Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Links of interest, 30 August 2011

Chicken hawks on parade and what little Australian public support there is for the war in Afghanistan-War.

$3B of approvals which allow various weapons systems projects to continue forward.

Spin-off from SU-35 project: Russia and India discuss 'Super' SU-30.

With hundreds of F-35 orders missing on the books, these guys can take their time. Or maybe they can't. Investors were expecting their money based on a lot of now; non-existent orders.

I think this is a bit much. The real lesson from Libya is that if you are going to topple a dictator, violent extremism as the end product is hardly an improvement. Big victory there; yeah I'm seeing it now. And, it isn't like they fought back much. Get real.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

U.S. economic woes weaken world stability

The U.S. budget is up against a tough situation. There will be less money flowing for nation-building and foreign aid. To illustrate: in order for places like Egypt and Libya to reach the post revolution dream--or fantasy depending on your views--they will need lots of money.

The U.S. has a significant amount of nation-building to do at home. The senior leadership thinks that most problems instead of some problems can be solved by big government.

What is left of the U.S. economy is being hurt in-part by business-unfriendly regulation. I am not talking about the kind of regulation that states a business must pay its taxes so much as the other kind.

Small business is critical to the economy. It always has been. It is now an even more critical element to growing the economy since senior political leadership has let large business off-shore everything that isn't nailed down. We voted for these people and let special interest run riot.

The idea that consumers must spend more as a strategy to grow the economy is pretty unworkable with the current economic outlook. Who knew?

Unless these problems are addressed, the U.S. will not get out of debt in a reasonable amount of time.

U.S. debt is not just a national security crisis; it is a world security crisis. Free speech is unlikely to follow in the wake of Chinese communist expansion or extremist geo-politics in the Middle East.

We have ourselves to blame for not maintaining a healthy economy. Maybe if we are lucky, we can get out of all of this without a world war.

Where is the USAF going?

This is the price of our United States Air Force.

We have a B-2 bomber force where losing one aircraft is significant.

We have the F-22, which will have to go through its second initial operating capability (IOC) by any-other-name; if the life-support system issue is ever resolved. Read here of how the maintainers are catching up on things; including mods that would normally not be done for years.

The "future" is with a fighter aircraft that is unproven. One potential bright spot with the F-35--only if major systems get to be consistently reliable--it should be easier to maintain even if it is more expensive to operate and maintain than what it replaces.

The USAF is going to get even smaller. Simply because every "modern" weapon system we want to field is gold plated.

JASSM from C-130s and C-17s?


Saturday, August 27, 2011

LM official- F-35 production 3 per month "for the next couple of years"

Not the progress they wanted but here is the ceremony.

This quote is most interesting.

Lawson said Lockheed Martin now is finishing about two F-35s a month. That output is expected to increase to about three a month for the next couple of years before production ramps up even more.

Emphasis mine. That is 24 per year followed by 36 per year. In 2007,(10MB PDF) the Ponzi scheme predicted the following numbers per year.


We are looking at a lot of lost F-35 orders. These are cuts by any other name unless you want to keep running production way beyond 2050.

The cut in orders has a huge affect on industry. And don't forget the sub-contractors; all those little shops all over the map who are not making widgets at the rate the PowerPoint slide promised them. Eventually investors will say, "where is my money?"

And, as delivered, the aircraft will be obsolete. Just what the warfighter needed.

Following the ceremony, Medal of Honor recipient and retired Air Force Col. Bud Day and his wife Doris were given an up-close look at the jet. Bud Day said the F-35 was much more complex than the ones he flew in Vietnam, but added that it is very functional.

“This is going to be a real efficient airplane when you get it out and get it on the line,” Day said. “There’s a ton of work you can do out in the combat theater with this airplane quick. It’s got a lot of internal defense built into it because of its great offensive capability.”

After reading this, I wonder how Bud would feel about the prospects of a minor bit of combat damage being able to take out the IPP on the gold-plated F-35?


Can the USAF stop lying about air power needs?

The United States Air Force is happy to mislead and state that there are no alternatives to the troubled F-35. Since the F-35 can only be a second tier fighter and does not have the ability to take on large threats, what the USAF claims is not true.

An advanced F-16 will do second tier fighter work just fine. The F-16 is cheaper to acquire and sustain than the F-35. It is already cleared for a variety of long range stand-off weapons like JASSM and HARM (if that is your thing). It can have AESA and IRST like the Block 60. It can have conformal fuel tanks. There is the option of two aircrew which is better for close air support and UAV control. F-16 sensor fusion works and does not over-reach. The F-16 has excellent defensive jamming gear. The F-35 does not.

Hopefully with budget cut decisions, the lies of the USAF on this matter will be shot down. Unfortunately, on the topic of air power, the USAF has an established record of lying. Over the past several years, USAF air power decisions have put the defense of the United States and its allies in danger.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Update to the Defence torpedo debacle

Defence has responded to the earlier story by the media which claims that Defence received manuals for its MU-90 torpedo (or Eurotorp) in French.

Here is the full release.


26/08/2011 MECC 358/2011

Response to Criticisms of MU90 Torpedo Project

An article in some Fairfax media papers today (Lost for words, a Navy all at sea, 26 August 2011) and more widely reported in the electronic media contains information that is wrong in fact and misleading.

The article refers to the need to translate technical documents and instructions for the MU90 Light Weight Torpedo into English.

This is not correct.

As a condition of contract all key project documentation including technical instructions from the supplier has been delivered in English.

The MU90 torpedo is a complex anti-submarine warfare weapon and is a joint French and Italian development.

Defence is taking advantage of additional test data from these countries as a way to reduce costs and minimise the number of formal ship trials for the Australian MU90 program to finalise the acceptance into ADF service process.

Torpedo trials are very expensive and each test firing is a significant exercise in its own right. Being able to examine and use the results of other countries’ trials saves the Australian taxpayer a lot of money.

To date the French and Italian Navy testing programs have involved the firing of over 200 MU90 torpedoes. It is the reports and data from these tests - conducted by the French and Italian Navy for their own purposes and provided to Australia - that is in French and Italian and needs to be translated into English.

