Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Debunking B-2 Myths and Myth Making

Holding back the horde over at Defense Tech

There's a guy named Byron Skinner that shows up in the threads on Defense Tech that likes to make assertions on Airpower - a topic about which he pretty much knows absolutely nothing. Usually I can stand back and marvel at the innanity without getting involved, and usually somebody else points it out for me. But on this thread he pretty much went off the deep end on a topic and threw in a rather lame pre-emptive attack against "right wing ideologists" who might take umbrage with his 'points'. DT has started really limiting comment space and has made it practically impossible to adequately fisk monumentally erroneous arguments, so I left an excerpt with a reference to this site in case anyone wants to bother to read the whole debunking with references.

Oh...and yes, my contemporaries often wonder why I 'bother'. Sometimes so do I. [;-)

My response to 'Byron' follows:

RE: "SMSgt. Mac. The US did in fact carpet bomb in the 1991 Gulf war and most embarrassing of all Tora Bora was carpet bombed bombed by B-1B's and bin Laden walked out."

You are playing fast and loose with the term 'Carpet Bombing'. Carpet Bombing in modern usage describes attacking a large area, such as a city, in pursuit of total destruction or terror and without an explicit target of military value (like a patch of jungle with unknown inhabitants). It is often used (inaccurately) to describe 'Bomber' Harris’ campaigns including the bombing of Dresden or (just as inaccurately) LeMay’s fire-bombing of Japan in WWII. After Vietnam there have been AREA TARGETS (ex runways/airfields, military installations, army formations in defilade, CAVE COMPLEXES, etc) where sticks of unguided bombs have been laid down, but these areas are comparably small and compact compared to ‘carpet bombing’ a city.

More on the topic of 'Carpet Bombing' here.

RE: “The B-2 even according to the Air Force it had no unique conventional mission and on four of the 21 airframes were modified for the conventional mission, three are left.”

That doesn’t square with the fact that in 1999’s OAF war then-Major Matt Kmon stated that he “had six jets at anytime to execute the flying schedule” and the performance of 5 of the aircraft by tail numbers (1088, 0329, 1071, 0331, 1067) in Operation Allied Force were all explicitly mentioned on just one page in “The B-2 Goes to War” (Rebecca Grant, IRIS, 2001, p. 92).

RE: “The Air Force has completely withdrawn the B-2 from the conventional role. To correct you SMSgt Mac the B-2 was never designed nor intended for the conventional mission, to preform [sic] the conventional mission four airframes were, at a high cost, modified and a suite of weapons, since the four B-2's modified for the conventional operations never received the electronic package they never dropped the JADAM had to be developed just for those four bombers.”

You. Correct ME on Airpower in general and specifically Long Range Strike? Every one of Byron's fairy tales is demonstrably false. I wouldn’t hold it against anyone if they did not know that the B-2 was the first bomber since the advent of the atomic bomb to be developed from the beginning to have both a conventional and nuclear capability (I’ve heard senior DoD leadership make the same error), but the absolutely ludicrous story accompanying this assertion at this time simply BEGS for a thorough smackdown from an authoritative source.

From the ‘B-2 Stealth Bomber Fact Book’, Rev 3. dated November 1992, citing the B-2 Weapon System Specification dated November 21, 1981 we read:
    • From its inception, the B-2 statement of requirement has included conventional capability.“…provide the capability to conduct missions across the spectrum of conflict, including general nuclear war,…nuclear engagements less than general war, conventional conflict, and peacetime crisis situations.”
We also find in the same document a nice overview up front of the conventional and nuclear armament and carriage capability circa 1992. I've posted photos below if anyone is interested verifying the facts.

RE: ”The conventional role the Air Force envisioned for the B-2 was as a stand off attack weapon that could remain outside air defense missile systems. The problem of course was that the terrorists never bothers to buy any ADM systems.”

The first conventional missile planned for the B-2 was the TSSAM, since superceded by the JASSM. It was an all aspect LO missile capable of striking high value targets deep inside a peer opponent after being launched discretely from within the contested airspace.

RE: “Your #6 statement is so absurd and just plain nonsense that it doesn't even rate a response. Your personal attacks and lack of knowledge of the subject only reflects the desperation or the right wing to make any kind of argument or this issue.”

