When subs collide

As we now know, a British and a French nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed submarines collided in the Atlantic earlier this month. Amazingly, the first newspaper to report the incident and to prompt the official admission of the accident was The Sun tabloid. The Royal Navy said that the subs “came into contact at very low speeds”, calling the incident a “fender bender”.

The reality is that the 138-meter Le Triomphant-class (specs) sideswiped the 150-meter Vanguard-class (specs) moving in the opposite direction. Both subs were built in 1990s, had nuclear reactors onboard and carried 16 nuclear SLBMs. They avoided a direct head-on collision by just a few meters. In other words, they got very lucky. Continue reading

Russia to reopen airbase in Abkhazia

According to reports in the Russian media, the Bomborski airbase in Abkhazia is soon to be reopened for use by the Russian Air Force. The plan calls for two squadrons of Su-27 fighter-bombers and Su-25 ground attack aircraft, plus some additional An-26 or An-72 transports to be permanently based in Abkhazia. The Bomborski airbase is located near the town of Gudauta and during Soviet years was home to the 171st Guards Interceptor Regiment of the 19th Air Defense Army. The 171st GIR was one of the first combat VVS units to deploy Su-27s. Continue reading

Gaza Rocketeers

Just as I was starting to get bored, another squabble broke out between Israel and Hamas. Apparently, the mighty Hamas army has been firing rockets in the general direction of Negev wastelands surrounding Gaza, causing alarming damage to local wildlife. Or so Mark Regev, the Israeli government spokesman, tells us. Ms. Amanpour of CNN has been interviewing various Jews for four days straight, probably just to make sure every viewer is well familiar with Tel Aviv’s official point of view on the situation in Gaza. To save you the pain of actually having to listen to Amanpour’s drivel, here’s a brief summary of Israel’s stance on negotiating with the world’s largest concentration camp: “Do you expect me to talk? No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!” Continue reading

Russian Missiles: the Minsk Option

A number of times over the past months and even years various Russian government officials mentioned a possibility of a ballistic missile deployment in Belarus. The independent-minded Lukashenko kept Putin at an arm’s length, while managing to achieve a seemingly impossible task: to annoy Moscow, Brussels, and Washington all at the same time. Lately, however, things have not been going well for Belarus. Despite its isolationist, Soviet-style economy, the global credit crunch meant that Belarus may not be able to come up with cash to pay for Russian gas. Lukashenko needed a loan – a big one – and turning to Moscow was the only option. Continue reading

Exploding UAVs in Georgia

After nearly four months of ridiculous allegations against Russia, Saakashvili’s regime still has the capacity to surprise. In the latest PR move, Georgian so-called leadership claimed that a Russian UAV crashed on its territory and later exploded, killing two policemen and injuring eight others. If this claim was true, this would have been the first such incident in the history of unmanned aviation. Continue reading

Pirates, Tanks and Conspiracy Theories

An Israeli-owned cargo ship, sailing under Belize flag with Russian and Ukrainian crew, carrying to Kenya Soviet-made main battle tanks for the army of Sudan is being boarded by Somalian pirates; the ship is surrounded by US Navy cruiser and destroyer, as well as by two Royal Navy frigates, as the Russian Navy dispatches its top-of-the-line frigate to rescue the captured ship and its deadly cargo, after being granted a permission by the government of Somalia to enter its territorial waters and even to attack the pirates on land, if necessary. If this story is not a perfect setup for a conspiracy theory, then I don’t know what is. Continue reading

On the State of Our Bernanked Economy

Yesterday Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the US economy faces a “significant threat”. Dr. Bernanke was not optimistic, not optimistic at all: “Stabilization of the financial markets is a critical first step, but even if they stabilize as we hope they will, broader economic recovery will not happen right away…” This “even if” is not exactly a vote of confidence for the Wall Street rescue plan developed by the Treasury and the FRS. For whatever reason, this made me want to look into Bernanke’s and Paulson’s past statements about the state of the economy and to try to understand just how this massive financial crisis sneaked up on the US Government. Continue reading

Jane’s is Jumping to Conclusions

Reuters ran a story on the recent study by Jane’s Strategic Advisory Services. I have a Jane’s subscription, but I couldn’t find the report on their site and so I will rely on the few passages quoted by Reuters.

“A central problem is that of a Russian political and military leadership commitment to a Cold War scenario. Focus remains on a large army able to deploy overwhelming firepower … There is little demonstrable interest in a smaller, better trained and flexible force… Improvements in command, training levels and the employment of flexible, modern weapons systems are required before the Russian military can face any opponents larger or better equipped than the Georgian military.”

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Combat Aviation 2030

Years of working in the aerospace industry presented me with opportunities to talk to many aviation specialists and this article is a digest of their opinions and my own comments. This article is a subjective look at what the future of combat aviation may or should be in the next 20-30 years, but not necessarily an entirely accurate prediction of things to come. Everyone involved in the complex field of military aviation – scientists, engineers, pilots – has a different and unique perspective on how things will develop. The purpose of this short essay is to summarize these views and put them in context of history and the recent scientific and technological developments.air_uav_eagle_eye_hover_lg Continue reading

Why Bailout Will Not Work

People who believe that America’s economic problems will be cured by the “cash-for-trash” bailout bill right now stuck in the Congress are in for a huge disappointment. There is little doubt that the size of this bailout will grow well beyond the initial $700 billion and in the end all this money will help very few outside the Wall Street elite. Simply put, the US government is too poor to save the country’s economy by directly infusing money into the financial sector. When we hear of one trillion dollars, we can’t even begin to comprehend the vastness of such incredible wealth. Viewed against the backdrop of America’s failing financial system, this colossal amount is little more than a roll of duct tape, with which we are trying to keep our Titanic afloat. Continue reading