For Your Eyes Only Military News

RUSSIA:  New Commissars, Same As The Old Commissars

May 19, 2012: Many Russian military leaders are still stuck with a Cold War mentality. There is still the paranoid attitude towards the West, the efforts to dominate neighboring countries and a military alliance with China against the West. Many Russians find these retro attitudes comforting. Russian politicians find it easier to control public opinion if they can create a credible foreign enemy. A growing number of Russians do not accept this paranoid world view and are protesting that, along with corruption and government incompetence.

There is talk of another revolution. But the government has rebuilt much of the Soviet era police state apparatus. But Russia has not become the neo-Soviet Union. There is a lot more economic and personal freedom. There is not as much political freedom, and there is still more crime. There’s also a growing desire to shed these old Russian ways and try to become like the West. Many Russians believe this is not possible, including a lot of the people running the country today. There may not be another revolution, but there is going to be more change.

Meanwhile, government propaganda continues to complain about Western anti-missile systems as a ploy to disarm Russia, not stop missile attacks from Iran or North Korea. While absurd to most Westerners, this paranoia, constantly delivered by state controlled media, finds many receptive minds in Russia. Here, paranoia about the outside world, especially the West, has been a cultural staple for centuries. Recently a senior Russian commander discussed how Russia might be forced to attack Western anti-missile systems, in self-defense. This was mainly for internal consumption, but alarmed foreigners.

May 18, 2012:  In Ingushetia, police found and disabled a terrorist bomb.

May 17, 2012:  For the first time, U.S. and Russian soldiers have trained together in the United States. Twenty-two Russian paratroopers are in Colorado to train with American Army Special Forces troops. Despite the depiction of the United States as “the enemy” in Russian media (especially state-controlled outlets) many Russian commanders want to cooperate with and learn from the Americans.

In Moscow, police arrested 30 protestors as several hundred people gathered to show their anger at government corruption. The government admits it does have some problems, but insists that things are worse in the West. This is a step up from the communist days, when it was never admitted that there were problems in the Soviet Union.

May 16, 2012:  In Dagestan, police cornered and killed the man responsible for a May 3rd terror bombing in the area.  The dead man, Hussein Mamayev, was the leader of the Makhachkala group. When cornered, he refused to surrender and attempted to shoot his way out.

May 14, 2012: In Dagestan, police ended a five day search for Islamic terrorists, killing five of them, while losing two policemen.

May 7, 2012:  Vladimir Putin, former prime minister and two-term president, was sworn in for this third term as president. He promised to make democracy stronger in Russia. No mention was made of the growing police state atmosphere. Over 20,000 people protested Putin elsewhere in the city. Several hundred protestors were arrested and many more injured. Putin sees the protestors as misled by dubious foreign ideas. Putin believes that a traditional Russia “strong ruler” can fix whatever needs fixing.

May 4, 2012: As former president Medvedev left office, he fired the heads of the air force and navy. It was unclear why. The air force guy was close to retirement and the navy chief had been in office for five years. Medvedev had encountered some resistance from senior military commanders as his military reforms (cuts in manpower and units, increased procurement of new equipment) were forcefully introduced. Medvedev was, to many senior officers, attempting to turn the military from a “Russian” to a “Western” force.

Still upset at losing the Cold War, the generals and admirals did not want to confirm their defeat by remaking the armed forces to look and operate like those of their Western adversaries. But Medvedev and Putin believe there is much to be learned from Western military success, and want Russia to adapt. Officers who resist are being pushed out.

May 3, 2012:  In Dagestan, two car bombs killed twenty people and wounded over a hundred.

PROCUREMENT:  Israeli UAV Flies For Islam

May 19, 2012: Finland has ordered 55 Israeli Orbiter 2 UAV systems. An Orbiter 2 UAV weighs 9.5 kg (21 pounds) and its battery powered motor can keep it in the air for about three hours per sortie. Maximum altitude is 3,200 meters and top speed is 120 kilometers an hour. Since the UAV can’t operate more than 80 kilometers from the controller, top speed is rarely needed.

The Orbiter is launched by a catapult. It lands via parachute, and is waterproof and floats. One of the three UAVs each system has can then be launched while the other has its battery replaced, and the parachute repacked, and be ready for another sortie in under ten minutes. The day/night vidcam transmits video back to the handheld controller, where the images can be stored. The Orbiter can also be used at sea, and Israel uses them on some of its patrol boats. Nearby Poland also bought Orbiter 2, as have several other military and police forces outside Israel.

One of the export customers is Azerbaijan, which formed a joint venture to build Orbiter 2 in Azerbaijan. Because Azerbaijan is a Moslem country, Orbiter 2 can then be sold to other Moslem nations (which normally will not buy anything from Israel.)

SURFACE WARSHIPS:  Chinese Corvettes Settle Down In North Africa

May 19, 2012: Algeria is buying three 2,800 ton corvettes from China. Details were sparse, but it is believed that the Chinese corvettes will be equipped in a similar fashion to two Russian Stereguschyy class corvettes Algeria ordered last year. Russia already has completed two of these and four more are under construction. These are small ships (2,200 tons displacement), costing about $125 million each. These “Project 20380” ships have impressive armament (two 30mm anti-missile cannon, one 100mm cannon, eight anti-ship missiles, six anti-submarine missiles, two eight cell anti-missile missile launchers, two 14.5mm machine-guns). There is a helicopter platform, but the ship is not designed to carry one regularly. The small crew size (100) is achieved by installing a lot of automation. The ship also carries air search and navigation radars. It can cruise 6,500 kilometers on one load of fuel. Normally, the ship would stay out 7-10 days at a time, unless it received replenishment at sea.

Like the American LCS, the Russian ship is meant for coastal operations.
The first of a new class (Type 56) of Chinese corvettes is under construction, and appears to be under 2,000 tons displacement. The unidentified Chinese corvettes for Algeria are larger still, indicating a possible attempt to leapfrog the Russian Stereguschyy class. Then again, it might have just been a typo in the official press release or a misunderstanding between the Algerians and Chinese.

WARPLANES: A Paint Job For Every Occasion

May 19, 2012: Military aircraft have, like ground troops, long used camouflage to make them more difficult to spot. Sometimes the camouflage is very minimalist. For example, during World War II radar-equipped night fighters were painted black to make it more difficult for bomber (the usual prey) crews from spotting the night fighter soon enough to shoot it down. By the 1980s, the first stealth bomber (the F-117) was also painted black. While the F-117 was largely invisible to radar, it could be seen with the naked eye. Thus it operated mostly at night, and was painted black like the older night fighters, for the same reason.

The most recent development is the “digital” patterns found on the infantry, and their vehicles, to make aircraft more difficult to spot against vegetation. Air forces use camouflage patterns for two reasons. First, is to make it more difficult for enemy aircraft above, or enemy troops below, from quickly locating the aircraft. For that reason, aircraft have two different camouflage patterns. On top of the aircraft, is a pattern that makes the aircraft blend in with the ground below (when viewed by an enemy pilot above). On the bottom of the aircraft is no pattern at all, but rather a bland monochrome that makes the aircraft harder to pick out from below. The U.S. Air Force has four “looking down” patterns, for different types of terrain. There’s even one for the arctic (while, gray and black). The second use of the patterns is to make it easier to pick out your own sides aircraft. The camouflage doesn’t make you invisible, just harder to spot in a hurry.
Not all special paint jobs were to make the aircraft harder to see. During the Cold War, some aircraft that specialized in delivering nuclear weapons were painted white, a color that would reflect some of the heat energy from a nuclear weapon.

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