There are many American naval leaders who create a sense of admiration and professional respect, even among adversaries. Names of Chester Nimitz, Arleigh Burke, Elmo Zumwalt, David Farragut, of course, John Paul Jones (a Russian Navy's admiral), among many outstanding American naval officers, come to mind immediately. Former Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) John Lehman is not one of them, at least not for me. In fact, it was on Lehman's watch, Lehman, of course, being a naval aviator himself, that the foundation for a decline of the US Navy was laid. Of course, everybody can recall Reagan's (that is Lehman's) 600 Ship Navy, they also can recall how a mediocrity such as Tom Clancy was pulled out of his insurance agent job to start writing BS about Soviet Armed Forces (courtesy of John Lehman) but apart from bloated naval bureaucracy and arrogance, one has to also remember that Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Trost called Lehman "not a balanced human being". Trost had a point, once one reads last assertions by John Lehman as presented by US Naval Institute:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. military is losing its technological edge, in part because Russian cyber forces have penetrated the defense industry and are stealing information, former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman said on Wednesday.
“We were used, in the Cold War, to having the current edge in technology, partially because the Russians adopted a policy after World War II to draft off our technology – so they designed their fighters to use F/A-18 radar because they knew they’d be able to steal them,” Lehman said on Wednesday at a Maritime Security Dialogue event cohosted by the U.S. Naval Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“Today their cyber is so capable, even though most of the defense industry will not publicly admit it, but they’re right in from the beginning of the program with their cyber capability, so there is almost no lag. They’re not behind us, they’re with us in our [technology development].”
This is how Mr. Lehman sees how Russia is supposedly catching up to the United States technologically. I don't know, but if John Lehman, from the high position he held in 1980s couldn't figure out how and why Soviet Navy differed, drastically at that, in its views on fighting war from US military, I guess nothing will change it. No argument will be powerful enough to convince Mr. Lehman that in 1988 there was NO cyber-espionage. Did the Soviet Union in the past and Russia today spy and continue to spy on US? Hell yes, if they wouldn't, it would have been strange at best. But so does the United States which is in this business of spying, including cyber espionage, on USSR and Russia from the inception. As he states:
“If you look at their latest submarines, it’s pretty hard to project a real advantage sub-to-sub. [They] copied all of the technology off our submarine quieting, and they’re ahead in some of the offensive capabilities,” he said. “We have really fallen behind in technology, and we need to get back into that game.”
1. If I may, I want to remind to Mr. SECNAV about this:
Project 971 SSN (aka Akula in NATO) didn't become the "best submarine in the world" due to some espionage--it became such primarily as a continuous development of a whole host of technologies, from hull to sensors, to weapons which are unique--that means exists only in USSR/Russia--in the world. Moreover, prior to first Akula (in reality Schuka--a Pike) ever being afloat, Soviet Navy experimented with already very silent and powerful Project 671 RTM (Victor III-class) SSNs and, of course, cutting edge Project 945 (Sierra) SSNs--those boats being largest titanium man-made objects. All that was a result of not so much of espionage as of a very unique Soviet/Russian shipbuilding school which produced some of the most outstanding submarines in history. In the end, Soviet SSKs of Project 877 (Kilo-class) were extremely silent in 1980. Issues of both silencing and acoustics have been dealt with in USSR as early as late 1950s. Soviet Navy knew that its first nuclear subs were noisy and lacked good acoustics, hence the whole network of acoustic institutes which were opened in USSR. But let me get specifically to what is highlighted in yellow.
2. Russia is ahead in "some offensive" technologies not because of espionage but because of seeing a war for what it is, thus preparing to deal with any adversary based on reality, thus developing effective weapons. While John Lehman was pushing for more nuclear aircraft carriers, Soviet Navy was pushing for real weapons capable of sinking anything, those carriers included. Here are some "offensive capabilities" which Russians sure as hell didn't steal from US and that is why Russia is precisely a world leader in them:
a) Mig-31 was the first fighter in the world with phased-array, electronically scanned radar and it had nothing, zero, to do with any F-18, since USSR was always one of the world's leaders in that field.
b) In terms of anti-shipping missiles--it is simply ridiculous to even compare. Soviet Union opened the combat era of ASCM with venerable P-15 Termit, of which Israeli Navy is keenly aware, and today Russia possesses an unprecedented anti-shipping capability ranging from P-800 Onyx, 3M54 Kalibr to upcoming hyper-sonic 3M22 Zircon. There is nothing comparable in US Navy's arsenal--it is a very good chance that the espionage in this field is more on Russia from US, than the other way around.
c) There is nothing, zero, comparable to Soviet/Russian Shkval, which will become even faster soon.
d) A variety of non-acoustic sensors, initially as a help for relatively weak Soviet acoustics in 1950s and 1960s, now as a totally independent non-acoustic detection suites from wake to gravity, to completely new physical principles of detection and tracking targets--all of it being designed and produced in USSR and Russia totally out of own resources.
e) In order for me not to continue with this long list of those purely Soviet/Russian technologies which have very little to do with spying (let alone cyber-spying) but are in the foundation of the world-class engineering and manufacturing of superb weapon systems, revisiting this might be a good idea.
In general, the United States for all of its engineering, designer and technological undeniable genius does not have monopoly in any weapon systems which are designed for real war, not blowing with impunity some shit in the third world shit-holes, it is not the same as facing a salvo of P-800 let alone X-32s. While John Lehman was pushing for carriers, Soviets were pushing for the future of war and if the United States Navy, a Navy with undeniably impressive and heroic combat tradition, ended up, geopolitical considerations apart, with no real effective tools to fight a near-peer, let alone peer, John Lehman should blame only himself, not come up with this espionage BS, especially in regards to how Russians deal with hulls shapes and cavitation issues. But the notes of desperation are certainly there. I, however, can assure Mr. Lehman that Russia has NO any plans to sink a US Navy or attack US proper unless attacked first, but I am sure he knows that--of course he does, he was craving for fighting Russians in 1980s, not the other way around. Wasn't Admiral Trost talking about that when called him an unbalanced human being?