The Eclectic One

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Archive for the ‘Buck Rogers Weapons Systems’ Category

God Save Us From Buck Rogers

Posted by Bill Nance on April 8, 2009

When President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned Americans about the rise of the military-industrial complex in 1961, the United States faced imminent danger of complete nuclear destruction and had allies in need of it’s military might for defense all across the globe.

In Europe the Soviets and their allies had an army in the many millions, heavily armed and poised for a thrust which would have gobbled up most of western Europe before it could have been stopped with conventional arms. In Asia the Chinese were exporting their revolution as well, arming places as diverse as North Korea, North Vietnam and Laos.  In Africa the Soviets were actively supplying weapons to a number of states, supporting revolutions and armed insurgencies.  And here in this hemisphere, Cuba was in the process (then unknown to us) of building sites for nuclear missiles.

The Soviets in particular had a frightening array of weapons, most of which were easily a match for anything in the possession of NATO with the exception of a naval fleet, but even in this regard had been building large numbers of attack submarines designed to destroy carrier battle groups and interdict shipping in the event of war.

To summarize, our enemy was very real, technologically capable and dedicated by it’s very founding notions, to our destruction.

Today we face no such enemy. Our main foe at this time, as ruthless as he may be, is armed with low-tech systems and is asymmetrical in nature. Potential rivals such as Russia and the Chinese posess little in the way of systems which even approach the sophistication and battle-tested effectiveness of the U.S. arsenal.  Obviously we have a need to keep ourselves abreast of new technologies, but no potential opponent could do much harm to us at this point, from a technological point of view of its weapon systems. (Numbers and nuclear weapons of course are another matter).

Furthermore our need to defend NATO allies with economies still recovering from a world war has disappeared.  France, Germany and the rest of western Europe have successful, strong economies (present difficulties aside) and are quite capable of dealing with any threat to their territory.

So why exactly is the defense department continuing to ask for and get, vast sums of money for weapons systems which stretch the very bleeding edge of technology and are designed primarily for a war with an opponent we don’t have?

Today’s entry on the list is the Zumwalt class destroyer (DDG-1000).

Artist's rendering of the Zumwalt class destroyer

Artist's rendering of the Zumwalt class destroyer

This weapon system will cost between 2.7 and 5 billion dollars for each ship. What costs so much on these ships you may ask? Every Buck Rogers device that Raytheon, General Dynamics and Northrup-Grumman could come up with apparently, including stealth technology.  Not only is there no real enemy out there which would require such a high-tech weapons system, but the navy itself wanted to scrap the platform because studies showed it to be extremely vulnerable to potential attacks. Enter Ted Kennedy and a few other politicians, interested not in a capable force but in jobs to bring to their districts, and voila’ the navy is going to get three of these white elephants whether it wants them or not.

Now to put this in perspective, the Zumwalt class was designed to replace the Arleigh Burke class destroyers (DDG-51) first deployed in 1991. The navy has a virtual fleet of these excellent platforms, which possess anti-submarine, anti-surface and shore bombardment capability. They are also quite resilient, as the attack on the USS Cole proved, when it failed to even approach sinking the ship, though damage was heavy. The newest variants of the Burke class are still being manufactured, the latest, the USS Sterett,  commissioned in August of last year.

In a time of economic troubles the like of which we’ve not seen since 1929, with two wars underway and a desperate need for soldiers on the ground, Buck Rogers projects like the Zumwalt-class make no sense at all. Brand new Burkes, which cost less than 1/3 of what the Zumwalts do and are arguable better ships seem more than adequate for any possible conflict the navy may face in the remotely near future.

Folks this is plain politics. If you stuck a pencil up it’s butt you could call it stupid on a stick.


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