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A Quick Analysis of the First North Korean ICBM Test: July 5, 2017

July 5, 2017 9 comments

One of the joys of blogging is the ability to point to one of your older posts and say- “I told you so”. As some of you might recall, a little less than three months ago I had written a post about how the narrative about USA disrupting North Korean missile tests through cyberwarfare was fake news. At that time, one credulous or delusional commentator spent lots of time trying to prove otherwise. Well.. we know who was right.

As it turns out, I am also right about the reason why some of the missile tests by that country in the first few months of this year were unsuccessful. To refresh your memory, I has put forth the idea that North Korean scientists and engineers were experiencing issues with using potent hypergolic fuels since they had very limited experience with them in the past. It now appears that they have mastered the use of rocket engines which use those more potent fuels. Don’t believe me? Well just look at the first picture below.

The combination of a clear, almost transparent, rocket plume and that yellow-orange clouds surrounding the rocket as the engine starts up is the signature calling card of hyperbolic propellants- specifically an engine that uses UDMH + N2O4, as opposed to IRFNA and Kerosene or solid propellants like HTPB-based mixtures. To put it another way, they have mastered the use of modern hypergolic rocket fuels including the ability to build engines (and associated plumbing etc) to handle them.

And this brings us to the second question, namely, what is the range of this missile? As late as yesterday evening, the delusional officialdom of USA was unwilling to definitively call it an ICBM. Perhaps they were having some trouble accepting the reality that yet another non-white country had successfully mastered the tech to build an ICBM. It seems that they have now accepted that it was an ICBM but are still trying to make the bullshit claim that the missile can only hit Alaska as opposed to the Alaska and the west coast of mainland USA. So here is another picture to help you understand the next point I am going to make.

While this photo might appear somewhat ordinary, it gives two important characteristics of the missile in question- apart from the obvious fact that it is road mobile and hence very hard to destroy in any preemptive strike. Note that the missile is about 13-16 meters long and 1.5-1.8 meters wide (first stage). As it turns out, those dimensions, having a hypergolic first stage and the fact that it is road mobile tell me that it weighs somewhere between 30 and 50 tons. My best guess is about 35-40 tons. So why are those figures important?

Well.. as it turns out, these dimensions and weight are very similar to a family of submarine-launched ICBMs developed and deployed by the former USSR in the early 1970s. SLBMs of R-29 Vysota family, specifically the first (and oldest) version of that series have a very strong resemblance to the North Korean ICBM which was tested yesterday. Interestingly, unlike hypergolic fuel using ICBMS of other countries, those developed by USSR (and now Russia) can be stored in their fueled and ready condition for years.

Here is why I think they chose to base their ICBM on the R-29 (aka SS-N-18 “Stingray”). Firstly, they probably had access to the technology, blueprints and consultants who developed that missile series. Secondly, it is a relatively light and proven design that can be stored in the ready condition for a few years at a time. Thirdly, though neither highly accurate or capable of carrying especially heavy warheads, it can easily project a single warhead with a combined mass of over 1.5 ton to about 8,000 km (you can convert that number to miles, if you want to).

It does not take a genius to figure out that building a slightly larger (10-15%) version of the R-29 with a slightly lighter warhead (700-800 kg) allows it to reach the 10,000 km mark. I strongly suspect that the North Korean ICBM is a slightly larger version of the R-29 with similar, but not identical, flight characteristics. Moreover it is pretty easy to adjust engine burn times, propellant loading etc to increase the maximal velocity by the few hundred meters per second necessary to make it go a couple thousand extra km.

To make a long story short, that North Korean ICBM can most certainly put a warhead on Seattle, Bay Area or maybe even Los Angeles-San Diego urban aggregation. Of course, we can always get many smartly dressed and hair-styled “experts” on TV to say otherwise, but then again these same idiots were also telling us that it would be many years before North Korea would successfully test an ICBM. Of course, it is unlikely that North Korea is going to use such ICBMs unless provoked to do so by the USA. Then again, it is USA you are talking about.

What do you think? Comments?

Why was USA Unable to Win Korean War in the 1950s: Apr 22, 2017

April 22, 2017 11 comments

Events in the previous few weeks have shown, with unusual clarity, that the conflict between N.Korea and USA which started in 1950 is still ongoing. While it is true that there has been no large-scale fighting between the N.Korea and USA (or its proxy S. Korea) since an armistice was signed in 1954, it is fair to say that things have never gone to back to normal in that part of the world. Between the annual military exercises by S. Korea and USA and counter mobilizations by N. Korea, the situation in that part of the world is still potentially volatile, and has been so for a long time. It certainly does not help that leaders of all countries involved have a habit of speaking past each other.

While it is highly unlikely that either N. Korea or S. Korea will ever resume that war on their own accord, persistent meddling by USA in that part of the world (as in many others) make it far more likely than otherwise. As many of you also know, such an event would be disastrous for both N. Korea, S. Korea and potentially Japan- basically all involved countries within the range of older and well-tested N. Korean nuclear tipped missiles. Even the USA would not be able to come out well, since any use of nukes by USA would ensure that every country capable of building nuclear weapons would do so immediately. To put it another way, such a war would be an epic disaster on multiple levels and for all parties involved.

