Monday, July 30, 2012

What the F-22 vs. the Typhoon tells us

The anti-F-22 crowd over at Wired bring up some great points about the F-22 and Typhoon. Also, they may have overlooked or just didn't get around to mentioning some other things in the big picture of air power emerging threats.

For starters, while the F-22 may face some challenges in air-to-air combat, anything less than that is going to suffer a hard time in coming anti-access threat scenarios.

With the Typhoon, consider that (except for its F-18-class airframe profile), its speed and performance mimic some of the SU-35 capability. The SU-35 is the non-stealth reference threat for the Pacific in coming years. It was designed to exploit the Raptor. However many of the SU-35 are made, expect its technology to bleed elsewhere.

One big difference between the F-22 and the Typhoon is that one of them is going to have more difficulty in a high-end SAM environment.

What Wired, or us, do not know, are the rules of engagement for the exercise. By getting the F-22 into within-visual-range (WVR) practice with the Typhoon, we give the F-22 a look at what it will have to deal with when facing emerging reference threats in the SU-35 class of jet: or worse.

Wired is right to bring up the single point of failure in the U.S. air power roadmap. That is the AIM-120 AMRAAM. While it may have some combat victories, they were against poor opponents and not someone using cross-eyed jamming in a new-gen Flanker. Once the AMRAAM probability of kill is lowered to that of a Vietnam-era AIM-7 Sparrow, we have problems.

According to Janes and others, we have even more of a problem with the AMRAAM. Rocket motor production for the AIM-120D AMRAAM (the new supposedly longer range variant) is in dire straits because of serious production defects. This problem has affected all AMRAAM deliveries within the last two years.

The fix here is that the U.S. needs to get competing sources for beyond-visual-range (BVR) missiles in the AMRAAM class. Sooner rather than later.

That and a dual mode or family of BVR missiles that use not only radar but optical guidance for terminal homing.

Years ago, when the advanced tactical fighter (ATF) project started--which gave us the F-22--red-force evaluators knew that stealth, for stealth's sake, was not good enough against emerging threats. One had to have extreme altitude and super-cruise to lower the effectiveness of enemy firing solutions by degrading missile no escape zones (NEZ).

With its AN/ALR-94, it has an interesting way of detecting targets; passively. Also the F-22 has usable combat range. And, certainly more than the F-35 will ever see, if it ever shows up in combat trim.

The most important thing that the Typhoon vs. F-22 flights show us is that against almost any emerging threat for the foreseeable future, the F-35 is dead meat. It's BVR capability may count for something, but with the AMRAAM PK taken into effect and a serious lack of dancing ability, what will be delivered to the warfighter are tales of the Brewster Buffalo, Vindicator and Helldiver.

The Pacific isn't looking all that great for air power deterrence. In part, we can thank, Gates, Schwartz and Donley: three people that when you combine their total fund of air power knowledge, it could be written inside of a match-book; with a large-sized crayon.

This should also worry the Israelis when looking at all those Typhoons. For them, the F-35 will not provide a credible deterrence. There was a time we supported our allies. President Clinton did promise them the F-22. Too bad for them, the U.S. didn't follow through.

Today? All the U.S. really wants from its allies is to purchase faulty weapons systems. No matter what the consequence.

That is about all we have

JASSM has had its trouble over the years.

It is now integrated for use by the F-15 Strike Eagle community.

For the Pacific--in the non-long-range bomber category--the F-15 Strike Eagle can at least carry JASSM some distance.

The B-1, B-2, B-52, F-15 Strike Eagle and F-22 are the aircraft with any real "anti-access" fire-power for the Pacific.

The Navy helps out with the Tomahawk: which would be nice to see cleared for the B-52.

Shoot first. Shoot enough.

With the coming budget woes, this situation is unlikely to improve much.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Giving the Navy confidence

How reassuring:

..."leverages its experience with the RQ-170 Sentinel unmanned aircraft system (UAS), the Joint Strike Fighter F-35C and other Navy program technologies."

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ex Lockheed Lobbyist Now in Key Defense Oversight Role

As you will read, this story writes itself...

A former executive and lobbyist for defense contractor Lockheed Martin has been appointed to one of the most powerful posts on Capitol Hill overseeing the defense industry.

Ann Elise Sauer, who left Lockheed last year, is now the Republican staff director at the Senate Armed Services Committee. The Committee oversees military spending, including major weapons systems that are central to Lockheed’s business.

Sauer received more than $1.66 million from Lockheed during a reporting period that encompasses this year and last year, according to a financial disclosure form she filed in April. The $1.66 million included salary, bonus, deferred compensation and a lump sum described in the filing as “RETIRED PAY.”

Sauer was appointed to the Senate staff position in February. Her financial disclosure form, recently noted by Legistorm, called attention to her appointment.

Lockheed Martin, the Department of Defense’s top contractor (in terms of total contract dollars awarded yearly), receives tens of billions of dollars annually from the Pentagon. Last year alone, the firm was awarded Department of Defense contracts valued at more than $33 billion. The company is responsible for some of the Pentagon's most expensive and troubled weapon systems, including the F-22 and F-35 fighter jets.

As minority staff director, Sauer reports to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How Lockheed Martin took over Australia's leadership role for replacement fighter aircraft

Lockheed Martin runs nearly all aspects of decision-making for Australia's fighter replacement program. Oh, there is now some people waking up to the horror and slowing funding because of obvious gross risk, but that is only recently after many years of can-do delusion. And for those that oppose the F-35, it is pretty important to take the wanton rent-seekers in to account.

For years if there were problems with the F-35, talking points were filtered down from LM and became the de facto Australian government position on the matter.

Below is a letter and accompanying paper constructed by then Defence Minister Hill and his merry band back in 2003. Look at the big leap taken for Australia to join the risky F-35 program. All the chips were pushed in on one big bet. The greed of rent-seeking potential was just too strong.

And while there appears to be some words stating if it all doesn't work out, Australia can withdraw...

While the supplement does not guarantee work share, there is an explicit statement included in the supplement that enables Australia to withdraw from the SDD phase if Australian industry expectations are not realised.

Everyone is pretty much all-in. Victory or defeat. No in-between. Further:

Prior to signing the MOU, there was an Exchange of Letters (EoL) between the Australian and US Governments concerning Australia’s aspirations for long-term participation in the JSF program. Unlike the MOU, which only covers the SDD phase, the EoL addresses matters concerning the joint development, production, operation and support of an effective and affordable JSF. These letters affirm the importance of having no predetermined work share for any participating country and of maintaining a level playing field for industrial participation for the life of the program. The Australian Government expects to have visibility into industrial participation to monitor outcomes for Australian industry to assure the Government that subcontracting competitions are conducted fairly and provide best value.

How reassuring. So many years later, how are we doing today? Affordable? Not yet. Lots of industry work? No. Thousands of F-35s for the future? A dream. Notice that most of letter and paper below is industry, industry, industry and little mention if it is a valid weapon's system other than platitude.

As long as it can make an equal number of take-offs and landings most of the time, the grubby rent-seekers are happy.


“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.


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

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

Brookings needs to do some homework on the F-35

Supposedly smart people like Brookings show they have little to no grasp of F-35 risk.

Smaller F-35 fighter program: A fundamental rethinking of the F-35 fighter, our biggest defense procurement program, is appropriate — in light of the dramatic effectiveness of drones and other new technologies and the large size and cost of the manned-aircraft program.

Specifically, the F-35 program should be sized primarily to the potential China threat. Imagining a major deployment of F-35s to the region around Taiwan, for example, on land bases and ships, might result in halving the program’s size (with refurbishments of planes like F-16s making up the difference).

A good place for them to start would be here.

UPDATE--New Parliament report on the F-35 and the NACC's mystery "cost envelop"

Australia's NACC hasn't done much except cheerlead for a defective fighter program. (PDF here)

In March 2012, the head of the NACC project, Air Vice-Marshal Kym Osley, assured a Parliamentary committee that despite a recent ‘US decision to defer 179 US aircraft over the next six years’ (effectively increasing the cost of Australia’s 14 aircraft), project AIR 6000 remained ‘within the cost envelope’ originally approved by Government.

The ‘cost envelope’ was set by the Government in 2009 but the figure has not been revealed.

However, when you are in that kind of plush job, you just want the endless junkets.

Then there is the "it's classified" meme:

It is difficult to assess these claims, because some of the arguments are of a highly technical nature and much of the data necessary to form an understanding of the performance of the JSF is classified and not available for public scrutiny. As journalist Andrew McLaughlin points out:
The question of whether the F-35 will have sufficient capability in order to be relevant against forthcoming Russian and Chinese systems is not easy to determine without access to classified test data to analyse…Analysis from such groups as Air Power Australia claim that the F-35 will not have the range, power to weight ratio, manoeuvrability, and weapons load to be able to engage these adversaries on a one to one basis. They also claim that the JSF’s very low observability characteristics will soon be compromised by Russian low-frequency radar systems or infra-red trackers currently under development for ground based SAM systems…But these are claims which are not easily countered without revealing classified data.

Define "journalist".

Andrew now no longer works for Australian Aviation; an excellent aviation publication and trade press effort that isn't journalism like a traditional news organisation. At least one past interview I saw from Andrew in AA with Lockheed's F-35 front-man Tom Burbage, was totally softball. Trade press can only go so far.

Andrew is now senior PR for the NACC.

Good work if you can get it.

More later on the quality of Parliament's F-35 report.


The report ends with:

"It is difficult to imagine that the United States will not see the
program through to completion and that Australia will not purchase significant numbers of the JSF."

Faith-based assumptions with little hard fact to back it up is a faulty play. Even more so with taxpayers money.

Parliament can now go back to sleep. Duty done.

LM says F-35 deliveries will speed up

As reported by Flight Global's Dave Majumdar, Lockheed has some good news on late F-35 deliveries.


Lockheed's chief financial officer Bruce Tanner adds, "We're going to finalize deliveries of all the LRIP [low rate initial production] 2 aircraft, all the LRIP 3 and a pretty good portion of LRIP 4 aircraft this year."

Not mentioned is that LRIP-3 work was to be completed (as stated by the DOD contract) in December 2011. LRIP-3 deliveries (17 jets) only recently started. Even if the long-delayed pilot training effort at parking-lot-Elgin AFB is stalled until sometime in 2013.

And what is with the sloth-like clearing of the full envelop? I wonder.

Still, "a pretty good portion of LRIP 4 aircraft this year" counts for something? The DOD contracts for LRIP-4 requires that the work has to be complete by March of 2013.

Back in the day (2003), LRIP-3 was to be 54 aircraft (finished in 2010); LRIP-4, 91 (finished in 2011).

It is still unknown what is actually being delivered. Hardware to drive Block 3 software doesn't show up until 2016 deliveries... then there is test of a real go-to-war aircraft.

That is the scale of delays vs. the original plan scammed to Congress. Engineering changes for more mistake-jets: unknown. More discovery that mows down gross marketing assumptions like a claymore mine; yet to come.

We have seen more and more delays stack up. It is more complex (and poorly managed) than what Congress and DOD bargained.

Low order improvement?

As time marches on, comparing the F-35 to successfully fielded legacy systems, insults successfully fielded legacy systems.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

LM tells investors that the government is causing more trouble with the F-35

There are different ways of looking at the F-35 problem.

Low rate initial production batch 3 (aka"LRIP-3") work should have been completed by December of 2011. Yet, deliveries of the 17 LRIP-3 jets have only recently started.

Real pilot training is delayed again until "sometime" in 2013; years late. Here is what then F-35 JSF DOD project boss General Davis told Eglin AFB in 2008:



(click images to enlarge)

Today; less than 4 years later. Over-optimism doesn't even apply with that margin of error.

