Defense Issues

Military and general security

  • Follow Defense Issues on
  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 272 other followers

  • September 2020
    M T W T F S S
  • Categories

Posts Tagged ‘weapons’

Starship armaments based on CGI models

Posted by picard578 on November 16, 2016

akira_class_ilm_cgi_model_numbered Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

British battleship classes

Posted by picard578 on July 16, 2016

Class Type Length Width Displacement Top speed Primary battery Primary rof Secondary bat Secondary rof Tertiary batt. Tertiary rof
Royal Sovereign predreadnought 380 ft 75 ft 14.380 t 17,5 kts 4 * 13,5 in 10 * 6 in 28 pd guns
Centurion predreadnought 360 ft 70 ft 10.670 t 17 kts 4 * 10 in 10 * 4,7 in 20 pd guns
Majestic predreadnought 421 ft 75 ft 15.060 t 16 kts 4 * 12 in 12 * 6 in 28 pd guns
Canopus predreadnought 430 ft 74 ft 13.360 t 18 kts 4 * 12 in 12 * 6 in 16 pd guns
Formidable predreadnought 431 ft 75 ft 14.700 t 18,2 kts 4 * 12 in 12 * 6 in 22 pd guns
Duncan predreadnought 432 ft 75 ft 6 in 13.480 t 19 kts 4 * 12 in 12 * 6 in 18 pd guns
King Edward VII predreadnought 453 ft 6 in 78 ft 15.880 t 18,5 kts 4 * 12 in 4* 9,2 10 * 6 in 40 pd guns
Swiftsure predreadnought 475 ft 3 in 71 ft 1 in 11.990 t 19 kts 4 * 10 in 14 * 7,5 in 18 pd guns
Lord Nelson predreadnought 443 ft 6 in 79 ft 6 in 16.350 t 18 kts 4 * 12 in 10 * 9,2 in 26 pd guns
Dreadnought dreadnought 527 ft 82 ft 1 in 18.400 t 21 kts 10 * 12 in N/A 27 pd guns
Bellerophon dreadnought 526 ft 83 ft 19.100 t 21 kts 10 * 12 in 16 * 4 in 12 pd guns
St. Vincent dreadnought 536 ft 84 ft 2 in 19.870 t 21 kts 10 * 12 in 20 * 4 in N/A
Neptune dreadnought 546 ft 85 ft 20.000 t 21 kts 10 * 12 in 12 * 4 in N/A
Colossus dreadnought 546 ft 85 ft 20.550 t 21 kts 10 * 12 in 16 * 4 in N/A
Orion dreadnought 581 ft 88 ft 22.350 t 21 kts 10 * 13,5 in 16 * 4 in N/A
King George V dreadnought 598 ft 89 ft 23.370 t 21 kts 10 * 13,5 in 16 * 4 in 4 * 47 mm
Iron Duke dreadnought 622 ft 9 in 90 ft 25.400 t 21,2 kts 10 * 13,5 in 12 * 6 in 2 * 3 in
Agincourt dreadnought 671 ft 6 in 89 ft 27.940 t 22 kts 14 * 12 in 20 * 6 in 10 * 3 in
Erin dreadnought 559 ft 6 in 91 ft 27.940 t 21 kts 10 * 13,5 in 16 * 6 in 6 * 57 mm
Canada dreadnought 625 ft 92,5 ft 29.060 t 22,75 kts 10 * 14 in 16 * 6 in 2 * 3 in
Queen Elizabeth dreadnought 645 ft 9 in 90 ft 6 in 27.940 t 24 kts 8 * 15 in 2 rpm 20 * 4,5 in 2 * 3 in
Revenge dreadnought 624 ft 88,5 ft 28.450 t 21 kts 8 * 15 in 2 rpm 14 * 6 in 4 * 47 mm 20 rpm
Nelson dreadnought 710 ft 106 ft 34.440 t 23 kts 9 * 16 in 1,5 rpm 12 * 6 in 64 * 40 mm 115 – 330 rpm
King George V dreadnought 745 ft 103 ft 37.320 t 28 kts 10 * 14 in 2 rpm 16 * 5,25 in 7-8 rpm 64 * 40 mm 120-330 rpm
Vanguard dreadnought 814 ft 108 ft 45.210 t 30 kts 8 * 15 in 2 rpm 16 * 5,25 in 7-8 rpm 10*6 40 mm 120-330 rpm
Lion dreadnought 785 ft 105 ft 41.200 t 30 kts 9 * 16 in 2 rpm 24 * 4,5 in 96-98 rpm 48 * 2pdr 115 rpm
Lion Mk II dreadnought 830 ft 115 ft 57.400 t 29 kts 9 * 16 in 3 rpm 24 * 4,5 in 96-98 rpm 9*6 40 mm 120-330 rpm

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Air to air weapons effectiveness

Posted by picard578 on June 15, 2013

Measures of effectiveness

To determine effectiveness of weapons, first we must determine what are measures of that effectiveness. Weapons are designed to kill, and to preferably kill opponent before he can kill you. But opponent wants to do the same thing, so he will try to survive – which means prevent you from killing him, and kill you. Best way to achieve advantage is by surprise; further, weapons should be as resistant to countermeasures as possible.

Historically, engagements were always between flights and squadrons, more rarely entire wings. This means target saturation. It also means that pilot is always in danger of getting killed by somebody even as he tracks the target; resultantly, time required for tracking the enemy should be reduced to minimum. But even side with inferior weapons was able to win if it has superior personnell or superior numbers as Germans have proven in France in 1940 and USSR in 1941/2. But once USSR learned from mistakes, and adjusted both training and tactics correspondingly, its numerical superiority decided the war.

Thus most important aspect of weapon is how it affects user’s skill. Second is how many weapons can be sent to and supported in fight; only third is combat capability of weapon itself. Further, more expensive weapon is not necessarily more effective even when numbers are ignored. More on it here. As for aircraft weapons, their primary function is to kill enemy quickly, reliably and at minimal danger to the user.

Missile effectiveness Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in weapons | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments »

Consequences of the Depleted Uranium use

Posted by picard578 on April 20, 2013

Were there weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2003? Answer is yes – but they came in with and were used by US and UK militaries, not by Iraqi forces, and consequently their presence was ignored by corporate-controlled press. Weapons in question were not nuclear, chemical or biological according to classical definition of these weapons, yet their effects were both nuclear and chemical in nature. Our mystery weapon? Depleted uranium, used by US military in Iraq in both 1991 and 2003, in Afghanistan, Libya and in Kosovo, would be classified as “omnicidal maniac”, if only weapons were liable for psychoanalysis. In Libya at least, sites targeted also included civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Depleted uranium is a leftover of enrichment process that creates highly radioactive U-235 used for nuclear weapons and power generation, and is over 99% U-238. United States alone have over 5 million tons of DU stored, and due to its long half-life, it has been decided that it is cheaper to use it for weapons than keep it in storage. DU weapons were first developed by US Navy in 1968 and used by Israel in 1973 Yom Kippur War; next use was in 1991 Gulf War, when US broke international prohibition, namely 1907 Hague Convention, which prohibits “poison or poisoned weapons” use, and 1925 Geneva Convention, which states the same thing. DU is being offered for free to military contractors, who then create weapons from it.

