This and that in the ME.


"The newly discovered group in Saudi Arabia is the first group to be revealed to have ties with ISIS, which broke away from al-Qaeda in Syria and entered into a war against it. This war is ongoing despite the intervention of al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahri. So far, it is not clear whether ISIS established a new group in Saudi Arabia amid the conflict with the mother organization in Syria — Jabhat al-Nusra."  Al Monitor


Well the Saudi idiots have asked for this.  pl


"The former head of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission Brigadier General (res.) Uzi Eilam just dropped a bombshell (no pun intended): "The Iranian nuclear program will only be operational in another 10 years," he told the Israeli paper Yediot Ahronoth. "Even so, I am not sure that Iran wants the bomb." And he added that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is employing needless fearmongering about Iran's atomic aspirations in order to further his own political aims."  National Interest


More lying on the part of the Israeli government.  Thank God that Eilem is man enough to tell the truth.  pl


"Russia is planning to send a total of 36 of these jets by 2016, the Kommersant newspaper reported. “We will fulfill obligations under a previously signed contract for the supply of 36 Yak-130 jets,” the Russian newspaper quoted a source close to the Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport as saying. The daily reported in June that Syria made an advance payment of $100 million to Russia for the first six Yak-130 jets under a contract signed in December 2011. Meanwhile, Russia newspaper Pravada, which is associated with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, reported a source close to the country’s aviation business circles as saying that Moscow is planning to deliver nine aircraft to Syria before the end of this year and twelve aircrafts next year." Al Arabia


This is not a game changer in Syria but my pal, Basilisk, who knows of such things tells me that this is a fitting successor to such aircraft as the A-10 Thunderbolt 2 and the SU-25 Frogfoot,  pl

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33 Responses to This and that in the ME.

  1. b says:

    Yak-130 as successor for A-10 or SU-25: One big difference – while the Yak can fly slow and low and has decent weapon capabilities it has no, as in zero, protection for the pilot. No titanium bathtub or the like. It is a trainer that can do some groundwork when needed. It is not a real earth eater.
    Sure, better than risking an expensive fast mover. But I’d rather fly something different for close air support.

  2. Basilisk says:

    Well, since I’m not on the Yakovlev/Aermacchi marketing team, let me temper that. I personally like the Yak-130 very much as an adnanced trainer and even for fighter lead-in if your Air Force flies MiGs. It is, however not comparable to the A-10 or even the Su-25 FROGFOOT in terms of pilot protection. The Russian Air Force turned the Yak-131 (the single seat ground attack variant) down on account of that factor.
    That said, the air defense environment over the rebel-held areas may be relatively permissive. Plenty of people have been hammered by the A-37 Dragonfly in various theaters. The yak 130 looks more formidable than the heat-packing version of A-37 Tweetie Bird.
    I would guess the new little Yak will be a net gain for the Syrian Air Force if only on aesthetic grounds.

  3. patrick lang says:

    Basilisk and b
    You are just being mean to me. pl

  4. Fred says:

    Isn’t being able to fly away a whole lot better protection than the guy on the ground getting shot at by these things has?

  5. turcopolier says:

    Yes. I spent a lot of time in an O-1 Bird Dog flying with USAF FAC pilots. These guys were remarkably free of the “Goden BB” worries of many. pl

  6. Tyler says:

    That YAK is a pretty little plane.

  7. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    What do you retired career military people think of the USAF’s recently announced plan to kill off the A-10?

  8. MS2 says:

    In addition to the pilot protection issue, the Yak-130 weapons load is 40% that of an A-10.
    Its gun (gsh-301) is an interesting design, in that it manages to be very light weight (so that it can be put in such a tiny plane) and fire 30mm shells, but it does this by being partly disposable, needing a barrel replacement if the pilot feels a need for a 7-10 second burst, or about 80 seconds of cumulative use. All in all it is possibly a smart design, if you have a hard boiled perspective on pilots’ lives.
    I just finished a book on flying with the USAAF 8th air force in WW2, and the perspective on the value of aviators’ lives embodied in the Yak 130 design is still advanced relative to how it was back then. The comparison to ground pounders should be considered in light of the fact that the only worse job category in WW2 was german Uboat crew.

  9. confusedponderer says:

    Take comfort in that it is a brilliantly designed airplane that is said to have spectacularly good flight characteristics. Apparently the chief designer Konstantin Popovich did a good job.
    It’s so good in fact that it’s western derivative, the Italian version Aermacchi M-346 just may become NATO’s, and under a suitably Americanised name even America’s to gloss over it’s Russian origins, standard andvanced trainer.
    “In the United States, Alenia Aermacchi plans on bidding the M-346 Master for the United States Air Force’s T-X program to replace the aging Northrop T-38 Talon. The company had initially considered submitting the aircraft as the prime contractor, but changed its mind in 2010. The company also rebranded the aircraft as the T-100 Integrated Training System for the competition. Alenia anticipates moving the final assembly location from Italy to the United States if it wins the competition. About 350 aircraft are expected to be ordered to replace the T-38, but further purchases could push the overall purchase to over 1,000.[22] In January 2013, Alenia Aermacchi signed a letter of intent with defense contractor General Dynamics to compete for the T-X program business. Under the agreement, General Dynamics C4 Systems will serve as prime contractor for the M-346 and related training systems.”

  10. jon says:

    Blowback is a bitch. I guess it works the same everywhere. There was a good article a few months back, that reported on a rural Yemini minority in Saudi Arabia. Systematically discriminated against by the government, they have provided many of the most committed alQaeda operatives.
    Rare statement of sanity from the IAEC. I wonder where there information comes from? Netanyahu and his supports are creating so many problems. I hope they sometime are able to realize how much damage they have brought to causes they support.

  11. turcopolier says:

    “a rural Yemini minority in Saudi Arabia. Systematically discriminated against by the government, they have provided many of the most committed alQaeda operatives.” This would be in Asir Province in the SW, specifically the Wadi Najran. I used to creep about there a bit and never knew what would happen. pl

  12. nick b says:

    ex-PFC Chuck,
    I saw this article on Bloomberg the other day. Perhaps it is of interest.

  13. oofda says:

    The first 9 Yak-130 attack aircraft will be trainers. It will take a while for the Syrain Air Force to be fully operational- training for pilots will take a while. Also the logistics train has to be estblished and maintenance people trained. Further, the deliveries of the Yak-130 to the Russian Air Force have been slow- so it may take a while for the entire order to get to Syria.
    The Syrian AF already has a decent ground attack capability against the insurgents- with Su-22. Su-24, MiG-21 and other fighter-attack aircraft, along with attack helos. Correct in that this is not a game-changer, especially in the short run, but an excellent follow-up to the Frogfoot. We may also even see the Italian Aermacchi M-346, which has the basic design of hte Yak-130, in the USAF, as the firm is expected to bid on the successor to the A-10- whenever that happens.

  14. Charles I says:

    Perhaps in time you can tell us a bit about what DID happen. . . .

  15. turcopolier says:

    That’s what Jubal Early said about cavalry. He said that anybody who could get on a horse and ride away from a fight his infantry was in was just a——s. pl

  16. turcopolier says:

    Charles I
    If you like. When I was DATT in North Yemen the northern end of the country was not really under government control. There was a big shooting war going on between the gov. and the wily National Democratic Front Guerrillas run out of the PDRY and supported by the Soviets. These guerrillas were mostly Sunnis. I spent a lot of time covering that war accompanying the YAR 8th Commando Brigade and their USSR advisers. The Sovs supported both sides in that war. But north of Sanaa the population were pretty much all Zeidi Shia tribesmen of the Baqil abd Hashid confederations. They were just about as heavily armed as the government and many had served in the army before defecting to back home with their equipment, I used to go up there to buy odd weapons in the weapons suq in one of the towns. North of the Zaidi tribesmen were another Arab tribe, this one semi-nomad. They were and are called the “Banu Yam.” North of them was the border with S. Arabia and north of them was the Wadi (valley) Najran filled with a lot of Sunni Yemeni (more or less) villagers who are the people the Saudis keep crapping on with their Beduin National Guard troops from the Najd. I crossed the border a few times with yam guides to talk to villagers and see how far the Saudi had moved the border markers since the last time I had been there. This was a Saudi game they like to play. The stones moved steadily southward. How did I get away with this? Hey! I’m a charming guy in an Arab rural context. Abdullah al Shami my driver and I always brought a lot of nice presents bought with ICF (ask TTG) and neither he nor I would hesitate to shoot you if you looked like you needed it. I did the same thing in the opposite direction when I was DATT in Jiddah. pl

