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Well its not for nothing. The half a trillion-dollar budget funds a lot. First off it pays a pittance to more than a million people (some more than others) who are fighting under the auspices of defending our country. It also feeds the beast that is the military-industrial complex. Ike warned us about it nearly 45 years ago and yet it continues to rape our country of money that can be used to strengthen our nation from the inside out.

Setting aside the fact that many soldiers can hardly feed their families, a systemic problem that has created an external mercenary force in Iraq and other places so that soldiers can make multiple times the amount of a regular Jarhead. You can also set aside the uncounted deaths of these combatants.

What I want to focus is on how the ever inventive and formerly reliable M-I complex screws up and leaves soldiers dead because of it.

Recently the former Serbian commander that was responsible for shooting down a F-117 in March of 1999 talked about his successful shoot-down of one of our planes, our multi-million dollar planes. Stealth technology was kept as one of our country's best secrets, yet the reason it was shot down was because of the manufacturer of the Nighthawk not thinking things through.

Basically Serbian technology was out-dated by about forty years. The radar systems were quite antiquated. You would think Lockheed would know that we might fly planes where the technology does not compare to the United States. Apparently not. So the SA-3 hit the plane using electromagnetic waves, according to the commander.

The editor of Jane's Defense Weekly  backed him up:

"We know he is telling the truth. ... The F-117 was designed to be stealthy against modern radars. Against old long pulse duration radars, its not stealthy," said O'Halloran. "People in the West do not like to say that."

This is not an isolated incident. A F-16 was also shot down by a SA-3 and airplanes were ordered to fly above 15,000 feet during the conflict to avoid being shot down.

Currently the Bush Administration is being beaten back about going above and beyond the wastefulness of the F-117 Nighthawk. If there is one good thing about the Administration being in full crisis mode (obviously there are too many to count, hehe) it is that his handouts to the monster that is the M-I complex is being hindered.

This of course is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the omnipotent system that drains away dollars from much more needed programs, like um, health care and education to name two. Nevertheless its a good start.

Originally posted to proudprogressiveCA on Wed Oct 26, 2005 at 09:19 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I never knew that about (4.00)
    the F-117...thanks for posting this...

    "Insurrection is an art, and like all arts has its own laws." -- Trotsky

    by Myrrander on Wed Oct 26, 2005 at 10:09:58 PM PDT

  •  Thanks (4.00)
    I didn't know that about the F-117 . . . amazing.  The Reuters story is very good news . . . the tactical nuke plan was frightening; I'm glad they shelved it.  As I'm sure you know, the M-I complex doesn't need a good reason for a weapons program, it just needs a rationalization for one.  Want some free money?  Think of a reason for a new weapon.  I wonder what their next idea will be.

    "In the beginning the universe was created. This has been widely criticized and generally regarded as a bad move." -- Douglas Adams

    by LithiumCola on Wed Oct 26, 2005 at 10:14:16 PM PDT

  •  Stealth Bomber Detection (none)
    I always wondered how Serbia pulled that off. The cable news networks were hysterical when it happened.

    I also recall reading about a technique used by China.

    Modified cell phone towers can be used to detect U.S. stealth bombers, on the cheap.

    Article on the subject.

    Source: Sweetman, Bill. "Stealth Threat: Whoops! Phone signals may unmask a $40 billion flying secret." Popular Science. December 2001.

    "On résiste à l'invasion des armées; on ne résiste pas à l'invasion des idées." -Victor Hugo

    by Darksyde888 on Wed Oct 26, 2005 at 10:27:08 PM PDT

    •  Implications (none)
      Whether in the sky or on the ground, a target with a large electronic footprint is at a relative disadvantage to an enemy without one, but with the means to detect such signatures.

      A modern mechanized ground unit totes around a lot of electronics, every piece of it sending out an electromagnetic transmission of some sort when turned on.

      Might not be a bad idea to ditch the laptops and carry RPGs, instead.

      It's only Nero-esque if the city is burning. :)

      by cskendrick on Wed Oct 26, 2005 at 11:52:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The F-117 is vulnerable to detection by old radars (none)
    Apparently, the absorbency of the radar absorbent material depends on both its thickness and the wavelength of the radar pulse ( link .pdf). Modern radars have high frequencies and thus short wavelengths, so a thin coating is ok. Older radars have low frequencies and thus long wavelengths, so they can defeat the coatings on an aircraft, which cannot be too thick or it becomes too heavy.

    But it may not be that big of a weakness, because low frequency (i.e. long wavelength) radars have to be pretty large to be accurate, so in this day and age, the USAF can knock those radars out first, then send in the stealths.

    •  the link above mentions the F-117 case (none)
      "The case of the F-117 shoot-down is well-known. The Serbs combined the increased mobility of their assets (probably SA-3 conversions plus mobile AAA), careful EMCON, sound tactical thinking and a good deal of luck to bring down an aircraft which, by common sense, should be untouchable by their AD resources. Another F-117 was badly shot up and had to abort its mission. B-2 bombers, commonly advertised as being able to operate autonomous (with no EW/SEAD support and no fighter escort), actually always flew heavily escorted by both heavy SEAD assets (EA-6Bs husbanded from the USN) plus fighter protection just in case. Overall, NATO pilots were never "Iraq-confident", and frequently had to operate at altitudes that hindered their effectiveness at locating and engaging targets. The results of the air campaign (limited damage to Serbian ground forces, lots of decoys hit instead of real targets, many misses etc.) reflected this." (p.15)

      Acronyms:
      AAA = anti aircraft artillery

      EMCON = emission control, i.e. timing your radar pulses, moving your radars around so they don't get discovered etc.

      EW/SEAD = electronic warfare/supression of enemy air defense. Aircraft designed for these missions either jam enemy radars or actively hunt them down. the EA-6B Prowler is one such aircraft. Fighter aircraft armed with suitable anti-radar missiles are also included.

      •  B2 (none)
        I was under the impression that tbe b2 usually flew with a figher escort until it went under, and then returned with a fighter escort after its mission?

        If it needed to be escorted by E6, what is the point of using a B2 instead of the faster and more agile B1 or the other heavy bombers?

        •  Here's another link mentioning B-2 sorties... (none)
          ...accompanied by EA-6B Prowlers "as a precautionary measure" (p.6 of 13 .pdf)

          It also mentions a few missions where no such support was given.

          The B-2 also has some other advantages over B-1B - it is still very much stealthier, has longer range, probably better avionics, and can fly in rougher weather. Besides, you have it, why not use it?

          •  A few reasons (none)
            1. We have the b1 as well, why not use them. (Especially as they weren't ready for the first bull shit invasion of iraq).

            2. I understand the stealthiness to be closer than advertised.

            3. I didn't know about the longer range.

            Using a B2 with e-6's when a single plane could do it just seems dumb. Of course there might be legit reasons: hanger time, crews, specific radar concerns.

            It could also be that the general who commands the b2s gets along better with rummy than one who commands the b-1s, or maybe the stealth is still better for tv prop.

  •  Two Points (none)
    1. The F117 was actually shot down due to a visual ID. At least that was what was posted in places like Janes a few years back.
    2. How does the bunker buster compare the F117? Wouldn't the B-1 or the B-2 be more apt comparisons (as they are much more expensive, and used to for the nuclear mission)?
  •  No piece of military hardware is good (none)
    vs. all threats, you design to counter the prevailing threat that's expected.  The stinkbug's faceted design reflects incoming radar away from the receiving antenna, with a radar absorbent coating attenuating the rest.  However, if you coordinate with another antenna collecting the diverted waves you can get a position general enough to pass a firing solution.  The 117 is a valuable weapon against newer SAM systems (SA-6/8 and assorted) on the first night of the war, but with motivated and well trained operators like the Serbs it's not unexpected that they would eventually get lucky.  One aircraft lost to hostile fire after as many successful 117 mission as have been flown is a fairly good record.
    •  F-117 done pretty well since Serbia (none)
      Your conclusions are correct, the F-117 has been a success, but its not perfect.
      The idea of an invisible plane just doesnt exist, the reason for 'low radar cross section' is to  reduce the distance that a missile radar can pick up a incoming plane down from a 100 miles down to say 5 miles, which means the plane is gone by the time the tracking has completed the calculations for course and altitude.
      The Sebians may have detected this plane for some time and were able to pass on some of the data to the SA2 battery before the F-117 was detected on its radar so thereby negating the short detection time
  •  Tyranny of Words and Law. (none)
    America has reached the backside of the event horizon of organised, institutionalised corruption and fraud on every level. Where protection rackets, embezzlement, larceny, confiscation, entrapment, misappropriation, and rico crimes, as well as murder have become the norm; by bullies, fraudsters, pervert class elites, politicians with their sykophants*, lobbys, the M-I complex,  lawyers of the kelptomania class who run everything. A litigation nation where truth is treason, justice is a mockery, and liberty is for sale to the highest bidder, where action of the State, the military, the prussian education system arising from suspicion and not from proof, has degenerated into the satisfaction of vendettas by a "coin-operated congress", a "blue-blooded-aristocratic Senate" and finally, a power hungry blood thirsty executive branch- a general system of tyranny, all in the name of "public safety."

    The general public means nothing to them, we have been and are being, carved out like a pumpkin, the seeds spit in our faces, while they laugh at our poverty. "The essential political choice is the same as it always was: "freedom or security" nor, is the blame entirely with the warmongers, plutocrats, and demagogues.
    If a people permit exploitation and regimentation in any name they deserve their slavery. The law has always been perverted to serve the "haves" and not the "haves-not", only not always as heavy handed as it is now. We have made progress in the recent past with "the New Deal", labor unions, civil rights, and the constitution. Only within the last few decades have the ruling elites pushed back, with their hatred of liberal democracy. What once existied in ancient Athens - now hold sway in America and Britain , (it's transatlantic and trans-national now ) where powerful and corrupt individuals, organizations and corporations are routinely using threats of vexatious and malicious litigation to bully and oppress ordinary innocent and working class people.

    Coercion seems to be covering-up greater crimes committed by these individuals / organizations. Their corrupt misuse of Law takes the form of restraint of trade and prevention of free speech, eminent domain, tax cuts for the top 1%, hidden fiat/poll-taxes, money laundering in off shore bankings and usury interests and loans. All nothing more than hypocrisy, hiding behind law.

    Take for instance, What Congress Does Not Know about Enron and 9/11,
    or the Pentagon's  disinformation campaign or, even better, anthropologist's  Dirk Bönker's  and Catherine Lutz ideals that we have been in continuious covert war since WW2.
     I'm sure you could come up with hundreds of other examples but make no mistake, "the Class War" has shifted and started a dramatic new phase of Supernova proportions with The Rise of Rove's Republic. Not to mention the fact that Americans need to be very cautious about how they let the media redefine this moment.

    I fully appreciate that we prefer 'truth' to spin but we also must acknowledge that there are sometimes that the reality becomes what everyone believes rather than what actually occurred.

    lest ye be fooled by Scowcroft's attempt to claim credit for the demise of the neocons needs to be seen for what it is.

    It isn't a well timed final blow to a few hotheads who lost their way.It is an attempt by the right i.e the M-I complex to hold onto power even though the people of the US have successfully shown the repug machine to be corrupt, inefficient and self serving. Poppa Bush and co haven't been driving this fitzgerald agenda. Amerikans pissed at the betrayal of their ideals have driven this.

    If Bush is allowed to continue albeit by replacing the new guard assholes with the old guard ones it won't matter in 2006 mid terms whether it was the rest of left blogistan; or Scowcroft and Pops' well timed stiletto in the back which actually brought the BushCo machine down. Because 'the reality' will be that it was the Pops crew. Because, this very well may be the fall of the house of Bush, even the fall from grace of Rove but just like a self-healing/Self-replicating typical network -- in this case,of neo-nixon gangsters/criminals-- Rise of Rove's Republic will carry on it's M-I complex agenda. Just as the 'Net tends to interpret corruption, bad signals as damage, and routs around it, so too does the doctrine, a memetic phenotype, i.e. an individual's implementation of a meme, can --in principle -- continue to replicate for as long as the brain it lives in is functioning. The most likely strategy is to force a sudden loss of interest in the field the meme belongs to, when the ideas held by the host differ to much from the ideas held by other hosts of the same meme. "The enduring legacy of politicians like Thurmond, Wallace and Helms [Nixon, Reagan] may be the meme of a distinctively Southern style of cultural/memetic politics, transplanted to national politics as a whole.

    And finally, the one thing that todays MIC has in the "New America" is the elite stranglehold on Politics, policy (foreign and domestic), medicine, law, policing, media, bureaucracy etc. where, they are all "self-regulating". Further, and not so coincidentally, all these 'trades' tend, more or less, to control their own incomes at the top levels. [i.e. the fat cats decide their own].

    RANT OVER. Note: I got more, but didn't want to hog up space...

    *SYKOPHANCY - "Generally, sykophancy has been viewed as an "inevitable disease" that plagued a society "where the chances of perverting justice were so numerous because of the character of the courts" (Lofberg 1917, 10).

  •  But enough about you. (none)
    What do you think of my new F-117?  Got it fairly cheaply from a cashiered pilot who only flew it on Sundays to church.

    Chaos, fear, dread. My work here is done.

    by madhaus on Wed Oct 26, 2005 at 11:14:59 PM PDT

  •  actually, more about this is known (4.00)

    The SA-3 systems were upgraded versions- not the 1960 variety- and were communication linked up to newer ones- I don't remember exactly, SA-12 seems to ring a bell- and they traced 'anomalies' together.  Plus, they knew the flight path from putting all the information they had together- ground observers with cell phones who saw or heard Nighthawks go by, pretty similar scheduling of the flights, very similar flight paths.

