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Better Cost Estimates Needed for Extending the Service Life of Selected F-16s and F/A-18s


Better Cost Estimates Needed for Extending the Service Life of Selected F-16s and F/A-18s
GAO-13-51, Nov 15, 2012

What GAO Found

The Air Force plans to upgrade and extend the service life of 300 F-16 aircraft and the Navy 150 F/A-18 aircraft, at a combined cost estimated at almost $5 billion in fiscal year 2013 dollars.

The Air Force plans to extend the service life of selected F-16s by 2,000 flying hours each as well as install capability upgrades such as an improved radar. The Air Force estimates that it will complete this work by 2022 at a cost of $2.61 billion. About 28 percent of the projected costs are included in the Air Force's spending plans through 2017, with the remainder expected to be incurred in 2018-2022.

The Navy plans to extend the service life of selected F/A-18s by 1,400 flying hours each and may install capability upgrades on some of the 150 aircraft--such as adding the ability to integrate with newer aircraft. The Navy projects that it will complete the life extension by 2018 at a cost of $2.19 billion, with most of these costs included in its spending plans through 2017, but costs associated with any upgrades are not included in the Navy estimate or in its spending plans.

Air Force and Navy officials told GAO that they could ultimately extend the service life of up to 650 F-16s and 280 F/A-18s if needed to attain desired inventory levels.

The Air Force's and Navy's cost estimates to upgrade and extend the service life of selected fighter aircraft exhibit some characteristics of a high-quality cost estimate but do not reflect all potential costs. The estimates were: well-documented since they identified data sources and methodologies; accurate since they accounted for inflation and were checked for errors; and mostly comprehensive since they included the work planned and identified key assumptions. However, the estimates were not fully credible in part because they did not assess the extent to which the total costs could change if additional work is done or more aircraft are included in the programs. Another factor affecting the credibility of the estimates is that they have not been compared to an independently developed estimate. GAO's past work has shown that such an independent cost estimate is one of the best validation methods since an independent cost estimate tends to be higher and more accurate than a program office estimate. Air Force and Navy officials told GAO that they use Department of Defense and military department guidance that allows for some variation in how the estimates are developed depending on the dollar value and maturity of the program. However, these programs--which are critical to maintain fighter capability and capacity as current inventory ages--total almost $5 billion and the costs will increase if program quantities and scope increase. Without fully credible cost estimates, including an analysis of how much total costs may increase, decision makers will not have visibility into the range of potential costs, which could hinder their ability to formulate realistic budgets and make informed investment decisions.

Why GAO Did This Study

Fighter aircraft are important to achieve and maintain air dominance during combat operations as well as to protect the homeland. DOD plans to replace many of its current fighter fleet with the F-35; however, the F-35 program has experienced numerous delays and cost increases. To maintain fighter capabilities and capacity, the Air Force and Navy have decided to upgrade and extend the service life of selected F-16 and F/A-18 aircraft. In this context, two subcommittees of the House Armed Services Committee asked GAO to (1) describe the Air Force and Navy plans to upgrade and extend the service life of selected F-16 and F/A-18 aircraft; and (2) assess the extent to which cost estimates for these upgrades and life extensions exhibit characteristics of a high-quality cost estimate. GAO obtained documentation of the plans and estimates, compared the estimates to best practices outlined in the GAO Cost Estimating Guide, and assessed factors that could affect total costs.
What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that the Air Force and Navy follow all best practices to enhance the credibility of the cost estimates for the F-16 and F/A-18 upgrades and life extensions including an assessment of the potential range of costs and seeking independent cost estimates.

For more information, contact John H. Pendleton at 404-679-1816 or [email protected].

The ripples of Lockheed's F-35 program: http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/650067.pdf
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Nov 26, 2012, 09:22 AM (2 replies)

Republicans pin their hopes on a third George Bush


Grandson of one President – and nephew of another – signals that he is ready to run for political office

Republicans pin their hopes on a third George Bush
Nikhil Kumar
Sunday 25 November 2012

It has been less than a month since Mitt Romney was forced to abandon his 1,118-word victory speech, but already the Grand Old Party has begun the search for its great new hope, with many Republican heads turning in the direction of Texas and the name Bush... George Bush.

