The question is, how to separate the venal from the vital? One way is to see location patterns. The non-partisan Sunlight Foundation, in in collaboration with Taxpayers for Common Sense, recently gave people the ability to see earmark beneficiaries overlaid on a Google Earth map, linked to additional data concerning each one. Another is to see patterns of contributions from earmark beneficiaries. On the House Armed Services Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation found that just 3 lawmakers (chair Jim Moran [D-VA], FBI ABSCAM investigation target Rep. Jack Murtha [D-PA] and Rep. Pete Visclosky [D-IN] raised an average of $102,600 in campaign contributions in the first six months of 2007 from entities associated with firms they’ve favored with earmarks. The rest of the subcommittee have netted slightly more than $180,000 in total – or about $12,800 each on average, with some shining examples from both parties. The contrast is telling…
Aviation Week’s Ares reports that The European Parliament will vote on including military aviation in the EU’s greenhouse gas emission trading scheme (ETS) during its plenary session in Strasbourg, France, this week. Military aircraft were not originally included, but an amendment to the draft legislation calls for flights performed by military aircraft to be included in the ETS unless they are “part of an international mission.”
If the aircraft are included, the cost of purchasing emissions credits would be added to the price of training flights and other military activities – presumably including local disaster relief, unless this too was exempted.
Amusingly, the Green party has criticized the European Parliament itself for the emissions its members and staff cause, by moving back and forth from Brussels and Strasbourg to hold plenary sessions.
BAE Systems Electronics and Integrated Solutions, Inc. of Washington DC received an $8.2 million contract for the ATAEM program. Their goal is to design, build and demonstrate a proof-of-concept system that can find and possibly map underground facilities from an airborne platform, using active electromagnetic techniques. At this time $2.8 million has been obligated. Det 1 of the AFRL at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base OH issued the contract (FA8650-08-C-7804).
The F-16 originally shipped with Pratt & Whitney’s F-100 engine, giving it commonality with the USA’s high-end F-15 Eagles. While the engine was a marvel of its time and its 1:1+ thrust-weight ratio offered the fighter strong performance, rival GE would eventually develop the higher-thrust F110 engine and capture the majority of the market for USAF F-16C/D variants. That success would later be cited in arguments to retain the GE/Rolls Royce F136 as a second engine option for the F-35 Lightning II.
General Electric Aircraft Engines of Cincinnati, OH recently received a firm-fixed price contract modification for $69.7 million to provide for newly redesigned High Pressure Compressor (HPC) and High Pressure Turbine (HPT) assemblies, and new redesigned Aging Engine Upgrade components to support the Service Life Extension Plan (SLEP) and Aging Engine Upgrade (AEU) initiatives applicable to keep the US F-16 fleet’s F110-GE-100/129 engines running for an other 20 years. DID covered a similar contract in December 2006, and some of the engine’s updates were also touted in GEAE’s sale of improved F110-GE-129s to Saudi Arabia. There, they will equip part of the Saudi F-15S Strike Eagle fleet, which currently uses the F100 engine.
The F110 improvements include the core of a successful CFM56 commercial engine, 3D aero technology, and the upgrades noted above. Together, they reportedly provide up to a 25% improvement in cost-per-flying hour, a significant on-wing increase, and elimination of special inspections. Tinker Air Force Base, OK holds the F-16 fleet upgrade contract, and all funds for this US contract have been obligated (FA8104-05-C-0053-P00012).
Tyndall Air Force Base recently put out a quick feature about AFREP, the US Air Force Repair Enhancement Program. AFREP collects and repairs miscellaneous aircraft parts, electronics and practically anything else people throw away once they break, then looks to see if time turnaround or expense justify fixing them instead of buying completely new parts. 1st Lt. Patrick Nobles, 325th Maintenance Group executive officer says that:
“Each year AFREP saves Tyndall thousands in cost avoidance [DID: repair and return with no credit] and in some years millions is cost savings [repair and return to supply, credited] by repairing assets locally and quickly turning the items back into the supply system. These actions are critical to keeping the aging [and recently grounded] fleet of the F-15 eagles viable.”
According to the Florida Emerald Coast news article, AFREP program saved Tyndall AFB more than $1 million dollars in fiscal year 2007, with about 50% of that returned to the wing as credits to be used at the base commander’s discretion, usually for local improvements. AFREP reaches across the USAF, and is currently being established for the F-22 program as well. Past USAF features have covered A-10 related activities at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ and AFREP at Misawa AFB, Japan.