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Sturgeon's House


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  1. None except maybe Dubai, but they're one tiny island with a ton of infrastructure that's surrounded by states in danger of imploding.
  2. The Manila food scene sadly still hasn't caught up, in large part because most restaurants here used to emphasize ambiance and customer space over the cooking areas. When people are more concerned about the family name of the owner than the quality of the food. It's changing though, and for the better, particularly due the influx of Japanese restaurants who carried over the same sort of restaurant discipline in Tokyo; which in turn seems to be attracting all sorts of international talent as we have a growing pool of line cooks who've learned from the early entrants and know how to cook a scrambled egg properly. I'm not sure about the coastline thing in Japan though. They seem to like consolidating their catches into a handful of big fish markets, the most famous of which is Tsukiji (which I managed to visit). While this may result in rather "cookie cutter" food, I must say I was impressed by how efficient Tsukiji was and how they used every scrap of the fish; on top of the bewildering variety available.
  3. MREs are not actively bad, but we are talking about long-term preservation food which means it will never be as good as properly cooked food. Cooking is ultimately about controlling the amount of heat that gets into food; which means you need to watch the food and make sure it gets the right heat depending on a variety of vague factors - like the outside temperature, air pressure, and the quality of your pots, pans, and heating element. It's the difference between a seared steak and a lifeless one. This is why it's often considered an "art" - you can't just follow the recipe and expect the exact same result every time in every place. Making long-term preserved food is primarily industrial chemistry; because you're mass producing the stuff and making sure it's immune to decay. But that also deprives the food of a lot of its character; which is why to compensate they just load up on the sugar or salt content to make it more palatable.
  4. An observation about food in Japan: They love food prep spaces more than they love profit margins. Many of the places I ate in had bigger kitchens than eating areas. This included chain stores like Matsuya or Yoshinoya. Most were also open to the public so you can watch them cook your food - including to an extent McDonalds. Japanese food is not necessarily great. But it is good because it is consistent. You will simply not get a bad meal in Japan because the chef has no excuse for lack of elbow room. The bad ones can be easily spotted by the customers and were forced to commit ritual suicide long ago. If you don't like something you ate in Japan, it's almost certainly a palette issue. Also, there is a ridiculously cheap 1 star Michelin joint in Shinjuku that specializes in Sardines. Paid Y1,500 for Sardine Sashimi and breaded sardines. It's a great demonstration of how a tiny, disciplined cooking crew (just 4 guys and 1 waitress) can serve 20+ people at a time and do amazing things with cheap, oily, and smelly fish.
  5. Looks like my next vehicle is going to be Korean - a Hyundai 2016 Tucson.
  6. Oh, and I've been "discussing" the topic of multirole FFGs with someone on the WoWS who is supposedly a former FFG skipper. And he insists that all of the bad examples like the British constantly losing ships in the Falklands are just flukes caused by human error. If he was there instead of the incompetents it would all be fine.... even though he only has around 60 seconds to out-math a missile guidance computer that processes targeting calculations several times faster than a human can. Because apparently he has the power to slow down 60 seconds to become an infinity in AAW.
  7. Yeah, I meant SeaRAM. Bloody RIM/RAM missiles confusing me! And yeah the Koreans have their own Burkes too. One thing I haven't covered yet with regards to the smaller ships is the effect of drones to the equation. There is a school of thought that posits the creation of a drone-carrying ship that can replace the multi-role combatant. Thing is I don't think the small ships can really carry enough to be super-effective against other top-tier navies; especially since the Russians and Ukrainians are now showing how you can EM and hard-kill each other's drones with sufficiently advanced tech. So my sense is that drones will be mainly complementing, and perhaps eventually replacing, helicopters. Figure that hangars meant for one helicopter can now carry three or four drones instead; which is very useful against pirates with no real EM or AA capability. Against a serious enemy, you'll need a sufficiently large drone wing to deal with attrition and that means something like the 20,000 ton Japanese "destroyers". Finally, and this is utter naval heresy, I still think there's a niche for a 4,000-5,000 ton "patrol" ship for 3rd World Navies; which would be much better and more useful than the multi-role frigates everyone is buying now. The ship will have small but efficient engines - sacrificing speed down to 20 knots if necessary. They will have a grand total of one deck gun as armament, and have no sonar system and only navigational radars. However they will try to fit as many helicopters (and later drones) as possible in the largest hangar possible - along with the necessary C&C space to direct the air wing - with the idea being this ship will specialize in being the airborne eyes and ears of smaller 1,000-ton craft whose job is primarily S&R or hunting smugglers and pirates. An enlarged LCS could have been this ship, but some idiot wanted that 40 knot ZOOM ZOOM speed.
