OUR NEWS MEDIA ARE AWFUL: We’re politically divided and hateful. Maybe that’s the media’s fault too. The media’s antipathy toward Trump is, in both word and story selection, more open in today’s journalism than during previous generations. As conservative politicians have long known, reporters’ questions for Republicans usually are more hostile than their ready acceptance […]
Case Builds For Greater Transparency In How Police Use Data To Predict Crime With only so much manpower in police departments, deploying resources to maximum efficiency is critical for fighting and preventing crime Those needs gave rise to the
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I’m an A&E doctor who has worked in war zones. I know the toll of these recent attacks | Saleyha Ahsan
In the emergency services we’re constantly braced for the next big disaster. Everyone has to pull together against the odds – but we need more supportYou can’t move for breaking news headlines these days and within the emergency services we brace ourselves for what it might be. It’s not just news for us – we could end up being directly involved.This week we woke to news of the attack in Finsbury Park. The result – one death and 10 injured, all distributed to major trauma centres within London. One trauma call will need manpower of up to 10 people around the bed, then you’ve got those needed for the CT scans to run, the urgent blood tests, blood supplies and the labs urgently cross matching samples. It can, in those early hours, take at least 20 people. And that’s without including the surgical and intensive therapy unit (ITU) teams needed for poly-trauma patients, typical from a major incident, so multiply that number by 10. But we don’t have 200 people in one place to do all that. So things get shared, redistributed and there’s plenty of concurrent activity. It’s an exercise of open communications, thinking on your feet and leadership. Sadly, the teams are getting used to it. Continue reading...
Instead of playing on people’s fears and trotting out soundbites, politicians must refine their response to terror attacks and hate crimesWith our attention focused on the election and its aftermath, the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London will inevitably be seen through the lens of electoral politics. Both the main parties responded to the attacks by reiterating how they would “keep us safe”. The divide was broadly “resources v powers”, with the Tories emphasising how they would pass more laws and regulate the internet, and Labour saying there were already plenty of laws on the books but that Tory cuts had left the police and security services lacking manpower. Related: Keir Starmer: I have prosecuted terrorists – and know human rights laws make us safer Continue reading...
**"A Conspiracy So Immense"**: Is the American right any crazier than it ever was? No. It was the submersion of the crazy right during the "end of ideology" age that was weird. Exhibit 1: William F. Buckley and Eliot Abrams. Buckley, remember, is the person whose reaction to Catholics being allowed into Yale on equal terms was: "let's be sure to keep the Jews down!" And Abrams... you will see... "A Conspiracy so Immense": Tail-Gunner Joe McCarthy : William F. Buckley says: >McCarthy's record is... not only much better than his critics allege, but, given his metier, extremely good.... [he] should not be remembered as the man who didn't produce 57 Communist Party cards but as the man who brought public pressure to bear on the State Department to revise its practices and to eliminate from responsible positions flagrant security risks... Elliot Abrams says: >McCarthy did not need to show that specific employees were guilty of espionage; they needed only to show that there was some evidence that an employee was a security or loyalty risk, and that the State Department... had willfully overlooked it.... What were the charges? They ranged from accusations of actual espionage—handing secret documents over to...
The only way for Russia to neutralize the American HIMARS, recently deployed to Al-Tanf, is to "destroy them when they are being preparing for launch," a Russian military expert, Dmitri Litovkin, told RBTH. There is effectively no other way, technology-wise, Russia or the Russia-backed Syrian army could counter the threat posed by the rocket systems reportedly deployed to Syria’s south. "This system’s shells are unguided: They will reach their destination if they are dropped from the launching rocket," said Litovkin. "It makes no sense to try to shoot these missiles down using anti-missile defense systems because a HIMARS rocket costs much less than that of the defense system countering it," said the expert. However, the military build-up in the southern part of Syria does not appear to critically undermine Russia’s interests in Raqqah, a key city in both U.S. and Russia’s military campaigns in the country. "Instrument of genocide" HIMARS’s fire range can reach up to 300 kilometers maximum, which leaves Raqqah and the surrounding area out of the system’s reach. The main goal of the U.S., therefore, is enforcing a unilaterally declared "de-confliction zone" in the area to prevent Iran from sending supplies to the Syrian army. "Deploying HIMARS, the U.S. sends a clear signal to Moscow and Damascus that it won’t give Syrian-Iraqi-Jordanian border under the control of pro-Syrian government and Iranian forces," Alexey Khlebnikov, Middle East expert at Russian International Affairs Council, told RBTH. The expert says it is unlikely that the deployment of the highly capable rocket systems has anything to do with the planned Raqqah offensive. "The U.S. tries to prevent pro-Syrian government forces to cease a strategic town of Al-Tanf and get the highway which connects Damascus, Bagdad and Tehran under control. Otherwise it would mean that Iran could send weapons and other supplies to the Syrian Army directly. This is why the U.S. decided to set up its own ‘de-confliction zone" there,' he said. Although HIMARS does not seem to impact the area near the strategic city of Raqqah, besieged by ISIS militants fighting off the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as well as the Russia-backed Syrian army (SAA), it critically undermines capacity of the Syrian army as it blocks the southern area of the country. "HIMARS burns out hectares of land. Depending on the missile, it can not only destroy manpower of the opponent but scatter anti-personnel and anti-tank mines across wide area. This is a cheap, effective 'instrument of total genocide'," said Litovkin. Raqqah offensive Yet, despite apparent disagreement between Moscow and Washington over how the war should be fought, experts do not exclude the possibility of cooperation between the U.S.- and Russia-backed forces liberating Raqqah from ISIS militants. There is a possibility that "SAA forces and SDF would divide zones of their responsibility and would coordinate their offensive to liberate Raqqa from ISIS," says Khlebnikov, highlighting that this will 'certainly decrease casualties during offensive” and provide “a good example for future operations against ISIS.' One cannot rule out, however, a scenario where the SAA and SDF forces are competing for influence in Raqqah when the city is finally being liberated from ISIS. "Russia’s and U.S. role is crucial here. If Moscow and Washington agree to coordinate during Raqqa offensive it will be translated to the level of SAA and SDF. If they don’t, escalation between Russia and US-backed forces becomes more possible," said Khlebnikov.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon will send almost 4,000 additional American forces to Afghanistan, a Trump administration official said Thursday, hoping to break a stalemate in a war that has now passed to a third U.S. commander in chief. The deployment will be the largest of American manpower under Donald Trump's young presidency.