While highly energetic alpha particles it creates cannot pass by more than few centimeters of air, and are easily stopped by thin sheat of paper or dead skin layer, it is not so for beta and gamma radiation – beta particles penetrate to depth of 2 centimeters, whereas gamma radiation creates beta particles on its way through the body. When set on fire DU creates large numbers of nano-particles of duranium oxide, which is just as dangerous as “pure” uranium, that then float through the air and are inhaled by people, contaminate water and food supplies and generally settle everywhere they shouldn’t; they can also attach themselves to sand particles and use them for “travel”. These are then taken in with water and food, entering food chain (as has happened in Iraq) and being inside body, even alpha particles suddenly gain very real potential to cause trouble, penetrating to about 30 microns from source.

Particles in question can be deposed by wind hundred, maybe even thousand, kilometers from the place they were released at. There is no way to filter them – they pass through gas mask as if it isn’t there – and once they come in contact with body, they immediately start to alter DNA. They are also toxic in classic biological definition of the word. While it is possible to (mostly) clean up vehicles from them, they become embedded in clothing and are impossible to remove. However, even decontamination of vehicles is impossible during the war.

Reason depleted uranium is so useful as a weapon is that it is densest metal avaliable, sharpens itself during penetration, and it also pyrophoric. Due to that, tank shells using DU are classified as API – armor piercing incidientary, and when such shell strikes enemy tank, nose of shell fragments, exposing DU core which ignites (producing temperatures of 3 000 to 6 000 degrees Celzius), penetrates the armor, and then explodes, burning everything inside the tank (same effect is used in bunker buster bombs). This also results in massive amounts of microscopic particles mentioned above being created – DU weapons are, by all measures, dirty bombs, as 18 to 70% of DU content (usually around 40%) vaporizes into fine, radioactive uranium oxide dust when shell hits a target – dirty bomb by any measure. These particles can then be carried by the wind for very large distances – in 9 days, uranium dust traveled from Iraq to England, and Europe’s atmospheric radiation levels quadrupled. Non-vaporized part of penetrator remains lying on the battlefield unless picked up. Aside from tank shells, it is used in 30 mm armor-piercing ammo, bunker buster bombs and as both ballast and warhead in cruise missiles, and ballast in aircraft – after 9/11 attacks, DU dust from destroyed aircraft caused elevated radiation levels up to 7 miles from points of impact. DU rounds are used by M1 Abrams MBT, Bradley IFV, A-10 CAS aircraft,

And “depleted uranium” is far from depleted – it emits 70% as much of Alpha, 87% as much Beta and just as much Gamma radiation as natural uranium; only way DU is “depleted” in is that most of fissile U-235 isotope has been removed, rendering it useless for atomic weapons. Depleted uranium is also more concentrated than natural uranium, which means that it releases far more radiation than uranium ore. It was, in fact, calculated that one ton of DU used on the battlefield releases amount of radioactive particles comparable to one hundred bombs dropped on Hiroshima. United States have used 1 000 tons of DU in Gulf War I, 800 in Kosovo, 800 in Afghanistan, and 2 200 in Gulf War II, with combined radioactive particle release being ten times as large as all nuclear tests in history. Up to 3 000 tons more could have been used during occupation of Iraq that followed Iraqi Freedom. UK has, in Gulf War I, used 800 tons of DU, and NATO has used large amounts of depleted uranium in Libya. Israel may have used DU weapons in Lebanon in 2006. Each 120 mm tank shell contains 4,5 kg of Depleted Uranium, and 30 mm shell contains 280 g; bunker busting GBU-28 and GBU-37 bombs can have 1 000 to 2 000 kilograms of DU each, as can AGM-130 air to ground missile, whereas cruise missiles contain DU as ballast and in some cases in head, making it between 3 and 400 kilos of DU. Prototypes of DU-capped bombs and missiles were tested in Kosovo and in Afghanistan. US Navy also used DU ammunition in Phalanx CIWS system, but eventually switched to tungsten once dangers of DU use were realized.

But while US military maintains that DU is not harmful – some US military briefers even stated that it is safe enough to eat (can I have little depleted uranium with my chicken burger, thank you?) – out of 580 000 US soldiers that served in Iraq in 1991, 221 000 were on medical disability pensions by 2002, and 519 000 by mid 2004, which can be compared to 5% disability rate of two World Wars and 10% rate of Vietnam. By 2006, 11 000 have died, compared to 114 that were killed in combat. After 2003 war, 40% of soldiers in one unit were diagnosed with tumors within 16 months after returning from a year-and-few-months-long tour of duty in Iraq; and in Iraq and Afghan wars of 2001 and 2003, over 1,3 million US veterans served tour of duty. Military admitted that DU was found in soldiers’ semen, contaminating their sexual partners. In fact, research done has shown that, out of 251 soldiers in control group who had normal babies before the war, 67% of their post-war babies were born with severe birth defects – they had missing limbs, organs, or severe immune system and blood diseases, which is result of Alpha-particles’ ability to massively mess with genetics; as a result, many soldiers that served in Iraq had decided not to have children. Some soldiers had 2500 micrograms of uranium excreted per day for long time after conflict – US military regulations state that any level above 15 micrograms warrants immediate medical testing, and 250 micrograms results in constant medical care. Many were never put under medical care, or were put years after the event.

DU weapons contain still-radioactive U-238, leftover U-235 (around 1/4 of starting amount), and are further contaminated with uranium 236, technitium 99, neptunium and americium, all radioactive materials. Another contaminant is plutonium 239, which is far more radioactive and million times as toxic as uranium, to an extent that single particle of plutonium entering the body can cause fatal consequences. 7 000 tons of DU used in Iraq is enough to kill entire populace of Iraq several times over if inhaled or ingested. UK Atomic Energy Authority has estimated that 50 tons of DU dust released in First Gulf War could have lead to 500 000 cancer deaths between 1991 and 2000. By these numbers, amount of DU used in Iraq, which would have released 2 000 – 5 000 tons of dust, could lead to 20 000 000 – 50 000 000 cancer deaths. 3 000 000 or more of these will happen in Iraq. DU contaminated soil should be scraped and containerized as a nuclear waste, but considering spread of DU contamination, costs for actually doing that will be enormous, into tens of billions of USD. To get you a further idea of a massive amount of radiation released by DU weapons, even an official number of 1 800 tons of DU used would equalize 250 000 Nagasaki bombs in leftover radiation; real number would thus be 950 000 Nagasaki bombs. In fact, Depleted Uranium bombardment was a fallback plan in 1945 in case that atomic bombs did not work, but it was not until Ronald Reagan in 1980s that weapons were actually introduced into arsenal. Fun fact: Reagan’s popular nickname was Ronnie Ray-guns.

In May 2003, Scott Petterson (a writer with US newspaper CSM) examined radioactivity levels next to DU bullets near Baghdad, and found that they were over 1900 times greater than background radiation. Shell holes in vehicles destroyed by DU ammunition in 1991 showed 1 000 times the normal background radiation level eleven years after the war. Evidence also exists that US have used pure natural uranium in Iraq and Afghanistan, as it is significantly cheaper than depleted uranium.

