Monday, December 31, 2012

DOD personnel--the numbers

Below are 2012 numbers of U.S. DOD military and civilian personnel. This is an important reference if one wants to consider budget issues in times of less real money.

Many things are interesting in all this, but look at the number of flag ranks. Good grief.

Military:



Civilian:




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And, what about all those DOD contractors? That is an interesting question.



Sunday, December 30, 2012

U.S. DOD acquisition people goof Afghan cargo aircraft

Here is another victory for Operation:USELESS DIRT.

U.S. DOD acquisition people can't even setup a simple small cargo aircraft requirement.

One of the comments under the article states the rest of the story.

As a former pilot in this unit, I can provide FACTS:

1. This is not the newly-purchased and recently-cancelled C-27J. These aircraft are 1980-vintage, Italian surplus G.222 aircraft, very similar to the C-27As the USAF operated out of Howard AB, Panama during the 90s. They were purchased by DoD (not the Army or the USAF) with the express intent of "donating" them to the Afghan AF. For various legal reasons--and because the Afghans didn't want these unreliable, un-maintainable airplanes--they were never transferred to AAF control.

2. The performance of the G.222 is totally inadequate in high altitude, hot conditions. This makes the airplane unsuited to perform its mission a significant portion of the year in Afghanistan. DoD acquisitions folks should have known this before they inked the deal.

3. The G.222 has always required a lot of maintenance, something that the DoD acquisitions folks should have known before they inked the deal. Even fresh out of the refurbishment, they were often unable to make the flight from Italy to Afghanistan without breaking down along the way. The fleet in Kabul was plagued with fuel leaks, flap problems, landing gear problems, and several engine failures. That's why they were grounded from Dec 11 thru May 12.

3. Since the plane has been out of production for decades, most of its spare parts are no longer available. DoD acquisition folks should have known this before they inked the deal. I don't know whether Alenia misled them, or they just didn't ask the right questions. Consequently, most of the 16 planes on the ramp in Kabul were unflyable because they were cannibalized for parts to keep 4-5 airplanes flying.

Overall, the program was a fiasco, and its termination is long overdue. The USAF's inability to manage this program made us look incredibly stupid, so we lost a lot of credibility with the Afghan leadership and pilots we were trying to mentor.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

LRIP-6 F-35 contracts thus far

Just an update on a previous post: LRIP-6 is going toward $6B or more whenever the official motor and airframe contracts arrive next year. Some notes on F-35 LRIP-6 costs by looking at DOD contracts:
M$ Date Description Link to DOD contract
3677 28-Dec-2012 31 airframes (18A-6B-7C) http://goo.gl/Yd7Qy
753 28-Dec-2012 Non-recure sustainament http://goo.gl/Yd7Qy
374 28-Dec-2012 Non-recure sustainament. 60 LRIP-6&7 http://goo.gl/Yd7Qy
535 8-Aug-2011 Long-lead 38 airframes (25A*-6B-7C) http://goo.gl/N4KY6
194 6-Jan-2012 Long-lead 37 PW engines (24A**-6B-7C) http://goo.gl/ZNd6A
386 6-Dec-2012 Sustainment http://goo.gl/H7eQ7
14.8 9-Feb-2012 STOVL long lead "protect delivery schedule to 2014" http://goo.gl/1RTmg
38.5 12-Mar-2012 CTOL long lead http://goo.gl/pHf3m
Total M$
5972.3
*CTOL F-35A- 19 USAF, 4 Italy, 2 Australia
**PW engines for CTOL F-35A- 18 USAF, 4 Italy, 2 Australia

New DOD F-35 contracts

DOD released more F-35 contracts today. Not included were the actual airframe and jet-engine contracts for LRIP-5. Those should appear Monday.

Today gives a partial indication of costs for LRIP-6:


Today's LRIP-6 total: about $4.6B. Adding previous LRIP-6 contracts (long-lead parts) bring this batch up to approximately $5.3B without jet engines or other costs needed to get them into squadron service. LRIP-6 production also means these aircraft should have TR2 hardware needed to drive Block 3 software.

Also today, LRIP-5 gained another $17M for initial spares specific to the USAF. And, there was a non-LRIP contract of $48M for, "studies to determine the feasibility, practicality, desirability, or supportability of various F-35 Lightning II air systems".

Back in 2003, it was assumed LRIP-5 would be 120 aircraft. LRIP-6 would be 168. Then also, LRIP-6 was to be the last low-rate-initial production batch. After that: full rate production.

