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Tilting at Windmills

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February 28, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

KITTY HAWK RUMORS....India currently has one aircraft carrier that's due to be decommissioned in a few years. Its replacement is supposed to be the Admiral Gorshkov from Russia, but the refit work on the Gorshkov has been slow, expenses have risen, and there are reasons to think that the Russian shipyard doing the work isn't up to the task in any case. In the wake of all this, Defense Industry Daily reports that India might soon have an alternative:

As reports begin to suggest that Russia and India are too far apart to agree on the Gorshkov refit, speculation grows that the USA intends to solve India's problem with a stunning offer during Defense Secretary Gates' imminent visit to india. instead of retiring and decommissioning its last conventionally-powered carrier, the 81,800 ton/ 74,200t USS Kitty Hawk [CV-63, commissioned 1961], would be handed over to India when its current tour in Japan ends in 2008. The procedure would resemble the January 2007 "hot transfer" of the amphibious landing ship USS Trenton [LPD-14], which become INS Jalashva. The cost? This time, it would be free. As in, $0.

Free aside from the billions of dollars in maintenance and fighter jet contracts India would sign with us, of course.

As it happens, the Navy has flatly denied the Kitty Hawk rumors. But a denial one day doesn't mean there will be a denial the next, does it? So, since things are a little slow today, I thought I'd pass this along for its gossip value. Today's question, then, is: Would this be a brilliant stroke or utter lunacy? Comments are open.

Originally via Winds of Change.

Kevin Drum 2:43 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (91)

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Comments

What a way to recoup all those outsourcing dollars from Bangalore! Brilliant, of course.

All kidding aside, this might do much to stabilize the region, as both Pakistan and India become our pseudo-client states.

Posted by: gregor on February 28, 2008 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm... like India needs an aircraft carrier to protect its territories scattered throughout the world?

I suppose if India gets one, Pakistan will want one too.

Posted by: Buford on February 28, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Brilliant. Decommissioning a vessel that still has a market is wasteful, and almost anything we can do to reassure India that we're comfortable with them becoming a major power is a good diplomatic investment.

Posted by: tom veil on February 28, 2008 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Can't we build another ship named Trenton, after the New Jersey capital, if we sold one?

The two aircraft carriers named Princeton are no more, and we have a Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and a George H. W. Bush aircraft carrier being built. Blecchh...

What Ronald Reagan good for fighting against? Truth?

http://www.navy.mil/navydata/our_ships.asp

(check out list-of-ships links on the pages for each kind of ship)

Posted by: Swan on February 28, 2008 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

So, the cell phone business model finally hits the defense inducstry and our strategic arms proliferation foreign policy?

Add a couple of destroyers and India could upgrade to the Family Plan.

Posted by: Cheney's Third Nipple on February 28, 2008 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

A 50-year-old ship doesn't sound like such a hot deal to me.

Posted by: Swan on February 28, 2008 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Like Buford, I'm not sure why India feels they need a carrier group, but what the hey.

But rather than straight-up give it to them, I'd want to do something like get Pakistan to agree to reduce their nuke supply if India will, and give the carrier to India in exchange for their agreeing to the deal.

Of course, I care about nonproliferation, and this Administration doesn't.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on February 28, 2008 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Well, there is a cruiser named the USS Princeton, anyway.

If it was up to some of those conservative bozos, we'd have ships named William F. Buckley or Hagee...

Posted by: Swan on February 28, 2008 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

I sincerely doubt that the Indians want the Kitty Hawk. Like the others of her class that have lately been decommissioned, she's likely past any further useful employ. Our aircraft carriers are ridden hard and put away wet - the JFK was apparently a pile of junk when retired and Kitty Hawk is actually older.

It would be smarter for the Indians to go in with the French and British on their new carrier project. Adding a third unit would bring down costs for all three partners.

Posted by: Susan on February 28, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK
Hmmm... like India needs an aircraft carrier to protect its territories scattered throughout the world?

India needs an aircraft carrier to provide a check to China's efforts to expand their influence in the region by is building a blue water navyto its force projection capabilities in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea, expanding military cooperation with Sri Lanka and other states in the region and particularly establishing bases in areas which allow it to directly control energy (oil) flows. (Or, as China would put it, to "guarantee security" of those flows.)

I suppose if India gets one, Pakistan will want one too.

Pakistan is closely allied with China, which has provided both funding and direct construction effort for a major deep water port (completed recently) and naval installation (in progress for completion ~2010) in Pakistan near the exit of the Straits of Hormuz.

That relationship, and its role in Chinese regional military strategy, is part of the reason India is seeking improved naval capacity, including a new carrier.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 28, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

It would piss off the Pakis.