Many DU particles are small enough to be inhaled, far smaller and thus far more harmful than particles of natural uranium. While particles smaller than 10 microns can be inhaled, over half of DU particles created this way are smaller than 5 microns, and 30% is one-tenth of a micron or smaller, with amount of respirable particles reaching 96% in some cases. With larger missiles and bombs, mostly all particles created are of micron size or smaller, and can thus be inhaled regardless of wether person is wearing gas masks, which stop only particles that are 10 microns large or larger. When inhaled, many get stuck in lungs but some get transferred all over the body. DU particles in nanometer range can freely pass through cell membrane, and into its nucleus, affecting both DNA and RNA through its radiological and chemical properties – due to this, nano-particles of any chemical element are far more harmful than micro-particles of the same element; they also easily pass through olfactory bulb and directly into the brain. Between 52 and 83 % of DU particles left over from weapons fire is also water-insoluble, which means that it stays in body far longer than normal – while natural uranium is wholly excreted by body within 24 hours, DU particles stay in body for decades. It also deposits in bones, where it can stay for up to 25 years, increasing risk from leuchemia and destroying monocyte stem cells in bone marrow, which are responsible for production of lymphocites and erythrocites as well as recyclation of iron from dead erythrocites, thus both destroying reaction capacity of immune systems and to anemia. While water-soluble uranium is primarly toxic danger, water-insoluble uranium is primarly radiological hazard.

As Uranium 238 decays inside the body, it transfers into far more radioactive isotope – Thorium 234, which decays into Proactinium 234. Thorium 234 has half-life of 24,1 days, while Proactinium 234 has half-life of 6,75 hours. Proactinium 234 transfers into more stable Uranium 234 which has half-life of 247 000 years. While chemical binding energy inside human cell is 10 eV, one alpha particle from U-238 releases 4 million eV, basically nuking the cells. In fact, single alpha particle can, under right conditions, start cancer – and one gram of DU releases 12 000 of these particles per second. Low-level radiation risk is also 100 to 1000 times greater than International Comittee on Radiation Protection estimates.

Lot of equipment used when dealing with DU is defective – and soldiers are told it can be fixed with duct tape. Many are not even equipped with gloves and gas masks when working with depleted uranium (not that it would help in case of gas masks, which are completely ineffective in protecting against uranium dust). Fact also remains that most of US casualties in the first Gulf War were result of the friendly fire.

In Basra, whose farmlands were site of tank battles and were thus contaminated by DU, a marked increase in number of cancers has happened since the Gulf War. Cases of double and triple cancers – a never seen before phenomenon – have been reported, and number of cancer cases corresponds to levels of background radiation.

In Fallujah, also a site of heavy fighting, every week an average of five children are born with major deformities – heart defects, cleft lip, limb defects, Down’s syndrome and eye deformities. Children were born with two heads, no heads, single eye in their foreheads. There are also half a dozen stillborn babies every day, many of them also with deformities. During fighting in 2004, several insurgent compounds that were impenetrable by artillery were destroyed by DU-tipped bunker buster bombs, and it is possible that tanks may have used DU rounds too. After the battle, debris was bulldozed into nearby Euphrates river, which serves as a source of drinking water for nearby inhabitants. Ratio of boys to girls at birth, which is normally 1050 to 1000 – and was that way in Fallujah until 2004 – fell to 860 boys for each 1000 girls. Out of 170 children born in Fallujah in September 2010, 24% died. Of babies born, three quarters exhibited obvious deformities. For comparision, in August 2002, 530 children were born, and of these only 6 died and one was deformed. In 2006, 45% of pregnancies ended in miscarriage, compared to 10% before fighting. Since then, it has stabilized at 17%.

Between 1993 and 2010, childhood leukemia rates in Bashraq, Iraq have doubled, and in 2011 number of birth defects was 11 times the world’s average. Between 1991 and 2005, birth defects in Iraq as a whole have increased 2-6 times, and 3-12 times as many children have developed cancer and leukemia. Between 1991 and 2001, number of leukemia cases has grown by more than 600 per cent. Leukemia is problematic especially in bone marrow, as stem cells – which become cells that replace cells that die (except for nervous system, almost no cell in human body is older than few years) are manufactured. If these are mutated, new cells will malfunction. Compared to situation between wars, by 2004 number of cancer cases was 7-10 times larger, and number of deformities was 4-6 times as large. Result is that women in affected areas are now afraid of giving birth to children. This obvious genocide by US has encouraged resistance. Neither it is unusual for woman to have a breast cancer in her 20s.

Between 2003 and 2006, US invasion of Iraq had led to 655 000 extra deaths. In central Iraq province of Babil, reported cancer cases rose from 500 in 2004 to 7 000 in 2008.

Number of immune system defect cases have also increased: whereas between late 1990s and 2003, Fallujah General Hospital received three patients with such problems per year, it has increased to three per week by 2010.

During 2003, a hospital in southern Iraq was treating more than 600 children per day, many of whom suffered symptoms of radiation poisoning. Children are especially vulnerable as they tend to play on destroyed tanks, or pick up fragments of contaminated materials or DU penetrators.

Phenomena such as several members of one family having cancer, one patient having several types of cancer, outbreaks of infectious deseases due to reduced immunity have been noticed. There is also massive increase in cancers in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

In Vranje, Serbia, number of children born with genetic defects has tripled between 1998 and 2008 – from 21 to 73 – despite number of overall births remaining constant at 800 – 1 000 children per year. Between 2000 and 2006, number of newly registered cancer cases went from 185 to 398. In Kosovo, signs of radiation poisoning on children – herpes on the mouth and skin rashes at ankles and back – have been observed. Number of leukemia cases in Northern Kosovo has increased by 200 per cent since NATOs air campaigns, and number of children born with deformities has also increased. And countries that border with ex-Yugoslavian area are also in danger. Some 1800 Balkan peacekeepers also suffer from health problems connected to DU as of 2001. Of 5 000 refugees from Hadzici, only 600 were still alive by 2001.

In Sarajevo, also hit by US bombs, leukemia rate tripled between 1996 and 2001.

In healthy, grown person, DU exposure can result in any of following (this is not a full list):

  • reactive airway disease
  • neurological abnormalities
  • kidney dysfunction
  • rashes
  • vision degradation and night vision loss
  • gum tissue problems
  • lymphomia
  • every known type of cancer
  • morphological disorders
  • neuro-psychological disorders
  • uranium in semen
  • sexual dysfunction
  • birth defects in offspring
  • brittle bones and teeth
  • aplastic anemia
  • lung damage
  • bloody stools
  • extreme fatigue
  • joint pain
  • unsteady gait
  • memory loss
  • brain tumor
  • loss of bowel and bladder control
  • mental deterioration
  • testicle pain
  • diarrhea
  • depression
  • bone pains
  • chest pain
  • pain in the cervical column, upper shoulders and base of skull
  • pain in lower back
  • kidney pain
  • disorientation
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • immune system failures
  • uranium nephritis
  • disorders of proteine and carbohydrate metabolism
  • pulmonary fibrosis
  • pneumoconiosis
  • gastro-intestinal tract damage
  • ephysema
  • fibrosis
  • mood disturbances
  • skin ruptures

It is important to note that some of symtoms – gum tissue problems, cancers and birth defects – are known to be caused by radiation. Brittle bones and teeth are caused as uranium replaces calcium that is normally composing these parts of the body. Children are even more vulnerable, as their organisms are still developing, and they also tend to play in polluted areas.