Currently, General Davis is on to better office furnishings.

Carrier quals for the C model are delayed yet again. Recent delays for that were to push it to the summer of 2013. Now? "Early 2014".

LM tells its investors everything could be nicer but the nasty old government is causing more problems (not the incompetent program management, no sir).

Better investor communications are needed given the difference in what F-35 program management officials think (or fantasize) to what is really going on.

Skytalk has an update about a recent LM profit call and the F-35 as told to investors.

Lockheed officials told Wall Street analysts Tuesday that they now expect to make about $500 million less profit on the F-35 program over the next five years because the Pentagon brass have tightened the standards for what they consider acceptable progress.

Bruce Tanner, Lockheed's chief financial officer, said the company was "disappointed" with the government's grading standards for making award fees, essentially bonuses, when certain goals were met in the development program and with the award fees that would be available to win. The award fees are pure profit, a reward on top of the thin cost-plus development contract margins.

Read the whole thing for the bigger picture.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Empty offices up in USAF HQ

There are some alarming vacancies up in USAF HQ. Interesting how some of these vacancies appeared with a variety of failed USAF acquisition attempts.

Retired and all that.

E-Ring offices throughout the Air Force corridors of the Pentagon are vacant. There is no undersecretary, no acquisition chief and no deputy weapons buyer.

One of the new guys up near the top office--General Davis--is there to help things move. It was his over-optimism as head of the DOD Joint Strike Fighter office just a few years ago, that helped prolong the jet's woes. Even back in 2008, some of us knew there was trouble. Instead of acting brutally honest, Davis went native to the program, trying to help it in for the big win.

I guess this is how one gets promoted. Can't pick up an extra star or two saying the F-35 is a big fat failure. Props to his career planning and all that.

This is a common DOD disease in that line of work.

All this, and there is a change-over in top leadership with Schwartz going out soon and Welsh coming in.

Anyway, should be interesting the next few years. A deskilled acquisition leadership, budget woes, and a sick-elephant on their back known as the F-35.


Rent-seeking or Defence?

The opposition wants to do something about illegal arrivals via boat. Good idea as in this area, the Howard plan worked.

The Opposition would fast-track plans to buy new Offshore Combatant Vessels (OCV) - a multi-purpose warship displacing up to 2000 tonnes and capable of long-endurance border protection tasks.

However, some are a little confused. They would consider a defective U.S. requirement built in part by an Australian effort:

Senator Johnston said he was particularly impressed with the US Navy's Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), a cutting edge trimaran designed by WA-shipbuilder Austal.

Maybe someday we will actually get some politicians that study warfare instead of rent-seeking.

Nixon's silent majority

The difference between astro-turf and grass-root is...well, you decide.

Monday, July 23, 2012

General Molan forgets a few things about failed Australian Defence Leadership thinking

Just going through some of Jim Molan's thoughts.

White papers do not defend us in the real world. The reduction in defence spending was taken selfishly with full knowledge that the strategic risk to 22 million Australians had been significantly increased. There are some things that should be above political survival, but of course they are not.

The definition of "selfish" also applies to an entrenched defence bureaucracy (EDB) that eats up billions but returns nothing in real combat capability.

-Air combat roadmap: a wreck
-Basic ship sustainment: a wreck
-Submarines: a wreck
-Project management skills: a wreck

And so on...

The need for a defence budget is based primarily on an estimate of the need, adjusted by the investment available. The need is often referred to as the strategic environment, and sometimes as the threat.

If you believe that there is absolutely no need for any money to be spent on defence and that security can be achieved without armed forces, then I respect your view, but we do not share a common starting point for discussion.

If you believe that the world is not yet perfect, that there is even a small chance that one day Australia may have to use force in pursuit of its interests if not its survival, and that the future is always unpredictable, then you will think that we need armed forces, and we have a basis for considering how much is enough.

Pretty hard to do when the EDB is white-anting Defence while becoming a de facto fifth-column destroying military capability just as well as any enemy.

Assessing how much is enough was prosecuted by competent people in Defence in preparation for the 2009 Defence White Paper. They derived a force structure tested in a number of scenarios and derived from the best knowledge of the demands the strategic environment could place on Australia in the future.

The White Paper for 2009 was a clown-car event. Anyone thinking different is mentally affected.

They came up with "Force 2030", known for having 12 submarines, up to 100 joint strike fighters, three air warfare destroyers, two amphibious ships, new armoured vehicles, etcetera. The Government accepted that and wrote it into the white paper.

Force 2030 was not thought up by the uninitiated, but by the best civilian/military tactical and strategic brains available. Of course, some commentators objected, especially those with a barrow to push, such as a submarine-only force.

Defective thinking at its very best.. and, a magical 2030 force allows for fanciful dreaming while doing nothing of worth. For example, naming the faulty and under-developed F-35 as if it was a reliable solution when there was no evidence to indicate such a thing.

Submarines? Try maintaining the 6 we have as proof-of-concept before going on a rent-seeking mission for the ages.

While you are at it sir, consider how long-range strike ability was thrown away on a lie, and the helicopter capability allowed to fester into an unworkable joke.

For the EDB, we can consider some additional points of defect here and here.

Without addressing the core faults in Australian senior defence leadership, General Molan ignores issues that are the ultimate relation to his cart-before-the-horse thinking.

The current not-so-bright political leadership may be faulty, however they are not the true source of today's Defence problems. Jim Molan's attempt at revisionist history and blame-shifting away from his peer-group (such as Angus Houston) don't make his arguments very solid.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

My line-item veto for the House Armed Services Committee 2013 budget proposal

Release here. My strike-outs and comments added.

WASHINGTON- The House Armed Services Committee overwhelmingly approved HR 4310 the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this morning. The action clears the way for consideration of the bill by full House, scheduled for next week. The legislation provides the necessary authorities and funding for America’s military.  
The bill meet’s Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon’s goals of keeping faith with America’s men and women in uniform; restoring fiscal sanity to a defense budget that is inconsistent with the threats America faces; rebuilding a force after a decade at war; and aligning our military posture in a dangerous world. 
“I’m grateful to our committee members for their vigorous and energetic debate today,” Chairman McKeon said. “This represents the first step in passing the 51st consecutive National Defense Authorization Act, a bill that has become the gold standard for Congressional bipartisanship. Our troops deserve the best training, equipment, and leadership in the world, and I’m proud that our members consistently put aside personal politics to fulfill that sacred obligation to our Armed Forces.”
Restoring Strategy and Sanity To The Defense Budget: The FY 13 Defense Authorization Act begins to restore fiscal sanity to the defense budget, reflecting concern about America’s mounting debt, but also ensuring that our armed forces have the resources they need to meet an increasingly dangerous world. It also recognizes that the military has absorbed 50% of deficit reduction efforts to date, though it comprises only 20% of the federal budget. 
The bill authorizes $554 billion for national defense and $88.5 billion for Overseas Contingencies Operations, consistent with the budget resolution the House passed last month. Like the President’s budget request, these levels differ significantly from levels authorized in the Budget Control Act. This level of funding is nearly $4 billion more than the President’s budget request, but it is still less than last year’s request and only an incremental step to address the $46 billion decrease when considering where the President estimated National Defense would be for fiscal year 2013 in last year’s budget.  Even with this modest increase to the President’s request for the military, the 2013 defense bill reflects the fact that members of the Armed Services Committee and the broader Congress must make tough choices in order to provide for America’s common defense.  
Keeping Faith With The Warfighter And Military FamiliesThe FY13 NDAA provides our war fighters and their families with the care and support they need, deserve, and have earned; while ensuring that proposed drawdown plans do not cut to the heart of the Army and Marine Corps.  Vital provisions include:
TRICARE: The FY13 NDAA restates the firmly-held sense of Congress that prior service to our nation is a pre-payment of healthcare benefits in retirement. This nation must honor its commitment to generations of service members, families, and survivors who have spent decades sacrificing their personal interests in service to their country. As such, it rejects Administration proposals to increase some TRICARE fees and establish new TRICARE fees.  These proposals went too far and were not included in the bill.  The FY13 NDAA includes a modest increase in TRICARE pharmacy co-pays in 2013 and a cap on pharmacy co-pays  beginning in 2014 that would allow fees to rise by no more than the annual retiree COLA. This is offset by a 5-year pilot program that requires TRICARE for life recipients to obtain refills of maintenance drugs through the TRICARE mail-order program. 
TROOP PAY: The FY13 NDAA authorizes a 1.7% pay increase and extends bonuses and special pay for our men and women in uniform.
TROOP REDUCTION: As the size of the military is reduced, the FY13 NDAA caps the number of troops that can be separated from the force in a single year.  The bill also mandates that in the future, funding for troops designated for separation must be part of DoD’s base budget and not carried in accounts for contingency operations.
SEXUAL ASSAULT:  The FY13 NDAA reflects a bipartisan effort to provide significant new regulations and procedures for combating and prosecuting sexual assault within the military. (We have commanders, first-sergeants/chiefs. They must do their job better with current UCMJ tools and be the focus for fixing what is a standard unit discipline issue.)
Rebuilding A Military Tested By A Decade At War 
VITAL SYSTEMS AND CAPABILITES: The bill restores and retains vital systems, platforms, and authorities needed to maintain America’s combat power after a decade of war while declining to take up Administration requests, such as two rounds of base closure, which could damage vital military infrastructure.
  • Restores three of the four Navy cruisers proposed for early retirement in Fiscal Year 2013.
  • Preserves tactical airlift crucial to DOD’s ability to support warfighters on the ground with agile combat support, such as C-130 Hercules, C-23 Sherpas, and C-27J Spartan aircraft proposed for early retirement.
  • Maintains close air support and ground interdiction capabilities provided by A-10 Warthogs and F-16 Fighting Falcons slated for premature divestment prior to the forecasted service-life end of each aircraft.
  • Retains the Air Force's Global Hawk Block 30 unmanned intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft as they support the deployed warfighter, rather than shifting this asset to storage.
  • Supports counter-IED funding for the warfighter.
  • Sustains America's heavy armored production base by maintaining minimum sustained production of Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, and Hercules recovery vehicles.
  • Maintains the option for additional airborne electronic warfare capabilities by supporting advance procurement for the EA-18G.
  • Fully funds the Army Ground Combat Vehicle development program.
  • Fully funds requests for 50 AH-64 Apaches, 59 UH-60 Blackhawks, and 44 CH-47 Chinooks, 29 F-35 Lightning II aircraft, 26 F-18 E/F Super Hornets, V-22 aircraft, 36 MQ-9 Reaper UAS.
  • Authorizes a multi-year procurement for up to 10 Virginia-class submarines.
  • Authorizes a multi-year procurement for up to 10 DDG-51 Arleigh Burke class destroyers.
COMPETITION AND INNOVATION: The FY13 NDAA introduces bi-partisan reforms aimed at the way the Defense Department interacts with the private sector, opening more opportunities for small businesses, increasing competition, and spurring innovation. The bill requires the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress on areas of risk within the defense industrial base.  It also requires the Secretary to develop a national security strategy for the industrial base and eliminates obstacles to small business competition for Defense Department initiatives. The measure also restores a long-standing balance of depot-level maintenance between the Defense Department and the private sector.
Aligning Military Posture In A Dangerous World: The NDAA ensures that America’s military is robust, flexible, and capable.   The bill will provide our warfighters with the time, resources, and authorities they need to win the war in Afghanistan and continue to prosecute the wider War on Terror.  In addition the NDAA:
  • Requires the President to notify Congress of any planned force reductions in Afghanistan, and justify those reductions based on conditions on the ground.
  • Prohibits use of private security contractors for force protection of US troops in Afghanistan.
  • Requires Combatant Commanders to give their assessment of capability gaps against North Korea, China, and Iran.
  • Reinforces the United States’ commitment to use all elements of national power to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and enhances the credibility of the military option, should it prove necessary. (no proof of enough diplomacy...funny how we talked to the Soviets with thousands of missiles pointed at each other.)
  • Modernizes and supports DOD’s nuclear forces, that includes intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombers and the Navy’s strategic submarines and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
  • Reform NNSA’s governance and management systems to make the agency more independent and efficient.
  • Strengthens congressional oversight of the nation’s nuclear weapons war plan.
  • Supports a robust national missile defense, including $100 million for an East Coast third site for national missile defense to align with the rising threat from Iran. 
  • Supports key allies, including Israeli Cooperative Missile Defense programs like Iron Dome.
  • Provides additional funding for national security space programs, approximately $50 million above the Administration’s request.
  • Increases oversight on development of cyber operations capabilities.
  • Supports several key areas of science and technology investments to ensure the Department meets future defense needs
  • Enables Special Operations Forces to sustain the current fight and rebalance across the globe where appropriate to counter and mitigate threats, and work with partner nations.
  • Preserves and institutionalizes other capabilities such as irregular warfare and security force assistance within the services and U.S. Special Operations Command. 
  • Implements recommendations from the HASC Financial Management and Auditability Reform Panel that will improve execution and management of Department of Defense Enterprise Resource Planning systems.
DETAINEES: As terrorists have decentralized and sought new safe havens from which to carry out attacks on U.S. soil, Congress acted last year to ensure our military men and women risking their lives to defend us from such attacks on are on solid legal ground. Last year the FY12 NDAA reaffirmed the authority to go after terrorists who are part of or substantially supporting al Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces. This year, through the incorporation of the Right to Habeas Corpus Act, the bill makes clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that every American will have his day in court. The FY13 NDAA also prohibits the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United States. 

DOD official on the road, misleading valuable allies

Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is on the road helping Lockmart sell defective mistake jets.

He spins this fairy tale for Japan:

“It’s the linchpin of tactical aircraft inventories for the United States for decades to come, so we’re completely committed to it.”

Interesting, as it is unlikely to take on Pacific anti-access threats. That and no one knows what it will cost or how many we can afford to field.

The biggest alleged customer of the F-35, the USAF, certainly has worry.

Carter continues perpetuating the Ponzi-scheme.

“I wouldn’t have told you this three years ago, but I can tell you now: I think it’s getting on the path to finishing its development [and] ramping up to full-rate production.”

Add him to the witness list when the lawyers start eating this program alive.

The rest of the article explains how dumb it is to be a JSF Partner Nation member mooching for "best value" while off-sets are handed out to FMS customers.

Years later, Canada has a working sub

Story here:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Kopp paper is a warning to U.S. leadership

"If the United States wishes to retain its primacy in modern nation-state conflicts, technological strategy must be restored to the prominence it enjoyed during the Cold War period."

A recent paper by Dr. Carlo Kopp in July's Joint Force Quarterly, "Technological Strategy in the Age of Exponential Growth" walks you through technology growth patterns over the years. Read the whole paper from the beginning. I promise it won't hurt your head understanding it.

For anyone interested in the well-being of U.S and allied military superiority, this paper is a warning that time is up. We better get strong logic fused into our senior leadership or the consequences could be loss of deterrence. With loss of deterrence comes war.

The inevitable consequence of failing to practice good technological strategy is that opponents will produce breakthroughs. A smart opponent will produce repeated “capability surprise” events to an advantage, as the United States did to the Soviet Union, contributing crucially to the eventual bankruptcy of the Soviet bloc.

Technological Strategy vs. Exponential Growth

The presence of exponential growth in key current technologies is a double-edged sword because these technologies have been commodified and are globally accessible in the commercial marketplace. A Russian or Chinese weapons developer will have access to much of the same basic technology as his peers in the United States. This represents a leveling of the technological playing field unseen since World War II. For instance, the well-developed Russian technological strategy intended to defeat U.S. airpower is disciplined and well-considered, leverages exponential growth in key technologies, and displays a deep understanding of critical ideas and how to leverage globalized exponentially growing technologies.

On a level playing field, with exponential growth in critical technologies, the player who can best exploit talent to an advantage—all else being equal—will inevitably win. For the United States and its technologically competent allies, this period should be one of critical reflection. Many recent high-profile programmatic failures display numerous symptoms of poor practice and implementation of technological strategy during program definition and later development, beginning in the decade following the end of the Cold War. Moreover, poor understanding of exponential growth and concomitant early component obsolescence has contributed to severe life-cycle cost problems across a wide range of programs.

A good case can be made that these failures directly reflect the diminished role of technological strategists in the post–Cold War environment, where imperatives other than defeating peer competitor nation-states became ascendant and dominant, while the last generation of Cold War–era technological strategists progressively retired from government service or retired altogether, with few if any replacements trained or appointed.

Bold emphasis mine.

Friday, July 20, 2012

USAF-For the love of the F-35

Looking at the cockpit video below is an interesting exercise in spin. The seller implies that only "5th generation aircraft" can have sensor fusion. A ridiculous claim. The video also assumes F-35 invisibility. Good luck with that.

Big budget cuts are coming. The USAF doesn't know how many F-35s it can afford but somehow wants them. How will the service pay for the F-35 in the coming years?


I suggest that this exercise in force structure suicide happen as follows:

F-15E-Retire all small-motor F-15Es (about half the fleet)
F-16-Retire all non- Block 5X F-16s
F-15-Retire all F-15C/D
Remove the nuclear mission for bombers
Bombers-Retire all B-52s
Tankers-Retire half of the remaining KC-135 fleet
C-5-Anything that can't be refurbished to a C-5M standard gets retired.
C-17-Retire 10 percent of the force.
C-130-Retire all non-C-130J assets
VIP-Remove the E4 family of aircraft from service (leadership by example)
Remove 20 percent of initial pilot training capacity.

Remove the 0-10 and E-9 Rank except for USAF HQ
Remove all SES

All this needs to be done fast. Don't think about it. Pull the trigger.

Remaining F-15E and F-16 Block 5X will go into the Guard as "blended" units (Active, Reserve, Guard members with Guard leadership). They will take on home-air-defense alert at 17-20 (what used to be ASA) locations as well as other missions. This means for the F-15E, a crammed training schedule. Big time.

But hey, it is all about living the dream.

In-coming USAF boss faces significant F-35 troubles

USAF's General Welsh--the nominee to replace out-going boss General Schwartz--told the Senate Armed Services Committee that until it is known what the F-35 will cost to own and operate, there is no way to know how many the service can have. He also mentioned that the production line is under-performing.

His thoughts on F-35 affordability and numbers the service intends to have go like this:

“If we can’t clearly identify how much this airplane will cost to buy and to fly after we acquire it, then we really have no idea how many airplanes we can afford or how many we should expect to receive.”

High-level thinking!

On F-35 production he had this to say:

“Our manufacturing process, our assembly line, is not up to speed and running to the level we’d hope it would be at this point in time.”

As a gauge of progress, we already know that F-35 low-rate-initial-production batch 3 (aka LRIP-3) is behind schedule by several months. The customers have just received their first of 17 LRIP-3 jets. The LRIP-3 contract was supposed to be complete in December of 2011. LRIP-4 is to be complete in March of 2013; not that far off. LRIP's 1,2, and 3 are around $1B over-cost.

Also, what is being delivered needs numerous kinds of fixes and re-enginnering (the mistake-jet syndrome) because such little testing has happened. 5-and-a-half years after first flight and there is still a very limited flight envelop: no real weapons system testing and no credible pilot training efforts.

What were they thinking in 2003? Ponzi scheme? Rico Statute? Theft by-trick-or-device? Congress believed it hook, line and sinker. Woe to us.

That, along with other challenges (such as fielding an obsolete-to-the-threat F-35) are what faces General Welsh.

USAF's alleged need for 1763 F-35s can't be taken seriously.

Welsh also took a big swipe at the out-going USAF leadership on the issues of Air National Guard force structure planning and relations.

Welcome to the top office boss. You will have your work cut out for you. Best you re-read LeMay and Rickover after evening prayers.

Weak wizards cast ineffective fear spell

Industry--along with their bought and paid for politicians--have failed at a budget sequestration fear-mongering campaign staged on Capital Hill.

Led by the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Buck McKeon, and helped by notables such as former U.S. Defense Secretary VP Cheney and current U.S. Defense Secretary of Defense Panetta, along with some industry leaders, a Congressional hearing didn't seem to produce the wanted fear over the coming budget sequestration.

It was put forth that pink-slips would have to be sent out to defense workers 60 days before the implementation of budget sequestration. According to the fear-mongers this would be right before the next election (and we in Congress better figure out a way to protect our phoney-baloney jobs).

No one was able to back up this claim with any evidence.

It seems the only evidence offered were over-used terms such as "disaster" and "catastrophe". Hard to believe, when so many high-dollar and useless-to-the-threat weapons systems are being built and fielded. Defense jobs are important. But not if they produce and sustain uninspired, gold-plated junk.

No one but Congress created the budget sequestration mess. It will be interesting to see how many in Congress are voted out in the November election because of it.

Entitlements and the welfare-state are where the Iron-Crosses grow for Congress.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Key words

Secretary of Defense Mr. Panetta, continues his work performing mistake-jet marketing for Lockheed Martin.

Words mean things.

"The F-35 represents, I believe, the future of tactical aviation for both of our armed services," Panetta said. "This advanced aircraft's air superiority, its precision strike capability will help ensure our dominance of the skies for years to come."

Emphasis added.

Hopefully not forgotten is this:

"Forgotten were the elementary rules of logic, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and that what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence."

-Christopher Hitchens et al-

UK MOD shouting past the graveyard with the F-35

Maybe U.K. MOD officials need to have a chat with the U.S. chairs of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) in regard to their findings on F-35B STOVL progress.

What we have here is stock and trade regurgitation of Lockheed Martin talking points via, a clueless U.S. DOD boss, Mr. Panetta who is acting more like a seller of the F-35, instead of being a helpful counsel to a valuable ally.

Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, poured scorn on concerns over the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme on Wednesday comparing an official US government audit into the embattled fighter jet to a “home buyer’s survey” that could be safely ignored.

I would wonder if there is anyone left in the MOD that has the skill to do proper military engineering studies? Below is the top analytical statement. Faith-based and dangerous.

“Maybe some of the sceptics will change their minds when they see it fly.”

You this?

I wonder how that kind of attitude works with these guys?

If you take some time and look at the trade-press and various sites over the past few weeks, you will see a surge in F-35 marketing spin.

All for an obsolete-to-the-threat, troubled and overly expensive aircraft.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Force structure decline

Flight Global's newly minted Super Hornet combat crewman Dave Majumdar has collected some good photos of F-35 ops in relation to qualifying the Air National Guard's first instructor pilot.

What we all need to do though is question how the Air National Guard will survive.

USAF justifies its gutting of operational Air Guard units by stating that an active duty airman's ratio of deployment time to non-deployment time is 1 to 3. That ratio for the Guard is 1 to 5, although I wonder with high-demand units such as JSTARS. USAF states that with all the taskings of a smaller force (the continuing of an Operation: Deny Christmas mindset born in the 1990s) that it is cheaper to pay for active duty forces in the zero-sum funding game.

Those numbers could be in dispute when you consider how much it takes to train someone and retain that tribal knowledge. Guard flying units are efficient.

What is needed of course is to only use these limited forces for real and justified deployments and not fishing expeditions.

As we try and field the Thunderchief III, it will gobble up even more funds best used for something else.

Organisational force-structure suicide continues.

Bomber exchange 20 years later

Hard to believe it has been 20 year. The photo below was taken by a co-worker in 1992. It shows the Barksdale AFB flight line with some unusual visitors.

I have a montage of prints from photos I took of the Tu-95 arrivals at Barksdale. Interesting sound. The Russian crews were good people.

They are going to do it again next year.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Royal Navy--betrayed

The U.K. MOD remains committed to the troubled F-35B short take-off and landing (STOVL) strike-fighter.

That is until it becomes known that it could be dumped. Interesting when you fire so many people in the MOD, hardly anyone is left in the military that wants to cheerlead for you.

Maybe the UK MOD F-35 fan-base need a senior communications advisor to help get the word out to the public.

Taxpayer funded of course.

Abbott on Defence

Graeme Dobell over at The interpreter has caught an interesting piece on some ideas for an Abbott-lead Defence.

Can't see any improvements in the change-over if a few elephants (and white elephants) are ignored. You know, subs, F-35 and the cause (rent-seeking).

Graeme quotes (and my thoughts in bold):

The Coalition will commit to restoring defence funding of Defence to 3% real growth out to 2017-18 as soon as we can afford it.

*No money. Worse, fixing Defece is not about money as much as it is skilling up the place to have real visionary leadership. Giving the drunk uncle that is the Entrenched Defence Bureacracy (EDB) 3% more is of little use.

Continue and further develop Australia's strategic alliance with the United States – the Coalition would be open to a bilateral arrangement with the US that would allow the recognition of particular bases as new joint facilities, such as those at Pine Gap and Exmouth.

*I would vote for annual deployments of USAF F-22s, F-15Es and B-1 bombers to Australia for exercises. Value-added.

Retain the Australian Strategic Policy Institute as independent defence analysts.

*OK, but first it has to be "independent".

Appoint an Industry Advocate for the Defence Materiel Organisation to provide a clear path for complaints and appeals by small and medium firms on tender and contractual matters (recycled from the 2010 policy).

*I would say some very good studies on the state of the EDB have already been done; here and here. These are must-reads to fix the bloated DMO. And, don't forget, Defence-wide we have 22k+ civilian employees and too many flag ranks and executives.

Invest in improved maritime surveillance capabilities for the ADF. This initiative will include a greatly enhanced maritime patrol capability and a greater emphasis on intelligence cooperation with neighbours.

*Properly resourcing the patrol boats we have (5 of 14 operational?) might be a good place to start. Spending money on the untried, and expensive P-8 while ignoring P-3 upgrades needs to be considered at the high end. And, too bad we are going to waste a lot of money on the C-27J while getting rid of C-130H aircraft. While these are not maritime solutions, it points to wasting limited resources.

Team Abbott has several opportunities to improve Defence. Let us see if it ends up being more of the same.

USAF admits not keeping a useful spectrum of capability

Maybe there is still time to save the USAF from itself.

One of its leaders has admitted the obvious: for years the USAF has concentrated on limited COIN-op tech at the expense of other needed communities that actually provide real and valid deterrent capability to the nation.

“I think right now what we’re trying to do is remind everybody that we’ve got to start planning to build systems and to field capabilities to fight in a contested environment again,” Lt. Gen. Charles “CR” Davis, the Air Force military deputy for acquisition, said during his first interview since becoming the service’s top uniformed weapons buyer.

The lost decade-plus. Any USAF leadership that doesn't concentrate on all areas of needed combat capability is cheating the nation, especially when you consider the billions we pump into the USAF every year.

Fielding the RC aircraft club using permissive-air, permissive-WX drones with up-rated snowmobile engines was only one segment of needed air power, and a very small one at that.

Also, a great way to sink a military article is to quote the Teal Group who on any given day, might be able to estimate future airliner sales.

We do not need a $500B long-range bomber, since any kind that is made won't be survivable in anti-access scenarios where the enemy has a broad suite of sensors, fighters and SAMS.

If the USAF is to invest anything for the Pacific Rim anti-access world what should it be?

1. Keep B-1 bombers and F-15Es updated/sustained for JASSM.
2. Convert some C-130s and C-17s into JASSM carriers.
3. Qualify the Tomahawk Block IV on the B-52.
4. Build the FB-22.
5. Build a new F-22.
6. Cancel the F-35
7. Invest in a few different models of 737 ISR.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Saab Gripen Farnborough briefing

The Saab Gripen Farnborough briefing below goes with this Aviation Week, Ares blog post which will explain more.

Weekend F-35 entertainment

Below is my comment at the end of a rather silly article which is a total indifference to what is real.

The above would be a great article if: it had some relevant facts; was based on research of the current and past situation of the F-35 program; and, wasn't just a lazy, total indifference to what is real. The author ignores or just doesn't know, that the program--in order to be affordable--had to go by the original business plan of high-concurrent production. A business plan that the current DOD F-35 project boss Admiral Venlet has stated is failed. Then there is the F-35 (then Joint Strike Fighter) Joint Operational Requirement Document or "JORD". Composed in the 1990s and signed off on at the beginning of the last decade, the JORD assumed that there would be hundreds of F-22s around to do the heavy work. We all know how that turned out. The fact is, that the F-35/JSF JORD was always at risk of being obsolete and now, with F-35 IOC of is almost certain. The F-35, as delivered will be obsolete against the threats for anti-access work. Just as bad, for any other kinds of threats, current aircraft designs can do the work better/cheaper. And that assumes that the F-35 gets over its massive development costs and engineering problems. Hoping that is at this time a faith-based effort of no value. The carrier variant is at severe risk of not trapping on a ship. That design, and the conventional A model are design-gelded because they have to meet B-model STOVL commonality in the airframe. A real mess that has produced a family of jets with little-to-no weight margins. Advanced? Hardly. A flying piano? Most certainly. Interesting too, cost of operating the jet per hour is now up around $35,000. As an aside, the Super Hornet is about $18,000~20,000 per hour, The Saab Gripen? $5000 per hour. In any event: maybe instead of feel-goodism, the author may want to invest in some research on the topic.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Update on wasteful C-130 resourcing by Defence

Yet another company that can refurb C-130s.

