Friday, June 29, 2018

Ah, Since It Is Friday And I Am Not Exactly Spring Chicken;-)

Some wonderful 1970s pop.

I hate geopolitical and military analysis--I should have been a 1970-1980s Disco DJ;-))) LOL. 


Some Gorky Park/Парк Горького And Other Russian Rock.

Yes, it is Friday!


On General Electric Yet Again.

Here is a simple REAL economy problem. Yesterday's "economic" (a euphemism for Wall Street speculation) news about Dow. 
Let us conduct a forensic mental experiment: say some company, call it Specific Electric (SE), declares that it has intentions to design and produce a new generation of jet-engines which will surpass GE and Safran (former Snecma) produced LEAP jet engine by 10% in efficiency and reliability. The implications of this could be huge--since LEAPs are used internationally in the most active and gigantic market of narrow body medium-range commercial aviation with Boeing-737 and Airbus-320 dominating it in their thousands. Guess what is going to happen to Dow Industrial on these news? Not much really--Specific Electric may get some boost to its shares, GE may lose somewhat in a short run, but overall the so called "market" will have a pretty average day. Why? Because R&D in jet engines, appropriate (re)tooling, setting a manufacturing process, training labor force, getting all necessary certifications etc. is an extremely complex and money and labor intensive process. In general--it is a huge industrial ordeal and undertaking, which will see in the end an immense value added to a final product, which may redefine how crucially important nationally and internationally commercial aviation operates. Implications are enormous.

Now, let's imagine that both General Electric and Specific Electric simply disappear--say both go completely belly up. Consequences? In real world they will be gigantic. Pratt and Whitney and Rolls Royce suddenly find themselves in a titanic struggle for a gigantic market and for a strategic position, they also will fail to fulfill GE and SE's huge backlog orders. So, a chaos may ensue with airlines failing to update their fleets or buy new aircraft, this will affect air traffic globally--so you can imagine. Now, let's say Walgreens disappear. What is going to happen to poor clients and patients with their prescriptions and over the counter medicine? Nothing, really. Walmart, Rite Aid, all grocery store chains will be more than happy to jump into this market hole left after Walgreens collapse and this could be done within days, weeks at the most. In the end, one can buy Penicillin, Metformin,  insulin, any prescription and not drug in... well, Google "US pharmacies" and you'll get the idea. And the only reason this will not be a big problem is because selling shit is much simpler, on several orders of magnitude easier, than producing shit, especially when this shit is of the highest levels of complexity such as jet engines. Feel the difference? 

So, getting back to the news in the beginning of this post: let's summarize--we observe a rats' race between two retailers who produce nothing but offer services which can easily be replaced really fast. Anyone who thinks that Amazon is a "tech" company--they better take a red pill (or a blue one? I don't remember) and get back to reality. If Amazon fails tomorrow--there are thousands of groups which will jump in immediately, because it is NOT that difficult--it takes software developers and storage facilities, plenty of those around. Try now to remove ALL jet-engine manufacturers, or MRI machines manufacturers. We will have a major crisis because it will take an enormous and long-time sustained effort to replace them. It is so self-evident, it is so simple to understand that one is forced to ask--what placing of a retailer Walgreens which sells shit which hundreds of others sell, for about the same price, into Dow Industrial has to do with INDUSTRY? The answer is NOTHING. General Electric's shares may worth zero tomorrow, but until it continues with its line of the highest tech products and sells them (and there will always be a market for them) it doesn't matter--it will remain one of the jewels of national and international aviation and medicine. Walgreens (nothing personal against Walgreens and its fine people), meanwhile, may have its shares hitting astronomical numbers but it will remain the most trivial, most common pharmacy and retailer, period.

This brings us to the next question--what is then a real VALUE of US economy or, rather, of its "market". I don't know the number but I know that this "market" is overvalued grossly and is sinking in derivative financial "instruments" (euphemism for non-existent money and imaginary values) and is completely detached from reality. Reality, however, is not as shiny, to put it mildly, but there are still some things which could be done to at least partially correct it. Some of them are being at least tried. But that brings us to...

Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki on July 16th. I will write about that later (some people ask me to do so). What I can say now is that the main point of this summit will be how, in the end, to arrange for the United States to save itself without unleashing WW III. The issue with GE has, actually, a direct relation to Trump-Putin agenda. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Nothing To See Here. Move Along, Move Along...;-)))

We all know it is racists, totalitarian and anti-feminist and, totally undemocratic and whatever else will come to mind of all those Social Justice Warriors, but here it is:

But here is a bit of clarification from CBS: 
Ahh, creative bookkeeping in economy, highly creative anti-doping "policies" in sports--isn't it wonderful how "flexible" modern world is? Of course, in the world of Russian hackers anything is possible. But as I proposed (and not me only)--let doping be official. Let us see where the program of breeding mutants gets us. After all, who wouldn't like to see some freaks of nature compete...oh, wait. 

Scheisse, Again!

Germans seem to be unable to catch any break these recent days. First, the national team crushes out from World Cup, now this!

It is SM-2 missile which failed to leave MK 41 VLS and, obviously burned inside. Luckily, two sailors who sustained injuries seem to be OK and no permanent damage to their health. Plus, MK 41, it seems, did its job by limiting the ordeal to a single cell. The explosion of several SM-2s could have been disastrous for this Sachsen-class FFG. This event shows how dangerous military service is and how cautious one has to be with weapon systems. It is a very complex technology and, as any technology, it breaks down. In real war, of course, this particular frigate most likely would have been an easy target after this event.    

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Shock To The System!

OK, Germany is OUT. A strange ring to it when pronouncing this. Germany's national football team, the 2014 Champions of the World, the famed and always, even when not at the top of its game, dangerous Bundesmachine, always a football Blitzkrieg juggernaut,  lost to South Korea today 2-0 and crushed out from the...drum roll...last place in its group at World Cup. Stunning. Yes, there is a statistics today which tells us that Title defenders fail to defend at early stages. But Germany? From the last place, losing to South Korea? This is a shock to the system and, in the same time, could be a good news for the game. 

Could this be a chance for Luka Modric and magnificent Croatia? They play a beautiful football. Or will Brazil, which is very happy today in its national schadenfreude, after being humiliated by these very Germans 7-1 at their domestic World Cup 4 years ago, try for a title? Or could it be some completely out of the left field new contender? After all, there is still Portugal and CR7 out there who can win anyone on any given day? Will European Champions try to ensure that CriRo enters the pantheon of the greatest who ever played the game on the highest international level? Belgium? Fascinating. This World Cup in Russia is filled with excitement and is completely unpredictable. I don't remember so much excitement in the air since 2006. But still, scheisse!


And Who Said It Will Be Easy?

An interesting piece of news from India. India's government is setting up a special committee to deal with a rather peculiar situation with long-awaited (since mid-1980s) India's indigenous light fighter Tejas. It is not an impressive aircraft and its only remarkable feature is that it is designed and manufactured in India, mostly.
As you may have guessed already, the engine for this aircraft is not India's made. So, in some sense Tejas' saga is a very good example of an immense difficulty of inserting one into the field of aviation, both commercial and combat, without a school. 

Indian Air Force's (IAF) main fighter today is a Sukhoi-30 MKI. India operates almost 250 of those and it is an immensely powerful fighter, which also made a lot of noise and raised the international reputation of IAF very high. But here is a catch: how a mediocre light fighter of Tejas variety can cost 1.5 times more than Russian-built state-of-the-art fighter is a complete mystery. Or maybe it is not a mystery at all. In the end, much more advanced technologically and economically China still buys Russian jets and gets into the Joint Venture with Russia to produce long-range wide body CR 929. Much more than money and even engineering expertise is required for a creation of a state-of-the-art (military) technology. Technology is a cultural thing and this can not be bought, it has to be developed and even this is not just the matter of time. 
India today, if one discounts all kinds of cultural memes, is associated primarily with software field. It is an important field, but it is nowhere near in terms of human, scientific and industrial capital required for a viable competitive aerospace industry. That is on several orders of magnitude more complex task and that requires not just some elite strata of people, albeit it is a requirement, but overall cultural environment which creates appropriate "pressures" for a development of something like modern state-of-the-art fighter or a commercial jet. India is not there yet. But that is a whole other story which, for decades now, creates highly emotional discussions on a possibility of India becoming a true superpower.             

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Why Mathematical Models Break Down. And Why Our Life Depends On That-3

Continuation, first two parts are HERE and HERE.

When speaking about some kind of financial "adjuster" in this particular formula we, of course, may say that there should be a way of bypassing the tedious task of finding such an adjuster and go with nominal military expenditures figures while paying attention to what is inside the bracket—that is what theoretically should account for military potential thus providing the number for this proverbial bang for a buck. But this method has its own serious drawback. No matter how we play with numbers any kind of quantifiable comparison will not convey a crucial factor of geopolitical posture and doctrines which are derived from this.