Chemical toxicity is the first effect that is noticeable. Kidney filters blood and cotrols levels of electrolytes in the blood. Uranium, when absorbed, damages this function. Depleted Uranium is even more dangerous for soldiers than for civilians, as soldiers’ immune system is typically still reeling from multiple doses of, often experimental, vaccines.

Experiments on dogs have resulted in 84% of dogs exposed to inhaled uranium dying of cancer to the lungs. To humans, one millionth of a gram of DU accumulating in the body would be lethal, and there are no known methods of treatment.

And it won’t be limited just to Iraq and Serbia. Sand from Sahara sometimes reaches Britain – and even United States – and radiation from Chernobyl reached Wales. In United States, lung cancer rates are skyrocketing – and lungs are one of organs most affected by DU dust. In fact, DU dust particle’s range is effectivelly unlimited. Radioactive particles will last for millions of years, possibly killing millions or billions if humanity doesn’t exterminate itself, or get exterminated by something, first – and it will take between 28 and 45 billion years for depleted uranium to stop being danger. Genetic defects are also permanent, and research with rats has shown that DU is transmitted through placenta to the offspring. Current obesity epidemic in the United States could, aside from very bad food, be partly explained through radiation damage. One of 12 children in the United States is disabled. Number of new lung cancer cases per year has jumped from 175 000 to around 1 million by 2006. It takes 2-6 years for lung cancer to develop after person has been exposed to DU particles – invasion of Afghanistan was in 2001 and of Iraq in 2003.

Depleted uranium, being very heavy, also sinks in the ground and contaminates underground water sources; and area once contaminated by depleted uranium cannot be decontaminated. In fact, after 1943, US military has researched Depleted Uranium as a permanent terrain contaminant, which could destroy populations by permanently contaminating land with radioactive dust. Employees handling uranium in US DU production or decontamination facilities have reported health problems similar to Gulf War Syndrome, and DU remains inside the food chain.

Neither United States or United Kingdom have briefed their troops on dangers od DU use.

US and UK’s denial – UK opposed EU’s initiative for banning DU weapons twice, and US basically forced UN bodies – WHO and UNEP – into lying about DU dangers (for example, Greenpeace was not allowed to participate in 2000 NATO/UNEP mission to Kosovo) – must be viewed in light of DU munitions’ effectiveness. In fact, US colonel wrote in a memo that “There continues to be concern regarding the impact of DU on the environment. If no one makes the case for the effectiveness of DU in battle, DU rounds may become politically unacceptable and be deleted from the arsenal.”. His memo ends with the following: “I believe that we should keep this sensitive issue in mind when “after action” reports are written.”. Doctor Doug Rokke, 35-year veteran of US Army, was working on project by US Army that was trying to understand effects of depleted uranium on health. After years of research, in 1996 he concluded that usage of DU weapons should be banned immediately. Conclusion cost him career, and caused him to be put under surveillance. Yet United States routinely bury vehicles that were damaged or destroyed by DU friendly fire, and “dispose” of DU munitions by dumping them into ocean or burning them like ordinary garbage. Further, HIPAA act of 1996 prevents doctors from discussing DU effects with public, threatening them with prospect of discharge or imprisonment for disclosing health information to another person, even a family member. Pentagon also routinely pressures newspapers into not publishing articles that contradict Pentagon’s official views on the Depleted Uranium. Dr Asaf Durakovic, who conducted before-mentioned experiments on dogs, was asked to lie about its danger to humans. After he began working on exposing dangers of Depleted Uranium use, he was warned to stop his work, fired from his position, had his house ransacked and started receiveing death threats. Doctors treating soldiers returning from wars in which DU was used were threatened with 10 000 USD fines and jail if they spoke. US military knows that DU is dangerous, and routinely buries contaminated vehicles. Its toxic effects were in fact known since 1943, and usage of depleted uranium instead of atomic bombs was considered, yet when in 1991 a fire broke out in DU munitions depot in Doha, US Army did not even treat is as a toxic hazard, despite the fact that it was known that DU particles release alpha radiation. United States have also refused demands of some of its allies to disclose chemical and metallic properties of its munitions.

On Pohakuloa Training Area in Hawaii, 450 kilos of DU were left from mortair rounds. In US, Fort Hood, Fort Benning, Fort Campbell, Fort Knox, Fort Lewis, Fort Riley, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Fort Dix, Makua Military Reservation, China Lake AWC, Eglin AFB, Nellis AFB, Davis-Monthan AFB, Kirtland AFB, White Sands Missile Range, Ethan Allen Firing Range and New Mexico Institute for Mining and Technology are contaminated by DU rounds. In Fort Knox, lung cancer rate is 105 – 127 per 100 000 in 2001-2005 period, compared to US rate of 54,4. Lung cancer rates are similarly increased in vicinity of Ft. Lewis.

DU munitions are radioactive even before being fired (logically), irradiating soldiers who are handling them.

To add jaywalking after arson and murder, DU weapons are also illegal under humanitarian law. This law states that weapons may only be used on legal field of battle, may only be used for duration of the armed conflict, cannot be unduly inhumane, and cannot have unduly negative effect on natural environment. DU weapons fail on all four criteria. Further, people in Iraq and Pakistan are aware of the effects of Depleted Uranium, having felt them on their own skins; there is no lying to them, and continued use of DU weapons harms NATO and US cause in the Middle East – unless that cause is complete extermination of all forms of complex life there.

After the Kosovo campaign, official documents have stated only that “KFOR troops and expatriate civillians” might be at risk, implying that to NATO, domestic populations simply do not matter.

Results of DU use are worse than genocide – it is ecocide, destruction of both structure of affected societies as well as entire affected ecosystem.

Are there alternatives? Yes. Tungsten is another element used for kinetic penetrators. Main reasons US favor DU over tungsten are that DU is pyrohoric, easier to manufacture (melting point of 1132 degrees Celsius compared to 3422 degrees for Tungsten), and far cheaper, as DU is literally a waste – by 2004, US had 10 million tons of DU just lying around. Tungsten, while 1,75 times harder than Uranium, also does not self-sharpen like uranium does and does not burn; as a result, it is about 10% less effective than DU. While it is poisonous, it is nowhere as dangerous as DU, and is not radioactive. But due to its high cost compared to depleted uranium, prevalent Western capitalistic/materialistic psyche prevents its replacing of DU.

But as long as people continue to live in a comfortable delusion that “it is over there, so it is not important for me and I don’t have to do anything about it”, nothing will change. Modern humans are lazy; too lazy to research, too lazy to think, too lazy to do something. They wait for corporate media – like CNN, New York Times and The Washington Post in the US; HRT, Slobodna Dalmacija, Vecernji List i Jutarnji List in Croatia – to tell them what corporations want them to hear; they wait for politicians they did not elect (even though they believe they did) to solve their troubles. As long as this waiting continues, however, situation will only get worse.


The Daughter of Babylon, The Queen of the Nations

Isaiah 47
1 “Come down and sit in the dust,
O virgin daughter of Babylon;
Sit on the ground without a throne,
O daughter of the Chaldeans!
For you shall no more be called
Tender and delicate.
2 Take the millstones and grind meal.
Remove your veil,
Take off the skirt,
Uncover the thigh,
Pass through the rivers.
3 Your nakedness shall be uncovered,
Yes, your shame will be seen;
I will take vengeance,
And I will not arbitrate with a man.”
4 As for our Redeemer, the LORD of hosts is His name,
The Holy One of Israel.
5 “ Sit in silence, and go into darkness,
O daughter of the Chaldeans;
For you shall no longer be called
The Lady of Kingdoms.
6 I was angry with My people;
I have profaned My inheritance,
And given them into your hand.
You showed them no mercy;
On the elderly you laid your yoke very heavily.
7 And you said, ‘I shall be a lady forever,’
So that you did not take these things to heart,
Nor remember the latter end of them.
8 “ Therefore hear this now, you who are given to pleasures,
Who dwell securely,
Who say in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one else besides me;
I shall not sit as a widow,
Nor shall I know the loss of children’;
9 But these two things shall come to you
In a moment, in one day

EDIT: As DU weapons have been used in Australia, and there are uranium sources there, it is possible that uranium contamination had to do with development of cancer in Tasmanian Devils, with their low diversity helping its spread.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Saab Gripen analysis

Posted by picard578 on February 16, 2013

Program history

SAAB Gripen is a result of relaxed-stability fighter rush initiated by (at the time) revolutionary F-16 fighter aircraft. It is not surprising that SAAB opted for delta-canard layout they themselves pioneered in 1960s, but other options were also evaluated (and rejected). This was influenced by testing programme of Viggen in late seventies, which verified benign high AoA characteristics of the layout. To Sweden, choice of small, cheap but highly capable fighter aircraft was obvious.

In 1979, after cancellation of too expensive B3LA project (a development of subsonic trainer and light attack aircraft), Swedish Air Force carried a reexamination of its requirements. Conclusion was that only affordable option was development of multirole aircraft capable of carrying out air superiority, ground attack and reconnaissance missions. Thus the JAS programme was born, drawing name from specified requirements (Jakt – fighter, Attack – attack, Spaning – reconnaissance).

In March 1980, Government endorsed the plan, but insisted that foreign contractors should be allowed to bid for the contract. As a response, Swedish (state-owned) aircraft industry formed a JAS Industry Group, comprising Saab-Scania, Volvo-Flygmotor, Ericsson Radio Systems and FFV to manage the bid by Swedish industry. Formal proposals were requested in 1981, and JAS IG submitted their proposal on 1 June 1981. After evaluation of proposals, it was decided to go forward with JAS proposal. On 30 June 1982, a fixed-price proposal was signed between the FMV and IG JAS for 5 prototypes and 30 JAS-39A aircraft. Following month, name Gripen was selected for the aircraft.

Ericsson was tasked with developing multi-mode radar, while FFV developed navigation and attack systems.

Mock-up of the final design was unveilled in early 1986. However, development of Flight Control System caused delays in final assembly of the aircraft, with first Gripen rolling out of assembly on 26 April 1987, after 7 years of development. First flight was achieved on 9 December 1988, but after its sixth flight, on 2 February 1989, aircraft veered off the runway and carwheeled. Following that, FCS was fixed, and on 4 May 1990, JAS-39-2 flew with new software. Fifth and final prototype flew on 23 October 1991. Testing showed drag to be 10% lower than predicted, and airfield performance was also better than specifications. In June 1992, contract for second batch of aircraft was approved.

On 4 March 1993, first production Gripen (JAS-39-101) made its flight, with second production aircraft delivered for service testing on 8 June 1993. It soon crashed during air display over Stockholm due to the pilot loosing control and having to eject. Following the accident, further flight testing was suspended until FCS was revised. Revisions included changes to canard deflection angles in combat mode. Testing continued on 29 December 1993.

One JAS-39A was converted from production line to serve as prototype for twin-seated trainer, JAS-39B. It features 65,5 cm fuselage stretch, and rear cockpit that is, except for lack of HUD, identical to the front one.

On 12 June 1995, SAAB and British Aerospace announced joint development of export variant. In 2001, joint venture was registered in Sweden as Gripen International. As Gripen was designed solely for Sweden’s needs, Export Baseline Standard was developed, resulting in C and D variant of the aircraft. Soon, Swedish Air Force decided to also acquire the new version, with last 20 aircraft of Batch 2 and 30 aircraft of Batch 3 conforming to EBS specification.

EBS featured retractable inflight refuelling probe on the port air intake, full-color English-language cockpit displays in Imperial units, new computers, night-vision compatible cockpit lightning, FLIR and reconnaissance pods, more powerful air conditioning system, OBOGS and stronger wings with NATO standard pylons.

In December 2004, BAe sold large portion of its stake in Gripen International to Saab, finally selling remaining 10% of their stake to Saab in June 2011. On 26 April 2007, Norway signed an agreement on common development of aircraft, with agreement between Saab and Thales Norway following in June, concerning development of communications systems. In June 2007, NATO Link 16 was added to datalink systems of Gripens in Swedish service.

On 23 April 2008, Gripen Demo (requested in 2007) was presented, serving as demonstrator for Gripen NG. On 27 May 2008 it had maiden flight, and demonstrated supercruise ability on 21 January 2008, flying at Mach 1,2 without reheat.

In 2010, Sweden awarded 4-year-contract for improving Gripen’s radar and other equipment. On 25 August 2012 Sweden announced plan to buy 40-60 Gripen NGs, following Switzerland’s decision to buy 22 Gripens of the same variant. On 17 January 2013, Sweden’s government approved decision to buy 60 Gripen E’s, with first deliveries in 2018.

Unlike with Viggen, Gripen’s test flights revealed no aerodynamic, structural or engine deficiencies; in fact, all of them were better than predicted. Only structural “fix” was added strake behind each canard surface.

Basic data (Gripen C)

Length: 14,1 m

Wing span: 8,4 m

Height: 4,5 m

Wing area: 25,54 m2; 30 m2 with canards

Wing loading:

326 or 383 kg/m2 with 100% fuel, 4 AMRAAM and 2 Sidewinder

287 or 337 kg/m2 with 50% fuel, 4 AMRAAM and 2 Sidewinder

266 or 313 kg/m2 with 50% fuel and 2 Sidewinder

(*depending on wether canards are counted)

Thrust-to-Weight ratio: (80,51 kN – 18 100 lbf – thrust)

0,95 with 50% fuel, 4 AMRAAM and 2 Sidewinder

Fuel fraction:

0,27 (6 622 kg empty, 2 400 kg fuel) – 2 270 kg fuel was for A version’s “peace setting”; C version has only war setting


6 622 kg empty

7 997 kg with 50% fuel and 2 Sidewinder

8 605 kg with 50% fuel, 4 AMRAAM and 2 Sidewinder

14 000 kg max takeoff

Maximum AoA:

>100 degrees (aerodynamic limit)

50 degrees (FCS limit)


Mach 2,0 dash

Mach 1,15 cruise

Combat radius:

Ground attack, lo-lo-lo: 650 km


Range: 120 km vs 5m2 target (80 km vs 1m2 target)

Operational G capability: 9 g

Flyaway cost: 38 to 44 million USD (in FY 2013 dollars)

Cost per flying hour: 4 700 USD



Saab Gripen is designed as a lightweight, highly maneuverable fighter. Close-coupled canard + delta wing arrangement was chosen to optimize maneuvering performance while also providing acceptable strike capabilities. Testing programs have verified excellent recovery capabilities for both Gripen versions. Further, delta canard configuration has inherently good battle damage tolerance due to “overlapping” surfaces, as well as positive trim lift on all surfaces, high maximum lift coefficient, good air field performance, and spin recovery capability. Floating canard also offers stable aircraft if EFCS fails.

To minimize weight, 30% of the structure is carbon-fibre composite. Aircraft is inherently unstable, and SAAB claims that it is first inherently unstable canard fighter to enter production.

While Gripen has low wing loading and good lift at high angles of attack, as well as relatively short wingspan, its thrust to weight ratio is below 1 at combat weight. Aircraft has operational service life of 8 000 flight hours.


One of things that can be noticed is large degree of wing/body blending, similar to F-16, which results in higher lift during maneuvers, as well as little or no interference drag that usually originates from wing-body juncture. Only exception to that are intakes, which are in side arrangement, with flat surfaces used for mounting canards. Body itself, having a “waist” noticeably thinner than parts immediately in front or aft of it, is clearly designed for transonic maneuvre.

Two small strakes are visible on the upper fuselage, located just behind canard surfaces, and single strake can be seen at bottom of fuselage; their purpose is to help enhance directional and lateral stability at high angles of attack.


Saab Gripen has canards that are relatively large compared to the wing. Canards are positioned close in front and slightly above the wing, and are tilted upwards, with large sweep-back. Location of canards at sides of air intakes prevents obstruction of air flow.

Primary purpose of close-coupled canards is not to act as control surface, but to increase lift at high angles of attack, where aircraft relies mostly on vortices to provide lift, by strengthening vortices generated by the wing and preventing their breakdown. Size and angle of Gripen’s canards are used to achieve as good as possible separation – vertical and horizontal – between canard’s tip and wing’s lifting surface, thus allowing for maximum vortex lift during high-alpha maneuvers – improvement of lift due to the close coupled configuration could be up to 50%, when compared to lift produced by surfaces in isolation. While thrust vectoring only increases maneuverability at very low speeds, and in supersonic regime, close-coupled canards are effective at any speed, though level of effectiveness varies with speed. As such, aircraft with close-coupled canards can have smaller wings for same lift at higher AoA (improving roll rate), being able to turn tighter at any air speed than otherwise possible with same wing size and angle of attack value, and achieving higher instantenenous turn rate. This also means that aircraft will be able to have lower wing span for same wing sweep and lift values, improving roll rates; smaller wing and reduced angle of attack also mean reduced drag when turning, allowing fighter to maintain energy better. However, downwash from canards also reduces wing lift at low angles of attack, reducing maximum payload fighter can carry.

Compared to LEX, canards are more versatile. Aside from being able to act as a control surface, canards can adjust position so as to produce maximum lift at any given angle of attack.

While Gripen managed to achieve angles of attack between 100 and 110 degrees during flight testing, normal AoA limit is 50 degrees as extremely high AoAs have no tactical use. Further, position of canards contributs to the fuselage lift of the fuselage just behind the canards during the turn, and canards themselves create lift, both in level flight and in turn.

Canard also has advantage over tail as the control surface – as center of gravity for modern aircraft is towards rear of the aircraft, usage of canard results in longer moment arm.

Canards can be tilted forward to nearly 90 degrees in order to aid braking during landing.


Wing itself is standard delta wing, offering large surface area, large volume and high strength for its weight. Shape of the wing ensures creation of vortexes at high angles of attack by wing’s leading edge, improving lift; wings are also equipped with small LERXes to strengthen said vortices. Another high lift device are leading edge flaps, which are used to increase lift at high AoA. When deployed during high-alpha maneuvers, flaps improve lift; however, they can also cause vortex breakdown. They also redirect air flow towards root of the wing, countering the tendency of air flow over delta wing to move towards wing tip. While usage of flaps can reduce drag, it only happens at speeds near stall speed, while in most other cases they increase drag. When flaps are not deployed, dogtooth leading edge configuration results in creation of single strong vortice at each wing, helping lift by countering tendency of delta wings to move air flow towards wing’s tips, and leave rest of the wing in stall. Wing is neither anhedral or dihedral, being located at half of the hull height. Due to wing’s (lack of) thickness, external actuators are required to control elevons.

Due to the Gripen being aerodynamically unstable aircraft, usage of delta wing also results in large trimmed lift during level flight, improving maximum lift by 10-20%, possibly more. Combination of close-coupled canards and low wing loading further improves air field performance, allowing for STOL capability.

While mechanism of lift creation at high AoA create additional drag, they increase lift and thus turn rate. But what some ignore while talking about drag “penalty” of close-coupled arrangement is that flow separation, aside from causing loss of lift, also causes major increase in pressure drag.

Rail launchers are located at wing tips, improving weapons loadout and allowing two missiles to be carried with minimum increase in drag, as well as improving lift/drag ratio of the wing.

Air intakes

Gripen’s air intakes are two-dimensional intakes, similar to those used at RA-5C. Intakes are separated from aircraft’s surface by fuselage boundary layer splitter plate, and provide adequate handling of fuselage boundary layer. High-alpha testing revealed no deficiencies in intake performance.


Tail fin is small relative to fighter’s size, compared to that of other Eurocanards and F-16. This might theoretically result in problems at high AoA; but usual way to change direction of aircraft is to rotate around X axis and pull nose up, and Gripen has additions on lower surface that may make fin unnecessary for directional stability.


One of major downsides of Gripen is its cockpit. While it allows good forward and side visibility, rearward visibility is very limited. This is dictated by its strike requirements, where exhaust from cooling unit is located behind cockpit to hide it from ground-based IR sensors. While SAAB did attempt to attenuate the problem by installing mirrors on forward canopy frame, it is only a partial solution.

Cockpit originally featured three monochrome multi-function displays, and wide-angle holographic HUD. It also has HOTAS controls that allow pilot to select many functions without lifting hands off the control stick or throttle. Ejection seat, unlike in previous aircraft, is not SAAB’s, but from Martin-Baker.


Engine is based on General Electric F-404 engine. Version used in Gripen, lincense manufactured by Volvo, had thrust boosted from 16 000 to 18 000 lbf (that is, from 7 257 to 8 165 kgf).

Operational characteristics

Gripen is capable of taking off and landing on roads, and could be capable of using unpaved runways. It can take off from 800 meter long snow-covered landing strips. Landing distance is reduced to 500 meters through usage of canards as air brakes, which is activated automatically when nose wheel establishes ground contact, as well as usage of elevons and large air brakes located at each side of fuselage behind the wing.

Further, it can be maintained by team of one specialist and five minimally-trained conscripts, and has very good combat turnaround time – less than 10 minutes. Gripen requires 10 man hours of maintenance for each hour in the air, and mean time between failure is 7,6 flight hours. Engine can be changed on road by 5 people in less than one hour. Airplane’s on-board systems include built-in “self-test” capabilities, with data being downloaded to technician’s laptop. All service doors to critical systems are at head level or lower for the easy access. Result is that Gripen requires only 60% of maintenance work hours of Viggen.

Aside from providing superior agility, Gripen’s FBW system is capable of automatically compensating for combat damage, including disabled or destroyed control surfaces – for example, using canards if aelirons are disabled.


Due to its aerodynamic layout, Gripen can be “parked” at 70 to 80 degrees of alpha. When giving adverse aeliron input, flat spin starts at up to 90 degrees per second rotation, and can be stopped by pro aeliron input. Aircraft has demonstrated spin recovery capability for complete cg and AOR range, as well as control capability in superstall, allowing recovery. During the spin testing, in one occasion when spin entrance was gained by wild maneuvering in afterburner, surge in thrust was recorded at high AoA and side-slip angles, but was immediately followed by instant recovery to full power.