This isn't a flashback. Nephew and grandson of ex-Presidents George W and George H W respectively, the young GOP dynast in question is George P Bush, the son of former Florida Governor (and potential presidential runner) Jeb Bush.

Even as talk turns to his father's ambitions for 2016, 36-year old George's decision to file preliminary paperwork to run for office in Texas in 2014 has whetted the appetite of more than a few Republican strategists. The Lone Star State was, after all, his uncle George W's springboard to the White House.

As if this pedigree wasn't enough, the P in his name is for Prescott, as in Senator Prescott Sheldon Bush, the first President Bush's father. George the youngest is also half Hispanic. His mother, and Jeb Bush's ex-wife, Columba Garnica Gallo, is a naturalised citizen originally from Mexico.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Nov 26, 2012, 08:40 AM (16 replies)

'Killer robots' should be banned, say human rights groups


'Killer robots' should be banned, say human rights groups
Richard Norton-Taylor
guardian.co.uk, Monday 19 November 2012 12.19 EST

The use of autonomous drones – "killer robots" that could fire weapons with no human control – must be prohibited by international treaty, human rights campaigners and lawyers have said.

Weapons being developed that could choose and attack targets without human intervention should be pre-emptively banned because of the danger they would pose to civilians in armed conflict, they said.


Such weapons do not yet exist, and major powers, including the US, have not decided to deploy them. But precursors are already being developed. The US, China, Germany, Israel, South Korea, Russia and Britain are engaged in researching and developing such weapons. Many experts predict that full autonomy for weapons could be achieved in 20-30 years or sooner, according to the report.

"It is essential to stop the development of killer robots before they show up in national arsenals," Goose said. "As countries become more invested in this technology, it will become harder to persuade them to give it up."
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Nov 26, 2012, 08:36 AM (0 replies)

From Caligula to Berlusconi, and Now, Petraeus


From Caligula to Berlusconi, and Now, Petraeus
El Universal, Mexico
By Ricardo Trotti
Translated By Krystal Miller
18 November 2012
Edited by Lau­ren Gerken

Sex scandals have always existed, from the incestuous Caligula to the perverted Berlusconi to the unfaithful Clinton to the awkward Petraeus. But now, they have more of an impact, as they are easily discovered and great awareness now exists about misconduct which undermines the credibility of institutions.


Hence, the merit of some questions: Could an official be honest or appear to be honest if he’s caught stealing a watch from a store? Or driving drunk or not paying taxes? Or having an extramarital affair or sexually harassing someone?

The personal conduct of officials has an impact on the way the public views them. Thus, anything improper, morally or legally, undermines the credibility of the work and the departments to which the officials are assigned, as did Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi and France’s Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Panetta made the correct decision to encourage a greater moral code among military leaders. However, the risk is that the Petraeus scandal would bury an even greater shame, which will remain unresolved. The Pentagon established that in a year, there are 3,192 abuse allegations by the armed forces, and that one of three military women have been sexually assaulted. The issue of infidelity and probable cracks in national security seems much more serious if one considers that women represent 14.5 percent of a force of 1.4 million.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Nov 26, 2012, 08:30 AM (1 replies)

American Glory with World’s Destruction


The only purpose left for its foreign policy is to continue its dominance over the world. Its sole purpose is to bully, threaten and attack other nations.

American Glory with World’s Destruction
Daily Jang, Pakistan
By Nusrat Mirza
Translated By Mariam Khalid
18 November 2012
Edited by Lydia Dallett

Americans really enjoy the fact that their military aggression will not only destroy America itself but will bring the whole world to the brink of destruction. It gives them satisfaction that this fear of world devastation is due to their power and because of it all countries will live under this American tyranny. However, they don’t remember getting kicked out of Afghanistan or losing the war with Vietnam. They are like a defeated player who, after losing, thinks tossing the ball against the wall and then catching it signifies his success — this despite the fact that, when leaving the White House in 1961, President Eisenhower discussed the effects of the increasing military industry and said that they should establish a balanced society and not just be a military power. The other sectors of society should also be improved along with the military industry. The increasing military establishment will harm U.S. foreign policy, and its influence in the private sector will create a financial crisis in U.S. society. According to Eisenhower, mere focus on military armament would be disastrous for the nation.

