NewsBytes 2001/2

 

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December 29th: The Carriers Gather. GW will set sail for the Gulf again after only just completing it's most recent deployment to the region on December 21st. Joining her will probably be the Lincoln, currently in Perth or the Kitty Hawk in Japan. 

December 10th: CVN-77: George H W Bush. 

November 3 2002: Hornet Lost from Washington. Crashed into the Adriatic. Lt. Cmd. Robert E Clukey lost at Sea.

June 3rd: The F/A-18E will deploy aboard Lincoln this month to SW Asia. This will be the first operational deployment of the aircraft and is expected to be sent immediately into combat.

June 3rd:
13 sailors aboard Nimitz were arrested last week for drug abuse.

March 3rd:
An F-14 Tomcat fighter jet from the carrier John F. Kennedy crashed into the Mediterranean Sea 50 miles south of Crete on Saturday, killing its pilot and injuring its radar intercept officer. Both had ejected before it hit the water.

The pilot was Lt. Cmdr. Christopher M. Blaschum, 33, of Virginia Beach Va. was assigned to VF-143.

January 31st: With the State of the Union address Bush declares "Let's Roll". And so the the U.S. will continue the war on terror even without allies. As it should. No country or those it harbours should be immune from retribution should it consider any action against the U.S.  

2002

October 30th: Lockheed won the $200 Bill. contract to build the Joint Strike Fighter, now known as the F-35. This includes 609 aircraft for the Marines, 480 for the U.S. Navy and 60 for the U.K. Navy. The first deliveries are due in 2005. The Boeing X-32 was the rival in the contract.

The Enterprise has entered the Med and is due home at Norfolk in mid-November.

October 18th: OBL: Dead Man Walking The war rolls on, ever heavier raids are now also being targeted on the Taliban forces. TR has apparently appeared on the line and Kitty Hawk has been outfitted with special forces. The Nimitz has transited to it's new homeport at Sandig with a reserve air wing (20) aboard.

October 8th: 25 strike aircraft from Enterprise and Carl Vinson attacked targets in Afghanistan today. Along with 50 cruise missiles in the first wave, B-1, B-2 and B-52 aircraft, they attacked mainly air-defence and infrastructure targets.

October 2nd: Coalition for Inaction?Again the US is trying to build a coalition for a war against terrorism. George I tried it and because the threatened loss of coalition partners, left the job half done. With the Germans, French and any number of Islamic countries urging anything but solving the problem, a coalition can only be recipe for inaction and dithering about what one country or another may think. Afghanistan is only the first country to be sorted, others that must be looked at are Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Iran and Pakistan. Whether these profess to belong to the current coalition or not as a means of hiding, will need action that the coalition has not the wherewithal  to do.

The US and it's closest allies can make use of the current coalition for it's own purposes but as soon as the obstacles  get worse the recalcitrant countries should be given the 'us or them' talk once again. If any member has not the stomach to do what has to be done, it should stand out of the way.

George II may be reviving his father's way of doing things including the same people,  leaving the job half done and facing down the same problems years down the track.

September 24th: Taliban Days Numbered With reports of SAS on the ground, a UCAV downed and the Northern Alliance receiving assistance, it will not be too long before there will be more widespread attacks. This should take out most Taliban support and what little infrastructure they might have. There will now be four Carrier Battlegroups in or near the area: Carl Vinson, Enterprise, TR and Kitty Hawk and additional ships from the Royal Navy.

September 14th: US Prepares for War The U.S. is preparing for a long war against the terrorists and the countries that support them. At this time the Vinson and Enterprise are in the Gulf, also at sea are Washington, Kennedy, Stennis and Kitty Hawk. The TR is to be deployed to relieve Enterprise on Sept 19. 33 active service navy personnel are missing at the Pentagon.

September 12th: With the 'Act of War' against the United States the armed forces have been put on the highest state of alert. Carrier battlegroups are putting to sea and 2 have gone to boost air strength around New York and Washington. Other ships have cancelled visits and are also at sea.

September 4th: Navy Combats Refugees The Australian Prime Minister, John Howard seems intent on using the armed forces to gain votes, sending in the SAS, Air Force and 5 naval units to protect Australia from 460 refugees and then calling opposition members of Parliament 'traitors'. The imperialist approach has always been popular amongst politicians wishing the people to rally to the cause. The fact that the refugees are almost all Afghani's and that 94% of current Afghani refugees in Australia have been accepted has apparently been ignored and that these people are illegally encroaching on Australian sovereignty. Yet, while Australia is a party to the UNHCR treaty it has ignored it's provisions to process these people's status and has passed them on to other countries. In the end a large number of the refugees will end up in Australia.

This is not the first time Mr Howard has used the armed forces, sending practically all of the operational assets of the army into East Timor to a situation largely of his own making. This has, of course, put Indonesia offside to such an extent that the President will not even return Howard's call over the refugee crisis. Howard is using the fear of a refugee 'invasion' to use the navy to patrol the Timor Sea, not that they would be able to do anything but warn them off and are unable to stop them from landing.

This is not the way to use the navy, chasing down refugees and patrolling against an imaginary invasion.

July 3rd: Strengthen or Downsize? With the Rumsfeld review in full swing, will it be a case of strengthening the armed forces or downsizing? Reports of the loss of 30 B-1B and the end of a two-war strategy clearly indicates rethinking of the role of the armed forces. This may lead to a substantial loss of numbers of both personnel and equipment. Bush would like to get out of the Balkans and reduce overseas peacekeeping, lessening the need to keep large numbers of personnel.

However, there is also an indication that since there is a substantial increase in the next budget likely, there will be a greater emphasis on re-equipment such as the F-22, JSF and DD21. The question of future carriers is anyone's guess although there may be a scaling back of their size and building more. It seems it may mean a bit of both strengthening and downsizing and more emphasis on high technology.

