Home » navy

From the category archives:


Here’s a little update on this fighter design we showed you yesterday. It is indeed Boeing’s concept for a sixth-gen “air dominance” fighter for the U.S. Navy and Air Force, Daryl Davis, chief of Boeing’s Phantom Works division told me today. The plane, which is still just a concept, would have long-ranger range and fly at “higher mach numbers” (faster) than jets like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and be able to supercruise, according to Davis.

Boeing is funding its own research into sixh-gen fighter concepts since neither the Air Force or Navy is moving to kick off a new fighter program in the near future, said Davis. Pumping it’s own cash into advanced fighter R&D means that Boeing will have existing tech ready for a new airplane design when “the balloon goes up,” added Davis.

This is going to be pretty important in the years to come since, as Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told reporters today that the Air Force is going to focus even more on buying proven, existing technologies that meet the service’s actual combat requirements not its “wants.”

Meanwhile, the Phantom Ray UAV is Going Into Storage:

[Continue reading…]

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.


Here’s a great shot of the stern section of the USS Gerald R. Ford being put into place at Huntington Ingalls’ Newport News, Va., shipyard. The Ford is the lead ship of the first new class of American supercarrier since the USS Nimitz entered service in 1975.

The new ship, slated for delivery in 2013, will feature a 21st Century nuclear power plant, electro-magnetic catapults and a redesigned flight deck meant to maximize the amount of take-offs and landings that can be performed.  Check out the massive rudders that are waiting to be joined to the hull.

From a Huntington Ingalls announcement on the Ford’s construction:

Gerald R. Ford is being built using modular construction, a process where smaller sections of the ship are welded together to form large structural units called superlifts. The superlifts are pre-outfitted and lifted into the construction dry dock with the shipyard’s 1,050-metric ton crane.

The final superlift of the ship’s aft end includes the steering gear rooms, electrical power distribution room, store rooms and tanks. At 90 feet long, 120 feet wide and 30 feet deep, the superlift was among the largest of the 162 that comprise Gerald R. Ford.

“This is among the top five largest superlifts in terms of dimension,” said Rolf Bartschi, NNS’ vice president of the CVN 78 Program. “What makes this lift especially impressive is that the unit was erected over the rudders already positioned in the dry dock. Precision is of utmost importance in shipbuilding, and our shipbuilders went to great lengths to construct this lift and successfully hoist it into place.”

As Congress moves to flat-line F-35 Joint Strike Fighter purchases over the next two years, the Navy is buying more F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to offset any fighter gaps caused by the delay of the fifth-gen fighter, top DoD officials told lawmakers this month.

While this is something that been tacitly understood for a long time, this is the first I’ve heard the Pentagon’s very top officials come out and say it.

From Bloomberg:

“The department’s commitment to the F-35 is solid and we are committed to production rates that minimize cost,” the Defense Department’s undersecretary for acquisition, Ashton Carter, wrote Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn on Sept. 1.

The Pentagon last year requested $1.9 billion for 22 additional non-stealthy F-18E/Fs and $2.6 billion more for 28 in fiscal 2012 from Chicago-based Boeing. Some of this money came from a pool of $12 billion in F-35 funds that the Pentagon last year cut or transferred, citing the need for additional testing of its top weapons program.

Buying additional F-18E/Fs “was an acknowledgment” that a delay in buying the Navy F-35 version “would slow down the rate at which” it would reach the fleet, Carter said.

The Navy estimates it will start in 2015 seeing a shortfall in the required number of fighters for its 11 aircraft carriers, Carter wrote.

Still, “the F-35 is a very high priority and the production rate will not be reduced solely to pay other bills in the budget,” Carter wrote.

The piece goes on to quote Defense Secretary Leon Panetta saying that the buys of “highly-capable” Super Hornets “will help mitigate that shortfall while we continue to ramp up F-35 procurement. The F-35 is intended to complement the F/A-18E/F, not replace it. The Navy needs the capabilities that both aircraft provide.”

He ominously went on to say that while “support for the F-35 is strong” the JSF and other fighters are “not exempt from an “exhaustive review” of roles and missions.

“We are committed to making responsible” F-35 investment decisions that reflect program status, force structure requirements and Department priorities,’’ he wrote.

[Continue reading…]

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.

[Continue reading…]