Russia - LHD amphibious ships: France has reportedly returned Russia's $900 million for failing to deliver the two Mistral class helicopter carriers it had manufactured. Interestingly, the Sputnik News report indicates that Russia feels it has a right to grant or withhold permission to France to resell the craft to a third nation. This could conceivably be the case were Russia contributing significant design work or classified specifications. More »
The on-again, off-again Air Force comparison test between the F-35 and the A-10 for close air support is back on again, according to
the Washington Times. The F-35 doesn’t carry – and isn’t anticipated to carry – the sorts of weapons that have proven useful in the typical CAS mission. It has but a few seconds of canon ammunition and its weapons bay was once compared to a purse after the F-35C variant further infringed on internal storage. A test between the platforms would likely hinge on the scenario imagined by the Air Force brass, so a cynic might expect a profusion of bogeys best handled by stealth fighters.
A former Army Times reporter is releasing a book on JSOC, which appears to have made USSOCOM grumpy, although author Sean Naylor says he is revealing nothing operationally useful to enemies and hasn’t been given any classified documents.
A fairly radical reform of the Pentagon’s hiring, pay, promotion and evaluation processes is sitting with the SecDef now, just reaching the stage where various administrations, services and legislative bodies will have the opportunity to take pot shots at the plan. Put simply, Ash Carter has been concerned that the military is decent at producing its radio maintenance staff, but that the existing hiring system is anathema to someone who would be likely to be a good coder. The plans measures to address that problem haven’t yet been spelled out publicly.
DARPA is exploring the concept of using airborne carriers to launch and recover swarms of drones to accomplish traditional missions normally assigned to human-jockeyed fighters and bombers.
KBR is taking full advantage of the indemnification clause the U.S. Government signed for much of its work in Iraq, leading to the recent judgement indicating the U.S. is on the hook for about $30 million in legal expenses for various nether dealings in the theater. The Project on Government Oversight points out that there are many more contracts from this period where the U.S. took on general liabilities.
The Pentagon is investing $75 million in a new research center of sorts dedicated to wearable tech. Lots of large firms, universities, bureaucracies and states and local governments have been invited to share pieces of this pie in the hopes that the center – to be located somewhere south of San Francisco – can create useful technologies worth fielding.
Iraq cancelled 16 contracts [Italian] worth $3.5 billion for what it termed were likely corrupt deals. $1.5 billion is going to go toward new contracts – including a new one for An-178s – and the remainder will revert to the treasury.
The Ka-52 helicopter export contract mentioned back in June at the Paris Air Show appears to involve Egypt’s acquisition of 50 of the attack helicopters.
| t should go without saying that yesterday's Oshkosh award of the JLTV program may well be contested. The Army has yet to debrief Lockheed or AM General, a key step in the process toward a proper GAO protest. More »
| Russia's "fifth generation" Sukhoi PAK FA stealth fighter is to get the X-58USHK missile, which will reportedly reach mach 3.5. But the critical advantage the new combo would bring was expressed in the a Tass sub-headline: "The missile will be placed inside the fighter’s fuselage." Thus the PAK FA - also called the T-50 - will remain stealthy, where the F-35's weapons bay has grown even smaller on the new variants and most weapons will have to be mounted externally. More »
| In what is perhaps the biggest reality perception difference between the Air Force and the rest of the military and civilian government, the Air Force has been working hard to shut down the A-10 program, maintaining that the close air support stalwart isn't earning its keep. The several billion dollars saved would go to more F-35 work, as that platform has been tipped to be the replacement, although some senior Air Force officers have suggested that perhaps a completely new craft would be in order. So it was newsworthy that a senior officer for testing had suggested a shoot-out between the A-10 and F-35. That test is now taking fire from the Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, who called such a test "silly." Still, Welsh said that the F-35 was never intended as an A-10 replacement, so that leaves observers scratching heads as to which parts of the Air Force desire what outcome, especially as few believe an A-X replacement would be cheaper. More »
| Belgium's four NH90 NFH naval helicopter fleet have achieved Initial Operating Capability, eight years after they were ordered in May 2007 through a mixed order for ten NH90 helicopters. Three of the country's four helicopters have now entered service, with a fourth scheduled to join them in early 2016. More »