February 28, 2013

F-35 being sold with promise of a hypersonic missile?

The X-51 hypersonic missile - a test missile under development - here attached to a B-52.
Also see my March 3, 2013 post http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/has-black-rattlrs-missile-been-rolled.html on whether a RATTLERS derivative is, in fact, Lockheed Martin's "sweetener" for its F-35 sales.

Is an unpublisized missile being used as a major selling point for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)? With constant delays and cost overruns is Lockeed Martin attempting to entice potential F-35 buyers by combining the sale with a smaller derivative of the X-51? Is this smaller missile being advertized in confidential forums as a "game changer"? 

If the missile is a miniaturized derivative of the X-51 it would be a hypersonic, very advanced missile indeed. The smaller missile might be "paper" only or perhaps under US development and may not be mature until delivery of the F-35 to foreign customers from 2018-2020 onwards. Such a missile would need to be small enough to fit within the F-35's stealthy body. Hypersonic speed is generally considered Mach 5 or above.


A JASSM on display.

JASSM about to hit a steel reinforced concrete target. In this case the whole missile is in the end run. But it is also possible that the warhead could detach and be rocket propelled to higher Mach speeds shortly before it hits a target.
If the missile is less advanced and more publicized it may be a version of the stealthy, turbojet, cruise missile AGM-158 JASSM (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile) that has been slightly reduced in size to fit inside an F-35. Deploying such a JASSM externally on hardpoints is considered to adversely effect the F-35's stealth profile.

The JASSM is now coming into service with the USAF and Australian Airforce (RAAF).  It may be that the JASSM, nominally considered subsonic, is actually supersonic if it incorporates the type of engine technology used to power the "super cruise" F-22 Raptor.

There may be an end run for the JASSM where the warhead detaches and then accelerates into the high supersonic to hypersonic range. Such acceleration in a vertical dive might be heavily reliant on a rocket motor. Given some artillery shells now have rocket assist the incorporation of such a feature in the JASSM's 450 kg (1000 lb) WDU-42/B penetrator warhead is quite possible.


The BrahMos can be ground, air and sea launched. Diagram indicates the varying flight profiles that can be set for BrahMos. Click to enlarge.

A third possibility is a mixed propulsion missile equivalent to the already developed Indian-Russian BrahMos. The majority of flight for such a missile may be subsonically perhaps using a turbojet, then alter its flight profile moving to a high supersonic or hypersonic end run powered by a ramjet, scramjet or rocket engine. See this article from Defense Update of February 6, 2013 "Aero-India 2013: The Indian Air-Force Plans to Induct BrahMos by 2015" concerning deployment of BrahMos including air-launching it from India's Su-30MKI fighter-bombers  http://defense-update.com/20130206_the-indian-air-force-plans-to-induct-brahmos-by-2015.html .

Higher velocity in all three missile possibilities provides a greater element of surprise, with it increased survivability as its harder to shoot down a faster missile - with reduced time for the target to deploy flares or other decoys. A faster missile also has higher kinetic energy to penetrate earth/rock/concrete (or a ship's hull) more deeply.

High kinetic energy would be particularly sought after by the US and Israel with regard to Iran's (and perhaps North Korea's) deeply dug in nuclear sites.


What caught my eye was a transcript of Four Corners "Reach for the sky" documentary on Australia's ABC, February 18, 2013 http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2013/02/18/3690317.htm :

"[civilian presenter] ANDREW FOWLER: And it's even got a weapon that's a closely guarded secret.

LT. GENERAL CHRIS BOGDAN, EXECUTIVE OFFICER, F-35 JOINT PROGRAM OFFICE: Those are the crown jewels of the program and that's what makes the F-35 special.

ANDREW FOWLER: So asserting that to the public, it's really saying 'trust us'?"


I then spotted the following article: Wired - Danger Room June 7, 2012 reports http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/06/hypersonic-missiles/ :

"Air Force Wants Hypersonic Missiles for Stealth Jets"

"For decades, the military has tried — with little success — to build missiles capable of traveling at breakneck, hypersonic speeds. Missile tests, however, have been uneven, with repeated failures punctuated by the occasional stunning success. Now the [US] Air Force is taking a bigger role by seeking to build another hypersonic missile, this time for its stealth fighter jets.

