Does one need to know the range of military aircraft? Lesson four

The F-35 is the United states latest fighter jet. It is also the future naval aircraft-carrier based fighter jet aircraft (F-35C with C as in Carrier based). An F-35C has a realistic combat range of about 500 miles, i.e. 800 km. Combat range as seen in the chart below is the realistic range a fighter jet has with the option still for, hold your breath, you have heard it before, dogfight.

MQ-25 Stingray is an air-refueling aircraft under development (2018). In the chart below the air-refueling of the F-35C:s is thought to be done with this carrier based fuel-tanking aircraft. But they could also refuel the F-35C with a bigger tanker like for example the C-130 tanker, although this cannot start from or land on a carrier. C-130 is an aircraft with multiple functions. Some are made for transporting materiel and soldiers or dropping large bombs, and some are made for refueling of other aircraft in the air. Some are made for other purposes.

Depending on how many fighters sent up and what tankers they use and how many tankers in the air, the possible approach for the mission will vary. Simplified, the possibilities regarding flight paths plus the opponents capability will set the boundaries for the mission. The possible outcome will mainly depend on the planner and the level of professionalism of his crews. Of course the level of yours and your opponents technology will matter too. And the rest are due to circumstances like weather, malfunction or the battles randomized chaos.

In this example, I did not count on hanging extra tanks on the fighter aircraft. Those would have significantly reduced the number of offensive weapons and sensors hanging on the wing beams. As you will learn, one tanker can only refuel one fighter jet at a time of approximatly about 2-4 minutes. 2 minutes minimum. Two fighters need to work together as one tactical unit and both must follow through all the way to the target. Two fighters are refueling in the air approximatly ten to twenty percent of their combined flight time, using only one tanker and tanking the two fighters only once per aircraft in a mission, and it has to be initiated within the first 360-430 miles of flight.

If one calculates the numbers correctly, one will come to the conclusion that the range of a Carrier Air Wing increases by at the most 3/4 if this Air Wing is air-refueled only once during one and the same mission.

If the Air Wing is air-refueled twice during a single mission, the range is still limited by the combat radius the aircraft has. 500 miles + 500 miles which become a 1,000 miles (1,600 km) is in any case the maximum range.

With a single MQ-25A Stingray, one can only air-refuel one (1) F-35C per mission, once on the flight path to the target and once on the way back, if it takes about 4 minutes for a refueling.

The individual F-35C pilot must have enough fuel left to make a what is a fuel costly vertical landing on the aircraft carrier, but probably several aircraft at a time can descend for landing on the carrier should there be a need for it. The combat radius of an F-35C could actually be as low as 430 miles if you want to have good safety margins. But if we assume that the combat radius is 500 miles and that one Stingray refuel one F-35C once per mission with an air refueling distance of about 60 miles, then the F-35C aircraft must return after a total flight distance of 870 miles from the aircraft carrier. After air refueling, it can fly a distance of 370 miles + the return distance of the 870 miles = 1,240 miles. The F-35C has a maximum range of 1,350 miles. In total, it gives a margin of 6 minutes for all F-35C to circulate and descend for landing on an aircraft carrier, which corresponds to a distance of 43 miles at a speed of 435 miles per hour on a low altitude. It would provide a four-group F-35C, supported under a mission by four Stingrays, approximately 1+ minute for landing per plane, if only one aircraft is touching the deck and taxing in at a time.

A third or a fourth of all the aircrafts onboard the carrier will be under maintenance at any given time. As one can count on at least one Stingray always being on maintenance aboard the Carrier, one must make place for one extra Stingray on the Carrier. Several Stingrays will occupy a lot of space on the aircraft carrier at the expense of at least twice the space required for the F-35C. Then it’s probably better to invest in the existing E/A-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft and the radar plane E2-C Hawkeye battle management and control aircraft, if you want to optimize. These must still be carried onboard the Carrier.

But how optimal is it to base three or four MQ-25 Stingray on a lone Carrier group? The Carrier group would have to adjust their distance to the goal after any caprice of the Stingray mechanics, so these Stingrays must be kept in top condition so that the aircraft carrier group is not constantly forced to maneuver into a new position in a jerky way.

The United States has around a dozen carriers but some of them must be on rotation in the US at every given time. China has two aircraft carriers. The US carriers allows the fighter aircraft to carry bigger payloads, i.e. weapons, because of the carriers typicly steam-catapults that catapults the aircrafts into air, combined with the thrust of the aircrafts engines. However, the US Navy needs to project power in many parts of the world simultaneously.

The fact that the US Navy’s aircraft-carriers have nuclear propulsion does not mean that the carrier groups as such have longer range in reality. There are many ships with different tasks in a carrier group. A single fighter aircraft can perhaps fly four missions in a day and in those four missions it will consume the amount of fuel equivalent to a tank truck and a trailer full of fuel. That equals up to several ships full of fuel only for the aircrafts alone. Some ships protect the carriers from air-threats, some ships protect the carriers from underwater threats, some ships supply the carriers’ surrounding group with fuel oil and some ships supply food and beverage to all the crew-members of all the ships.

In reality, friendly harbors are important during a far away mission.

Now you know the basics.

Homework:

Look at where your country or any country of your choice is located and try to imagine how the US or China could tackle them or come at them using possible means. What countries are likely to display animosity and what countries do you think would display the opposite to the two nations respectively. Check out where they have friendly airbases and/or ports in friendly countries if you can. You may know if there are naval ships with air-defense systems on it based in naval ports. Naval ships air-defense systems against aerodynamic targets rarely have more than a 120 km (75 miles) range and it is a defensive weapon and should not be used offensively, i.e. it is there to protect the ship or group of ships first of all.

If you know where different nations ground based air-defense systems i.e. surface-to-air missiles are deployed for the moment being or will be deployed, you get extra credit. They are there to protect cruical infrastructure or military installations or mobile equipment and are also not offensive weapons. But such knowledge is rarely public knowledge unless the country is at war and its adversary or other players reveals their location, as is the case with Russias S-400 and S-300 systems and their radar systems in Syria.

Use the internet to find out things if it is not enough to use the CIA WORLD FACTBOOK, and it usually isn’t. The variables are many and intertwined which makes the task incredibly complicated. The more you know the more complicated it gets. Mix as many variables as you think you can manage for this task, but start learning how to slim them down effectively without coming to the wrong conclusion. I am only talking about military targets here. And I am only talking about air raids with F-35 starting from air strips or carriers.

This is not meant to be an exam that I will scrutinize as if it was a Masters degree. You are bound to not knowing what type of bases your country has where, and what capabilities these have. It doesn’t have to be accurate, you’re in training! But part of the training involves finding out as much useful information as you can. I am first and utmost training you to be an intelligence person. Information on the Internet can be accurate, grayish, dubious or just plain false, and I really cannot teach you how to find out accurate information for yourself. You have to have a sense for realities and reason to be able to do that, and that cannot be taught. At least not if it is not taught from an early age.

Remember, choice of the wrong means is less of a liability for a commander than failing to act! (Old Swedish jungle-proverb)

Roger M. Klang, defense political spokesman for the Christian Values Party (Kristna Värdepartiet) in Sweden

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Contemporary overall strategies for the great powers. Lesson two

A work hypothesis

If you followed my first lesson you will recognize that I sometimes repeat myself here. The information I am repeating is vital to understand the world. But I will to my utmost try not to continue doing that unnecessarily.

The proxy war that the Saudis and the United States are enforcing in Yemen with the destruction of the Hodeida port is all about safe passage for merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden and the northwest of the Indian Ocean. The Iranian regime is said to be the instigator of the unrest in Yemen.

The long expected American war against Iran may have already started in 2019. But it didn’t start from zero, it has been escalating for a long time. Iran is very much responsible for the belligerent situation in Syria between them and Israel and the US (other fighting nations and ethnic groups here omitted). And president Trump is a friend of Israel. So, yes, he is a cog and he is the biggest cog in the US war machine. I think that it still revolves mostly around China. The Iranians, the Chinese, or maybe both regimes supposed shenanigans in Yemen happened because they wanted to boost the Somali piracy in order to shut down or hinder transit for western merchant ships with the destination east USA and Europe sailing through the Red Sea.

And probably the Chinese conspires in the Persian Gulf region since the Chinese buy oil from both Saudi-Arabia and Iran and every other country in the Persian Gulf that sells oil.

And they are suspected of instigating the Somali pirate activity in the west Indian Ocean, probably by arranging for the Somali pirates to use the port in Hodeida in Yemen for negotiations with the shipping companies, negotiations that could take up to a year for every hijacked ship. Cause I know of no hijacked Chinese merchant ships.

If you Think that the Yemeni people got the short end of the stick, consider what would have happened if the Maritime sea routes to Europe and eastern USA would have been cut off.

Question: Why would China want to cut their own supply lines and trade routes? The answer is, they don’t want to cut them! They want to monopolize them.

And if you think that it is easier to sneak into the Red Sea passed the American base in Djibouti by the African horn, with a skiff with a fabric rooftop, loaded with ten men armed to the teath who are clearly not out on a fishing trip, than it is to sneak in with a large merchant ship you’d better think again. They surely prefer not to challenge the American Navy with their hunting vessels, but they feel safe sailing into the Red Sea with their booty ship. They know a merchant ship wont be sunk by the Americans and they have hostages on their way to Hodeida in west Yemen. The American Navy and Airforce are ill equipped for fighting piracy. Hodeida had to be bombed.

The so-called Saudi-led coalition, which the United States is an important part of, supports the legitimate authority in Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition is trying to take control of the important port in the city of Hodeida, which is located by the Red Sea. The city was controlled by the Houthi militias in 2018.

The trade routs at sea goes from the Middle East, eastern Africa and East Asia into the Red Sea and through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea and further up to western Europe and the eastern United States. The merchant ships also go in the other direction.

It is possible to extend the sea routes around South-Africa but it is more common for ships to become wrecked or lose containers due to high sea. (But it is still a much trafficked sea route, for the South-Americans.) Also, the distance is considerably longer and most European and North-American merchant ships may not even be built to cover the extra distance without filling up on extra fuel oil for their engines, and China is the number one player in Africa and around Africa’s coast band. In Tanzania alone there are just as many Chinese as there are Africans. Tanzania is tangibly conveniently localized at the east-coast neighboring Uganda, for the Chinese to get an edge in gaining access to Uganda’s untapped oil reserves.

But it may be that the governments and shipping companies in the west have just made a cold hammered economic calculation and/or risk assessment and come to the conclusion that it is not a long term viable option to sail around South-Africa since you would have to add another 30+ days to the voyage.

Somali pirates have begun to use mother ships to significantly expand their reach. They now also use rocket launchers.

When comparing the CIA WORLD FACTBOOK 2015 with the CIA WORLD FACTBOOK 2018-2019, Uganda is not included as a state in the later issue. This Uganda has in common with Japan and Paraguay, which are also not included in this later issue.

Uganda, located in Africa’s inland 1,200 km southwest of Djibouti, sits according to oil prospects from 2008 on oil in the ground that has been estimated to be greater than or equal to that of the oil-fields in Saudi- Arabia and the Persian Gulf. “Ugandan oil reserves can correspond to the total oil reserves of all of the Gulf countries put together”, according to Sally Kornfeld, analyst at the Office of Fossil Energy at the United States Department of Energy. Planning of the construction of refining capacity and pipelines are underway. There is also the question of what oil quality they have found in Uganda. Is the oil suitable for making gasoline from? It’s a big deal if it is.

Who will put their hands on that oil? The main reason, which is related to ”Freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea waters, why the Americans are putting pressure on the Chinese in the South China Sea right now is Uganda, and their decision on who will get to buy their oil is crucial to what’s going to happen in the world in the future. Since the US and their allies merchant ships, oil tankers and the US Navy, frequently traffic the South China Sea waters, Freedom of navigation is obviously important. He who controls the choke-Points i.e. the straits in southeast Asia, is likely to be the number one buyer of the Ugandan oil. It is either going to be the US or it’s going to be China.

