Some F-35s were grounded last week for a few days until replacement ejection seats are received. Parachutes were improperly packed, said [PDF] the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO).
The F-35 is what the Air Force plans to use for close-air support in place of A-10 squadrons lined up for closure. Between this and cancellation of the C-27J, the Army is sure to be delighted. This is likely to be contentious in Congress, though opposition to another BRAC will be much stronger. But are talks of another round of base closures just a clever sideshow?
To what extent an army should have its own aviation is an old question revisited by the Center for Land Warfare Studies in India.
If you look at defense spending relative to GDP, per capita, or as a percentage of total government spending, then the US remains way ahead of the European Union, as shown in data gathered [PDF] by the European Defence Agency.
Military meds are big business. In March 2010 the US DLA’s Defense Supply Center Philadelphia awarded a pair of 5-year contracts worth up to $807.1 million to Cardinal Health in Dublin, OH, for drug distribution to US military medical facilities.
For these contracts, the European region encompasses all US military medical treatment facilities (MTFs) located on the Continent of Europe, including Turkey plus the surrounding seas and oceans as well as Oman and Bahrain. The Pacific region encompasses all MTFs located in the Pacific including Guam, Diego Garcia and the surrounding seas and oceans. Another 5-year contract with wider reach involves deliveries to American ships.
Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith told reporters the Department will review their JSF purchase timetable, in light last week’s confirmation that the US will take it slow.
Jim Maslowski, President at Hawker Beechcraft Defense and a former US Navy Rear Admiral, is retiring tomorrow. Meanwhile retired USMC Gen. James E. Cartwright joined Raytheon’s board and former US Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III has been confirmed as DRS Technologies’ new Chairman and CEO.
EADS plans a big round of top management changes, in the usual balancing act between Germany and France: Tom Enders will replace Louis Gallois as CEO while Arnaud Lagardere take over as Chairman of the Board from Bodo Uebber.
Opinions on the Pentagon’s budget preview: FPI, CRFB, Heritage, Stimson Center, and a video from CSIS at the bottom of this entry. CSIS ran these slides [PDF] during the talk that include a few multi-decade charts showing how previous drawdowns were executed. They’re not sold on booking $60B in efficiency savings before said savings are realized.
Iraq’s future F-16IQ pilots have begun training in the USA. And Iraq’s officials have begun protesting the presence of American (unarmed) UAVs they’re saying they haven’t authorized.
A Heron TP UAV crashed yesterday in Israel during tests, apparently because of a human error.
“It’s not a case of IEDs on the battlefield. IEDs are the battlefield.” Says Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) Director Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero quoting an officer in Afghanistan.
The Afghan Air Force has been growing slowly, but it is moving closer to independence. Learning to fix their own machines, and moving fixed-wing and helicopter training in-house, are major steps toward that goal. Making that goal happen requires Air Traffic Control and Landing System and navigational aids, and the USAF has contracted with Kuanta Insaat Taahhut Elektronik Tur, San VE TIC.A.S. in Ankara, Turkey to provide it. The $7.4 million firm-fixed-price contract will support the flying training program at Shindand Air Base, Afghanistan, and work is expected to be complete by December 2015. The USAF’s ESC/HBAK at Hanscom AFB, ME, manages the contract (FA8730-12-C-002).
Update: FY13 PB has been released. Top Pentagon officials gave a briefing yesterday on major budget decisions ahead of the FY13 President Budget request coming on Feb. 13. Highlights among the outlined priorities [PDF]:
A relatively stable topline at $613.4B, made of a $525B baseline plus $88.4B overseas contingency operations (OCO). The former is a couple billion dollars below the FY10 actual budget and reflects a 5% decrease from the FY12 request, but in reality is just $6B below what DoD ended up getting last year. The OCO funds are 25% lower than last year’s $117.8B request but they remain at a pretty sizable level now that troops have left Iraq. Again, a significant part of the cuts Panetta and House Republicans have most vocally objected to are actually found in a) reductions vs. baseline growth previously projected by DoD – as opposed to net cuts – and b) a drop in war funding which arguably makes sense when you’re withdrawing troops from combat.
Force and infrastructure adjustments, starting with a new base realignment and closure (BRAC) process. The last one dates from 2005 and wrapped up only very recently. Well, almost. Also, the start of a 5-year process that aims to lower active troops to 490,000 for the Army and 182,000 for the Marines; and a 10% reduction in the number of Air Force tactical air squadrons from today’s 60. A new BRAC is sure to open a whole new can of worms in Congress.
Full 2011 financial results: Textron saw growth at Bell, revenue decrease at Textron Systems. At $7.3B, Bell’s backlog has recovered from a reporting error announced by the company last quarter.
