[Corrected 9:35 pm with a note about the EC-130 Compass Call] Is stealth still America’s silver bullet? Or are potential adversaries’ radars getting too smart for US aircraft to keep hiding from them?
That’s literally the trillion-dollar question, because the US military is investing massively in new stealth aircraft. At stake in this debate are not just budgets but America’s continued ability to project power around the world. Keep reading →
The Air Force provides the essential capabilities that make America’s joint operations possible and has been involved in nearly every military operation overseas since 1991. As the Pentagon delves into the details of the 2014 budget, getting the Air Force budget right is critical to ensure that the nation can count on its indispensable role in a time of shrinking resources.
Our adherence to the idea of a joint force has led to a roughly equal cut of spending among the services. This is not the optimum allocation of scarce resources in coming years if our national strategy is to maintain global presence and communications, as well as to fight cost-effectively and be capable of defeating modernized militaries. 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 →
Everyone knows military technology projects take forever and cost billions to produce, right? Just look at the Air Force’s latest fighter jet, the F-22 Raptor. The Raptor’s initial requirement was written in 1981, with the objective of developing an air superiority fighter to counter the Soviet air threat. It was declared operational in December of 2005, 14 years after the USSR collapsed. Better late than never, eh? After spending $65 billion (that’s billion-with-a-b), the Raptor fleet was capped at 187 aircraft, just 28 percent of the 650 originally envisioned.
This isn’t a unique situation. The V-22 Osprey has an almost identical story (requirement published in 1981, first delivery in 2005), except instead of $65 billion the military is projected to spend a mere $55B to acquire as many as 458 Ospreys. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: The F-22 will fly in operations if it’s needed while the Air Force keeps a close eye on the oxygen problem, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today.
“The answer is, yes. The aircraft will be used operationally if need be,” Carter said in response to a question during a morning appearance at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. Carter made clear the Pentagon is closely watching the apparent problems with the advanced aircraft’s oxygen system. But it will fly should Iran or something else require its services. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered the Air Force to “accelerate” installation of a backup system that automatically supplies oxygen to a pilot if there is a problem with the primary system. An unknown number of F-22s were deployed in late April to the United Arab Emirates, a short flight to Iran. Keep reading →
HARTFORD, CT: Aircraft engine maker Pratt & Whitney proudly predicts it will double its revenues this decade from $12 billion in 2010 to $24 billion in 2020 — but the company admits it will have to get through some lean years first. On both the commercial and military sides, key Pratt & Whitney programs are going away, and new engines using new technology for new aircraft are coming online, but there’s a gap before they pick up, a gap that slow economic growth and downsizing defense budgets threaten to lengthen. The single most critical factor: whether the troubled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter materializes more or less on time. Keep reading →
PENTAGON: Two of the Air Force’s senior leaders argued today that fifth generation aircraft like the F-22 and the F-35 are needed for anti-access operations in what looked like a last-minute service effort to bolster the expensive systems before the 2013 budget is released.
Lt. Gen. Christopher Miller, deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and programs, and Maj. Gen. Noel “Tom” Jones, director for operation capability requirements, told reporters that improving anti-aircraft missile systems require fifth-gen planes. The two senior Air Force leaders also referenced “anti-access” environments, a term which is closely associated with China and the AirSea Battle concept. 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 →
National Harbor: The Air Force has cleared the nation’s highest performance fighter, the F-22, for return to flight but the service, unable to pinpoint the reasons for at least one worrying incident of what clearly appeared to be hypoxia, has decided to increase medical monitoring of pilots.
“We now have enough insight from recent studies and investigations that a return to flight is prudent and appropriate,” Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz said in a statement. “We’re managing the risks with our aircrews, and we’re continuing to study the F-22′s oxygen systems and collect data to improve its performance.” Keep reading →
A screwed-up control valve caused the grounding of the F-35 fleet and the program office has cleared the plane for ground operations while it tests the errant valve. Meanwhile, the F-22 fleet remains grounded until early fall when the results of an investigation into possible problems with the plane’s oxygen system are completed.
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