Air Force Asks for More F-35s to Help Bring Down Per-Copy Price; To Heck with JSTARs, Other Ground Support
The Air Force, even while adding billions to procurement budgets, is putting off its Joint Stars ground surveillance aircraft to 2023. It had previously been hoping to field the new system in 2022. The Air Force has been fairly consistent in choosing fighters and other air dominance platforms over ground support missions in its procurement decisions.
The F-35, meanwhile would get additional funds to produce more units (up to 57 from 38), reportedly to help bring down the per-unit cost, which is rapidly gaining ground on the all-important $200 million-per-copy figure that effectively blew up the now-defunct F-22 program production.
- The new logistics arrangements putting performance costs on vendors, in the hopes that it will iteratively reduce costs are bearing enough fruit that the Defense Logistics Agency is throwing Boeing the second phase ($223 million) of a combat logistics support agreement. The effort may extend up to five years and involve up to $516 million. Systems under contract support include the Super Hornet, Apache, Harrier, Stratofortress, Globemaster and associated ground support equipment.
- The Pentagon’s Comptroller said he thought Congress would come around to a new base closing BRAC process – just not necessarily very quickly. He noted that he was a senate staffer when the first one was instituted, and that one took 8 years to finally gain approval.
- The Service Women’s Action Network, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, sued the Department of Defense claiming that the DoD’s answers to questions about recruiting females in the nation’s service academies were inadequate. The group sought answers in November as to targets and activities for recruiting women to the academies, which – excepting the Coast Guard – have as incoming freshmen more than three quarters male students.
- An A400M heavy lift aircraft destined to be one of the four Malaysia ordered made its first flight.
- The trial balloon popped. Floated a few days ago, the Administration made it known to major newspapers that it was considering providing weapons to Ukraine. Today The Hill reports that the President decided against it, opting instead for continuing sanctions against a few dozen Russians and some limited financial sector limitations. Tolling on the Russian economy however, has been the implosion of oil prices, which may make some believe that even pinprick economic sanctions may have more meaning in the new context.
- Russia is considering alternate ideas for the use of its much-troubled sea launch platform, which has been suspended since the past summer, in part due to a lack of rocket engines available from the now-unfriendly Ukraine.
- Russia is building up its new Gadzhiyevo (not far from Murmansk) submarine base and facilities so quickly that it is experiencing fatal construction accidents (Russian).
- Indonesia awarded its helicopter tender to Boeing to provide eight AH-64E Apaches for $295.9 million.
- This is what a sea launch looks like – perhaps the last for Energia’s Seal Launch – for lofting a commercial telecommunications satellite.