Aircraft has operational G load limit of 9, and ultimate limit of 13,5 Gs.


Gripen is armed with single Mauser BK-27 cannon, housed in a fairing on port side of aircraft’s belly (can be seen here). It currently also uses Sidewinder IR AAMs, though these are to be replaced with IRIS-T missiles. BVR missile is AIM-120 AMRAAM, though aircraft is also capable of using MBDA Meteor, Matra Mica, and BAe Sky Flash (built in Sweden as Rb-71).

For anti-ship combat as well as ground attack, it can carry SAAB RBS-15 missile (though only Mk3 version of the missile supports land attack missions). Dedicated air-to-ground missiles are AGM-65 Maverick (built in Sweden as Rb-75).

Fact that Gripen uses revolver cannon is a large advantage over aircraft using Gattling guns: while Gattling guns typically take 0,5 seconds to achieve full rate of fire, revolver cannons take only 0,05 seconds. As such, while M61A1 will fire 25 rounds in first half of second, weighting total of 2,5 kg, BK-27 will fire 13,45 rounds, weighting total of 3,5 kg. Larger caliber also ensures greater damage-per-hit, important due to stronger airframes of modern fighters.

Aside for gun, Gripen also has 6 missile hardpoints on wings. Two of these are in wingtip configuration, ensuring minimal drag in flight, while other four are mounted on low-drag pylons. Another hardpoint is located at the bottom of aircraft’s hull in centerline configuration. It is usually used for fuel tank carriage, though it can also carry targeting pods as well as ground attack ammunitions.

Sensors & EW suite

Gripen is equipped with radar PS-05/A, that is capable of detecting targets with RCS of 5 m2 at distance of 120 kilometers, which translates into 80 kilometers against 1 m2 target.

EW suite is built around AR-830 Radar Warning Receiver, with receiveing antennas at front and back of missile launch rails. BOL dispensers are bult into ends of missile launch rails and have capacity of 160 chaff packs or flares; BOP/C dispensers are built into the fuselage, and BOP/B into end of the wing pylons. Lattermost can trail BO2D towed repeater RF decoy, which can be used at supersonic speeds.

Gripen’s limited sensory suite in versions so far is a large shortcoming in combat – namely, lack of IRST, which means that Gripen pilot will have to rely on visual detection (not possible during night, insufficient in bad visibility conditions) or on opponent using his own radar (relying on opponent being an idiot should never be part of any plan). This was realized by SAAB, and Gripen NG will be given IRST; earlier version of Gripen, however, will either have to be retrofitted with an internal IRST system, or settle for using FLIR pod for both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions (if possible). That is probably connected to the fact that Gripen was always intended as a defense weapons, and could thus rely on directions from the ground.

Signature reduction

While the fact that Gripen is relatively small aircraft automatically means smaller IR and visual signatures, there were some specific attempts made at further reduction. Just behind cockpit are located ducts, which are used to release exceess heat from heat exchangers, reducing Gripen’s IR signature as seen from ground.

As far as radar signature is concerned, care was taken to reduce frontal RCS, though side RCS is not likely to be large as long as radar emitter is not at precise 90 degrees angle relative to the aircraft, which would result in return from aircraft’s side surfaces – in particular tail, nose and intake surfaces.

Datalinks and communications

Flygvapnet pioneered the use of datalinks in the combat aircraft, fielding first versions on SAAB 35 Draken in mid 1960s. Gripen is equipped with four high-bandwidth, two-way data links, with range of around 500 kilometers. This allows for exchange of targeting information and other data, even when one of aircraft is on the ground. One Gripen can provide data for four other aircraft, as well as get access to ground C&C systems and SAAB-Ericsson 340B Erieye “mini-AWACs” aircraft. It can also allow fighters to quickly and accurately lock on to target by triangulation of data from several radars. Annother possibility includes one fighter jamming the target while another tracks it, or several fighters using different frequencies at the same time to penetrate jamming easier.

Gripen NG

For Gripen E, SAAB has stated that empty weight will be under 7 000 kg, and engine also apparently has 22 500 lbs of thrust. It also has 3 300 kg of internal fuel, achieving 1 300 km combat radius with 30 minutes loiter time in AtA configuration on internal fuel, or 1 800 km with no loiter time. OTIS IRST will also be added.

Gripen NG will be significantly cheaper than other 4,9 generation aircraft, such as Eurofighter Typhoon or Dassault Rafale, and with 22 ordered by Switzerland and 40-60 by Sweden itself, it has prospect to achieve success on export market as well. Some sources place flyaway cost at less than 50 million USD; my estimate is that it will likely be around 45 – 55 million USD per aircraft.

According to some reports, wing area is double of Gripen C’s, fuselage is 20% longer, but it is made out of carbon nanotube reinforced polymer composites, reducing weight compared to Gripen C. All images of Gripen NG to date, however, seem to be using Gripen C / Gripen Demo as basis (Gripen Demo is test aircraft built by using Gripen C airframe, and images that could indicate wing area don’t show any difference in fuselage dimensions). Another presentation also shows Gripen NG’s empty weight as 7 120 kg, and wing loading as 317 kg/m2 in combat configuration with 50% fuel. (Interesting point is that same presentation states that IRIS-T will be able to shoot down BVR missiles from other aircraft, though slide in question is not entirely clear). OTIS IRST will operate in 3 – 5 and 8 – 11 micron wavelengths.

Conclusion? I won’t draw conclusion about NG until it is airborne and in service.

Image of Gripen landing. Take note of air brakes and canard position:

JAS-39 Gripen landing

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 50 Comments »

The myth of the precision bombing

Posted by picard578 on January 19, 2013

Many people believe that modern guided (dubbed “smart”) weapons allow for pinpoint precision from very large distance, such as allowing fast high-flying aircraft to carry out Close Air Support, or to engage targets in urban environments.


In NATO missions in Libya, carried out to “support” anti-Gadaffi rebels, have killed or wounded multiple civilians and rebel troops. It is nothing new – as noted in the article, up to 25 – 80 % of casualties in wars have been caused by friendly fire (this also shows why BVR combat is unlikely to become prevalent form of air combat, as potential for misidentification is far greater). Visual ID has time and again proven itself as only somewhat reliable type of identifying targets, and even it is not perfect. As such, fast jets are completely incapable of identifying targets. WW2 Stuka pilot, Colonel Hans Rudel, has stated that “high speeds are a poison for finding tanks” – and that was in flat Ukraine, flying an aircraft far slower than modern jets. Army Sgt. First Class Frank Antenori has stated same thing.

In fact, due to lack of A-10s, F-15Es have on multiple occasions found themselves using their guns to strafe targets in Afghanistan. While they were mostly successfull, end result was longer time required and less successfull mission than what would have been with A-10s. A-10 also has very long loiter time, which means that – unlike “multirole” jets – it can be on station hour after hour, providing permanent presence and near-immediate answer to any CAS request.

Furthermore, units are equipped with limited number of radios, making identification difficult. While low-flying UAV’s can be used to identify targets, such usage is dependant on lack of any serious air defenses as well as presence of secure uplinks.

But even when targets are identified, precision weapons’ performance is nothing stellar – unless killing civilians is considered, where casualties have increased from WW2-standard of 9 tons of bombs per civilian killed to 200 civillians per one bomb, and drones’ effectiveness of 6 civillians per attack. This shows that, for precision weapons to be used correctly, either aircraft must be slow enough and low enough for pilot to use binoculars for identification, or identification must be done by troops on the ground.

Precision weapons have to have their points of impact calculated. Result was that, even with fast jets in the air, it took anywhere from 26 minutes to several hours for munitions to be finally delivered.

Guided munitions are also only effective against fixed targets. But against mobile targets, low-speed low-altitude attacks with cannon or unguided munitions are required to achieve any kind of effect, rendering DAS (Distant Air Support) ineffective. As such, laser designators have to be complemented with smoke grenades and marker baloons. JDAMs are not terminally guided, and as such are very likely to go astray.

While satellite surveillance is avaliable, it is very-long-distance, and as result it does not offer good target-recognition capabilities – to satellites and high-flying aircraft, cardboard decoys are indiscernible from actual targets, and it takes 18 hours for strike to arrive. UAV surveillance, on the other hand, is insufficient, whereas UCAVs can only attack fixed targets.

And problem sometimes isn’t too few data – it is too much data displayed to the pilot, overloading him and distracting him from the mission, as well as increasing time required for “observation” in OODA loop.

There are problems with munitions themselves too – further away bomb is dropped from, greater error becomes. On release, bombs often bump into each other – and sometimes aircraft too – causing fins to get bended and thus reducing accuracy. This is problem that only increases with increasing speeds, due to stronger turbulences. GPS weapons’ guidance systems also often malfunction, with bombs hitting miles off the target. A laser-guided bomb, meanwhile, can be thrown off course by a laser beam guding it being disturbed by a debris or simply by smoke, dust, clouds or highly humid environment, thus causing bomb to go ballistic.

During Operation Desert Storm, at most 60% of bombs have achieved hits on targets, and many misses were off by hundreds of meters. In fact, success rate could have been as low as 41%. While officials have said that strategic targets will be destroyed in 10 days, it took two weeks to destroy nuclear weapons factories – and all other targets have only been damaged, not destroyed. Out of 15 SAM batteries attacked by low-flying F-117s in Baghdad at first night, 13 continued to operate. All Coalition aircraft hit only 21 of 37 “crucial” targets. It also took between 4 and 10 laser-guided bombs to destroy targets such as bridges – similar to success rate of dive bombers against aircraft carriers during Pacific war.

In Kosovo War, only 58 successfull strikes have been made by USAF out of 750 attacks, destroying 14 tanks, 18 APCs and 20 artillery pieces. Out of 80 SAM batteries, 3 were destroyed. That can be compared to USAF claims of 120 tanks, 220 APCs and 450 artillery pieces destroyed. Chinese Embassy was also bombed, which was a repetition of President Reagan’s raid on Libya, when French embassy was bombed by “precision” weapons. Civilian casualties were one for every 10 tons of bombs, very close to WW2 rates. In Vietnam, casualties were one for every 12,5 tons of bombs. UK’s bombing accuracy with smart bombs was 40%.

In Afganistan, 2001, B-52 dropped precision ordnance around 100 meters from US Special Forces team, killing three US soldiers and five Afghan government soldiers. Other than several such incidents, however, war has been a positive example of USAF integrating more with the Army. Still, errors cannot be done away with, and problem gets worse faster the jet flies.

During 2003 invasion, US “precision” weapons have managed to miss Iraq entirely, falling into Turkey and Iran (at least US heavy bombers in WW2 never missed the country, though they did occasionally miss the city in entirety). Civilian objects, including hospitals, were consistently hit, and 2003 precision bombing has been more deadly than 1991 bombing which was done mostly by “dumb” bombs – killing 1350 civilians per 10 000 tons of bombs, as opposed to 400 civilians per 10 000 tons. This can in part be attributed to pilots dropping bombs from greater altitude due to the belief that part of targeting can be taken over by the projectile itself. Ballistic missiles did not fare much better, with only one-third hitting targets, one-third failling to detonate and one-third missing alltogether. It also happened on Balkans, when NATO bomb intended for Serbia fell in Sofia, Bulgaria. Accuracy of bombs against radar sites was 32%.

What is important to realize is that many of described attacks have taken place at low altitude – inly in Serbia did bombardment come, as a rule, from high altitude due to altitude limits placed, which means that it could be considered most indicative for high-altitude bombardment success rate. But even when bomb or missile does hit the target, debris from 1-ton bomb can cause casualties hundreds of meters from the impact point; radius for a 2-ton bomb can extend to a thousand meters. In fact, while 450-kg GPS bomb has CEP of 12 meters, blast damage extends to 30 meters and fragmentation damage extends to 900 meters. Area of effect is calculated by cube root of yield, so 227 kg weapon would still cause blast damage to 24 meters and fragmentation damage to 716 meters. As such, precision munitions are completely unsuited for CAS roles as well as operations in urban areas or areas where there might be civilians present. Furthermore, due to the expensive guidance systems, trend is for precision munitions to have higher yield than “dumb” counterparts, increasing the problem.

UCAVs used for assassinating terrorist leaders are especially problematic. Of 700 people killed by UCAVs in Pakistan, only 14 have been Taliban, which is mostly connected to unreliable intelligence and careless approach.

While some say that low-and-slow-flying CAS aircraft are vulnerable to being shot down, aircraft is just as safe from SAMs and MANPADS below 30 meters as it is above 3 000 meters. It is in-between these two values that trouble occurs. While average infantry division has large number of automatic weapons, most of these are small-calibre and thus only suited for engaging typical fighters (F-15, F-35) and not armored ground attack aircraft such as A-10 or Su-25 which can survive even direct hits by full-sized SAMs in good portion of cases – 50% in case of the A-10. In reality, real threat for CAS aircraft are enemy fighter aircraft, although the mere fact that CAS aircraft fly very low might make job difficult for radar-guided missiles. On the other hand, large aircraft such as AC-130 Spectre are vulnerable, can only be used at night. and have more limited capability for providing effective CAS. In Gulf War, only the tough A-10 and very fast Tornado operated at low altitudes due to persistent threat from optically-aimed AAA and IR MANPADS. Unlike other aircraft, both these types proved survivable in the environment.

Since precision weapons are tested in deserts, in fair weather (without anything that might impede bombs) and against static targets, official claims about their actual precision can be disregarded – they are equally faulty and based on equally flawed assumptions as pre-Vietnam claims of 90% accuracy for BVR missiles, which has turned out to be around 8% in combat.

Precision bombing myth is also nothing new. Norden sight for B-17 was claimed to be able to “put bomb into a pickle-barrell from 20.000 feet”. In the end, entire city blocks were levelled when bombers attacked specific targets, with bombs falling hundreds of meters off the target.

Conclusion? While guided munitions can be and are helpful, they are not magic, and aircraft still have to go very low and very slow – until pilots can see target through the canopy – in order to reliably hit tactical targets. Old-fashioned cannons are still most precise weapons in arsenal, when used well; and while precision munitions certainly can be useful, their main usefulness is not so much in increasing range from which attacks are made as in allowing pilot to spend least time possible “on target” and concentrate on evading enemy AA fire.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 24 Comments »

%d bloggers like this: