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F-35B supercut, RN edition

The below ~4 minutes show what’s it like to fly an F-35 off the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth with some great photography that displays, if nothing else, that the RN’s combat camera guys are on point.

Japan goes Li-Ion

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force just launched what could be a seriously advanced non-nuclear submarine.

At 4,200-tons and 275-feet in length, these are large, capable SSPs that are a bargain at around $600 million each. For comparison, Virginia-class SSNs, while bigger and arguably more capable of worldwide operations, run $3.2 billion a pop.

Diesel-electric boats had an extended lease on life when the first nuclear-powered SSNs hit the water due to the fact that the German-originated snorkel system became standard post-WWII. Coupled with enhanced hull shapes (also largely pioneered by the Kriegsmarine) snork boats are still viable, although ASW countermeasures then started concentrating on detecting snorkel pipes and targeting same.

Then came X-shaped sterns and Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) which allowed SSKs to sever their ties to the surface in exchange for adding weight and space to the boat in the form of a Stirling system that allowed the vessel to remain operational while submerged for weeks at a time, sans coming to shallow depths to snork.

Currently, at least 10 nations are building AIP submarines while 20 nations are operating them.

Now, the Japanese could have just flipped the desk on the AIP argument by coupling it with better batteries. You see the newest member of the Soryu-class diesel-electric submarine, JS Oryu (Phoenix Dragon), uses enhanced lithium-ion batteries capable of much better performance– more than double the electric storage capacity of traditional lead-acid batteries– and still has an AIP system. Now, we could be talking months without coming to the surface, not weeks.

She launched this week at Mitsubishi’s Kobe yard.

Like sniper team postcards?

Sniper teams from eight NATO countries recently visited Austria to use the Alps for some specialized training at Austria’s Hochfilzen Training Area. In such a beautiful part of Europe, the released photos from the event look like they came right from a postcard, but with a bonus sniper team inserted.

Norwegian Army Telemark Battalion sniper team takes aim at targets across a valley. Note the Barrett MRAD. (U.S. Army Photo)

Dutch sniper engages targets in a valley below

More in my column at Guns.com

Just where are the divisions?

From the current 122-page Profile of the United States Army, just released (click here) below are some of the more relevant maps showing, among others, the locations of the 10 active divisions, 8 National Guard divisions, and other USAR units and commands.

Keep in mind that when the Cold War ended in 1990, there were 18 active divisions (although seven were two-brigade units with “round out” enhanced readiness Guard brigades) alone, as well as 10 full-strength Guard divisions and 9 independent active-duty, 3 USAR, and 15 Guard combat brigades (not counting round out units). But then again, FY89 funded 770,000 active component personnel, which is a good bit more than what we have today.

Just add Cylon Basestar

For the first time in eight years, fighter jets flew from the decks of a British aircraft carrier this week, and here are some great images of F-35Bs conducting night flying trials off the new carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth look like storyboard shots for a space opera fight scene. Vipers on the Galactica et. al.

From the Royal Air Force:

The trials included state-of-the-art night-vision technology, with the pilots and aircraft handlers successfully guiding the supersonic fighter jets onto the flight deck. HMS Queen Elizabeth has been kitted out with specially-designed LED lighting on her flight deck to aid night time landings.

Photos: MoD Crown Copyright

Of course, Queen Elizabeth is not expected to be operational until 2021, and then only with a wing composed primarily of USMC F-35Cs

 

Coasties are running SAGs these days

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Kiana Kekoa

The Coast Guard Cutters Hamilton (WMSL-753), Harriet Lane (WMEC-903), Northland (WMEC-904), Dependable (WMEC-626), Spencer (WMEC-905) and Richard Snyder (WPC-1127), as part of the Surface Action Group South are moored up in Mayport, Florida Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018 in preparation for Hurricane Florence response efforts. The cutter Hamilton oversaw five Coast Guard cutter in the Surface Action Group in North Carolina during Hurricane Florence response efforts.

For those keeping score, that is a new 413-foot National Security Cutters, three 1980’s vintage 270-foot Bear/Famous-class Medium Endurance Cutters, a 1960s-era 210-foot Reliance-class Medium Endurance Cutter and a new 158-foot Sentinel-class patrol craft (Fast Response Cutter). A pretty decent sized task force.

Hamilton oversaw five cutters in the SAG during the Florence response efforts and conducted post-storm damage assessments of the Cape Fear River, Ports of Wilmington and Morehead City, North Carolina as well as assisted in the reconstitution of Coast Guard Stations Oak Island and Fort Macon.

The above reminded me of the below image of a pack of 45-foot Response Boats huddling in the Intercoastal Waterway during our recent Hurricane Gordon drama on the Gulf Coast.

Close enough to get a rash

Here we see a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Type-052C destroyer, specifically CNS Lanzhou (170) giving static to the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Decatur (DDG-73)  while underway in the South China Sea.

The U.S. Navy accused Lanzhou of acting “in an unsafe and unprofessional maneuver in the vicinity of Gaven Reef” while the DDG was engaged in a freedom of navigation operation — a “FONOP.”

More photos here.

On the bright side, while Lanzhou closed to within a second base pitch from home plate to Decatur, at least it is not the bad old days of the Cold War…yet.

Remember the Black Sea Bumping incident between two Soviet frigates and the cruiser Yorktown (CG 48) and the destroyer USS Caron (DD 970) in Feb 1988?

Soviet frigate Bezzavetny intentionally collides with USS Yorktown (CG-48) to push it into international waters 1988 in the Black Sea Bumping incident

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