But that's the only reason I can see against this. Might be a good thing overall.

Posted by: Joel on February 28, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I covered this one when it first came out over the weekend.

the quid-pro-quo would be that India has to buy American F-18s for the Kitty Hawk's aircraft - a $billion or more. That would probably throw the current Indian Air Force tender to Boeing as well - another several billion. Expert opionion suggests Russia's MiG manufacturer could be driven to the verge of collapse. Russia would not be amused, to say the least, and would be out for payback.

There's also a small matter of regional inter-relations to consider. That the U.S. will be seen by everyone in the region as cynically arming both Indian and Pakistan in their own arms race is not going to make America more trusted. Others may look elsewhere for a hoped-for edge over ubiquitous American equipment, pushing them further towards Europe, Russia or China.

That the Bush administration is considering giving away a Navy carrier taxpayers have already bought and paid for long ago to provide billions in corporate welfare to Boeing may make short-term sense to them, as well as being a golden opportunity to throw a spanner in Putin's works - but I'm rather worried about what the long-term tail of such a deal would be.

It's all very reminiscent of old-style Cold War manouvering.

Regards, C

Posted by: Cernig on February 28, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Cernig, the Indians wouldn't necessarily have to buy F-18s (and they would they want to? Crappy little airplane). They'd be smarter to buy Rafales. Not as much of a quid pro quo as you might think, and the Indians like to keep all of their options open.

Posted by: Susan on February 28, 2008 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely hits the potential upsides of the deal, though in the short-term we to make the Pakistanis more friendly to us, not less, which this deal may cause. Also, Pakistan is not likely to be able to afford a carrier, let alone support a free one, even if there were any other free ones floating around.

Posted by: F. Frederson on February 28, 2008 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Except for pissing off the Pakistanis, the reason for opposing this deal is?

The Indians get an old carrier that might last 10 years and get into the blue water navy business. They pay us for maintenance and refit. They buy naval aircraft from us.

They will probably discover the reason we are retiring the Kitty Hawk is that it is damned expensive to maintain one of those old beasties, and decide to buy a new one. Maybe we can get the contract. Remember they will own a boat load of American aircraft designed to land and take off on a long deck. Isn't the British/French project for a jump carrier?

Posted by: corpus juris on February 28, 2008 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

How much is the Kitty Hawk really worth? I think the taxpayers already got their money's worth out of it. I'd imagine it would just be scrap steel if this deal fell though.

I don't know if I'd want Admiral Gorshkov considering the shape of the Russian Navy and how long it's been tied up at dock. At least we know Kitty Hawk will start when we turn the key.

Posted by: ArkPanda on February 28, 2008 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, does Rob Farley know you're poaching on his patch?

Posted by: Eric Scharf on February 28, 2008 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't they sink John McCain's old carrier to create a reef a few years ago?

Posted by: corpus juris on February 28, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Swan,

USS Earl Butz. It's coming.

You heard it here first.

Posted by: Matt on February 28, 2008 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Wouldn't the usual course of action be to sail the Kitty Hawk home, decommission it, and either store it or disassemble and scrap it? That course of action would cost millions of dollars; if we can give it away for nothing instead, that sounds like a good deal on financial terms.

Posted by: FearItself on February 28, 2008 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, I guess we really hard up for friends nowadays if this is what we have to do to keep them.

Posted by: academicdrifter on February 28, 2008 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not real crazy about us giving anyone a frickin' carrier, old or not. Especially a nuclear power.

Posted by: wihntr on February 28, 2008 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Susan,

The deal is the carrier for free only if the Indians buy F-18s for it. They don't get a choice, according to reports. The Weekly Standard explicitly linked it to a play to seal the deal on the Indian Air Force tender, citing their own insider sources.

Regards, C

Posted by: Cernig on February 28, 2008 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, this will go down REAL well with Pakistan.

Posted by: TB on February 28, 2008 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

CV-63 is not nuclear powered.

Posted by: Robodruid on February 28, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

>

Yikes, I wouldn't touch that deal with a ten-foot pole. The Indians would have to be nuts. They'd be lucky to get five years out of the ship - maybe - and if they're getting early model F-18s, that's a totally rotten deal. Phew.

Besides, Ark Royal and Invincible are available - and newer - and the Indians already operate Harriers. Hm.

Posted by: Susan on February 28, 2008 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Maywe it's not so pricey for India as we think.

Carriers are expensive in hardware and people. While the airframe and services contracts would be expensive, the Indians can get people REAL cheap...

And it's a friendly carrier, living permanently in the one ocean we don't have a beach on. Like Diego Garcia, except it moves.

Posted by: EthanJ on February 28, 2008 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

This sort of solidifies the basic logic in the US's south asian policies, doesn't it? The US wants a strategic relationship based on economic and security links with India for economic reasons as well as to counter expanding Chinese influence. The US wants a relationship with Pakistan to combat terrorism. What is Pakistan's incentive to actually, you know, defeat 'islamic terror'? Once Osama is gone, the US has little use for Pakistan, but still has substantial interest in cultivating India.

Posted by: Dave on February 28, 2008 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

It runs on diesel and gets about 6 inches to the gallon. In 5 years it will be too expensive to operate.

Posted by: Ruck on February 28, 2008 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Ark Royal and Invincible are tiny: 17,000 tonnes each, and field only 20 planes.

Kitty Hawk displaces 61,000 tonnes, and fields 80+
aircraft. At a stroke, India would have the largest non-US carrier - and the ONLY non-US "supercarrier" for the forseeable future.

Even the newest NATO carriers are smaller: the French de Gaulle (2001) is only 37,000 tonnes, and the UK's QE (under construction) and Pr.of Wales (not begun) are a planned 59,000 tonnes.

No comparison, really.

Posted by: EthanJ on February 28, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

You can look across Asia from Israel to Vietnam, and not find a smarter choice for an ally than India. They are already the dominant power economically, they are the most progressive socially, and although their military might will probably never match China or Russia they can must enough force such that no one wants to mess them with.

To the people who are saying, "we don't want to piss off Pakistan" ... hate to break it to ya, but there's only one Pakistani who likes the U.S. Yes, he runs the show, but he is not a good long-term solution. An alliance with India is.

Posted by: mmy on February 28, 2008 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Susan: F-18s (and they would they want to? Crappy little airplane).

You got that right. The F-14D was a vastly better plane. Not only a better fighter but, even though it wasn't originally designed for it, a better attack plane as well.

Posted by: alex on February 28, 2008 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Why not? I helps someone we'd like to be on our side in South Asia, saves us the cost of decommissioning, and pokes a stick in Russia's eye. Something for liberals, fiscal conservatives, and anti-communist conservatives. If only we could work abortion or evolution into it somehow.

Posted by: anandine on February 28, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Brings new meaning to "thank you come again."

Posted by: Paul Smart on February 28, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Sending our money to China and our warships to India?

Great little legacy Mr. Bush has going for him.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on February 28, 2008 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

It's bribery to pass the nuke power deal, Kevin.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 28, 2008 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

i vote for the new name to be the INS Bhairava. as such, i'd hope she comes back to bite us in the ass in some way. the shamelessness with which we pursue arms deals, arming competing sides in many conflicts, is bound to have ugly consequences for us as well as everybody else at some point.

Posted by: Trypticon on February 28, 2008 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

"Kitty Hawk displaces 61,000 tonnes, and fields 80+ aircraft. At a stroke, India would have the largest non-US carrier - and the ONLY non-US "supercarrier" for the forseeable future."

But you're assuming they'll get it running more than three or four weeks a year. That ship is junk - she'll be on the beach at Alang in six months, put money on it. Ark Royal and Invincible are twenty years and a generation of technology newer, and the next-generation French/British carriers will be even better.

The whole thing just sounds incredibly unlikely to me.

Posted by: Susan on February 28, 2008 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Cernig is spot on. It's a great deal for India and the US, but Pakistan will not be pleased, and Russia will be pissed.

Russia seems to be getting pissed about a lot of things we've done recently, not sure how they can respond, but we should probably consider what they might do, like say, more overt support of Iran possibly....

On a side note, every time I look at our naval fleet and compare it to the rest of the world, I can't help but laugh at how ridiculously strong and overkill it seems to be:

We have about a dozen 100K ton nuclear-powered supercarrier monsters.

The only other country with multiple carriers in service is the UK. It has 2 (each 20K tons).

France's lone carrier is the only non-US nuclear-powered carrier in existence.

Russia's lone carrier is the only non-US carrier in service over 50K tons.

The majority of the rest of the world's carriers are small (under 40K tons), and only allow helicopters and harrier-style jets to take off.

In addition to our supercarriers, we have about a dozen Wasp and Tarawa class ships that are basically 40K ton carriers.

Posted by: Joe on February 28, 2008 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Good thing that they have the poverty thing licked in their country. Now they have the extra money to maintain a useless hulk.