The American people did not listen to Eisenhower and last year spent $700 billion on national defense. This amount is half of the military expense of all the countries in the world [put together]. It is now 5 percent of the national growth, while it was 14 percent in 1953. The U.S. has nuclear and artillery factories but neither can provide jobs to [its] people, nor can they save its sinking economy. That’s why Congress is cutting its defense budget. The only purpose left for its foreign policy is to continue its dominance over the world. Its sole purpose is to bully, threaten and attack other nations. This American barbarism will create more enemies and will isolate it from the rest of the world.

(The U.S.’) justification for the Iraq war is that it has reduced oil prices and the excuse for the Libyan attack was that the West can now benefit from Libyan oil. But is this the only purpose of nations? When a nation presents itself as a bully to the world, its outcome is very dreadful. It finds military solutions for all matters. Eisenhower argued that the spiritual influence is far more important than the imagination of this tyrant nation. The military’s influence has even entered into its culture. The continuous military armament will not only destroy America but the whole world will face its devastating effects. If you see any movie, you will see nothing but devastation and killings and the American agents and bullies will always triumph in the end. The [only] condition is they have to be Americans. Even video games are full of American aggression and the victory always goes to the American, whether he is in China or on the moon.

After 9/11 a lot of military groups were formed in American communities and they are getting ready to destroy the enemy. At this time the enemy is Muslim, so they are killing Muslims. The Chinese are also part of American enmity, as well as the Russians who made Americans so paranoid and insecure that they believe Russian submarines are ready off the coast of New York to attack them. The military tries to influence the American people by doing relief and humanitarian work but the fact is the U.S. military is nothing but a bully.

on edit : to add paragraph #4
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Nov 26, 2012, 08:19 AM (0 replies)

Dangerous silence shrouds drone war


Dangerous silence shrouds drone war
By Fouad Pervez
Nov 27, 2012

The world recently celebrated Malala Day in honor of the young Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, an innocent victim of political violence perpetrated by the Taliban. She was rightfully honored as a hero for her willingness to speak up for her right to an education and against religious extremism.

While her bravery deserved the attention it received, it lies in stark contrast to the many other innocent victims of political violence in Pakistan. Indeed, the Drone War continues with hardly a mention in the US media. It is not hard to imagine that if Malala lived in a different village, she could just as well have been killed by a Predator drone as by the Taliban - and we'd know nothing about her courage.

President George W Bush started the policy in 2004, and President Barack Obama has taken it to a new level, with drone strikes virtually comprising his entire policy towards Pakistan. Some reports estimate that a drone strike has occurred every four days during Obama's presidency. There was little mention of the policy during the presidential campaign, as both Obama and Mitt Romney agreed with the approach. However, given the rising intensity of anti-Americanism in Pakistan - and Pakistan's considerable geopolitical importance - it is crucial to evaluate the Drone War without relying on standard US talking points on Pakistan.

It is true that religious extremism is an issue in Pakistan. Malala was clearly a victim of this problem. However, the situation on the ground is much more complicated than the press usually reports. The vast majority of Pakistanis oppose religious extremism, and there is substantial support for democracy. Famous cricket-player-turned-politician Imran Khan has brought the country's youth behind his push for political liberalism, not dissimilar from Obama during his initial presidential campaign. Despite these findings, Pakistan was the only foreign country in a recent BBC poll that preferred Romney over Obama. This is almost certainly not due to a love of religious minorities, offshore bank accounts, or rich white men. It is because of the Drone War.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Nov 26, 2012, 08:01 AM (0 replies)

Using War as Cover to Target Journalists


Using War as Cover to Target Journalists
Published: November 25, 2012

The setting at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel on Tuesday represented the height of refinement, but Alan Rusbridger, editor in chief of The Guardian, reminded the black-tie crowd at the annual dinner for the Committee to Protect Journalists of something it knew all too well: in many parts of the globe, its profession is under murderous assault.

“Targeting journalism has become a trend, and now the people who are harassing and killing journalists include governments as well as the people you would expect,” said Mr. Rusbridger, who, along with others, was honored at the gathering in New York.

