Archive for the ‘Military’ Tag

Super Hornet will do the Job!   1 comment


The Lockheed F-35 Lightning II is a single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole fighter undergoing final development and testing by the United States. The fifth generation combat aircraft is designed to perform ground attack, aerial reconnaissance, and air defense missions.

This is arguably the most sophisticated high-tech fighter jet in the world. It is basically a super powerful 360 degree sensor platform that can fire at enemy aircraft way before the enemy planes would even know it is there. It doesn’t even have to be facing the enemy planes when it fires its missiles. It can be flying away from enemy aircraft and shoot missiles that would pull a 180 and go after the bad guys.

In other words, this jet is way too advanced for the Royal Canadian Air Force. Canada doesn’t need a weapon system like this. This jet is made to engage top of the line fighters from China and Russia if all hell was to break loose. In all likelihood Canada would not be involved in such a conflict. Canada gives its token support to Allied operations as it did in the Balkan wars of the 1990’s and as it does today against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Putting such an advanced and incredibly expensive fighter in harms way in these brush wars makes no sense. There are fighters out there that are extremely capable of fulfilling Canada’s strategic and tactical military necessities that are half the price.

F-35 in Canadian mock-up



The current price for a single F-35 jet in Canadian dollars is $120 million.  Canada wants to buy 65 of them. Canada doesn’t need to spend that kind of money on a Lamborghini jet, when there are Cadillac jets out there for half the price that are completely capable. The Boeing F-18 Super Hornet would fit the bill perfectly.  Current single F-18 Super Hornet price is 60-70 million dollars apiece.  For long range patrols over the arctic, the Super Hornet has two engines as opposed to the single engine in the F-35. Better to have two engines when flying thousands of kilometres from an airstrip.

Trudeau said the savings from not buying the F-35 would go to building arctic patrol ships. There we go, more bang for the buck!

F-35 General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 50.5 ft (15.67 m)
  • Wingspan: 35 ft (10.7 m)
  • Height: 14.2 ft (4.33 m)
  • Wing area: 460 ft² (42.7 m²)
  • Empty weight: 29,098 lb (13,199 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 49,540 lb (22,470 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 70,000 lb (31,800 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney F135 afterburning turbofan
    • Dry thrust: 28,000 lbf (125 kN)
    • Thrust with afterburner: 43,000 lbf(191 kN)
  • Internal fuel capacity: 18,498 lb (8,382 kg)


  • Maximum speed: Mach 1.6+(1,200 mph, 1,930 km/h) (tested to Mach 1.61)
  • Range: 1,200 nmi (2,220 km) on internal fuel
  • Combat radius: 613 nmi (1,135 km) on internal fuel
  • Wing loading: 107.7 lb/ft² (526 kg/m²; 745 kg/m² max loaded)
  • Thrust/weight:
    • With full fuel: 0.87
    • With 50% fuel: 1.07
  • Maximum g-load:g

F-18 Super Hornet


F-18 Super Hornet General characteristics

  • Crew: F/A-18E: 1, F/A-18F: 2
  • Length: 60 ft 1¼ in (18.31 m)
  • Wingspan: 44 ft 8½ in (13.62 m)
  • Height: 16 ft (4.88 m)
  • Wing area: 500 ft² (46.5 m²)
  • Empty weight: 32,081 lb (14,552 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 47,000 lb (21,320 kg) (in fighter configuration))
  • Max. takeoff weight: 66,000 lb (29,937 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × General Electric F414-GE-400 turbofans
    • Dry thrust: 13,000 lbf (62.3 kN) each
    • Thrust with afterburner: 22,000 lbf (97.9 kN) each
  • Internal fuel capacity: F/A-18E: 14,400 lb (6,780 kg), F/A-18F: 13,550 lb (6,354 kg)
  • External fuel capacity: 5 × 480 gal tanks, totaling 16,380 lb (7,381 kg)


  • Maximum speed: Mach 1.8 (1,190 mph, 1,915 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,190 m)
  • Range: 1,275 nmi (2,346 km) clean plus two AIM-9s
  • Combat radius: 390 nmi (449 mi, 722 km) for interdiction mission
  • Ferry range: 1,800 nmi (2,070 mi, 3,330 km)
  • Service ceiling: 50,000+ ft (15,000+ m)
  • Rate of climb: 44,882 ft/min (228 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 94.0 lb/ft² (459 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.93
  • Design load factor: 7.6 g

f-18 hornet

f-18 super


Posted November 22, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Super Stallion   Leave a comment




No not quite.  This post is not about a super stallion horse, but about a super stallion helicopter.  The CH-53E Super Stallion of the United States Marines.  This is one big and versatile chopper.  An aircraft like none other in the world.



The Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion is the largest and heaviest helicopter in the United States military. It was developed from the CH-53 Sea Stallion, mainly by adding a third engine, a seventh blade to the main rotor and canting the tail rotor 20 degrees. Sailors commonly refer to the Super Stallion as the “Hurricane Maker” because of the downwash the helicopter generates. It was built by Sikorsky Aircraft for the United States Marine Corps. The less common MH-53E Sea Dragon fills the United States Navy’s need for long range mine sweeping or Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM) missions, and perform heavy-lift duties for the Navy. The CH-53E/MH-53E are designated “S-80” by Sikorsky. Currently under development is the CH-53K, which will be equipped with new engines, new composite rotor blades, and a wider cabin.



Role Heavy-lift cargo helicopter
Manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft
First flight 1 March 1974
Introduction 1981
Status In service
Primary users United States Marine Corps United States Navy Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
Number built ≈115
Unit cost US$24.36 million (1992) average
Developed from Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallion
Developed into Sikorsky CH-53K Super Stallion



The US Marine Corps had been planning to upgrade most of their CH-53Es to keep them in service, but this plan stalled. Sikorsky then proposed a new version, originally the “CH-53X”, and in April 2006, the USMC signed a contract for 156 aircraft as the “CH-53K”.  The Marines are planning to start retiring CH-53Es in 2009 and need new helicopters very quickly.

In August 2007, the USMC increased its order of CH-53Ks to 227.  First flight was planned for November 2011 with initial operating capability by 2015.



General characteristics

  • Crew: 5: 2 pilots, 1 crew chief/right gunner, 1 left gunner, 1 tail gunner (combat crew)
  • Capacity: 37 troops (55 with centerline seats installed)
  • Payload: internal: 30,000 lb or 13,600 kg (external: 32,000 lb or 14,500 kg)
  • Length: 99 ft 1/2 in (30.2 m)
  • Rotor diameter: 79 ft (24 m)
  • Height: 27 ft 9 in (8.46 m)
  • Disc area: 4,900 ft² (460 m²)
  • Empty weight: 33,226 lb (15,071 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 73,500 lb (33,300 kg)
  • Powerplant: 3 × General Electric T64-GE-416/416A turboshaft, 4,380 shp (3,270 kW) each
  • Rotor systems: 7 blades on main rotor, 4 blades on anti-torque tail rotor


  • Maximum speed: 170 knots (196 mph, 315 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 150 kt (173 mph, 278 km/h)
  • Range: 540 nmi (621 mi, 1,000 km)
  • Ferry range: 990 nmi (1,139 mi, 1,833 km)
  • Service ceiling: 18,500 ft (5,640 m)
  • Rate of climb: 2,500 ft/min (13 m/s)





Super Stallions on board the amphibious carrier U.S.S. Boxer docked in Hong Kong


In air refuelling by a C-130 Hercules

Posted October 30, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Deep penetration nuclear-armed supersonic bomber   3 comments

The United States bomber described below is one of the most remarkable aircraft ever developed.  It could fly very high and very fast.  However, the introduction of high-altitude surface to air missiles (SAM’s)made the deployment of such a bomber impractical.  The project was cancelled with only two prototype aircraft built.  These bombers were the most sleek looking big aircraft ever built.



The North American Aviation XB-70 Valkyrie was the prototype version of the proposed B-70 nuclear-armed deep penetration bomber for the United States Air Force’s Strategic Air Command. Designed by North American Aviation in the late 1950s, the Valkyrie was a large six-engined aircraft able to fly Mach 3+ at an altitude of 70,000 ft (21,000 m), which would have allowed it to avoid interceptors, the only effective anti-bomber weapon at the time.

