Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
For the out-of-band Slashdot experience (mostly headlines), follow us on Twitter, or Facebook. ×

Comment: Re:Idiotic Question! Answer: Price, Range, and .. (Score 1) 278 278

Depends on what you mean by cost.

If you're in the market for a new or newish car, an EV does not cost more then a similar gasoline-powered vehicle; and has much lower total costs of ownership because it's really easy to spend $1,000 a year on gasoline. But the vast majority of people in the EV price range (ie: willing to spend $20k-$25k on a sedan), don't even consider it. Most people who want a $50k sporty-type fun car don't consider Teslas. And they probably should, because the competition would cost thousands more a year in gasoline.

I strongly suspect that with gas prices consistently above $2.50, the total cost of ownership of an EV and cares that cost tens of thousands less is actually quite comparable.

Comment: Re:The reason is more simple (Score 1) 278 278

Which sucks but it's true. The worst bit is that the long-term cost of ownership of an EV is probably lower then a much cheaper gasoline vehicle, because the $1,500 gasoline car you buy is probably hellishly expensive to keep roadworthy, with shitty gas mileage (and subsequent $10-15k a year fuel costs), and forces you to burn your personal days at work quite regularly when said roadworthiness issues crop up. My $5k '99 Taurus was great from roughly '05 until '11, but at that point it refused to start and took hundreds from the ghetto mechanic and pull-apart to get back working, and then three months later it refuse to start again. So I switched to the bus. My social life sucks, but my bank account has a comma in it.

It reminds me of a Terry Pratchett quote:[quote]“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”[/quote]

Comment: Re:The reason is more simple (Score 1) 278 278

You must live in New York City and take the train everywhere.

$20 a week works out to $1,040 a year, and 10 years of that makes up the $10k price difference. Assuming gas is $2.50 a gallon, that's 8 gallons a week. At 25 MPG that's 200 miles a week. A 20-minute drive to and from work eats up all of that budget.

So most people who could actually use a 4-door car would save money in the long-run if they had $20k in cash to pay for an electric vehicle. The only time a gas model is cheaper in the long term is if a) your commute is long enough that the battery range on a low-end electric is insufficient, or b) you actually need a pickup/mini-van.etc.

Comment: Re:France (Score 5, Insightful) 125 125

Why would you assume that they're succumbing to US Pressure?

This is fucking France, which spent most of the Cold War technically out of NATO, and didn't come back until it was safe in '09. They actively supported Rwanda's genocidal government because they thought the English-speaking rebels were lying about the genocide, to the point of sending troops to try to protect the fleeing government troops. Their response to PRISM was to condemn it as 'espionage' the very fucking day their biggest paper announced they'd been doing the same damn thing to their citizens for years.

They support Assange and Snowden in public, solely because idiots like you will mistakenly assume this means they actually support Assange and Snowden. In private they will do their best to get those guys fucked over, because if those guys are fucked over they can't do interesting things like tell Le Monde about the DGSE. Which is why, despite their PR as privacy advocates, neither guy has actually asked for Asylum. It's not a surprise they were one of the countries that got Morales' plane stopped, and that of the four involved they were the only one that had clout with the other three (Portugal, Spain and Italy were all in the midst of EU-recovery programs at the time, and guess whose the most important economy in the Euro not named Germany?).

So they have a long history of fucking privacy activists over, and then letting the US take the blame.

Comment: Re:Rather odd timing... (Score 1) 125 125

I doubt they'd kill him. They don't play that rough.

But if he pisses them off then it will be very difficult for any EU state to accept him. And their public statements on him are always bound to be much more pro-Assange then their actual actions.

The French state is more secretive, and more info-hungry, then the US; because it's a good deal more Machiavellian then any comparable advanced Democracy, including the US. It supports guys like him because they piss off the US, which allows France to keep playing it's historic anti-Anglo-dominence role.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 814 814

Except of course it would be mighty hard to get export orders for aircraft that old, and half the military point of the program is to lock countries like Canada into a long-term alliance with the US Military. When you're the Hegemon everything you do has to suit both short-term tactical needs as well as long-term Strategic and Grand Strategic needs.

Moreover, historically one of the strengths of the US Air Force was that (at least prior to the 70s) it would have multiple types in each role, which encouraged competition and somewhat turkey-proofed the force. So adding an A-13 modernized Warthog, and F-36 new Lightweight Interceptor would be very useful.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 814 814

The Chinese are always interesting. Always looking for a shortcut that just happens to put the rest of the world into a "fuck you China" mood.

In this case they probably could have developed a fighter 80% as good as the F-35 on their own, and then built twice as many of them, but no. They just built a worse F-35, which will be harder to export (the Chinese knock-off is only a prestige purchase if nobody knows you bought the Chinese knock-off), and will hit that 80% number if they're lucky.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 814 814

In real world combat situations the F-16 dies before it detects the F-35. That's what stealth technology is. Now if you're a western-style democracy, with a good education system, and en extremely expensive air defense network, your ground stations can probably tell the F-16 where the F-35 is. But they can't give it a missile lock, so all that means is that they're pointed towards the enemy when the missiles start heading their way. Which is why the Air Force would use a combination of B-2s and F-22s to take out your air defense RADARs and missile batteries (ground RADAR can give those a missile lock) before sending the F-35s in.

And it doesn't matter how many Predators you have. F-35 flies at 60k feet, they can only go up to 25k. 2,000 F-35s at 50k feet are just fine, and immune to drone attacks, but they can drop 8,000 bombs on your drone base per sorty. Which means the question isn't whether the two types ever meet in combat, it's whether the air-defenses of a base capable of supporting 2,000 F-35s can hold out against 400k slow, low service ceiling, etc. drones better then the base for 400k drones can hold out against 2,000 F-35s. And the 2,000 F-35 base has a major logistical advantage, and can also actually use older low-tech weapons such as machine guns and WW-2-era RADAR effectively.

Almost none of aerial warfare since the Battle of Britain has turned on which side had better planes. It's all been about protecting your ground-based facilities.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 814 814

As I said before, software issues like this are trivial for a country the size of the US to solve.

As for the swarm, trouble is that would either need great AI or hundreds of thousands of pilots. And decent pilots cost the USAF more then $1 million in training before they even show up at their first squadron assignment.

Since combat aircraft are hellishly expensive (it's very difficult to find one new-built for under $15 million, and aircraft period for under $100k are virtually impossible to find), and you'd need something like 10-1 to actually get close enough to a Mach 1.6 stealth fighter to use your numbers, the swarm strategy would probably cost more in the short term then buying F-35s. In the long-term, with AI, and the proper economies of scale, you might be able to make it work, but you might also turn into the guy who thought that invading Iraq with 100k guys would be a cinch because this new technique of maneuver warfare made the old standards obsolete.

And of course the biggest problem is that you have to have all-weather, day-night, drones that can operate to 16 clicks, with miraculous RADAR either on the ground or incorporated within the drone itself, because a 10,000 drone strategy requires a 10,000 drone airbase; and if the B-2 Spirit can fly in on a rainy night at 15.1 clicks and blow everything up while it's still on the ground if you a) don;t have a welcoming committee in the air to wait for it and b) don't have the RADAR to find the damn B-2s BEFORE they level your precious airbase.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 814 814

In an ideal world they'd probably be building a new version of the A-10. Something has to have advanced in the field of aircraft design since my Mom's 21st birthday. The F-16, AC-130, were also all designed well before Mom hit the big-21.

But in the real world we've got a ridiculously complicated system of government, specifically designed so that nobody is actually Responsible for the entire result, lest one Evil Man corrupt the process, and the (in hindsight predictable) result is that everyone milks his tiny little section of the system for all it;s worth and nobody can strop him.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 814 814

The poor Russians. The Chinese are now building new Sukhoi's without a license, they don't have the economic clout to stop selling them the latest version of the Sukhoi, and they can't afford to replace it with a Fifth-Gen. Couldn't have happened to a nicer country.

I have no idea how their control of our plans will help the Chinese. I suspect they'll know what we're doing, and may have a plane that looks like ours, but won't be able to make it work as well (they know where to put that part, but don't know why to put that part), which means we still have an advantage.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 814 814

Citation? The definition of a dogfight -- a gun and visual range battle of maneuver at close range.

Watch an air show. The number one best thing to have in a dogfight is maneuverability. Biplanes are incredibly maneuverable because they weigh next to nothing, don't go fast, and have two wings worth of flaps moving air around. F-16s are 0 for 3. And at close range a battle of maneuver always goes to the guy who can out-turn.

The reason F-16s are better in real-life combat (as opposed to ridiculous scenarios that don't mean shit in real life, like dogfighting ability) is they can end the dogfight by running away at Mach fucking 2, and then re-engage until they get the proper angle to kill the Gladiator before he realizes he should be fucking turning, which counts as going like 1 kill, 97 times running like a little bitch, but surviving until the end of the day.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 814 814

The hardware can't.

But it should be relatively trivial to figure out which vector the Chinese software is using to tell the plane to shut down and turn that off somewhere. Then you flash the ROMs with software with that vector turned off, and you've got a fighting unit. It's not necessarily at 100% (the attack vector was probably useful militarily, after all), but it's fighting and 1500-2000 fifth Gen fighters are more then the Chinese can handle. They're still flying 400-500 J-7s, which are a variant of the Mig-21s that gave us so much trouble in Vietnam.

