Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New office formed by government to do the job the head of the DMO should have been doing

Yes it is true. A new office will be formed to do the job that the head of DMO (the highest paid civil servent in the land) should have been doing in the first place.

via Defence...

Independent Project Performance Office to oversee major Defence projects established

Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today announced the Independent Project Performance Office would begin operating from 1 July.

The establishment of an Independent Project Performance Office (IPPO) was a recommendation of the Mortimer Review into Defence Procurement and Sustainment.

On 6 May, Mr Smith and Mr Clare announced they had asked Defence to accelerate the implementation of the agreed recommendations of the Mortimer Review as a matter of priority.

The establishment of the IPPO implements one of the key outstanding recommendations of the Mortimer Review.

The IPPO will be established within the Defence Materiel Organisation and will:

Conduct annual full diagnostic reviews (Gate Reviews) of all major Defence capital acquisition projects;

Implement the new Early Indicator and Warning system announced by Mr Smith and Mr Clare on 6 May;

Implement the reforms announced today to the Project of Concern process and oversee the remediation of all Projects of Concern;

Implement a ‘lessons learned’ process as recommended by the Mortimer Review to improve the way projects are delivered by learning from past mistakes and successes; and

Assist project teams to develop more robust cost and schedule information to improve the accuracy of this information when it is provided to the Government.

An additional 14 independent experts with significant project management and commercial experience will be contracted by Defence to act as board members on Gate Reviews.

This will ensure there are at least two external members on every significant Gate Review board.

Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter 0419 474 392
Mr Clare’s Office: Korena Flanagan 0418 251 316
Departmental : (02) 6127 1999

F-35, tale of two Ricos

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has been going in development for over ten years backed up by a steady stream of money. Its design requirement (JORD) being locked 11 years ago in 2000 makes the F-35 by-definition; obsolete. This is like getting the initial work on the Brewster Buffalo done in 1935 with hopes of having it fully operational by 1955.

The F-35s full flight envelop has not been explored after all this time. The sensor helmet doesn’t work. There are mountains of software to get done. Weapons clearance is in its infancy. Not one has dropped. The design and production learning curve are not mature. What aircraft will arrive at Eglin Air Force Base soon to train pilots will not be capable of much more than performing an equal number of talk-offs and landings. No one really knows what this massive program will cost. We will not be buying several thousand of this aircraft.

Yet, Congress is told that there are no alternatives.

This is a clear deception.

And, Congress is being blamed unfairly for not wanting to hand a bunch of money over to build hundreds of mistake-jets.

Lockmart has released this F-35 pork map. (H/T-DOD Buzz). It shows each state’s contribution of work-share to the F-35 program. Almost every state except a small handful are involved. One U.S. Territory (Puerto Rico) has work-share too.

With all the lobbying for an obsolete product we don’t need, what you have here (because of multiple deceptions by multiple people) amounts to just cause for the Rico Statute.

On the other hand; with all those states, you also have what will be a massive class action lawsuit when the too-big-to-fail program gets cancelled in a most spectacular fashion. It will be the mother of all lawfare.

The much-often delayed Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) might be performed in several months time. Will it be delayed again? Given what we know already, the results of this board (pencil-whipped or otherwise) may be difficult to take seriously. Does anyone believe that it will recommend that we do anything but keep kicking the can down the road?

A leadership shake-up for the Defence Material Organisation?

The Canberra Times reports that there could be a leadership shake-up in the Defence Material Organisation (DMO) due to pressure exerted by Mr. Smith and friends who are upset with the wide variety of program disasters.

Here is a list of some of the offenses.

Recent DMO bungles have included the loss of amphibious fleet capability in February, the navy's inability to keep submarines at sea earlier this year and a $40million spend on landing craft that could not fit on the ships they had been specifically designed for.

APA was also quoted.

The head of test and evaluation for the think tank Airpower Australia and a consistent critic of the performance of DMO and its senior leadership team, Peter Goon, said that Dr Gumley and his department had to accept responsibility for some major failures. This included the recent debacle surrounding the flawed construction of keel blocks for the $8 billion air warfare destroyer project.

"The DMO signed off on the air warfare destroyer project without having an agreed certification basis or an agreed certification plan in place," he said.

"If the certification basis for the air warfare destroyer had been in place then the problems that have been so widely reported would have been much less likely."

Australian National Audit Office report on Defence procurement failings

The Australian National Audit Office has uncovered more of what we already know; our Defence procurement situation is a shambles. The report looks at the Navy issues, but of course this points at the failed experiment known as the Defence Material Organisation (DMO).

The report calls for better liason between the key players. Yes, some of us knew that already.

Where are the real project managers? Where is the real responsibility? I say it is time to save some money and break up the DMO and let uniformed service chiefs own the responsibility for procurement and sustainment. Supposedly our top flag ranks are not children that need failed bureaucrats to hold their hand (and purse).

The under-performing rent-seekers may have some fear.

H/T-reader: Gobsmacked

McCain may vote against defense bill--concerns over F-35

Senator McCain still isn't happy with the defense bill as it goes through the system. He wants a stronger meassure to control the money spent on the F-35. He wants a provision put in the defense bill which states that if the F-35 program doesn't show stronger improvements, that it should be put on probation and that next year's money slated for the program should be available to fund closing it down.

The senator says his amendment on the F-35, which could start a process for killing the Pentagon’s largest weapons system, is critical to eliminating waste at the Pentagon (Aerospace DAILY, June 22).

“If we fail to act now, continuing cost overruns on the F-35 of the kind we have experienced over the last 10 years will siphon off precious resources and put at risk every other major defense procurement program,” McCain says, adding his amendment would be an answer to the problem. “We simply can’t stand by and let that happen.”

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Useful helicopters needed for Defence

Australia may have gotten rid of the old Huey, but that does not mean we still don’t need its utility.

It is a shame that Defence almost always reaches for the gold-plated answer when procuring something.

In operations other than war and even low intensity conflicts, the new Huey UH-1Y could provide a lot of use for a variety of Australian operations. That includes home/regional disaster events.

It has done well in Afghanistan.

The Y is powerful in its class; made to meet the requirements of the United States Marine Corps and as an off-the-shelf buy has low procurement risk, even for the DMO.

It is not a super helicopter for every solution. It is a very good and proven helicopter for a lot of situations that don’t require the big and more expensive machines.

Monday, June 27, 2011

How can the RAAF fast-mover community avoid being an overly expensive flying club?

Charting out any kind of an air power roadmap for Australia has to go with the idea that anything is possible if you are willing to lower your expectations.

There was a very good plan submitted to government with the F-111 and F-22. That opportunity is now over. And, with that, so too goes the possibility of fielding anything other than a second-tier air arm that will still need F-22s deployed by the U.S. to deter any large threats.

What kind of fighter aircraft do we have today? What kind are available for the future?

First, we need to bring something close to long-range strike back into our ability. The replacement for this won’t have quite the range of the F-111 that was retired prematurely.

Along with that, our plan for air-launched stand-off weapons needs to be re-evaluated.

And then there is the attitude of how we do long-range strike. First, any ship or submarine will always be a sub-standard solution for using long-range strike as a deterrent. Any aircraft can drop a stand-off weapon within hours and return to base for more; rinse and repeat. A submarine or ship cannot do this on a strategically useful scale.

Defence made the decision to get the JASSM cruise missile. This system has some problems in a number of areas yet we may just have to accept it as a “good enough” solution. The goal of the JASSM was to be an “affordable” weapon around $400K U.S. per war-shot. What happened for the U.S. is that (not counting research and development) it has ended up being a weapon over $1 million U.S. each.

So if the targeting and fusing issues with this weapon get solved, that is what Australia is looking at for an air-launched cruise missile. A huge problem here is that Defence wants to drop this weapon from the short-legged Hornet family. There has to be another way.

Australia should consider getting a squadron of 24 F-15E strike eagles. This aircraft as sold to Korea and Singapore (convenient allies to joint exercise with) has a lot of range and capability. Here is a look at the specifications for the Korean F-15. It could carry the JASSM a long way. It could also carry the HARM and SLAM-ER a long way. The HARM and SLAM-ER are currently not in the Australian inventory but would make a nice compliment in strike capability. HARM, while not used by the USAF F-15s, is cleared on this aircraft. There are even menu setups in the USAF aircraft; just that the HARM mission is not on their training schedule.

How would we pay for a squadron of F-15s and their associated weapons and support? Easy. First ; by using money slated for the F-35. The F-35 has no tactical relevance for Australia. The F-15 would replace F-18s in one of the current squadrons. This would also allow the RAAF to retire its worst (in age and sustainment problems) legacy F-18s.

The idea that the RAAF needs only one kind of fighter sounds nice, but given that the F-35 plan causes more problems than it attempts to solve, a proper fix means this is just not going to happen.

What other air power assets does Australia need today? Predator/Reaper class UAVs. This would be to have a better surveillance over our waters to the North. This would allow us to have a better tactical picture of illegal boat traffic near Christmas Island and other locales. It would also give extra eyes to our P-3s and other patrol assets.

Next, Australia needs to get involved in performing a study to stand up a squadron of Avenger UCAVs and if possible, the UCAS-N class of UCAVs planned by the U.S Navy. These can also be given strike instructions from aircraft like the F-15 and Wedgetail-or even the Super Slow Hornet. A warning about UAV; they still have a higher mishap rate than manned aircraft. A balance has to be reached in this respect.

The above layer of UAVs would provide excellent IRS for not only Australia but a coalition effort. With good sound thinking, this can be not only affordable but practical.

Any sensible decision maker has inherited a mess with the fast-mover RAAF road map that is for sure. Working our way out of that mess and becoming something other than a very expensive flying club will be the challenge.

Smart move as Defence considers logistics catamaran for RAN

With the failure of the Defence establishment to maintain non-complex ships as shown in recent debacles, there comes a bright spot or two.

The first was buying the Bay-class ship from the U.K. The second good idea is that Defence is looking at acquiring a home-built logistics catamaran used by the U.S. military. This same kind of ship was rented locally for past Australian Defence operations.

Three of the vessels have served with the US Navy and the US Army. The RAN was slow to recognise their value until the Timor crisis in 1999 when an 86-metre jet cat ferry, previously running between Melbourne and Hobart, was leased by the navy. Renamed HMAS Jervis Bay, the ship earned the nickname Dili Express as she transported personnel and materiel over the Timor Sea continuously for the two years of the emergency.

If this order happens, I compliment Defence on some smart thinking.

Promoted beyond their ability

Interesting; the confusion of it all.

"In a two-page explanation of the unexpected demise of the fleet provided by defence … no person or identity … was identified as being responsible,'' Dr Thomson says. ''To be clear: a critical capability costing the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars a year fails without warning and we're told it's nobody's fault. The worst part is that accountability is so amorphous within defence that it's a plausible claim."

Dr Thomson also says ministers are typically reluctant to hunt out who is responsible for mistakes because an antagonistic relationship with defence is more likely to result in the replacement of the minister, rather than the secretary of the department or chief of the Defence Force.

The problems have also increased defence ministers' workloads as they demand more frequent and detailed briefings, increasing the number of submissions to the minister from 690 in the late 1990s to more than 2200 last year.

''To complicate matters further, the 24-hour news cycle has increased the 'velocity of government' so that ministers often find themselves managing the ephemeral issues of the day at the expense of more substantive matters. The combination of a mountainous in-tray and a distracted (often new-to-the-job) minister is a recipe for slow decision-making, or worse,'' he says.

Dr Thomson also criticises the withering of civilian influence in the Defence Department, which he says stems from the fact the Defence Force has been involved in overseas operations for more than a decade - in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The defence organisation is split between the Defence Force, headed by its chief, and the predominantly civilian Defence Department, whose head is the secretary.

As a result, "key advice" about the size and shape of the Defence Force comes from the military, while civilians are relegated to managing the finances and drafting white papers that provide retrospective justification for decisions already made.

Yet somehow, AVM Houston allegedly did a great job; got awards for it; and was even praised by the PM upon retirement.

In this alternate world of capital level groupthink you get promoted way beyond your ability and hardly anyone gets fired for incompetence. Just the kind of environment where you want someone handling billions in taxpayer dollars.

Friday, June 24, 2011

That F-35 export stealth issue

Aviation Week has some blog posts about F-35 low-observable appliance exportability to F-35 JSF partner nations. The first one is by Bill Sweetman here and the opposing post by Amy Butler reporting that there are no problems on this issue is here.

The background to all of this is a post done by Bill Sweetman a few years ago here. It is key to looking into this topic.

First; neither Lockheed Martin nor the U.S. DOD F-35 JSF project office decide what low observable technology/methods (and supporting counter-low observable technology/methods) are exportable. The U.S government composed of many agencies (with numerous conflicting views) makes the decision.

Exceptions to National Disclosure Policy

US Export Control Objectives
  • Protect US investment in sensitive technologies
  • Preserve war fighter advantage
  • Maintain technology lead
  • Prevent exposure/exploitation of vulnerabilities, limitations
  • Limit proliferation of capabilities for which US has no countermeasures
  • Limit proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
Technology Transfer & Disclosure Processes
  • Four main technology transfer & disclosure processes:
  • National Disclosure Policy Committee
  • Low Observable/Counter Low Observable Executive Committee
  • Committee on National Security Systems (COMSEC)
  • Export Licensing
National Disclosure Policy Committee
  • Adjudicates requests that exceed service/agency delegated authority to disclose classified military information to foreign governments and international organizations
  • Exception to National Disclosure Policy (ENDP)
  • DUSD(TSP&CP)/NDP is secretariat
  • Sponsoring Mildep/agency prepares request-approximately 30 days
  • Normal NDPC suspense is 10 working days
  • NDPC chairman's decision after 30 days if no consensus
  • Decision can be appealed to Deputy Secretary of Defense
Low Observable/Counter Low Observable Executive Committee (LO/CLO ExCom)
  • Adjudicates requests to/transfer LO and CLO technologies, capabilities, information to foreign governments and international organizations
  • USD(AT&L) Director of Special Programs is executive secretariat
  • Tri-Service first level review within 45 days of request
    • Refers issues to ExCom depending on sensitivity
    • Charters Red/Blue teams (90 days to complete review)
    • Some cases may take several months to resolve
Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS)
  • Adjudicates requests proposals to transfer COMSEC/CRYPTO equipment/codes for C4ISR systems (GPS/PPS, Mode IV IFF, KY radios, data links, etc.)
  • To support valid interoperability requirements with allies and coalition partners
  • NSA is CNSS executive agent
  • Requires COCOM validated interoperability requirement to JCS J6 (CJCSI 6510.01B)
  • NSA Release in principle (RIP), CNSS Release in Specific (RIS)-specific equipment (type, number) for specific requirement
  • COCOM negotiates CISMOA with country
  • Process can take several months or more
Low Observable/Counter Low Observable Executive Committee (LO/CLO ExCom)
  • Major international programs will involve all release/export control processes
    • Many "moving parts"-3 committees, 5 major processes, 23 agencies
    • Numerous laws, executive orders, policies, regulations apply
    • No single USG official or agency is responsible for overall management of foreign disclosure and export control requirements
    • Processes usually do not run concurrently
    • Competing/conflicting equities involved
    • May take several months to conplete/reach consensus
    • Key to success is PLANNING
  • Disclosure and export control requirements must be integral part of overall planning

How exactly does the special LO/CLO Excom team work? Not much is known but from this paper, (PDF- Hamilton L. Howard, Major, USAF,IMPACTS OF F-22 AND JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER EXPORTS TO THE MIDDLE EAST, April 2006) there is this quote.

 "With regards to exporting stealth technology, the export system is extended to yet another level. Information on stealth and Low Observable (LO) systems can only be released by the US Secretary of Defense. He is advised by the National Disclosure Policy Committee (NDPC) and the LO/Counter LO Executive Committee (LO/CLO Excom). The NDPC is made up of interagency representatives from the military services and intelligence agencies and makes recommendations concerning release of all classified information. The LO/CLO Excom is chaired by the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics and has representatives from the LO office of each service. The LO/CLO Excom makes inputs not only about protecting technology, but also about secret, non-public released programs"

Next, one has to consider things like the ABC’s; (Australia, Britain and Canada). They have a known lower risk to low observable technology security than any other U.S. allied nation. (PDF- Matthew H. Molloy, Lt Col, USAF, U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT FOR SALE: CRAFTING AN F-22 EXPORT POLICY, June 2000 ) Hence the reason why LM and USAF were able to make an attempt at marketing the F-22 to Australia as a full-up USAF configuration.