Surely, there is always a way to "compare". Consider, for example, this famous dyadic technological relation of forces. 

Don't be intimidated with those Sigma notations—they merely stand for sums of products of the year of introduction of technology (types of aircraft, tanks, ships, subs etc.) and of the number of those types. Let's give an example: we start with a very simplified example of the United States Air Force and Tank forces—we take numbers from open sources and "trim" them to avoid a tedious calculation for a huge range of years and types—remember, we do it merely for demonstration. So, we go HERE and choose the number of combat aircraft in the USAF "inventory". Let's limit ourselves to strictly fighter and attack aircraft. This will give us roughly:

235 F-15 Eagles, 220 F-15E Strike Eagles, 570 F-16 Fighting Falcons, 195 F-22 Raptors and 287 of good ol' A-10s Thunderbolts. So, now to demonstrate what it gives us in terms of first ratio inside the bracket we assume, in order to avoid this tedious calculations for each batch of the same type of aircraft, that:

1. Out of 235 F-15 Eagles 35 was manufactured in 1980, 100 was manufactured in 1990 and the last 100 was manufactured in 2005. So, that gives us first term for the type (F-15) of aircraft: 

              =69,300 + 199,000 + 200,500 = 468,800.

Now we can divide this number by total number of F-15 Eagles and we get:


This number is our "weighted" (sort of) technological (which translates into combat) "value" of F-15s.

2. Now we do similar operation with F-15s Strike Eagles and for simplicity of experiment we say that 110 of them were manufactured, say, in 2000 and another 110 in 2005. Thus our Sigma for F-15Es will be: 

             110*2000 + 110*2005= 220,000+220,550=440,550

Now we divide by the number of F-15Es and get:


By now you should get a simple idea behind these calculations, so I will omit further calculations for each type of aircraft and will merely state the numbers based on UNIFORM or averaged year of manufacturing for the rest of aircraft. Of course, this is not the case in real life, but:

3. For F-16s we choose uniform (or average) year of manufacturing, say, 2004, this gives us 570*2004/570=2004.

4. For A-10s we get the year of 1989, so their value is 1989;

5. For F-22 Raptor we get the (average) year of manufacturing of 2005, so their value is 2005.

Now what is left for us is to add all this together to get the value of the USAF combat aircraft:   

      1,994.9 + 2002.5 + 2004 + 1989 + 2005=9,995.4

This is roughly what the value of USAF is in our example.

Absolutely the same method is used for US Army's tanks, if we to assume the number of about 6,000 of all types of M-1s being "in inventory", how many of actually combat ready tanks is out there remains really a secret—this number will be much smaller than "inventory" or "storage" but since we are at it, we may as well count ALL of them, including in storage and that number is about 6,000 American Main battle Tanks which is all iterations of M-1 Abrams. As the formula goes, once technological value of tanks is calculated, you add them to the value of aircraft and then divide this sum by 2 (or multiply by 0.5) we supposedly should get the T, that is technological value, which could be compared with the T of other nation and this is supposedly give us Dyadic Technological Advantage Delta T. For Russian AF and tank forces the information is readily available, so feel free to play with those numbers. 

 Obviously, any T in this formula is nothing more than weighted time of introduction of military technology into service and this DOES NOT represent a real technological advantage, or otherwise, since ignores completely a mode of employment of forces. Yes, the year of introduction matters but what about upgrades and modernization? As an example, an upgrade of Russia's venerable SU-27 fighter to SU-27SM produced a very capable 21st century combat aircraft capable of turning and burning with the best of them and here we are talking about airframes some of which are 20+ years old. Same goes for upgrades of F-16s which will get AESA radar among other things, thus making this old timer not only still one of the sexiest aircraft out there but make it deadlier.

Moreover, when calculating any technological advantages one must consider not just comparisons of the likes—aircraft to aircraft, tank to tank or ship to ship. It doesn't work like this and never did. Vietnam War—a bulk of massive USAF losses (around 10,000 aircraft) were due to AAA and SAMs. Since then, USAF never encountered Air Defense of such a capability it encountered in Vietnam. One then is forced to ask an inevitable question: what could be possible, however improbable, performance of USAF against air defense assets of Russia? I do not even want to go there because this could be one of the thresholds which will force the United States to escalate to nuclear option. One, again, must consider how opposing forces deploy and fight. 

