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Peter J. Peirano

Peter J. Peirano
Revisit RQ-180 Lineage 

After reading “Return of the Penetrator” (AW&ST Dec. 9, p. 20), it seems clear that it is time to rethink the aircraft. Look where the X-47B is now. The U.S. Air Force does not need a folding wing, nor the heavy-duty naval landing gear, nor size restrictions of compatible naval ships. Go back to 2007-08 and study what stage the design was at when the program split.

A-10 Advocacy 

In an Up Front column “The Art of Disruption” (AW&ST Oct. 28, p. 16), Byron Callan takes a rather optimistic stance about emerging technologies and defense.

Considering the Oct. 23 testimony that U.S. Army acquisition czar Heidi Shyu gave to the House Armed Services tactical air and ground forces subcommittee about how continuing resolutions (CR) and the mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration are affecting new and start-up programs, not much can happen with new technologies.

Internal Turmoil Possible 

In “Feast of Fixes” (AW&ST Aug. 19, p. 28), higher winds and sea states to test the Joint Strike Fighter on carrier decks sounds good. But this will also be a test of loading procedures.

Change The Batteries 

The problem is not with 787, but with its batteries. That makes possible a “quick fix” to return the aircraft to operational status.

Bigger Bang, But Safer? 

Regarding the “Bigger Bang Theory” about a “a devastating explosive that is safe to handle (AW&ST Nov. 19, p. DT17), I still remember Tritenol-filled, Mk-80-series bombs. I saw reports and ship-board CCTV recordings of the USS Oriskany disaster in which two sailors aboard the aircraft carrier were restoring aircraft flares off-loaded from aircraft returning from a mission over Vietnam on Oct. 26, 1966. I watched a forward munitions dump explode (high-order) at Chu-Lia, a U.S. Marine Corps base in South Vietnam, at the start of Tet Offensive in 1968.

By The Numbers 

By the nature of politics alone, the conclusion of the National Research Council was predictable, as reported in “Going Ballistic” (AW&ST Sept. 17, p. 36)

Reactor Reaction 

I agree with many of the premises in Frank Morring, Jr.'s “High Hurdles” (AW&ST Aug. 6, p. 19). The last working breeder reactor in North America was in Canada and made medical isotopes. It shut down for routine maintenance several years ago, and I do not know if it was restarted. But we do know that Russia, Indian, Pakistan, Iran, Great Britain, Israel and even North Korea have breeder reactors. Only the reality of pollution and contamination at Hanford, Wash. [a mostly decommissioned nuclear production complex] stops us.

Boot-Centric Still Relevant 

I'm a retired Marine (aviation ordnance) who was assigned to the Marine Aviation Detachment at NAS Patuxent River, Md. When I was transferred back to a Fleet Marine Force Sqdn. at MCAS New River, N.C., there was one computer in the unit, and it belonged to the analyst. I used my own laptop and a printer to update ordnance records and my section's logistics. When I retired, I left them my laptop.

Essential Skill Sets 

In “Embracing Change” (AW&ST May 14, p. 45) the sentence about the atrophy of targeting capability being linked to specialized personnel who are assigned to unrelated tasks between operations, struck a familiar chord. This is not only an Air Force problem. It plagued the Marine Corps' aviation units as well. As an ordnance chief, I was in a constant dance to keep personnel trained and up-to-speed so operations officers could have pilots qualify or re-qualify with both new and old weapons.

Turn Inquisitive Eye To The East 

The eastern Mediterranean Sea is becoming very crowded now that the Russians have completed a 2007 agreement with Syria, delivering two Bastion coastal missile systems—mobile cruise-missile launchers that use the Yakhont.

With more than 60 of the supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles for the two systems, Syria should be able to defend its entire coastline.

Remember how hard it was to locate and destroy scuds in Iraq. And also remember that the older and less-stealthy French Exocet raised havoc with the British fleet in the Falklands.

One-Off SDBs? 

Photos of the Small-Diameter Bombs in “Test Case” (AW&ST Sept. 19, p. 73) are as revealing as their history is troubling. These are designer bombs built for specific aviation assets to the exclusion of existing aircraft without specialized release units.

Always A Choke Hold 

The Libyan armed forces have shown themselves to be agile in learning to avoid a NATO airpower “Choke Hold” (AW&ST April 4, p. 25).

The SA-24 surface-to-air missile is optically guided and all the electronic countermeasures in the inventory will not stop them.

When it comes to man-portable anti-aircraft weapons, it turns out we, and our allies, may not rule all the airspace.

Mixed Blessing 

I wish Raytheon luck now that it has been tapped by the U.S. Air Force to develop and build the Small Diameter Bomb II (AW&ST Sept. 6, p. 32). While stationed at Naval Air Test Center-Strike Ordnance at NAS Patuxent River, Md., I saw a lot of fit tests. Fit tests indicate it will fit, but the first few seconds after release will be the real proof. Weapons that arm too soon or bounce off the aircraft—or each other—upon release can make for an interesting flight.

Power Plan 

When it comes to electronic combat, receivers and antennas are not a problem (AW&ST June 28, pp. 52 and 56) as witnessed by the latest PDA in one’s pocket or purse. Power to emit long-duration jamming signals is the 800-lb. gorilla. Heat generated by the power source and, perhaps, massed computers will be secondary. The fractal geometry to design a conformal antenna is the same for a PDA—a jammer or a receiver is the same. Requiring it to be the size of a fuel tank, unless its for cubic storage of power units, or overly large antennas, is dumb.

Don’t Retire the UH-1 

Retirement of UH-1/AH-1 platforms is neither economical nor cost-saving (AW&ST Mar. 30, p. 8). The shape may be very similar to the birds first seen in the Vietnam War. But, like the B-52 and A-10, updating of the airframe, electronics’ armament and other systems make these warhorses serious players on the modern battlefield, where their survivability is proven and not an estimate. Their digital cockpits are as modern as they come and impressive to this analog old dog.

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