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Archive for February, 2008

KC-X…And the Winner Is!

Friday, February 29th, 2008


BREAKING NEWS:Northrop Grumman/EADS…the KC-45/A330.

Huge win for US/EU team.

– Christian


Pentagon picks EADS/Northrop for tanker contract: report (AFP)

The Pentagon has chosen Europe’s EADS, parent of Airbus, and US partner Northrop Grumman for a massive refueling tanker aircraft contract, the Wall Street Journal said Friday.

The newspaper, citing a person familiar with the situation, said the partnership won a heated contest against US-based aerospace giant Boeing for the contract of some 40 billion dollars.


BAE/Navistar JLTV Prototype Unveiled

Friday, February 29th, 2008


Be sure to check out first impressions from the annual Association of the U.S. Army Winter Symposium on the unveiling of BAE Systems/Navistar’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle prototype.


More B-2 Crash Speculation

Friday, February 29th, 2008

You can look this one up. See FY 09 budget request, justification materials, US Air Force, Aircraft procurement-Vol. 2, page 71.

You’ll find on that page a detailed description for not one, but two potential mechanical problems that could cause a B-2A to crash.

Here’s a sampling (read highlighted text):


The problem is caused by the B-2A’s distorted engine inlets.

The distortion causes excessive wear on the stage 1 fan blades for the F118-GE-100 engines. Take that and an unplanned “foreign object damage event”, and, voila, your $1.1 billion bomber may experience a “catastrophic in-flight emergency”.

But there’s another problem. A loose fan blade also can spark an “uncontained titanium fire”. According to the same document, the titanium fire — whatever that is — may cause a “Class A event”, or what normal people call a “crash”.

The problem is listed in the budget justification documents because the USAF is buying repair blades this year to fix the problem. I’m sure it will be interesting for the investigators to find out whether the “Spirit of Kansas” had received the repairs before the crash, among other items of interest, of course.

– Steve Trimble

Mughniyeh Done in by Hezbollah

Friday, February 29th, 2008


Killing off your [erstwhile] allies…?

Our friend Aharon Etingoff sends me this from the JP:

‘Arabs helped Mossad kill Mughniyeh’

Syrian sources claim that several Arab nations conspired with Mossad to assassinate Hizbullah chief of operations Imad Mughniyeh earlier this month, the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi daily stated on Wednesday.

According to the report, which could not be confirmed by any official source, Syria was making significant progress in the investigation of Mughniyeh’s death, and would publish the results of its inquiry following the Arab league summit in Damascus in March.


Marines Don’t Want Their MTV

Thursday, February 28th, 2008


Something told me this would happen.

Saw a great report last night from Fox News reporter Jennifer Griffin who’s been traveling with Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway in Iraq.

She knew news when she saw it and reports that Marines are complaining mightily about their new body armor vest, the Modular Tactical Vest or MTV.

The Pentagon and Marine Corps authorized the purchase of 84,000 bulletproof vests in 2006 that not only are too heavy but are so impractical that some U.S. Marines are asking for their old vests back so they can remain agile enough to fight.

Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway wants to know who authorized the costly purchase of the nearly 30-pound flak jackets and has ordered the Marine procurement officers at the Quantico base in Virginia to halt the rest of an unfilled order, FOX News has learned.


Big Changes for the Defense Budget

Thursday, February 28th, 2008


My former colleague at Marine Corps Times, Gordon Lubold, has a great story that ran a couple days ago in his new paper, the Christian Science Monitor.

He’s taken a look at an initiative dreamed up on Capitol Hill to redistribute the nearly half-trillion (if you don’t count wartime supplementals) DoD budget away from roughly equal shares and dole out more funds to the service that deserves them most.

Lubold writes:

A bipartisan House panel is nudging the Pentagon to begin a conversation on how to reform itself in many ways. But at the Pentagon, talk of change usually has a budgetary impact.

And, despite the past several years of “nation-building” and counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been virtually no change in the way the defense budget is carved up in at least 40 years, says Rep. Jim Cooper (D) of Tennessee, who chairs the panel.

“That right there is a statistical indictment of the process,” Representative Cooper says. “There had to be a year in which there were greater needs in one area or another, and the system was unable to accommodate it.“

The fiscal 2009 budget request released this month, for example, shows the Army requesting a 27 percent share, the Air Force asking for a 28 percent share, and the Navy, which includes the Marine Corps, wanting a 29 percent share of the proposed $515 billion budget.

Cooper’s seven-member panel is expected to release a study this week on each of the branches’ “roles and missions” that may threaten services that are seen to perform more conventional warfare. With the focus on the ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that makes some in the Navy and Air Force worry.


MALD Paves Way for Swarm Ops

Thursday, February 28th, 2008


A DT tipper, who prefers to remain anonymous (and who has proffered some pretty good stuff in the past), sent me this little tidbit with his analysis:

The Miniature Air Launched Decoy, a Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) state-of-the-art, low-cost, modular air– launched programmable flight vehicle, successfully completed government and Raytheon seamless verification team flight testing Jan. 11. This sets the stage for the MALD to enter low-rate initial production (LRIP) later this year.

The testing, which began in June 2007, put the MALD through a series of flight profiles including jettison and powered flight tests from both F-16 and B-52 aircraft. The MALD, which weighs less than 300 pounds and has a range of approximately 500 nautical miles, succeeded in 33 of 35 tests…


KC-X Decision!…Not

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008


Friday’s the big day, it seems. An insider tells me the decision has been made, but that the memorandum is making its way around the Pentagon to get all the signatures it needs.

Our boy Steve Trimble reports that Northrop Grumman shares went up slightly today while Boeing shares went down (NorGrum is partnered with EADS/Airbus against Boeing). A stock trader buddy of mine (who has no inside knowledge on this contract award at all but it’s still a good point nonetheless) says “why do you think the entire military drives Chevy and Ford trucks?” That is to say, there ain’t no way a European company will win the bid.


Intel Community Recognizes Cyber Threat

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008


In the 2008 Annual Threat Assessment of the Intelligence Community for the Senate Armed Services Committee for the first time the threat of cyber attacks were addressed (well, the first time in the report available to the public). [EDITOR: The threat assessment was delivered by Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and Defense Intelligence Agency chief, Army Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee Feb. 27]

The intelligence community listed “the vulnerabilities of the US information infrastructure to increasing cyber attacks by foreign governments, non-state actors and criminal elements” as the fourth major bullet of the fourth page in the opening of the forty-five page testimony delivered to the Senate by DNI McConnell. The testimony goes on to state that due to the significance of computers and telecommunications to our country’s security, defense and economy, threats to our IT infrastructure are an important focus of the Intelligence Community.


New Army Field Manual Preview

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

In a conference call with bloggers this morning, the Army outlined the newest version of its Field Manual (FM 3–0 Army Operations), the first revision of Army doctrine since 2001. According to LTG William Caldwell IV, Commander of the Combined Arms Center, the manual has finally taken the step of elevating stabilization operations to the level of offensive and defensive ops.

An Executive Summary was passed out beforehand that outlines the chapters of the manual, which goes like this:

– Chapter 1 establishes the context of land operations in terms of a global environment of persistent conflict, the operational environment, and unified action. It discusses the Army’s expeditionary and campaign capabilities while emphasizing that it is soldiers who accomplish missions.

– Chapter 2 describes a spectrum of conflict extending from stable peace to general war. From that spectrum, it establishes five operational themes into which various joint operations fit. Borrowing heavily from emerging NATO doctrine, this chapter helps Army leaders to understand where diverse operations such as peacekeeping and counterinsurgency fit and shape supporting doctrine.