Monday, August 30, 2021


General Dynamics Mission Systems (GD) has opened a new Knifefish UUV (unmanned underwater vehicle) manufacturing facility at its Taunton, Massachusetts site.(1)


As a reminder, Knifefish is intended to be part of the LCS mine countermeasures (MCM) module and will be used to search for buried or bottom mines.  Suspect mine locations and data are recorded to the UUV’s onboard data storage module for later upload to the host LCS for analysis.  More recently, a data transmission capability has been added to try to streamline the data transfer process. 


Knifefish UUV

Knifefish is a 21” diameter, torpedo shaped UUV with a length of around 19 ft and a weight of 1700 lb.  It uses a low frequency, broadband, synthetic aperture sonar.  Knifefish is capable of operating for around 16 hrs (3) which, depending on the distance to and from the area of operation allows for perhaps 10-12 hrs of actual search operations.  Its operational speed is a maximum of 4.5 kts(4).


GD is currently building five systems, with each system consisting of two UUVs, launch and recovery equipment, and control equipment.(1)  The Navy is planning to procure 48 Knifefish UUVs with two allocated to each of 24 MCM modules the Navy hopes to buy.


We’ve often discussed the need to produce weapons and systems quickly during a time of war.  So, what’s the production rate of the Knifefish?


The facility, approximately 8,000 square feet in size, will be capable of producing one system per month after receiving long-lead-time materials, said Craig Regnier, the manufacturing operations manager at the Taunton plant. (2)


One system per month?  I hope we have a very slow war!


Unfortunately, Knifefish epitomizes the problem with the LCS MCM module.  Knifefish is not a one-step mine disposal system as you might expect.  Instead, Knifefish is just the first step in a multi-step process that requires a great deal of time. The major problem is that detection is not even remotely a real-time operation.  The Knifefish UUV runs its scan pattern (at 4.5 kts!) and is then recovered aboard the LCS where the data is then analyzed.  Carlo Zaffanella, vice president and general manager of the GDMS Maritime and Strategic Systems business noted this problem and identified it as something he wants to improve.


The next step is finding ways to make UUVs operationally more useful. A top focus here, he said, is the ability to analyze data while the UUV is still in the water, for something closer to real-time threat identification.


“Clearly, you would like to get to where more of that analysis were possible in real time, or at least as close to real time as you can make it,” Zaffanella told reporters. “If we could get the devices to provide not just essentially a map of what’s out there but perhaps detects or even tracks and say, ‘This is really what you want to be concerned about in real time,’ then the operational utility will go up.” (1)


So … even the manufacturer recognizes that the UUV has only limited utility and yet the Navy still wants it.  Hmm …


The overall LCS MCM process involves multiple initial scans by various methods, followed by confirmation scans, followed by individual mine disposal.  The mine clearance rate is something on the order of 1 per hour or less which is far from being combat-useful.  For leisurely, peacetime clearance operations that can span weeks or months, that process might be fine but for combat operations that clearance rate is a non-starter.


Setting that aside, do you find the following as disturbing as I did?


Capt. Gus Weekes, the Navy’s LCS mission modules program manager, said he had watched GD staff launch a Knifefish at the waterfront in Quincy earlier in the week. During the testing, he said the UUV experienced a failure but praised the company for its ability to recover the drone despite the issue. (2)


So, let me get this straight.  At a planned PR showcase event, where the UUV undoubtedly was exquisitely fine-tuned for the event, the UUV fails and the Navy program manager praises it?  Shouldn’t this raise some red flags?  Shouldn’t this prompt suspicion and criticism instead of praise?


Unfortunately, the current trend is that the Navy routinely accepts delivery of damaged and incomplete ships and equipment.  Now, we’re extending that trend to praising malfunctioning MCM components.  Shouldn’t the Navy have slammed the brakes on the program instead of praising it?  This is how you get EMALS and AGS and LCS failures – by not questioning and holding manufacturers accountable.  I’d have suspended all contracts and payments and demanded proof of success before resuming production.


This is yet another system whose effectiveness and value seem exceedingly questionable.  Time after time, the Navy rides questionable systems right down the drain until they’re total failures instead of cutting their losses and terminating questionable systems early on.  This is how we wound up with the LCS, Zumwalt, and so many other useless systems.


Even if Knifefish worked perfectly, it’s not suitable or effective for combat mine clearance operations.  It’s time to cut the cord on this one.






(1)Defense News website, “General Dynamics opens new unmanned underwater vehicle manufacturing center”, Megan Eckstein, 16-Aug-2021,


(2)Breaking Defense website, “GD Mission Systems Launches Knifefish Production Facility ”, Justin Katz, 17-Aug-2021,





Friday, August 27, 2021

Naval Aviation Path

The Navy, as it often does, has flip-flopped in just a year or so on the viability of the F-18 Super Hornet. 


The Navy announced in its Fiscal Year 2021 budget submission that it would stop buying Super Hornets after that budget year, despite prior plans to buy more of the fighters in a multi-year procurement from FY 2022 to FY 2024. (1)


Now, you’re probably expecting ComNavOps to embark on a rant about the stupidity of Navy leadership, once again.  Well, I happen to agree with this move and, more surprisingly, I agree with some of the rationale and contingencies noted by the Navy.


RAdm. Andrew Loiselle (Director, Air Warfare Division, OPNAV N98) described the rationale this way,


Super Hornets are, “a 30-year airframe at 10,000 hours. So that takes us out to about 2055. And there isn’t a lot of analysis out there that supports fourth-generation viability against any threat in that timeframe. (1)


ComNavOps agrees completely with this.  The Hornet, in any of its guises, is a compromised aircraft that is optimized for nothing and sub-optimal is a good way of dying on the battlefield, current or future.  Terminating the Hornet production line is mandatory.  Of course, one can legitimately ask why, just a couple of years ago, the Navy thought that the Hornet could meet the future combat needs but now, suddenly, it cannot.  Well, that’s just more routine Navy incompetence.  But, I digress …


As you recall, the Hornet, in a misguided concept of epic proportions, was designed not with combat as the primary design requirement but with reduced operating costs as the primary driver.  This unavoidably led to a compromised design.  We’ve gotten away with it for several decades because there was no significant threat but that has now changed in a major way with the emergence of an expansionistic China.  We can no longer afford to depend on a sub-optimal aircraft whose distinguishing characteristic is reduced operating costs.  We need a true, optimized air superiority fighter aircraft.


Of course, this leads immediately to consideration of the next generation aircraft for the Navy and we have no idea when that will be ready for squadron service.  What do we do for aircraft in the meantime?  We have to have something, right?  Well, here’s a couple of answers:


1.     We absolutely cannot depend on the F-35 to be our future combat aircraft for the many reasons we’ve thoroughly covered in previous posts.  Any money spent on the F-35 from this day forward is money being poured down a black hole of uselessness.  Why spend money on an aircraft that is clearly not the answer to our future combat needs?

2.     We have a grace period of perhaps 5-10 years before the threat of a war with China becomes imminent.  It’s a risk, but we can bridge that gap with existing F-18 aircraft and the few F-35’s already on order while we develop the next generation aircraft.  Of course, that assumes that we don’t take 20+ years to develop the next generation aircraft and I’ve described how to field a suitable aircraft in just 5 years (see, “How To Build A Better Aircraft”).



RAdm. Andrew Loiselle (Director, Air Warfare Division, OPNAV N98) describes how to manage the gap years and potential aircraft shortages by adjusting the F-18 Hornet Service Life Modification (SLM) program,


Loiselle argued that investing in Service Life Modification upgrades for aircraft already in service provides the capability and flight hours the Navy needs, noting the service can pay for three upgrades for the same amount of money it would cost to buy one new fighter. If the Navy does need more Super Hornets in the future, Loiselle said he can add more aircraft into the SLM update program. (1)


RAdm. Loiselle is spot on.  The Navy has plenty of Hornets that have reached – or soon will - the end of their normal life spans but that can be revitalized to serve several additional years, if necessary.  Using the SLM program this way is prudent and wise.  Of course, this depends on being able to process Hornets through the SLM program expeditiously and that is by no means a given.


