Jane's Defence has just released the new non-subscriber articles. Let's see what's going on this week.
Distant Early Warning
Remember the D.E.W. Line
? It was a string of radar intsallations in the far frozen north to warn the free world of Russian missiles that were coming over the North Pole on the way to their targets. Now it seems that the Russians are coming over the Pole
after all. In an effort to open new commercial air routes, Russian airlines will be flying to North American airports via polar routes. This is something that might very well have started WWIII just 30 years ago, but now the only problem is trying to get enough vodka from those little airline bottles.
Making a Living in the Air
The airline industry took a big hit after 9/11. Less people wanted to fly, the "security" procedures at airports seemed to be designed to annoy passengers, and many travellers decided that they could just drive to where they were going. According to this article
the bad times aren't over for the airline industry. The upcoming war with Iraq will see a further reduction of air traffic over the next year. If there's a major terrorist attack against an airliner (like the attempted one in Kenya earlier this month
) then expect to see even worse performance.
Give the People What They Need
I find that the most shrill and vocal criticism of law enforcement agencies is usually unwarranted. Equipment, training and doctrine to deal with new threats don't happen overnight. The public is rarely reasonable, though, so they demand instant results even when it's impossible to deliver.
The increased terrorist threat has largely caught law enforcement agencies flat-footed, but efforts are being made
to get ready for the next crises. One of the problems is that terrorists don't just confine themselves to one type of attack. They'll strike in new and novel ways. Preparing for the inevitable tragedy is impossible, even for the best funded and equipped law enforcement agencies in the world. The range of threats that need to be countered, and the number of potential targets that would need to be defended, means that some attacks will prevail. Still, it's heartening to see that everybody is doing what they can
Stop Stuffing Your Face and Get Off Your Fat Behind
About ten years ago most U.S. law enforcement agencies realized that they had a problem with out-of-shape personnel. Usually the powers that be simply imposed rigorous fitness standards, such as those that had always been in place for many state's Highway Patrol officers. While it made sense to make sure that a lone officer, tasked with patrolling lonely and empty stretches of highway far from any aid, was in top physical condition it made less sense to impose the same criteria on the officers that filled the diverse jobs that a big city agency required. For example, the fitness levels that a SWAT team member had to meet should be different from those required of a meter maid. Simple and arbitrary fitness standards were a disaster.
Now it seems that British law enforcement
has recognized the same problem. What's encouraging is that it would appear that our cousins from across the Atlantic have learned from painful U.S. experience. Defining the level of fitness required for the job is crucial, as well as making sure that health screening is part of the process. This could turn out to be a very good thing for both the police and the public they serve.
Putting All Their Eggs in one Basket
Decreased defence budgets in Europe have prompted many EU countries to look for ways to cut costs. One of the ways is to have a do-anything fighter/bomber. This aircraft is called the Typhoon
, and projects to upgrade the fighter have had a few teething problems. The latest was a crash in Spain after both engines lost power. According to this article
the powers-that-be have determined that it was just a fluke, nothing to see here, move along and go about your business. The project will continue with no effort made to make sure that it won't happen again.
Tweaking the Dragon's Nose
U.S.-China relations have never been all that good. One of the sticking points has been the island of Taiwan
. China has always maintained that Taiwan was an outlaw province and that they'd be comin' along any day now to make sure that they came back in to the fold, just you wait, gonna happen soon, next week maybe, ready or not.....
The major stumbling block has always been the U.S. and our Navy, which essentially makes any attempt to attack or invade the island a suicide run. Still, with over a billion consumers eager for U.S. goods it's always been in America's best interests to try and keep the Chinese happy enough to keep importing our stuff. This has kept Chinese officials hoping that Washington might one day withdraw military support for Taiwan.
According to this article
the opposite has happened. Military aid and arms sales to Taiwan have increased over the past decade. China's dreams to forcefully re-integrate the rogue province aren't gonna happen anytime soon. This doesn't mean that Beijing won't keep looking for a solution, as the next item so clearly illustrates.
Stealth technology was originally proposed in the mid-1970's. Although hailed as the technological marvel that it is, there really isn't any reason why other nations with disco-era tech levels can't duplicate it.
Now it looks like China wants to join
the invisible club. Stealth aircraft in the hands of the Chinese? Well, I think that the Russians would probably think that it's a bad idea. No wonder Moscow wants to strengthen ties to the U.S. After all, we already
have stealth tech, and we're constantly developing ways to counter it. It would be a good thing to be in our camp if a potential enemy manages to make their strike aircraft disappear.