As a Project of Concern the MU90 Light Weight Torpedo replacement project receives Government, Defence and equipment supplier oversight.

There is that "complex" word used again by Defence/DMO. One has to wonder though, that if everything is fine, what is the purpose of the contract for $100,100 that the earlier article claimed was for translation? Does the contract exist or not? Should be easy to find out. Its existence by itself isn't classified.

Let us go through some of the history of Australia's attempt to field the Eurotorp. 13 years to field an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) torp is a long time. This from over a year ago.

But what they did in trying to recover from a mismanaged effort to buy a new lightweight torpedo system, amounted to a "double-up" and it was done with wad of taxpayer dollars so large, most jaw muscles don't extend far enough for the required drop.

In polite terms, the Auditor-General says as much in a report on the program to install the MU90 anti-submarine torpedo on naval vessels and aircraft.

Approved more than 12 years ago, the program "is yet to deliver an operational capability".
From the start, this new tool for shooting enemy subs was far more explosive for those trying to buy it than the foreign navies it was supposed to frighten.

Defence and the Howard government thought they were buying a proven torpedo. They "believed the MU90 to be an off the shelf acquisition . . . already in service with the other navies. This was not the case" says the Auditor-General.

How do you get that wrong? Who knows, but the Auditor-General notes "it took several years . . . to identify this".

"Planning and management was inadequate," the report says. There was "an underestimation of . . . risk".

Risk became an even more critical issue in August 2005 when Defence asked the government to approve the project's third phase.

Consider the equation that confronted John Howard's cabinet. The cost of stage three alone: $264 million. The progress to date: ". . . no torpedoes had been delivered under Phase two, and the integration of the torpedo onto the (frigates and naval aircraft) had made limited or no progress."

So what did they do? They doubled up.

According to the Auditor-General, when the government committed $264 million to the project's third phase in August 2005, Defence already felt it was "in a such a weak negotiating position (with those selling the technology) . . . it was necessary to use (the) commitment to Phase three work as leverage to improve Defence's poor overall contractual position".

Andrew Davies, the director of operations and capability at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, has another name for it — "the sunk cost fallacy".

"I don't think anyone wants to be the person who stands up and says, 'Look we've spent this amount of money and this many years, but we should stop this now,' " Davies says.

"They tend to limp on and limp on and limp on and nobody wants to cut their losses."

It's not a bad description of a small-time gambler, ratcheting up their bets and ignoring the risks.

Twelve years on, the Auditor finds almost $400 million of taxpayers' money has been sunk into the anti-submarine missile program.

Even when the $665 million budgeted cost is finally spent our Navy will not have "the capability originally sought by the ADF, with uncertainty surrounding what will be delivered".

The purchasing process used by Defence has changed since this debacle. In the years ahead we will find out whether the new process neutralises the risk that embarrassed bureaucrats will sometimes "double up" with staggering amounts of money.

So does it seem to be a good idea to have a new ASW torpedo to replace old technology? Yes. Except that back in 2008, Defence Minister Fitzgibbon canned the idea of the integration to drop the Eurotorp from our aircraft as "too risky".

I am pleased that we have been able to make the MU90 work off the navy’s warships,” Mr Fitzgibbon said. “However, I was not prepared to follow the previous government’s practice of gambling with taxpayers’ money by proceeding with the allocation of $300million to fit the torpedo to various aircraft while doubt remained that it would work properly in that role.”

The Defence Department had planned to fit the torpedo to up to five separate platforms starting with the Anzac frigates, adding to the overall risk of the project..

“A complicated systems-integration task involving old aircraft sets off several bright-red warning lights for me, especially when Australia would have been the only country attempting to make that aircraft and weapon combination,” he said.

Last week, the navy successfully test-fired the MU90 from the Anzac frigate HMAS Toowoomba – the first time the torpedo had been fired from an Australian warship. The MU90 has been acquired in three phases, and all eight Anzac frigates are now capable of launching the weapon.

Here is how industry was hoping on the project just a few months before Fitzgibbon's 2008 announcement.

The torpedoes were ordered from Eurotorp under Joint Project 2070, and managed through the ‘Djimindi Alliance’.

This Alliance groups Australia’s Defense Materiel Organisation (DMO), Eurotorp and Thales Australia. Further torpedoes will be partially manufactured and fully assembled in Australia. The torpedoes will replace Mk 46 lightweight torpedoes aboard the RAN’s Adelaide-class and Anzac-class frigates.

This year will also see a MU90 torpedo maintenance infrastructure facility opened by the Djimindi Alliance at HMAS Stirling (near Perth) and the MU90 exercise firing program commence in Australian waters.

Australia is now seeking an advanced ASW torpedo from the U.S. that can do this mission and it already works. (Thanks anon) While it is to support an American helicopter requirement, it is possible that it is the only kind of weapon in this class that will work.

The Mark 54 is carried by the US Navy and the Royal Australian Navy. In October 2010, Australia ordered 200 more torpedoes.

Source: Mark 54 MAKO Lightweight Torpedo

So again, the Australian taxpayer has had money robbed from them. The fact is Defence, DMO and this Navy do not have a clue what they are doing with your money. Further, it is evident from looking at the long history of Defence procurement goof ups, that this portfolio can take a haircut of about $2B per year or more--right off the top--and not miss any defensive value for this nation.

China? Terrorists? Again, it seems the biggest enemy to the defence of this nation is right in the halls of Defence who act like substance abusing addicts.

A good treatment for these addicts would be to start cutting off the money supply.

F-35 grounding lifted and timing

All F-35s are now cleared for flying. The ones that were still grounded were the training jets that didn't have the long nose probe/sensor needed for flight envelop testing.

Interesting about the timing.  Proper flight safety risk-analysis and all that.


Navy questions need for F-35

(click image to make it larger)

This was going to happen given the budget.

“Even cuts to long-planned buys of JSF must be on the table.”

To those saying that comparing the slowest "new" fighter ever, the Super Hornet, to the F-35 doesn't make sense; well, the Super currently flies. And then there is this.

B-2 mishap evolves from 'minor' to 'horrific'

When you make aircraft expensive; anything that would be "minor" anywhere else, is major.

B-2 mishap evolves from 'minor' to 'horrific'

18 months on the ground. And then another 24 months work at the PDM in California.

Very expensive for one airframe.

Au diable les torpilles!--"proven" torpedo delivered with unreadable manuals

The Defence/DMO team may have scored a few more points on gross stupidity. A torpedo they wanted is being delivered with (all? some?) of the manuals in a language other than English.

I find the bit about no English manuals hard to I will hold off on the "way to go morons!" comment; for a bit.

Buy flat-pack furniture from a well-known Scandinavian chain store and you can be sure the instructions will be in English.

But spend hundreds of millions on European-built torpedoes for your navy, and apparently that is not the case.

Australia's defence procurement agency has tendered for someone to translate the highly classified instructions for a new torpedo, revealing that the technical documents that come with the weapon are written in Italian and French.

In May, the Australian National Audit Office said the project would not deliver what was originally specified, was behind schedule and was sloppily administered.

The auditor found that the procurement agency, the Defence Materiel Organisation, approved the torpedo under the belief that it was a proven weapon, already in use by other navies, rather than a developmental one. It took five years for the DMO to discover otherwise.

''At the time, Defence advised the Government that it had misunderstood the French and Italian acceptance processes,'' the auditor said.

Defence has said that it will pay no more than $110,100 for the translation service, but it will cover the cost of flights and accommodation.

I am sure someone brought up the idea of, "Why don't we teach all our torpedo operators/maintainers  French?"


Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Senator from Lockheed Martin is not happy....

The U.S. Senator from Lockheed Martin is not happy.

“I write to express disappointment with your apparent lack of commitment to the success” of the F-35, said Cornyn, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which must approve Carter’s nomination. “I strongly encourage you to step up defense of this key program.”

Chicom appeasement crowd--DOD report no big deal

"Even with big defense cuts on the horizon, the U.S. has an overwhelming advantage, whether in the refueling tankers that make the U.S. Air Force dominant over Planet Earth."

Yeah, sure.

This is more of a fa├žade each and everyday as USAF/DOD management continues to decline. This is helped by the Chinese communist appeasement crowd, and the fact that many in DC don't want to see the phoney U.S. dollar value get worse.

As our intrepid Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "How do you deal toughly with your banker?"


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

F-35-Obsolete for the Pacific Rim

Marketing for the F-35 claims that it will be 8 times better than a legacy fighter in air-to-air combat effectiveness.

Unfortunately it will not be going up against "legacy" fighter aircraft in the Pacific Rim; that is if the F-35 ever shows up. Even if it does, it won't be ready for squadron service until the early 2020's. Over 20 years after its operational requirement was drawn up. An operational requirement, that depended on having enough F-22s to clear away the big threats. Here is a comparison of technology that doesn't include China.

(click on image to make it larger)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Australian media continues to fail when reporting military matters

I seriously feel sorry for this person's lack of ability to perform any kind of military reporting. Not much of what is stated here is true.

Compare what was reported, to the opposite from this subject matter expert.

Copy-pasting industry and government propaganda is not reporting.

H/T-CDR Salamander

Video--SU-35 demo at MAKS

Good demo. Better than most in that there are a few moves toward the end that are very well done.

A more energy efficient Defence? Maybe not

Australian Defence should be more energy efficient; so says this Canberra Times opinion piece which uses this comparison.

"The US Navy has committed to having half of its energy needs provided by non-fossil fuel sources by 2020 for its combat ships, aircraft and land vehicles."

Another comparison I will add: the Air Force is the biggest consumer of fossil fuels in the whole U.S military.

Australian Defence will have a lot of work ahead of them if pressed to burn less fossil fuel.

Clean energy efforts are useful but it won't make up for the frightful fuel consumption of some of our current and future weapons systems planned by Australian Defence.

As an aside for force structure planning: Australia will never have credible weapons systems that can take on high end threats. So any green force structure has to be based around the idea of second tier-threat war fighting.

For fossil fuel consumption the path ahead does not look good.

To illustrate, we just retired the F-111 for no valid reason. This aircraft had distance and persistence and growth room for more modern air-to-ground weapons. This aircraft would use less or no air-to-air refueling assets to perform its mission. Traditional fighter aircraft cannot beat the F-111 for its utility.

(click image to make larger-source:

How about fighter aircraft? Australia has scores of second-tier, short range fighters that burn a lot of fuel.   The F-18 family of fighter aircraft are the shortest range in their class and will require more tanker gas. Fuel is always more expensive (per liter/gallon) when air refueling.

Australia doesn't need air warfare destroyers and large amphibious ships. These ships will burn more fuel than frigates and smaller (scalable) amphibious transports.

Australia acquired used M-1 tanks from the U.S.; to use for what I am not sure. This particular class of tank with its turbine engine burns up fuel at an alarming rate.

The helicopter road map for Defence (If it is big, bloated, under-tested, risky and slow to field to the warfighter it must be good) also is hard to take seriously in the area of consuming less fossil fuel.

I am not convinced that--besides platitude and side-show--Australian Defence has a handle on its fossil fuel use. Any claims to be more fuel efficient will need significant proof.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Pretty impressive. And showing the skill needed to bring in an aircraft like this with a notoriously difficult landing gear configuration.

Large section of UK aircraft carrier build moving along

Hopefully this will turn into something other than a jobs program. With the MOD budget on death-watch, I have my doubts.

Unfortunate reporting from Danger Room

I would expect better from these guys. They aren't the sharpest tools in the bag on military issues but they put forward some good stories.

"Of course, the $411 million Raptor doesn’t fight any wars. America’s premiere aerial attack plane was kept out of conflicts from Iraq to Afghanistan to Libya. And that was back when it was deemed airworthy."

It is getting pretty close to yellow journalism.

The F-22 has problems. More so, those problems point directly at USAF leadership and less so with the design of the aircraft. The F-22 is the only machine that we have to maintain regional air areas where short-ranged fighter aircraft can be used for such work. Unlike the F-35 which won't be useful for any kind of war we engage in--certainly not given the money it will consume.

The fact that the F-22 hasn't been in Libya is more a sign of poor strategic leadership. Just like the poor strategic leadership that put us in Libya in the first place.

As for the original Operation: USELESS DIRT duo; we haven't used nuclear ballistic missiles either. I guess we should get rid of those.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Gillard doesn't know it is 1 out of 4

Australia can probably field frigates. The other 3? Good luck. Score: Fail, Fail, Pass, Fail.

Australia is conducting its own posture review, too, and considering redeploying its military resources to better protect energy infrastructure, with plans to spend more than US$50 billion over the next 20 years on projects that include purchasing air warfare destroyers, submarines, frigates and the F-35 aircraft to counter growing regional threats.

T-50 PAK-FA Demo

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Club-K, shipping container cruise missile marketed at MAKS

It used to be just a video; and a rather fearful one at that.

Now, it is a mock-up at the MAKS air show. It is being marketed. And has attracted "considerable interest" from abroad.

UPDATE- Sam has more to say about this.

Have a laugh at the DCP

The latest update to the DCP has been released. Imagine. Going to all the trouble to have a press release that shows a document riddled with errors.

For the F-35 it is now initial operating capability of 2017-18 to 2020-2021. Gee, I bet they never thought of that when the announcement was made back in 2002.


Funny that the DCP has a bunch of what can now only be categorized as misleading statements in it.

If you believe this. You will believe anything.

JSF production commenced with the initial development of 19 aircraft or ‘test articles’ in which Australian industry won design and manufacturing contracts. Low rate initial production (2007 to 2015) of over 400 aircraft is now underway. Full rate production is scheduled to increase the numbers of JSF to over 3000 throughout the next 20+ years. For Australia’s involvement in the JSF Program, Defence and the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR) are working with Australian industry as ‘JSF Team Australia’ to help companies enter and remain in the JSF global supply chain. Industrial Participation Plans that identify major opportunities in the global JSF Program for qualified Australian companies have been agreed with Lockheed Martin Corporation and the JSF engine manufacturer. This participation process will continue over the life of Australia’s involvementin the JSF Program.

Bold emphasis mine. One would think that when dealing with Australia's potentially biggest defence purchase, they may want to get a few things right.

It would be to Mr. Smiths advantage to hire some skilled advisers; least his office look any more stupid than it already is.

Ideas for U.S. strategic control of the Pacific Rim--Part 5--Force Structure

Not news; the U.S. force structure roadmap is in a terrible mess.

Force structure will be difficult to repair with both a lack of money and strategic leadership. If only we had strong strategic leadership, the force structure plans might be fixable with the bleak funding roadmap.

In the end, the U.S. will go into any major conflict in the Pacific with a gross imbalance in force structure. Wrong platforms and communities eat large amounts of logistics better used for effective war-fighting forces.

As Aviation Week's Defense Technology International editor Bill Sweetman stated recently, would the United States Air Force have entered the Advanced Technology Fighter (ATF) project (wich gave us the F-22) in 1986 if they knew that they would only get 140 fighters and spend a billion per year on upgrades? The answer is probably; no. A similar line of thought can be used with the F-35 and other weapons systems.

Good force structure depends on well fed and capable engineers. We have been down-sizing that resource since the end of the Cold War.

Without proper air power domination in the Pacific, you end up with results like this. Also, any overseas bases we currently have can end up as POW's or worse. Much like the fall of the Phillipines at the beginning of WWII. Obsolete carrier air wings mean sunk ships and lost battles.

American industry can't provide the kinds of weapons our Allies need in the coming years. You can get parity products or better for less money from the Russians or Chinese. Want an affordable, effective and sea-worthy frigate for policing your waters? You can't get it from the U.S.

All of this means loss of deterrance which helps to stop wars. And, unless we change course to fix this, we will get war. We will lose influence. We will have to retreat.

And with that retreat, goes any hope for democracy and free speech in the Pacific Rim.

Ideas for U.S. strategic control of the Pacific Rim-
Part 1, Strategic Strike for Anti-Access Threats
Part 2, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)
Part 3--Energy
Part 4--Their Weapons


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Poor Mr. Smith's Plan B for the F-35 is a Plan F

Smith's plan-B for the F-35 is a failure.

The Boeing sales force is licking their chops. They can almost taste the next order from Australia for more Super Hornets.

As usual, the quality of the news reporting on this topic is near copy-paste and shallow. So, I will do the work of the lazy slobs and fill in the blanks.

The poorly advised and under-briefed Defence Minister has drawn a line in the sand over the F-35 debacle. Sometime in 2012 is D-Day.

The "B" in Smith's "plan-B" is for bad. Both the Super Hornet and the F-35 will be obsolete against emerging threats in the Pacific Rim. With that, the Super Hornet is superior in every possible war-fighting metric compared to the F-35; simply because the power of the F-35 exists only in PowerPoint.

As we have seen the tired boiler-plate quotes about the "plans" from Defence before, there isn't much surprise. There was a "buffer" built into the schedule and time. "Thank goodness we are looking at the less complicated CTOL F-35A" and so on. All of it is misinformation.

There is a bold-faced lie too. Years ago, when Defence briefed this mess, it was specifically stated that if the F-35 wasn't "suitable", things would start over with a competition for the next fighter purchase.

(source-2004 Defence briefing)

Yet, that just is not so is it? All the pretend Defence strategy people just assume the Super Hornet is the plan-B. Defence has failed to prove that the F-35 is suitable.

And, such a huge decision based on "partial information" demonstrates incompetence.

Are we paying out all this money to have a taxpayer supported flying club or a potent air force? Given what I have seen over the years, my vote is "flying club".

Faulty arguments by former USAF ACC boss

General Loh needs to understand that he no longer has a captive audience and an obedient public affairs office accepting his faulty opinions on air power.

Good Qantas cartoon

From today's Australian Financial Review...

(click image to make it larger)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Raising taxes is no solution or even help

The two U.S. mainstream political parties may be stupid any day of the week.

However, more taxes is not a solution to get the U.S. out of its debt problems.

For instance, if by some magic, it was possible to tax the top earners at 100 percent, it would be less than a drop in the bucket. It would not matter. And, as some Australian's may not understand, small business is a big driver in the U.S. economy; even more so after our politicians allowed everything that wasn't nailed down to be off-shored.

The pretend conservatives known as the Republican party, are right on this one. Almost to the effect that a broken clock is right twice each day.

The Federal government spending has to be trimmed massively. If not, the economy has no chance of improving.

The idea that a spendthrift Federal government needs more taxes is absurd.

Ideas for U.S. strategic control of the Pacific Rim--Part 4--Their Weapons

The kinds of weapons the U.S. may face in any future Pacific Rim conflict will be formidable, if for no other reason than the fact that the U.S. has under-invested in proper strategic thinking.

Let us look at a sample of some of the threats.

Inertial navigation bomb kits; China now has similar capability to our JDAM and Small Diameter Bomb (SDB). This used to be a trump card for the U.S. in past conflicts. Now, for this area of interest; no more. We face parity or near parity.

Integrated air defenses. China is fielding high end surface-to-air missile systems in quantity. China is on a path to field high end fighter aircraft in quantity. Worse in this area is China is now approaching parity or near parity. This used to be the golden rule of U.S. air domination thinking that facing parity was not a good thing. Now, in our strategic ignorance, we seem destined to have no choice.

Cruise missile technology; China is able to field this kind of weapon in enough quantity to make conflicts expensive. And they are improving. Super-sonic cruise missile technology is already being fielded in the Pacific; and not by us. One hopes that the Pacific Rim doesn't look like this someday; a SCUD hunt from hell; only worse.

Naval mines. China has these in mass quantity. Our mine sweeping skills are not very large and always an after-thought until a war shows up. This will be way more than a nuisance threat in any conflict involving China.

Communism. A large scale weapon and worse; scalable to be used as China sees fit to motivate its people; backed up by negative reinforcement. They would probably say; positive reinforcement.

If we can contain this with a proper and credible deterrent, history may show us as very lucky.

Ideas for U.S. strategic control of the Pacific Rim-
Part 1, Strategic Strike for Anti-Access Threats
Part 2, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)
Part 3--Energy

Monday, August 15, 2011

Photo of the day-- T-50 Pak FA

Photo of the day... T-50 Pak FA


Ideas for U.S. strategic control of the Pacific Rim--Part 3--Energy

Our ability to pay for and use large amounts of fossil fuel in the future will be strategically limiting.

This is already showing now. For instance, a few years ago during a price spike in oil, we had some U.S. Navy ships go dead in the water for parts of the day to save fuel.

Because of its industry, China consumes much more fossil fuel as a portion of the world supply.

For any U.S. deterrent effort to work, we need platforms that address this problem. This means we need to develop a nuclear powered destroyer for the main purpose of escorting our aircraft carriers. This way a carrier strike group (carrier,surface escort and subs) is all nuclear powered.

We need a frigate class ship that is energy efficient (more details on this later on the topic of force structure). Woe be it to us that we have wasted money on two energy inefficient and strategically worthless ships; the DDX and LCS.

Burning up fuel on sort-range fighter aircraft (and the associated air-to-air refueling resources) also has little strategic worth in the Pacific. The United States Air Force is the biggest consumer of fossil fuels in the DOD. We need to employ these resources sparingly and only where they contribute to deterrence.

Driving expensive amphibious groups around the Pacific (or elsewhere) eats up a tremendous amount of fossil fuel. The days of Tarawa and Iwo Jima are over. How we show the flag and respond with ground forces will have to change.

One of the prime considerations of our basing in the Pacific has to be how much fossil fuel they consume vs. their strategic value. Host nations pay for some of this, but, in the bigger picture, not all of it.

If we do not realign our force structure as it pertains to fossil fuel consumption, our deterrent ability in the Pacific Rim will be limited. This increases the possibility of war.

Ideas for U.S. strategic control of the Pacific Rim-
Part 1, Strategic Strike for Anti-Access Threats
Part 2, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Best video from the London riots

Best video from the London riots.

H/T- Lex

Ideas for U.S. strategic control of the Pacific Rim--Part 2--ISR

Part 2, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) in the Pacific Rim.

At the end of the Cold War the U.S. Department of Defense downsized its ISR capability. So much so that at one point, they had to bring back the SR-71 from retirement. Large portions of SOSUS have been retired. P-3 Orion capability has been downsized. The S-3--which was the only long-range asset on the aircraft carrier--has also been retired. DOD leadership still thinks we are in a post Cold War world when, in fact, another one is coming along.

Communism has to be contained. This was the lesson from the Cold War. For this discussion we are talking about China. Yes, North Korea also, but their aggression is enabled by China.

With all that, some sycophant/PowerPoint warrior will tell you everything is under control. This is untrue. We do not have enough ISR to secure the Pacific Rim. Along with our overall poor strategic vision, the over-focus on the suite of Operation: USELESS DIRT wars has helped to denude the Pacific Rim of much needed resources.

The U.S. needs to build up the P-8 platform in a large way. It also needs ISR variants of the base platform to take over duties of Rivet Joint, JSTARS, and from what we can see of China's expansion of military capability, all of the other funny-named xC-135 special mission aircraft.

The U.S. needs to invest in a AWACs replacement. Not perfect but the Wedgetail, will help.

If we are to believe in aircraft carriers in Pacific operations, we need to bring the S-3 out of retirement. There are a variety of senors that can be put on it, and it is even handy for anti-piracy ISR if that is your thing.

Air-breathing/manned ISR in no way can be replaced by UAVs. We don't have the money to crash that many airframes (look at the UAV mishap rate). But yes, UAVs are important. The Global Hawk platform is a important part of our ISR needs.

Finally, on the topic of manned ISR, even the submarine force contributes to all of this. While on the mentioning of submarines, yes, more of them have been home-based in the Pacific, but given all of the other signs of U.S. strategic glaucoma this is not enough.

We need to install a modern-day SOSUS in the Pacific.

All of this has to be supported by a secure and robust orbital space infrastructure that I don't even know if we have to a proper level today.

Add all this up and--along with some other things such as the rest of our SIGINT/COMINT resources--and you have overlapping and supporting layers of ISR.

There are ways to pay for all of this, even in our bleak funding outlook. Yet, if we had all the money to do these things, it would take visionary leadership. This is also in short supply.

Ideas for U.S. strategic control of the Pacific Rim--Part 1--Strategic Strike for Anti-Access Threats

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Defence civilian workforce; still growing; currently at 21,331

From today's SMH...

"Defence had 21,331 civilian employees in June this year. In three years' time it will have 22,344 civilian staff. No wonder they felt bold enough this week to vote for their first protected industrial action in 20 years over their current pay negotiations."

And I am still trying to figure out what real value all those people provide to the defence of the nation; as opposed to a jobs program.


Some good used books that I just bought...

Went to a sale at the library where they get rid of old books. Here are some interesting things.

Ships of the Royal Navies, Oscar Parkes, 1936, with photos and a description of various classes.

American Civil War Navies: A bibliography, 1972.

Born in Battle, Israel’s Air Force, David Eshel, 1978.

Proud Waters, Ewart Brookes, 1954; this is the story of Royal Navy minesweeping efforts in WWII. I found this quote from the book interesting.

“The Germans laid 126,00 mines in European waters; sweeping them cost us 327 minesweepers and 4600 men and officers.”

Ideas for U.S. strategic control of the Pacific Rim

What is the future for U.S. strategic control of the Pacific Rim? How can we plan for this with the current budget troubles?

Part 1- Strategic Strike for Anti-Access Threats

I propose that we cannot afford 15 billion dollar Ford class carriers with crews of 4600 (not counting the escorts) that have obsolete aircraft in the air wing that are unable to take on anti-access threats. Manpower costs as well as faulty weapons system program management eats our budget alive.

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We need to have a more balanced and affordable approach to how we deal with Pacific Rim high end threats for both sea control and strategic conventional strike. I suggest that our two most important platforms that we grow are the Virginia class submarine and the long range bomber.

We can keep B-52s flying as long as we have smart engineers. Dirt cheap. I suggest that we get the Tomahawk Block 4 certified on the B-52. That along with improving the reliability of JASSM will give us versatility. The long range bomber gives us the ability to strike within a very short time span of the start of hostilities; including rinse and repeat over days.

The Virginias have the ability to keep a variety of enemy targets at risk inside the boat’s area of influence. The Virginias and long range bomber offer affordable balance. No, it isn’t perfect balance. It certainly beats the delusion of strategic thinking like this.

So what about carriers? Yes we still need them. But like the B-52, as long as we have engineers we can still refurb the ones we have.

Maybe when we have a stable economy we can branch out. Until then, we have to plan for worst-case budget scenarios.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

The AFOSI.....

As a photographer in the USAF (both as military and civilian), I got to work with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) or just OSI, quite a bit. Crime scenes, fraud, waste and abuse cases, and other odd things where they needed photographic support.

Did some boring stuff with them, some occasional funny things with them, a lot of fascinating things with them and some ugly things or even; really ugly things.

Many more times than not, their professionalism was extremely high. I have heard of a few times over the years where they dropped the ball on a case but I never saw it. And, it wouldn't be a perfect process if humans were involved.

Some days I think it would be great to be called up in the middle of the night one more time and requested to show up at the scene and ask once again, "Whatcha got?"

Poor attempts to spin the Australian public about the troubled F-35 program

Here is another look at some F-35 news from the locals.

It is difficult to keep a straight face and read this. What is just as interesting is that not much of it goes challenged in the media. Two things that go together: a faulty fifth-estate and a faulty fifth-generation fighter. OK, three things when you add the dysfunctional strategic thinking from senior Defence officials.

Let us look at some of the words; interesting they are; both strong and weak language from the top F-35 salesperson and his partners in the art of the Ponzi scheme.

The Defence Materiel Organisation's head of air combat capability, Air Vice-Marshal Kym Osley, said the grants scheme could help Australian companies win work worth potentially "billions of dollars."

To date, few if any of the rent-seekers understand the meaning of the word “potential”. All they saw in the PowerPoint briefing years ago was the $9 billion dollar figure thrown around. The rest is history. None of this has to do with providing Australia with an effective weapons system to protect its area of strategic interest.

"So far nearly 30 Australian companies have won work on the JSF Program worth more than US$250 million.'

Wow. Many years on; and $250M plus. I wonder how Quickstep feels about all the delays in the program that are costing them and the rest of the worldwide supply chain, real money?

"Long-term agreements have also been made with a number of the JSF prime contractors and their suppliers that are expected to deliver considerably more work potentially in the billions of dollars."

There is that word again.

On Tuesday, Lockheed Martin's head of the JSF program, Tom Burbage, moved to assure the federal government that the troubled aircraft program the largest in US military history was now on track and delivering on promised capability.

"Flight testing is on track, we're pretty much on track with our software deliveries and we're on track with our production metrics," he said after briefing senior government officials.

That is a lot of track. How about being “on-track” in the past? Here is a lot of missed schedule that did not happen.

How about this outrageous spin from Mr. Burbage in 2007?

Mr Burbage, who has held meetings in recent days with both Dr Nelson and Labor defence spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon, denied reports the JSF had fallen behind schedule and was suffering from cost blowouts.

We all know how that turned out. But back to the present day article.

Mr Burbage said he was confident the federal government remained committed to the JSF program despite Canberra's failure to sign off on an order for 14 jets worth $3.2 billion.

No failure from Mr. Burbage, his crew and his cheerleaders. None at all.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

DOD may have to reshuffle how it pays for F-35 mistake-jets

The budget gloom is closing in...

Basically, if Congress doesn't hand over more money for previous cost over-runs, then it will be paid for with less F-35s in the LRIP-5 batch. They are still building mistake-jets.

Along with the stock market taking an ever downward course to put some reality in market value, we have this; the pauper-USAF is in bad shape. $160B per year and we get a USAF with old and/or faulty equipment. Having seen the USAF in action, I agree with Sweetman's article.

There are some great people in the USAF; just not in the senior leadership positions. If USAF is willing to take some drastic changes in how they think--they have been seriously deskilled in engineers and procurement people ever since the post-Cold War draw-down--they might be allowed to exist the ever growing budget cuts. If not?...

USAF might be finding (like the other services) that you can sustain destructive groupthink for a while, but eventually you have to pay for your faulty decisions. They still have to acknowledge this though.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Lone Gunman or Kung-Fu Master? "Fifth-generation" fighter desktop study

Still preparing the battlefield for my efforts on carving up the silly "So what?" F-35 brief by DMO/NACC.

Today we will look at a briefing by a shadow aero-engineer that doesn't want to show himself. Either he is shy or still employed somewhere. Or could it be he is even a lower profile geek like the publishers of The Lone Gunman from the X-Files (episode; "Unusual Suspects") ?

In any event, he uses the language of aero-engineering. He uses a soft kung-fu that only shows the basic initial desk study of numbers. Even that is hard enough without the proper background. This is about all most people have a hope of understanding anyway.

In looking at the kinds of high end aircraft that will be important to Pacific Rim power, maybe words from Bruce Lee will help.

Question: What are your thoughts when facing an opponent?
Bruce: There is no opponent.
Question: Why is that?
Bruce: Because the word ''l'' does not exist.
A good fight should be like a small play...but played seriously. When the opponent expands, l contract. When he contracts, l expand. And when there is an opportunity... l do not hits all by itself (shows his fist).
Any technique, however worthy and desirable, becomes a disease when the mind is obsessed with it.

The F-35 is the wrong aircraft for the RAAF. The growing threats in the Pacific Rim over its alleged lifetime will out class this pretend "5th generation fighter".


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Sunday, August 7, 2011

A lower number of carriers for the U.S. and many questions

Interesting AOL Defense read. G is quoted.

In the article toward the end it states this.

The move will also make the Navy's case for the new Ford-class carrier harder to make, Sharp said, noting that the Navy could bolster its amphibious fleet as a way to fill that gap.

I agree with the Ford issue. I think the other part depends. Besides the point that an Amphib makes a poor substitute for a carrier against first team threats, in a future with higher prices for fossil fuels, this could be a problem. For force projection in high fossil fuel price times, if you have an all nuclear aircraft carrier group (1 carrier, 2 nuke destroyers, and 2 nuke attack subs), the fossil fuels you bring out to the fleet for replenishment will be less.

The Navy needs to develop a nuclear powered (no outrageous frills) destroyer to escort carriers. This makes good sense and is safe in the long run.

Before there was "So what?" there was "Why worry?"

In the near future, I will spend some time going over the "So what?" DMO/NACC F-35 brief from the previous post. That effort will start by looking into the following questions in slide number 2 and what it all means.

Why not the F-22?

Has it actually flown?

Isn't the software an issue?

Is it as stealthy as planned?

Is it truly unaffordable?

So when will it turn up?

Isn't it billions over budget?

But first I want to draw your attention to this 2004 Australian briefing (5Mb PDF) so you have a better idea of how the Ponzi scheme was sold to the gullible politicians and wanton rent-seekers. In it you will see many things that are long overdue and unrealistic. Hopefully you will find this useful when we dig into the "So what?" brief.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Australian Defence answers serious F-35 project concerns with "so what?"

Australia's Defence Material Organisation (DMO) and the office known as the New Air Combat Capability (NACC) have some thoughts about all of the serious concerns around the F-35 program to tell investors, industry, our elected officials, all of Australia. That is; "So What?"

Take a look at this 30 June 2011 briefing (a 2MB PDF) which was for a gathering of Australian Defence officials and stake-holders.

It is how DMO/NACC are essentially misleading us all. Their solution to the F-35 debacle is to have faith. I would say; blind faith.

In a future post we will go over this monument to Defence irresponsibility. Until then, gather your thoughts and comment as you see fit.

My favorite is slide #13. The Boeing sales force will have a field day with it. In essence; an all Super Hornet force would be cheaper to operate per hour than the F-35. Which, like the F-35, isn't really a good thing for our strategic posture. The other part? I see no evidence how 58 F-35s will end up being "very affordable".

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fun term for the day

Riddle me this Batman. What says it is stealthy but not healthy?

And, the key term for you'all today is "conventional edges"...Google in 3....2.....1 it pertains to the F-35 program.


Ignoring the elephant--big time

In today's Australian Financial Review.

Funny in that with the "expert" sources quoted, they mostly focus on the lack of F-35 affordability because of the economy.

Not mentioned to any worth, is that the F-35 program management and design goals suck.

Maybe if they don't mention the big elephant, nobody will notice?

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When marketing fails

A rerun to remind us that outrageous marketing claims have no place when trying to figure out faulty weapons systems.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Maybe a K-car-like frigate will save the Navy?

Comparing ships to cars...It is unfortunate that the disaster known as the Littoral Combat Ship will never be as great as the utility of the underwhelming and low quality K-Car.

After reading this excellent overview of the Littoral Combat Ship debacle by David Axe, well, maybe the Navy can get a bailout from D.C. and come up with the K-car of Navy ships; a no-frills reliable frigate? That is if the debt allows us to have anything more than the Coast Guard.


Collins in a cartoon

From today's Australian Financial Review...

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A kind of progress Defence is familiar with

Australian Defence is making some progress with clearing the JASSM cruise missile on the legacy Hornet.

This is bitter/sweet news. It is good for those that believe this is the course of action for long range strike after the bad decision to retire the F-111. It is bad for other reasons.

