Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Fail : Chauchat

Some weapons seem great in the workshop or drawing board. However once they are used on the slightly less controlled situation of the battlefield then their design flaws are often shown up especially if they have been badly made. Such was the case with the FM Chauchat or Fusil Mitrailleur Modele 1915, a light machine gun developed by the French in the First World War.

Over a quarter of a million Chauchats (named after the man who headed the commission that accepted the gun into service) were made making it the most widely produced automatic weapon of the war and it was used by the French and seven other nations. It was one of the first light machine guns that could be carried and fired by 2 men, someone to fire it and someone to assist him, instead of needing a whole team. There was just one problem with the Chauchat. It was rubbish.

It's main problem was the open sided magazine. In a muddy environment it caused the gun to easily jam. It was used in the trenches. Enough said. It's bad ergonomics and loose bipod also made it an inaccurate weapon when it wasn't jammed. It also overheated easily if used for long bursts rendering the gun useless until it cooled down. This could take several minutes which obviously was not a good thing if the Boche were attacking.

The 8mm Lebel cartridge it had to use caused some of the problems as the cartridge's taper dictated the semi-circular nature of the magazine. It's action was also not suited for a light machine gun. It's design flaws were made worse by the gun's generally poor standard of manufacture and the poor raw materials used. The gun was quite light though which was maybe it's only virtue.

Improved guns without the open sided magazine were designed but were too late to see any service in the war. The gun itself was immediately replaced with superior guns after the war. Indeed there were superior guns like the Hotchkiss M'le'09 around before the Chauchat that should have been adopted instead. It has been described as the worst machine gun ever which is maybe a little unfair but the gun was certainly bad enough to qualify for this series.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Briefings : CVF, Russia, UCAV

Work has begun on the new Royal Navy carriers at Portsmouth. There is still a cloud over the CVF though with speculation the Tories could cancel them if they win power in this year's election. Mind you the way things are going in the polls a Tory election win is looking less likely by the day.

The head of the British Army has said British troops could be out of Afghanistan within 5 years. Numbers could start to fall from as early as next year.

Russians have found dozens of T-80s seemingly abandoned in forests in the Urals but the Russian Army says there was nothing unusual about it, saying placing a guard next to each one would be impossible.

Two new versions of the Predator UCAV are in the works following live fire tests of Hellfire missiles and over water test flights. The MQ-1C is being fast tracked into service with the US Army as a long endurance multi-purpose aerial vehicle. A prototype marine Predator is also being developed for the Customs and Border Protection Service.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

BAE Systems to be awarded contract to design FSC

BAE Systems is expected, next week, to be awarded a £100 million contract to design the next generation frigate for the Royal Navy the FSC though which the First Sea Lord has apparently named the Type 26 in a speech.

Briefings : A400M, New Armour, Combat SAR

EADS has reached a deal in principle with it's seven European partners about extra funding to cover some of the cost overruns during development of the A400M transport. EADS will get 3.5 billion euros extra though that will still leave them with a short fall of 1.7 billion.

The MOD Investment Approvals Board will meet today to select who will build 2 new armoured vehicles for the Army. The FRES Specialist Vehicle and Warrior IFV upgrade contracts could be worth up to £5 billion. For FRES SV BAE's CV90 is up against General Dynamics UK's ASCOD SV. BAE is up against Lockheed Martin for the Warrior Capability Sustainment programme.

Type 42 destroyer HMS Nottingham has been officially decommissioned. The future frigate FSC will apparently be the Type 26 when its built. Argentina has gone to the UN for help with their Falklands dispute though the UN have pretty much told them "so what" (in nice diplomatic language of course).

The USAF has abandoned looking for a large helicopter for the combat search & rescue mission and instead may buy 112 Sikorsky UH-60Ms to recapitalize it's fleet. Australia have ordered 7 Chinooks and plan to decide on the helicopter to replace it's Seahawks next year.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Briefings : Falklands, Turkey, Europe

Argentina are to try and seek a UN ruling on the Falkland Islands after gaining support from their Latin American neighbours. They have also admitted though that a military attempt to gain the islands is out of the question.

Several high ranking former officers in the Turkish Armed Forces have appeared in court accused of trying to engineer a coup to overthrow the government. They are accused of trying to provoke a crisis by engineering the shooting down of a Turkish air force plane by the Greeks and then overthrowing the government in the confusion.

