Countries - Aircraft carriers

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  • #1
JPC
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hey

Was wondering.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aircraft_carrier

1) Does USA really have 12 4.5 billion USD Carriers ? or are some from the cold war ?
Are Cold war carriers of any use ? (like to carry helicopters) ?

2) Does france really have only 1 aircraft carrier now ? That seems small , one error and no more french carriers.

3) Which are the top 5 carriers in the world at the moment, and to which country they were built / belong to ?

4) Between all the new Carriers developments in the world , which are making the best ? Probably USA first , but then which countries ?
 

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  • #2
Gokul43201
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There's 12?

Kitty Hawk and Enterprise were from the Vietnam Era. Carriers have been produced at a more or less steady clip since then. So about half of the rest are from the Cold War era, and the other half are more recent. USS Ronald Reagan was commissioned just after the Iraq war started (I think).
 
  • #3
mgb_phys
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There are two types of ships in the world - submarines and targets!
Following the recent surprise visit from a chinese sub and the existance of super cavitating torpedoes, large carriers aren't looking such a good bet.

A few countries have tactical/support carriers using Harriers or helicopters to support a beach landing.
The UK+France are jointly building a new type - when they have finished arguing about the spelling of the name.
 
  • #4
Smurf
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2) Does france really have only 1 aircraft carrier now ? That seems small , one error and no more french carriers.
That, and it's not even a good one. Reactor problems, flight deck problems, it's slower than other non-nuclear carriers.
 
  • #5
mgb_phys
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That, and it's not even a good one.
But I bet the canteen is excellent. :tongue:
 
  • #6
mheslep
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There's 12?
10 modern Nimitz class:
Nimitz
Eisenhower
Carl Vinson
T. Roosevelt
Abraham Lincoln
George Washington
Stennis
Truman
Reagan
G. H. W. Bush
 
  • #7
Gokul43201
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Has USS GHWB been commissioned already?
 
  • #8
There are two types of ships in the world - submarines and targets!
Following the recent surprise visit from a chinese sub and the existance of super cavitating torpedoes, large carriers aren't looking such a good bet.

A few countries have tactical/support carriers using Harriers or helicopters to support a beach landing.
The UK+France are jointly building a new type - when they have finished arguing about the spelling of the name.

i think it will be unlikely that a submarine will attack an aircraft carrier in the next 20 or 30 years though.
 
  • #9
mheslep
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Ah you're right, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_George_H._W._Bush_%28CVN-77%29" [Broken] to be commissioned mid 2009. $4.5B
 
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  • #10
JPC
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Yes, normal that the french 'De Gaulle' is not excelent, it dates from long time ago.

But, which ones in development you think are going to be the best ?
 
  • #11
russ_watters
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hey

Was wondering.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aircraft_carrier

1) Does USA really have 12 4.5 billion USD Carriers ? or are some from the cold war ?
The answer to both questions is yes. Here's a list that shows when they were commissioned: http://www.answers.com/topic/list-of-aircraft-carriers-of-the-united-states-navy
Are Cold war carriers of any use ? (like to carry helicopters) ?
There are no fundamental differences between new fleet carriers ("supercarriers") and ones built 50 years ago. The Forrestal (1955) was 1067 feet long and displaced 81,000 tons. The George Bush (2009) will be 101,000 tons and 1092 feet long.

But we do also have helicopter carriers that are about the same size as WWII carriers (Ie, USS Wasp [1942] 872 feet, 36,000 tons; USS Iwo Jima, LHD-7 [2001], 844 ft, 40,000 tons). We used to have several converted WWII carriers that were used by the Marine Corps as helicopter carriers.
2) Does france really have only 1 aircraft carrier now ? That seems small , one error and no more french carriers.

4) Between all the new Carriers developments in the world , which are making the best ? Probably USA first , but then which countries ?
The US has the largest military in the world and the countries of Europe decades ago essentially decided that with the US's absolute supremacy in the oceans, there was no need for them to try to keep up - even if they could, which they probably couldn't. So today, the US has more fleet carriers than the rest of the world combined. (though it probably depends on how many of Russia's carriers are capable of leaving port).
mgb_phys said:
There are two types of ships in the world - submarines and targets!
Following the recent surprise visit from a chinese sub and the existance of super cavitating torpedoes, large carriers aren't looking such a good bet.
A carrier certainly needs a sub escort, but I wouldn't worry too much about non-nuclear subs. They can't stay submerged long enough to be much of a threat.
 
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  • #12
mgb_phys
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A carrier certainly needs a sub escort, but I wouldn't worry too much about non-nuclear subs. They can't stay submerged long enough to be much of a threat.
But non-nuclear are very quiet, they only have to stay submerged long enough for a carrier to sail over the top of them. Even with active sonar it's tricky to spot a diesel sub lying quietly on the bottom with it's tubes open.
In some confined waterway like the red sea they don't have to go far.
 
  • #13
JPC
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The US has the largest military in the world and the countries of Europe decades ago essentially decided that with the US's absolute supremacy in the oceans, there was no need for them to try to keep up - even if they could, which they probably couldn't.

What do you know ? maybe in a latter future, once theres no more socialists/communist in europe , thinks would be going fine
 
  • #14
russ_watters
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Becasuse of the hardware and manpower costs, the only real way for the countries of Europe to keep up would be a combined military (which may happen in the forseeable future).
 
  • #15
russ_watters
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There is another issue, actually - conventional aircraft and aircraft carriers are on the verge of becoming obsolete. Large drones are cheaper and more capable than conventional aircraft and are already starting to replace them. And the US Navy hasn't helped itself by replacing its old planes with newer ones of lesser performance.
 
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  • #16
JPC
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yeah but from where are you going to launch your drone ?
 
  • #17
Yonoz
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yeah but from where are you going to launch your drone ?
You can get a lot more out of an aircraft that doesn't have to carry a human being - they can fly longer and higher, they can be controlled by satellite, and you don't have to worry too much about them being shot down.
With a bit of thought as to the methods of utilization they can replace much more than warplanes.
 
  • #18
JPC
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yes but will your drones be able to locate the enemy planes, to use the right tactics to avoid being shot down and to shoot them down ?
For now, human pilots are way better at war tactics in the air, but if latter your machines can prove to be more acurate, and better, why not
 
  • #19
Yonoz
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yes but will your drones be able to locate the enemy planes, to use the right tactics to avoid being shot down and to shoot them down ?
That's what anti aircraft missiles do. They're also pilotless.
Pilots can't do much to avoid being shot down for quite a while now - it's all electronic; and as I said, it's not that much of a big deal to lose drones.
 
  • #20
JPC
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Well it is , if these things are expensive

and i thought most pilots usually manage to eject before being killed in the explosion
 
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  • #21
Yonoz
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Well it is , if these things are expensive
Not as expensive and counter-productive as losing a human being.

and i thought most pilots usually manage to eject before being killed in the explosion
They still have to land somewhere, and in some armies someone has to get them out.
 
  • #22
JPC
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1) But wouldnt they be at destination faster if launched from near destination rather than homebase ? (aircraft carrier utility)

2) Or would ur drones be able to be launched without any aircraft carriers ? like that can take off on sea, or by any other way ?

3) I would imagine them well in special operations where they would fly at very high altitude to not be shot during travel, and when close to destination come down.

4) Would it be good if they are very small ? like very small and fast , so that they can do little damage at precise spots to enemy aircrafts (critical areas), with more chances of not being shot down ?
 
  • #23
Yonoz
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1) But wouldnt they be at destination faster if launched from near destination rather than homebase ? (aircraft carrier utility)

2) Or would ur drones be able to be launched without any aircraft carriers ? like that can take off on sea, or by any other way ?

3) I would imagine them well in special operations where they would fly at very high altitude to not be shot during travel, and when close to destination come down.

4) Would it be good if they are very small ? like very small and fast , so that they can do little damage at precise spots to enemy aircrafts (critical areas), with more chances of not being shot down ?
You can make them any way you like...
The large ones need standard airfields, there are small ones you can launch off a mobile platform, and there are tiny ones that can be launched by hand. The latter two types are built to withstand landing in the field.
They don't have to lower their altitude near their destination, and as I said enemy aircraft are dealt with AA systems. You can mount some AA systems on pilotless aircrafts, but that's just one use. Sometimes their aim is to be destroyed, such as anti-anti-aircraft radar drones, that's another use.
 
  • #24
JPC
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But could tiny ones shoot down a a good pilot in a F18 ?
Could it be destroyed with todays war equipment ?
 
  • #25
Yonoz
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The tiny ones are meant for over-the-hill reconnaisance - they are meant to be deployed by ground units to collect intelligence on their nearby surroundings - for example, whether a certain zone is occupied - important for figuring out whether it is to be avoided or taken, or where an enemy's reserve force is deployed - important for successfuly directing a battle.
I should make this point about UAVs engaging other aircraft clear I suppose - currently, UAVs do not attack aircraft in a traditional sense. The scenario in which a pilot avoids being shot down by some sort of maneuvering, or engages in a close-quarters dogfight is also very limited. In this day and age planes are meant to be shot down from afar by missiles. In this sense a UAV can play a roll as a platform for an aerial radar which locates the enemy and directs the missile towards it, as a communication platform which increases the range of the aerial platform, and an electronics countermeasures platform that blinds the enemy aircraft or fools it into performing certain actions to its disadvantage.
 
  • #26
Andre
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Some decade ago I wrote a book about the possibilities and limitations of UAV's (Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle). It has never been published and that wasn't the intention as well but it was to convince the government not to rely on UAV's for replacement of the fighter fleet. And so it did.

Bottom line, the two singlemost important parts of an aircraft are: eyes (eyeball mark I) and brains. In the complex multiple high speed control loop (observe, orient, decide, act) can only be as perfect as it weakest part in the chain. Amputating "observe" and "orient" and bring it to a remote location is a bad move. Then the control loop relies on the limits of artificial sensors and the limits of transmitting in the electromagnetic spectrum with bandwidth congestion, jamming and what not. The control loop is further weakened by the loss of time due to the extra required information processing, and in a fight every nanosecond counts.

Of course you could try and avoid those problems and attempt to engineer an autonomous vehicle. But don't be surprised if it doesn't work. Ever seen a car race without drivers? Compare it with that.

Furthermore, there are rules of engagement issues. The most important being positive visual identification of the target. Rather problematic if there are no eyes around.

So the number of tasks for UAV's is rather limited. Certainly it's an excellent reconnaisance platform but even then it lacks the brains to react on changes in the environment, not observable for remote controllers.

Conclusion
Don't send a small boy to do a mans job.
 
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  • #27
Plastic Photon
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The US has the largest military in the world and the countries of Europe decades ago essentially decided that with the US's absolute supremacy in the oceans, there was no need for them to try to keep up - even if they could, which they probably couldn't.

Europe however does not include that islands across from France, where I believe they have a quite capable military. Especially the Royal navy which has access islands (chagos/oil ilsands) all over the world where US personel are stationed. Their naval prowess and history is well worth a mention.
 
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  • #28
Yonoz
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Some decade ago I wrote a book about the possibilities and limitations of UAV's (Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle). It has never been published and that wasn't the intention as well but it was to convince the government not to rely on UAV's for replacement of the fighter fleet. And so it did.

Bottom line, the two singlemost important parts of an aircraft are: eyes (eyeball mark I) and brains. In the complex multiple high speed control loop (observe, orient, decide, act) can only be as perfect as it weakest part in the chain. Amputating "observe" and "orient" and bring it to a remote location is a bad move. Then the control loop relies on the limits of artificial sensors and the limits of transmitting in the electromagnetic spectrum with bandwidth congestion, jamming and what not. The control loop is further weakened by the loss of time due to the extra required information processing, and in a fight every nanosecond counts.
I doubt any military will ever elect to rely completely on unmanned vehicles, and if one ever did it would not happen for quite some time - but that is not to say they will not augment and replace manned vehicles in a greater variety of roles. Just as the technological advancements brought about by the industrial revolution radically changed ground combat and brought about mechanised and aerial warfare, so can electronics and miniaturisation bring about a change in the extent on which we rely on manned vehicles.
Pilots already rely almost entirely on electronic systems to aim and guide over-the-horizon precision-guided munitions - http://www.textrondefense.com/products/airlaunched/sfw.htm" [Broken] don't even require them to aim (take a look at that B-52 captain's description in the video at the top right of the page). There aren't many weapons designed today that require line-of-sight to the target. In such an operational environment, there is limited advantage in having those eyeballs in the cockpit rather than on the ground/seas.
It's not only for aiming and guidance that pilots rely on their electronics - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F-16_Fighting_Falcon#Negative_static_stability". The physiological limits of the human body have become the most limiting factor in terms of fighter jets' performance.
The same technological improvements that enable human pilots to do more also make them an easier target. AA technology has improved much from the 60's, when it was already becoming a serious problem. AA weapons are smaller, cheaper, more mobile, quicker to deploy and easier to operate. A fleet of expendable drones can carry out missions that manned aircraft can only accomplish after a few (crucial) hours or days of chipping away at an enemy's AA array.

The context in which this topic was brought up is one good example of the way UAVs can revolutionise warfare. One day mammoth carriers will be as obsolete as cavalry, the only question is when?

Of course you could try and avoid those problems and attempt to engineer an autonomous vehicle. But don't be surprised if it doesn't work. Ever seen a car race without drivers? Compare it with that.

Furthermore, there are rules of engagement issues. The most important being positive visual identification of the target. Rather problematic if there are no eyes around.
As I noted, pilots are already engaging targets which they only see on a monitor - IMO there are some advantages to having them make certain decisions when they don't have other things on their mind. There isn't much difference between an autonomous drone and the above mentioned sensor-fuzed weapons (already used by the US in Iraq), though I doubt we'll see autonomously attacking weapons deployed much because of these issues. As for the comparison with cars - I would like to see cars built and designed with a tenth of the JSF programme's budget race, then it will be a fairer comparison.

So the number of tasks for UAV's is rather limited. Certainly it's an excellent reconnaisance platform but even then it lacks the brains to react on changes in the environment, not observable for remote controllers.
Aircraft were also once seen as an excellent reconnaisance platform that is inherently deficient to perform other roles. It's all a matter of technological advances, and that is a field where a modern militaries have a significant advantage.

Conclusion
Don't send a small boy to do a mans job.
Sounds like something a WWI general would say about landships, er - I mean tanks.
 
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  • #29
Andre
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Exactly the discussion we had. Every bit. Including the fallacy about WWI generals.

Again main point and is situational awareness. If you know exactly what is going on in the 360 degrees sphere around you, you and your fighter will live. No chance if you are not there. And remote operators have second hand, late, highly incomplete information, a fraction of the 360 sphere and in highly degraded resolution. How would you know from a few pixels on the screen if you are aiming on a friend? Sometimes there is no information at all when radio communication line of sight is lost, or frequencies are blocked. Well, in a total air-supremacy setting all those problems may be manageable but with enemies shooting back, you will never know what hit you, as has been experienced many times already in the recent conflicts. Doesn't matter cause cheap UAV's are expandable? But you still need your mission to be accomplished and loss rates may exceed expendability. So, you want to protect your UAV making it heavier and more expensive? Then you might as well have put a pilot in it in the first place. Mind that nowadays jets routinely outmaneuvre surface to air missiles -no big deal-while UAV operators will never see them coming in the first place.

Again, the electromagnetic spectrum can only take so much bandwith and basically there is none available for UAV datalink in the first place, you have no idea about the can of wurms here. Also better technology in the future us not going to compensate for the physical law limits imposed here. Apart from the ATC nightmare to manage unmanned air traffic, if it's more than a couple.

Don't expect the role of UAV's to expand much more from where it's now, limited numbers, limited role.
 
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  • #30
JPC
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Yes

and wanted to point out

A human pilot can do a a bigger diversity of thinking/actions

if you make a UAV, you will have to make IFS for every situation (IF this then that, ect) . And what if the enemy makes a new aircraft (secretly), and that the UAV does not have the required strategy to fight it. Are you going to wait for the Millitary complex to make a new OS for your UAVS ?

And worst, what if theres a bug/error in the UAV OS , and you only find out when your UAVs are already at combat !

So, i believe that unless if we can make machines that can think by themeselves like humans , we should continue evolving machinery as a tool for humans.
 
  • #31
Yonoz
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How much of what is going on in the 360 degrees around you is important for a given mission? Having the operator on the same location as the people with which the pilots in the cockpit currently converse remotely has its advantages. Vis a vis friendly fire incidents: remember that recording of the A-10 pilots who attacked a British convoy despite the big-*ss tactical identification sheets they used? You have so many different elements on the radio who report to the pilot something that is already on some electronic medium somewhere else - so much for high speed control loops. What if you took the pilot out of the cockpit and put them in front of that electronic medium, so they could see battle charts and intelligence data aggregated in real time?
Sure, an operator sitting in an airconditioned compartment is not as romantic an image as a Top Gun with a leather jacket - but war is never as romantic as it's made out to be.
As I said, targets have been, are being, and will be attacked by weapons operators and pilots with less than a few pixels on a monitor, regardless of UAVs.
As for expendability and such - safety in numbers: all you have to do is make sure you have more UAVs dedicated per mission than your enemy can shoot down, not so hard considering that it would be very difficult for an enemy to tell which of the many UAVs in the sky isn't a dummy - let them waste their ammunition on dummy UAVs made by the lowest bidder. Even if they do hit the real ones occassionaly, better those than manned aircraft. It's also much easier to make a "stealth" UAV than a manned "stealth" aircraft - most of them can already be considered "stealth" thanks to their inherent low signatures.
Nowadays jets outmaneuver surface-air missiles that were made in the fifties and sixties in an almost sterile environment. A well thought AA array is a serious obstacle to achieving military goals.

Regarding the communications bandwidth - there are technical solutions to that, unfortunately they're not for internet forums.

As to their limited role expanding - hopefully time won't tell.
 
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  • #32
mheslep
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And remote operators have second hand, late, highly incomplete information, a fraction of the 360 sphere and in highly degraded resolution.
That situation is changing, improving.
 
  • #33
Yonoz
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if you make a UAV, you will have to make IFS for every situation (IF this then that, ect) . And what if the enemy makes a new aircraft (secretly), and that the UAV does not have the required strategy to fight it. Are you going to wait for the Millitary complex to make a new OS for your UAVS ?
Countermeasures employed by manned aircraft also require programming and reprogramming, there's no difference between them and UAVs in that sense. It is not a matter of "strategy", nor tactics - simply electronics, planning and a bit of luck.
For the last time JPC, UAVs are not meant to shoot enemy planes down, that is done by missiles. If you get your enemy's jets to waste their time on your UAVs rather than perform ground support missions you're either:
1) facing an enemy that can't prioritise, in which case you'll probably outmaneuver them;
2) on the brink of defeat.

And worst, what if theres a bug/error in the UAV OS , and you only find out when your UAVs are already at combat !
Even in 21st century militaries there's no substitute for good old fashioned practice.

So, i believe that unless if we can make machines that can think by themeselves like humans , we should continue evolving machinery as a tool for humans.
Fortunately there's no other way to go about it at this point in time.
 
  • #34
Yonoz
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I think another clarification is in order: the very reason for having an air force in the first place is ground support. Everything else is a lead-up to that, and anyone who thought otherwise was proved wrong - see Kosovo and the latest Lebanon conflict.
 
  • #35
Andre
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you guys think too much in technical terms and fallacies. Leather jackets and top gun dont count. Have you been there? Have you done that? Only if you have, you could judge the difference in situational awareness between the real thing and the computer flight simulator game, even in full dome simulators. Believe me, it's huge. Yes whole 360 sphere is equally important, especially when manoevring, turning and banking, the horizon can be anywhere. "Rubber necking" is the name of the game.

And don't underestimate the pair concept, lead and wingmen covering each other for threats. About all incoming missiles have been spotted by the wingmen first. There is no way that UAV's can do that job.

About the battle charts, available in the cockpit nowadays. You can see all your wingmens radar air pictures as well as what the magic eye sends you. It's a kind of jet-internet. Just search the info and select that you want. Moreover, there is that ever smarter threat warning thing that tells about which radars are shining on you from which direction. But it's still the visual identification in the terminal phase of whatever engagement. Sure sometimes this goes wrong ending in fratricide. But any idea how many times this would go wrong without visual identification from UAV's? All of those problems may hint why pilot training is the most expensive in the world.

Another element about not develloping full capable UAV's is the general world situation. There is no more east-west cold war. There are no more high intensity treath scenarios in which it would be paramount not to risk pilots lives. And military budgets hold world records for diminishing rates. There are simply no more funds to devellop completely different concepts.
 

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