Friday, December 4, 2020


One of the most common tactics used by the military and politicians is to make you afraid of something. At the beginning of time, my time, it was the missile gap and how the Russians had more and better than we did and something must be DONE!!!! Well we saw it again when the Air Force came out with the 'results' of a friendly bilateral exercise conducted with the Indian Air Force a decade ago and claimed that the Indian pilots flying their indian planes were practically wiping the floor with our F-15s and F-16s and would kill the F-22s as well. It was all a complete fabrication to make you afraid and force you to dig deeper into your wallets to fork over more money for Defense.

They're doing it again but this time with China. For decades people like Bush and Obama let them militarize little tiny atolls and reefs in the South China Sea and turn them into dry land carrier battle groups stuffed with ship-killing missiles, air defenses and even fighter bases. Now the Commander-in-Chief Pacific is telling us that the evil masterminds in China have perfected a ballistic missile capable of killing our aircraft carriers in the China Sea and demonstrated it against a moving ship during one of their wargames. It's hard to be certain where to start with this sort of fear mongering.

Let's start with the concept of bringing two objects together. You can do it when you clap your hands. It takes a rare one who cannot master this means of bringing two things together. The next step might involve parking a car in a garage. Some people can, some can't. The next step up might be using one missile to shoot down another. This is a bit harder since they tend to move very fast. Some countries can do it and do it well and others consider it hopeless. For the final step imagine bringing a ballistic missile warhead into contact with the hull of a moving ship a thousand miles away. How could you do this? Well, far and away the easiest way to do it is to tell the moving ship to be at coordinates XXX XXX XXXX at Y time to await its fiery doom from the high speed descent of the deorbiting bomb.

The harder way of course is to detect the ship a thousand miles away, track it and target it. I'll be honest, ships escorting carriers have the damnedest time tracking carriers since they can/will/do head into the wind to launch and recover aircraft at any damned time they feel like it leaving everybody heading on a new course at less than the drop of a hat. Happens a hundred times a day. Just ask anybody who had to keep in station with the carriers.

I'm not sure the Chinese are up to that kind of bringing things together. Yet. I remember back when we were doing anti-ICBM tests and people objected loudly to the fact that the missiles were equipped with transponders to tell the interceptors where they were. When asked why this was necessary it was fairly simple to say to them, 'well, we haven't gotten around to building and deploying the necessary radars for this yet.' The radars and computers work fine but why build them if you don't know if the intercept tech to bring together two objects moving at a combined speed of 20,000mph doesn't work?

It will be fascinating to see all of this submerge back into the weapons acquisitions swamp when the democrats take over Defense of the Realm again and invite the good Chinese to go screw themselves and then object to selling them any weapons or more ammunition/missiles. The one thing one can say about the democrats is that they are predictable. Screw over allies, check. Cuddle up to tyrants, check. Screw up defense to the point where it is almost hopeless, check.


Roy said...

Keep in mind the difference between a "ballistic" missile and a "guided" missile.

A ballistic missile is essentially a thrown rock that once launched, travels a predetermined trajectory to the target. (Think "gun" or for truly long ranges, an ICBM. At very long ranges, it's great for stationary targets such as a military base or one of those militarized tiny atolls and reefs in the South China Sea, or - a capital city. For a moving target a thousand miles away that can turn itself in a moments notice? Well, not so much.

A guided missile, on the other hand. That's one that can change course in flight as its fire control solution is updated. However, its range is somewhat limited compared to your average ballistic missile, and, well, there are countermeasures. Plus, anyone sophisticated enough to fire one of those at one of our carriers would be well and truly at war with the USA - and all that that implies.

Roy said... add.

I remember "The Missile Gap". It was hotly debated back in those days, but then something happened that scared the hell out of everyone.

The Soviets launched Sputnik.

It turns out that they really were ahead. Maybe not by much, but it was enough. They were a lot further along than everyone thought they were.

It's ironic, but except for the moon landings, in the space race, the Soviets were always one step ahead of us in nearly every other category. Hell, they're *still* ahead of us. Today, we can't even get to the ISS without Russian cooperation.

Maybe that will change with SpaceX.