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#26 2023-02-18 16:48:43

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 29,304

Re: Much Ado About Weather Balloons

One of the issues for the military is that they tend to want more advanced technology or designs rather than incremental change to what they already build. This drives up the chances that what they change will not work or it's just not robust enough for continuous use which you alluded to in the many smaller posts for all branches of the service.

The Ingenious Submarine Designed To Carry Planes Deep Underwater For Strategic Missions

Sure the planes would be smaller but the ability to quick surface and launch would be deadly.

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#27 2023-02-19 10:54:56

GW Johnson
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From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 5,612
Website

Re: Much Ado About Weather Balloons

The submarine aircraft carrier was actually attempted operationally by the Japanese during WW2.  These were the I-400 class,  which were 6500-ton boats that each carried 3 small single-engine arrack aircraft.  That's a rather poor payload for the size and cost.  5 were laid down,  3 completed before the war ended,  and 2 went on missions to attack the Panama canal.  They were captured as the war ended.

There were not very practical designs.  They were very unmaneuverable,  slow-diving,  and had rather shallow submergence limits.  To obtain the necessary stability,  two pressure hulls were enclosed side-by-side inside the outer hull. 

As demonstrated by the US navy after the war,  it was a whole lot easier and more practical to build submarines that could carry ballistic missiles than submarines that could carry winged cruise missiles (or manned aircraft).  This traces directly to (1) the compact shape of a ballistic missile,  and (2) the ability to launch ballistic missiles vertically.

Not much has really changed about those technical issues. They do drive what designs work in the real world,  and what don't.

GW

Last edited by GW Johnson (2023-02-19 10:56:33)


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#28 2023-02-19 15:09:49

kbd512
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Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,602

Re: Much Ado About Weather Balloons

GW,

Aside from launching ICBMs at people, which I see as a politically untenable military solution, since it was never done by the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, or the United States of America, I don't think the go-to weapons to enforce free trade will be ballistic missile submarines.  Post-WWII, there have been two successful attacks against surface ships by attack submarines that I'm aware of.  I am well aware that a heavyweight torpedo detonated under the keel of a warship could easily send it to the bottom.  There could also be other successful submarine attacks that I'm unaware of, but the overwhelming majority of successful hits on enemy ships have been delivered by sea-skimming anti-ship cruise missiles fired from aircraft that spotted the ships on radar and then launched one or two missiles at the target ship from moderate distances.  Said missiles don't outright kill major surface combatants, but instead set fires or detonate stored munitions on the target ship.  Anyway, if we still want to do global trade then we need a different kind of Navy.

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#29 2023-02-20 09:55:35

GW Johnson
Member
From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 5,612
Website

Re: Much Ado About Weather Balloons

Kbd512:

I in point of fact do agree with you.  Except the SLBM submarine did (and still does) have a deterrent effect.  I also think the attack submarine would have a significant anti-ship role to play if a general war broke out,  precisely because they did in two previous general wars,  and quite drastically in the second of those. 

And,  bear in mind that there is no reason that anti-ship missiles cannot be launched from surface ships (the Russians do this),  or from submarines,  as well as from aircraft,  or from the land.  The Iranians are reputed to have SS-N-22 "Sunburn" anti-ship missiles mounted on big trucks,  based in caves overlooking the straits of Hormuz.  The Russians gave them the missiles,  the Iranians supplied the trucks and the caves.

Exocet was used by the Argentinians against the Brits in the 1982 Falklands war.  The French sold it to the Argies,  but with the NATO IFF codes intact.  That resulted in British automated defense systems identifying the incoming missiles as friendly fire.  More ships were damaged or sunk as a result of that mistake by the French. 

At the time of that war,  there had been a nuclear weapon test in the far south Atlantic ,  identified in 1979 by the Vela satellite,  but dismissed in public pronouncements.  No one knew then whether it was the Israelis,  the South Africans,  or the Argentines.  (Today,  we understand it was the Israelis.)

