It looks like the first quarter of 2011 was a good one for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter test program, with the plane logging 57 more test flights than the planned 142, even in the face of a fleetwide grounding last month, according to Lockheed officials.
Articles by John Reed
Former Air Force ISR chief, Lt. Gen. David Deptula, just isn’t buying the explanation given by Air Force leaders last week that distance is what kept the F-22 Raptor out of Operation Odyssey Dawn. Instead, political reasons likely kept the most advanced jet on Earth out of the fight, according to Deptula, an early advocate of using the jet to enforce the no-fly zone in Libya.
Despite the need for constant technological innovation in the digital realm, the best defense against cyber attacks is not a new weapon system but strict human security procedures, said Air Force Space Command’s Vice Commander, Lt. Gen. Michael Basla last week.
The Air Force’s Chief Information Officer, Lt. Gen. William Lord just shed some more light on how the Pentagon is working to solve the timeless problem of getting all its jets, satellites and ground vehicles to talk to one another.
Both EADS and Boeing supporters on Capitol Hill continue to make noise about the Air Force’s now settled KC-X contest which saw Boeing recently win the $30-$35 billion contract to replace the Air Force’s oldest KC-135s with the 767-based KC-46A.
The military has long been extremely quiet regarding its offensive cyber capabilities, largely leaving it up to analysts and pundits to describe what offensive operations would look like. Yesterday however, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz dropped the biggest hint I’ve heard a Pentagon official say in a while about offensive cyber ops.
Continuing our midweek focus on stealthy jets, Air Force brass today said budget pressures are the reason that it will take until the mid-2020s for the next generation stealth bomber to be operational, despite the fact that it is being developed with existing and mature technologies.
Air Force leaders shed more light on the communications issues facing the F-22 Raptor today, telling lawmakers that the plane will not be receiving the same datalink being developed for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The Air Force will buy between 80 to 100 of its future stealth bombers that are expected to come online in the mid 2020s, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told lawmakers today. “Between 80 and 100 is the target, this program is very much focused on affordability and poised for technical success,” said Donley during a Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing this morning. This is a significant reduction from reports earlier this year that hinted at a 175-plane buy.
Distance kept the United States’ fleet of F-22 Raptors out of the fight over Libya, Air Force officials revealed today after weeks of speculation on the matter. Had Raptors been based in Europe or the Middle East, they would have been used in Operation Odyssey Dawn to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told Senate appropriators this morning.
Pentagon budget officials today took a new tack in urging lawmakers to get the DoD a budget quickly, saying the lack of cash for FY-11 is flying in the face of the efficiency efforts they spearheaded.
Amidst all the talk about Libya today, two U.S. combatant commanders took a moment to bring cyber warfare in to the spotlight, calling for increased public private partnership on cyber matters due to the fact that the vast majority of cyber operations occur outside of the DoD’s purview.
Keeping in line with his comments about streamlining the wartime contracting and acquisition process, Ashton Carter, the DoD’s weapons czar today said the Pentagon is working to integrate steps to buy weapons quickly into the its war plans.
Undersecretary of Defense Ashton Carter, today told the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan that the DoD must institutionalize a rapid and flexible acquisition process to meet the unpredictable demands of 21st Century contingency operations and low-intensity wars.
After weeks of being grounded the three late model F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter test jets have been cleared to fly. The jets’ return to flight comes after program officials tweaked maintenance procedures which had led to the failure of two generators and an oil leak during a test flight of an F-35A on March 9.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead said today that the Navy is prepared to help implement a no-fly zone over Libya should the order come. “The capability that we have on our aircraft carriers, they can perform that function, they can perform a variety of functions.”
House lawmakers are scrambling to put together an FY-11 defense spending bill this week so as to avoid having to pass a year-long continuing resolution that would leave the Pentagon billions short of its funding requirements for FY-11.
Ashton Carter, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer today emphasized that the DoD will not condone defense industry mergers done for the sake of short term profit over the long term health of the defense industrial base; warning that the Pentagon will keep a close watch on future mergers and acquisitions to ensure they result in long-term good.
While the Defense Department is scrambling to field 65 UAV combat air patrols per day in the Middle East by 2013 and isn’t “sure that will meet the demand” for spy planes overhead, the DoD will eventually have to figure out how to better manage its ballooning drone fleet and rapidly growing ISR corps, said Michael Vickers, assistant secretary of defense for special ops and acting undersecretary of defense for intelligence today.
The Pentagon said today it will take until the mid 202os to field a new fleet of 80 to 100 bombers built using existing technology. If the Air Force is not going to use dramatically improved technologies, which usually take a decade or so to perfect, why will it take so long? Well, it all comes down to money and making really fancy existing technology all work together, according to several experts.