Stephen Trimble: November 2008 Archives
Mike Sirak at Air Force Magazine's Daily Report writes today:
Don't Leave Us Stranded: Speaking to reporters Nov. 20, John Young, Pentagon acquisition executive, essentially burst the bubble of those who thought that the need for a new Air Force combat search and rescue helicopter was universally supported within the walls of the Pentagon. In fact, Young said he's not even convinced that the rescue community "has to have its own set of assets for the occasional rescue mission when we have new things coming online like V-22s and other things that could be pressed into service." Young maintained that there are "a lot of assets that could be used in rescue missions with planning." He asserted, too, that a rescue mission would be a "come-as-you-are" operation "unless all of these CSAR assets are prepositioned for that." (Yes, Mr. Young, the rescue assets are deployed to the combat theater and those other assets have jobs.) Young recently went on the record expressing his displeasure with the Air Force's decision to delay announcing the winner in the CSAR-X contest until next year, so we don't think he's out to kill the program. He apparently was trying to use the CSAR-X as an example of how the "intensity" of parochial interests may adversely affect the best use of resources across the military enterprise. So much so, he contended, that the new Administration may well want to "revisit" the enterprise-vs.-community topic. (New to CSAR-X? Read The Struggle over CSAR-X .)
Additional investments in C-17 aircraft may become more attractive. Currently, a new C-17 would cost about $276 million compared to $132 million to fully modernize a C-5. Each new C-17 potentially adds 100 percent of its cargo capacity toward meeting the total airlift requirement. Because the C-5s are already part of the operational force, each aircraft's current capacity is already counted toward the total requirement. Consequently, according to DOD data, the C-5 modernization programs only provide a marginal increase of 14 percent in capability over nonmodernized aircraft. Using DOD's million ton-mile per day planning factors, we, working in collaboration with DOD, calculated that DOD would need to fully modernize 7 C-5s to attain the equivalent capability achieved from acquiring 1 additional C-17 and the costs would be over 3 times more.
So, all things being equal, DOD can spend either $276 million on one more C-17 or $924 million on one more C-5M. I'm not an accountant, but I'm thinking the C-17 wins the ROI argument -- assuming DOD needs to buy more strategic airlift capacity in the first place.
The USAF plans to develop two distinct versions of the F-22 with "significant differences in capability between them".
But I didn't want to let it go without a firm rebuttal from the Indian side. The Indian Air Force has declined comment, but I can present a response by Vayu Aerospace Review Editor Pushpindar Singh.
Being aware of the IAF's views on the subject, and while fully respecting the IAF Vice Chief's statement that the 'leaked' video and its content was 'too demeaning for reaction', I have decided to share the facts with readers, not those fancily conjured up by Colonel Terrence Fornof.
The US Air Force has released this photo of Calspan Flight Research tail number N793VS, the C-131 total inflight simulator that was retired last week. It is perhaps the ugliest aircraft ever employed in the name of national security.
Please send your nominees for the world's ugliest aircraft.
[I have been alerted that there may be a momentary glitch in our comment-submitting system. If you're having any trouble, please email me your nominees. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Well, yesterday I went to a helicopter speech, but was treated to an impromptu debate by two key founders of what became the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.
The event was the monthly local chapter meeting of the American Helicopter Society. The two JSF figures were James "Raleigh" Durham and Michael Hough (USMC Lt Gen retired).
Read Norway's official statement here.By Craig Hoyle
Norway has rejected an offer to acquire Saab's Gripen NG combat aircraft, with its government instead recommending that the nation maintain its commitment to purchase Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as a replacement for its Lockheed F-16 fleet.
Oslo's announcement states: "The JSF is the only candidate that fulfils all the operational requirements specified by the Norwegian government and is furthermore offered at a lower price than the Gripen NG."
[UPDATE: By the way Norway's statement explains that the F-35 is superior to the Gripen in the following categories: intelligence and surveillance, counter air, air interdiction and anti-surface warfare. The debate continues ...]
Saab's response is on the jump.
Guess which program Boeing is blaming this one on?
Boeing attributes the reductions to the end of some programs and the delay in the U.S. Air Force tanker-replacement program. The layoffs will impact managers and both salaried and hourly workers.
