One does not build military aircraft to fly at air shows. It is fun to see the planes, to visit static displays and to talk with manufacturers and users. But the reality of what a plane can do is only seen in battle and advanced training, where operators, maintainers and leaders in real world combat… Keep reading →
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 →
After three years of the “age of austerity” in Western military spending, investors’ imperatives and corporate strategies show one indication of how the defense-industrial base will evolve over the next decade. Investors want public companies that demonstrate an attractive risk-adjusted total return, not just M&A-fueled arbitrage plays. In response, companies are husbanding or harvesting their financial… Keep reading →
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 Now Breaking Defense has obtained an unpublished Government Accountability Office study of Freedom‘s Singapore deployment that raises more serious questions about… Keep reading →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →