Soviet Union

MiG 25 Fighter: Designed to Protect Russia from Non-existent Supersonic Bomber Force

In the 1960s, Soviet air force command was worried that the country is vulnerable to high-speed nuclear bombers fielded by the United States Air Force, like the Convair B-58 Hustler. Powered by four General Electric J79-GE-1 turbojet engines and capable of reaching Mach 2 speeds, B-58 was the first supersonic USAF bomber. It was introduced in 1960 and was a source of great concern for the Soviet air defense planners. To make things even worse, in 1964 USAF launched another nuclear bomber, B-70 Valkyrie. A futuristically looking plane that was even faster, reaching Mach 3 and becoming an even greater headache for the Soviets. Something had to be done and fast.

The task was taken by the famous Mikoyan-Gurevich bureau. As it turned out, it was the last plane legendary Mikhail Gurevich designed before going into the well-deserved retirement. The designers came up with a monster built around two Tumansky R-15 engines. These power plants were the most powerful jet engines Soviet had at their disposal at the time.

Source:en.wikipedia.org

On paper, the latest addition to the Soviet Air Force was highly impressive. It could fly at a sustained speed of Mach 2.83, reaching even Mach 3 and higher for short bursts, but you needed an extra pair of engines waiting for you at the airport because the old ones were thrashed after such exhibition. It carried 4 R-40 Air to air missile that had interceptor role and could reach the height of sixty-five thousand feet. A reconnaissance version was packed with the best high-tech cameras and spying equipment the Soviet Union had to offer at the time and had an even higher ceiling.

It was Americans turn to get worried. They first learned of the new design in 1967, when Soviets revealed MiG-25 at the Moscow Domodedovo Airport. According to Western intel, not only did they manage to close the gap in their air defenses, but also gained a formidable fighter that could easily outrun every airplane, except SR-71 Blackbird, USAF had in its arsenal. MiG-25 was considered the greatest threat to the national security since the beginning of the Cold War.

The first step towards eliminating the threat was changing the requirement of the new fighter design being developed at the moment. Instead of a small, multipurpose plane, the focus shifted to a fast and pure air superiority fighter. The program resulted in McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, one of the most successful modern fighters, with more than 100 confirmed kills and not a single air to air combat loss.

The truth about MiG-25 became known on September 6th, 1976, when Lt. Viktor Belenko landed his plane at Hakodate Airport in Japan. Belenko became one of the most famous defectors in history, solely on the fact that he brought with himself one of the most guarded secrets in the Soviet Union. His plane was brand new and allowed Western engineers to see first hand what Soviet state of the art technology looks like.

Source:daisetsuzan.blogspot.rs

It turned out that MiG-25 was vastly overrated. It had many flaws, mostly due to the inadequate manufacturing process. The Soviet Union lacked the ability to produce titanium and a large part of the airframe was built from steel, resulting in a very heavy airplane. The entire electronic suite was based on vacuum tubes technology. Although not as sophisticated as solid-state electronics its Western counterparts used, it has several advantages. Most importantly, the onboard radar, Smerch-A, lacked look down – shoot down ability, making MiG-25 useless against low-flying targets.

Soviets got their plane back 67 days later, in pieces, mostly because American engineers didn’t have enough time to put it back together. Realizing that crucial radar and missile technologies were compromised, they started working on a new version, MiG-25PD. This is the most numerous version of MiG-25.

Despite its drawbacks, MiG-25 had some success in combat. It saw action for the first time in 1971 when a detachment of Soviet Air Force was flying recon flights over Sinai from Egyptian bases. One of MiG-25s was tracked at Mach 3.2 during that time, but its engines were destroyed and had to be replaced after the flight.

MiG-25 was flown by Syrian Air Force as well, albeit with not much success. They lost two to Israeli F-15 in 1981. Iraqis were far more successful and their best MiG-25 pilot, Colonel Mohammed Rayyan, is credited with 10 kills.

In the end, MiG-25 wasn’t very successful in terms of design. It was built for a specific mission, but it was never used in that role and the design was far too rigid to be adapted for a different task. Its most important contribution is that it served as a basis for the development of a far better version, Mig-31.

Source: nationalinterest.org

Wilhelm Gustloff – the Biggest Maritime Disaster In History

It was 30th January of 1945 when Wilhelm Gustloff sunk, only seventy minutes after it left the port. A small fleet of boats and ships arrived at the scene where this colossal liner sunk, to try and save as many people possible. The water was too icy, so all of them couldn’t be saved in time. A thousand survived, but an estimated number of 9,343 people weren’t as lucky. That much died, most of them being children. The number of people who vanished in Wilhelm Gustloff catastrophy is six times greater than the number that died when Titanic sunk in 1912.

