In this episode we chat about the science and engineering involved in nuclear weapons. Our guest is Alex Wellerstein of the Stevens Institute of Technology. We talk about atomic bombs as well as hydrogen bombs, how to refine the necessary fuels as well as a little bit of history.
In this episode we speak with David Baker, who wrote a fascinating book about spy satellites. We cover the political and military context that drove their development, their (known and suspected) capabilities, methods of recovering the images, as well as typical orbits and the sartellites’ ability to change that orbit for quick repositioning.
On the second day of my visit to Nellis AFB we covered the Red Flag, an advanced aerial combat training exercise hosted at multiple times per year at Nellis. We started out with a general overview with Jan Stahl; we also covered the role of the aggressors. I then talked with John Traylor who works as a ground intercept controller for the aggressors. Next is a conversation with Graham Johnson about Red Flag from the perspective of a blue force participant; he flies an F-15C out of Lakenheath. We conclude the episode with a look at the historical context that lead to Red Flag, again with Jan.
As part of my US trip 2017 I visited Nellis AFB, where LtCol Jan Stahl flies the F-16 for the 64th Aggressor Squadron. We spent a day around, in and under the F-16. The episode contains five parts. A brief introduction to the F-16 and its development, a discussion about flying it, a walkaround, a look at all the knobs, switches and displays in the cockpit as well as a detailed discussion on the HOTAS system that forms the backbone of the pilot’s interaction with the avionics.
In this episode we look back at (aspects of) the North American Air Defense system in the cold war. In particular, we look at the distant early warning line(s), the F-106 interceptor and the SAGE computer system. For DEW, we talk with Mike Milinkovich and Brian Jeffrey who have both worked on the DEW line; Brian also maintains a great website on DEW. For the F-106, we talk with Richard Embry who has flown the interceptor. And for SAGE, we speak with Bernd Ulmann, who has written a very detailed book on SAGE’s underlying AN/FSQ-7 computer system. Bernd has also been a previous guest on Episode 159 on analog computers.