Posts Tagged ‘LIghtning II’

Curiosity, Lightning, Rafale

August 6, 2012


Military-Industrial Corruption A treacherous Friend Of Plutocracy?



Amazingly, the large “Curiosity” rover landed on Mars in one piece after a silly “sky crane” trick. Actually, the sky crane is not that silly; it was only 7.5 meters high, and landing on rockets causes a lot of little problems: the thick atmosphere is unstable next to the ground, and dust, rocks could have damaged the rover.

The technical achievement was great. The largest supersonic parachute ever made (16 meters across, 50 meters long, 80 suspensions, 30 tons of braking power), was deployed at Mach 2.2 (and photographed from orbit! The parachute was made by a unit of a French corporation, Zodiacareospace, which makes the famous Zodiac inflatable boats… a company founded in 1896!)

No less than 76 pyrotechnic devices and the eight rocket engines had to perform exquisitely.

This successful landing on Mars demonstrates the superiority of the USA in robotics and other advanced manufacturing (when it is tapped!)

But not just that. Hundreds of thousands of people, around the world, seven countries, worked on the project. This is exactly how the world economy ought to work: tap the best abilities, and make them collaborate. Two and a half billion dollars were spent on Earth, by the USA alone to make Curiosity (and the ongoing exploration, just starting, will cost even more). It is good economic activity. Mars has many answers about how planets evolve, just as we push our poor planet to do so, at a frantic pace. Moreover Mars makes an obvious candidate for colonization (how is not clear yet!)

Curiosity carries ten experiments, with contributions from all over the world, even Russia. Spain, very despised these days, built the high gain antenna.

France contributed two major experiments, including the crucial SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) and Chem Cam. The Chem Cam can analyze chemical composition of rocks from 9 meters away: it fires a hyper powerful laser (conceived by French CEA, realized by French Thales), that rises the temperature of rocks to nearly twice that of the surface of the sun in a billionth of a second, and then the camera analyzes the exploded plasma.    

For the first time in the history of NASA, a NASA mission will be co-piloted from the outside of the USA, in Toulouse, France.

I want to propose more of the same, further collaboration. This is the advantage of trade: different places, from different choices, hence history, develop different skills.

In fighter-bombers, the USA and France’s maverick company, Dassault have followed very different paths in the last decades. The path chosen by the USA looks like a, very costly, blind alley.



The F35 Lightning II is a plane obviously completely inadequate, for its stated missions of defense and attack. Not has one single specimen yet (really) deployed. “Training” is not allowed, yet, but may start in 2013. And the first weapon has not been dropped by an F35. Yet. But soon, soon… One would not want the plane to come apart when it opens its little doors at supersonic speeds…

Yet, 400 billion dollars has already been spent on that hopeless machine,  mostly made of plastic and glue (I am not kidding), which has never fired a weapon.

More than 3,000 F35s are supposed to be built (at 300 million to 800 million dollars apiece). An admiral of the U.S. Navy suggested to develop a “truck” instead. The admiral calls for new military thinking and questions stealth technology (which is, objectively, known not to work against sophisticated adversaries).

Such a flying truck already exists, a fifth generation fighter-bomber with an extremely advanced ACTIVE stealth system. It has been deployed in combat for years, and attacked Libyan armor when it was protected by fully functional air defenses, something the USA has been certifiably unable to do, even with the F22 Raptor (which has never seen combat, or even CAP overseas).

Here is a “truck“:

A Rafale can carry more than its weight

A Rafale going to war with plenty of goodies

French Rafales Do Not Go To Combat Naked (as the F35s do!).

Buying the French Rafale, and building it under license, would save the Western defense system trillions. American capabilities would be better put into use developing other extremely advanced weapons: space devices, drones and anti-missiles. The USA are years ahead in drones. (As the Curiosity success demonstrates!)

Another advantage of purchasing the Rafale is that the more entangled with itself the military industrial of the West is, the more a situation of co-dependency, and thus strength. For example the supreme air-air missile is the European built Mach 5 Meteor, a long range air breathing rocket with a range beyond 100 kilometers (thanks to its breathing). The Meteor is so superior that engineers are now trying to make it smaller to fit it inside a F35. American planners had not believed in a super fast very long range missile, as, in their minds, it was all about stealth, approaching without being seen.

The reason the USA will not surrender, and buy the Rafale, as it should, is corruption, something that comes to dominate imperial plutocracies, often causing their demise.



