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unhappycamper's Journal
unhappycamper's Journal
June 21, 2013

Top Official Admits F-35 Stealth Fighter Secrets Stolen


Top Official Admits F-35 Stealth Fighter Secrets Stolen
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on June 20, 2013 at 2:21 PM

Yesterday, at a subcommittee hearing attended by just half a dozen Senators, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer made a blunt admission: The military’s most expensive program, the stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, has been hacked and the stolen data used by America’s adversaries. Under Secretary Frank Kendall didn’t say by whom, but the answer is almost certainly China, a cyber superpower whose People’s Liberation Army Air Force has recently rolled out some suspiciously sophisticated stealth fighter prototypes of its own. The Russians also have skilled hackers and “5th Generation” stealth jet programs, but they’re not suspected of such direct copying, at least not yet.

“I’m confident the classified material is well protected, but I’m not at all confident that our unclassified information is as well-protected,” said Kendall, the Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. “It’s a major problem for us…. What it does is reduce the costs and lead time of our adversaries to doing their own designs, so it gives away a substantial advantage.”

The bad news isn’t new news: That someone had hacked F-35 subcontractor BAE Systems was first reported six years ago, and just this February Washington Post reporter Ellen Nakashima obtained leaked information naming the Chinese as having compromised not just the F-35 but two dozen other weapons program. Administration officials have been publicly pressuring China to rein in its hacking. But it’s still remarkable that such a senior official would so bluntly admit that US interests have been so directly harmed.

So what does this mean for a future conflict? The nightmare — raised by a recent Defense Science Board report – is what you might call the Battlestar Galactica scenario: Our fighters close in on the enemy, the bad guys push a button, and all our systems shut down, crippled by cyber-attacks via “back doors” previous hacks created in the security software. In this case, thankfully, that seems unlikely. Kendall made clear that classified data has remained secure (so far, we think): It’s unclassified data in contractors’ computers that has been stolen, not the military’s secret codes.
June 21, 2013

Sen. Sessions: GOP Distrusts Obama, But We Might Backload Sequester


Sen. Sessions: GOP Distrusts Obama, But We Might Backload Sequester
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on June 20, 2013 at 6:18 PM

CAPITOL HILL: On issues from nuclear weapons to the spending cuts known as sequestration, political common ground has turned into a war-torn no-man’s-land where both sides fear to tread. That intractable divide between the parties was on full display this morning at One Constitution Avenue, across the street from the US Capitol, where Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions expressed Republicans’ deep, wide-ranging, and sometimes outright emotional distrust of President Barrack Obama.

Amidst the bitterness, however, Sessions held out a slender reed of hope for some kind of compromise that would slow sequestration down, if not reduce its 10-year total. Pentagon officials have been pushing for such “backloading” for months, starting with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno in April and with Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey joining in a week and a half ago.

“Will Defense have to take some more reductions? Yes,” he told me after his public remarks at a breakfast at the Capitol Hill headquarters of the influential Reserve Officers’ Association (ROA). But, he went on, “falling this rapidly will have more costs than… a phased-in reduction.” A “dramatic drop” in spending from one year to the next, instead of bringing the budget down on a steady curve over time, leads to inefficient and even counterproductive cuts, he argued.

Does that mean Sessions and his Republican colleagues might agree to backloaded cuts, where the ten-year total still came to $500 billion but the annual figure was below $50 billion in the early years and rose above $50 billion in the second half of the decade?

unhappycamper comment: This “dramatic drop” that Sessions is is talking about is a five percent budget cut. Five fucking percent.
June 21, 2013

Stars of 2013 Paris Air Show: Russian Su-35; European Neuron UAV: NO Americans


Stars of 2013 Paris Air Show: Russian Su-35; European Neuron UAV: NO Americans
By Colin Clark on June 20, 2013 at 11:00 AM

PARIS AIR SHOW: It’s fair to say that the unabashed star of this show was the Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter. It didn’t fly much but when it did, jaws dropped. With no American military fighters, helicopters or cargo planes flying here this year, the Su-35 pretty much had the show to itself, since the European offerings have been seen repeatedly in years past.

Fast and able to stand on its tail, power through at a high degree of attack and execute the famous Pugachev Cobra maneuver where a plane flies straight up and then seems to curl back in on itself, the plane wowed jaded airshow participants. But the aircraft’s dazzling maneuverability, key to winning dogfights and evading surface to air missiles, would seem to ignore a fundamental shift in air warfare away from the romance of dogfights to the cold, calculated destruction of the enemy from as far away as possible. At a recent event, a former senior Air Force official told me that F-35 pilots were told they had bungled if they ended up in a dogfight. The enemy, he said, should have been dead long before then if all was done correctly.