The Air Force’s desired “High Speed Strike Weapon” would travel at five times the speed of sound or faster, theoretically launching from a stealthy F-22 Raptor jet or a future F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and traveling so fast and at such long distances as to render an enemy’s anti-aircraft systems defunct. The Air Force’s Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate is gathering possible design partners later this month at Elgin Air Force Base in Florida before any solicitation. According to an Air Force notice, whatever prototype gets built will ultimately need to strike “time-critical” targets — on the move, possibly — from “tactically relevant standoff distances.”

If it can be done, the weapon will “be representative of an air-breathing hypersonic missile system” that can tough it out in “the most stringent environments presented to us in the next decade,” said Steven Walker, the Air Force’s deputy assistant secretary for science, technology and engineering, in written testimony to the House Armed Services Committee in February.

That’s the hope, at least. The U.S. military has a mixed record with hypersonics. Last August, the Pentagon’s pizza-shaped Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 failed for a second (and likely final) time, crashing into the Pacific during a test flight.

But the Army’s Advanced Hypersonic Weapon did much better during a test in November. Two years ago, the Air Force successfully flew its X-51 WaveRider scramjet missile http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2007/06/mach_5_missile_/ at speeds of Mach 5 for 200 seconds after launching it off a B-52 bomber. A later test, though, ended with engine failure.

...There are other technical challenges in launching a scramjet missile from a fighter jet instead of a sub-orbital rocket or a B-52, though. It’ll still need to have air-breathing engines that compresses the air around the missile into a supersonic mixture of oxygen and fuel — absent a turbine.

But it will also need to be small enough to be carried by a jet fighter while carrying the necessary advanced navigation controls, precision guidance tools and sophisticated sensors, plus the warhead. The service will also still have to find the right mixture of composite materials like titanium and tungsten (among others) to hold up under the enormous heat generated by Mach 5, Mach 6 and even faster flight.

The Air Force is requesting a whopping 150 percent increase in funding for the program, from $6.2 million now to $15.4 million in 2013 in one “thrust” of weapons development, according to subscription-required InsideDefense. That’s a lot of money for a missile that may not work."
The sales strategy for the F-35 may therefore be heavily reliant on the missile that comes with the sale - if that missile already exists or can be completed by 2018.

February 23, 2013

Hyderabad bombings

"Hyderabad bomb investigators examine links with Islamist militant group"

At least 12 people have been killed and many injured in Thursday, February 21, 2013's two bomb attacks in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad. Hyderabad, a city of 10 million in the state of Andhra Pradesh, is a hub of India's IT industry and has a mixed population of Muslims and Hindus.”

Authorities were examining whether the Indian Mujahideen, thought to have a link with militants in neighbouring Pakistan, might have carried out the attack, said an investigator, speaking on condition of anonymity.

India's recent execution of an Islamic militant is being examined as a possible motive for the bombings, he said. [that was “the hanging of Mohammed Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri militant killed nearly two weeks ago. He was executed for his involvement in a 2001 attack on India's parliament that killed 14 people, including five gunmen.”]

Police have not yet detained anyone in connection with Thursday evening's attacks, the first major terrorist bombings in India since 2011.

…The bombs were attached to two bicycles about 150 metres (500ft) apart, Shinde said. He said, in addition to the dead, 119 others were injured. WHOLE ARTICLE.

Australia's ABC News, February 22, 2013 reports:

"Cricket Australia monitoring safety in Hyderabad"

Cricket Australia (CA) is denying reports the team will refuse to travel to next week's second Test against India in Hyderabad following bombings in the city.


February 20, 2013

Yuri Dolgorukiy first of the Borey Class SSBNs Enters Service

Click on image to enlarge

The Yuri Dolgorukiy SSBN, lead vessel of the Borey Class, in port.

Since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991 the construction of new Russian SSNs and SSBNs has been severely constrained by lack of money, movement of skilled labour to other industries or overseas and a consequent partial loss of "corporate knowledge" on how to develop new submarines  and new ballistic missiles.

With Yuri Dolgorukiy  now in service this may indicate the Russian submarine industry is reviving. Nevertheeless open sources are unable to reveal essential elements, such as the effectiveness of submarine sensors, SLBM stealth and the quality and morale of submarine crews.

 Customers like India have been essential in injecting money into Russian submarine programs - particularly of the Akula class SSN.

Ten Borey Class SSBNs are planned. Less numerous than the 18 submarine US Ohio Class . The future US SSBN-X Class, with only 12 planned, follows the trend towards fewer SSBNs with fewer SLBMs.