Posted by: mat1492 on February 28, 2008 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Alternative No. 2: Rather than this being a "pot sweetener" for India's parliament to approve the nuclear power deal, this, like our missile shootdown, is a shot across Chinese and Russian bows.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 28, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

On a side note, every time I look at our naval fleet and compare it to the rest of the world, I can't help but laugh at how ridiculously strong and overkill it seems to be:

...and we're still getting our ass kicked in Iraq.

Posted by: goethean on February 28, 2008 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "So, since things are a little slow today, I thought I'd pass this along for its gossip value."

This item makes me curious as to where you go looking for bits to "pass along" for their "gossip value" when "things are a little slow."

For example, have you ever heard of the WorldWatch Institute? Here are a couple of items that might have some "gossip value" when things are "slow":

Renewable Energy 2007 Global Status Report: "In 2007, more than $100 billion was invested in new renewable energy capacity, manufacturing plants, and research and development -- a true global milestone. Yet perceptions lag behind the reality of renewable energy because change has been so rapid in recent years ... Renewable electricity generation capacity reached an estimated 240 gigawatts (GW) worldwide in 2007, an increase of 50 percent over 2004 ... The largest component of renewables generation capacity is wind power, which grew by 28 percent worldwide in 2007 to reach an estimated 95 GW ... The fastest growing energy technology in the world is grid-connected solar photovoltaics (PV), with 50 percent annual increases in cumulative installed capacity in both 2006 and 2007, to an estimated 7.7 GW. This translates into 1.5 million homes with rooftop solar PV feeding into the grid worldwide."

Climate Change Accelerates: "The year 2007 tied with 1998 as the second warmest year on record ... according to NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies ... The World Meteorological Association ranks 1998–2007 as the warmest decade on record ... Even if emissions stopped rising today, additional warming is inevitable due to the large inertia in the climate system. CO2 persists in the atmosphere for 50–200 years, which means that current emissions will exert a warming influ­ence for decades to come. Meanwhile, the ocean, which acts as a vast heat sink, will continue to warm. As it does, air temperatures will likely rise to double the warming already witnessed. Current trends suggest that we may experience even more than this amount of warming. As anthropogenic emissions are rising, the effici­ency of natural carbon sinks is in decline ... While climate change is a global challenge, many global indicators ... overlook the dramatic changes occurring at regional and local levels ... parts of Europe experienced winter and spring temperatures more than 4 degrees Celsius above average in 2007, and extreme drought struck North America and China. Massive floods caused devastation in England, South Asia, and many South American countries."

Meanwhile the governments of the world spend over a trillion dollars a year on the military, more than half of that spending by the USA alone; the dinosaur geopolitical imperialists play with their toys of mass destruction; and discussions of "foreign policy" on "sensible liberal" political blogs invariably revolve around militarism.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 28, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

"What does a submariner call a surface ship? A target."

Aircraft carrier operate as part of a naval task force -- in the US case this is a CVBG. Their job is to keep subs and missile-carrying attack aircraft away from the flat-top. If India gets the Kitty even as a gift, they will need a lot of other Naval assets to keep their white elephant from getting torpedoed or sunk by a missile. It's not the initial cost, it's the upkeep.

I reckon the best resting place for the Kitty is as a museum ship in Yokosuka, to be paid for by the Japanese government. The Kittyhawk spent most of the last few decades based out of there working with the JMSDF (you can see her in Google Earth at 35°17'28.13"N 139°39'47.29"E. Look 1200m S-E at 35°17'6.33"N 139°40'27.91"E and you'll see the pre-WWI Japanese battleship Mikasa which is a museum piece. Compare the sizes of two first-rate warships of their time...)

Posted by: Robert Sneddon on February 28, 2008 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

I'd much rather we get India on our side against China in the next 50 years... I don't mind this plan.

Posted by: MNPundit on February 28, 2008 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

US gives carrier to India to beat back the Chinese.

US game:

Arm the Indians to attack the Chinese and Pakistanis.

Arm the Pakistanis to beat back the Indians.

Arm the Afghanistanis to beat back the Pakistanis and Chinese.

Arm the Iraqis to beat back the Turks and Iran.

Arm Iran to beat back Iraq.

Arm the Kurds to beat back Iraq, Turkey

Arm Israel to beat back everyone else in the Middle East.

This Rube Goldberg Arms machine is getting so complicated and overdone it's bound to collapse on??? you got it, the chief troublemaker-the good old USA.


Go ahead and vote for McCain if you yearn for the end times sooner rather than later.

Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers on February 28, 2008 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

...and we're still getting our ass kicked in Iraq.

Not really though....It's a slow bleed that we're tired of and have little patience for, especially since it was unnecessary. But to the extent that we are losing, it's certainly not due to a underpowered navy.