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By Chris at www.CapitalistExploits.at Economists measure economic variables. That's a problem. They are but one piece of an incredibly complex puzzle: Behavioural psychology isn't considered. Different realm... not their business. Warfare and the economics of it are measured poorly, if at all. Consider for a moment the impact of technology on every aspect of life. Now, consider its impact on warfare. Warfare, of course, impacts economics. Something worth remembering. In medieval times, wealth was largely acquired by conquest. You rounded up a number of your kinsmen, grabbed the clubs, swords, and spears out of the cupboard, saddled up Smokey, kissed the wife goodbye, and rode into town, killing whoever got in your way and seizing the assets. Brute force won. In fact, Smokey provided a lot of advantage. Certainly a man on a horse was worth more than one without. Gunpowder changed this. Manpower quickly became less important. A man with a gun was worth at least 10 swordsmen on horseback. The first World War presented yet another technology, two actually: the tank and the plane. Trench warfare was a mess. Generals being what they are - grounded in the past and thick - took a while to figure out that when the enemy is dug in and has machine guns, sending your men over the top into a blizzard of lead would mean they'd all die. Someone must have thought to themselves: what if, instead of charging at them with nothing more than sturdy boots and a metal potty on your head, we did the same thing in an armour plated type of car with a huge gun sticking out the front? Enter the tank. As for the plane. Dropping bombs on cities was far more effective than a man with a gun. Probably 100 times more effective and thus quite economical. World War 2 saw the bombs grow ever more powerful, the planes faster and more agile. And, of course, let's not forget battleships, which came to dominate due to the need to control supply lines. And because they'd figured out that if you build them large enough, you can take off and land fighter planes on them, which literally meant that they were moving ocean-based refuelling stations. You'd be forgiven for thinking that everything was going to keep getting bigger, more grandiose, more centralised, and more expensive because there was a technology developed in World War II, which was the seed stock for how it is that I can write to you from the other side of the world, and you in turn can receive it in minutes and at a cost approaching zero. The Turing machine otherwise known as the Bombe was arguably the most significant element in the eventual success of allied troops in WWII. It allowed the gents at Bletchley Park to decipher far more rapidly Nazi messages and thus react in hours rather than weeks. Cracking Enigma, the Nazi's encoding machine, was certainly one of the keys to the Allied success. At its peak, Alan Turing's machine was able to help crack 3,000 Nazi messages per day and by the end of the war, this totalled 2.5 million messages, many of which provided the Allies vital information about Nazi's positions and strategy. This, folks, was a massive step in what we call today, "the Information age". Turing's machine was one of the earliest computers. But what's this got to do with the economics of war, Chris? Look around you and you'll realise that everything is becoming decentralised or distributed and deflationary as a result. This is a result of the economics of business changing as a consequence of technological changes. Micro power grids replacing nationalised power grids, 3D printing allowing localised manufacture, ride sharing decentralising taxi cartels, peer-to-peer lending decentralising traditional bank lending, file sharing disrupting the entertainment industry, the Internet itself disrupting the newspaper industry, Facebook disrupting and decentralising content - I could go on. What we're seeing is power shifting into the hands of individuals or at least small groups as apposed to large groups. This same dynamic is at work with respect to war. All wars are won or lost due to either side's ability to secure supply lines, logistics, transportation, provisions, military hardware, and communications. And the ability to pay for all of them. Just as any business which can't finance its plans goes belly up so, too, does any army. Now, imagine an army with the ability to decentralise all of these elements. This army is actually technologically and economically backward. This doesn't sound threatening until you realise that: This army can and does utilise the technology and economics of its enemy. No need to develop its own. Transportation is not only provided to them but provided by their enemy. This army benefits from acquiring its transport, provisions, and even military hardware from its enemy. This army uses the communication tools necessary to conduct attacks at fractional cost... tools produced more often than not by its enemy... now out in the public realm Would this not be a pretty powerful army? Now, imagine this army is invisible. You can't spot the soldiers because they look like so many other normal people. Furthermore, this army has no discernible head to cut off. There is no HQ to attack. The soldiers are dispersed, almost impossible to detect, and have already infiltrated the enemy's borders. Heck, they've been invited in. Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane, and Youssef Zaghba... the 3 terrorists who went on a rampage on London Bridge and Borough Market this week... were soldiers of this army. How would you fight such an army? Katy Perry thinks we should "hug it out". Teresa May wants to control social media. And London's mayor Sadiq Khan thinks we need to just get used to it as it's just "part and parcel of living in a big city". That's certainly true of cities such as Kandahar or Mosul, which unfortunately is increasingly what Europes cities are beginning to look like. Clearly, none of these are solutions. An idiot can see that. Washington just upped the US military budget so that they can buy more wiz bang jets and horrendously expensive clunky ships. Generals fighting the last war. Pray tell, how they're supposed to stop to some lunatic with visions of 40 virgins in his head and a bomb strapped to his guts in a crowded subway station? Europe's leaders are even worse. Brussels is full of globalists and socialists who promote bad policies and then insist the whole continent pay for their mistakes. The Western governments of the world are both clueless, ignorant and stupid. They're also too afraid to call a spade a spade for fear of being demonised for being politically incorrect. But most importantly, they're broke. This is a good thing because nation states which are a relic of the Industrial era are going to go away as well but that's a conversation for another day. Clearly they're not going to solve these problems anyway, and, in fact, the economics of war have changed so radically that it ensures they'll go away. Remember, the most basic social contract a citizen has with his government is that of security and government cannot provide it. The answers lie with private enterprise. Private companies such as Stabilitas, who are using crowdsourcing, and AI are already doing more for individuals and businesses than governments are. The truth is the economics of war have changed and that means that the technology that won the last war isn't going to be the one that wins this one. - Chris "War is the ultimate realisation of modern technology." — Don Delillo -------------------------------------- Liked this article? Don't miss our future missives and podcasts, and get access to free subscriber-only content here. --------------------------------------
Why are we focusing on who leaked what to whom, when our democracy is under siege?