As we noted, all of the above depends on the next generation aircraft (Next Generation Air Dominance – NGAD) development to be timely, affordable, and combat focused.  So, what do we know about the NGAD program direction?  Not much!  Here’s what the USNI News article had to say,


The NGAD program is classified, so service officials have provided little details. But NGAD is slated to be a family of manned and unmanned systems that will work in conjunction with a fighter jet, also known as the F/A-XX, as the nucleus. (1)


It would seem the Navy is already heading off the rails.  What is needed is a very long range, air superiority fighter and, instead, the Navy is looking towards a multi-role (note the F/A designation which automatically means compromise) aircraft whose primary purpose is to hop aboard the unmanned, distributed fantasy train.


So, while I agree with and applaud some of the Navy’s decisions regarding the future of the F-18, I have to reserve a huge amount of caution because the Navy seems to already be screwing up the NGAD program.  This fixation with ‘families of families’, ‘systems of systems’, and unmanned is wholly (unholy?) without any analytical or empirical foundation and yet the Navy is betting the future of the country on it.  This is reckless, in the extreme.


Why has the Navy opted for this highly risky course of development?  Well, I don’t claim to be privy to the Navy’s innermost thoughts but it seems pretty obvious that much, if not all, of the motivation comes from budget considerations and the Navy has decided that ‘unmanned’ is the answer to out of control costs.  The rest of us would look at poor designs, horrific program management, reduced industrial capacity, and similar reasons for the out of control costs but self-blame and self-control is not the Navy way so Navy leadership merely rails against high costs with no acknowledgement that they, themselves, are the reason for the high costs.


Unfortunately, we have no Navy leaders who have ever experienced peer combat or even participated in complex, realistic exercises so they have no concept of what’s required.  Hmm … I said I wasn’t going to rant and yet …  Sorry about that.




So, the Navy is half right and half incredibly wrong.  They’re right about the need to terminate F-18 production but they’re incredibly wrong about the future of naval aviation.





(1)USNI News website, “Navy Questions Future Viability of Super Hornets; Recommends Against New Buy”, Mallory Shelbourne, 3-Aug-2021,

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Japanese APDs and Marine LAWs

Note:  Credit for this post goes directly to reader ‘Christo’ who brought this up in a comment on the “High Speed Transport” post.


As we consider the Marine Commandant’s concept of Light Amphibious Warfare (LAW) ships flitting about the Chinese first island chain, we can look to yet another historical example of the concept (see, “High Speed Transport” for a discussion of the US APD).  In WWII, the Japanese several times attempted to resupply their forward bases using destroyers as APDs.  Some of the APDs were purpose built, the T1 class (1), and others were simply ad hoc destroyers pressed into transport duty.


Japanese T1 High Speed Transport

The point is that they used small, fast vessels to attempt clandestine resupply just as the Marine’s believe they’ll use LAWs to attempt resupply of forward bases.  The difference, however, is that the Japanese APDs were fast and well armed.  In contrast the Marine’s LAW is small, slow, non-stealthy, and defenseless.


So, how did the Japanese APDs perform?


Guadancanal – The Japanese first attempted to conduct resupply using conventional troop transports but suffered significant losses as the transports were easily spotted and attacked.  As a result, they switched to using fast destroyers as troop and cargo transports in an effort dubbed the ‘Tokyo Express’.  Troop laden destroyers would conduct night voyages down the Slot to deliver troops.  Lacking any cargo handling equipment, the destroyers would often dump barrels of supplies into the ocean where troops on the island would attempt to retrieve them with only marginal success. 


The resupply effort was an overall failure and many valuable destroyers were lost in the attempt.  Even the successes were pyrrhic in nature since the quantity of troops and cargo delivered did not come anywhere near justifying the ship losses.



US APD vs. Japanese APD


In general, the US APDs enjoyed some success while the Japanese did not even though the ships were functionally identical.  Why the difference in outcome?


The US APDs were used for special operations such as raids and were not generally used on a predictable basis or schedule and operated in widespread areas on an almost random basis.  In contrast, the Japanese APDs were used in a very predictable manner and in a very localized area where even the ‘eyeball’ sensors of the time were sufficient to detect them.  Once detected, individual ships were routinely damaged and destroyed.





Despite the lack of modern sensors and night movement, the Japanese ships were generally spotted and attacked.  If fast ships, moving at night, against an enemy with no significant sensors other than eyes could be routinely spotted, how do the Marines believe that the slow, non-stealthy, defenseless LAWs will be able to routinely come and go among the first island chain without being spotted by modern Chinese radar, sonar arrays, EO, IR, air patrols, etc.?


It is important to note the key difference between the US and Japanese APDs and that is their Concept of Operations (CONOPS).  As we continually harp on – and the US Navy continually ignores! – a viable CONOPS is the key to ship design and operational success.  The Japanese CONOPS had the APDs operating in a fairly confined area on a predictable basis with an absolutely known destination – a recipe for detection and destruction.  The US CONOPS used the APDs as almost random raiders in unpredictable locations and at unpredictable times.


Now, let’s consider the Marines intended use of the LAWs.  They’re intended to operate in predictable locations (with no due respect to the Marine’s wild claims of thousands of islands to operate from, there are only a relatively few worthwhile and feasible locations for the kinds of bases they want to establish), on regular resupply schedules.  Does that sound an awful lot like the Japanese CONOPS?  Yes, it does.  So, why do the Marines expect a totally different outcome?  Same CONOPS … different outcome?  That sounds suspiciously close to the definition of insanity (same set of actions and expecting a different outcome)!  On top of that, the WWII APDs were heavily armed, for their size, and quite fast.  In contrast, the Marine’s LAWs are unarmed and slow. 


History is telling us everything we need to know about small, isolated transports but the Marine’s aren’t listening.







Monday, August 23, 2021

Constellation vs. Burke

We’ve compared the Constellation to the Perry class (see, “FFG(X) Vs. Perry”) and the Buckley Class (see, “Buckley Vs. Constellation”) so let’s now compare the Constellation to the Burke.  The Constellation is a frigate so it ought to be around half the size, displacement, and armament of the Burke, right?  Let’s see.  Here’s a brief comparison of size and armament.




Burke (Flt IIA)




vs. Burke

Length, ft





Beam, ft





Displacement, tons





VLS Cells







So, compared to the Burke, we’re building a frigate that’s the same length, same beam, and 80% of the displacement to give us a ship with … 33% of the VLS armament. 


All right, let’s consider cost.  We have only a very sketchy idea of what a Burke costs because of the various accounting games the Navy plays but let’s use some recent quoted figures for the Flt IIa over the last several years and call it $1.8B.  We have even less idea what the Constellation will cost but the initial costs are well north of $1B and we know ship costs only move in one direction so let’s say $1.4B.  That puts the Constellation cost at 78% of the Burke which is in line with the fact that the ship is going to be same size as a Burke but just a bit lighter.


So, same size ship, 78% of the cost, and … … … … … … 33% of the armament.


Is that really value for the dollar?


Sitting around the design table at the first meeting, who raised their hand and said, “Hey, this is a great idea” ?

Friday, August 20, 2021

Yet Another Information Dominance Failure

The US military is betting its future on intelligence:  networks, data, artificial intelligence, and so on.  Our omniscient intel and situational awareness will overcome the enemy’s superior firepower and numbers.  Data will rule the battlefield.  We’ll be adroitly maneuvering through the multi-domains while the enemy cowers, stunned and confused, in the corner wondering what’s happening.


On a seemingly unrelated note, here’s Gen. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, commenting on the near instantaneous collapse of the Afghan government and military,


There was nothing that I or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in eleven days. (1)


Wait a minute!  Gen. Milley, you had total total information dominance in Afghanistan and you had no inkling that this was coming?  You had networks, people on the ground, data being crunched by computers, UAV overflights, total sensor awareness, and joint all-domain dominance.  In short, you had the perfect information dominance situation that you say we need to ensure future military dominance and yet you got fooled by armed rabble? 


And you want to base our entire military future on more of the same?


Are you an idiot or are you being paid by some foreign government to sabotage our military?



We just discussed this and proved that information dominance does NOT ensure victory (see, “Information Dominance – Proof of Failure”) and this is yet another proof of failure of the concept    but we’re going to continue down this path as our foundation for future war?  There is not a single example of information dominance winning a war and many examples of losing wars despite having information dominance and yet we’re going to continue down this path?