  8. It's a bit more of the Russians can't build anything bigger than a corvette anymore. Since 2000 their biggest new surface combatant was a frigate, and those took on average five years to complete. By contrast the Burkes were averaging around 18 months by the end of the last run. China is the only one seriously building large numbers of surface combatants, but a lot of effort went on smaller 4,000-7,000 ton ships. That they were already thinking of making a 10,000 ton ship in 2014 - or just two years after the first of their 7500 ton Type 52Ds were laid down - tells me they're beginning to realize the damn things are too small to do everything they want an upsize to Burke standards was necessary.
  9. German LMG tactics weren't overrated, but the MG-42 itself is. People keep forgetting that the MG-34 served for much longer and was still heavily used all the way to 1945 even by the infantry. There's actually an OSS video from 1943 or 1944 on Youtube which describes German infantry squad tactics. And they correctly noted that the German LMG was very likely to be an MG34 rather than the 42. By contrast pretty much all games and Ambrose-level "documentaries" or "history books" will plug the MG-42.
  10. xthetenth mentioned it but we're both rather skeptical of the idea. Honestly I'm much more inclined to believe the ZOOM ZOOM explanation wherein some speed freak naval officer managed to harangue the requirement into the design.
  11. So this is a bit of an outgrowth of my comments on the LCS... Corvettes and Cruisers - Surface Combatants in 2015 and Beyond The year 2015 is an interesting time for the oft-forgotten surface combatants - corvettes, frigates, destroyers, and cruisers - which are used to operating under the shadow of aircraft carriers that have dominated naval combat. On the Western side, you have numerous sources in the Internet reporting doom and gloom for the American Navy, citing warship shortages compared to a growing Chinese Navy. Even the Russian Navy, which mostly remains underfunded, is featured in sensationalist articles like this one: http://theweek.com/articles/583294/tiny-russian-warship-just-shocked-world Which question how small Russian warships are able to carry many more missiles than much larger American warships. The problem, unfortunately, lies with the lack of naval knowledge among the general news media and the public. Sensationalism and trivia tend to override context and timelines in the search for more viewers and clicks. Fortunately, that's why this article exists to set things straight. The Myth of the Declining American Surface Fleet One of the most enduring and popular misconceptions on the Internet is the idea that the American surface fleet is declining. Too much focus is placed on the problems of the navy's two latest ship designs - the Zumwalt and the Littoral Combat Ship - while commentators whose naval knowledge is limited to playing Harpoon wax nostalgic about the days of a massive US Navy that had dozens of cruisers and frigates. All of this tends to disguise a startling revelation: The US surface fleet is in fact incredibly strong now; and is more powerful than it was in the 90s. The key really, which everyone doesn't seem to notice, is the US Navy's concentration on a single, proven warship type: The Arleigh Burke class. There are now 62 of these powerful warships serving in the US Navy, half of which only joined the fleet after the year 2000. This production run in fact exceeds the production run of any US warship for the past 30 years - the Knox class frigate for instance had only 36 units, while only 51 of the "cheap" OH Perry class were built for the USN, And that's not even the end of the run yet. An additional 14 units had already been authorized - to make up for the cancellation of most of the Zumwalts - with potentially thirty more to be ordered. It may in fact come to pass that the Arleigh Burke's production run would exceed a hundred; which is quite an investment given that these are 10,000 ton warships that are more equivalent to World War 2 cruisers than the 2,000 ton destroyers from the same era. Yet even with the existing run of 62 ships the production of Arleigh Burkes had in fact already outweighed the production total of the OH Perry class (which was half the weight of a Burke) and the Spruance class - the two ship classes they were really meant to replace. So while the total number of ships may have decreased, in terms of tonnage the fleet's overall weight in fact increased - while lowering manpower cost. The Burkes are also simply much better ships than the old frigates and destroyers because of the improved AEGIS sensors and the versatility of its VLS system; which can load many different types of missile depending on its mission. A single Burke for instance could theoretically carry 96 SAMs for air defense or 96 Tomahawk missiles instead - the latter loadout being four times more cruise missiles that the Russians fired on Syria using their four small ships. An old OH Perry by contrast could only carry 40 short-ranged SAMs and a handful of