Warfare History Network Security, Asia Lieutenant Commander Stephen L. Johnson had a problem on his hands; a very large problem. His Balao-class submarine, the Segundo, had just picked up a large radar contact on the surface about 100 miles off Honshu, one of Japan’s home islands, heading south toward Tokyo. World War II in the Pacific had just ended, and the ensuing cease fire was in its 14th day. The official peace documents would not be signed for several more days, on September 2, 1945, aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. As Johnson closed on the other vessel, he realized it was a gigantic submarine, so large in fact that it first looked like a surface ship in the darkness. The Americans had nothing that size, so he realized that it had to be a Japanese submarine. This was the first command for the lanky 29-year-old commander. He and his crew faced the largest and perhaps the most advanced submarine in the world. The Japanese I-401 was longer than a football field and had a surface displacement of 5,233 tons, more than three times the Segundo’s displacement. More troubling though was the sub’s bristling weaponry that included a 5.5-inch gun on her aft deck, three triple-barreled 25mm antiaircraft guns, a single 25mm gun mounted on the bridge, and eight large torpedo tubes in her bow. The large sub displayed the mandatory black surrender flag, but when the Segundo edged forward, the Japanese vessel moved rapidly into the night. The movement and the continuing display of the Rising Sun flag caused concern. Johnson’s vessel pursued the craft that eventually slowed down as dawn approached. He brought his bow torpedo tubes to bear on the craft as the two vessels settled into a Mexican standoff. Johnson and his crew had received permission by now to sink the reluctant Japanese vessel if necessary, but he realized he had a career-boosting and perhaps a technologically promising prize in his sights. Much depended on this untried American submarine captain and his wily opponent in the seas off Japan. Little did Johnson know that the Japanese submarine was a part of the I-400 squadron, basically underwater aircraft carriers, and that the I-401 carried Commander Tatsunosuke Ariizumi, developer of the top-secret subs initially designed to strike the U.S. homeland in a series of surprise attacks. Ariizumi was considered the “father of the I-400 series” and a loyal follower of the emperor with years of experience in the Japanese Navy, so surrender was a disgrace he could not endure. Johnson also had to contend with Lt. Cmdr. Nobukiyo Nambu, skipper of the I-401, who traced his combat experience back to Pearl Harbor. He now commanded the world’s largest submarine designed to carry three state-of-the-art attack planes in a specially built hanger located atop the vessel. These secret Aichi M6A1 planes were initially designed for “a second Pearl Harbor” or another surprise attack, possibly even against New York City or Washington, D.C. The I-400 series submarines were themselves full of technological surprises. They was capable of traveling around the world one and a half times without refueling, had a top surface speed of 19 knots (or nearly 22 miles per hour), and could remain on patrol for four months, twice as long as the Segundo. Neither Nambu nor Commander Ariizumi readily accepted the emperor’s surrender statement when it was broadcast on August 15. The subsequent communiqués from Tokyo were exceptionally confusing, especially Order 114, which confirmed that peace had been declared but that all submarines were to “execute predetermined missions and attack the enemy if discovered.” The I-400: Weapon For a Second Pearl Harbor: It was Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander of Japan’s Combined Fleet and developer of the Pearl Harbor attack, who called for the construction of the I-400 series some three weeks after Pearl Harbor. The insightful Yamamoto, who was later killed when his aircraft was shot down by U.S. fighter planes, had toured the United States years before and had warned against a prolonged war with the highly industrialized United States. However, once Japan was committed to war, he believed that submarine aircraft carriers dropping bombs “like rain” over major U.S. cities would surely cause the American people to “lose their will to fight.” A second surprise attack with even more to come would prove psychologically devastating to the Americans, Yamamoto believed, and perhaps would be the best way to get the Americans to sue for peace. The Japanese had previous experience with plane-carrying submarines, but these were float planes used largely for reconnaissance. The float planes could be easily shot out of the sky by American fighters, and each submarine carried only one plane, hardly enough to prod the Americans to the negotiating table. Yamamoto always thought big, and he called for a submarine that could travel 40,000 nautical miles without refueling, or nearly four times the range of a Balao-class submarine like the Segundo. In addition, the I-400 series submarines would carry 1,750 tons of fuel, food for four months at sea for its crew of 147 to 157 men, and two attack planes with a speed of 220 miles per hour and a range of some 600 miles. The hangar atop the sub would need to be at least 100 feet long to initially accommodate two aircraft and be strong enough to withstand the pressure of the deep and a possible attack from enemy planes when surfaced. Yamamoto’s I-400-class submarines would displace some 6,560 tons submerged, about three times the displacement of the largest U.S. subs, and would be slightly more than 400 feet long, making them about the size of a small cruiser. Because one of the submarines was larger than a destroyer, it “wasn’t an exaggeration, then, to say that Yamamoto was asking for something akin to a small underwater aircraft carrier,” noted one observer. Yamamoto called for the construction of 18 of the massive submarines carrying a total of 36 attack planes. The plan was rushed through the traditionally slow-moving Japanese naval bureaucracy by June 1942, with construction of the first five subs to begin in January 1943. The name of the special submarine class was abbreviated to Sen-toku. The attack planes had to be designed from scratch. The need for speed, range and a decent sized bomb payload required tradeoffs. The wings had to be foldable to fit inside the tube, or hangar, atop the submarine. The design work, testing, and building of the plane was outsourced to the Aichi Aircraft Company. To maximize range and speed, floats were removed from the planes. The crew would circle back after an attack, ditch the plane, and be picked up by the sub. Each plane had a pilot/bombardier in front and a radioman/navigator/tail gunner in the back. Initial plans called for a fixed, front-facing 7.7mm machine gun and a rear-facing 13mm Type 2 gun that was belt fed and handled 300 rounds. The I-400 program did have its detractors in the heavily bureaucratic Imperial Japanese Navy. After the defeat at Midway in early June 1942, Japan became more focused on defending the homeland and far less on possible attacks on the U.S. mainland using the large submarines. The death of Yamamoto in mid-April 1943, just weeks after his 59th birthday, played further into the hands of conservative Japanese commanders. Cutbacks were ordered in the number of submarines to be built, although the I-400s’ striking ability was to be increased by adding a third attack bomber to the large vessels and adding a second plane to two smaller submarines, the I-13 and I-14. Equally important, Japanese naval officials realized that with the loss of Guadalcanal, the nation’s defensive perimeter was at dire risk. New York and Washington were dropped as targets for the underwater aircraft carriers in favor of attacking the Panama Canal. A successful attack on the canal would choke the American war machine in the Pacific and buy time for the Japanese to regroup and strengthen the nation’s defensive perimeter. “Storm From a Clear Sky” The first test flight of the Aichi attack plane occurred on November 8, 1943. The plane, called Seiran or “storm from a clear sky,” reportedly handled fairly well as the world’s first sub-borne attack bomber. The Japanese began compiling limited available information on the heavily fortified Panama Canal. Their analysis showed that destroying the gate opening onto Gatun Lake would create a massive outpouring of water, destroying the other gates in its path while rushing toward the Caribbean Sea. The United States had an estimated 40,000 troops defending the canal. The approaches were heavily mined, and there were major fortifications at Colon, Margarita Island, Toro Point, and Fort Sherman. The latter had 16-inch cannon with a range of some 25 miles. Antiaircraft batteries, radar stations, searchlights, nine aircraft bases, and 30 aircraft warning stations rounded out the canal’s defenses. After weeks of planning, the Japanese came up with a strategy to attack the Gatun locks at dawn when the gates were closed and presumably the defenses were lax. The attack would occur during the dry season because it would take Gatun Lake longer to refill and would be