategy manuals which provide political and military leaders with guidance on dealing with enemies and neighbours in general. Constant practice, interpretation and corrections ensure that manuals are always up-to-date. Military readiness is maintained, not only to fight the war once started but also to prevent the war from being fought at all.

Morale is recognized as being one of most important factors in success, and special emphasis is placed on intangible factors – morale itself, unit cohesiveness, tradition, interaction and links between active military and general populace. Officer competence is likewise recognised as a key, and incompetent officers are demoted or transferred to whatever position they are actually capable of serving at. Diplomacy and warfare go hand in hand, with diplomacy being used to achieve war goals and vice versa. Subversion is likewise understood to be the cheapest path to victory.

OFFENSE

In offensive operations, goal is to cause maximum damage to enemy’s economy and material infrastructure – destruction of fortifications, orbital and urban installations, and severing of trade routes. This is typically employed in goal of persuading the enemy to accept a course of action most favourable for the Empire.

Heavy elements of the fleet are concentrated against key points. These points are selected to reduce enemy’s ability and will to fight. The objective is not to destroy the enemy, but as already noted, to make him more amenable to working with – instead of against – the Empire. As such, typical targets are orbital and system defense installations, while planets themselves are rarely if ever attacked.

At the same time, fast elements of the fleet – “cruiser” ships such as battlecruisers and light cruisers – are used to scout ahead of the main battle force, interdict enemy merchant and cargo traffic, and take out less-defended crucial points such as observation posts, and command centers where possible. Due to being more mobile, these elements can be more easily concentrated and deployed against any single threat. At times, half the cruiser fleet may be concentrated against a single target while still not compromising the security of the Empire thanks to existence of heavy elements. Light elements are regularly employed in hit-and-run raids as well as in attacks against important targets (focal points). In both cases, heavy fleet might be used to draw enemy attention elsewhere.

Allies will also be called upon, especially if they are in position to catch the enemy in the rear. Nomadic allies are particularly important as they are fast, mobile and also good source of information about enemy movements. When campaigning farther from Laigin territory, local allies will be contacted to provide information on the area and geopolitical situation, as well as help with scouting and intelligence gathering.

Offensive approach is also used for defensive purposes, launching pre-emptive attacks into enemy territory, and also by launching counter-invasions of the enemy territory. Offensive operations for the recovery of lost territory are also seen as inherently defensive.

When in enemy territory, and typically in friendly territory as well, fleet is organized in divisions. Frigate groups are deployed in groups along the perimeter of the fleet, acting as scouts and advanced warning screen. Main body is in the center of frigate dispositions. Some frigates are detached for independent scouting duty, using their greater speed and small sensory signature to range far ahead of the main force.

On ground, fire support missions can be called in by platoon leaders and up. Oftentimes, a platoon “on point” will be assigned a private pair of close air support aircraft. Specialized infantry units are equipped with jump packs, allowing them to scout ahead of tanks, while tanks provide direct fire support. Same approach is used by regular infantry in cities. When attacking defended positions, heavy artillery support will be called in, typically in the form of a creeping barrage. First step however is heavy scouting to identify enemy defensive positions, strongpoints and weak spots.

Units prefer to have a three-to-one local advantage in attack. In infantry, this means attacking element, fire support element and flanking element. In navy, there may be two flanking elements (side and top/bottom). Attacks, both ground and space, are carried out in waves. First wave will reach designated limit line, stop and reorganize; second wave will pass the first wave and keep advancing until it reaches its own limit line, at which point first wave, now fresh and reorganized, will launch its own attack. Laigin specialty are night attacks, which are slightly more difficult to organize but can be frighteningly effective, particularly against underequipped or technologically backwards enemies. These are typically done just before the dawn.

Infiltration tactics are heavily utilized in all situations. During fleet advance, detached frigate groups are deployed behind the enemy lines on a seek-and-destroy campaign against enemy logistical and civilian cargo ships, disrupting enemy’s logistics and economy. With time, such attacks can cause the enemy to redeploy more and more ships to guard convoys, weakening his front lines. Assaults against space stations and even planets are preceded by deployment of special forces to shut down or disrupt enemy defences from inside. On ground, special forces are deployed behind the enemy lines, identifying and possibly eliminating crucial targets. Assaults against static defensive lines are preceded by short but massive artillery bombardment against enemy defences and support structures (C4ISR, logistics, communication lines). Armoured units advance under cover of artillery fire, breaching the weakest points of enemy defences and then spreading out in the enemy rear area to cut off any support and reinforcements while infantry eliminates enemy front-line units. Breakthrough (in space or on ground) is reinforced by reserve forces with the aim of destroying enemy reserves, communications and supply depots.