That's what's so strange about our naval strength though. The conflicts that we are involved in, and will be involved in for the foreseeable future, are guerrilla campaigns where the Navy's only useful for sitting off the coast launching cruise missiles and airstrikes. Yet, we're continuing to manufacture these 100K ton behemoths (2 are currently under construction). Aside from the folks making huge amounts of money off this, there really is no need for these monsters.

It's like we are preparing for the day when the entire world takes up arms against us simultaneously.

Posted by: Joe on February 28, 2008 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Why is the Navy replacing our ships with ships named things like Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush? If we have to have ships named after these presidents, why can't we have the USS Al Gore or the Hillary Clinton?

Posted by: Swan on February 28, 2008 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

We do have a submarine named for Jimmy Carter, but no word yet on the USS Bill Clinton....

Posted by: Joe on February 28, 2008 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

I fail to understand how this boat will help India end discrimination of the Daleks.

Posted by: Brojo on February 28, 2008 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

best post of the day: Cheney's Third Nipple, 3 p.m.

Posted by: shams on February 28, 2008 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK
And it's a friendly carrier,

A carrier operated by the most hostile power on earth to our "major non-NATO ally" Pakistan may or may not be reasonably described as a "friendly carrier".

Then again, the designation of Pakistan as a "major non-NATO ally" by this administration may or may not be reasonably described as "sane".

Posted by: cmdicely on February 28, 2008 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

The conflicts that we are involved in, and will be involved in for the foreseeable future, are guerrilla campaigns where the Navy's only useful for sitting off the coast launching cruise missiles and airstrikes. Yet, we're continuing to manufacture these 100K ton behemoths (2 are currently under construction).

Carriers are the prime means of quick power projection. Not to say that the Navy is adjusting well to the littorals, but if there's anything the Navy really needs to contribute to military ops in the modern world, it's carriers. If one wants to cut a few large ships, it might be worth looking at the massive amphibious fleet, given that the chances of the Marines making an opposed landing these days are next to nil.

Why is the Navy replacing our ships with ships named things like Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush?

I've heard a few times the sentiment that Democrats have discovered in the last several years that they can get more cooperation out of Republicans by naming a few things (like airports and aircraft carriers) after Reagan.

Posted by: Bob on February 28, 2008 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Think Russia's gonna sit back and watch this happen?

No way, Jose.

News report: Kitty Hawk torpedoes Russia-India friendship: Izvestia warns

Moscow, Feb 26: The likely US offer of the Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier and its acceptance by India, will torpedo the friendship between India and Russia, reports today said. . .

Within the framework of bilateral cooperation, a few large contracts are presently being implemented, including licensed production of Su-30MKI fighters, T-90S tanks in India and delivery of Smerch multiple launch rocket systems.

''If the initiative of President George Bush ruins these plans, the military and technical cooperation Between Moscow and Delhi will drop to the level of mere after-sales follow-up of the hardware delivered to India before,'' the paper said.
http://www.newkerala.com/one.php?action=fullnews&id=27234

The Kitty Hawk deal would presumably kill the sale of the Gorshkov carrier to India, but the Gorshkov requires extensive re-fitting and that project seems to be on hold, with Russia having spent all the Indian money received. This should be a good one.

Posted by: Don Bacon on February 28, 2008 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

you can see her in Google Earth at 35°17'28.13"N 139°39'47.29"E. Look 1200m S-E at 35°17'6.33"N 139°40'27.91"E and you'll

Boy that was fun.


Posted by: doesn't matter on February 28, 2008 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I guess this is the kind of shit that humanity will be preoccupied with over the next 50 years while we destroy the Earth's biosphere, and render the planet inhospitable to life and our own species extinct.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 28, 2008 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

Won't we even get any Indian mangoes for the carrier? Man, what a ripoff!

Posted by: Carl Manaster on February 28, 2008 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

"[T]he Indians wouldn't necessarily have to buy F-18s (and they would they want to? Crappy little airplane)."
_______________________

Amen, susan. When fully loaded, the damned things can barely get out of sight of the carrier before needing to refuel.

Posted by: trashhauler on February 28, 2008 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

"Aside from the folks making huge amounts of money off [large carriers], there really is no need for these monsters."
_______________________

Well, a lot can happen in the fifty years or so of service each carrier provides. Your great grandchildren might be glad they have them.

Posted by: trashhauler on February 28, 2008 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

Well, a lot can happen in the fifty years or so of service each carrier provides. Your great grandchildren might be glad they have them.

Sure, but meanwhile I'm sure our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan (and future wars?) would have rather spent that money on better counter-insurgency weapons and more IED resistant vehicles.

