The Global Hawk 1

The Global Hawk

This is a photo of the Global Hawk UAV that has returned from the war zone recently under its own power. Iraq to Edwards AFB in CA -not transported via C5 or C17…..

Notice the mission paintings on the fuselage. (Click on the image to enlarge) It’s actually over 250 missions….

That’s a long way for a remotely-piloted aircraft.

Think of the technology (and the required quality of the data link to fly it remotely).

Not only that but the pilot controlled it from a nice warm control panel at Edwards AFB.

It has really long legs — it can stay up for almost 2 days at altitudes above 60k.

The Global Hawk was controlled via satellite; it flew missions during OT&E (operational test and evaluation) that went from Edwards AFB to upper Alaska and back non-stop.

Basically, they come into the fight at a high mach # in mil thrust, fire their AMRAAMS, and no one ever sees them or paints with radar.

There is practically no radio chatter because all the guys in the flight are tied together electronically, and can see who is targeting who, and they have AWACS direct input and 360 situational awareness from that and other sensors.

It is to air superiority what the jet engine was to aviation.

It can taxi, take off, fly a mission, return, land and taxi on its own.

No blackouts, no fatigue, no relief tubes, no ejection seats, and best of all, no dead pilots and no POWs.

Tomorrow’s wars 1

Here in part is a City Journal article (even more interesting of course when read in full), by the great historian of war, Victor Davis Hanson, on warfare as it has been in the past and might be in the near future.

“Have we not seen, then, in our lifetime the end of the Western way of war?” Two decades ago, I concluded The Western Way of War with that question. Since Western warfare had become so lethal and included the specter of nuclear escalation, I thought it doubtful that two Western states could any longer wage large head-to-head conventional battles. …

Events of the last half-century seem to have confirmed the notion that decisive battles between two large, highly trained, sophisticated Westernized armies, whether on land or on sea, have become increasingly rare… Far more common in the past half-century have been the asymmetrical wars between large Westernized militaries and poorer, less organized terrorists, insurgents, and pirates

Those who have successfully attacked the United States—in Lebanon (1983), at the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia (1996), at America’s East African embassies (1999), on the USS Cole (2000), and in New York and Washington in 2001—did so as terrorists. If nation-states sponsored such radical Islamist groups, they nearly always denied culpability, avoiding an all-out conventional war with the United States that they would inevitably lose—as the brief rout of the Taliban in Afghanistan demonstrated in 2001.

Why does decisive battle wax and wane in frequency, and why has it become rarer again? The political landscape certainly explains much. Empire of any sort can lessen the incidence of warfare. Unified, central political control transforms the usual ethnic, tribal, racial, and religious strife into more internal and less violent rivalries for state representation and influence…

Technology … helps explain the current decline in conventional battles. The battlefield can now be seen and mapped to the smallest pebble through aerial photography, often by unmanned drones that update pictures second by second. Surprise is rare. Potential combatants know the odds in advance. They can use the Internet to download the most minute information about their adversaries. Generals can see streaming video of prebattle preparations and calculate, to some degree, the subsequent cost…

Weaponry is not static. It resides within a constant challenge-and-response cycle between offense and defense, armor and arms, surveillance and secrecy. Body armor may soon advance to the point of offering, if only for a brief period, protection against the bullet, which centuries ago rendered chain and plate mail useless. The satellite killer may render the satellite nonoperational. Sophisticated electronic jamming may force down the aerial drone. Yet for now, the arts of information-gathering about an enemy trump his ability to maintain secrecy, thus lessening the chance that thousands of soldiers will be willing to march off to massive battle.

The cost of today’s military technology, too, renders big battles more unlikely. To wage a single decisive battle between tens of thousands of combatants along the lines of a Gaugamela or a Verdun would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, a figure far beyond the resources of most belligerents. A single B-1 bomber on patrol overhead represents a $1 billion investment. Abrams tanks go for over $4 million. A single cruise missile can cost over $1 million. One GPS-guided artillery shell may cost $150,000; one artillery platform could expend over $10 million in ordnance in a few hours. Even a solder’s M-4 assault rifle runs well over $1,000. The result is that very few states can afford to outfit an army of, say, 100,000 infantry, supported by high-tech air, naval, and artillery fire—much less keep it well supplied for the duration of battle…

Globalization—accelerated by technology—is another reason that decisive battles are uncommon today. Instant cell-phoning and text-messaging, the Internet, access to DVDs, and satellite television have created a world culture that depends on uninterrupted communications. It frowns on massive disruptions in airline flights, banking, and the easy importation of consumer goods. Electronic togetherness hinges on our shared appetites—and a growing communal comfort factor

Finally, changing mores have changed military tactics. The current ascendant belief in the West that war is unnatural, preventable, and the result of rational grievances—that it can, with proper training and education, be eliminated—has probably made battle less tenable among the general public…

We shouldn’t assume, though, that these various forces will always prevent set battles. Similar predictions have proved wrong before…

Human beings remain emotional, irrational, and guided by intangible calculations, such as honor and fear, that collectively can induce them into self-destructive behavior. Armed struggles that at times result in horrific collisions are as old as civilization itself and are a collective reflection of deep-seated elements within the human psyche—tribalism, affinity for like kind, reckless exuberance—that are constant and unchanging. We are not at the “end of history.”