However,  the Brits carried tactical nuclear weapons with them to that Falklands war,  on the chance that it was the Argies who had tested in '79.  Some of these were aboard a Brit destroyer hit by an Exocet,  which broke open the plutonium pits and started a fire in the nuke weapons locker.  That is why the burning destroyer was towed to deep water and scuttled;  it was fatal to try to fight a radioactive fire of that kind.

A Brit sub did sink the Argentine capital ship "General Belgrano" during that war,  with one or more torpedo hits.  The ship was a former US navy cruiser that we had given the Argies. 

GW

Last edited by GW Johnson (2023-02-20 09:57:50)


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#30 2023-02-20 12:17:00

kbd512
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Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,602

Re: Much Ado About Weather Balloons

GW,

A major part of all successful missile attacks is having  the sensor technology to prosecute an attack.  You have to find a target to begin with, track it at least to the point where it can be fired upon, and then lock up that target.

This is where supersonic missiles, and especially hypersonic missiles, fall flat on their face.  The same great speed that allows them to avoid or minimize the response time of a target's anti-missile defenses, also interferes mightily with their ability to track the target.  Radar systems small enough to fit within the missile's airframe are limited by the heat rejection capabilities of those materials and their ability to pass RF energy through them.  A composite radome material that works great for subsonic speeds will melt at hypersonic speeds, and the thin sheath of plasma around the missile will attenuate the signal, thus the radar is placed further back into the body of the weapon, affecting the field of view of the emitter aperture.  This is why inertially guided hypersonic weapons are great for attacking stationary targets, but not so great at tracking moving targets.  Their ability to combine IR and UV for terminal guidance is limited by heating rates.  Their are some ways around this, but only to a point, and that's why you don't see hypersonic weapons killing mobile targets in Ukraine.

The General Belgrano sinking was an example whereby the Argentine Captain paid zero attention to even the possibility of attack.  HMS Conqueror had to hit it with two heavyweight torpedoes.  The light cruiser was built in the 1930s by the US Navy, whereas the British nuclear attack submarine was built 40 years later.  Even modest advancement in anti-torpedo defenses would render most ships immune from torpedo attacks, which means a successful submarine attack will require your submarine and torpedo to remain undetected.  It's the only ship ever sunk by a nuclear attack submarine.

There's no doubt in my mind the a nuclear submarine could successfully attack almost any surface ship, but all of the war games I've seen are grossly unrealistic.  They pre-position the attack submarine in close proximity to a carrier battlegroup, which would be fine if you had sensors to track all surface ships the moment they leave port, but that's not reality for Iran or Russia or even China.  In short, this is not how real submarine warfare works in the real world, where said submarines are also hunted by other attack submarines.  In the real world, you have to find, track, and close with the carrier without being detected or attacked or otherwise deterred by other attack submarines.  Whereas you need a heavyweight torpedo to crack the keel of major surface ship, any hull penetration of a submarine at depth is almost certainly the kiss of death for that sub and her crew.

It's not, this submarine vs that ship, it's our entire military apparatus versus Russia's or China's entire military apparatus.  That is how real warfare works.  That is why they get their butts handed to them when they try to attack us.  They can kill a ship or two, they can kill a few dozen aircraft, stealth or not, and that's why we need drastically cheaper weapons platforms that we can afford to lose a few of.

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#31 2023-02-20 13:37:47

GW Johnson
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From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 5,612
Website

Re: Much Ado About Weather Balloons

Kbd512:

I don't really disagree with what you said at all. 

I do have some experience in the supersonic missile business.  Those do not use composite radomes.  They use some odd ceramics that happen to be rather transparent to radar.  But they will overheat if you try to fly too fast.  Most of missiles I worked on were rockets with transient peak speeds in the Mach 2 to 5 range.  The radome on AIM-120 was "good enough" for steady state cruise at Mach 3.5-ish,  which would correspond to a ramjet variant,  rather like Europe's "Meteor".  Maybe a bit faster. 