Because the Yuri Dolgorukiy is the lead vessel of the Borey Class it is also known as the Dolgorukiy class after the name of the lead vessel

The Voice of Russia, January 22, 2013 reports: http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_01_22/Borey-class-nuclear-powered-ballistic-missile-submarine-Yuri-Dolgorukiy-will-provide-Russia-with-effective-nuclear-deterrent/ :
"Borey-class nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarine Yuri Dolgorukiy will provide Russia with effective nuclear deterrent"

 On January 10th Russia’s next-generation 'Borey'-class nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarine (SSBN) 'Yuri Dolgorukiy' officially entered service with the Russian navy’s Northern Fleet.

Professor Thomas Fedyszyn, the Chair of the Europe-Russia Studies Group in the US Naval War College, suggests that the development of 'Boreys' is the first crucial step in Russia's attempts to modernize and revitalize its aging military-industrial complex. As a first move towards modernization, the production of new submarines is likely to encourage construction of other sophisticated machines which will be able to protect Moscow's economic interests in the Arctic.Equipped with the most advanced weaponry, the new submarine will also provide Russia with an effective nuclear deterrence capability. Crucially, while the might of the new submarine cannot be underestimated, the expert argues that for the moment 'Boreys' should not be viewed as Moscow's bid for naval dominance nor a threat to the NATO." WHOLE ARTICLE

February 18, 2013

Iran involved in North Korean nuclear test?

It is unclear what Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi (the "father of Iran's nuclear program") looks like. Is this him?
The following article might be balanced or might be a way for Israel to leverage North Korea's nuclear test to maintain fears of a nuclear Iran. The Jerusalem Post, February 2013 (drawing on a UK Sunday Times article) reports http://www.jpost.com/IranianThreat/News/Article.aspx?id=303499 :

'Iranian nuclear chief observed Korean nuke test'

Western officials say Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi is believed to have been in N.Korea for test, 'The Sunday Times' reports [ http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/world_news/Middle_East/article1215608.ece ].

The alleged father of Iran's nuclear program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, is believed to have been present in North Korea last week in order to observe its third nuclear test, Britain's The Sunday Times reported citing Western intelligence sources.

According to the sources, Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi was responsible for the development of a warhead "small enough to fit on to one of the ballistic missiles developed by Iran from North Korean prototypes," the report stated.

...The report echoes comments made earlier in the week by a security expert that the nuclear test may have also been carried out on behalf of Iran, and in the presence of Iranian atomic scientists.

...It remains unclear whether the North Koreans detonated a plutonium- based nuclear device or one that was based on enriched uranium on Tuesday. The latter option would further suggest increased cooperation with Iran, he added...."

A broader Israeli commentary on Iran's nuclear program is here http://www.debka.com/article/22771/US-plan-for-UN-to-endorse-Khamenei%E2%80%99s-fatwa-Shock-in-Jerusalem

February 13, 2013

North Korea's 3rd Nuclear Test - 6 to 7 Kilotons

Click to expand.

At an estimated 6 to 7 kilotons (a kiloton being the explosive equivalent of 1,000 tons of TNT) this 2013 test represents North Korea's second probably successful nuclear test. The first (2006) test of less than one kiloton, is widely considered to have been a "fizzle". Fizzle means not a full or correct fission of explosive material producing a lower yield than expected (in this case by North Korea).

The second (2009) test of a Plutonium device is considered North Korea's first successful test. The third (2013) test is believed to have the added degree of difficulty of being a miniaturized (warhead size) device. This third test may also have added significance if it was  North Korea's first test primarily using Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU eg. 80%+ U235).

The South Korean Defense Ministry estimated a yield of 6 to 7 kilotons (based on US-South Korean seismic monitoring) http://abcnews.go.com/International/north-korea-nuclear-test-highly-provocative-obama/story?id=18474237.

This article indicates the difficulty of measuring yield http://lewis.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/6288/making-yield-estimates#more-3242 . There needs to be considerable discussion and compromise between various yield estimates, from different locations, using differing sensors-sources to arrive at an agreed and always approximate yield range.

More complete data on yield, Plutonium or HEU and possibly other nuclear device characteristics might be available from the US - based on various collection methods, including WC-135 Constant Phoenix (see aircraft and basing details below). One or more WC-135 Constant Phoenix aircraft might need to fly from Nebraska, collect air samples in North Korea's region and assess the air samples back in Nebraska to provide more publicized data.

Although the test was underground minute amounts of explosive gases and dust (from vents or blast doors and seals when opened) will enter the atmosphere permitting collection and analysis. Data from US (and perhaps Chinese, Russian and South Korean) satellite, drone and other aircraft data would be crossed checked with ground and ship based data to reach estimates as to the explosive yield, in kilotons, for the 3rd nuclear test. Also type of chemical explosive (such as Plutonium and/or Highly Enriched Uranium, Tritium?) used and perhaps physical size of the nuclear device (bomb).


Most nuclear powers carry out several weapons tests to evolve devices into reliable weapons, under different environmental conditions, using differing explosive types (Plutonium, HEU, boosted fission, on the way to fusion (thermonuclear) weapons). Testing is also to explore different weapon delivery methods requiring differing warhead characteristics. For North Korea (NK) warheads would differ for ballistic missiles, free-fall jet aircraft delivered bombs, cruise missiles, maybe artillery shells, perhaps bombs wired into submarines or torpedoes or in shipping containers,

Reasons why NK is going nuclear at all may include:
- prestige/pride for NK as a nation, regime and God-leader under otherwise barely legitimate rule. Illegitimacy (no right to rule) includes NK being unable to look after (e.g.. feed) its own people and not allowing non-Kims to choose a leader outside of the Kim dynasty
- deterrence against all the countries that have traditionally invaded it over past millennia-decades, including Russia, Japan, China and more recently the US and South Korea.

- as a counterweight to the conventional superiority of the militaries in the above countries.

NK is clearly odd that it is not one part of a symmetrical, Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) relationship unlike what the US-Soviet Union used to be and perhaps the relationship of India-Pakistan now.

Given NK's massive poverty as a nation there is also puzzling irrationality as to how it relies on nuclear blackmail as its main foreign policy - to coerce aid and diplomatic backdowns from surrounding countries and Great Powers?

There are many classified sources and methods to estimate yield but seismic measures http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seismometer are usually the methods that are publicly cited. One reason is that these measurements of vibration appear to be intuitive. Another reason is that seismic measuring equipment is usually commonly available civilian equipment used for measuring earthquakes, volcanic activity and other natural phenomena. See http://www.examiner.com/article/north-korea-tests-nuclear-weapon-underground-recorded-on-usgs-seismographs  which indicates:

"The United States Geological Survey (USGS) recorded a 5.1 tremor on the Richter Scale in North Korea early Tuesday in what was first believed to be, and later confirmed, an underground nuclear weapon test by the North Korean government. The country's previous tests, carried out in 2006 and 2009, were substantially smaller."

"The explosion was recorded by USGS seismographs about 24km (15mi) ENE of Sungjibaegam, North Korea at a very shallow depth of less than 1 km. [next bit very significant] The USGS later changed the classification of this event to a nuclear explosion based on Ambassador Rice's statements at the United Nations Security Council Stakeout."

Some details on a USGS website here http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/usc000f5t0#summary

[My Commeents] Complicating the public release of info is that the USGS would probably send the CIA/State Department/White House more information than is publicly available.

The USGS seismic data (and more seismic data from CIA's and US military's own seismic sensors) would be mixed with information from other air/sea/land/space sensors and data passed by other countries (eg. China, Russia, Japan) before public statements by US and South Korea are made.

Then, I imagine, additional data will arrive and then meetings held (in the US and between Six Party Talks as well as between UN Security Council members) on how much information to release and when. These ongoing processes will generate new or altered public announcements over the next few days, even weeks.

Judging by minimal mention of North Korea in the State of the Union Address it seems the US doesn't want to glorify this new North Korean "achievement". So much information may be long delayed.


Much depends on atmospheric and other nuclear data collected by:
- US RQ-170 Sentinel (stealth) drones
 which are reportedly working in or for the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron at Osan Air Base. This base is a USAF facility located in the Songtan section of Pyeongtaek City, South Korea, 64 km (40 mi) south of Seoul. Such drones would fly just outside of North Korean airspace to collect radioactive cloud (and other chemical reaction) air samples.
See http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/08/world/middleeast/drone-crash-in-iran-reveals-secret-us-surveillance-bid.html?_r=0  [In relation to Iran and also North Korea] "American satellites have been trained on...nuclear facilities. But the RQ-170 Sentinel, which can fly at an altitude of 50,000 feet, is considered vital to the effort. While an orbiting surveillance satellite can observe a location for only a few minutes at a time, a drone can loiter for hours, sending a video feed as people move about the site. Such a “pattern of life,” as it is called, can give crucial clues to the nature of the work being done, the equipment used and the size of the work force. …In addition to video cameras, independent experts say the [RQ-170 Sentinel] drone almost certainly carries communications intercept equipment and sensors that can detect tiny amounts of radioactive isotopes and other chemicals that can give away nuclear research.
News reports in South Korea in 2009 said the United States planned to base the RQ-170 drone there to fly surveillance missions over North Korea, whose nuclear and missile programs are a top American intelligence target."
-  the WC-135 Constant Phoenix
Background - The US Boeing 707 sized WC-135 Constant Phoenixs are all in the USAF's 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing based at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, USA. The WC-135 collects samples from the atmosphere for the purpose of detecting and identifying nuclear explosions. It is also informally referred to as the "weather bird" or "the sniffer" by workers on the program….The Constant Phoenix’s modifications are primarily related to the aircraft's on-board atmospheric collection suite, which allows the mission crew to detect radioactive debris "clouds" in real time."

February 12, 2013

Life near North Korea

South Korea - nuclear bomb wise a dangerous country to live in. In blue is the current track of the KTX Express.


After reading this evocative article below I assume worldly South Koreans are quietly fatalistic. Though many might blot North Korea out of their minds just to get through the day.

I wonder if people in India feel fatalistic about Pakistan in a similar way?

Strategypage, February 12, 2013 On Point reports:  http://www.strategypage.com/on_point/2013021222182.aspx
"Nuclear Endgame on the Korean Peninsula?
by Austin Bay, February 12, 2013
Last October, while riding on South Korea's KTX express train from Seoul to Cheonan, I glanced at one of the rail car's video monitors just as a chilling yet cyclically familiar news flash lit the screen: "North Korea threatens South Korea with nuclear war."

The KTX onboard video system provides English, Chinese and Japanese translations of news and passenger information updates. Geography and history influence the language choices -- the Korean Peninsula sits between China and Japan, the U.S. is South Korea's closest ally -- but economics is the most pertinent reason. In the 21st century, Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese are global money languages, and the KTX caters to business passengers. I pegged the officious gentlemen seated three rows up as Chinese. Like me, he was looking at the monitor. Chinese characters superseded the English alert, Japanese followed the Chinese.
Then a live video feed of the very fast train's current speed -- 304, no make that 305 kilometers per hour, quite a clip -- completely replaced the news flash. I wondered how my fellow passenger had assessed North Korea's message. One of the more interesting secret State Department cables released by Wikileaks quoted senior Chinese foreign ministry officials as admitting North Korea's ruling clique is certifiably nuts.

I went back to gazing out the window, at a valley filled with lush rice paddies, the rice plants yellow and ripe. A day or so earlier, I'd read a wire service report that North Korea faced yet another crop failure and unless donor nations responded immediately, the wretched souls ruled by the Kim family's hereditary communist dictatorship would once again face starvation. Yes, I thought, the starving North had just threatened the hardworking, productive and, as a result, well-fed South with nuclear immolation. The North's extortion racket in a rice kernel: Feed us, or we will kill you en masse.
With this week's nuclear test (Feb. 12, 2013) the cycle of threat continues, this time backed by an impressive bang.

The test demonstrates that despite years of coaxing the Kim regime with economic development projects (like the Kaesong Industrial Zone) and years of plying the dictatorship with rice, heavy oil and other goodies, the North continues to develop the military capabilities to make good on its threat of nuclear war.
The test also serves notice that the Korean War isn't over, and unfortunately some people need reminding. Last month, President Barack Obama proclaimed that a decade of war is ending. North Korean propagandists declared that current dictator, Kim Jong Un, had ordered the test as a response to "ferocious" U.S. hostility and "violent" opposition to North Korea's sovereign right to peacefully launch satellites. See, North Korea claims its December 2012 ballistic missile launch was all about civilian satellites, not testing a delivery system capable of hitting Seoul, Tokyo and Honolulu. Initial seismic analysis indicates the nuclear test had the punch of a 6 to 8 kiloton weapon. Though roughly half the power of the Hiroshima bomb, that's more than big enough to incinerate Pearl Harbor and the beach at Waikiki.