Interesting, as some are still deluded enough to think this failed program is "affordable".

Friday, December 28, 2012

Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf passes on

Via AP.

One of the last great U.S. Generals. Via con Dios Sir.


The F-35 is useless for Pacific Rim ops




The F-35 is useless for Pacific Rim ops. And that assumes it works as advertised; simply because the Joint Operational Requirements Document (JORD) for the Joint Strike Fighter is now way past obsolete. Oh, it would be useful in fighting ALLIED FORCE in 1999. Well not really, as now unlike then, most aircraft can carry JDAM, many can carry JSOW and some can carry longer-range stand-off precision weapons. J-weapons and similar allow for contempt of engagement of legacy ground-to-air threats. Allied Force after-all was mostly a plinking war against known, fixed targets. And, even under that legacy threat, we lost 1 F-117 stealth aircraft and another damaged.

$200M-plus weak-to-the-threat Joint Strike Failures don't allow much for war attrition.

It is poor thinking like this:

Australia, on the other hand, is more likely to see the manned F-35 as the long-term answer to its future air power needs. The Lowy’s Brown points out, “Our approach to air combat is very conservative; our air force is opposed to the widespread use of unmanned technology. And there’s now enough momentum in the F-35 program to give you the sense that it will get through to its conclusion.”

...that has put the issue of RAAF air supremacy at extreme risk.

Worrying for the Diplomat article, is that the author is unable to see that the F-35 has no credible worth in Pacific Rim operations.

And, how are big-deck U.S. aircraft carriers supposed to take on emerging threats with an increasingly obsolete-to-the-threat carrier air wing?





Thursday, December 27, 2012

Our "royal" Australian Defence Force

The government part of the Entrenched Defence Bureaucracy has about 134 over-paid civilian executive service (SES) positions and around 178 over-paid flag-ranks to run a very small Australian Defence Force.

With large cuts in the last ADF budget one would think austere living or at least leadership-by-example would be in order for our top star-ranked officers.

Not so. They will get a pay-raise. And, it won't even be performance-based.

General Hurley's annual salary of $679,500 is due to climb to $780,000 or $15,000-a-week by July 2014 or almost twice the rate of the next rung down.

Vice-chief Air Marshal Mark Binskin employs seven staff in his office, including a communications adviser and a driver - but no chef.

Defence said none of the staff employed by top brass was "personal" but were employed to "assist in the conduct of official duties".

The Government is cutting more than $5.5 billion over four years from the defence budget and lower ranks are being asked to do more with less.

Today, the "mission" of the ADF is not to defend the country. It exists to keep taxpayer funded oxygen-thieves in a style of comfort they have become accustomed to and see all this as their due.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Secret History of Artillery in the Vietnam War

The creator of these presentations doesn't always spell correctly or have high-end whiz-bang multi-media, but the message (like his other efforts about the Stryker) is very informative.

Enjoy this 3 part presentation: "The Secret History of Artillery in the Vietnam War".


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Living within a budget

The image below is what it costs every year to sustain our legacy Hornet fleet of 71 aircraft.

With the overall Federal budget under stress, how does the want of the RAAF to have the F-35 fit into living within one's means?

What would we spend on the F-35 every year to sustain it?





(click image to make larger)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fixing USN / USMC tacair pain

The U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps still have problems with credibility of their tacair recapitalization plan.

With the budget crisis, this is only going to get worse.

Take a look at the following two items from their 2013 fiscal year budget in regards to the F-35C (Navy) and F-35B (USMC).

The USN F-35C:



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The USMC F-35B:



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The figures labelled "Gross/Weapon System Unit Cost" (what it takes to get a jet into squadron service) make the F-35 unworkable for the USN and USMC. You read it right. That is $279M each for an F-35C and $253M each for an F-35B. With the low order numbers and technical troubles of both of these aircraft types, don't expect a declaration of "full-rate production" in the coming years to help that much.

What can the Navy and USMC do? Both the F-35 and Super Hornet are unable to stand up to emerging threats. It is unlikely that the F-35 will meet its Joint Operational Requirement Document (JORD) minimum goals of having a "significantly" better sortie rate than the aircraft it is to replace. It has also failed the goal of being an instrument for affordable tacair recapitalisation.

For everything else the Super Hornet is superior in all performance areas that matter. (Note to the Navy and USMC: F-35 Blue Sky and Thana Marketing do not represent a capability).

Below are the figures for the F/A-18E/F Navy procurement for fiscal year 2013 (and other years).



(click image to make larger)

Note the "Gross/Weapon System Unit Cost". That is for a real jet that can operate off of carriers and do most of what a joint operational commander wants. And, forget the STOVL hype.

Out of the box. And, legacy Hornet drivers need a short conversion course. For almost a third of the cost per flying hour of an F-35 (source:Boeing) or certainly half (depending on how the USN and USMC perform their maintenance operations).

Putting down a few notes, we, as a nation, could equip our warfighters with something that will be useful:

For FY2014 to FY 2018 (inclusive), we could give the USN 12 Super Hornets per year (total 60) and the USMC 16 Super Hornets per year (total 80). Grand total: 140. For $2.52B per year topping out at $12.6B as a grand total.

This would give carrier aviation a big boost. That and USMC Super squadrons could do carrier cruises.

If this program is seen as successful, it could continue on.

This is affordable inside of shrinking budgets and there doesn't have to be significant pain.

The F-35B and F-35C?

Best to take a few and designate them YF-35B and YF-35C. Then put them in test squadrons as technology learning tools.

For now, we cannot afford to invest more in failed programs.

Update on LRIP-5, F-35 procurement

The following is an update on DOD procurement for the low-rate-initial-production batch 5 (LRIP-5) of F-35 aircraft. There will be another update this month as the defined contracts for the airframes and engines are released by the U.S. Department of Defense.

$138M 10May10 Long-lead-engines (then 42)
$522.5M 6Jul10 Long-lead items (then 42)
$4012M 9Dec11 Airframes (30) (TBD,defined EOY 2012 [32]*)
$485M 27Dec11 Non-recurring requirements
$1122M 27Dec11 Engines (TBD,defined EOY 2012)
$56.3M 13Mar12 Sustainment
$127.7M 14Dec12 Required to define end of year airframe order

$6463.5M -- Total

*Aviation Week predicts this contract (now for 32 F-35s) will be for $3800M, which if true (when the pending contract is announced) will put current LRIP-5 procurement at $6251.5M. This will change again once a defined contract for the jet-engines is released.

Also, like previous low-rate-initial-production batch contracts, there may be other LRIP-5 related contracts in the future.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Canada still confused about acquisition costs for F-35

There is a lot of noise out of Canada recently about the actual acquisition costs if they want the F-35A as a CF-18 replacement.

The $9-billion is predicated on a new per-plane price of about $90-million, according to reports. Independent estimates of the all-in per-plane cost of an F-35, including the weapons systems, come in at $150-million or more. Even that, at best, is an educated guess. The price is tied to the number of orders in a given year. If there are further delays or cancellations — which is likely, given recessions in Europe and Japan — the cost rises.

It is doubtful that anyone will see a $90M F-35 unless someone just wants to roll it out of the factory and park it.

Below are a few snapshots out of the United States Air Force fiscal year 2013 procurement budget for the F-35A. For at least the year fy2013 it is valid as this budget has been approved. What is shown are procurement dollars and not research and development. Further, it shows what the USAF expects to pay to get an aircraft out into an actual flying squadron.

Here is a look at what they are paying for just some of the core F-35A systems:



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And what they expect to pay for a squadron-ready aircraft:



(click on images to make larger)

The history of USAF predictions for future F-35A costs hasn't been all that good. Higher is always the trend when it comes to handing over the money.

And, the aircraft being being bought (this will continue until at least 2020) have not been operationally tested with real complete-to-specification weapons systems.

Billions for mistake-jets.

Until there is a fully functional F-35A in working Block 3 trim with a few years of use by a real operational (not test) squadron, we will not know the true worth of the aircraft.

24 Super Hornets for Australia--formal request to U.S.

Australia has asked the U.S. for 24 more Super Hornets. By itself, this does not mean they will be bought. It is part of the formal process needed for the U.S. Congress to approve the purchase should Australia pick that option.

It is yet another sign that the New Air Combat Capability (NACC) office, is a failure for going native to the F-35 program instead of representing the interest of Australia. The F-35 propaganda and the NACC have a lot in common. Both are a lie.

Along with that, the following comment show just how stupid Smith's advisers really are:

Mr Smith said that, putting aside concerns about delays to the JSFs, standard Super Hornets and Growlers used by the US during the campaign in Libya had demonstrated the aircraft's high-edge performance.

Yeah, sure. A broken down legacy IADS.

Analysis?

Part of the justification of 100 RAAF F-35s was that it was going to be the only fighter airframe. Its original goal was to replace the legacy F-18 and F-111.

The announcement of making the first batch of Super Hornets long term means that the original justification for those aircraft (a 10 year stop-gap to reduce risk for F-35 delays) is now gone.

The idea of a 4th squadron of F-35s (which would have brought the total up to 100), is now dead.

If a second batch of Super Hornets are ordered, the plan for third operational F-35 squadron is in jeopardy. Claims by the corrupt entrenched Defence bureaucracy that they are "committed" to the F-35 now mean that the RAAF will be lucky if it sees two squadrons of F-35s; or any.

With very limited money, it is unlikely that the expensive cost-per-flying-hour F-35 will fit into existing legacy F-18 operating budgets.

The Super and F-35 are not up for emerging Pacific Rim threats. For any other kind of threat, the Super will have some use.

“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-


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Canadian F-35 buy plan history

As we start the conversation over Canada's problems replacing its' CF-18 fighter aircraft, let us look at this comparison of how the F-35 buy plans were looked at over the years.


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Dysfunction junction

Real journalists wanted. Just don't expect to find them here.


The Australian has been told development of the JSF is progressing well and is likely to meet or exceed the expectations of the nine nations involved -- once it's built.

LOL

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dibb's assumptions...

Dibb's paper (PDF) on the Collins sub replacement starts out with some very poor assumptions:

"While the stealthy Joint Strike Fighter will deliver a potent and survivable strike capability with precision stand-off missiles and supported by AEW&C and tanker aircraft, the 2009 Defence White Paper stated that the Government places a priority on broadening our strategic strike options.

This will occur through the acquisition of maritime-based land-attack cruise missiles, fitted to the air-warfare destroyers, the future frigate and the future submarine.

By not recognizing that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will be unable to stand up to emerging Pacific-Rim threats, Dibbs has no way of doing anything else but endorsing a policy that will make sure that any "Air Warfare Destroyer", or other surface ship will end up like the Repulse and Prince of Wales.

Without credible air superiority, any dream of going after someone other than a 3rd-world nation that doesn't have a threat-air-force lacks any good sense.

And...

I do not believe that we should conjure up the number of submarines we require based on highly unlikely scenarios of war with a major power adversary – namely China – which we would attack with Tomahawk cruise missiles. I would expect the new Defence white paper to move away from that sort of highly provocative language and to acknowledge that nuclear deterrence and the intensity of economic interdependence in Asia does put a brake on the potentiality for major power conflict.

If not for deterrence against communist China, then for whom? Fortunately communist China hasn't been bullying anyone in the South China Sea.

Oh wait... they have.

But back to costing (btw, Australia is in debt and has wacky annual budgets that are nanny-state dreams par excellence) and more on his air power assumptions:

...By far the most expensive projects in the current Defence Capability Plan are the Future Submarines with acquisition costs of about $25 billion,the Joint Strike Fighters for $16 billion...

There is no credibility in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter coming in at $16B...or less.

If he sees long-range cruise missile attack as a real need, well, Australia threw that away already with the F-111. Rise and repeat. Each day and not waiting days for a sub with a few shots to be in position.

Even easier to do if he refuses to see expeditionary communist Chinese forces as a future Pacific Rim threat.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Price comparisons for Canada's CF-18 replacement are now available

In looking at a potential Brazil deal for 36 fighter aircraft, Canada now has a partial snapshot of costing for the purchase, and some industry benefits of 3 CF-18 replacement contenders:

The document states that the least costly of the three jets being tendered are the Gripen of the Swedish firm Saab, the entire fleet being offered for $4.3 billion.

The Boeing F-18 jets would cost Brazil about $5.4 billion for 36 aircraft whereas the French Rafale would cost a lot more at $8.2 billion.

According to the published document, Boeing has agreed to the technology transfer required by the Brazilian government to close the deal and has also offered to open a center for high technology in Brazil if it gets the contract.

Note: all the above aircraft have large amounts of known qualities.

Unlike the F-35.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Boutique recon/attack helo in the news again...

Another great DMO victory, sensational reporting or both?

Army pilots stage mutiny over chopper fears

The Tiger helicopter. Not one of the shining stars in Defence procurement...

F-22 mishap (minor)

Note the language about this minor F-22 mishap.

It used to be a Class-A mishap was $1M or more.

Then they moved it up to $2M.

And of course if your initial report is $1.8M... it doesn't qualify as a Class-A.

Otherwise that would be 3 class-A's in the calendar year.

However, mishaps are reported in the U.S. fiscal year.