In his farewell address, president Eisenhower, having served two full terms, warned against the military-industrial complex. (Ike did this at seven and half minutes of his full discourse, which is well worth listening to. He warned also against the political-scientific elite as a potential enemy of democracy…)

Corruption finds a home in the military-industrial complex. It can become so extensive that the Japanese and Nazi plutocracies were riddled with it in the Second World War. To the point that their war efforts became extremely enfeebled. In both cases hundreds of weapons were semi-developed, to spread the money around, as the enrichment, or empowerment, of those involved was paramount. Enormous money was spent, and little produced, or then even weapons that hindered the war effort.

For example Hitler insisted to make the Messerschmitt 262, a superlative interceptor, into a bomber. That delayed the apparition of the Me 262 by nearly two years (my own dad, officer in an anti-aircraft unit, was attacked and bombed by Me 262). Good it did for the Allies, because the Pentagon anticipated that the Me 262 would have allowed the Nazis to recover air supremacy! (It would take years for the allies to make planes as good as the Me 262, although they had seized and dissected plenty, and also captured their makers…)

The Nazis developed dozens of other, hopeless flying machines, that robbed the effort that should (from the Nazi point of view!) have been put in the Me 262. The Third Reich was full of decadent plutocrats, and all of them wanted a stream of money and power to come their way.

By contrast to the corrupted mess that the Nazi and Japanese military-industrial complexes were, the British and American weapon procurement in WWII was kept lean, mean, and smart. That allowed mass production to a much greater extent. For example the USA developed only one main battle tank, the Sherman. It was not as good as the best Nazi models, the Panther, Tiger and Super Tiger, (and others I have forgotten the name of), not at all as good, but plenty were produced. Ten Shermans against one Panther meant a dead Panther. The Nazis lost on quantity, not quality.

In general, the weapons made in the USA in WWII were all very clever. The aircraft carriers with their armored decks and nitrogen full fuel pipes were marvels of smarts, and the crews were stupendously trained. Several American carriers suffered bomb and torpedo damage that would have sent a Japanese carrier to the bottom of the sea. But American rescue crews were as good as the Japanese ones were bad.   

Nowadays some weapon systems are sufficient to defend the USA (the strategic nuclear subs, as for France, UK and Russia). But corruption is rife in other areas of defense. And the corruption extends far out.

The USA succeeded to enlist eight other countries in the F35 program.



A few facts:

1) A stealth F117 bomber of the USAF was shot years ago, in Serbia, using a Czech anti-aircraft system. That system simply used multiple radars, centralized the information, and computed (the method has been long used in astrophysics). Many countries have laughed for years about USA “stealth”, saying such systems with distributed radars and centralized computing were readily available. The wing of the F117 was shot through by a shell, not shrapnel, indicative of the fact that the location of the F117 had been asserted with precision.

2) A few years back, in a war game a United Arab Emirate Mirage flown by a French pilot, “shot down” a F22 Raptor. One has to know that the F22 is the top of the line interceptor of the USA. It is forbidden to export it. The F35 is supposed to be a smaller, cheaper, much less capable version of the F22.

The French Rafale runs circles around the French Mirage. So, if a Mirage can shoot down an F22 Raptor… The Raptor is a large plane, whereas the Rafale is compact and is equipped for extremely high accelerations, up to 11 gs (same as the Mercury space capsule). This is thanks in part to its seat which inclines at 29 degrees (the pilot sees all very well, thanks to the heads up holographic display).

The F35 does, at most, 9 gs (and only 7 gs in the marine version). The F35 is not capable of “supercruise“. That means that, to go supersonic, the F35 needs to use post combustion (more easily detected, a gas guzzler, and unsustainable). Concorde supercruised at Mach 2. A fully armed Rafale (see pictures above and below) can supercruise at Mach 1.4.

3) The French “omnirole” fifth generation fighter bomber, the Rafale, is equipped with passive stealth (its reflectivity is much less than a square meter). One also calls “stealth”, “low observability“, nowadays, because, after all, the Rafale, the F35 and the F22 can all be observed.

But the Rafale can do something that the other two cannot do. The Rafale is endowed with ACTIVE STEALTH“. The plane is covered with antennae, even in the leading edges of its canards, and analyzes continually the electromagnetic environment. Fast electronics allows it to make anti-noise (the Spectra system of Thales, the same company whose laser is going to zap Martian rocks, in a parody of war of the worlds).

The Spectra system detects the direction of a threat, with a precision of one degree, and actively suppresses it. So the Rafale is a plane which can be stealthy without losing its aerodynamics (American style stealth allows radar reflections, but only on some very sharp angles, as the planes are made with few planes, the way is diamond is cut.) Moreover active stealth can be perfected to be 100% effective, which “low observability” is not, by definition.

4) During the war in Libya, the dictator Qadhafi dispatched onto Benghazi his entire armored force, accompanied by all his mobile missile batteries. As that force entered the suburbs of Benghazi while talks were pursued in Paris, the French president gave the order to kill it. At the time all the Libyan air defense system was fully functional, adding to all the anti-aircraft capability to the charging armor. Mirages carrying bombs were escorted by Rafales attacking and confusing the missile system. The Libyan force was annihilated, demonstrating, in combat, the superiority of active stealth.

5) Rafales have conducted bombing missions in Afghanistan for years. By contrast the F22 never flew a combat mission.

6) The Rafale is a flying truck. It carries more than its own weight in bombs, fuel and reconnaissance pods. For example its naval version can carry 14 tons of weapons, whereas the F18 super Hornet (the present fighter-bomber of the U.S. Navy, a larger plane) carries only 11 tons (the F22 carries much much less in its stealthy mode and less than 11 tons, if it hanged stuff below its wings… which the Rafale can do while staying stealthy!)

Indeed, with active stealth one can hang whatever below the wings and keep the whole thing invisible. To carry significant armament, the F35 will also have to hang stuff below its wings, and then it will be as stealthy as a B52, a flying light house… 

Rafale in a combat mission in Afghanistan (see the glaciers below).

7) The F35 statistics are miserable: it carries nearly no armament and has less range than some of the fighters the USA engaged against Nazi Germany to escort its bombers. The F35’s performance statistics are all in ways comparable to a F 105 Thunderchief, a plane with just one engine that failed miserably during the Vietnam war. On top of that, the F35 is slow relative a Rafale, by at least 500 kilometers an hour. (There is a good reason for that: the leading edges of the Rafale are in Titanium; it beats plastics and epoxy any day!)

Did I mention the Rafale has two engines, whereas the F35 has just one? This explains that a laden Rafale accelerates better than a naked F35. Anybody who has to fly over water will tell you they much prefer two engines rather than one.

8) The American style stealth has consisted in sharp angles (to reflect radar only in a few directions), glue and plastics (to swallow radar radiation). Four drawbacks: very fragile (B2 can’t take the rain), easily melted (can’t go fast), exaggerated stress on poor aerodynamics (some leading edges on the F22 had to be replaced by titanium, ruining stealth), everything has to be hidden inside, from fuels, to rockets, to bombs (so, whereas a Rafale, with its superior aerodynamics and active stealth can be bristling with weapons, and fuel a F35 will go to combat with just 4 missiles inside).


Conclusion: The Navy of the USA ought to buy Rafales, and, with the money saved develop anti ballistic missile system and drones. It goes without saying that it will not happen. Instead astounding amounts of money will be spent on an ineffectual weapon system. (Which is supposed to last… 60 years!)

Thinking that one can get away with massive corruption is a mark of hubristic imperial plutocracy.

The F35 is supposed to go to combat naked, as represented here, so it can stay stealthy. Two rather small compartments open up to reveal the tiny weapons, losing stealth at that instant.

The F35 program is a case of “Too Big To Fail”, outside of finance and economics. One of these cases when the commanding oligarchies just go on, because they are too far along to admit error, or simply, having their logical circuitries ossified and calcified, a case of being in a tight logical box. To keep on doing what one has done before, being dragged along by what one has engaged in, is a basic consequence of mental architecture. The inner mental space has been con-formed by, is built from, what has been happening, it’s a sort of re-production of the perceived world. To be changed, one needs un-reason, as I argued, a jolt out of the box to create new dimensions. Maybe that French laser on Mars can zap away at the calcified contempt all too many American leaders have for French weaponery.

The Curiosity lander demonstrates the advance of the USA in robotics. Purchase Rafales, and sell drones to the Europeans (both sides would sell each other technologies in these mutual collaborations, and make the weapons on location).


It may seem strange that Euro-American collaboration in defense ought to be a philosophical subject. Yet, war, assuredly is (except if one is Socrates, with a plutocratic agenda one cannot justify, so one talks of other things). World War One and Two were made possible by a dearth of cooperation and collaboration between the sister republics, France and the USA. August 6 is the anniversary of Hiroshima, and there would have no Hiroshima if the USA had joined France in declaring war to Hitler in 1939 (as Great Britain and many nations, including India, did).

That cognitive mess, World War II, Nazism, was clearly caused, fundamentally, by a lack of Curiosity. So this August 6, 2012, is a rare case where things are heading the right way, satisfying curiosity, the fundamental, specifically human activity.


Patrice Ayme