It is very probable that North Korea provides Iran's Islamic dictatorship with nuclear and missile technology, so North Korea's nuclear menace extends beyond East Asia and the Pacific to Central Asia, Europe and Africa.

China's official reaction was surprisingly tough, given that Beijing has been the North's chief benefactor and sponsor, but China has global economic interests that North Korean nukes and their Iranian offspring may imperil. China expressed firm opposition to the test. The Obama administration is calling for stiffer international sanctions to punish North Korea, but China is the only nation that can impose meaningful sanctions on the Kim regime. Beijing has never done so.

South Korea has won the economic, social and cultural dimensions of the Korean War. The only unsettled component is the one that puts the KTX, Seoul's nightclubs and the lush rice fields at risk: the military confrontation. Unless China acts decisively to end North Korea's nuclear quest, this week's multi-kiloton blast may lead South Korea and Japan to conclude the military dimension must be won as well."

North Korean Nuclear Test Imminent?

Photo above from http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/1137842/activity-seen-north-korea-atomic-test-site with caption "This January 4 [2013] satellite image shows North Korea's Punggye-ri test facility where roads have been kept clear of snow over the past month. Photo: AP. [article further states] ...The North’s two previous detonations in 2006 and 2009 followed a similar pattern of a missile launch, followed by UN measures, followed by a nuclear test".

Map indicates Phunggye-ri [re] North Korea's 2006 nuclear test site and site of the test (probably) in the next few hours or days. Nearby Kilju was the 2009 test site.


Separately Agency France Press via The Age, February 12, 2013, reports http://www.theage.com.au/world/n-korea-withdraws-from-nuclear-test-site-20130212-2e9gz.html

"N Korea withdraws from nuclear test site

Seoul: North Korea has pulled manpower and equipment out of its nuclear test site, says a report, which cites the move as a possible sign of an imminent blast.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency says Seoul has been keeping close watch on the underground Punggye-ri nuclear test site, as no movement of manpower and equipment has been observed there since Friday.

The agency quoted an unnamed source as saying the apparent withdrawal could point to a nuclear test being carried out soon.

...Seoul has predicted Pyongyang may carry out its third nuclear test between the end of the holiday and the late leader Kim Jong-il's birthday on February 16, Yonhap said..." WHOLE ARTICLE

February 11, 2013

Songs: by Julie Fowlis Sings in Gaelic & English

Songs below are by Julie Fowlis http://www.juliefowlis.com/about/ :

"Brought up on North Uist in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, Fowlis has been a proud standard bearer for Gaelic music and culture over the course of a solo career."

 "My Love Is On The High Seas" in Gaelic below:


see also "Touch the Sky" in English the Brave Soundtrack -   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WzJUb4Su54&feature=share&list=AL94UKMTqg-9Ak0qPdQ7FlHxBk4Ui53M9J


A lovely version of "Ashokan Farewell" with lyrics sung by Priscilla Herdman  http://youtu.be/3XanZlZ1zzc

February 6, 2013

Hypersonic "BrahMos-2" - Name Misleading

DRDO's mockup (above) of the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) which may be developed into a missile called the "BrahMos-2". BrahMos-2 would have a completely different shape and propulsion to the existing BrahMos.
Update of February 2013

See this article from Defense Update of February 6, 2013 "Aero-India 2013: The Indian Air-Force Plans to Induct BrahMos by 2015" concerning deployment of BrahMos including air-launching it from India's Su-30MKI fighter-bombers .

Douglas Barrie, Aviation Week [dead link], on August 28, 2008 made the following points:

"Indian defense executives took the opportunity of a recent weapons exhibition in Moscow to once again raise the issue of a “successor” to the Indo-Russian Brahmos rocket-ramjet powered cruise missile.

However, given the performance aspirations for the weapon - dubbed Brahmos-2 – the name would likely be the only commonality with the present Brahmos.

The Brahmos is a variant of the NPO Mashinostroenia 3M-55 Onyx [/Yakhont] (SS-NX-26) anti-ship missile. It has a cruise speed on the order of Mach 2.6. Sivathanu Pillai, the CEO at the Brahmos company, has repeatedly suggested the follow on – Brahmos-2 – will be a hypersonic weapon. Brahmos is a partnership between NPO Mashinostroenia and India’s Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). 

The 3M-55 is a capable weapon but neither the propulsion system nor the airframe design or materials are remotely suitable for a hypersonic weapon. Scramjet or hybrid ramjet propulsion would be required for an air-breathing weapon, with advanced materials technology, possibly including active cooling, needed to deal with the temperatures generated at such speeds.

