12 August 2009

And now for something unrelated to Afghanistan…

War is Boring's David Axe reports that the US Air Force is looking at buying a light aircraft for use in small wars and counterinsurgencies. Cheap, rugged, simple to maintain, and with long loiter times, it's looking not at the F-22 or F-35, but rather, a series of prop-driven fighter planes. Not only has the Air Force looked at the Brazilian Super Tecano, but they've also looked at a particularly classic USAF aircraft…

…the P-51 Mustang.

Only, it will be a highly modified P-51 Mustang made by Piper Aviation known as the PA-48. The only thing wrong with the PA-48 is that it's not called the "Mustang", it's called the "Enforcer".

Really? "The Enforcer". Why not call it what it is and call it the "Mustang", like it should be?

But that's not the only dumb name floating around in the military. There's a proposal to name the US Navy's next aircraft carrier the USS Barry Goldwater.

Can you picture it now? Imagine a Russian submarine…

"Captain Ramius!"

"Yessshh" (because it's Sean Connery)

"We are picking up the signal of an American aircraft carrier. It is…"

(together) "*gasp*…the BARRY GOLDWATER!"

Scary? I didn't think so. Unfortunately, that's par for the course these days. It's a problem that dates back to the 1960s, when Admiral Hyman Rickover, was developing a new line of nuclear submarines. In order to pass the multi-billion dollar project through Congress, he broke with the tradition of naming submarines after fish and fearsome animals (e.g., the USS Swordfish, USS Scorpion, and USS Barracuda) , and named them after the cities and states of influential senators and congressmen.

Admiral Rickover throughtfully remarked, "Fish don't vote".

Indeed, fish don't vote. Neither does Jules Verne (USS Nautilus), nor Greek Gods (USS Bellerephon), nor battlefields (SS Sackets Harbor), nor insects (USS Wasp), nor even fictional fantasy kingdoms (USS Shangri-La).

But I miss those names. I'm not alone, either. Another David Axe story alerts us to the fact that a number of people have signed an online petition against naming the newest American aircraft carrier the "USS Barry Goldwater".

A number of alternative names have been kicked around. Some prefer naming the new carrier the "USS Arizona", after the famous ship sunk on an infamous day in December of 1941. But many others have suggested an even better name for the new carrier:

The USS Enterprise.

The US Navy has had numerous ships named "USS Enterprise", the most famous of which have been a pair of aircraft carriers. The first USS Enterprise escaped Japanese destruction at Pearl Harbor and served in battles all over the Pacific Ocean, from the Dolittle Raid, to Midway, to Leyte Gulf—one of the largest naval battles in history. She was the most decorated US Navy ship of the war. After being decommissioned and, sadly, scrapped, another USS Enterprise was built. This new Enterprise (CVN-65) was a revolutionary design—the first aircraft carrier powered by a nuclear reactor. First sailing in 1961, this USS Enterprise is the longest naval vessel in the world, and participated in the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, the Iranian Tanker War, and Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. She will be retired in the next few years. She is the oldest serving ship in the US Navy (aside from the wooden USS Constitution)

I should also mention that in the 1960s, a writer by the name of Gene Roddenberry decided to create a television show about the adventures of the men and women aboard a spaceship called the "USS Enterprise" (which he originally called the "USS Yorktown"). The name "Enterprise" has entered the imaginations of people all over the world, appearing in almost all incarnations of that series. Upon the development of the Space Shuttle, a write-in campaign convinced NASA to name one of its Space Shuttles "Enterprise". The first privately-owned spaceship has also been called "Enterprise".

It's a great name, and I think that this is how we need to be naming our ships.

1 comment:

Boss Mongo said...

P-48. Great. Now let's get some STOL line-haul airframes, which is what we really need.