Not saying we don't need carriers, I just question the need for 12 of them, including 2 being built at this moment.

Posted by: on February 28, 2008 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

If requiring F-18s is part of the deal, then the deal may not be very likely.

Gates' Visit Fails To Open Defence Doors With US

By Rahul Singh

NEW DELHI, February 27 -- The hype surrounding US defence secretary Robert Gates' two-day visit to India dissipated on Wednesday with India and the United States failing to make any significant headway on crucial military agreements proposed by Washington.

The US appears to have fallen short of convincing New Delhi to concur on defence pacts dealing with end-user verification of US-sold equipment, specific inter-operability requirements and the divisive logistics support agreement (LSA).

The End-Use Verification Agreement would allow the US Department of Defence officials to conduct end-use spot checks at military installations in India where US-sold defence equipment is deployed, be it sensitive airbases or troubled borders with Pakistan and China.

Gates is believed to have pushed for the End-Use Verification Agreement at a meeting with Defence Minister A.K. Antony, but New Delhi has expressed reservations about certain clauses in it. Defence ministry officials said a counter-draft to the agreement had been sent to the US. However, the two sides are working on a solution and are prepared to "meet somewhere midway." Instead of on-site inspections, India has suggetsed that the US could have access to equipment records and furnish guarantees.

Besides the agreement, the two sides did not see eye to eye on the Communication, Inter-operability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), which buyers of US military equipment have to sign to meet specific requirements spelt out in the pact. But the government does not want to rub the US the wrong way.

"We need further discussions on the agreement before committing. There are small areas of differences but hopefully they will be resolved," said a ministry official.

Despite the impasse over the proposed defence pacts, the two sides expressed satisfaction with the progress of military dialogue and were optimistic about expanding defence ties.

Posted by: AC on February 28, 2008 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

Why don't we have a ship the Martin Luther King, Jr., or the Civil Rights?

Posted by: Swan on February 28, 2008 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

Indian Navy owned and operated aircraft carriers for at least four decades. They weren't new and powerful, but they were aircraft carriers. Here is an entry about INS Vikrant, India's first aircraft carrier: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/INS_Vikrant. India has enough powerful enemies in the region and a large coast line.

Posted by: rational on February 28, 2008 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

Why don't we have a ship the Martin Luther King, Jr.

lol, probably because it doesn't make sense to name a warship after someone who advocated nonviolent resistance....not sure he'd want that honor anyway.

Posted by: Joe on February 28, 2008 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

"Sure, but meanwhile I'm sure our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan (and future wars?) would have rather spent that money on better counter-insurgency weapons and more IED resistant vehicles."
_____________________

Indeed, they might (though we are buying every MRAP as soon as it is built). Building carriers is an exercise of caution and the balancing of need. In the cold calculation of national defense, the death of current servicemen is often weighed against possible need in the dimly viewed future. Those who make such decisions are cursed with the knowledge that they must be almost inevitably wrong about what lies ahead. The curse is balanced by the chance that their decision might very well save the day and save lives, somewhere, somehow.

Posted by: trashhauler on February 28, 2008 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, great, thanks heaps USA. Don't you realise that tensions between India and Australia are at their highest? All we need now is for them to be given a super carrier while their Test team is STILL on our shores!

Of course, if you followed civilised sports like cricket you'd know about the angst between the Indian Test team (Harbhajan Singh being called "an obnoxious weed" by Matty Hayden, after the pissing match following Harbhajan calling Andrew Symons a monkey, etc). AND we've let Shane Warne loose on their shores. It can only get worse.

At least, though, our Collins class submariners have already (supposedly) claimed to have sunk the Kittyhawk in the last lot of naval exercises.

And ayway, India already operates Su-30s so will probably use Su-33s on their next carrier.

Posted by: Brettle on February 28, 2008 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, Trashhauler, it isn't exactly true that we are buying every MRAP as fast as it is produced. In fact, last November, the Marines scaled back their order for FY 2008 by 1300 units, from 3700 to 2400. Their official reason? They want to "retain their expeditionary flavor."

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 28, 2008 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

Brettle: And ayway, India already operates Su-30s so will probably use Su-33s on their next carrier.

They were (are?) leaning towards MiG-29K's as they could also operate those off their home-built carriers (INS Vikrant and maybe someday the Viraat IIRC), although since those have suffered huge delays, hard to tell what might eventually be flying off the decks.

Posted by: has407 on February 28, 2008 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

"the Marines scaled back their order for FY 2008 by 1300 units, from 3700 to 2400. Their official reason? They want to "retain their expeditionary flavor."
________________________

Well, there's no accounting for taste, Blue Girl. Marines are wierd that way. For example, they couldn't get me in one of those MV-22s for love nor money.

