* The budget trial balloon floated a few days ago showing the Administration going back to pre-sequestration defense spending increases received an abruptly negative reaction from the Republican-controlled Congress, with members making statements against both the breadth of the sequestration roll-back outside of defense and the tax increases needed to fund the change. The defense spending suggestion appears to have proved inadequate bait to change the majority party’s heart regarding hard spending limits. A Republican counter-proposal of sorts seems to be in the offing, concentrating on entitlement reform as a funding source. The positioning is likely to last throughout the year, with it becoming a bit more shrill as the presidential primary campaigns gain momentum.
* The Philippine Navy will be the beneficiary of Australia’s recycling of heavy landing craft ships, with a package of spare parts. The two were decommissioned at the end of 2014. There are three others, decommissioned a couple years prior, that the Philippines is considering purchasing.
* Germany has been invited into the Space Situational Awareness club that includes seven other countries sharing space telemetry data under stringent secrecy conditions.
* Russia buzzed just outside U.K. airspace with a strategic bomber and a couple MiG-31s, causing multiple interceptions and even civilian air traffic pauses. The news cycle in Britain right now includes much talk of investigation reports of Kremlin involvement with a high-profile assassination of former Russian citizen in the U.K. who was a critic of Russia. The U.K. summoned the Russian ambassador, whose reaction appears to be summed up with “what incident?” In the air, the British Typhoons were supported by both Norwegian F-16s and French Mirage 2000s.
* Airbus sacked its military aircraft chief as European partners chafe at continuing delays in the delivery of the A400M heavy lift plane. Domingo Ureña Raso is out and the program’s industrial activities will be transferred to another unit. A wider reorganization is underway, the details of which are to be announced in late February.
* The GAO studied construction contracts for the government and found that, while subcontractors were given the impression that their business was competitively bid, there is not much evidence that this is done formally, and further, that the prime contractors appear to give the government bids based only directionally on the subcontractor bids that they receive. The GAO study doesn’t draw too much conclusion from this, but it does appear to be concerned that the government either isn’t benefitting from the bidding, or that it is wrongly relying on assurances that the prices they are getting are the product of competitive bidding.
* Another F-22 suffered a landing mishap last week, this one with a picture of the stealth fighter atop a foamed runway and appearing to list to port. The accident was attributed initially to an overheating brake that caught fire. The last incident cost just under a couple million dollars to fix, or just 1 percent of the loaded cost of a new F-22.
* The odd fellows over at DARPA are looking to formalize a program seeking better networking technology to allow manned and unmanned systems to operate together more independently from headquarters. In its simplest form, it would allow daisy-chaining of lower-powered communications to allow more stealthy interactions and more protection from jamming, in addition to more intelligent interpolation and execution of orders coming from headquarters that may prove intermittently available. The Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) program is in initial discussion stages now.
* The poor state of Russian drone technology addressed above is likely not at fault for the downing of a drone presumed to be flown by Russia or the pro-Russian Ukrainian rebels. This video, reportedly of Ukrainian soldiers shooting down the device, shows what appears to be a very lucky shot.