Sunday, April 22, 2012

DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: Fighter Jet’s Skyrocketing Costs Are On Congress’ Radar

Defense News: DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: Fighter Jet’s Skyrocketing Costs Are On Congress’ Radar
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By W.J. Hennigan / Los Angeles Times
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - April 22, 2012: The radar-evading F-35 fighter jet, a nearly $400-billion weapons program under development for more than a decade, is facing its worst turbulence since Washington decided to buy it in 2001 — when it was billed as the most affordable, lethal and survivable military aircraft ever built for the U.S. and its allies.
A two-star general serving as the military's project manager was fired over the program's never-ending problems. The Pentagon has delayed orders of the aircraft, and the fighter jet is caught in the middle of a major spending fight in Congress. What's more, the plane has roiled political debate in Canada, the Netherlands and other allies that are picking up 10% of the development costs.

GRAPHIC: F-35 joint strike fighter

The Obama administration wants to delay the purchase of 179 jets to save $15 billion. But there is pressure to cut more. Next week, the Pentagon's F-35 program manager is set to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Although much of the debate is taking place in Washington, the melodrama is being closely watched in Southern California, where much is at stake. Only last week, executives of F-35 maker Lockheed Martin Corp. made an appearance in El Segundo to remind local businesses and aerospace workers that the F-35 will have a huge financial effect in the years to come — pumping an estimated $6 billion into the state's economy and creating 27,000 jobs.

"The state of California has a huge stake in this," said Danny Conroy, one of Lockheed's directors of the F-35 program. "California is the single biggest supplier base for the F-35 in the country."

Northrop Grumman one of 260 companies in California that supply the program — far more than any other state. And the subcontractors are feeling the delays that have plagued many aspects of the F-35.

Northrop, for instance, has 1,665 employees in Palmdale, San Diego and El Segundo working on the program. But it is a fraction of the number of people Northrop had expected to hire by now.

In El Segundo, the company makes 100 parts for the stealth fighter jet. As the second work shift began last week, Northrop manager Chip Oppenlander scanned the vast factory floor and remarked on the dozens of unused workstations.

"I expected things to be much busier by now," he said, wringing his large hands. "We've hired about half as many people as initially planned."

The Pentagon's long-term vision is to replace today's fighter fleets, which have an average age of 22 years. It is centered around a plan to develop one basic fighter plane that could — with a few tweaks — be used on runways and aircraft carriers, and hover like a helicopter for joint use by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

The one-size-fits-all approach has never been tried before, and when test flights began in 2006, problems soon followed. The flaws have been so complicated and so costly that they have put the program nearly a decade behind schedule. The program's costs — once estimated at $233 billion — have skyrocketed to about $396 billion, the Pentagon said last month.

Still, the Pentagon remains dedicated to the program, saying the F-35 is vital to national security in the 21st century.

"As part of the defense strategy that the United States went through and has put in place, we have made very clear that we are 100% committed to the development of the F-35," said Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta last month after a meeting with Mexican and Canadian military leaders. "We absolutely need it for the future."

But the drawn-out development is infuriating to some in Congress because the program was sold as a way to maintain costs and shorten the procurement process by avoiding building three planes on three assembly lines.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) reminded fellow lawmakers of this in December, when he took to the Senate floor to criticize the program.

"The Joint Strike Fighter program has been both a scandal and a tragedy," McCain said. "We are saddled with a program that has little to show for itself after 10 years and $56 billion in taxpayer investment that has produced less than 20 test and operational aircraft."

The Pentagon's latest estimated lifetime costs of the F-35 program — to develop, buy, and maintain the planes over 55 years — topped $1.5 trillion. 

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By W.J. Hennigan / Los Angeles Times
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*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

DTN News - PAKISTAN DEFENSE NEWS: Nato Aircraft Making Pakistani Airspace unsafe

Defense News: DTN News - PAKISTAN DEFENSE NEWS: Nato Aircraft Making Pakistani Airspace unsafe
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Javed Mirza - The News Pakistan
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - April 22, 2012: The Nato aircraft changing their flying levels without taking orders from the traffic control department during the monsoon season, is creating issues for the other traffic flying on different levels and thus making the airspace near Afghan border area more vulnerable to any collision.
The Green 325 area in Balochistan has no radar coverage for 100 miles despite high air traffic frequency, while no data is available of flights taking off from Afghanistan due to telex problems between the aviation authorities of both the countries, sources said.

“Changing the flying levels by the Nato planes on their own in the monsoon season is the biggest issue CAA is facing currently, because this makes the country’s airspace vulnerable to any disaster in this highly sensitive zone of Pak-Afghan border areas,” sources said.

Sources in the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) informed that currently they were facing serious issues in Balochistan and near Afghanistan border areas where the frequency of air traffic was quite high.

“Due to the absence of radar coverage, we are not in a position to monitor the flying activities there and this is a very big security lapse,” sources said, adding that flights taking off from Afghanistan contacted the traffic control system of Pakistan CAA at the eleventh hour, which created complexities of routing the whole traffic and this could result in any untoward situation.

Aviation sources said that radar surveillance was required there to help CAA’s controllers judging the separation between aircraft coming from different many regions.

“Radar display has been improved but antennas are poor. The missing, doubling and jumping of targets is very common, and this has been for one year,” they added. A lot of air traffic consists of landing/departing of civil traffic, military operations, and allied forces aircraft operating to/from Afghanistan.

This is besides the 470 to 550 aircraft over flying the country’s space in 24 hours time.

