WASHINGTON: While I hear there are still difficult details to be ironed out, the United States and Australia appear close to agreeing to regularly fly strategic bombers and airborne tankers from Darwin and Tindal air base in Australia. Gen. Lori Robinson, the commander of Pacific Air Forces, told reporters at a Defense Writers Group breakfast this morning that… Keep reading →
How did Northrop beat world’s largest defense companies, the Boeing-Lockheed Martin team, in the crucial competition for the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRSB)? First, and probably most importantly, Northrop Grumman is the only company in history to design, develop, manufacture, and maintain a long-range stealth bomber—the B-2 Spirit. Thanks to pre-award briefings, we know that the… Keep reading →
The Air Force very quietly released a Request for Proposal (RFP) this summer for the new Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B). With a purported fly away cost of $550 million per aircraft — but with estimates up to $810 million — the LRS-B will be one of the largest acquisition programs in history with broad… Keep reading →
US, Japan Korea Defy New China Air Defense Zone, Biden To Rebuke Beijing; PRC Move Drives Korea, Japan TogetherBy Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
UPDATED: US Flies B-52 Bombers Through Chinese Zone; Japanese & South Koreans Follow; VP Biden To Ask Beijing For “Clarity” On Their Intentions China escalated tensions with Japan literally sky-high last weekend. After years of shadowboxing at sea around the Senkaku Islands, China’s Ministry of Defense announced a new “Air Defense Identification Zone” with authority… Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: Nuclear weapon accidents should worry everyone until they are contained and proven harmless. At the same time, we have to be rational about the risks. The latest example of how well those risks have been balanced comes from the Guardian, a very fine paper that I used to write for when I lived in… Keep reading →
The Air Force general responsible for most of the nation’s military nuclear force is worried that the Continuing Resolution and the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration will wipe out 20 percent of the money he needs to keep his force combat ready.
“You can’t take those kinds of reductions we’ll be looking at without some kind of degradation.” said Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command and America’s nuclear-capable bombers and the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that represent two-thirds of the total nuclear deterrence force. Keep reading →
A year has passed since Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the Budget Control Act-the legislation mandating sequestration. Funding cuts that once seemed politically remote now loom large for leaders increasingly anxious about the impact $1.2 trillion in automatic budget reductions will have upon their respective districts and states. An estimated two million jobs at risk is a possibility no lawmaker can ignore.
Sequestration threatens the country’s ability to allow those in uniform to do their jobs. To understand what it means in real terms, look at the Air Force. Over the past decade, the service has been hit with numerous cuts and now the 2013 budget risks pushing airmen over the brink. There comes a point when people simply cannot do more with less. Unless Congress passes a sustainable and viable alternative to the Budget Control Act, challenges arising in the Air Force will be mirrored throughout the Army, Navy and Marine Corps — curtailing the number of key policy options upon which our nation’s leaders depend. Keep reading →
PENTAGON: One of the longest-running debates between the Air Force and the Army centers on close air support. Historically, the Air Force hates supplying CAS and doesn’t like buying or maintaining the planes that do it. But the white scarf boys wouldn’t let the Army do the job either, since it involved fixed-wing aircraft and shooting and that’s what the Air Force does.
So when the Air Force announced it was scrapping a large chunk of the current A-10 Warthog fleet and the pilots who go with it — five squadrons worth — the Pentagon’s back channels quickly filled with disgusted comments about how “there goes the Air Force again.” Every time they need to cut money from the budget the first thing they do is cut the A-10s, which have provided superb close air support ever since they started flying in the mid-70s, critics said. Two things make the A-10 especially fine at CAS: its amazing 30mmm cannon which can destroy a tank with ease; and the titanium bucket within which the pilot sits. The armored aircraft provides pilots with great protection, allowing them to be almost cavalier as they operate in dangerously kinetic environments. Keep reading →
Winslow Wheeler, one of the Washington’s most respected defense budget experts, has penned a detailed analysis of how much the Pentagon pays for maintenance and operations to keep its planes in the air. Below, we offer a very condensed version of his report. The Editor.
Early in a weapon program’s history, there is virtually always a promise that it will be cheaper to operate than the aircraft it is to replace. That rarely turns out to be the case. This is not
new; just as the Air Force promised the F-22 would be cheaper (by 35 percent) to operate than the F-15, it also promised back in the 1970s that the F-15 would be cheaper to operate than the F-4 it replaced. The higher O&S costs are rarely divulged — or are even the subject of inquiry. When questions are asked, actual costs are masked by several layers of fog. What is available on scarce occasion is incomplete, and some of it is misleading. Keep reading →