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Report on Navy Laser, Railgun and Gun-Launched Guided Projectiles

The following is the Oct. 23, 2018 Congressional Research Service report, Navy Lasers, Railgun, and Gun-Launched Guided Projectile: Background and Issues for
Congress.

The Navy is developing three new ship-based weapons that could improve the ability of Navy surface ships to defend themselves against missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and surface craft: the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System (SNLWS), the electromagnetic railgun (EMRG), and the gun-launched guided projectile (GLGP), previously known as the hypervelocity projectile (HVP).

The Navy refers to the initial (i.e., Increment 1) version of SNLWS as HELIOS, an acronym meaning high-energy laser with integrated optical dazzler and surveillance. EMRG could additionally provide the Navy with a new naval surface fire support (NSFS) weapon for attacking land targets in support of Marines or other friendly ground forces ashore. The Department of Defense is exploring the potential for using GLGP across multiple U.S. military services.

Any one of these three new weapons, if successfully developed and deployed, might be regarded as a “game changer” for defending Navy surface ships against enemy missiles and UAVs. If two or three of them are successfully developed and deployed, the result might be considered not just a game changer, but a revolution. Rarely has the Navy had so many potential new types of surface-ship air-defense weapons simultaneously available for development and potential deployment.

Although the Navy in recent years has made considerable progress in developing technologies for these new weapons, a number of significant development challenges remain. Overcoming these challenges will require additional development work, and ultimate success in overcoming them is not guaranteed.

The issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s funding requests and proposed acquisition strategies for these three potential new weapons. Potential oversight questions for Congress include the following:

  • Using currently available air-defense weapons, how well could Navy surface ships defend themselves in a combat scenario against an adversary such as China that has or could have large numbers of missiles and UAVs? How would this situation change if Navy surface ships in coming years were equipped with SNLWS, EMRG, GLGP, or some combination of these systems?
  • How significant are the remaining development challenges for SNLWS, EMRG, and GLGP? Are current schedules for developing SNLWS, EMRG, and GLGP appropriate in relation to remaining development challenges and projected improvements in enemy missiles and UAVs?
  • When does the Navy anticipate issuing roadmaps detailing its plans for procuring and installing production versions of SNLWS, EMRG, and GLGP on specific Navy ships by specific dates?
  • Will the kinds of surface ships that the Navy plans to procure in coming years have sufficient space, weight, electrical power, and cooling capability to take full advantage of SNLWS and EMRG? What changes, if any, would need to be made in Navy plans for procuring large surface combatants (i.e., destroyers and cruisers) or other Navy ships to take full advantage of SNLWS and EMRGs?
  • Given the Navy’s interest in HPV, how committed is the Navy to completing the development of EMRG and eventually deploying EMRGs on Navy ships?
  • Are the funding line items for SNLWS, EMRG, and GLDP sufficiently visible for supporting congressional oversight?

  • Matthew Schilling

    It seems there is a real danger of lots of hype surrounding hyper velocity shells. Firing a dumb, blind dart that lacks any explosive material would seem to be too prone to being fruitless, no matter how fast it initially flies. The farther it flies, the less energy it retains at arrival. And, if it does arrive still packing a punch, isn’t it likely to pass through a target while doing a minimum amount of damage? Worse, without terminal guidance, isn’t it likely to merely make a neat hole near the intended target? Aren’t bullets designed to break up in the body much more damaging than a bullet that passes straight through? The more momentum imparted to the target (and dissipated within the target), the more damaging the blow. The more momentum carried on through the target, the less damaging the blow.

    • Firing a dumb, blind, dart that lacks any explosive material would indeed be fruitless – which is why the Navy isn’t doing that. The HVP (now GLGP) is a guided shell with an explosive warhead.

      • vetww2

        Is it a shaped charge?

    • James

      I don’t think it would be fruitless. Each hole that gets punched is likely to take out something critical: a weapon, a radio or antenna, an engine, a kitchen, some crewmen. Plus, even a fruitless impact is fruitful in that it will change the enemy’s priority from offense to defense/evasion.

      • vetww2

        please see my comment above on the Sheffield incident,

        • James

          I don’t see it.

    • Ed L

      Kinetic energy physical science high school

    • vetww2

      It reminds me of the H.M.S.Sheffield incident. The missile went clear through the ship, and out rhe other side. IF it had not gone through the kitchen and the motor plume had not ignited a 50 gollon drum of cooking oil, there would have been little damage.

    • vetww2

      Right, on all counts. If you would like more data, I posted a Brief analysis on the “hypersonic” article

    • vetww2

      They are called hollow nose Dum-Dums

  • Curtis Conway

    The SNLWS, EMRG, GLGP weapons will increase lethality and effectiveness, and that effectiveness will further increase with each improvement of that weapon system. Of the three the SNLWS should be the highest priority for it will provide an instantaneous solution to most problems predominantly close in. Depending on implementation it will/can assist the other two in their effectiveness at great ranges because the two will not interfere with each other, but that interference becomes more of a problem as the target gets closer to the ship based upon proximity of the base weapons system. Depending on how the SNLWS is employed on ships (multiple vs single weapon), multiple could be employed against a single target, or distribute engagements as necessary about the ship. At least one (if not all) SNLWS aboard ship should be able to shoot straight up, and perhaps a bit more over the vertical axis of engagement.

    A Double-Ender (gun on both ends) should have opposing EMRG & GLGP aboard ship. If the EMRG is aft, and SNLWS are forward there will be less interference for close aboard engagements increasing their effectiveness when used together. The SNLWS will be focused upon up-Doppler targets so there should not be too much problem with coordinated engagements.

    The SWaP-C (space, weight, electrical power, and cooling) must be robust and redundant. Power availability to the capacitor banks for the SNLWS and EMRG will be everything, and they should be in a constant state of ‘charge’ until any of the weapons are fired. Hybrid electric drive ships can provide additional sources for power when driven by the Gas Turbine Prime Movers. Heat dissipation is going to be the primary problem, particularly during extended engagements in temperate zones of the planet. The Arctic/Antarctic will not be a problem. The generation, distribution, storage and control of electrical power, and its continued improvements in capacity and fidelity will be key for these two weapons systems.

    The HVP & GLGP developments will overlap in many areas, and those areas will have great potential to be facilitating, enabling, and enhancing technologies for the other.

    • Ed L

      I am thinking of a gator frigate or destroyer with a Rail gun and GLGP. An a Carrier or Cruiser with rail guns and Direct energy weapon

      • Curtis Conway

        My ideal would be the new Small Surface Combatant FFG(X) with multiple SNLWS, Mk41 VLS with a lot of ESSM perhaps an SM-2/6 & ASROC, and a greater emphasis on the Passive sensors feeding the combat system, all supported by an Integrated Power Distribution System.

        • Kypros

          Multiple SNLWS? How many?

          • Secundius

            Why should that matter? At ~299,792,458m/s, how far is an Enemy Swarm Boat, Attack Aircraft, Missile and/or Rocket likely to travel! A couple of Molecules in length…

          • Kypros

            Just curious as to the number envisioned

          • Secundius

            Testing is still ongoing through at least 2019, and production of two more AN/SEQ-3 LaWS is slated around 2020 as a small production run (i.e. Build as you go). Beyond that is anyone’s guess…

    • vetww2

      Curtis, i enjoy your astute comments, but, in this case you are, somewhat overlooking technical reality. Please see my comments below and respond.

      • Curtis Conway

        Number 5 & 6 in your comments below are germane. In no way will development of the barreled HVPs impede development of a launcher type platform. In fact some of the core elements may very well be utilized on both. Same argument for hi-G capable guidance and control mechanisms.

        We are a long ways from fielding anything near a real working laser weapon of consequence. However, there are numerous point defense tools available today that utilize that technology that would benefit most any surface combatant platform it were on, if the platform could provide the power to recharge the energy storage device whatever that device is. I look forward to the 1.000 kilowatt units that will probably be too large to go on anything save a cruiser in the future. I am assuming you are responsible for pulling my long answer to Kypros question of ‘How Many’.

        The unique quality of the SNLWS is that it is the HIGHEST fidelity Passive EO device you have. My Passive tracking system would act like Aegis mostly in tracking with a 360⁰ below horizon to zenith detection and tracking system, with individual MX-15/20 units (about six) that would track the closest (highest priority) targets and they would provide fire control / guidance / illumination (going active with laser illumination for targeting) of any or all targets being tracked. The HIGHEST priority targets (probably the closest) would be tracked by the SNLWS with its greatest fidelity for scrutiny of the target. If you (TAO/CO/Flag) see something they don’t like and so order, the red cover flips off the ‘Arm’ switch and the operator pulls the trigger, holding it until the desired eventuality happens, or something else impacts the target while it warms up. All of this would for the most part be a Passive engagement sequence. In daylight this is kinda silly, but after dark or in bad weather, this would make a lot of sense. Once engagements begin we all go Active anyway. Glad you enjoy the Old Test Directors rants.

        More on #6 . . . lasers are NOT the only thing we can engage targets with, and have a negative impact (perhaps debilitating effect) on targets, and some of that research goes all the way back to WWII (dubya dubya Twice).

        • vetww2

          If you had a post pulled, I guarantee that I had nothing to do with it. I’m an old, R&D guy, so I greatly appreciate (and assimilate) what I learn from the operational (not the oper-irrational) types.

          Capt.(Dr.) Skolnik(USN rtd), had the Directed Energy program, for years. was my source on the program. My antipathy toward the EMRG program is it’s waste of scarce R&D resources.
          If you would like details of the ELECTRO-THERMO-CHEMICAL (ETC) program, which we proved and recomended, just ask.

          • Curtis Conway

            Those ‘operational (not the oper-irrational) types’ seem to be growing like rabbits on some of these comment strings, and some represent themselves as having significant and meaningful experience, then display that they do not even grasp the fundamentals . . . with their comments. I would like to see a little more on the electro-thermo-chemical capability. I’m not sure we should be putting that on a ship anymore than we should have been trying to put it on an aircraft.

          • vetww2

            The ETC concept is, basically, applying a large Watt load of energy to a chemical compound, to produce a plasma (easier said than done). With the help of DOE we did just that. at Dahlgren in 1980, led by Ms. Mary Lacey, a crackerjack engineer. A brief summary of our efforts:

            1. We used a 5″54 barrel with a modified breech, and water, yes water, to produce a propellant charge that resulted in the same muzzle energy as the usual propellent.
            2. We made a similar design, using a repeating mechanism in a 20MM gun and fired 5 rounds in 10 seconds.
            3 We concluded:
            ,,, A. Current barrels aboard ships were probably usable.
            … B. Current available power on a DDG-51 was sufficient (with
            capacitor loading) to produce a 5″54 that could fire ~5
            rounds per minute.
            …C, High rate 20 to 37 MM guns were feasible.
            …D. Current barrels were sufficient, if chrome plated to resist
            the higher temperatures generated.
            …E. It would take 5 to 8 years to achieve.

          • Curtis Conway

            There is more going on than meets the eye. The ‘Powers That Be’ who have been making decisions about our nation’s defense based upon THEIR VISION of the globe . . . have finally been caught up with, and some of those really bad decisions of the past are more fully understood with 20/20 hindsight, right down to the LCS concept. Some of these people are running scared. They deliberately decided NOT to build an Aegis Frigate some 30 years ago as they decided to park the FFG-7s, and build something much less capable, thinking the kinder and gentler world out there would easily be controlled. ‘Anything but’ has transpired, and with China and Russia pursuing their stated fleet goals, particularly w/r/t submarines, has finally shown the fallacy of their force plan. Building up the Amphibious forces and the MAGTF is good particularly with Expeditionary Basing & Logistical Support, but Surface Combat Fleet growth is wanting, and CVN construction is going to break the bank as the CVN force grows (which is the plan), and that is IF they get all the problems fixed within Spec. Time to entertain a hi-lo mix in a carrier force (V/STOVL AEW&C needed). It’s also time to consider using the US Coast Guard more widely with their very efficient operational model, and respect afforded them around the globe with their 80+ Bilateral Agreements in the other nation’s home waters. For a fraction of the USN operational cost estimate the US Coast Guard can provide the same Presence (Show-the-Flag) mission, and probably spread MORE goodwill than the USN . . . using USCG NSCs and OPCs.

          • vetww2

            WELL SAID (if a bit wordy).You must be a great typist. It would take me an hour (with many midtakes) to crank out a missive of your average size. I gotta get a Talk to Type machine,

          • Curtis Conway

            So . . . research dollars are needed in High Energy Plasma and Grand Unified Theory (GUT). Photon Torpedos here we come. I wonder if spiral (whirlpool) research using that classic progressive angle have something to do with orbiting electrons changing energy states while transiting three dimensions? Discovering the order and changes in that order w/r/t power additions would be interesting . . . just me spitballing.

          • Secundius

            Actually “Cellhelmet” (i.e. Liquid Glass) compound will do the same! A projectile with a “Liquid Glass” warhead will turn into to Plasma Energy upon impact with an object. Plasma can reach temperatures exceeding 10,000C. Not that farfetched as a concept…

          • Curtis Conway

            That is kinda what happens when you shoot a APFSDS at a tank with the DU rounds. We can use that technology on all kinds of ammo (Mk15 CIWS?). Not a lot in the press, or discussions about that these days.

          • Secundius

            As I recall, the Tank version “Silver Dart” uses “Copper” not “Liquid Glass”. Probably wouldn’t work for the “R2D2” Mk.15, because of the relatively low muzzle velocity of ~1,050m/s. Where the M829 Silver Bullet is 1.5 times faster…

          • Curtis Conway

            I have held the sub-caliber DU round from the R2D2 in my hand. It is very dense, and surrounded by a sabot as they come out the barrel. Those little buggers will penetrate anything, including the nosecone of a Soviet warhead.

          • Curtis Conway

            The DU rod is a DU rod. The HESH rounds may use other exotic chemicals though.

          • Secundius

            I can’t believe it! USNI redacted my comment, before I even posted it…

          • vetww2

            Welcome to the club. The problem is understandable. Reporter types have an natural aversion to technical complexities that they don;t understand. Utilizing BASIC CONCEPT #4 of Beaurocracy, ” If you say NO you need not worry about being wrong, they redact contriversial items (see FBI relesed memos).

          • Secundius

            I joined the “Club” in 2010, and was rewarded by my First “Redactment” before July of that year. My Redactment to date exceed 400 with “USNI News” alone…

          • Secundius

            Heaviest Projectile used on the Mk.15 “R2D2” is a ~1,955-grain Solid Tungsten Sabot. Bullet is so heavy that it’s Flat Trajectory Range is limited to ~1,490-meters at ~3,650-ft/sec. Though it is capable of Spraying Air out to ~5,500-meters at ~+45*, with virtually no accuracy…

          • vetww2

            He may have been thinking of thc copper shape holder in an HVAP, shaped charge round. it became the plasma penetrator of the round. But, I am very out of date on penetrator technology. By the way are we still using depleted Uranium?

          • Curtis Conway

            I’m sure they are still in the inventory. IMHO perhaps some advanced modifications can be made to the ammunition, but it should go back in production in all calibers particularly 120mm, 105mm, 30mm, 25mm, 20mm, and we should add the 40mm round is that turret goes on more armored platforms. If a hypersonic rocket ever comes out we should make a armored penetrator warhead for that too.

          • vetww2

            STORY: When I was sent to Alaska, as a stick holder for a surveyor, we were tasked with locating sites for radio stations on the mainland and out the Aleutians. The way we marked the NE and SW corners of the buildings was with an improvised 2# shaped charge made out of C4 and cut a 43 degree cone (made with a funnel, and a #2 squib to fire it. The resulting ~1″ dia.” hole was abut 6 feet deep in the volcanic rock, into which we dropped a length of 3/4 ” Rebar with a flag on top for the building crew. i made about a hundred of them. I guess, technically, they were IEDs.

        • vetww2

          I think they pulled my post that you commented on. The superficial explanation of ETC is printed below.

  • Ted

    “…developing technologies for these new weapons, a number of significant development challenges remain. Overcoming these challenges will require additional development work, and ultimate success in overcoming them is not guaranteed.”

    Yep, no change the last three decades, except billions of dollars wasted each year. Articles at G2mil explain why this will remain the same in 2050.

  • Randy Bentley

    The Zumwalt class has the potential to get in close to a target but lacks a truly effective punch to score a one-hit kill without revealing itself. With a railgun, it could do so at a greater distance from its target whilst using a weapon that would barely show up on any but the best of sensors.

    • Dilandu Albato

      Er, no, The railgun is a non-stealth-friendly weapon. Railgun shells travel along high ballistic trajectory, so the enemy radars detecting incoming shells would easily compute their launch point and pinpoint your ship.

      Anti-ship missile are much better for stealth attacks, because they could be programmed to fly a complex pattern, so the enemy would not be able to deduce their launch point.

      • vetww2

        Aha, someone with a grasp of the REAL problem.

      • Marauder 2048

        Weapons Locating Radars typically need to see the shell during a portion of its ascent phase and struggle to cope with velocities exceeding 1.5 km/s. At a 200 nautical mile range against a moving target these radars are going to be severely challenged to compute a useful target location.

        • vetww2

          100 foot of tracking is enough for a computer to define the ballistic parabola, including the source point and the target point, in about 10 seconds, or, less.

          • Marauder 2048

            It would be strictly end-of-trajectory tracking which puts you at the mercy of meteorological data.

        • Duane

          Yup

      • Secundius

        I would think that any Projectile the size of a Rail Gun projectile skimming through the atmosphere at ~1,500m/s is going to be perceived as a Meteorite. If the Radar picks it up at all. At that speed it’s most likely to Ionize the air surround the projectile. Making it damn near impossible to detect…

        • vetww2

          No, it would travel in a parabolic ballistic path. GOING UP, not down, whreas meteors (they become meteorites if they land) travel in an almost straight line DOWN..

          • Secundius

            Depends at what point you’re tracking it from? At the Parabolic Phase of the trajectory or the Terminal Phase of the trajectory. If the Latter, any action against the Attacker would be a Shot In the Dark, IF you’re actually tracking a Projectile and not a Meteorite…

          • vetww2

            No, unless there is a computed correction or a “Full House” missile aboard, .

          • Secundius

            In other words “A Shot In the Dark”! In WWII, it took ~800 “Katyusha” Rockets to do what 6 152mm Howitzers to do…

          • vetww2

            Damage, yes. Effect, Not nearly.

          • Dilandu Albato

            One problem: “Katuysha” rockets could do it in a fraction of time that six-inch howitzers would require. As a shock weapon – to hit the enemy massively directly at the start of assault – the MRLS are way better than artillery.

          • Secundius

            Still took ~134 “Katuysha” to do the Job of One 6-inch Howitzer. “Millers” (i.e. MLRS) have a Guidance System! “Katuysha’s” didn’t…

          • Dilandu Albato

            Time matters. It took far more time for howitzer to do the same job, during which the howitzer itself might be hit by counter-battery fire, the enemy would surely be alarmed for possible attack, and it is far harder to coordinate the tanks&infantry assault with howitzer actions. With multiple rocket launch system (which is what MRLS means 😉 ), you could hit the enemy in mere seconds and then immediately rush him with tanks & infantry before it have time to understood what happens and go from covers.

            The US marines used their rockets systems the same way – to hit the beach directly before assault wave, so the enemy would seek shelters exactly in the moments when marines are close & most vulnerable.

          • Secundius

            “Katuysha’s” Rockets like “Congreve” Rockets were made of Paper for easy Mass Production…

          • Dilandu Albato


            And from where you took this, let’s call it “peculiar” information?

            The M-13 rocket projectile was made from welded steel, loaded with seven single-channel charges of nitrocellulose powder on the fire-grate. The only paper used was cardboard disks to isolate charges.

          • Secundius

            Katyusha’s (i.e. Katie) were designed by RNII (i.e. Jet Propulsion Research Institute) in Leningrad in 1938. Then produced by the Kostikov Gunsin 1940 and was given the name “Katyusha” from a Russian Patriotic Song written by Mikhail Isakovshy. The ones produced by Kostikov Guns were welded. But after 1941, Rocket Bodies were “Crimped” because most if not all were produced by “Cottage Industries” which lacked the mean of welding the rocket tubes together. But to your point, I stand corrected. Thank you…

          • vetww2

            ALL ballistically fired rounds follow a parabolic track, unless some, on board guidance system can change its course. The projectile is the “Shot in the Dark.”

        • vetww2

          Assuming an apogee of 5,000′ the range would be ~30 kilometers.

          • Secundius

            Most Naval Guns can’t Fire above +45*!. The Mk.15 Block IB is ~+85*. Ballistic Projectiles are usually greater than ~89* or Near Vertical Plunging Trajectories and are nearly impossible to counted. Because of the Small Window opportunity the Projectile presents itself…

          • vetww2

            I believe that the optimum launch angle for a longest range ballistic, free,parabolic flight is 43 degrees.

          • Secundius

            “IF” Heavy Hitting Naval Guns is only ~+45*, that’s ~2* of “Wiggle Space” to work with (i.e. Tight Window of Opportunity). Which most likely will be a Missile Shot and Pure Luck in Timing…

      • vetww2

        EXACTLY CORRECT.

    • vetww2

      What are you going to do when your “low radar cross section” turkey is located by a satellite wake tracker to within 5 feet? If you make a hard turn and the SS is over 4, you will capsize.

    • vetww2

      No ballistic round is indicated except for rapid fire anti-swarm boat guns.

  • That’s something that keeps being repeated, but it isn’t actually true. In fact, page 20 of the above report has a Navy graphic that lists the planned railgun as firing a guided explosive projectile. As far as I can tell the railgun should actually be superior to powder guns since acceleration occurs along the length of the barrel rather than being a sudden shock.

    • Matthew Schilling

      It took 5 seconds to find a General Atomics page that listed “Key Advantages” of railguns. Here’s the 3rd bullet point, quoted verbatim: “Elimination of propellant and high explosive warheads simplifies resupply and reduces logistics burden”

      • vetww2

        in plain Englih we are shooting DUMB slugs.

        • Matthew Schilling

          That’s what I thought. And, just because they put the words “precision guided” on a powerpoint slide doesn’t make it so.

          • vetww2

            TO QUOTE GilbertT & Sullivan, ”
            THING ARE SELDOM WHAT THEY SEEM,
            SKIM MILK MASQUERADES AS CREAM.”

      • Marauder 2048

        The GA projectile is intended mainly for C-RAM/missile defense. The BAE projectile (for surface fires) has a bursting charge. All are guided.

    • vetww2

      except it does not work with anything but a very small round. Figure it out, youself, using the formula F=Ma.

      F=Force
      M= mass, in poundals, and
      a =gravity, squared. That is 32.2X32.2 ft./ per second/per seccond

    • vetww2

      That is strictly Buck Rogers style advertising.

  • Marauder 2048

    The baseline NFS cannon had a peak acceleration of 46,000 g’s.
    That’s well within the state-of-the-art; shock *and* EMI hardening is harder.

  • Rob C.

    Will they be able maintain the funding to these weapons is the question. The leadership keeps changing their minds each time they look at their budget it seems. It’s too bad they can ride heard on the costs without necessarily sabotaging the projects with impatience and bean counting.

  • William Blankinship

    We have no choice but to keep developing and then deploying these new weapons systems. Still need to keep older systems for many decades to come.

  • tim

    These developments are the beginning of new types of weapons that will be with us for generations to come. Research in this will field much development that will have dual use and will find practical applications in civilian life. We are talking about sensors, computing speed, energy storage etc.
    the trick is to align the military development speed with the natural interest of the privat market for these technologies. This way, much cost is saved. As long as we drive this R&D, we will be at the cusp of this development. If not, others will be.

  • stephen Randazzo

    I’d say about time from reading about these in science fiction to seeing these in action it’s time the modern era becomes the future era.

  • stephen Randazzo

    What we need now is a nuclear battleship with, and I emphasize I dont know what I’m saying, at least 4 light gun emplacements that have good rotation speed and accuracy so probably the hyper velocity gun. The Lakers would be ideal on destroyers and the rail gun comes right out of dnd future. As for the rail gun that would be a challenge.

  • NAVET

    With the failure of the newest gun system on Zumwalt, once again the Corp is not getting what was promised 20 years ago. Real Naval Gun Fire support. Over the last 20 years we have spent over $1B on a replacement for a proven gun… MK7 16″ firepower. That does not include the $billions on a ship with no mission or weapons systems.. USS Zumwalt. The estimated cost to bring the BB back was about $500 – 750mil each and another $110mil on new powder and extended lighter rounds in 2007. You read all about the 5″ rounds getting extended but the real requirement is ballistic weight. The BB have a very large foot print for lots of modernization. i.e. remove the MK 38 mounts and put a simular T-Hawk system that are on the old boomers. The show of U.S. military power/FLAG. But we all know that with the power of NAVAIR industry it will never happen.