Besides the radar surveillance issues, the CAA staff is provided with complex procedures, which add to the monitoring problems. “The procedures CAA provides to their traffic control departments are very confusing, and most of the time increases the workload instead of shedding. Procedures and air routes are developed by the officers sitting in the headquarters with the guess of having 70 to 100 aircraft over flying Pakistan air space in 24 hours, which has not been the case for years,” sources added.

The lack of surveillance is not only limited to Balochistan and Pak-Afghan border areas, as Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport (JIAP) is as vulnerable to any disasters as the mentioned areas of the West part of the country. “Brazil conducted a capacity assessment study of air controlling at Karachi’s JIAP from 8 to 14 January, 2010, in which they found that the Heavy Load Threshold (HLT) value for air traffic controllers is much time higher than international standards,” sources informed.

Sources further told that during that study, they found that there were 36 (with radar) and 323 (with no radar) occasions when all the sectors of air controlling were reaching and working beyond calculated capacity, so any disaster was not far from reality.

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Javed Mirza - The News Pakistan
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*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: US Worried As China And Russia Prepare To Hold Historic Joint Naval Exercises

Defense News: DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: US Worried As China And Russia Prepare To Hold Historic Joint Naval Exercises
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Internation Business Times Staff Reportes
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - April 22, 2012: China and Russia are making military history this weekend with the first bilateral naval exercises the two governments have ever conducted together.
China is sending a group of 16 ships, including destroyers, frigates, and a hospital ship. Russia is sending 4 ships, including the cruiser Varyag and three air defense destroyers now moving south from Vladivostok to join the Chinese after navigating through the Sea of Japan.

Another Varyag, though, might steal the spotlight from the assembled fleet. It is the Chinese aircraft carrier of the same name, the first carrier in the People's Liberation Army Navy. Even though China has not said whether it will be participating in the joint exercises, it might.

The state-owned China News Service reported Friday that carrier trials may take place April 20-29 -- an interesting overlap with the China-Russia joint exercises April 22-27.

In fact, the carrier doesn't even have an official name yet. Military analysts just refer to it as the "Chinese Varyag," as it has been called since China bought the ex-Soviet hulk from Ukraine and towed it to its port of Dalian, under the official explanation that it was going to be turned into a floating casino.

Last August, after almost 10 years of fanfare in China and a decade of anxious observation by the U.S. and Japan, the Chinese government finally conceded that the newly painted, newly renovated warship that sat in Dalian harbor would indeed become China's ticket into the very small club of nations that have aircraft carriers.

China's aircraft carrier remains largely unmanned, and no planes have ever lifted off from or landed onto its flight deck, but observers are wondering whether that will happen during the coming sea trials. That would raise China's capabilities for sea warfare to a new level.

As for the Russian Navy's Varyag, it was built during the Cold War to target major U.S. assets in the Pacific, and it would have used its fast supersonic missiles to sink large American ships in case of a breakout of hostilities during that period.

Including a ship purpose-built to hunt U.S. carriers may lead some to think the Sino-Russian exercises are really directed at America -- and its closest ally in the region, Japan. 

Yet China, even with Russian support, isn't close to matching American naval power. It now has more than 500 combat ships of all types in its navy, but many are old, small, and incapable of operating far from shore. The U.S. has more than 280, a smaller number, but ship-for-ship much more capable. And in terms of gross tonnage, the U.S. navy outweighs the next 12 fleets in the world combined.

Even so, the U.S. and Japan are deeply worried.

Over the past decade, the People's Liberation Army Navy has demonstrated that it can build large, technically complex ships, armed with advanced sensors and powerful weapons.

The U.S. Navy is particularly concerned about the combination of quiet submarines, potent anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles, anti-satellite weapons, and modern airpower that China can now deploy against its forces in the Western Pacific. The Pentagon has noted in the past that if hostilities emerged between the two countries, China could leverage these "asymmetric capabilities" to deny the U.S. access to maritime zones in the East China Sea and South China Sea.

Meanwhile, the Chinese navy is also demonstrating that it can construct larger ships, train for more complicated missions (including humanitarian assistance), and operate farther away from home shores than ever before. China's recent deployment in an anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden includes the largest warship the country has ever constructed, a 20,000-ton amphibious-warfare ship. Last year, when China evacuated 30,000 of its citizens from Libya, it sent destroyers into the Mediterranean Sea to escort them.

As for the exercises beginning Sunday, China said they will "deepen the strategic and cooperative relationship [with Russia]." The aim of the exercises is to "improve abilities to respond together to new challenges and new threats," and "protect the Asia-Pacific region and world peace and stability." The official statement names no countries, but there is little ambiguity as to which one China means in the reference to "new challenges and new threats."

The U.S. Defense Department has crafted a new doctrine for its forces, the "Air-Sea Battle Concept," to better deploy technologically advanced naval and air forces in a comprehensive way against a well-prepared, well-defended, industrialized state opponent.

The doctrine marks a major strategic redirection away from fighting small, stateless armed groups, which was the predominant concern of the Pentagon during the past decade -- and that is a fact not lost on the Chinese.

A Chinese defense-ministry representative, Col. Geng Yansheng, called the Air-Sea Battle Concept "a manifestation of Cold War mentality." And Rear Adm. Yang Yi (ret.) called it a means to "undermine peace, stability, and prosperity" in the Asia-Pacific region. "To understanding people, it is clearly targeted at China's military modernization," said the former Chinese naval officer.

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Internation Business Times Staff Reportes
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News