Monday, March 22, 2010
The response to this story will be interesting. It will be vicious. Air Force leadership will be called idiotic, stupid, kool-aide drinkers and people who are purposefully suspending reality. This should be fun. Pass the popcorn.
via Air Force Times...
Leaders not impressed by new Russian fighterPosted : Monday Mar 22, 2010 19:53:27 EDT
The flying debut of Russia’s answer to the F-22 Raptor isn’t wowing Air Force leaders.
Dubbed the T-50 or PAK-FA, the fifth-generation stealth fighter jet made its maiden flight Jan. 29 — 47 minutes over eastern Russia — and has flown at least twice since then. The twin-engine jet will replace the MiG-29 Fulcrum and Su-27 Flanker, both fourth-generation front-line fighters.
The first operational T-50s should be delivered in 2015, the same year the Air Force expects its first F-35 Lightning II. Also a fifth-generation fighter, the F-35 has a single supersonic engine and stealth capabilities.
“I didn’t see anything … that would cause me to rethink plans for the F-22 or F-35,” Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told reporters Feb. 18 at the Air Force Association’s winter conference, held in Orlando, Fla.
“Russia has a robust [aircraft industry],” Donley added. “This is not a surprise in that context.”
The PAK-FA resembles the F-22 — distinctive tilted rear tail fins and all — and has many of the same high-tech features, including digital avionics, a phased-array radar and communications equipment to link the fighter to command and control centers, according to the Russian news agency Tass.
The Air Force ordered the last of its 187 F-22s in 2009. Russia has not had a new fighter in nearly 20 years; the Indian air force is also sponsoring development of a version of the T-50.
“It looks like a plane we’ve seen before,” Gen. Roger Brady, the air boss for NATO and commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, said at the conference.
Gen. Gary North, commander of Pacific Air Forces, made clear his impression of the fighter: “I guess the greatest flattery is how much they copy you.”
Still, the four-stars wonder whether the T-50 will live up to its fifth-generation billing.
“I don’t know if it’s really a fifth-generation aircraft,” Brady said. “What I do know is that it’s very clear that they’re working on a fifth-generation technology.”
For Brady, Russia’s push on the development front signals that the U.S. cannot settle for the status quo.
“The key is, we must continue to do fifth-generation and sixth-generation research and put money against it because other people clearly are,” Brady said.
North added that the Pentagon must ensure fourth-generation jets such as the F-15, F-16 and F/A-18 are continually upgraded.
“If we’re not going to buy more, what we’ve got to have is the very best that our sons and daughters go out to fight with,” he said.
In tandem with the T-50 project, Russia is developing a long-range bomber.
“We won’t limit ourselves to just one new model,” Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said March 1. “We must start work on a prospective long-range aircraft, our new strategic bomber.”
Arms buys between the US and Europe are called either a 'two way street' or in the view of the Europeans a 'one way super highway'.
This won't help. via ALert 5.com from FlightGlobal
UK approves Rivet Joint purchase The UK has agreed to buy three Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint electronic intelligence aircraft and related ground equipment from the USA, defence secretary Bob Ainsworth has announced.
Confirming the development on 22 March, Ainsworth said the aircraft will deliver a "vital capability for the Royal Air Force to replace the [British Aerospace] Nimrod R1 that will be retired from service in March 2011".
The UK Ministry of Defence will introduce the Rivet Joints under Project Helix, a long-running effort to upgrade or replace its Nimrod R1 fleet, which was reduced to two airframes in 2009.
Operated by 51 Sqn at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, these will be the RAF's only active Nimrods from 31 March, when its last maritime patrol- and surveillance-configured MR2s will be retired. The Nimrod MRA4 will replace the latter type, and is scheduled to achieve delayed initial operational capability in October 2012.
General Dynamics has won the FRES competition in the UK. This brings to mind a couple of issues...
1. What's going on with BAE? They appear to be losing contract after contract. Something is wrong internally.
2. Did BAE expand too rapidly? They have been buying companies on both continents and now are in partnership in India. Has this rapid expansion hurt the company?
Regardless, the blowback is loud and dramatic. THINKDEFENCE is my go to guy when it comes to programs in the UK and you have to read his latest. Very interesting, slightly troubling and it may point to our own future in the US with our procurement programs.
via Ares DefenseBlog...
Posted by Robert Wall at 3/22/2010 4:33 AM CDT
The end appears to be nearing for Brazil’s FX-2 fighter competition.During an interview with Brazilian television that aired a few weeks ago, (but which only now has been transcribed by the ministry), defense minister Nelson Jobim projects the process will wrap up late this month or in early April.Technology transfer and price are among the big considerations in the competition Jobim highlighted during the discussion.The battle pits the Boeing F/A-18E/F, the Dassault Rafale, and Saab Gripen against each other. How much of the competition is really left remains to be seen. Last year, Brazilian president Lula last year already came out and declared Rafale the winner, before the competitive assessment had run its course, only to have the military insist the process be allowed to play out. Bidders were given a bit more time afterward to improve their offers.Jobim wouldn’t be drawn out during the interview on whether France still had the advantage, but the discussion of FX-2 did come in the context of Brazil’s decision to work with France on submarines and buy 50 EC725 transport helicopters.
Interesting. First the Gripen. Everyone is in love with this little fighter from the north but many of the same negatives that are applied to the F-35 can be applied to it. First its single engined. Next its unproven. Also its price hasn't been established.
Then we have the Rafale. It hasn't won a single competition its been entered in. Its engines are finky, and the airplane is slow.
Finally the Super Hornet. Its the best of the bunch but since it wears the 'made in the USA' tag it has no chance of winning.
The Brazilians should chose the Gripen, but the Rafale will win instead. Pity, they won't be well served by that airplane but then again its not the threat to the F-35 that the Gripen is. If you're a fan of the F-35 then you should root for the French in this battle. The Gripen and Super Hornet are the only real threats to the F-35 production line. A win by either of those airplanes in this contest will see them continue.
As much as I like our European allies, one thing is painfully clear. They subsidize their industry and we do not. This will put additional pressure on the USAF to award the contract to Boeing. EADS, you're doing it to yourselves. Blame Canada but don't blame us.BERLIN, March 21, 2010 (AFP) - The German government is ready to grant a 1.1 billion euro loan to develop the Airbus A350 long-haul passenger aircraft, a senior economics ministry official said Sunday.Published on ASDNews: Mar 21, 2010
"As far as we are concerned all pre-conditions have been met and the funds are available," said Peter Hintze, parliamentary state secretary at the ministry of economics.
His statement implied that the conditions were in line with World Trade Organisation rules.
Hintze said that "final issues" would have to be solved, notably how to divide up work between France and Germany on another project, the A30X, a potential successor to the A320.
"We want to be sure that (A30X) research and development will be done in Germany," he said.
The A30X's completion is widely expected to take place in Hamburg, northern Germany.
"We want an agreement quickly," he said. "We want to wind up the negotiations in spring."
Airbus, a division of the European aerospace giant EADS, intends to launch the A350 as a rival to Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.
The Airbus A350 XWB (extra-wide body) is described by the company as an eco-friendly passenger aircraft that can seat between 270 and 350 passengers.
Able to run on less fuel than current planes, its development is supported by four partner nations -- Britain, France, Germany and Spain.
France has announced support of 1.4 billion euros for the 12-billion-euro programme and Britain around 400 million.
The Spanish government remains in discussions with Airbus over its funding offer but reports say it could be around 300 million euros.
Other CCW'ers beware. People might be clocking you unless you're aware of your tells. Keep it tight, keep it professional and work to avoid these habits.
from Alert5 via Bloomberg.com...