Another victory for DMO

The DMO/Collins disaster continues but no one will step up and show real leadership.

It has been a number of years now since serious problems with the Collins-class subs have been known. Which means now, DMO has full ownership of the problem. Collins-class sub problems are no longer that of ASC or other entities. The full responsibility for the low operational rate, crewing problems, accidents that could someday lead to the loss of a sub with all of its' crew, belong squarely with Mr. Kings even more faulty DMO.

I would say the RAN too but it seems that their decision making ability in this area has been reduced to that of a 1st grader riding on the school bus.

He said the cost versus availability ratio of the Collins class fell well short of the much more contemporary, albeit slightly smaller, conventional boats operated by European and Asian fleets. ''Two years ago … Defence struggled to justify the money being spent on Collins as value for money. Today it would be an impossibility,'' Mr Patrick said.

"For the $600 million-plus annual cost of keeping between two and three 20-year-old Collins-class submarines at sea, the RAN [Royal Australian Navy] could buy a brand new, reliable, deployable, high-end submarine every year."

A DMO spokesman said all would be made clear when the second part of the Coles report into the submarine fleet was released "shortly". It is eight months overdue.



Sunday, December 9, 2012

Costs Canadians need to consider over F-35 fraud

This article starts with poor research:

The cost per plane is now estimated to be $88-million in five years, when production is expected to be at full throttle, compared to DND’s earlier forecast of $70-75-million.

There is no credible proof that an F-35 can be had for $88M each. Declaring full-rate production in 5 years is not magic. It does not allow one to declare a new price just because one wants it so.

Canada also has to be able to run a fighter squadron inside of existing CF-18 annual operating budgets which take into account flying hours.

A few years ago the U.S. Navy flight test people predicted that it will cost over $30,000 per flight hour for an F-35. Later the USAF predicted for their variant (which Canada is looking at) to be $35,500 per flight hour.

As a comparison, the U.S. can operated F-16s and F-18s (like the Canadian CF-18) for under $20,000 per flying hour.

The original Joint Operational Requirements Document (JORD), composed in the 1990's and signed off on at the beginning of the last decade, stated that the then Joint Strike Fighter (Boeing's F-32 and Lockheed's F-35) should require a "significantly" reduced logistics footprint than an F-16 (flown by the USAF and various nations and cheaper to operate than a CF-18). It also mentioned that the F-35 should have a "significantly" greater sortie rate than the F-16 or CF-18.

Hard to believe given all of the negative F-35 program outlook. I doubt whoever wrote that knows the definition of the word "significantly" or has seen F-16 operations.

A recent U.S. government select acquisition report stated that the F-35 will be more expensive to own and operate than an F-16.

One of the major reasons for the F-35 to exist, the reason, was that it would be affordable. And that assumes we have a capable go-to-war aircraft.

Besides being obsolete to emerging threats, the F-35 is a gold-plated flying piano.

How Canada decides to replace its' CF-18 fleet should take all of this into account; including the concept of deceptive marking practices also known as thana marketing.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Happy Days Bogdan

In another Reuters happy-face story about the F-35, there are some interesting read-between-the-lines comments.

And then there is this nonsense:

Bogdan must also establish good ties with the international partners, some of whom have grown frustrated by Washington's repeated moves to slow its own production orders since that slowed progress in driving down the cost per airplane.

It is program management incompetence (both in industry and the government) that has slowed down the orders of the Just So Farcical. LM is out on the worldwide Powerpoint tour briefing how great they are and it is the enemy in D.C. that is tying everything up.

This reality is the real new "Defence White Paper"

The next Defence White Paper is due out in 2013. Expect it to be as dumb or irresponsible as the one in 2009.

The new paper will state the importance of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, even though it is a defective and militarily irrelevant failure.

It will claim the importance of needing 12 new home-grown submarines (rent-seeker alert) even if no one has figured out a practical way to build them at anything but an over-inflated price.

It will mention the alleged importance of the new “Air Warfare Destroyers” and new Canberra-class amphibious ships (the size of a small aircraft carrier) even though no one has put reasonable thought about how to crew them and operate them without sucking the resource life out of the rest of the RAN.

None of this shows the true needs of the current “Defence” situation.

Like the policy or hate it, (by the way, Howard got it right), we need resources to cover for illegal immigration.

For example we do not have enough patrol boats for border protection. Various kinds of RAN ships have been commandeered to be used to support the border operations against illegal boat people in what can only be described as, Operation: HAPPY CABBY.