Exactly how Brahmos-2 relates to the DRDO’s Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) program has also yet to become clear.

Pillai told the Russian news agency Interfax that he also wanted the Brahmos-2 to be “invisible”.

While this could present an issue in the infra-red spectrum, given airframe heating, NPO Mashinostroenia already has a track record in working on passive and active low observable technology in the radio frequency spectrum for high altitude cruise weapons.
Its 3M-25 Meteorit strategic cruise missile, which was never fielded, was associated with a plasma-generation system believed to be intended to reduce the radar cross-section of the missile by shielding the air intake and possibly the nose section. Bill Sweetman adds: Also, take a look at the BrahMos displayed in Moscow last week:

Russia has a long-standing interest in hypersonic cruise missile technology, while India is also exploring technologies applicable to this area through the likes of the HSTDV. Brahmos-2, should it ever progress, could prove to be a very interesting weapon."

Additional Background

Aviation Week & Space Technology 11/05/2007, page 65 - reproduced

"The Defense Research and Development Laboratory’s  [now DRDO] Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) is intended to attain autonomous scramjet flight for 20 sec., using a solid rocket launch booster. The research will also inform India’s interest in reusable launch vehicles.

The eventual target is to reach Mach 6.5 at an altitude of 32.5 km. (20 mi.). Initial flight testing is aimed at validating the aerodynamics of the air vehicle, as well as its thermal properties and scramjet engine performance.

A mock-up of the HSTDV was shown at the Aero India exhibition in Bangalore in February (see photo 1), and S. Panneerselvam, the DRDL’s project director, says engineers aim to begin flight testing a full-scale air-breathing model powered by a 1,300-lb.-thrust scramjet engine as early as next year.

The HSTDV’s shape, on which future cruise missile technology could be based, is evident in this mock-up shown at Aero India in February [2007]."
[Source unclear] The Defense Research and Development Laboratory’s Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) is intended to attain autonomous scramjet flight for 20 sec., using a solid rocket launch booster. The research will also inform India’s interest in reusable launch vehicles. The eventual target is to reach Mach 6.5 at an altitude of 32.5 km. (20 mi.).

Initial flight testing is aimed at validating the aerodynamics of the air vehicle, as well as its thermal properties and scramjet engine performance. A mock-up of the HSTDV was shown at the Aero India exhibition in Bangalore in February (see photo), and S. Panneerselvam, the DRDL’s project director, says engineers aim to begin flight testing a full-scale air-breathing model powered by a 1,300-lb.-thrust scramjet engine as early as next year.

The HSTDV’s shape, on which future cruise missile technology could be based, is evident in this mock-up shown at Aero India in February [2007]

February 3, 2013

Russian Sacrifice at Stalingrad: 1942-1943

Motherland Statue (in Volgograd formerly Stalingrad) commemorating Battle of  Stalingrad.

German advance (Summer 1942) into the oil-rich Stalingrad region. Now called Volgograd, it sits on the Volga River, which runs from north to south, toward the Caspian. 

February 2, 2013 marks the 70th anniversary of the end, in 1943, of the 200-day Battle of Stalingrad.

More is written in our "Anglosphere" about "Monty'sSecond Battle of El Alamein than about the vastly higher casualty, more significant, more German-breaking, Battle of Stalingrad. 

Language, the need to build up national symbols, create Monty the hero, the Cold War, authoritarian Putin's Russia and ignorance of English speakers about warfare outside the Anglosphere comes into this.

The Battle of Stalingrad began in the summer of 1942 and ended in January 1943. Stalin had decided to hold the line at the city named after him, no matter what the cost in Russian Army dead. Russian Punishment Battalions (for "unreliable soldier cannon fodder") and Russian soldiers running away being shot enmasse by NKVD/KGB units became major features of this battle and then all the way to the Battle for Berlin. 

In this huge battle, the German commanding General (then 
Field Marshal) Paulus's Sixth ArmyGerman Army suffered not only its first major defeat, but one that essentially paved the way for the collapse of the Third Reich.   

The battle of Stalingrad has also inspired two sharply contrasting films in recent years that are both available on home video. German director Joseph Vilsmaier's 1993 Stalingrad is a powerful antiwar film that focuses on the disintegration of the German army under the combined forces of the Russian  Army and brutal Russian winter.


