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US/ NATO v. Russia - Misperceptions.

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21 hours ago, Machor said:

Well, ostensibly the RAF firebombing of German cities was also not intended to 'kill' German civilians, but to make them flee to the countryside, and thus leave German factories without workers; so yes, there was a military goal at the end. Ditto with the US bombing of Japan. And I think the line blurs mainly because the perpetrators were never forced to defend themselves in court, so we have not had an occasion to work out the ethical dilemmas in practice. Notably, Robert McNamara disclosed in The Fog of War that Curtis LeMay believed he would have been tried as a war criminal had the Japanese won the war.

Personally I think this is naive. Firebombing civilians is almost always executed with the intention to firebomb civilians (on decision making level). History has, unfortunately, shown that the most effective means to subdue a people with a certain 'end' in mind is to eradicate the people and repopulate the area allowing directly managing for the 'end' (military ends are political and potentially vice versa) . Now obviously anyone with any 'instinct' for PR will try to frame the whole thing as something different....

Eradicating part of a people will often set an example not necessitating taking the effort to eradicate them all. That (the end) is the main reason for targeting civilians, whether they reside in the Middle East in 2016 or elsewhere in a different time.

Edited by Lethaface

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Guys: arguing about the US election results, and any nasty jabs related to it, are absolutely an off-topic political discussion. There are plenty of other places on the internet to do that, so don't do it here.

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4 hours ago, Machor said:

This is one where I'd be very interested to hear @Codename Duchess 's comments:

"Russian MiG-29 fighter jet crashes in Mediterranean"

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-37978463

"A Russian MiG-29 fighter jet has crashed into the Mediterranean Sea as it tried to land on the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, the country's defence ministry has said."

Routine or inept?

I don't know anything that hasn't been posted online via USNI, The Aviationist, and Combat Aircraft.  More will likely come out in the coming days as the group is being watched heavily by NATO forces.

I am legally required to get 150 hours of flying time per year (which I doubled last year) with a very heavy focus on remaining current in all capabilities of the Super Hornet, especially Carrier Landings.  During a deployment, every pilot will fly every day during flight ops, so you get a lot of practice.  I shared beers with an Indian Navy MiG-29K pilot.  He said they get 20 hours a year, and I've heard comparable numbers for the Russians (all branches).  If you combine hours like that with the infrequent sailings of Kuznetsov as well as the low amount of aircaft (~20 each of the -29K and the Su-33), you're going to have serious training deficiencies in a very demanding job.  Like everything you've heard about landing a jet on a carrier is true.  It's hard.  Russia apparently struggles to keep a well trained cadre of carrier aviators on hand.

That said, official sources are saying this was a technical fault, and that the plane went down several kilometers out while attempting to land.  That raises a couple of flags to me as it's a twin engine aircraft so more reliable and one of the newest aircraft in the Russian armed forces on a very public demonstration.  Anything can happen, but this is alarming.  Also of note, Kuznetsov sailed with just 4 MiG-29Ks and 6 Su-33 (which supposedly were transferred to a land base as soon as the ship got on station) so this is a serious blow to their onboard complement. 

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Lol... That's going to look great. First the smoke furnace on the Kuznetsov now MIG-29s will be called rust planes :D Technical malfunction is all what it was Duchess, naval aviators are pretty good at their job in the Russian navy. WELL actually, could also be a pilot mistake, since I just read the pilot was most likely a rookie, but the thing that threw me off is it crashed a few kilometers away from the carrier, that doesn't look like a mistake to me. MiG isn't going to be happy, and the Russian command isn't happy. 

Edited by VladimirTarasov

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23 minutes ago, VladimirTarasov said:

Lol... That's going to look great. First the smoke furnace on the Kuznetsov now MIG-29s will be called rust planes :D Technical malfunction is all what it was Duchess, naval aviators are pretty good at their job in the Russian navy. WELL actually, could also be a pilot mistake, since I just read the pilot was most likely a rookie, but the thing that threw me off is it crashed a few kilometers away from the carrier, that doesn't look like a mistake to me. MiG isn't going to be happy, and the Russian command isn't happy. 

The Russian Navy should just do what Ukraine did and sell their aircraft carrier to China. The technical issues in the Admiral Kuznetsov's engine, the limited aircraft carrying capacity, the lack of a aircraft catapult all contribute to the carrier's increasingly evident irrelevance. It's honestly not worth the Telekanal Zvezda specials of we are the best nation because Putin has bestowed us with airfield boat to fight American imperialism!

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21 hours ago, Erwin said:

The Brits achieved power thru their very successful strategy of always allying with the 2nd most powerful nation vs the most powerful nation - until the Brit Empire itself emerged as the most powerful.  Probably that's what Russia and China are attempting currently vs the US.

Agreed that this leaves aside the moral issues, however, historically, all nations function on a realpolitik level and act callously in their self-interest while simultaneously either covering those actions up or disguising them in a cloak of "the best defense is a good offense" type philosophy using the fear they have made their citizens suffer as the excuse for just about anything.

If it is predictable that China may become the most powerful nation in the next decades, then it only makes sense to start to make pally with Russia (India as well).

It would be foolish for them to do that because Russia is only becoming increasingly isolated and economically destitute. That's not even getting in to the fact that the U.S. has so many allies all over the globe, it is insane. Picking on Russia is advantageous for China because they would retain the moral high ground, grow closer to the technological and economical benefits from the west, and get territorial concessions in the Russian Far East and influence in Central Asia (they've been eyeing Kazakhstan for a while now).

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3 hours ago, Codename Duchess said:

I am legally required to get 150 hours of flying time per year (which I doubled last year) with a very heavy focus on remaining current in all capabilities of the Super Hornet, especially Carrier Landings.  During a deployment, every pilot will fly every day during flight ops, so you get a lot of practice.  I shared beers with an Indian Navy MiG-29K pilot.  He said they get 20 hours a year, and I've heard comparable numbers for the Russians (all branches).  If you combine hours like that with the infrequent sailings of Kuznetsov as well as the low amount of aircaft (~20 each of the -29K and the Su-33), you're going to have serious training deficiencies in a very demanding job.  Like everything you've heard about landing a jet on a carrier is true.  It's hard.  Russia apparently struggles to keep a well trained cadre of carrier aviators on hand.. 

FWIW, according the Russian air force average annual flight hours for tactical aviation rose from 25 in 2006 to 80 in 2010, the last year I could find a number for.

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1 hour ago, VladimirTarasov said:

Lol... That's going to look great. First the smoke furnace on the Kuznetsov now MIG-29s will be called rust planes :D Technical malfunction is all what it was Duchess, naval aviators are pretty good at their job in the Russian navy. WELL actually, could also be a pilot mistake, since I just read the pilot was most likely a rookie, but the thing that threw me off is it crashed a few kilometers away from the carrier, that doesn't look like a mistake to me. MiG isn't going to be happy, and the Russian command isn't happy. 

I don't doubt that your pilots are good, but the fact of the matter is you need A LOT of flight time to be proficient at carrier landings and you guys just don't really have the ability to compete with the US in terms of hours or facilities, including actual at sea time (it's a lot different than a practice landing on a land based field).  That's a no brainer, but the fact is you're going to see a higher mishap rate (our own mishap rate is up lately due in no small part to reduced flight hours from sequestration).

If the reports that it turned back to the carrier shortly-ish after takeoff are true then it is likely a technical issue.  That should raise some eyebrows because this is one of your newest aircraft at the beginning of a very high profile deployment.  These things don't just happen, someone somewhere screwed up.  It's just lucky that the pilots weren't killed.

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1 hour ago, Codename Duchess said:

These things don't just happen, someone somewhere screwed up.

Hey, i don't know what you are trying to insinuate, but don't look at me when you say that! 

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10 hours ago, Codename Duchess said:

I don't doubt that your pilots are good, but the fact of the matter is you need A LOT of flight time to be proficient at carrier landings and you guys just don't really have the ability to compete with the US in terms of hours or facilities, including actual at sea time (it's a lot different than a practice landing on a land based field).  That's a no brainer, but the fact is you're going to see a higher mishap rate (our own mishap rate is up lately due in no small part to reduced flight hours from sequestration).

Yeah I understand that,, of course no one was trying to say we are on America's level in terms of carrier operations, you guys have like ten of them and you've been using them like crazy.

10 hours ago, Codename Duchess said:

If the reports that it turned back to the carrier shortly-ish after takeoff are true then it is likely a technical issue.  That should raise some eyebrows because this is one of your newest aircraft at the beginning of a very high profile deployment.  These things don't just happen, someone somewhere screwed up.  It's just lucky that the pilots weren't killed.

Yeah it is probably a technical issue, if it wasn't it would have saved more face to say the pilot screwed up. They are the new MIG-29 models that can use PGMs unlike the SU-33s. The Indians have been using this carrier variant and haven't had any mess ups. I'd say this incident was either bad maintenance, bad luck, or an individual technical issue. 

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Something occurred to me this morning about the MiG-29K.  As far as I'm aware, Russia doesn't have as extensive MIL-STDs as the US does.  I know from experience that AS and MIL rated parts are extremely important in aerospace applications.  I've seen a few (very expensive) accidents occur when industrial rated parts were used in place of aerospace rated parts, when they failed far below their rating because they slipped through QC.  Say you fly 50 of these parts on a vehicle, and you've done it hundreds of times, but if one fails and the vehicle is destroyed it's still an unacceptably high failure rate in aerospace, but not in industrial applications with higher margins.

Also, if traditional Russian stinginess with spare parts exports applies to its own forces, too, it's possible that a part of the aircraft was being used for much longer than intended by the engineers.

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Thank you, @Codename Duchess, for the insight and the links, and thank you @HerrTom for the engineering insight! The very little I know about carrier operations is from playing "Carriers at War" (the new, Matrix Games release), where I was pretty much guaranteed to lose a pilot when launching/recovering more than two squadrons, and then kept losing more pilots when launching/recovering CAP (I'm not even going into recovering after sunset). I was assuming that things would have improved in modern times, so I didn't know what to make of yesterday's incident when it was first reported as a landing accident, but it now seems it belongs to a different category.

Out of curiosity, I ran through two Wikipedia lists (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_accidents_and_incidents_involving_military_aircraft_(2000–09) , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_accidents_and_incidents_involving_military_aircraft_(2010–present) ) and tried to come up with some numbers. I found only seven incidents involving the launch or recovery of carrier-based fixed-wing aircraft since 2000. Not surprisingly, six involved the US Navy, and one the Russian Navy. Of these seven, two happened at launch (March 2, 2002; May 12, 2015) and five at landing (March 8, 2002; September 11, 2003; January 29, 2005; September 5, 2005; June 4, 2014); of these five, three happened due to breaking arresting cables (September 11, 2003; January 29, 2005; September 5, 2005), including Russia's only reported incident on September 5, 2005.

I also found four more incidents which illustrate other ways that things may go wrong:

"July 30, 2007: FA-18C from VFA-195 crashed after the pilot inadvertently ejected while on emergency night approach to USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). The aircraft continued to fly for nearly 20 minutes before crashing into the sea 400 miles SE of Guam. The pilot was safely recovered.

August 15, 2007: Lts. Ryan Betton, Cameron Hall and Jerry Smith were killed when their Grumman E-2C Hawkeye, BuNo 163696, 'AD', from Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 120 (VAW-120), based at the Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, crashed in the Atlantic Ocean off North Carolina at ~2300 hrs. An investigation was unable to determine the cause of the crash, according to a copy of the Judge Advocate General final report — known as a JAGMAN — obtained by Navy Times. The aircraft catapulted off the deck of the carrier USS Harry S. Truman and crashed into the water moments later. The carrier never received any emergency radio transmissions or acknowledgment by the mishap crew, according to the report.

March 30, 2011: Ten sailors are injured when an engine of a USMC McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18C Hornet of VMFAT-101 based at MCAS Miramar, California, suffers a catastrophic failure while preparing for launch at 14:50 during routine training exercises from the USS John C. Stennis, about 100 miles (160 km) off the California coast. USN Cmdr. Pauline Storum said that five of the injured are taken by helicopter to the shore, four to the Naval Medical Center, San Diego, and one to Scripps Research Institute at La Jolla, California. None of the injuries were considered life-threatening but the fighter sustained damages over $1 million. The ensuing fire was quickly extinguished and the carrier itself was not damaged.

August 11, 2015: A McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Hornet spotted ahead of the island aboard USS Harry S. Truman catches fire while undergoing refuelling during night operations off the Virginia Capes, injuring two. The pilot ejects and lands on the flight deck. After receiving medical treatment aboard, he was transferred to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina. A sailor assigned to the ship suffered injuries that weren’t considered life-threatening and was also taken to hospital. Flight deck firefighters extinguished the blaze. An investigation is underway."

There is some dramatic footage of the incident on September 11, 2003, where an arresting cable broke. The naval aviator who successfully ejected from the F-18 plunging into the ocean should have his or her callsign changed to 'Boba Fett,' and the yellowshirt who jumped over the cable twice has earned the nom de guerre 'Hopscotch:'

 

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6 minutes ago, Machor said:

One number I came up with is that there have been 5 US military aviation crashes in the last 6 months. Meaning that any attempt to extrapolate broad conclusions about maintenance or training from one incident is probably a waste of time.

OTOH, Indian air force planes crash with such alarming frequency it's a wonder they have any left.

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Going through both lists from 2000 on, there were some patterns that I picked up without running the numbers:

- Trainers crash a lot. [Makes sense.]

- The USMC tends to have a lot of incidents relative to its size. [Interesting.]

- If you see something flying with the roundels of the IAF, seek shelter.

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"June 4, 2012: A student at the Brazilian Air Force Academy was killed when he accidentally ejected from an Embraer EMB 312 Tucano while waiting to take off at Pirassununga-Campo Fonetenelle, Brazil.

January 30, 2012: An Indian Air Force (IAF) HAL HJT-16 Kiran Mk2 exploded in mid-air over Iyancherry village in Kancheepuram district, South India. The two pilots ejected safely."

There's a fair amount of dark humour in those Wikipedia lists.

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1. Military vessels and aircraft belong to their service of origin by international law.  It gets weird when you talk about defunct countries, and it is often disregarded by third parties (see illegal scrap operations on more shallow water wrecks).  How that country chooses to handle the wreck after that is open to discussion (the USAF for instance tends to consider the plane abandoned if it doesn't have weapons/human remains on board and claims no special control once it's written off.  The USN is a lot more zealous and you'd better ask for permission before looking at that wrecked Wildcat for more than a few minutes).

2. Russian Naval Aviation is fascinating if only for it's on going quest for a reason to exist.

3. The Indian Air Force would be comical at times if it didn't involve real people falling from the sky in big metal things into populated areas.  

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3 hours ago, Erwin said:

"...pilot inadvertently ejected..."

Don't you hate it when that happens...

Not as hard as you'd guess. There's not really a guard. The handle just sits there between your legs. I've never come close, but I try to avoid freaking out about how easy an unfortunate series of events could make it happen.

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