The US Defence Secretary has criticised Europe for too much demilitarization. Lockheed Martin and Northrop have won contracts to support the British Army's Apache attack helicopters.

The Royal Navy's new UUV for mine hunting has entered service. The imaginatively named Mine Countermeasures Reconnaissance Unmanned Underwater Vehicle can hunt for sea mines down to 200m.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Briefings : Falklands, Trainers, Afghanistan

Drilling for oil has begun off the Falklands meanwhile Argentina is looking to upgrade it's Super Etendard attack aircraft, though not until after 2015. VT has won a contract extension to keep maintaining the RAF's fleet of Tucano T1 trainers until 2014.

The NATO fight in Afghanistan has suffered another "hearts and minds" set-back after an air strike on a convoy killed over 20 civilians. The Afghan government are not happy about it though in a situation like Afghanistan where the combatants on one side do not wear uniforms these sort of accidents are unfortunately going to happen.

Poland has grounded it's 2 C-130Es after one suffered structural damage earlier in the month after performing a 4g maneuver over Afghanistan. The Hercules are surplus US owned aircraft on loan to the Poles.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Briefings : Afghanistan, Falklands, JSF

Strict battle guidelines are said to be hampering British troops in Afghanistan. The guidelines are intended to minimise civilian casualities but the Taliban have been taking advantage of them to evade being killed or captured.

A number of commentators have been looking into the current Falklands situation.

The USAF may shift it's planned service-date for the F-35 JSF until 2015, two years later than originally planned. Boeing meanwhile says the P-8 would make the ideal baseline for replacing JSTARS.

Russia says it will deploy SS-26 Stone / Iskander-M missiles in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on the Baltic sea bordering Poland, if it feels there is a European threat to Moscow. Perhaps from US BMD missiles placed in Eastern Europe? The Dutch governing coalition has fallen apart over the issue of Dutch soldiers remaining in Afghanistan. The PM wanted to extend the mission but now it looks like they will be coming home in the Summer. The Philippines military is claiming they have killed the leader of the al-Qaeda linked Abu Sayyaf in a raid on Jolo.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Fail : Northrop XP-79

The dawn of the jet age saw a great flowering of aeronautical design. Fed by data captured from the Nazis aircraft designers sought to see just was possible with the new jet engines. Not everything worked out though, and the Northrop XP-79 was one of them.

The XP-79 was an interceptor developed by Northrop in WW2 initially to powered by a rocket but later 2 turbojets were substituted because of delays in developing the rocket engine. Although it was to be fitted with 4 machine guns the XP-79, which was built very strongly from a magnesium alloy with very strong wing leading edges, was intended to ram enemy bombers and slice off their tails with it's wing's leading edge!

Whether this could have worked is unknown, the XP-79 only flew for around 15 minutes. On it's first flight in September 1945 the pilot, who lay in a prone position in the plane, lost control and was killed whilst trying to escape it. The project was canceled.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Largs Bay arrives in Haiti

Landing ship RFA Largs Bay has arrived in Haiti laden with relief equipment both from the UK and on the behalf of UK NGOs. The cargo includes 5700 sheets of corrugated iron and 40 vehicles.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Briefings : Python, Royal Navy, Aussie Growlers

The Royal Engineers have used their new mine and IED clearing Python for the first time in Afghanistan as part of Operation Moshtarak. The system fires a rocket which leaves a snake like object on the area to be cleared. The "snake" is then detonated. Python is deployed in a trailer pulled by an engineer's tank.

The First Sea Lord has set out his vision for the future of the Royal Navy in an interview, i hope his vision includes somehow getting money out of the Treasury. Meanwhile 2 Type 45 destroyers have performed at sea side-by-side for the first time.

The President of the west African country of Niger has been seized in a military coup. Australia is delaying it's decision whether to convert it's 12 Super Hornets ready wired for EA-18F standard into Growlers. They may convert the fighters to Growlers at a later stage.

CDR Salamander highlights a story of US Marines saving a child's life in Afghanistan. Not a story reported much, of course if they had killed her it would have been wall to wall coverage in the media.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Briefings : Falklands, UAV, Helicopters

The MOD says it is maintaining it's forces in the Falklands area amid reports that the Royal Navy is sending more ships but i thought ships like the Type 42 HMS York were already there. Anyone else feeling nostalgic for the 1980s?