The introduction of effective high-altitude surface-to-air missiles, the program’s high development costs, and changes in the technological environment with the introduction of ICBMs led to the cancellation of the B-70 program in 1961. Although the proposed fleet of operational B-70 bombers was cancelled, two prototype aircraft were built as the XB-70A and used in supersonic test flights from 1964 to 1969. One prototype crashed following a midair collision in 1966; the other is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Ohio.

Designed for high-altitude flight, the B-70 lost this edge to improved Soviet high-altitude, anti-aircraft missiles.  The aircraft would become increasingly vulnerable at high altitudes as newer missile systems were introduced, and at low altitudes it lost its supersonic performance and range. Using the original Mach 3 high altitude mission profile, the aircraft had a design range of 6,447 nmi (7,419 mi, 11,940 km) without refueling, but flying over the target area “on-the-deck” at Mach 0.95 reduced range to 5,312 nmi (6,113 mi, 9,838 km), even with in-flight refueling.  Realizing that the bomber would not be practical combined with high cost overruns President Eisenhower cancelled the project in 1959.  Both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson subsequently left the program cancelled.

The experimental XB-70As were used for the advanced study of aerodynamics, propulsion, and other subjects related to large supersonic transports. The production order was reduced to three prototypes in March 1961 with the third aircraft to incorporate improvements from the previous prototype.  The crew was reduced to only the pilot and co-pilot for the XB-70; the navigator and bomb-aimer were not needed.  The first XB-70 was completed on 7 May 1964 (the second on 15 October 1964), and XB-70A #1 was displayed on 11 May 1964 in Palmdale, California.  One report claimed “nothing like it existed anywhere“.  The planned third prototype was canceled in July 1964 while being built.  The first XB-70 had its maiden flight in September 1964 and flight testing followed.

The XB-70 flight test data and materials development aided the later Rockwell B-1 Lancer supersonic bomber program, the US supersonic transport program and, through intelligence, the Soviet Tupolev Tu-144.  The development of the US U-2 and SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft along with the B-70 bomber led the Soviet Union to design and develop the MiG-25 interceptor.


The Valkyrie was designed to be a high-altitude bomber-sized Mach 3 aircraft with six engines. Harrison Storms (engineer who designed the command module for the Apollo program) shaped the aircraft with a canard surface and a delta wing, which was built largely of stainless steel, sandwiched honeycomb panels, and titanium. The XB-70 was designed to use supersonic technologies developed for the Mach 3 Navaho, as well as a modified form of the SM-64 Navaho’s all-inertial guidance system.

The XB-70 used compression lift, which was generated from a prominent wedge at the center of the engine inlets that created a shock wave below the aircraft. The wing included inboard camber to more effectively use the higher pressure field behind the strong shock wave (the airflow at the XB-70 wing’s leading edge was subsonic).  The compression lift increased the lift by five percent.   Unique among aircraft of its size, the outer portions of the wings were hinged, and could be pivoted downward by up to 65 degrees. This increased the aircraft’s directional stability at supersonic speeds, shifted the center of lift to a more favorable position at high speeds, and strengthened the compression lift effect.  With the wingtips drooped downwards, the compression lift shock wave would be further trapped under the wings.

On 8 June 1966, XB-70A #2 was in close formation with four other aircraft (an F-4, F-5, T-38, and F-104) for a photoshoot at the behest of General Electric, manufacturer of the engines of all five aircraft. With the photoshoot complete, the F-104 drifted into contact with the XB-70’s right wing, flipped over and rolled inverted over the top of the Valkyrie, striking the vertical stabilizers and left wing of the bomber. The F-104 exploded, destroying the Valkyrie’s rudders and damaging its left wing. With the loss of both rudders and damage to the wings, the Valkyrie entered an uncontrollable spin and crashed into the ground north of Barstow, California. NASA Chief Test Pilot Joe Walker (F-104 pilot) and Carl Cross (XB-70 co-pilot) were killed. Al White (XB-70 pilot) ejected, sustaining serious injuries, including one arm being crushed as it was caught in the clamshell-like escape capsule as it closed around him just before ejection from the aircraft.

