May 26, 2018

Doubts about Zircon hypersonic anti-ship cruise missile

The Zircon (Graphic courtesy via Russian website.)

I don't know whether the future (late 2020s) Zircon missile proves Russia can solve the heat buildup barrier to sustained hypersonic flight in the dense atmosphere. Maybe it can become hypersonic in its endrun, maybe not. 

India has been talking of a joint Russian hypersonic BrahMos-II (or BrahMos-2) missile project (maybe Indian version of the Zircon?) for years. See Submarine Matters'  2013 article.

Russia's latest submarines may become Zircon capable.

See There are doubts about Zircon's effectivenes. 

Youtube originally uploaded October 11, 2018


May 25, 2018

Collapse of the US - North Korea Talks: Told Ya So!

On May 24, 2016 Trump announced the cancellation of the US - (Denuclearization of) North Korea Summit which was to be held in Singapore on June 12, 2018

2017, page 9 Pentagon analysis concurs (or visa versa) with the Agency's May 3, 2018 comment on North Korea relying on its nuclear deterrence to prevent regime change: 

"I doubt if the neocon/militant Trump/Pompeo/Bolton would accept total withdrawal from South Korea - especially of THAAD, US aircraft and US SSN and SSGN visits to SK ports.

I think it unlikely Kim would make substantial and verifiable de-nuclearisation efforts. With timing and Devil in the Detail

If NK denuclearised it would leave itself open to "peaceful" democratic occupation by a much more attr[a]ctive wealthy SK

or the risk of a return of overwelming SK and US forces - remembering the fates of disarmed-regime changed Hussein/Iraq and Gaddafi/Libya. 

Also Kim Jong-un (III) would forsake his "dynastic duty" of handing down the grim NK regime to what ever Crown Prince, Kim IV is next.”


It was hoped the Summit could be a positive outcome of Trump's hardline negotiating style against North Korea. But now the opportunity has been dashed. The world remains stuck with the Trump Administration's aggressively negative approach on most things. 

See earlier Submarine Matters' article North Korea's Nuclear Deterrent Totally Justified of 
May 24, 2018, on North Korea's deterrent preventing a recurrence of its history of being invaded. 


May 24, 2018

North Korea's Nuclear Deterrent Totally Justified

The following article was written at Thursday, 24 May 2018 3:15am US Eastern Daylight (Washington DC) time. That is more than 12 hours BEFORE Trump announced the Cancellation of the US-North Korea Summit. 

Causes, effects and doctrines are subtle. 

Before the sure handed statesman Trump and Kim meet or don't meet in Singapore on June 12, 2018 history needs recalling. 

Historical mentions of Korea are overlaid by simple moral assumptions: 

-  North Korea BAD

-  South Korea GOOD.

From the North Korean point of view, its status as the most invaded country in the world justifies a nuclear deterrent to prevent regime change and merely conventional destruction. Would Kim disarm on the word of such statesman as Trump and his neocon Pompeo and "Libyan solution"
 Bolton and Pence? What would stop them?

North Korea Most Invaded?

The territory that is now North Korea has been invaded by the Chinese many times, by Mongolians, Manchus twice, Japanese several times, Russians several times, the US three times, by UN forces (including Australians and British) twice and South Korea twice.

North Korea has a nervous relationship with China and 
Russia rather than friendly alliances. North Korea realizes it cannot rely on a nuclear protection guarantee from China. 

[see an excellent article What does China Really Think of North Korea? of May 25, 2018 from The Diplomat]

South Korea was no peace-loving democracy before North Korea invaded it in the 1949 (beginning the Korean War). The invasion followed frequent South Korea vs North Korean border clashes since 1945.

South Korea's leader, the authoritarian Syngman Rhee, killed between 14,000 and 30,000 of his own people during the Jeju uprising in 1948-49 just before the Korean War [1].

In 1950 Rhee had between 
100,000 and 200,000 South Korean Bodo League prisoners murdered [2].

North Korea's capital, Pyongyang was bombed flat by the US Air Force during the Korea War. 
"By the time of the armistice, 75 percent of Pyongyang's area was destroyed by the conventional bombing campaign, which was part of a broader U.S. bombing effort throughout the country costing" the lives of between one and three million North Koreans by the time the war ended [3].

Nuclear disarming North Korea, which is China's buffer zone, could bring on World War Three like nothing else.

[1] and subsequent massacre by South Korean troops.

May 22, 2018

Chinese Bombers Threatening Because they Are highly Visible

Pete's Comments

So China has publicized the ability of its H-6K bombers to very temporarily operate (ie. land and takeoff) from Woody Island is more symbolic of visible power projection into the South China Sea (SCS) than a fundamentally new threat. 

The whole SCS and surrounding nations can already be hit with more stealth and surprise by Chinese missiles from other platforms, including MRBMs, IRBMs, SLBMs and extended range SLCMs. Chinese surface ships, air-refueled jet fighters and land based cruise missiles on the islands themselves could already fire missiles at some or all of these SCS targets. 

It is highly public threats, even from mainly old technology, very unstealthy, bombers, like the H-6K, that can cause anxiety in nations that have only modest anti-aircraft capabilities and generally no 
anti-missile capabilities. The H-6Ks very visibility represent public and political threats. This is similar to the highly visible threat from US aircraft carrier groups when compared to the invisible and more potent threat from cruise and ballistic missile carrying US submarines.