The US Marines are looking into using unmanned air vehicles for resupplying troops in Afghanistan in order to take traffic off the IED and insurgent-infested roads. The French are looking into working with the UK on a MALE (medium-altitude long-endurance) UAV.

After the VH-71 disaster the US are starting a new competition to procure  a helicopter for the POTUS.

Exercise Cold Response

A UK amphibious task group is heading for the Arctic Circle to take part in a multinational NATO exercise called Cold Response. The exercise led by Norway will be in arctic warfare obviously. HMS Albion, HMS Ocean and RFA Mounts Bay are the British ships taking part and will link up with Royal Marine 45 Commando which is already in Norway.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Briefings : Typhoon AESA, Falklands, Moshtarak

An RAF Typhoon could be flying with an AESA radar in a couple of years after a deal between the MOD and Selex Galileo to develop a new radar for the Typhoon in a technology demonstration programme. With the Typhoon's competitors either already having or will have AESA radars the Typhoon probably needs it as an option to keep competitive for future customers even if the RAF do not get it themselves. Though they probably will, eventually.

Argentina has "stepped up" it's current Falklands spat by ordering all vessels which leave British waters for Argentine ports and vice versa need a permit.

Operation Moshtarak day 5, the Taliban are using human shields to slow the US progress against them such as putting women and children on the top of houses and firing behind them. The British and Afghan Army forces have meanwhile discovered a number of Taliban caches including fake Afghan Army and Police uniforms. The MOD have a piece by an RAF Chinook pilot on his role in flying in special forces into key locations at the start of the offensive.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Briefings : A400M, Taleban, Nuclear tests

The seven European partners backing the Airbus A400M project have agreed to offer loan guarantees worth 1.5 billion euros to keep the project going after Airbus threatened to pull the plug. This is on top of 2 billion euros extra funding previously agreed.

The second-in-command of the Taleban is said to have been captured in Pakistan, though the Taleban are denying it. British troops are reported to have been warned the Taleban may try a high profile retaliatory attack after losing their stronghold of Showal. CDR Salamander takes a look at Moshtarak now the dust has cleared and the change in NATO strategy.

French soldiers were deliberately exposed to radiation during nuclear tests conducted in Algeria in the 1960s to “study the physiological and psychological effects of atomic weaponry on humans” a leaked confidential report states.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Briefings : Moshtarak round-up, India, Helicopters

Moshtarak is said to be going to plan with 15,000 NATO troops now stationed in southern Helmand and key objectives said to have been achieved and the majority of territory NATO aimed to seize now in their hands. The focus is now to win the hearts and minds of the civilian population. Though the number of IEDs is said to more more than the NATO commanders expected and this is slowing matters. Two rockets went off course and killed 12 civilians and NATO has responded by banning the use of rockets.

India is to spend big on defence over the next 12 years with plans to spend $200 billion on new equipment by 2022. The aim is to replace much of the Soviet-era equipment in the Indian armed forces especially in the air force. Half of the combat aeroplanes and the entire transport and helicopter fleets are to be replaced.

Russia is aiming to greatly expand it's share of the world helicopter market, with the aim of quadrupaling it's market share in 5 years. A piece of the Indian defence budget would help in that of course. The prototype of the German Army's new CH-53GA helicopter has made it's first flight.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday Fail : Anti-tank Dogs

Never work with children or animals showbiz types say, Russian Army troops probably said the same thing in WW2 when they tried to use dogs to destroy German tanks. The idea seems simple enough, strap a bomb to a dog and train it to go underneath a tank and then get it to release the bomb which can then be detonated. However training dogs to do just this proved impossible. One serious problem encountered was with bombs on a timer, the dog often returned to it's trainer with the bomb still attached to itself...

In the end the Russians decided they would have to sacrifice the dogs and turned the bombs into simple contact detonation devices. The dogs were trained to go underneath a tank, the bomb would touch the underneath of the tank and boom! It seemed to work well enough in training but when it came to try the bombs out for real one problem was the dogs had been trained with stationary tanks and didn't want to go underneath the Germans who unsportingly did not stop for the dogs. The different smell of German tanks compared to the Russian tanks with which the dogs had been trained also caused canine confusion. In the first attack 30 dogs were sent out but only 4 detonated their bombs near German tanks. This maybe doesn't seem so bad until you find out 6 dogs returned to the Russian trenches and blew up there instead!