The formation of aircraft shortly after the collision on 8 June 1966.

General characteristics

  • Crew:2
  • Length: 185 ft 10 in(56.6 m)
  • Wingspan:105 ft 0 in (32 m)
  • Height:30 ft 9 in (9.4 m)
  • Wing area:6,296 ft² (585 m²)
  • Airfoil:Hexagonal; 0.30 Hex modified root, 0.70 Hex modified tip
  • Empty weight: 210,000 lb(93,000 kg)
  • Loaded weight:534,700 lb (242,500 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight:550,000 lb (250,000 kg)
  • Powerplant:6 × General Electric YJ93-GE-3 afterburning turbojet
    • Dry thrust: 19,900 lbf (84 kN) each
    • Thrust with afterburner: 28,800 lbf (128 kN) each


  • Maximum speed: Mach 3.1 (2,056 mph, 3,309 km/h)
  • Cruise speed:Mach 3.0 (2,000 mph, 3,200 km/h)
  • Range: 3,725 nmi (4,288 mi, 6,900 km) combat
  • Service ceiling:77,350 ft (23,600 m)
  • Wing loading:84.93 lb/ft² (414.7 kg/m²)
  • lift-to-drag: about 6 at Mach 2
  • Thrust/weight: 0.314

Posted October 25, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Tight Squeeze: Aircraft Carriers pass under the Golden Gate Bridge   Leave a comment


The modern American super carriers are big ships. They are 1,100 feet long and 250 feet high.  When the giant ships dock in San Francisco Bay they have to go under the Golden Gate Bridge and sometimes the Bay Bridge.  Clearance on both bridges at high tide is 220 feet. To clear the bridges the ships have to wait for extreme low tide. This allows just enough room for the mega ships to pass under. But just enough room, the top of the radar mast usually has 18 inches of clearance from the bottom of the bridges.








Suez Transit


Aircraft Carrier Passing Under Golden Gate Bridge


Passing under the Bay Bridge




Posted April 13, 2016 by markosun in Military

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U.S. Air Force releases artists rendering of proposed new long range bomber   Leave a comment

The Northrop Grumman B-21 is a bomber aircraft under development by Northrop Grumman. As part of the Long Range Strike Bomber program (LRS-B), it is to be a long-range strategic bomber for the United States Air Force, intended to be a heavy-payload stealth aircraft capable of carrying thermonuclear weapons. A request for proposal to develop the aircraft was issued in July 2014. The Air Force plans to purchase 80–100 LRS-B aircraft at a cost of $550 million each (2010 dollars).  A development contract was awarded to Northrop Grumman in October 2015. A Defenseone report states that the bomber could also be used as an intelligence gatherer, battle manager, and interceptor.

At the 2016 Air Warfare Symposium, the LRS-B was formally designated B-21 signifying the aircraft as the 21st century’s first bomber. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James stated that the B-21 is a fifth-generation global precision attack platform that will give the US networked sensor-shoot capability, thus holding targets at risk. The head of the US Air Force Global Strike Command expects that 100 B-21 bombers is the minimum ordered and envisions some 175-200 bombers in service. Initial Operating Capability is expected to be reached in the mid-2020s.


The B-21 very closely resembles the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber below:

B-2 Bomber overhead

21 B-2’s bombers in service.


The B-21 is to replace the B-52 Stratofortress (top). The B-52 has been flying since the 1950’s, it is expected to still be in the USAF inventory into the 2030’s. It will be 80 years old. Constant upgrades keep it flying.

B-52: current inventory 85 airframes.

The B-1 Lancer bomber (middle) is also an integral part of the USAF bomber fleet.

B-1: current inventory 62 airframes.

Posted February 27, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Where U.S. Military Personnel Come From   Leave a comment

military state1

The Atlantic States have the highest ratio of military members than any other region.  It must be tradition or maybe something to do for a few years in those states. 

This is possibly a reason why American soldiers can deal with blazing heat like they experienced in Afghanistan and especially Iraq.  South Atlantic States get very hot in the summer.  Soldiers from those states can take the heat.



Combat in Afghanistan

Component Military Enlisted Officer Male Female Civilian
United States Army 481,000 438,670 98,126 465,784 75,507 299,644
United States Marine Corps 182,338 173,474 21,864 181,845 13,493 20,484
United States Navy 321,237 260,253 52,546 265,852 51,385 179,293
United States Air Force 308,772 265,519 64,290 270,462 63,310 174,754
United States Coast Guard 42,357 35,567 6,790 7,057
Total Active 1,335,704 1,137,916 236,826 1,219,510 210,485
Seal of the United States Army National Guard.svg Army National Guard of the United States 338,200
United States AR seal.svg United States Army Reserve 189,000
MarforresLogo.jpg United States Marine Corps Forces Reserve 39,600
United States NR Seal.svg United States Navy Reserve 62,500
Air national guard shield.svg Air National Guard of the United States 105,700
Air Force Reserve Command.png United States Air Force Reserve 70,880
United States Coast Guard Reserve emblem.png United States Coast Guard Reserve 7,000
Total Reserve Components 812,880
Other DoD Personnel 108,833

130624-F-IM476-902Soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division ready their gear prior to a mass parachute jump from Air Force C-130J Hercules aircraft during a Joint Operation Access exercise at Pope Field, N.C., on June 24, 2013.  The exercise designed to prepare airmen and soldiers to respond to worldwide crises and contingencies. DoD photo by Airman 1st Class Damon Kasberg, U.S. Air Force.  (Released)

130624-F-IM476-902 Soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division ready their gear prior to a mass parachute jump from Air Force C-130J Hercules aircraft during a Joint Operation Access exercise at Pope Field, N.C., on June 24, 2013.

Lt Col James Hecker, the 27th Fighter Squadron commander, delivers the first operational F/A-22 Raptor to its permanent home at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia May 12, 2005.  Tail number 3042 marks the first of 26 "Raptors" to be delivered to the 27th Fighter Squadron.  Capt David Elliot and Maj Charles Corcoran, pilots assigned to the 27th Fighter Squadron, accompanied the "Raptor" during its delivery. (USAF Photo by TSgt Ben Bloker)


Newest aircraft carrier: USS Gerald R. Ford. Ten ships planned in the Gerald R. Ford Class.

No more steam catapults. Replaced by Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS).  Drastically saves space and sailor-power.

Posted February 6, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Manitoba Radar Base Transformed Into Jail   Leave a comment


Milner Ridge Correctional Centre (MRCC) is located in the Agassiz Provincial Forest. It is a medium-security facility for approximately 115 adult males. It has four separate units. Up until 1986 it was a radar base that was part of the Pine Tree Early Warning network.



As a result of the Cold War and with the expansion of a North American continental air defence system, The site at Beausejour, Manitoba was selected as a site for a United States Air Force (USAF) radar station, one of the many that would make up the Pinetree Line of Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) radar sites. Construction on the base began in 1952 and was completed late that year.

The base was manned by members of the USAF’s Air Defense Command (ADC) 916th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, being known as Beausejour Air Station. In December 1952, operations began at the unit’s permanent home. The station was equipped with AN/FPS-3C, AN/FPS-502, AN/FPS-20A; AN/TPS-502, AN/FPS-6B and AN/FPS-507 radars.

As a GCI base, the 915th’s role was to guide interceptor aircraft toward unidentified intruders picked up on the unit’s radar scopes. These interceptors were based at Duluth, Minnesota under the 31st Air Division.

In the early 1960s, the USAF relinquished control of the base to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). This was part of an arrangement with the United States that came as a result of the cancellation of the Avro Arrow. Canada would lease 66 F-101 Voodoo fighters and take over operation of 12 Pinetree radar bases.

Upon hand-over on 1 October 1961, the operating unit was re-designated 48 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron and the base became RCAF Station Beausejour.





The Pinetree Line was a series of radar stations located across the northern United States and southern Canada at about the 50th parallel north, along with a number of other stations located on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Run by NORAD (after its creation), over half were manned by United States Air Force personnel with the balance operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force. The line was the first coordinated system for early detection of a Soviet bomber attack on North America.



A rough map of the three warning lines. From north to south: Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line, Mid-Canada Line, and Pinetree Line.