Boeing will deliver 60-day layoff notices to approximately 76 employees on Friday, Nov. 21. Their last day of work is scheduled for mid-January. The company will deliver the balance of the layoff notices throughout 2009, with most occurring in the first half of the year.
The announcement marked a rare public reappearance of Boeing executive Scott Strode. He was formerly head of production for the 787 airliner, which is mired in massive delays caused mainly by a production system meltdown. Now, Strode is the general manager for the Wichita site. This is part of his released statement:
"A combination of events are limiting our business options and forcing us to reduce our current employee total. We also are taking steps to restructure our business in order to lower our rates and become more affordable for customers."
Recall that Boeing is working on a plan to slash its production rate by half on the C-17 (read more). Wichita's remaining Boeing employees work on these programs: the US. government executive fleet, B-52/Refueling Systems Support, 767 International Tanker,
Mission Planning, engineering support for Airborne Laser and 747-8, and
Integrated Logistics Support.
The USN intends to award multiple contracts worth a maximum of about $13 million each to get the second phase moving. The draft notice shows the USN wants very specific details about the aircraft, systems and modifications for each of the competitors.
The Boeing 737-800ERX, already in development for the USN as the P-8 multimission maritime aircraft, is a leading candidate for EPX. The Airbus A321 also falls in the eligible category. Brazil's Embraer E190 also could have a shot, but it's much smaller than its potential competitors. I also wonder if Lockheed Martin might try to dust off the Orion21 concept for EPX, but that's pure, pie-in-the-sky speculation.
In the first round of the competition, the USN earlier this year awarded bids to Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to basically define what the market could offer.
Now, Maj Gen Robert Knauff, commander of the New York ANG, is telling local reporters that the C-5A must be replaced. (Hat tip: AFA Daily Report.)
"These airplanes were built 40 years ago and any piece of metal that is bent for 40 years eventually is going to break, and more and more, the more we fly these airplanes, the more problems they have. It's not fatal. It's not a horrible flaw but it gets more and more expensive; it gets more difficult and more and more, we are spending resources on old things rather than spend them on new things," he said. "So, the question comes, do we spend that money to keep the old C-5s flying or do we spend that money to get the new airplanes here? My vote is always with the new airplane and the new mission. If I have anything to do with it, we'll be seeing new airplanes at Stewart."Standing in the way of any C-5A replacement is the formidable opposition of Senator Ted Kennedy, the great protector of Westover Air Reserve Base, which could be shut down if the C-5A is allowed to retire. A few years ago, Kennedy teamed up with new Vice President-elect Joe Biden to make it illegal for the US Air Force to retire any C-5As, and that's not likely to change.
Some of you might remember the short video documentary I posted here a few months ago on Paul Bevilaqua, the Lockheed Martin engineer who invented the shaft-driven lift fan for the F-35B fighter.
The Council on Foreign Relations breaks it down today.
"No other military in the world has fielded a viable match for the last generation of U.S. combat aircraft, undercutting Air Force arguments about the need for "next generation" warplanes. Secondly, the reliance by ground force commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan on unmanned aerial vehicles poses an even more fundamental challenge to a force based on highly-trained pilots flying multibillion dollar hardware. These shifts could challenge funding for programs like the F-22."And this:
"Some analysts say the corps should divert funding from the controversial V-22 Osprey, a troubled tilt-rotor aircraft, and instead fund the purchase of new H-92 and CH-53 helicopters. Doing so could save the Marines more than $10 billion over the next five years."
Hold on, Mr. Barnett. 1) IT is probably the most vulnerable sector in the defense market to spending cuts in a downturn; 2) Aeronautics is now in a six-month transition, but could come storming back next year (think new orders for C-130J, F-16, F-22, F-35).
IS & GS doesn't build any platforms in a conventional sense, just IT platforms and services and systems integration, and already it's the biggest source of revenue of the biggest defense corporation in the world.
Sign of the times and and the world.
In a letter to Air Headquarters, an official of the Red Flag said it was the personal view of the USAF pilot talking in the clip and not of those involved in the exercise. The organisers are looking forward for the participation of the IAF in the future editions of Red Flag, said the letter.Fornof was actually quite complimentary of the IAF's pilots, praising their professionalism while explaining how he "drilled" them in dogfights.
In potentially dangerous news for Boeing and Lockheed Martin, the Indian press seem to find a link between the YouTube speech and India's fighter competition.
The clip is being viewed as a ploy by the industry to prove a point. It might be an attempt to convince the US Government in ordering more F-22 Raptors. The US aviation giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin, the makers of F-16s and F-18s, are also competing with Russians for multi-billion dollar contract to supply multi-role combat aircraft to the IAF.
Sukhoi General Director Mikhail Pogosyan will get the top job also at deeply indebted MiG, Vladimir Karnozov reports at Flight. Karnozov told me later that Pogosyan was seen on MiG's premesis on Thursday chairing a working meeting.
The move could allow Pogosyan to oversee a joint Sukhoi/MiG effort to develop and produce a fifth-generation fighter -- the PAK FA. Of course, he'll have to start by digging MiG out of its $2 billion hole of debt, a condition aggravated by a lost MiG-29 sale to Algeria over workmanship complaints.
"I am certain that there will be a day, in the not too distant future, when the top brass of the CF will wish that the 4 Billion spent on these four Boeing C-17s had been spent on something more necessary than long range Strategic Transport. I am ready to bet money on it."Ouch. That's the conclusion. Here are some of the reasons.
"Are we going to be continuously flying LAV-IIIs from one end of the country to another just to justify owning C-17s? Maybe we will have to pave and extend the runway in Alert so at least C-17s can perform the bi-annual Boxtop operations? Who knows what they will come up with?"Of course, Boeing's sales case is that the C-17 can perform humanitarian missions. Not just be a purely military asset.
"Although these C-17s have been promoted as useful for natural disaster relief, in 18 months, they have only been used three times in such cases, and in all three cases, they performed duties the CC-150 Polaris or civilian-chartered aircraft could have done for much less money."
A new acquisition notice says a draft RFP is coming (no timetable given), and it will have two big changes.
The new RFP will include a Statement of Objectives (SOO) vice a Statement of Work (SOW) and a Performance-based Specification (P-Spec) vice a System Specification. Additionally, the competition requirements will include both a written proposal and a flight demonstration period.If you're in the UAV business, STUAS/Tier II and the US Air Force's nebulous next-generation UAS requirement will be the only sources of new business in the US for several years, so expect a pretty robust competition.
In the past, Gripen embraced technologies that designers modified to fit specific needs - as was the case with the General Electric F404 engine that Volvo turned into the fighter's RM12 powerplant. For the Gripen NG, Saab went directly to GE and asked for an F414, the latest version of the F/A-18E/F's engine with minimal changes. The F414G features some adjustments to the full-authority digital engine control and power supply, largely because Gripen is a single-engine fighter (whereas the F/A-18E/F has two engines). This seemingly innocuous change allows Saab to reduce engine costs 20%, even though the F414 is a higher thrust engine with a greater sticker price than the F404.
This design approach permeates the Gripen NG, says Kemp. Suppliers such as Honeywell and Rockwell were asked to provide their latest product and let Saab worry about integrating them, rather than devising tailor-made derivatives for the Gripen NG. To keep costs low, the NG may embrace the same pilot helmet used on the F-35.
Our adversaries are already well on the way to adopting their own form of the "comprehensive approach" - hybrid warfare. Hybrid warfare goes beyond including all of the potential actors in a conflict; this also includes using a wide variety of approaches to fighting. Stated another way, hybrid warfare includes a variety of means as well as ways of fighting.
The results are conclusive: a solid majority of Norwegians absolutely, positively believe that they have no idea what the poller is talking about!
Officially, the results are: Gripen-37%, Joint Strike Fighter-18%, Don't Know-45%.
I do not consider this a lack of awareness. Rather, I see it as an honest acknowledgment of understandable ignorance on a peripheral issue.
This just in from Lockheed Martin:
F-35 prototype AA-1 registered its first Mach 1.05 test point today, passing the milestone flight test event carrying a 5,400lb full weapons load. Full weapons load includes two 2,000lb joint direct attack munitions (JDAMs) and two AIM-120 advanced medium range air to air missiles (AMRAAMs).
"Yes, we will be presenting both short- and long-term solutions," a Sikorsky spokesman says.
I didn't even have to ask a follow up!
"To your next question, I must decline to elaborate on those solutions," he adds.
So what does this mean?
It's not a slam dunk that Sikorsky will compete for the contract. But it adds a very interesting wrinkle to the potential field.
So far, Boeing, AgustaWestland and EADS North America/Eurocopter have confirmed to me that they will respond to the sources sought notice. Bell Helicopter, perhaps still recovering from ARH-70 termination decision last month, says they haven't decided whether to respond yet.
We don't know. But I can guess.
The long-term solution is most likely a military variant of the high-speed X2 coaxial rotorcraft.
The near-term bid could be more interesting. I'm going to guess the Schweizer 330 (see picture above). Sikorsky could even claim a commonality advantage. The US Army has already picked the unmanned version of the Schweizer 333 -- Northrop Grumman's MQ-8B Fire Scout -- for the Future Combat System.
Next question: anybody want to bet on an ARH bid based on the Robinson R66?
Here's the only direct statement I can find by Obama on the F-22. It came during a Q & A with voters in Cedar Falls, Iowa on 15 August 2007.
Q Thank you. John Mikulski (sp) from Dubuque.
The biggest, most powerful special interest group we have in this country is the military-industrial complex. And they keep protecting very expensive pork projects that are not needed for our national defense. Senator Biden, Senator Edwards and Governor Richardson have said that they would cut the F-22 fighter, a very expensive piece of flying pork. Will you pledge to cut that program, sir?
SEN. OBAMA: What I have said in audiences in Iowa and across the country is that one of my first acts when I call together the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of Defense is number one, the mission to get our troops out of Iraq. Number two is I want a review of our Pentagon budget. It's bloated. It is still designed for the Cold War instead of some of the new challenges that we're going to be facing in the future.
I have not specifically identified individual spending projects or programs because I think that there's a lot there. You know, the Osprey is an example of something where it's not clear that it's working the way -- in fact, it's fairly clear that it hasn't performed the way it was supposed to. The F-22 is another example.
Alas, it's possible to read too much into this statement. Obama is not taking a policy position on either program. His comment about the F-22 seems more like a polite pander than a firm belief. The fact that he arbitrarily raised the V-22 as an archetype of ineffectual acquisition -- without prompting -- could be interesting.
It would be the first supersonic flight for the Joint Strike Fighter program since Lockheed Martin's famed "Mission X" in 2001, which may have clinched the competition. Mission X had the STOVL X-35C complete a short-takeoff roll, accelerate to supersonic speed and land vertically.
The key word for today's milestone event is "planned". We'll know if Lockheed's test team in Fort Worth achieved their goal later this afternoon.
AA-1 rolled out nearly two years ago, so this event has been long in coming.
(Video tip: USSRman45)
And so begins the saga of the long-lost F-22 Lot 10 production contract, which former Secretary of Defense Donald Rusmfeld whacked in 2004 and the USAF has been working to overcome ever since.
The $50 million keeps the supply chain going through at least January. The new administration, which takes office on 21 January, will face an immediate decision on whether to spend another $90 million.
With that amount, Lockheed can keep the earliest components of the F-22 supply chain humming until at least 15 March. But the $90 million adds strings to the deal, as the Pentagon will be ordering parts for more than just the next four jets.
Finally, by 15 March, the new President's staff must decide whether to release another $360 million -- or $500 million altogether -- to keep full-rate production going another year. Of course, that's just a down payment. Another roughly $2.5-$3 billion must be added to the budget in fiscal 2010 to finish buying the next 20 aircraft. That doesn't include the next $500 million needed for advanced procurement, either.
I hope that's clear.
It's called ... (wait for it) ... kinetic rocket fireballs.
Hambling reports today on Wired's Danger Room blog that the kinetic rocket fireballs -- truly, a term unblemished by repetition -- are a real thing. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency thinks it might be a new way to bomb bunkers without inadvertently releasing any chemical and biologically weapons into the atmosphere.
I checked out the patent to find out how they work. Here's what it says. Note the term "unexpectedly discovered" -- bet that's a good story!
"The present invention provides an incendiary munition comprised of an outer shell or bomb casing, one or more incendiary submunitions therein, and an igniter therefore. The incendiary submunition comprises an incendiary portion, and at least one rocket motor that fires when the incendiary portion ignites. It was unexpectedly discovered [emphasis added] that, during operation, the combustion of the surface of the incendiary portion comprised of solid propellant creates a gas cushion that results in the levitation of the incendiary submunition above the ground.
While being levitated by the combustion of the outer surface of the incendiary submunition, the rocket motor disposed within the submunition ignites and propels the submunition and the incendiary portion violently around within the target structure. The combustion of the surface of the incendiary submunition, along with the firing of the rocket motor therein, liberates sufficient heat to produce elevated temperatures inside of a target structure without creating a substantial overpressure or explosive effect."
"As a result, the Latin American market is dominated by the French, Israelis, Russians and, where foreign policy allows, the USA," Flight reported.
It's now become clear that Brazil wants to change all of that. In September, Brasilia committed to rebuild its defense industrial base, with its upcoming fighter contract paving the way for technology transfer.
More recently, Brazil has proposed [Warning: Portugese-language link; use Google translator] a new organization called South America Defense to coordinate and revitalize the arms industry across the region. In a recent speech, here's how Brazil Minister of Defense Nelson Jobim proposed divvying up the industry.
- Argentina: Uniforms
- Paraguay: Ammunition
- Colombia: Armor
- Venezuela: Armor
- Chile: Aircraft components
- Brazil: Aircraft
This FAA decision, dated 23 September, denies a two-year-old petition from Boeing asking to exempt the BC-17 from the civil airworthiness certification process, a time-consuming, costly process that effectively made it impossible to convert the military airlifter into a outsize cargo carrier for the commercial market.
The surprise is not really that the FAA denied the exemption or that the BC-17 is finally, officially dead. But it is a little surprising to find out Boeing was still pursuing the concept as late as November 2007, when it submitted its last letter lobbying the FAA for the exemption.
Boeing's original petition in 2006 also reveals some surprising facts. Did you know, for example, that the US Air Force has contracted over 250 Antonov AN-124 flights valued at $85 million for outsize airlift services?
With air power pundit Carlo Kopp and defense-wonk-turned-pol Dennis Jensen clubbing Burbage's baby like a ... well, you know ... in the Australian press, and ministers in Canberra starting to feel skittish about their upcoming $15 billion commitment, Lockheed could use some face time with -- potentially -- one of its first big export customers.
Burbage's visit has already sparked a great report by ABC's Lateline. I'm waiting for the first news reports to appear about Burbage's lecture yesterday at the Royal United Services Institute of Australia.
Kopp and Burbage already appear to be facing off, albeit virtually.
CARLO KOPP, AIR POWER AUSTRALIA: The newer Russian aircraft would be quite capable of shooting down several Joint Strike Fighters for every Sukhoi that gets shot down by Joint Strike Fighter. When you're looking at that type of disparity, you end up basically with an Air Force that is completely combat ineffective.
TOM BURBAGE: It's not true. We're not using Lockheed Martin simulation or analysis, we're using US Air Force models that are very sophisticated. Lockheed Martin uses the same models that the Air Force does and the Air Force does many of these simulations instead of us. So, you know, we're highly confident in the results of these models.
A few weeks later, the identity and purpose of this odd-looking contraption are now revealed, and it's quite interesting indeed. Flight International reports this week:
See DARPA's ATAEM web site here. They don't call it the Bunker Debunker yet, but here's hoping.
BAE Systems' Flight Systems division of Mojave, California has completed the design, fabrication and initial flight testing of the airborne tomography-using active electromagnetics (ATAEM) pod, the company confirms.
Flight Systems is providing the pod to BAE's Advanced Technologies business unit, which is developing the internal sensors.
