Old School Ordinance.

You know, when I can’t think of anything to write about, or more likely, just don’t feel like writing, I do what every good milblogger does. I steal stuff from John at The Castle.

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Interestingly, with the exception of the M2 .50cal, all these weapons have passed from the inventory, but either a direct replacement or an analogous type weapon can still be found in the infantry (for instance, the 37mm and 57mm anti-tank guns are long gone, but their role is filled today by the Javelin and TOW missiles.

Load HEAT

What can we say, we get most of our ispirations for Load HEAT from our taste in television. I can’t always say what it is about a woman that is attractive. I just know that I look at one, and say “Yep, she’s got it.”

This week’s installment is very much that kind of girl. The star of USA Networks In Plain Sight, Mary McCormack is hot. Don’t ask why. Just accept it. I do know that I like the fact that the star of a TV series doesn’t have to be so skinny as to appear malnourished to be sexy.

HEAT Rounds and Sabots redux

I don’t know why I spent all that time typing about HEAT rounds and sabots when National Geo covered pretty much all the high points in just over two minutes.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPgdFV19XpQ]

H/T: From my position…

Chinook

We’ve covered helicopters here before, such as the Huey, the Blackhawk, the OH-58 Kiowa and of course, Cobra and Apache gunships. Let’s talk about the big boy on the block. The Chinook. Or as it became known almost instantly in the Army, the Shithook. The CH-47 is the Army’s largest helicopter, used to transport critical logistical items, troops and artillery around the battlefield.

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The Chinook has been around for a long time. It’s first flight was in 1961. But the issues surrounding its development deserve a little attention. In the late 1950s, the Army and helicopter designers began to realize that piston engines would never become a very efficient way of powering helicopters. Gas turbines (jet engines that provided power through a driveshaft, rather than thrust) were finally becoming a practical option for military use. With the advent of these new engines, the Army took a long look at what the next generation of helicopters should look like. Just how big should they be? At the same time, the concept of “air assault” or landing troops directly on the battlefied started to form. What was the best way to move troop unit? Should you use a smaller helicopter that could lift a squad? Or would the better bet be to use somewhat larger helicopters that could lift 15-20 men?  Smaller helicopters would cost more in the long run, but losing one helicopter in the assault wouldn’t result in as many casualties. The Army first decided to go with the larger helicopter, of about 20 men. The Vertol Company (later bought by Boeing) provided the Model 107. But the debate in the Army over helicopter size raged on. Some thought that the new UH-1B Huey could be scaled up to carry a full squad. That would handle most air assualt requirements, and still have a relatively cheap helicopter. The Model 107 would be larger than was needed. The other half of the problem was moving artillery and supplies. The Model 107 was just a bit too small for that job. The ideal was to move a 105mm howitzer, its crew, and a load of ammunition all in one lift by one helicopter. Boeing went back to the drawing board. The Model 114 was the result, and was soon bought by the Army as the CH-47 Chinook. And it wasn’t very long before the Chinook found itself in Vietnam, as part of the airmobile 1st Cavalry Division.  With Hueys to conduct the initial assualt, and Chinooks bringing in the follow-on elements and moving artillery, the Army’s pattern of air assault missions was set so soundly that it is relatively unchanged 40-odd years later.

But don’t feel bad for the Model 107. Even though it wasn’t selected by the Army, its development continued. Largely because the Marines didn’t have a lot of space on the Navy’s helicopter carriers, they were forced to go with  a somewhat larger helicopter. And the Model 107 fit the bill perfectly. They bought it as the CH-46 and operate it to this day.

Early Chinooks had engines of about 2,200 horsepower each. This was very quickly upgraded to about 2,600hp each. And improvements didn’t stop there. The rotor blades, rear pylon design, and transmission were all upgraded through the A, B, and C models to improve performance.  In the 1980s, the design was again refreshed, with attention focusing again on more horsepower, but also greatly improved avionics and better reliability, resulting in the CH-47D. Many “D” models were conversions from older models, but there were also quite a few new built airframes. These were delivered up until 2002.  And right about the time the last “D” model was delivered, the work on the latest model moved into high gear.

The newest model, the CH-47F is really an old model. While there will be some newbuild airframes, most will be remanufactured CH-47Ds. And since most of the “D” models were remanufactured earlier models, there will be some airframes well over 30 years old that will be expected to soldier on for another 20. Because of this, a large part of the program will be rebuilding them to make them easier to maintain, reducing vibration, making sure the components don’t have any fatigue issues, and making any issues easier to detect. Improvements in the avionics will include updating the instruments to the latest common “glass cockpit” standard, as well as building in the cabapility of operating in the Force XXI digital environment, which is the Army’s version of a battlefield internet.  Not surprisingly, the Army is going with more powerful engines as well. The latest version of the Chinook engines put out almost 4,900 hp each. The Chinook has gone from a useful load of 7,000 pounds in its early days, to over 21,000 pounds in the “F” modeland the new models are faster. Think about that. How many of us are faster and stronger now that we’re over 40?

By now, you ought to have figured out that the ‘hook is a pretty capable helicopter. Lots of other folks have reached that conclusion as well. Very few other nations have the same air assault capability that we do, but having a few heavy lift helicopters around is handy for them as well. Several other nations, notable Great Britain, the Dutch, and the Japanese have bought various versions of the Chinook. When Great Britain attacked to recapture the Falklands in 1982, they lost several Chinooks aboard the Atlantic Conveyor. Their one remaining Chinook was put to work, doing the job of several helicopters. In one instance, instead of carrying its normal load of 55 troops, the sole Chinook lifted 105 fully loaded troops. There are several tales of Chinooks in the Vietnam war carrying over 100 people (though usually lightly loaded Vietnamese civilians). I’ve been in a Chinook with about 40 other people- I can’t imagine just how crowded it was with over 100.

It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that without  the Chinook, the Army in Afghanistan would be crippled. Many of the smaller outposts can only be reached by helicopter. Given the high elevations and hot weather there, Blackhawks, normally very capable birds, struggle to carry a useful load. The Chinook, with its greater power, is able to support these high/hot outposts.

With the new “F’ models just beginning to come into service, we can expect this long serving veteran to serve for as much as 30 more years.

Mind you, we’ve scrimped on discussing the gunship version, or the several special operations versions. But here’s  a last look at the bird for you.

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Light Posting

Well, I’m working up an epic rant about “lawfare” and the intents and limitations on law and especially international law in the current environment. Unfortunately, I’m also pressed to attend to matters outside the blog, so it will take a while for me to get to that. I apologize to my loyal reader(s) for that. If you have any aspect of the law of warfare you’d like to see me address, please leave a comment.

Load Heat

Once again, we dip into the well that is Joss Whedon’s talent pool. It’s narrow, but deep. Amy Acker played for several seasons on Angel. She was pretty much a geek on the show. She also had a role on Alias. And she’s again on a Whedon show, this time Dollhouse, where she plays a nerd, one with scars. Now, she was always cute and all that. But we never thought she would be up to our high standards here. Imagine my surprise when we did go looking for a photo of her (for unrelated purposes). We should have known. She’s a Texan. Well, anybody that good looking gets her own week here…

Governments and Markets

OK, I posted a rant over in the comments at Ace’s place. And if I’m gonna spend 15 minutes writing, I’m gonna make sure I at least get credit here…

Markets are in the long term rational. Not in the short term, but over time, they act in a rational manner. That’s the effect of a large group of people each acting in their own self interest, for their mutual benefit. We must always remember that individuals often act irrationally, and so do groups over short terms, but that groups that choose to act together tend to act rationally over the long term. So, we will posit that markets act rationally. And thus, rational actors like to operate on the basis of information. We have two types of information- empirical, and inferred. Empirical information is always past history. That is, it is something we have measured that has happened in the past. Inferred information can be either past history, or a projection of the future, often based on past trends. Inferred information is imprecise. Call it a SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guess), or just a best estimation on the available information. In both cases, the market works better with information, rather than in its absence. Uncertainty breeds unhappiness in the markets. Some level of uncertainty is needed for the markets to work. Investors must have an idea that there is a potential for gain, or they wouldn’t invest. But there must be some risk involved, or there would be no need for rewards (dividends and capital gains). The natural level of risk is inherent to the market, and all the players are cognizant of that. What upsets markets greatly is outside influences on them. Anything that changes the accepted rules of the market had a detrimental influence on the market. Why? Because if the rules can change once, they can change again. It’s like playing baseball and finding out in the 9th inning that your side only gets two outs.

Any and all government intrusion into the markets has the effect of introducing uncertainty into the marketplace. If there is no government intrusion at all, that is a known level of interference, and there is thus no uncertainty introduced. But when the government intrudes in any way into the marketplace, that introduces a level of uncertainty into the market. If government intrusion is rare, the markets will stabilize around the new rule set, but still have a slightly higher level of uncertainty, as the market has seen that there is the potential for government intrusion.  As a hedge against the intrusion of the government into markets, entities will assume government interference in the market, and hence work to influence that interference in ways that benefit them (at least in the short term) and work against their competitors. This is in effect market players working the referees to change the rules in their favor, in the middle of the game. {see Dodd, Christopher; and Frank, Barney}

Eventually, government interference leads to unfairness in the market, where some competitors have an advantage. And where an artificial advantage exists, eventually, the markets will cause a failure that should have been corrected earlier. When a mortgage is defaulted in this environment, we often see that it is a mortgage that was a bad risk from day one. We see the same thing with corporations that influenced the government to skew the market rules in their favor. They were able to operate for a while, but in the end, the fall was that much greater. If the corporation had not been able to change the ruleset to artificially benefit them, they never would have been in a position to have a catastrophic failure. Or rather, if they did fail, such failure would not have been catastrophic to the markets as a whole.

Virtually every single government intervention into a market is done with the intention of promoting fairness. Not just our government, but any intervention at all, throughout history. But make no mistake, the government has its own vested interest, to maximize revenues into its coffers. That’s no sin, in and of itself. I think we can all agree that the government needs some level of revenue to operate. But governments efforts to induce “fairness” into a market, where by definition, there are winners and loser (tho most interactions are actually between winners and winners to a lesser degree), is to artificially remove risk. When you artificially remove risk from a portion of the market, it just doesn’t go away, it is just defered. And worse, it isn’t just defered, it is more widespread.  Pretty soon, the problem becomes systemic. And anyone who has worked on any centralized system will tell you that a problem in any portion of a system soon spreads to the entire system.

And of course, we have an entirely different level of government interference in the markets. Fannie and Freddie. Here, we have Government Sponsored Entities. These are supposedly private companies set up by the federal government that competed in the private sector.There was a polite fiction that they were not guaranteed by the government, but everyone knew that was a lie. As events proved, they government would indeed cover their assets.  Given that they were sponsored by the very government that both set the legal rules of the marketplace, and printed the money, was there any way for a private company to compete with them? Of course not. Not surprisingly, may companies found a modus vivendi with them, either co-opting them, or being co-opted by them. As a final insult to the free market, these government sponsored entities used the fiction that they were not part of the government to actually lobby the government. To put it bluntly, they bribed the members of Congress responsible for their oversight with sums that private companies could not. Is it any wonder that the laws of the marketplace soon benefited Fannie and Freddie in an artificial way?

In a perfect, hypothetical world, there would be absolutely no government interference into the markets. Sadly, we don’t live in a perfect world. But I think I’ve made the case that government intrusion in the markets should be limited to those actions that promote transparency, not fairness.

Here’s a mushroom cloud for your Friday enjoyment

EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) found a whopping 4ooolb IED in Afghanistan. Here you get to see them destroying it with .50cal machine gun fire. We like to see things go boom. We just don’t want our guys to get hurt doing it.

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H/T: Right Wing Video

Is the Russian-Georgian conflict heating up again?

Sure looks that way. Go over to Information Dissemination and read this post. Here’s a taste:

The low capacity narrow roads leading from Russia into Georgia (one into Abkhazia and another leading into South Ossetia) create immense logistical problems in rapidly deploying large military contingents into Georgia if Moscow opts for a “humanitarian intervention” to bring about “regime change.” The insertion of a sizable marine force with heavy weapons was used last August to bypass the clogged up overland routes and this could prove important again. The Russian military knew beforehand the exact timing of its pre-arranged invasion and fully controlled the pre-war armed provocations by the South Ossetian forces, whereas in the present crisis the situation is much more volatile.