Initial attack is made by several independent formations, with each operation designed to divert the enemy attention and prevent him from figuring out the real objective. Each formation has its own set of objectives, to be completed at formation’s discretion according to local conditions. Main objective of the attack is assigned to whichever unit is in best position to fulfill it. Alternatively, false attacks may be launched at points removed from the objective to draw out enemy reinforcements. Oftentimes, the goal of the attack – be it armoured or fleet attack – is simply to penetrate as deep behind the enemy lines as possible and cause as much damage to support structures as possible. If objective of the attack is particularly important and defended, several formations will combine before launching the attack.

When attacking enemy systems, frigate groups will attempt to destroy hyperspace sensors and comm buoys of several systems, along a broad area, to mask approach of the main force. This prevents the enemy from determining exact target of the attack until the moment of the attack. If possible, extraplanetary sensors in systems themselves will be neutralized as well. Approach to target world is preferably made from the opposite side of planet’s star to mask fleet’s signature. In several cases commanders even utilized hyperspace storms to mask fleet’s hyperspace signature, losing some ships in exchange for complete surprise. Fleet itself may approach the system formed in several battlegroups and from multiple directions, preventing the enemy from easily estimating the size of the force, and combine into one force just before combat contact. Some warships may even be equipped with false hull to disguise them as support ships.

Ground attacks use similar principles. Large forces will be simulated with dummy guns, tanks etc. while actual force may be dozens or hundreds of miles away, hidden by multispectral camouflage netting. Radio traffic will be likewise simulated. Troops are moved in secret, dug in and camouflaged.

DEFENSE

Defense is seen as a primary duty of the military. Normal day-to-day operations of the Navy consist mostly of counter-attacks and raiding into enemy territories for purposes of destabilizing enemy posture and gathering information, as well as intercepting enemy raids against outposts and unfortified worlds (i.e. worlds without planetary shields). For border security Navy is aided by a number of secret listening and sensory posts outside of Empire’s borders. These scan hyperspace for any signatures and listen in communications, sending regular reports back to the Empire. Listening posts are reinforced by light scout ships. Any indication of an attack – unusual activity on border, massing of ships, listening post falling silent – prompts the Royal Navy to send a scouting force of frigates to check what has happened. At the same time, a cruiser force – consisting of battlecruisers, light cruisers and frigates – is assembled near the border to check the enemy incursion before the enemy crosses the border. Heavy force of battleships, heavy cruisers and destroyers is meanwhile assembled in the rear area, acting as a strategic reserve.

Once enemy force and likely route had been ascertained from reports provided by observation posts and scouting forces, battlecruiser force shadows it until battleship force gets into position to intercept. Once battleship force gets into position, battlecruiser force closes in and brings the enemy force out of hyperspace, keeping it in place until battleship force can perform the interception. If enemy force is slow enough, only light scouting units are used to shadow it until battleship and battlecruiser forces can perform simultaneous interception. Ideally, interception happens before the enemy crosses the border. If enemy fleet is small enough, and battleship force will not make it in time, battlecruiser force makes the interception on its own.

If enemy fleet is too powerful to be destroyed without heavy casualties, or interception could not be made in time, request for assistance from deeper sectors will be made. In such a case, enemy will be allowed to lay siege to border worlds in order to buy time for the fleets to gather, and will be continually shadowed by the battlecruiser force. If enemy force is a regular force from an established state – as opposed to e.g. nomadic group – cruiser portion of the fleet will launch counter-raids, possibly forcing the enemy to return in order to defend their own territory. Once fleets had gathered, an all-out assault may be made against the enemy fleet, and possibly enemy territory as well. If enemy fleet is still too powerful, attack will be made directly against enemy territory. If needed, fleets may be called in from all over the Empire, and if some fleets may not make it in time, they will be detailed to attack enemy territory instead. Since Laigin ships tend to be somewhat faster than enemy counterparts, any division of enemy force opens it up to possibility of defeat in detail. Attacks against planets typically require ground forces except in rare cases where no planetary shields are present. These forces require supplies, meaning that no direct fleet engagement is required except in rare cases when enemy brings truly overwhelming force to bear. Supplies are brought in by cargo ships, which are vulnerable to interception by light fleet forces. Enemy army supplies are similarly attacked, and any groundside supplies either moved to defended depots or destroyed outright. Once worn down, ground forces and if possible in-system starship presence is destroyed in a series of ambushes.

Fortified planets – by definition equipped with planetary shields – are used to slow down enemy fleet, and as bases to resupply and repair starships. This makes them too valuable and too dangerous to ignore. An industrial world can, if left untouched, shift balance of power by producing starships ready to deploy into enemy’s rear. This plays against nomadic and mobility-based forces, forcing them to besiege well-defended strongholds. Enemy mobility can also be reduced by placing interceptor forces at hyperspace lanes/highways, forcing the enemy to either fight through them or else accept the penalty of reduced movement speed. Since Laigin Empire is in area with comparatively high star density, hyperspace highways are narrow and far between, significantly limiting Asquilahs’ offensive options. Aside for fortified planets, the Empire maintains a number of secret naval bases and outposts – generally in close orbits around highly active stars which help mask them from enemy sensors. These are used for resupply, maintenance and all other fleet’s logistical needs so as to ensure continued operation against superior enemy forces, effecting a “fleet in being”.