But have you ever asked yourself- how did things in that part of the world get so crazy in the first place? Why did the Korean war start and why did countries such as USA, China, Russia and many others get involved in it? But perhaps most importantly.. why was USA unable to win the Korean war just a few years after it was able to win WW2 against Japan and to a lesser extent against Germany?

To better understand the many reasons USA was unable to win the Korean war in the 1950s, it is necessary to first appreciate that the Korean war was the beginning of the end for white-majority countries being able to dominate the rest of the world via military force. It is no exaggeration to say the “west” has never since been able to win against a determined and mobilized non-white adversary since that time. But why not? Was it because the “west” became softer and more humane.. or any other bullshit reasons peddled by CONservatives and other assorted jingoistic idiots in USA?

Let us look at facts about the Korean war as they have been acknowledged by official sources in USA. It is known, for example that USA dropped more tons of bombs on N. Korea during early stages of Korean war than they did on Japan during the entirety of WW2. It is also a fact that USA bombed and destroyed every building in almost every single N. Korean city. It is also a fact that bombing by USA killed somewhere between a third and fifth of the N. Korean population. Here is an article with a slightly longer explanation of what USA did in the Korean war.

In other words, the inability of USA to win the Korean war was not due to it being ‘soft’ or ‘humane’. In fact, USA did something lost the Vietnam war in spite of doing something similar in Vietnam and Cambodia during the war. Another more recent example of this phenomenon is the USA losing the Iraq war even after directly and indirectly killing over a million Iraqis between 1991 and today.

So, why was the USA unable to win the Korean war? There was certainly no shortage of bombs, aircraft, tanks, soldiers, guns or even large staging areas and bases close to the theater of conflict. Yet, for reasons I shall get into soon, the best they could achieve was an armistice where the new boundary between the two Koreas was almost identical to the pre-war one. Why didn’t bombing N.Korea heavily in the first few months of war and killing people at higher percentages than in Germany and Japan during WW2 translate into a decisive military victory? Why did the military strategy behind american success in WW2 fail so quickly after that war was over? And why has it subsequently failed and in every war since then?

Well.. here are the reasons, in no particular order, behind the inability of USA and other western countries to win a war against non-white countries since the end of WW2. Regular readers of my blog might realize that some of my older posts have briefly touched on a couple of them.

1] Wars in which the local population of a country or region have a personal stake are very different from wars pursued by elites in those countries. For example, Saddam Hussein’s habit of promoting his own ethnic group in Iraq and getting into unwinnable wars with huge human costs had greatly diminished his popularity among most Iraqis a few years before 1991. That is why the Iraqi armed forces gave up fighting and mass-deserted so readily in 1991 and 2003. Contrast this to the unremitting armed resistance by Iraqis (especially Sunni Arabs) to american occupation from 2003 onward which were only temporarily suppressed between 2007-2009 by bribing Iraqis on a massive scale to not kill american soldiers.

My point is that, the Korean war was largely seen by the local population (especially in N.Korea) as an attempt to reintegrate the country and expel foreigners who had humiliated and almost enslaved them for a couple of generations. In case you do not know what I am talking about.. read a bit about all the wonderful stuff that went on in Korea under Japanese rule between 1910 and 1945. Koreans had, and have, every right to be angry about their treatment under Japanese colonization. Perhaps more importantly, the post-1945 occupation by USA of southern regions of Korea and their multiple attempts to install puppet governments within a short period while making no attempt to help rebuild the country made them look just like the previous Japanese colonizers of that country.

It is therefore no surprise that Kim Il-Sung and his followers had far less trouble convincing his own people to fight foreign occupiers of their country than getting China and Russia to provide military and other assistance for doing so. In many ways, this situation is very similar to what occurred in Vietnam a decade or two later. While we can certainly argue about whether the elder Kim was a “good guy” or “bad guy” it is clear that he had extensive popular support within the northern half of Korea in the early 1950s. In other words, the Korean war was about USA fighting an entire people rather than a system of governance- like they had in Germany and Japan.

2] The american strategy of leveling N. Korean cities by massive aerial bombing was ineffective and supremely counterproductive. As mentioned previously in this post, the USAF was involved in bombing N. Korean cities on a massive scale in the first few months of the war. However, unlike in Germany and Japan during WW2, massive and indiscriminate bombing of cities was not effective in disrupting the N. Korean war effort- largely because all their supplies and weapons were coming in from adjacent countries such as China and Russia. These mass bombing raids did, however, make many more N. Koreans willing to fight to the bitter end. To put it another way, mass bombing of cities and heavy casualties made it impossible for N. Korea and USA to reach a negotiated end to that war.

You might recall that the USA did something similar in Vietnam and Cambodia a decade or so after the Korean war and the end results were rather similar. In other words, aerial bombardment by conventional weapons is incapable of winning wars against adversaries who are not centralized and have the ability to keep on importing weapons and other supplies. Aerial bombardment, if anything, creates more popular support for the cause for which they are being bombarded. This is borne out by the continued inability of USA to win against the Taliban in Afghanistan, various tribal groups in Yemen, Iraq.. the list goes on and on. Bombing non-white people in faraway places does however create millions of jobs in USA and massively enrich a very small number of people. But that is a topic for another post.

