Rumors

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Carter Shoves Hard on JSF Costs

While reports vary about just what Ash Carter, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said about Joint Strike Fighter costs, one thing is…


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Venlet Denies F136 Support

The head of the Joint Strike Fighter program, who was portrayed in a letter by senior House defense lawmakers as voicing support for the F136 second engine, has issued a denial. While he supports the generic idea of competition, Vice Adm. David Venlet supports Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ position opposing the F136.


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JSF Costs Up At Least $2.5B: Rumor

UPDATED: Lockheed Statement, Other Details
Defense Secretary Robert Gates will reportedly be told in a Tuesday meeting that the Joint Strike Fighter program will need $2.5 to $5 billion more than currently budgeted and also faces significant schedule delays.


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US Warns PRC of Anti-Sat Debris

Earlier this month, the State Department learned that debris from the Chinese weather satellite destroyed in their 2007 anti-satellite test would be coming uncomfortably close to another — functioning — Chinese satellite. So, like any good neighbor, State told China about the possibility of a collision. Did they listen?


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US To Try Israeli Tank Protector

UPDATED: DOTE Live Fire Supervising Tests
Next month a Stryker combat vehicle will arrive in the US equipped for testing the Israeli’s Trophy active protection system. The Army has pursued active protection for years, most recently abandoning the Future Combat System’s active protection system developed by Raytheon. We understand at least one M-ATV will also get the radar- directed system. The Israeli system was designed and built by Rafael and is being displayed at the Association of the US Army conference here.


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Trade Ya My JSFs for 100 LRStrike: RUMOR

As pressure rises for the US to abandon overseas bases crucial to the U.S. ability to reach deep into China, Russia and other strategic locations, the service is growing increasingly hungry to buy a basket of long range strike capabilities. Air Force officials say it would probably be a mix of platforms — manned and unmanned.


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Jones Leaves WH; Start of New Team

The man touted as President Obama’s next national security advisor would be a “disaster” in the job, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Bob Woodward, according to the new book “Obama’s Wars.” Retired Gen. Jim Jones is leaving his job as National Security Advisor and is likely to be replaced by Tom Donilon, Jones’ deputy. It is likely to be an unpopular choice for the Pentagon. Woodward writes that, “Gates felt that Donilon did not understand the military or treat its senior leadership with sufficient respect.”


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HASC Chair Pulls Ahead in Polls

Rep. Ike Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, appears to be solidifying a lead over his Missouri challenger after being shaken by the first strong challenge to his seat after 33 years in office. We hear Skelton’s internal polls show a lead in the high single digits over his challenger, Republican Vicky Hartzler, and he boasts something like a $1 million lead in the cash department, critical in the final weeks of the campaign


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Reed Sez No; Hamre May Say Yes

With Defense Secretary Robert Gates probably leaving in February — and having reaffirmed his intent to depart — the administration has apparently begun to approach candidates for the job. We hear one of the top contenders, Sen. Jack Reed, senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was approached and declined. So, where does that leave the list of possible defense secretaries? John Hamre, we hear, might well accept the job if it is offered to him. And there’s Paul Kaminski and a certain senior Democratic female named Clinton.


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Rumor: Fraser Tops For AF Chief

Three sources with access to senior Air Force officials say Air Combat Command’s Gen. William Fraser is the odds-on choice to replace Gen. Norton Schwartz as Air Force Chief of Staff. Fraser can operate in two of the service’s three domains, space and air, and he knows the often exquisitely complicated and sensitive issues surrounding the Air Force’s relationship with the intelligence community.


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Defense Mergers, Buyouts Loom

This week may come to be seen as the beginning of a new wave of consolidation and cost-cutting in the defense industry, one whose effects may be felt for decades. Lockheed Martin announced the coming departure of some 600 executives, 25 percent of its leadership team. And rumors surfaced that Boeing might buy Northrop Grumman.


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Shelton To Lead Space Command

UPDATED: OSD Makes Shelton Nom Official, Breedlove Picked For Air Vice Chief
Lt. Gen. William Shelton, Air Force assistant vice chief of staff and air staff director, will be nominated for a fourth star and has been proposed to lead Air Force Space Command. A key factor in Shelton’s promotion may well be that he played what one source says was “a key” role in the February 2008 shoot down of US 193, the highly classified but failed reconnaissance satellite.


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Efficiencies Begin to Bite; 600 Execs Leaving Lockheed

UPDATED: Top ATL Official Calls Departures “Natural Course of The Business Cycle”
Lockheed Martin announced today that some 25 percent — 600 — of its top people accepted buyout offers and will leave the company. Bottom line for the company is that, while the executives contributions were praised by CEO Bob Stevens, their departures will “enable us to achieve significant cost savings and a leaner management structure at a time when our customers have an urgent need for more affordable solutions to the global security challenges they face.”


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OSD Squeezes JSF Costs Harder

UPDATED:OSD Downplays Kendall Comments, Says His Figures Were “Hypothetical”
Frank Kendall, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told an international defense conference today that the Pentagon is “on the path” to buy 85 planes for the cost of 80. Kendall wasn’t crystal clear about whether Lockheed Martin had succeeded in lowering costs or whether the Pentagon was pressing hard to get them to lower costs.


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The English Channel Air Force?

One of the trial balloons floated in the last two weeks in the fevered European debate about what not to buy for defense was that France and Britain would share aircraft carriers.

Publicly and officially their defense ministers repudiated that idea today but they did raise the prospect of sharing the fleet of the hugely over-budget but technologically impressive A400M air transport, as well as helicopters.


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LockMar Outpaces Austal on LCS

Lockheed Martin, with just a five-week headstart, has completed 60 percent of LCS 3, compared to Austal, whose LCS 4 is only 26 percent complete. We hear Lockheed recently attached the bow to the rest of the ship. Given how close the competition is between Lockheed and the Amero-Australian shipbuilder, the bigger company’s ability to produce ships with greater speed and fewer delays might raises questions in the minds of U.S. Navy officials about Austal’s ability to regularly deliver ships.


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Austal, LockMar Nose to Nose For LCS

Those of us who hoped for an LCS contract announcement during the dolrdrums of late August must sigh and twiddle our thumbs for a bit. The two bids are apparently so close that the Navy has come back to the two companies and asked for more information. Although the Navy has repeatedly told the world an award would be made this summer it now looks as if it will be made sometime before the beginning of 2011, according to a service statement,” Cmdr. Victor Chen said in a statement.


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Dems Face Doom in House

Washington’s most respected election analyst, Charlie Cook, is now calling the House for the Republicans. And he’s predicting not just a close race, which had been the call of most analysts until now, but is predicting a so-called “wave” election, one where the party in power is swept away.


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Is UK Hunting SAS For Savings?

The United Kingdom began its hunt for military savings the weekend after the Farnborough Air Show and the search has ranged throughout the defense establishment. One of Britain’s most precious capabilities, the one that gave rise to the famed Special Air Services regiment, is its Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols. Most of this capability resides within the 21 Special Air Services regiment known as the Artists. There are rumors that the British may consolidate one of its three squadrons, which happened once before.


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Hoss Leaving, Schwartz Replacing

The rumor mill is racing with reports that Gen. Hoss Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will soon leave his post and be replaced by Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff. Schwartz’s ascension has Air Force sources beaming. It has been some time since an Air Force officer has been blessed with promotion to the innermost command circle. “I’m happy [Defense Secretary Robert] Gates is expressing some confidence in my poor, beleaguered Air Force.