Mobile forces discussed above are concentrated at strategically important locations, particularly near hyperspace streams/lanes – specifically near “crossroads” – and are deployed against major incursions. Pirate raids and similar minor threats are handled by local planetary forces. Importance of hyperspace lanes means that they are heavily protected by listening posts, observation posts and military outposts – which ironically results in invaders often avoiding hyperspace lanes, making them harder to locate but also much slower.

This defence is reinforced by the existence of a string of dependencies, vassal states and suzerainties. These client states act as a buffer zone, intercepting smaller invasions and providing warning of larger attacks. In turn, Laigin Empire provides them with military support and other forms of aid as required, as well as establishing trade relationships. On areas of border where client states are present, same system of defense is used as outlined in previous paragraphs, but with respect to client’s border as opposed to imperial territorial border – albeit fleets are still stationed within the Empire itself. Exact specifics are however dependant on agreements and may be subject to change. Where such buffer states are not present, attempts are made to establish diplomatic relations to whatever entities are present and possibly establish them as allies – be it states, corporations or even smuggling organizations. If alliances cannot be established, various factions are played against each other.

Enemies are varied – pirates, slavers, nomadic tribes, tribal federations and formalized countries. Of those, tribal federations are particularly dangerous, especially when ideologically or religiously motivated, but most of them break apart quickly under strain of internal politics or due to military failures. Even so, they are capable of causing massive damage if allowed to roam unchecked. Tribes are dealth with by signing mutual defense treaties and giving subsidies, while any tribal invasions are punished by punitive expeditions where possible. Enemy commanders may be bribed. Anyone negotiating with enemies or assisting them is dealt with swiftly and decisively, as much as possible.

While pirates are a danger, privateers as well as other mercenaries may be contracted by planetary or provincial governors to bolster defences in times of need. This is also done by the central military as outlaws often know tricks and hyperspace shortcuts that professional military may be unaware of.

On ground as well, first line of defense are patrols and listening/observation posts. Any likely landing sites and choke points are covered by artillery and machine guns. Various obstacles are employed, from minefields to barbed wire and stakes. About a third of the force is kept as a mobile reserve to reinforce the defensive line and counter any breakthroughs. For any ground unit, digging defensive works is the first thing to be done after a stop call has been made. For brief stops, only shallow pits and trenches are dug out; the longer the stay, the more elaborate its defences. On hilly terrain, larger units will make two defensive lines, one on front slope and another on reverse slope.

MILITARY INTELLIGENCE

In both aspects of warfare, intelligence gathering is crucial. Intelligence gathering is divided into strategic and tactical. Strategic intelligence includes the information on enemy culture, mentality, doctrine, political structure, economic structure, etc. It is used to inform long-term decision-making. Tactical intelligence includes information on current force structure, disposition etc., and is crucial for winning battles. Diplomatic contacts, from other states to nomadic peoples, are a crucial source of information. Other sources of information are sensory and listening posts, scouting ships and unmanned probes, as well as various contacts and unofficial channels (mercenaries, privateers, pirates, criminal underground…). Spies, patrols, reconnaissance and probing attacks are all used for intelligence gathering purposes.

When making strategic decisions, Laigin Empire has inbuilt 10th man rule: if nine people all look at the same information and arrive at the same conclusion, it is a duty of 10th man to disagree. The 10th man has to find, compile and present all evidence, as well as possible arguments, that prove the remaining nine wrong, no matter how improbable or impossible his arguments seem. He must never stop until all possible avenues have been checked. Preparations are then made for worst case scenario. This way, group-think and conformity – so common in social animals – are avoided. In more complex situations, whole groups may be given the “tenth man” role. All Military Intelligence organizations have Control Units whose entire purpose is precisely that: producing range of explanations and assessments for events which avoid relying on a single concept. They actively criticize products coming from analysis and production divisions and write opinion papers contrary to these departments’ assessments. These memos go directly to Director of Military Intelligence and all other major decision makers. They also write and distribute papers examining the possibility of a sudden and negative change in security environment (including political, economic etc. spheres).

DIPLOMACY AND GENERAL INTELLIGENCE

As noted before, diplomacy is absolutely crucial. Diplomatic contacts are maintained with all states – friends, neutrals and enemies – whenever possible. Regular contact is considered a basis for successful negotiations, and diplomatic contact is maintained even during the war – when guns speak, diplomats must shout. This also pertains to nomadic peoples. Problem with nomads is that, due to geographical distance and lack of communications infrastructure, regular contact is hard to impossible. Further, they tend to be decentralized, meaning that negotiations with one group do not affect relations with any other group. This is not true only if a powerful leader manages to unite various groups, but aside from presenting a major threat, such alliances are short-lived.