While the Sukhoi was undoubtedly the star of the show, some other aircraft deserved at least a nomination for “best supporting actor”:
June 21, 2013

BAE Pushes Its T-X Bird At Paris Show; Gen. Welsh Tells DC ‘We’re On Track’


BAE Pushes Its T-X Bird At Paris Show; Gen. Welsh Tells DC ‘We’re On Track’
By Colin Clark on June 19, 2013 at 11:01 AM

PARIS AIR SHOW: It is one of the hottest competitions for which there is not yet a formal Pentagon program. The Air Force’s next generation trainer — known as T-X — will be worth some $11 billion for some 350 planes. Lockheed Martin and the South Korean maker of the T-50 have teamed up to offer the South Korean trainer. General Dynamics said early this year that it would partner with the Italian company Alenia Aermacchi and plump down the Italian M-346. And there is the company many assume is the front runner, BAE Systems, who plan to offer their plane, called the Hawk. BAE has supplied Britain, Canada and Australia, our three closest allies with trainers and the first British squadrons trained in the Hawk have just graduated.

But the Air Force senior leadership, which has told reporters and industry that it really, really needs a new trainer to replace Northrop Grumman’s T-38 trainer, which is on average almost 45 years old. In fact, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said yesterday in Washington that it’s going to happen.

“We’re on track… to have a new trainer by 2023 or ’24,” Gen. Welsh said Monday at an Air Force Association breakfast. “It comes up in every discussion,” he added. “A new trainer is like the tide.” But unlike the tide, it’s not clear when it will actually come in. It certainly sounds as if Welsh is signaling there’s going to be money in the 2015 budget.

That said, Welsh went on, there are questions the Air Force has yet to answer about its pilot training program and how many different types of trainers the service needs to buy. “Do you need three aircraft? Do you need two aircraft?” he said. “Does pilot training need to fundamentally change?”
June 21, 2013

Boeing Told to Repay After Charging $2,286 for $10 Part


Boeing Told to Repay After Charging $2,286 for $10 Part
By Tony Capaccio - 2013-06-19T15:30:43Z

The Pentagon’s purchasing agency says Boeing Co. (BA) must refund $13.7 million in excessive prices charged on spare parts, including a $10 device for which the defense contractor charged $2,286 apiece.

The Defense Logistics Agency “is seeking a refund from Boeing,” spokeswoman Michelle McCaskill said in an e-mailed statement. “The refund will be for the full $13.7 million identified” and will be requested by July 31, she said.

The agency overpaid about $1.3 million for 573 of the aluminum “bearing sleeves” used on an aircraft’s main landing-gear door that should have cost $10 each, the Pentagon’s inspector general said in an audit labeled “For Official Use Only.”

Wasteful spending resulted from agency personnel failing to negotiate good deals or to perform adequate oversight, and from Boeing’s failure to pass on savings it won from subcontractors, according to the complete audit report. A summary of the findings was reported by Bloomberg News on June 7.
June 21, 2013

F-22 program produces few planes, soaring costs


A $418 million dollar F-22.

F-22 program produces few planes, soaring costs
By Ralph Vartabedian and W.J. Hennigan
June 16, 2013

When the U.S. sought to assure Asian allies that it would defend them against potential aggression by North Korea this spring, the Pentagon deployed its top-of-the-line jet fighter, the F-22 Raptor.

But only two of the jets were sent screaming through the skies south of Seoul.

That token show of American force was a stark reminder that the U.S. may have few F-22s to spare. Alarmed by soaring costs, the Defense Department shut down production last year after spending $67.3 billion on just 188 planes — leaving the Air Force to rely mainly on its fleet of 30-year-old conventional fighters.

"People around the world aren't dumb," said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita). "They see what we have. They recognize that our forces have been severely depleted."\
June 21, 2013

Scrapping equipment ($7 billion worth) key to Afghan drawdown


June 17, Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan -- U.S. military contract workers tear apart an armored vehicle that is among the hundreds of such personnel carriers the Pentagon no longer has use for.

Scrapping equipment key to Afghan drawdown
By Ernesto Londoño, Published: June 19

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — Facing a tight withdrawal deadline and tough terrain, the U.S. military has destroyed more than 170 million pounds worth of vehicles and other military equipment as it rushes to wind down its role in the Afghanistan war by the end of 2014.

The massive disposal effort, which U.S. military officials call unprecedented, has unfolded largely out of sight amid an ongoing debate inside the Pentagon about what to do with the heaps of equipment that won’t be returning home. Military planners have determined that they will not ship back more than $7 billion worth of equipment — about 20 percent of what the U.S. military has in Afghanistan — because it is no longer needed or would be too costly to ship back home.

