Wednesday, January 13, 2010

F-35 News...

Major league hat tip to ELP Defens(c)e blogspot.  He's a critic of the program but has been even handed in reporting the good news....note that he wonders if its company spin.  With everything that's occurred I must question it too but if they lied then it would be too easy for DOD or JSF Office to pound them like a frozen salami.  I think its probably true.  Now---I wonder if Ares will report this????????

WASHINGTON, Jan 13 (Reuters) – Top officials with Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 fighter program, speaking with Reuters in an interview, gave the following details about the $300 billion fighter jet program:
# SAYS SINGAPORE RECEIVED A FIRST CLASSIFIED BRIEFING ON F-35 FIGHTER PROGRAM
Wednesday, sees international interest growing

# SAYS PENTAGON BUDGETING F-35 PROGRAM MORE CONSERVATIVELY GIVEN RECENT
acquisition reform law, but still plans to fully fund the program

# SAYS HAS ALREADY REDUCED UNIT COST OF F-35 FIGHTER SHARPLY DURING EARLY
production, sees average cost per plane reaching about $50 million (in FY
2002 dlrs) in 2014

# SAYS BRITISH AUTHORITIES VERY COMMITTED TO F-35 PROGRAM AND TOLD THE COMPANY THAT REPORTS OF A PLANNED CUT IN UK F-35 BUY ARE SPECULATION
# SAYS EXPECTS TO SIGN FOURTH LOW-RATE PRODUCTION CONTRACT WITH PENTAGON IN
April or may

# SAYS EXPECTS F-35 SHORT TAKEOFF, VERTICAL LANDING VERSION TO COMPLETE
vertical landing "very soon," after 12 more preparatory flights


Some personal observations....
1.  Have you noticed that in the UK the talk is always of reducing the number of F-35 but never of the RAF pulling out of its portion of the fighter program.  That tells us all we need to know about the capabilities of this airplane.  The money that the RAF is using to buy these airplanes could go toward developing the Typhoon to its ultimate Tranche.  Instead they're buying F-35s.
2.  The number of countries that will be buying this airplane is in my opinion seriously under-reported.
3.  It only makes sense that cost savings should be realized by this point in the program.  A price point of 50 mill if true would make this a game changer.  Every other 4th gen fighter would be rendered automatically obsolete due to price alone, never mind the other pluses of the F-35.
4.  The F-35B is progressing rapidly.  This is to be expected now that Naval Aviation is involved in the program.  Meeting test milestones will be much easier with the Test Schools of the Air Force and Navy involved.

Haiti's cost....

I hate to bring this up.  I know people are suffering and that is beyond a shame.  But how much will this cost us?  This will be the third country we've rebuilt in 10 years.  Iraq had to be rebuilt, Afghanistan is in the process of being rebuilt and now we have Haiti on the plate.  I understand the politics of this.  I've heard the claim that if we don't do something then we'll have another influx of boat people to deal with.  But is this something that we can afford.

Maybe I'm selfish.  But I just don't see how we can afford to pay for all the worlds problems.  Just my opinion.  Don't hate me for it.  Just a thought after reading and watching events unfold.


Culture...

I've been hammering the Navy lately.  I've accused the service of focusing on hardware and not on the warrior aspects of their service.  History and tradition are underrated. Your legacy counts.  And I felt that the Navy had lost its edge because it didn't have its "touch stones" in place.  Well it seems that maybe...just maybe I was wrong.  The Scoop Deck Blogspot has been covering the Surface Naval Association annual get together and some of the keynote speakers have caught my attention.  It seems that maybe they get it.  One person that seems to have his pulse on future threats is Admiral Ulrich (Ret)...this is from Scoop Deck...

SNA: Not if, but when

January 13th, 2010
Retired Adm. Harry Ulrich, a former commander of Naval Forces Europe, gave a bleak prognostication during a panel discussion a few moments ago. A major maritime calamity is coming, he warned:
“If you like the way people almost blow up airplanes — how are we doing with our seaports? Does anybody in this room know? I argue they don’t. Let me tell you, it’s not a pretty picture. Just imagine, a ship blowing up over the Big Dig in Boston. What prevents that from happening? Or blowing up the San Diego Bridge at rush hour? I don’t think we’re ready for that. I know we’re not. And again, why not? Well, who does it belong to? Is it a Navy issue? No, we do 12 miles and out. Is it a Department of Homeland Security issue? Is it a Port of Savannah, or Charleston issue? Who owns it? It’ll get fixed when an incident occurs and we have a congressional investigation. That’s when it’ll get fixed.”
Ulrich also warned that since insurgents have become so adept at using roadside bombs, they should have no trouble planting what he called “maritime bombs,” i.e. mines, in American harbors.
So… ah… enjoy the rest of your day!
If they have people thinking about the possibilities, trying to solve the problems of the future (especially those that don't involve conventional warfare on the high seas)...




MARINES HEADED TO HAITI...

As I predicted, US Marines are headed to Haiti.  The Navy can send an aircraft carrier with a modified air wing filled with helicopters, the Air Force can fly C-130's filled with supplies but if you want to do Humanitarian assistance right, taking into account the breakdown of society with all the ills that accompany it then you must send in a ground force.  99 times out of 100 that force will be Marines.

This is via MSNBC...(follow the link to read the rest)...

U.S. plans massive military response for Haiti

WASHINGTON - U.S. officials are laying out a massive military response to the Haiti earthquake, saying that ships, helicopters, transport planes and a 2,000-member Marine unit are either on the way or likely to begin moving soon.
Gen. Douglas Fraser, head of U.S. Southern Command, said Wednesday that one of the U.S. Navy's large amphibious ships will likely head to Haiti with a Marine expeditionary unit aboard. Fraser said other U.S. military forces are on alert, including a brigade, which includes about 3,500 troops.
Fraser said during a news conference with other U.S. officials that the Pentagon is "seriously looking at" sending thousands of Marines to assist with disaster relief efforts and security in Haiti.


President Barack Obama pledged earlier Wednesday "a swift, coordinated and aggressive"  effort to help the people of Haiti overcome a "cruel and incomprehensible" tragedy."
The president said the relief effort is gearing up even as the U.S. government is working to account for Americans who were on the island nation when the disaster struck late Tuesday afternoon.
Dispatching troops
The initial contingent of 2,000 Marines could be deployed to the quake-ravaged country within the next few days to either help with emergency aid distribution or enforce law in order in conjunction with U.N. peacekeepers already there, Fraser said.
The general said that a U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, is also heading from Norfolk, Va., to the area and should arrive Thursday afternoon.
The dispatched troops would aim to keep the peace in the event of post-disaster unrest as part of a larger international effort overseen by the United Nations, whose peacekeeping operation headquarters was destroyed in the quake. About 100 U.N. personnel are believed to be trapped in the ruins of he building.


COMBAT AIRCRAFT BEATS UP FLIGHT GLOBAL ....

A little while ago Flight Global ran an article proclaiming the Rafale to be the cats meow.  Well Combat Aircraft took the review apart like a MMA fighter would a 2 year old.  Its definitely worth reading.  Here are a few excerpts...


First the quote from Flight Global's reporter...
Flight’s test pilot (Pete Collins, a retired RAF Wing Commander, former RAF test pilot and Red Arrow) concluded that: “If I had to go into combat, on any mission, against anyone, I would, without question, choose the Rafale.”
Now a response from a Typhoon pilot...
“If he thought that, he can’t have flown Typhoon” one told me, bluntly, while another (who had actually flown Rafale) explained that “the Rafale is underpowered by comparison with Typhoon, and needs reheat where we would use dry. We can get through the Mach and supercruise in dry power at typical operating altitudes, and you simply can’t do that in Rafale.”
And lastly...
“350 kt, in full afterburner at 35 degrees nose up is not that impressive - at that angle Typhoon will go Supersonic! Note that he was initially only allowed to fly A/S FCS laws! The quoted turn performance (mild buffet at 4.5 g and dry power and a sustained 5g at 350 kts needing 10 deg nose down pitch) is less than startling -our test pilots could do as well in an F-15 19 years ago when they assessed it at the end of the ETPS course. The acceleration (taking approximately 10 seconds to go from 200-500 knots) is good but so it should be for a twin engine fighter at that weight and altitude.

It is a fun article.  Take the time to read it for yourself...the Rafale definitely got its feather plucked!


WOULD YOU STOP FOR THIS POLICE TRUCK???

via oddee.com...
A Hummer with 24 inch rims, a Sheriff that's wearing combat boots tucked into his trousers and sporting a weird mustache.  Would you stop?


V-22 FASTER, FARTHER, STRONGER...

via 3rd Marine Air Wing from Marines.mil...
Ok, I admit it, this comes off as a bit of a propaganda piece.  Nothing new here but hey it makes for good reading.  One thing I didn't know and I'm going to have read further about is the amount of weight that the V-22 can lift in comparison to the CH-46.  From the article there is a 2000 pound advantage to the CH-46.  Could that be right?  That's a ton of gear getting left behind.  Gear or people.  Bullets or bandages.  Its alot.  More reading is necessary.

