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Just a quick F-35 update. The Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday voted to flatline F-35 Joint Strike Fighter production levels at 35 jets per year for the next two years. The original plan called for Lockheed Martin to ramp up to 42 jets per year by 2013. The Bethesda, Md., based-defense giant is in the midst of a $5 billion contract to build 32 jets this year.

Earlier this week the Senate appropriations defense subcommittee proposed the production limits along with a $695 million cut to the program’s budget in its markup of the fiscal year 2012 defense appropriations bill which spends a grand total of $513 billion on defense.

Subcommittee chairman Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hi — btw, read his bio, especially the World War II part, it’s insane.) said on Tuesday that the production slowdown is meant to give Lockheed a chance to weed out any potential problems before they make their way into too many production jets — a situation he fears will lead to costly retrofts down the road.

“For each aircraft we build this early in the test program, we will have to pay many millions in the future to fix the problems that are identified in testing,” said Inouye, who also chairs the entire appropriations committee.

Moving over to ground vehicles, the appropriations committee also nixed the Army and Marine Corps $54 billion Joint Light Tactical Vehicle effort citing cost growth and constantly changing requirements.

The bill was sent to the full Senate yesterday, we’ll see what happens next.

 

Check out these YouTube videos uploaded by ISAF showing U.S. Army soldiers, Marines, and unidentified troops in Desert Combat Uniforms armed with Kalashnikovs (Salamander says they’re Macedonian) fighting off Taliban insurgents during Tuesday’s attack on the U.S. embassy compound in Kabul.

While the insurgents failed to do serious harm to the embassy and its staff (though there were numerous Afghan casualties) they did seem to gain a PR victory due to the amount of media attention the incident received.

ISAF went on a PR offensive of its own, though, including a great twitter fight between ISAF and the Taliban during the kinetic assault. These videos are another part of that offensive. Just like insurgents love to broadcast their battlefield exploits, NATO is now showing off it’s fighting prowess in a timely manner. Enjoy.

Two more videos below the jump.

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Well, the Senate is looking to axe the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, the Army and Marine Corps effort to field a survivable yet maneuverable truck that bridges the gap between the relatively unwieldy MRAP and the thin-skinned yet versatile Humvee.

Sister site DoDBuzz reports that the Senate defense appropriations subcommittee cut the JLTV during its mark of the FY-12 defense appropriations bill,“citing shifting requirements and rising costs.”

Buzz points out that the Army and Marines already have numerous ground vehicle buys in the works such as the Army’s M-2 Bradley-like Ground Combat Vehicle, the Marines’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle and the Army’s Humvee recapitalization plan which may overlap with the JLTV’s requirements for a survivable yet maneuverable light truck (in fact, JLTV is already playing a role in this effort).

We’ll see what happens during tomorrow’s vote on the bill by the full Senate Appropriations Committee. Remember, Congress is looking to cut billions from defense coffers. A truck that seems like it shares characteristics with the Humvee recap program or the M-ATV (smaller, lighter version of an MRAP) may be seen as redundant and wasteful by lawmakers.

Here’s what subcommittee chair Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) had to say about the cut:

“The bill terminates the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program due to excessive cost growth and constantly changing requirements.  The committee believes that alternatives exist today to meet the Army and Marine Corps’ requirements to recapitalize and competitively upgrade the Humvee fleet, and supports funding for those programs.

Well now, it looks like North Korea has found a new way of provoking the U.S. and its South Korean allies — GPS jamming. A U.S. Army RC-7B Crazy Hawk reconnaissance plane was forced to make an emergency landing last March after the North jammed its GPS receiver.

From South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper:

According to a report the Defense Ministry submitted to Democratic Party lawmaker Ahn Kyu-baek of the National Assembly’s Defense Committee, the RC-7B took off from its base at 8:30 p.m. on March 4 but had to make an emergency landing about 45 minutes later due to disruption of its GPS functions by jamming signals transmitted from Haeju and Kaesong in North Korea at intervals of five to 10 minutes that afternoon.

The jamming signals also disrupted the GPS devices of coastal patrol boats and speed boats of the South Korean Navy. Several civilian aircraft in the Gimpo area were also affected.

The North deploys vehicle-mounted jammers that can disrupt signals within 50–100 km and is reportedly developing a jamming device capable of disrupting signals more than 100 km away.

Based on the Dash-7 turboprop airliner, the little-known RC-7B (shown above) can almost be thought of as a low-flying JSTARS. It’s got a Synthetic Aperture Radar/ground scanning radar that allows operators to look for moving targets like enemy tanks and also features electro-optical/infrared cameras. It can also be fitted with gear to intercept enemy communications.

Update: The Pentagon is denying that a U.S. plane was forced to land because of North Korean GPS jamming. I’ve got to admit, when I read this, my first thought was ‘would a jammed GPS signal really force a U.S. military aircraft to abort a mission?’

Being part of Military​.com, it wouldn’t be right if we here at DT didn’t do something to recognize the ten-year anniversary of 9/11. We figured we’d list off some of the most significant advances in weaponry that have occurred over the last decade — some driven by the wars spawned by that day, some independent of them. We gradually saw a shift away from extremely high-end weaponry designed to defeat major armies in favor of tech that could be fielded quickly and rapidly adapt to the needs of “low intensity” warfare. Case in point; the F-22 Raptor buys being cut while buys of relatively low-tech drones and propeller-driven ISR planes were dramatically increased . However, now that those wars are winding down, we may see a return to high-end tech at the cost of low-end tech.

You’ll find our list below, set up in no particular order. We’ve kept it to major weapons systems that have become operational in the last decade. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.

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