* The US Air Force is reportedly planning to cut more than 18,000 enlisted and almost 5,000 officer positions, many of them in security forces and materiel management.
* US Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations to reiterate that the Army shouldn’t go below 450,000 people. Given almost constant combat deployments in every decade since 1940, Odierno cautions against expectations that similar commitments won’t be made again in the foreseeable future. And he thinks maintaining a US presence will help Afghanistan establish their institutions and ramp up their economy.
Designed Abroad, Made in China, Available for Export
* According to the Associated Press, the chief of the Saudi Air Force told Northrop Grumman that they’re buying Chinese Wing Loong UCAVs – whose design is not unlike MQ-9s – since the aircraft are cheaper than Predators and are not restricted to surveillance missions because of export laws. On background: China’s Military Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Industry [PDF from the USCC, 2013].
* AIN offers a full overview of China’s “indigenous” fighters. Which all look like Russian SU-27/3x family aircraft. But they weren’t copied, honest!
USCG Awards OPC Contracts
* The US Coast Guard awarded 3 fixed-price contracts of about $21.4M-$21.9M each for preliminary & contract design (P&CD) of the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) to Bollinger Shipyards, LA; Eastern Shipbuilding Group, FL; and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, ME. This is the 1st phase of the acquisition, to be followed in FY16 with detail design and construction.
Forthcoming Industry Days
* DARPA will host an Industry Day on Feb. 28 in Arlington, VA, about its Distributed Battle Management (DBM) program, whose purpose is to “develop software decision aids to assist airborne battle managers and pilots with managing air-to-air and air-to-ground combat.”
* The US Navy’s Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division (NAWCWD) will host a small business-centric event on Feb. 26 in China Lake, CA, to provide an overview of the division and its technical strategy.
Naval UAVs for Italy
* Following a flight [PDF] from an Italian Navy ship in April 2012, and 2013 flights [PDF] with a SELEX ES ELINT package and a Thales I-Master radar, the Italian Navy has now placed a limited order to support anti-piracy operations.
What Test Pilots Say about the F-35
* Today’s video from WEST 2014 gathered several JSF test pilots, who said the aircraft is “extraordinarily easy to fly”, meaning less training will be required and pilots can pay more attention to what’s going on around them. Ease of use also shines while hovering with the B version. To provide a comparison that many naval aviators are familiar with, the F-35 with internal payload offers performance comparable to a “slick” Super Hornet (i.e. without external pylons or fuel tanks):