The Bureau of Foreign Relations studies the weaknesses, strengths and personalities of all neighbouring states, cultures, peoples and leaders. It also keeps tabs on centres of power and influential individuals and families, including possible ways of influencing them. Consequently, tools and approaches such as psychological analysis are highly important. As with military intelligence, these are used to inform long-term decision-making.

Normally, diplomacy is used to maintain balance of power. Much like other empires, Laigin Empire may incite attacks on a neighbour if said neighbour starts growing too powerful. Other than Asquilah Empire, most empires do not wage wars of conquest, but rather for control over trade routes, for influence and to maintain balance of power. This makes wars frequent but limited in scope, as the goal of the war never is outright destruction of the enemy, but rather “merely” achieving favourable position and maintaining balance of power. Two empires that had waged a war decades, years or even just days before, may help each other against a more powerful third party. The “resource” fought over in such wars is oftentimes nothing physical – not even trade routes – but rather political and diplomatic influence in an area.

Against new or powerful enemies, diplomacy and negotiations will be used to gather intelligence, buy time to optimize strategies, and to break down enemy’s own operational tempo with frequent truces and negotiations. Diplomacy is also used to recruit allies – including former enemies – against the new threat. Subversion is the cheapest path to victory, and nomads in particular are open to being recruited.

There is a special Office of the Barbarians which deals solely with gathering military intelligence and disseminating it to officers in the field. The Office gathers intelligence from Military Intelligence agencies as well as diplomatic corps, analyzes it and then sends results to appropriate agencies or military commanders. Unlike MI agencies, the Office is subordinated directly to the government executive.

Military itself is often used to help in civic role, with public works and similar, both at home and abroad.

SOURCES AND INSPIRATION

Rome at War AD 293-696

Byzantium at War AD 600-1453

Heraclius and the Evolution of Byzantine Strategy

The Strategy of Heraclius

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Stealth fighter characteristics and requirements overview

Posted by Picard578 on August 8, 2018

Introduction

Stealth fighters are spreading, yet very few to none have what is necessary for a stealth fighter to be truly effective. Some are better than others – PAK FA would eat F-35 for lunch and spit out the bones – but all have serious flaws and are, in essence, half-baked experiments in stealth fighter design. So what would an ideal stealth fighter be? (Note: It may not be possible for some countries to build such a fighter – an optimization for operational stealth might fly in the face of other design requirements).

Requirements

Survivability

Main idea behind stealth is to improve survivability. Survivability is one of the most important characteristics of modern weapons systems, yet it is far more complex than generally appreciated. It does not mean merely avoiding getting hit, but rather surviving to carry out the mission – in tactical terms, aircraft that had been forced to withdraw due to lack of fuel or could never take off due to a big hole in tarmac is as “dead” as one that had been shot down.

Lethality

Stealth improves lethality as well. Effectiveness of weapons depends in large part on employment range: it is not the same thing to shoot from 10 or 100 kilometers.

Endurance

In order to actually make use of the above, aircraft needs to be capable of getting to targets and back. Required endurance necessarily depends on mission profile: will the fighter be employed defensively or offensively? Since stealth fighters are by nature offensive weapons, they will require greater endurance than non-stealth fighters; but defensive stealth design is possible to envision as well. Endurance should be measured by combat tasks: e.g. acceleration from subsonic cruise speed to combat cruise speed followed by climb to operational altitude and acceleration to top speed in order to fire missiles. This could be more precisely specified as:

  • Ingress at 15.000 ft

  • Acceleration from Mach 0,9 to 1,2 at 15.000 ft

  • Climb to 30.000 ft and acceleration to Mach 1,7 (assumed dry cruise speed)

  • Cruise at Mach 1,7

  • Maximum deceleration turn from Mach 1,7 to Mach 0,8 at 30.000 ft and maximum power

Training

All the above characteristics depend on how well trained the pilot is. A well-trained pilot will be able to optimize aircraft employment, weapons employment etc., while badly trained pilot will unnecessarily waste weapons and fuel. As Iraqis discovered in 1991., 2003. and 2014., it is no use to give a rifle to a monkey. A well-trained pilot in shit aircraft will always beat a badly-trained pilot in excellent aircraft. Usefulness of BVR combat in recent conflicts was largely due to enemies being incapable of proper defensive action due to lack of training and equipment failures (no MAWS, no RWR). Human factors trump technology, yet this is not sufficiently realized in many circles. One good thing about newer fighters are their extensive networking capabilities, which can significantly improve performance – assuming, of course, networking works against a peer opponent.