Posted February 4, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Recreation Activities in the Different Branches of the United States Military   Leave a comment


Air Force


Altus Air Force base Oklahoma


U.S. Navy




030608-N-7902K-024 Philippine Sea (Jun. 08, 2003) -- Sailors aboard the guided missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) enjoy a swim call and a steal beach picnic in the warm waters of the Western Pacific. Steel beach picnics give Sailors a day to relax and have fun after being out to sea for extended periods of time. Antietam is part of the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Strike Force on deployment in the Western Pacific Ocean. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Jeremie Kerns. (RELEASED)




Marine Corps





And finally, the U.S. Army.






Posted January 22, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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U.S. Drone sends ISIS Barbarian Thugs to Virgin Paradise   Leave a comment

60 Minutes




60 Minutes reporter in the Joint Command Center in Baghdad that directs airstrikes against ISIS.

General Gersten is the American commander.

On their screens, live feeds from drones that record every minute of the war and scenes from inside Islamic State-held territory, like this one in a town in western Iraq that Gersten and the Iraqis were watching on September 11th this year.

These are ISIS photographs that General Gersten confirmed were from the same scene. In the town square, 12 Islamic State fighters were preparing to execute this man.

Gen. Gersten: They brought small children and brought ’em to the very front of the crowd. And we sat there helplessly. Calls are coming for a strike. We strike now. Let’s go after these 12 individuals. They’re going to assassinate this person in front of these children. But we can’t because they’re children. And we had to watch that.

Moments later the execution took place and the victim lay dead, shot by this man, once in the head, then once more in the body. The American drone stayed with the 12 terrorists.

Gen. Gersten: We followed them as they got into three vehicles and drove out of town. And then they made a mistake, because they always make mistakes. And they, all 12, went into a building on the side of a river. And none of those 12 came out.

Gersten told us this is the airstrike that destroyed that building. It’s one of more than 5,000 strikes to support the Iraqi army and Kurdish Forces on the ground over the past year. Yet the Islamic State remains entrenched in its strongholds.


Posted January 21, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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What happened to the Somali pirates?   Leave a comment

LAST year’s numbers are not yet in, but indications are that Somali piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean is all but ended. A report from maritime security advocacy group  Oceans Beyond Piracy indicates that in 2013, not a single merchant vessel was successfully hijacked by pirates, with 23 unsuccessful attempts recorded.



Australian military moving in on pirates.


It’s a precipitous decline from the peak year of 2010, when 47 merchant vessels were hijacked, and more than 200 attempts recorded. Compared with 2012, the overall cost of Somali piracy is down by almost 50% in 2013, from $5.7 – 6.1 billion to $3 – 3.2 billion.

This cost downturn is mainly driven by reduced costs for ship transit patterns across the high risk area, such as reduced speeds and less re-routing by merchant vessels crossing the High Risk Area. Other significantly lower costs include smaller teams of armed guards, lower insurance costs, and reduced costs for prosecutions and imprisonment.




Here’s how piracy come to such a screeching halt in East Africa:

Military operations

The lack of the authority of a central government in Somalia allowed for the pirates to rise, but also, ironically, made it easier to defeat them. With Somalia unable to police its waters, piracy became a problem that powerful governments saw as theirs to solve  – especially because the narrow Gulf of Aden is crucial in the shipments of crude oil from the Persian Gulf to Europe and America.

It led to perhaps the largest assembly of navies for a single military operation, 24 in all. For the  first time since World War II, all five permanent members of the Security Council – typically split ideologically down the middle – deployed forces against the same foe.

Three main coalitions of naval forces have been fighting piracy in the Indian Ocean. There’s the EU’s NAVFOR Operation Atalanta, comprising navies from Spain, Germany, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Italy and Estonia.

NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield brings together Italy, Turkey, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Ukraine and USA; and the Combined Task Force 151, comprises Australia, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea, Turkey, UK and USA.

There are also the “independents”, navies working to deter piracy but are not part of any official coalition – China, India, Iran, Japan, Malaysia and Russia.

One of the more iron-fisted tactics used by military patrols was surveilling suspected pirate vessels using drones, and waiting until they were in international waters (22 km from the Somali coast), says an article in Somali journal Hiraan Online.