Note:  Feel free to comment but we are not going to discuss the politics of Afghanistan.





(1)Red State website, “Mark Milley Afghanistan Press Conference Had the Qualities of a James Bond Martini”, steiff, 18-Aug-2021,

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Portsmouth Shipyard Upgrade

ComNavOps constantly looks for positive news about the Navy but seldom finds any so this is a very welcome, very positive development.  The Navy is beginning to follow through on previous promises to upgrade the public shipyards (see, “Shipyard Improvement Plan”).

Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) awarded a $1.7-billion construction project Aug. 13 to expand and reconfigure a dry dock complex at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) in Kittery, Maine, to increase the shipyard's capacity to maintain, modernize, and repair the Navy's attack submarines and return them to the fleet on time. (1)


The seven-year project, part of the Navy’s comprehensive Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP), will construct an addition to Dry Dock 1 within the existing flood basin area, as well as new concrete floors, walls, pump systems, caissons, and other mechanical and electrical utilities, enhancing the 221-year-old shipyard’s ability to handle multiple Los Angeles-class and Virginia-class submarines. (1)


I don’t really have anything to add to this and I normally don’t simply repeat news items without any value-added analysis but this is just too good not to take note of and ‘celebrate’.  

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

 Outstanding, Navy!


I love being able to say that.





(1)Naval News website, “U.S. Navy Investing $1.7 Billion to Improve Portsmouth Naval Shipyard”, Staff, 18-Aug-2021,

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Maintainability - Good Idea Going Wrong

Defense News website has an article about Navy ship design plans that almost … not quite ... nibbles around the edge of a good idea and then, like everything the Navy tries, collapses into the trash heap.  Let’s take a look at what the idea is, why and how the Navy is going to screw it up, and how it could, with just a bit of tweaking, be a good idea.



What It Is


The gist of the idea is that the Navy wants to emphasize maintainability in future ship designs.  Hey, that could be a good thing, right?  I mean, how could it not?  The ability to perform maintenance by a ship’s crew can only lead to greater availability and readiness of the ship.  The close brother of maintenance, repairability – allows a crew to conduct repairs in the heat of battle and will enable a ship to stand and fight longer and to recover quicker.  Modifying routine maintenance to make it easier and more efficient would also be a worthy goal.  Reducing the amount of routine maintenance by designing less maintenance-intensive equipment would be a time saver.  These are all worthy goals.  We have the potential for a good idea, here.


What enormous benefits we could reap by designing a ship, from the very start, to have easier and less maintenance, more maintenance involvement from the crew, and expanded and easier repairability!


So, exactly, is the Navy saying about enhanced maintenance?  Here it is,


The U.S. Navy is willing to pay more for new ships upfront if it means saving on maintenance and personnel costs throughout the life of the program, the head of amphibious, auxiliary and sealift programs told industry this week. (1)


‘… if it means saving on maintenance and personnel costs’.  Oh, oh.  I’m getting a bad feeling about this.  Please don’t screw up a good idea, Navy.



How The Navy Will Screw It Up


What does the Navy mean by this?  Here’s an example,


“Having reliable equipment that does not require a lot of operator action to maintain will enable LAW [Light Amphibious Warfare ship] to handle reduced manning, which, that’s the goal. It may require a larger upfront investment in higher-quality equipment, but we’re willing to do that to offset the sailor cost in the future.” (1)


You caught it, right? :  ‘reduced manning, which, that’s the goal’


Well, there goes a good idea.  We’re starting to see how this idea is falling apart.  The issue and the emphasis isn’t actually maintainability … it’s reduced manning – the Navy’s long-time Holy Grail.  This was the key characteristic of the LCS (not combat) and a major driver for Zumwalt, and Ford.  All those ships have been abject failures in terms of manning and maintenance.  The Navy has learned nothing and now they’re going to repeat the actions that led to failure


Seemingly unrelated side note: The definition of insanity is performing the same set of actions and expecting a different result.  But, I digress …