 

July 1 :NNS2904. Super Hornets Ready to Soar
By Naval Air Force Pacific Fleet Public Affairs
NAS LEMOORE, Calif. (NNS) -- The first F/A-18E Super Hornet squadron, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 115 at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., was recently declared "safe for flight certification."

This certification followed a series of inspections and review of programs designed to satisfy Navy requirements for the aircraft.

The squadron, nicknamed the "Eagles," is set to train independently in preparation for its first deployment of Super Hornets with the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Battle Group and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 next summer.

Prior to certification, VFA-115 trained jointly with VFA- 122, the Super Hornet fleet replacement squadron at NAS Lemoore, to prepare pilots and maintenance crews for the arrival of the Navy's new Super Hornet aircraft. As new jets were received by the Navy, individual training was conducted on an "asset available" basis. Now, with an inventory of six aircraft, a full compliment of pilots and a complete administrative structure, the squadron is capable of operating autonomously.

During a recent Super Hornet acceptance flight, Lt. Cmdr. Greg Harris and Lt. Cmdr. Matt Tysler flew a qualifying mission to demonstrate the capabilities of the aircraft. "The first flight was the culmination of hard work by the Eagles, VFA-122, the fleet introduction team and the entire Super Hornet industry team," said Harris. "It was a real thrill to be able to fly the first fleet Super Hornet flight, and we are looking forward to many more."
Harris added, "This is a great milestone for VFA-115 and the Super Hornet team and we should all be proud to be taking the next step."
The Super Hornet is a multi-mission aircraft that can be employed as a fighter, a bomber or a tanker. The new jet has a tactical mission spectrum that spans from long range, sea-based air dominance to deep-strike interdiction.

The Super Hornet is designed to greatly exceed the capabilities of current naval aviation assets and is expected to replace the F-14 Tomcat in future program years. The new jet is designed to carry every tactical air-to- air and air-to-ground weapon in the Navy's inventory, and is equipped with an enhanced radar system, as well as advanced on-board sensor fusion capability.

The Super Hornet is the Navy's premier strike-fighter aircraft and is designed to lead naval aviation in the 21st Century.

For more information about the Super Hornet, go to http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/aircraft/fa18, scroll down and select "shornet.html."
For more information about VFA-115, go to http://www.lemoore.navy.mil/vfa-115.
-USN-

June 1st : Bush Promises Much Delivers Little President Bush's supplementary budget allocation of $5.9 Bill to the defence appropriations seems quite stingy when compared to the promises he made to strengthen the US military during the election campaign.

So he might wait to next year's budget for any substantial improvement, but by 4th quarter things will get very tight once again as the supplement will not likely cover short falls in maintenance and operations. The defence review, due shortly, will have a big impact on the next fiscal budget, it will be interesting to see which programs will be cut and wether a real strengthening of the military will result.

May 7th : China Vs the US With the capture and subsequent release of the Navy EP-3 crew, China's relations with the U.S. continues to cool. This of course traces back to the last two centuries when China was subject to colonial rule and invasion and hence it's inability to overcome the "victim" mentality. It's totalitarianism and lack of human rights will always grate with western values and so it should. Why this is passed off as an "Asian Way" by China and other countries in the region is simple: they wish to remain in power, their way of power. Opposition is always seen as counter-revolutionary, from Tianamin Square to Falun Gong, the moderates have been berated and expelled from the party or worse.

The military now wants to assert itself by forcing the U.S. from it's intelligence flights near it's coast. After a long series of harassing manoeuvres this has resulted in China causing the EP-3 to land on it's territory. The intelligence windfall might not be all that China would have wanted, the best had been destroyed, yet it has gained something. So has the U.S., it will not see China again as a strategic partner, rather as a rival, one that needs careful watching and strengthening ties with Taiwan.

March 30th : Last of the Big Carriers? The Rumsfeld review is believed to recommend that CVN-77 be the last big carrier built for the forseeable future. Instead a fleet of small, dare we say it, expendable carriers would be built.

Called Corsairs these would be in the order of 6,000 tons and manned by 20 crew with 6 Joint Strike Fighters or UCAVs aboard. They would go where the Nimitz class could not in the near future. With every two-bit country soon able to field cruise or nukes it does not make sense to subject a Nimitz to such danger.

It remains to be seen if this proposal will get past the special interests and the carrier officers who influence much of the navy. There is certain to be much debate.

March 5th The Ronald W Reagan was christened today by Nancy Reagan. It is due to be added to the fleet in 2003 replacing the Constellation.

February 16th 24 aircraft including F/A-18’s from the Truman attacked 20 Iraq radar sites around Bagdad. The sites, although not in the no-fly zones, have been sending signals to missile sites in the northern and southern regions. This has been possible due to Chinese involvement in laying fibre optic cable from the radar to the missile sites.

Although the radars were heavily damaged the AGM-130 Joint StandOff Weapon (JSOW), used by navy aircraft, did not perform well often missing their targets by several hundred meters. An enquiry is under way to find the causes. However, the sites are ‘sufficiently shredded’ for the weapon to be considered effective.

Secretary of State Colin Powell has queried the Chinese about there involvement, in what would be a clear breach of UN sanctions. They have denied the allegations.

January 31st The Ronald Reagan will be christened on March 4th at Newport News. It's final expected cost of building (minus reactors) will be between $2.51bill and $2.88bill. The ship is expected to be delivered to the navy in 2003.

January 31st A contract to Newport News for $3.8bill has been let to build CVN-77 (Lexington?), this is minus the reactors and various other components. Expected delivery is 2008.

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