SUPER TUCANO anti-covert-warfare plane

Many people love the jet fighter. It’s fast, powerful, deadly, and as lovely as a dagger with its severe streamlining. It’s flown by pilots trained to duel with enemy pilots like knights of old, a romantic image.

It’s also super expensive. The fifth generation F-22 Raptor costs $150 million just to fly it away from its makers. To keep it flying can cost as much as the aircraft itself. It takes at least ten hours of work on the ground for every hour it spends in the air, and sometimes twice that.

The fighter’s purpose is to control the air over ground being fought over. Future ground forces, however, increasingly are terrorists or insurgents who are well able to hide from their enemies. They have no need for aircraft to protect them from advanced aerial enemies. Covert small-scale warfare is replacing overt large-scale warfare.   Fighters are increasingly obsolete.

This makes the main need for future military forces to have aircraft for ground attack and near-ground reconnaissance. Such as the A-10 “Warthog” and such much-lower-cost cousins as the A-29 Super Tucano. This single-engine turbo-prop aircraft is cheap but good: highly effective against small stealthy ground forces.

For more detail click Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano.

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MICRO-UAV comes to the military

Nano- and micro-UAVs are another thing for terrorists to worry about. (And of course civilians worried about privacy.)

One of the latest small UAVs is the PD-100 Black Hornet made by Prox Dynamics. A “nano helicopter” which fits in the hand of a child, it has an average 20-minute flight time, a camera (which can be infrared), video transmitter, GPS – and a price tag of not-quite $200,000.

An older and widely used “micro” UAV is the RQ-11 Raven made by AeroEnvironment. The size of a typical model airplane, it is launched by hand.

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ARGENTINE TANGO in L. A. – see Chicho & Juana perform

Art forms come and go and come again, each time keeping some essential character but undergoing some radical changes as well.  Thus it is with the Argentine tango.

The latest change in tango began in 1983 in France when a touring show called Tango Argentino sold out many times and excited dancers to imitate what they’d seen on stage. The show traveled to New York to the same effect. Then a year later it toured North America and Europe.  Other tango shows followed, especially the shows Tango Pasion, Tango X 2 and Forever Tango (review) (available on DVD).

By the late ’90s a second generation of Argentine tango dancers experimented with and modified the classical form as seen on stage and in Argentine “milongas” (tango dance parties). It eventually came to be called Tango Nuevo.

On July 5th in Los Angeles one of the iconic Nuevo couples (Chicho & Juana) can be seen performing at Milonga LAX just south of the LA International airport. They will be around for three weeks, teaching and occasionally performing. Then they will travel elsewhere. Perhaps you’ll see them where you live or nearby.

Or you can see them here.

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THE CRAFT teen witch movie – recommended

I just read that Sony is going to remake “The Craft” about teen witches who get in over their head with real magic. So I had to revisit it, if for no other reason than to see Robin Tunney in one of her first big roles.

It holds up surprisingly well. I got hooked into it all over again. Available on Hulu and Netflix, but I preferred to stream it from Amazon Instant Video.

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New book by TEMERAIRE author

I just finished the latest book by Naomi Novik, author of the Temeraire Napolonic War series which includes dragons as the air force of the warring nations.

Uprooted is a change of pace, told from the viewpoint of a talented girl who is picked by a sorcerer to become a sorceress and help him fight an evil spirit which has infected a forest. The writing is vivid and convincing, the people do not appear to be puppets but people who create their stories.

Click the image to read the first few chapters.

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Beware the IZOMBIE finale

The season finale of iZombie promises to have a cliffhanger – or maybe more. You may want to do what I will: save it till the season 2 premiere and watch both episodes at once.

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LUCIFER on Fox this fall

I’ve put the Fox TV show Lucifer on my watchlist so I’ll be reminded automatically when it comes on the air this fall. It’s roughly based on the Neil Gaiman DC comic Sandman. If we can believe the trailer (big IF!) it will be lots of fun.

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Hailee Steinfeld’s BARELY LETHAL available Friday

UPDATE:To find showtimes closest to you enter your zip code in Fandango.

Teen special ops agent fakes her death and tries to live life as an ordinary girl. The process isn’t easy – especially when her old life catches up to her.

Opens Friday the 29th of May in theaters and DirecTV and Amazon Instant Video.

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First SUPERGIRL trailer

The first Supergirl trailer is out now from CBS. I have high hopes for it but (as always) low expectations. So far iZombie has fulfilled my hopes, though Arrow and Flash have not.

One nice touch is that she has a few people who know her secret who can support her. Also intriguing: apparently there’s a secret organization which protects Earth from aliens.

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SEAPLANE renaissance

Until recently I thought of amphibious seaplanes as so old hat they belonged only in Indiana Jones World War Two movies. Then I read an article in StrategyPage.com on seaplanes. It turns out that they are not only important currently but expanding their numbers and strategic tasks.

They are very useful for fire-fighting because they can land in rivers and oceans, suck up a huge load of water in just a few seconds, and be on their way quickly to dampen fires. Ditto sea rescue, for they can fly further than helicopters and land in water rather than dangerously dangle rescuers and rescuees from cables. They can also carry passengers, rescue or police or military personnel, and others to heavily forested or rocky areas with a nearby lake, large river, or ocean.

Three of the more widely used seaplanes are the Russian BE-200, Chinese TA-600, and Japanese US-2. Click their images for more info.

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