Operation Decisive Storm

The Saudi Arabian led Sunni coalition conducting air strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen has a pretty interesting array of aircraft.

Tony Osborne at Aviation Week has the rundown.

Bahrain has deployed between eight and 12 of its F-16s, Qatar has sent 10 of its 12 Mirage 2000s. The United Arab Emirates has deployed 30 aircraft, while Morocco and Jordan have each deployed six F-16s. Jordan’s participation is particularly noteworthy given its heavy involvement in operations against the Islamic State insurgency in Iraq and Syria. Reports state that Kuwait has sent 15 F/A-18 Hornets.

Egypt’s aerial contribution is unclear but its neighbor Sudan is perhaps the most surprising of the participants bringing with them a trio of Sukhoi Su-24 Fencers.

And of course, there is video as well.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5ixFkAXuUA?feature=player_embedded]

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxdFH7Eq5vs?feature=player_embedded]

To say the RSAF is lavishly equipped would be almost an understatement.  The Saudis were early adopters of the F-15 Eagle, and just about the first foreign air force to fly a Strike Eagle two seat fighter bomber variant. That, their still formidable Tornado IDS fleet, and their Eurofighter Typhoons are all top of the line aircraft. And of course, the Saudis are more than willing to pay for the gas to fly a lot.

The videos are also careful to show that the operation is composed of a coalition. You’ll also note that the second video, especially, is careful to show that, but also very careful to not show the faces of any of the men in it.

CAIC WZ-10 in Pakistan

Recently China has provided the WZ-10 attack helicopter to Pakistan to help defend and police it’s Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA).bThe WZ-10 is replacing the AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter operated by the Pakistani Army. Replacement has given us a first time opportunity to see the WZ-10 up close (photos courtesy of the China Defense Blog):



60mm Mortar Live Fire

The M224 60mm mortar is the smallest crew served indirect fire weapon in the US arsenal. US Army light Infantry companies have a two mortar section, while each Marine Rifle company has a three mortar section.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfkOeHQXAaM]When I was stationed in Hawaii, my company’s mortar section was critically short of people once and I was tapped to assist them for a few days during a field exercise. It was awful. That tube and the baseplate (and the associated equipment) is heavy!

Note that there are actually two baseplates. The mortar can be fired in a hand held, trigger fired mode with a small baseplate, and no bipod. The gunner aims by, essentially, Kentucky windage. The 60mm can also be fired from a more conventional baseplate and bipod configuration, in association with elevation and azimuth calculated by a fire direction center.

While a platoon patrol may often carry one mortar with them (usually without the big baseplate and bipod) in a defense, or in a deliberate attack, the full mount would be used, and normally both (or all three) tubes would fire on the same target, to achieve concentration of effects.

Also, this was almost certainly filmed at Twenty-Nine Palms, up the road a bit from me. Though legend has it, twenty-nine is something of a gross exaggeration of the number of palms around…

Study: Commissary price hikes to offset funding cuts could backfire – Stripes

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Raising prices at commissaries to compensate for a possible decrease in taxpayer funding could backfire, causing customers to shop elsewhere, according to a new RAND report.

via Study: Commissary price hikes to offset funding cuts could backfire – Stripes.

Seriously? It took a taxpayer funded RAND report to explain Econ 101 to DoD?

Hello! ALDI will be delighted to step in an encourage US service families in Europe stretch their food dollars.

Plans for Russia's T-14 Armata tank – Business Insider

Russia is just about to unveil its latest armored platform, the T-14 tank.

The tank, called the Armata, has largely been kept under wraps although technical details about the platform have steadily been emerging. The Armata is planned to feature considerable upgrades to the armor, engine, and armaments of the vehicle over previous Russian and Soviet tank models.

Until the tank is actually seen in action, any claims as to the Armata’s capabilities could be nothing more than propaganda, an overstatement reminiscent of Russia’s improbable claims that it’s working on a supersonic transport jet.

via Plans for Russia’s T-14 Armata tank – Business Insider.