carried out with a combination of bombs and torpedoes. Initially, it was not to be a suicide attack; the pilots would circle back to the submarines and be picked up after ditching their planes. The planners had nearly a full year to formulate the attack for early 1945. But there were problems ahead because none of the submarines were complete and the planes were not yet in the production stage. Thanks to the virtual blockade thrown around Japan by the U.S. Navy, steel was in particularly short supply in Japan, causing officials to cut back the scheduled production of I-400 subs to five plus the two smaller I-13 and I-14 submarines. Despite the problems, planning went ahead, revealing how strongly the Japanese believed in the plan to knock out the Panama Canal and thereby stop the increasing flow of American men and war matériel toward Japan. The loss of the Panama Canal might prompt the Allies to modify their demand for unconditional surrender. Biological Weapons Considered For the Sen-toku Squadron The Japanese labored on, and by the end of 1944 the I-400 and the smaller I-13 were completed and turned over to the Navy. In early January 1945, the I-401 was commissioned and the I-14, the last of the underwater aircraft carriers, was put into service by mid-March 1945. The Seiran airplanes were still undergoing testing in late 1944, with the manpower shortage so severe that many of the aircraft workers were 12- to 15-year-old schoolgirls. The Japanese pressed ahead despite problems with the plane’s engines, two earthquakes, and numerous American air raids that slowed production. As an important aside, it should be noted that while preparations for the attack on the Panama Canal went forward, Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa, vice-chief of the Naval General Staff, floated another idea for the use of the Sen-toku submarines. He suggested arming the Seiran planes with biological weapons to be unleashed against a populated area on the West Coast of the United States. Dr. Shiro Ishii, Japan’s top virus expert and head of the Army’s notorious 731 unit in Manchuria, was consulted. He recommended that the planes drop plague-inflected fleas, something he had tested with success in China, on the United States with San Francisco, Los Angeles, or San Diego suggested as targets. The plan was discarded in late March by the head of the Army’s general staff who called it “unpardonable on humanitarian grounds.” In effect, the Japanese Army, which had led the development of biological weapons and had tested them on Chinese and American captives, nixed the idea of using the weapons late in the war on American civilians, perhaps in the belief that the war was already lost. Training For the Raid The relentless American onslaught had taken a toll. By early 1945, the Japanese Navy had only 20 modern submarines left, including those in the Sen-toku squadron. Problems arose as the two available I-400 subs began test launching their Sieran planes. Each submarine was required to surface and get its three planes unlimbered and aloft within 30 minutes, but actual training showed that it took some 45 minutes. Those additional 15 minutes exposed on the surface could mean the difference between life or death to the pilots and the crews. They also encountered operational problems in getting the aircraft to sputter to life in a timely fashion. Fuel for the submarines and the Sierans was also in short supply. The presence of mines made matters increasingly difficult for the Japanese commanders. Because of an increasing sense of urgency, the Japanese further modified their plans. A torpedo attack was ruled out because the pilots had not yet acquired the requisite skills. It was decided that each of the 10 planes designated for the Panama Canal mission would carry one 1,760-pound bomb, the largest in the Navy’s arsenal and similar to the one that sank the battleship USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor. In essence, the pilots would now also be on a suicide run because they were to crash their low-flying planes against the locks, thereby ensuring the success of the mission. The pilots quietly accepted the decision. The departure date was set for mid-June. With continued training, the crews of the larger subs were able to catapult the first two planes off in about four minutes each. With a bit of a struggle, the third plane could be launched in 20 minutes, bringing the total launch time to just under half an hour, which constituted nearly a lifetime when surfaced and bobbing about in heavily patrolled enemy waters. The Seiran pilots made practice bombing runs in Nanao Bay against a full-sized replica of the Gatun gates. The pilots by now knew what was a stake because the real attack would entail flying in low and fast without floats and with live bombs firmly attached to their planes. Debugging the planes was proving difficult, with nine men killed in crashes and another lost in a nonflying mishap. Training aboard the I-14 proved particularly difficult because it was the last of the four Sen-toku subs to be commissioned and the crew had the least training time. The Submarines at War’s End The fall of Iwo Jima in March 1945 and the American attack on Okinawa increased the angst among the Japanese planners as the Americans closed in on the home islands. The war had leaped ahead of the planners, and the slated attack on the Panama Canal was canceled. As noted, there were discussions about possibly using the planes in a surprise attack on San Francisco or Los Angles, but those, too, were put aside in favor of a plan to attack enemy carriers at Ulithi, a large staging area near the island of Truk in the Carolines that was used by the Americans. The two large subs were to proceed toward Ulithi independently for safety and then rendezvous near the target and launch the attack in mid-August. The I-14 and the I-13 were to reach Japanese-held Truk, get their planes into the air, and report on conditions at Ulithi to ensure that the American carriers were present. The I-13 never made it to Truk and was correctly presumed lost. The I-14 arrived at Truk on August 4, and its planes flew over Ulithi the following day. Shortly thereafter word reached the submarines that an atomic bomb had destroyed Hiroshima, and on August 15 the Japanese seamen heard the broadcast from the emperor asking his warriors to lay down their arms. Subsequent orders from the homeland were confusing, with one commanding all submarine captains to execute their predetermined missions. On August 16, the underwater aircraft carriers received explicit orders that their planned attack on Ulithi had been canceled just hours before the I-401 was to launch its planes. The subs were ordered to Kure, and the I-401 turned course toward its fateful encounter with Lt. Cmdr. Johnson and the Segundo. Strategic Successor to the Ballistic Submarine The Japanese eventually surrendered the I-401 and the other two remaining underwater aircraft carriers. Commander Ariizumi, the developer of the top secret subs, took his own life aboard the I-401 and was quietly buried at sea by the crew. Before encountering the Americans, Nambu had meticusouly followed orders from Japan to raise the black flag of surrender and dispose of the vessel’s weapons, including the planes that were catapulted into the sea. Logbooks, codebooks, and the like were loaded into weighted sacks and tossed overboard. The torpedoes were jettisoned, with one causing alarm as it circled back toward the large submarine before disappearing harmlessly into the depths. The three submarines drew considerable attention when they made it back to Tokyo Bay. Many Americans initially believed the large hangars atop the subs had been designed to haul supplies to troops on distant islands despite the clearly observed catapults. The Americans did receive some assistance from the Japanese crews as they tried to comprehend the purpose of the extraordinary submarines, and by the end of September the Americans had taken the submarines out for cruises. However, none was taken underwater. The submarines were then taken to Hawaii for further study. The U.S. Navy gleaned what it could from them, and then all three were deliberately sunk by early June 1946 to keep them away from the prying eyes of the inquisitive Soviets. One of the Seirans did make it to the United States after the war and was eventually restored at an estimated cost of $1 million. It is now on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Although the U.S. Navy was somewhat dismissive of the massive submarines, it did take a keen interest in the sound-protective coatings used on the vessels. There is little doubt that the I-400s were the strategic predecessors to today’s ballistic submarines, especially to the Regulus missile program begun about a decade after World War II that carried nuclear warheads inside waterproof deck hangars. In short, Yamamoto’s plan lived on with “new and improved” versions that helped the United States win the Cold War. This first appeared on the Warfare History Network site here. Phil Zimmer, who authored the piece, is a former newspaper reporter and a U.S. Army veteran. He writes on World War II topics from Jamestown, New York.
