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Interesting technical discussion about the ‘missile war’ in Ukraine

For those interested in such things…

From the always interesting Perun.

11 comments to Interesting technical discussion about the ‘missile war’ in Ukraine

  • Paul Marks

    Unlike China, Russian manufacturing production is weak – that has undermined its military strength.

    Mr Putin has been in power for more than 20 years – he must take responsibility for both the weak military capacity and for the tactical mess of the Russian campaign. To attack Ukraine was a crime – to attack Ukraine and mess up the attack was stupid. Moscow rules do not tolerate failure on this scale – Mr Putin must now fear for his own life. Not from Ukrainians – but from other people who want to be the Big Boss in Russia who hold (correctly hold) that Mr Putin has failed Russia – and that, therefore, his life is forfeit.

    However, the West should also be fearful – military production can not stand on its own, it depends on a vast number of basic components that come from civilian manufacturing production.

    I am sometimes accused of exaggerating the manufacturing weakness of the West – but the situation is not good, and it is going to get a lot worse. When the Credit Bubble economy collapses (it is utterly insane to have “money” that is just lights on computer screens of Credit Bubble bankers) this will, sadly, hit manufacturing – which is already weak.

    The military power of the West depends, in the end, on its manufacturing power.

  • Paul Marks

    If one takes something as basic as steel – in 1990 Japanese steel production was a bit higher than that of the United States (which would have bee utterly astonished people in the 1940s – during World War II, when American industrial production, of everything, dwarfed that of Japan) – but both Japan and the United States had higher steel output than the People’s Republic of China.

    Now Chinese steel production is more than TEN TIMES that of either America or Japan – yes that is “just steel”, but the Chinese manufacturing edge is getting into more and more advanced products.

    In the end, military strength depends on manufacturing strength.

  • In the end, military strength depends on manufacturing strength.

    If you watch the video, Perun makes the point that one smart weapon that actually hits is far better than firing a dozen not so smart weapons to do the same job. Steel production matters far less than semiconductor production (the latter being why Taiwan matters).

  • Rudolph Hucker

    the latter being why Taiwan matters


    Some folks are confused by Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan:

    ..apparently in defiance of Joe Biden and Chinese threats of military retaliation. Was Pelosi’s Taiwan visit a piece of theatre or was it for real?

    Nobody seems to believe that the US will protect Taiwan (the country) from China. What Pelosi (and her backers) would be willing to protect is Taiwan’s semiconductor industry. Otherwise Apple (et al) goes down the pan big-time.

    The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company makes 90% of the world’s advanced semiconductors. It is by far the world’s largest semiconductor foundry. Without the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, that would mean companies like Apple, Qualcomm and many others could not function. That’s a lot of the American economy.

    Nice little industry you’ve got there, would be a shame if you and and your families end-up in some Chinese labour camp (nudge nudge). Do you fancy moving the senior/design people to California? Just in case the Chinese do invade. We can move the fabrication plants (or just rebuild them) somewhere like Singapore or India.

  • Paul Marks

    Perry – I did watch the video.

    And, as I pointed out, powers that are weak in basic manufacturing end up weak in advanced manufacturing as well.

    The position of “what do we need with basic manufacturing – we can make smart weapons” is folly.

    As for relying, for vital products, on an island thousands of miles away (and right next to one’s main enemy) – that is insanity.

    Taiwan matters because 20 million free people live there – depending on the place for semiconductors (or anything else) is absurd.

    The United States became the strongest military power in the world, because it was the strongest manufacturing power in the world. But for many decades now it has been led by fools (or worse than fools) who have allowed the manufacturing base of the United States to go into relative (relative) decline.

    These leaders deserve their fate – however they are taking the rest of the population with them.

    Not “just” of the United States = but of the world in general.

    In their way they are as misguided as Mr Putin – who has betrayed Russia with his folly.

  • Paul Marks

    Look at California.

    Adjusted for the cost of living its poverty is the highest in the United States, its educational standards so low that much of its population can not even read, the schools teach “self esteem” (the Sin of Pride) and vulgarised Frankfurt School Marxism (“Woke” doctrine), and little else. Its government spending, taxes, regulations and energy costs are crushing. The idea that “it does not matter than these people can not make steel – they can make smart weapons” is not going to stand up.

    And it is clear that California is the model for the Western world.

    Mr Putin represents a failed system that needs systematic reform – basically rebuilding from the ground up.

    Sadly this is also true of much of the Western World.

    “But Russia has terrible CULTURAL problems” – yes it does, so does the West.

    The basic culture of, for example, the United States is vastly inferior to what it was many years (many decades) ago.

  • Bell Curve

    And, as I pointed out, powers that are weak in basic manufacturing end up weak in advanced manufacturing as well.

    I’m all for at least some in-shoring of basic manufacturing, although you might underestimate how much niche comparative advantage counts, but basic (essentially box building) and advanced (smart) manufacturing are two quite different things.

  • Fred Z

    @Paul Marks

    “it is utterly insane to have “money” that is just lights on computer screens of Credit Bubble bankers”

    Quite unlike “money” that is just entries on paper ledgers (written with a quill pen?) or pieces of paper tucked into vaults and wallets.

    Paper is much more sane than lights.

  • Lee Moore

    Interesting video. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that its take is plausible, the following thoughts occurred to me.

    1. If you’re looking at where to spend your military budget, and you wish to deter an attack by an enemy armed with precision missiles (I’m talking to you, Taiwan) then disguise, camouflage and moving your key military assets around seems to be quite important. The Russkies got quite good at this in WW2, establishing lots of fake airfields so that the Luftwaffe often bombed fake airfields rather than real ones. If you can create enough uncertainty on where the targets are at any particular time, then an enemy that might be planning a 250 missile first strike may need to launch 1,000 and that may be too expensive. So survivability isn’t purely a matter of hardening targets, it’s also a matter of moving the targets and generating a lot of fake targets.

    2. If you’re the US Navy you want to create large cheap submarines which have no military capability but which when surfaced can generate the same “visibility” to enemy electronic systems as an aircraft carrier, so that – you hope – 5 out of 6 enemy missiles will be aimed at your “sockpuppet” aircraft carriers rather than the real ones. ie “chaff” on a large scale.

    A good investment in defensive deception may be cheaper than doubling your stock of expensive armaments in the hope of having enough left over to use, after the enemy’s opening salvo.

    There are loads of WW2 deception examples. Presumably they still do it, but since it’s not as sexy as a new missile, I bet they (aka we) don’t do enough of it.)

  • Rob Fisher

    “military strength depends on manufacturing strength”

    “Steel production matters far less than semiconductor production”

    Can we just agree that the ability to churn out smart weapons is what affects your military strength? This is going to depend on a lot of other things like getting all the right bits to the factory in the face of logistical disruptions, the ability to ramp up production, switch from producing other things, and so on.

    Btw, Perun also plays games and this strategy game is is playing (Terra Invicta) has quite an entertaining political simulation in it.

  • Davy Jones' Sock Draw

    Lee Moore, yes, sort of. Ukraine has been moving assets around like an ongoing shell game from Day 2 of the war, with many missiles hitting empty airfields. But when it comes to US aircraft carriers, location can often be spotted optically from orbit. By Week 2 of WW3 when all the Day 1 satellites have been shot down with ASATs, things might be different.