Apparently China has painted up a portion of their Flanker fleet in a desert camouflage which looks similar to the recent Moroccan F-16 scheme. The shot was posted over at Alert5 and looks to be originally from




















Although the use of Sidewinders as air to ground weapons is not totally new, as tests were executed on doing so in the 1970s on the China Lake weapons ranges, German techo-arms gurus Diehl Defense has come up with frankly a brilliant idea to convert surplus AIM-9L/M Sidewinders into air to ground precision strike weapons.

The concept is relatively simple, replace the AIM-9L/M’s now dated infra-red seeker with a semi-active laser seeker. Geared toward targets where maximum precision and low collateral damage are key, such as moving vehicles or personnel in an urban area, the “laser Sidewinder” is a quick, relatively inexpensive, and low risk option for a high-demand requirement. Basically this thing is like a mix between a laser guided rocket on steroids and a laser guided Maverick air to ground missile. Because it will use the AIM-9’s motor, it will offer significant standoff range for firing aircraft, and will be able to arrive on target very quickly. Further, it will be a great way to adapt obsolete and already paid for stocks of “legacy” Sidewinders, into effective and urgently required weaponry for the continuing War On Terror.

One of the most exciting facets of the Laser Sidewinder concept is that this weapon could allow for more flexible weapons carriage configurations for tactical aircraft currently in the fight over the embattled provinces of Afghanistan. Instead of an F-16 launching with between two and four laser guided bombs, weighing between 500lbs and 1000lbs each, that same jet can add a pair or even a quartet of air to ground Sidewinders on its efficient outboard stations which traditionally only accommodate air to air weaponry. The same could be said for Hornet, Harriers, Cobra attack helicopters and dare I say even the F-15C could one day be brought into the air to ground fight with such weaponry if their soon to arrive SNIPER targeting pods are a hit and evolve from their stated role of long-range target identification.

The DoD has recently tested the AIM-9X against moving ground and surface targets, although the AIM-9X is an expensive missile and it is not clear exactly what modifications the shooting aircraft would need to employ such a weapon reliably. The “Laser Sidewinder” is so attractive because it utilizes obsolete and surplus weapons stocks and it uses a standard targeting pod for target designation and cuing. I need to do some research on exactly how many “legacy” Sidewinders the US still has in inventory, but with the AIM-9X Block II coming online in the near future and the AIM-9X Block I highly fielded, I would imagine that number is not small. If this is the case the US should embrace this innovative “recycled” capability in full as laser guided rockets are fantastic but they cannot be mounted on an F-16 or F/A-18s wingtip rails.


I am sure Lockheed says it is going to get worse before it gets a lot better but just how long have we been hearing that? Imagine putting a deposit down for a car and going to pick it up and the dealer says you owe them an extra 50% for that same car? You would laugh and tell them you are calling your lawyer right? Well bait and switch is a subjective thing in the halls of the Pentagon and Congress I guess…


I have followed this story and delivered commentary on it every single step of the way, and I have to say that this whole debacle is just getting sad. Sure Taiwan will get upgraded geriatric F-16s, but the fact that we will not sell our ally, who lives right on the doorstep of a hostile non-democratic nation with thousands of tactical fighters and missiles, is just embarrassing and totally wrong.

In some ways I think the Obama Administration has done well when it comes to foreign policy, but when it comes to our Taiwanese friends and their wish to be able to defend themselves against an ever-stronger China via the purchase of military technology we have even exported to Pakistan, I think the administration’s actions are just shameful. In fact I think we should actively promote the export of the F-35B to Taiwan, as it is a perfect aircraft for their needs and a fantastic counterbalance and containment weapon against China’s growing military and geo-political ambitions in the region. Otherwise, the Obama Administration should just come out and say that the withholding of late model F-16s from Taiwan is to appease China, or if it’s for some other reason that is reasonable let’s hear it. If the reason continues to be to “maintain military balance in the region,” or some other laughable idea that is totally unsupported by metrics, that simply will not do, especially when our ally’s ability to defend themselves and our F-16 production line is on the line.

You can read more about this story and my ongoing commentary pertaining to it by simply searching “Taiwan” in the search box at the upper right hand of this page and reading though past articles.


This may be one of the most incredible series of photos I have ever seen from the front lines of an active conflict. One second a free Syrian checkpoint is there, as well as four rebel fighters. The next second hot shrapnel and thick smoke cause it and three of the four men to be vaporized. War is a nasty and unglamorous thing, and this series just proves how destructive a single mortar or tank shell can be. A MUST VIEW POST.


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3 Responses to NEWS ROUNDUP!: SEPTEMBER 10th, 2012

  1. Woody says:

    The pictures from Syria are fake, photoshopped images. There does not exist today ANY camera with a shutter speed fast enough to freeze an HE round exploding, let alone 3 consecutive pictures.

    • says:

      You are wrong Woody. A camera shooting 10 frames per second with a 1/2000th of a second shutter should be able to capture this. Almost every major news outlet has picked this up. Legit.

  2. Marauder says:

    The F-35B is the best fit for Taiwan’s defense needs but I can’t see them being allowed to acquire it for one major reason: PRC espionage. Taiwan really needs mobile SAMs (MEADS perhaps) and cruise missile firing diesel electric subs more than tactical fighters.

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