3] Thirdly, the level of weapon technology of countries and groups fighting USA is within the same bracket. Colonial wars in 18th and 19th century typically saw Africans with spears mass charging white men with rifles and machine guns or Asians with far inferior gunpowder weapons and tactics fighting against people with better technology and organisation. Somewhere between WW1 and WW2, this started changing as “western” weapon technology and tactics diffused through the rest of the world. Consequently, white soldiers of a western power now face non-whites who posses weapons in the same technology bracket and tactics to match them. Furthermore, their non-white opponents have a much better understanding of their environment and motivation to keep on fighting.

The overall point I am trying to make in this post is a number of large-scale and systemic changes have made it impossible for USA, or any other western country, to win a military confrontation that is not on their own soil. Unfortunately, a large percentage of the population of western countries, especially the USA, still harbor the delusional belief that they can win military victories in other countries. More regrettably, if predictably, the military-industrial complex in countries such as USA keep on fueling the popular delusional idea that their extra shiny toys can win wars against people with more of the less shinier toys. I just don’t see it ending well for USA as a country or other governments stupid enough to support them.

What do you think? Comments?

Reports of Cyberwar against N. Korean Ballistic Missiles are Likely False

April 15, 2017 13 comments

Many of you might have, by now, come across “news” which suggests that the frequent failure of N. Korean ballistic missiles is somehow due to some elaborate “cyberwarfare” by USA. I am sure you must have seen mouth-breathing idiots.. I mean american patriots.. repeat that bullshit because they heard if from some MSM or some ‘alt-media’ shill.. I mean “reliable news sources”. Anyway, the point of this post is to explain why that idea reeks of propaganda and delusion.

But let us be clear about a few things first. It is no secret that N. Korean missiles, either fired by them or in the 1990s by Pakistan, always had a rather high rate of failure. However the reasons behind this rather high rate of failure is immediately obvious to somebody who has read about the general history of developing ballistic missiles and space launch systems. Long story short- it comes down to the choice of fuels.

N. Korean missiles have been traditionally powered by pretty dangerous (but effective) mixtures of old-style hypergolic liquid propellants. Since N. Korean missiles trace their ancestry to Scud missiles, they have traditionally used the same fuel mixture- namely, kerosene and corrosion inhibited red fuming nitric acid (IRFNA) with UDMH aka unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine as the liquid igniter. Once again, to make a long story short- this particular old-style hypergolic mixture does not scale up well for larger and longer-burning rocket motors

Apart from Russia and to some extent China, nobody has been able to mass produce relatively safe ballistic missiles which use hypergolic fuels of any kind. In fact, the rate of success of early american ICBMS using hypergolic fuels in the 1950s and early 1960s was pretty dismal. While it is possible to build pretty reliable space launch systems using more modern hypergolic fuel combinations, making scores of reliable ballistic missiles which use them requires a lot more experience.

That is why the majority of non-Russian (and now even Russian) ICBMS use solid propellants for their first and frequently also the second stage motors.

Returning back to the subject of ballistic missile control and guidance, let us be clear about a few basics. Firstly, the main guidance systems of such missiles is always internal and almost always based on some form of astro-intertial guidance. In case you are interested about the history of the non-computational side of guidance hardware, here is a link: The Soviet Union and Strategic Missile Guidance. Secondly, the computational part of such systems is quite simple and can be built without using integrated circuits, let alone CPUs.

For example, one of first electronic guidance computers for american ICBMS, known as the D-17B, contained 1,521 transistors, 6,282 diodes, 1,116 capacitors, and 504 resistors. Some of the older Russian designs for flight guidance computers on such missiles even used special rugged vacuum tubes instead of transistors. To put it another way, the flight control and guidance systems of ballistic missiles can be made of very rugged and simple electronic components, especially if you do not require a very high degree of targeting accuracy.

It is basically impossible to remotely “hack” a simple, hard-wired and hard-programmed control and guidance computer in which every discrete component can be repeatedly tested with a multi-meter and oscilloscope.

Furthermore, N. Korea is a pretty paranoid and conservative country. Therefore it is almost certain that they use somewhat primitive but extremely reliable indigenous designs. In any case, they seem to be aiming for targeting accuracy that is between 0.5-1% of distance covered- which is within the reach of such systems. It is therefore my opinion that the frequent malfunctions of longer range N. Korean ballistic missiles are largely due to their inability to scale up an obsolete hypergolic rocket engine technology.

Those problems will however go away once they are successful at building large solid fueled rocket engines. Some of you might know that they have already transitioned away from older hypergolic fuels for their newer short-range (upto 1,000 km) missiles. It is only a matter of time before they do so for their longer-range missiles. If things go the way they are going now, it is possible that they might be able to successfully test and start deploying such missiles in the next 2 years.

What do you think? Comments?