Archive for November, 2004
A reader gives me the heads up to this story.
Sandoval, 26, saw that one of the men was about to place a mortar in a mortar tube. He knew he had to make a well-aimed shot before the insurgent gunner launched the deadly round. Sandoval cleared his thoughts and slowed his breathing as he gently squeezed the trigger of his M-40A3 sniper rifle. The 7.62 mm round covered the 950 yards in a flash, slamming into the chest of the first insurgent.
“The battalion (executive officer) ordered me to ‘make the mortars stop,’” said Sandoval, a native of El Paso, Texas. “I took it personally and went out specifically to stop the insurgents.”
With two more insurgents still alive and ready to continue the mortar attack, Sandoval composed himself for the next shot at the assistant gunner. The last two shots took out the driver of the vehicle that carried the weapon.
“When I finally spotted them along a tree line, I realized how far they were but it was surprising how easy it was,” said Sandoval.
Those four shots were the longest in Sandoval has taken since he became a scout sniper.
950 yards. That’s
almost [over] half a mile.
The mortars stopped.
I’ve received a number of requests from readers for some commentary on the Ukraine situation.
I wish I had something useful to say.
Other than wondering where in Hades the United Nations is, though, I don’t really have a solid understanding of what’s going on there. I know the pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko lost in what appears to be a heavily-rigged election to Russia-backed Viktor Yanukovych. I know that people in some parts are thinking revolution if their man isn’t declared the winner, and that people in other parts are thinking secession (or at least a major restructuring) if their man isn’t declared the winner. I know that I have trouble keeping them straight because of the similarity between their names. I know that there might be another election. And that the Ukrainian economy, already a mess, is teetering on the edge of collapse.
That is about the extent of my knowledge, and it sure isn’t enough to base any meaningful writing on.
Did I ask where the UN was?
Debbye’s Being American in T.O. is now Murdoc’s prime source for Ukraine coverage. Go read.
UPDATE 2: A good friend of mine who currently lives in Poland (and previously lived in Russia, too) emailed me this:
Poland can be a big key in this situation. Lech Walesa was invited there and went there. Not sure if he is still there. Also the Polish president, Kwasniewski, has been invited to go and help. His reaction was that he is willing, but wanted to figure out first how he can be helpful. He seems to be a guy that is able to relate to both sides. Poland has gone through this transition to democracy and has a history with Ukraine, so it will be interesting to see how they can be influential in this. One Pole told me that they were surprised that Poland was doing more than countries like Germany and France. But Poland is moving forward and in the EU, so it is time that they can step up and lead the way in some things like this since they will be able to relate to Ukraine in a unique way. [emphasis mine]
Poland, indeed, can probably understand things better than most, and that might make a big difference. Longtime readers will know that I’m a bit of a fan of Poland, and hearing that some Poles are surprised that they’re doing more than the Old European powers just confirms my feelings. I hope they’re proud of Polish efforts.
“We’ve found numerous incidents of Al Qaeda captives who were released,” said an unnamed Red Cross source in the Times report. “And for that we applaud Al Qaeda. However, in a footnote to the report, we mention that a disturbing number of these detainees are released without their heads, which we believe may be a violation of the Geneva conventions.”
The source emphasized that “both sides in the war on terror have transgressed.”
“Whether it’s the apparent videotaped beheading of an innocent civilian contractor, or psychological manipulation of an enemy combattant who may have knowledge of planned attacks on the U.S. citizens–it’s all reprehensible,” she said.
Go read the whole thing.
DefenseTech on contact lenses designed to protect the wearer’s vision from lasers.
Don’t think for one moment that all of our gadgetry cannot be overcome, or that clever enemies will not discover how to use it against us. Everything has an Achilles heel. Remember the “laser cannon” warnings from nearly a year ago? I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post about it but was stopped in my tracks when James Rummel of Hell in a Handbasket reminded me that a
US helicopter flying near the DMZ in Korea was very strongly painted by a laser. The speculation is that the Chinese, who’ve been talking about a battle-ready laser that can disrupt electronic devices, was playing cute and gave one to the North Koreans for testing.
The insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan aren’t likely to be toting around lasers to destroy the vision of our chopper pilots anytime soon, but we’ve got potential enemies with a lot more technology and money that are probably working on it as we speak.
I can see the potential of laser weapons that knock out the vision of many at once. What if an entire patrol was suddenly blinded permanently by some sort of laser device? Even if no immediate attack to exploit the incapacitated men occurred, we’d suffer the loss of combat-effective men. This could be bad, but maybe special contact lenses are the answer. Offense is almost always ahead of defense.
The 737 Gets Bomb Racks (11/29/04 entry)
Strategy Page has an update on the Navy’s new Multimission Maritime, the replacement for the P-3 Orion. Back in February I noted that Lockheed thought their prop-driven P-3 replacement was superior to Boeing’s 737-based idea, but this summer the Navy decided to go with Boeing and is going to get seven 737s modified to the MMA standard for testing and training before production begins by the end of the decade.
Although the B-737 MMA is a two engine jet, compared to the four engine turboprop P-3, it is a more capable plane. The MMA has 23 percent more floor space than the P-3, and is larger (118 foot wingspan, versus 100 foot) and heavier (83 tons versus 61). Most other characteristics are the same. Both can stay in the air about ten hours per sortie. Speed is different. Cruise speed for the MMA is 910 kilometers an hour, versus 590 for the P-3. This makes it possible for the MMA to get to a patrol area faster, which is a major advantage when chasing down subs spotted by sonar arrays or satellites. However, the P-3 can carry more weapons (9 tons, versus 5.6.) This is less of a factor as the weapons (torpedoes, missiles, mines, sonobouys) are, pound for pound, more effective today and continuing that trend. Both carry the same size crew, of 10-11 pilots and equipment operators. Both aircraft carry search radar and various other sensors. The 737 has, like the P-3. been equipped with bomb hard points on the wings for torpedoes or missiles.
Also, from Aviation Today:
The reason for the P-3 replacement? “The major need comes from the P-3s’ having reached their service life–the metal in the aircraft is reaching its fatigue life,” explains Tim Norgart, director of business development for Boeing’s MMA program. “So if they were retained, they would basically have to be rebuilt.”
“Right now [the P-3s] are being retired at a pretty significant rate,” he adds. “Their processing systems and sensors also are in dire need of upgrades.” Norgart, a former P-3C wing commander, says the Navy found it would be difficult to upgrade older aircraft with newer systems because of their older architecture. He believes the Navy has “a quantifiable need for [the B737] platform for its `assured access’ mission.” A long-range patrol aircraft capable of doing anti-submarine warfare (ASW) is a major requirement in the Navy’s Seapower 21 war fighting doctrine, which outlines how the Navy will fight for the next 20 years.
“If you can’t get into a body of water to operate an aircraft carrier, then you can’t get a whole lot of Hornets [F/A-18s] across the beach,” says Norgart. “So the MMA will be out there in front of the fleet, clearing the way and making sure the water is safe for them to go through.”
Skeptics may question the U.S. Navy’s selection of a commercial jetliner for missions that include low-level, over-the-water surveillance. Not to worry, says Boeing’s Tim Norgart. “We’ve taken the aircraft [the Boeing Business Jet, based on the B737] out twice now and let the Navy fly it. We put weight on board to duplicate an MMA’s mid-mission weight, above 150,000 pounds [68,040 kg], and let the Navy pilots fly it [at] 200 feet off the water at loiter speeds of 208 knots.” (MMA’s maximum takeoff weight is 184,200 pounds [83,555 kg].)
The high-bypass turbofan engines are fuel-efficient, says Norgart, adding that the fuel burn curve at 500 feet (about 4,000 pounds per hour) vs. 30,000 feet is only about 700 pounds different per hour. He adds that the turbofan is more reliable than the turboprop because it has fewer parts.
The Navy’s range and endurance requirements call for 1,200 nm out, four hours on station searching for submarines, and 1,200 nm back home. Boeing says its aircraft exceeds that requirement. Norgart points out that while a P-3 will take four hours to get to the target, MMA will be there in less than three hours. “That equates to a higher probability of target detection, since it can’t travel away as far from the tracking aircraft,” he says.
Another advantage of the Boeing jet over a turboprop aircraft is the ability to self-deploy faster, according to Norgart. A fully loaded MMA is billed as having a 4,800- to 4,900-nm self-deployment range, cruising at 445 knots. Aerial refueling presumably would need to be infrequent. The Navy has bases that allow deployment worldwide, Boeing maintains.
Although I can’t tell when that Aviation Today article was originally published, it’s got a lot of good info, including more-detailed rundowns of the avionics and weapons systems.
Also, b737.org has a little page on the MMA that notes the conversion to an MMA from a standard production aircraft will happen at Wichita, which is where the coversion of 767s into USAF tankers was going to happen.
If anyone out there uses the Free Edition of AVG Ant-Virus, make sure to download the newest version, complete with new interface, before the end of the year. Installing is easier than ever, as they’ve done away with the old e-mail-you-a-security-code registration. Definitely worth the money.
After 5 years and millions of free downloads, GRISOFT is pleased to announce the upgrade of the popular AVG Free Edition. Individual home computer users with the NEW version of AVG Free Edition will now benefit from some of the significant improvements drawn from the AVG Professional Editions.
Please also be advised, that as of December 31st, 2004, database updates and support for older versions of AVG Free Edition will no longer be available. If you are currently using an older version of AVG Free Edition, we encourage you to download the new version of AVG Free Edition by the end of 2004.
I’ve used AVG Free Edition as my anti-virus software for about two years, and I’ve recommended it to quite a few others who’ve also had good results. Worth a look.
UPDATE: Also of interest might be the fact that I’m posting this using a Pentium II 400 MHz PC. That’s almost as slow as what Laura Ingalls used to blog about her experiences on the prairies of Minnesota and South Dakota.
You may remember Spirit of America. I think they are helping make a real difference in the world. A few dollars at at time.
So as the holidays approach, maybe think about tossing in a few dollars more. Donations are tax-deductible. And you can donate using Pay Pal if you wish.
They’ve started a Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge, and I’ve added my site to their network. Follow the banner link to donate to the cause through my site, and if MO helps raise $100 after December 1st I get a cool hat and t-shirt.
That right there is what’s called “icing on the cake”. Help Iraqis who need it. Help our soldiers over their get the job done. Get me some new clothes.
Seriously, go take a look and consider tossing in a few bucks. They are the real deal, and they’re fighting the good fight. Tell ‘em Murdoc sent you.
Nominations are underway and voting begins on December 1st for the 2004 Weblog Awards.
The Weblog Awards are an awesome way to expand your horizons a bit. Don’t get stuck in a rut reading the same ten sites every single day. This is a good chance to find some new voices.
(Actually, I want you to expand your horizons a bit, but not enough to drop MO.)
Also, if you feel that MO is worth it feel free to consider nominating me. I don’t know that I’ve got a snowballs chance in Fallujah, but maybe a few more interesting types will wander by. And although my traffic puts me in the top 250 blogs traffic-wise, I’m just a lowly Adorable Little Rodent link-wise, checking in at #2363 as of today. So maybe I can turn that crappy ranking into something by making some noise in the Best of the Top 1750 – 2500 blogs category
For more info check out my earlier posts on the subject. In summary, it seems that since I don’t use my real name on this site, nothing I say is worthwhile. The discussion devolved into a debate about the value of a pseudonymous identity and the relative merits of message boards and blogs.
Today, instead of replying to my points about the Apache video or even replying to my points about the pseudonym issue or the board/blog issue, he gave me a list of questions to answer and told me he was going to nominate me for a Chickenhawk Award or some such thing.
I don’t know the guy or much about him (despite the presence of his real name), but I imagine I’ve been called much worse by far better. Maybe not. I don’t really care.
My final reply this morning was:
Post subject: When logic fails resort to name-calling
Interesting that you seem so obsessed with who I am and not what I say.
I thought that was exactly the sort of thinking that message boards (and even blogs, for that matter) were supposed to do away with if the writing and the discussion was of a quality level.
But attack the messenger if you like. He doesn’t care.
Basically because you have barely acknowledged any of the issue-related points I raised, and when you did you simply fired back abstract observations and ridiculous comparisons, I’m moving on.
As Reality says, I need to get a life.
Thanks for allowing me to play for a while.
I won’t be returning.
One other point. In an earlier question (that went totally unacknowledged) I asked if there was any value to the Federalist Papers, TOM SAWYER, or Prince’s music since they were all published pseudonymously. I was was thinking “Sting” when I wrote “Prince”, an error I would have corrected in the discussion if the discussion had not degenerated to name-calling. Although not nearly as valuable as correcting my mistake on the actual forum where it was made, it seems clear that rational discussion isn’t welcome there. at least where Murdoc is concerned.
(Besides, though I personally believe that Prince is the musical genius of our generation, I wouldn’t have intentionally listed his music (funky though he may be) along with the Federalist Papers and TOM SAWYER. It was a simple mistake on my part, but I have no idea what made me make it.)
I’m not really suggesting you go check out the board, though you are more than welcome to do so if you wish. I believe I was more than fair, but maybe I wasn’t. Anyway, I post the link and the text of my post for archival purposes and as a signal that I’m through with it. I won’t be going back unless someone gives me a compelling reason to do so.
My dad tells me that there’s no talking to some people. I usually disagree with him. I hate it when he’s right.