anti-ship missiles in its main missile magazine. Moreover, the numbers of Arleigh Burkes available - alongside the twenty-two original AEGIS cruisers, give the US a grand total of eighty-four top-of the-line escorts. Compared to the nineteen US Navy Supercarriers and Marine carriers, the USN in fact has enough to provide four of AEGIS escorts per carrier. China by contrast has a mere dozen Type 51 and 52 destroyers that come close in weight class - but not in capability - as the Burkes. Indeed, their only match unit per unit are the six Kongo and Atago class ships of the Japanese SDF - who are of course American allies! In this context, it also becomes easier to see why much of the "controversy" around the Littoral Combat Ship is misplaced. Many of its critics want it to be as capable as the outgoing OH Perry class frigates. What these critics don't realize is that the replacement for these ships were in fact the dozens of new Arleigh Burkes. The LCS was instead meant to fill the roles that the Burkes could't perform - and in doing so they spelled the doom of the 4,000 ton frigates. The Death of the 4,000 ton Frigate A perennial problem in amateur warship discussion is the insistence of many commentators on the need for particular ship types. "We need cruisers/destroyers/frigates", often uttered without realizing what the particular ships were actually meant to do. This applies to the 4,000 ton "multirole" frigate - which is an enormously popular type of warship worldwide and the OH Perry is an exemplar of this type. In essence, the multirole frigate promises decent all-around capability at an affordable cost. However, for the present-day US Navy, there is no place for the multi-role frigate. The Burkes served as carrier escorts and independent cruisers for showing the flag in dangerous hotspots. The LCS meanwhile was a utility ship in a carrier battle group, or a low-intensity combat ship for showing the flag in safer waters. There was no space in between for a multirole frigate. And that's because the well-loved frigate was in fact always riddled by compromise. It simply could not be good at anti-air combat, anti-submarine combat, and surface combat with only 4,000 tons displacement. Specialist ships meanwhile - such as the Knox - could not operate independently because they could not deal with all possible threats they encountered. Even the idea that they could serve as "backup" for the primary carrier escorts proved problematic, particularly in anti-air combat. Experience in the Falklands showed that having multiple average SAM systems operating independently was problematic - you had mere minutes or even seconds to coordinate your defense volleys which proved impossible with multiple ships; leading to the possibility that some of the enemy aircraft/missiles were left un-engaged. Long-ranged SAM systems also tended to be radar-guided leading to the possibility of the escorts interfering with each other's radar. The solution was a centralized and computerized SAM system on a single ship with a powerful radar - the AEGIS system on the US cruisers and the Burkes. Indeed, so powerful was this system that the Americans quickly scrapped their remaining non-AEGIS air defense cruisers while the OH Perry class was allowed to lose their SAM systems - it was better to have a handful of AEGIS ships doing air defense than a lot of lesser ships. Interestingly, the only type of SAM system that would complement AEGIS was the short-ranged RIM; which was an IR-guided weapon that did not interfere with other ship's radar while providing last-ditch defense against an enemy missile that got through the long-ranged SAM volleys of AEGIS. It was probably not a coincidence that RIM was the only SAM system equipped on the LCS; while all of the US Navy's remaining carrier escorts were large AEGIS ships. Meanwhile, anti-submarine combat had also progressed. The Knox and OH Perry class were designed with the idea that the warship itself may have to engage an enemy submarine in direct combat; which is why it had its own anti-submarine torpedo tubes and the ASROC launcher. The speed of nuclear submarines and their own guided torpedoes had long made this approach suicidal however, hence the switch to using helicopters to attack submarines without fear of retaliation. With this in mind, the only contribution of a multirole frigate in anti-submarine warfare was its helicopter pad - a helicopter pad also present on the LCS. In short, the problem with the multirole frigate was that too much of its systems had become dead weight. Its SAM systems were more of a liability if it were not up-to-date, and the anti-submarine weapons redundant in the context of using the helicopter for submarine hunting. Indeed, it could be considered wasteful to use multirole frigates in carrier battlegroups since some of their tasks were so mundane - such as the "plane guard" whose mission was to pick up any pilots who may have crashed into the sea while trying to land on the carrier. Is it really necessary for a 4,000 ton frigate with a large number of weapons (most of