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unhappycamper's Journal
unhappycamper's Journal
June 7, 2012

F-35 News Over The Last Few Days


F-35 production quality worries Senate panel
By Andrea Shalal-Esa
WASHINGTON | Tue Jun 5, 2012 9:58pm EDT

(Reuters) - The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday questioned the quality of production on the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, citing a "potentially serious issue" with its electronic warfare capability.


Questions over the quality of production of the F-35 will compound the mounting woes of the $396 billion Pentagon program, which has already been restructured three times in recent years to extend the development phase and slow production.

The committee said it was troubled by the average rate of scrap, rework and repair at Lockheed's Fort Worth, Texas facility from 2009 through the first two months of 2012, but gave no details.

"Inattention to production quality" had led to the discovery of a potentially serious issue with an aperture on the plane that was critical to its electronic warfare capability, the report said. The full extent of the problem was not known, but it underscored the need for the Pentagon and Lockheed to "rigorously manage production quality," it said.


Canadians are pissed at Peter MacKay for this $47,000 photo-op:


Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Tuesday.

Forget the F-35 bill: Peter MacKay fighter jet photo op cost taxpayers $47,000
Allison Cross Jun 5, 2012 – 4:52 PM ET | Last Updated: Jun 5, 2012 5:21 PM ET

Peter MacKay faced further embarrassment over the bungled F-35 procurement program Tuesday after it was revealed a 2010 Tory press conference to announce plans to buy 65 of the stealth fighter jets cost taxpayers $47,000.

The cost, opposition parties argue, is part of mounting evidence the Conservative government has grossly mismanaged the procurement of military equipment.

The press conference figure was revealed by Defence Minister Peter MacKay in a written response to an opposition question, tabled late Monday in Parliament.

Liberal defence critic John McKay asked for details about the event, which saw Mr. MacKay, Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose and Treasury Board President Tony Clement pose with a fake F-35 built by manufacturer Lockheed Martin.


And the Koreans aren't too happy about flying simulators rather than the real thing:


Controversy erupts over simulation test of F-35 in fighter jet purchase
2012/06/07 16:34 KST

SEOUL, June 7 (Yonhap) -- A plan to conduct performance tests of Lockheed Martin's F-35 using simulators, not an actual test flight by a South Korean pilot, has stirred up controversy here as Seoul prepares to buy an advanced fleet of stealth fighters.

Boeing's F-15 SE, Lockheed's F-35 and EADS Eurofighter are competing to win a huge deal worth upward of 10 trillion won (US$8.5 billion) to sell 60 combat fighters to South Korea, which will choose a supplier in October.

On-site performance tests will be held in June for the F-35, in August for the F-15 SE and in September for the Eurofighter, according to officials at the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), South Korea's state arms procurement agency, on Thursday.

While Boeing and EADS agreed to carry out performance tests through actual flights with a Korean pilot on board, Lockheed refused to do so, saying the radar-evading warplane is not in service and still under development.


Gary Clement summed it up best:

June 7, 2012

Soldiers Are Coming Home Injured and Addicted -- Will We Pay Our Debt to Our Vets?


Soldiers come home from the two wars with a staggering rate of brain injuries and the addictions paired with them, but to treat them could cost $1 trillion.


Soldiers Are Coming Home Injured and Addicted -- Will We Pay Our Debt to Our Vets?
The Fix / By Katie Drummond
May 29, 2012

Robert LeHeup will be the first to admit that he's an alcoholic. “I drink so that I don't go to shit,” says LeHeup, a 30-year-old bartender living in Columbus, South Carolina. “I drink because I have to.”

LeHeup is a former Marine sergeant, who served two grueling tours in Afghanistan during the US invasion and early occupation. He drinks to dull memories of the everyday chaos and carnage. He drinks to tolerate his disgust at the raucous bar-goers who have no idea how easy life is in America, compared to the casual violence and grinding poverty of Afghanistan. He drinks because, in the Marines, that is just what everybody does.

LeHeup, in his ongoing struggle with alcoholism, is anything but an outlier among this generation of military service-members. In fact, more than a decade after the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, an unprecedented number of men and women in the US military are currently in the throes of addiction.


