The November 2007 issue of Vanity Fair contains an article covering the multi-billion LOGCAP-III contract in Iraq. More specifically, it covers qui tam lawsuits launched by former KBR contractor employees, alleging fraud and/or misconduct on the part of that Halliburton subsidiary. This is no small matter in the USA; the qui tam (“who sues on behalf of the King as well as for himself”) system was instituted by Abraham Lincoln to allow private citizens to sue on the government’s behalf, and collect a share (usually about 18%) of the 3x damages awarded if they win. Many of these individuals are currently represented by Alan Grayson, a lawyer with extensive government contracting experience and the unusual distinction of having been a successful entrepreneur before he began his legal career. Given the expense of these drawn-out contingency-fee suits, the ability to be able to afford $10 million or so in expenses without blinking is no small asset.
Normally, we might just provide a link to the story and move on. Unfortunately, we can’t do that in good conscience, as there are a number of elements in the Vanity Fair article that are overblown, or indicate a weaker understanding of the field than one needs to possess when writing such serious allegations. That would disqualify our coverage in most cases, but there are also some elements that would appear to involve very clear-cut cases of wrongdoing, backed by strong documented evidence.
All of that will eventually be decided in trials, but none of it can be ignored or dismissed on account of the media source. The military and its contractors do not exist in an isolated bubble, and regardless of the source, the content of the allegations must be addressed in the courts of law and of public opinion.
In the end, therefore, an editorial decision was made to be of some service in this debate by pointing out some elements that appear poorly understood in the article and offering additional perspectives, while also listing a number of the more serious and substantive allegations being made by these former contractor employees.
“Just as anti-ballistic missile technology is developing itself for the coming age of the rogue state, America’s nets are slowly being drawn up against the cruise missile threat from those states… and one day, of less-than-states. Persistent surveillance is reaching beyond the limitations of aircraft, and into constant surveillance using lighter-then-air platforms like JLENS tethered aerostats, HAA airships with huge flexible IRIS radars, and even Navy blimps. Fighters are being fitted with AESA radars as the cost of T/R modules drops, and interlocking land and naval defenses include SM-2/3 missiles, mobile SLAMRAAM and MEADS missile launchers, and longer-range systems like THAAD that can be used against air-breathing threats in a pinch. All this is being networked into a single net via developments like Cooperative Engagement Capability, and more. In time, logic will also demand investments like very long-range supersonic ramjet air-air missiles to extend the intercept circle of patrolling aerial platforms, or threaten key enemy assets like AWACS and tankers behind the front lines. All this and more lies ahead, born of necessity in America – and beyond.”
Now the USA’s House Appropriations Committee has mandated both classified and unclassified reports covering domestic cruise missile defense capabilities, their deployment, and their integration into the ballistic missile defense system (BMDS). Aviation Week reports that the Senate has concurred with this language in negotiations, which is likely to place more weight behind, and scrutiny upon, the programs named above. Read Aerospace Daily & Defense Report’s “Attention Turning To Cruise Missiles Defense” for more.
The F-35 Lightning II is a major multinational program intended to produce an “affordably stealthy” multi-role strike fighter that will have three variants: the F-35A conventional version for the US Air Force et. al.; the F-35B Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing for the US Marines, British Royal Navy, et. al.; and the F-35C conventional carrier-launched version for the US Navy. The aircraft is named after Lockheed’s famous WW2 P-38 Lightning, and the Mach 2, stacked-engine English Electric (now BAE)Lightning jet. System development partners included The USA & Britain (Tier 1), Italy and the Netherlands (Tier 2), and Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Turkey (Tier 3). Singapore and Israel are “Security Cooperation Partners.” Now the challenge is agreeing on production phase membership and arrangements, to be followed by initial purchase commitments around 2008-2009.
This article covers the $300 billion international program’s events, main contracts, and ancillary programs during FY/CY 2007. For more recent updates, see 2009-2010 JSF news and contracts.