NATO and Pakistan have not found an agreement on reopening transport routes out of Afghanistan. The fact Pakistan tried to increase the price per truck by a factor of 20 might have something to do with it. If allied combat troops are to withdraw by mid-2013 and don’t want to leave most of their equipment behind or ship it back at an outrageous cost, this will need to be resolved.
The US Navy said it would start releasing emergency funds today to start compensating the households whose property was destroyed in an F/A-18 crash on Friday in Virginia Beach. Thankfully no one was seriously hurt: “about as close as you can get to a miracle.” Video at the bottom of this entry.
A RAF Chinook had to make an emergency landing in Arizona on Saturday but nobody was injured either.
The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote a glowing profile of Susie Alderson, an engineer now at the US Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) who promoted the production of MRAPs to protect troops from roadside IEDs.
We wish there were more elected officials like Rep. Walter Jones [R-NC-3], who has spent 10 years trying to clear the names of 2 pilots involved in a fatal MV-22 Osprey crash. Why didn’t H.Res. 698 (111th) get out of committee?
RAND Corporation analyzed the root causes behind Nunn-McCurdy cost breaches for the following MDAPs: Zumwalt, JSF, Apache, and WGS. See also DOT&E’s presentation [PDF] from last August on the very same topic, and The Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s just-released report on managing risk in defense projects.
The Heritage Foundation, the Lowy Institute for International Policy, and the Observer Research Foundation think tanks jointly made the case for US-Australia-India cooperation defense cooperation.
First battalion of UH-72A Security & Support variant helicopters enter service with the US military.
The crew of the Taiwanese fishing vessel Chin Yi Wen takes back their boat from about 6 Somali pirates, then contacts the UKMTO naval task force. Seems some of the sailors were veterans of the Vietnam War. 3 sailors injured, and the pirates, uh, “fell into the sea” and haven’t been found. Last week German frigate FGS Köln sank 2 pirate fishing boats and captured several people.
3 soldiers of the Welsh Cavalry on a patrol in Nahr-e Saraj, Afghanistan got out of their recently-rehulled Scimitar Mk2 almost unfazed after an IED blast. The 1st video below shows what these tracked vehicles look like.
The 2nd video below shows the US Navy’s Deep Submergence Unit (DSU) using a pressurized rescue module to practice a submarine rescue with their Chilean peers:
Leon Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee that his main objective as the new Defense Secretary will be to ensure that the United States continues to have the best trained, best equipped and strongest military in the world. Despite the Department of Defense’ efforts to cut $400 billion as part of deficit reduction measures Panetta also stressed to the Committee the United States does not need to choose between strong fiscal discipline and a strong national defense. Instead the challenge lies in designing budgets that eliminate wasteful spending while protecting those core elements deemed vital to national security.
The $300 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program could well become the largest single weapon program in modern history. With the next Quadrennial Defense Review on the way, however, tensions are rising for the program amidst claims of funding cuts, and the recent independent JET evaluation that placed the project $17.1 billion dollars over budget, and up to 2 years late. A recent flurry of disagreements offers DID readers both sides of the arguments; we’ll leave readers to make up their own minds.
A Washington think-tank has gone so far as to call the planned cancellation of C-17 heavy transport aircraft production “The Dumbest Weapons Decision of the Decade.” With heavy usage that is accumulating fatigue hours far faster than originally planned, the US Air Force is loath to pay $1.5 billion to close the C-17 line – then pay another $4+ billion to re-open if their decision proves to be too hasty. Not to mention the larger $8+ billion economic effects and lost jobs. Still, the cost of its equipment means that funds are tight, and last-minute Congressional earmarks have been necessary to keep the C-17 line going. Concern has also been expressed that by shuttering the line, the USA is effectively handing the global strategic airlift market over to France and Russia; the Airbus A400M and Russia’s super-giant AN-124 would be the only games in town from 2010-2025, or longer.
