Bill LaPlante

PENTAGON: My favorite line from Bill LaPlante’s final interview before he sheds the title of head of Air Force acquisition: “We used to suck, and now we don’t suck as much.” That could be the overall assessment one gives to Pentagon acquisition these days, though it might not be entirely fair. But LaPlante was only talking… Keep reading →

Chinese J-31 stealth fighter

CAPITOL HILL: The head of Air Force acquisition, just back from the Dubai Air Show, said the United States must act fast to make it easier and quicker for allies to buy US weapons through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system. If we don’t, Bill LaPLante said at an event put by on the Lexington Institute,… Keep reading →

CNAS graphic

WASHINGTON: The high-cost, high-controversy centerpieces for the future Navy fleet — the Ford-class aircraft carrier and the F-35C fighter — not only take it in the wrong direction, says a report out today. They double down on a strategic mistake made 20 years ago, when the Navy shortchanged range, argues Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy captain now… Keep reading →


ABOARD USS EISENHOWER: After all the talk from senior Navy leaders about the life cycle costs of the Joint Strike Fighter program and the limits of stealth over the last five years, it was intriguing to hear top Navy commanders and pilots praising the performance of the F-35Cs being tested here. The pilots were using the… Keep reading →

Gerald R. Ford (CVN78) Photo by Chris Oxley

UPDATE with Forbes statement WASHINGTON: At $4.7 billion over budget, Ford-class aircraft carriers have taken a beating in Congress. This morning, though, the House Seapower subcommittee chairman will roll out a report from the conservative Hudson Institute that’s a ringing defense of the carrier — but which also contains a stinging indictment of the aircraft that fly… Keep reading →

Russian Tu-95 Bear & USAF F-22 Raptor 071122-F-ZY202-005

AFA CONFERENCE: “The alarming thing,” said the commander of US Air Forces in Europe, is that the Russians are catching up. “They’ve closed the gap.” “The advantage that we had from the air I can honestly say is shrinking,” Gen. Frank Gorenc said, “not only with respect to the aircraft that they’re producing, but the… Keep reading →

F-35As at Nellis.

AFA CONFERENCE: The biggest pole in the tent for the F-35A is ALIS, the autonomous parts management and maintenance system key to managing the Joint Strike Fighter program’s in the long term. That’s the word from Maj. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, director of the Air Force’s F-35 integration office. Harrigian, who oversees all F-35 issues… Keep reading →

Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan

NATIONAL PRESS CLUB: The good news for the Pentagon’s largest program is that the difficult early days are almost over. The bad news: now it’s time for the next hard part. “We are beyond slow and steady progress on the F-35 program now. We are into the phase of rapidly accelerating and growing,” said Lt.… Keep reading →

F-35A first overseas flight Italy

WASHINGTON: The first F-35A built in Italy for the Italian Air Force took off yesterday for what the Lockheed Martin test pilot said was highly successful first flight. “It was identical to every other airplane we produce at Fort Worth,” pilot Bill Gigliotti told reporters today in what he clearly intended as a compliment to… Keep reading →

A laser experiment at the Air Force Research Laboratory

TYSON’S CORNER: All branches of the military really want laser weapons. But they don’t all want them for the same missions. What struck me after a recent conference here was how differently the US Air Force is approaching lasers. The USAF is pursing a two-pronged approach: They want to mount lasers on both the large… Keep reading →

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