The Russians did persist with the dogs and claim 300 German tanks were destroyed by the dogs though its not known how accurate this figure is. How many dogs died is also unknown but considering the earlier success ratio the number of dogs who perished must have been vast.

The use of dogs as an offensive weapon does not have a very distinguished record. Unfortunately thousands if not millions of Man's best friends had to die before people got the message that dogs plus bombs is not a good idea. Insurgents in Iraq are reported to have also tried using dogs with bombs but the lack of success has continued.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Briefings : Sonar upgrade, Iraq, Falklands

Three Trafalgar and three Astute submarines are to have their Sonar 2076 sonars upgraded to Stage 5. The upgrade further improved performance, reduces long-term costs and improved fleet commonality through the use of open architecture. Though its not all good news for UK submarines as BAE Systems Submarine Solutions at Barrow are to cut 230 jobs because of delays in ordering the rest of the Astute programme it claims.

Iraq wants the return of $898 million from France which the Saddam Hussein regime paid for Mirage fighter jets which were never delivered because of sanctions raised when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. I suspect Iraq may be waiting awhile. The Airborne Laser fitted to a 747 has successfully shot down a liquid fuel missile.

Argentina is blocking a transport ship from leaving for the Falkland Islands with a cargo of metal tubes which it claims will be used for "illegal" drilling activity off the islands it still claims. Election due soon in Argentina or something?

Moshtarak is on

After the seemingly endless build-up the big NATO-Afghan offensive in southern Helmand Operation Moshtarak has finally begun. Early results are said to be promising with no allied casualties but it is said a lot of the Taleban leadership has already fled and Taleban foreign fighters were not there. So all that public build up probably worked. Early days yet of course. Moshtarak is the biggest allied offensive since the start of the war in Afghanistan back in 2001.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Briefings : A400M, SAC film, 146

EADS will ground the A400M next Monday if a deal cannot be reached to agree extra funding for it's development from the European partners.

A film made by Strategic Air Command at the height of the Cold War to reassure the public but never shown has been found in the US National Archives. SAC Command Post was a 17 minute film intended to counter the anti-nuclear message in films like Dr Strangelove. The Royal Australian Air Force's F-111 fleet has been grounded following an engine fire. The type is due to be withdrawn from service at the end of the year.

Is China punishing the USA for the Taiwan arms deal by buying Airbus A320s for Air China rather than Boeing 737s? Well maybe though the A320 is now being built in China anyway. BAE Systems is saying the BAE 146 could be a stopgap transport aircraft for air forces affected by delays to other types... like the A400M?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Briefings : JCA, USN yesterday and tomorrow, Arms sales

Sq Leader Steve Long has become the first RAF pilot to fly the JCA. He flew a US based F-35 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, USA.

Information Dissemination talks about a 1915 documentary film on the US Navy, thought to be the oldest film footage of the USN in existance. CDR Salamander meanwhile wonders if the Royal Navy's troubles today will be the USN's troubles tomorrow.

Bangladesh is in an arms buying mood and wants fighters, helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft. Greece still wants to buy French FREMM frigates despite their financial meltdown. Vietnam have bought 12 SU-27MK2 fighters, and are one of Russia's top export customers these days i believe.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Briefings : FRES, B-2, Cyber-Warfare

General Dynamics have "sweetened the deal" in it's bid to build special vehicles as part of the British Army's FRES programme. It's ASCOD SV will be assembled locally at Defence Support Group's Donnington facilities. 1000 vehicles are needed for the scouting, command, ambulance and direct fire roles.

RAF pilots have flown the latest upgraded USAF B-2 bombers.

Israel is the latest military to add cyber-warfare capabilities to it's portfolio. The IDF will set up a cyber warfare team. Russia has started building a 4th Borey class ballistic missile submarine despite though the Bulava SLBMs intended for it have caused a lot of trouble with 7 failures in 12 tests.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

S-92 for SAR-H

Team Soteria has won the competition for the UK's Search & Rescue helicopter competition. 24 Sikorsky S-92 helicopters will be bought to replace the SAR assets of the MOD and the UK government. This is another long-term PFI deal and is service is likely to be phased in from 2012 with a mixture of civilian, RAF and Royal Navy crews.