Characteristics

Survivability

Ground survivability

No tactics are as useful as cheating, and in air combat, ultimate cheating is destroying the enemy before he has had a chance to get into air in the first place. Even the most “stealthy” fighter aircraft would find its stealth useless to hide it if its air base can be found as easily as most Western bases can. Fighter aircraft spends most of its time – two-thirds at very least – on the ground, and it is precisely there that it is the most vulnerable. Yet most Western fighters are not really optimized for road basing, let alone dirt-strip basing (even if most can fly from roads in extremis, sustained road operations are much more difficult). A proper road-based fighter needs to have low maintenance requirements, low fuel usage, low wing span and ability to operate from dirt-strip and muddy roads. For stealth fighter, this means very resillient radar-absorbent skin (not paint!) as well as robust undercarriage and FOD-resistant engine. Undercarriage should have good shock absorption and large, low-pressure tires, as well as mud and FOD protection. Nose wheel should be mounted behind the air intakes to prevent any FOD damage to the engine.

Further, fighter should have very good STOL, acceleration and climb performance to escape, if necessary, any attack against the air base itself. While not necessarily as important as it was in pre-missile era, altitude is still an advantage, meaning that fighters should reach combat altitude before enemy attackers come into range.

Combat survivability

By its nature, stealth fighter relies on stealth to protect it. What this means is minimizing radar, infrared and visual signatures. Radar signature is minimized by obvious means: proper airframe shaping, internal weapons carriage, hidden engine front and application of radar absorbent materials. These measures are especially effective against fire-control X-band radars, but are less effective as frequency decreases. VHF radar has significantly improved performance against stealth fighters, while HF radar can ignore stealth alltogether. However, neither can be employed on fighters or missiles.

Infrared signature can be minimized by optimizing both design and performance characteristics. Supercruise capability is especially important here, as it allows supersonic flight without using extremely detectable afterburner. Engine should have an additional cooling channel and external nozzle compared to “normal” fighter engines. Bypass ratio is an opern question: high bypass ratio would reduce engine IR signature at subsonic speed, but low bypass ratio would improve cruise performance and reduce engine power necessary for any given cruise speed. For an air superiority fighter, low bypass ratio engine should be chosen.

Visual signature is minimized via small size, which also helps reduce infrared signature. Another factors are camouflage paint and especially smokeless engine.

Electromagnetic signature has two aspects: incoming emissions (radar) and outgoing emissions. Enemy radar is defeated primarily via shaping for minimum radar cross section. This means a smooth shape with carefully controlled reflections, no corner reflectors, or any random protrusions. Consequently, weapons and sensors must be carried internally: hence faceted IRST/EOS housing on F-35. Radar cross section (RCS) should be based on in-air measurements, as different aspects, air conditions, condensation trails and engine emissions can affect RCS compared to ground-based model measurements. This is just as important for assessing fighter’s infrared signature, if not even more so. Measurement should utilize radars of different frequencies as well, as different aspects of radar signature (shaping, contrails etc.) have different impact on different frequencies, and shaping grows less effective as frequencies increase, being much less effective against VHF radars and irrelevant against HF over-the-horizon radars. Second aspect is emissions control. Fighter itself must minimize or eliminate all outgoing electromagnetic emissions. This means minimal to no radar usage, directional outgoing data links (if any), and either offboard or directional electronic countermeasures. Radar is especially important as it is by far the most powerful source of electromagnetic emission on the aircraft.

However, stealth fighter cannot rely on stealth to always protect it. It may come up against enemies with good IR sensors, be forced to defend a (relatively) stationary asset, or be caught in a position where range is too close. It might run out of BVR missiles and be forced to enter a dogfight. As such, it needs to have backup options: good self-defense suite, good maneuverability and cruise capability.

In order to avoid being surprised, fighter should have 360* coverage with most important sensors – RWR, LWR and MAWS. Radar will naturally be positioned forward, and should be capable of being used in active and passive modes both – with latter itself having options for picking up reflections by radar of an emitting friendly fighter, or else picking up enemy radar emissions – a giant RWR, essentially. IRST will also be forward-oriented, but IR MAWS should be configured so as to allow it being used as a short-ranged IRST. This will allow pilot to “see through” the airframe. Fighter should also be capable of cruising at speeds of Mach 1,5 to 1,8 for at least 20 to 30 minutes in combat area. This however may be problematic to achieve in a stealth design, but 15 minutes cruise should be absolute minimum. For this reason, a turbojet engine may have to be considered.

Electronic countermeasures will have easier time due to stealth fighter requiring less powerful signals to spoof enemy targeting regardless of the range. However, infrared missiles will present a significant threat as IR signature cannot be significantly suppressed. Enemy radar missiles may be jammed by AESA jammers alternating between two fighters in a “blinking” manner, forcing the missile in a home-on-jam mode to to alternate between two targets, expending fuel and energy.

