My Mind Is Like a Racing Engine

My mind is like a racing engine, tearing itself to pieces because it is not connected up with the work for which it was built. Life is commonplace; the papers are sterile; audacity and romance seem to have passed forever from the criminal world. Can you ask me, then, whether I am ready to look into any new problem, however trivial it may prove?
–Arthur Conan Doyle, The Complete Sherlock Holmes

Is Asia the Europe of World War I?

Political matters are certainly tense these days in Asia, what with China’s squabbles with Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines among others. But is it fair to compare the region to Europe pre-WWI?

Despite no one wanting to see conflict in Asia, the ranks of doomsayers and worrywarts seem to grow by the day. The specter haunting the continent is that of China’s geo-political rise. Governments near and far are watching warily as the budding nondemocratic superpower asserts itself on the international stage, tacitly challenging a Pax Americana that has existed since 1945. Some countries are already locked in combustible disputes with Beijing: the region’s waters have been roiled in recent years by standoffs over barren islands to China’s south and east; Chinese relations with Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines all soured as a result.

The climate of tensions is thick enough to have drawn comparisons to a perilous moment a century ago. In separateopinion pieces this week, two former Asian foreign ministers likened Asia now to pre–World War I Europe, then strung together by a tangle of imperial enmities and alliances. The South China Sea — a pivotal, strategic body of water that China considers its “internal lake,” much to the ire of its neighbors — is, like the Balkans a hundred years ago, the supposed tinderbox that could spark a larger regional conflagration, if not a full-fledged war.

Local militaries are not just standing by. Look at what Manilla is doing:

Military officials looking at a model of a FA-50 fighter jet. Manila will soon finalise a US$443 million deal to buy 12 of the jets.

Military officials looking at a model of a FA-50 fighter jet. Manila will soon finalise a US$443 million deal to buy 12 of the jets.

And the article states the Philippines may soon acquire F-16s as well.

Navy Salvages F-16

You might have missed the relevant details in all the acronyms of this press release by Phoenix International, but the Navy assisted the Air Force in recovering one of its planes:

Phoenix International Holdings, Inc. (Phoenix) announces the successful underwater search and recovery of a U.S. Air Force F-16 aircraft from over 16,400 feet of sea water (fsw). In early August 2012, at the direction of the Naval Sea Systems Command’s Director of Ocean Engineering, Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV), Phoenix mobilized the Navy’s ORION deepwater side scan sonar system, the CURV 21 remotely operated vehicle (ROV), and the Navy’s motion compensated, 30,000 pound Fly-Away Deep Ocean Salvage System (FADOSS)

Go to the press release for more details. . .

Interviewing John Lehman

John Lehman was President Ronald Reagan’s Navy Secretary. And he has stayed current on the issues. He gave a interview to Chris Cavas of the Defense News. I found this part of the interview utterly fascinating:

Essentially, the F-16 only took about seven years. Polaris and Minuteman only took four years. And in those days, with comparatively primitive technology, there were far more complex challenges to integrate systems than even the F-22 today. F-22 took 22 years. In fact, according to the Defense Business Board, the average for the Department of Defense is 22 years. Well that’s crazy.

Part of it is the lack of discipline in requirements; requirements are being added all the time.

After the first ship [of the DDG 51 Arleigh Burke class] we froze the design, and there were no more change orders unless it was life-threatening. There were constant attempts by DoD and parts of the Navy to add new bells and whistles and capabilities, more new systems. Part of the Navy really wanted hangars on them, and we said no, we’re not going to do any changes.

At that time, every F-14 in the fleet was different. Change orders flowed in to the production without discipline. Every single F-14 had to have its own full record of its systems. No two were alike.

Please read it all. To me, the man’s books and ideas about the Navy are thoughtful and not without careful deliberation. . .

2,443 Cans of Whoop

The new F-35 just went airborne with some firecrackers:

Lockheed Martin, F-35, JSF, 461st FLTS, F-35 ITF, Edwards AFB, First Flight of External Stores mounted to wings, 4 empty Pylons, 2 AIM-9X, Pilot: Lt Col Vitt, AF-1

The F-35, the military’s next-generation fighter jet, has begun its first flight tests carrying external missiles at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert.

The F-35 is the Pentagon’s costliest program going; the Defense Department has plans to buy 2,443 of the aircraft at a cost of $382 billion.

I’ve had friends who have won Sailor-of-the-Year and they received a fam flight on a jet, like an F-18 or an F-16. Guess I should shoot for Junior-Officer-of-the-Year (JOY) now. Of course, those jet jocks like to make their back-seaters puke. Nevermind, I guess I should not win the award. No joy for me.

Is there even a backseat variant? I suppose they could bungee me down topside, like some 4-point winter buck. Or maybe stuff me in the bomb bay? No thanks. I’ve done enough bombing in here, on corny posts. Not this one though. It’s been hilarious at this end. ¿Si?

Planes Nursing

This:

is like this:

A KC-135 Stratotanker with the 100th Air Refueling Wing (RAF Mildenhall) offloads fuel to Royal Danish Air Force F-16s.