Farther, faster, stronger; Osprey enhances battlefield capabilities 

The 40-year legacy of the CH-46 “Sea Knight” is built on stories of valor and heroism from Marines in combat missions around the world, but that era is coming to a close as the Marine Corps replaces the Sea Knight with it’s newest bird of prey, the MV-22 “Osprey.”
In 2006, the Marine Corps became the first service to host an operational MV-22 Osprey squadron. Now almost four years later, the Marine Corps has six operating or currently transitioning squadrons on the East Coast, and is in the process of transitioning six on the West Coast.
The replacement of the 40-year-old CH-46 Sea Knight doesn’t come cheap, with a price tag of roughly 100 million dollars per bird, but the Osprey’s capabilities provide enhanced mission capabilities and more safety than the CH-46.
“The [advantage is the] capabilities we bring to the battlefield. It’s newer, we’re faster, we go farther and we can stay longer,” said Maj. Richard McGahhey, a Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 Osprey pilot. “All of the capabilities of the 46 ... It expands upon them.”
One of the important safety features of the Osprey is a reduced heat signature. Air-to-air heat seeking missiles will have a harder time tracking the Osprey because of the significant reduction in the amount of detectable heat from the aircraft. In addition to lower heat detection, the aircraft has a radar warning receiver, a ballistically tolerant airframe to reduce structural damage and an M240 Golf machine gun mounted on the back ramp.
Another vital part of mission capability for military aircraft, especially in a combat zone, is fuel efficiency. The CH-46 has low fuel endurance and must be refueled approximately every 90 to 100 minutes, which can be dangerous in a tactical environment. The Osprey has an increased fuel capacity, and according to Sgt. Darin Levesque, a crew chief who has deployed with both the CH-46 and the Osprey, the aircraft has proven itself in battle.
“It’s two different worlds,” said Levesque. “It’s a completely different aircraft. It goes twice as far so you can get Marines where they need to be -- faster.”
The increased fuel capacity means the Osprey can go longer and farther than the CH-46, and it also provides an increased payload. The CH-46 current internal and external weight restrictions are approximately 22,000 pounds and 12 combat equipped troops. The Osprey offers significant advantage in that it can carry over 20,000 pounds and 24 combat equipped troops, at twice the speed of the CH-46.
The high-speed, high-flight capabilities of the aircraft are made possible by its ability to convert to a turboprop airplane. Once airborne, the Osprey can convert to a turboprop airplane and fly more than 400 mph and reach altitudes of almost 25,000 feet, which is significantly greater than the CH-46.
In a mission where a pilot is navigating great distances in unfamiliar areas of the world, often in poor weather or at night, pilots must be able to rely on certain equipment in the cockpit to safely transport troops or lift external cargo. Upgraded navigation and communication systems and a cockpit lighting system that is compatible with night vision goggles greatly enhance the safety and success of medium lift missions.
Although the capabilities of the Osprey will significantly increase the mission capabilities and success of medium lift missions, according to Lt. Col. Evan LeBlanc, the commanding officer of VMM-161 -- one thing hasn’t changed.
“The things that make the Marine Corps strong isn’t the aircraft. It’s the Marines,” said LeBlanc.
Although the first VMM-161 Osprey landed at MCAS Miramar in early December, the squadron expects 11 more to complete the 19-month transition.


RECON STUDENTS HELOCAST...

via Marines.mil... 
‘Flying Tigers’ help recon students take a plunge 
A dozen Marines and sailors donned their flippers, goggles and helmets aboard a roaring CH-53E “Super Stallion,” as they prepared to jump into the Pacific Ocean.
For the Basic Reconnaissance Course, School of Infantry West students, it was just another day in their curriculum, but for Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, it was an opportunity to receive special insertion qualifications. Three pilots and three crew chiefs received their qualifications, which is an annual requirement for the aircrew.
It took the “White Tigers” four trips to get their aircrew qualified and the BRC students trained. The realistic training helped the pilots and crew chiefs sharpen their skills as if in a deployed environment. Marine heavy helicopter squadrons typically conduct this type of mission while on Marine Expeditionary Unit deployments to tactfully insert troops. For this reason, it’s important for the aircrew to keep proficient in the craft, commented Capt. Kevin T. Shepherd, a pilot for the White Tigers.
Aircrews do not just pick up troops and drop them off in a given landing zone, the job requires more precision. The aircrew must be in constant communication before and after inserting the troops to ensure they arrive safely and effectively, commented Shepherd.
“There are a lot of visual illusions because of the waves and the cloud of water around the helicopter during these missions,” said Shepherd. “We always have to be vigilant of everything, and communication is vitally important.”
After the pilots maneuver the Super Stallion into a tilted position and have it hovering ten feet above the water’s surface, the cast master gives the command and the BRC students jump out of the aircraft two at a time. The pilots must maintain the helicopter in the same position until each student is off the rear.
Although it’s the aircrew’s job to get the aircraft in the right position, the cast master always has the final word when the students can jump for safety and training purposes, explained Staff Sgt. Mickey Eaton, the primary instructor for amphibious operations for the Reconnaissance Training Company.
“This is the bare basics of helocast training for the students,” said Eaton. “They are all required to go through this. The helicopter makes it as realistic as it gets.”
The training concluded with the reconnaissance Marines and sailors completing their mission thanks to the White Tigers, who also obtained essential training qualification.