I've added links to useful comments on May 22, 2018 from:

KQN: “China is gradually enforcing its claim on the SCS. The Nine-Dash Line has morphed into a solid line. It is a well thought out strategy, reinforcing your territorial claims with less than subtle threats to neighboring countries, achieving your strategic goals while avoiding open conflicts (which would threaten the economic well being of all). We can already predict H-6K's will be landing next in the Spratly's. Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief reefs all haveclass A runways, as long as the one on Woody. [See Airport Table below]. Several reinforced hangars there are large enough for them. That will put Northern Australia and Guam within range.” [see map below].


Josh “The H-6K is aerodynamically similar to previous H-6s and Tu-16s, but the use of modern turbofans (of Russian manufacture - the Soloviev D-30s) give it a much greater range and payload. That said it is still a regional bomber, not an intercontinental one. Australia for instance would be out of practical range of even cruise missiles without midair refueling.”

The upper set of blue-black dots are potential H-6K bomber Paracel Island takeoff points, including Woody Island Air Base [see Table below]. These points put all of the South China Sea, Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore within the "combat radii" of the bombers' once the bombers land attack and anti-ship cruise missiles are fired.
(Map courtesy CSIS

The lower set of dots represent H-6K bombers launched from China's Spratly Island air bases (see Table below) with combat radii extended by cruise missiles (and mid-air refueling) are able to hit all of Indonesia as well as Darwin, Australia 

AIR BASES TABLE for Spratly Islands (source) and Woody Island (in Paracel Islands)

Occupied by
1,200 m (est.)
Military use only. No refuel facilities. [1]
Dual-use concrete airport.
3,300m (est.)
Dual-use concrete airport.
3,300m (est.)
Dual-use concrete airport.
2,700m (est.)
Dual-use concrete airport.
1,300m (est.)
Spratly Island (Trường Sa) on Spratly Islands
1,200 m (est.)
Military use only.

Even in aerial bomber capabilities symbolism counts.

Pete, KQN and Josh

May 21, 2018

Chinese Bomber(s) Land on South China Sea Island: US Feigns Surprise


China has gone one more step in indicating it can deploy bomber power, in a theatrical way, deep into the South China Sea. This puts some more Western ships and Southeast Asian capitals, like Manila and Hanoi, into range of the cruise missiles Chinese H-6K bombers can carry. These capitals were already in range of more easily disguised land based, surface ship based and submarine based Chinese cruise missiles, not to mention IRBMs.

Like the much larger B-52s (in service 1955) the H-6Ks (airframe in service as the Russian Tu-16 in 1954) derive from very old airframes. But it is electronic countermeasures frequently updated in the B-52 and H-6K as well as their reliance on standoff cruise missiles that reduced their vulnerabilities. Their missiles keep them relevant in warfare against moderately armed enemies and they can also drop free fall bombs on less well armed insurgents or "terrorists".


Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported May 19, 2018:

"China angers US after landing warplanes, including H-6K bomber, on South China Sea reef
Pentagon condemns military activity as ‘raising tensions and destabilising the region’

A Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force strategic bomber landed for the first time on [Woody Island] in the South China Sea.

...The Chinese air force said in a statement on its website that several bombers, including the H-6K, its most advanced [but deployed by Russia 60 years ago!], had conducted take-off and landing training on an island reef, though it did not specify which one.

Hong Kong-based military observer Song Zhongping [who is really a semi-official spokesman and graduate of the PLA's Second Artillery Engineering University, no less] said the aircraft landed on Woody Island – or Yongxing in Mandarin – the largest of the Paracel group and southernmost of the islands claimed by Beijing in the disputed waterway.

The aim of the exercise was to strengthen China’s military presence in the region, after the US air force flew B-52 bombers there during a so-called routine training mission in April [2018], which Beijing described as “provocative move”, Song said.

The [Chinese] air force said the latest exercise had elevated its abilities of “reaching its full territory, assaulting in full time and space, and striking in full scope”. 

Song...said the next mission for the long-range H-6K strategic bomber, which is reported to have a combat range of up to 3,500km, might be to land on China’s furthest outlying artificial islands.

 “To boost China’s military presence and give the PLA better control in the region, it’s possible the H-6K will fly further in the future, to the airstrips on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief reefs [in the Spratly Islands],” [Song] said.

Each of the three reefs features an airstrip, high-frequency radar and other monitoring equipment, and lighthouses.

“In the future, the air force will conduct regular landings on Woody and the man-made islands, although they are not yet developed enough to be permanent military bases,” Song said..."


Woody Island with its now extended bomber capable airport (Photo courtesy AMTI.CSIS.ORG via CNN Philippines)

The H-6K has a claimed combat radius of 3,500 km (2,200 miles) and can carry up  to six YJ-12 anti-ship missiles and 6 or 7 CJ-10 nuclear or conventional warhead land attack cruise missiles


In this part unrelated Chinese propaganda video the H-6K appears at:
-  5 secs    taking off possibly from Woody Island airport
-  17s        two H-6Ks flying close
-  25s        H-6K dropping flares as decoys against heat seeking anti-aircraft missiles
-  47s        H-6K flying with J-11s?
-  53s        flying towards Mischief Reef (?) but then perhaps landing on Woody Island(?)

Tomorrow I'll write how the "Woody bomber" ties into China's wider power projection geography.