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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 →

The first Littoral Combat Ship, USS Freedom, on its way to Singapore last year.

UPDATED with US Navy response WASHINGTON: Some spectacular glitches marred the first overseas deployment of the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship, including an electrical failure that left the USS Freedom “briefly” dead in the water. Now Breaking Defense has obtained an unpublished Government Accountability Office study of Freedom‘s Singapore deployment that raises more serious questions about… Keep reading →

ALIS photo

UPDATED: Lockheed React To Bogdan On ALIS. NEWSEUM: The key maintenance software program for the F-35, called ALIS, is “way behind,” Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, head of the program, said today. How far behind? “We are way behind. We are way behind.” Bogdan told a conference hosted by Credit Suisse and organized by Jim McAleese… Keep reading →

usmc-amphibs-pacific

PORTSMOUTH, VA: For decades, America’s Pacific strategy has focused on the northeast corner of that vast theater, with major forces and bases in Korea and Japan. But as economies boom and tensions rise in Southeast Asia, the Pentagon has played catch-up, deploying more forces to Australia, Singapore, and Guam. At a conference here last week, the… Keep reading →

CF-2 Flight 158 with Mr. Dan Canin and CF-1 Flight 189 with LT Chris Tabert on 18 January 2013. First dual refueling of F-35C on KC-130 tanker. [Lockheed Martin]

WASHINGTON: The American who leads the leading edge of our sword in the Pacific — the Air Force — worries that China‘s sometimes “aggressive approach” in using its fighters, bombers and ships to signal its territorial claims across the Pacific creates “the potential” for a serious incident in the region. But Air Force Gen. Herb… Keep reading →

F-35b vertical takeoff and landing

Watch the F-35B, the Marines’ fighter of choice, execute a very cool maneuver in this video, taking off straight up into the sky. While very cool, this is not something the Joint Strike Fighter is actually expected to do very often. For one thing, it requires enormous amounts of fuel. Instead, the B model is… Keep reading →

CAPITOL HILL: Navy Secretary Ray Mabus talked up the controversial Littoral Combat Ship days before departing for Asia to visit the first LCS, USS Freedom, which recently arrived in Singapore (sporting a sniffy camo paint job). Freedom has been bedeviled by cost overruns, delays, and manufacturing defects, with a new problem, seawater contamination in lubricant fluid, arising on its trans-Pacific trip. But the bigger picture Mabus said, is how this new class of small and nimble ship will cooperate with foreign partners to keep the peace in the volatile South China Sea and the strategic Strait of Malacca.

“Freedom is the first of its class, and it was built as an experimental ship, and every first of the class has some issues,” Mabus said of the seawater contamination, speaking to reporters after a Friday speech on energy security hosted by the Truman National Security Project. “One of the reasons we sent Freedom forward on deployment was to see what those issues were.” Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: Singapore is expected to announce sometime in the next 10 days that it plans to buy its first squadron –12 planes — of some 75 of Lockheed Martin’s F-35Bs, further bolstering what had been the flagging fortunes of the world’s most expensive conventional weapon system.

The fact that American allies in the Pacific are the ones committing to the controversial and over-budget aircraft is telling. If you want to understand the calculus driving these choices, first look at China, which to countries such as Singapore, Japan, Australia, and South Korea is the primary long-term threat. Keep reading →

Amidst all the budgetary gridlock, it’s nice to know something still works in the federal government. The first of the Navy’s controversial Littoral Combat Ships, LCS-1 Freedom, will sail for Singapore, our not-quite-ally, this Friday, March 1st — the same day the sequestration cuts will start taking effect — sporting a new camouflage paint job that sets its apart from traditional naval vessels.(Paint schemes and the cost of applying them to something as massive as a warship are a big deal in the Navy).

Intended to build a new class of small, agile, and innovative warships, the LCS program has come under bitter criticism that the ships are too expensive for their size and too fragile for major combat. Freedom in particular has taken flak for hull cracks, which contractor Lockheed Martin insists are all repaired and won’t reoccur on redesigned follow-on ships. After years in development hell, the first LCS is finally underway on a real-world mission — headed for the Pacific amidst rising tensions between China and its neighbors. Keep reading →

CRYSTAL CITY: From standardizing paint schemes to buying fewer types of valves, the Navy is going all-out to save money as budgets tighten. This new emphasis on affordability goes beyond the usual mundane economies to a sea change in how the service develops new vessels and technologies, with the much-criticized Littoral Combat Ship as the high-stakes pilot project.

“You can’t just do some really effective system anymore; it’s got to be effective and highly affordable,” declared Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, who heads the Office of Naval Research. ONR is normally associated not with cost-cutting but with high-tech, high-cost innovations such as railguns. But at last week’s Surface Navy Association conference in Crystal City, just south of the Pentagon, Klunder framed even the case for railguns in economic terms, arguing they would let the Navy shoot down incoming threats much more cheaply than firing interceptor missiles. Keep reading →

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