The Navy goes on to explain,


… LAW will include sensors and monitors enabling not only conditions-based maintenance, through which maintainers can see how well a system is running and conduct maintenance guided by performance data, but also remote condition-based maintenance. The small crew may not be the recipient of the data, but maintainers in regional hubs could receive the data remotely and help schedule maintenance periods into the ship’s operational plans. (1)


Uh, déjà vu!  This is almost word for word the description of the LCS maintenance model.  The LCS was fitted with hundreds of remote sensors that were supposed to continuously send their equipment monitoring data back to regional shore maintenance facilities (EMCON, anyone?  But, I digress …) that would use the data to schedule condition-based, predictive, preventative maintenance as well as routine maintenance.  The concept failed miserably for a variety of reasons.


And now the Navy is going to do it again with the LAW.  What was that definition of insanity?


So, let’s review.


An emphasis on maintainability, crew involvement, and repairability with maintenance enhancements and considerations designed in could have been a good great idea, as we noted.


The Navy immediately screwed it up by focusing, yet again, on reduced manning rather than actual maintenance as it relates to combat, damage control, and repairability.



What Could Be


Properly and robustly implemented, enhanced maintainability could give us:


  • Ships with greatly enhanced combat resilience thanks to easier and faster repairability.
  • Ships with longer service lives thanks to enhanced maintenance.
  • Ships with greater endurance at sea since they wouldn’t have to put into port for every minor maintenance or repair issue.
  • Ships with enhanced combat readiness since equipment that failed would be more likely to be repairable at sea and equipment that is easier to maintain and repair means that the overall ship’s readiness would be consistently greater.


You realize what we’re talking about, here, right?  Yes, we’re talking about designing and building ships with greater combat readiness and resilience.  There’s part of your long-sought force multiplier, right there:  just the ability to stay at a higher level of combat readiness!


Why, oh why, Navy, can’t you just see and do the right things?  Why do you have to ruin every good idea?  Stop trying to link everything to reduced manning.  That’s already been proven to be a failed concept.  I know it hurts to think but just read this blog.  I’ll do the thinking for you.  I promise, your naval world will be so much better and you’ll look like geniuses. 






(1)Defense News website, “Navy willing to pay more for more maintainable ships”, Megan Eckstein, 5-Aug-2021,

Monday, August 16, 2021

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

The Navy has repeatedly tried to early retire the entire Ticonderoga Aegis cruiser class because the Navy claims the ships are too old and too expensive to maintain and operate.


The Navy has tried at least twice to early retire Nimitz class carriers because the Navy says that they are too expensive to maintain.


The Navy early retired the Tarawa class because they claimed they were too expensive to maintain and operate.



That’s a lot of highly capable, combat-worthy ships that the Navy has gotten rid of or tried to get rid of due to claimed maintenance and operating costs.



In contrast, and disturbingly,


The Navy has issued multiple awards cumulatively worth up to $2.76 billion to maintain its East Coast-based Littoral Combat Ships, according to a Friday Defense Department contract announcement. (1)


So, the cruisers, carriers, and amphibious ship’s maintenance costs are too expensive to justify keeping them in the fleet but the LCS, with no credible combat capability, is worth nearly $3B to keep active?


What’s wrong with this picture? 






Note:  And that’s just the east coast LCS.  The west coast will, presumably, need an equal amount of money for maintenance.






(1)USNI News website, “Navy Issues Multiple Contracts Worth Up to $2.76B for East Coast Littoral Combat Ship Maintenance”, Mallory Shelbourne, 13-Aug-2021,

Friday, August 13, 2021

House Armed Services Committee - Strikefighters

The House Armed Services Committee held a hearing that proved illuminating as regards future Navy strikefighter plans.(1)  The testimony video is linked in the reference below and the strikefighter shortfall remediation is discussed around the 58:00 mark of the recording and continues until around the 1:05:00 mark.


The Navy is proposing to make changes to last year’s plan that will reduce the strikefighter shortfall to zero by 2025.


Here are the salient points to come from Adm. Loiselle:


Reducing number of F-35C squadrons per air wing from 2 to 1 but increasing the number of aircraft per squadron from 10 to 14.  That would take the F-35C numbers from 20 per air wing down to 14.  It was not clear whether the eliminated F-35 squadron would be replaced by another F-18 squadron or whether it would be a net reduction in air wing squadrons.  If the F-35 squadron is replaced by an F-18 one, that would result in a net increase of 6 aircraft.


