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The Navy's X-47B drone becomes the first unmanned aircraft to launch from an aircraft carrier.

FARNBOROUGH AIR SHOW: The Navy’s carrier-based drone known as UCLASS continues to face challenges from the Joint Staff, parts of the Navy and, perhaps most importantly, Capitol HIll. While the head of the program, Rear Adm. Mat Winter, told reporters here yesterday that a Request for Proposal will be issued “very soon,” the program’s requirements… Keep reading →

BAE Systems Hawk trainers in UK

WASHINGTON: While Northrop Grumman isn’t doing much at the upcoming Farnborough Air Show — at least publicly — they certainly shook things up today with their announcement that they are swapping places with BAE Systems to take the lead role in the competition for the $11 billion, 350-plane T-X trainer program. While the BAE-Northrop team… Keep reading →

Reaping the Benefits of a Global Defense Industry

Greg Sanders CSIS photo

  As the Defense Department’s budget goes down, the number of contracts awarded without competitive bids is going up. The share of contracts awarded without competition has risen from 39 percent in 2009 to 42 percent in 2012, according to a report I co-authored with Jesse Ellman and Rhys McCormick on DoD Contracting Trends. The news for… Keep reading →

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  WASHINGTON: The F-35 is barely out of the stable and hasn’t been ridden hard yet, but the Pentagon is already beginning work on the next generation of improvements to the Joint Strike Fighter, with a close eye on the Chinese J-20 and J-31 stealth aircraft — and other capabilities. Frank Kendall, the Defense Department’s… Keep reading →

F-35

For years, the news about the most expensive conventional weapons system in US history, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, has been driven by its soaring costs, technical problems and schedule screw-ups. The government and Congress and the public rarely speak about what the F-35 will do, how effectively it could destroy an enemy’s air defenses, shoot down… Keep reading →

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UPDATED: Adds Pratt & Whitney Responses To Bogdan; Adds Lockheed Statement Correction (April 18 at 10:55 am) CRYSTAL CITY: Pratt & Whitney got a public drubbing from the sharp-tongued head of the F-35 fighter program, Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, when the Pentagon released a new cost estimate for the military’s biggest weapons program. “Pratt’s not meeting their… Keep reading →

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Even if Congress somehow rolls back sequestration, the Navy’s fiscal situation will be uncomfortably tight, like trying to steer a battleship through the Panama Canal. Under the president’s five-year budget plan — which assumes sequester away — the “real buying power” for the Navy and the Marine Corps declines after fiscal year 2016, the Navy… Keep reading →

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UPDATED: Marine Commandant Lists Top 3 Concerns; Lockheed Commits to Software Delivery In Time For Marine IOC. Here it is, for everyone to ponder, the F-35 portion of the annual report from Michael Gilmore, director of the Pentagon’s Operational Test and Evaluation office. The only sort of public annual benchmark on the success or failure… Keep reading →

F-35 stealth fighter factory

AIR FORCE PLANT 4, FORT WORTH: No one should believe that the battle between Boeing and Lockheed for the right to build Navy fighters is over. Boeing keeps pushing the low cost, readiness and availability of the F-18. It’s here, it’s proven, and, they say, a new F/A-18E/F Super Hornet will cost just over $50… Keep reading →

Navy Captain Francis Morley, program manager for the F-18 family of jets, and his boss Rear Adm. Donald Gaddis at today's ceremony celebrating the 35th anniversary of the first Hornet.

PATUXENT RIVER NAVAL AIR STATION: “My job is to preserve options and that’s what I do,” said Capt. Francis Morley, Navy program manager for the F-18 fighter family. Will the Navy press ahead to buy more F-18s in the face of what seems pretty determined opposition from the Office of Secretary of Defense, eager to… Keep reading →

A Navy F-35C and the plane it will replace, the F/A-18E Super Hornet, sit together on a runway.

WASHINGTON: The Boeing Super Hornet might have a new best friend in Congress. A year after the Saint Louis-built fighter jet’s biggest backer in Congress, then-Rep. Todd Akin, went down in electoral flames because of controversial remarks about “legitimate rape,” the influential chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on Seapower, Rep. Randy Forbes, has… Keep reading →

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