* Furloughs for civilian employees at the Pentagon have been further reduced to 6 days for the fiscal year ending on September 30, down from 11. On the one hand, that’s good news for these employees. On the other hand, these several downward revisions from an initial 22 days contribute to the narrative that sequestration has a much milder impact than decried so loudly for so long by the government and prime contractors.
* FY13 reprogramming authorized by Congress seems to have saved the day, and DoD “found” about $1B worth of second destination transportation (SDT, i.e. moving stuff between depots for the retrograde) Army spending that won’t be needed this year, but these “savings” might still be needed later, or more stuff might be left in Afghanistan. Aside from that, where savings exactly come from remain opaque to a large extent, and DoD officials go to great lengths to muddy their own statements. Finally, bear in mind that 4 years ago the Pentagon’s Inspector General found [PDF] the reporting of war transportation costs to be pretty messy, at least back then. The Department’s dripping furlough changes and deliberately obfuscated financial communication give the impression that accounting tricks are at work more than accountable management.
* Yemen’s government says it has foiled an al-Qaeda plot against its oil pipelines and seaports, according to the BBC. Recent prison breaks of convicted or suspected terrorists in Pakistan, Iraq and Libya add to the factors leading the US Department of State to keep 19 diplomatic posts closed in the extended region.
* South Korea may acquire 4 aerial refueling tankers by 2019 according to an anonymous government source who talked with the Yonhap news agency. This has not been officially confirmed yet. Boeing’s KC-46A and Airbus Military’s A330 MRTT are reportedly on the list for consideration.
* Turkey has an RFP out to local shipyards for 10 assault boats worth an estimated $600M. Foreign manufacturers can supply propulsion and steering systems.
* Western contractors increasingly set their eyes on emerging markets with booming program pipelines – if not always order books just yet – to compensate for stagnation in Europe and North America. They will have to keep a close eye on exchange rates and the actions of central banks, as some countries may lose international purchasing power faster than others.
* Andrew S. Erickson and Gabe Collins state that the sudden emergence of pictures showing work on a homegrown Chinese aircraft carrier “is part of a larger pattern in which outside analysts have repeatedly underestimated the speed and sophistication of China’s military-technological development. […] A parallel to China’s dynamic naval-vessel development and production has not been seen anywhere globally since the peak of the Cold War. […] China’s shipbuilding industry now has sufficient knowledge, experience, resources, and production capacity to ramp up numbers fairly quickly, especially for producing auxiliary and support vessels.”
* Voice of America: Philippines Boosts Patrols Amid China Sea Dispute.
* Taiwan’s new defense minister left after just 6 days over accusations of plagiarism. Former Chief of general staff General Yen Ming is the new new minister. Yen Ming was in his previous job since January, and 2 years earlier he had been named as Air Force chief to replace someone just demoted. Cleanup expert on a fast career track?
* The US Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) will host industry days on August 27-29 to discuss a forthcoming solicitation for seat survivability upgrade kits for Cougar CAT II A1 MRAPs. The RFP should follow next month. There’s a separate presolicitation for egress kits.
* Who knew loading an A-10 Thunderbolt with ammo feels like running on a treadmill? Video below: