It was reported earlier today that two more Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs) will be deployed to the Korean peninsula / Sea of Japan in addition to the USS Carl Vinson CSG already underway. However, OfTwoMinds brought up a very curious point when it comes to the relationship between North Korea and China:
Imagine if the roles were reversed and China had to send its fleet to the Caribbean to deal with a rogue client state of America’s, that America could not control or contain. The loss of face is immense.
So, seeing the Chinese proximity to North Korea, and the nation’s belligerence, why hasn’t the Chinese government “handled” the problem of constant North Korean nuclear belligerence?
Recently, Free Market Shooter published a “cost-benefit” battle damage assessment (BDA), detailing whether or not the cruise missile strike was actually worth it. However, the article itself didn’t incorporate an actual BDA, instead relying on estimates based on both US and Russian reports.
Notably, the Russians reported that the US attack “inefficient”, claiming that only 23 of the 59 missiles hit the Shayrat Air Base in Syria:
Only 23 missiles flew to the Syrian air base and just 6 MiG-23s were destroyed there along with a radar station, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, said at a briefing. Where the remaining 36 cruise missiles have landed is “unknown,” he said.
However, a quick glance over commercially available satellite imagery shows that the Konashenkov has been caught red-handed peddling some serious fiction with his statement.
For those who have been living under a rock for the past week, the United States on Thursday night (Friday AM local time in Syria) launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian air base in Ash Shayrat, near the besieged city of Homs. According to the DoD, only one missile failed out of an attempted 60, but according to the Russian military, only 23 of the 59 missiles reached the Shayrat air base.
There has been an uproar across the internet, with many claiming that this strike did a great job of sending a message, with many others criticizing President Trump for going against his campaign promises, and involving the US in yet another unwinnable war in the Middle East. In addition to the he-said/she-said out of the US and Russian defense departments, it leaves you rather confused as to what the attack actually accomplished, and whether or not it was really worth it in the end.
So, in the end, was it worth it? It depends on who you ask… but let’s attempt to look at the attack’s efficacy from a tactical perspective. To determine that, you need to first sort through all the chatter and misinformation, and see what the attack’s price tag was, and what it accomplished.
Yesterday, it was revealed that the Russian military (secretly) deployed the ground-launched SSC-8 cruise missile. Of course, the mainstream media attempted to spin this as a “major test” for President Trump:
Russia has secretly deployed a new cruise missile that American officials say violates a landmark arms control treaty, posing a major test for President Trump as his administration is facing a crisis over its ties to Moscow.
The new Russian missile deployment also comes as the Trump administration is struggling to fill key policy positions at the State Department and the Pentagon — and to settle on a permanent replacement for Michael T. Flynn, the national security adviser who resigned late Monday. Mr. Flynn stepped down after it was revealed that he had misled the vice president and other officials over conversations with Moscow’s ambassador to Washington.
The NY Times made sure to lead with the Trump-bashing, and gave scant details and/or commentary on the specifics of the system, or its significance. Reuters filled in the key blank from the administration that the NY Times left out:
On Monday, 10 inmates at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba were transferred to Oman by order of President Obama. This is not the first time Oman has accepted prisoners transferred from the facility, though the majority of Guantanamo detainees are transferred to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. Though the prisoners are initially transferred to prison facilities within the country accepting them, they are often quickly released by the accepting countries, and in some cases they are able to escape from custody and/or monitoring. And though Oman is considered to be relatively stable compared to Yemen and Saudi Arabia, it is still a third world country on the Arabian peninsula, and is said to have been compromised by Al-Qaeda affiliates infiltrating the country by way of Yemen.
It is baffling that Obama thinks transferring these high-risk individuals to Muslim or third world countries is a good idea, especially considering the countries in question have prison facilities are far less safe, and are often compromised from within. But what makes it even worse is when you take a closer look at the detainees that have been transferred out of US custody.
China’s J-20 Fighter Prototype
It may sound hard to believe, and it might not intuitively make sense, but China is indeed fielding a fleet of 5th generation and 4++ generation fighter jets whose primary purpose will not be to do battle with American fighter jets.
Why? It’s quite simple. China likely knows that they cannot build a jet that will outperform the top US air superiority fighter, the F-22. So instead of going toe-to-toe with it in combat, they are instead choosing to target the aerial tankers, AWACS, drone, and other support aircraft that help make the F-22 so deadly.
On Thursday night, right before Christmas, the NYPD raided a Brownsville home. They arrested the residents, and one of the officers was even brazen enough to post Snapchats of the entire affair, with the caption “Merry Christmas Its NYPD!”
Only problem? The NYPD raided the wrong house.
It appears Trump isn’t going to stop with one tweet about the F-35, because last night, he again tweeted about the defense project.
And, as covered by Zerohedge, the market for both Lockheed and Boeing shares reacted accordingly, as can be seen below:
If Trump’s tweet and subsequent commentary about Air Force One’s bloated price tag didn’t scare all defense and government contractors, his tweet about the F-35 should frighten them beyond belief.
As I have previously detailed, at an estimated $1.5 trillion dollars, the F-35 is perhaps the biggest defense program in the US DoD’s budget, and unsurprisingly, it is far behind schedule and way over budget. But the worst part about the F-35 is that it just can’t do the job it was designed for. Essentially a stealthy bomb chucker with a little bit of maneuverability, air-to-air capability, and a lot of high-priced avionics, it doesn’t even beat the jet its supposed to replace (the F-16) in within-visual-range engagements, and is almost totally reliant on its stealth to avoid them.
All of this begs the question – why didn’t the DoD instead choose to extend the F-22 line, and build a stealth fighter/bomber with more range and payload, scrapping the maneuverability requirement which held the plane’s performance back?
The designation/callsign “Air Force One” has been around since around the time of WWII, with FDR being the first president to fly while in office. Since 1943, with only a couple exceptions, the Air Force has been flying custom versions of Boeing commercial airliners for the presidential flight mission. Most recently replaced in 1990, the president currently flies in a modified 747 with the military designation “VC-25”; two copies were produced for a cost of $325 million apiece, and the callsign “Air Force One” is only used when the president is onboard.
Even though it is still extremely advanced, Air Force One is due for a replacement. Currently, the operating cost for each VC-25 is $210,877 per hour; an extremely high figure, likely because of the dated nature and high maintenance costs of both the airframe and the avionics suite.
However, with a total program cost estimated to be around $4 billion dollars, Boeing is clearly gouging the taxpayer. The newest derivative of Air Force One will end up being over six times as expensive as the last one, which was built on the same airframe. I guess Boeing just thought the higher price tag was going to slip through the cracks of a bloated DoD budget?