It contradicts the view on the objective for the US Department of Defense, but the United States would rather see a full-scale war on China sooner rather than later. It actually is self-evident. A weak opponent is better than a strong opponent, if they have to fight in the first place.

It is possible to defeat Afghanistan in war. The day when the Chinese consider themselves to be strong enough to project their power-language in other parts of the world than China’s mainland, Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang and the South China Sea, they are likely to begin with completely crushing the pride of the Afghans, to overthrow the country so that it can be used as a grain storage and a logistic hub and springboard for invading eastern Europe. In order for it to be possible, the Chinese must first make the country of Afghanistan their private brothel as once the Mongols did before them in history. This will cause in particular eastern Europeans and western Europeans to cheer, and that’s all in good order. The problem is, as I mentioned, that Afghanistan will only be a Chinese springboard for invading Europe, which will be the main objective for the Chinese.

But first, the Chinese must establish the Silk Road Economic Belt and secure their military transit routes through a number of countries and in multiple places. Beijing wishes transit and military access to the Malacca Strait and other straits in southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea as well as the Persian Gulf to name the most important examples. These sea-routes are also part of the Silk Road Economic Belt.

Donald Trump and the United States do not wish to see a strong maritime China. The company Genie Oil and Gas will extract the oil below the Golan Heights. Trump wants to protect the shipping-lanes through the Strait of Hormuz, Malacca Strait, Sunda Strait and Lombok Strait, the Indian Ocean, the Arab Sea, the Red Sea, the Suez Canal and the Gibraltar Strait by forcing the Chinese to invade eastern Europe by land and not the United States allied (or allies) in western Europe by sea and certainly not presumably oil-rich Israel.

A Chinese invasion will come at some time, we just do not know when although we know that it will not come in the next few years. The United States powerful nuclear arsenal guarantees that the Chinese will not try to invade the United States mainland. You may think that invasion scenarios should be a thing of the past, but it is only we westerners who think like so.

According to my work hypothesis, Trump is doing his best to sidestep and juggle with various statements in the purpose of throwing gravel in the eyes of people and nations to appear as Syria’s savior in need when it’s really about safe trade-routs for merchant ships and countering Iran and China. So keep an eye on the ball! But I would have done the same practical things in Trumps seat. Though I would at the same time have told the truth to my people and to the world.

Vladimir Putin wants to push the Chinese attack routs as far down to the Indian Ocean as they possibly can. Kremlin Russians are afraid of losing influence to China over Azerbaijan and Russia’s narrow southern buffer front. There in the Caspian Sea Russia and Azerbaijan have major oil reserves.

India is the third largest crude oil importer in the world. The Indians want to avert the Chinese interest in the other direction to Argentina, the Falklands and South-America.

Chile and Argentina together form all of the southern parts of South-America. Chile is located by the Pacific Ocean and Argentina is located by the Atlantic Ocean. Chile is in the US pocket and Argentina is largely in China’s pocket. Both Chile, and Argentina in particular, have plenty of raw materials.

 

Homework:

Have a map in front of you when doing your homework today!

Can you see any possibilities today for the Chinese to project enough power, with only two available air-craft carriers, in the South China Sea and extensively into the Indian Ocean to confine the US in order to control who Uganda shall sell their oil to?

Both the US Navy and the Chinese navy each have access to a safe port and then some in the Indian Ocean. Chinese port (civilian for now) is on the large island of Sri Lanka just south of India. American port is on a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

The Chinese reportedly have a port and an airfield in the southwest of Pakistan in Gwadar in the Gulf of Oman. But the Americans have airbases in Kuwait (semi-american), Qatar and UAE and a port in Bahrain in the Persian Gulf.

Both China and the US have ports and air-strips in Djibouti by the African Horn.

Consider the Malacca Strait south of the China Sea. What can you find out about the by Malacca Strait surrounding countries? Who has the means to control the Malacca Strait? Is it perhaps Malaysia even?

Roger M. Klang, defense political spokesman for the Christian Values Party (Kristna Värdepartiet) in Sweden