The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is the most expensive procurement program in Pentagon history. It’s been plagued by schedule delays, gross cost overruns, and a slew of underwhelming performance reviews. Last month the Air Force declared its variant “ready for combat,” and most press reports lauded this as a signal that the program had turned a corner. But a memo issued from the Pentagon’s top testing official, based largely upon the Air Force’s own test data, showed that the Air Force’s declaration was wildly premature.
Sorry for the break. It has been a busy summer, but you can now expect a return to regular blogging and articles. To get back into the swing of things I just wanted to highlight for you once more why I fear the US military's position as the planet's dominant military power is slipping to something less (a topic I discussed in my last post before my summer vacation). The labor day celebration of this nation's industrial strength is upon us, so in beginning to answer this question let's focus on perhaps our nation's foremost weapons manufacturer: Lockheed Martin.
Inside-the-Beltway wisdom holds that the $1.4 trillion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program is too big to cancel and on the road to recovery. But the latest report from the Defense Department’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) provides a litany of reasons that conventional wisdom should be considered politically driven propaganda. The press has already reported flawed software that hinders the ability of the plane to employ weapons, communicate information, and detect threats; maintenance problems so severe that the F-35 has an “overdependence” on
Hardly a week goes by without either the Pentagonitself or some establishment figure bemoaning the fiscal cliff deal and sequester whose cuts to the military budget began in 2013. Media outlets amplify and blindly parrot these dire warnings regarding the U.S. military's ability to keep America safe if the sequester cuts are not rolled back.
But how bad have these cuts really been?
A recent look at the numbers suggests not bad at all.
For instance, according to the Government Printing Office the original 2011 Budget Control Act (popularly known as the fiscal cliff deal) promulgated cuts of
With the likely impending passage of the recent budget deal the Department of Defense continues to squeal about the inadequacy of a funding level of $572.6 Billion (of course this number does not include nuclear weapons costs allocated to the Department of Energy). This in spite of the fact that the Pentagon has enjoyed near record levels of funding for over a decade. So, as we slowly walk back the military budget to somewhere remotely near a version of fiscal sanity the usual suspects are coming out of the woodwork to stick it to guess who? Yes, that's right - the troops!
The first operational deployment of the USS Freedom (LCS-1) remains an ongoing disaster. The latest snafu occurred while the Freedom was operating off the coast of Singapore. There, and on July 20th, the Freedom temporarily lost propulsive power. Though the ship's crew quickly fixed the problem (according to the US Navy LCS-1 was a sitting duck for "only" minutes rather than hours - as if the one would have been better than the other in an active combat environment) they were forced to return to port for more extended repair and maintenance.
In January we reported that the U.S. Navy was preparing the first monohull designed LCS 1 (littoral combat ship) USS Freedom (in contrast to the trimaran design LCS 2 USS Independence) for its first deployment. This was welcome news considering the bevy of mechanical issues that had cropped up during sea trials in 2011.
Of course, on the eve of that deployment the roughly 3,000 ton combat ship was blasted in a report issued by the Defense Department’s director of operational test and evaluation. A report that concluded the USS Freedom is "not expected to be survivable" in combat and unable to
So, let me get this straight. The Pentagon is crying bloody murder about a sequester it's had well over an entire year to prepare for. Yet, in spite of the coming money crunch and impending doom on Wednesday out came this little goodie about the F-22 Raptor:
"Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (FA8611-13-D-2850) with a ceiling of $6,900,000,000 for F-22 modernization."