December 26, 2015

The Igor Belousov (Игорь Белоусов) joins the Russian Navy

Igor Belousov (Игорь Белоусов) Project 21300
Photo Credit -
According to media reports (, etc ) the latest deep water search and rescue ship of the Russian Navy was commissioned and hoisted the Russian naval ensign on December 25th 2015 at a ceremony in St Petersburg.  What I find interesting about this is the route mentioned to transfer the ship to Vladivostok, which will be its home port:
The Russian Navy intends to send the rescue vessel Igor Belousov to its base in Vladivostok in the Russian Far East "across all the oceans" rather than via the Northern Sea Route, Bursuk said. "A final route for the ship has not yet been approved but most likely it will run across all the oceans rather than via the Northern Sea Route to check the vessel in various latitudes. We plan to start the transfer in the spring of 2016," Bursuk said.
To visualize, if your geography is rusty, here is an illustration of St Petersburg to Vladivostok. By plane, it's a long flight; by ship, it is considerably longer.

Arguably going around the southern tip of Africa or through the Red Sea is the logical route for the time of year; I would think the Northern route would be at least partially iced over during the spring.  Indeed taking the southern route will take the Igor Belousov through the North Atlantic, South Atlantic, Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean - touching all off the earth's oceans.  I've been speculating they may cross the North Atlantic, go to Cuba, maybe Nicaragua, then head to Vladivostok via the Southern tip of Africa.  Those same stops have been made by the Nikolay Chiker in 2014 and the RV Yantar in 2015. Of course, they might just go through the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.  Time will tell.


December 13, 2015

US nuclear strike aircraft forward deploy to Turkish airbase with nuclear weapons.

I find it strange that I didn't see any news media warning of the preparations for nuclear war, as all the signs have been broadcast by the Americans; carefully and openly messaging to the other nuclear superpowers their intent to upgrade their nuclear stockpile, and now deploying F-15E Strike Eagles to the Incirlik Air Base where American nuclear weapons are stored in vaults under hardened strike fighter hangars.  How come more people don't know that small detail?

USAF F-15E Strike Eagles arriving at Incirlik Air Base (November 2015)

Timeline for Incirlik Air Base Air-Power Build Up

August 2015

  • Six USAF F-16 fighters deployed to Incirlik Air Base reportedly for a ground-attack role

October 2015

  • A dozen A-10s are deployed to Incirlik Air Base, to replace F-16s

November 2015

  • Six F-15C Eagles from 48th Fighter Wing RAF Lakenheath (493d Fighter Squadron) are deployed to Incirlik Air Base to maintain air superiority.
  • An unknown number of F-15E Strike Eagles from 492d Fighter Squadron or 494th Fighter Squadron are deployed to Incirlik Air Base, in at least two waves.  Their role has been officially described as striking ISIS targets in concert with the A-10 Warthogs.  F-15 Strike Eagles happen to also be nuclear-strike capable using the B-61.

B-61 Mark 12 Nuclear Weapon

The B-61 nuclear weapon has been the backbone of the USAF nuclear gravity bomb arsenal for decades.  The latest upgrade to the B-61, the Mark 12, is a considerable upgrade, and some would say a whole new weapon.

Depending on the source you reference, somewhere between 50-90 B-61 nuclear weapons are currently being stored in WS3 vaults, waiting for the order to strike, at the Incirlik Air Base.  This does not take into account the new B-61-12 which is being rolled out, so the numbers may need adjusting.

An overview of the nuclear weapons storage vaults:

Here we have a video of an F-15E Strike Eagle of the 53d Test and Evaluation Group (Tail Code OT) dropping an inert B-61-12, the newest US Nuclear gravity bomb.

The Russian Federation has protested that the Americans are upgrading and adding to their nuclear arsenal, but the United States maintains it is a minor lifecycle change to an existing weapons system.

B61-12 Reading Material:
Webinar: Is It Time to Boot the B61 Nuclear Bomb?
Upgrades At US Nuclear Bases In Europe Acknowledge Security Risk
America's Most Dangerous Nuclear Weapon Passes Critical Test (Dave Majumdar, November 20th 2015)
MIT Professor Shames US for ‘Fictitious and Bizarre’ Idea that New Nuclear B61-12 Bomb Could Win War (July 11th 2015)
B61-12 Bomb: Worth Its Weight In Gold- And Causing A Lot Of Trouble. (November 10th 2015)

The Incirlik Air Base has been described by Western media as being a small airbase operating in the South of Turkey.  Have a look at the maps below and consider that this is being called a small airbase.  Also consider that there are at least 50 nuclear bombs in storage there, for at least a dozen USAF F-15E Strike Eagles to use, and an additional 40 in storage for the Turkish Air Force F-16s to use.  Note the concrete "hard stands" around the runway that can fit dozens of fully armed and fueled strike fighters, several refueling planes, or heavy bombers.  Does this look like a disused little airstrip, or an upgraded air base?


It looks like the Americans are withdrawing their nuclear capable F-15E Strike Eagles from Incirlik Air Base, just a couple of days after negotiations with the Russians.  I suspect this is one part of several concessions made by both sides to de-escalate the brinksmanship that's been going on between NATO and Russia over Syria.