Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The U.S. Army in the Pacific

OK fine. Interesting.

What can the U.S. Army bring to the Pacific?

1. Training. The Army Special Forces, Rangers and Engineers should be used to perform continuous training (at an increased rate) with our Pacific Allies.

2. Provide 1 airborne brigade on alert, ready to deploy by C-17s from the U.S. within 48 hours.

3. Have 2 Stryker Brigades train for operations in the Philippines. Deploy pre-positioned equipment to the Philippines for these Brigades.

4. Provide 1 Stryker brigade to deploy to the Philippines within 1 week via military airlift and the civilian reserve air fleet. It would meet up with its pre-positioned equipment.

5. Provide (active,reserve,guard) support units to deploy to the Pacific within 1 week.

These assets should deploy in exercises once a year.

This capability would provide a demonstration of U.S. commitment, which is what any Pacific Rim strategy should be all about.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Self-service

With two non-air power bosses like Donley and Schwartz in charge, this is no surprise.

Having said that, I have no problem with the coming DOD cuts. We don't need $15B aircraft carriers, $5B dreadnoughts trying to repeat the last voyage of the Prince of Wales; death traps such as the Littoral Combat Ship and absolute giga-dollar failures like the F-35.

We can get through the budget crunch by spending only on what really adds value. Dumping a bunch of flag-ranks and SES is a good start.

In my day, a full-colonel could run a SAC Bomb Wing standing nuke alert.

Today? We have the no-general-left-behind-act.



Monday, June 25, 2012

Altruistic Institute

For the common good.

Company or Organisation Portrait:

It is the goal of the Lexington Institute to inform, educate, and shape the public debate of national priorities in those areas that are of surpassing importance to the future success of democracy, such as national security, education reform, tax reform, immigration and federal policy concerning science and technology. By promoting America's ability to project power around the globe we not only defend the homeland of democracy, but also sustain the international stability in which other free-market democracies can thrive.

All while earning pay from defense industry.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

USAF CV-22 Squadron commander relieved over aircraft mishap

Via Inside Defense (subscription):

Squadron Commander Relieved Of Duties After CV-22 Osprey Crash

The Air Force has removed the commander of the 8th Special Operations Squadron, citing a lack of confidence in his leadership following last week's crash of a CV-22 Osprey.

AOL Defense has confirmed that the pilot-in-command of the June CV-22 crash in Florida that injured 5 people was also the co-pilot of the 2010 CV-22 crash in Afghanistan that killed 2 people.

Recent analysis of USAF budgets shows that the CV-22 costs $73,000 per flying hour in 2011 and $80,000 per flying hour in 2010 (exceeding the troubled F-22 for that year). This also exceeds the hourly cost of much heavier and larger aircraft such as the C-5 transport, B-1 and B-52 bombers.

While the CV-22 offers some niche capability, one has to wonder about the value at any cost.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Over-hyping the Australian P-3 "replacement"

Interesting over-hype of an aircraft with some concurrency and maturity issues not unlike parts of the F-35 program.

The P-8 also has the advantage that it gets you where you are going faster. Its cruising speed is 440 knots (850km/h) compared with the propeller driven P-3's still impressive 328 knots or 610 km/h.

Just not with all the capability of a P-3 Orion. If anything, the P-8 has the potential to complement P-3 operations.

Interesting too: In 2008, the U.S. Navy deleted the requirement for the P-8A to be equipped with magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) equipment. This was part of an effort to reduce P-8A aircraft weight by 3,500 lb to improve aircraft range and endurance. P-8s for the Indian Navy will continue to retain MAD. Does anyone know if Australia's P-8s will have MAD?

I would also add that for a country the size of Australia, expecting 8 replacement aircraft (plus the blue-sky-marketing dream of UAVs) to do the job of 18 existing and operationally mature aircraft would need some real demonstrated proof.

USAF aircraft are too expensive to fly

The S-word is coming up. $50B has to be pulled from the U.S. DOD budget every year. Maybe more as budget reality comes home to roost. And, our USAF has many aircraft that are just too expensive to fly. So much so that the service should seriously consider how it wants to support each of its flying missions: training, airlift, tankers, helos, special mission/special purpose, close air support, long-range bombing, ISR, and fighters. Given the money to be saved, I would add a new mission: air policing. This would be at-home air defense to responded to non-traditional military threats. Do we really need a 5-figure cost per flying hour jet to push a Cessna out of the way?

USAF aircraft costs per flying hour are astronomical. I would propose that “6th-generation” if it is ever a term to be used for next-generation aircraft, implies that they are economical to operate.

Below are a sample of some of the aircraft in the USAF inventory and their cost per flying hour for 2010 and 2011. The figures read as: Name of the aircraft / 2010 cost per flying hour / 2011 cost per flying hour. Figures are rounded up.

Fighters
A-10/$19k/$17k
F-15C/$37k/$40k
F-15E/$30k/$28k
F-16C/$20k/$21k
F-22/$57k/$105k

Tankers
KC-135R/$19k/$17k
KC-10/$20k/$21k

Airlift
C-130H/$19k/$19k
C-130J/$12k/$12k
C-17/$20k/$22k
C-5B/$50k/$57k

Long Range Bomber
B-1/$65k/$61k
B-2/$146k/$150k
B-52/$76k/$63k

ISR
E-3/$46k/$41k
E-8/$46k/$46k
U-2/$28k/$33k

Special-ops/Special-purpose
AC-130H/$33k/$26k
AC-130U/$49k/$46k
E-4/$159/$177k
EC-130H/$29k/$28k
EC-130J/$14k/$15k
CV-22B/$80k/$73k

Helicopters
HH-60G/$19k/22k
UH-1N/$11k/$11k

Training
T-38C/$7k/$8k
T-6/$2k/$2k

For fighters, I suggest we retire all F-15C/D's. We don't need their capability at that money per hour. I have seen the F-15 PDM process. Sorry guys, but if this is the logistics situation for the F-15C, it has got to go.

The cost per flying hour of the F-16 shows how much brain-drain the service has performed by dumping experienced E-5/E-6 aircraft maintainers. That and killing off very efficient Air National Guard users. If it costs that much per hour to keep an F-16 unit running, maybe your management structure is deskilled.

The F-22 figure jump represents a lot of lost flying hours (24k down to 15k per year) from the groundings. We still need this aircraft or there is no anti-access capability of worth.

A-10 high cost per flying hour: See F-16. If we can't drag A-10 costs down, we need to dump them and have armed single-engine turbo-props do the job. Not a true replacement but what are you going to do? I will entertain how the A-10 can't stand up to stiff air defense threats anyway in the comments section if needed.

The tanker situation is interesting. We keep hearing about how KC-135s are getting more expensive to operate every year and gosh we need the KC-46. Let us see if it can do that work at KC-135R costs--even though it carries more gas. I wonder how the KC-46 will compare to the KC-10?

C-130 numbers are interesting. This may explain in part why USAF cancelled the avionics upgrade for the H. However, again, I suppose some of it is management issues.

The long range bomber cost per flying hour puts a damper on the next generation bomber fantasy. If I could have engineers find a way to kick JASSMs out the back door of a C-17, we don't need a next generation bomber.

E-3 and E-8 costs point more to a 737 replacement. Not a perfect solution but one has to make ends meet.

I don't need AC-130s if that is what they cost per flying hour. The E-4 and CV-22B need to be killed off. Today.

The helicopter numbers are a joke. Some years ago, the justification for the HH-60 was we could operate 3 of them for the cost of its bigger replacement. Today, I think that justification is dead. For the UH-1Ns that shuttle around missile crews: well that cost per flying hour is about double of the commercial rate. Good grief.

Again, the trainer figures point to the fact that to supplement our home air defense, we need to use this class of aircraft for lower threats.

In summary, the USAF better find a new way of doing the flying business because we can't afford to keep them in the lifestyle they are accustomed to.

--

H/T for the figures--POGO


Bunker mentality

Lockheed CEO Stevens: F-35 production processes improved during strike

Since the program's earliest days the F-35, as with any new aircraft production program, has been plagued with parts shortages, defective parts and components, rework required and in many cases parts that required re-design. Planes are assembled with missing parts or with parts that have to go back and be replaced.

Suppliers struggling to meet deadlines are forced to cope with re-designed parts or to solve technical and reliability problems at their level. All of these factors, many of which stem from overly optimistic assumptions years ago, have added to the delays and rising costs of the F-35 program.

Ripping off a Dennis Miller Twitter post from earlier in the day and converting it: I sometimes feel that Robert Stevens has been sent from the heavens with his robo-aide Gort to rid the planet of the concept of caveat emptor.

SASC employs wishful thinking re: F-35 and cost

Senator Levin of the SASC doesn't understand the do-or-die nature of the original F-35 plan. It is this, or there really is no costs to be reduced.

"We have to keep the pressure on," Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said in an interview. "We've got to have contracts which are fixed-priced. We have to make reductions."

For the F-35 program, Levin's statements are unrealistic. He also fails to understand that the F-35 is an irrelevant aircraft to future U.S. deterrent strategy. It is too weak to stand up to anti-access threats and it is too expensive to operate for other missions best done by existing legacy aircraft.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Part 3, Thana Marketing, Marketeers and Believers

The F-35 program is a large, defense-industry Ponzi scheme.

You have read the pitch in Part 1 and Part 2 in this Thana Marketing series about the F-35 program. Who are the players in this drama? Who are the marketeers and who are the believers? Let us examine a few examples.

Marketeers:

The U.S. Government is guilty of misleading its trusted allies about the F-35 program. They have taken on part of the job of the defense-industry in marketing an expensive, complex and flawed strike fighter concept.

There is no other way to describe this than the military-industrial-congressional complex or MICC. No tin-foil-hat needed to reach this conclusion. The F-35 program (like other military procurements) was setup to insure loyalty from Congress.

The industry part of this would be Lockheed Martin who are the prime contractor for the F-35 program. Lockheed Martin does make a lot of very good defense products. However in the case of the F-35, they are off the rails. Their manager’s number one responsibility is to the share-holders. “We never forget who we are working for…”

LM’s Tom Burbage (a person who had a very successful Navy career and is one of the prime front-men for the F-35 marketing effort), has surprisingly (or not depending on your view of history) been consistent at making misleading statements to the U.S. Congress and our trusted allies. This includes a recent appearance in front of Australian elected officials where he claimed that weight concerns on the aircraft design were manageable. These statements were not true.

The Believers:

The Marketeers act like believers. However the believers are guilty of parroting what the marketeers say. Believers are unwilling or unable to perform any critical risk-analysis. Believers want to hear the good news and future blue-sky-marketing and/or thana-marketing because it offers hope. Add “appeal to authority” and other common fallacies all the live long day. Once believers that have something to gain from all of this get setup, they in-turn can become marketeers.

Night of the living dead.

Australia has both marketeers and believers. Our elected officials, who were gullible and only saw the $9B potential industry work-share on the PowerPoint slides, needed no more information. They were sold.

The Australian Entrenched Defence Bureaucracy (EDB) is made up of some very smart people. It is also made of some that have questionable motivation. Take for example the New Air Combat Capability (NACC) office. NACC has offered no value-added protection of taxpayer money. They have become taxpayer-funded sellers of the F-35. Lockheed Martin states something overly-optimistic about the F-35 and the NACC logs the call as analysis.

Industry believed the marketing effort by the Australian Government. They took taxpayer money for aid. They lined up investors; improved production facilities, hired and trained people based wild, unproven, over-confidence. Then they went full-speed-ahead with rent-seeking behaviour. This included pushing their local elected officials to keep the faith.

And then the orders for the F-35 didn’t appear because the development team-leadership was incompetent.

Marketeers may be guilty of misleading people, but it is the believers who have now compounded the danger by not doing any robust analysis.

All that is left now is a growing mess on a large scale. The fallout from the F-35 debacle will cost billions and be a feast for the law profession. Lawyers do not depend much on faith. They will most likely find that there is some seriously damning documentation located in many government and industry offices around the world that showed multiple stacks of F-35 risks that were ignored all to keep the marketeers and believers (and thus the money machine) moving.

They will find out. It just may take some time. By then, we will have several seriously weakened air forces around the world and billions lost.


“It’s about $37 million for the CTOL aircraft, which is the air force variant.”
- Colonel Dwyer Dennis, U.S. JSF Program Office brief to Australian journalists, 2002-

". . . US$40 million dollars . . "
-Senate Estimates/Media Air Commodore John Harvey, AM Angus Houston, Mr Mick Roche, USDM, 2003-

" . . US$45 million in 2002 dollars . ."
-JSCFADT/Senate Estimates, Air Commodore John Harvey, Mr Mick Roche, USDM, 2003/2004-

". . average unit recurring flyaway cost of the JSF will be around US$48 million, in 2002 dollars . . "
-Senate Estimates/Press Club Briefing, Air Commodore John Harvey, 2006

". . the JSF Price (for Australia) - US$55 million average for our aircraft . . in 2006 dollars . ."
-Senate Estimates/Media AVM John Harvey ACM Angus Houston, Nov. 2006-

“…DMO is budgeting around A$131 million in 2005 dollars as the unit procurement cost for the JSF. .”
-AVM John Harvey Briefing, Office of the Minister for Defence, May 2007-

“There are 108 different cost figures for the JSF that I am working with and each of them is correct”
-Dr Steve Gumley, CEO of the DMO, Sep./Oct. 2007-

“…I would be surprised if the JSF cost us anymore than A$75 million … in 2008 dollars at an exchange rate of 0.92”
-JSCFADT Dr Steve Gumley, CEO DMO, July 2008-

". . Dr Gumley's evidence on the cost of the JSF was for the average unit recurring flyaway cost for the Australian buy of 100 aircraft . ."
-JSCFADT/Media AVM John Harvey, Aug. 2008-

Confirmed previous advice i.e. A$75 million in 2008 dollars at an exchange rate of 0.92,
-JSCFADT Dr Steve Gumley, CEO of the DMO, Sep. 2009-

" ...about $77 million per copy."
-Robert Gates, U.S. Secretary of Defense, Feb. 2008.

Way back when... Thana Marketing Part 2

Part 1 of Way back when gives a good snapshot of the gross over optimism with forecasting the future of the F-35 program. The bit below is also from a 2002 briefing to Australian elected officials. Bold emphasis mine.


DAVID SCOTT: Well, the design objectives on the JSF program are to cut the O and S cost by 50 per cent. And what we do is we have several bases for doing that. One is there's a high reliability in the airplane. The systems are designed to be inherently highly reliable, such as the radar which we project it will not require servicing of the antennae during its lifetime as it has full tolerance built in.

The second feature is a prognostics and health management system which monitors key systems within the airplane, such as the engine, measuring vibration and temperature and comparing those to known parameters, projecting when there'll be failure rates, and some other systems of that nature. So that allows us, we believe to project that the cost of maintaining this airplane will be 50 per cent less than the Legacy airplanes.

Obviously there'll be a combination to maintain these airplanes of military and industrial sides. The military side will clearly handle the flight line, maintenance, those kind of activities, and the contractors will handle the global supply chain, management of the spares and those sorts of things.

In between, we're still in evaluation and discussion about exactly which side the government or the industry handles some of those activities and, in the case of Australia, we have not yet begun those discussions about what they want to do indigenously, what they care to do as part of the global supply chain. So those decisions will have to evolve over the next few years.


Compare this to what we know today.

RAN/DMO disconnected from Australia's need for a real navy

I don't get it.

Australia has a need for frigates, patrol boats and various kinds of transport and support ships. Yet, the RAN/DMO team just seem unable to make any real progress in delivering a useful navy to Australia.

I would mention submarines, but in regard to the current situation, that is pretty much a complete write-off.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Way back when... Thana Marketing Part 1

Back in 2002, Australian politicians were briefed on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Let us first look at the initial brief by a U.S. representative. It should fit in very well with the over-optimism and "marketeer" problem in relation to Australian weapons systems procurement recently discussed by our elected officials.

Bold emphasis mine.


COLONEL DWYER DENNIS: Thank you, Air Vice Marshall Conroy. Thank you for the opportunity to come here today and brief the Joint Strike Fighter program. What I'd like to do today is just give you a brief overview of the Joint Strike Fighter program. How it was developed, what phases we've gone through thus far, and where we are today and where we're headed.

First of all I'd like just to talk a little bit about the vision of the Joint Strike Fighter program. First of all we see it as being the model acquisition program for both joint and international cooperation. And with the goal and intent of developing and producing an affordable next generation strike fighter weapon system. Not only to develop that system, but then to be able to sustain and support it worldwide.
Joint. The Joint Services is that the Joint Strike Fighter is a replacement strike fighter for both the US Navy, the US Marine Corp and the US Air Force and, of course, the international aspect of the program. We have various allied partners and, of course, we're in negotiations, as Air Vice Marshall Conroy just mentioned, for Australia to join in as a partner.