The ATAEM pod is flown suspended by a helicopter and will use electromagnetic energy to penetrate the ground to detect and map hidden bunkers and tunnels, adapting technologies developed by the geophysical exploration industry. The sensor was flown suspended by cables beneath a Eurocopter AS350 over the Mojave North range for the initial flight tests.
You can browse the brief on this page by clicking here.
Japan has revealed its stealth fighter mock-up called the ATD-X before, but I believe this presentation offers a great new view of it.
Ishizuka also shows off an all-new concept image of a turboprop-powered long-endurance UAV, although it may simply be a stand-in platform for showcasing new sensor technology.
Come on, this is ridiculous. Where are all the F-22 fans? Vote here.
One of the key frustrations in modern combat is that you'll only have a "small" 500-pounder available when you really need a mini or a large to, well, do the job. It's a huge problem for close air support, where a slightly errant 500-pounder could wipe out the wrong troops.
The USAF has talked about building a "dial-a-yield" bomb since at least 2003, but surprisingly nothing until very recently.
A request for information dated 31 October asks industry to propose a new 500-pound bomb featuring "selectable" modes ranging from minimum to medium to maximum. It also needs to be ready for delivery in between 2012 and 2016.
Both illuminate both sides of the polarized debate about the F-35's relevance as a future warfighting tool. According to these analyses, the F-35 is either the vanguard of a new way of fighting air battles or a woefully underachieving dog of a dogfighter.
The anti-F-35 crowd is represented by self-styled Australian airpower expert Carlo Kopp. He writes:
It is now abundantly clear that the Joint Strike Fighter is not going to be viable in Beyond Visual Range air combat, just as it was clear from the outset that it would never be a serious player in Within Visual Range air combat.
But representing the pro-F-35 side is Robbin Laird, who has served as a close adviser to both former Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne and the US Marine Corps aviation leadership. His study is entitled, "Reflections on the RAND Project Air Force Brief: Air Combat: Past, Present and Future", and here's an excerpt:
In the new concept of operations driven by the 5th generation aircraft, the combat and strike power of a single aircraft within the operation is not defined by what it carries itself but by its ability to direct and rely upon network partners. Any assets within range of an identified target, which carries weapons, can be directed to strike by the 5th generation aircraft, whether this weaponry is carried by air, ground or maritime platform.
The Army may procure up to 512 new Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters with the capability to perform a Hover out of Ground Effect (HOGE) at 6,000 ft/95 degrees Fahrenheit and operate in an Armed Reconnaissance configuration with required range and endurance. The ARH will conduct armed reconnaissance to fight for actionable combat information to enable joint/combined air-ground maneuver execution of mobile strike, close combat and vertical maneuver operations across the full-spectrum of military operations.Last month, Boeing re-launched AH-6 light attack helicopter for the international market. Bell still owned the ARH contract at the time, and Boeing declined at that time to name the AH-6 as an ARH competitor. But we can safely assume Boeing will take a shot at the estimated $6 billion ARH contract.
Potential sources of drama for the re-competition involve whether Bell intends to re-submit the 407, and whether the Europeans will be excluded from the competitive field this time. In the original competition, no European helicopter met the army's deployability criteria; specifically, the ability to unload two helicopters from a Lockheed Martin C-130 and be flyable within 15 minutes.
The YouTube videos "IAF SU-30 MKI Red Flag Lecture Part 1 & Part 2" were of Colonel Terrence Fornof, an F-15 pilot and the Director of the Requirements and Testing office at the United States Air Force Warfare Center, Nellis AFB, Nev., giving a private impromptu briefing in August 2008 to local Daedalians. The Daedalians are a group of retired military pilots. Col. Fornof did not mean to offend any U.S. allied forces, as he knows firsthand the importance of training with allied forces and the awesome firepower they bring to the fight. His comments during this briefing were his personal opinions and not those of U.S. Air Force Warfare Center or of the Air Force.
Here's the online notice advertising the 24 September meeting of the Daedalians and the Thunderbird Chapter of AFA. Here's the link back to the site, but gaining access could be tricky. (I ended up having to google the URL, click on the cached page and play with the username/password box a few times. I'm actually not quite sure how I got it to work, so good luck.)
