Refreshing the Ohio-class nuclear ballistic missile submarines will garner $10 billion in expenditures, split between research and long-lead-time procurement, over the next five years, according to the Future Years Defense Plan. After that, the real money really starts to add up. The Navy today estimates that it will cost $100 billion to replace the existing 14 boomers with 12 new ones – an amount equal to Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product at the end of the first cold war. Over their service life, the program would be expected to cost roughly four times that. Navy officials have been talking openly and often about how the navy will need “budget relief” to get this accomplished, yet still have funds to afford other shipbuilding programs. The idea of moving this big project off their books – first brought up seriously during FY 2013 discussions – appears to be more and more frequently floated.
- Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, is assigning the F/A-XX project to be run by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. DARPA will work with both the Navy and Air Force, and it isn’t yet clear how long into the program development DARPA will continue to be the lead agency.
- An early hull prototype of the LCS built by Lockheed – through the strange twists of time and fate, which include an appearance on Baywatch Hawaii – has wound up on a San Diego-based online yacht sales site. See DID’s March 25/2002 reference under contracts. It can be yours for $180,000. That’s only a twentieth of one percent of the cost of a new LCS, and – we couldn’t resist – if you invite your local skeet club for a cruise, it might be better armed.
- Germany delivered the fourth of six Dolphin class submarines to Israel, this one featuring air independent propulsion (fuel cells), which allows it to stay under and moving for about a week at a time. The first three Dolphin class subs – the first one delivered in 1998 – were given to Israel as part of a war reparations settlement. Germany is picking up about a third of the cost for the next three.
- France is offering 18 used Mirage 2000-5F fighters to Columbia at about $20 million a piece. Another $150 would purchase the initial logistics package. A big selling point may be the French radars that allow for engaging more targets simultaneously than the F16 Block C/D alternatives.
- Russia is awarding its rifle modernization program to Kalashnikov Concern. Janes reports that the Kalashnikov AK-12, one of two models by the firm chosen, didn’t initially make the first cut, but was allowed to compete after political pressure was applied. One reason cited for the win was an existing production facility, where the other competitors would likely have had to build new factories. The AK-12 is chambered in 5.45x39mm and will be purchased by the Russian Army, and the AK-103-4 – to be purchased by the Russian Federal Protective Service – is chambered in 7.62x39mm.
- The United Arab Emirates reportedly backed out of air missions against ISIS when demands for specific search and rescue assets weren’t met by coalition forces. The New York Times reported that the UAE asked that SAR resources, including V-22 Ospreys be moved to northern Iraq to support coalition missions, and that this request was declined.
- The number three official in the Indian Air Force appears to be much enamored with the V-22 Osprey, as he wrote an ode to the tilt-rotor craft in the new issue of Indian Defence Review.
- For those interested in the news above of the LCS early hull prototype for sale, here is an aerial video produced by Lockheed of a sunny outing set to rock music contemporary to the time. Certain staff wanted to show the Baywatch Hawaii episode that featured Lockheed’s Sea Slice (episode 10), but management decided it couldn’t in good conscious be called fair use.