Two squadrons of F-18s from Fallon would be freed up by replacing them with F-16 and F-5s.


The Navy anticipates returning 28 F-18E/F Hornets from inactive status to active status.


The Navy believes that the existing Service Life Modification (SLM) program pipeline can handle additional aircraft in 2025 to compensate for any remaining shortfalls.


Aircraft are coming into SLM with far more corrosion than anticipated.


SLM will produce full Block 3 F-18 aircraft with the 10,000 hr life modification (the original 6,000 hrs plus an additional 4,000 from the SLM).


The Navy anticipates by 2025 the SLM program will be able to process an aircraft in one year versus the current 18 months or so.


Navy is looking at using their own technicians to conduct corrosion repairs on aircraft prior to entering the aircraft into the SLM process and include only less corroded aircraft in the SLM program.


VFA-204 reserve squadron flew adversary training missions at various locations and was a deployable squadron but their F-18 Hornets will be replaced with F-5s and no longer be Navy deployable.


F-16s will operate in Fallon instead of F-18s.


VFA-12 (Oceana) will be the only F-18 equipped reserve squadron and only deployable reserve Hornet squadron.  That’s a very thin reserve component!






(1)Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces Hearing: “Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request of the Department of Defense for Fixed-Wing Tactical and Training Aircraft Programs”, RADM Andrew Loiselle, USN, Director, Air Warfare Division (OPNAV/N98) – testifying on behalf of the Navy, 13-Jul-2021,

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Information Dominance - Proof of Failure

Cdr Salamander, on his blog, offered a post that contains a pearl of wisdom too good to let pass.  He was discussing a recent wargame (2) whose results have been making the rounds of the Internet and one of the specific points he was addressing was that of networks and information advantage and how the military claims this will give us a decisive advantage over our enemies.  Here is his thought on the notion:


We had a huge information advantage over the Taliban and how did that work out for us. (1)


I’m not going to discuss that wargame because there is no definitive information on the conditions or results so there is nothing to intelligently discuss.  Besides, what little has come out of it publicly is almost too stupid to believe although the military never ceases to amaze me with its ability to self-deceive so …


Instead, I want to expand on Cdr Salamander’s thought a bit.


As we’ve discussed ad nauseam, the Navy (and the military as a whole) has bet all-in on networks and information dominance as the foundation and key to future combat dominance.  We’ve also demonstrated the folly of this approach, repeatedly.  I’ll try not to repeat that discussion but I would like to expand on Cdr Salamander’s thought with some more examples.


Afghanistan – We had total information – and technology – overmatch over the Taliban to a degree that beggars the imagination and yet, here we are, today, pulling out of Afghanistan having lost after 20 years of total information dominance.  As the Cdr notes, how did that work out for us?


Vietnam – We had total information dominance and network superiority (albeit of a cruder level than today) and we lost to people living and fighting day to day in huts, caves, and tunnels.  How did that work out for us?



Now, let’s consider another example that turned out differently.



Desert Storm – We had total information dominance and this one was a spectacular tactical victory (and a strategic failure).  What was different about this?  The difference was that we won through overwhelming firepower, training, logistics, and motivation – all the traditional elements of a powerful military.  Of course, having a totally incompetent, unmotivated enemy helped! 






Desert Storm was won because we had and applied overwhelming firepower superiority.  Contrast that with Afghanistan.  We had overwhelming firepower superiority, as a military, but we didn’t apply it.  Desert Storm saw armored divisions roaming the battlefield while Afghanistan saw infantry patrols sporadically appearing on the battlefield and then returning to base.  Our information dominance had no decisive impact.


The conclusion is obvious:  information dominance does not win wars but firepower does – when it’s applied.


We won’t achieve information dominance over China.  At best, we’ll achieve parity.  If we couldn’t win any wars with total information dominance, why do we think we’ll beat China with, at best, information parity?






