Archive | April, 2008

BAMS protest watch begins

Lockheed Martin is scheduled today to hear why the US Navy selected the Northrop Grumman RQ-4N for the $1.1 billion Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) contract. The debriefing starts a 10-day clock for Lockheed to decide whether to protest the decision. A few years ago, such a move would be considered a huge surprise. (Boeing, […]

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Northrop’s win streak: good luck or something else?

It’s hard to imagine that reasonable people only nine months ago wondered if Northrop Grumman could ever win another defense contract. The company had compiled a long string of embarrassing contract losses, starting with the UK’s Watchkeeper program. The company then unfathomably lost a contract to integrate the US Air Force’s future air operations center. […]

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French Air Force blues

The US Air Force spends more money every year to keep an old — and sometimes archaic — fleet in the air. More funds for sustaining the fleet means less money is available to buy new airframes. Of course, flying newer aircraft is the only way to solve the first problem, so figure that one […]

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Embarassing moments at the office, part 1

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Another COIN aircraft comeback

In the most recent issue of subscription-only Inside the Air Force, Marcus Weisgerber writes that several high-ranking US Air Force generals oppose using a manned turboprop to fight insurgents. Weisgerber quotes Lt. Gen. Donald Hoffman, the USAF’s top-ranking acquisition official: “We can rebuild the P-51, great airplane. All we need is you, you, you and […]

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Farewell, F-117

Four Lockheed Martin F-117s will takeoff at 10am today from Holloman AFB, New Mexico. They will land at Lockheed’s Skunk Works facility at Palmdale, California, for a brief ceremony. Later today, the four aircraft will be parked in recallable storage at the Tonopah test range, completing the retirement process for the world’s first stealth fighter […]

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F-35B inventor talks on YouTube

This is a must-see video for anyone interested in the Lockheed Martin F-35 project. Paul Bevilaqua, a non-propulsion engineer (!!), explains how he invented the F-35B’s innovative shaft-driven lift fan. Lockheed uploaded the video yesterday on YouTube.

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Flying Predators bad for pilot’s health (part 2)

A couple of people have offered some suggestions for solving the surprising problem — disclosed on this blog earlier this week — that Predator flight crews are the most fatigued “aviators” in the US Air Force. RTLM writes: The USAF might ought to follow the Army model in their approach to UAV crews: They allow […]

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Will “buy American” become the defense spending debate of the 2008 election?

I recall that defense modernization played an important role in the 2000 election, and then-candidate George W. Bush’s pledge to skip a generation of weapons technology led to the “transformation” agenda of Rumsfeld’s Pentagon. We all know how that worked out! In 2008, defense modernization still hasn’t become a hot-button issue in the US election, […]

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Study: Flying Predators bad for pilot’s health, family life

A research team from the Naval Postgraduate School last month quietly published some surprising findings about MQ-1 Predator flight crews. A previous study found that the shift-work nature of Predator flight operations takes a toll on the crews. The average MQ-1 crew — a pilot and sensor operator — was likely to show signs of […]

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