The international navies would then board and search any suspected pirate vessel, and if weapons and boarding equipment was found, the pirates were fingerprinted, taken back to Somalia and left on a beach. Their boat was sunk at sea, along with their weapons and tools; documents found on the boat were passed on to intelligence specialists. This degree of scrutiny was more than the pirates could handle, Hiraan says.

World’s biggest pirate prison

As a statement of serious intent to deal with piracy in East Africa, in April 2014 the president of Puntland, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas, officially opened the biggest pirate prison ever built in the Horn of Africa – and possibly in the world in recent years.



Garowe, the region’s capital, was chosen as the location for the 500-persons prison, a project funded by the United Nation’s Office for Project Services (UNOPS).


Armed guards

Estimates from the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa indicate that approximately 80% of vessels transiting the piracy high-risk area used armed guards at the height of the attacks. In 2013, with the lower incidence of piracy, 35-40% of ships still used armed guards in transit.

The cost of a 3-4 man team is between $28,500 and $38,000, but the hefty bill is well worth it – seeing arms on board is a big deterrent,  this story by the Economist says, as pirates are playing it safe by first scouting for guards, whereas previously they indiscriminately opened fire to intimidate crews into submission.

Security installations on ships

If the pirates can’t board the ship, then they can’t hijack it. So piracy spurred a buzz of security innovations, which made it all but impossible for pirates to board the ships.

It started with good old barbed/ razor wire and electric fencing, but the inventions quickly got really interesting.



1. Water cannons/ ‘Anti-Piracy Curtain’

A system of high-powered streams of water that can be aimed at pirates trying to board a ship, or aimed at their boats, flooding and destabilising them.

In one version trademarked the ‘Anti-Piracy Curtain’, water hoses are dangled off the sides of the vessel, and when water is sprayed through the high-pressure nozzle, the hoses jerk wildly back and forth, packing enough force to seriously injure anyone in the way.

Some inventors were even mulling the idea to mix chilli oil into the water hoses for an added punch.

2. Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD)/ ‘Sound Cannon’

Shaped like a big, round loudspeaker, the LRAD can emit painfully loud sound frequencies that are enough to disorientate any approaching pirates. But the real ingenuity is in the fact that the LRAD concentrates the sound waves into a narrow beam, making it easy to direct the sound at a specific target, much like using a spotlight. It means that the ship crew can direct the offensive sound at the pirates, and spare their own ears.

3. Lasers

Another deterrent in use is a  laser beam capable of providing a visual warning to pirates at distance of over 2 km, and at shorter distances the glare is intense enough to temporarily blind attackers so that they are unable to target their weapons effectively.

4. Boat trap

Because most pirates approach a ship on motor-propelled boats, floating a net just under the water surface on the sides of the ship traps and disables the motorboat propeller.

5. Lubricant foam

Slippery foam or anti-traction material is a non-lethal substance which can be used to make the deck or sides of a ship slippery to avoid pirates from climbing it. The highly viscous substance substantially reduces traction of anything that comes in contact with it, making it difficult to walk or stand.

6. ‘Pain Ray’

The ‘Pain Ray’ – it’s official name is Active Denial System (ADS) – is a non-lethal weapon which transmits a narrow beam of electromagnetic energy to heat the skin without causing permanent damage. The wave penetrates beneath the skin which causes unbearable burning sensation, forcing pirates to run away or jump overboard.

7. ‘Guardian Anti-Piracy Barriers’

Perhaps the simplest and most ingenious invention is Guardian Anti-Piracy Barriers, a smooth, P-shaped casing of hard plastic that fits over the rail of any ship and prevents ladders and grappling hooks from getting a hold on the sides of the vessel.

It solves the fundamental problem of barbed/razor wire, which is its inherent danger to the crew itself – clothes get trapped in it and it’s easy to get nicked, and it’s cumbersome because has to be removed when the ship is entering port.

The inventors of barriers– a husband-and-wife duo from Britain –  calleded in the Royal Marines to test the  design, and after two hours of trying to latch on, the Marines gave up, and the design was declared a success.



Posted January 19, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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