Can big battles, then, haunt us once more? …

Waterloos or Verduns may revisit us, especially in the half-century ahead, in which constant military innovation may reduce the cost of war, or relegate battle to the domain of massed waves of robots and drones, or see a sudden technological shift back to the defensive that would nullify the tyranny of today’s incredibly destructive munitions. New technology may make all sorts of deadly arms as cheap as iPods, and more lethal than M-16s, while creating shirts and coats impervious to small-arms fire—and therefore making battle cheap again, uncertain, and once more to be tried. Should a few reckless states feel that nuclear war in an age of antiballistic missiles might be winnable, or that the consequences of mass death might be offset by perpetuity spent in a glorious collective paradise, then even the seemingly unimaginable—nuclear showdown—becomes imaginable… And these collisions will be frightening as never before.

The most unethical act in war 0

The surest successes that the US has achieved lately in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan have been by the use of drones. Questions have been raised about the morality of their use, by the American Civil Liberties Union for instance, on the grounds that they incidentally cause civilian deaths.

A new documentary examines the morality of incidentally or deliberately killing civilians in war.

From Commentary, by Jonathan S. Tobin:

Monday night, PBS’s American Experience series will broadcast a new documentary titled The Bombing of Germany, about the strategic-bombing campaign carried out against the Nazis by American forces in World War II. Coming from the liberal-leaning PBS and in an era where denunciations of American military actions — even in the “good war” against Nazi Germany — have become commonplace, it would have been no surprise if this film was yet another revisionist attempt to decry Allied tactics as immoral. This impression is reinforced by the introduction to the film on PBS’s website, which highlights the number of German civilian casualties incurred by Allied bombing and the “defining moments that led the U.S. across a moral divide” that would make it easier to drop a nuclear bomb on Japan. Indeed, the narration heard during the opening moments of The Bombing of Germany goes straight to this conclusion when it says that by the time the war ended, the bombing left “both German cities and America’s lofty ideals in ruins.”

But, fortunately, there is more to this documentary than the facile conclusion that the bombing of Germany was so immoral that it cannot be defended even in a war in which the future of civilization was at stake. By the time the 50-minute film is over, liberals expecting another trashing of America are left with some conclusions that not only reinforce the morality of American tactics during that war but also might affect the way we think about contemporary conflicts.

The story of the bombing offensive is complex. During the war, Britain’s Royal Air Force believed that the key to knocking German war industries was to burn down the cities where the factories existed. From their frame of reference, there was no moral distinction between the factories themselves and the homes of the defense workers who created the material that enabled the Nazi regime to commit the crimes against humanity that made the war a matter of life or death for the free world.

But the United States Army Air Corps, equipped with more sophisticated planes and bombsights, as well as a more romantic notion about the distinction between government and civilian targets in a totalitarian state, disagreed. The Americans believed that by flying during the day when visibility was obviously better (the British flew at night), their planes could knock out strategic targets without having to attack entire cities. The results produced by this theory were not that good. Much damage was caused to the German war effort, but the losses of American planes (especially before the introduction of a long-range fighter plane in 1944 that would make it safer for U.S. bombers to fly over Germany) made it too expensive to continue. By contrast, the British weeklong raid on Hamburg in 1943, in which the entire city was hit, was a major blow to the German war effort. At the time, Nazi armaments minister Albert Speer told Hitler that a few more raids like Hamburg would bring the German war effort to a halt. …

What the filmmakers and some of their consultants see as the moral turning point of the war for America [was] the bombings of Berlin and Dresden in February 1945 in which there was no pretense that the attack was anything but an attempt to destroy the city. The Dresden raid, immortalized in Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse Five, has been widely represented by many American, English, and German historians as immoral because the beautiful medieval city was not considered a military target and heretofore had been spared the devastation that rained down on other German cities. It is here that author Don Miller, one of the prominent voices heard in the film, describes the raid as the crossing of “a moral threshold … that we will not deliberately bomb civilians … once we crossed the moral divide in Berlin, it made everything else, including the atomic bomb, a little bit easier.”

But Miller is not the only voice heard about the raids against Berlin and Dresden. The film goes on to credit these devastating attacks for helping to make the Soviet assault on Eastern Germany, including the conquest of Berlin, easier. Moreover, the film points out that in a total war against a ruthless foe, half measures are of no use. After all, the ordinary Germans who served in Adolf Hitler’s army and worked in the factories that produced the weapons and other material that made his crimes possible never wavered in their loyalty to the Nazi regime, even as the Reich was reduced to ruins around them. This fact undermines the notion that Allied air-war theorists fervently believed in: that bombing could break the will of a nation. But Allied bombing attacks that literally destroyed the physical structures of the enemy’s war effort did work and, in fact, helped shorten the length of the bloodiest war in history.

The most devastating line of the film is its last, in which historian Conrad C. Crane, director of the U.S. Army Military History Institute, confronts the moral dilemma of killing civilians in a righteous war against an immoral opponent. While the question of the deaths of civilians is one we must ponder, Conrad insists, “The most unethical act for the Allies in World War II would have been allowing themselves to lose.”

This is a concept that applies not only to the war against Hitler but also to the one that America is currently fighting against Islamo-fascists. We have heard a great deal in the past few years about unethical tactics both in terms of attacking terrorist strongholds and as in dealing with prisoners who possess information about future threats. As the Obama administration tries to avoid further debacles like its reaction to the Christmas Day bombing attempt over Detroit and to maintain pressure on the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the conclusion of The Bombing of Germany should haunt them. It is all well and good to try to earn applause for being more moral than our opponents. But when facing an enemy whose goal is the destruction of our society and the murder of countless innocents, the prime objective must remain the same as it was in World War II. Allowing ourselves to lose such a war is the most unethical act imaginable.