Monthly Meeting - 9/17/2008 6:45:54 PM
The upcoming weeks will offer several events at Nellis AFB if you are interested. I have included some event notes below but first, let me tell you about the September 24 meeting.
We are joining with the Thunderbird Chapter of AFA to host a
panel to discuss "The Future Fight". After our dinner of London broil, Brig Gen Hoog will introduce the panel members, who then will discuss how the USAF Warfare Center is preparing for the future fight today. After a short presentation, they will open the floor up for questions and answers. It should be a very informative presentation that you will not want to miss. Warfare Center
RSVP's for this event will be especially important to ensure the proper dining room set-up with our local AFA chapter, so please let me know if you are planning on attending.
ZHUHAI -- There is an old anecdote. The optimists around the world learn English. The pessimists, Chinese. But down-to-earth study the Kalashnikov assault rifle.
I think it is time for the down-to-earth crowd to study their rifles using Chinese manuals!
ago every important source told me, let's wait two years and see what comes of
Now everyone I trust says the Chinese pulled it off, and the J-10 has proven a tremendously successful program.
I watched how the J-10 flew over Zhuhai, in 30 degree Celsius temperatures and high humidity.
The pilot did none of the show tricks like post-stall or tail slide or pitch-back, but turns were very tight, initial rate of turn very high. It was clear there is a lot of potential in this airplane to achieve the same maneuvers more quickly.
The pilot rarely used afterburner and the degrees of canard deflection were small. Still, the airplane flew very well. I reckon it will beat F-16C or MiG-29/SMT easily.
Chinese have already completed over 100 J-10s and they have bought more Russian engines for next series.
I do not think they would buy more Flankers since the J-10 is as good as the Flanker, to say the least.
military said "no" to local engine makers and "no" to local makers of some key
systems, instead buying these critical items directly from
As for AWACS support, it is present with 4 A-50 equipped with KJ-2000 radars and it seems the Chinese have bought a special version of the Ka-31, although very much different from the Indian navy version. Apparently with a new radar.
tactics are used, the PLAAF can beat Taiwanese opponents in conventional air
war. Unless the
(Photos: Vladimir Karnozov)
Both videos were posted yesterday on YouTube by an anonymous contributor, who identifies himself only as an Australian (God bless 'em!).
If you have any interest in tactical aircraft at all, you must watch these two videos. Learn details about the Cope India fiasco, problems with Russian fighter jet engines, how the F-15 can defeat the Su-30MKI's vectored thrust, and why the Indians apparently won't be asking for more 1 v 1 dogfights with the USAF.
Certainly, the successive tenures of Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates have left no doubt about the huge implications of such a choice.
We know (because it's been widely reported) that Obama is advised on national security by three pillars of the Clinton-era Pentagon: former US Marine Corps Commandant and EUCOM chief Gen James Jones, former deputy secretary of defense John Hamre and former secretary of the navy Richard Danzig.
There are others who suggest Gates would be a smart, albeit short-term, pick. And I've heard a few people mention Colin Powell.
You also have to consider potential wild cards from the ranks of Congress and business.
William Cohen left a safe Republican seat in the Senate to work for Bill Clinton. (Paging Joe Lieberman?)
Robert McNamara left a cushy job as CEO of Ford to work for John Kennedy. (Paging ... er, Alan Mullaly?)
For several years, Honeywell has disobeyed this rule, producing a ducted-fan unmanned aircraft named, drearily, the Micro Air Vehicle (MAV). [Insert wrong answer buzzer sound here.] Sorry, that's not a name. That's a category.
Honeywell today has finally corrected that scandalous deficiency, announcing indirectly in a press release about receiving a new US Navy production contract that the MAV has been named the "T-Hawk".
Well, thank you for playing! But what, may I ask, is a "T-Hawk"? Let me guess: is it short for "Tactical Hawk"? Or, perhaps, something Rumsfeld-retro: the "Transformational Hawk?"
I asked Honeywell, and the answer is neither. The "T" is short for Tarantula. The Tarantula Hawk is the state insect of New Mexico, where the MAV was created, and it bears a passing resemblance to the ducted-fan UAV itself, according to Honeywell.
But I'll let you be the judge. The insect is on the left. The MAV is on the right.
TRIMBLE: In the FY09 budget, it was set in a bill that wasn't necessarily an appropriations bill, and some people said that that's still in play and could be changed by the new administration after they come in. How much do you risk do you see in 09 and 10 especially, but even in 09, to the defense budget in the
CHADWICK: I'm not a politician, but just from history I would surmise that while they'll come in, whoever the new administration is, and look at the 09 bill and the 2010 POM -- it's just huge. The budget is huge. So I think the change will be minimal. I think there will be change, and your guess is as good as mine with what they do.
You've seen the current administration has left some difficult decisions for the next administration, on F-22 and C-17, so we're going to wait and see as well. And we're prepared to engage as asked to defend our programs with our customers. I don't think there will be major changes, but I think there will be some changes because they just can't get through it all. So they'll have certain programs that will align with their defense strategy and that's where I think you'll see some change.
Chadwick also isn't overly worried about the global financial crisis causing delays for key international arms purchases.
I think, for some of these countries that have really spent a lot of time over the last 5 or 10 years to really strengthen their economies, -- like Brazil, like Denmark, like the UK, even though we're all going to be hit, like Australia -- I don't think you'll see a substantive change in terms of where they go from defense procurement. Some of these other countries may delay them, but we don't see a huge effect.
You know, you look at Japan F-X and that [delay] has nothing to do with the financial challenges. They're still just working through some political change, and we just have to be patient and see where it goes.
Note that he didn't put India in the category of non-affected countries.
Chadwick said several interesting things, but the most newsy involved his statements about the C-17.
Boeing's C-17 production line dies in 2010 unless it gets a new order next year. Boeing has always said they need to build at least 12 aircraft per year -- and preferably 15 -- to keep pricing at current levels -- roughly $220 million/aircraft, depending on how you count it.
Chadwick told us this position has dramatically changed in the last few weeks. Boeing now is analyzing how to build C-17s at a rate of eight per year while keeping prices roughly the same, although he declined to elaborate on pricing details.
Here's exactly what he said:
We remain cautiously optimistic in the near term. The supplemental will fund c-17s. We've got a big push on the international market for additional sales.
But we've got to look inward ... cost a lot (??) C-17. So we've launched a concerted effort to come up with an approach that would allow us to reduce the production rate. Currently it's at 15 per year. We'd like to get it down to around the eight a year production rate at the right price, which is close to the price today.
And if we do that we believe there's demand out in the world internationally but also domestically that we can keep that production line going for a long time. It's a heck of an airplane, the customer loves it.
You've got to be realistic about what the market will bear. We've got to take out cycle time. We've got to take out cost. We're very focused on doing that. I've got a team working on that. They're supposed to report out to me in about six weeks from now about how best to do that.
The real focus there is your customer. The customer likes the capability. Internationally, a lot of customers are starting to take notice as we've seen.
We want to make sure we have the right product and the right price for a long long time.
I was in St. Louis yesterday to cover the F-15SG roll-out ceremony. This is the new version of the F-15E designed for the Singapore Air Force, featuring the APG-63(V)3 active electronically scanned array (AESA) and infrared search and track (IRST). The reportedly Israeli electronic warfare gear, mounted on the tail-exhaust booms, are conveniently hidden from view because of the way Boeing angled the roped-off aircraft.
The chief of Japan's air self-defense forces, General Toshio Tamogami, was fired on Friday because he won -- of all things -- an essay contest with a 3 million yen (about US$30,500) prize sponsored by a rich Japanese real estate developer.
Actually, winning the essay contest might have been okay if the general hadn't rewritten history in the process, making the bizarre claims that 1) Japan was a non-aggressor in the "Great East Asia War", 2) countries such as Thailand, Burma and Singapore fondly remember their invasion and occupation by Japan's military and 3) Franklin D. Roosevelt and Chiang Kai-Shek conspired to force Japan to attack Pearl Harbor.
Unfortunately, only about half of the six-page essay is available to read in English on the real estate developer's web site, but even that is still an absorbing -- if incredibly disturbing -- read.
For a kicker, Tamogami's written musings appear as Japan "self-defense" force continues to press for the authority to buy the Lockheed Martin F-22.