Posted by: trashhauler on February 28, 2008 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

has407: Yes, you're right. And I may be a bit, too (altho I think you're righter than I was).

India's Navy already has Mig-29Ks (5 in service, 16 ordered) for their ex-Russian carrier.

India's Airforce has 88 Su-30MKIs (up to 230 ordered) with most of them to be built in India. So they could potentially operate both, and both of them are way better than the F/A-18 (A-F), as we've become aware lately in Aus due to the incompetence of the previous Aus Government ordering Super Hornets.

Posted by: Brettle on February 28, 2008 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

Joe at 10:10, I think Imay have heard somewhere that towards the end of his life, King acknowledged that violence was appropriate in certain circumstances, although he never advocated it as necessary for the specific fight for civil rights he was waging. Maybe I'm wrong on that, but if I'm right, it's just one of those little-known facts that should actually be better known.

Posted by: Swan on February 29, 2008 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

Hope it doesn't work out like those subs with screen doors the British sold to the Canadians.

Posted by: doug r on February 29, 2008 at 2:01 AM | PERMALINK

Talk about gunboat diplomacy...as in, just give them the gunboats.

Posted by: The Oracle on February 29, 2008 at 2:42 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, the open-source, free-software business model makes it to the defense industry. Geek chic has taken over the Pentagon. Who knew?

Posted by: DrBB on February 29, 2008 at 7:30 AM | PERMALINK

Well, there's no accounting for taste, Blue Girl. Marines are wierd that way. For example, they couldn't get me in one of those MV-22s for love nor money.

you gotta love -- well, no, you don't, really -- the utter lack of shame or even embarrassment Trashy displays at having yet another of his pro-Administration talking points debunked by his betters.

Shame on you, Trashy.

Posted by: Gregory on February 29, 2008 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

My father was an officer on the Kitty Hawk back in the 1960s. He's now gone. Anything that extends its service life is therefore to the good. I am Kitty--destroyer (carrier?) of worlds!

Posted by: Matt on February 29, 2008 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

"you gotta love -- well, no, you don't, really -- the utter lack of shame or even embarrassment Trashy displays at having yet another of his pro-Administration talking points debunked by his betters."
__________________

What the heck are you talking about, gregory? Just because the Marines decided they didn't need as many MRAPS as they originally thought doesn't mean we aren't buying all the MRAPS as soon as they are built. Our current MRAP acquisition is limited by how fast they can build them, not how many have been ordered in total.

Jeez, you're a tool.

Posted by: Trashhauler on February 29, 2008 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, Trashhauler, I don't think that is exactly the case. And frankly, if safety of our personnel was the paramount concern, we would be buying up RhinoRunners as fast as Labock technologies could produce them. They sell for a quarter million apiece, and as such are quite a bargain. These are the vehicles of choice for Haliburton, and at a quarter mil they are a bargain, when you consider that an M1117 costs $700,000. Lots of specs, right down to what kind of blast a rear axle can withstand can be found here

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 29, 2008 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

I couldn't find a date on that first article, Blue Girl. We have been shipping every MRAP that rolls off the assembly line as soon as it is built and have been doing so since sometime last summer. I think you need to update your info. Do you know of anyone else who is getting MRAPs besides us? Moving MRAPs is our highest movement priority.

Try this:

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=46790

Posted by: trashhauler on February 29, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Knowing we were going in to at least one conflict, the production of the M1117 was stopped, even though it had th support of both home-state senators.

I stay up on this issue pretty well - I was one of the first to start screaming from the rooftops about the idiocy of going to war in small-j jeeps, and I do check defenselink, and all the "service times" papers pretty much every day, and still subscribe to AF Times, although granted, our toys are apples and oranges when compared to the equipment needed by the ground pounders.

Anyway, differences aside, I think we can both agree that the procurement process is about as effed up as it can be without collapsing, and we need a modern day Truman committee.

What I think we can agree in

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 29, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Matt, our fathers undoubtedly were acquainted. Mine, too, served aboard the Kitty Hawk in the 60's.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 29, 2008 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

"I think we can both agree that the procurement process is about as effed up as it can be without collapsing."
_____________________

We can sure agree on that. Come to think of it, I can hardly remember a time when it wasn't.

Posted by: Trashhauler on February 29, 2008 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

I can't recall a time when it has been this bad. But I was 10 when the cease fire in Vietnam went into effect, so this is my first dance with war profiteers. I have drank coffee from one of those $700 coffee pots, tho. They are indeed a marvel of engineering - they can take a direct nuclear blast and by-god continue making coffee!

