In the late 1980s, Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica SA (Embraer) and Aermacchi launched The AMX project, a joint Italian/Brazilian program to create a lead-in fighter trainer and light attack aircraft. The result was a capable jet, especially in the light attack role, which entered service with Brazil in 1990 as the A-1. Unfortunately for the AMX team, the Soviet empire’s fall took a lot of impetus out of the global combat jet market. Meanwhile, fierce competition from entrenched competitors like the Czech L-39 Albatross family, BAE’s Hawk family, and the Franco-German Alpha Jet ensured that AMX never took off in that shrunken export market.
Brazil’s FAB still uses the AMX as an important component of its air combat power, with about 43 A-1A fighters and 11 lead-in trainers in the fleet. Italy also uses the aircraft, but Brazil’s dearth of operational front-line fighters, and larger land area, make the AMX much more important in Brazil. Which is why Brazil’s A-1A fleet needs upgrades, in order to remain effective.
Government shutdown update: no real news. Talks are shifting to the debt ceiling, but this could still drag on for several weeks as the US Treasury has cash on hand to muddle through until the end of the month or thereabouts.
There’s still no agreement in Washington to resolve the government shutdown as it starts its 2nd week, but the Pentagon is recalling most of the 350,000 civilian employees it had furloughed. Specific numbers should come later today. Here are the Navy employee categories that are not to return to work.
Lockheed Martin will still have about 2,400 people who can’t work because of the shutdown, down from the 3,000 employees the company had identified for furlough on Friday. Meanwhile UTC cancelled its furlough plans.
France is the latest country to discover the usefulness of maritime patrol aircraft over land, as Atlantique aircraft over Mali went beyond mere surveillance to deliver “buddy-designated” Paveway-II laser guided bombs. DGA head Laurent Collet-Billon likened the plane to a Swiss Army Knife, and in 2013, the experience helped push Atlantique modernization to the front of the budget queue…
BAE Systems CEO Linda Hudson wrote that following the government shutdown, about 1,000 employees from the company’s Intelligence & Security sector have already been “excused from work at their customer sites.”
DARPA is cancelling its industry day for the XS-1 program whose objective is to create a reusable Mach 10 aircraft to put payloads into low earth orbit for relatively low costs.
The US Army’s Product Manager Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment (PM SCIE) is maintaining its Parachute Navigation System (PARANAVSYS) industry day, though that may still change by the end of next week.
In another chart-full report [PDF], the conservative CSIS think tank uses bold red font to drive the point home that “the underlying cause of [the] federal spending crisis is [a] failure to save for retirement and the impact of rising medical costs.”
USMC Lt. Gen. William Faulkner, Deputy Commandant Installations and Logistics, gave some drawdown data in a recent hearing testimony [PDF] with the House Armed Services Committee (HASC):
“[S]ince our first Marine Corps units redeployed at the end of 2011, 67% of the 72,000 equipment items have already been removed from our Marine Corps portion of the joint and coalition Afghanistan battle space. We have reduced 5.35 million square feet of aviation matting to 150 thousand square feet today. Additionally, of the over 42,000 total items retrograded to date, 60% of those are being inducted for reset actions at our depot maintenance plants”.
At the same HASC hearing, US Army LTG Raymon Mason (G4) said [PDF] the following on logistics costs out of Afghanistan:
“One cost driver is multi-modal transportation. While over the past several months multi-modal has been the primary means to move retrograde and redeployment cargo out of Afghanistan, projected volumes of cargo along the Pakistan Ground Lines of Communication (PAKGLOC) are increasing and are currently trending at or near 50%. Surface lines of communication, the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) and PAKGLOC are critical to achieving the retrograde velocity necessary to meet timelines and they are less expensive than multi-modal and direct air transportation.”
Al-Qaeda’s Resurgence in Iraq
A report [PDF] by the Institute for the Study of War details the use of vehicle-borne bomb attacks by al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and fears that gains made by the US in 2007 may not only be lost, but also that Iraq may become a front in what increasingly looks like a regional conflict.
Large Acquisition Programs Struggle to Retain Key Staff
The Performance Assessments and Root Cause Analysis (PARCA) office created within the Pentagon to find out why large programs bust their budgets seems to have outsourced some of its work to the RAND Corporation. RAND’s latest of a series of reports on Nunn-McCurdy breaches is inconclusive on whether policies meant to retain program manager for longer tenures are working. They note that a “fundamental conflict exists between what military officers need to do to be promoted and their tenure as PMs. Unless these two objectives are connected so that lengthy tenure in a program can be advantageous for promotion, it is unlikely that these tenure policies will consistently yield positive results.”
Keeping Helos Safe
The UK MOD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DTSL) is looking for ways [PDF] to simulate and conduct field trials of counters to ground-based man-in-the-loop (MITL) operated weapons used against helicopters.
DID Email Ops
We’ve been tinkering with our newsletter template to make it more readable in a variety of email clients. Too bad burning hate for Microsoft developers cannot be bottled as an energy source. Does today’s issue look better, worse, the same? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Running Free, In the Wild (Almost)
Today’s video shows Boston Dynamics’ WildCat galloping outdoors at up to 16mph. It’s part of DARPA’s M3 program, and while it’s not going to win awards for grace or stealth, this looks like another milestone as such ground robots seemed confined to the treadmill until recently:
United Technologies announced that they “will be forced to furlough thousands of workers due to the absence of Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) inspectors who audit and approve operations throughout the manufacturing process for military products.” This will start with 2,000 Sikorsky workers working on Black Hawks, effective next Monday.
Republicans in Congress are trying again the piecemeal approach that succeeded after sequestration started kicking in, but it is unclear that this tactic will work this time around. So far these partial funding billsfailed in the House of Representatives, but the coming debt ceiling is going to refocus everyone’s attention very soon. Democrats hope that public opinion will put most of the blame on Republicans and further increase the tension within the party between its Tea Party members and more mainstream politicians.
Just as the US federal government was heading into a shutdown, President Obama signed a law exempting military pay from delay (HR 3210 aka Pay Our Military Act). That still puts a lot of DoD civilian staffers on furlough. Sustaining military pay is about the only thing Congress and the Administration have agreed to so far, apart from the fact it’s the other side’s shutdown, obviously.