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Dan Grazier Security, Pres. Donald Trump used the Navy’s next-generation aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R. Ford, as a backdrop to unveil his vision for the next defense budget in March 2017. The moment was meant to symbolize his commitment to rebuilding the military, but it also positioned the president in front of a monument to the Navy’s and defense industry’s ability to justify spending billions in taxypayer dollars on unproven technologies that often deliver worse performance at a higher cost. The Ford program also provides yet another example of the dangers of the Navy’s and industry’s end-running the rigorous combat testing that is essential to ensuring our fighting men and women go to war with equipment that works. The Navy had expected to have the ship delivered in 2014 at a cost of $10.5 billion. But the inevitable problems resulting from the concurrency the Navy built into developing Ford’s new and risky technologies, more than a dozen in all, caused the schedule to slip by more than three years and the cost to increase to $12.9 billion—nearly 25 percent over budget. For all this time and money, “poor or unknown reliability of the newly designed catapults, arresting gear, weapons elevators, and radar, which are all critical for flight operations, could affect CVN-78’s ability to generate sorties, make the ship more vulnerable to attack or create limitations during routine operations. The poor or unknown reliability of these critical subsystems is the most significant risk to CVN-78.” EMALS catapult, failure to launch The problems with the ship’s systems, including the catapult, are well-known. But Trump still caught virtually every Pentagon watcher off guard when, in the middle of a wide-ranging Time interview, he said he had directed the Navy to abandon the new “digital” aircraft catapult on future Ford-class carriers. Instead he wants the Navy to revert to the proven steam catapults, which have been in use for decades. The president is correct when he says there are significant problems with the Ford’s “digital” catapult, but abandoning it in future ships will pose significant problems. The Ford’s “digital” catapult is, in fact, the Electromagnetic Launch System, or EMALS. It was designed to provide the boost necessary for aircraft to reach take-off speed within the short deck length of an aircraft carrier. In the long run, it is intended to be lighter, more reliable and less expensive than the steam system. Unfortunately, the EMALS is immature technology, and its development is proceeding concurrently with the ship’s design and development. So far, the program has not lived up to the promises made. Steam-powered catapults, though said to be maintenance-intensive, are proven technology. They have been in service with continuous upgrades and satisfactory reliability for more than half a century. In this system, steam pressure pushes a piston down a track set into the deck of the ship. The ship’s crew prepares the airplane for launch by attaching its nosewheel to a shuttle connected to the piston. When the steam valve opens, the pressure behind the piston accelerates the shuttle and plane down the track, reaching a speed high enough to allow aircraft to take off. The steam to power the catapult is generated by the ship’s nuclear reactor main boiler, the same boiler that generates the steam for the propulsion turbines. That steam is piped from the boiler room to the catapults at the bow. The new EMALS stores an enormous electrical charge — enough to power 12,000 homes three seconds, the time it takes to launch an aircraft — and then quickly releases the current into massive electromagnets that push the shuttle down the track. The new electromagnetic catapult is intended to launch everything from small unmanned vehicles to heavy fighter planes. The Navy claims EMALS will save money over time because it is said to require less people to operate and is predicted to be easier to maintain. But testing has already revealed the Navy underestimated the workload and the number of people necessary to operate the system. As a result, the Navy has to redesign some berthing areas to accommodate more people. It was also supposed to increase the lifespan of aircraft by putting less stress on their airframes by using a more controlled release of energy during a catapult launch. Unfortunately, recent tests of land-based EMALS prototypes showed that the system actually overstressed F-18 airframes during launch. Perhaps even more serious is that the design makes it impossible for the crew to repair a catapult while the ship is launching planes with other catapults. This is done as a matter of routine on current carriers as each catapult operates independently of the other. When one of the steam catapults fails, the crew can make the necessary repairs while the adjacent catapults continue launching planes. Like earlier carriers, Ford has four launch catapults so that — theoretically — should one fail, the ship could continue operations using the remaining three. But the Navy found there is no way to electrically isolate each EMALS catapult from the others during flight operations, raising questions about the system’s operational suitability. The massive electrical charge needed to power the catapults is stored in three Energy Storage Groups, each using four heavy flywheel-generators. The three groups together power all four catapults and cannot be electrically disconnected from a single failed catapult to allow repairs while the other three catapults launch planes. This means that repairing the failed catapult must wait until all flight operations have been completed, or, in the event that multiple launchers fail, all flights may have to be suspended to allow repairs. Thus there is the possibility that the ship might not be able to launch any planes at a critical moment because the EMALS designers failed to provide independent power for each of the four catapults. This problem is particularly acute because the EMALS has a poor reliability track record. The system thus far fails about once every 400 launches. This might seem like a reasonable record, but it is 10 times worse than the 4,166 launches between failures the system is supposed to achieve per the contract specifications. At least four days of surge combat sortie rates are to be expected at the beginning of any major conflict — and delivering those sorties is, after all, the primary reason carriers are built in the first place. At the current failure rate, there is only a seven-percent chance that the USS Ford could complete a four-day flight surge without a launch failure, according to the office in charge of testing the ship, the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation. The decision to pursue immature EMALS technology has been a boon to contractors, particularly San Diego-based General Atomics. With only a nuclear fusion magnetics background and no previous experience in carrier catapults, the company won the EMALS System Development and Demonstration contract on April 2, 2004. At the time, the contract was valued at $145 million. This figure has predictably ballooned over the years as risky, concurrent technology programs tend to do. The most recent figures released by the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office show the Navy will have spent approximately $958.9 million simply to develop this one component — and more may well be required to correct current deficiencies. The cost to build and install an EMALS system — four catapults — is another thing entirely. In January, 2017, the Navy awarded General Atomics another $532 million contract to install the system on the third-in-class Ford-class carrier, Enterprise. And although EMALS is problem-ridden and enormously expensive, replacing it with the proven steam catapult substitute would likely be more so. Using the steam catapult instead is impossible without a complete redesign of the nuclear reactor plant’s steam generating system. Because the Navy planned Ford to be an electric ship, the reactor was not designed to produce service steam for major ship systems. So the reactor now can’t deliver the 4,050 pounds per minute of high pressure steam required by a steam-powered four-catapult installation. Furthermore, installing four new steam-powered catapult tracks would require a complete redesign and rebuilding of the supporting deck structure. The cost of both would be staggering and the delay may be upwards of two to three years. AAG arresting system Of course, launching a fighter jet over the bow of the carrier is only one part of the equation. The jets also need to land, which is another very large challenge on a moving ship. Aircraft don’t really land on a ship. They essentially crash in a highly controlled fashion. Instead of rolling out to a stop on a conventional runway, a plane landing on an aircraft carrier has to catch a cable on the flight