If the Pentagon had to take Consumer Math class in high school, they'd flunk.
The U.S. military—correction, the U.S. taxpayer—is spending more money to buy fewer weapons. The reason? Poor acquisition practices, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
"DOD's 2018 portfolio of major weapon programs has grown in cost by $8 billion, but contains four fewer systems than last year," GAO found.
Just before he put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger, the German officer penned a final note.
"For a captain with a sense of honor, it goes without saying that his personal fate cannot be separated from that of his ship," wrote Hans Langsdorff on December 19, 1939, in a hotel room in Buenos Aires. Langsdorff finished his letter to the Nazi ambassador to Argentina, lay down on a German battle flag, and shot himself.
Langsdorff had been the commander of the Admiral Graf Spee, which had been prowling the South Atlantic the week before, and now was resting on the bottom of the harbor at Montevideo, Uruguay. Many a captain has chosen to atone for the loss of his ship by going down with it. Langsdorff had suicide with a pistol two days after he had ordered his ship to be scuttled.
"I can now only prove by my death that the fighting services of the Third Reich are ready to die for the honor of the flag," he wrote.
But what had led Langsdorff to kill himself? Why meet death in a hotel room instead of at sea? Therein lays one of the most remarkable sea battles of all time: how the Royal Navy bluffed a German battleship into sinking itself.
Russia's Navy is falling behind the U.S. Navy in combat power, according to Russian defense press.
The Russian Navy's combat capability was just 45 percent of the U.S. Navy's according to an analysis by flot.com, a Russian defense Web site [English translation here]. This is down from 47 percent in 2017 and 52 percent in 2014.
brigade under the PLA 72nd Group Army. (Chinese People's Liberation Army/Peng Xianhua )
China claims to be developing "magnetized plasma artillery."
The Chinese military recently published a notice inviting researchers to devise a weapon that sounds like a sort of electromagnetic rail gun—which uses magnetism instead of gunpowder to fire shells—that several nations are developing. But actually deploying railguns has been hampered by the size of the weapon and especially the vast amount of electrical energy needed to propel a shell to speeds of greater than Mach 7. For example, despite years of research and vast sums of money, the U.S. Navy appears less than optimistic about fitting railguns on its warships.
But Chinese scientists believe that magnetized plasma artillery will be so light and energy-efficient that it can be mounted on tanks.
Military vehicles carrying Chinese-made drones march past the Tiananmen Rostrum during the military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression in Beijing, China, 3 September 2015 (Imaginechina via AP Images)
For years, drone warfare has been an essentially American pursuit. The new age of armed robots has been symbolized by Predators and Reapers spewing Hellfire missiles.
But guess who's the biggest exporter of combat drones? China.
"In 2014–18 China became the largest exporter in the niche market of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs), with states in the Middle East among the main recipients," according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which compiles estimates of global military strength and arms spending.