Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Gates ignorant assumptions about air power--verified

Gates, one of the contributors to the reduction of U.S. Air Power Dominance, got his portrait, unveiled in the Pentagon the other day.

I wish I could spit on it.

Meanwhile, all the Gates assumptions about the emerging threat picture have been verified as 100 percent rubbish.




Communists and Australia in the Asian Century

"Chinese top brass bags US influence in region", is a good article to read if you can get it online or read the print edition of today's The Australian.

The Chinese general in-question warns us about the U.S. but also Japan's past. He warns us about the dangers of a fascist Japan and how they bombed Darwin.

The general is right to warn us about totalitarianism in the Pacific Rim. However he doesn't mention the dangers of communism. A murderous Mao is not mentioned.

At all.

Something also not mentioned much in the lofty Neville Chamberlain -like goals in Australia's much hyped "Australia in the Asian century white paper".

Although to be fair to Mr. Chamberlain, I don't think he would have put his name to such a shoddy piece of unreality as Australia's new policy white paper.

The title for the above mentioned article in The Australian should be amended to read, "Communist Chinese top brass bags US influence in region".

Lots of cart-before-the-horse stuff in the blizzard of wishful thinking in the overly optimistic white paper.

I would suggest, (as I have in the past) that for Australia to be a leader in Pacific Rim policy, that it must champion free speech above all; without reservation.

Or, prepare to suffer a very bad fate in this century.

George Orwell and all that.

Flight-ops vs. weapons cueing

Given Burbage’s record of gross-spin, one has to take this piece about F-35 helmet vision progress with a grain of salt. The helmet also has to cue weapons in real operational tests: Something that has not been done yet, and, is a big difference compared to general flight ops.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Defence low-balls F-35 cost assumptions

Australia's flawed New Air Combat Capability (NACC) office in Defence has another credibility problem with its rabid thana maketing effort which it has been using in order to keep pushing the F-35 on the over-stressed taxpayer.

Besides silliness from 2004, it seems the NACCs' operating costs assumptions for the F-35 are questionable.

Up to this time, no one in the Australian public knew what cost per flying hour assumptions were being used by the NACC to predict cost of ownership with the F-35. If someone knows some other sources, please comment.

A March 2012 white paper by Janes titled, "Fast jet cost per flight hour (CPFH)" quotes the following:

"RAAF F-35A estimated cost over 30 year operational service at 200 hours per year per aircraft" as $21,000 (USD) per flying hour.

A recent select acquisition report (SAR) by the U.S. quotes the F-16 as being $22,470 per flight hour and the F-35 to be $31,923 per flying hour.

That is a lot of difference to NACC assumptions.

The Jane's white paper is informative but weak. It refers to the F-35 as a "fifth-generation fighter" when no evidence exists other than marketing hype. Janes also uses different methods than the U.S. SAR to calculate cost per flying hour. They label the F-16 with a cost per flying hour of $7000 (figures based from a variety of USAF active, reserve and air guard units).

So if they are low with the F-16, how low are they with the F-35?

Ask the Dutch or the U.S. Navy.

The U.S. Government Account Office has also weighed in with F-35 operating costs assumptions, which when considered, show that they have uncovered a fair bit of marketing spin:

"The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program office underreported the average cost per flying hour for the aircraft in the 2010 SAR. The average, steady-state O&S cost per flying hour was reported as $16,425 (fiscal year 2002 dollars). Program officials told us that the number of aircraft used in the estimate for the Air Force’s inventory was not accurate and the estimate also did not project for future cost growth above inflation.

The estimate included approximately 528 extra aircraft that when calculating the average cost per flying hour, resulted in higher flight hours and lower average costs per hour. Further, according to the SAR, some of the F-35’s O&S costs were intentionally excluded from the estimate to enable comparison with the antecedent system, the F-16 C/D. Costs for support equipment replacement, modifications, and indirect costs were removed from the F-35’s cost per flying hour since they were not available for the F-16 C/D.

Officials calculated that the revised cost per flying hour for the F-35 was $23,557 (fiscal year 2002 dollars), or 43 percent higher, after including the excluded costs, projecting for future cost growth above inflation, and correcting the number of aircraft. However, they noted that the total O&S life-cycle cost reported in the SAR for the F-35 was accurate because it was calculated separately from the average cost per flying hour."

The United States Air Force, the alleged biggest buyer of the F-35 now figures that the jet could cost $35,500 per flying hour.

So the NACC used an F-35 cost per flying hour assumption that is just a little bit less than the F-16 SAR or a significant amount more than the Jane's F-16 figure.

If Jane's is right, the F-35 is 3 times more expensive per flying hour than an F-16. If the U.S. SAR is right, the F-35 is 50pc more expensive to fly than an F-16.

Interesting as Lockheed Martin was claiming in their briefings (for years to all the faithful) that the F-35 would cost 20pc less to operate and sustain than an F-16.

With that, the lack of real F-35 operational test data in real squadrons means there are still a lot of question marks. I would not think that the claim of the F-35 being the same or cheaper to operate than “legacy” aircraft is anything other than a deception.

How the RAAF is supposed to make annual flying budget end's meet with today's dollars in an environment which will see a lot less money in the coming years is anyone's guess.

Until then, the NACC will recommend Australia stay the course with the F-35.

Predicted O and S funding for Dutch F-35 on the rise

Things may be "going forward" with the F-35 and the Dutch but paying to own and operate a jet that has no credible operational test done still begs questions.

The Dutch have discovered a significant rise in predicted operating costs:




H/T-JSFnews, and SR



ADF cost per flying hour.