So, no matter how we play with numbers and popular formulas, so far—they do not really represent a reliable picture of capability. Indeed, what is better to have and who comes out on top in the scenario of 4 F-22s against 6 Su-35s, how about 6 F-22s against 4 Su-35s and two S-400s? Are these legitimate questions to ponder? Of course they are. In the open ocean any, even modern state-of-the-art, SSK will become inevitably much more vulnerable against modern SSN, while in its own littoral and under the cover of own ASW patrol aviation, those SSKs become deadly hunters against any nuclear powered sub. 

So, how we are to approach those comparisons? Obviously, some people go for the jugular and create all kinds of Firepower Rankings. They name whole 55 factors which influence their "calculations" and that is fine and dandy but does it reflect properly the only ability which matters in this world—to fight and WIN the war. Does it answer the question of WHAT war? It doesn't, because Russia, as an example, is not intent nor is planning for fighting the war in Europe, unless attacked first, let alone she is not intent nor is preparing for fighting a war inside the United States. The United States, however, is intent on fighting war both around and, in some mad scenarios, inside Russia. That brings us to inevitable conclusion that ANY comparison of military power outside the (respective) doctrinal frameworks is useless and is nothing more than mental acrobatics which, sadly, sometimes has a very serious and grim consequences for those who base their decisions primarily on those rankings and numerical "values".   

To Be Continued....  

Monday, June 25, 2018

Atlantic Council "Wakes Up".

Poor, poor dears at the Atlantic Council--they are more concerned with RT NOT writing the headline, while in reality RT did write it, as did I. Here is what Atlantic Council writes now:

Meanwhile, Margo Simonyan of RT wrote today an excellent piece (in Russian) for Ria. The title of a piece is excellent:

I have to go with Margo here since she hits it right in the bulls eye. I will translate just one para from her piece:

Может, вы, наконец, поймете, что вы не верите нам не потому, что мы врем, а потому что вы не знаете ни хрена об окружающем мире, потому что плохо образованы, читаете мало и не то, ездите не туда, общаетесь с одной и той же горсточкой предвзятых и/или сумасшедших людей, которые только подкрепляют ваше высокомерное невежество.
Translation: Maybe you will finally understand that you do not believe us not because we lie, but because you know horseradish (dick) about surrounding world, because you are badly educated, do not read much and when do, do not read what is needed, you visit all the wrong places and communicate with the same small bunch of prejudiced and/or mental people, who only reinforce your condescending ignorance.

But I want to go even further and recall what Andrei Bezrukov, a former intelligence man and now a professor in the Department of Applied Analysis of International Problems of the famed MGIMO wrote a month and a half ago in his no gimmicks, bottom line, piece with the title (in Russian) What Is Our Strength.

В чем их слабость? Как противники эти ребята – серость, второй сорт. Заелись. Их предыдущее поколение было сильнее. Они нас уважали. А мы их. Этих мы не уважаем, они того не заслужили. Пугать они могут, а драться – посмотрим... Их бесит, что им скоро придется жить по средствам. Они от этого давно отвыкли. Поэтому они хотят решить проблему с нами сейчас, пока другие их еще боятся.
Translation: What is THEIR weakness? As enemies these guys are mediocrities, second rate. They overate. Their previous generation was stronger. They respected us, we respected them. We don't respect these ones, they didn't deserve it. They can bully, as for the real fight--we'll see about that... They are enraged that soon they will have to live within their means. They forgot how to do so long time ago. That is why they want to solve a problem with us now, while others are still afraid of them.

Each day I see reminders of an intellectual hole current Western so called "elites" dug themselves into. Of course, there are still people among them who know the real score and merely toe the party line, but most are genuine articles--arrogant, uncultured, acrimonious, badly educated, despite sometimes holding several Ph.Ds, and highly unprofessional. The signs are everywhere, everyday--in media, in news, in social networks, on political Parnassus, in economy and in foreign policy which, for the lack of a better word, is exhibit A of sheer incompetence. 

Donald Trump needs Russia, it is as clear as a sunny day, but he lacks that necessary foreign policy refinement which may get him at least some kind of "deal" with Russia which will help him to ensure his second term and maybe, just maybe, a shot at both demolishing the EU, thus giving some small lifeline to American economy, and having Russia take a less pro-active stance in US dealings with China. But Trump's Administration is filled with precisely the types of people described in Simonyan's article--America doesn't produce any other types anymore. So, it is difficult to predict the outcome. In the end, the time for a real deal may simply be gone. As Patrick Armstrong wrote in May:

I somehow have a hunch that the term "intelligence" here can be used simultaneously with its both meanings.