The old Hornet is short-ranged right off the bat. Put drag on it and that goes away even more. We have a few new air-refueling tankers coming online but that is with the stress of "few". If the weapon gets cleared on the new Super Hornets, this may help some.

It makes some sense given the corner Defence has painted itself into with multiple bad decisions on air power planning.

The JASSM has some problems that it is trying to get over. That is being able to hit the target and occasionally fusing issues where it doesn't go 'bang' when it gets there.

It is wildly expensive, costing the U.S. over $1 million each. It was designed to be "affordable" in the sub $400,000 category.

JASSM is still on the infamous project-of-concern list in Australia.

Defence makes a lot of bad decisions. These days it seems to be a battle to make a lesser degree of bad decision on the class-curve and declare victory.

One has to consider that we could have launched JASSMs from a distance of over twice that of the legacy Hornet if the F-111 was not retired on a lie. Tankers, F-111 and JASSM and well, now you put our whole area of interest in long-range strike range. And, only aircraft can give you the concept of long-range strike within hours of a hostile act. Return to base. Rearm. Day after day. The fantasy home-grown sub or fancy over-priced ships do not have this ability.

H/T- reader Bonza

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

RAAF boss is committed, or should be

Abraham Lincoln said, "How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."

Yes, it connects to the F-35 program because everyone that wants the jet is ready to call the jet something it will never be; affordable, sustainable, lethal, and survivable.

You may add the boss of the RAAF, chief air marshal Brown to the F-35's propaganda Ponzi scheme. He is happy to put forward misleading statements because any other course would risk his career. Or, maybe he just believes.

When it comes to faulty weapons systems, few Australian flag rank officers will stick their neck out by telling the truth to the public. Which really means by default, he is not on our side.

Brown states that the plan is to have an all F-35 fleet by 2020. If so that would mean that we are only going to get 72 F-35s as the other 28 have now been kicked down the road.

Take a look at this memorandum of agreement from 2007 signed off on by Australia and the U.S.

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And this one from 2010.

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Brown also overlooks more than a few problems.

"JSF has had a pretty good year as far hitting its test milestones are concerned and it is tracking pretty much to plan at the moment,"

The plan which since the beginning of the program has been also, kicked down the road a few times.

Brown may also be a man of faith.

He said Admiral Venlet had created a very realistic delivery schedule which allowed for it to remain on track even if something did go wrong.

"I have got a lot more confidence in the schedule than I had ... before it was baselined," he said.

"I am still comfortable with where we are sitting at the moment."

Interesting story, but the review of the program has been delayed also. DOD may have recertified the aircraft after its second Nunn-McCurdy breach, but that still leaves the DAB. Delayed again. We are told not to worry; which means; worry. This from Defense News.

"A Defense Acquisitions Board (DAB) review that would have established a new cost baseline for the triservice F-35 Lightning II has been postponed until the fall, the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program's top official said June 15."

Emphasis mine.

The reporter(s) on this piece like many before them, misreport the facts.

"Australia has so far contracted to buy an initial 14 aircraft."

This is untrue. No money has been handed over for these 14 aircraft; nor should it given the unstable design and slow progress.

Brown states this:

"I think we will see the costs continue to drive down as we get more aircraft on that production line."

If only there was a stable design. Which is needed for a production learning curve. Then the reporters show some redemption with this:

Considerable development still remains, particularly in the difficult area of integrating all the various electronic systems.

And dropping weapons; and using it as a weapon of war; if we can afford it. Even if the tail is not a leg.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Big deal, a band aid on arterial bleeding

I will state this again for the Darwin award winners in the federal government.

Well, it is the United States of America; not the United Federal Government of America. People would do well to have a better understanding of the kinds of services the states provide. Also, there are states with balanced budget amendments. And here, they do not own printing presses like the Federal Government is using a la a post WW1 Germany.

Then there is the idea of taxes. The current U.S. economy with little or no industry is like a football team composed mostly of bench staff. You could tax the top earners at 100 percent and it would do no good; less than a drop in the bucket.

Funny how some act surprised. For instance, who knew that you can't off-shore everything that isn't nailed down? In over 10 years, the U.S. has lost over 50,000 businesses to off-shoring. Our biggest export is empty shipping containers that we didn't even make. THAT is a lot of lost tax revenue. The treason committed by Bush 1 and later Clinton and the congress of the day with NAFTA and GATT is almost complete. Free trade is destructive. Fair trade is not.

As for the "cuts", it isn't all that much; and no balanced budget amendment (signed in blood). The spend-thrift behavior will continue. With all the social services (you have a right to pursue happiness not have it provided for you) the budget will collapse under its own weight. Defence cuts? We spend over $2B per WEEK on 3 useless wars that have NO practical national defense value except to the chicken-hawk war profiteers.

In the end; there will be no parole from the governor. Passing this facade or no, the federal government is going to get worse off and not better. What can be best learned here is the following: you don't give more crack cocaine to an addict (bought on credit).

That is exactly what this federal government is with other peoples money; an addict. And it appears; an incurable one.


America's "aircraft carriers" of the future

The future of an in-debt Navy.

Since the USMC has shown the idea that the F-35B can do a short take-off and vertical landing, the Navy now has to worry.

No matter that the F-35 has unfinished mission systems, is yet to drop a weapon or get qualified in an actual go-to-war squadron; with a known price.

The USMC has also claimed that their flat-tops are carriers; feeble minded fantasy but marketing is everything. This is good news to a Congress that is trying to pay for DOD largess and has no realistic way to pay for large traditional carrier groups. They are talking about cutting big carriers and not making any more fifteen billion dollar replacements.

So in that sense, even if it doesn't work much, the F-35B will be cheaper for America; as long as you don't count the expense of losing a major war.

The USMC amphib groups could represent the Navy of the future. Park the big carriers and the USMC (along with their "aircraft carriers") will keep us safe. Their carriers even carry Marines and other stuff.

The cheerleaders and USMC have said as much.