  17. Norbert M Salamon says:

    Off topic:
    Some might be interested in reading analysis of Russian ideas re Ukraine at
    Conflict Forum Weekly Comment 25
    Published May 5, 2014
    I believe the author is A. Cook?? of UK MI6 [ret]

  18. Charles I says:

    Thank you sir. Respect and generosity get you a long way in this world, charming as you may be.
    I recall reading accounts of similar activity on the Durrand Line.
    One with my limited knowledge is imaging that if the shite has come home to the Saudi roost, is it a country that could withstand a really savage campaign, is the SNG for instance, an institution that can keep a country together? Could the economy stand an expat flight?

  19. turcopolier says:

    Charles I
    Everyone has waited for the collapse of the House of Saud for as long as I have been in the business. Don’t hold your breath while waiting. Everyone in the country is co-opted or intimidated and the secret police act with impunity. pl

  20. Castellio says:

    Thanks for that.

  21. Fred says:

    Col, Lee’s “Bad Old Man” had a point.

  22. Alba Etie says:

    Col Lang
    I did the google on DATT & did not find that acronym.
    May I ask what is a DATT ?

  23. turcopolier says:

    “Defense Attache.” The senior military officer in a US Embassy. pl

  24. turcopolier says:

    “Jeff” continued to be nastily combative in yet more material and I have dispensed with him. pl

  25. Alba Etie says:

    Col Lang
    Thank you .

  26. jon says:

    Fascinating. Much more convoluted and delicate a circumstance there than I had contemplated.
    A while back, I had a client who had been posted to rural Yemen, when he was in the Peace Corps. He had some interesting, simple stories of his time in a little village there, but no larger insights to share besides his presentation dagger.

  27. Poul says:

    The rebels do their bit to ensure their defeat. It’s not just the combat losses but probably more important the need for extra garrisons to keep an eye on each other. Reducing the effective manpower facing the Syrian army.

  28. turcopolier says:

    It will not be surprising that Jube is my favorite WBS gent. He gets a big run from me in DPH. He liked to call the “Laurel Brigade” cavalry a “running vine.” pl

  29. Fred says:

    I’ll have to read a bit more about him then. I’ll see if I can’t take along a good bio on my next trip to the valley.

  30. turcopolier says:

    You will have a hard find finding anything fair about Early. In the intra-Confederate “war,” Early was the leader of the Lee bloc. The Longstreet people hated him . Shaara was among them. His depiction of Early on the 1st day at Gettysburg is wrong. In fact, Early had arrived late on the battlefield and immediately counseled Ewell to attack and take Cemetery Hill. He would not and Lee arrived at the 2nd corps CP just after that. pl

  31. Fred says:

    The various depictions of the actions taken on the first day of Gettysburg always seemed out of character for many of the main leaders present that day. It seems the further removed one is the more superficial the treatment. On my last visit there I had the pleasure, while having lunch in a local restaurant, of listening to a professor at Gettysburg College tell the very superficial version – ‘the North was opposed to slavery and all the Southerners supported it’ to a couple of enraptured British tourists. I think they heard me laughing as they quickly moved on to talking about wineries and organic farming. The best part was that the coffee and meal were both excellent.
    Would you have a recommendation?

  32. turcopolier says:

    I have never found anywhere to eat in Gettysburg that was worth the trouble and in any event I do not want to put money in the pockets of the local vultures. I try to go up there on a market day at the Farmer’s Market in Carlisle (40 miles away). I buy “Hoagies” from the Mennonite farmers in the market house and sit out in the woods at Gettysburg to eat. pl

  33. Fred says:

    “the local vultures” That, sadly, is the feeling I had for most of the places in town. While I was born there my years living elsewhere make living there an impossibility. There seems to be a callousness there now that is deeper and harsher than what one often finds in touristy places. I’ve had the same feeling in other parts of Pennsylvania and New York state too.

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