Many C-130s around the world can have their service life extended by having the Center Wing Box replaced. As the main load-bearing component of the C-130’s airframe, it is this structure that usually determines the overall operational life of the aircraft.

Something to think about (again) as Australia wastes taxpayer dollars by retiring C-130H aircraft and even giving some of them to Indonesia.

Indonesia has enough funds to maintain airlift/utility aircraft. They even ordered some new light attack trainers the other day.

Working the unthinkable

The F-35 doesn't make sense for the USAF, however people are going forward with the plan to field it. How will the USAF operate and sustain the troubled F-35A in a slim budget time?

I will look at this in a future post which details a very small "Fighter Group" with one squadron and various thin support squadrons. This will make up a stateside basing.

Due to high operating costs, the squadron will only have around 12 fighter aircraft. This higher operating cost for the F-35 points more to the number of airframes you see in some large-airframe airlift squadrons.

For ISO/phase, an aircraft is flown off to another base that not only has a Fighter Group, but Wing HQ which oversees 4 Fighter Groups.

Again, the goal is to take today's operating budgets and live within some kind of an organisational structure that can exist due to the high F-35 operating cost.

Because of such slow F-35 production and unpredictable annual budgets, USAF has no real way of knowing how many operational Wings/Groups/Squadrons it will have to stand up.

Like the effort of not declaring IOC because no one knows, not declaring a total number of F-35s for the USAF, for now, is OK.

Standing up 1 F-35 Wing with the above mentioned structure, is at least a start, and, unless there are more serious discoveries in F-35 development, something that the USAF can actually achieve with reasonable certainty.

Taking the illogical to its logical conclusion and all that.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Keeping interest in a zombie defense program

I suppose one could comment on this latest edition to the story of taxpayer theft by trick or device but if anyone cares, just compare it to some of this material.

For some entertainment value, take a look at these October 1998 JSF assumptions that helped convince Congress to hand over the money for this Ponzi scheme.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Late F-35 LRIP-3

Many of the trade press are happy to report low-rate-initial production lot 3 (aka LRIP-3) F-35 deliveries.

The aircraft, delivered since June 29, were the first jets manufactured as part of Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot 3.

Yet not mentioned is that these deliveries are well behind as one of the LRIP-3 DOD contracts announced in 2009 indicates.

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $2,106,525,040 modification to definitize the previously awarded Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) air system low rate initial production Lot III advance acquisition contract (N00019-08-C-0028) to a cost-plus-incentive-fee/award-fee contract. This modification provides for the procurement of 7 Air Force conventional take off and landing (CTOL), 7 Marine Corps short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL); 1 CTOL for the Netherlands, and 2 STOVLs for the United Kingdom. In addition, this modification provides for the associated ancillary mission equipment and technical/financial data. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, (35 percent); El Segundo, Calif., (25 percent); Warton, United Kingdom, (20 percent); Orlando, Fla., (10 percent); Nashua, N.H., (5 percent); and Baltimore, Md., (5 percent), and is expected to be completed in Dec. 2011.

March 2013 is when work for LRIP-4 is to be complete...

Pave-Low John

Sometimes, when doing a vendor-friendly article, things don't always work out. As seen from this comment...

Pave Low John · 2 hours ago

Funny, I must have done hundreds of stokes litter recoveries in MH-53J (and M-model), and probably thousands of fast rope inserts, to boats, buildings, daylight or NVGs, you name it. But I don't remember any PJs or other team guys coming up to me later on and saying "Dude, that was way too much downdraft, we just can't work with this helo". I even did a few AIEs myself. Wasn't the easiest downwash to handle, but nothing you can't overcome with a little foresight.

On the other hand, I have watched the debacles at Hurlburt Field when they have tried to do fastrope training out of the CV-22s. They have to weigh the ropes down, so they don't get blown straight off the tail at a 45 degree angle. So right there, the FE can't pull the rope back in if something goes wrong. They also have to hover at some ridiculous height, just to stay out of ground effect, otherwise they'll pummel and/or cook whoever winds up under the prop-rotors. And they keep burning the grass and setting fires in the LZs, not a real good quality in a SOF aviation platform, tends to let the enemy know what just landed there.

And rope ladders are a complete no-go. I knew an FE named Bud Dow when he had just finished being a test Flight Engineer up at Pax River back in 1998. They tried one rope ladder deployment and had to cut it loose after the rotorwash started corkscrewing it so bad, the bottom rung was disappearing under the nose and almost hitting the bottom of the nacelles. Never saw that happen in a Pave.

I also used to fly around with Toyota Tacomas in the back of a Pave (5th Group used to have a bunch of black ones in Djibouti and J-bad). Never seen the CV-22s carry anything with four wheels that the teams would actually use. We also used to stack two Zodiacs and 12 dudes in the back of a Pave and deploy those at 10 feet and 10 knots. Good luck trying that in a tilt-rotor.

So no, I don't see how the CV-22 and Pave Low have the same disadvantages. The CV-22 flies about 80 to 100 knots faster than a Pave. That's it. It can't fly higher, the altitude completely kills any power margin a tilt-rotor might have. It definitely isn't giving the 'customers' what they want, they pretty much hate the thing. Honestly, I'm just praying there are no more crashes that kill anyone I know. I already have three friends that have been killed by the V-22, I don't need any more.

If I'm bitter, it ain't because the Pave Low got replaced. The Pave was old, required too much maintenance and leaked hydraulic fluid on all my flight gear. But they could have replaced them with MH-47s, MH-60s, EH-101, anything that could 1) do team work and 2) not crash. Any bitterness I might have is a result of that 'crashing' part. That and all the flat-out lies I hear from colonels and generals when they talk to the press. Guess it would be too much to actually expect commissioned officers to tell the truth in a public forum.