deck with a hook attached to the plane to bring it to a stop on the relatively short deck. As it did with the catapult, the Navy decided to use unproven technology for Ford’s electrical arresting system to capture aircraft during landings. This system, too, has been more of a challenge than the Navy expected. “With the benefit of hindsight, it was clearly premature to include so many unproven technologies,” the Pentagon’s top weapons-buyer Frank Kendall wrote in an August 2016 memo. Navies around the world have been using arresting systems for more than a century to land aircraft on ships. The Navy installed its first system, consisting of sandbags and cables, on USS Pennsylvania in 1911. The Navy currently uses a hydraulically braked arresting system called the Mk. 7 on the current Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. When the hook on the landing aircraft catches one of the cables on the deck, the cables are braked by an engine inside the ship. In effect a very large shock absorber, this engine is a plunger inside a cylinder filled with hydraulic fluid. When pulled by the deck cable, the plunger compresses the fluid which then flows through a metered valve calibrated to handle the weight of the type of aircraft being landed. The compressed fluid absorbs the energy of the landing and brings the aircraft to a stop in only 340 feet. This hydraulic arresting gear system has been in use since 1961 and has been improved several times over the years. But as a high-tech selling point, it’s a non-starter. In order to get increased funding for the Ford program, the Navy chose to replace the proven hydraulics with an entirely new and untested electrical system, called the Advanced Arresting Gear. The original 2005 estimate for AAG development alone was $172 million. This figure was revised upwards in 2009 to $364 million, and has now ballooned to well over $1.3 billion, an astounding 656 percent increase. The AAG is also built by General Atomics, and, as with the EMALS, the company doesn’t have any prior arresting gear experience. The AAG is based on a “Water Twister,” a paddlewheel inside a cylinder of water. When spun by the pull of the deck cable, the paddlewheel uses the resistance of the water to absorb 70 percent of the energy of the landing plane and bring it to a stop — with fine-tuning of additional braking forces provided by a very large electric motor. At least that is how it is supposed to work. The Department of Defense Inspector General concluded in a July 2016 report that the entire program has been mismanaged. “Ten years after the program entered the engineering and manufacturing development phase, the Navy has not been able to prove the capability or safety of the system to a level that would permit actual testing of the system on an aircraft carrier.” Test personnel found damage due to insufficient strength of several subcomponents inside the water twister following developmental tests in 2012. The water twister required two years of “significant redesign.” The revised prototype passed land-based dead load tests two years later. The first aircraft tests, also land-based, occurred in 2016. Separately from the twister failures, earlier failed tests revealed damage to the AAG’s cable shock absorber that the Navy attributed to the design’s complexity. This problem was also reportedly corrected. Nevertheless, the latest reliability results show only 25 landings between operational mission failures of the AAG, 660 times fewer than the Navy’s requirement of 16,500. This makes it utterly impossible for Ford to meet its surge sortie rate requirements. And, in an astonishing design oversight exactly like that of the EMALS, General Atomics engineers made it impossible to repair AAG failures without shutting down flight operations — the AAG power supply can’t be disconnected from the high-voltage supply while flights continue. Even after spending an estimated $1.3 billion, the ability to correct the AAG’s dangerous unreliability remains so uncertain that the Navy cannot yet commit to a schedule for actual at-sea testing of Ford. Problems with the AAG are so bad that the Department of Defense asked the Navy to study shelving the idea completely for the follow-on ships in favor of an enhanced version of the proven Mk. 7 system currently in service. However, recommending to drop the AAG after spending $1.3 billion would have been a major admission of failure. Unsurprisingly, the Navy decided to stick with the AAG and push forward with plans to install it aboard the second Ford-class ship, John F. Kennedy. That decision may get overturned now that the Navy has had to report the AAG program’s costs exceed its 2009 estimate by at least 50 percent, triggering an automatic review. This is called a “Nunn-McCurdy” breach, named after the 1982 law that requires the Pentagon to review major weapon programs when their costs rise above certain levels. If a program’s cost estimates increase more than 50 percent, the program is supposed to be automatically cancelled unless the Secretary of Defense certifies the program as critical to national defense. Of course it is extremely rare for any program to actually be cancelled by such means. The AAG will likely provide further proof of Fitzgerald’s First Law of defense acquisition. “There are only two phases of a program. The first is, ‘It’s too early to tell.’ The second: ‘It’s too late to stop.'” Electrical problems Aircraft carriers require a lot of power. Earlier carriers used nuclear reactor-generated steam to drive two of the most power-hungry systems on board — the steam turbines that turn the propellers and the steam catapults that launch the planes. The Ford-class ships retained steam turbines for propulsion, but rather than piping steam from the reactors to power major ship systems directly, it uses steam to turn four main turbine generators to generate electricity for the systems like the new electromagnetic catapults. Generating and managing the massive amount of electricity the ship needs has been a significant contributor to its budget and schedule troubles. To feed these massive electrical demands, as well as the ship’s expanded electronics, the Ford’s four generators were designed to provide triple the total electrical power provided by the eight generators on the Nimitz class — 13,800 versus 4,160 volts. These new ultra-high voltages pose substantial risks such as increased safety problems and increased electrical arcing and failure rates, particularly in humid salt atmospheres. They are also much more fragile than legacy systems, which can make the ship far easier to cripple in battle. Repairing damage to these systems often requires them to be powered down, which could impact other systems that didn’t sustain damage. The possibility that these risks could require substantial ship modification or render Ford unsuitable for combat cannot be assessed until the completion of operational testing in 2020. The Ford-class ships will be equipped with two newly developed Bechtel-built A1B nuclear reactors that together will generate approximately 25 percent more total thermal power and 300 percent more electrical power than Nimitz’s A4B reactors. In the hopes of reducing the reactor operating manpower by two-thirds, the new reactors will halve the control valves, pumps, and piping and will be far more dependent on control automation than legacy reactors. The relatively inflexible automation and grossly reduced manning may significantly reduce Ford’s ability to operate and survive in the face of battle damage. This is a problem inherent in the quest for strict efficiency. Because of the reduced manning, fewer people are available to fix problems in the event of battle damage. But the full implications of the risk cannot be assessed until operational testing is finished. Underlining the risks of the inability to deal with battle damage associated with automation and ultra-high voltages, Ford suffered a small electrical explosion on one of the four new MTGs in June 2016. The explosion threw debris into the turbine and sent smoke billowing throughout the ship. This incident was quickly followed in July by another similar event in a second MTG. A Navy investigation showed that both explosions were caused by faulty voltage regulators. Fixing the damage is expected to cost approximately $37 million. As a temporary fix to prevent yet more delays to commissioning and in order to resume testing, the rotors inside both generators were removed and replaced. But, according to the Navy, MTG No. 2 will have to complete additional “full repairs” when the ship is in the post-shakedown phase, after it is commissioned. These full repairs may be quite extensive. The Navy says the MTG can be repaired in place by replacing the unit’s rotors, but this will only happen during the post-shakedown overhaul period after Ford’s commissioning. This means that Ford will be commissioned and put into active service with only a temporarily