What is JSF? Well, first of all it's a family of affordable multi-mission fighter aircraft using 21st Century technologies. The Joint Strike Fighter is a single seat, single engine, stealthy, low observable aircraft. Its capability, as far as aerodynamical handling as a minimum, is an F-16, F-18 type of aerodynamic performance. And then, on top of that, is the stealth capability and advanced mission systems.

Just a quick look at the family of aircraft. It's basically a single design, but it's really three aeroplanes with the unique features to meet the unique requirements of the three Services. The CTOL, or Conventional Take Off and Landing Aircraft, is the variant for the Air Force, primarily.

The STOVL, which is Short Take Off For Vertical Landing, is for the US Marine Corp. And then the C Variant is the carrier variant.

You'll notice here from this picture a little larger wing area and tail section, and that's to provide a lower approach air speed for carrier operations.
You can see across the three variants, even though they will meet the unique mission requirements, there's great commonality between the aircraft. I'll talk a little bit about that more in the next slide - next couple of slides. But that commonality is key to the affordability aspect of the program.

This slide is a good representation of that commonality. We intend to build the Joint Strike Fighter on a single production line. As the aircraft moves through the various phases of production, the various unique aspects from the three variants will be rolled in.

What you'll see in the indent is about an 80% across- the-board commonality between the three variants. To build to that 80% commonality, you will have 100% commonality in the core engine. There'll be 100% commonality in the mission systems. In the software, the software load will be the same software load for all three variants.
And we see this again - that common production line - another key component of achieving that affordability, which is a fundamental pillar of Joint Strike Fighter.

Why are we doing JSF? Well, first of all it's replacing an ageing inventory. We have F-16s, F-18s that are coming near to the end of their life and we had to make some decisions to replace that inventory. We also have that old inventory, even if we could continue the life on it, it's becoming very expensive to maintain.
Yes, we're still selling F-16s and F-18s, and there's been a lot of reliability improvement efforts and maintainability improvement efforts that have been rolled into those airframes. But this gives us an opportunity, from ground up to design, in that maintainability and reliability that we need to have an affordable system.

Also the bottom line is to be able to counter the advancing threat in 2010 and beyond.

Here you can just see a little bit of comparison between the F-16 and the CTOL version there. What's different about the JSF? Well, we basically see everything as being different. Performance. I said it's an F-16 of F-18 or better type of aerodynamic performance. So it doesn't give ground in that area. The F-16 probably the world standard in fighter aircraft.

Lethality, survivability and supportability. Other key aspects of the Joint Strike Fighter program. All of those underpinning our fundamental pillar of affordability.

I'm going to talk a little bit about what we call KPPs, or Key Performance Parameters. The key performance parameters on a program are those requirements that are the make or break on a program.
You miss a KPP and your program is subject to cancellation or major rework. We don't intend for that to happen. And, as you can see at the bottom of the bumper sticker, it's projected to meet or exceed all of the requirements. What a focus you see here in purple. Those KPPs are common against all of the variants.

The other key aspect I'd like to bring out is out of the six common KPPs, three of them - sortie generation, logistics footprint and mission reliability - all speak to that supportability of the Joint Strike Fighter. That's very unique in a program right up front. We are giving emphasis to the long-term total ownership cost of this air system.

Another critical key performance parameter is interoperability. We intend to fight with this aircraft in coalition warfare. We intend to be able to operate with all the other systems out there, both ground systems and air systems. So interoperability is a very key component to the Joint Strike Fighter.

Of course there are two unique KPPs. One for the STOVL mission that's unique to the STOVL performance - short take off distance and vertical lift bring back. And then for the CV, the Navy variant, that maximum approach speed. That's that low approach speed onto the carrier deck for carrier operations.

Now, in addition to the aeroplane itself, we're not just building an aeroplane. We're building an air weapons system and that system includes that support system behind it. What we call the autonomic logistic system.
What we mean by autonomic logistics is autonomic. Is like those automatic body functions. You know, your heart beats. It's an automatic function. Well, we want to be able to have happen.

On board the aircraft we have what's called prognostic and health management systems that are constantly monitoring the engine performance, various mission system performances, and are able to data link back to the base, download that information. That will allow, say on the last 30 to 45 minutes of a mission as the aircraft is returning, it will be able to dump all that data back to the base.
The information will go in, it'll go to flight ops. They'll be able to determine what it's going to take to be able to turn that mission around, to be able to make the decision, say, if it's a carrier-based JSF and it needs to do an engine swap out, they can get the right placement on the carrier for it to be able to do that engine swap out. They can start making those decisions then.

Munitions requirements. If there is going to be a degradation in a weapons system they can make a determination. Well, can it go back in a weapon package as is? Or does something need to be fixed? In addition that information will flow back to the training house and continue to update the training requirements back at the schoolhouse for flow. It will go back into the depots and back into industry to allow the spares reprovisioning.

So constantly based off with the performance of that aircraft will constantly be feeding back into the information - the autonomic logistic information system to ensure that we have a supportable system.

How did we get here? Well, we just finished up a previous phase that was called concept demonstration phase - CDP. And that, of course, is the phase where we had the competition between - you know, ended up being between Boeing and Lockheed Martin. It was a winner take all competition. That's where the concept demonstrators were built and flown during that competition.

There was a requirement for each contractor to build two aircraft but to demonstrate three variants. So they took one of the aeroplanes and turned it into the other variant, which demonstrates commonality for one thing.

But during that CDP phase, a significant achievement - and one that they didn't really think we would ever be able to do - was to be able to get a joint operational requirements document signed by all three of the services: the Air Force, Marine Corp and the Navy. And also the United Kingdom signed the document.

And we did that through a process that took about five years, multiple iterations, going through and weighing the operator's requirements, finding out what the cost associated with the different requirements were, feeding that back to the operational community and letting them make the decisions, what we call CAIV, cost as an independent variable, being able to make the trade-offs that would give them the affordable, but mission-capable fighter that they needed.
The bottom line on affordability is that it's not affordable if it doesn't meet the operational requirements that the war fighter needs. So that's the standard and that's where we go back to at least performance at least as good as an F-16 or F-18.

So through those iterations, we were able to get a joint operational requirements document signed. Of course then the concept demonstration phase flight testing was completed. Lockheed Martin was down-selected as the winner out of the CDP phase. During the CDP phase we also did what was called technology maturation program. Now where we took a look at these areas, structures and materials, flight systems, manufacturing and production, mission systems, supportability and propulsion.

And we put a lot of effort and a lot of money. Frankly it cost them about $7 billion between the government investment and the investments by the two competitors into technical, technology maturation, to ensure that when we went into the SDD phase, the current phase that we're in now, the system development and demonstration phase, that we were going in with low risk in those technology areas - get these birds flying a little bit, they always look a little better if they're flying, instead of a still picture.

During the flight test program, we collected over 700 test points, the X-35A, the air force variant, that was the first to fly, they flew 27 flights in their program in about a month's time. Multiple pilots flew the aircraft, met all of its test points. After it was done with its testing out at Pondell [phonetic] on the high California desert, Lockheed took that aircraft and converted it into the STOVL variant, the short take-off and vertical landing variant. About 37 days later it came out as a short take-off vertical landing aircraft and did its testing out at Pondell base.
The CV variant, the carrier variant, did initial testing out at Pondell, then flew out to Packs [phonetic] River, the Navy's test facility in Maryland, and conducted all of its carrier-handling qualities testing there.

Some of the comments, F-18 pilot comment on the handling characteristics of that CV-variant was that it was ready to go to the fleet. Great handling characteristics, better than the F-18 which is the standard for carrier-handling. And we'll just let this finish as you see the STOVL touching down in its vertical landing.

One of the great aspects of that test program too was it was the first time that a vertical, short take-off vertical landing aircraft was able to do a short take-off supersonic dash, level dash, and then a vertical level, all in a single flight.
Taking a little bit deeper look at that system at maturity and the technology maturation effort that we did, I just want to highlight a couple of the areas that we focussed on - of course we just looked at the hi-fidelity demonstration aircraft. One of the key objectives of the flight demonstrators was to be able to be able to make sure that the modelling and simulation that we had done, as far as the aerodynamic handling qualities, matched what the actual performance was.
And so, you know, we modelled the aerodynamic performance and then by going out and flying it, we were able to see that there was indeed almost within, I don't know, three per cent match of that. And so what that does, is that gives us a great credible, confidence, that in this phase as we have to make changes in different aerodynamic features, or whatever, we'll know what the result is result is, that if we have to change a surface area, or an algerithym or something, we know what the results going to be. So that helps us keep the risk down in the program.
Another area that we worked on hard, was the low- observable area. We built a full-scale pole model. That in itself is not unique, we know how to do that, but doing it that early in the program - in the F-22 they did that two years into the phase we're in now - in this phase we've already accomplished that.

One of the things that we really stressed there, was not only having, being able to ascertain the low- observable characteristics of the aircraft, but maybe more importantly, was to make sure that the low- observable characteristics are supportable - out in the field that when there is danger, or when you have to do a maintenance action, that you can indeed fix the aircraft and maintain the low- observable characteristics. And also that every time you have to do a routine maintenance that you're not hurting the low observable characteristics, and so we're able to drive down the maintenance man hours per flight hour that historically when you look at the B-2 or the F-117, it's been a challenge, those are high hour requirements for maintenance. JSF, we've driven that down to make it supportable out in the field.

We also, through a flying test bad, [phonetic] were able to test out all the major sensors that will be on joint strike fighter, we know that those concepts will work. The challenge that we have ahead of us in SDD is to fuse all of that information together now, for the pilot.

Okay, where are we today? Okay, where we are today, is in the system development demonstration phase. On October 26 of '01, we awarded the contract SDD started here. We've been working hard, lots of things, lots of things to do in between these major milestones here, but our next major milestone is preliminary design review, March of '03. We're already doing sub-system preliminary design reviews right now on critical systems.

You'll see first flight, which is 48 months into the program, so it's a little, about three years away right now. And then we have initial operation capability - for the US Marine Corps in 2010, Air Force in 2011 and the Navy in 2012.

The thing I wanted to draw your attention to on this slide is the block approach that we have with JSF. We call this spiral development. Block 1 capability will give to the war fighter a basic war fighting capability. It'll be certified with JDAM [phonetic] and A-120s on board. That is a no-kidding, go-to-war capability right there. But what we will do, as we move through the SDD program, which is about ten and a half years, we will roll-in Block 2 capability which will be more the mission software, and more the weapons-certified, and then Block 3 capability will have 100 per cent of the mission software, all the hardware certified, the munitions certified, and that will represent fulfilment of the order requirement. Of course we will plan in the future to probably add on Block 4 and Block 5, as technologies advance.

I'll talk a little bit about the SDD acquisition strategy. It was a winner-take-all competition. Lockheed Martin 1, they of course are the single prime for the airframe avionics training and support for the joint strike fighter. Alongside of that we have government-furnished equipment, the engine, the propulsion is being done by Pratt-Whitney and General Electric. And I'll talk a little bit more about this interchangeable engine program in just a moment.

A quick overview of the contracts. They're cost plus award fee contracts with performance-based specifications. We didn't tell them how to do the function. We told them what we wanted it to achieve, okay? What the - the operational capability that was needed. And so they're based on a performance-based specification. It was an $18.9 billion award. Last October Pratt and Whitney, who has a lead on the engine development, $4.8 billion. The engine by the way is a derivative of the F-119 engine which is used in the F-22, so frankly every time the F-22 is collecting hours or going through tests, that is further maturation for our engine on the JSF. It is now designated the F-135 on the JSF, on the F-35.

General Electric is in a follower-type arrangement right now behind Pratt and Whitney, that's why that's a $411 million, what we call pre-SDD contract. Later that will be increased and they will go head-to-head, toe-to-toe with Pratt and Whitney in competitions on the engines.

Take a little bit of a look at the structure of the aircraft. You can see a great similarity between the aeroplanes. You can see here the CTOL variant and the STOVL variant, basically the area behind the cockpit here where the lift fan and the shaft drive that provides the vertical lift, the short take-off capability for the STOVL variant, that is replaced with a fuel capacity for the CTOL aircraft, so the CTOL has a little bit better range than the STOVL, the STOVL still has significant range.

One thing that I didn't talk about earlier, and I think it was on the earlier chart about the fuel capacities, is that because this is a stealth aircraft it has internal weapon bays and to make it stealth the weapons have to be internal in a low-observable mode, so that makes the plane pretty thick and so that gives you a lot of room for fuel. So these aircraft have tremendous range.

The CV variant is outward to almost 700 - is that correct Wheaty, 700?, 700, yes 700-plus nautical miles, the Air Force I think about 590, oh almost 700 as well, I'm sorry. So very significant range. That's no external fuel tanks, just the internal mission fuel. Oh, here we are [laughs] it's right down here. To give you an idea of the internal fuels - 18,000-plus for the CTOL, 13,000 for the STOVL and over 19,000 pounds for the CV aircraft. And you see the wingspan on the CV is 43 feet, compared to the 35 of the two other birds. You see it overlaid over the F-16, the AV-8 and the F-18.

It's a little bit - I said this is a stealth aircraft, so I'll talk a little bit about the survivorbility and the signature features of the aeroplane. The bottom line is that from ground up, stealth was built into this aircraft. You have all the, from every, from all aspects it's stealth. I talked about the maintainable low-observable, being able to have quick access doors and door stills, so that when you do those routine maintenance that you don't impact the stealth characteristics of the aircraft and other various - the Plan 4 align features that, the wing tail sweep, surface features and so forth that are critical to signature, lower [indistinct] the signature.

I'll talk a little bit about the contract or team. The competition was won by Lockheed Martin as the lead. They're the prime contract and their partners are BAE Systems and Norfolk Rummond. You can see here from this picture kind of the break-out that they intend for the aircraft, and of course both of these companies will be subbing to other suppliers.

I'll talk a little bit more about that engine in or changeability, the Pratt Whitney and GE Contracts. What we're talking about here is physically and functionally interchangeable engines. Today, when you buy an F-16, you're able to pick a Pratt and Whitney or a GE engine. But then you are stuck with the support in that decision. You're going to fly Pratt and Whitney in that bird forever.

What you have in JSF is true interchangeability. If your country, for example, decided to buy a joint strike fighter with Pratt and Whitney engines and then went to a coalition operation fore-deployed somewhere and there were only GE engines there, and they needed a new engine, a Pratt and Whitney engine can be pulled out. The GE could be put in to the aircraft. The software load is the same. The airplane recognises that. So all the hardware and software interfaces are all the same, including not only the interface into the aircraft, but also the supportability. So the mechanics can switch out those engines. It'd be the same tooling to switch out the engines and so forth. So the support piece of that is also interchangeable.

Of course the benefit that we see in this is that later on we will be able to compete these two companies and keep the engine on a performance and cost improvement curve through competition.

Want to just now focus back a little bit on that vertical, short take-off and vertical landing system. This past year we were announced as the winner of the 2001 Collier Trophy. That's for the most significant improvement in aerospace, a significant contribution to aerospace. And the team, the joint government and contractor team won that award for the unique vertical lift system, integrated lift system for the STOVL Variant.

Back to the master schedule a little bit. This is a little bit more detail but what I wanted to pull out of this schedule for you is that, while this ten and a half year SDD program is going on, we're going to be also putting out quite a few aircraft. We'll be doing what's called low rate initial production. In these low rate initial production lots, we will be putting out about 465 airplanes. So that's in addition to the 24 aircraft that we'll be building under the SDD program.
That represents as industry relationships are set up in SDD for the development portion of it, a lot of those relationships will flow into and actually you know they'll be bending metal for those L rep [phonetic]aircraft long before we get done with the SDD program.

So who gets it? As you can see, our partners that we have right now - Canada, Norway, UK, Denmark, Netherlands, Turkey and Italy. Those are our current co-operative partners that we have signed MOUs with. Right now these are the quantities that we're looking at for the US Air Force's 1763 aircraft; the Marine Corps 609; the Navy 480, and when you add that with the 150 that the UK, the United Kingdom, has said that they want to purchase, that comes out to 3,002 airplanes.

What I'd like to really emphasise here is that the 3,002 airplanes is what all of our resource, our budgeting, our planning is all based on. We took no credit in our cost-projections for any additional international sales. So by virtue of that our numbers for you know recurring fly-away and production costs are conservative. We estimate - actually three different studies have estimated that there's anywhere between 2,000 and 3,000 additional aircraft over that 3,002. Obviously the aircraft that our partners are projected to buy, those would be part of that greater than 2,000 number.

So we feel very confident in our cost projections and our budgeting for the SDD program. This gives you an idea also of some of the airplanes. For example in the Air Force, the JSF will be replacing the F-16 and A-10 and it will intend to complement the F-22 in its high-low mix role. Of course for the Marine Corps it will replace the Harrier and the F-18C.

This just kind of goes through the status of the agreement. You can see where the different countries came out as far as levels of partnership. The United Kingdom at level one; Italy and Netherlands at level two; the rest at level three; and of course we are currently under negotiations with Australia at a level three partnership.
I'll talk a little bit about the partnership, some sells. Level one, we only have one, the United Kingdom. Their contribution was 2 billion. They have ten people in the program office. And just to talk a little bit about the co-operative partnership, what we have is we have our international partners are totally integrated in our integrated product teams, in the program office. We have from the United Kingdom, for example, as the national deputy that is in the program office also serves at a director level. He's the deputy director of our systems engineering directorate.

Each of the level threes, they have a national deputy and they serve on the C4I integrated product team that is part of our systems engineering. So the international partners, they're bringing to bear individuals into the program office that are filling no-kidding, real positions that we would normally be filling with either a Air Force, Navy or Marine Corps military or civilian personnel. So we feel that it is very, very important and we are getting some great expertise from our partner nations into the program office.

The partnership opportunity closed on the 15th July. Of course in June Australia asked to proceed with negotiations. So they're the last country that are, so to speak, in the door for partnership.

Security co-operation participant: That's kind of the next step. It's a kind of a hybrid of four military cell. We have a lot of countries that want to be, say, involved - they want to be involved. They want to be involved. They want to be informed about the joint Strike Fighter, so we are setting up this program to more or less build a more informed customer. But they won't have the benefits that a partnership will have. They won't have the emphasis on the industrial relationship. They won't have the people integrated in the program office and they therefore don't have the influence over the core project. All the money from the partner nations goes in to the common pool along with the US Government funding to fund the core project.

And the last block there I'd like to talk about industry to industry is the fact that those industrial relationships are developed between Lockheed Martin and their suppliers and their partners and the foreign companies of our partnership nations.
A little bit on the structure of our agreement. We have a common core Memorandum of Understanding or what we call the Framework MOU that was signed and negotiated with the United Kingdom first. All other countries sign that MOU and then they have their particular benefits or relationship are outlined in the supplementals agreements, depending on their partnership level.

This chart just shows you the progression of how we built the partnerships through the Joint Strike Fighter phases. In the last phase we had four levels of participation. It was an open invitation. In this phase, we have three levels of partnership and that was by written invitation only. We vetted those. We decided on who would be desirable partners. We sent out invitations back in a '99 timeframe.
Then as I've already spoke to, there will be an effemess [phonetic] component which we're calling Security Co-operation Participant. And of course it will move in to the next phase, production phase, and will be available through either co-operative production, MOU agreement, or through FMS and of course a third way that you could buy the aircraft is direct commercial sell but right now we don't think it will be available for direct commercial sell. At least that's the feeling at the time.
We feel that JSF enhances international co-operation. We see it as a method for meaningful, long-term international industrial co-operation. One of the benefits that we see in the stability that we see in the program is that all the countries become equity shareholders in the program.

We see foreign industries, opportunities enhanced because they are able to join in on the development and the production of nominally a 5,000 to 6,000 airplane fleet production run and all the associated technology transfer that may go with that gives us an opportunity to exploit the competitive worldwide supplier base so we can find those best value solutions so we can assure that we have that affordable, sustainable weapons system.

And we see it as ensuring the long term sustainability of both American and partner Defence Industries.

Just in summary, we have completed our concept demonstration phase. We matured our technologies and entered into SDD at low risk. We have awarded the system development demonstration contracts. We've completed what we called Air Systems Requirements Review back in January of this year. That's where we go through and captured all the requirements that they've been flowed down through the contract.
We've completed our integrated baseline review in April which is where we make, work the government reviewing the contractors schedule and resource management, making sure that they have the proper resources dollars and schedule manpower associated with the various work packages to support the schedule and the statement of work that represents the SDD contract.

Pratt and Whitney has already completed. NG have completed their preliminary design reviews for their engines. The engine development is about a year ahead since it is a government-furnished engine to the current Lockheed Martin to integrate. We've completed air vehicle lines freeze. Only eight months into the program, we've actually locked down the dimensions, the lines of the aircraft. One of the reasons we were able to do that is because of all that significant effort that we did in CDP phase and the fact that the performance was such that we had to make very, very minor changes in the overall lines of the aircraft.
All our international co-operatives are signed up, save one. And we hope to take care of that soon, as Vice Marshal Conroy mentioned. And one of our goals, one of our sayings in the program office is 'every wicket, every day'. There's a lot of little things that have to be done. There's a lot of challenges ahead but we just keep marching along and keep knocking those out, and we will be successful through performance, teamwork, and process discipline.

And that concludes my briefing. So I think now we're going to have some folks come up here and we will stand by to field some questions.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lockheed does well with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol P-3 upgrade

Here is a good press release on a much needed effort: refurbishing P-3s.

It would be good if the U.S. Navy would press head and look at the P-8 not as a replacement of the P-3, but to better enhance U.S. Navy ISR. Value-added for the coming thin budget years.

The same could be said for Australian Defence.

New Zealand was pretty smart with P-3 life extension. (H/T-Horde) Project Kestrel involved Hawker Pacific (Aust) and refurbished 6 x NZ P-3K airframes and, in the process, zero houred the principal airframe components (wing, including carry through; empennage; and, engine nacelles) for something like NZ$91M for everything.

Senate told about gross over-optimism in Defence procurement

:::Shock!:::

When purchasing giga-dollar weapons systems, the Entrenched Defence Bureaucracy is guilty of substituting proper analysis with unconfirmed claims by marketeers according to this article.

Misplaced confidence in the claims of defence industry "marketeers" contributed to expensive past blunders on major contracts - some worth billions of dollars - a Senate Committee inquiry into Defence acquisitions was told yesterday.

Also, the DMO boss claim of "old projects" needs definition. Many "old" projects are not even in active service yet and are a disaster waiting to happen. Add to that: our tax dollars pay people working in Defence (some even wearing the uniform) to actively market troubled military programs. Projects like the F-35 program for Australia (somehow missing from the Project of Concern List even though money has been put forward for two test and training aircraft), the Air Warfare Destroyer funnies and certainly the dream to build 12 uber-submarines at home are pushed by marketeers that don't identify proper risks. Maybe that $214M for a sub study will be useful as opposed to a "can-do" attitude for Operation: BARKING MAD.

Service chiefs are of no help either. The RAAF boss is guilty of the same behaviour.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

USMC fire support options looking good

Harriers that will last out to 2030.

The Yankee and Zulu helicopters.

And, Excalibur.

The U.S. Marine Corps successfully fired two Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) Excalibur 155mm precision-guided artillery projectiles from a range of 36 kilometers (22.3 statute miles) in theater. These shots mark the longest distance the Excalibur round has been fired in combat since its fielding in 2007.

With more than 500 rounds fired in theater to date, Excalibur is the revolutionary family of precision projectiles for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps artillery. The Marines have significantly increased the operational use of Excalibur in the last year, firing as many as 32 rounds in one week. By integrating Excalibur into close-combat formations, U.S. forces avoid collateral damage even when warfighters are in close proximity to the target.

"Having true precision artillery that can defeat the targets – and from such a great distance – gives our warfighters the ability to engage these targets that would otherwise be out of reach," said Michelle Lohmeier, vice president of Land Combat Systems at Raytheon Missile Systems. "Raytheon developed and fielded the world's first extended-range GPS-guided artillery, and we are proud of the unprecedented precision capability Excalibur gives our warfighters."

Oh and there is also that USMC truck thing-a-magingy that has long range guided rockets on it (with GPS/INS assist) that will pulverize a whole range of targets. It can reach out to 300km with quick response and a most unpleasant result for the enemy. Could even have fun chaining one of these to the aviation deck of an LCS.

A Marine and their rifle are powerful. Even more so with that kind of backup.

I would say that without the overly expensive and faulty F-35B STOVL, fire-support options for the Marine facing the enemy look pretty good in the coming lean budget era. Just remember that the next time Amos and Trautman cry us a river.

--

UPDATE- Duh. Forgot to mention the very nice USMC C-130J Harvest Hawk.

What 'best-kept secret'?

Checklists are important for safety. The most faded words are better than alleged memory. So, let us be safe.

*Run the pre-read checklist* Clear your mouth; (check). Put down drink; (check). Sit down; (check). *Checklist complete*

Pentagon's Best-Kept Secret: F-35 Fighter Is Progressing Nicely

That kind of misleading behaviour has a history. And has been covered before.

Here is an explanation from almost 3 years ago.

Play nice now

Not mentioned in this piece is that communism only understands force.

That means we have to try to persuade Washington not to confront China, as it is doing now, but to work with it. We should also try to persuade China that it, too, must accept a continuing role for America in Asia. Both will have to do a lot of compromising.

Maybe the communists will act nice if we tell them to pretty-please, stop bullying the Philippines over South China Sea areas the communists have no claim over.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Awards

The Queens birthday honours list has produced some good awards for the ADF.

The highest awards for gallantry announced today were three Medals for Gallantry to Corporal Ryan Avery of the Northern Territory, Bombardier David Robertson of South Australia and Private T, a soldier whose identity cannot be disclosed.

Corporal Avery exposed himself to enemy fire repeatedly while protecting his mates by engaging the enemy in Afghanistan on December 4, 2010.

Bombardier Robertson directed mortar fire on to well-concealed enemy positions from an exposed observation post in Uruzgan Province on March 20 last year.

"His bravery in extremely hazardous conditions guaranteed the safety of his own team and prevented casualties among advancing Australian and Afghan forces," his citation states.

Leading Seaman Deanna Pringle, the cook and primary health care provider aboard HMAS Pirie during the Christmas Island refugee boat tragedy on December 15, 2010, has been awarded the Conspicuous Service Medal.

Her citation states her "highly effective triage and supervision of the treatment of 27 seriously injured casualties for several hours" had saved the lives of many people and inspired even more.

"She undertook this role despite limited medical training and experience. After this ordeal, and once the casualties were ashore, she prepared the evening meal for the ship's company and continued to assist in the search for more survivors."

More than 30 people died after an asylum seeker vessel carrying an estimated 90 refugees, ran on to rocks at Flying Fish Cove. HMAS Pirie and the customs vessel Triton played a vital role in plucking at least 42 people from the sea.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

USMC Harrier logistically supportable out to 2030

One of our readers has found a Flight Global piece which confirms the USMC plan to keep Harriers going out to 2030 has good logistics merit behind it due to the purchase of retired UK Harrier airframes.

This will be an important point to consider in relation to the coming DOD budget sequestration which will remove $50B per year.

For those that think STOVL capability is important, they now have breathing space until or if the F-35B STOVL Joint Strike Fighter gets fielded.

Not mentioned much in the conversation is how the USMC will be able to afford annual squadron operations budgets which could double as a result of predicted, high, F-35B cost-per-flying hour figures.

Also it is the F-35B STOVL requirement which has dragged down the A and C F-35 with numerous development challenges in an effort to have the short-take-off and landing capability while keeping a joint design with the other variants.

It is quite possible that conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) and aircraft carrier (CV) variants of the F-35 would have been well on the way to being fielded by now if it wasn't for the STOVL requirement.

STOVL land-basing close to the battlefield (the whole justification of USMC Harrier ops to realize high daily sortie-rates for close-air-support missions) will be a problem with the F-35B due to its huge fuel requirements (7 tons of fuel per sortie) from a austere base. Maintenance complexity of the F-35B will also be a challenge. After over 10 years of program development, it is yet to be seen how the F-35 will meet one of its key performance perimeters (KPP) (sortie rate per day)--3 for the CV and CTOL and 4 for the STOVL--and the other KPP; mission capability rates in the high 90 percentile group. At this time, F-35B advocate retired USMC General Trautman is only talking theory, not fact.

Some STOVL advocates like Second Line of Defense (SLD) also fail to mention the shrinking number of flat-top amphibious ships which will be retiring in the coming years with limited dollars to afford a 1-1 replacement scheme.

Funding 10 replacement amphibious flat-tops could require $30B in the coming years.

With poor purchasing plans in place by the U.S. Navy, money will be wasted on the faulty and paper-tiger Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the expensive and faulty F-35B/C and wasted manpower and sustainment funds on the gold-plated and vulnerable DDX Zumwalt-class destroyer.

As one USAF general put it in a briefing recently in relation to U.S. DOD budget prospects, "2012 will be bad, 2013 will be worse."

Programs that are realistically sustainable out to 2030 have a good chance of surviving the coming budget problems. Those that don't, won't. With limited money and classic Hornets approaching death-hospice decision time, it is quite possible that the only USMC close air support jet available in the 2020s will be the Harrier.

Retired knowledge--Knowledge retired

This was a comment from Bushranger on another post. It deserves to be its own post.


Some of you Anonymous posters are really brainwashed into the DoD/ADF 'group-think' culture and obviously have a pretty shallow knowledge re the wealth of expertise in the retired military community.

Last Friday, I attended a bi-monthly 76/77SQNs mixed luncheon which usually involves people from bottom to top of the rank structure, including some serving personnel (COs, pilots, groundies). Some of maybe 10 retired Air rankers often attend and alongside me were a retired CAS (Korean War veteran who also flew Sabres and F-111), and a recently retired 2 Star Engineer/Pilot who also flew Sabres in my era and was recently recalled to involve in a 3 person group analysing the diabolical mess that the Navy has got itself into regarding warship maintenance. Pete Criss would probably also involve if he lived closer to Newcastle.

There are some pretty common denominators among the retired group that regularly participate. They have mostly been involved in serious conflicts (Korea, Vietnam) and those recently retired at higher rank levels have awareness of issues involved re subsequent conflicts (Iraq, Afghanistan) and somewhat benign interventions in East Timor and the Solomon Islands. They network regarding what is happening in Canberra and are generally keen researchers concerning technological advances. Most are avid readers of military history and considerable book swapping goes on among the group. The same can be said for several who make strong contributions to the very worthy analytical efforts of Air Power Australia.

The ability of those with meaningful combat experience to think contemporarily outside the square regarding operational survivability should not be underestimated. Then Group Captain 'Bay' Adams flew with me a bit in Vietnam and we used to debate fighter versus helo issues long after bar closing. He features in Pierre Klosterman's book 'The Big Show'; both of them were the only 2 survivors of a flight of 8 Typhoons that attacked a German airfield during WW2 – he also served in Korea. Post-Vietnam, big 'Bay' rose to Star rank and was instrumental in promoting the development of helo versus fighter tactics in which another former fighter pilot and myself became involved as COs of 5 and 9SQNs respectively (that former CO5 was also at the recent luncheon). Unfortunately, all of that good work was lost after the stupid battlefield helo transfer decision in 1989, along with a wealth of helicopter combat experience that had been accumulated across the Air Force.

2 of the immediate past/present Air Force hierarchy mentioned (AH and GB) have never fired a shot in anger. Apparently, they were supportive of the appalling decisions to shed F-111, Iroquois, Caribou (and eventually Blackhawk, Seahawk) creating widening capability gaps at huge cost with diminished ADF military capacity. Preparedness to 'fall on swords' to defend the necessity of maintaining continuous adequate and credible military capabilities does not seem an attribute of Service Chiefs these days. The whole politico-military push is primarily about supporting the rent-seekers involved with defence industry.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tightening the reins

The Dutch Defence Minister's department is happy to paint an F-35 picture that isn't very accurate.

Yet a little credit should be given on improvement. Back in the days of a former Dutch Defence Minister Jack de Vries, he acted like he worked for Lockheed Martin.

This release states that costs have increased on the F-35 program "partly caused by a number of countries having moved their planned orders back to later years."

I wonder who told them that?

This is a common thread from LM briefers to customers. Blame governments first for not ordering hundreds of mistake-jets. Not mentioned in detail are a significant amount of engineering challenges which have made this 2003 plan a laughing stock.



Problems that are mentioned are minimized with a can-do, fix-it attitude.

The release talks about the cost problems with sustaining old F-16s however if one has problems like that, then they probably are not a valid F-35 customer. Unlike a legacy F-18, refurbing an F-16 is easier. If one poor-mouths F-16 operating costs when wanting something new, they are more likely better suited for something more practical and affordable.

The F-35 is at the polar-opposite of the affordability (and capability...as in flying question-mark) spectrum.

The department goes on to say that it should be no surprise that problems are discovered in testing. Congratulations. The release starts out like this,"Not all problems have been resolved yet but the programme is back on the right track."

I wonder who briefed them on that? Which track? Certainly not the one from 2007,2008,2009,2010,2011? Certainly not because those timelines have vanished.

Another interesting comment from the DM release states,"Furthermore, the programme management has tightened the reins."

Well, the program does have a strong resemblance to acts of sadomasochism. I'm not sure about what the term "tightened reins" means to the striking workers outside the Fort Worth plant.

Then there are some other nagging issues.

Panetta has been mentioned in passing but his credibility with the F-35 program is lacking.

The release mentions Belgium and Denmark are following developments with "keen inteest" but so is everyone else. Norway is mentioned. What is not mentioned is like the Dutch, military spending is assuring a hollow-force that won't be able to do much.

The Dutch election is coming up in September. I wonder how the closing of an airbase/42 jet plan will go?

Defence spends on media consultants

Fortunately, Defence has their priorities straight. They have 190-some PR staff and decide they need media consultants. I wonder why? A great percentage of Australian news sources only copy/paste Defence press releases with little reporting skill.

The Defence Department is spending more than $1 million to acquire the expertise of a firm of former tabloid-TV journalists to help train its senior staff to speak to the media and write press releases.

Just before the axe fell on defence spending in the budget, Defence was able to push through a contract with the firm Media Manoeuvres to provide training to defence staff who are likely to be interviewed by the media or required to give written information to journalists.

The new three-year contract is more than double the value of its previous contract with Media Manoeuvres and brings the total value of contracts secured by the firm with Defence to $1.65m in the last three years alone.

Media Manoeuvres is one of many consulting firms that have profited from lucrative government contracts to provide media training. The firm Media Gurus has been awarded several defence contracts in recent years.

Two of Media Manoeuvres stable of training experts are former journalists with both A Current Affair and Today Tonight, while a third has worked for Hinch and Today Tonight. Other staff have experience in commercial radio.

Friday, June 8, 2012

30 years of graft and rent seeking

Operation: Barking Mad continues.

The fleet is being enlarged because of concerns over increases in the naval forces of Australia's Southeast Asian neighbors, in particular China which is in the process of introducing its first aircraft carrier.
Even if no one knows how to keep 6 subs crewed and operational. I would prefer any 5 year plan that put subs in the water over the the white-elephant inspired by the Entrenched Defence Bureaucracy.

Good luck.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What the U.S. Senate was told about more F-35 trouble

The RAAF force structure cancer is a problem created by the Entrenched Defence Bureaucracy.

Gross over-optimism and hope will not fix that problem.

This read is what was told to the U.S. Senate recently. Unaffordable, unsupportable, unable to face emerging threats. That is the F-35.

And, the RAAF even wants another try at the bad idea of extending the airframe life on legacy Hornets. Here is the problem faced by the U.S. Navy.

The Navy intends that a SLEP would extend the life of select legacy F/A–18s from 8,600 to 10,000 flight hours. As yet, the Navy does not have sufficient data to predict the failure rate for aircraft being inducted into the SLEP program. Too high a failure rate could leave the Navy with too few aircraft that could benefit from the SLEP program, which would exacerbate the shortfall projections.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

RAAF boss gets it almost all...wrong

Enjoy this faith-based trip by the RAAF boss on the faulty aircraft he wants for Australia. The media laps it up wholesale with little reporting skill.

Going through the comments, it seems an alternate reality is the long-range strategy of the day.

"Our other choice is to go down the New Zealand route - it's pretty simple."

Simple thinking maybe. New Zealand isn't making the dumb decision to spend billions on an uncompetitive-to-the-threat air force.

He said Australia needed the JSF because by the mid-2020s the Super Hornet just wouldn't cut it against the planes our neighbours are considering buying.

If the Super Hornet won't cut it, the F-35, with so many faults and a weaker self-defense suite will fare worse.

And compare the following videos.

And, if we stick with the stealth fighter, quantity has a quality all its own.

70-100 defective aircraft are a quantity of waste.

"Capacity matters - and anything less than 100 JSFs severely limits the options available to government and only provides a boutique capability," Air Marshal Brown said.

"Boutique" implies that what one buys actually works. The Air Marshal has NO go-to-war example of the F-35 to look at and at this point is depending on a vivid imagination.

"You could buy more Super Hornets (instead of JSFs) but I'd argue (that) by 2025 or somewhere around that it becomes an uncompetitive fighter. You can be the best fighter pilot in the world but if the other guy has got some significant capability advantages over you you just don't fundamentally stand a chance."

Fundamentally, his logic doesn't stand a chance with the Just So Farcical.

"I'd argue the AGM-158 Joint Air To Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) equipped (classic) Hornets with the KC-30 (multi-role tanker) is a far superior strike capability than we ever possessed with the F-111," he said.

I'd argue that Defence was too intellectuality lazy to upgrade the F-111 with J-series weapons and SDB giving a deployed package of USAF F-22s and a joint operational team, lots of options.

And as for the JASSM, how many is Australia going to buy? 2000?, 3000 like the USAF? About 260. At $700,000 each. After those are fired, the war is over. Hopefully. Fusing issues with the JASSM still are not a done-deal. There will be a percentage that just don't hit the target or go "bang". The U.S. knows the rate of those weapons that just don't reach the target for any number of reasons. Cruise missiles (and evaluation of the BDA) wasn't so great in Desert Storm. Cruise missiles have improve some since then, but we have never fired them in a network/GPS denied environment. Also, unlike the short-range JDAM where time-of-flight and a tight INS don't matter with GPS jamming, the longer longer the weapon flys, the more you risk a chance of missing in a network/GPS denied environment.

Star-finder anyone?

Australia has only fired a handful of JASSMs on the test range. That was enough to take it off the project of concern list and declare IOC.

Also, we don't have enough tankers to feed the classic Hornets and it is unlikely we can protect those same tankers.

The above in anti-access environs and less of a factor against legacy threats.

The boss finishes with this:

Despite the government's recent decision to defer the purchase of the next 12 JSFs as part of the Defence cuts in the budget Air Marshal Brown says the fifth generation fighters are still affordable and could be in service with the RAAF before the end of the decade.

"We signed on for the JSF back in 2003 - about 10 years ago," he said. "We decided on a budget, an amount for the joint strike fighter. That hasn't changed. 100 JSFs are still affordable within that original budget range established in 2003."

Define "affordable". He is dreaming. Also, I wonder how he is going to scrounge up to 3 times the ops funds for a squadron to pay for the insane F-35 cost per flying hour?

I figure the budget can tolerate to own and operate less than half of the mistake jets. Assuming one wants to fly them.

You go to war with the RAAF you have; not necessarily the one you want, or hoped for.

-

F-35 electronic warfare capability affected by production quality

F-35 electronic warfare capability affected by production quality

The Senate is concerned about the F-35s electronic warfare ability in relation to production quality affecting apertures on the airframe, Reuters reports.

Apertures are a tough thing to design for stealth aircraft. The aircraft has to be stealthy, yet let antennas and radar detectors peak through the skin without creating adverse radar concerns.

The F-35 has 10 apertures that pertain to radar detection as can be seen from this graphic.



As a comparison, the F-22--sometimes described as an antenna farm--has around 30 apertures on the airframe.

Production quality has nagged the F-35 program even while proponents complain more aircraft need to be built per year. The problem with building a higher quantity of F-35s is that what is currently being built are "mistake-jets" because of production knowledge immaturity.

The electronic warfare concern may have been one of the classified issues mentioned in last years DOD "quick-look" report" pointing to a variety of F-35 troubles.

Electronic warfare is an interesting term with the F-35. It has no wide field of view self-defense jamming equipment. One of the assumptions is that the narrow-band and narrow field of view radar in the nose will perform some jamming functions. Due to the cooling issues and sustained power with AESA radars, this is probably not a very reliable function. The aircraft will have narrow-band, mostly nose-on low-observable capability and some expendable decoys. A towed decoy--combat proven in ALLIED FORCE 1999--is not expected until Block 4. Whenever that happens.

A paper on predicted F-35 survivability can be read here.

Schwartz may declare war on the golf-course, bowling alley and hobby shop

Tough times.

“Some of the proposals in the Air Force’s budget request do not appear to make fiscal sense,” Casey wrote to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley on March 2. “For example, I understand that while the Air Force plans to retire 65 C-130Hs, it will continue to maintain at least 65 golf courses at bases around the world.”

Yet, USAF wastes $9B per year on the Just So Failed.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cdr Salamander... arriving



(The USS Quincy, caught in the searchlights from attacking Japanese cruisers, on fire and sinking as a result of numerous gunfire and torpedo hits. The flames at the far left of the picture are probably from the USS Vincennes, also on fire from gunfire and torpedo damage)



G is doing a nice series with naval thinkers.

God bless 'em. They will need to pull a rabbit out of their hat to paint much hope for the U.S. Navy in the Western Pacific in the coming years.

It is an apt time to mention all of this with the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Midway. As a kid I loved the Walter Lord book Incredible Victory. His famous words are etched in the stone of the WWII monument in DC. I owe my knowledge of Pacific geography to reading the whole Morison series in the 6th and 7th grade. It was in the reference section of our very small county library.

I was also fascinated with a book about the last voyage of the USS Lexington on their way to the Coral Sea and destiny. I was also stunned with the battles around Savo Island (Iron Bottom Sound) and other places: read from the comfort of a hammock on a nice Michigan summer day after doing the chores.

There are a lot of lessons from WWII Pacific battles that apply toward today.

Cdr Salamander is doing his best to raise the red flags. The U.S. Navy and others ignore his thoughts at their own peril.

As I have warned before, the U.S. Navy carrier air wing is fast going obsolete. Which in-turn, puts a whole carrier battle group at risk. We have trimmed down our ASW assets (flying and otherwise) to a dangerous level. For the Western Pacific, the USN best get used to not being able to go some places.

There are also some other problems to consider. What if someday the Chinese Navy doesn't want to be defensive? What if they wage a U-boat war against Alaska, Guam, the Panama Canal, Pearl Harbor and the very vulnerable LA Harbor? A place where most of our just-in-time supply chain goes through?

How many in the days before December 7th, 1941 thought things would never go as bad as they did?

History is full of such examples.

And for those that say wars don't solve anything, tell that to Japan.

Or Carthage.

The (U.S.) Navy was still obsessed with a strong feeling of technical and mental superiority over the enemy. In spite of ample evidence as to enemy capabilities, most of our officers and men despised the enemy and felt themselves sure victors in all encounters under any circumstances. The net result of all this was a fatal lethargy of mind which induced a confidence without readiness, and a routine acceptance of outworn peacetime standards of conduct. I believe that this psychological factor, as a cause of our defeat, was even more important than the element of surprise.

Admiral Turner commenting on the first battle of Savo Island.

The Reserves

The very first day I was in Australia, I was walking down the street and this really big guy in a WWII Australian Army uniform was walking toward me. We talked a bit. A Reserve Forces Day ceremony had just ended.

I keep missing this thing every damn year. I would like to go to one to take some photos.

Unfortunately, I will be away again this year.

Monday, June 4, 2012

F-35 rent-seeker of the week

Useful idiot.

$5B Target

Hard to take the U.S. DOD very seriously on providing bang for the buck with this kind of waste.

But at more than $3 billion a pop, critics say the new DDG-1000 destroyer sucks away funds that could be better used to bolster a thinly stretched conventional fleet.

That, and an ever more obsolete-to-the-threat carrier air wing; well, one distinct possibility is this.



Meanwhile, communist appeasement continues...

From our Red Star Minister portfolio...

Panetta just isn't very bright

LOL...

Among the specific new weapons Mr. Panetta mentioned were the advanced fifth-generation aircraft known as the Joint Strike Fighter, the enhanced Virginia-class fast-attack submarine that can operate in shallow and deep waters, new electronic warfare and communications capabilities, and improved precision weapons.

Such weapons would give the United States the freedom to manoeuvre in areas where access was denied, Mr. Panetta said.



Bad relationship

If I was going to stereotype, one thing I learned from Korea is that the people can have a short temper.

So when I read in today's Australian Financial Review (AFR), "Howitzer bombshell angers South Korea", (Geoffry Barker), my first thought was that this was not the kind of business partner to leave in the lurch.

S.Korean defence industry was rightly upset when they heard of the cancellation of the Australian self-propelled artillery project (to be made in S.Korea) by radio news with no forewarning. The South Korean embassy was informed 20 minutes before the public announcement.

Did I just mention "upset"? Furious would be a better description. Business reprisal in some form from S.Korea is a guarantee.

Aside from the idea if Australia even needs this kind of weapon's system, officials made this cancellation decision as part of an effort to save money. Even though gross excess like 22,000 defence civilian employees, a war in Afghanistan that provides no defensive value to the nation, too many flag-ranks and SES and a spend-thrift buying policy still exist.

S.Korea offers a lot of potential defence industry solutions for land, sea and air. How the future Australian-S. Korean defence industry relationship progresses is an open question.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Wishful thinking

Well, well.

A secret chapter from the Australian government's 2009 defense white paper detailed a plan to fight a war with China, in which the navy's submarines would help blockade its trade routes, and raised the prospect of China firing missiles at targets in Australia in retaliation.

A new book 'The Kingdom and the Quarry: China, Australia, Fear and Greed' reveals how Force 2030 set out in the white paper -- to include 12 big conventional submarines with missiles, revolutionary Joint Strike Fighters, air warfare destroyers and giant landing ships -- was being prepared for a possible war with Australia's main trading partner.

Then there is this childish behaviour.

Too bad such a dream of grandeur depends on an Entrenched Defence Bureaucracy (EDB). The following are a few examples (in no particular order) of the serious cancer with those in the EDB that use the uniform for personal or industry gain:

1. Has too many perk-hungry flag ranks and senior executives to feed.
2. Has 22,000 civilians to support such a small military.
3. Can't run a test program for parade boots before ordering them; and what they select is defective.
4. Is unable to logistically support the M-113 to a reasonable level.
5. Can't sustain 6 submarines, but is sure they want 12.
6. Is well on the way to turning the fighter-jet community into a very expensive flying club that won't be able to face emerging threats.
7. Doesn't have a clue what a Caribou replacement is but is confident they want to spend $1.4B on 10 light cargo aircraft.
8. Can't do bread and butter sustainment of ships without them rusting out.
9. Thinks an "Air Warfare Destroyer" is survivable and sustainable.
10.Thinks the Canberra-class amphibious ships are sustainable.
11.Helped retire the F-111 on a lie.
12.A Helicopter road-map that is a me$$.
13.Left the country with no air-to-air refueling assets for years.
14.Thinks the F-35 Joint Strike Failure has value.
15.Makes up stories in hearings to elected officials.
16.Misleads the news media.
17.Cries about $5B in Defence cuts when a more efficient organisation could provide much more combat power with $5B less...per YEAR..
18.Thinks the Defence White Paper of 2009 has value.
19.Thinks the Afghanistan mission has value (cheerleads for it) yet has little understanding of 4th-generation warfare.
20.Fails to give Defence Ministers sound advice and instead leads them on a string for the sake of careerism and Entrenched Defence Bureaucracy self-interest.
21.Fails to use the funds generously provided by the taxpayer in a sound manner.
22.Through these multiple failures (and more) provides Australia with a weak Defence posture.




Friday, June 1, 2012

DOD contract for FMS sale of 10 C-27Js to Australia

DOD Contract...

L-3 Communications Integrated Systems, L.P., Greenville, Texas, is being awarded a $321,770,026 firm-fixed-price contract to purchase 10 C-27J aircraft, 10 option kits, and one lot each production cost and software reports and contractor logistic support cost and software reports for the Commonwealth of Australia by issuing a delivery order. The location of the performance is Greenville, Texas. Work is to be completed May 24, 2012. ASC/WLNJ, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-07-D-0099 0078).

Fixed price LHA

Compared to all the other procurement problems, this is great news:

Shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls announced at 5:11 pm today that it has settled a $2.38 billion contract to build LHA-7, the Tripoli, the second amphibious assault ship of the new America class (pictured), at its Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi -- and it's a fixed-price contract. That's a major achievement for acquisition reformers but a significant risk for the contractor.

Harriers, Yankee/Zulu helos, New heavy helicopter, MV-22. And, don't count on the F-35B Just So Failed.

And, viewing the Libya campaign (low threat) as some kind of pattern of success because no aircraft carriers were used, is not too bright. I can see a nasty surprise leaving a lot of dead sailors and marines if that thought is taken too far.

The problem with generals

One of the paragraphs at the start of this story shows how empty the thinking is from our military "experts" (retired or not).

Retired Major General John Cantwell - a former commander of Australia's troops in Afghanistan and author of the 2009 Defence White Paper which called for an ambitious expansion of Defence capabilities - has told the ABC the budget cuts are eating away at a clear strategy in Afghanistan.

Where to start? Well, the 2009 Defence White was a joke. Realistically, any author of it should be humiliated at their participation in such a useless document.

As for Afghanistan; what "clear strategy"? Or, as that famous saying goes, "YGTBSM".

Australia has no interest in Afghanistan. There is no strategy if someone is not determined to win. With Cambodia and Laos nearby (Pakistan) it is a forever dead mission.

Operation: USELESS DIRT takes money and resources away which could be better used in our own Pacific Rim region. Big time defence savings right there by stopping this effort of no value.

As for the self-propelled artillery (gold-plated and all), I find it funny that this is a big deal and there is no mention of mismanagement of the M-113 program or any number of other needed things for the Army.

If the General and his friends are unwilling or unable to mention that the core problems are with the incompetent Entrenched Defence Bureaucracy, they bring nothing of use to the conversation.

The problem is not the money given to Defence by the taxpayer because so much of it is wasted on poor decisions.

If the general and his kind want to identify part of the problem, they only have to look in the mirror.