which it cannot use while so close to the carrier) to be saddled with this role, or is better for a smaller, cheaper vessel like the LCS whose sole anti-air weapon can be used to defend the carrier? Quiet New Dreadnoughts: Corvettes and Cruisers Put together, the Burke and the LCS both point to two emerging trends in surface combatants; as well as the dangerous continuation of many navies down the path of the multirole frigate. First, the Burkes showed it was possible to have a powerful surface combatant theoretically capable of surviving heavy air attack (theoretical as the system has never been tested fully in combat) that nonetheless retains sufficient anti-surface and anti-submarine punch. However, this design requires the ship to be nearly 10,000 tons. The Chinese Type 52D for instance is now around 7,500 tons in weight compared to the original Type 52's 6,000; and the future proposals are definitely looking at a 10,000 ton design. The British Daring class had an even more dramatic size increase, doubling in size from the previous Type 42s. All of these ships are equipped with VLS with actual or theoretical capability to load multiple types of missiles for different missions. These 10,000 ton "Destroyers" are more rightly classified as "cruisers" given they are also capable of independent action in addition to serving as escort; and their presence spells the obsolescence of the 4,000-5,000 ton "multirole" frigate. The new 10K Cruisers can simply do everything the frigates are supposed to do and better except in terms of acquisition cost; which is why the frigate will remain primarily with budget-stricken navies trying to pursue paper advantages at a discount. The higher-end Corvettes like the Sa'ar V, which are even more cash-strapped implementations of the multirole frigate that also sacrifice seakeeping, may also soon suffer the same fate. Meanwhile, new 1,000-3,000 ton corvettes like the LCS will be developed to fill the existing gap in warships suitable for low-intensity conflict or mundane tasks with a battlefleet. Given the cost of the 10K cruisers these smaller ships will focus not on packing as many weapons or capabilities as possible, but focus on a handful of roles at the most efficient possible cost. These ships will be characterized by omitting features seen by traditionalists as "standard" pieces of equipment - kept "just in case" - but for the most part really only add to the operating cost of the ship in the long run. Of course future technological developments may result in new ship types and capabilities - including perhaps a renewed interest in long-ranged naval gunnery. However, I suspect that many of these new technologies will simply be incorporated in the large cruisers and then the smaller corvettes as necessary; and that these two core types will serve as the basis of future surface combatants for the world's fleets.
  12. I'm not terribly impressed by the Saudi ships honestly, because as usual the article talks all about the toys added into the hull without talking about operating range. It's relatively easy to load a small hull to the gills with various toys and weapons so long as they're only meant to operate very close to your coastline. The Israelis already did it with the Sa'ar V and what nobody ever points out about these boats is that they've never operated far beyond Gaza and their operating range (and crew endurance) is a lot of theory. Moreover I really have to question the utility of most of the added toys to begin with. A launcher with 64 Sea Sparrows sounds really nice except that the Sea Sparrow is really short-ranged and can never replace an AEGIS as an air-defense platform (and this is before we get to the fact the real solution to an air superiority problem is to deploy a carrier - SAMs are just a stopgap). Despite what the article claims, the Sea Sparrow realistically is just a self-defense system with an overly excessive ammunition count, since Sparrows aren't fire-and-forget and need shipborne guidance (limiting the number of missiles in the air). If faced with a really heavy air attack, the Saudi LCS won't be able to put up enough guided missiles into the air to survive. When faced with a small air attack, it may be sufficient but renders most of the high ammunition count pointless. Indeed, I'm extremely leery of a VLS missile system that can only engage enemy targets 30 miles out - an Exocet can travel that distance in about 2 minutes and needing every intercepting missile turn mid-flight before engaging the vampire is probably going to end with the defending ship blown up. It's also telling that they repeat the same mistake as the Israelis - who also installed a 64 missile SAM pack on the Sa'ar V (Barak missiles). Despite this impressive theoretical defensive capabilities a missile still got through in 2006 and nearly sank one of the Sa'ar Vs. The LCS actually makes a lot more sense just having a much smaller number of RIM SAM onboard for CIWS. Had the Saudi boat gotten a CIWS gun system on top of the RIM, I'd be more impressed - because that would make much more