Friday, November 3, 2017

Tu-95 Intercept

In an otherwise yawner of a news story about Hornets from the USS Reagan, operating in the East China Sea, intercepting a couple of Russian Tu-95s which flew to within 80 miles of the carrier, there are two aspects worth questioning.

First, why were the Russian aircraft allowed to get within 80 miles unescorted when, presumably, we could see them hundreds of miles away?  I say “presumably” because I would also have presumed that we could navigate a Navy ship out of the way of a giant cargo ship and that turned out not to be the case - twice.  Did we not see them until they were that close?  Has the recently demonstrated ineptitude carried over to our combat detection capability?  It wouldn’t surprise me.

Second, why were aircraft “scrambled” as opposed to simply having the Combat Air Patrol (CAP), or whatever it’s called nowadays (probably something with the word “Joint” in it), make the intercept?  Do we no longer maintain a CAP over carriers?  Are we that unprepared for combat around China and North Korea?

Now, note that this is the farthest thing from a professional, accurate report so the language used may well be less than precise.  Still, it raises interesting questions.



___________________________________

(1)Navy Times, “Report: Hornets scrambled to intercept Russian jets near carrier”, Staff, 1-Nov-2017,



21 comments:

  1. I saw this and said ho..hum too...

    First off the "Bear" is not a jet...

    Second. So what, this is news? Soviet (Russian) flybys happened 2-3 times A DAY in many oceans around the world for a couple decades up until around 1990... Bears/Badgers/Mays or even Backfires never flew unescorted by fighter/CVW aircraft anywhere within "range", visual at minimum of the CVBG. If that happened, even if you were "saturated" with a regimental raid, someone was fired.

    Professionalism.

    b2

    ReplyDelete
  2. There are answers to your questions--but beyond the classification of this web site. Rest easy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Should I rest as easy as the sailors in their racks on the McCain and Fitzgerald? Or, should I continue to ask hard questions that might keep someone else alive?

      I'm not asking detailed data on Aegis/SPY detection ranges. I'm asking whether our spate of incompetence has spread to our combat systems as well. It would be surprising if it hasn't. I'm also asking whether we've ceased operating CAPs - hardly a classified issue.

      I'm also asking why, if we did detect the Russian aircraft further out, did we not intercept at max range as we routinely did during the Cold War? Allowing a Russian bomber to get to within 80 miles, unescorted, if that is actually what happened, suggests a degree of incompetence or overconfidence, either of which are quite troublesome and worrying.

      If you have useful, general information, share it. Otherwise, cut the secret squirrel crap.

      Delete
  3. Maybe they came low, real low. I know are b52 used to do it during some training exercises, why wouldn't the bears? Regardless, it illustrates yet again that technology can't substitute having escorts and caps'.











    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Remember that nothing in the article said that they weren't detected until 80 miles (it also didn't say they were detected), only that they weren't escorted before then. I posed the question, were they detected?

      Delete
  4. From the year 2000

    At least two Russian fighter jets buzzed a U.S. aircraft carrier three times in recent weeks then rubbed it in by sending close-up photographs directly to the ship via e-mail, the Pentagon said today.

    But the Navy insisted that in all three incidents on Oct. 12 and 17 and again Nov. 9, in which Su-24 and Su-27 jets flew near the USS Kitty Hawk in the Sea of Japan, they had the fighters on radar from the moment they launched and the jets never presented any surprise or threat.

    “We don’t think there is much reason to suspect that the Russian government has any hostile intent toward U.S. Navy ships operating in international waters. Therefore we don’t intend to react as if we did,” said Rear Adm. Steve Pietropaoli, the Navy’s top spokesman.

    No Pictures Even

    The Clinton administration did not lodge an official complaint with Moscow.

    But Pietropaoli and Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon revealed that about two weeks after the Oct. 17 incident in which two jets roared unescorted less than 1,000 feet over the ship, the Russian air force squadron e-mailed three black and white photos to the ship with a brief written message in Russian.




    http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=81971&page=1

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's nothing wrong with aircraft buzzing ships, if they don't do so unsafely. It's peacetime and international airspace. However, to allow it to occur unescorted sends a very bad message - that we're not prepared for combat and we don't have the will to stand up for ourselves.

      Delete
  5. I think we can assume that the current distance from the carrier isnt the same as during the cold war for obvious reasons. Wheter a constant CAP is being maintained, especially in those East Asian waters, I think we all know the answer to that.
    The Tu-95 base at what used to be known as Ukrainka, 120km NE of Blagoveschensk in the Russian far East are probably picked up on radar and tracked as they pass between the Russian mainland and the Japanese Archpelago and the same as it passes between Japan and Korea into the East China Sea. Japan of course has its own E-767 AWACs plus the E2 Hawkeyes. I cant imagine this plane suddenly surprised the Reagan and it may have just been their turn for a closer look as it passed out of the japanese ADZ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you have any evidence whatsoever to support your suppositions? Because I can't imagine a giant cargo ship suddenly surprised a Burke destroyer and collided with it and yet it happened twice. So, not only is there no evidence, that I'm aware of, to support your suggestion that the aircraft were observed all the way, circumstantial evidence would suggest that we did not track the aircraft until 80 miles.

      Delete
    2. "Wheter a constant CAP is being maintained, especially in those East Asian waters, I think we all know the answer to that."

      I don't know the answer to that which is why I posed the question in the post. If you have some actual documented evidence, one way or the other, on this, please share it.

      Delete
    3. Constant CAPs would be likely targets for budget cuts years ago, and as you have pointed out current air wing numbers are well down from that era . Less flying allows for savings in air crew numbers, fuel and refueling as well as the maintenance costs. A more detailed answer is here from an aviator
      https://www.quora.com/Do-aircraft-carriers-fly-a-CAP-combat-air-patrol-24x7-or-just-when-in-combat-zones

      I cant see anyone comparing navigation problems in busy waters- where they were aware of the ships they collided with- and a more open ocean scenario where the Bear has flown through both the the Korean and Japanese ADZ. These zones are well established and intercepts common
      thediplomat.com/2017/10/us-japanese-fighter-jets-intercept-russian-bombers/
      May well have been the same planes or very soon after.??
      "“At certain sections of the route the Tupolev-95MS crews were accompanied by a pair of F-18 fighters (of the U.S. Air Force), and a pair of F-15, F-4 and F-2A fighters (of the Japanese Air Force).”

      Delete
    4. As I thought, you have no evidence one way or the other, whether the carrier had a CAP operating. While a CAP might not be necessary off the coast of the US, operating withing missile range of NKorea, which has a habit of flinging missiles into the surrounding seas near Japan or operating within range of China would seem foolish without a CAP.

      Delete
  6. Growing up in the 80s and Cold War, it pretty much was a given that F14 CAP and E2 were always up, I think that was pretty much common knowledge....I just assumed that we still did it in 2017!!!

    I can see cutting back on the CAP to save money and air-frame lives of F18 and Super Hornets BUT shouldn't at least the E2 still be up there on radar watch?!? If E2 was in the air, why did the carrier wait till the bombers got that close?!?

    Sorry but it does smack of surprise or slow reaction to the bombers to me....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To be fair, we don't know the whole story. Perhaps the Russian aircraft were escorted by Japanese aircraft and handed off to the US at some point. However, if I were the Navy, I'd want to demonstrate that I can intercept a Russian aircraft hundreds of miles out, before it can get into cruise missile range. Anything less sends the wrong message.

      Delete
  7. This story of poor training and incompetence is only getting worse in my book. If I understand correctly, some of the crew of the USS Antietam (Tico class) were manning the controls of the McCain (Burke class) so yeah, they were confused about the controls. Why were they there? Is this a regular occurrence across the USN? Who thought this was a good idea?

    Now, there is a generation of tech advances for ships just like airplane cockpits, I can understand why the crew was confused but it still seems to me a regularly trained crew should be able to adapt to the new bridge pretty fast, it's not like this happened on the first day being on the Burke.... why didn't anybody suggest some handling training to understand quickly the systems?!?

    https://www.navytimes.com/news/your-navy/2017/11/02/sailors-driving-the-mccain-were-not-qualified-to-be-on-watch-navy-says/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Antietam sailors were on the McCain because the Antietam was the ship that ran aground in a failed anchoring attempt and has been sidelined for some time while undergoing repairs. The Navy was attempting to get the sidelined sailors some operational experience. There's nothing wrong with that AS LONG AS THE RECEIVING COMMAND (THE MCCAIN) ENSURES THAT THE NEW SAILORS ARE FULLY TRAINED AND QUALIFIED BEFORE PUTTING THEM ON WATCH. Unfortunately, not only did the receiving command (McCain's CO) not train the new sailors, they didn't train and qualify their own! A good idea that was mishandled into a contributing factor to a disaster. Let's be clear, though, the collision didn't happen because of Antietam sailors - it happened because the McCain crew, from the CO on down, didn't know what they were doing and had no business being at sea.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the information about the Antietam, the article (wonder why?!?....sarcasm) didn't explain why the crew was moved to McCain... I much as I agree the McCain leadership is to blame, USN top leadership also is to blame, Tico class is old design and I'm sure there are some significant differences how the bridges operate, USN should have done a refresher/update course so the Antietam crew was better prepared before arriving to McCain.

      Nevertheless, This is just one more example of USN failures, incompetence and is very worrisome when USN faces combat....

      Delete
    3. That's the key takeaway from all this. If we aren't even ensuring that our crews are capable of basic seamanship, what's the odds that the crews are capable of competently operating highly technical, very advanced radars, fire control systems, and weapons? What's the odds that the a Captain who can't be bothered to ensure that his crew is properly trained has made it a priority to make sure that he, himself, is tactically proficient?

      Unlikely.

      Delete
    4. "USN top leadership also is to blame"

      Oh absolutely! Fleet command level knew exactly what problems there were in training and manning. They knew the garbage tasks that were being piled on the ship's captains that were making it difficult to get to training. They authorized the waivers in certifications. None of this happened the day before the collisions. It had been going on for years. Fleet commanders came up through the system and knew, first hand, how bad things were but when they achieved a position of authority they failed to correct things. THIS IS WHY CNO RICHARDSON MUST BE FIRED. HE KNEW WHAT WAS HAPPENING AND TOOK NO ACTION. His is the ultimate responsibility and culpability.

      Delete
    5. USN leadership is basically asking us to look at these "incidents" as "normal" AND ESPECIALLY NOT TO look at the implications of these lapses in training and leadership....SO LET'S SUSPEND our thinking and not worry that they can't navigate BUT yes, sure,they can operate PROPERLY the must complicate weapon system ever produced, AEGIS....keep up the good work CNO!!! There's so little pressure from outside on US military services. We know Congress isn't doing anything....

      Delete
    6. Dont forget, CNO, that last SM-2 intercept test reportedly failed because a sailor pushed the wrong button and caused the missile to self destruct.

      Delete

Comments will be moderated for posts older than 30 days in order to reduce spam.