UAVs

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WASHINGTON: The Republican congressman who oversees the Navy actually likes Barack Obama’s 2016 defense budget — except for one small thing: It isn’t really a budget. “It would be almost a misnomer to call this a budget. It’s [just] numbers,” Rep. Randy Forbes told me this morning, in advance of tomorrow’s budget hearing. “If you… Keep reading →

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WASHINGTON: Submarines have been America’s invisible advantage since World War II. But the oceans are getting more transparent. New detection technologies from low-frequency sonar to flashing LEDs — plus the big data computing power to enhance the faint signals they pick up — are making submarines much easier to detect. The same water-penetrating wavelengths, however, will… Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: There’s no one thing that keeps the Pentagon’s chief of intelligence up at night. There’s half-a-dozen things — terrorism, cybersecurity, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and China — but Mike Vickers has a six-point plan to counter them. “The big challenge we face is really in the aggregation of challenges,” the under secretary for intelligence… Keep reading →

MQ-9 Reaper drone.

WASHINGTON: Even unmanned aircraft need people to make them fly. Today, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announced stopgap measures to shore up overworked drone squadrons. At the same press conference, the service’s Chief of Staff pledged to plug another personnel gap, the shortage of skilled maintainers for the manned F-35 — but, Gen. Mark… Keep reading →

Deborah Lee James Atlantic Council acquisition

WASHINGTON: Citing “horrifying” times to let contracts even when their isn’t any competition — 17 months — Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James says the service will try several approaches to cut costs and speed cycle times. As Breaking D readers know, the Air Force has actually driven overall acquisition costs down in the last two years,… Keep reading →

Predator drone operators.

WASHINGTON: The Air Force has worried for almost a decade about the strains on its workforce as it fields more and more Predators, because drones need more people to fly them than do manned aircraft. Now, the head of Air Combat Command has told his boss, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, that he is “extremely concerned” about… Keep reading →

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Technology is moving too fast to keep track of everything, but there’s one overarching trend that policymakers must not miss in 2015. Call it “convergence.” Cybersecurity is no longer its own specialized function for tech geeks to take care of off to one side while the rest of the organization gets on with the real… Keep reading →

Courtesy Northrop Grumman

Fire Scout makes it look easy to take off from a destroyer. It’s not. In video released today (above), the MQ-8C helicopter takes off from the destroyer Jason Dunham with its eyes closed — or rather with its cockpit windows painted over, because there’s nobody inside. Though derived from the widespread Bell 407, the Northrop… Keep reading →

USS Washington

Smooth sailing is not in the Navy’s forecast for the next year.The service faces big decisions on major programs, and we can expect clashes between Navy plans, congressional politics and budgetary realities on three of the biggest: the upgunned Littoral Combat Ship, the UCLASS armed drone, and the jewel in the Navy’s crown, the nuclear aircraft carrier. The… Keep reading →

Navy graphic

NATIONAL PRESS CLUB: They get so big, so fast. Once a child-sized helicopter that could just collect reconnaissance imagery, the Navy’s MQ-8 Fire Scout has graduated to a bigger airframe that will also carry a maritime search radar and laser-guided rockets. The tentative plan is to kick off the competition for the new radar with… Keep reading →

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