Worse, there is almost no confidence in the Pentagon’s 2005 Mobility Requirements Study, whose assumptions hadn’t budged from a 2000 study – before 9/11 and the resulting global war saw airlift usage and flight hours skyrocket, before the Army’s Future Combat Systems’ failure to fit into C-130 transports as promised… before a lot of things happened. Now, as the battle in Washington heats up again, DID offers this updated article, readings – and accompanying interactive Excel spreadsheet – as a contribution to the discussions.
Defense was an issue in the 2007 Australian election. The center-left Labor Party attacked the center-right Liberal Party by citing mismanaged projects, and accusing the Howard government of making poor choices on key defense platforms like the F/A-18F Super Hornet and F-35A Joint Strike fighters. That sniping continued even after Labor won the election, and has been evident in more than a few Defence Ministry releases.
The new government made some program changes, such as canceling the SH-2G Seasprite contract. Yet it has been more notable for the programs it has not changed: problematic upgrades of Australia’s Oliver Hazard Perry frigates were continued, the late purchase of F/A-18F Super Hornets was ratified rather than canceled, and observers waited for the real shoe to drop: the government’s promised 2009 Defence White Paper, which would lay out Australia’s long-term strategic assessments, and procurement plans.
On May 2/09, Australia’s government released “Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030.” DID has reviewed that document, and the reaction to date including a new ASPI roundup of reactions from around Asia.
The US Department of Defense has submitted its FY 2010 budget request for $533.8 billion. This is 4% more than the FY 2009 base budget, but that is no longer an apples-to-apples comparison, as explained below. Weapons procurement represents $107.4 billion, or about 20% of the total budget. That put it in 3rd place, behind Operations & Maintenance ($185.7 billion), and personnel costs ($136 billion).
DID offers its readers a collection of links to useful reports and original documents related to the FY 2010 budget request, as well as some relevant outside reactions and testimony. So far, the President’s budget request generally matches Secretary Gates’ April 2009 preview. We will continue to add to this collection over time, and welcome reader suggestions re: useful materials, articles, and analyses via tips@…
By The Heritage Foundation’s Mackenzie Eaglen and Eric Sayers
USN Fleet plan, 2009
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Representative Ike Skelton [D-MO] recently expressed his concern about the state of the United States Navy, noting that since the Cold War ended, the U.S. “…forgot that we are a maritime nation. We forgot that lesson of history that only the nations with powerful navies are able to exert power and influence, and when a navy disappears so does that nation’s power.”
“The U.S. has 11 aircraft carriers, and that number should increase to 13 over the longer term. The number of cruisers and destroyers should increase from a projected 88 to 100, and the number of attack submarines should rise from 48 to at least 60. This should be facilitated, in part, by reducing the projected number of littoral combat ships from 55 to 20. Further, the QDR should at least consider recommending that the Navy proceed with DDG-1000 procurement instead of extending the construction of DDG-51 Arleigh Burke destroyers by ensuring that the DDG-1000s will have both air and ballistic missile defense capabilities.”
This article is set within the context of Heritage’s overall QDR recommendations, which were necessarily brief. It expands on the strategic, tactical, and industrial rationales behind the choices that we believe a secure America will require, within the context of Heritage’s belief that America needs consistent defense budgets around 4% of national GDP.
“…in 2019, cubesats – space satellites smaller than a shoebox – have become very cheap and very popular. For $100, anyone can put a customized personal satellite into low-earth orbit. And space data transfer protocols developed by the Interstellar Internet Project provide a basic relay backbone linking low-powered cubesats with ground stations, and with each other. Space is open… What will you do when space is as cheap and accessible as the Web is today?”
DID’s readers have far more background than most in these areas, and are welcome to participate. The exercise is open until end of day on Match 12/09, and readers can sign up to play “positive imagination” [see example] or “dark imagination” [see example] cards, or supplement existing cards with an “antagonism” card (disagree), a “momentum” card (and then what?), an “adaptation” card (introduce a twist), or an “investigation” card (follow-up questions). Remember, as the IFTF reminds participants, “Your forecasts don’t have to be probable. They just have to be possible.”