Most people have heard of the Titanic thanks to the 1997 movie made by James Cameron, but the sinking of Wilhelm Gustloff is the biggest maritime disaster in history.

Source: www2today.com

Wilhelm Gustloff – The Luxury Liner

The ship was named after the leader of Swiss Nazi Party who was assassinated in his home in February 1936. The vessel weighted 25,000 tons and was 700 feet long. It was an impressive sea vehicle that could take 2,000 people on board. It was launched in 1937, and its primary purpose was to be a cruise ship for the German workers in Hitler’s Third Reich. It held this job until the second World War broke out.

Wartime

At the beginning of the war, Wilhelm Gustloff was used as a hospital ship. Later it was stationed at the dock in Gdynia on the Baltic sea serving as barracks for U-boat trainees. When Operation Barbarossa was launched, Germans almost managed to enter the Moscow, but when the tides of war turned to Soviet favor, the battles were fought on German soil in East Prussia. By October 1944 Red Army was already deep into Nazi territory.

Source: www2today.com

The Red Army Approaches

With Soviets destroying everything in their path the civilians of East Prussia feared for their lives and were fleeing towards the Baltic sea. They were hoping for an evacuation, but all they found were the Russian soldiers who brought devastation to everything on their path. The same treatment they got from Germans when Nazis invaded their homeland.

Wilhelm Gustloff, just like any other shi at Baltic was used in an attempt to evacuate Germans from this area. The port of Gotenhafen was almost frozen and people panicky tried to find their place on the ships that would guarantee them the escape.

Evacuation

The ship was scheduled to leave the port on January 30th, and by that time more than 10,853 people boarded cramping one another. If you remember, from the first part of our article, the ship was intended for only 2,000 passengers. At the moment of its departure ship had only one torpedo boat as its escort and four captains on board. They argued which route was the best to take, fighting among themselves. Heavy snow, icy water, and poor visibility didn’t help their cause.

Source: warfarehistorynetwork.com

The ship was running without lights in order to avoid detection, but when they encounter German minesweeper convoy, they turned the lights on in an attempt to avoid a direct collision. Unfortunately, when they turned the lights on, they became visible to one Russian submarine which was lurking nearby.

Hit

From the direction of the submarine, three torpedoes were fired, and all of them hit the designated target. The explosions caused a panic that could not be contained. With most of the life-saving boats being unable for use due to freezing temperature, passengers had no way to save themselves. Many died from suffocating after being cramped on the stairways after the panic broke out. Others jumped to their death. Most of the children died straight away as their life jackets were too big. The strange coincidence of this sinking is that it happened on the birthday of Wilhelm Gustloff, born on 30th January 1895. It was also twelve years since Hitler rose to power on that day in 1933. So, with facts like these surrounding this ship why is the sinking of Titanic better known. We’re here to give you an answer.

1. It happened during the wartime. Titanic seems more tragic because it occurred during peacetime.
2. Regardless of the fact that these people were civilians, the victims were Germans, which committed numerous crimes during the war. There was no sympathy for them.
3. Germans were guilty of the war, and no one listened to their complaints about civilian deaths in the post-war period.
4. The Soviet Union was under Nazi occupation for years, with their people suffering as a consequence of this. When their counter-offensive started, they showed no mercy towards German soldiers and civilians.
5. The world had no sympathies for Germans after war crimes and systematic genocide Germany did during the war.
6. The ship was named after a leader of Nazi Party, and many wonder if the same would happen if it had a different name.
7. In months after the tragedy, no one reported about the sinking. It wouldn’t have sounded good on the news that an allied country killed so many women and children.
8. There was no Hollywood movie about it. The ship wasn’t sailing towards the US, nor it had its citizens on board. No one wants to make a Nazi-sympathetic film.
9. None of the victims were wealthy, or prominent in any other way.

What is Foreign Policy?

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The U.S. government has one most important function. It is to conduct relations with little less than 200 world’s nations. Every nation is a sovereign country. Every country has authority over its territories. In accordance with this, all states in the world are equal.

The objective of Foreign policy is to decide in which way will America conduct relations with different countries. It has specific goals, and the primary one is to assure America’s security and defense. It holds power to protect and project U.S. interests across the globe. Foreign policy is shaped by national interests, and it has a function to cover a broad range of military, economic, ideological, humanitarian, and political concerns.

This policy changes over the time according to changes in national interests. The United States were a new nation after the Revolutionary War. In those times its primary interest was to maintain its independence which was threatened by powerful European countries. According to Monroe Doctrine, the fundamental foreign policy at the time was to limit European attempts to colonize Western Hemisphere further.

Later in 19th-century foreign policy revolved around creating a nation which would span across the entire continent, without the interference of external influences. After achieving prosperity through industrialization, its policy turned toward finding foreign markets and colonies.

Source:mesbar.org

During the 20th century, the U.S. became an imperial power. It waged war against Spain for Cuba and Philippines, and it annexed Hawaii in the process together with several other territories. America was engaged in World War I, and heavily influenced the European affairs, but, after the war ended, the country fell into isolationism. The U.S. refused to join the league of nations and instead turned to itself once again. After the prosperity it achieved through the 1920s it reached its climax, and the Great depression followed in 1930s. Because of this, its military power was weakened. After the Japanese Navy and Air-force attacked the U.S. Fleet at Pearl Harbor in 1941, they couldn’t respond accordingly.

But what followed afterward was American retribution. Thanks to its involvement in World War II the United States of America became world’s most powerful economy. This prompted a change in its foreign policy dramatically. The United Nations was founded with U.S. leading other nations. Through its Marshall Plan, it invested billions in European war-devastated countries. This time around they created alliances, one of them being NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).

The primary goal of foreign policy in after war years was to contain the Soviet Union and the expansion of communism. What followed was the Cold War in which the United States and their allies fought with the Soviet Union over military, economic, and ideological dominance. Both sides mass-produced weapons and stockpiled nuclear materials. The two major world powers at the time never went openly into a war, but their dispute led to the U.S. involvement in bloody conflicts in Korea and Vietnam.

Source:youtube.com

After the Soviet Union collapsed because of economic exhaustion, that came as a result of competition with the U.S. and allies, the Cold War has ended. Tip on the scale moved, and the United States remained as the only real global superpower. Its foreign policy changed once again as it was no longer based on the containing of the Soviets. Through time foreign policy was shaped by various principles and values. American foreign policy revolves around nations self-determination for independence. As such it often favors other nations that practice democracy. But, there are some exceptions. In cases when there were matters of national security, economy, and politics involved, the U.S. was prepared to support dictatorial governments.

Making and Carrying Out Foreign Policy

The American foreign policy as it is today covers various issues and functions. It has a goal of establishing and maintaining diplomatic relations with other nations and organizations such as the United Nations. One of its primary tasks is peacekeeping. It works with allies on assuring regional and international security. It also has its hands in different economic matters such as trade, travel, and business. The foreign policy of the U.S. also includes providing aid and disaster relief. As world’s leading superpower America has roles in peacemaking around the globe, and it’s involved in signing treaties and agreements in regional conflicts. In addition to the economy and politics, the U.S. also deal with environmental issues.

Carrying out and making foreign policy is not done by one branch of government. It involves all three governmental departments and various other institutions and agencies.

The most significant role in making and conducting of foreign policy is in the hands of the president and the executive branch. The president appoints ambassadors and makes treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate. He can call the summit of world leaders and is also chief commander of army forces and can deploy U.S. military across the globe.

National Security Council aids the president in creating the foreign policy. NSC consists of the vice-president, secretary of state, secretary of defense, head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (the nation’s highest military adviser).

The secretary of the state represents the President abroad, and it’s the head of U.S. State Department. This department has the obligations to carry out the decisions and to form different types of foreign policy for every region of the world. Part of the State Department that is made out of ambassadors, consuls, and other officers that conduct foreign policy is called U.S. Foreign Service.

Source:afsa.org

Another governmental body that has a role in foreign policy is Congress. Their job is to set duties and tariffs imports and exports, commerce, and immigration, and to declare war if a need arises. They also control quotas on immigration, create trade agreements, vote on foreign aid, and work on the defense budget. Congress also has the power to accept, change, or reject policies that president proposed.

The Supreme Court also has a role in foreign policy, but a limited one. Their jurisdiction is only in cases that involve treaties, admiralty and maritime law. It furthermore decides the disputes between states and foreign states.

These three branches sometimes found themselves in a disagreement over the manner in which will the foreign policy be conducted. It has happened that the president wants to approve the treaties which Senate does not support. For example, President Woodrow Wilson wanted to sign the deals that Promoted the creation of League of Nations after World War I ended. The Senate was against and refused to ratify these agreements. At other times there was tension between the president who is commander in chief during wartime and Congress who has the power to declare the war. The President of United States has sent the army to the war on three different occasions in Korea, Vietnam, and Gulf War without Congress previously declaring the war.

Public also has a role to play in foreign policy. Advocacy Groups from different countries often try to influence Congress and the president. Business lobbies also affect the government decisions in the matters of economy and trade. It often happens that groups or individuals who have an extreme stance on foreign policy, especially during the military intervention, organize protests to influence decisions.