Journalists who dig into murky and dangerous corners of the world have become accustomed to being threatened and sometimes hunted by drug lords and gangsters, but now some governments have decided shooting the messenger is a viable option. The C.P.J. reports that government officials and their allies are now suspected of being responsible for more than a third of the murders of journalists, a higher proportion than killings attributed to terrorist groups or criminal enterprises.

On the same day as the Waldorf event, three employees of news organizations were killed in Gaza by Israeli missiles. Rather than suggesting it was a mistake, or denying responsibility, an Israeli Defense Forces spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, told The Associated Press, “The targets are people who have relevance to terror activity.”

unhappycamper comment: “The targets are people who have relevance to terror activity.”

Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Nov 26, 2012, 07:55 AM (1 replies)

Bill Kristol: John Kerry hasn’t supported enough wars to be secretary of state


Bill Kristol: John Kerry hasn’t supported enough wars to be secretary of state
By David Edwards
Sunday, November 25, 2012 14:08 EST

Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol on Sunday suggested that Republican senators should confirm United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice if she is nominated as secretary of state because she is more likely to support going to war than Sen. John Kerry (D-MA).

The conservative columnist told Fox News host Chris Wallace that Rice had made a mistake by not being more clear that the September attacks in Benghazi were terrorism but Kerry had a history of opposing military intervention.

“I rather think (President Barack Obama) will appoint Susan Rice and I think — I’m not a huge fan of hers — but I think she’s likely to be confirmed by the Senate,” Kristol explained. “And an awful lot of people might decide, you know, given the range of alternative appointments, maybe she’s not — John Kerry, in my opinion, might be a worse secretary of state. Maybe one just goes ahead and lets him have the secretary of state he wants.”

“I think Susan Rice has been a little more interventionist than John Kerry,” he pointed out. “John Kerry was a guy who loved the Assad regime in Syria. John Kerry has been against our intervening in every war we’ve intervened in, the first Gulf War. In Iraq, he was for it before he was against it.”

[o]unhappycamper comment: Uuuuh. The Secretary of Defense is the Secretary of War, not the supposedly diplomatic Secretary of State that has all those little CIA hotspots imbedded. Is Billy confused, dazed, or just letting us know who does what?
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Nov 26, 2012, 07:36 AM (35 replies)

Obama administration aims to keep 10,000 troops in Afghanistan


Obama administration aims to keep 10,000 troops in Afghanistan
By Agence France-Presse
Monday, November 26, 2012 1:03 EST

The administration of President Barack Obama aims to keep around 10,000 US troops in Afghanistan after formal combat operations in that country end in 2014, The Wall Street Journal reported late Sunday.

Citing unnamed senior US officials, the newspaper said the plan was in line with recommendations presented by General John Allen, commander of US and international forces in Afghanistan, who has proposed a force between 6,000 and 15,000 US troops.

This force will conduct training and counterterrorism operations after the Nato mission in Afghanistan formally concludes at the end of 2014, the report said.

About 67,000 US troops are currently deployed in Afghanistan alongside 37,000 coalition troops and 337,000 local soldiers and police that make up the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Nov 26, 2012, 07:29 AM (0 replies)

Obama’s pick for CIA could affect drone program


Obama’s pick for CIA could affect drone program
By Greg Miller, Published: November 24

President Obama began his first term with a dramatic change of course for the CIA, issuing orders on his second day in office to close the agency’s secret prisons and ban harsh interrogation techniques.

As Obama approaches a second term with an unexpected opening for CIA director, agency officials are watching to see whether the president’s pick signals even a modest adjustment in the main counterterrorism program he kept: the use of armed drones to kill suspected extremists.

The resignation of David H. Petraeus over an adulterous affair brought an abrupt end to the short tenure of a CIA director who sought to cement the agency’s ties with the military and expand its drone fleet.

The list of possible replacements is led by three CIA veterans who have all contributed to the agency’s pronounced shift toward paramilitary operations. Obama’s choice could determine whether the trajectory continues or begins to taper off.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Nov 25, 2012, 08:26 AM (0 replies)
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