(click image to make larger)

Monday, October 29, 2012

New warships with bigger manning needs means big manning problems

The RAN and senior Defence leadership are in a dreamland if they think the 3 Hobart-class air warfare destroyers and 2 Canberra-class amphibious ships will have enough manpower to run them.

Why? Current known manning performance in today's fleet.

A shortage of technical sailors, blamed on the resources boom, has forced the navy to tie up two frontline warships indefinitely while its remaining 10 frigates lost 459 days in just six months this year due to "unscheduled" repairs and maintenance.

The navy describes the temporary withdrawal from service of the WA-based frigate HMAS Arunta and the Sydney-based HMAS Stuart as "extended readiness" and it blames the mining boom's high wages for cornering the market in highly qualified technicians.

He said the impact of the loss of two frigates would be minimal because three of the ships would be out of service receiving an anti-ship missile upgrade. "We still have a problem with technical sailors and retaining technical sailors," Admiral Griggs said.

"It is going to be a long-term thing to recover from."

And as a long-time observer of Defence issues informed me, the excuse of the resources boom is old. It has existed for at least 10 years.

H/T-SR



Sunday, October 28, 2012

Weekend deception

The weekend print edition of The Australian has their annual and grossly misleading feature section on the state of the state of Defence as it were.

As usual it is paid for by big industry rent-seekers from Boeing, LM, ASC and other usual suspects. The big advert dollars are the only reason this feature gets breathing space in the paper.

The cover page of this piece says, "Defence Special Report" and not: Defence marketing advertisement.

From that, one would expect actual reporting.

Every year this sham is always worth reading because it is written by alleged people knowledgeable for Defence which instead of being reporters on the topic are in effect, advert copy flacks for industry.

The average reader would not know this; which makes it a problem.

The "analysis" is really just that poor.

There is the usual rent-seeking inspired article about how Australia will someday have its' home grown white-elephant subs at the cost of tens of billions. It is supported by a big ASC advert. The SA government defence industry advert is on another page. And, this is probably the best "article" in the litter.

Not mentioned is the toxic relationship between the dysfunctional DMO, ASC and RAN.

There are advert-copy pieces on RAAF fast-jet air power.

They are crap.

They mention the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and how great the Growler will be.

There is little mention of the serious pitfalls having to do with the Just So Failed or the fact that the Grower is pudgy and short-ranged, has legacy jamming solutions, and against emerging Pacific Rim threats, it will suffer a similar fate to the F-35: it will get run down and killed.

The entrenched defence bureaucracy is waging a significant disinformation campaign against the tax payer. They are helped by those kinds of people who have employment which depends on our money flowing to dud defence planning schemes. The special Defence feature in the weekend edition of The Australian is part of that effort.


-Australian Defence Reading List

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sound of fiefdom

Funny and misleading advert from days gone by. The F-102 of all things.


(large image here)

Found it here.

H/T-JSF News

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dead business plan goes zombie

The F-35 business plan (build thousands-assume no engineering management goofs) was marked as unrealistic by the last DOD F-35 program boss, Admiral Venlet. Some of us knew the business plan was, to be kind, over-optimistic.


(From 2003. It's dead Jim.)


Bad business plans can't be papered over. The truth comes out no matter if some want to hear it or not.

LM stated the other day things were gaining ground on the F-35 program. The lie of the $67M unit cost was "reported" by "journalists" with no follow up.

Years ago, LRIP-5 was supposed to be 120 jets. Today? hard to say; the contract isn't signed off on yet. Somewhere around 30-40-some; if the program is lucky.

Now we have additional news--again confirming what some of us already knew--alerting the faithful that the F-35 business plan is in trouble and if LM doesn't get some more cash for LRIP-6...by the end of the year...the company will hold over $1B in risk.

Big companies don't hold risk, they shed it. I suspect that since we are in a lame-duck Congress, LM won't see their money and, at some point, that big production line without big production orders, will be converted to something much smaller. And that assumes the large amount of technical difficulties don't get worse. All to build an aircraft ready to fight ALLIED FORCE 1999, which may be deployed for active service 20 or more years later.

More: someone who has been reporting what can only be unnamed sources, floats the idea that the Navy could ditch the F-35C. Big Navy has big grey floaty things to pay for which ignore the history of the Prince of Wales and Repulse.

So if the Navy kills the F-35C, that is less motor orders, less part orders, less of everything and...the death spiral of what was supposed to be a "model acquisition program", continues.

SME's (and their overly optimistic business plans), all the way up to the prime contractor, are in trouble.

Operation: USELESS DIRT and Operation: IMBECILE combined

Sports report update on Operation:USELESS DIRT-Billions spent and no capable ANA. The idiots can't even protect a few fuel trucks. Hint: probably an important resource.

When the Americans pull out, Afghanistan will fold.

Fast.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Digital warfare

I just hope ADF PCs are up for the challenge.

Two years ago they "upgraded" to Internet Explorer 7 which indicates a high dependency on back-end Microsoft products of the legacy kind.

One can lock a WAN/LAN down.

Still though: very curious.

And what about the Fed Parliament?

More misleading statements by LM on F-35 unit cost

It keeps coming up every now and then. The DOD F-35 project office even asked LockMart to stop public statements about F-35 unit costs that were insanely low that are now, at this juncture; fantasy.

He said labor costs were coming down faster on the F-35 program than any previous fighter jet program in over 40 years. Lockheed is on track to hit its target unit "flyaway" cost, excluding development, of $67 million in fiscal 2012 dollars by 2018, he added.

TR-2 hardware and Block 3 software has to actually work in a go-to-war configuration by that time.

Also, what is sad about this article is that a reporter that has been on the F-35 beat for a while, refuses to actively challenge such nonsense other than some occasional weak efforts. Not really reporting.

The alleged biggest buyer of the F-35, the USAF, has significant issues trying to afford the F-35. Note: R&D dollars not counted. It is doubtful that $67M will buy you even the roll-away price without a motor.

In the end, more evidence to log in the area of RICO statute and the Ponzi scheme Thana-marking fraud-like behavior associated with the marking of the Just So Farcical.

Rent-seeker alert


(Houston tells the board a really big fish story)

A lease/rental of U.S. Virginia-class nuke subs may be goofy. On the flip side of that coin we have a rent-seeking orgnisation that will do anything to sling mud at the idea of buying good, existing, off-the-shelf conventional subs to get a capability up now with a long and steady path of crew tribal knowledge.

And, little mention of fixing the DMO.

Here are two worrying points all in one short paragraph:

Speaking after being appointed to the South Australian government's Defence SA advisory board, Air Chief Marshal Houston said building the 12-boat strong future submarine fleet was critical to sustaining Australia's defence industry.

Good post-retirement work if you can get it.

In 2002, the then Air Vice-Marshall Houston stated that the F-35 would be affordable because there were 3000 jets on the order-book.

No such "order-book" existed.

The federal budget is billions in debt due to a spend-thrift government. No amount of crying about cost being less important than some questionable military spending project will matter because there isn't any money.



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Excellent quote

Excellent quote from a reader known as, "Bushranger":


"The so-called Helicopter Strategic Master Plan is an ongoing disaster that has arguably squandered billions of dollars and diminished Australia's military capacity."


From a different time:





Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cry for help: The Pentagon has no clue how to make the F-35 affordable and sustainable


(from a long time ago)




LOL--


Solicitation Number:
N00019-13-R-0012
Notice Type:
Combined Synopsis/Solicitation
Synopsis:
Added: Oct 19, 2012 11:45 am
The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, MD intends to negotiate on a non-competitive basis with A.T. Kearney Public Sector and Defense Services, LLC., 1300 Wilson Blvd, Ste.1050, Arlington, VA 22209 for Sustainment Business Case Analysis (BCA) and Affordability Program Support, Phase II for the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO). The period of performance for this contract is estimated to be nine (9) months from date of award.

** Note: This synopsis is an amendment to the previous (N00019-12-R-0084) that was issued on January 23, 2012.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program Office (JSFPO) has completed Phase I of the JSF Sustainment Business Case Analysis (BCA) and Affordability Program, and plans to complete Phase II in the next nine (9) months. Phase I included deep dives of four (4) functional areas, including Supply Chain Management (SCM), Sustaining Engineering, Field Support Operations, and Fleet Management. Phase II will address other high priority areas not included in Phase I and complete the F-35 Sustainment Strategy Analysis. It also includes deep dives of the following additional functional areas: Autonomic Logistics Information Systems (ALIS), Training, Support Equipment, Depot Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul & Upgrade (MRO&U) Planning, Software, and Eglin Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) Maintenance not addressed in Phase I. Provide support to the Phase I implementation in order to provide continuity between BCA recommended changes and development and execution of required changes in people, processes and systems to achieve a new sustainment strategy.

A.T. Kearney has completed the support services for this requirement. It is in the Government's best interest to issue a new contract to A.T. Kearney for a continuation of services.

Responses must be received within 15 days of publication of this notice. Any responses should reference the solicitation number N00019-13-R-0012. The point of contact is Ms. Lisa Ellis, email: lisa.ellis@jsf.mil, or Ms. Emily Bannan, email: Emily.Bannan@jsf.mil

Monday, October 22, 2012

C-RAM

Some good back and forth here on the use of C-RAM in Afghanistan and Iraq. This includes some attempts at political point scoring:

The C-RAMS “effectively protected installations in Iraq” but were being denied to troops in Iraq because of of a “force cap” imposed by the Obama administration during the withdrawal, the McKeon spokesman said.

“We’ve got other adequate measures in place” to detect enemy fire, Army Lt. Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said without going into detail. With the C-RAM system, “you have to put a lot of fire into the air which, of course, threatens civilians,” Warren said.

The C-RAM system was deployed to Iraq in the summer of 2005 and was used to protect the “Green Zone” compound and Camp Victory in Baghdad.

The system’s radars are designed to pick up indirect fire and automatically fire a 20mm M61A1 Gatling gun, similar to the Navy’s Phalanx weapon against anti-ship missiles, to eliminate the threat. Unlike the sea-based system, the land-based system uses shells fused to self-destruct in the air to avoid civilian casualties.

Applying Vietnam to Afghanistan

“Every Senator in this chamber is partly responsible for sending 50,000 young Americans to an early grave. This chamber reeks of blood. Every Senator here is partly responsible for that human wreckage at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval and all across our land—young men without legs, or arms, or genitals, or faces or hopes. There are not very many of these blasted and broken boys who think this war is a glorious adventure. Do not talk to them about bugging out, or national honor or courage. It does not take any courage at all for a congressman, or a senator, or a president to wrap himself in the flag and say we are staying in Vietnam, because it is not our blood that is being shed. But we are responsible for those young men and their lives and their hopes. And if we do not end this damnable war those young men will some day curse us for our pitiful willingness to let the Executive carry the burden that the Constitution places on us.”

Senator George McGovern

35 missions as a B-24 pilot in WWII, Europe.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Blogging update...