America claims to be committed to taking care of ailing veterans for their entire lives if need be. For the generation of veterans of the war in Vietnam, which ended in 1975, the peak in healthcare costs and disability payments has not yet been reached. For the new generation of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the peak is not due for another 40 or 50 years. By one estimate, the total price tag for this care will be $1 trillion. Yet budget hawks in Congress, especially among the Republicans, have already proposed cutting funds for veteran affairs.

June 6, 2012

Does Lindsey Graham Think Before He Opens His Mouth?


Does Lindsey Graham Think Before He Opens His Mouth?
Tuesday, 05 June 2012 12:28
By James Kwak, The Baseline Scenario | Op-Ed

[center]"The debate on the debt is an opportunity to send the world a signal that we are going to remain the strongest military force in the world. We're saying, 'We're going to keep it, and we're going to make it the No. 1 priority of a broke nation.' "[/center]

That's Lindsey Graham, as reported in the Times today (emphasis added).

Graham is trying to make the case that we should undo the automatic reductions in defense spending mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (last summer's the debt ceiling compromise). But as a conservative Republican, he is also wedded to the notion that the United States is "broke." (Which, of course, is nonsense. If you're not sure why, see chapter 5 of White House Burning.) Graham has also signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, meaning that the federal government can only solve its fiscal problems by cutting spending, not increasing tax revenues.

To make this balancing act work, Graham makes the claim that a country that is "broke" (again, his word) should continue to make military spending its top priority—including military intervention in both Syria and Iran. Does he really think that, under that assumption, we should continue slashing domestic spending so we can continue paying for expensive overseas adventures? Yet this is the unavoidable, nonsensical conclusion of today's Republican orthodoxy.

And this gem showed up at military.com this morning: http://militarytimes.com/blogs/battle-rattle/2012/06/05/senator-stirs-pot-by-suggesting-closure-of-marine-corps-recruit-depot-possible/
June 6, 2012

Another $418 Million Down The Tubes

The Air Force is investigating a ground incident last week involving an F-22.


Military probes F-22 mishap at Tyndall Air Force Base
RANDAL YAKEY / News Herald Writer
June 05, 2012 08:04:55 PM

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE — The Air Force is not calling a “ground incident” involving an F-22 Raptor last week a “crash.”

The F-22 was in a “touch-and-go” practice session at about 5 p.m. Thursday when it was put out of commission. The “ground incident” put the plane on the sidelines and benched the pilot, officials said.

“Everything around this is in freeze frame right now,” said Herman Bell, chief of Tyndall’s 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs.

Base officials would not comment on how the plane made contact with the ground, nor would base officials give any indication of whether the “incident” was mechanical or pilot error. The pilot was not injured in the incident.

unhappycamper comment: A touch-and-go accident is not considered a crash? Was it the "touch" part or the "go" part? Or do we just call it a mishap and keep on trucking?
June 6, 2012

The Clusterfuck That Is Afghanistan

Taliban bomb makers and leaders caught red-handed trying to kill American troops in Afghanistan have been freed without trial after paying off corrupt local officials, officers complain.


Taliban leaders quietly freed without trial after paying off officials
By Ben Farmer, Ghazni
8:00PM BST 04 Jun 2012

American officers in Ghazni province say in several cases they have been powerless to prevent the release of insurgent figures despite strong evidence they were attacking coalition forces.

The men were released not as part of the judicial process, or as part of a formal reconciliation deal, but after corrupt officials had taken bribes worth the equivalent of thousands of pounds.

A former Afghan intelligence chief from the eastern province confirmed to the Daily Telegraph that the practice had been rife for some time.

Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division have been sent to southern Ghazni this summer with just months to try and stabilise security and bolster the Afghan forces, before they pull out.
June 6, 2012


Want to get a first-hand look at the ever soaring cost of military hardware?

Smoke rises from a dry dock as fire crews respond Wednesday, May 23, 2012 to a fire on the USS Miami SSN 755 submarine at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on an island in Kittery.

By Edward D. Murphy [email protected]
Staff Writer
Yesterday at 11:50 AM

It will cost about $400 million to repair damage to the USS Miami, an attack submarine that caught fire while at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery on May 23, Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, said.

Pingree said $400 million – nearly half of the $900 million it cost to build the Miami – is a preliminary estimate from Navy officials. She toured the sub yesterday.

Navy officials have said they want to repair the Miami and keep it in service because the size of the fleet has been decreasing.

Navy officials have not yet said what caused the fire, which burned for hours and required help from a score of local fire companies to extinguish. The fire damaged the sub's control room, the torpedo room and crew quarters in the front of the ship. The sub was in Kittery for what was scheduled to be a 20-month overhaul.

unhappycamper comment: Want to know why the DoD is going to spend $400 million dollars to fix this 24 year-old boat?

Answer: It's replacement, a new Virgina-class sub costs somewhere between $5 and $7 billion dollars.

June 6, 2012

Praying at the Church of St Drone

Praying at the Church of St Drone
By Tom Engelhardt
Jun 7, 2012

Be assured of one thing: whichever candidate you choose at the polls in November, you aren't just electing a president of the United States; you are also electing an assassin-in-chief. The last two presidents may not have been emperors or kings, but they - and the vast national-security structure that continues to be built-up and institutionalized around the presidential self - are certainly one of the nightmares the founding fathers of this country warned us against. They are one of the reasons those founders put significant war powers in the hands of congress, which they knew would be a slow, recalcitrant, deliberative body.

Thanks to a long New York Times piece by Jo Becker and Scott Shane, "Secret 'Kill List' Proves a Test of Obama's Principles and Will", we now know that the president has spent startling amounts of time overseeing the "nomination" of terrorist suspects for assassination via the remotely piloted drone program he inherited from President George W Bush and which he has expanded exponentially.


The language of the piece about our warrior president was generally sympathetic, even in places soaring. It focused on the moral dilemmas of a man who - we now know - has personally approved and overseen the growth of a remarkably robust assassination program in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan based on a "kill list." Moreover, he's regularly done so target by target, name by name. (The Times did not mention a recent US drone strike in the Philippines that killed 15.) According to Becker and Shane, President Obama has also been involved in the use of a fraudulent method of counting drone kills, one that unrealistically de-emphasizes civilian deaths.


It's not, however, that American presidents have never had anything to do with or been in any way involved in assassination programs. The state as assassin is hardly unknown in our history. How could President John F Kennedy, for example, not know about CIA-inspired or -backed assassination plots against Cuba's Fidel Castro, the Congo's Patrice Lumumba, and South Vietnamese autocrat (and ostensible ally) Ngo Dinh Diem? (Lumumba and Diem were successfully murdered.) Similarly, during Lyndon Johnson's presidency, the CIA carried out a massive assassination campaign in Vietnam, Operation Phoenix. It proved to be a staggeringly profligate program for killing tens of thousands of Vietnamese, both actual enemies and those simply swept up in the process.
June 5, 2012

The Navy Thinks This New $7 Billion Ship Is The Answer To All Its Chinese Concerns


The Navy Thinks This New $7 Billion Ship Is The Answer To All Its Chinese Concerns
Robert Johnson | Jun. 4, 2012, 6:56 AM

Looking a bit like an old Civil War Ironclad, the $7 billion DDG 1000 USS Zumwalt will focus on land attacks, relying heavily on its advanced stealth technology to slip in close to shore before unleashing its massive onboard arsenal.

A new take on the Zumwalt was published today by the Eric Talmadge at the Associated Press who points out that in addition to the ship's wide array of conventional weapons the Zumwalt will eventually carry the Navy's much anticipated "railgun".

The railgun is an electrically powered artillery weapon that launches massive projectiles at high speeds without the use of gunpowder or explosives. Instead, an electric current is run through the artillery shell, the current interacts with the magnetic fields in the rails and pounds the shell from the barrel.


The Zumwalt was originally estimated to cost about $3.8 billion, but so much technology crammed on board that its cost has nearly doubled, and after the first three are built, production will stop. Including the exhaustive research and development required by each vessel to total cost jumps to $7 billion apiece.

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