LONDON: Sitting in my room here across the street from the building where D-Day was planned and Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower huddled for months worrying over those shallow beaches and terrible cliffs, it’s easy to lose sight of the current agonistes faced by Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon leadership and our allies about the F-35A fire.… Keep reading →
Congress usually does not like it when the military decides to retire a weapon system. A fleet of planes like the A-10 or the U-2, or ships like Ticonderoga cruisers or, for that matter, a military base are all centers of jobs. And Congress doesn’t like it when someone messes around with existing jobs. When… Keep reading →
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 →
CAPITOL HILL: Aside from Sen. Kelly Ayotte, the reaction from Capitol Hill to the Air Force plan for retiring the ugly and beloved A-10 has been relatively muted and may remain so. Why would Congress, beloved for going slightly nuts whenever the military tries to retire a ship, aircraft squadron, or anything else that means jobs… Keep reading →
By Murielle Delaporte French forces appear to have succeeded in Mali. They blunted the mad progress of Islamist forces during Operation Serval for those who don’t know, the serval is a gorgeous, sleek and fast African cat known for grabbing hidden prey from rocks and holes) drove them back to the northern mountains and seem to have broken the… Keep reading →
Sitting in the cockpit of her A-10 Warthog somewhere over Florida’s Eglin Air Force Base on Jan. 10, Maj. Olivia Elliott flipped a switch. In an instant her blunt, twin-engine warplane with the 30-millimeter cannon in the nose was transformed. No longer just the Air Force’s most heavily-armed attack jet, now the A-10 was also a flying wireless router, providing Internet connectivity to anyone in range — and with the right password.
The final test of the Network-Tactical, or Net-T, upgrade to the Northrop Grumman LITENING and Lockheed Martin Sniper targeting pods, carried by A-10s and other warplanes, is the latest in a long chain of communications breakthroughs by the U.S. military and the defense industry. Keep reading →
The start of a new year and of a new administration is a good time to think about the future. A key challenge facing the new Obama administration and the Congress is to ensure that US military capabilities continue to innovate and evolve in challenging times.
Paul Bracken has underscored that we are in a Second Nuclear Age, and in this age deterrence is different, but remains as significant as the first. Bracken is concerned that we are ignoring the rebirth of nuclear weapons within the global dynamic at our peril. 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 →
FARNBOROUGH AIR SHOW: You can tell the U.S. defense budget is shrinking when one of the more interesting stories during an international air show centers on a plane, the F-16, first delivered in 1979.
But BAE Systems’ press conference focused on just that, providing upgrades to the worldwide fleet of some 2,500 airplanes in what the company’s lead man on the upgrades, Floyd McConnell, called a market of “several billion.” 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 →
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 →