Color me unimpressed. First, it’s going to take a while  before it enters service, if ever. Second, at 48 tons, it simply doesn’t have the weight of armor to survive most heavy anti-tank weapons.

Dolphins, sea lions train for Navy deployment to overseas trouble spots – LA Times

For a moment, the mammal and the machine are side by side on a Navy dock here.

The dolphin and the drone — and their respective handlers — will spend the morning training for a possible order to deploy to the Persian Gulf or some other international trouble spot to detect underwater mines, or maybe to guard a port against a terrorist threat.

The mammal is Puanani, a bottlenose dolphin, a sleek 7 feet, 10 inches long and 427 pounds. The machine is an Unmanned Underwater Vehicle, or UUV, Kingfish version, 11 feet long, 600 pounds.

Puanani was born in the Gulf of Mexico and received initial training from the Navy in Hawaii. The cigar-shaped UUV was built by Hydroid, Inc., a Massachusetts-based defense contractor.

via Dolphins, sea lions train for Navy deployment to overseas trouble spots – LA Times.

Plus, they tend to have fewer liberty incidents than most sailors.

A History of WW2 in 25 Airplanes | Military Aviation | Air & Space Magazine

Mustangs, Mitchells, Catalinas, Liberators, Corsairs. Combat aircraft that were everyday companions to airmen in the World War II generation have become extraordinary treasures to many in the next: symbols of the courage and sacrifice that even younger generations have come to regard as part of the national identity. The United States produced more than 300,000 airplanes in World War II. Below are 25 of the most celebrated types, most of them still flying today.

via A History of WW2 in 25 Airplanes | Military Aviation | Air & Space Magazine.

I’m fortunate enough to routinely see a fairly extensive collection of warbirds (and some modern warplanes) fly past the house. It’s a shame I’m so bad at photography.

Pentagon chief considers easing of enlistment standards – Yahoo News

ABINGTON, Pa. (AP) — Saying the military needs to do more to compete with corporate America for quality recruits, Defense Secretary Ash Carter opened the door Monday to relaxing some enlistment standards — particularly for high-tech or cyber security jobs.

Speaking to students at his former suburban Philadelphia high school, Carter said the military could ease age requirements and bring in older people who are mid-career, or provide student loan repayments to attract students who have finished college.

There are few details so far, but Carter said the military needs to be more flexible in order to recruit and retain quality people.

The idea, largely in line with the civilian approach to recruitment, upends the military’s more rigid mindset, which puts a high value on certain standards. It reignites a persistent debate about how the services approve waivers for recruits who have committed lesser crimes, behaved badly, are older than current regulations allow or have other physical issues that prevent them from joining the military.

via Pentagon chief considers easing of enlistment standards – Yahoo News.

There is a historical precedent for waiving or lowering enlistment standards for certain people with specialized skills for military service. During World War II, no small number of people received direct commissions at elevated pay grades. Similarly, look to the establishment of the Navy’s Construction Battalions, the famous SeaBees. The first iterations of SeaBees were directly enlisted, often at senior pay grades, even Chiefs. The Navy simply didn’t have the manpower with specialized civilian engineering or construction skills to accomplish the vast base building they knew they would face in the Pacific.

These specialties generally were not in the line of succession to command, and so their rank posed little challenge to the authority of the line officers.

We may have to face a general lowering of the standards of enlistment for the force as a whole, but we’re not there yet. For the most part, the services have been able in recent years to meet their accession missions while maintaining the current high standards of enlistment.

We should note there there is legislation establishing the bare minimum requirements for enlistment, and then there are the policy standards imposed by each service over and above that. When we look at the lowered standards of the late 2000s, that was in line with policy, not the legislative portion.

But direct commissioning or accession of enlisted at higher paygrades, or with age waivers, or what have you, might require additional legislation from the Congress. As to a college loan repayment program, the US Army already has one. Generally anyone with a batchelor’s degree who enlists is eligible for it, and generally enlists in paygrade E-4.