Briefings : NI terrorist disarmament, Tory defence review, Iranian toys

The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) has confirmed it has got rid of it's weapons with the help of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD). The splinter group, which was responsible for over 100 deaths during the troubles in Northern Ireland including a Conservative MP and 17 people in a bombing in 1982 said it's struggle was over. The Official IRA and the Loyalist South East Antrim Ulster Defence Association have also disarmed.

Following the government's green paper where they said the British armed forces needed to work as part of an alliance the Conservatives have countered with their plans for a strategic defence review and say British must retain the ability to act unilaterally as well as act in an alliance. Same thing really. The Tories interestingly didn't mention the RAF. So everyone wants a review for the armed forces but has anyone got any cash to give it?

France will sell Russia a Mistral helicopter carrier for a few hundred million euros and some strings. Iran have developed a UAV that is invisible to radar they claim. They also are planning a SAM system superior to the Russian S-300. I am planning a jet fighter that can wipe the F-22A out of the sky, and make toast.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Briefings : Disaster relief, GPS, Cold War relics

RFA Largs Bay has set off loaded with relief equipment for Haiti. Equipment being loaded has been donated by the UK government and NGOs and bought using donations from the British public.

With modern militaries increasingly dependent on space based systems like GPS the vulnerability of these systems is prompting countries to look to alternatives. The USAF is looking at taking GPS out of orbit, using UAVs or blimps instead.

Latvia is selling off an ex-Soviet radar base (Skrunda-1) for $300,000 though the actual radar tower was blown up 10 years ago.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Fail : F-111B

While the F-111 has had a successful career as a bomber for the US and Australian Air Forces it was also supposed to be an interceptor for the US Navy. The TFX (Tactical Fighter Experimental) programme in the early 1960s was supposed to combine the Air Force's need for a tactical fighter bomber with the Navy's need for an interceptor.

To try and please everyone is very difficult as we all know, especially as both services did not really want to share a programme. Requirements changed also, originally the Navy wanted a large interceptor but later maneuverability became "important" again after early experience in the Vietnam War showed that dogfighting was not yet relegated to the history books. But the F-111B, which was the Navy's version, was a large and rather sluggish plane.

The F-111B was overweight by some margin and this added to it's poor performance. It was noticeably inferior to the F-4 Phantom an aircraft it was supposed to be superior to and replace. By the late 1960s everyone had given up trying to make the F-111 the plane the Navy needed. The US Navy instead went for a new design... the F-14 Tomcat, which turned out quite well...

The F-111 for the USAF proved to be a solid tactical strike aircraft with strategic bombing and electronic warfare versions also developed. The F-111 was finally retired from US service in the 1990s and will leave Australian service later this year. Only 7 of the F-111B were built and were retired by the end of the 1960s.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Operation Moshtarak

British, American and Afghanistan forces are now engaged in Operation Moshtarak, a major offensive against the Taliban. The battle is said to be the biggest since the war in Afghanistan began way back in 2001. The offensive involves 15,000 troops with British forces involved from the Grenadier Guards, the Royal Welsh Battle Group, the SAS and the SBS. The Afghanistan Army forces are said to be taking an equal role in the battle and it may be the overall aim of the offensive is more to hand over the war to the Afghanistan Army.

Each ISAF battle group will apparently be partnered up with an Afghan battle group during the "hold" parts of the offensive.

Briefings : Service links, Rafale, BMD

Although a merger of the three services is probably unlikely (well hopefully) the nature of combined operations these days does make closer links between the services a good idea, and even the Defence Secretary agrees with that. He said the three services do not stand and separately as they used to citing the example of the Joint Helicopter Command.

Despite earlier reports that the Rafale had been selected for the Brazilian Air Force the defence ministry is now playing down these reports. Maybe they want the price to be cut a little more. Earlier reports suggested the order for 36 Rafale F3s had been confirmed after the price had been dropped to $6.2 billion. The Super Hornet and the Gripen NG are the other contenders, the air force is reported to prefer the Gripen but the President wants the Rafale. Personally i think the Rafale is the best choice but it is likely politics rather than anything else that will decide the "winner".
HMS Nottingham is due to be decommissioned and the crew paid farewell to their destroyer's namesake city. Romania will host US missile interceptors in the latest attempt to build a BMD shield in eastern Europe.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Briefings : US Navy, Rotorcraft, JSF

The US Navy is backtracking from it's previous plans to build a 313 ship navy in it's new 30 year ship building plan. Meanwhile plans for a new bomber have been put back. Ares asks where are the future US rotorcraft.

Lockheed believes all USAF F-15s can be replaced by the F-35. The USAF are not yet thought to agree.

Three services could be merged?

Think the unthinkable seems to be the order of the day, and merging the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force into one combined force seems pretty unthinkable. However it is being thought about. Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, the Chief of the Defence Staff, said merger could be part of a radical restructure of the British armed forces. It would turn the armed forces into a combined arm similar to the US Marine Corps. When asked if there would be three independant services in 10 years he said it would be "plausible".
I must admit i can see some benefits from doing it... and a lot of cons!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Strategic Defence Review round-up

The government have released a green paper ahead of a strategic defence review which will take place after the next election. The number of senior officers would be cut as less would be needed to look after a smaller armed forces. The Defence secretary has said Britain must work more closely with allies like France (shared carriers?) and become more efficient (do more for less). The Prime Minister has meanwhile denied soldiers were sent into battle without the equipment they needed. But surely that is one of the traditions of the British armed forces!

Briefings : RAF fears, China, BMD Fail

The head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, is pessimistic about how the RAF will fare in the next round of spending cuts.

China has threatened to sanction firms involved in a $6.4 billion arms deal between US companies and Taiwan which it opposes. This could include Boeing which is selling $37 million worth of missiles to Taiwan. An embargo could hit Boeing very badly as they currently dominate the fast growing Chinese airliner market.

Boeing's latest attempt to squeeze out some more life out of the Eagle, the F-15 Silent Eagle, will not have the vee-tail after all unless a customer wants it (and will pay for it).

The latest US ballistic missile test, testing the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Missile, has failed. The failure is being blamed on the sea-based X-Band radar.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Illustrious arrives for upgrade

HMS Illustrious has arrived at Rosyth dockyard for a £40 million upgrade and maitenance which will keep the carrier in service until it can be (hopefully) replaced by Prince Of Wales at the end of the decade. The work will include repainting with paint that can reduce the water resistance (and thus increase fuel efficiency), replace pipework and exhausts and carrying out a full structural survey of the ship. The work is expected to take 18 months to complete.

Briefings : Labour green paper, QDR, AEW

Labour will commit to major defence projects like CVF according to a Defence Green Paper and will rule out defence cuts until next year, even though they are already happening.  Meanwhile at the Iraq enquiry the head of the armed forces has said that the rush to the (Iraq) war meant that not enough body armour could be sourced for British troops.

The US have revealed their latest QDR (Quadrennial Defence Review - which is an excellent idea by the way the UK should adopt). It calls for the US armed forces to be highly flexible and able to handle a wide range of situations from major wars to homeland defence. One loser will be CGX though.

The chief of the troubled F-35 project has been fired by the US Defence secretary. Lockheed Martin have also had money with held. Is the JSF a project that is too big to fail? US Patriot missiles are being deployed to Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait to protect against Iranian missile attack.

At the Singapore Air Show the Singapore Air Force has shown off it's new G550 AEW platform for the first time.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Briefings : Taiwan arms sale, Singapore air show

The US is to sell Taiwan $6.4 billion worth of arms including Patriot missiles, Black Hawk helicopters and 2 minesweepers. The mainland is angry about the deal of course. They say they will stop military exchanges with the US.

If France sell a Mistral amphibious warfare ship to Russia could the removal of a Georgian TV channel from Eutelsat be a condition of the sale? 

Asia's largest airshow the Singapore Air Show has begun. Australian F-111s made what could be their last appearance outside of Australia prior to their withdrawal.

More photography has come out from the PAK-FA maiden flight, including this excellent underneath view which shows the wing and LERX very well.

Digital firearms

Wired looks at some of the latest new high tech personal firearms including a pistol with a wireless safety system. Unless the gun is within a few cm of a watch being worn by it's owner transmitting a signal it will not fire. One day i'm sure we'll have a pistol like Judge Dredd's that only fires if being held by someone with the right DNA!