Well, which is it? Ad Hominem attack. Decry retaliation. Make an Ad Hominem attack. Don’t take swings if you can’t stand getting smacked.

And, once again! I’ve shown that YOU Byron... you lead the way in 'lack of knowledge**'.

**at least when it comes to Airpower and its role in National Defense.

Photos from B-2 Stealth Bomber Fact Book (Circa 1992) follow. This was a real find for me - I picked it up at the San Diego Air And Space Museum a year or so ago on the bookstore's used book rack.

First Photo: Cover shot. this was put out for Gov't consumption as a backgrounder right after the B-2 buy had been cut to 20.

Here we have just a couple of pages into the document, the the kinds of weapons and weapon carriage schemes that the B-2 was initially to carry. That's an awful lot of conventional weapons listed for a bomber that doesn't carry them. By 1994/5 the GATS/GAM and less- accurate (but cheaper) JDAMs were looming on the horizon.

Outside of a briefing NG gives VIPs (and some pilots in the early days) I've never seen this excerpt of the statement of requirements in an unclassified document anywhere else. Note the second major bullet.
More reinforcement as to the point about the B-2's conventional capability.

Friday, June 11, 2010

ANOTHER "Conservative= Bad Person" Study?

Déjà vu... all over again.

The summary of yet another...ahem...‘study’ at this link finding correlation between one's personality and ones politics has a strangely similar feel to one that was a pretty hot topic back at Dr. Helen’s blog back in 2005 (disclosure: I was a commenter) .

From the latest:
Researchers at UofT [Toronto] have shown that the psychological concern for compassion and equality is associated with a liberal mindset, while the concern for order and respect of social norms is associated with a conservative mindset.

One wonders if the 'researchers' ever considered how their own bias may have caused them to miss a few key questions and answers, such as: What if liberals seek 'equality of outcomes' while conservatives seek 'equality of opportunity'? And how does their bias affect how they decide which philosophy is more 'compassionate' and just?

Is it just me, or are these things coming out even more frequently these days? I can hardly wait for Iron Shrink and/or Dr. Helen to weigh in on this one.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

AF Chief of Staff?...or Just another 'Suit'?

(H/T In From the Cold)
General Schwartz, in the latest of a long string of events highlighting the AF's 'buisiness ethos' is either actively subverting attempts by a non-profit historical group from gettng their hands on an F-105 thunderchief and enough parts to get one flying again. The historical significance of the F-105's combat history, including the sacrifices and efforts of the men who flew them and kept them flying cannot be denied, and their memory should be kept alive. Bringing what is now commonly referred to as 'Heritage Flights' to the masses at airshows and in silent display makes these beasts a reality to those who've forgotten or never knew them.
I was stationed at Hill AFB for many years, including the time when the ANG's 419thFW transitioned from being the last F-105 Wing to the first Guard unit to fly the F-16.
My home was a couple of miles off the end of the runway, and you always knew when a "Thud" flight was taking off. The Thud sure went out with a bang that I'll never forget: the 'Thudout' was a sight that would never be seen again.
Come to think of it, the AF is also missing a pretty good opportunity to remind those who would complain* about the F-35 noise footprint, what used to be flying overhead when rarely a complaint was heard.

* Attention Boise! You used to have freakin' F-4s stationed there! Now suck it up and slap on your "Jet Noise - The Sound of Freedom" bumper stickers. (In the comments section at the link, I'd say most of the locals are telling the fearful ninnies just about the same thing.)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

End of Libel? Media Tiptoes Around the Problem

Ever Hear of "Occam's Razor"?
The New York Observer has an entertaining piece featuring a Time Inc. attorney who's specialty is (was) Libel Law. All sorts of reasons are presented as likely behind the disappearance of libel suits against big media are offered, and I think some come close, describing some likely ancillary reasons, but it is almost as if they're dancing around the obvious one.
Think about it for just a moment, What's your first thought when someone besmirches your good name? Answer: "Will anyone believe them?"
Credibility in the mainstream media is seen as MIA by most people. Combine that with the fact the media doesn't have a lock on the flow of information anymore and people can get their side 'out there' (mentioned in the linked article) and you get a drop in people who care enough about lies the media writes about them to take legal action.