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 29, 2008 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

lol, probably because it doesn't make sense to name a warship after someone who advocated nonviolent resistance.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the USS Corpus Christi.

The Navy smartened up, and the current iteration is a submarine called the City of Corpus Christi, to appease those who thought it was tacky to name a warship "Body of Christ."

Posted by: Queequeg on February 29, 2008 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

"Matt, our fathers undoubtedly were acquainted. Mine, too, served aboard the Kitty Hawk in the 60's."
________________

What a small world. It just dawned on me that a golfing buddy of mine flew F-8s off the Kitty Hawk in the 60's. He still considers himself a gunfighter even at age 62.

Posted by: Trashhauler on February 29, 2008 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Did you ever spend any time at Davis-Monthan, Trashhauler? It's a shame if you didn't since you're a golfer. I mean, the freakin' base is bounded on the north by Golf Links Road!

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 29, 2008 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Davis Monthan? Never spent any time there, but I liked the weather there. I delivered two aircraft to the boneyard, which is a melancholy task. Picked up some cargo once or twice. One of my pilot training roommates died there when he flew his A-7 into the dirt on the bombing range.

Base golf courses used to be primo nice back in the day when NAF officers had more freedom and the clubs paid for themselves. Mather in Sacramento had a great golf course before we closed the base. Now, there are lots of better choices most places. The exceptions are what you'd expect - Andrews AFB, the bases in San Antonio, the Academy, anyplace in Hawaii. There used to be some good courses in Germany, but we gave them back with the bases there.

Posted by: trashhauler on February 29, 2008 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

I served on the Kitty from 2003-2006... it is in no way shape or form a piece of "sh**". Because of the strength of the ship's 3M (shipboard maintenance) program as well as the tenacious skill of the Japanese SRF workers and their American contractors from PSNS and other entities, the ship is in fine form. It really needs what most old ships of its nature need desperately; a nine month or so dry dock period where all the pipes are replaced and tested. Most of our problems would always be leaks and what-not, typical for older ships, especially carriers, from the JFK to the America and the Midway.

This deal would be great for India and for us. Why? The Indian Navy will be a close ally of ours for decades to come unless we somehow foul it up with a swing towards Pakistan. It might piss off the Chinese, but they have to understand that the amount of funding they're putting into their Navy compared to the Indians and their neighbors rightfully makes these neighbors nervous and thus looking to respond.

Posted by: Eddie on February 29, 2008 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not a golfer, I'm a redhead. :)

Our two oldest were born their, during the 390th MIMS deactivation.

That boneyard was my exercise grounds. I bicycled around it every single day, and knew every SP with an M-16. I watched the wings come off the B-52's one-at-a-time in 1983, getting the old girls ready for their close-ups when the Russian satellite flew over snapping pictures.

Because the boneyard is flat, it was acceptable rehab for an MCL repair. Without it, I would have had to go to Physical Therapy, and I hate PT.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 29, 2008 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

This deal would be great for India and for us. Why? The Indian Navy will be a close ally of ours for decades to come unless we somehow foul it up with a swing towards Pakistan. It might piss off the Chinese, but they have to understand that the amount of funding they're putting into their Navy compared to the Indians and their neighbors rightfully makes these neighbors nervous and thus looking to respond.

Ah, Eddie! You sweet-taker you! I have been telling people to calm the fuck down and let law enforcement handle the terrorist criminals, like we used to, back when we captured, tried via due process, and imprisoned the criminals who commit acts of terror.

I keep telling people if they want to get exercised about something, China on the verge of a blue water navy is a pretty damned good place to start. Look how much money we owe them, and then take a look at a map of the shipping lanes some time, and let your imagination romp.

I'll be here to talk you down when you lose control of the trip[ and freak out.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 29, 2008 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

Best thing about the DMAFB golf course was the hazards, at least in the late 60's and early 70's... most prominent were a B-47, an F-86 and a C-119. The scopes and bomb sight in the B-47 were awesome (always had an assigned lookout manning them :), and the C-119 cargo hold provided the perfect hideaway and plenty of space to party in private.


p.s. GBRS -- The B-52's were our favorites--lots of cool crawl spaces. Hated to see them go to the breakers. Avoiding the guys with the M-16's was all part of the game. Always suspected they knew but didn't care. (The munitions areas would undoubtedly have been a different story--but that was on the other side of the base, and anyway we couldn't see how anything there could be half as much fun as exploring the insides of all those airplanes.)

Posted by: on March 1, 2008 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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