In maneuverability, stealth fighter will likely be at disadvantage due to its very nature: need to carry weapons internally. This means that it will be larger and heavier than an enemy with comparable normal payload. F-22 can carry eight missiles internally; Gripen E, with similar weapons load, is less than half the empty (or combat, for that matter) weight. Stealth fighter might gain some advantage due to having no interference drag from carrying weapons internally, but simple conformal carriage can eliminate most of these advantages, even when ignoring that smaller fighter will likely have maneuvering advantage – less impact from weapons carriage matters much less once one figures in the fact that baseline / starting point is not the same. However, maneuverability of a stealth fighter can still be improved (kept competitive) by ensuring low wing loading, high thrust-to-weight ratio, good transient characteristics (control response) and small size. Transient characteristics in particular can be improved by including close-coupled canards in the design. Since transient maneuverability is the most important aspect of maneuverability, canards should be included. Canards can be high (above the wing) or coplanar with the wing. In either case, some stealth will be sacrificed, but maneuverability benefits should be significant. Sustained turn performance is comparatively irrelevant, but for a stealth fighter meant to fight at beyond visual range, acceleration and climb performances are crucial.

Lethality

Beyond visual range missiles achieved good performance in recent wars. To fight at beyond visual range, fighter must be capable of identifying its targets at beyond visual range as well. While in ideal conditions this can be done via various mechanisms such as radar NCTR, various factors such as interference and jamming, unavailability of AWACS etc. can render radar ID too unreliable. That BVR missiles were used in the first place was due to presence of radar NCTR, persistent AWACS availability, which when combined with incompetent enemies led to excellent effectiveness. In more adverse conditions, radar-guided beyond-visual-range missiles cannot be relied on. This problem can be mitigated in two ways.

First, stealth fighter should be equipped with IR guided BVR missiles, such as French MICA IR. Combined with onboard IRST, it will allow both identification and engagement of unccoperative targets in ECM-heavy environments. Aside from being much more ECM-resistant, IR missiles have inherently greater lethality than radar-guided missiles. Meanwhile imaging IRST is the only reliable means of identification in ECM-heavy environment, unless both sides leave IFF turned on (which they may do if two sides utilize same aircraft types). Radar imaging cannot be used if radar is jammed. It is also the only way of ensuring reliable surprise due to being a passive sensors: radar is likely to give away fighter’s position, unless data is being fed from an offboard platform (possibility of which is questionable) or the enemy does not have a good radar warning receiver. Against Third World air forces, AESA radar can be left safely on. Radar itself should be capable of functioning as RWR and using that data (plus data from IRST) to optimize low-energy emissions for fire control purposes; in essence, radar becomes a rangefinding system.

Second, stealth fighter should have good cruise performance – that is, cruise speed and endurance. Cruise, not maximum, speed will allow it to dictate engagement terms and potentially catch enemies unaware (most fighters do not have sensors covering the rear aspect with the exception of various warning devices). It will thus be capable of choosing when, how and whether to engage. High cruise speed and endurance will also serve to extend its missile range and reduce enemy missile range from rear-quarter attacks – area where all fighters, but especially stealth ones, are relatively most vulnerable from.

Further, narrow-beam two-way datalinks should be ensured. While they still risk giving away fighter’s location, data links should allow it to utilize offboard sensory data for engaging targets. In theory, such a system could be utilized to allow some degree of a completely passive rangefinding. Datalinks should be utilized to share sensory feeds between fighters and from AWACS, as well as for communication. They should not be utilized for command; instead, pilots and flight leaders in particular should be left maximum freedom of action based on mission goals and situation overview provided via datalink.

If the enemy has not been shot down at BVR, and just letting him go is not an option, stealth fighter may need to close to visual range. As noted above, stealth fighter will be at disadvantage in maneuverability. This means that, assuming it has any advantage at all, stealth fighter will have advantage in energy fight: carrying out what are basically “hit and run” attacks instead of engaging in a turning fight. This however is extremely risky in a modern battlefield, as a well-placed IR missile shot can still force it into a turning fight where it will be at a disadvantage. Energy fight will also require significant fuel reserve. Combined with supercruise requirement, this leads to 30% fuel fraction being absolute minimum, 35% a possibly adequate value, and 40% to 45% to be achieved if possible. However, due to design limitations of a stealth fighter, anything above 30% fuel fraction may prove unrealistic for an air superiority design. Meanwhile E-M requirement means high thrust-to-weight ratio.

Stealth fighter should not be too expensive – losses happen, and numbers do matter. Peacetime fighter fleet should include enough extra (reserve) fighters that pilots do not lose out on flight hours due to repairs, maintenance or accidents. This should also include a number of “spare parts” fighters, to be cannibalized in case that spare parts are not delivered in time. Ideally, each pilot should have two fighters, so as to spread wear over two airframes and allow aircraft to undergo proper maintenance. As stealth itself causes additional costs compared to conventional designs, fighter should be as small as possible.