repaired electrical system. It will then have to return to the shipyard to undergo major generator repair work before plane launch and recovery tests can even commence. Shock trials All of these systems have yet to be pitted against perhaps the biggest testing challenge any new Navy ship must face — Full Ship Shock Trials. These critical tests discover whether each new ship class is suitable for combat, and occur when the fully kitted-out ship heads out to sea with its crew. Explosives are detonated underwater in relatively close proximity to the ship in order to learn if the ship’s systems are sufficiently hardened to carry out missions in the rigors of combat conditions, and if the crew would be able to rapidly identify and fix any problems that resulted during those conditions. The Navy first identified the need for such testing in World War II. It was observed that several newly designed ships were rendered useless because of “inadequate shock proofing of the ship systems” when mines or torpedoes merely exploded nearby. Since then, the Navy has required that shock hardness be “designed and engineered into ship platforms, aircraft and shipboard interface systems, ordnance and related equipment.” The official Navy instructions for ship-hardening lists 16 mission-essential systems that must continue functioning after a shock event, including propulsion, navigation and communications. Thousands of components are put to the test. During shock trials for the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, for instance, 4,460 unique components were monitored. Navy rules used to require the first-in-class ship to go through shock trials. Despite the obvious importance of verifying shock-hardening, the Navy changed its rules in 2013. Now the Program Executive Officer for each ship class may select the first-in-class ship “or an early ship of each shock hardened class that shall be subjected to the shock validation process as part of post-delivery test and trials when required.” The timing of the rule change is important within the context of Ford and the subsequent ships in her class — on June 18, 2012, the Navy attempted to abandon its plans to conduct Full Ship Shock Trials on the Ford, claiming that deferring the tests to a later ship was justifiable because components like the EMALS and AAG were shock hardened by design. Instead, the Navy announced its intention to conduct the shock trials on Kennedy. The Navy altered the testing plan while its own instructions still mandated the tests be conducted on the lead ship. It wasn’t until eight months later that the Navy issued its new instructions regarding shock trials. The Navy met with resistance on the change of plans for the Ford from the DOT&E, which disapproved Ford’s Test and Evaluation Master Plan. The plan didn’t sit well with the two senior members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, either. Senators John McCain and Jack Reed both objected, saying that sending the ship out to sea before the tests “and potentially fighting without this testing gives us pause.” In the end, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, under pressure from SASC, overruled the Navy and ordered Ford to undergo shock trials, saying the tests “will be conducted to ensure the survivability of the CVN-78 design is understood prior to beginning operational deployments.” It is particularly important that Ford go through early shock testing because of its multiple new, high-risk systems, all of them critical to the carrier mission but particularly susceptible to shock and battle damage. These vulnerable, unproven systems include the highly automated A1B nuclear reactor, the EMALS catapults, the AAG arresting gear, the ultra-high 13,800-volt electrical distribution system, the dual-band radar and the new main turbine generators. Postponing the test to the second ship in class is fraught with risks and potential costs. Had the Navy’s change in plans gone unchallenged, the shock trials to confirm whether the ship’s design could operate successfully in combat conditions likely wouldn’t be completed until 2025. The Navy would run the risk of sending the $13-billion Ford with 4,300 crew members into a situation where a single close-proximity explosion could render it useless and vulnerable to being sunk. Moreover, if the tests reveal fundamental design problems when they are finally completed, the Navy would have to engage in an expensive retrofit of Kennedy and Ford. In fact, by the time the deferred tests would take place, construction of the third-in-class ship, Enterprise, would be well underway and it, too, would need expensive retrofitting. The decision to test Ford as originally required was a clear — though unfortunately reversible — victory for long-time advocates of realistic combat and live-fire testing. The whole saga is a clear example of how and why the services and contractors work to thwart the testing process. The MITRE Corporation, a federally funded research and development center, published a report titled Navy Ship Underwater Shock Prediction and Testing Capability Study that found service officials and contractors with an interest in rushing ships into full scale production — namely, the concurrency advocates — often want to avoid this kind of realistic combat testing. “Shock trials cost time and money, and [Full Ship Shock Trials] occurs at exactly the time where there is the least incentive to go back to the drawing board to fix any issues that arise.” Certainly, until the trials are completed, DoD officials and Congress need to maintain vigilant oversight to ensure the ship’s combat suitability is properly tested and evaluated before it enters service. Actual utility of aircraft carriers And then there is the overarching matter of the actual relevance of aircraft carriers in the future. Plenty of frank commentators have questioned in recent years whether the day of the supercarrier has passed. The wisdom of investing such a large amount of capital into a single weapon system deserves scrutiny. There is the basic matter of battlespace economics. Ford costs nearly $13 billion so far. In a few years, she will likely carry a complement of at least 50 F-35Cs. Conservatively, each aircraft will have a real cost of $185 million … for a total of $9.25 billion worth of strike aircraft concentrated on one ship. That means this one ship when underway will be worth at least $22.25 billion, to say nothing of the 4,297 sailors on board. That is putting a great deal of proverbial eggs in a single basket. Closely related is the economics of fleet size. Even within a reasonably growing budget, it is impossible to expand the fleet while buying four or more carriers at $13 billion a pop, each with $9 billion of fighters aboard. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the Navy would need a budget increase of one-third to achieve its current shipbuilding goals. To persist in buying four Ford-class carriers guarantees that the fleet will continue shrinking for years to come. Supercarriers and the vessels that accompany them in the Carrier Strike Groups do carry a great deal of destructive power, at least against fixed land targets and ships that are not too heavily defended. But, simultaneously, they are very large and costly targets. The United States currently has 10 such carrier groups, but because of the heavy maintenance and crew training required to keep them operating, only a few can be at sea at any one time. This doesn’t provide the United States with a great deal of redundancy. For this reason alone the president and the theater commanders will be forced to limit their carrier demands in order to husband this precious resource. Today the Navy’s carriers are almost constantly in the news as presidents use them as a symbol of strength anytime there is a potential hot spot around the world. They have become, in effect, a very expensive version of gunboat diplomacy. Only recently, when the North Koreans renewed threats to conduct nuclear missile tests, the Trump administration ordered a carrier strike group towards the peninsula. This is relatively easy to do, so long as there is little risk that the waters will be contested. Presidents and theater commanders will likely be far less interested in positioning these same ships where they may be within reach of a potential adversary’s forces. And because other nations see the Navy’s carriers as a centerpiece of American military power projection, for at least half a century potential adversaries have been developing and deploying weapons to keep U.S. aircraft carriers from getting close enough to their coasts to bomb their territory. Their most important and effective anti-carrier weapons continue to be diesel subs, sea-skimming high-speed anti-ship missiles and mines, all of which are deployed in sizable numbers by every nation with a threatened coast line, particularly Russia, China, North Korea and Iran. Most potential adversaries have