Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Chug, chug, chug, the Russians are coming.

Eurofighter Typhoon jets scrambled for the first time to intercept Russian nuclear bombers approaching British air space, the Ministry of Defence said yesterday. The incident comes as part of continued Russian sabre-rattling by President Vladimir Putin. In two incidents this summer Russian Tu-95 nuclear bombers were spotted heading towards British air space off Scotland and over the US-held territory of Guam. There is a suggestion that Russia could be testing the West's air detection systems and response times. Officers at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, a secret scientific establishment, said diesel electric submarines were believed to have been spotted close to British shores.

What surprised me is the age of this technology. We think about Star Wars military capabilities but these engines are really old school. We have planes with jet engines today yet the Tu-95 is powered by four Kuznetsov turboprop engines, each driving contra-rotating propellers, and remains the fastest propeller-driven aircraft to go into operational use. That is definitely old school, a propeller-driven plane. We hear about nuclear submarines but these are powered by old school diesel electric engines.

Are the Russians going to be putting on preservation rallies demonstrating old aircraft and submarines? Will the Russian Army be advancing overland in preserved Leyland Leopard coaches?

Whatever happens the Russians can come towards our shores, chug, chug, chug they are coming. This also demonstrates that new technology is not always cost effective when you can deploy some excellent old workhorses like these.
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