Given the nature of software, and the number of minds thrown at something like this, it's actually pretty likely our plane would be at 100% within a few days of the hack being discovered.

The long-term problem a hack like this causes is that their pilots would have fairly intimate familiarity with how our planes work, as would their weapons designers, not that turning them off via software will win the damn war.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 814 814

a) None of those are stealth.

The F-22 is (in fact it has better stealth than the JSF) and so is the B-2 (also has better stealth than the JSF, but you called it out in your other reply so we'll let that one slide).

The others don't need stealth to fulfill their respective roles.

Dangit, missed two of them, not one.

"Need to fulfill a role" is heavily dependent on the role. With F-35 as ground attack craft you can send the ground attack craft in before the B-2s and F-22s are quite finished turning the local air defense system into mincemeat. OTOH, it probably can't take A-10-style low-level missions even after the local air defense is gone because it's more vulnerable to gunfire and it goes too fast.

So the Air Force probably will simply redefine the roles so that A-10s are obsolete and F-35 is the only possible answer.

c) They're all old designs that don't look good on a budget request.

Depends on what you mean by "doesn't look good on a budget request". As a taxpayer, they sure as Hell look good to me. They're much cheaper than JSFs and each is much more capable at the specific job it's intended to do. Those "old designs" have all the bugs worked out of them and are reliable as can be. And when one does break down, it costs peanuts to repair or replace it. If the folks in charge of the budget don't think that looks good, we need to fire them immediately.

And who in DC have the taxpayers elected who actually wants to keep government efficient?

The Republicans (and their allies in the Conservative movement) talk a good game, but when it comes to military spending literally the only time they've willingly cut it is that time they realized a useless artillery system was being designed in a black guy's district.

The Democrats hate military spending in theory because it crowds out their social spending priorities, but love it in practice because Boeing/Lockheed/etc. are smart enough to throw a certain amount of the work the union's way.

Which means if I'm a USAF Two-Star, and I want to make Lieutenant General, my proposed budget includes $0 for older aircraft that cost very little money, and as much as I can get away with in a brand-new type.

d) Particularly a $1 Trillion request.

We could buy so many of those things for $1 Trillion that we wouldn't have pilots to fly them all. So we'd buy a few less than that and train enough pilots to fly them. The result would be a force so large that we could run dozens of simultaneous sorties 24/7/365 and overwhelm anyone anywhere with omnipresent force.

That's one potential strategy. But lots of pilots means lots of potential casualties, and this is no longer the country that lost 26k at the Muese River in WWI. The whole US Military has been going towards relatively few, very well-trained, very low-casualty operations since 'Nam. And even 'Nam (for all the Baby Boomers bitching about it) was extremely low casualty compared to the Bulge, Okinawa or the Overland Campaign. Call the modern model the warrior-monk model.

Congress loves spending lots of money per warrior-monk, but really really really hates it when any of them dies because the American people do not fucking know how to deal with the death of anyone under 65.

Thus we'll get thousands of warrior-monks piloting ridiculously expensive F-35s, rather then 10-15k piloting much cheaper (and in some ways, that do not cost lots of money, superior) older airframes.

So we'll have a very expensive plane that does nothing particularly well, but we'll have a lot of them, and against almost any opponent we're likely to face it will be literally invincible because getting through stealth (even the Gen 1 Stealth of the F-117) is a lot harder then it looks in a Navy white paper.

Actually, getting through stealth isn't that bad when using low-frequency ground based radar. Getting through it in the air is a challenge. That's why the advanced stealth of the F-22 and the B-2 are a much better fit for early combat: they'll have vastly better survivability than the JSF. For later in the campaign - when the enemy no longer has effective anti-air defenses - there's no reason to fly significant amounts of costly aircraft sorties. At that point, you want to fly legions of cheap, effective aircraft in and pin down the enemy so they can't so much as glance out from under the rocks they're hiding under without JDAMs raining down on them from all directions.

Which is technically true, if your military has the base level of competence of a Western military, and the equipment of the super-expensive warrior-monks in US Service.

In practice it took 15 years of F-117 flying before anybody we actually fought managed to take one of the damn things down. It's the only combat loss of the type, and it was remarkable enough that the Serb Colonel who pulled off the kill has his own wikipedia page.

So I suspect that F-35 will get used in lots of situations where the local air defense system isn't quite dead yet without losing dozens of aircraft. There will be a lot of them, beating their stealth requires some very specialized knowledge that isn;lt common, and advanced equipment which is also not common, all from an Air Defense system that is under attack by B-2s and F-22s.

Experiments must be reproducible; they should all fail in the same way.