sense for a boat capable of self-defense against low-intensity surprise air attacks. Most of the other ASuW capabilities are kinda meh. Harpoons are kinda old and I doubt that they can go through the missile defenses of the combatants deserving to be fired at by one of them (e.g. a modern Chinese Destroyer). A lot of smaller missiles like the Hellfire actually made more sense because the LCS didn't have delusions of surface vs surface actions against major enemy surface units; it was always meant to pick on smaller craft. The bigger gun is more interesting, but there hasn't been an abundance of scenarios requiring the navy to use its guns to begin with. ASW capability was improved, but without a proper towed sonar array like in the bigger destroyers and cruisers it will have limited detection capability and adding those six anti-submarine torpedoes are pretty much a complete waste of weight as no surface vessel wants to get within torpedo range of an enemy submarine. The helicopters are there for a reason - they can hunt subs without risk of retaliation - and that's the one capability the LCS has. In short, the Saudi LCS is trying way too hard to be a mini Oliver Hazard Perry; which sounds really good for an underdeveloped export market that has no real navy yet and wants all the shiny new toys on their ships. Problem is the OHPs were meant for a pretty specific Cold War scenario - which is blue-water convoying of merchies across the Atlantic in the face of Soviet submarine and air threats - and the Saudi LCS is only as good or even worse compared to the OHPs in virtually all regards. Worse, it doesn't recognize that the OHPs were deeply flawed ships in an age of supersonic anti-ship missiles where the tiny range of the SM-1 (even with upgrades) simply doesn't give it enough time to engage and shoot down the vampires. What you need is really long-ranged and accurate fire control radar on top of longer-ranged missiles. Only AEGIS and maybe the Horizon/Daring class gets you that in the West (and the Russians theoretically have this also on the old Kirovs). So why didn't they just get actual frigates to begin with (I'm pretty sure the Saudis have the money for them) that would have resolved all the shortcomings and maybe fit an actual good air defense system? The problem with the LCS program is that people keep trying to make these ships into full frigates or destroyers. That's not what they're for. All you really want from the LCS is that they get somewhere (accounting for the long distances the USN has to travel), and deploy its mission-specific helicopter. If it gets into trouble it has the minimum needed for self defense and evasion - not to stand up there and try to fight it out as though it was an Arleigh Burke (the Burkes would probably run too anyway). Bringing all of the other stuff like air defense when you're just fighting Somali pirates is a waste of resources. Every non-essential system removed adds to reaching its cost-effectiveness objective; even if it leads traditional thinkers to worry that they won't have a SAM system to defend the ship with "just in case". This is why the most important stat and benchmark of the LCS had always been operating cost - which is the bulk of the USN's cost. It was always about making the ship as cheap as possible to do the mundane jobs that didn't require an AEGIS (of which the USN has eighty-four in service - a mix of Ticos and Burkes - and anyone telling me there is a shortage when there are at most 19 US carriers on the roster including the Marine mini-carriers is crazy). And the jury is still out on that - if the operating costs end up being very high then and only then can the program be considered a waste. Oh, and I still have no bloody idea what the hell the 40 knot speed is actually for.
  13. Except the 8th Air Force claimed that the B-17 was more survivable which is why they wanted more B-17s rather than B-24s; even though it emerged that the prime determinant of bomber survival was in fact top speed to allow the bombers to better outrun enemy interceptors. There were serious studies done during the war showing that B-17s were better off ditching all the guns and gunner crew so they could fly higher and faster; but 8th Air Force was obsessed with its self-defending mythology and loved all the publicity from displaying "rugged" B-17s that returned despite being all shot up... and ignoring how planes like the Mosquito simply returned without fanfare and with lower losses despite perennially drawing the hardest and most dangerous assignments . Quite simply, the B-17's reputation is built out of a lot of outright lies by the Eight Air Force. Sure, it's still better than anything the Germans ever built, but it was terribly misused to a level of criminal negligence.
  14. Yeah B-17 wankers like to point out various flaws of the Liberator but at the end of the day the B-24 had a higher top speed which is the most important stat for a bomber's survival. But no, the Mighty Eighth continues to peddles its mythology.
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