The important take away from Paris a few days ago and Sweetman’s original article a few years ago is the quote that JSF partner nations will receive an aircraft that meets their requirements. The key word is “their”. All JSF partner nations signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU). This means they agree to the terms of that MOU (both classified and unclassified).

It is difficult to believe that an ABC has the same low observable security risk as Israel (who exported U.S. technology to communist China some years ago and had their access to the JSF program put on probation). Also, it would be hard to believe that we would allow Turkey the same access as an ABC.

Certainly there are only 3 versions of the F-35. However, all the money spent via government contracts on Delta-SDD indicates that there are certainly different “configurations”.

The configurations by-country could include anti-tamper technology built into the jet that will shut down certain systems if access is attempted in the wrong way. This also can include geo-locating devices that do not allow the aircraft to have full combat capability when outside of a certain box. A perfect example of this would be Pakistan’s new F-16s. “Configurations” for the same model of aircraft can also include things like lower radar resolution the Saudi’s agreed to with F-15s purchased from the U.S.

There are other ways to have different flavors in those “configurations" for the F-35. For instance certain threat radar codes may be in some F-35s and not others. In the F-35, some configurations may display a different threat ring behaviour than other configurations. Then there are other ways for configuring the F-35 to meet “their” requirements. Certain weapons may have limited capability when attached to certain F-35 configurations.

Another option to deal with all of this is to have the jet dumbed down to the lowest common denominator for everyone involved. Although I doubt the USAF or USN would define that as meeting “their requirements”.

All of this can determine if a certain F-35 configuration can exploit its full stealth potential.

While a U.S. F-35 may be off the same assembly line as another partner nation, I wouldn’t count on the configurations being all the same. And, when dealing with U.S. export of military equipment; these ideas are nothing new.

UPDATE: Block 1B software—includes multi-level security functions and is the minimum block for international partners to participate in using the aircraft.


The ‘great believer' depends on faith to see the F-35 into the RAAF

As AVM Houston leaves his job as the top uniform leader for Defence, what is his opinion about the F-35 for Australia? He is still a “great believer”. Yet, faith will not give Australia the ability to control it’s airspace of interest to the North; or anywhere else.

Here are a few erroneous claims Houston makes.

He claims we need the F-35 because it is a “generation five” kind of aircraft. This claim is in dispute.

He is happy with the Super Hornet purchase which was brought in under false colours as a gap filler to maintain air supremacy, yet, when the then Defence Minister Mr. Nelson made the snap decision, Houston's input as well as that of the RAAF boss at the time was minimised. The RAAF boss at the time stated in front of our elected officials that if the F-35 was late, our existing legacy Hornets and F-111s could be life-extended. Surprise; and of course Mr. Nelson wanted to be his own man with Defence.

I can only salute AVM Houston and thank him for serving his country. That “thank you” is only in a very general sense as I believe he has helped contribute to the downfall of Australian military capability. Certainly, for air power issues, he was out of his depth both in his time as an RAAF boss and as the top boss. Well AVM Houston: We used to have alternatives.

I don’t really know what can be done with Australia’s Defence planning malaise except to start over with a blank sheet of paper. Let us take that opportunity now while we still have the chance.


Links of Interest 24 June 2011

Marketing desperation is just that; there is no plan for India to look at the F-35.

Iraq still has the potential to get worse.

With a calendar specific as opposed to a event specific strategy now set by the U.S., expect the same to happen to Afghanistan. The enemy can now feel confident about waiting us out.

And remember, that “victory” of removing the Taliban from power in 2001 was all about small forces backed up with a lot of precision air power. By itself, that won’t build a nation; if one considers Afghanistan worthy of being a nation...

Pakistan’s ISI holds a lot of the Afghan cards. Pakistan is dangerous all the way around. Maybe someday we will realize that fact.

With that, here are some very interesting statistics on the Afghan conflict.

RAND has released a report (summary and full report-PDF) that suggests the USAF put more effort into wargaming against Iran.

Interesting for RAND that they would make the following dangerous assumption.

The 2010 F-35 stealth fighter aircraft agreement with the United States is another example of building capabilities with an eye toward Iran, particularly since a stealth capability would be critical if Iran acquires the S-300 advanced air defense system from Russia.

Which variant of the S-300 and with what accessories? Good luck.

The top uniformed guy for Australian Defence has retired. I am still trying to figure out what he did that was of any great value.


Dumb wars making a case for dysfunctional weapons systems

I don't know about this....


I would say the Libya war if anything, probably makes more of a case for this.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

'Affordable' is MIA and the sleeping giant awakens

Not mentioned in Paris this week; the sleeping giant awakens.

Senate Panel Barely Turns Back JSF Threat

Under the move, if at the end of 2011 the cost of the JSF purchased under the current Lot 4 contract ran 10% more than the target price, the amendment would have put the Pentagon’s largest weapon system on probation. Then, if the program continued to run at a 10% cost overrun one year later, the only money that could be spent thereafter would be to fund program cancellation costs, the proposal

It didn't go. But interesting as that giant is in debt up to his eyeballs.

“We want to stop that. That’s the wrong kind of incentive,” Levin says. “We say set a target price, negotiate it as tough as you can — if you go above that, you[Lockheed] eat it all.”

In Paris this week, the big F-35 briefing left out the word "affordable" as in previous marketing efforts over the years. It only says "Lethal, Survivable Supportable, Interoperable", at the bottom of the slide. I guess Cost As an Independant Variable (CAIV) has new meaning. Interesting as "Affordable" was in red in briefs starting from day-one of the program; as a prime goal.

Strategic plan for Australian Defence needs a new path

The Defence Minister and others want you to think that they can map out a Defence strategy. Their kind have not been successful so far because they refuse to address serious Defence dysfunction in any useful manner. The good news is that this is being brought out into the open; credit to Mr. Smith and friends for that anyway. What are the defence goals of Australia?

If the same crew that brought us the worthless Defence White Paper of 2009 puts too much thinking into this effort, don’t expect much value.

Here are some of the problems.

1.In order to improve the strategic thinking in Defence one must take almost all of the Defence White Paper of 2009 and heap all the scorn on it that it deserves. DWP 2009 is a sick joke.

2.Protect fossil fuel resources? Defence threw away a long range strike platform; the F-111; a platform that could in-turn carry stand-off weapons. This was done on a lie. This capability has not been replaced by the Super Hornet.

3.The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is not a credible need for the RAAF. It cannot take on growing anti-access threats in the region and is too faulty and expensive to use for anything else. As an aside, the Super Hornet’s now owned by the RAAF, make a fine 2-seat tactical support aircraft for the Army; in some situations. Neither are capable of maintaining “regional air superiority” that is so often mentioned as a Defence goal.

4.The answer to our submarine problem that has been run into the ditch is not an automatic knee-jerk reaction to build new ones at home. We have not proven the ability to build much less complex surface warships.

5.Involving the failed experiment known as the Defence Material Organisation (DMO) to guard billions in taxpayer dollars is a lost cause. A new house needs a solid foundation. The DMO is an anchor around the neck of soldiers, sailors and airman.

6.Resources wasted on the no-win war known as Afghanistan contributes nothing to the defence of Australia. Platitudes from politicians who have never carried a pack and rifle lack any credibility on this topic.

So, if Australia is not up to addressing the core issues of what ails Defence, you can expect no useful result from this latest announcement on mapping strategic Defence goals.

Where to start? Mr. Smith should involve Air Power Australia to help craft any instrument that is to map out Australia’s strategic defence direction. I don’t think he or Australia would be disappointed. By doing so, he would gain solid thinking that could help to reduce the cancerous behaviour from the existing Defence groupthink cabal.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The sales force vs. what is real

DOD Buzz is doing a lot of tacair coverage. Other than sales hype, I'm not sure what the arguement is for the F-35 when you consider the following.

Neither the F-35 or Super Hornet will be able to stand up to high-end anti-access threats. Certainly not every mission is anti-access. Which means for those missions, the Super beats the F-35 all the way around on price, utility, and overall carrier ops safety issues.

Even NAVAIR thinks so...

As for:

 "What F-35 supporters invariably say in response to this argument is that whatever teething pains the F-35 is having now, it will give militaries a clear edge for a long time, as opposed to older aircraft that could be come obsolete quicker. "

The JORD for the F-35 was done in 2000. It might get into FOC in 2020 if we are lucky. Tell me about "obsolete" again.

(click image to make it larger)

The design is still not stable. Production learning curve is still not there because.... the design is not stable. There is still a lot of flight testing to do. The term "teething pains" is usually reserved for a weapons system that is mostly tested and in IOC. That term does not apply here.

Interesting that the Hill wants LRIP-5 to be a fixed price contract. That kind of a situation is usually only done when production has a lot of learning curve present and there are a lot of knows. Which again, does not apply in this situation.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The new F-35 website


1. The front of a building that looks onto a street or open space.
2. An outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a less pleasant or creditable reality.
3. The new F-35 website.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Can 3, fly 8-the dysfunctional MOD supply chain

The UK has to cannibalize 3 Typhoons in order to keep 8 flying in the moronic sideshow which is the Libya operation.

Some are quick to say cannibalization is common. It depends. If it is too common, you always end up spending more taxpayer money to support flying operations. It points to incompetent flag-level management. It points to incompetent senior civilian military management.

When you pull a part from an aircraft to put on another, that part is not zero hours like the kind of part you pull off the shelf. This messes up your maintenance process; cascades, and causes other problems.

When you cannibalize an aircraft, you contribute to blowing out your maintenance man hour costs and creating bad side-effects. The person(s) assigned to pulling a part off of a can bird to put on another takes more time than going to a properly stocked parts bin. Also, when you source from your parts bin what you get is something that is fresh (no matter if it is new or refurbished) and you can predict the number of hours that it can fly on the aircraft before replacement.

So, when you pull a part off of a can bird you use more maintenance man hours that any unit can ill-afford and you “repair” the operational aircraft with a part that is in effect “used” and you will have to replace that part again on the same jet on shorter time intervals.

There is another danger of an improperly funded parts bin at the unit level. Consumable parts that you cannot cannibalize are also in short supply. Aircraft that would otherwise be on the flight training schedule sit on the ground. With either category of part, this  produces lost flight training hours.

Canning should happen in some extreme cases like remote airfields in combat. It should not happen with expensive aircraft that belong to air arms that supposedly employ proper logistics and finance people.

In the procurement holiday that was the post Cold War 1990’s, the U.S. military did a huge amount of cannibalization. It cost so much money in the budget due to lost maintenance/logistics man hours, extra budget administration man hours, lost flight training hours and loss of experienced people that Congress took notice.

Loss of experienced people? You see, when you stress out the pilot and maintenance community this much—pilots want to fly, maintainers can only take so many 12 hour/7 day shifts—they leave the service. The taxpayer loses good tribal knowledge that you have to then replace in the training pipeline with a green person. All because someone couldn’t budget money for the parts bin.

This happens in phases. It gets addressed (kind of). Then it gradually creeps up again. In an MRAP-one-war-wonder useless dirt operation era where UAV’s powered by uprated snowmobile engines are “air power” stars, I wonder how big the cannibalization problem is in today’s DOD?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Video-C-130J Combat Shadow

What makes the Combat Shadow special? Take a look at this LM video.

GD-Austal variant of Littoral Combat Ship battling massive corrosion

If you thought the issues with the Lockheed Martin variant of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) were ugly, ponder the following. According to this post from the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Bloomberg news will report that the General Dynamics-Austal variant of the LCS has suffered massive corrosion problems.

The “aggressive” corrosion was found in the propulsion areas of USS Independence. To permanently repair the corrosion the ship will have to be dry-docked and have its’ water-jet propulsion system removed, according to a written statement the Navy provided to Congressional appropriations committees and Bloomberg News.

This is simply phenomenal considering that the ship completed its maiden voyage in April 2010, just fourteen months ago. This is, however, inline with the LCS programs’ history of problems and comes on the heels of major cost overruns, which we documented just two weeks ago. This will likely add to development costs that have already increased 287 percent from baseline estimates, and may add to annual operating costs, already over $36 million per ship, if such aggressive corrosion cannot be prevented.

The LCS program is a complete waste. And great work to the Navy for selecting both vendors in a competitive bid. Lunacy.

The LCS won’t be able to fight its way out of a paper bag and will end up getting a lot of sailors killed.

And yes Mr. Work, the Navy does need a new frigate. One that is not gold-plated, doesn’t burn much fuel and is simple as part of its core design. The wasteful and useless LCS is occupying shipbuilding skills that could be put to better use making warships we actually need.

We have admirals with very poor vision of what a Navy should be. That and we need to cut the budget. Cancelling the LCS program should be an easy decision.

Over to you; LCS cheerleaders.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Where is the compelling argument from Defence?

Since the joke that is the Defence White Paper of 2009 doesn't qualify as a valid justification to increase Defence spending, where is the "compelling argument"?

Here are some thoughts; ending with some great words.

"Following Jim's line of argument that it is 'all' due to insufficient money, Defence for the last 40 years has been demonstrably unable — or did not feel the need to — present governments with a persuasive and compelling case for sustained increased spending relative to the other needs of all Australians. Has the ADF been let down in this regard? Jim's 'Constructive Subversion' may be one thing but a compelling argument is a much more difficult and onerous task. Maybe Defence thinks so too!"

King's Speech? Yes. But there is another similar story...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Defence selects U.S. made Romeo helicopter for the Navy

Given the great unpleasantness in procurement and the general trend that it is safer if DMO doesn't do too much to hurt their brain, Defence has decided for the off-the-shelf U.S.-made Romeo helicopter for the Navy over the Euro contender. This one was predictable.

via Defence
Stephen Smith MP
Minister for Defence

Jason Clare MP
Minister for Defence Materiel

New Naval Combat Helicopters

Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today announced that the Australian Government had approved the acquisition of 24 MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ naval combat helicopters at a cost of over $3 billion.

The 2009 Defence White Paper committed the Government to equipping naval warships with a new combat helicopter capable of conducting a range of maritime misions with advanced anti-submarine warfare capabilities and the ability to fire air-to-surface missiles.

This announcement delivers on that commitment.

The new helicopters will replace the Navy’s current combat helicopter capability provided by 16 Seahawk S-70B-2 helicopters and will also provide the air to surface strike capability which was to have been provided by the cancelled Seasprite program.

This decision follows a 15-month competitive acquisition process involving the Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin built MH-60R and the NATO Helicopter Industries NH90 NFH assembled by Australian Aerospace.

This competitive process has ensured value for money for the tax payer.

The Australian Government has chosen the ‘Romeo’ helicopter because it represents the best value for money for taxpayers and was the lowest risk option.

The ‘Romeo’ is a proven capability currently operated by the United States Navy. The United States Navy has accepted around 100 ‘Romeos’ which have accumulated 90,000 flying hours, including on operational deployments.

Interoperability with Australia’s Alliance partner, the United States, is also a significant advantage of this helicopter.

The helicopters are largely military off-the-shelf built by Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin and will be purchased through the Foreign Military Sales process from the US Navy.

Defence has signed a Letter of Agreement for the acquisition with the United States Government.

The first two helicopters will arrive in mid-2014 for testing and evaluation with operations expected to commence in mid-2015.

Acquisition of 24 ‘Romeos’ means that Navy will have the capacity to provide at least eight warships with a combat helicopter at the same time, including ANZAC Class frigates and the new Air Warfare Destroyers. The remainder will be based at HMAS Albatross in Nowra, New South Wales, and will be in various stages of the regular maintenance and training cycle.

They will be equipped with a highly sophisticated combat systems designed to employ Hellfire air-to-surface missile and the Mark 54 anti-submarine torpedo.

The Government will work with Australian Small-to-Medium Enterprises to identify opportunities to form part of the ‘Romeo’ global supply chain.

The Government has established a joint working group between Defence and the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research to progress Australian industry involvement in the project.

Latest F-35 news

Here is the short version of various Joint Strike Failure news.

A law firm is setting up a class action case over jet noise. Their clients fear the jet noise from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that Australia is supposed to be getting.

A few problems: Australia has not handed over any money yet for the first order. Good to be prepared though and maybe in the end; not for the F-35 as it may never show up. More interesting is the fetish some have for thinking that the Super Hornet will be the proper fallback position should the F-35 fail. I think this is going to happen. However I don’t think it is a good idea.

Poor solution aside; Super Hornets make more noise than classic Hornets. While I like jets, the Super noise is pretty ugly on take-off. Even if the current noise levels get no bigger, who would have thought any development around a military airbase and civil flying activity is a good idea?

There is some new (old) “analysis” on Australian air power issues mentioned at the Lowy Institute. I like the Lowy Institute, however the air power mentions in the paper are too poor and uninformed to qualify for analysis in any form. This is unfortunate. I guess I can’t expect them to be good at everything.

The new F-35 schedule is going great; so say the cheerleaders. And, a critical review of the program has been delayed. Hoping for good news Admiral? Of interest is this old schedule from 2007 which when compared to what those with pom-poms say, brings up reality. There is a very long way to go. And, where we are going is not a better place. It is an express train to defense acquisition hell.

A real feast for law firms.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How do you say "Ponzi Scheme" in China?

Good read here.

Which ends with this thought.

"The recent Australian budget proves, as if further convincing was needed, that Australia's projected budget surpluses are heavily dependent on the China Boom Mark II. A few sharp shocks about the realities of Chinese companies might yet have an impact on Australia's economic prosperity."

Links of interest 15 Jun 2011

Aviation Week and Defense Technology International's Bill Sweetman has three interesting reads starting out with this sporty video.

Explained in this post A life on the ocean wave.

Then Bill looks at confirmation of China's 2 J-20 stealth prototype stealth fighters along with something that is just as dangerous: AESA capability on the J-10B. I wonder how they approached cooling with that new radar setup?

Peter Criss and Gary Bates take another look at problems in the Defence justice system.

What do you do if you want to see more defense spending? You use fear.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

More work committed to combat troop survivability

It is nice to see articles like this even if I disagree with the Afghanistan mission.

Anything that continues to look at combat soldier survivability is a good thing. And even years ago with the fact that the Bushmaster vehicle initially started with a goofed up procurement contract, it is now sorted out to be a super-star lifesaver. Thank you to the Australian Defence establishment.

This trumps spending money on fantasy ships, submarines and aircraft. Maybe someday Australia will actually learn how to procure the big dollar platforms with some form of sanity. I hope so.

Until then, as Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan points out, the beat goes on.

Portable wireless Internet in a hostile country has other risks

This is cool and everything.

I just hope they know the risks; in that, this gear can be geolocated. Not unlike the WWII movie where you see the German radio direction finder van in the French countryside while the resistance radio operator is sending a signal. That didn't always end well.

Then there is that other problem.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called these circumvention technologies “a historic opportunity to effect positive change, change America supports.” However, there is the concern that the State Department's actions will be viewed not just as promoting free speech and protecting human rights, but as targeting foreign governments. Clay Shirky told the Times that the U.S. could particularly expose itself to charges of hypocrisy if the State Department outwardly supported regimes like Saudi Arabia or Bahrain, while at the same time building tools that would likely be used to destabilize them.

H/T-War News Updates

Now you can visualize the poor quality of the Littoral Combat Ship

I read Cdr Salamander’s post before looking at the photo. I thought, while reading, “well he knows this stuff, maybe it is some minor detail that only subject matter experts could pick out.”

Go to his post and look at the high-res photo.

We spend more and more insane billions on the Navy. What do we get? Well, I don’t think we are getting quality.

On another note, this from (subscription).

Pentagon Waives Testing Requirement For Navy's Littoral Combat Ship

The Pentagon has waived the statutory requirement for full-up, system-level survivability testing of the Littoral Combat Ship because it would be "unreasonably expensive" and "impractical," a decision blessed by the Defense Department's top weapons tester, DOD officials say.

Monday, June 13, 2011

That other F-35 weight saving event



[Look how easy it is you Congress pukes. It just snaps together. Now hand over the money]


The much known SWAT (STOVL weight attack team) weight reduction event in 2004 gets most of the attention in early F-35 program history when one thinks of program management challeges, or the lack of program management skill. But there was another weight reduction event in the previous year that had just as an important impact on the whole of the program.

The SWAT event of 2004 had a goal to reduce 3000 pounds off of the short take-off and landing (STOVL) F-35B that would be used by the USMC. Some of these weight reduction methods saw their way into the other variants; the conventional F-35A and the aircraft carrier capable F-35C.

SWAT had a significant effect on the program. While it may have got them to their weight goal, it made the Lockmart/Pentagon team drop their main design for a new “weight optimized” version. The program lost about a year along with an increase in program cost.

There was a lesser known weight reduction event in 2003. When we read today’s negative reports on F-35 production costs and delay, we can let the 2003 weight reduction event take some of the credit. A quote from a 2003 article* by Stephen Trimble of Flight International shows what can only be a significant impact of removing quick-mate joints. Ease of assembly and affordability were the big selling points of the program. Today? Maybe not so much.

In another revelation, the Rand report says that Lockheed Martin now plans to "abandon" the quickmate joints that were a hallmark of the aircraft's highly touted lean assembly technique.

Lockheed Martin's original plan called for mating each major section of the aircraft using machined planes with pre-drilled holes that are simply fastened together. Combined with a laser tracker, the quick-mate joints were expected to reduce a 10-day assembly process to a few factory shifts.

"The net effect of [abandoning the process] will probably be an increase in work content – and schedule and costs - to the final assembly stage," notes the Rand Europe report, titled Assembling and Supporting the Joint Strike Fighter in the UK: Issues and Costs. But Lockheed Martin disagrees with the word "abandon", describing the company's action "more as scaling back".

JSF's quick-mate joints have been replaced by an "integrated joint",a move that trims the aircraft weight by 320-360kg (700-800lb), says Lockheed Martin. The original joints were dropped soon after a critical design review earlier this year showed the aircraft exceeded its weight target by 30%.

Kent concedes the trade-off is a longer assembly period, but the cost increase is projected to be a "fraction of a percentage point".

Emphasis mine.


* Stephen Trimble, “U.K. faces increased cost of participation in JSF, Flight International, 7-13 Oct. 2003

STOVL combat capability over-hyped

We know that the United States Air Force is committed to fielding the conventional runway version of the F-35.

After the start of the Afghanistan war, the head of the USAF stated that he could see a need for the service to split up its F-35 buy between the conventional runway version and the USMC short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) version.

This idea (which now seems dead) has to be put in context. The goal of the USAF boss was not some STOVL fantasy super-close to the ground troops. It was based on the idea that the USAF could operate out of some shorter runways; knowing the limits of logistics.

This PDF file (click on link it doesn’t right-click, save-as well) is a school study from the USAF war college dated April of 2006. It states that the idea of STOVL for the USAF is a bad one; that even the USMC hasn’t proven the usefulness of STOVL ops with the Harrier and that if one wanted to be truly joint and save money, USAF should buy the U.S. Navy carrier version; the F-35C. It also points out other problems with the F-35B STOVL such as less endurance and range.

The paper is poorly written and full of holes ( I agree with the lack of worth of STOVL). For instance, the author doesn’t really explore the usefulness of the F-35 program. Since the F-35 won’t be able to do anti-access jobs and is too expensive for anything else, the real question is; Does the F-35 provide any value to the USAF? My opinion is, “no”.

In every major conflict involving US ground troops since Operation DESERT STORM, the USMC Harriers have not been unique in their ability to “move forward” and operate “close to the fight”. For example, during DESERT STORM “Hornets based at Shaik Isa utilized the airfield at Jabayl as a FARP [Forward Arming Refueling Point], just as the Harriers did at Tanajib, thus reducing transit time to and from the target area”.
Furthermore, USAF “F16s…generated a tremendous number of sorties while operating from a forward operating location (FOL) at King Khalid Military City (KKMC) in Saudi Arabia, located just 60 miles from the Iraqi border”.
“F-16s operating there were able to exchange their drop-tanks for extra ordnance: KKMC-based missions carried four Mk-84 2,000-pound bombs (double the normal load of two). FOL operations allowed the wing to fly more sorties per day; KKMC missions launched from the…main base in Abu Dhabi to bomb the KTO [Kuwait theater of operations]; landed and rearmed at KKMC for a second sortie to the KTO (which did not require refueling); landed and rearmed at KKMC for a third mission and after attacking the KTO, air refueled to return to Abu Dhabi.”

Like the USMC Harrier, the USAF F-16’s took advantage of a FOL, but the “F-16 carried a larger payload than either the Harrier or the Hornet, and delivered tons of ordnance…with a very small transit and turnaround time”.

Again, nearly ten-years later, during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF), the USMC Harriers were not alone in their ability to move forward and operate “close to the fight”. In October 2002, a six-airplane detachment of Harriers from Marine Attack Squadron (VMA)-513 set up shop at Bagram, near Kabul, where A-10s had been operating since March of that year.

Later during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF), Harriers took advantage of a FARP “at An Numaniyah, 60 miles south of Baghdad” but USAF A-10’s also “deployed forward” and operated out of “Tallil Air Base in Iraq”. However, logistics hampered Harrier operations. According to a “Harrier squadron commander…it was a major task keeping such aircraft supplied with jet fuel at that site”. This squadron commander went on to say, “It takes a lot of support and logistics…so we chose to use other platforms”.

Like the Harrier, the F-35B will be a logistics challenge. A number of logistics risks exist with the STOVL variant that do not exist for the other JSF variants, the primary being the vertical lift fan. Although a revolutionary design concept, the reliability and maintainability of the lift fan is still unproven. The lift fan operates on a single shaft that connects to the main engine and spins at a high-rate of speed. According to one study, this lift fan design causes “ added complexity” due to “the need for the clutch to engage and disengage the lift fan”.

Repair of the vertical lift components would very likely call for removing the engine, a traditionally “high repair time task”. Further, the lift fan and swivel nozzle adds to the logistics footprint  especially when forward deployed.

According to one study, “While the JSF designers strive to reduce the complexity of the aircraft systems, the fact remains that the STOVL…will by nature be more difficult to maintain than either corresponding CTOL or [Navy] version”. This conclusion centered on “Naval Post Graduate School [studies] which compare projected component designs for the STOVL JSF to current Harrier design and projected [F-35C] design”.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The ghosts of TFX

Here is some more thoughts on history repeating itself with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.

With the early plans of the TFX program failing to work with the fleet, the USAF ended up holding the bag. The F-111 eventually proved itself in USAF combat operations, but the procurement method was a mess. It was not the way to field a combat jet.

The distance from what the TFX program was supposed to give the U.S. military and what they eventually got is large. The result was a third of the original number of TFX aircraft at five times the cost.(1)

What ended up being the real joint service fighter in that era? The F-4 Phantom.

Those that sold the Joint Strike Fighter program to a gullible Congress are guilty of the same over-optimism. They claim they learned from past acquisition programs but that just does not show as being true.

With the severe budget problems now facing all parts of the Federal government, could the Super Hornet be the Phantom of our era? With the USAF painted into a corner of its own making and where budget is policy, I think it is possible.



JSF history-proving a 1000lb penetrator weapon

In the 1990’s during the early days of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program, the decision for the weight class of what air-to-ground munitions the 3 different aircraft types were to carry internally was different than what it is today.

Back then, it was decided that the USAF and USMC JSF variants were to carry internally two 1000 pound class air-to-ground weapons. The Navy wanted to carry two 2000 pound class air-to-ground weapons internally for their variant of the JSF.


(click on image to make it larger)

Some needed convincing that they could live with a lighter weapon class for internal carry on the JSF. It is important to note that just being heavier isn’t good enough to get the bomb to properly penetrate common cement/brick buildings let alone a fortification. For instance, the 2000 pound variant for this kind of work is not the plain vanilla “iron bomb” known as the Mark 84. Anything that involves bombing this kind of target goes to it’s cousin, the forged steel pointy tip bomb known as the BLU-109.

In order to convince the end user that the lighter bomb class would be good enough for internal carry, it was necessary to create a prototype 1000 pound class penetrator as seen from this 1990’s test.


Yet, in the end the USAF decided they—like the Navy—wanted to carry two 2000 pound class weapons internally on the JSF. I often wonder if had the USAF stuck with the original plan would their JSF variant suffer less development problems?

Why less development problems? Well, as one F-35 JSF test pilot stated, “holes are heavy”. This means the bigger the internal bay on an aircraft, the more weight you add to the design.

In another post, we will look into JSF requirements from those early days and observe the complexity and thin assumptions.

How thin? You decide.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

More Australian submarine woes. Really? Yes

According to an article in yesterday’s The Australian, none of the navy’s 6 submarines are fit for duty. Defence (specifically the Navy) has issued a press release stating this is wrong, but considering that the article already addresses input by Defence, it is hard to take the mind-guards seriously.

The Collins class submarine has been beset by troubles since the start of the program. It has cost the taxpayer an estimated $10 billion dollars for this mess.

If there was a war today—funny how they seem to appear out of nowhere—Australia’s submarine fleet would have minimal impact in the defence of the region. Your $10 billion dollars have been for nothing.

The experiment known as the Defence Material Organisation (DMO) can be considered a failure. They in-fact own the responsibility for sustaining the Collins class sub program. In defence of the DMO, they couldn’t even sustain common ships, so how could they be realistically expected to manage something as complicated as submarines? This is more work for our very slow off the mark politicians to consider. Here is some help.

The Defence establishment wants you to hand over $36 billion (or more) on an empty promise to recapitalize the submarine fleet. Indonesia on the other hand has a plan to grow their submarine fleet to 10 over the coming years at a cost of about $800 million (off-the-shelf) per boat. They don't have the shipbuilding skills to do it at home and apparently, neither do we. Which is a more reasonable submarine acquisition plan?

Joint command attitudes have improved, but how much?

How much duplication of effort in missions can we afford within the services? What should each service really be doing? How much realignment of the services and trimming of duplication of roles and missions should be done?

Here is some interesting history that points to duplication of effort.

Interestingly in the great unpleasantness that was the Vietnam War, U.S. Navy aircrew had a try with the OV-10 in the Mekong Delta region. Read all of that story here. It was a time when “Jointness” was still a theory. The services were territorial to the extreme.

We shared a good working relationship with an Air Force tactical air support squadron (TASS) flying the infamous Pushme-Pullyou (O-2). They made no attempt to control us. However, they were often able to give us good targets while they waited for their tactical aircraft. This cooperation ended when a TASS FAC told a very tardy flight of F-100s, "Jettison your bombs here. The Navy has already hit my target." From somewhere on high came a directive that Air Force FACs would no longer work Navy air. About a month later, as a TASS FAC tried to steer my flight of OV-10s into a night action involving U.S. advisors in an overrun South Vietnamese Army outpost, an authoritative voice over the radio forbade the FAC's involvement. Ever the professional, he remained on station "inadvertently jettisoning" flares until we could arrive overhead. That such a "my war, my glory" attitude could get in the way of supporting those poor SOBs on the ground was deeply disillusioning. In time, the policy was rescinded.

Maybe in some ways, it still like that.

"C-12 early flight of the Army's CEASAR EW capability. CEASAR is designed to conduct electronic warfare from above the battlefield. CEASAR will give the Army an organic beyond line of sight electronic attack capability designed specifically to address the concerns of the land forces.

Was the USAF ever consulted on a need for a capability "designed specifically to address the concerns of the land forces?" And if if not, why?

If this and other small war missions--like tactical airborne ISR and close air support--are being effectively done by the Army, why is the USAF involved other than to be a air bridge logistics enabler? And even that is being contracted out.

I fully understand big anti-access war needs but if Army Aviation is capable of "addressing the concerns of land forces" in a small war environment, are we at the juncture where service duties have to be looked at with a greater scrutiny of who should do what?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Bike lanes in NYC...

Some places in the States have a lot less respect for bikes. Here is a funny one about the state of bike lanes in NYC.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A few ideas for Leon Panetta to consider

There are various publications making the rounds of what the next U.S. DOD boss Leon Panetta must do to move the Pentagon in the right direction. Here are a few of my ideas that the Panetta crew have to consider to keep American security interests strong. The major ground rule will be based on the premise that the U.S. DOD budget will suffer greatly.

1.Advise the President and Congress to reduce the forces in Afghanistan by a significant amount. This would be where special forces react to a variety of intel to stamp out threats and not just in Afghanistan.

