Boeing May Have V-22 Export Customer | USS Constitution Bicentennial Upshot: First U.S. Frigates Were Smart Procurement
- Boeing told National Defense Magazine that they may have their first V-22 export client shortly; this coming just a day after reports of South Korea kicking the Osprey’s tires.
- The Air Force appears to have conceded that it is unlikely to kill off the Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Office, as it has tried to do over the past few years. It slated $6.5 million (a third of what was apportioned by Congress for 2015) to ORS. The office, responsible for spotting new needs and figuring out how to acquire assets to serve them, has been threatened with absorption into the glacially-paced Space and Missile Systems Center.
- The Government Accountability Office wrote a 55-page report (PDF) on its study that found that the Department of Defense should streamline its decision-making processes.
- The Navy is celebrating the USS Constitution’s victories over King George III’s England, this being the 200th anniversary of the sea battles that saw the nascent U.S. naval forces finally secure a victory. The Constitution, a 44-gun rated frigate that usually bore a complement of 54 guns, is the world’s oldest commissioned warship still afloat (and a great tour if one is ever visiting Boston). In honor of the 200th anniversary of the victories over the HMS Cyane and the HMS Levant, DID presents a budget comparison. About $114,000 was initially appropriated to build “Old Ironsides,” which was launched in 1797 at a final cost almost three times that. It was an active warship for almost 100 years, but saw hostile duty only up until 1855, while patrolling for slavers off the West African coast. On a gross domestic product basis of comparison the Constitution cost 0.09 percent of the country’s GDP. Our largest capital ship purchases today generally cost the same percent of GDP, and they would be very fortunate to last half of a century on active duty. [DID wishes to thank the historians at the USS Constitution Museum for pointing out the actual cost over-runs, a detail we’d missed.]
- Orbital ATK will produce new parts for the AAR-47 missile warning system under a $30 million contract. The AAR-47 has been fielded for the past 28 years.
- F-35Bs will begin raised ramp takeoff testing this week, emulating the “ski jump” structures that are featured on several allied aircraft carriers. The ramps placed at the end of the carrier runways allow for shorter take-offs, but at the expense of payload capacity, as the sudden loft is apt to break the fighter under a full load. Italy and the U.K. both have carriers with ski jumps.
- India will attempt to accelerate its domestic aircraft carrier shipbuilding plans in light of the imminent retirement of the Viraat (formerly the U.K.’s Hermes). A new carrier built in India will be called the Vishal, a common Indian name extending back to the emperor of the Mahabharata era and founder of the city of Vishalapura. Propulsion systems, aircraft and other major design considerations are still in study phases. The first domestically built carrier, the Vikrant, will likely not reach operational capacity until 2018, a couple years after the loss of the Viraat.
- An analysis conducted by the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies gives a range of likely North Korean nuclear advances the world can anticipate between now and 2020. The mid-case scenario indicates dozens of nuclear weapons of both plutonium and uranium cores with megaton ranges of 15-20. The Institute is also skeptical of the common belief that North Korea has been unable to make a weapon small enough to fit on a ballistic missile.
Middle East / Africa
- Iraq is purchasing Husky 2G route clearance vehicles from South Africa’s DCD Protected Mobility.
- Iran says it has managed to upgrade radars on some of its Shah-era F-14s, presumably to better see the highway to the danger zone.
- The battle that made the USS Constitution beloved (and thereby saved it from being scrapped multiple times) happened 200 years ago. Here is the ship firing one of its 24-pounder canons this past September…