(1)cdr salamander blog, “We’re Designing Ourselves To Lose”, 26-Jul-2021,



Monday, August 9, 2021

Loss of Focus

The British Royal Air Force has set a new standard for total, complete, utter loss of focus.  They are planning to be the first military to operate a zero-carbon emission aircraft.   According to a government Defence and Security Accelerator document,


The decision has been taken to ensure that the next generation aircraft will produce zero carbon emissions at the point of use. This target must be achieved through more environmentally sympathetic aircraft using a sustainable fuel source such as electric or hydrogen; the goal is to achieve the first military registered and certified zero-carbon aircraft in the world. (1)


Off hand, I can’t think of a more worthless goal than that although I’m sure the US Navy will come up with something, shortly.  This is a complete failure to recognize their core reason for existence which is to fight an existential war. 


With all the problems and challenges the RAF faces, this is what they’re focused on?  On the list of priorities for the RAF, this shouldn’t even be on the list.    


Let everyone else in society worry about the environment.  The military needs to be laser focused on war and the most efficient way to fight it.


Stunning stupidity.






(1)Defense News website, “British Air Force aims to be world’s first service with certified zero-carbon aircraft”, Andrew Chuter, 30-Jul-2021,

Thursday, August 5, 2021

This Is How A Runaway Program Starts

The Navy is going to increase the Constellation’s length and width.  From a Breaking Defense article,


The Navy has chosen to elongate and widen the hull of its next-generation Constellation-class frigate relative to the parent design, but the officer overseeing its production says the internal layout will largely remain the same.    (1)


Well, if you can’t trust the program officer of the LCS Zumwalt Ford Constellation, who can you trust?


While some changes are to be expected to meet the Navy’s needs, enlarging the hullform itself has the potential to change where components in the ship must be placed, as well as the overall cost. (1)


From a CRS report,


F/MM [Fincantieri/Marinette Marine of Marinette, WI] officials state that its FFG-62 design is based on the Italian variant, which has a length of 474.4 feet, a beam of 64.6 feet, a draft of 28.5 feet (including the bow sonar bulb), and a displacement of 6,900 tons.26 F/MM’s FFG-62 design is slightly longer and heavier—it has a length of 496 feet, a beam of 65 feet, a draft of 23 to 24 feet (there is no bow sonar bulb), and an estimated displacement of 7,400 tons, or about 76% as much as the displacement of a Flight III DDG-51 destroyer. (2)


That’s an increase in length of 22 ft (4.5%) and an increase in displacement of 500 tons (7.2%).


This is exactly how runaway costs begin … just a little change.  So, now we have a new hull with new internal layouts, new and untested sea keeping performance, new reserve weight margins, new stability margins and performance, etc.  This is no longer a parent design, it’s a new design that shares only the parent’s name.


The Navy’s entire [fundamentally flawed] premise for this program was to minimize risk and cost by insisting on a mature parent design.  Well, when you change the ship’s length and width you no longer have a parent design in anything but name.  It’s a brand new ship design and brand new ship designs have one absolutely sure characteristic:  they cost far, far more than anticipated.


There is also the issue of the Navy yet again lying to Congress.  The Navy sold the frigate program on the basis of minimal risk and minimal cost due to the use of the parent design but, apparently, had no intention of abiding by that restriction.  The hull dimension changes were not something that the Navy suddenly thought up yesterday.  They knew from the start that they had no intention of retaining the parent hull.  This is more fraud perpetrated on Congress by the Navy.  It’s beginning to look as if the ‘parent design’ concept was just a marketing ploy to get Congress to go along with what the Navy intended from the start to be a basically new frigate design.


The Navy has already issued multiple construction contracts for multiple frigates before the first one is even complete.  This is a repeat of the disastrous LCS approach where 55 ships were committed before the first was built and lessons could be incorporated and fed back into production.  This approach was deemed acceptable only because the parent design was already mature and proven.  Well, we now see that isn’t true – it’s a new design.






(1)Breaking Defense, “Navy Says Constellation Hull Change Won’t Affect Internal Design ”, Justin Katz, 4-Aug-2021,


(2)Congressional Research Service, “Navy Constellation (FFG-62) Class Frigate (Previously FFG[X]) Program: Background and Issues for Congress”, 11-Feb-2021, p.14-15