2.This goes to the next point which is to advise the President and Congress that we cannot afford to use the military for nation building useless dirt locations around the world. This will allow the DOD to shed the billions of wasted dollars spent on Afghanistan contractor support.

3.Advise the President and Congress to significantly reduce the military footprint in Europe. This means closing bases wholesale. The only thing we need there are logistics hub setups. And we will still deploy there as needed for exercises.

4.Advise the President and Congress that the U.S. needs to invest more resources into facing potential threats from the South with the growing instability in Mexico. This may involve more Department of Homeland Security (DHS) resources than DOD but task force plans must be created and exercised to provide mission critical and rapid DOD backup against the increasing threat.

5.Advise the President and Congress to significantly reduce the size of the USMC. We do not need a second land army and a 3rd air arm.

6.Advise the President and Congress to end the USAF manned nuclear bomber mission. It is a waste of money.

7.Advise the President and Congress to reduce the size of the USAF in areas where it is doing jobs better done by the Army such as ground force security in a war theater.

8.End the largess at the DOD top office. No E-4B super corporate jet. Lead austerity by example.

9.Significantly reduce the number of flag rank officers in all services. One may be surprised how capable full-colonels are at doing a variety of tasks.

10.Advise the President and Congress to stop the Libya operation immediately. It is unsupportable because there is no strategy or national interest to back it up.

11.Advise the President and Congress that the U.S. Navy needs to embark on a program to field a nuclear escort (large destroyer) to support carrier battle groups. This will reduce carrier battlegroup dependence on fossil fuels for future wars that will most likely involve interests over natural resources. This can be funded by cancelling the Littoral Combat ship program and ending the Navy involvement in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

12.Advise the President and Congress that the Navy needs to build a cheap, affordable, low technology Frigate for other-than-major war use. This can be funded by stopping all builds of the Burke-class destroyer and will involve a variety of ship-building resources so our ship-building industry stays healthy.

13.Advise the President and Congress that the USAF must have a long-range hyper-sonic air-to-ground missile to be launched from B-52s in order to help work against anti-access threats.

14.Advise the President and Congress that the USAF as an air arm must be significantly reduced to where a majority of flying resources are in Air National Guard units.

15.Advise the President and Congress that the USAF and Navy must start a new X-plane program that continuously and actively tests a variety of manned and unmanned flying technologies.

16.Advise the President and Congress that the USAF must adjust its requirement for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter down to a thin Group structure of 24 aircraft each for a total airframe requirement of 300 aircraft. The number may be allowed to rise from that requirement if the program shows true worth.

17.Advise the President and Congress that the USAF is to be directed to participate in fielding the UCAS-N aircraft in order to support joint strike and ISR operations with the U.S. Navy.

Our project management problems

Read through this PDF from DOT&E. It highlights the basic reasons various U.S. defense projects get messed up.

The following is a compilation of paraphrasing from off-the record statements by engineers and other subject matter experts that look at all of this in wonder.

We used to let engineers speak their mind so a successful project could get done. Today, we have a shortage of engineers and major engineering go/no-go decisions are being made by business types and marketing hacks.

We may long for the Rickover era, where faced with great uncertainty, the Polaris missile--even with development problems--came through in a reasonable amount of time, because of proper project thinking.

Think about that.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Definition of a service-wide F-35 maintenance culture still out of reach

Second Line of Defense continues with its fan club love of the F-35.

The topic in this article is maintenance culture and commonality.

There isn’t all that much commonality for jet type A to land at a jet type B or C base. The original goal of the F-35 program was to have 70-80 percent part commonality between airframe types. That did not happen. There are 14 different part classifications with the F-35 and "cousin parts" do not qualify as "common parts".

As for the maintenance culture between the three alleged operators of the F-35, there are a few ways to help make this a little easier with the U.S. Forces. Make the Marines fly all C model F-35s and dump the STOVL B. The USMC has already had to eat 80 F-35Cs. Or, get rid of USMC fast-jet operations altogether. We can’t afford 3 fast-jet air arms. Not with the piles of debt we have. Those ideas would save on maintenance culture expense. Especially since the aircraft is going to cost 30 percent more per flying hour than the legacy aircraft it was meant to replace.

All of this assumes that the program ever makes enough development progress to get out of the under-tested mistake-jet phase. We won’t know for some years.

That, and other things, you will not see mentioned much at the Second Line of Defense F-35 fan club.

Don't mention the war

"The community needs to realise it is the height of insensitivity to a grieving family to claim or infer a digger has died in vain,'' MrJames said.

Or the height of insensitivity when the Prime Minister and Defence leadership stand up and do a sales job (no platitude spared) on a war that has no practical defensive value for Australia.

Videos--Boeing's air dominance fighter design

H/T-The Dew Line

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Don't let the Defence Establishment hold Australia's tax dollars hostage over subs

Indonesia expects to pay around U.S. $800M for their new subs. The Australian Defence Establishment wants us to believe that they can make 12 replacements for the Collins class for $36B. Given the current ship-building debacle, we should act with extreme caution for any warship wants by Defence.

There are those that still hold on to the tired old claim that a replacement for the Collins sub needs to be big, custom, long range (or at least longer range than any off-the-shelf sub to support their case) and have a variety of features. Features that are “Australian”. Just about any defence product Australia buys will have some “Australianization” to include our current Super Hornets (some navigation aids of no particular concern). Yet, how much is too much? Answer; the Air Warfare Destroyer project, which is only kind of like the Spanish design the public was mislead into believing was low risk.

Those that want the super unobtainable homemade and gold-plated submarine are running a con. They don’t have the skills to back up their claims and they will do and say anything to make sure there is enough backing for this jobs program. The number-one goal is for it to be a jobs program since they don’t have a clue what the design will cost; how long it takes to build; how much it will cost to sustain, or; if it will even work properly. They do not have a CV that deserves our confidence. This camp even seems to prefer that it is their plan or nothing; even if their road map has a good chance of delivering low or no worthwhile combat capability.

So how could Australia fund some gap-fill off-the-shelf subs until (if) home industry gets their act together? Easy. There is $3.2B of unspent commitment sitting out there in fantasy land for 14 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters; AKA, "Faulkner's Folly". As the F-35 is a fearfully high risk program, the government should hand over no money for this purchase. Funds should go toward new off-the-shelf subs.

In any event, all of this depends on a failed experiment known as the Defence Material Organisation (DMO) to manage everything. Which means, any low risk project becomes medium risk; any medium risk project becomes high risk and any high risk project—like 12 home grown subs for $36B (or the F-35)—becomes feeble minded fantasy.

We took Defence and industry on their word before with the Air Warfare Destroyer which is a much less complex project than building subs. We should never do that again. Incredible claims of ship-building skills and project management for submarines needs incredible proof. We should give the Defence Establishment a chance to come up with a properly risk-assessed design, but they should not be allowed to hold our national defence hostage.

Hitchens on the dysfunctional U.S./Pakistan relationship

Hitchens writes in Vanity Fair about the dysfunctional and dangerous U.S./Pakistan relationship. Where will it all end?

"If we ever ceased to swallow our pride, so I am incessantly told in Washington, then the Pakistani oligarchy might behave even more abysmally than it already does, and the situation deteriorate even further. This stale and superficial argument ignores the awful historical fact that, each time the Pakistani leadership did get worse, or behave worse, it was handsomely rewarded by the United States. We have been the enablers of every stage of that wretched state’s counter-evolution, to the point where it is a serious regional menace and an undisguised ally of our worst enemy, as well as the sworn enemy of some of our best allies. How could it be “worse” if we shifted our alliance and instead embraced India, our only rival in scale as a multi-ethnic and multi-religious democracy, and a nation that contains nearly as many Muslims as Pakistan? How could it be “worse” if we listened to the brave Afghans, like their former intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh, who have been telling us for years that we are fighting the war in the wrong country?

If we continue to deny or avoid this inescapable fact, then we really are dishonoring, as well as further endangering, our exemplary young volunteers. Why was the raid on Abbottabad so rightly called “daring”? Because it had to be conducted under the radar of the Pakistani Air Force, which “scrambled” its jets and would have brought the Black Hawks down if it could. That this is true is bad enough in all conscience. That we should still be submitting ourselves to lectures and admonitions from General Kayani is beyond shameful."

Empty words from the leadership about Afghanistan

"We have defined time frame for our strategy"

-Prime Minister Gillard-

"Why would you pull out when you are making the best progress you have ever made? Why, why would you do it? We need to stay the course."

-Australian Defence Force chief Angus Houston-

Good reading here to get them up to speed. While not perfect (it has less mistakes than the current strategy) the Lind work on 4-gen warfare has some good points.

By telling the enemy a date that we will get out, you have already guaranteed defeat. In the end, let us just get out.

"I see light at the end of the tunnel."

-Walt W. Rostow, U.S. National Security Adviser, Dec. 1967-


Monday, June 6, 2011

What are the practical considerations of the V-22 Osprey for Australian service?

(Gates on his final tour steps off an Osprey-DOD photo)

Certainly Defence has enough large-dollar, high-risk procurement decisions on the plate but I am curious about the following; the Osprey.

What are it's good points / bad points for Australian service? I am a critic of the program, however I can see its uses. Would this be a useful aircraft for operations in the Pacific Rim?

It has range, VTOL, air-to-air refueling ability and some speed. Could the Army better perform certain missions with the support of this aircraft?

H/T-War News Updates (photo)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Gates fan club is making their rounds...

What is the value of Gates for the USAF? Not much. The USAF was in great leadership trouble before Gates showed up.

Just one small example would be here. Matter of fact it was publications like the Air Force Times that refused to find out why Metzger was handled the way she was. Proper discipline is the core of any military organization. If the top office can't perform simple military disciplinary action; what else are they screwing up? As it turned out; quite a lot.

Gates prevented any real USAF leadership from being creative. Well if any creative types ever appeared in addition to Deptula. Deptula is now gone. What the USAF ended up with were sycophants.

I don't see that as an improvement.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Seen and heard in Senate Estimates....

Always lots of fun in Senate estimates events. Take this one from 30 May 2011. (PDF)

Great stuff. Your Defence working for ...well... themselves.

Senator JOHNSTON: Yes, but why would Dr Thomson say Defence's financial management are having serious problems?
Dr Watt: I do not think we are. We had an underspend this year, a large underspend. That was extremely regrettable. We will be working very hard to make sure we do not have a large underspend next year. We have our problems; Dr Thomson's choice of words are Dr Thomson's, not mine.
Senator JOHNSTON: You know that the committee is not going to sit here and read this very excellent report from ASPI, which is funded by Defence and of which you have had a preliminary copy, and just let this wash under the bridge.
Dr Watt: I am not suggesting you should.
Senator JOHNSTON: Now we spend an awful lot of money trying to plan budget by budget with the defence capability plan, with a legion of people working on where we are going to be next year, the year after, and indeed out to 2030. How is it you get it so wrong?
Dr Watt: As I said, firstly, this was an unusual year. Secondly—
Senator JOHNSTON: Why is it an unusual year?
Dr Watt: We had a significant period of time this year when we had an election, an extended caretaker period and new ministers.
Senator JOHNSTON: But that is predictable, surely?
Dr Watt: No, it is not.
Senator JOHNSTON: So election cycles completely muck up your planning is what you are saying?
Dr Watt: They can; they affect every agency's and department's planning.
Senator JOHNSTON: How?
Dr Watt: Ministerial approval for matters is hard to get during an election.
Senator JOHNSTON: You had two ministers working on it in caretaker mode—myself and Senator Faulkner.
Dr Watt: Yes, Senator.
Senator JOHNSTON: How does it muck your program up, as you are trying to have us believe?
Dr Watt: The answer is this: you do not have the ability to get throughput and cabinet consideration that you would get during a normal period of time.
Senator JOHNSTON: Can you tell me how many approaches to cabinet you have made in the period 2009-10 and 2010-11? How many have been deferred? How many starts you wanted but did not get? Tell us all about those, if you will?
Dr Watt: I can give you those in due course, but what I cannot tell you—
Senator JOHNSTON: Are you going to take those on notice?
Dr Watt: I will take those on notice, but what I cannot tell you is the hypothetical—how many we would have had forward if we had had normal government through the second half of last year. That is the much harder question to answer. What you are saying is, 'You did not go to cabinet and therefore there was no problem,' but what I am saying is that there was no cabinet to go to.
Senator JOHNSTON: No; I am talking about how many times you went to cabinet and did not get a start or were told there was no room for you in cabinet or the NSC for an approval.
Dr Watt: And, again, Senator, I would be happy to give you that information, but the point I am making is that it is not the right question.
Senator JOHNSTON: What is the right question?
Dr Watt: The right question, Senator, is: were there occasions when we did not progress things because of the run-up to the caretaker period?
Senator JOHNSTON: What were those projects?
Dr Watt: We will give you that information, Senator.
Senator JOHNSTON: So, off the top of your head, you do not know the projects but you are telling us to take this on faith and you are going to give us the answers on notice?
Dr Watt: We will take that on notice; that is correct.
Senator FAULKNER: I intend to follow this through a bit later, Dr Watt, but it is true to say, of course, that the caretaker period was—due to the circumstances in relation to the close election result—I think it is fair to say, much longer than anyone could possibly have anticipated. I intend to chase up one or two of these matters a little later in the hearing, but you might have for us the dates of the caretaker period. If you do not have them, I want to follow through at a later stage one of the issues that was raised during that period. But I think we can at least say that the caretaker period was not only the period from the issue writs through the campaign until what ordinarily occurs a week or so later, the swearing in of a ministry, but of course there was also quite a long period of time, the extended caretaker period, while negotiations were undertaken in relation to the formation of a government. I think that is a fair statement to make, don't you?
Dr Watt: I think that is a fair statement to make. We will get those dates for you.
Senator FAULKNER: This has some relevance, I suppose, to what Senator Johnston is asking, but I also want to raise other issues which are to some extent dependent on the caretaker period. Anyway, that is something that can be done over the break. It is not hard to find.
Senator JOHNSTON: Secretary, what is the amount of the significant underspend?
Dr Watt: The estimated underspend in 2010-11 is $1.6 billion.
Senator JOHNSTON: How many weeks were tied up in the election campaign? Was it seven or nine?
Dr Watt: I think we would say of the order of eight weeks.
Senator JOHNSTON: So eight weeks costs you—
Dr Watt: I did not say that it cost me the whole lot; I said it was a contributing factor.
Senator JOHNSTON: What other contributing factors were there?
Dr Watt: Again, we have talked about the fact that the Australian industry did not deliver as fast as we had forecast in relation to a major capital improvements program.
Senator JOHNSTON: On which one?
Dr Watt: I can get you that information.
Senator JOHNSTON: This is quite sizeable. So none of these projects spring to mind as being the ones that the industry is responsible for?
Dr Watt: We can certainly give you that information; in fact, I am sure Dr Gumley can come forward and give you that information now, if you would like it.
Senator JOHNSTON: I would like to know which projects we are talking about. So we have got the election and we have got—
Dr Watt: We can help you, Senator. Dr Gumley will be in shortly.
Senator JOHNSTON: Right.
Dr Watt: The slippage relates to slippage which is primarily due to the—
Senator JOHNSTON: It is major capital programs.
Dr Watt: Yes. The major projects slippage includes a multirail tanker and transport aircraft, multirail helicopters, the armed reconnaissance helicopter project, the high-capacity communications satellite project.
Senator JOHNSTON: Why has that slipped?
Dr Watt: I will get you that information. I do not have...

And later...

Senator TROOD: Thank you, CDF. I do not think you have convinced Senator Johnston that the election was a particularly important intervention, and you have not convinced me. I do not think the committee has had an answer to the question which project failed to be advanced because of the election. Which project was ready to go if the election had not been called when it was? Which project or several projects would have been through one of those committees had it not been for the election?
Air Chief Marshal Houston: I do not have those before me at the moment but the normal practice is that we have somewhere between four and six projects with each National Security Committee of cabinet. That is the normal process. That is what I have seen in my six years as CDF. From essentially the end of May last year through to October nothing moved. It was quite frustrating actually because nothing was happening because we were in caretaker mode for a very extended period of time.
Senator TROOD: Thanks, CDF. I apologise for taking so much time.

This reminds me of truffle hogs, except the hogs have more capability.