Made in 2001, Jean-Jacques Annaud's Enemy at the Gates is much less successful. Although Annaud is French and his film was made in Europe (with the largest budget in the continent's history), Enemy at the Gates represents a Hollywoodization of material that would defy such a treatment. Instead of focusing on the large unit battle that made the German defeat possible, Annaud would have us believe that victory revolved around the feats of an individual sniper with needy Russian women snipers dependent on him.

Russia had something that Germany sorely lacked: sheer numbers. Vast numbers of inexperienced youth were drafted into action, with very little training. Often one rifle between 2 or 3 men during infantry assaults. This led to enormous casualties in face of the better-trained and equipped German Army. 


In early autumn the fighting had concentrated in the rubble strewn streets of downtown Stalingrad.

While urban trench warfare proceeded through the end of 1942, Russia was operating munitions factories twenty-four hours a day in the Eastern part of the country not yet under German control, as Russia fed in huge numbers of reinforcement to grind down the German front which then was isolated as a pocket. 

The stubborn fighting in Stalingrad prevented the Germans moving eastward. New Russian Divisions assembled against weak Romanian and Hungarian divisions which were allies of the Germans, on the German line. In a pincer movement the Russians broke though these weak German-ally divisions and then surrounded the German Army from the north and south. This counter-attack coincided with the full extreme Russian winter for which the German army had little winter clothing and poor munitions (including German tank engines that simply froze). 


Russian counterattack (Operation Uranus, November 1942 on) to trap German 6th Army at Stalingrad. 



The Germans became short of food, ammunition and water, many froze. Hitler had gambled that the fighting would be long over prior to the onset of winter. To survive, many Germans removed the underclothing of dead Russian soldiers or wrapped rags around their shoes.


German losses at Stalingrad were high. Paulus's German Sixth Army began its campaign with 600,000 soldiers. On January 31, 1943, he disobeyed Hitler and surrendered. On February 2 1943 Paulus had only 91,000 still alive when they became prisoners. Of those taken captive, only 6,000 lived to return to Germany, years after the war.


The Russians recovered 250,000 German and Romanian corpses in and around Stalingrad and total Axis deaths (Germans, Romanians, Italians, and Hungarians) are estimated at 800,000.

At one key battle for control of (the tractor) factory, there were more casualties than during the entire German invasion of France. Official Russian military historians estimate that 1,100,000 Russian soldiers lost their lives in the campaign to defend the city, all this in a span of six months. 

Russian children in Stalingrad (now Volgograd) honour the memory of the millions of Russian soldiers who died in World War Two fighting the Germans.

February 2, 2013

Top US Admiral on Australia and Indian Ocean

From Agency France Press as reported in Australian newspapers, February 2, 2013, (eg. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/foreign-affairs/australia-critical-to-us-asia-strategy/story-fn59nm2j-1226566823943  )

"Australia 'critical' to US Asia strategy"  

AUSTRALIA is a "critical pillar" in the US pivot to Asia and the rebalancing of its military strategy, the region's most senior American commander says.

Chief of US Pacific Command (PACOM) [Admiral] Samuel Locklear, speaking in a teleconference from Hawaii, said the key US ally was vital in the world order that is emerging for the 21st Century.

Admiral Locklear said the challenges the US faced included climate change, maritime security, disaster relief and cyber security.

“All those things I view from the PACOM headquarters here, Australia is a critical pillar of the strategy we have here,” Admiral Locklear said.

“When... I go down to Canberra and I sit and I look at the world map from Australia being in the centre of it, I get a very different view than I get from Hawaii or from Washington DC.

“And I start to have a sense of the things of the security environment that concerned people of Australia as well as people in Indonesia, in India and other countries.”

Admiral Locklear said seen from this perspective, the Indian Ocean is a vital strategic region that cannot be thought of separately from the Asia-Pacific.

“When we look at our relationship with Australia, number one, a very good close ally, historically has been alongside with the US many times in the past, and I think will hopefully continue in the future,” he said.

The US military is to station a powerful radar and a space telescope in Australia as part of a refocusing of priorities, the two countries announced in November.

The two sides also conferred on increasing the number of US Marines deploying to Darwin.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta described it as “major leap forward in bilateral space cooperation and an important new frontier in the United States' rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region”.

In his first term as US President, Barack Obama said he wanted to refocus foreign policy on Asia, in a move that has been much trailed as a “pivot”."