Generally, a fighter in good position to shoot will achieve a kill – this was proven in wars from World War I to Gulf Wars. However, proliferation of missile warners may put that into question: importance of surprise in achieving kills was based on the fact that it was generally too late for a surprised target to do anything once “woken up” (typically by being shot at). In more than a few cases in modern wars – such as the case of Yugoslav MiGs in 1999 – enemy pilots only noticed they were under attack once missile detonated close to their fighters – or flew harmlessly past the canopy. But introduction of MAWS, especially IR MAWS, means that surprise becomes impossible unless one goes for a gun kill (assuming, of course, that MAWS is not configured to warn for fighters, and since modern IR MAWS is basically a high-resolution IR camera, even that will likely not be a surprise). If MAWS notices incoming missile early enough, pilot has time for evasive action. Therefore, visual-range performance of a stealth fighter is still crucial for its overall air combat performance. BVR missiles will still be important for scoring against Third World air forces, as well as for opening up for a closer, more lethal engagement. This means that MAWS IR cameras should be capable of feeding image as well as targeting and ID data to pilot’s HUD or HMD. This will make job of keeping track of targets in both BVR and dogfight much easier.

Training and tactics

Training should be optimized for operations in fours and pairs. Any larger formations harm fighter’s lethality, be it at within visual range or beyond visual range – larger number of smaller formations has advantage over smaller number of larger formations, even if larger formations have overall greater number of fighters. Large engagements in general should be avoided in order to achieve maximum kill-loss ratio. Fighter itself should be highly reliable and easy to maintain in order to facilitate “live” training.

Training should be literally “ground up”. Stealth starts and ends on the ground – a flaming wreck in a blown-up air base is not particularly stealthy, or particularly useful. Any proper stealth fighter should be designed to operate from hidden air bases. This means easy maintenance, low logistical requirements, small size and road basing capability at minimum. Each fighter should come with a fuel truck or two, a spare parts truck, ammunition truck, lightweight mobile maintenance and repair equipment. Additional equipment shoud include enough camouflage netting – effective in visual, radar and IR spectrums – to hide fighter as well as its entire support apparatus. A fighter without that is not a proper stealth fighter. Currently, Gripen C is far more stealthy than F-35 – just in different area, but people who focus only on in-flight stealth cannot understand that.

Conclusion

Ideal stealth fighter would be, in essence, Stealth!Gripen – certainly not an overweight monster like F-35. However, for maximum effectiveness, it should still be supported by non-stealth fighters, exploiting “cracks” these fighters create. Some of these non-stealth fighters could be Western versions of Flankers – large, twin-engined, two-seat aircraft with huge radar and capable of dirt strip operations. These could then act as command fighters.

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Type 21 Frigate

Posted by Picard578 on July 24, 2018

Defence of the Realm

TYPE 21 1

There was a time when Britain’s shipyards provided the world’s navies with the finest warships. British designs were highly sought after particularly in South America, Africa and Australia but in the 1960s this export success took a dramatic turn and the United States became the primary supplier of warships to the western world. British shipbuilders thought they knew exactly who to blame; the Royal Navy itself. The fact of the matter was that British warship designs were first and foremost tailored to British requirements and then modified to suit an export customer. In the 1960s the increasingly leaner Royal Navy opted for more sophisticated vessels to make up for the smaller number of hulls in service. The result was a number of ships that were exceptionally high in quality but subsequently came with an extremely high price tag.

British shipbuilders felt that under these conditions the chances of achieving export…

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David Archibald – The China Trade

Posted by archibaldperth on July 2, 2018

The No 1 panda-hugger/lapdog of the Chinese communist dictatorship is Henry Kissinger, who was born in Germany and arrived on these shores in 1938. In his declining years Mr Kissinger has decided to trade on his reputation as a former Secretary of State and sell his services to an enemy of the Republic that gave him refuge 80 years ago. There is a thing called the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States within another institute that takes exception to US exceptionalism, the Wilson Center, named after the first do-gooder president. The way that Chinese political corruption around the world works is that a Chinese businessman connected with a state-owned company pays out funds so there is no direct connection with the Chinese Government, all coordinated by their United Front Work Department. Now it is possible, but highly unlikely, that Mr Kissinger’s efforts in deepening understanding with China are completely altruistic and he is funding his pro-China institute from his own pocket.

Another thing that happened in 1938 was the passage of the Foreign Agents Registration Act that requires agents representing the interests of foreign powers in a “political or quasi-political capacity” to disclose their relationship with the foreign government. If he already hasn’t done so and he is receiving funds originating in the Middle Kingdom, Mr Kissinger should be as honourable as he can be and register as required under that act. There is a good chance that he hasn’t as he is quoted as having said “The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.” His philosophy recently reached full flower in the FBI.

The problem for China is that Kissinger’s utterances are so blatantly pro-China that nobody gives them any credence. Whether or not they are getting their money’s worth with Kissinger, there are other intellects who are attracted by the notion of centralised decision-making and sing China’s praises, seemingly without need for payment, in the same way that Nazi Germany had many ardent admirers.

Thus the erudite Spengler has an output of columns praising Chinese accomplishments, the latest of which argues that China should continue to have unfettered access to the US market. To back up his argument Spengler provides three graphs, the first of which is Chinese exports to the US:

His graphs are useful but not as he intended – they show how little we have to lose by ceasing trade with China. In the first graph, the biggest Chinese import category is cell phones which are assembled in China and include high-value parts made in the arc of countries to the east of it – Taiwan, Korea and Japan. They could just as easily be assembled somewhere else – Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines. As China is going to attack Vietnam, shifting such assembly work to Vietnam from China should be done as quickly as possible. The best thing that Apple could do for world peace is to shift its operations from China to Vietnam. This is the cheapest foreign aid we can give an ally in the coming war with China.

The next biggest category is computers. We definitely do not want those things imported from China. As soon as they are plugged in they will be doing an ET and phoning home. Perhaps not always, but why find out after the event? From then on it is just Ikea/Walmart-type stuff that could be made in Mexico – screws and glues and plywood. As soon as the 200% tariffs come on the factories will move elsewhere in the blink of an eye.

Let’s turn our attention to Spengler’s second graph – US exports to China:

Aircraft is a big one but not permanent. Boeing has built a plant in China which will make one hundred 737s a year. Airbus has built a plant which will make six A320s a month. The jobs are going to China as a condition no doubt of maintaining access to the Chinese market. Japan attempted to enter the passenger aircraft market back in the 1970s and failed. In the end China is likely to do a Maersk on Boeing and Airbus and refuse to renew visas on the Americans and Europeans running their plants, effectively nationalising them without having to pay for them. Anyway, there are only a couple of years left of selling American-made aircraft to China.

Then comes the No 2 export to China, which is soybeans. China is not going to import any fewer soybeans because they now provide 20% of their protein intake. The Chinese public will become upset if pork disappeared from their diet. The only place China can get soybeans in that quantity is Brazil. We will sell to the countries currently taking soybeans from South America. Brazilian soybean production has topped out over the last three years at about 117 million tonnes per annum so there will be less competition from here as per this USDA article. This graph shows how the market has evolved:

Next comes cars which are $10 billion a year. That is 0.05% of the $20 trillion US economy. That is not enough to be worth providing comfort and succour to the enemy. As with the aircraft, cars as an export to China are at the whim of the regime. Next are semiconductors and industrial machines at $6 billion and $5 billion respectively, which combined is less than the cost of the Gerald Ford at $13 billion. If we didn’t have to fight a war with China, then we wouldn’t have to build such expensive aircraft carriers.

Semiconductors have China in a bind. If they stopped buying US semiconductors then they would have to buy more from Taiwan, Japan and Korea. Korea is the only one of those three that China may not be going to war with. Spengler’s article tells us that China imports $220 billion a year of semiconductors of which the US provides less than 3%. That is another market which could disappear overnight.

From then on the list of top 20 US exports to China gets scrappy at about $2 to $3 billion per annum for each item. The 20th largest Chinese export to the US is $5 billion a year of camping goods. Our 20th largest export to China is $2 billion worth of cell phones and miscellaneous.

From Spengler’s charts of exports and imports, if the US were completely closed out of access to the Chinese market, the effect would be a rounding error on the US economy. If China were completely closed out of the US market, the effect would be at least a 4% shrinkage of the Chinese economy. Just as importantly, that industrial activity would be transferred to countries that are aligned with the US or at least not setting out to kill us. That is a win-win outcome.

Another effect that China-worshippers like Kissinger and Spengler neglect is that the Chinese economy is being recentralised under President Xi. Just as President Erdogan of Turkey said that democracy is like a tram you get off when you get to the stop you want, China’s brief experience of capitalism is being abandoned now that their economy is about as large as it can be. But workers in state-run factories have only one third the productivity of workers in private industry so this will hobble Chinese competitiveness. The most recent example of this effect in the US was the launch of the Falcon Heavy at one tenth of the cost of NASA’s efforts in getting large objects into space. The landing of the Falcon Heavy boosters, like a scene from a 1950s science fiction movie, was dispiriting to China’s Han supremacists. Democracies such as the US may be too messy for the likes of Kissinger and Spengler but they are far more creative and productive.

The biggest benefit of Trump’s opening to North Korea is that he can no longer be painted as a warmonger and that has given him considerable freedom of action on China. Bring on the 200% tariffs. Chuck China out of the World Trade Organisation. Make China the pariah state it needs to be seen as. That won’t stop China from going to war with the civilised world but there will be fewer deaths, destruction, maiming and disfigurement on our side.

David Archibald is the author of American Gripen: The Solution to the F-35 Nightmare

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