March 22 (Bloomberg) -- Russia’s United Aircraft Corp. isn’t planning to bid for the Pentagon’s $35 billion Air Force aerial-refueling tanker program, Chief Executive Officer Alexei Fyodorov said, contradicting U.S. media reports.
The Wall Street Journal reported March 19 that United Aircraft, the maker of Ilyushin transport planes, was preparing a bid to be announced as early as today. The Washington Post also wrote about the plan on March 20.
“This is utter nonsense,” Fyodorov said in a subsequent telephone interview with Bloomberg News. “UAC is not planning to take part in the tanker tender or set up a joint venture.”
Both media reports cited John Kirkland, an attorney at Luce Forward in Los Angeles who said a venture would be announced between United Aircraft and a small, unidentified U.S. defense contractor on March 22 and that he represented the group.
CEO Fyodorov, in the Bloomberg interview, said he wasn’t familiar with Kirkland. United Aircraft is Russia’s state- controlled holding company for airplane production.
“Either it’s all a huge misunderstanding” or a matter of the Russians not wanting to confirm the plan “until something is officially announced,” Kirkland said in a March 21 interview with Bloomberg. “If I’ve been duped, it’s a massive conspiracy, but anything is possible.”
“I’ve spoken with lots of people on the Russian side” including from United Aircraft, Kirkland said, adding that he was told Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had approved the plan to bid. “That’s consistent with what I’ve been told for the last six months,” he said.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said by telephone that he was unaware of any plans by United Aircraft to bid. The same was true of a U.S. State Department spokesman.
“To my knowledge there was no discussion of a Russian company bidding for the Pentagon tanker contract” during U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Moscow last week, department spokesman Philip Crowley said on March 21.
Crowley said he was present in Clinton’s meetings. During the talks, “Russian leaders expressed an interest in a joint cargo aircraft project, but it was not specific,” he said.
The U.S. Department of Defense is seeking bidders to build a fleet of aerial refueling tankers, replacing aircraft that have been in service since the mid-1950s. Boeing Co. this month was left as the only bidder after Northrop Grumman Corp. pulled out of a team that included European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co., which currently is mulling whether to bid on its own.
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said in a March 19 e-mail that the Department of Defense welcomed all “qualified bidders” to compete for the contract.
By Jim WolfThis is real simple. The Lockheed Martin spokesman stated that they expect the average unit cost to come in far below 112 million dollars per airplane. They had better be right. Too much is at stake, too much is on the line for them to be wrong yet again. Time will tell but it doesn't look good.
WASHINGTON, March 19 (Reuters) - The estimated total cost of Lockheed Martin Corp's (LMT.N) F-35 fighter jets being bought by the Pentagon may be nearly twice as high as originally forecast, the U.S. Defense Department said Friday.
The bill for 2,443 F-35s is currently estimated at $278 billion to $329 billion, up from the $197 billion projected when the development program began in October 2001, taking into account inflation, a one-page Pentagon F-35 "unit cost" report said.
The percentage hike per aircraft is even higher than for the fleet overall because the Pentagon now plans to buy 409 fewer F-35s than the 2,852 it originally planned.
The single-seat, single-engine F-35 is built to evade detection by radar. Also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, it is the Pentagon's costliest arms procurement program.
Three highly common models are being built for the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy as well as eight international partners and other prospective foreign buyers.
The eight U.S. co-development partners are Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired the Pentagon's F-35 program manager in February. He also added 13 months and $2.8 billion to the development phase plus four more test aircraft.
The Government Accountability Office, in a report to Congress Friday, said the latest Pentagon steps should "improve outcomes and provide more realistic cost and schedule estimates."
But further cost growth and schedule extensions are likely, the Congress's non-partisan audit and investigative arm said.
Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon's No. 1 supplier by sales, said it had no insight into how the Pentagon established its estimate averaging up to $112 million per F-35. That figure was up from a baseline projection of $59 million in real, inflation-adjusted terms.
"We expect the average unit cost of the F-35 to be far below that number," Christian Geisel, a company spokesman said, replying in an email.