All Hands Online : Official Magazine of the U.S. Navy

For the first time in almost 38 years, there will be no Oliver Hazard Perry (OHP) Frigate on the fleet rolls of the United States Navy. The USS Simpson (FFG 56) was decommissioned in her homeport of Mayport, Florida, Sept. 29, and represented the last frigate in the Navy’s inventory.

Source: All Hands Online : Official Magazine of the U.S. Navy

USS Simpson’s decommissioning also means the only ship left in commission that has sunk another ship is USS Constitution.

Tuna Tours PAX

Tuna hit PAX river, and brought his camera. Click through and enjoy a nice selection of lesser known NavAir assets.

The longer I’m working this second career of mine, as a Government Civilian doing analysis work for the Navy, the more places I seem to travel. While Washington DC is a usual destination for me, either at the Pentagon for budget discussions with OPNAV (Naval Operations), or at the Washington Navy Yard for meetings about the status of various programs I’m involved in. The other frequent stop is Panama City Florida, where all the Mine Countermeasures (MCM) systems are developed and tested. However, I had a short trip out east last week, to one place I didn’t expect to ever visit – the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. PAX River for short.I was there for an Office of Naval Research (ONR) S&T Unmanned Underwater Systems Demonstration – PAX River 2015. If the Navy needs a capability that isn’t currently met by our weapon systems, and the technology isn’t something we can just buy off the shelf, that’s where ONR steps in. They help to develop new technologies- from the drawing board to a prototype system, then pushing them to the Program Offices at the Navy Yard or NAVAIR in PAX, for further refinement and testing.

Source: Chant du Départ: PAX River 2015

Looks like Poland might be next on Putin’s menu.

Well, maybe, after the Baltics.

Poland

This is simply how it’s done. Soviet… err, Russian agents infiltrate a community, and agitate that they are being oppressed by the host country. That leads to Putin raising the issue in various international forums, supposedly lending legitimacy to the claims. Eventually, it becomes an excuse for “peacekeepers” and “monitors” to occupy a region.

Russian peacekeepers, of course. Permanently. Then hold “free and fair” elections to secede and join Russia.

At a minimum, Russia can use this to sow instability in the region, something that works for Russia, and against Poland and her allies.

NAS Whidbey Island SAR

You might be aware that Naval Air Station Whidbey Island is home to all of the Navy’s EA-18G Growlers, and a fair chunk of its P-3/EP-3 fleet. What you may not realize is that those fleets don’t belong to NAS Whidbey. NAS Whidbey serves sort of as the landlord, housing tenant commands. In fact, the only aircraft that “belong” to the Air Station itself are a couple of MH-60S Knighthawks that provide Search And Rescue services for the tenant units.*

While the SAR birds are primarily there to support the Growlers and Orions, fortunately, they don’t crash very often. And so through a series of agreements with local and state agencies, the SAR birds often also support civilian Search And Rescue efforts, and occasionally provide MEDEVAC flights in the area as well. Some of the terrain in Washington is extraordinary, and those are the places most likely to need Navy SAR support to supplement civilian efforts. And so, of course, those tend to be the places the NAS Whidbey Island SAR team conducts its training.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqH66wq4Em8]

 

*They might also still have one or two UC-12 Hurons on station as Operational Support Aircraft. The UC-12 is basically a Beech King Air.

Guided Missile Cruiser USS Cowpens Ceremonially Enters Modernization Period, USS Gettysburg to Follow This Week – USNI News

USS Cowpens (CG 63) returns to San Diego following a deployment to the western Pacific in 2014. US Navy PhotoThe first in a planned series of contentious modernizations to the Navy’s guide missile cruiser fleet formally began in a Friday ceremony in San Diego, Calif.The ceremony inducted USS Cowpens (CG-63) into the CG Phased Modernization Program — a plan that the Navy says well extend the service life of the fleet of 22 cruisers to preserve capabilities for Navy carrier strike groups into the 2040s.“We are saving money, preserving force structure, and generating options for leadership,” said Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet in a Navy statement.The Navy plans to have a similar ceremony for USS Gettysburg (CG-64) later this week.

Bye and large, the Navy is doing a terrible job of managing the life cycles of its cruiser fleet. On the other hand, they’re not getting funded at a level that will allow them to do a good job. Further, the fleet is being deployed with 270 ships at rates similar to the 600 ship Reagan years. That’s just not sustainable.

In the meantime, one hopes this mid life modernization will remove the snakebit curse that has been following USS Cowpens since Holly Graf was her captain. She’s seen a series of senior leaders fired, and appears to be somewhat cursed.

Source: Guided Missile Cruiser USS Cowpens Ceremonially Enters Modernization Period, USS Gettysburg to Follow This Week – USNI News

A Weasel for the Cavalry?

LTG McMaster, in addition to discussing future fighting vehicles for the Infantry, is also hinting that the Army might want to buy a very lightly armored vehicle for light  cavalry units.

Light armor is very problematical. It’s vulnerable to anything beyond the the smallest of small arms fire. Artillery, RPGs, ATGMs, tank guns, mines and IEDs, you name it, they can defeat light armor.

But the alternative to light armor isn’t heavy armor, it’s no armor at all, and how realistic is that proposition? So LTG McMaster is looking at providing the Cavalry squadrons of Airborne and Air Assault Brigade Combat Teams a platform beyond the M1114 Humvee. And since money is tight, it would have to be an off the shelf, non-developmental product.

And the product they’re looking at is the German Wiesel (hereafter, Weasel). Back in the 1970s, the Bundeswehr was looking for a weapons carrier for their own light forces. Development was pretty smooth, but for budgetary reasons, the light, tracked Weasel didn’t enter service until about 1985.

After buying a few hundred in the 80s and 90s, the Germans built a somewhat larger version, the v2. Having a fifth roadwheel and longer body, along with a newer, more powerful engine, it’s still very light, but has significantly more internal volume. This is, presumably, the variant the US Army is looking at.

Wiesel 2

Fitting in six troops is a tight squeeze. And I’m not really sure you need six. The old M114 recon vehicle had a three or four man crew.

Wiesel interior

I’m not sure I’m ready to equip all the light Cav squadrons with these, but I wouldn’t mind seeing at least one equipped and operationally tested.

The Weasel has a couple of interesting capabilities. First, it can be carried by a CH-47 Chinook. And not just as a sling load. You can actually drive it right inside. Three or four can be stuffed into a C-130. From what I hear, Bundeswehr air drop tests were less than successful, but I suspect our airborne guys could figure out a way to airdrop them.

The Germans seem pretty happy with theirs, so it might be worth looking at. At this point, I’m inclined to look favorably on pretty much anything that increases the mobility and firepower of the light formations.

Forward Air Control in Vietnam

Great video on Air Force and Marine Forward Air Controllers in Vietnam, with O-1s, O-2s, and OV-10s. There is good gouge on the shadowy Raven FACs and the operation to recover Bat 21. The only thing missing is coverage of the Army’s O-1 operations. It’s long, so just bookmark this for later tonight.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPXOLWlmN38]