If the tanker had 4, 6, 8, 10 multiple refueling boom arms.
Does anyone actually know how many spigots that F-16 mamma sow has?
I count at least 13 piglets gassing up.

F-16s As Cop Cars

Dutch Air Force F-16

Let’s say you are Dutch and a criminal. I would suggest curbing your non-friendly behavior. Cuz the police call on F-16s to help them out:

The Dutch air force has said that two of its F-16 jet fighters tried to help police chase a criminal suspect.

Olav Spanjer, a spokesman for the force, said the jets were about to leave Volkel airbase on a training mission on Thursday evening when they heard that police had requested a military Jeep to chase a suspect over soggy terrain.

The pilots volunteered to help search using their infrared cameras, and Spanjer said: “It was kind of a long shot.”

In the end, the criminal was caught on a tip from a neighbor. Still, if you are in the Netherlands, be careful. Don’t as much as double-park. . .

Faced with Draconian Budget Cuts, the Air Force Drafts Gisele Bundchen’s Son Into the Flight Program

During times of extreme budgetary crisis, Congress should consider drastic measures to balance our country’s books and to set us on steady economic ground.

In a stunning turn of events, as a way to both smooth fiscal corners and maximize tax-payer benefit, recruitment of young tykes as pilots into the Air Force training pipeline has begun in earnest. The little bubbas are issued flight jackets and then instructed on all the standard Top Gunnery: barrel rolls and whoop-dee-doos, dog-fighting and crawling, pushing 2 Gs and then pulling the cat’s tail. As is usual with all aviators, the wee wobblers are allowed to bring their mommies:

  3rd Lt. Ben Brady, Fighter Pilot, USAF, and mommy, Gisele Bundchen

Ben looks an awful lot like his papa, the Patriot Tom Brady. (Patriot as in the New England football team, not the flag-waving variety. Well, with his son fighting for the red, white, and blue, perhaps Tommy Boy is a patriot of the other stripe too.)

Young 3rd Lieutenant Brady wears both an Apache AH-64 patch and an Army Air Corps (pre-Air Force) P-40 patch. As for the latter, the Warhawk, they were flown by the 23d Fighter Group (which combined with the disbanded Flying Tigers) when the United States worked with China in WWII. It is true, we fought side-by-side the eastern dragon, only to tangle, mere years later, in Korea.

The 23rd is still in operation with another bird: the Warthog, the modern day A-10, to the left.

At Al Udeid Air Base, the Warthogs bristled on the tarmac, like a gang of angry water buffalo, whenever we taxied by in our bus-like EP-3.

The plane has a unseemly look, but it serves a very definite purpose, close air support (CAS.) Query any infantry unit hewed in by enemy fire about the Warthog’s efficacy and they will undoubtably drool as to the Big Ugly’s ability.

There are stories of damaged Warthogs returning to the base, limping home on mere fumes. Air Force Major Kim Campbell once landed with compromised hydraulics, which highly limited her brakes and steering.

Major Kim Campbell, USAF with A-10 Warthog

In an interesting bit of trivia, Major Campbell is the daughter of San Jose’s current mayor, Chuck Reed. Both zoooooomies were cadet wing commanders at the Air Force Academy. The top banana, large and in-charge.

Enough ruminations of the past, we must cast our eyes to the future and discuss the infant piloteers. A rumor, nothing more than a whisper, is that the wittle warfighters will use piddle packs in place of timeouts in the little boy’s room.

You say you don’t know what piddle packs are? Sit back, you are in for a treat. Most of what I know on the venerated piddles I learned from two sources: pilot friends or a retired Master Gunnery Sergeant whom I see periodically at my gym. He works for a company that sells piddle packs, known by their more serious name, UCDs. This is not a joking topic, folks. Pilots have been known to fiddle with their piddles, thereby losing control and ejecting themselves from their plane. At 7,000 feet. In an F-16. Surprise:

A pilot’s piddle pack for you-know- what

Sometime before 1991, a pilot of an F-16 had to ‘use the rest room’ at 28,000 feet somewhere over the Mojave Desert. A piddle pack is a sponge filled plastic pouch, designed especially for this purpose.

The pilot reported that he unfastened his seatbelt and was raising himself up to use the piddle pack when the plane began to swing to the right. He tried to regain control of the aircraft, but could not. He ejected around 7,000 feet.

Okay, enough with equipment issues. Let’s get back into the pilot pipeline with our trainees. Below, big-boy 3rd Lieutenant Brady poses with his mother, some civilian named Gisele Bündchen, during an ejection seat exercise:

Future Ace: Air Force Pilot Ben Brady and mother Gisele Bundchen

Have I mentioned how much money our nation is saving with these pint-sized aces? Beaucoup, beaucoup. Imagine utilizing their finely honed skills for 45 years vice the usual 20-25.

In a mutually beneficial agreement, the young dog-fighter has offered, in lieu of salary (military, flight, hazardous duty pay, etc), to be paid in either matchbox cars, marbles, Pokemon cards, iPhone apps, or flight jacket patches. He’s got quite a collection, don’t you think?