The Mach 5 peak speed was with the now-retired AIM-54 Phoenix.  Even with the peak speed being a only transient,  we had to wrap the rocket motor with a thin sheet of cork as an ablative thermal insulation.  Yes,  natural cork,  about 0.050 thick.  The flight time was long enough to have to worry about the thermal wave soaking inside and screwing up the propellant burn rate. 

Once you push speeds to about Mach 7,  you get the plasma formation from the very high temperatures due to friction.  That pretty well interferes with just about any imaginable radar.  IR missiles use something like fused quartz for a seeker window on the front of the missile.  There's probably some other materials out there,  too.  Once these get hot enough,  their glow overwhelms the IR signature the seeker is trying to "see" through that window.  That effects starts at a lower speed,  around Mach 3 or 4-ish,  I'm guessing.  Just a guess. 

Some sort of EO sensor might be able to see through a clear hot window better than IR,  but once you start getting glowing plasma formation about Mach 7,  even that won't work anymore.  That pretty well leaves you with inertial navigation,  flying to coordinates and exploding,  if you want to fly hypersonic at Mach 7+.  Not at all adaptable to moving targets.  To engage moving targets,  you need to slow down enough to dissipate the plasma,  so an on-board radar will work.  Even then,  to cruise at Mach 7+,  I know of no radome materials that might survive. Not even the most common choice,  silicon nitride.

All of that is pretty much why I think all the hype about hypersonic weapons is just that:  hype.  For flying to coordinates and exploding tp destroy fixed targets,  why bother with hypersonic cruising missiles?  Any good ballistic missile already does exactly that job. 

I don't think much of most of the modern war game scenarios either.  Should we wish to use attack submarines to kill shipping,  we would need to use the wolf-pack approach with appropriate communications.  We got away without doing that generally in the Pacific during WW2,  because we already had an idea where the targets were.  But,  where 2 or more boats teamed up,  it worked very well,  just like it did for the Germans.

Anti-submarine defenses are now much more effective.  Countering that is the elimination of any need to surface with nuclear power.  It's all in the sensors on the sensor mast,  communicating with other units via satellites,  these days.  That's a big piece of a 21st century "wolfpack" approach. That's the weak point you try to exploit,  too.

I know more about the planes and the subs than I do the rest,  but I'm sure similar things apply. 

GW

Last edited by GW Johnson (2023-02-20 16:19:00)


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#32 2023-02-20 17:31:29

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,602

Re: Much Ado About Weather Balloons

GW,

In general, my belief is that a stealthy approach which avoids the radar guided missiles of the target warship, followed by IR / UV terminal guidance, is the best way to attack a ship or land-based target.  The missile can still maneuver violently during its terminal guidance phase, it can operate at heights above sea level that no hypersonic weapon could, and even though the target might have powerful point defenses, eventually those will be overwhelmed or taken by surprise if the operators and systems are not active and alert at all times, which is very hard to actually do, even with the aid of computers.

Nobody talks about this aspect of human-in-the-loop weapons release authority.  US practice, and the practice of our adversaries so far as I'm aware, is for a human to issue kill orders.  The few times we've allowed the machines to take over, we had unintended consequences.  No matter how automated the rest of the process, an officer or petty officer is issuing orders to the defensive systems.  I guess most civilians don't understand how these air defense systems work in practice.  Putting it in "automatic mode" risks shooting down your own planes / helicopters / drones, which is why a human makes the decision to fire in almost all cases.  The human operators and the equipment itself in the case of ECM or jamming, is subject to overwhelming attacks or combined electronic and kinetic attacks.  After you know you're the target of an attack and no friendlies are nearby, then you can switch over to automatic mode and AEGIS or similar systems will attempt to automatically defend the ship from all perceived threats, which generally involves an intercept course.