Meanwhile General Dynamics generated $32.7B of revenue last year. It has potentially almost 3 years worth of revenue in backlog depending on how its indefinite quantity contracts pan out. Aerospace revenue grew but combat, marine and IT systems lost ground, translating into an almost flat topline for the prime contractor.
Raytheon wrapped up 2011 with slightly lower revenue ($24.9B) but higher bookings ($25.2B) than the previous year. Its backlog rose by $700M to $35.3B though most of that growth is not appropriated yet.
The RAND Arroyo Center is rather bullish on the potential for UAV logistics applications such as convoy overwatch and other surveillance tasks, but reminds decision makers that bandwidth is going to be critical. Note: the study doesn’t cover the use of UAS for Army resupply, separate research that General Dynamics was tasked with.
According to the Guardian the British government is considering selling its RAF Norholt to possibly be converted into a satellite of the nearby Heathrow airport. Philip Hammond was Secretary of State for Transport before he replaced Liam Fox last October.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) notes that defense budgets in Latin America have been growing faster than institutional transparency on policy, let alone on spending.
BAE Systems and Caterpillar Inc. have signed a 20-year supply agreement to integrate the Cat CX family of transmissions into its HybriDrive parallel propulsion system, and use it to outfit and retrofit heavy trucks. It’s a civilian deal – but the same technologies can be used on military armored vehicles, and the civilian sector is pioneering this technology.
Frank Kendall has been confirmed as US undersecretary for defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, pending Senate confirmation. He’s been holding the job in an acting capacity since Ashton Carter was promoted to be Deputy SecDef back in September.
Contradictory rumors are floating on a couple specific programs being cut in the FY13 federal budget request. For lack of material to corroborate or invalidate, we’ll just sit this out until the official Pentagon preview expected tomorrow.
The House Armed Services Committee released its findings and recommendations [PDF] on the state of DOD’s progress towards auditability: “although the strategy needs more detail and refinement, the DOD has a reasonable strategy and methodology.” Video of yesterday’s related hearing can be found at the bottom of this entry.
The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency completed the destruction of chemical weapons stockpile at Deseret Chemical Depot in Utah, in application of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Similar work was done to completion at UMCD in Oregon last November.
Its molecular structure makes this material resilient, fire-resistant, durable, easy to dye, plus it handles moisture well. All interesting properties for combat clothing. And researchers are making the astounding claim that it may grow on sheep. the Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) is investigating the tentatively-named WOOL fabric.
Divers and medical staff went through 4 days of exercise with the NATO Submarine Rescue System (NSRS), equipment jointly owned by Britain, France and Norway that never had to be used so far.
The DGA French procurement agency received [in French] its 2nd EDA-R landing catamaran (L-CAT) to be carried on Mistral LHDs. The 1st one was delivered last November and 2 others are scheduled by mid-2012. Each Mistral ship can carry 2 L-CATs.
EADS subsidiary Eurocopter grew its revenue by 12.5% to 5.4 billion euros (about $7B) in 2011 with the delivery of 503 helicopters and 457 net bookings. 32% of its sales came from the military segment.
On July 25/06 Al-Anbar commander and U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Richard Zilmer submitted an MNF-W priority 1 request. It pointed to the hazards inherent in American supply lines, and noted that many of the supply convoys on Iraq’s roads (up to 70%, by some reports) were carrying fuel. Much of that fuel wasn’t even for vehicles, but for diesel generators used to generate power at US bases. That is still true, and Afghanistan has even more daunting logistics. By some estimates, shipping each gallon of fuel to Afghanistan requires 7 gallons of fuel for transport.
According to Bloomberg the FY13 President Budget submission date has been postponed from Feb. 6 to Feb. 13. Meanwhile House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is suggesting to chip at sequestration one year at a time if rolling back the whole 10 years proves too much of a hurdle.
The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) looks at [PDF] the tax revenue implications of defense acquisition choices and finds that “the tax revenues are significant; they can yield to the Exchequer [DID: i.e. Treasury] over a third of the value of the contract.”
The US National Weather Services’ Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) is now operational at the NWS Omaha Weather Forecast Office, the 1st of 135 forecast sites to upgrade. It’s a Raytheon system.
Russian media are reporting that Syria has signed a $550-million contract with Russia’s state-owned Rosoboronexport arms export agency, involving 36 Yak-130 trainer and light attack jets. The deal was reportedly struck in December 2011, with the Yakolev Design Bureau as the type owner, Irkut as the builder, and jets to be supplied once Syria makes a pre-payment.