    The missile itself is thought to have had an infrared homing device.  Or maybe it locked on a jamming signal.  As for the 'coating', it was designed to be effective against a limited set of Soviet antiaircraft radar frequencies available in the early 1970s.  During the Kuwait war the French and English reported that their NATO and indigenous radar systems saw the first squadron F-117s fly from Kuwait to Baghdad from Saudia Arabia without any trouble.  The technology went out of date with the 1995 wipeout strike against the stationary parts of the Serb air defense system- the Russians quietly sent in their experts and upgraded the remains.

    The Nighthawk operators and E-3A elint people supposedly could tell that the Serbs had some limited ability to track them.  The critical mistake that night was tactical- the F-117 flew the same route out of Serbia as the mission the night before (and maybe the one before that).  The Serbs placed the SA-3s right in the flight path that day.  The pilot literally flew over them at fairly low altitude.

    As for other info, the only thing the Russian experts supposedly found really interesting about the aircraft was the avionics.  The engine was small and not powerful.  A remarkable lot of the aircraft was made out of - you guessed it- plywood.  It was the deHaviland Mosquito concept reimplemented.

    Renewal, not mere Reform.

    by killjoy on Wed Oct 26, 2005 at 11:29:32 PM PDT

  •  Swords are great against other swords (none)
    But if the other guys are using primitive bows and arrows .... oops. :)

    It's only Nero-esque if the city is burning. :)

    by cskendrick on Wed Oct 26, 2005 at 11:34:29 PM PDT

    •  Interesting point in 1491 (none)
      book on America BEFORE the Europeans....

      Guns were not horribly accurate and slow to use.  After the initial fear over the noise and smoke... the natives figured out that THEY had superior weapons.....

      disease did more damage than any "superior" armaments

  •  To be fair... (4.00)
    "ou would think Lockheed would know that we might fly planes where the technology does not compare to the United States"

    At the time, I doubt they expected it to ever be used against anyone but the Soviets.

    •  Yep... (none)
      and if memory serves me ... the F-117 program was initiated under the Carter administration.

      They got one.  They didn't get a second one.

      That whole air campaign was concluded with ZERO combat casualties for the US, and ended with the US, NATO at it's side, achieving it's stated objectives.

         This was probably one of the most justifiable and honorable military campaigns the US has engaged in since WWII.  But due in large-part to serious foot draging by Republican congresscritters the air campaign was  started far too late to stop a lot of "ethnic cleansing."

      The most important thing about life is to stay amused by it.

      by Paulie200 on Thu Oct 27, 2005 at 01:21:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That's quite flippant (none)
    of you madhaus, being as I, at least brought something to the table; however angst ridden and trite it may have been. I see that you, nor your posse, neither recommended this erudite post nor left any thing resembling depth.
  •  old radar vulnerability is old news (none)
    I remember reading an article somewhere, perhaps Atlantic Monthly, perhpas elsewhere, where someone clearly demosntrated this fact.  The author of the piece argued that while the stealth technology might be useful against some of the Soviet's newer systems, that even the Soviets had a lot of older radar on which the supposedly "invisible" planes would light up the screens becaue of the different wavelengths, and that it would effectively be useless for similar reasons against the radars of most 3-rd world nations, which siilarly used a different wavelength.

    I am not a physicist.  I remember similar arguments (perhaps by John Pike) being made against the star wars anti-missile systems  that were laser based.  One could spin a missile to avoid damage from the laser, or one could easily deploy chaff to confuse it. Or a missile could mirv (release its impact vehicles) earlier in its trajectory.  And if such a system failed against a single mirved impact vehicle it had effectively failed completely.

    The presumption that a new technology is the cat's pajamas has often proven to be false.  After all, Alfred Nobel thought his invention of TNT would make war obsolete.

    Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

    by teacherken on Thu Oct 27, 2005 at 03:06:39 AM PDT

  •  We need to invade ... (none)
    ... a country with a good military to find out how good our stuff is.

    We're always invading countries with crap militaries.  We need to try harder to find a good adversary to test our mettle against.

    Iran is probably a bit tougher than Iraq.  They haven't been under sanctions for ten years, so they probably have newer radars and missiles and stuff.  Two weeks to Tehran?  We should be able to debug some systems in that time.  Plus, I imagine we could then add them (and their oil) to our "Greater Middle-East Co-Prosperity Sphere".

    North Korea?  Shouldn't be a big challenge.  It's a shame about what they'd do to those GM-owned Daewoo plants in South Korea in the opening hours of the attack though.

    How about China?  They're big, and they could be easily provoked over Taiwan.

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