Defence yearly flying operations funds for C-17 cargo aircraft and the new KC-30 (A330-200 Airbus airframes) tankers are being used to move illegals back home and other places. This is at a higher cost than civilian solutions.

Why? Since the current government is in the red (not counting the red hammer and sickle) with deficit-spending and big federal budget debt due to spend-thrift planning, the only current funding available to do what should be civil and civil police ops reside in yearly Defence operations funds.

This is a gross misdirection of the justification for authorised fund-sites. The tax payer should not have money taken from them on the promise of it being used for Defence and then see it robbed to pay for border patrol ops.

So, with no money left, and leftist government leaders trying to patch up bad policy, the only true value they see in Defence is to act as a value-added accessory to under-resourced border patrol operations.

Those are your REAL Defence White Paper needs. Defence as a function of border protection (by other means). There is no money for defective and gold-plated big-Navy dreams and big RAAF flying-club ambitions.

There is money in annual budgets to resource proper border protection against illegals.

Fantasy Defence 2030? How about taking care of the current threat.

U.S. Navy trouble

The final part 3 of a piece Winslow did for POGO about the current capability of the U.S. Navy:

The prevailing wisdom holds that America’s smaller fleet is more capable than the U.S. Navy of yore because of higher capability per individual ship. It is a dangerous assumption.

To its credit, in 2010 the Navy completed a study of the surface fleet’s manning, training, and equipment readiness.

The Balisle Report was a brutal assessment: ship maintenance went underfunded for years; one-fifth of the fleet cannot pass inspections; aircraft and ships had junk as equipment and/or insufficient spare parts; fewer than one half of deployed combat aircraft are fully mission-capable at any given time; training throughout the surface fleet has been inadequate; ships are undermanned, and returning ships are cannibalized for parts to keep others running.

The fleet was in substantially worse shape than it was in 2001. A less-comprehensive report from GAO also identified some of these problems and trends.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A plan to destroy the DOD in progress, for years

Expect the downward trends to continue:


Similar perverse thoughtlessness pervades even more important issues, such as the readiness of our forces to fight and otherwise perform their missions. In 2010, the Navy, to its credit, completed a blistering review of the readiness of its surface fleet. The Balisle Report found ship maintenance went underfunded and had been declining for years; fewer than one-half of deployed combat aircraft are fully mission capable at any given time; training throughout the surface fleet has been inadequate; and ships are routinely undermanned and cannibalized for parts to keep others running.

The fleet was in substantially worse shape than it was in 2001. GAO found several of the same problems. Even one of the Navy's biggest stalwarts, Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA), reported in 2012, "The Readiness trends for full mission capability rates suggest less than satisfactory performance." And yet, that new CSBA report mentioned above came to the remarkable conclusion that readiness is so high throughout the military services that money can be shifted from those spending accounts "with little risk" to free up cash to buy hardware. (Whether that hardware should actually be realistically tested before it is bought is an idea that seems to have escaped the report authors' purview.) Nonetheless, the CSBA report is sure to be taken most seriously in Washington; it gives decision-makers an easy out for keeping hardware programs -- and their multiple constituencies in the Pentagon, industry, Congress, the press, and think tanks -- fat and happy.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The real F-35 LRIP-5 costs

The U.S. Defense Department and Lockheed Martin have reached an agreement for the F-35 low rate initial production contract batch 5 also known as LRIP-5.

This has taken over a year to figure out due to the new requirement for fixed price contracts for the program.

The word is that the contract is somewhere around $4 billion for 32 aircraft. Little-to-no mention is given to an additional over $2B dollars that make up LRIP-5 production costs.

The spend on LRIP-5 F-35s is not around $4B. It is over $6B.

Last year, at the end of December, an undefinitized DOD contract for LRIP-5 F-35 airframes was released. At the time LRIP-5 was projected to be for 30 aircraft, down from 42 aircraft when long-lead contracts started being issued in 2010.

Trends: when the program started many years ago, LRIP-5 was to be 120 aircraft.

The recent announcement (with a released contract expected sometime in December), is hailed as a success. However, according to this must-read analysis from early in 2012 (based on LRIP-5 being 30 aircraft and not the newly revised 32), $4B only gets you some of the roll-away price for the jets.

So, in procurement dollars alone, expect the average cost of a LRIP-5 F-35 to be over $198M each, not counting engineering changes.

Also, TR2 hardware, needed to drive Block 3 software, does not arrive until LRIP-6 aircraft are delivered.

All this is for a troubled aircraft that is still nowhere near go-to war trim.

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