Blogging may be light over the next few days; as it has the past few days.

Lots of work related stuff to do. Will be back up toward the end of next week.

Until then read up this ASPI blog piece:

Air combat – where to from here?

And this AV Week blog post from Bill Sweetman on understanding the F-35 industry inspired fan-base.

Wrongheaded? Really?

Certainly they are an interesting comparison of the state of the state of the F-35.

As an aside: great photo.



Although this little tip would make it better. When shooting photos from bubble canopy jets, it is good to have a large black foam doughnut around your camera lens. It is easy to fold up and stow for the non-photo-shoot part of the hop. You can make them out of black packing foam. Using this gets rid of the canopy reflections.



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Questions about Defence artillery thinking

My question would be: why would Defence need to look at an artillery piece made by Korea that weighs 47 tons? Where would it be used in this region?

Defence cancelled the the LAND 17 project as part of a recent budget cut, however it seems like we dodged a bullet.

Self-propelled arty sounds nice but the M777 is much easier to move around with air assets.

Australian command disease

An interesting thing with Australia and its many failings in Defence Leadership:

The system loves studies. More studies, and, more studies. In those studies they mention wanting to find out the root cause of problems (many times) and then, do little to find out root cause.

Empty words. Time and again.

The Australian Entrenched Defence Bureaucracy is in absolute fear of firing those responsible for cause. So much so, that more times than not, they are unable to do it.

Firing, for cause, a flag-rank or other commander here or there, when the problem warrants it, is healthy to a military culture. It is an object lesson.

The system is made up of what can only be described as, a group of senior leadership which exercises moral cowardice as a consistent standard.

Patton: "There are more tired division commanders than tired divisions".

Firing, for cause would be healthy for Defence. For example, if a string of abuse on a ship happens and the commander and chief of the boat do little about it, you fire the ship commander and the chief of the boat.

As I observe this disease more and more, I am shocked at how the command climate in the ADF seems largely, unmilitary.

That is a serious problem.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

F-35 database

The good people at F-16.net (web coder smart) have produced the start of a web database to keep up on F-35 airframes.

USS America symbolic of U.S. Navy problems

As G points out in a tweet, the USS America will have a christening ceremony on October 20th.

While there could be some accuracy in his comment about amphibious ships being the most versatile in the fleet, the USS America won't be one of them. At $3.4B, USS America won't have a well-deck.

This is a huge problem and the U.S. Navy and United States Marketing Corps (if it is gold plated we want it) have recognized this multi-billion dollar error.

For $3.4B, We could have had maybe 5 Littoral Combat Ships (LCS). The LCS is a whole 'nother disaster but for littoral work in a low threat environment against small threats it is shocking that even 5 LCS offer more potential value than the USS America.

The USS America will be a big target in the future. It can't go anywhere in big wars without being a death trap for lots of Marines and Sailors. These kind of ships, in big wars don't go anywhere without a real aircraft carrier (Libya being not a real high-threat war btw). An aside to all that: the United States Navy is well on their way to creating an obsolete carrier air wing which will not be able to stand up to emerging threats.

Important portions of the U.S. Navy are becoming an outrageously expensive paper-tiger.

For small wars, without a well deck, USS America is useless. And if all we want is a helicopter carrier, we could make those for a billion a pop with smart thinking.

As for STOVL jets that the USS America will carry, they have little value in U.S. wars, can't stand up to high end threats, and well, because of the Just So Failed problems, we will be using the Harrier until 2030. Maybe by then, we can rid ourselves of that nonsense.

We can no longer afford such mistakes like the USS America. We can no loger tollerate such errors that give us a weaker U.S. defense posture.

USS America is symbolic of bad thinking by the U.S. Navy.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Family of 737 ISR for USAF?

When you filter out the industry marketing in this piece you still have what is a very important conversation for the USAF: the iron triangle (JSTARS, AWACS, RIVET JOINT).

Maybe if we get some sound USAF leadership along with sound USAF procurement skills, this can be solved. Without that, it does not matter if times are lean nor fat.

Will we someday see a Wedgetail in USAF colors?





The potential greatness of Senator Johnston

A speech the other day by a person that could be the next Defence Minister under a new leadership, Senator David Johnston, shows a man that has his heart in the right place for Defence.

The video here, is recommended viewing.

Unfortunately, he admits he is not very knowledgeable on Defence. Historically this isn't a new situation for Defence Ministers in Australia. It does seem that he has the potential to be more up-to-speed than other Defense Ministers before him even if Johnston admits he is a “slightly educated amateur” in relation to the portfolio.

In my opinion, he still has some views of Defence that are not realistic.

For example he said that Australia's air combat capability is “relatively straight forward” when in fact it has serious challenges ahead. He mentions that in spite of critics, the F-35 will be a “fantastic” capability. He then goes on to mention that DAS on the F-35 saw a rocket launch from 800 some miles away. Hint: it was one of the biggest boosters available on the market. Or as one critic said of this Lockheed Martin marketing effort (that is where it came from and has been pushed elsewhere when hyping the F-35): “With the naked eye, I can see 93 million miles in daylight; quite a bit further at night.”

Johnston goes on to mention the alleged net-centric-warfare capability of the F-35 when this technology exists today in other platforms. He mentions the wonders of the F-35 pilot's integrated sensor helmet but doesn't mention this system is in deep trouble. He mentions that the F-35 will give Australia a “fantastic, regionally dominant capability.” He doesn't mention that the Joint Operational Requirement Document (JORD) for the Joint Strike Fighter, drawn up in the 1990's and signed off on at the beginning of the last decade, insures that this aircraft, as delivered, will be obsolete against regional threats. And that assumes that there are no development troubles. It is doubtful that the claim by the maker of the F-35, that it is affordable, lethal, supportable and sustainable, has any credibility.

In short, he was easily taken in by all the glamour of a junket to Fort Worth to visit the F-35 factory and consume the blue-sky marketing, but has little-to-no critical thinking capability in this area of Defence.

Senator Johnston should not hitch his wagon to marketing hype.

Johnston refers back multiple times to the 2009 Defence White Paper (a wish list of $275B of spending short-falled by around $200B once realism hits), but he doesn't seem to grasp that the document is a horrific joke.

Which leads to something else where he stated that Parliament as a whole, does not understand the complexity of Defence. No surprise here. He praises ASPI for helping out (they do help) but mentions them as, “independent and non-partisan”.

I don't know about that:



If Senator Johnston becomes the next Defence Minister, here is what he must do:

-Make Defence officials accountable.

-Improve professional military education (PME) (art of war, leadership and management) which connects with:

-Improve the bad condition of the military justice system. Hint, this capability improves by leaps and bounds as PME quality improves. When this happens (regardless of the military procurement bungling by the entrenched defence bureaucracy) we will have a strong foundation that our soldiers, sailors and airmen deserve during peace and war.

Johnston may fail with the entrenched defence bureaucracy in relation to procurement stuff ups but if he can produce big victories with the human relations side of the fence for our war-fighters, he will have left a lasting legacy and, improved the defence posture of the nation.

Simply because ethics issues are what plague Defence. There is little difference between a soldier, sailor or airman receiving bad military justice and a $1.5B waste of the Sea Sprite, the many ship and submarine sustainment mistakes or other defence procurement disasters.

All of the bad behaviour comes from the same ills: poor senior leadership ethics and accountability.

Consider the DMO, ASC, RAN relationship which has been in serious trouble for years and as Johnston states, is full of “malice”. Maybe a Defence Minister Johnston can let us know the alleged worse problems in that second and restricted DMO, ASC, RAN report. After all, for years, we have been paying billions for a Navy that has been short-changed by the entrenched defence bureaucracy leaving combat capability for the worse.

Senator Johnston has the potential to be a good Defence Minister. If we all help him out, maybe he can be a great Defence Minister.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Poor old Navy?

Hard for the Navy to cry poor-old-me when they want stupid gold-plated stuff like this.

Our poor senator



Where credit is due

Some good words from Dr. Thompson:

Given the fact that future federal budgets are expected to be deeply in deficit, the Romney plan would appear to require borrowing additional money from China to field a Navy capable of more effectively thwarting Chinese military goals in the Western Pacific. That's the stark tradeoff that Governor Romney posed in last week's presidential debate, and it makes his ambitious plans for the Navy seem both paradoxical and improbable.

H/T: Nico

Our most useless war

The Australian government is still happy to mislead the public with its claims of hope and success in Afghanistan.

All; with no credible proof.

There is much more evidence to show that coalition trained Afghan “friendly” troops have poor fighting quality, poor morale, poor sense of mission, little unit cohesion or can even show up for work than there is evidence that they will be capable of standing up to an enemy unsupervised. What our tax money has been wasted on is a slightly less able version of the South Vietnamese Army. For Sale: slightly used rifle, only dropped once.

Until the Australian military bureaucracy can advise our civilian leadership about these facts of life, what they are doing is nothing less than despicable. Blood of our lost and wounded soldiers is on the hands of Russell Office senior leadership. And, guilty as charged for not understanding 4th generation warfare.

Afghanistan, in any condition, is not a threat against Australia. And, it is hard to take this government seriously about national security when they are unwilling and/or unable to perform basic border protection at home.

The ADF may be at war in Afghanistan, but the rest of Australia is at the shopping mall. And with no real justification for the Afghanistan deployment, mall-goers are justified in their behaviour.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Free speech folks

In regard to foreign policy, I don't think Romney is the sharpest tool in the bag. Neither is the current U.S. President.

However, absent from this discussion are:

1. The imporantance of free speech above all.
2. And, a bulling Chinese communist leadership which is affecting Pacific rim security.

I did wonder about this:

And of course we should be encouraging the positive forces unleashed by the Arab Spring.

What "positive" forces? Those that make government sponsored religious extremism even more efficient in the finest traditions of fascism?

If an uprising is unwilling to produce a country that can exercise free speech above all else, the effort is not worth backing by the U.S.

At any price.

Even if the current U.S. Secretary of State has little concept of the notion.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Some comments on a Romney Navy

Defense News has some information of what a Romney Navy could look like if it were ever to happen.

Here is what I think of it:

OK:

-Begin a frigate program
-More Super Hornets
-Increase the number of destroyers
-Reserve carrier air wing
-Cut flag ranks (hopefully)


Not OK:

-Continue Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)
-..."no intention to cancel it" (LCS)
-Increase in amphibs
-"Missle defense ship"
-"Essential" to keep F-35 in production

How will it be paid for? Well, the only way I can see is to kill off things that contribute nothing to the defense of the nation.

"The bureaucracy itself has almost doubled what it was during the Reagan administration. The Navy is half the size it was, the Air Force is half the size, the Army is half the size."



Sunday, October 7, 2012

Dane F-35 problem is everyone's problem

The littlest and biggest Joint Strike Failure participants (or prisoners) have massive trouble with their fighter recapitalisation plan.

It appears faith and ignorance were not enough to carry the theory.

Denmark is finding out what happens when one believes a Ponzi scheme:

“Industry leaders had much higher expectations when we joined the JSF,” Villumsen said. “By 2009, the government was still talking about contracts for Danish firms potentially worth up to $4.5 billion. This hasn’t happened. The contracts that have emerged have been relatively small.

"The government", who, like others, used Lockheed Martin (and U.S. State Department) talking points as a substitute for hard analysis.

Don't pity the foolish. Yet, Denmark is only one of many in the same boat who now realize their mistake.

It would be funny if the behaviour wasn't so stupid. Betting on something that isn't even anywhere close to being a final go-to-war aircraft. Worse, betting on PowerPoint slides...as a defense plan.

The JSF senior faithful will still use Denmark as an example to others: don't be Denmark; who still have not ordered any aircraft. See them? That is what happens when you don't believe in what the U.S. says. The "U.S." when it comes to defense deals, being made up of a bought and paid for group of industry funded politicians.

Today, we do not know what the Danes next fighter aircraft will be. That has not been decided. The JSF memorandum of agreement does not demand a country actually buy jets. Also in a recent Danish requirement, slots for new aircraft have changed from 48 down to 30.

It is hard to expect industry pay-days for the rent-seeking class when Mr. 1763, the biggest alleged buyer of F-35s, the United States Air Force, is in huge trouble.

The fantasy plan everyone hoped for, a big part of it, was that when full rate production kicked in, USAF would buy 110 F-35s per year. That is a lot of industry "potential" for sure.

After figuring out that Operations: USELESS DIRT 1&2 had to be paid for, a serious deskilling of procurement professionals (a problem which existed before the wars), and of course the fallout from the 2004 F-35 weigth reduction event (STOVL weight attack team-SWAT) which fixed terrible design assumptions with more terrible design assumptions, cost and affordability hopes blew out.

In 2006, USAF readjusted their F-35 procurement plan so that when full-rate production did kick in, they were good for 30 less jets a year. 80 was the new full-rate F-35 committment for USAF. To make this work, instead of finishing all their procurement by 2028, they would push it out to 2037. This is, in effect, a cut on orders. That is pulling money for 30 jets per year when full-rate starts. That slows down all kinds of things including motor buys.

USAF gets less jets. Rent-seekers get less money per year.

It gets worse.

In 2008, the plans and programs people in USAF--these are the ones that tell the USAF what money is actually available every year to make ends meet--stated that realistically, when full rate production starts up, USAF can only afford 48 F-35s per year.

Those fantasy per-aircraft prices floated about by the Ponzi-zombies could only work if:

1.There was a working aircraft.
2.Thousands were bought on-schedule.

Without that, what the faithful have is...

...nothing.

Yet, for years, so many in government, defense, industry and media circles ignore the hard fact that the biggest cash cow for the F-35 program isn't good for the huge number of the buys needed for all this not to look like a fraud.

They pinned a large portion of hopes on a USAF procurement system that could not:

1.Buy simple air-refueling tankers until the third try
2.Flunked badly trying to buy replacement rescue helicopters.
3.10 years after a major COIN war started, was unable to field simple turbo-prop strike aircraft.
4.Failed at managing the F-22 initial operating capability by not having proper life-support gear on the jet. This was a known risk from many years ago.
5.Has little skill at fielding new fighter aircraft because, (besides the F-22) has not bought any new fighter aircraft in quantity for years.

There are other examples but that will do.

The F-35 program is composed of several performance assumptions (procurement, management, aircraft design) that are weak, poorly risk-assessed and now even those of the model airplane glue fume affected hobby-shop brigade can see the bleeding wounds.

Most of this was before the global financial crisis hit. Those using the GFC as a justification for weak F-35 buys do not know their history.

While the Danes may have problems with their fighter recapitalisation efforts, they have a good chance of recovery. The USAF on the other hand, the major tool for dishing out His righteous might, will be facing growing emerging threats with too many old aircraft.

It isn't just the Danes who were asleep at the wheel. And, with the Danes deciding that their replacement fighter will be an open process, some of them look like the smart people in the room when discussing the great F-35 dellusion.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

JSF dollars then and now

What Boeing was thinking about their Joint Strike Fighter concept back in the early to mid 1990's. Source: Boeing.

The Boeing JSF unit flyaway costs meet the government target values for the Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL) variant-$28M, the Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant-$30M-$35M, and the Carrier-based (CV) variant-$31M-$38M (CY94$).

Emphasis added.

What that means in today's dollars:

The Boeing JSF unit flyaway costs meet the government target values for the Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL) variant-$44M, the Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant-$48M-$59M, and the Carrier-based (CV) variant-$31M-$38M (CY2012$).

That is an increase of 55.5 percent. And that would assume everything goes to the rosy plan back in the days of wild fantasy.



Friday, October 5, 2012

Weak news article quotes flawed audit

The cost of a JSF is expected to drop from $127 million to $80 million as the production rate increases.

Not credible.

Only if thousands were made with little to no development problems.

That train has already left.

File under: "copy-paste journalism".

----

Shallow audit held as valuable by some

Making ready for the rent-seekers

SLD continues with its' propaganda campaign which imagines value in the F-35 program.

All this....



And...

Operational testing is nowhere near realized.

A tremendous waste.

Defence presses forward with their bad idea

Defence presses forward with their bad idea.

The Greens are right

Afghanistan will fold. Yet, Smith wrongly believes a pullout now increases risk.

Don't see how. Getting out of Operation:USELESS DIRT now rather than later is the only sensible (and on target) policy I have seen from the Greens.

APA brief on Russian weapons proliferation in Asia

Air Power Australia has released a new briefing (PDF) entitled Russian Weapons Proliferation in Asia.

The brief includes 25 slides detailing proliferation background issues, and 75 slides covering A2/AD technologies.

The brief was presented as a seminar for Monash Asia Institute yesterday.

Since the end of the Cold War Russia’s defence industry has become a highly successful commercial export industry, with a global footprint. Infusion of Western basic technology, especially digital computing and monolithic microwave technology, has seen rapid evolution of Russian weapons technology, which now in many categories outperforms US and EU products. While Western defence industries are heavily constrained by regulatory regimes, Russia’s is not, and unrestrained exports from Russia have become the principal enabler in the Asian arms race. This seminar will survey the advanced systems being exported by Russia across Asia, including stealth aircraft, counter stealth radars, guided munitions and air defence weapons, and discuss the resulting and manifold strategic impacts of this proliferation.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Shallow audit held as valuable by some

The audits (here and here) of the RAAF fast jet running debacle are weak, shallow, and ignore some significant issues.

Noteworthy too is that the original purpose of the Super Hornet decision was to cover for F-35 delays. Nelson (who was PowerPointed into the con) stated as much. More on that here (including the weak justification for getting rid of the F-111).

The normalization of deviance approach to this issue is not useful.

More on the dangers of a normalization of deviance approach to risks--enhanced by group-think--can be seen here.

Following the F-35 path will cost Australia loss of regional air supremacy. What is interesting in the above mentioned audit is the meme of that will not die; the F-35 as a "fifth-generation fighter".

The audit goes into describing the specs of the F-35 and the Super Hornet but (and this is where the shallowness comes in full-bore) portrays no grasp of why the technical details are important beyond a few simplistic claims.

Here are a few things to consider; what the audit didn't tell the public:

History they don’t want you to know

Boeing official-Super Hornet-handles air-to-air with technology, not speed and acceleration

The Super Hornet Stores Story

More on the dud-jamming gear Defence wants to buy

The audit also labels the Super Hornet as "low observable" when such a claim shows a real weakness of understanding balanced defensive measures taken in the design of the aircraft. Those are some low-observable methods to lower signature but just as important: to establish a better known baseline of exposure risks of the aircraft to different threats so that the on-board defensive jamming system is much more efficient. Great, if one does not want to carry any significant weapons capability. Unlike real stealth aircraft, the Super Hornet carries its weapons (not counting the gun) externally. Not very "low observable".

In short, the audit doesn't do much to help the Australian public who are being taken for a ride of billions in wasteful spending for faulty aircraft that will not be competitive against growing Pacific Rim threats.

Hopeless dreams

Interesting, but as far as any F-35/PacRim hopes and dreams go, unrealistic.

"Although South Korea does not currently participate in the F-35B project, the prospect of flying the STOVL fifth generation fighter from Dokdo (or potentially from Dokdo’s successors) undoubtedly appeals to some South Korean defense planners."

About the only thing the F-35 will qualify as is a fifth-generation failure. By definition of its' Joint Operational Requirement Docuemnt (JORD), created in the 1990s and signed off on at the beginning of the last decade, the F-35 will be obsolete vs. emerging PacRim threats.

Power projection with surface ships, requires real air power solutions.

Norway's gamble

Not especially smart on F-35 program problems, Norway's State Secretary throws one out there for the sheep:

Ingrebrigtsen, however, downplays any concerns. "If you don’t want any problems, you should never buy an air fighter," he said, adding that this is a new project that is breaking barriers — and with that comes a critical eye among skeptics.

Norway, Defence-wide has problems making ends meet. Unit-readiness is a problem across the board.

Yet, they are willing to throw good money after bad in order to play in the greatest Defence Ponzi Scheme of all time.

$11B for 50-some jets.

That could buy and sustain a lot of Gripens; something that actually works and doesn't cost $35,500 per flying hour.

Paying for misleading shareholders?

"Lockheed’s Shareholders Have A Lot Riding On The F-35 Program’s Success".

All the more reason for LM leadership not to mislead shareholders. Past statements from them could be rated as such.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

F-35 program seriously misleads public-- "$70 million each"

One would think that with budget cuts coming, it would be bad for a high-risk, troubled, overly expensive and faulty defense program to have its public affairs people mislead the public.

Yet, this release (PDF) from the U.S. DOD F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) via their very own website, does just that.

The brand-new jets, $70 million each, are arriving at Eglin regularly — roaring in directly from the factory in Dallas.

A quick check of SARs and DOD budget line items (even just procurement with no R&D), shows no "$70 million each" F-35 anywhere in sight. Even the special "roll-away" cost with no motor.

$70M? Really?

Also, to be accurate--in order for the benefit of the moron that wrote this nonsense--the factory is in Fort Worth.

It goes on. Petting the badger.

Thus F-35 boosters like Toth imply with confidence that their baby is virtually immune from the knives of Washington budget cutters.

Well, history shows, that just is not so, given that due to program management incompetence what we have is this:


(click image to make larger)

Which is a down-turn from 2003:


(click image to make larger)

I suspect that there are more cuts to come and then...what?

My guess is the new JPO boss General Bogdan hasn't gotten around to having a chat with his public affairs folks.



11 years after F-35 contract award, DOD issues a cry for help

The F-35 journey up to this point has been a fraud.

“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-

All the PowerPoint slides; all the marketing hype, all the claims of being "affordable and sustainable."


(grossly misleading excerpt from 2007 Lockheed
Martin briefing to Israel)


All the misleading statements to the U.S. Congress and Foreign Parliaments.

