F-35 Gets Another Round of (Confined) Mainstream Scrutiny
- CBS’ 60 Minutes did a decent job outlining challenges and hot issues in its F-35 report, within the significant constraints of limiting their sourcing to DoD, the program office, the services, and Lockheed Martin. A broader perspective that includes allied countries, subcontractors, competitors and detractors would have been appreciated. The official posture, as seen in this show and apparent for the past year or so, has been focused on acknowledging problems relatively candidly. This beats denial or stonewalling, but reminds of the “prepare 3 envelopes” joke. Question for CBS: are the constant Viagra ads a subliminal way to convey that the JSF program needs outside help to perform?
Slow January for Pentagon Orders
- Bloomberg reports that the Pentagon awarded just $8.8B across 180 contracts last month, down 30% from a year ago. This analysis is limited to congressional notices for awards worth at least $6.5M. Smaller federal contract actions are tracked in the FPDS database, but DoD data is delayed by 90 days [PPT].
Internet Attacks: Ever More Massive
- Denial of service attacks flooding their targets with 400+Gbps of traffic are likely to become common, given the precedent of a recent DDoS that involved more than 4,500 hijacked servers from all over the world. This time it’s the Network Time Protocol (NTP) that’s being leveraged to force servers offline, rather than DNS amplification. As is often the case, the software fixes are already there, there’s just not evenly distributed. With the rising number of poorly administrated devices that can run some sort of internet service, this is likely to get worse. When David Mills wrote the RFC for NTP in the early 80s he couldn’t foresee what would happen 3 decades later, and it’s hard to blame him given the state of technology back then, Neuromancer cyberpunk fiction aside.
Il n’y a pas le feu au lac
- When the co-pilot of an Ethiopian plane hijacked it with the intent of seeking asylum in Switzerland, the aircraft had to be escorted by Italian then French jet fighters because the Swiss rely on deals with their neighbors to ensure air defense outside of business hours. This capability gap will be resolved by 2020, according to Le Matin [in French].
- China’s state-owned Xinhua is earning points for honesty: “evaluations of army officials should focus on their political reliability [emphasis ours], competence, clean conduct and trustworthiness.”
- Japanese exports to China may be recovering, but bilateral trade and investments between the 2 countries continue to decline, which may reduce their incentives to defuse tensions.
- Australia and France are literally at antipodes but they still could find good reasons to develop a closer defense relationship, argues the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
- The US government is reviewing its shrinking options for UAV basing in central Asia in case an American military presence won’t be maintained in Afghanistan.
- Australian Army Corporal Cameron Stewart Baird was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery during a fight with insurgents in Afghanistan last year.
- Today’s video features the scientific adviser working with UK troops within Task Force Helmand to improve their safety with better vehicle design, but also sound basic advice such as getting soldiers to actually wear their seat belt: