• The Afterburn Podcast
  • Posts
  • 🛫 SU-27 Shoots at RC-135 | China's Naval Parade | New Air Force Pilot Training

🛫 SU-27 Shoots at RC-135 | China's Naval Parade | New Air Force Pilot Training

Another spicy week for events ... fair to say this is the new norm

FRIDAY | 15 Sep 23

Forwarded this email? Sign up here

“The guy you don't see will kill you.” -Robin Olds

🎙️ #78 Drops Monday with Chris “Chewy” Richardson - “Chewy” is a C-130J pilot. We jump straight into a mission in Afghanistan where his plane was hit by enemy fire. Ultimately, he would be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (available now for Patrons + There I was…")

🎙️ Hate reading and want to listen to this? Catch the Lowdown. Or Both.

🎙️Thanks for subscribing here are a few free 👉 "There I was…" stories.👈 Hope you enjoy! Get early access and ad-free episodes + There I was on Patreon.

Radar Scope:

✈️ Russian Roulette: Who’s having fun?  “Loose language” nearly resulted in a Royal Air Force RC-135 soaking up a couple of ALAMO and/or ARCHER missiles. Last year two SU-27s “encountered” the Rivet Joint reconnaissance platform and “released” two missiles that failed to hit their intended target….30+ British Airmen. There seems to be a bit of a communication hiccup with the dynamic duo of the SU-27 formation that would have spiced things up.

No one asked me, but here is my opinion: The incident vividly depicts the razor-thin line between routine military operations and potential catastrophe. It is just a reminder that even the “weakest link” gets a vote and start World War III if they are carrying ordinance. I think this scenario is best encapsulated by the American classic “World War III” by Dos Gringos.

✈️ 'Merchant of Death' ..."There's an app for that" Last year, the U.S. exchanged the notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as the "Merchant of Death," for WNBA star Britney Griner. After spending 15 years in a U.S. prison, Bout has returned to Russia. Now, he's adjusting to modern life, learning to use smartphones, and even running for local office in Ulyanovsk.

Two back-to-back weeks with Lord of War gifs via giphy

No one asked me, but here is my opinion:  The recent Iran hostage release deal pops to mind as yet another example highlighting how individuals can become pawns in a larger game of international diplomacy.  “We don’t negotiate with terrorists” used to be the line in the sand but now appears to be not applicable to nation-states who have capitalized on exploiting U.S. citizens over the recent years for financial and political gain. Bout’s jump into politics is an interesting move…maybe even a strategic move by Russia to capitalize on his notoriety and further its geopolitical agenda.

✈️ "Russia & China's are warming up the bullpen American jets, while on missions in international airspace near China, are intercepted as frequently as 10 times a day, says the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) commander, Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach. While most of these intercepts are routine, some involve Chinese pilots performing risky maneuvers, escalating the potential for international incidents. Gen. Mark Kelly, head of the Air Force’s Air Combat Command, suggests that China and Russia's increased boldness in challenging US flights stems from the perception that the US Air Force has diminished in capacity and aged over the years.

 No one asked me, but here is my opinion: The frequency and audacity of these intercepts are of concern and point to potential future hostilities. Maybe it is a show of confidence…or at least an attempt (my guess is Russia’s motivation), but maybe it’s a warmup. Pushing and testing their forces and ours. Gauging reactions. Did you ever wonder why so many victims whom terrorist organizations like ISIS murdered looked so calm? Many went through dozens of mock executions to condition them; when the final act took place, they assumed it was another act. Paresh and I discussed this on the last episode of the Afterburn Podcast.  

✈️ China's Naval Parade by the Philippines The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy's Shandong Carrier Strike Group is flexing its muscles in the Philippine Sea. Concurrently, North Korea launched two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, timed with Kim Jong Un's rendezvous with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Pile on:  Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense reported a surge of PLA aircraft near its airspace (28 violated Taiwanese airspace on Wednesday.

No one asked me, but here is my opinion: I’m sure this is all going to buff out. Remember the days when no one was building islands or making outlandish territorial claims. Those were the days. The recent US, Japan, and Australian joint military exercises in the South China Sea aimed at a collective response to China's assertiveness.

✈️ Finally...something light-hearted: The Air Force implements UPT 2.5 If you have been following any of the Bro Chats you have heard us talk about UPT 2.5.  Well it’s now officially just Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT)…like it used to be. Maj. Gen. Clark Quinn, the commander of the 19th Air Force, emphasized the program's shift towards self-paced learning, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and increased simulator time. A major change in the program is awarding wings to pilots after their initial training on the T-6 Texan II versus the old days of awarding your wings after the T-38 or T-1 (the third phase of UPT).

No one asked me (including the Air Force), but here is my opinion:  It’s refreshing to see the Air Force embrace technology and cut some “red tape” when it comes to pilot training. The program was mostly unchanged over the last five or so decades. Using cutting-edge tech to enhance learning and save resources is great. golf clap I personally have never seen the UPT 2.5…I mean the new UPT program, but many of my peers have and believe in the direction the Air Force is going. That said, I still think giving wings after T-6’s is a numbers game the Air Force is playing to “increase” pilot production or maybe, down the road, skip or reduce the T-38/T-1 phase and send students straight to their follow weapon systems, such as the F-16 or C-17.

Low Down

Lowdown: A request for the tactical ground picture in an area of interest.

  • The Air Force is projected to miss its annual pilot training target by almost 150 pilots. Maintenance and staffing are predominately to blame. The target was 1,450 new pilots. But overall, the Air Force is down 2,000 pilots.

  • China has unveiled the backstory of 78-year-old John Shing-wan Leung, a U.S. citizen sentenced to life for espionage. Born in Hong Kong, Leung moved to the U.S. in 1983 and was recruited by a U.S. spy agency in 1989. He was tasked with gathering intelligence on Chinese nationals and overseas Chinese in the U.S. Leung was directed by his U.S. handlers to go to China in 2020. Despite pandemic restrictions making entry to the country challenging, Leung, at the age of 75, used multiple identity documents to transit through Hong Kong and arrived in mainland China later that year. The details about his capture are unclear.

  •  Poland has approved a deal to purchase 486 HIMARS launcher-loader module kits from Lockheed Martin. This acquisition, set to begin deliveries in 2025, is part of Poland's efforts to enhance its artillery capabilities, especially following regional tensions.

  • South Korea has received approval from the US State Department to purchase an additional 25 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, bringing the total cost to an estimated $5.06 billion. This move, which will increase South Korea's fifth-gen fighter fleet by over 50%, aims to bolster its defense capabilities and ensure interoperability with U.S. forces.

  • The B-2 Spirit Bomber recently conducted hot pit refueling in Lajes Field, Portugal, showcasing a strong partnership and a display of military cooperation. Pair this with last weeks news of the B-2 in Norway and it’s really getting around.

  • Agile Pacific WWII Airfields highlights vertical lift capabilities in the Pacific region, underscoring the importance of flexible military infrastructure in challenging terrains.

  • Northrop Grumman has initiated ground testing of the engines for the B-21 Raider nuclear bomber, marking a significant step in the development of the world's first sixth-generation bomber.

Good ideas? Bad ideas? Suggestion? Guest Recommendation —> Contact TAP

Guns Garin Memorial Foundation Infomrmation banner. The afterburn podcast is a produd supporter of Guns Garin Foundaton. Supporitng veterans and building future pilots.

Join the conversation

or to participate.