That has left the Pentagon in a quandary about what to do with the items. Bequeathing a large share to the Afghan government would be challenging because of complicated rules governing equipment donations to other countries, and there is concern that Afghanistan’s fledgling forces would be unable to maintain it. Some gear may be sold or donated to allied nations, but few are likely to be able to retrieve it from the war zone.

Therefore, much of it will continue to be shredded, cut and crushed to be sold for pennies per pound on the Afghan scrap market — a process that reflects a presumptive end to an era of protracted ground wars. The destruction of tons of equipment is all but certain to raise sharp questions in Afghanistan and the United States about whether the Pentagon’s approach is fiscally responsible and whether it should find ways to leave a greater share to the Afghans.
June 21, 2013

U.S. Afghanistan auditor tells of free-for-all as subcontractors demand money they’re owed


A half finished police watchtower in Afghanistan on Oct. 23, 2010

U.S. Afghanistan auditor tells of free-for-all as subcontractors demand money they’re owed
By Jay Price | McClatchy Foreign Staff
Posted on Thursday, June 20, 2013

KABUL, Afghanistan — The U.S. government’s primary auditing agency for Afghanistan has found that subcontractors on U.S.-funded projects in that country frequently aren’t paid, resulting in a litany of problems that include delayed and unfinished jobs, death threats to company workers and allegations of corruption among Afghan police and judicial officials.

Primary contractors are responsible for the failure, but because the nonpayments leave the impression that the U.S. government and coalition forces aren’t fulfilling their obligations, they undermine support for the coalition among the Afghan people and put at risk multimillion-dollar projects that are intended to promote stability, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said in a letter to U.S. diplomatic, defense and aid officials warning them of what it called “serious problems” of nonpayments.

The letter, which SIGAR also released publicly, said that one project funded by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to build police stations in northern Afghanistan was reduced in size after unpaid subcontractors walked away with equipment that belonged to the prime contractor.

"The prime contractor was removed from the project in May 2010, six months past the completion date with only an estimated 40 percent of the work completed," the letter said.
June 21, 2013

Boy’s death highlights anger some Yemenis feel over U.S. drone strikes


n unmanned drone flies a training mission over Victorville, California

Boy’s death highlights anger some Yemenis feel over U.S. drone strikes
By Adam Baron McClatchy Foreign Staff
Posted on Thursday, June 20, 2013

SANAA, Yemen — If an apparent U.S. drone strike this month in the village of Mahashama had killed only its intended targets – an al Qaida chief and some of his men – locals might’ve grumbled about a violation of Yemen’s national sovereignty and gone on with their lives.

But the strike also killed a 10-year-old named Abdulaziz, the younger brother of the targeted militant, Saleh Hassan Huraydan, according to local tribal leaders and Yemenis with close ties to the al Qaida branch here. And that set off a firestorm of complaints that underscores how American airstrikes can so outrage a community that even though al Qaida loses some foot soldiers, it gains dozens of sympathizers.

“Killing al Qaida is one thing, but the death of an innocent person is a crime that we cannot accept,” said a sheikh from the area, who like other tribal leaders McClatchy interviewed spoke only on the condition of anonymity because of security concerns. “What did Abdulaziz do? Was this child a member of al Qaida?”

The death of a child not only inflames tensions over drone attacks against suspected al Qaida operatives in the province but also raises questions about the rules that govern the Obama administration’s drone strategy.
June 20, 2013

No Lack of Weapons in Syria


The decision to deliver American weapons to the Syrian insurgents is a poor one. U.S. President Obama is beginning to involve the U.S. in a conflict that can no longer be controlled.

No Lack of Weapons in Syria
Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany
By Damir Fras
Translated By Sandra Alexander
14 June 2013
Edited by Philip Lawler

In 2003, then U.S. President George W. Bush justified the invasion of Iraq with a lie. The weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein was allegedly stockpiling were never found. Bush simply wanted to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

Ten years later, the U.S. government is justifying their planned delivery of weapons to the Syrian insurgents with a comparable motive. Assad’s troops have used poisonous gas. Again, critics in the U.S. are already questioning the administration’s honesty.

However, this criticism could be premature. Doubts are appropriate, primarily because U.S. knowledge stems from the intelligence community. But there are two crucial points why the situation might be different today: First, it is proven that the Syrian army has chemical weapons at their disposal — which was not the case in Iraq. Second, it would be stupid if U.S. President Barack Obama were to repeat the mistake of his predecessor, and Obama is not stupid.

That has nothing to do with whether the decision to deliver U.S. weapons is right. It is not. There is not a lack of weapons; there is a lack of willingness to find a political solution. Obama is beginning to involve the U.S. in a conflict that can no longer be controlled. It seems as though the administration’s plan may not be a smart one at all.

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