impressively large fleets of diesel-electric subs — North Korea has approximately 70. China has approximately 50. Russia has 18 plus 22 nuclear attack submarines. And even Iran has 20. Clearly, they decided years ago that subs would be their best bet for neutralizing or sinking American carriers. Thirty years of Navy fleet exercise results bear them out: To put it simply, if naval exercises in the last two decades involving foreign diesel-electric submarines had been actual combat, most if not all, U.S. aircraft carriers would be at the bottom of the ocean: as many as 10 U.S. aircraft carriers have been reported ‘sunk’ in these exercises. The analytically conservative Congressional Budget Office was alarmed enough to officially report that ‘some analysts argue that the Navy is not very good at locating diesel-electric submarines, especially in noisy, shallower waters near coastal areas. Exercises with allied navies that use diesel-electric submarines confirm that problem … [For example,] Israeli diesel-electric submarines, which until recently were relatively old, are said to always ‘sink’ some of the large and powerful warships of the U.S. Sixth Fleet in exercises. And most recently, an Australian Collins-class submarine penetrated a U.S. carrier battlegroup and was in a position to sink an aircraft carrier during exercises off Hawaii in May 2000.’ There have been many such exercise ‘sinkings’ since then, including aircraft carriers Reagan and Lincoln. A carrier threat even more proliferated than diesel subs is the sea-skimming anti-ship missile. Essentially every potential US adversary has substantial quantities of these in versions launched from patrol boats, warships, jet fighters, truck launchers, subs and even merchant ships. Extremely hard to detect because they fly at 15 to 50 feet above the ocean’s highly radar-reflective waves, many carry more punch than the largest battleship cannons. And, because of their multiple launch platforms, they are a threat to carrier task forces from well beyond the carrier’s maximum strike radius of 500 miles. For nearly half a century Russia and China have been continuously developing and selling all over the world an ever-increasing variety of these anti-ship cruise missiles. Widely deployed in large numbers today by Russia, China, Iran and possibly North Korea are the Mach-2.3 3M80 Moskit with a range of 90 to 150 miles and the newer, lower flying Mach-2.9 Club 3M54 with a range of 150 to 410 miles. The Navy’s few and less-than-stressful operational tests of the Aegis defensive systems protecting our carriers provide no assurance that our carriers can survive and operate under anti-ship missile attack: Against the most difficult targets — traveling at supersonic speeds at very low, sea-skimming altitudes — the test results were, to put it mildly, depressing. In tests using surrogates that were both slower and higher than the Mach 2 Soviet SS-N-22 Sunburn [the NATO name for the Moskit] missile, it was clear that the Aegis system could not be relied on for an effective defense of itself or aircraft carriers it was escorting. … More than one director of the Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) shop in the Pentagon has expressed serious concern that the Navy has not even been able to replicate the Sizzler [the NATO name for the Club] in tests. No matter what kind of missile is being used, it makes much more economic sense to defend against an aircraft carrier than to build one. Anti-ship cruise missiles cost from $750,000 to $3 4 million, depending on range and guidance. Anti-ship ballistic missiles may cost from $10 to $20 million each. Hitting what amounts to a relatively small target in a big ocean is a challenge, but the odds of doing so increase with each missile and torpedo fired at the carrier. Since missiles and torpedoes cost significantly less than the carrier and its planes, a determined foe would likely do everything in its power to launch a saturation attack meant to overwhelm the defensive systems of the carrier strike group to increase the chance of getting just one to impact the ship and at least cripple flight operations. Sinking $22.25 billion with $1 million — or even with $20 million — is a good return on investment. Some in the Navy have advocated for smaller, far less expensive carriers. Another, perhaps better, alternative is to build far less expensive carriers without making them smaller by eliminating nuclear propulsion and returning to austere electronics and weaponry. Either alternative would allow the Navy to increase the size of the fleet. A larger number of less expensive carriers would allow more carriers on station, more diverse stationing, and less of the excessive wear and tear on people and materiel due to overly long deployments. Others argue that the right approach is to devote more resources to a larger undersea fleet. Submarines are much more capable of surviving the coastal missile defenses an enemy will field. Their cruise missiles can execute deep strikes, at least against fixed targets. The current nuclear submarine fleet is very expensive — the latest Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine, for instance, costs $2.4 billion — but advances in Air Independent Propulsion systems are rivaling the performance of the nuclear fleet and at $200 million to $900 million, AIP boats cost a fraction of their nuclear counterparts. Conclusion The Ford-class carrier program is in much deeper trouble than the Navy and the DoD are willing to admit. As further testing reveals further serious deficiencies, cost overruns will balloon and promised combat capabilities will shrink. There is the very real possibility that, as currently configured, Ford will prove to be unsuitable for combat because the EMALS catapults or the AAG arresting gear might be unreliable at sea under surge conditions or because the reactor and electrical system might not function in the face of battle damage. Or, worse, because of all of the above. If the AAG fails operational tests, it can be replaced with the legacy Mk. 7 hydraulic arresting gear—though the retrofit will be painfully expensive and may delay the program by a year or more. If the EMALS fails operational tests, installing a steam catapult substitute would require an extensive redesign of the entire ship. To avoid these disastrous consequences, it is inevitable that the Navy’s Ford program management and its contractors will expend maximum effort on weakening and delaying the overall operational tests — and on abrogating the most crucial ones. If the Secretary of Defense and Congress do not act vigorously to protect the current operational test plan and schedule, the taxpayer will have spent at least $44 billion to buy three carriers that are likely to fare worse in combat than existing carriers and that in wartime will jeopardize the lives of the nearly 4,300 sailors aboard each carrier. There’s a near-certainty that upcoming testing of Ford will require major redesign and retrofits to it, and corresponding design changes for Kennedy and Enterprise. To avoid further wasteful retrofits, the schedule for these second and third ships needs to slowed down and the plans for the as-yet unnamed fourth ship, CVN-81, should be put on complete hold until the final IOT&E report is released, currently scheduled for Fiscal Year 2020. Commensurate with the needed slowdown, the $1.29 billion and $1.37 billion requested in 2017 for Kennedy and Enterprise, respectively, should be reduced — perhaps halved — and the savings reapplied to fully funding the most crucial and urgently needed developmental and operational tests as recommended by DOT&E: the shock tests, the live-fire ship vulnerability tests, the sortie generation tests and simulation, the Dual Band Radar multiple target tracking and traffic-control tests and the EMALS and AAG reliability tests. The appalling mismanagement and avoidable major failures of the Ford program are due to exactly the same three causes as the equivalently disastrous mismanagement and failures of the Littoral Combat Ship program: -dearth of in-house technical expertise — badly needed to prevent major contractor design engineering mistakes — due to 20 years of deliberate outsourcing; -deliberate incorporation within the design requirements of unproven, high-risk major systems as selling points to justify large new acquisition programs and -deliberate scheduling of maximum concurrency between design and development, prototyping, engineering tests, operational tests and full-scale production, all in the interest of cancellation-proof program funding. Unless the Navy moves — or is forced by DoD and Congress — to expunge these three guarantors of program failure, the taxpayer can expect future major Navy system procurements to have outcomes at least as disappointingly delayed, wastefully expensive and dangerously combat-ineffective as the Ford-class carrier. This first appeared at the Project on Government Oversight here.