The stealthy subsonic cruise missiles are physically smaller and lighter for a given warhead weight, they're not quite as dangerous to handle or service aboard a ship, and they're not operating at or near the limits of known materials science in flight, so not as costly to develop and mass-manufacture.  If you have enough advanced warning, then hypersonic missiles can be defeated using point defense missiles and cannons, even if they're only moving at half the speed of the inbound hypersonic missile.  They're moving so fast that any bits of metal you put in front of them will cut them to pieces.  The sheer kinetic energy may still allow bits of flaming wreckage from the intercepted missile to impact the ship and do real damage, but nowhere near as much as if the weapon scored a direct hit and detonated its warhead.

What we presently see is the use of smaller munitions that can still inflict debilitating damage, but at drastically reduced cost, and in a way that's much more difficult to effectively counter.  If a couple dozen low-cost artillery shells glide in towards your ship, do you shoot million dollar missiles at them?  How many such attacks can your ship defend against, due to the weight and volume large air intercept missiles occupy, even if money is no object?  Here again, sensor quality and numbers and the low signature of the platforms make the difference.  The brute force approach of using supersonic and hypersonic missiles can and does work, but so does a little bit of finesse, as embodied by the comparative plethora of much lower-cost stealthy platforms capable of getting very close to prospective targets before being detected.

A near-peer nation can afford to develop, and field in quantity, a literal handful of different types of hypersonic glide weapons, whereas dozens of different stealthy subsonic platforms can be fielded for the same or even less money.  At some point, numbers do matter.  All the supposed super weapons are limited in usefulness because they're very limited in numbers.  Russia can afford to make a dozen Kalibr cruise missiles for the cost of a single Kinzhal hypersonic missile.  Kalibr and Kinzhal both deliver a 500kg warhead.

We've seen time and time again how the claims made by the Russians and Chinese about the special capabilities of their weapon systems square with demonstrated operational use.  The two are seldomly congruent.  They have a lot of great concepts, and there's probably a lesson for us in there somewhere, but translating those concepts into useful operational capabilities is where their technology falls short of its hype.  I would classify a lot of their more outlandish claims as aspirational capabilities, if only they had the sensor and computer and institutionalized know-how to convert great ideas into successful attacks.  I don't personally lose a lot of sleep over capabilities they've never demonstrated in combat.

Meanwhile, we must be on about our business of transforming our military back into a fighting force capable of engaging near-peer adversaries with many similar capabilities to our own.  Focusing on the fundamentals instead of on super weapons negating enemy ships / planes / tanks / artillery, is what we should be doing.  This starts with using affordable ships / attack jets / tanks / artillery that we can stmoach losing in a shooting war, where losses will be inevitable.

I would rather lose an LPD-17 class ship that we can pop out another copy of inside of a year, than lose a Ford class super carrier, after "discovering" that no defense is perfect.  I would take the "baby flattop" concept one step further, and say that a vessel of roughly the same size and hull form of the JMSDF Uraga "mine hunters" (6,850t full load) could carry two or three squadrons of micro fighters, use OH-6s for SAR, with V-22s from a sister ship providing COD, AWACS, CSAR, and tanking support.  We would need more of these even smaller carriers, but we could also have many more available since they're in the same tonnage as the new Constellation class frigates.  This is a numbers game and we're behind the power curve, relative to the ever-growing Chinese Navy.

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#33 2024-04-14 02:27:02

Mars_B4_Moon
Member
Registered: 2006-03-23
Posts: 9,774

Re: Much Ado About Weather Balloons

'Exploring the Sky: The Rise of Space Balloons'

https://www.thomasnet.com/articles/manu … -balloons/


NASA at the South Pole with a Balloon and the Antarctica payload lifted, a Galactic/Extragalactic ULDB Spectroscopic Telescope

125,000 feet or 38.1 km

'NASA’s GUSTO Scientific Balloon Sets Record'
https://www.flyingmag.com/nasas-gusto-s … ts-record/

'the balloon beat the standing record of 55 days, 1 hour, and 34 minutes, and continues to circumnavigate'

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