Just a few days ago, the U.S. Department of Defense issued a cry for help.

After all those misleading statements for years, the U.S. Department of Defense office that manages the F-35 program, (known as the F-35 Joint Program Office or "JPO") does not know how to make the F-35 "affordable and sustainable". And, it would appear that the new F-35 JPO boss has little to no confidence in what Lockheed Martin has been telling the DOD all these years:

3. OBJECTIVES
The F-35 JPO has not yet determined the acquisition strategy for F-35 sustainment, including the competitive approach; solicitation, evaluation, and award methodology; contract vehicle; socio-economic considerations; scope or hardware/services; delivery schedule/period of performance; rough order of magnitude/budget; intended number of contract awards; or acquisition timeline. The F-35 JPO intends to use information provided in response to this RFI, in addition to other market research, to refine its acquisition strategy and to evaluate alternatives that will deliver the best value, long-term F-35 sustainment solution. This supports the broader F-35 JPO goals of increased affordability, transparency, predictability, and accountability for sustainment costs and performance.

What have these people been doing with our billions all these years?

Not much.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The 23,000

That will take some courageous Defence leadership.

Opposition Defence spokesman David Johnston told Sky's News Agenda program that the large number of civilian employees compared to those in uniform was not sustainable.

"We've got 23,000 public servants in Defence running 59,000 uniforms," Senator Johnston said. "Now, this is unsustainable. The finances are an unsustainable mess. The beginning is to put a handle on this and get to the bottom of where we are going to reform Defence in a way that doesn't diminish capability."

Senator Johnston said the Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank had defined the defence budget and the department's finances as an "unsustainable mess".

" Now, those words ring very loudly in my ears," he said. "Anybody seeking to have responsibility for defence is going to have to put a handle on the unsustainable mess."

I think he forgot the reserves but point taken.

Those civilians vote you know. And any civilian that could be considered dead wood would be silly to vote for the coalition.

Elections having consequences and all that.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Marine-Air fast jet community is too expensive

The USMC-air will have to find a way to be thrifty in the coming hard budget times. Something that they used to have a history of doing when flying a very effective close air support aircraft, the A-4.

The A-4 was carrier capable. Today, for the kinds of wars the USMC has been fighting (Afghanistan) it would be good enough, thrifty and manageable once the threat was realized. It would be more survivable compared to its past with the ability to stand off some with precision guided weapons such as JDAM backed up by the LITENING pod along with modern avionics and defensive gear.

Leaving of course, advanced IADS for someone else to solve. The same idea which will have to be used with the F-35.

The A-4 was simple and always left the deck with guns. It was also not too expensive to lose.

Today, USMC-air is still stuck on the bad theory of STOVL fast jets. If the U.S. had a war and STOVL jets were not involved, no one would miss the hyped "capability". Recently, STOVL Harriers have been flying from very long hard runways. That is a pretty expensive pet-theory to support.

Look at the cost comparison of the "expensive" per-flying-hour costs of the USMC AV-8B Harrier on past deployments.

We will use a cost per flying hour of $18,900.


Scenario 1: VMA-513, 2002-3 Afghanistan deployment; 3763 flying hours for a total of $71M.

Scenario 2: VMA-513, 2006 Afghanistan deployment; 4519 flying hours for a total of $85M.

Scenario 3: VMA-231, 2003 Iraq deployment; 5158 flying hours for a total of $97M.

So how much would the F-35B STOVL cost per flying hour in these deployment scenarios? Well, it is expected that the F-35A conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variant will cost $35,500 per flying hour. The USMC F-35B could be more expensive per flying hour given its complexity and unique STOVL appliances. So a comparison will not be perfect. However consider the follwing:

Scenario 1: AV-8B/$71M, F-35B/$136M
Scenario 2: AV-8B/$85M, F-35B/$160M
Scenario 3: AV-8B/$97M, F-35B/$183M

That is a lot of gold-plating for a defective F-35 when comparing it to a faulty pet-theory of alleged value such as the AV-8B.

I would hope at sometime, the DOD can rationalize its tacair portfolio, because the United States federal budget is in a $16T cruise-climb powered by red ink.


These guys make AIPAC look like amateurs

Rent-seeker update for the F-35C; It's all happy flowers:

An update on the effort to base the Navy’s F35C Joint Strike Fighter squadron at Naval Air Facility El Centro will be presented at a Board of Supervisors meeting Monday, following a recent trip to Washington where members of the Joint Strike Fighter Coalition met with government officials.

No question of the F-35C being a valid weapon (beyond platitude) is mentioned.
The coalition is hoping to assure decision-makers “how we are embracing this,” Gallinat said, referring to basing the squadron at NAF El Centro. It is important, she said, that decision-makers are engaged and they know the willingness and support the community has about locating the squadron in Imperial County.

And least we forget, the politicians. They need work too:

The report also lists the endorsement of Rep. Bob Filner, D-Chula Vista, Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, R-El Cajon, and Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Solana Beach, as well as some 14 local cities and associations who back basing the squadron here.

The Cause...and all that:

Meanwhile, fundraising efforts for the coalition have “stalled just a little bit,” she said, adding the organization is still actively looking for funding.

Those interested in funding the Joint Strike Fighter Coalition effort can contact the El Centro Chamber of Commerce at 760-352-3681.

Maybe by 2014 we will find out if the C can trap on a carrier. Maybe by 2016-17 we will know if the new hardware (TR-2) can drive a watered-down Block 3 software definition.

Then from there, a few more years, we might see OPEVAL.

Or not.