* Where the Marines had split their Amphibious Combat Vehicle procurement into three spec levels – thinking that to demand everything up front would create a typical gold plated defense program cost death spiral – it turns out that the major competitors appear to be reaching the second phase of capability before the competition for the first phase is complete. The key difference from expectations: most of the vehicles will actually be able to swim ashore on their own power, a capability expected in the second phase.
* As expected, a Navy study will report that it needs more EA-18G Growler aircraft, and thereby successfully extend the life of the manufacturing line for the F/A-18 from its planned 2017 demise. This will make those skeptical that the F-35 will meet its operational promises in the near-term breathe a little easier.
* Those expecting the F-35 to meet its operational capabilities in the near-term will not be breathing much easier now that Office of the Secretary of Defense has published its progress report for the F-35. It’s a hot mess. The glass-half-empty analysts over at POGO have their own analysis of the report here, which essentially parrots the OSD report, but uses more adjectives and an indignant tone.
* The Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, still being assembled, will operate out of Norfolk, VA, joining three other carriers.
* Europe’s stealth unmanned combat air system, the Neuron, has finished its flight test campaign in France and will move on to first to Italy and then to Sweden to test out weapons delivery, among other things. Its first flight was in 2012. The project has been run by Dassault Aviation and the French defense procurement agency and incorporated support from several other European countries who together opted to share a Neuron rather than develop overlapping capabilities.
* Poland has reportedly requested Tomahawk cruise missiles from the U.S. to help equip its new submarines.
* The Dassault/India/Rafale saga continues unabated, but it may have given some impetus to accelerate the fighter deal India has been formulating with Russia for a fifth generation fighter. To accelerate deliveries to 36 months from signing, versus 94 months, India would insist on fewer technology transfers and manufacturing set-asides for its own aviation industry.
* Pakistan wants to proffer its own JF-17 as an alternative for the Bulgarian bid to replace its old MiG-21s.
* The Fire Scout (MQ-8B) maritime drone is tested aboard the USS Fort Worth (LCS-3)…